LGBTQ+ Issue, no.183, May 2021
cover illustration by: Anna Kerslake design by: Elly Savva
// TW // This publication includes material that explores transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia. Because of the nature of these topics, some individuals may find articles in this issue triggering. If this might apply to you, make sure you are in a safe space before reading, and don’t hesitate to reach out to the signposted resources for help. All subjects have been approached with sensitivity, taking care to prioritise the voices of marginalised LGBTQ+ identities. Many pieces are written from personal experience and we are so grateful for the bravery of those who have shared their journey with us inside these pages. While we have opted to use the LGBTQ+ acronym, the ‘+’ is intended to represent all of the communities within the LGBTQQIP2SAA umbrella.
Resources & Support: Stonewall: www.stonewall.org.uk- 08000 50 20 20 Mermaids: https://mermaidsuk.org.uk- 0808 801 0400 Gendered Intelligence: http://genderedintelligence.co.uk -020 3559 7263 The Proud Trust: https://www.theproudtrust.org - 0161 660 3347
It’s surreal to think back to last April when Katie May handed over the position of Editor-in-Chief to me at the same time the nation went into lockdown. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the prospect of having to learn the ropes, whilst also completely reorganising the way in which Quench functioned to ensure everyone’s safety, but it turned out to be an incredible experience. Little did I know, twelve months later I’d still be working on Quench in lockdown. This last year has been one like no other to say the very least, I’ve hit rock bottom and also had some of the best times of my life. Whilst it was really hard in the beginning, there is something quite poetic about publishing our first issue as lockdown began and putting together our last issue as it (hopefully) comes to an end. I feel so grateful to have been a part of the Quench community throughout this year, it’s been really special to have lived through this tumultuous time alongside you all. In light of the lockdown, Black Lives Matter protests and Australia fires that were happening when we began the year, Elly and I decided that we wanted to use our newfound platform to explore important issues. Which is why, our first issue was themed Black Lives Matter, our third issue focused on Environmentalism and our fifth and final issue for this year explores the LGBTQ+ community. This issue contains lots of beautiful stories, important commentaries and useful guides. Most notably we have a poignant interview from Laura Dazon with Louka Perderizet, who is a French photographer, entitled Photography, Activism and Trans Identity: A Portrait of Louka Perderizet on pages 69-72. As well as, a thought provoking piece on Why The ‘Bury Your Gays’ Trope Needs To Be Buried by Catarina Vicente on pages 25-26. Not forgetting, the insightful Beginners Guide to LGBTQ+ Identities by Kate Waldock on pages 65-66.
All of this would not have been possible without my team, who I am unbelievably grateful for. All throughout this year, I’ve had to relay bad news after bad news but they carried on with no complaints. Even though our printing budget was cut, we didn’t have access to the office and we couldn’t even physically meet each other, they went above and beyond in everything they did. This year we added two new sections: Literature and Spotlight, both of which have been incredibly popular, with Spotlight receiving the highest engagement out of all of our sections. We’ve also produced more original artwork than ever before thanks to our new design team. They worked tirelessly all year to create beautiful illustrations, videos and photography to accompany both online and print content. Not to mention, their tireless patience with Elly and I during the design process, to ensure all of our pages achieved the direction we wanted. Above all, I’ve got to give thanks to Josh and Elly. I cannot count the times Josh saved us with his technical knowledge and brilliance. As well as, the amount of times Elly saved me both emotionally and physically. We’ve done everything together from Zooming with Wagamama’s and wine at 2am editing page designs to reconfiguring the entirety of each issue so we could print physical copies for our team and there are no words to describe what this has meant to me throughout the past year. All in all, this experience has been an absolute dream come true and I cannot even begin to describe how lucky I feel to have been given this opportunity. It has been a defining moment of my life, one that I will never forget and cherish always. With love,
design by: Elly Savva
Deputy Editor’s Letter: After four years of being involved with Quench, writing this final letter feels like saying goodbye to a part of myself. It’s impossible to sum up everything I’d like to say, but I’ll try my best. My journey to Cardiff was unexpected. I left Sixth Form without sitting my exams, an unwell and unhappy teenager with little hope for the future. I remember shrinking away as friends spoke about their next steps, with no plans or excitement for my own. To escape my reality, I buried myself in-between the pages of books and magazines. Taking my mind elsewhere, I stepped outside of the present and found companionship in words. Finding solace in the words of others, I realised I wanted to express myself in this way too. It would be a cliche to say writing “saved me”, but I found comfort in translating my mind into something concrete. I realised that writing gave me the chance to unpick what I wanted to say and the time to unravel it in a way others could understand. So, I enrolled at college and studied A-Levels for a year, moving away from home and working alongside my studies to pay rent. It wasn’t easy, I missed the grades for my first choice but ended up coming to Cardiff through clearing. As a fresher, the beautiful Camille directed me straight to the contributors’ group, and so my love affair with Quench began. Over the years, Quench has given me the platform to write about so many things - from my relationships and sexuality to house plants, album reviews, separating art from the artist, our perceptions of victimhood, and being an imperfect environmentalist. I'm so grateful for the opportunities that being a part of student media has given me, I really can't recommend it to people enough. Whether you're an accomplished writer or just starting out, the magazine is the best place to find your voice and meet like-minded people who will inspire you.
Becoming Features Editor last year introduced me to the incredible Rhianna and Rebecca. I owe so much to you two and I’m so proud of what we achieved on the section, highlighting important issues such as the rough sex defence and the future of the climate crisis. Thank you for encouraging me to trust my instincts and write from the heart, I hope we get another opportunity to drink cheap cocktails in the Taf and bounce ideas off each other.
When I joined Jasmine as her Deputy last summer we spent countless hours on zoom, naively thinking that Covid would be a thing of the past by September. Obviously, the virus had other plans. I wish our team could have met in person and had a chance to get to know each other as three-dimensional humans rather than as two-dimensional shapes on a screen. Jasmine, thank you for your vision, patience, and dedication. Sitting down with you always made the work manageable, whether we were working late at night or distracting each other over dinner. You make the best iced coffees and I can’t wait to drink wine together when the pressures of work have lifted Josh, thank you for your level-headed Libra nature, delivering baked goods, and sending countless Phoebe Bridgers memes. You’re a talented and passionate writer with a warm heart. Thank you to Hannah, Pat, Corey, and Jemm for keeping me sane. Thank you all for listening to me talking about Quench too much, bringing cups of tea and snacks, and snoozing on the sofa beside me when I couldn't put my laptop down. Thank you to the whole team - Indi, Caitlin, Rhianna, Isabel, Craig, Laura, Kate, Megan, Sarah, Amy, Pui Kuan, Borte, Alex, Daisy, Emily, Nicole, Ona, Neus, Lewis, Marcus, Rachel, Henry, Katherine, Alice, Hannah, Sasha, Dafydd, Angharad, Rhiannon, Sumer, Rowan, Sarah, Alexa, Maja, Manon, Ebony, Shaniece, Madeline, May, Priyansha, Ersila, Seb, Anna, Kacey, Sandra, Alessio, Lucy, Prity, Shafia, Sian, Shubhangi, and Sahina. Without all of your hard work, this year wouldn’t have been possible, and I’m so grateful to every one of you for bringing your talent and dedication to our team. Quench, I miss you already. Thank you for teaching me everything I know about journalism and I can't wait to see where the magazine goes next. With love,
Second Deputy Editor’s Letter: It seems a little wild that three years ago I was applying to become the Food & Drinks section editor at Quench. In all honesty, I applied on a pessimistic whim, never expecting to actually be given the position. Prior to arriving at university, I had zero experience in the world of writing, nor even the faintest interest in journalism as a whole. How times change. I’ve spoken in the past about my less than ideal first year experience, and how that drove me to Quench accidentally. After finishing year 1 with no friends and a discernible lack of positive attitude towards anything university based, Quench gave me a lifeline, something to look forward to in the two years I had left. Across those two years, I would find myself bouncing around various positions within Cardiff Student media. In doing so, I would have endless opportunities to write about everything from restaurant openings to game releases, even managing to grab an interview with Snow Patrol. I can’t fully express the gratitude I hold for allowing me to continually write about what I love, which undoubtedly includes my monopolised control of Taylor Swift related articles. I look forward to reading the work of my successor who has chosen to take the baton forward. Across those two years, I’d also be fortunate to meet some of the most talented writers and creative powerhouses that I would have otherwise never have known. From Mike, who continuously helped me refine the art of consistent and gripping prose, to Caterina, the most driven and lovely colleague anyone could ever ask for, I’ll always be thankful that student media brought us together. I’d also happen to meet Luisa, perhaps still one of my closest confidants, alongside Katie May, whose shared love for Courteeners transpired into one of the greatest radio shows ever broadcast. I’ll forever treasure our memories of devouring mini Toblerones in the media office on send-off day. To Elly, thank you for supporting me at my lowest point; sending endless pop-culture conspiracy TikToks and trying to convert me to the world of astrology. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. To Nadine and Andrea, who first took a chance on an inexperienced and unguided me, I can’t thank you enough. Skip forward to this year, while the entire world descended into chaos, we still managed to keep making our magazine. I will always be grateful to be asked by
Jasmine to help run the magazine. To the team; sorry I never got to meet most of you in person. My plan to feed all of you via baked goods never materialised. Sad times. Nonetheless, this whole year has been challenging, but I’m very proud of what we’ve managed to accomplish. Student media gave me a truly invaluable experience across my four years at university. I started my course with no vision on my future outside of my undergraduate degree. My study of politics was chosen simply because it was the only subject I thought I could study for three years without becoming mind-numbingly tedious. If it had not been for Quench, I may have never discovered my love for journalism and writing, finding and telling stories from people across society. I realise this has been almost entirely sentimental drivel at this point, but hold on. If it had not been for Quench, I don’t know where I’d be right now. It helped me find and cement my love for journalism, leading me to take my current MA course and (hopefully) a job within the field in the near future. Perhaps the best thing for me to do would be to ask myself what I would have wanted to know before I got wrapped up in all of this. To that, I can offer some advice. For those who knew they were destined for journalism after watching the stone cold hands of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, keep writing. For those who don’t know if this is for them, and have stumbled upon our pokey little magazine with nothing more than a mild curiosity about what exactly happens here; give it a whirl. University is the perfect place to experiment with finding out what you love and hate, alongside discovering what you thought you loved during secondary school was just out of ease and peer pressure. It has been the utmost pleasure of mine to have worked for this magazine for the last three years, watching it grow from the inside and out. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that this magazine provided me with. I look forward to seeing wherever the new editor-in-chief takes it. Until then, in the words of Michael Scott “I am running away from my responsibilities. And it feels good.” Much love,
Meet the Team
Editor-in-Chief: Jasmine Snow
Deputy Editor: Elly Savva
Columnist: Craig Strachan and Isabel Brewster
Second Deputy Editor: Josh Ong
Features: Caitlin Parr, Indi Scott Whitehouse and Rhianna HurrenMyers
Culture: Amy King, Megan Evans and Sarah Griffith
Music: Alex Payne, Daisy Gaunt amd Emily Jade Ricalton
Film & TV: Borte Tsogbadrah and Pui Kuah Cheah
Literature: Nicole Rees Williams, Ona Ojo and Neus Forner
Fashion: Henry Bell and Rachel Citron Download: Lewis Empson and Marcus Yeatman-Crouch
Clebar: Dafydd Wyn Orritt, Angharad Roberts and Rhiannon Jones
Travel: Katherine Mallet and Alice Clifford
Food: Hannah Penwright and Sasha Nugara
Spotlight: Laura Dazon, Kate Waldock and Summer Griffi
Social Media Team: Maja Metera, Manon Jones and Ebony Clent
Copy Editors: Rowan Davies, Alexa Price and Sarah Belger
Head of Design: Madeline Howell
Deputy Head of Design: May Collins
Illustrator: Shafia Motale
Photographer: Sahina Sherchan
Illustrator: Amelia Field
Illustrator: Prity Chatterjee
Illustrator: Sian Hopkins
Illustrator: Shubhangi Dua
Page Designer: Alessio Grain
Page Designer: Kacey Keane
Page Designer: Priyansha Kamdar
Page Designer: Sandra Mbula Nzioki
Page Designer: Sebastian Jose
Page Designer: Anna Kerslake
Events Manager: Shaniece O’Keefe
Page Designer: Ersila Bushi
Page Designer: Lucy Battersby
Contents The LGBTQ+ Issue PAGE 11-12: Labelling Sexuality PAGE 13-14: The Birds, The Bees, and Bisexuality PAGE 15-16: What We’re Loving
PAGE 17-18: Why Sexuality is Something To Be Celebrated PAGE 19-20: Heteronormativity and Homophobia PAGE 21-22: The Villainized Woman PAGE 23-24: Our Hopes For LGBTQ+ People Onscreen PAGE 25-26: Burying the ‘Bury Your Gays’ Trope PAGE 27-28: The Troubles of Coming Out in the Music Industry PAGE 29-30: Britney Spears’ Conservatorship: Explained PAGE 31-32: An Interview with Wolf Alice PAGE 33-34: The Music of Ru Paul’s Drag Race
PAGE 35-36: A History of Queer Zines PAGE 37-38: Shipping, Fan-Fiction and the LGBTQ+ Community PAGE 39-40: GayBlade: The Lost and Found LGBTQ+ Hit PAGE 41-42: Normalising LGBTQ+ Representation PAGE 43-44: A Gender Expression Revolution In Gaming PAGE 45-46: Fashion Profile PAGE 47-48: Ball Culture PAGE 49-50: What I’m Wearing on 21st June PAGE 51-52: Gender Neutrality in Spanish PAGE 53-54: A Guide to UK Pride 2021 PAGE 55-56: LGBTQ+ Food Companies You Should Be Supporting PAGE 57-58: Food Insecurity in LGBTQ+ Communities
PAGE 58-60: Pride Month Recipes PAGE 61-62: Hanes Cranogwen PAGE 63-64: Crewyr Cymraeg O’r Gymuned LHDT PAGE 65-66: Beginners’ Guide to LGBTQ+ Identities PAGE 67-68: The UK Government and Transphobia PAGE 69-72: An Interview with Louka Perderizet PAGE 73-74: Playlist of the Issue 10
Labelling Sexuality Why I Label my Sexuality by Kate Waldock
It took a long time before I felt comfortable with the term ‘lesbian’. I remember the first time I heard it being used in a playground at the age of 8 or 9, and when I asked what the word meant, I was told that it meant someone was ‘gross’, or a ‘loser’. Such an early introduction to a perfectly normal label was detrimental to my association with the term. Any time I heard the word used it was in a negative light. Phrases such as, “She looks like such a lesbian”, or, “she’s so ugly, she’s probably a lesbian” were tossed about at girls, and the word carried weight. Once marked with the label ‘lesbian’, your name was smeared. Girls would avoid you, and you lost friends who were “scared” of you trying to kiss them, or worse. I watched this happen multiple times throughout school to girls who never quite managed to shake off the rumours. I managed to swerve accusations of the sort whilst I struggled internally with my feelings. The shame that comes with the realisation you are attracted to the same gender is unlike anything a straight person may ever understand. I came across a video talking about bisexuality, and I watched it, then cried for an hour when I initially realised I had to address my attraction to girls. Teenagers were bitchy at that age, but many didn’t even realise the enormous effect they had on LGBTQ+ students. Homophobia was entirely ingrained in us all, and using a phrase like ‘that’s so gay’ is still in common use. Although, whenever someone slips up and says it in front of me now they look embarrassed as if they’re sorry they’ve been caught (but, I fear, not sorry they said it). I can’t help but still feel resentment to many of those who used my sexuality against me in the years after I came out, or used it to ridicule me, despite being aware that they’ve all grown up, and hopefully recognised their prejudice. I only very recently became comfortable using the label ‘lesbian’ at all. Because of both external and internalised homophobia, I yearned to be attracted to men. I would try time and time again to find a relationship with a man, but it never sat right. During my time at university, it went no further than kissing them in nightclubs or having deep conversations in my flat about how I am probably not attracted their gender at all.
