Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Queer Forum

My friend Siobhan and I have started a venture called The Queer Forum. Inspired by the TED Talks, we are hosting irregular get-togethers in which we invite half a dozen LGBTQI/Queer-identified people to give an informal talk to a friendly audience about something of importance or interest to them, and/or to our community. We might also show some short films, time permitting. It's not-for-profit, community focused and aimed at bringing queer folk together for education and fun.

We held our first event during Pride weekend and it was a really lovely, warm, eye-opening and well-received event. We learned about the film critic Vito Russo, about being a visiting covert lesbian in Bolivia, about gay erotic art, LGBTQI Muslim life, and more. You can see videos of some of our talks at our Vimeo channel.

Our next event is on Sunday 7th December at 6pm at Bangkok Restaurant on Princess Street, Manchester.

If you want more of a taste of what we're about, here's the Introduction I gave to our first event:

Hello. Thank you to everyone for coming to our first ever Queer Forum event. A special thanks to Rachele and the team here at Bangkok for giving us this lovely space to work in, and for including us in the Queer We Are program of events. Rachele approached myself and Siobhan separately to do an event here and, because great minds think alike, we both came up with the same idea; to do something like the TED talks that was for, by and about LGBTQI people. We both feel strongly that making yourself heard is an important thing for queer people. Stephen Beresford, who wrote the movie Pride, which no doubt you’ll all be going to see next month, said the other day how hard he’d found it as a gay man to make himself heard about anything other than sex; and that’s as a middle class white guy. There are voices everywhere that should be heard and we want The Queer Forum to be one of the places you’ll hear them.

Of course it’s no good making yourself heard if there’s nobody to listen, so this project is also about bringing people together, for support, for sharing, and to bear witness. We should be able to come together and share ideas in an environment that’s fun and intellectual, and that’s not just about partying while Rome, or indeed Paris, burns. Laverne Cox has said that it’s important to always remain teachable in the face of ignorance; including your own. So let’s all promise ourselves to remain teachable. It takes a lot of courage to talk in front of an audience and I know you’re all going to be supportive and welcoming. I hope you’re inspired by what you hear today; perhaps inspiredenough to come and be one of the speakers at a future event.

So, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, andbe today’s warm up act and give you a selection of great quotations from queer people:

Join us as we explore Manchester’s Gay Village. It’s meaning. What is it saying to us? Is it a powder keg of the avante-garde?
The Divine David Hoyle

Straight people aren’t the enemy. Gay people aren’t the enemy. Ignorance is the enemy.
Anonymous dancer from Flesh at The Hacienda

The only ‘queer’ people are those who don't love anybody.
Rita Mae Brown

It is a rather amazing fact that, of the very many dimensions along which the genital activity of one person can be differentiated from that of another, precisely one, the gender of the object choice, emerged from the turn of the century, and has remained, as THE dimension denoted by the now ubiquitous category of' sexual orientation.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

I think God is a callous bitch not making me a lesbian. I'm deeply disappointed by my sexual interest in men.
Diamanda Galás

My name is Martin Boyce, and in 1969 I was a drag queen known as Miss Martin. I remember on that night, when we saw the riot police, all of us drag queens, we linked arms like the Rockettes and sang this song we used to sing: "We are the Village girls, we wear our hair in curls. We wear our dungarees above our nellie knees." And the police went crazy hearing that, and they justimmediately rushed us. We gave one kick and fled.
Martin Boyce

We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.
Alan Turing

I remember much of it as if it were yesterday. It is difficult to celebrate when one has such potent, painful tragic memories. We held so many of each other in our arms. One never forgets love like that. Make no mistake, AIDS was and is a terrible tragedy that need not have escalated into a worldwide plague. There were 41 cases when I started. There are 75 million now. It takes a lot of help from a lot of enemies to rack up a tally like that.
Larry Kramer

The dead are still here holding our hands.
Jackie Kay

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