Last night I performed with Stirred Poetry again, this time at the Queer Show, an event staged over the bank holiday weekend to provide a free alternative to Manchester Pride. I’ll happily confess that I’ve never been to Manchester Pride, though I’ve been loosely part of the LGBT community since moving here six years ago. It seems to be fairly widely accepted that Manchester Pride has lost its roots: that the commercial, corporate interests have taken over from the notion of securing social and political freedoms.
Much of the performance last night touched on this. Steph Pike and Rosie Garland both had work that criticised the way that Pride is handled in Manchester these days, and the kinds of queer identities that are available to us in the mainstream. Of course, I absolutely do not want to tell anyone how to celebrate their own queerness, but on the flipside of that, I’m sick of being judged for not liking pride. There was a great article in this month’s Now Then which talked about the commodification of gay culture, which is something that massively puts me off the ‘mainstream’ gay culture in Manchester. I don’t feel welcome in Canal Street, I don’t feel able to join in with the extreme camp campers and singalongs and rainbow flag wavers. That’s not the queer community that I can commune with. But for those who can, that’s fabulous. I’m glad you have a home.
The Queer Show is an answer to this sense of feeling marginalised by a community that should welcome you: a soothing, warming cure to the hangover I have from so much pink and glitter. And not only is it a safe haven from the glittering, all-consuming money-drainer that is Pride, it is also more obviously politically and socially aware. So when Becca Audra first mentioned it to me the other week, I jumped at the chance to be involved with Stirred Poetry’s event. A fringe Queer event? An alternative to Pride? Count me in, and then some.
It was daunting, knowing that I was going to be up there with some of Manchester’s best known and up-coming poets. I didn’t have anything to read and had, but on the other side of that, I’ve rarely felt in such good, capable company. Anna, Steph and Rosie have been so incredibly welcoming.
I feel like I am, finally, coming home. Alright, so many home is full of discarded underwear and tights, mooncups and lube, books on how-to that have been scribbled on, and half-written manuscripts. Maybe it reeks of the afterburn of hair removal cream, the heavy iron smell of periods, the smell of dirty hair and sweaty armpits. So what? It also reeks of intelligence, kindness, frustration and forbearance. And I am relieved to be here.
Our dress code last night was Gold. Not having anything gold to wear, instead I wrote this poem:
I spin her like floss
The colour of new guineas.
Not cold like old money
Time to weave, so
I bend her over my wrist
And reach for the loom.