It’s safe to say that they weren’t expecting a heartfelt discussion when we left the club together, but to many of the boys’ credit, they were understanding. I finally accepted that I wasn’t attracted to men when I was in my second year at university, towards the end of the first term. I have decided to use this term with pride, to prove to those younger than me who are living through the same homophobia that ‘lesbian’ is not a dirty word. Having a label allows me to feel empowered. It’s a proud middle finger up to homophobia, a reclamation of the labels stolen from us by bigots.
features Why I Don’t Label my Sexuality by Indi Scott Whitehouse
When I was 14, I sat my parents down on the sofa and burst into tears as I told them that I was experiencing an attraction to women. As they asked why I was crying my only answer was “I think maybe I’m bisexual? But I don’t know what I am”. In hindsight, I was crying at the pressure of labelling my attraction. In a friendship group of people who all labelled their sexuality in different ways but were all individually empowered and confident with them, I felt that I needed to do the same. It was my Dad who helped me realise “you don’t have to define your sexuality at all if you don’t want to”. For a very long time (and still fairly often), I find myself feeling unable to confidently express my sexuality. As a straight-passing cis girl who has had far more experience with men in heteronormative uni hook up culture, I often convinced myself that my lack of a label meant that I wasn’t a valid part of the LGBTQ+ community so often found myself labelled an ally, or on occasion the “straight best friend” by someone who assumed my sexuality. I am very aware of my straight-passing privilege, and that I have not experienced the worst extents of homophobic bullying and abuse that my peers have; for a time, this made me feel selfish to even attempt to identify with the community. Of course, it was mostly my own insecurities that led to this, and, after discussions with friends, I have been made to feel comfortable and supported by the community as I come to terms with my sexuality.
I feel that I have so much more of my life to go through and so many more experiences to have. I enjoy the fact that I can be whoever I want to be, and the fluidity of my sexuality leaves me feeling free to enter different situations in my life without feeling categorised by anyone else against my will. I feel privileged to be in a situation where I longer feel expected to exclusively label my sexuality and I am part of an incredible support network of people who both label and don’t label their sexualities, and who all appreciate each other’s variety of decisions when it comes to defining our sexual attraction. Labels or no labels, we are all empowered and reassured by one another. design by: Maja Metera
A combination of elderly relatives and family friends labelling bisexual and pansexual relatives “greedy”, an ex-boyfriend challenging my attendance to a gay club on a night club with “well you’re not gay, are you? So, what are you doing going there?” and the consistency of sleazy male attention on nights out left me feeling caught up and pressured into ignoring the fluidity of my sexuality. I have experienced attraction to various genders and am slowly becoming more and more comfortable with that fact and trying not to be intimidated by the knowledge that I maybe don’t always conform to the expectations people may have of me. Coming out of my last heterosexual relationship, downloading Tinder for the first time and selecting “show me everyone” was an empowering relief. It felt so freeing to know that I could meet and talk to anyone and that people didn’t expect me to exclusively talk to or flirt with one gender anymore. My decision not to label myself is becoming increasingly acknowledged and supported by my friends. I feel empowered by my choice to not label myself, and I support my family and friends’ decisions to label themselves because I understand that different things empower different people.
The Birds, The Bees, and
Bisexuality words and design by: Elly Savva This feature is based mostly on my own experience but also uses quotes and anecdotes from three interviewees: Luke (He/They, 21, Cardiff), Beth (She/Her, 23, Bristol), and Jonny (He/Him, 21, Manchester). Tipping my wine glass back, I prayed that the final dregs of alcohol would fill me with the courage to say the words I’d been practicing all day. I’d met with my Dad for dinner and knew it was only a matter of time before the “have you got a boyfriend” questions would start - less than 30 minutes this time. I hadn’t come out to him yet, but I was seeing a girl. I was happy, and I didn’t want to hide it anymore. I managed to stumble over my words and explained that there wasn’t a boy, but a girl. He told me that he just wanted me to be happy and it didn’t matter who I was dating. One of the things he said that stuck with me the most is “being gay doesn’t mean your life has to be hard anymore”. He reassured me that I could live my life however I wanted to lead it. But I’m not gay. I’m not halfgay or half-straight either, I’m bisexual. There is some confusion about what bisexuality means, even from inside the LGBT+ community. Bisexuality is defined as an umbrella term used to describe the attraction to two or more genders. While I prefer the label of bisexual, others who are attracted to all genders may identify as pansexual, which describes the attraction regardless of gender.
features When we discussed the labels of bisexuality and pansexuality, Luke explained to me that although they would date somebody from any gender, the bisexual label resonates more because the way they feel attraction differs depending on gender. He explained - “I don’t prefer one over the other, or any other genders, but it’s a different sort of attraction.” For Beth, the recognition of her bisexuality is important. Despite being openly bi for years, she told me she’d faced questions about why she didn’t call herself queer or pansexual instead, as some friends suggested that this made her anti-trans. She explained that to her, “being bisexual means I would date any gender as well as the opposite sex, it’s encompassing everything”, so she was frustrated that others tried to push their misunderstandings onto her sexuality. Being bisexual can be hard. If you’re bi, you’re more likely to deal with depression or substance issues and experience intimate partner violence. While some people suggest that being bi means you have it ‘easier’, research carried out by Stonewall found that bisexual people experienced higher levels of prejudice than those who are lesbian or gay. On top of this, many also reported experienced rejection from other members of the LGBT+ community who they turned to for support. Not ‘gay enough’ for the LGBT+ community and not ‘straight enough’ for heterosexual society, being bisexual can leave you completely isolated. As well has having to deal with homophobia, bisexuals have to deal with biphobia. Biphobia can be defined as the fear, hatred, or intolerance of bisexual people, which presents in a multitude of ways. What makes it stand out is that it comes from two directions, both from straight people and those within the LGBT+ community. Biphobia is often masked behind playful comments or jokes rooted in negative stereotypes surrounding bisexual people as promiscuous and greedy. It isn’t overt or aggressive, but the slow and subtle breakdown of your sexuality has a lasting effect. Depending on your gender, biphobia appears differently. Beth told me about a time when she bumped into somebody from school while with her girlfriend, who later messaged saying “I just always got the vibe from you that it was more of a sexual preference rather than relationship stuff”. The person that sent the message wasn’t somebody Beth knew well, one of the only times they’d spoken before was when this person asked her whether she’d have a threesome with them. This reflects the way that for bi women, biphobia manifests as both objectification and invalidation. While your preferences are sexualised, your emotions are invalidated. .
While bi men experience less sexualisation, the stigma and invalidation remains the same. Jonny explained that while he initially came out as gay, he now identifies as bi/ pan, but his experience of hearing biphobic comments prevented him from coming out for a long time. We spoke about how women going from straight to bi are seen as doing it ‘for attention’, whereas men going from gay to bi are seen as inauthentic. He suggested - “It seems to be that no matter what gender you are, it’s a case of you have to be ‘pure’... but you don’t have to know? It’s not like that. It can be fluid, it changes. It’s not black and white, it’s a spectrum.” It is true that the most aggressive forms of discrimination you face as a bi person will be rooted in homophobia. However, overt aggression can be easier to fight. When a stranger shouted at me and my girlfriend last summer for holding hands as we walked down the street, it was easy to turn to others for support. Nobody empathised with them, I never felt alone, and it never made me doubt myself. It’s not a moment I hold onto, I can’t remember the sound of his voice or the sight of his face. On the other hand, I don’t know if I’ll ever shake the sinking feeling I felt aged 15 when someone asked me whether I “still thought I was bi” in a room full of people and burst into laughter. It was the first person I’d decided to come out to and I thought they would understand. I still remember the tone of their voice and the sound of their laugh, and I can still feel the shame in my stomach. It made me think that hiding this part of myself would make my life easier than being open about it. Masking my sexuality for years left me insecure, confused, and isolated. It made me doubt who I was and I never knew who I could turn to for comfort. I thought I wasn’t allowed to be bi, so I pretended to be straight. Sadly this is a fairly common experience for bisexuals, with research suggesting that bisexual people are much less likely to be out than their gay and lesbian counterparts. Despite the difficulties that come with being bi, it also comes with a million possibilities. I love not ‘picking a side’ and conforming to stereotypes, and I’m so happy that I could meet anybody and fall in love and their gender wouldn’t matter. I couldn’t imagine wanting to change it, even if I could. As Luke put it, “I love the fact I could walk into a nightclub and I could kiss someone and I wouldn’t have to think about their gender, I could be kissing somebody who’s pretty and that’s all that matters.” For support with your sexuality, LGBT Switchboard is an LGBT+ helpline that can offer calm words when you need them most. For con idential conversations, you can call 0300 330 0630 (10am-10pm daily).
e r ' L e o W v t a
In the beginning of this academic year, our world was thrown into disarray and so Elly and I decided to create this ‘What We’re Loving’ series in the hopes that it would bring people a bit of much needed positivity. Over the past year, we’ve both loved writing about the little things that have made a huge difference in our lives from Elly’s favourite log in the park to my newfound love of plants. For our final issue, we bring you one more installment and wish you all the very best in the future.
TikTok: I’ll throw my hands up and admit that when TikTok first rose to fame I was a little skeptical. It seemed to be predominantly enjoyed by Gen Z and as a mere millennial I felt a little out of place. However, I soon got over myself and I now feel no shame in saying that I love it. In my opinion, it’s one of the few social media platforms out there that still put their audience and creators first. If I open up TikTok, I can guarantee that I will laugh out loud and most probably even learn something whether it’s a new recipe or how to pay my taxes. There is no other platform in which you can scroll to see Gordan Ramsey judging drive thru food, a bulldog name Chowder skateboarding and top quality memes about M&S’s lawsuit again Aldi’s ‘Cuthbert the Caterpillar’; It’s a truly unique platform that is for absolutely everyone. The Pantone Postcard Art Challenge: I discovered this art challenge on TikTok and I’ve spent
hours in lockdown working on it. Essentially, all you need is a box of Pantone postcards (Amazon sells a set of 50 and 100), a paintbrush and paint. Once you’ve got your materials, lay out your cards face down and pick one at random. After you’ve picked a colour, think of something that reminds you of that colour and paint it on top. For the best effect, mask the Pantone colour code off with painter’s tape and peel off at the end to get a beautiful straight line. For example, for the Pantone 7548 postcard - which is a
medium yellow colour - you might paint a daffodil. This challenge is perfect for beginners, or those who are just looking for a bit of fun because the postcards are relatively small and they give you a prompt so it’s not as daunting as staring at a blank canvas. Candlemaking: I don’t know why, but I had always assumed that candlemaking would be hard until (yes you guessed it) I saw someone on TikTok making them. As I’m sure everyone has, I’ve been mind numbingly bored at times during lockdown and so I’ve been on the lookout for anything fun to do. All you need is wax, fragrance oil, jars (or a mould), wicks and preferably a wick centerer. Whilst the initial costs aren’t dirt cheap, they’re not bad for what you get and I got a lot of joy out of giving them to my friends and family. You can also jazz them up by adding dried petals or colouring to create a multitude of different versions.
Are you interested in tarot, astrology, and all things spirituality? Check out the Your Magic podcast with Michelle Tea on Spotify! Mooncups: As somebody who menstruates, switching to a mooncup was one of the most liberating choices I’ve made. After being stuck in a cycle of buying disposable products that filled up landfills and drained my bank account, I finally broke free by buying one of these silicone cups. In all honesty, it’s hard to see any downsides. They’re more comfortable, they feel cleaner, and they’re safe to keep in for up to 12 hours with the capacity to hold 3 times more blood than a regular tampon. You’ve probably heard the horror stories but really it’s so simple to use - the material is flexible and folds up easily for inserting. The average person who bleeds will use 11,000 disposable sanitary products, spending an average of £1200. Mooncups cost between £7-£20, so why not invest and save yourself the hassle? Buy a Mooncup, save the planet, save your money, and stop giving money to the companies who profit from your shame.
Tarot: What I love about spirituality is that there are no set rules. You don’t have to believe everything - you can take whatever speaks to you from it. It’s always helpful to give people the chance to step back and understand how they feel about what’s happening in their lives, whether they believe in spirituality or not. Sometimes, going through tarot gives you the same clarity you get when you flip a coin and realise which outcome you really want. My journey with tarot began with angel cards, a lighter form of guidance that gives you affirmative messages from the spiritual realm. Although helpful, sometimes it seemed to be only scratching the surface and I wanted to take my exploration a bit further. I thought it was bad luck to buy your own deck, so I spent months dropping hints to friends until a real-life angel (also my housemate Hannah) gifted me some for my birthday. We’ve now incorporated it into our daily routine, taking a second to sit down and talk through the things that are going on in our lives - whether they’re bringing us joy or holding us down. Plant Propagation: To the dismay of some friends who are already overwhelmed by the number of plants I’ve collected, I’ve recently discovered just how easy it is to propagate some of them in water. Species such as philodendrons, pothos monsteras, and ZZ plants can all easily be propagated in this way. All you need to do is look for brown leaf nodes (the little brown lumps) on the stalks of your plants and cut just below this point. Pop your cuttings in a jar of water, removing any leaves that fall below the waterline. Put it in a spot that gets indirect light, then wait and see what happens. It won’t always work, sometimes you’ll find yourself eagerly checking back on a cutting just to watch it yellow and wilt away. However, it’s worth it when you see the spindly roots creep out into the water. It can take a while, so make sure to replace the water every week or so. After 4-6 weeks when the roots are substantial (at least an inch long) you can plant your cutting into potting soil and watch them grow. words by: Jasmine Snow and Elly Savva design by: Jasmine Snow illustrations by: Elly Savva and Canva
Why Sexuality Is Something To Be Celebrated Sexuality is a much bigger part of our identity than we often recognise. The way we identify ourselves, the way we dress, the way we connect with those around ussexuality goes much deeper than our sexual preferences in a partner. I wonder why, therefore, it is discussed so little or, if it is, behind closed doors and in hushed tones. I never felt that there was a moment for me when I became aware of my sexuality. We were told when we were 6 or 7 that girls were different to boys, that our bodies would change soon, and I remember the panic I felt at the idea of growing hair on my legs just because it seemed so grown-up. Then there was the brief video when we were 9 or 10, which was supposed to teach us about sex but instead just made us all giggle. I remember when I started to grow breasts and my mum took me to the doctor because I was convinced that the little lumps on my chest were cancer (I was a hypochondriac even at 8 years old). I remember my mum’s friend asking her if I’d had any trouble from men yet and saying that it’ll probably start when I reached 13. Something to look forward to! I joke, but I think that it is a very difficult reality that young girls become aware of their sexuality through the eyes of others. When I’d go to the supermarket with my mum, older men would stare at my legs or my chest, and I would wish that my school skirt was longer. Then comes a time of reclamation, when I began to enjoy having a sexual identity and it felt so exciting to explore this part of who I was. My school skirt was shorter and I liked it that way. I had my first kiss and my first crush and my first love, and all of these experiences are so intricately linked to sexuality that our very existence, our memories and our feelings, all derive from our sexual identity. I’ve spoken to friends about this before, but if I ever have children, I want our home to be open and communicative about sexuality. I don’t want them to experience the same fear and confusion that I did. I want there to be conversations beyond the biological elements of puberty and the different labels you may or may not want to use for your sexual orientation. I wish I had felt comfortable enough to ask questions on my own accord, but I didn’t, and I think there are probably lots of people out there who also didn’t.
I also want there to be a wider discussion around birth control. Again, we were shown a quick PowerPoint slide with the options when we were perhaps 13 or 14, but our teachers weren’t equipped to offer us any real
insight. It would be fair to say that this lack of information surrounding birth control had an enormous impact on me. If they don’t have one themselves, I think every girl above the age of 16 knows someone who has a horror story about birth control. Why isn’t there more information about it in schools? Why isn’t there easily accessible and reliable information for women to use? And while we’re here, why isn’t there just better birth control? I think that when you are a teenager, you are so desperate to understand yourself and to fit in, that you can try to place yourself on the sexuality spectrum. You can think, well, I like boys and girls so that means I’m bisexual, or, I’m attracted to people of the same sex so I must be gay. It can often be a little more delicate than that. Sexuality is absolutely a spectrum and I don’t personally believe you stay in the same place on the spectrum your whole life. Our identities are fluid; we change as we grow up and we meet new people and we fall in love. I think that it can be helpful to consider not where you fit in on this spectrum, but how the spectrum creates a space for you. You are never obliged to define yourself if you don’t feel that it truly aligns with your identity. Equally, having these labels can be a wonderful way to express yourself and connect with others who have shared experiences with you. Both are absolutely fine. Sexuality is not the crude, graphic, and ultimately damaging representation of sex that we see in pornography. It also isn’t the stale, clinical, biological explanation that we are taught in school. There is a canyon of interesting, thoughtful, fun and exciting approaches to sexuality that are often left untouched, or you are left to explore yourself, which is a little unhelpful when you have no idea where to start. Social media is a wonderful tool for exploring our identities. There are hundreds of sex-positive pages run by sex educators, if you are interested. There are pages to celebrate LGBTQ+ and all the people who make up this community. It is a way to connect with people, which I think is what it all boils down to. Our sexuality is a powerful thing because it is the part of us that feels attraction, empowerment, love, excitement and curiosity. It is who we are, and that should absolutely be celebrated. words by: Isabel Brewster design by: Kacey Keane
This piece is written by two contributors who explore the subject of heteronormativity and homophobia, how ingrained the former is into our institutions, and how we can unlearn the two to foster a more loving and accepting society. words by: Amy Leadbitter Heteronormativity is the idea that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural form of sexual orientation. This idea is accompanied by concepts of gender binarism, gender essentialism, and cisnormativity. In simple words, it is based on the assumption that there are only two distinct genders, male and female, and all kinds of sexual and marital relations are most fitting to them. This follows the perpetuation of gender norms, sexual identities, and stereotypes. This standardisation of opposite sex relations as the only acceptable way of gender expression reinforces the idea that anyone who does not follow this line is going through a “phase” and needs correcting.
