As part of my queer occupation in Peterborough with Metal I've been creating a series of events and dinners, touring productions and instigated the first pride arts festival in the city. Throughout the process I've been meeting folk from across the UK who are creating queer and trans* work in their neighbourhoods and joining cities and towns. After hanging out with political activists who seem better organised than artists I wondered what we might learn from coming together in the same way they do - sharing knowledge and seeing how we might work with each other.
Queerness in the UK is often about individualism - often about the promotion of one identity and not about the communal. I want to strip that away, I want queerness to learn from the collective power or the power of the collective.
With the help and support of Peterborough Presents and Metal Peterborough I was able to bring 25 activists from as far as Portsmouth and Glasgow to discuss how we might collaborate with each other, support each others projects and create a network that focuses on queer radicalism and not beige gay plays for beige gay men.
We discussed intergenerational issues, HIV/AIDS, class, privilege, space, community and geography. We used Lois' porch sittings to offload our fears of ageing, asking where the elders where and why they were ignored, who might look after us, where we might create intergenerational space and how queerness interacts with that. We introduced what we did, where we did it and who we were doing it for. We then held a long table discussion (another of Lois' devices) to talk about class, access, money and why queerness is white and posh and university educated.
We've decided we will formalise our group and become a thing, we don't know what sort of thing but a thing. At the end of the day we all shared what we could share - I now am part of a network that has spare rooms, sofa beds, many cats and an abundance of local knowledge in places like Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Exeter, Brighton, Southend, Cambridge, Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol and of course Peterborough.
Who knows what the next stage of the Queer Summit will look like - for now, please enjoy these school tea towel vibes from James Unsworth who sketched all 25 of us in 6 hours!
Find out more about Peterborough Presents here - https://www.peterboroughpresents.org
and Metal Peterborough here - http://www.metalculture.com/about-us/peterborough/