At the Mosque, I am asked if I’m gay. I say I’m not.
At home, I’m asked if I’m gay . I say I’m not
At girls secondary boarding school. I am asked if I’m gay. I say I’m not
While changing for PE, I look up. I’m asked if I’m gay . I say I’m not
At the local pool on ‘ladies’ day, I’m asked if I m gay. I say I’m not
In the choirs I sing in tenor, not soprano or alto. I’m asked if I’m gay. I say I’m not
At family Eid , I wear trouser instead of a dress. I’m asked if I’m gay. I say I’m not
When my mum saw my girlfriend drop me at home, I’m asked if I’m gay. I say I’m not
When my best friend of 10 years asked if I was gay. I said im not
Only when I had my belongings in black bin bags I said I was gay
Now I’m out & proud.
This is just one example of the material that was produced during our week intensive. The devising process was led by our resident director Terry O’Leary, who empowered participants creatively to tell their own stories through spoken word, improvisation and workshop techniques influence by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.
We drew inspiration from queer culture, as well as from our experiences of living in London. The performance represented a balance of the celebrations and challenges that queer people face both in expressing their identities as well as in relation to the housing crisis. Resilience was a prevalent theme within the show. As was so-called safe spaces. At one point in the devising process, participants were invited to reflect on a place that made them feel happy and respond in a creative way. Here is an example from Gideon, who has a background in filmmaking as well as acting.
We also included material that participants had worked on outside of the project, and such an example is a poem that our participants had written which made it into the show. Sahil relished the opportunity to realise his creative vision and worked with Terry as well as our stage manager Sorcha. Together, we helped develop his poem into a moving performance that was deeply personal and yet relatable to our shared experience.
Oh damned poet, sissy, outsider.
Oh gay spirit, slave of your mental disorder.
Damned and gay, often alone and misunderstood,
a daredevil and a lost soul since your childhood.
Who am I? A bad guy created by lust,
a desire, made of cosmic dust.