Heteronormativity carries consequences for people belonging both outside of the sphere as well as for the ones inside. It creates a division between people who are straight and the ones who aren’t, meaning division between ‘normal’ heterosexual people and ‘abnormal’ LGBTQ+ individuals. These divisions not only lead to stigmatization, but they become a tool for mockery and discrimination. The alarming rate of homophobic hate crimes taking place is evidence of prevalent hatred in the wider society. People inside the heteronormative sphere remain under the constant pressure of remaining inside it, which prevents them from exploring their desires and following anything out of the norm.
But does that mean heteronormativity is synonymous with homophobia? Homophobia is the fear, discomfort, mistrust and prejudice against people who are LGBTQ+. This might happen through something as subtle as considering someone’s gender expression “unnatural”, or through more aggressive acts such as calling people names or unleashing direct hatred and abuse. Dr Herek, professor of Psychology at the University of California, describes heterosexism as an ideological system that denies, denigrates and stigmatizes any non-heterosexual form of behaviour, identity, relationship, and community. This term could be seen as analogous to systemic sexism or systemic racism.
However, it is important to separate heterosexuality from heteronormativity. Heteronormative assumptions enable homophobic behaviour rooted in stereotypes and gender norms. Challenging heteronormativity means challenging the idea that there are only two natural ways of being. The first step that heterosexual people could take towards supporting the queer community would be to think beyond the gender binary and reject the idea of natural or normal gender. This would create a space for greater acceptability of different sexual orientations
Just like racism and sexism, heteronormativity pervades societal customs and institutional ideologies. Heteronormative assumptions are ubiquitous in daily social interactions where people routinely face and habitually reinforce gender norms. To quote Dr Herek, “heteronormativity is the lens through which the world is viewed and, importantly, through which evaluated and judged”. It is not only prevalent in social communications but is also ingrained in educational, legal, political, economic and religious institutions, and socio-legal practices that promote gender binarism.
It is also important to disown the preconceived gender norms and stereotypes. A good way to start this could be by practicing gender-inclusive language. For example, instead of asking people about a husband or wife, ask about their partner. Lend patience and a sympathetic ear when people talk about their sexual orientation, gender identity, and struggles with coming out. Reflecting and teaching oneself through the experiences of people who went through the identity struggle is a great way to learn. Most importantly, never indulge in any kind of homophobic behaviour or accept it around you. It is quite encouraging to see growing acceptability for different genders however, discrimination, prejudice and hate crimes still exist. It is, therefore, important to acknowledge and support the minorities around us and lead towards a diverse and inclusive society.
culture words by: Shivika Singh Heteronormativity is present in every aspect of our lives- from family, to gender roles, to sex, relationships, jobs, and laws. One of the biggest difficultie with heteronormative thinking is that heterosexuality is the only ‘normal’ sexuality and if other sexualities do exist, they are variations of the default. This type of thinking is everywhere. I remember seeing a wedding picture of two brides on a Facebook post and reading a comment underneath along the lines of, “oh, how cute! I want a double wedding with my best friend!” Even on their wedding day, these two women were presumed to be friends first We see this a lot in the media where LGBTQ+ representation is scarce. Most male and female friendships have some kind of lingering romance behind it, but when LGBTQ+ fans point to potential romantic feelings between two same-sex friends they are labelled as mistaken or pushing an agenda. This accusation happens despite them often having more legitimacy in terms of chemistry, (I’m looking at you, BBC Sherlock.) This kind of representation impacts everyday life, where everyone is presumed to be straight until told otherwise. Men are asked about wives or girlfriends, women asked about boyfriends or husbands, and children are asked where their mummy and daddy are. Don’t get me started on asking children if their opposite-sex friend is their boyfriend/ girlfriend at 6 years old. This kind of socialisation creates feelings of discomfort or alienation for LGBTQ+ people who end up having to “come out” to explain that their sexual orientation isn’t heterosexual. It makes LGBTQ+ people feel excluded, invisible, and ostracised, as if their sexuality is somehow less than.
relationship?” Being LGBTQ+ upsets the gender roles that society has created, where a masculine man is the breadwinner, strong and strict with children, and a feminine woman who is the nurturing, emotional force of the relationship. It alludes to the heteronormative idea that there must always be these opposing forces of masculinity and femininity in order to impose gender roles of heterosexuality. How is this linked to homophobia and hate? It establishes a norm, and an “us vs them” mentality that excludes and punishes those who do not fulfill heteronormative expectations. This can lead to attacks, discrimination, erasure, and ignorance. Homophobia is merely the extreme end of heteronormative thoughts and behaviours, the real beast to tackle is the heteronormative belief systems we have all been socialised towards. We must constantly catch our own attitudes and thoughts and call out those of others. When we see two samesex people at dinner, we must stop our brain telling us they are simply friends. When we see a wedding ring on a woman, we must stop ourselves from asking about a husband. When we talk to our teens about the future, we must stop specifying the gender of their potential future partner. We have to keep re-educating ourselves to make the world a more accepting place for all and eradicate not only homophobia, but also the heteronormative ideas that produce such hatred. Ultimately, with enough unpacking, education, and awareness, we can make our society a more judgement-free and accepting place for all.
There are also the gender expectations rooted in sexism which expect us to fulfill masculine and feminine roles in each relationship. Any gay couple can attest to this when they have been asked “who’s the man of the
design by: Ersila Bushi
film & tv
design by: Shafia Motale
film & tv
Mrs Marisa Coulter - His Dark Materials words by: Rubie Barker
dapted from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, the BBC drama of the same name gives us the cunning and yet caring character of Mrs Marisa Coulter, mother to the main protagonist Lyra Belacqua. Portrayed by Ruth Wilson, Mrs Coulter, as the BBC describes her, is someone “who has risen to power in a patriarchal society against the odds” but yet is still seen as a villain. Showing little remorse for others’ deaths and her willingness to kill others definitely marks her as a villain. Yet she is constantly coming to the rescue of Lyra, stopping her from being separated from her daemon at the end of Season 1 and although she abducts her to do it, she keeps Lyra safe at the end of Season 2 after the revelation that Lyra is the “second Eve”. Not to mention, according to the books *spoiler alert*, if the TV show does go on to follow the plot of the third book, The Amber Spyglass, she may be willing to sacrifice her own life for that of her daughter’s. Maybe she is a bit too quick to kill others, but her defiance of patriarchal norms and her care for her daughter makes her a villain I can support.
Miranda Priestly - The Devil Wears Prada words by: Daisy Olyett
efore we nostalgically plunge into our favourite noughties films to remind us of which women on screen inspired us in the shadow of International Women’s Day, it is worth reconsidering the depiction of notorious female villains. The legendary The Devil Wears Prada for example immediately labels girl boss character Miranda Priestly as the “Devil”. A woman who has worked for her position, defies expectations and then rightfully enjoys the power she has earned comes under serious criticism throughout the film despite embodying what many women want from life today. The issue I have with her portrayal comes with her dynamic with Nigel Kipling, her trusty designer who offers a helping hand to main character Andrea Sachs. Midway through the film Miranda effectively takes Nigel’s promotion for herself, but as graduation comes closer and the prospect of findin a job looms, I’m starting to understand how you’re really out for yourself in the job market. We’re paid less than men, get less opportunities and often get tossed aside once we pass a certain age. So why do we still label Miranda Priestly as a villain when all she is doing is surviving a patriarchal system that she herself is oppressed by?
Amy Dunne – Gone Girl
words by: Nicole Rees-Williams
he initial shock over Amy’s villainous acts in Gone Girl arises because Amy and Nick’s marriage is typical for on-screen marriages. The relationship has lost its passion, its promises, and the husband begins an affai . This is a storyline we’ve all seen before. But, instead of simply filing for a divorce, Amy sets up a comprehensive scheme to frame Nick for her ‘murder.’ Considering this malevolent plan – why do we find ourselves rooting for Amy? It stems from the fact that society has conditioned us to view a husband being lazy and unfaithful as ‘typical.’ Amy is required to be this perfect, ‘cool’ wife who never loses her temper but when the same is expected of Nick, he feels unfairly targeted. Amy’s reaction to Nick’s lack of effort in their marriage is extremely exaggerated, yes, but her diabolical plan is built on emotions that are so universally felt by women who have been in relationships with men like Nick. Amy is morally complex. You cannot help but empathise with her whilst also recoiling at the actions she takes. She brings so much dimension to the role of the villain, and that is because her villainy is so utterly female.
Harley Quinn - DC Universe words by: Shivika Singh
t has been more than 25 years since the character of Harley Quinn aka Dr Harleen Frances Quinzel was introduced to the comic-book world but the true nature of her character is still debated. This insane femme fatale came up as one of the most popular characters of DC comics. However, her incarnation in Suicide Squad (2016) is controversial and speaks volumes about issues with female characters in comics. The film features the most romanticized version of physical and emotional abuse inflicted by Joker on his partner, Harley Quinn. The movie deviates from the comics and manipulates the storyline, glamorizing the abuse by attempting to represent Joker and Harley Quinn as some ideal couple. Many of the deplorable things that she did were with the intention of pleasing her lover, Joker. She even shows empathy at certain points like refusing to fight Black Canary because she is pregnant. It becomes difficul to truly hate her character upon realizing Joker’s continuous manipulation of Harley into doing his bidding and harassing her for his psychopathic objectives. More than a villain, she was a tragic character who ultimately wanted to be loved but ended up being wrongfully villainized and sexually objectified
film & tv
Our Hopes for LGBTQ+ People On Screen As a bisexual girl growing up in Sri Lanka, I never saw myself represented on TV or in films. In fact, it’s still very rare that I get to see South Asian LGBTQ+ characters on screen, particularly in stories set in South Asia. I got excited for a moment when I found out that Netflix planned to adapt Shyam Selvadurai’s, Funny Boy. However, having watched it, I was left utterly disappointed (the book is still amazing, however, and you should definitely check it out!). Whilst there have been other shows that represent South Asian LGBTQ+ characters, including Siddhartha in Grand Army and an episode of the docu-series The Big Day that follows a gay Indian couple as they plan their wedding, in general, South Asian LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream media is very rare. So here’s what I want to see: more South Asian representation in LGBTQ+ roles and LGBTQ+ stories set in South Asian countries. Because LGBTQ+ children in South Asia need to be told that they’re not alone. They’re not “strange” or “a little bit funny”. Their gender identity and sexual orientation is completely valid and they have a community that will support them. words by: Aruni Deraniyagala
I hope there will be more LGBTQ+ representation in both children’s and young adult films. Much of my childhood was influenced by Disney princess films such as Aladdin (1992) and Pocahontas (1995) which promoted a heteronormative lifestyle in mainstream media. Children’s films like How to Train your Dragon (2014) and Sailor Moon (1991) included LGBTQ+ characters but subvertly, with nothing to distinguish them as part of the community. ParaNorman (2012) paved the way for LGBTQ+ representation in both children’s and young adult cinema, becoming the first mainstream animated film to feature an explicitly gay character. During this decade, the rise of representation doubled with popular teen movies Call Me by Your Name (2017) and Love Simon (2018) bringing together worldwide audiences to the experience of young LGBTQ+ persons. However most of these films pushed male-narratives of coming out experiences or struggling sexual identity, leaving a rather large gap for other LGBTQ+ representation. My first encounter with Lesbian representation within mainstream television was Orange Is the New Black (2013). The rawness and normalisation of homosexual relationships within the show helped me start exploring my own sexuality as the experiences I watched resonated with an incredible sense of comfort with me. I hope to see more LGBTQ+ characters that serve as role models for children and young adults so that they have someone to look up to. I always wonder if I had accessed LGBTQ+ representation earlier on in my life, whether I would have started exploring my sexuality earlier as well. words by: Martha Jennings
film & tv
design by: Lucy Battersby
LGBTQ+ has ‘B’ in it for a reason. I feel like the closest film and TV has got to capturing the sense of bisexuality was bi-panic called “Jade and Beck” from Victorious and even though now we see them this way, it wasn’t the intention of the producers. They just wrote an insanely attractive heterosexual couple who happened to be the *ding* moment for a lot of people who fit somewhere between 1 and 6 on the Kinsey Scale. I wish screenwriters purposefully included bisexual or pansexual people in their productions. Currently, any character who has only ever dated people of one gender and suddenly starts to have a crush on someone who falls out of this safe heteronormative box – is labelled homosexual. I understand that it is the case for some people, but as a bisexual heteroromantic demihomoromantic woman I am telling you – sexuality is not that easy (can’t you tell from how I label myself?). I want to see proud bisexuals who do not perpetuate harmful stereotypes, who don’t cheat on their partners with someone of the other gender, who don’t lose friends over the label and who label as bi even in a straightpassing relationship. I want to see people falling for people because I am tired of being fetishised as a material for a unicorn in a threesome, tired of my love being worth less just because I am not black or white. I am marble and it’s beautiful.
We know LGBTQ+ on screen representation is substandard, but some of us have worse representation than others. As a bisexual woman, I think we deserve a much better portrayal than we’ve been given. The only characters we get are the ‘I don’t want to label my sexuality’ women, which allows the writer to flirt with a gay relationship but ultimately go back to playing it safe, or the ‘Depraved Bisexual’ who is just the wrong side of crazy and sleeps with any person who comes across her path. Can we stop, please? I would simply love to see realistic portrayals of bisexual women. Let’s start there. Then ideally some touching upon the issues bisexual women uniquely face such as, being erased from narratives with an opposite-sex partner, feeling unwanted in both gay and straight spaces, and the weird fetishisation many of us have to face. Give me true, realistic and meaningful characters and their journey through accepting their sexuality, ideally with a lovely relationship arc at the end because who doesn’t love, love? words by: Amy Leadbitter
words by: Maja Metera
film & tv
Why the ‘Bury Your Gays’ Trope Needs to Be Buried Mainstream media has hit a milestone in LGBTQ+ representation, with many more characters with queer identities in film and tv. However, if you watch shows with LGBTQ+ characters, you might also be aware of the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope. This trope refers to the disproportionate killing of LGBTQ+ characters in media, which has become increasingly common as representation has increased. With this representation in media, many fans have started discussing the harm of this trope and the importance of happy endings for queer characters. Around the 1930s, the public perception of homosexuality was rampantly negative. This negative representation was only perpetuated by the film and tv industry. Industry guidelines such as, the Hays Code, which prohibited of any depictions of “sexual perversion” were used as a reason to exclude LGBTQ+ identities. The only LGBTQ+ characters that were shown in film and tv were either presented as villains, deviants or diseased. While portrayals of gay characters in the media became more empathetic during the AIDS crisis, they still predominantly shone a spotlight on their suffering rather than their happiness and focused on their deaths rather than their lives. Although they encouraged a more positive view towards the community, these depictions were problematic because not only did they strip them of their humanity, but younger queer people only saw themselves represented in characters who suffered because of their identity. Unfortunately, this representation set a precedent for the future of LGBTQ+ characters in the media. Although the number of gay characters has increased, the type and quality of representation hasn’t progressed as far as it needs to. Many of these queer characters are still white, cisgender gay men which still leaves a number of identities underrepresented. Furthermore, the role LGBTQ+ characters take up is important. Stories with queer characters at the centre tend to be ‘coming out stories’ where we explore the protagonists coming to terms with their identity. As these stories revolve around
queer protagonists, the characters are ‘safe’ from the trope. However, they remain stories focusing on the shame and suffering that comes with grappling your sexual/gender identity, reducing the LGBTQ+ experience to their suffering. The prevalence of these stories is troublesome considering LGBTQ+ members of the audience will only see themselves reflected in characters who suffer. Media which does not focus on LGBTQ+ identity tends to push its queer characters into secondary roles, where characters are not as important to the plot and can be killed off hence the rise in discussion around the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope. The screenwriters that have been accused of this trope defend the deaths by vouching for “equal-opportunity killing”, where queer characters are just as likely to be killed as non-LGBTQ+ characters. However, as there tend to be fewer gay characters than straight characters, the ratio of deaths is visibly unequal. To truly understand the significance of LGBTQ+ characters, we must refer to stories with queer characters and their common tragic ends. How is it fair to keep killing characters for the sake of shock value, when queer viewers are constantly stripped of characters to look up to? Ultimately, representation matters. The younger generations of the LGBTQ+ community need positive representation, characters who get happy endings and grow to be the fully realised heroes / heroines of their own stories. There will be no progression if screenwriters don’t start to acknowledge the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope, giving both LGBTQ+ characters and viewers a real chance at a happy ending. words by: Catarina Vicente design by: Sebastian Jose artwork by: Amelia Field
film & tv
words by: Daisy Gaunt design by: Priyansha Kamdar Coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community has never been easy, and although the legal restrictions on homosexuality have lessened, the societal restrictions somewhat remain. The process of owning your sexuality publicly is never easy; unfortunately it is the nature of the world we live in, although there are relatively new anti-discrimination laws that protect members of the LGBTQ+ community publicly, revealing one’s true self can often be met with social prejudices and apprehensions. Speaking at a Stonewall event in 2018, Years & Years musician Olly Alexander revealed that during the band’s media training, he was advised "maybe its better not to say anything about your sexuality at all", adding "I’m sure she said it with the very best intentions", yet, pop songs created by straight musicians can often be graphically sexual and open; clearly discriminatory behaviour still exists. Despite gay culture being the underlying force behind most popular music trends in the 1970s and 1980s, being open with one’s sexuality was massively frowned upon. At this point, it is important to remember that homosexuality was actually illegal until 1967 under the Vagrancy Act of 1898.
music As a result, the majority of the consumer population had grown up switch the view that homosexuality was an illegal lifestyle choice rather than an unshakable element of identity. On an episode of Top of the Pops in 1972, David Bowie was filmed putting his arm around producer and guitarist Mick Ronson, which, according to The Guardian, sent "Middle-England reeling", and a storm of complaints ensued accusing the show of promoting homosexuality.
However, underneath all the outward homophobia, members of LGBTQ+ circles in the music industries came out sneakily; in 1984, Bronski Beat released a single about a gay man fleeing his homophobic small town and this charted globally; a middle-finger to the permeating prejudice gay people were subject to; almost reminiscent of Lil Nas’ controversial latest music video release, where he takes the "all gay people go to hell" trope to a whole new level.
It seems confusing then, that although the music industry was dominated by male flamboyance, members of the LGBTQ+ community could not express themselves fully. By the mid-seventies, Elton John was one of the biggest pop-stars of all time, releasing Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in 1973 and singing it at the top of his lungs in bright orange, jewel-encrusted sunglasses, and a fluorescent jacket. His flamboyance and grandeur was second to none, and he could embrace stereotypically homosexual aesthetics. Even though, throughout his career highs in the sixties and seventies he had sexual relationships with other men, in 1984 he married a woman, Renate Blaue. A disturbing trend surrounding those in the public eye - especially in the creative industries - was having a "beard"; the term used to describe a woman who accompanied men to social events in an attempt to hide their sexuality, such as singer Little Richard, who in 1995 announced in an interview that he always knew he was gay, but married a woman in the fifties to prevent the press gossip which would have at the time ended his career.
It must be stressed that the process of coming out, especially in the public eye, is never easy, and is something an LGBTQ+ person doesn’t just do once; it is a repeated process. So even though it is a hell of a lot easier to live authentically in the music industry today, we still have a long way to go. Section 28 was only eradicated in England and Wales in 2003, just eighteen years ago, so LGBTQ+ people in the music industry would have predominantly grown up experiencing the scarring effects of this law first hand. Their struggles, according to musician Andrea Di Giovanni, make the music far more pure; ‘it made my art more real, raw, honest, and less manufactured’.
The early eighties brought slight solace for those wishing to come out in the music industry. In 1979 Heaven nightclub in London first opened its doors, now an iconic staple for many, its opening symbolised progression and acceptance. A home for all LGBTQ+ community members to listen to the music of their peers and live their authentic selves, even if it was only for a few hours. Madonna’s Vogue was being played out of every car and storefront, a song based around the dancing of gay ballroom culture, the gravity of these moments cannot be underestimated.
Popular teen movies Call Me by Your Name (2017) and Love Simon (2018) brought together worldwide audiences to the experience of young LGBTQ+ persons. However most of these films pushed male-narratives of coming out experiences or struggling sexual identity, leaving a rather large gap for other LGBTQ+ representation. My first encounter with lesbian representation within mainstream television was Orange Is the New Black (2013). The rawness and normalisation of homosexual relationships within the show helped me start exploring my own sexuality as the experiences I watched resonated with an incredible sense of comfort with me. I hope to see more LGBTQ+ characters that serve as role models for children and young adults so that they have someone to look up to. I always wonder if I had accessed LGBTQ+ representation earlier on in my life, whether I would have started exploring my sexuality earlier as well.
However, as tempestuous as it was abrupt, liberation and acceptance ground to a halt with the arrival of what was known as the "Gay Cancer"; HIV and AIDS. London had its first AIDS-related death in 1981, which was only confirmed to be such later on. After this, the numbers continued to rise uncontrollably. This ultimately lead to Section 28 coming into law in 1988, where anything deemed to be "promoting homosexuality" was banned in schools. To put this into perspective, if a child was being bullied on the premise they were gay, teachers would probably not intervene based purely on the fact they didn’t think it was even legal to do so.
Britney Spears’ Conservatorship: Explained Britney Spears’s private life has once more become the most talked about topic in both American and international media. First entering the world of music and glamor with her song ‘Baby One More Time’ in the late 1990s, Spears has been in the public eye ever since, becoming a household name. She’s been considered as one of the most celebrated American stars and one of the highest earning celebrities. Unfortunately, she has become embroiled in a legal battle that concerns both her public and private affairs. A court approved conservatorship has been imposed since her public unravelling in 2008, which gives her legal guardians full rights to manage her financial and private life. A conservatorship is granted in America for individuals who are unable to make their own decisions due to serious mental health conditions, and is similar to a deputyship or power of attorney in the UK. Her conservatorship is split into two parts- one is her business and financial affairs, while the other is for her personal self. Under this agreement her father, Jamie Spears, legally controls her estate, career and private life.
This case gained enormous media attention with the premiere of the Framing Britney Spears documentary in February 2021, which prompted a series of accusations towards her father alleging that the star is essentially being held hostage. Even though sources close to the pop star have dismissed these claims, and other conspiracy theories, her fans continue to push the #freebritney campaign on social media and have been seen during her court hearings. Even after Britney herself insisted that she’s okay in 2019, the Free Britney machine developed in a way that she had to hire a damage control team to curb these claims. Her attorney, Stanon Stein, has also rejected the claims that she had been coerced or manipulated in any way.
A Timeline of Britney’s Conservatorship: In 2008, Britney’s pictures went viral when she was seen driving with a baby on her lap. An outburst which culminated with her hitting a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella, and her freshly shaved head, further attracted controversy. She was later twice committed to a psychiatric ward, known in California as the 5150 hold. After her second hold, her father, Jamie Spears petitioned in the L.A. County Superior Court for an emergency temporary conservatorship of his daughter’s estate and wellbeing, which was subsequently made permanent. From 2009 to 2019 the conservatorship was reviewed yearly, and was granted a regular extension. In 2019, Jamie requested to have the conservatorship extended to three more states, including Florida, Louisiana and Hawaii. Later in the year, Jamie faced accusations that concerned the physical exploitation of Britney’s 14 year old son, Sean. He stepped down as Britney’s primary conservator and her long-time manager, Jodi Montgomery, temporarily took over his duties. However, he still continued to be a co-conservator for his daughter. During 2020, the conservatorship was extended twice. Firstly, in February, it got extended until 30th April with Montgomery being the temporary conservator, before the L.A. County decided to extend the conservatorship until at least the 22nd of August. In the following autumn, Britney’s lawyers filed to oppose sealing parts of the conservatorship. She fought her father’s move to appoint a co-conservator of her estate and instead wanted somebody independent to take up the role. Around the same time, the US media was reporting that
As February rolled around, Framing Britney Spears was released by the New York Times. After the premiere of this documentary, Britney had her first court hearing of 2021, which saw Jamie Spears object to sharing control of his daughter’s property and investments. This was subsequently rejected by the court. The case is currently being handled in a probate court with Jamie Spears and the Bessemer Trust both being the co-conservators moving forward. In order to end this conservatorship, Britney needs to prove that she can manage without the imposed assistance. While the documentary may have sparked a resurgence of attention, support for Britney from her fans has been constant during her conservatorship period. Since 2009 her fans have objected to the conservatorship arrangement and have wanted Britney to be both independent and solely responsible for her affairs. Even during the time of her conservatorship, Spears was releasing an album every two to three years, and was still embarking on global tours. Her last album, Glory, was released five years ago. Following the release of the documentary, she tweeted "I love being on stage... but I am taking time to learn and be a normal person. I love simply enjoying the basics of everyday life." words by: Shivika Singh design by: Maja Metera
music After releasing their Mercury Prize Award winning album Vision Of A Life back in 2017, Wolf Alice are now back with the brand new album Blue Weekend which is due for release on 11 June 2021. With an upcoming tour around the corner in January 2022 and a livestream performance at Worthy Farm for Glastonbury in May of this year, I was fortunate enough to have a Zoom call with both Theo Ellis (Bass Guitarist) and Joff Oddie (Guitarist) from the band, discussing the future plans of Wolf Alice, their up and coming album, and how the pandemic has impacted their career over the past year. Obviously, you recorded the album in Somerset. So, I’m guessing it’s a bit different to what you’ve done previously with lockdown happening and everything? J: We didn’t actually record it in Somerset. No, no, we recorded in Brussels. I think a couple of people have said that, but we did some of the writing in Somerset in 2019, but we went and recorded it in Brussels. T: We went there because we really had a great experience when we were younger, making the Creature Songs EP, which was what 2015 maybe 2014? I’m terrible with my timelines of life. And it was a residential studio, so you’re pretty much selfcontained, and you’re just locked away focusing on making a record. So we were in that kind of bubble, and we were still there when Coronavirus happened, which made it even more of a bubble. When was this? Was it during the midst of the pandemic or was it just after it? J: We went in January 2020 and we were there until May I think, maybe a little bit later. So we were there without Coronavirus, Coronavirus came, and we were just kind of locked in the studio. So did you guys just stay there and focus on the album for the whole of the lockdown? J: Pretty much the whole of the first lockdown. It was very intense. No respite
How did you find that in comparison to your previous two albums? I’m assuming it was as intense as you said? J: Yeah, well, there was no escape from it. I think with all the other records, we could go and blow off a little bit of steam on Friday night, go off to a bar or whatever. We’d see people over the weekend. But this was you know, you live in the studio, now you’re not even allowed to go out on the weekend or ever. You can go for a walk in the morning if you want, but that’s it. So it was just front and centre of everything we did for about three months. As much as I love it, doing anything that long, and with that intensity without a break, can get a bit much. Do you consider this new album as more refined and progressed than previous releases? T: Yeah, that probably has something to do with the fact that everyone was locked away refining it for so long. In terms of detail, there’s probably never been a Wolf Alice project that’s had so much focus on that small amount of songs for a prolonged period of time. So in terms of real decision making and making sure everything was in its right place and had its purposes, it was a fine tooth comb process from my perspective. Was it tiring recording the album without any breaks? J: We’re making out like it was a horrible process. It was really incredible. But not getting any rest or getting any perspective from it can kind of fry your brain a little bit, especially when you’re going into the minutiae of things, and not having any breaks. Yeah, I think we were all pretty exhausted when we came back. We didn’t even finish there though, we had a week or so in a studio in Clapton to completely finish things off. So it was intense! This record seems a lot more personal and emotional than previous releases, especially since Don’t Delete the Kisses is the only love song in your current discography. Can it give listeners a deeper insight into your music? T: That was the first time Ellie kind of let herself go with any preconceptions about things like love songs, and talking with a personal touch to things and especially on such relatable topics. I think when you open up people relate to it a lot more and it can create a stronger bond with people and your fan base. I always enjoy it personally, as a fan, when a band I’ve listened to for a prolonged period of time opens up a little bit more with that side of things.
What songs are you most looking forward to playing on your tour? T: It’s very exciting. I’m desperate for people to hear How Can I Make It Okay and to play it, because I love a chorus at the moment. I love a group of people chanting - that’s what I miss the most. Maybe it’s me missing football. J: I think playing The Greatest Hits is going to be a fun one. It’s there, and it’s gone very quickly. Are you guys looking forward to touring again after such a long break since 2019? J: I can’t wait. It feels like there is a gaping hole in my life that needs to be filled with a dirty venue and loads of people singing along, and having a nice time. It’s just a level of connection that you don’t really get in a lot of other kinds of walks of life. Especially in lockdown, you just don’t have that connection. It feels so necessary, and it feels so sad that we haven’t had it for so long. So it’s going to be probably going to be a bit too much when it happens. So, yeah, panic attack, we can all have a panic attack together.
music It was announced yesterday that you’re doing the live stream for Glastonbury. How did that come about? And how do you feel about doing this? T: Yeah, absolutely buzzing to be honest. This is actually done at Glastonbury at Worthy Farm. So just the fact that we get to go there and play songs in that environment will be nostalgic, sad, happy, loads of different weird emotions, because obviously, you won’t have 250,000 plus people milling around doing their amazing thing. The selection of people we’re playing with is so cool, and just to be on that limited bill is an honour, playing there is an honour. It’s going to be wicked. It’s good, like a really nice treat for us. And yeah, anything to get out of the house to be honest! So Glastonbury is quite a good excuse, rather than the shops. So with that, are you thinking of doing any more livestreams with the album? T: We’ve got some plans. I think we can’t say too much about what we’re planning on doing. But we are going to do something. J: Yeah, there’s lots of there’s lots of visual stuff that’s cooking away in the background that is going to be coming out in the next three months. Apparently you’ve created a bunch of music videos for the album because you haven’t been able to tour. How did that idea come about? J: I think it was an idea that we’d always wanted to do for every album. We’d go, “wouldn’t it be wicked if there was a load of music and if there was a video for each song”? But I think the situation, the context really drove it as well. I think we’re saying “alright, we’re going to bring out an album. If we can’t be out on the road, you know, what do we do with a button? What do we do with a PR budget to kind of make it stretch and create more stuff, basically, for people to engage in?”. And we got to work with some really cool people, and hopefully people like it.
