Stirling for me seems to be naturally associated with family, parents with young children and generally seems to be home to lots of white middle class families. I think it’s fantastic that the Macrobert therefore offers such a wide range of work, but it made me reflect on my idea of what it means to be queer in different cities. In Brighton it’s clear it meant celebration, embracing outward expression of queerness through clothes and clubs. But specifically at the Macrobert, which is a family orientated venue, at this family festival, I asked myself do I feel other?
Given that the idea of LGBT people as being potential parents or having the ability to be family orientated has only just begun to be widely accepted, I guess the idea of LGBT people at this kind of (family) event is a pretty new one. What’s more, queer people often have a more troubled relationship to family due to lack of acceptance by their families. This and the fact that queer culture often works outside of the normative family (monogamy, marriage, having children) means that theoretically many who identify with queer do not relate to work with strong themes of a mainstream, heteronormative idea of ‘family’ or ‘age’. Some queers even feel strongly positive about this, they are anti-gay marriage and anti-assimilation of LGBTs in to mainstream ideas of family. They feel radical notions of family are beneficial for revolutionising patriarchal structues in society- click here to read more about queer challenges to the politics of inclusion.
That said, I am lucky to have a very supportive family and in particular have had a strong relationship to my Grandma. Hence, perhaps it is the role of a queer artist in non-queer (or overtly queer) spaces to not confine oneself to performing queerness. Of course, there will be spaces where not only am seen as Other, but there may be hostility and I am by no means suggesting one should not be visible in their queerness. Similarly, there is no harm in feeling welcome in spaces you did not expect to. I was pleasantly surprised by the queer themes in Sarah Hopfinger’s presentation at Luminate on intergenerational performance. Her ideas that explored enacting rather than acting, that ‘things are their interactions’ and the need to re-orientate thinking away from ‘ ‘‘us’’ and ‘’the rest of it’’ felt indicative of a queer perspective. Although discussed in the context of intergenerational performance, if applied to a wider context, the need for heterogeneity resonated with my queer brain. I am learning when it is my agency to speak up from a queer perspective, and when I can cherish the fact that queer ways of being are all around me.
me & my parents at London Pride 2013