Unless you’ve been really ignoring me this year you may not know that I am celebrating a decade of being an artist with a series of publications, a retrospective and some other fancy stuff. I’ve been really lucky to perform across the world in that time. Some of my favourite places I’ve showed off have included Japan, Hong Kong, New York, Melbourne, Dublin and Manchester!
One of the first places I performed in Manchesterford was as a gobby emerging solo artist with half baked ideas for Queer Up North (2008, I think). I remember thinking the audience was warm and lairy - they’d talk back at ya. People would wait around to ask you questions and buy you a bevvy after the show, I made friends there, folk I still have breakfast with when I’m in town.
Apart from getting taller and many of the queer business’ I used to frequent gone not much has changed in Manchester - the city is still inviting me back and I think thats largely because Mancunians like to make sure you feel as welcome as them in their city. I first came here when I was 18, a few years after Queer as Folk had encouraged me to mince out of the closet. I soon found myself rolling around the floor of Vanilla, drinking cocktails made from UHT milk before heading down to Popstastic to dance the night away to The Distillers.
I’ve done a lot of showing off here in 10 years and as I’ve started to make bigger work I’ve always insisted Manchester has to be one of those places it is seen first. In the early days I brought work like Buy a Better You, The Worst of Scottee and Eat Your Heart Out here with Queer Contact and did many guess turns at Mothers Ruin! I also made a series of short films for AND festival that premiered at Corner House. Since HOME opened three years ago I’ve been back more frequently, building a bigger audience and a new batch of friends! With HOME I’ve ran workshops for local artists, presented Bravado at the Britons Protection, previewed Fat Blokes to four sell out houses, held dinner parties on body positivity, sat on the judging panel for T1 commission and last night I launched the Scottee: I Made It book!
HOME are a rarity, they listen to artists and they’re not afraid of you if you are common - that sounds weird but the amount of times people have said I’m rude, brash or defensive cause I’m council is unreal.
When you walk in to HOME people look after you, they want to make sure you’ve got what you need to make the stuff you say is important. They want to actively, and in fact do support tricky work - a lot of folk in this game shy away from my work, it's often considered risky, politically contentious, direct, bolshie, pushing audiences to think on their feet. HOME encourage the sort of work I make and it's quickly become my favourite place to show off, so it is with immense pride today that I can announce that I have become an Associate Artist!
This is a badge on honour for me - to be able to call HOME home, to be endorsed and supported by them and to know they are putting their money, commitment and attention where their mouth is helps - it's encouraging for someone like me filled with imposter syndrome, worried if I’m doing it right or if I’ll be found out to be making it up as I go along to have their backing.
What does it mean? WelI, I will be making even more stuff in, with and for this brilliant city, I’ll be back more often to cause trouble and very excitingly I’ll be making much bigger things for much bigger audiences!
Manchester babes - I’m gonna be kicking about loads more. I’m going to be dreaming up political, performance stuff with and for you. I’m going to do my best to cause a fuss whilst centralising working class and queer (and working class queer) activisims. So, who fancies a brew?