You were initially identified as having a folk tinge to your music, and when ‘My Love is Cool’ came out people compared you to grunge. What do you artistically identify with? T: I don’t think we artistically identify with any one genre, honestly. When I tell my nan what genre we are, we all say indie or rock to be not reductive, because they’re great genres of music, but just to frame it well. But fundamentally yeah, we are a guitar driven kind of indie band, I suppose. But we love to write different styles of songs. Nowadays, kids and people like a plethora of different things that it’s not a tribal way that I was like when I grew up. Certainly, like, you like indie, you dress like you like indie. That’s it. You like rap music, that’s your thing. So much crossover with all the playlist culture and streaming services and all those different things where you can pick and choose what you want. So hopefully, it’s becoming more indicative of that kind of thing, which is how I consume music. words by: Emily Jade Ricalton design by: May Collins
The Music of RuPaul’s Drag Race
RuPaul’s Drag Race, and spin off series All Stars, has became extremely popular in recent years, and advocates for the LGBTQ+ community through the use of their music. It is necessary to allow for much more inclusion, and a creative space for the gay community, without the fears of having to hone in on their expressions. The show celebrates the art of drag while addressing the problems associated with the culture, but highlights the fun and glamorous side of camp culture. The stigmas that surround the LGBTQ+ community are beginning to be challenged, and the programme itself contributes to activism and real living, by representing and normalising queer figures in a safe environment. Break Up Bye Bye, a song that was performed on the UK version of the show by the ‘Frock Destroyers’ a.k.a, Blu Hydrangea, Baga Chipz and Divina de Campo, was one of the most successful songs out of Drag Race, as it managed to reach number 10 in the Official Big Top 40 show last year. It was also a really important moment as Brett Leland McLaughlin, one of the songs co-writers is the described as being the one of the “most prolific out gay musicians” according to Vulture. McLaughlin, better known by the mononym Leland, has written for high profile musicians such as Ellie Goulding, Selena Gomez, BTS and Troye Sivan and intertwines pop with classic comedy films from his childhood. The song itself refers to important messages such as Blu priding herself by being the “hero for the gays back home” as gay marriage is not legalised in her home country, Northern Ireland. By layering the catchy bassline with hilarious anecdotes, it made history by furthering drag and LGBTQ+ culture into the mainstream. A regular feature on the show is Ru-sicals, a portmanteau of ‘musical’ and ‘RuPaul’, which promotes the contestants and their astonishing ability to combine lip syncing, live singing, and dancing. Since Season 6, there have been a host of Ru-sicals, themed around everything from the Kardashians, Cher and Donald Trump. One of my favourites was the more recent one, which was coined ‘Social Media: The Unverified Ru-sical’. Not only is the title engaging and comedic, each contestant has a social media platform which they then have to elevate onto the screen with a character persona. It’s fun and quirky, and the music is fantastic, parodying Barbra Streisand’s iconic Don’t Rain On My Parade, as well as other Broadway songs such as The Cell Block Tango from the legendary musical Chicago and I Am the Very Model of a Modern MajorGeneral from comedic opera The Pirates of Penzance.
There’s a lot of variety in the topics too. ‘Trump: The Ru-sical’ was a political spoof built around the story of Grease, and ‘Madonna: The Unauthorized Rusical’ had so much brilliant composition, as the parody evoked a large host of her songs and featured vocals inspired by her major performances, whilst embodying her with their stunning outfits. References throughout include Madonna’s 1985 single Material Girl which Madonna resembles a young Marilyn Monroe, the 1989 single Express Yourself and the 1990 single Justify My Love, which was recorded in Paris. The video itself was actually deemed “too sexually explicit” for MTV, and was thereby banned. It was later released on VHS and was the first best selling video single ever, and reached the top of the Billboard Charts. The importance of including explicit references to videos from icons such as Madonna, was due to the controversy of the time including explicit sex, sadomasochism and cross-dressing. It serves to show breaking boundaries of the rigid mainstream, which RuPaul’s Drag Race certainly never ceases to do with it’s highly fashionable costumes and gowns. This flows through the composition of the Madonna Ru-sical by mentioning a lot of her more censored and controversial moments. One of the most popular songs to come out of Drag Race, is undeniably Sissy That Walk, recorded by no other than RuPaul himself. The phrase refers to the exaggerated strut that drag queens are known for cultivating on stage, which refers to a traditionally feminine method of moving, but is slowly developing to refer to a method for both males and females. The style of walk that catwalk models evoke is selfconfident and assured, so the song serves to command the listener to strut their stuff with no fear, and to reclaim the word “sissy”. In the video itself, Ru highlights the importance of the phrase that a writer used when working on a story about child pageants, and it’s significant methodology of not letting others tell you what to do, and serves to empower those who listen, and those who feel guilt in their unconventional identities, which are actually, completely conventional in our everchanging society. words by: Megan Evans design by: Sandra Mbula Nzioki
Pride Preserved: A History of Queer Zines My fascination with comic books as a kid, as well as studying graphic memoirs as part of my degree inspired me to explore other alternative mediums of literature and led me to discover zines. I have to say, there’s something so enchanting about these incredibly unique creations that makes you feel so connected to the artist. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself, I was particularly drawn to queer zines which have historically covered a range of topics from both personal and political perspectives, which have helped document our culture. A Brief History: A zine, (pronounced zeen, short for magazine or fanzine) is a handmade, self-published booklet produced in limited numbers and circulated at little or no cost to specific communities and networks. Their purpose is to provide a vehicle for expression of thoughts and ideas. Often carrying anti-authoritarian messages, self-publishing allowed marginalised voices to express themselves beyond the constraints of mainstream media. Published in 1930, The Comet by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago is regarded as the earliest example of a zine. This sparked a trend of sci-fi influence that enabled fans to develop networks through until the 1960s. Zines began to expand again throughout the 1970s and 80s with the birth of the punk scene from New York to London. Punk zines had a grungier aesthetic to reflect the music genre. Popular punk zines like Slash and Sniffin’ Glue helped promote upcoming bands, bringing the underground scene to light. They reflected the ideals of the punk subculture and their revolt against authoritarianism. The technological advancements of the 70s also aided zine creators, with the rise of photocopy shops making it easier and cheaper for artists to reproduce their work. Similarly, subversive to punk mentality, the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s developed a more personal experience-based zine culture of its own. The focus shifted to the feminist movement and engaged with sexuality, body image, and issues such as sexual violence. Culturally and historically, zines have always served as a powerful outlet for content considered inappropriate for more traditional publications.
Zines & the LGBTQ+ Community: A key component of zine culture is that they provide a safe and independent platform of expression for underrepresented and marginalized voices. As platforms for free thought, queer zines have served as a protest against normality and censorship for the LGBTQ+ community within a heteropatriarchal world. Through highlighting inequalities associated with protests and movements and archiving personal experiences, zines have also been vital in documenting queer culture and history. Queer zines are a celebration of voices who are often denied a platform to speak from, enriching and celebrating their lives . At the same time, queer zines continue to challenge the demonisation of queer culture in mainstream media. For example, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, the US and UK governments refused to publicly acknowledge the crisis whilst the media presented apocalyptic messages in association with the crisis. In response, educational zines like Yell were used to help spread awareness and information on safety, to humanise gay men particularly those infected, and to elevate the voices of gay POC who were ostracised from the narrative. Queer people have been telling and preserving their stories through the physical evidence of zines. They not only provide a response to inequalities from voices that deserve to be heard, but they also preserve queer lives, solidifying our place in history.
literature Queer Zines to Read: Gaps in your queer history, or simply inspired to find out more? Zines are a great way to support queer artists’ work while educating yourself too. Whether you’re deep into zine culture already or you’ve never picked one up before, here are five fantastic zines made for and by queer people to check out!
There is no one definition of a zine. A publication has to simply identify as one. The power of a zine therefore lies in its inability to conform to one definition. This is something that many queer people will likely identify with; there is no one way to be queer and all identities are valid. The lack of structure of zines can be considered a reflection of the people who make them. People who exist outside of society’s oppressive binary ‘norm’. Due to their DIY structure creators are also far more motivated by self-expression and the desire to share their artistic passion than they are by profit. Queer audiences are therefore aware that creators have something they want to say that needs to be heard. They give artists who don’t conform to the expectations of mainstream media a chance to share their art with like-minded audiences. By being circulated underground outside of oppressive systems, zines also provide an alternative mode of communication that helps bring communities together. The Online Revival: Through the development of the digital age, the internet and social media have evolved to become platforms for social justice. They exist as safe, accessible, and interactive platforms for zines to be shared, with the ability to reach an online audience of millions at the click of a button. Digital zines continue to provide a creative outlet for frustrated generations. In a time of political tension and untrustworthy news sources, zines today have retained their significance as instruments for protest and change, particularly for the voices of those who continue to be overshadowed. Digital zines like Black Voices have responded to the protests and riots of the Black Lives Matter movement, gaining significant attention online and raising funds for mutual aid. Zines have been revived by the internet and social media, where they continue to help connect communities and strive for social change.
1. Hard Femme - Kirsty Fife This zine deals with the creator’s identity as a queer femme, tackling issues of body image, abuse and trauma, dating, and expression through clothing. 2. Fear Brown Queers - Jacob V. Joyce Joyce combines illustrations with quotes from queer, trans people of colour to interrogate and deconstruct the white gaze. 3. Shotgun Seamstress - Osa Atoe This zine presents a bold voice contending for spaces for women and queer POC within punk communities. 4. Spork - Jeff Zick Zick portrays the ambiguity of gender and sexuality, along with the use of language, dress, and art as modes of self-expression and acceptance. 5. Not Straight Not White Not Male - Rosi Angered by the lack of diversity in media that gay, Vietnamese-American rosi feels she can relate to, this extremely candid zine details her struggles with assimilating into American culture, internalized racism, and shame.
words by: Sarah Rawle design by: Amelia Field
I Ship It! Shipping, Fan-Fiction and the LGBTQ+ Community I was 12 years old when I joined Tumblr, and first experienced fanfiction and the ‘shipping’ phenomenon. As a pre-teen, I was still confused about my sexuality, not unlike many others my age. Suddenly I was thrown into a black hole of fan-art, fanfiction, and fan content revolving around all of my favourite shows. Now, ten years later, I realise how unhealthy that was. How heavily I relied on these communities to give me what I was lacking at home and in my real life, but at the time it seemed as if a whole new world was ahead of me, and I needed to absorb everything in. Fandoms are, to a lot of people, a safe space to emerge yourself in. Which is why the majority of fandoms are composed of young, queer people. Surveys have shown that only 38% of users of Archive of Our Own, a fan-fiction website, are straight and that more people identified as genderqueer than male. This leads to a space where people can express and explore themselves and their sexuality, without feeling the need to abide to certain social expectations. This leads to the concept of shipping: a phenomenon that brings two or more characters together romantically, whether their relationship was confirmed canonically or not As a teenager of a young adult, it’s hard to come to terms with your sexuality or your gender identity. It’s even harder when none of the content you consume, whether that be books or shows or movies or songs, portrays a character or a person who is like you. That is why fandoms have a history of ‘shipping’ two characters of the same gender - to help themselves feel normal, feel seen. However, this leads to a problematic solution that authors and creators of the original content have found: queerbaiting. Queerbaiting is a marketing technique for fiction and entertainment in which authors and creators hint at queer relationships, without said relationships ever coming to fruition. Famous examples of this are Dean and Castiel from Supernatural, Keith and Lance from Voltron, or Sherlock and Watson in BBC’s Sherlock.
Another point to note with queerbaiting, as well as fanfictions as a whole, is how most ships usually comprise of two cisgender men. Whether this has to do with the internalised homophobia directed specifically towards women, misogyny, or simply because shows have more male characters, this is still an important issue that needs to be highlighted. The frustration that comes from queerbaiting is usually what leads to fanfictions being written, people are upset that they have been repeatedly lied to and want to create their own narrative. Queer relationships, and writing these queer relationships from scratch, allow for members of a community to create their own world, and to project what they want onto those characters. It’s also giving a voice to the voiceless - lots of shipping happens between secondary or tertiary characters, characters who are barely mentioned in that way in canon. By writing and then uploading stories on Wattpad, Archive of Our Own, or fanfiction.net, members of the community can express their anger by creating an entire storyline. This leads to numerous types of stories: - Alternate Universe: where the characters remain the same but are placed in a different universe to the one they were originally created in. - Canon-divergent: where the story and characters remain identical up until a certain part of the story, and then it diverges completely. -Canon-compliant: where the storyline and characters remain nearly identical, and only a few details differ. Fanfictions have also created a lingo describing relationships that is now adapted into mainstream forms of media, such as the ‘enemies to lovers ‘or ‘friends to lovers’ timelines. This just goes to show that fanfiction and fandom creations are more serious than someone from outside the fandom might think. Indeed, there is a preconception about fanfiction that it is a lowly piece of literature, and that is at times should not even be considered as literature, but I beg to differ.
literature I have spent many nights of my teen years reading fanfiction on Archive of Our Own, fanfictions filled with metaphors and similes, with analogies and song. I have spent nights and days reading stories that are 300,000 words long, longer than Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The emotion that comes from fanfiction, the love and hate and sadness and laughter that these stories bring out, should not be reduced to irrelevant just because they come from reading a fanfiction. In contemporary mainstream media, we can find a few examples of content that used to be fanfictions: After by Anna Todd, a Harry Styles fanfiction from Wattpad, or 5 0 Shades of G rey by Erika Leonard James, a Twilight fan-fiction originally called ‘Master of the Universe’. Though these specific fanfictions didn’t receive the best reception from audiences, and they aren’t representatives of fanfiction and shipping phenomenon as a whole, they are still important examples to remember as they seem to have crossed boundaries between the fictive and the real. Fanfictions and shipping is an art form and should be considered as such. They allow for teenagers and young adults to find a safe space from a world that often seems too cruel and bleak, and they allow for them to see representation, to see a queer character being happy, in love, and alive. Disregarding the impact of fanfictions simply because they are fan-made, is a disservice to others as well as yourself. words by: Scarlet Charles design by: Sandra Mbula Nzioki
The Lost and Found LGBTQ+ Gaming Hit Players:
words by: Marcus Yeatman-Crouch design by: Lucy Battersby
It’s been around 7 months since the Netflix docuseries High Score released, with episodes covering several of the core foundations of modern gaming, from console wars to the RPG. One story that was included in the RPG episode was that of Ryan Best, and GayBlade. The action role-playing game released in 1992 is considered one of the earliest LGBT-themed video games. It wasn’t much to look at, featuring amateurish graphics and a generic room-to-room dungeon system. But the content is what caught the eye. First, a party had to be formed, consisting of your choice of drag queens, lesbians, muses and more. The enemies you would face included STIs, priests, and skinheads. For weapons: purses and press-on nails, while armour included tiaras and leather jackets. And the final boss? Homophobic politician Pat Buchanan, who at the time was a big conservative commentator and repeatedly branded the AIDS epidemic as nature’s retribution against gays. In short, GayBlade can be seen as almost a microcosm of the LGBTQ+ community in the late 80’s and early 90’s, with all its stereotypes, heroes, and villains compressed into an adventure where your goal was rescuing Empress Nelda ‘from the forces of homophobia’. Best said “when I finished the game, it was like a therapy for me. A lot of the anger that I’d carried with me for years was gone”, and in a time where the gay community was being hounded and blamed for the AIDS crisis, it’s no surprise that the developer began receiving letters of thanks and praise for how the game provided catharsis for others.
download Not only was GayBlade shaping up to be a cult classic amongst gays and straights alike, it was also getting some decent coverage from the press, especially for an indie LGBTQ+ game in the 90’s. There were interviews with USA Today, Howard Stern, and even internationally with news sources as big as Der Spiegel in Germany. It was blowing up, generating controversy (naturally, with religious and conservative groups that found themselves vilified for their hate speech) but equal amounts of praise and admiration for its incredibly direct reclamation of stereotypes in positively promoting the LGBTQ+ community. And then, it all disappeared. Best said on High Score that he lost all his copies of the game, plus the original source code, in a move years ago, and had spent his time since searching for any trace of the game and possible hidden copies. As it would turn out, the docuseries would provide Best with the attention he needed to attract someone who did have a surviving copy of GayBlade. The word got out, and the Schwules Museum in Berlin - the first LGBTQ+ museum in the world - were able to provide Best with an original copy of the game.It was then digitally preserved with the help of numerous archiving groups like the LGBTQ Video Game Archive and the Internet Archive, who also made the game available to download last year. This was a massive victory for the LGBTQ+ community, and gaming. To uncover one of the earliest titles focused on the community, with such an obvious narrative relating to the treatment of queer people at the time, GayBlade is both an instrument of cultural understanding and, in many ways, an empowering tool that could have become a marker of LGBTQ+ representation in gaming very early on.
You may wonder, why did it take so long for anyone to catch on and start searching for GayBlade? Mainly, it’s because High Score was the first account of the story of video games that saw fit to truly include marginalised groups and their importance to the industry. Ryan Best and his contribution as an LGBTQ+ developer was not the only one: there was also focus on the importance of a woman developer in pioneering the massive RPG genre, the black engineer who can take credit for the cartridge system, and plenty more scattered through the series. High Score was the first documentary to really celebrate the way these marginalised developers pushed the boundaries of video games and get their stories into the mainstream. If attempts had been made to uncover the story of the first LGBTQ+ games sooner, we could have been enjoying the revived version of GayBlade far earlier, and Ryan Best would have got his closure on a culturally significant game that he thought was lost. So what next? GayBlade is just one of many LGBTQ+ focused games that was lost in the margins of the gaming industry. High Score shed some light, but there is yet to be a full beam cast over LGBTQ+ game development or its community. The LGBTQ+ Video Game Archive and other such groups are doing excellent work in preserving and promoting titles that put queer characters and stories front and centre. Perhaps with the little push of another big money doc like High Score, there can be proper recognition of the efforts of marginalised communities in furthering the gaming industry.
words by: Emily Bryant design by: Ersila Bushi LGBTQ+ representation has increased significantly in the media in recent years. Video games are no exception; queer and trans characters have been popping up in our games more and more over the past decade. Over time we have been introduced to fleshed out, multi-dimensional characters who are grounded in their respective worlds. Games have made great strides in how queer and trans characters are presented, allowing their presence to become normalised to the average consumer. Such normalisation of queer and trans characters is aided by having LGBTQ+ characters. A prime example of this is Bioware’s Dragon Age series. The party based mechanics of these games enables Bioware to produce a diverse cast of characters, and the presence of LGBTQ+ characters only increased as the series progressed. Bisexuality is prominent throughout these three games; companions like Leliana and Zevran in Dragon Age: Origins and almost all the companions in Dragon Age II offer the potential for bisexual romances, presenting the idea as normalised within the world of Thedas. In addition to bisexual options, Dragon Age: Inquisition also provides the series’ first same sex romances through Dorian and Sera. These representations provide queer characters from a variety of backgrounds and races, allowing players to understand and relate to them as they play. This combined with a plethora of queer background characters - like Empress Celine of Orlais - grounds queerness within these games and creates a space that is surrounded by such characters. The series also broke boundaries with trans representation, as Cremisius ‘Krem’ Aclassi from Dragon Age: Inquisition was the first trans male character presented in a video game. Krem’s story and role within the game shows him as a well developed character and individual, rather than feeling forced in for the sake of representation. Queerness in these games is grounded and realistic, establishing it within the world as normal and accepted.
Furthermore, we see LGBTQ+ characters being normalised when queer and trans protagonists are introduced in games. Placing LGBTQ+ characters in central roles allows them the space to develop and be something beyond their sexuality or gender. A strong example of this is Ellie from Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. While being gay is an aspect of Ellie’s character, we learn much more about her throughout the course of those games. She grows as the games progress, and her queerness adds a layer to her complex character. These complexities are also reflected in Max and Chloe from Dontnod Entertainment’s Life is Strange. While being queer is not a major part of the main plot of Life is Strange, it shows us how it influences these characters and how it affects their decisions. Max and Chloe are at the root of the story and their queerness only adds to their individuality, rather than detracts from it. There is also progression with trans characters, as Dontnod Entertainment’s Tell Me Why had the first trans protagonist in a video game, Tyler Ronan. The game’s GLAAD consultant Nick Adams described Tyler’s place in the game as “a nice balance of not shying away from the fact [...] and showing the way it affects him, and [...] how other people react to him”. These present how queer and trans characters can be at the core of the story without that being the only aspect of themselves. To conclude, LGBTQ+ representation in video games has evolved and developed into a level of normality. Queer and trans characters are becoming increasingly popular in our games, and such representation doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Who are some LGBTQ+ characters that you love?
download design by: Shafia Motale words by: Lewis Empson
A GENDER EXPRESSION REVOLUTION IN GAMING Character creation menus have been a staple of varying game genres and franchises, from shooters to strategy games. It is most lauded in the role playing game genre, although as of late, the options surrounding gender expression in RPG games have felt limiting and do not accommodate transgender and non-binary gamers. Some of the biggest RPG franchises like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series have only offered a male or female option in their character creation suite, leaving transgender and non-binary players with confined options to express themselves with outside of the traditional binary gender options. Thankfully, the last year has provided a more updated and relevant way to express gender through character customisation and gameplay mechanics that accommodate gender expression outside of the traditional binary.
Next up is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which offers an interesting take on gender fluidit . You can play the game as either a male or female Eivor (both options are canon in the overarching story) and you can change this at any time in the options menu. However, there is a third option that lets the “Animus” choose. This option fluidly changes the gender of Eivor depending on the mission; no spoilers but it retains significance to the story and is technically the best way to play if you want the most immersive experience. Not being locked into the gender that you picked right at the beginning of the story is liberating, especially in a game so huge in scope like Valhalla. It’s once again refreshing to see studios like Ubisoft taking initiative to create accessible and fluid options for a wider range of players.
Firstly and arguably most surprisingly is Call Of Duty Black Ops: Cold War. I’ve highlighted this one as it is perhaps the most intriguing. It is primarily a first person shooter and a Call Of Duty game at that, so character customisation has never particularly been a staple within this series. However, in Black Ops: Cold War’s campaign, you create a member of the United States secret service to undertake covert (and sometimes not-so-covert) missions. As part of this character creation you can select “Classified” to have an ambiguous character or select they/them pronouns for a non-binary character. Throughout the game other characters will refer to you with your chosen pronouns and this greater level of control can allow players to freely refine the extent to which they express their gender in the game.
Finally is Cyberpunk 2077. Now, say what you will about any other aspect of the game but its fantastic character creation suite is one of its few positives. Cyberpunk 2077 gets into the nitty gritty with full genital customisation (yep), voice selections with masculine and feminine options, and general customisation options that can make your character present either more masculine, feminine or neither regardless of sex or gender; meaning you can mix and match voice and body types to find a suitable way to express yourself in Night City. It also features a plethora of romance options throughout the game, so players can affirm gender and sexuality in any way they choose, making it one of the most inclusive games in recent memory when it comes to customising your gender and sexuality.
This is particularly refreshing to see in one of the biggest game franchises of all time, as it helps to bring these advancements in gender expression to the forefront of the industry in an unapologetic way - especially considering how the stereotypical Call Of Duty player can become… “fragile” when it comes to progressive changes within their games.
What’s key to remember is that these are huge, triple-A titles. They are at the forefront of the industry and have garnered huge attention, putting these new gender expression options in the spotlight and setting an example for the future of the industry. With plenty of more RPG’s on the horizon, we hope to see more of this progress to ensure all players have the chance to express themselves in various gaming worlds. So, it’s up to the developers now; with new Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age and Mass Effect titles on the way, we hope to see this trend continue and evolve to represent all gender identities and expressions.
How would you describe your style/aesthetic? Honestly, I don’t really have a set style. My wardrobe is extremely varied and different variations of outfits appear at different points in time, it usually depends on what shows I’m watching or what music I’m listening to, and if there’s any particular link from that into my style. Away from University I live in quite a rural area near the sea, so my clothing choices regularly have to be focused on practicality as much as they are on style. Who is your biggest fashion icon? I feel like my fashion icons are constantly shifting, some honourable mentions go to Jonah Hill, Tyler The Creator, and Kanye. I feel like that street style has always been a base for me to work from, but the one constant inspiration for me has to be Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. I remember buying a jacket similar to a Gucci one he wore when I was seventeen from Zara because I wanted something similar, without spending £2000. What is your relationship with fashion? I was a late bloomer with fashion, I used to skate a lot when I was younger and so it was always a mix of band merch and comfort. Usually, this meant cargo trousers and chunky DC shoes. Streetwear is what sparked my love of fashion at around sixteen, because personally I think fashion has always been about expression and your taste can
quite often be a good reflection of who you are as a person; it’s part of your identity. Where are your places to shop?
It sounds cliché but a really large portion of my clothes are from Depop, I’ve picked up all sorts of stuff from there and if you know how to filter through the drop shippers, as well as the people who hike up the prices of vintage stuff, then there’s some gems to be had. I look on Instagram quite a bit too. Shopping in person is fun (albeit impossible at the moment) but Hobo’s and Route One are personal favourites in Cardiff. What is your favourite item of clothing and why? Picking an overall favourite item is incredibly tough, at the moment it’s the Carhartt jeans I picked up from Depop last week, which can be seen in both outfits one and two, they’re so versatile and such high quality and the fact I managed to get them for only £20 makes it even sweeter! What is your favourite colour to wear? Black is honestly my default colour choice for most things fashion wise, it’s slimming and incredibly versatile. Plus, it is usually an easy colour to wash without worrying about any colours running and ruining the clothing. If I had to choose something else, it’d probably be purple, it’s my favourite colour overall and often stands out from the usual reds, blues, and
greens. What is a fashion trend you love and a fashion trend you hate? I’m not usually one to hate on fashion trends because I always like to give new things a go, at the moment though I’d say I’m not personally a fan of varsity jackets, but that is probably down to the fact that they don’t suit me. However, a trend I love has to be the athleisure wear that has become so prominent since the pandemic, I love baggier trousers and joggers. What influences your style and the way you dress? I think both skate culture and streetwear culture has played massive roles in influencing the way I dress, and also what the bands or artists that I listen to wear have always been massive factors in my fashion influen es. Pinterest and Instagram fashion pages do have a slightly smaller influence in what I wear but I usually use those for vague inspiration rather than deciding what needs to be in my wardrobe. What is your number one fashion tip? Be yourself, it is always so clear to me when someone is wearing something purely because they feel like they will get validation for it. Developing your own style and expressing it is exactly what makes fashion so fun in the first place, so constantly following trends and what other people wear is just a waste.
fashion Talk us through one of your outfits (image one). So, in this outfit I’m wearing a Burberry Nova Check Longsleeve shirt, Uniqlo x Kaws Sesame Street T-shirt, Carhartt jeans and White Adidas Supercourt RX’s. I feel like the outfit expresses a nice, artistic and creative vibe; it is also nice to wear more colour as spring becomes to edge closer. I accessorised with a black cap from Over Sea’s Apparel in Cardiff, a RONIN Silver Pendant necklace, two silver rings and a brown leather bracelet.
words by: Henry Bell design by: May Collins
e r u t l u C ll a B
Created as an escape from a world fuelled by discrimination, which attacked not just who they were as individuals, but also as a collective, “ball culture” was created by a young African American and Latin American underground LGBTQ+ subculture in New York City. Left homeless after being kicked out by homophobic or transphobic relatives, groups of teens and young adults began to form their own families, known as ‘houses’, in which they all lived and competed in at underground balls. Beginning in Harlem Circa 1960, the ball culture community began throwing charity galas in clubs such as the “Hamilton Lodge”. These charity events soon turned into extravagant masquerade balls which due to their exhibitionist nature allowed for the ball culture community to express themselves in a new and freeing way. These balls eventually began to be held in gay bars, which expanded the community and transformed into an inclusive space for all participants known as “Kings” and “Queens”.
In 1970’s Harlem, drag Queen star Crystal LaBeija became a Mother to many after famously creating her own house, “House of LaBeija”. This resulted in the creation of many more houses, a great deal also named after their founding Mothers and Fathers such as, the Houses of Dior, Wong, Corey, Plenty, and Pendavis to name a few. Even though, they all competed relentlessly against one another to win titles and trophies the houses lived in harmony. When the song “Vogue” by Madonna reached the top of the charts over 30 years ago, many fans were unaware of that Madonna’s iconic “voguing” dance originated in one of the balls in Harlem itself. Named after the fashion magazine of the same name, which contained flamboyant poses and facial expressions the ballroom scene created dances mirroring these images, allowing them and us today to “strike a pose”. To truly master vogueing to its full potential, the action was categorised and judged through five key elements: duckwalk, catwalk, hands, floorwork, and spins and dips. Vogueing was not the only event which houses were judged upon, there were countless categories such as, “executive realness”, “femme queen realness”, “butch queen in drags”, “commentator vs. commentator” (this allowed aspiring (and current) emcees to showcase their ability to rap and rhyme over a beat) and “bizarre” (judged on participants’
creativity to design a costume based on a requested category). Within each of these categories, they were judged on all manner of topics from costumes to attitude, which is a testament to how challenging they were. These balls were not only a form of escapism for the abandoned but provided the LGBQT+ community with a support system and home. This suffering was heightened even further as the AIDS crisis grew, which meant many houses lost friends and family. In the beginning years of ball subculture and the AIDS epidemic, hostility towards homosexuality and the links to the illness were high, causing the deaths of many to go unnoticed and the illness itself to be unspoken of. President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, didn’t publicly mentions AIDS until 1985 by which time 12,000 people had already died. The illness did not just threaten the the lives of many, but the ball scene itself, as many members of the LGBTQ+ community fell victim to hate crimes, sexual assaults, and untimely deaths. As many LGBTQ+ voices were left unheard, or ignored through much of the ballroom era, it has had a profound influence over not just Drag culture, but the entire LGBTQ+ community, even today. Language such as, ‘shade’, ‘werk’ and ‘spilling tea’ have filtered into mainstream cultures, popularised by television shows such as, Ru Paul’s Drag Race. This television series in particular is very influenced by ball culture, with a wide variety of competitions that are performed on a stage and judged on very similar categories such as, realness and dance. However, it does not just stop there, even the iconic American singersongwriter Beyonce has mentioned the inspiration drag-house has had on her performance style and confidence on stage By accepting ballroom culture into mainstream media, an underground exhibition which was once hidden and frowned upon can now be celebrated for its innovation, energy and generosity, which will welcome and support many more lives for years to come. words by: Amy King design by: Sandra Mbula Nzioki
What I’m Wearing: 21st June foreword by: Jasmine Snow design by: Elly Savva As I’m sure all of you know, June 21st is the day that the government has predicted all COVID-19 restrictions will cease. As the vaccines continue to roll-out on schedule, many of us are hoping that this will finally be the day we can return back to our new normal. Upon the announcement of this day, there was no shortage of memes, anticipation and outfit inspiration to be had. Which is why, we thought it’d be fun to see what our Quench contributors will be wearing and even if the date is pushed back who says we can’t look really nice on our daily walk?
After the initial shedding of tears when Boris announced that we would be free on June 21st, my immediate thought was: What am I going to wear? So, after some careful consideration, I arrived at two designated outfits for that wondrous day. Ever since I bought a pair of stripy trousers in Cornwall last year, I have been absolutely desperate to wear them out. Stretchy and lightweight, they are perfect in summer to keep me cool. I love how floaty they are and I am ready to wear these to dance across the beach. Combined with the lace-up top, this yellow outfit screams ‘fun in the sun’, and the heels take the fun into the evening; drinking with friends in beer-gardens whilst watching the sun go down. For my second outfit, I thought about what I’ll be wearing when I’m going to a friendly picnic in the park or to hanging out in the back yard. To capture the chilled vibe, I opted for baggy yellow joggers, and I carried this through to the basic black crop. Finally, I chucked on the “Dynamic Yellow” Nike Air Jordan 1 Mids I have had since July last year yet have only worn out of the house twice, as I think they are possibly the most beautiful shoes I own. words by: Emma Williams
With the long-awaited end of lockdown coming closer and closer, I’ve already been daydreaming and preplanning the outfits I’ve been waiting months and months to finally wear. I hope to see the loungewear and ‘stay at home’ clothes switched for fresh new trends filled with vibrant colour and patterns, and the idea of being ‘overdressed’ being left behind us in our past ‘lockdown life’. Taking inspiration from many influencers on Instagram such as @cinziabayliszullo, @ sophiatuxford and @oliviagraceherring, I’ve slowly been pinning together what I’ll be wearing once we are able to socialise again.
For when the bars and clubs finally re-open again, I’ll be straight in my Motel Rocks zebra trousers, which have only been able to be worn in my living room and local Lidl at the moment. For some colour to pair with the patterned trousers, I’ll be wearing a berry pink corset top and matching pink mini bag both from Urban Outfitters. I wish I could say I’ll be wearing a pair of high heels, but I most likely will be sticking to comfort and practicality by wearing my go-to Doc Martens boots. To finish the outfit, I’ll add an oversized black leather bomber jacket from Missguided. words by: Manon Jones
2021- the year where checking the weather forecast for your government regulated walk turned into an essential part of outfit planning and preparation. Even though I have developed serious trust issues this year, it is nice to pin down a date when things will (fingers crossed) return to some sort of normality again. Personally, I believe that June 21st should be a national holiday. In between University deadlines I have found myself browsing through the likes of ASOS, Depop and Zara to hunt down the latest fashion trends or to get that new-in coat. June 21st brings both hope and promise of a time when the sun will be shining, so we are guaranteed vitamin D, and hopefully there won’t be a ‘shacket’ in sight. For my June 21st outfit, I will be wearing some knee high boots inspired by the Mavis Jimmy Choo leather boot (RRP £690!); except, mine are from ASOS. The knee or thigh high boot is a fantastic option if your feet are getting used to heels again. Mine will be styled with a camel corset style dress. We’ve also seen the sweater vest make a comeback, so I’ll be wearing mine over a white shirt dress. I will wear these outfits to Tesco if I have to, because there’s no stopping me now. words by: Clara Boon
Gender Neutrality in Spanish As the sensitivity surrounding sex and gender issues increase, so do the voices advocating for the use of genderneutral language. While some see it as a significant step towards eliminating gender stereotypes and prejudices, others see it as insignifica t in eliminating wider issues concerning gender. But let us first explore what a genderneutral language really is. According to the definition given by the European Parliament, “Gender-neutral language is a generic term covering the use of non-sexist language or gender-fair language”. They further describe the purpose of gender-neutral language as a way to avoid word choices that may be interpreted as biased, discriminatory or demeaning, as it avoids language that implies that certain characteristics belong to specific genders The increased use of pronouns on social media is just one thing that has shown us that there is a greater acceptance and acknowledgement in society that gender and sexuality sits on a spectrum. However, for some languages, like Spanish, feminine and masculine cases are added to many words. Nouns, adjectives and pronouns all differ depending on the gender of the person. In Spanish, words like doctor/a and abogado/a (lawyer) vary depending on whether they are a man or a woman. This leaves a very clear clue of the other person’s gender. Under normal circumstances there seems to be no issue with this, but there can be occasions when this distinction can be problematic. For example, a secretario (masculine form) refers to a minister in the government, whereas the female equivalent of this word, secrataria, would normally refer to a secretary or typist. Thus, it can be argued that the feminine word is less prestigious. In January 2020, the newly elected socialist government proposed to erase gender bias by rewriting the nation’s constitution using gender neutral language. However, Spain’s conservative language academy, The Royal Spanish Academy, has the final word on the correct use of Spanish. This event ignited the debate not only in Spain but across the world about gender neutrality in language and grammar. Let’s explore both sides of this debate. Why use gender-neutral Spanish? The importance of this topic could be accessed from the fact that Gender Equality is one of the 17 Sustainable Development goals set by the United Nations to be achieved by the year 2030. The UN has shown special emphasis on using gender neutral language in Primary and Secondary Textbooks, and has set guidelines for inclusive language in the curriculum. The way gender is represented in textbooks currently, shapes the minds of students from a very young age and leads them to build stereotypes related to gender, which heavily impacts their cognitive growth.
Like many other romantic languages, Spanish is also rooted in a highly gender sensitive base, which is difficult but essential to correct. While using a highly gendered language it is impossible to not think about gender while conjugating a verb or using a noun, so it is very likely that stereotypes and power structures relating to gender would affect our opinions about the sexes. Masculine is also the default gender in Spanish, which means that whenever the gender is unclear, the male default would apply. A male friend would be amigo, a female friend would be amiga but a group of friends where the gender is unknown would be amigos. A study conducted by Rhode Island school of Design in 2011 found that countries with gendered languages have a higher average gender inequality. Language is a constantly evolving subject and reforming gendered languages, such as Spanish, would help eliminate the base for inherent gender bias and disparity. Why is it not possible to make Spanish genderneutral? The conservative Spanish linguists and academicians argue that a gender-neutral Spanish would be grammatically incorrect. It is impossible to use Spanish without gender. Every noun is tied to ‘el’ or ‘la’ and each adjective differs to its noun by feminising or masculinising itself. The Royal Academy of Spain also disagree with incorporating a gender-neutral language and have replied with ‘absolutely not’ when questioned if an x, @ or e ending is possible. Academician Pedro Luis Garcia expressed his views over the issue by saying: “The use of @ sign at the end of the word to suggest the double value of both feminine and masculine is a monstrosity because the @ sign is not a linguistic character and cannot be integrated into words... As for the ‘x’, it does not allude to any double meaning but rather to an unknown, as it is a symbol of an enigma to be solved”. So, it could be said that for a language with both feminine and masculine forms, even with non-living objects, it would be difficult to fundamentally change it. But language as an ever-evolving concept is subject to changes, especially in crucial cases like addressing gender inequalities and creating an inclusive language for transgender people or for those who do not relate with any particular sexuality. words by: Shivika Singh design by: Anna Kerslake
A Guide to UK Pride 2021
According to the COVID-19 response roadmap, large events are schedule to reopen from June 2021, just in time for Pride season! So here are the best and the biggest Pride events across the UK, including a few online options for those who might not be able to or don’t feel comfortable attending in person. National Student Pride Early in April there is the National Student Pride which is taking place online from the 19th to 25th April. Tickets are free and there are promises of club nights and talks which are sure to kick off the season! Last year there were appearances from Tayce, Cheryl Hole and Mark Anthony, with talks from Dustin Lance Black and Lady Phyll, so hopefully this year will have some amazing guests as well. Dublin Pride This year Dublin Pride is taking place online, which means everyone can attend the wide variety of events on offer. Dublin Pride is creating its own broadcasting channel, which from May 17th will offer debates, discos, ceili dances and a lot more. There will also be a virtual Pride parade on Saturday June 26th which will be free to attend and was attended by over 100,000 people in 2020. Worthing Pride Worthing Pride is taking place on the 10th of July and will include amazing performances from Spice Live and Cheryl Hole. Although there will be no parade, there will be stalls and events and even an after-party. Newcastle Pride Newcastle Pride is taking place online on the 24th of July and is being hosted by the fabulous Gok Wan and Miss Rory. Brighton Pride Brighton Pride is happening on the 6th to the 8th August. The events on offer include: Fabuloso, Pride in the Park, the Pride Parade, the Pride Pleasure Gardens, the Pride Village Party and the Pride Dog Show. Fabuloso will be held in Preston Park and in the past has hosted stars such as Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears and MNEK. The new theme for the Pride Parade will be OVER THE RAINBOW and will celebrate the NHS and key workers.
The Pride Village Party will also include drag artists and cabaret, so there will be something for everyone! It is quite a unique Pride as it has a Pride dog show which lets our best friends join in as well. Manchester Pride Manchester Pride is taking place from 27th to 30th August and will feature the famous gay village party and MCR Pride Live. The 2019 MCR Pride Live featured artists such as Years and Years and Ariana Grande, so hopefully the 2021 version will be just as incredible. Not only do they have these amazing events, there will also be events dedicated to reflection. Some examples include the Candlelit Vigil on 30th August, which will remember those who were lost to HIV, and the Human Rights Forum on 29th August. Not only are there party events and memorials, there will also be a Family Pride MCR, which means that families can attend and celebrate as well. Cornwall Pride Cornwall Pride is happening on Saturday the 28th of August and will include a parade, Rainbow Fest and Moonbow Party. Rainbow Fest will be held at Killacoourt in Newquay and is a family-friendly event. It is an open space and attendees can get their faces painted, whilst soaking-up the atmosphere. There will also be live music and stalls. Moonbow Party is for those who want a slightly more lively night, as the lonely setting of Tall Trees in Newquay offers the perfect setting to celebrate Pride. London Pride No doubt it may look slightly different this year, but London Pride is happening on the 11th of September. London Pride is one of the biggest Prides in the world and is London’s third biggest annual event and the world’s largest LGBTQ+ fundraising event. London Pride is trying more than ever to become as diverse as possible, so everyone should be welcome at this unmissable event. There will be a whole range of ways to celebrate Pride this year, so even if you can’t attend in person, you will still be able to celebrate from home. So, make sure to get involved in any way you can! words by: Lottie Ennis design by: Priyansha Kamdar
It is so important for us to honour and help the LGBTQ+ community grow and thrive after the multitude of setbacks they have faced. Here at Quench Food, we wanted to provide a list of LGBTQ+ led food companies for you to support and help to continue to spread the love! Big Gay Ice Cream Starting as a seasonal food truck in 2009, they have managed to grow their empire to cover multiple locations in the States, as well as being awarded best ice cream parlour and best food truck! Their philanthropy has no end, but a significant portion of their support goes towards LGBTQ+ organisations such as the Ali Forney center which helps to place LGBTQ+ youth into safe environments. If you can’t get your hands on their ice cream, you should definitely check out their book, Big Gay Ice Cream: Saucy Stories & Frozen Treats: Going All the Way with Ice Cream: A Cookbook to offer your support!
The Gefilteria congratulates themselves on their ability to empower the community through food! When Jewish delis began to close, the founders believed Ashkenazi cuisine to become a thing of the past and they weren’t ready to say goodbye to this aspect of their community’s culinary history. Liz Alpern, the co-founder of the company spends her free time running Queer Soup Night, which is described as a “queer party with soup at its center and a commitment to resistance.” You can support the company by buying their gefilte fish, or their book The Gefilte Manifesto which contains 100 recipes that anyone can cook.
Founded in 2003, these artisanal chocolates “combine a deep commitment to social justice, environmentalism, and veganism with a love of bold flavour and obsessive commitment to artisan techniques.” They work closely with their small farmers and producers to make sure they are sourcing truly ethical ingredients. All the products are vegan and they are packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled paper. This is definitely a company committed to the environment! The company is extremely generous towards the LGBTQ+ community in their donating, having supported organisations such as Trans Queer Pueblo, Black Trans Protestors Emergency Fund, Pulse Victims fund, Newburgh LGBTQ+ center, Hudson Valley LGBTQ+ center and many more.
Coachella Valley Coffee co. A sustainable and well-respected coffee company, they aim to raise the level of what people should be expecting from their coffee. They are “down to earth, good for the earth, and one of the best coffee roasters on earth.” They, like Big Gay Ice cream, are extremely philanthropic and donate to numerous non-profits, including Sanctuary Palm Springs. This charity provides LGBTQ+ teens in Foster Care a family home environment, making Coachella Valley Coffee a great company to buy from in order to help support these charities.
18.21 Bitters This company prides itself on its dedication to crafting the best cocktail kits with their handcrafted bitters, tinctures, shrubs, syrups, tonics and more. Their name is based on the 18th Amendment’s enacting of prohibition and the 21st eventual repeal. So get onto their website and order some cocktail ingredients, and maybe even some merchandise. words by: Sasha Nugara design by: May Collins
Food Insecurity in the Food insecurity is the experience of not being able to reliably have access to affordable, substantial, and nutritious food in a sufficient quantity for yourself or for your family. During the coronavirus pandemic, the severity and high prevalence of food insecurity is one of the many social inequalities that has been brought to light. More specificall , the pandemic has shown us just how disproportionately affected the LGBTQ+ community in the USA is by food insecurity, and how reliant some members are on food banks and pantries. Food Insecurity in the American LGBTQ+ Community The Oregon Food Bank has been quoted saying that “LGBTQ+ Americans are hungrier than nearly any other demographic”, which they have subsequently proved by sharing data from a 2016 study by the UCLA Williams Institute — the findings of which are as follows Food insecurity within the LGBTQ+ community is more than double the national United States’ food insecurity rate. 27% of LGBTQ+ people in the USA reported not having enough money to pay for enough food to feed themselves or their family between 2015 and 2016, compared to 17% of non-LGBTQ+ people at the same time. BAME LGBTQ+ people were found to be twice as likely to experience these higher rates of food insecurity and hunger than white LGBTQ+ people in the USA. LGBTQ+ Obstacles to Accessing Food Banks or Obtaining Food Equality LGBTQ+ employability is a large obstacle for many in communities across the USA that do not earn enough to afford sufficient food for themselves or their families. Whilst raising awareness of food insecurity, the Oregon Food Bank reminded readers how in 2019, 30 States could deny employment to transgender people and how 28 States allowed employers to deny employment opportunities for any LGBTQ+ people. Not only does this make it extremely worrying for any LGBTQ+ person (especially those who are transgender) who are seeking employment, but also promotes the wrongful stigmatisation of being LGBTQ+ amongst communities across the USA.
Another concern is the stigmatisation of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community in some areas of faith across America. Church halls and religious community centres are often the perfect space in an urban area to facilitate communal food banks and pantries, though these places of worship are sometimes not open to all so willingly.
LGBTQ+ Community This finding led to WhyHunger’s US program Director admitting that they were “very aware that some places aren’t as open to everyone”, and subsequently adding exclusive information to indicate which of their registered pantries (out of its then 32,000 registered food banks) were open and safe for LGBTQ+ peoples and families. Homelessness is also a key issue that translates to food insecurity or unequal access in the USA. The University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall has found that LGBTQ+ young people in the States are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ+ peers; as well as the UCLA Williams Institute finding that 8% of transgender adults and 17% of sexual minority adults in the USA have experienced homelessness between 2019 and 2020. These figures are compared to 6% of cisgender and straight people experiencing homelessness in the same time period. This study also indicated that BAME LGBTQ+ people were disproportionately affected, with higher rates of homelessness and housing insecurity experienced by this group. What are the Consequences of LGBTQ+ Food Insecurity? There is cause for concern that besides hunger, the impact of food insecurity can cause detrimental complications and impacts on many chronic illnesses and/or illnesses caused directly by inequalities in access to resources in society including, worsening effects of physical chronic illnesses such as diabetes or HIV, and even exacerbating mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety. Are Similar Trends Occurring in the UK? Though there are no conclusive figures in the UK to show whether there is disproportionate access to food banks by members of the LGBTQ+ community, we do know that during the Coronavirus pandemic there has been an 18% increase nationally in food bank use as a record 1.9 million people in food poverty crisis were supported by the Trussell Trust. Acknowledging this concern, the June Williams Institute report showed how 14% of LGBTQ+ people in the United States felt as if they could not safely access (and thus avoided) “faith-based” food banks or donation pantries due to the escalating concern that there would be a stigma raised due to their sexual or gender identity.
words by: Caitlin Parr design by: Madeline Howell
With Pride Month less than a month away, it’s a great time Recipe: to start planning how you are going to celebrate. And what 1 Empty your carton of any liquid it previously had in it and then pour your red liquid in until it reaches a third of better way than through food? So, here’s a couple of my the carton’s capacity. favourite recipes to brighten up your kitchen. 2 Get your lolly stick and rest it in the middle of the lolly before freezing for five minutes. This helps to keep The key lesson that I learnt when trying out these recipes the colours separate. is that dye gets everywhere. If you’re planning to make 3 Once five minutes is up, pour the orange liquid on top of anything rainbow themed, make sure to separate your the red, and freeze again for five minutes. colours (red especially). Also, ensure that you have 4 Then fill up the carton with green and put the carton exceptionally clean hands when you start working with a wedge-down into the freezer. new colour or you’ll get cross-contaminated; a lesson I 5 Freeze until lolly is solid. If you want to eat them during learnt the hard way! the day, make them the evening before. If you’re looking to avoid artificial dyes, most colours can 6 Remove from the carton. If they aren’t coming out (badum tss), try rinsing the carton be made using vegetable extracts. A particularly good gently under warm water for a few seconds. alternative is using strained beetroot juice for red. If you
are looking to go in this direction, make sure you don’t leave any bits in your dye, as pulp can mess up the weight Top tip: The kids Innocent Drinks smoothie cartons are perfect for making ice lollies. Just make sure to put the lolly of a recipe and cause it to sink. stick at the chunky end.
Fruit Ice Lollies This is by far the most student friendly recipe for anyone wanting to celebrate Pride Month. All you need are red, orange and green squashes or fizzy drinks. I used diluted Vimto, orange squash and lemonade with green dye in it. However, for the more ambitious cooks, I suggest using three different colours of Fanta: blood orange, normal orange, and sweet apple.
Rainbow Macarons If, like me, you look at the word ‘macaron’ and feel a sense of impending dread, then this recipe is for you. Though macarons seem scary, all they really need is good timing. The most important part is leaving your macarons out after you have piped them. Without a dry layer on top they will spread out.
Tip no.2: The colour that worked best was undoubtedly
yellow, although red was a close second. I would recommend using a strong green dye as green can be one of the colours that fade the most after baking.
For this, I adapted a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book, Domestic Goddess, but used vanilla and cinnamon instead of chocolate.
Ingredients: • • • • • • • •
250g icing sugar 125g ground almonds 4 large egg whites 25g caster sugar A range of food dyes (natural alternatives are available) 90ml double cream powdered cinnamon, to taste 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Preheat oven to 180° and line your baking sheets. Spraying them with anti-stick might make the macarons too greasy. 2 Sift icing sugar and ground almonds together in one bowl. 3 In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until it’s white and only slightly stiff. 4 Pause whisking and sprinkle the caster sugar over the top. 5 Carry on whisking until egg is very stiff, but still wet. 6 Gently fold the icing sugar and ground almonds into the whisked egg, making sure to keep the air in. 7 Use 5 individual piping bags (plastic ones are cheap from a supermarket), put a smidge of a dye in each bag. Then, add an equal amount of mixture to each one. Piping the mixture ensures the rounds are neat and contained. 8 Making sure the dye and the mixture are combined, pipe 5cm circles onto the baking tray. Leave standing for 15 minutes- this ensures the mixture grows a ‘skin’ on top. 9 Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the circles have slightly browned. If your macarons start cracking significantly or separating, take them out. 10 Leave until cool to the touch. For the filling: 11 Pour the cream into a jug and whisk until thickened. This is easier with an electric whisk but can be done manually (good arm exercise!). 12 Add vanilla extract and cinnamon to taste. 13 Spread the cream onto one of the cooled circles and sandwich with a second circle. 14 Serve in rainbow order to amazed friends and family.
Tip no.1: A few recipes suggest making a ganache for the filling. However, from my experience, adding butter with cream is a no-no. You run the risk of ending up with something that looks like pale scrambled egg.
words by: Katherine Wheeler design by: Sebastian Jose illustrations by: Amelia Field
HANES CRANOGWEN words by: Rhiannon Jones design by: Elly Savva
Mae ‘Cranogwen’ yn enw barddol i Sarah Jane Rees, a chafodd ei geni yn Llangrannog yn 1839. Fodd bynnag, nid menyw gyffredin oedd Cranogwen o bell ffordd ac roedd nifer yn ei hystyried hi’n anghonfensiynol ar y pryd. Roedd Cranogwen o flaen ei hamser mewn sawl agwedd, yn enwedig wrth ystyried eu hagwedd tuag at rolau ystrydebol i fenywod. Er bu farw hi yn 1916, cafodd ei henwebu i fod yn un o ‘Ferched Mawreddog’ Cymru yn 2019. Felly, mae ei dylanwad hi yn dal i fod yn gryf hyd heddiw am y sawl rheswm y byddwn yn trafod.
Roedd Cranogwen yn anturus a doedd hi ddim yn poeni am gyd-fynd gyda disgwyliadau, felly mae stori ei bywyd hi’n arbennig o ddiddorol. Un o’r pethau a wnaeth ddenu sylw at Cranogwen i ddechrau yw’r ffaith y roedd hi’n prif forwraig, swydd nad oedd yn arferol i fenyw yn y cyfnod. Roedd ei rhieni yn eisiau i Cranogwen fod yn wniadwraig, swydd a oedd yn ddisgwyliedig i fenywod ar y pryd, ond perswadiodd hi ei thad i adael iddi hi fynd ar y llong gyda fe.
Yn wahanol i lawer o ferched yn y cyfnod hwn, cafodd Cranogwen ei haddysgu yn yr ysgol leol gyda’i brodyr. Roedd hi’n ferch i gapten a dechreuodd ymuno â’i thad ar y môr pan roedd hi’n 15 oed, rhywbeth a oedd yn arferol ar y pryd. Hefyd, dysgodd ychydig am longwriaeth yn ei hysgol leol, a pharhaodd gyda’i haddysg yn Lerpwl a Llundain. Yna, gyda’i chymhwyster newydd fel prif forwraig, roedd hi’n cael arwain llong i unrhyw le ar draws y byd. Pan roedd hi’n 21 oed, cafodd Cranogwen swydd fel Prif athrawes yng Ngorllewin Cymru. Hefyd, wnaeth hi addysgu Llongwriaeth a Mathemateg i ddynion ifanc lleol ac felly’n aml-dalentog. Yn ôl Yr Athro DeirdreBeddoe, roedd Cranogwen yn ‘ferch dal, tywyll, trawiadol, penderfynol a hynod hyderus, oedd yn meddu ar hiwmor hyfryd, heb amheuaeth, Cranogwen oedd merch Gymreig fwyaf nodedig y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg’. Cafodd Cranogwen fwy o sylw eto ar ôl ennill cyntaf yn Eisteddfod 1865 am ei cherdd ‘Y Fodrwy Briodasol’ a oedd yn trafod pedair gwraig dosbarth gweithiol yn myfyrio ar eu priodasau. Sarah Jane Rees (o dan yr enw Cranogwen) oedd y wraig gyntaf i ennill yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, felly daeth hi’n enwog yng Nghymru ar ôl ei buddugoliaeth. Parhaodd ei llwyddiannau hi a chyhoeddodd casgliad o 40 cerdd yn 1870, wedi’i ymroi i’w mam. Enillodd mwy o wobrau hefyd, gan gynnwys ennill y gadair yn Eisteddfod Aberaeron yn 1873, fel y fenyw gyntaf i wneud hynny. Ar ben hyn, yn 1879 dechreuodd olygu cylchgrawn ‘Y Frythones’ - Cranogwen oedd y fenyw gyntaf i olygu cylchgrawn Cymraeg i fenywod. Roedd gan y cylchgrawn tudalen broblemau lle rhoddodd hi gyngor i fenywod ynghylch eu priodas a’u rolau fel menywod. Ymgyrchodd Cranogwen yn gryf dros addysg i ferched trwy’r cylchgrawn. Mewn amser lle nad oedd e’n dderbyniol yn gymdeithasol i fenywod siarad yn gyhoeddus, roedd Cranogwen yn hyderus wrth rannu ei barn ac ysbrydoli eraill i feddwl yn wahanol. Wrth ddarlithio, ymgyrchu a phregethu, profodd Cranogwen hyn. Yn ôl y BBC, doedd rhai pregethwyr gwrywaidd ddim yn cynhesu tuag at Cranogwen ac roeddent yn gwrthwynebu ei phregethu hi gan mai menyw oedd hi. Fodd bynnag, roedd hi’n siaradwraig bywiog a felly’n boblogaidd gyda’r gynulleidfa. Mewn ymateb i ddwy fenyw yn Nolgellau a oedd yn pryderu am addasrwydd pregethwyr benywaidd, dywedodd
Cranogwen: ‘Dylai bawb sydd eisiau pregethu’r efengyl, pawb sy’n gallu pregethu’r efengyl a phawb sy’n gallu cael pobl i wrando, wneud hynny.’. O ran ei bywyd personol, roedd Cranogwen yn Gristion ac yn rhan o’r gymuned LHDT+. Ar un adeg, roedd hi mewn perthynas gyda Fanny Rees, a oedd hefyd wedi cyhoeddi gwaith ysgrifenedig a symud i Lundain. Yn Llundain, daliodd Fanny Rees yr haint TB a symudodd hi yn ôl i Gymru. Pan roedd hi ar fin marw, aeth hi i dŷ Cranogwen yn hytrach na thŷ ei theulu hi. Yn ôl cofiannydd Cranogwen, bu farw Fanny Rees ym mreichiau Cranogwen, sy’n awgrymu perthynas sy’n ymestyn tu hwnt i gyfeillgarwch. Mae sôn nad oedd Cranogwen yn gallu wynebu mynd i weld bedd Fanny Rees i roi blodau am 12 mlynedd ar ôl ei marwolaeth. Felly, mae’r cariad a oedd rhwng y ddwy ohonynt yn glir. Hefyd, roedd Cranogwen mewn perthynas gyda Jane Rees am y mwyafrif o’i bywyd hi. Mae pobl yn amau bod Cranogwen wedi cyfeirio ati yn ei cherdd Fy Ffrynd (Fy Ffrind). Yn y llinell, dywed Cranogwen: “Edmygaf hwy, ond caraf di, Fy Ngwener gu, fy ‘Ogwen’”. Mae’r gerdd yn un serch sy’n dangos rhywioldeb Cranogwen yn glir, heb ei chuddio. Roedd dirwest yn bwysig i Cranogwen, ac roedd hi’n rhan fawr o’r symudiad dirwest. Fel person a oedd yn teimlo’n gryf am bethau, roedd hi’n un o sefydlwyr Undeb Dirwestol Merched y De yn 1901 oherwydd gwelodd yr effaith o gor-yfed ar fywyd teuluol. Yn ystod ei hamser gyda’r Undeb, wnaethon nhw sefydlu 140 o ganghennau ar draws De Cymru. Mae’n amlwg roedd Cranogwen yn benderfynol iawn wrth weithio tuag at yr hyn y roedd hi’n angerddol amdanynt. Bu farw Cranogwen yn 1916, yn 81 oed. Yn dilyn ei marwolaeth, cafodd lloches i ferched a menywod digartref o’r enw ‘Llety Cranogwen’ ei sefydlu yn Rhondda yn 1922, er cof amdani. Mae hi dal yn cael ei hadnabod a’i chofio heddiw am yr holl wahaniaeth achosodd hi a’r gwahaniaeth ysbrydolodd hi mewn eraill. Heb ei dylanwad, ei dewrder a’i pharodrwydd i sefyll yn gefn i’r hyn yr oedd hi’n ei gredu ynddynt, mae’n deg i honni byddai ein cymdeithas yng Nghymru heddiw yn edrych yn wahanol.
words by: Dafydd Orritt design by: May Collins Mae’n deg dweud fod Cymru yn llawn talentau, o’r canu corawl, i’r rygbi ffyrnig, i’r ffermio caled. Yn yr erthygl yma bydda i yn edrych ar rhai o grewyr LHTD o Gymru sy’n arbenigo mewn drag, gwaith celf, creu tiktoks a llawer mwy.
Cwmni annibynnol gan ferch o’r enw Mari yw Myths’n’tits sydd yn dathlu merched traddodiadol Cymreig mewn ffordd... gwahanol. Mae Mari yn ferch queer sy’n mwynhau dylunio merched traddodiadol Cymreig gyda ‘edge’ Myths’n’Tits’aidd! Mae ei chyfrif Instagram bellach gyda dros 10,000 o ddilynwyr, ac mae ei grid yn llawn merched hyderus, sy’n herio’r norm, ac sy’n rhannu negeseuon positif o amgylch merched a’r gymuned LHDT! Un o’r gweithiau sydd yn sefyll allan yw dyluniad Mari o’r cymeriad hynod enwog o’r gyfres ‘Gavin and Stacey’ sef Nessa. Mae’r dyluniad yn rhoi sbin ar y cymeriad yn ogystal â rhoi sbin ar y ferch Gymreig draddodiadol. Artist cyfoes iawn sydd ddim yn ofn herio’r norm yw Mari felly. O’r gwaith print i’r digidol, mae’n deg dweud bod twf wedi bod yn y crewyr
digidol o Gymru, gyda gwefannau cymdeithasol yn fwy dylanwadol nag erioed, un person sydd wedi derbyn cryn dipyn o sylw ers y cyfnod clo nôl ym mis Mawrth yw’r myfyriwr Cymraeg, Ellis Lloyd Jones.
Mae Ellis Lloyd Jones yn adnabyddus am ei gynnwys doniol tu hwnt ar TikTok, ac mae Cymreictod a’r gymuned LHDT yn themâu amlwg yn ei gynnwys. Fel rhan o hynny, mae’n esbonio rhai traddodiadau Cymreig mewn modd sy’n llawn dychymyg a hiwmor. Ar Ddydd Santes Dwynwen, adroddodd Ellis stori Dwynwen i’w 130,000 o ddilynwyr. Rhoddodd stamp ei hun ar y stori pan roddodd enwau cyfarwydd fel Ruth Jones a Mark Drakeford i gymryd lle prif gymeriadau’r stori – ac Ellis chwaraeodd bob un rôl! Ar ben hynny, cydweithiodd Ellis gyda Hansh, cyfrif sydd hefyd yn llawn cynnwys digrif o amgylch traddodiadau Cymreig. Yn anhygoel, cyfunon nhw chwedlau’r Mabinogi gyda steil y rhaglen deledu realiti enwog, ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’. Ar ôl gwylio’r clip a chwerthin cymaint â hynny, mae’n annhebygol iawn y byddech chi’n anghofi ’r chwedlau fyth eto.
Mae’n deg dweud bod Ellis yn ymddiddori ym myd drag yn ogystal â chreu cynnwys digri drwy’r Gymraeg. Mae’r sîn drag yng Nghymru yn sîn sydd yn dechrau dod yn fwy adnabyddus ac mae hynny o achos Tace, sef brenhines drag a ymddangosodd ar ail gyfres o RuPaul Drag Race eleni a gwneud hi i’r rownd derfynol. Yn wreiddiol o Gasnewydd, magwyd Tace yn yr ardal cyn symud i Lundain i wireddu ei freuddwydion o fod yn frenhines drag llawn amser. Rhai o’r cwins fwyaf arwyddocaol yng Nghymru yw Maggi Noggi a Connie Orff.
Mae Maggi Noggi yn frenhines drag hynod adnabyddus yma yng Nghymru, gyda’i chlustlysau anferth yn dwyn unrhyw sioe! Mae’n deg dweud bod Maggi Noggi yn frenhines hynod ddoniol a hoffus. Daeth yn adnabyddus iawn yn dilyn cyfres ‘Gwely a Brecwast Maggi Noggi’ ar S4C. Roedd y gyfres yn cynnwys rhai o enwogion mwyaf Cymru gan gynnwys Elin Fflu . Cyfres llawn hiwmor, chwerthin a thynnu coes! Cwîn arall adnabyddus sydd yn ymddiddori ym myd y drag yw Connie Orff. Mae’n anodd methu Connie Orff gyda’i gwallt chwilboeth coch yn fynydd ar ei phen, ond yn debyg i Maggi Noggi, mae Connie Orff yn frenhines hoffus, a doniol sy’n cynnig gwledd o adloniant yn ei sioeau drag!
Yn wreiddiol o Abertawe, mae’n deg dweud fod Rusell T Davies yn ddramodydd teledu hynod arwyddocaol a dylanwadol i’r gymuned LHDT. Wedi ennill llu o wobrau teledu am y dramâu gorau, mae gwaith Rusell T Davies yn waith dylanwadol iawn. Yn ddiweddar, cafodd ei gyfres newydd ‘It’s A Sin’ ganmoliaeth enfawr am ail danio’r fflam yn y drafodaeth o amgylch Aids/HIV. Roedd y ddrama yn dilyn bywyd grŵp o bobl ifanc oedd yn byw yn Llundain pan oedd y salwch ar ei waethaf. Mae’n ddrama bwerus, sydd â neges hynod o bwysig – byddwch yn barod i grio! Rhai o’r dramâu arwyddocaol eraill sydd yn gysylltiedig â Russel T Davies yw ‘Queer as Folk’ a’i gyfraniad i’r ddrama Brydeinig ‘Doctor Who’.
Mewn cydweithrediad â’r Eisteddfod, ac elusen Stonewall Cymru, mae Mas ar y Maes yn cynnig arlwy o weithgareddau, sgyrsiau a dramâu ar gyfer y gymuned LHDT yn ystod wythnos Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru, yn yr un modd a cynnig gweithgareddau rhithiol. Mae rhywbeth ar gyfer y teulu cyfan drwy’r bartneriaeth arbennig yma! Dydi Cymru ddim yn brin o dalent yn enwedig talent sydd yn deillio o’r gymuned LHDT. Fel yr uchod, mae Cymru yn llawn cwins drag, tic tocwyr doniol ac artistiaid sy’n herio’r norm ac yn creu gwaith anhygoel.
Beginners’ Guide to This Quench issue is based solely round LGBTQ+ identities and lives. As an active member of the community, I welcomed this news with excitement, but I recognise too that not everyone has been lucky enough to be surrounded by an understanding, diverse group of LGBTQ+ people. I thought I’d create this guide as a reference point, so that people may understand which terms to use for their LGBTQ+ friends and family, as well as, perhaps, gain some understanding of themselves. Sexuality Sexuality, or sexual orientation, is sexual attraction towards others. Straight or heterosexual people have attraction to the opposite gender, whilst gay or lesbian people are sexually attracted to the same gender. This is fairly common knowledge nowadays, but it’s important to stress that sexuality can be fluid, and if your lesbian friend is kissing boys on nights out but says they’re a lesbian, that is their right to label themselves as such. It is also common knowledge that the ‘B’ in LGBTQ+ stands for bisexual, but this term can be misunderstood by some members of the LGBTQ+ community and the straight, cisgender community. Bisexuality refers to the sexual attraction of more than one gender. It doesn’t necessarily mean that every bisexual person is only attracted to two genders, and it doesn’t mean that every bisexual person is just attracted to cis men and cis women. The label has been adapted to be much more inclusive as society grows more progressive in its understanding of various gender identities. It is now generally accepted that ