Friday, July 10

AK Souffle: Queer spaces

- April 30, 2018


My nephew is gay. He’s a vibrant and motivated young guy in a happy relationship and soon to finish his studies. When I was told that he had come out I called my mother to tell her how proud I was of him. Her response was classic – “Well I don’t know why love, you did all the leg work”.

I roared laughing and it still makes me smile, because it showed her in the very best light, a mum who was proud of her gay son and now of her gay grandson too. It was never an issue with mum and dad, they expressed surprise but never sadness – and that has made my life so much easier to live.

Coming out can be a difficult element of living in a homophobic world, it’s not a right of passage, more like an enforced statement before a world that judges. That said it can be an important statement, a massive flag-waving moment, a message of intent and of defiance and determination: “This is me, and I am not prepared to hide away that me”.

The nephew is completing a final project for his Masters degree and his chosen topic is about creating queer spaces. He’s spoken to a lot of people about their experiences of gay life and gay spaces, the places that we inhabited, the clubs and bars, the clandestine spaces and yes the illegal ones, the ones that were
and still are taboo.

This is me and I am not prepared to hide away that me

I’m not surprised at the responses he has had either. Much as we all love our liberation, the hard fought for freedoms that so many of us now enjoy, there is still a hankering for the behind closed doors world that was once our only freedom.

It’s easy to see why, it might well have been grubby and certainly not without danger – even in the bars and clubs there was always that element of fear.

But it was also exciting, thrilling even. There was a sense of being special in our alienated world and it was always populated with characters who, in that environment, were determined to live life to the full, dancing, drinking and enjoying furtive dalliances in dark corners.

So should we want to return to a world of fear and danger?

Do we really need queer spaces? I suspect we do because even though we have those new found and fought for freedoms, they are simply not enough to fulfil all people’s needs. There are people who still need the secrecy and security of those places, and for whatever reason they happen to choose. It is entirely personal, no one should be forced out, forced to go public or not until we have that real equality, by which I mean a world on a global scale that does not judge.

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