Queers in Lockdown Online Workshop: Unmute Yourself, for Exeter Pride, Part 21 of my Immediate Writing Series for Sarah Gosling’s Arts Show, March 4th 2021
Contributors, in no particular order, were Al Head, Katie Moudry, Emily Grossman, Chris White, Robin Owens, Rebecca Bindon, and the soundtrack was provided by Billie Bottle and The Multiple.
During the pandemic I have felt isolated, yes, but tonight at this workshop I am reminded that there are people like me, even if I don't see them every day, even week, every month for a whole year. Tonight I see these people just like me, on the screen, in their little yellow boxes as I sit on my office chair in gratitude, with love and respect for all.
As we share our stories I feel so excited by the possibilities that the pandemic has offered to each of us. Yes there has been pain and suffering and challenges but also something beautiful for each of us to discover inside or outside of ourselves. I feel like I'm participating in life for the first time.
My mum asked me, earlier "why a queer workshop though?
Why can only queer people go?"
and I don't know quite how to explain it to her
but being here makes me understand,
This is a way we can unite in solidarity, regardless of our backgrounds.
We go to Pride to share our true colours.
In Lockdown every day is my Personal Pride
but I'm alone within my four walls.
In lockdown, my community are together and apart
seeing rainbows everywhere.
Yet my makeup grows dusty at the back of drawers.
So long since we had a night out at Be You.
Who thought I would miss the sticky floors,
the cheesy pop, the stern bouncer on the door?
How I long to stand in circle again,
holding your hands. To look around a room
full of smiling faces, tears being held,
declarations of empowerment,
and to reach out for touch once again
These days it's the memories that count -
to remind us of all the good things people have said to us,
and of everything that really makes us whole as humans.
But then again, community was never (only)
about the ones we knew
or saw regularly, or touched.
There was always that space in the void,
those threads between us.
You are my people and
I am so grateful to be on this journey with you,
where I can speak my truth authentically and honestly.
We are different people, with different reasons
but we hold each other, we catch each other.
We are queer, so we have known struggle.
We are queer, so we are grateful to each other.
We are queer, so we are fearful.
We are queer, so we are safe.
We are queer, so we trust that there will be no judgement here.
We know what it is to be different,
to be on the outside, to feel alone, ashamed.
We are queer so we accept those who have struggled,
who have broken through,
who have fought to be themselves.
In Lockdown we are still a community.
and in Lockdown we still have a voice.
Welcome to you who is in the waiting room.
Come on in. Switch on your camera.
We'd love to see your face.
We are waiting to hear your voice.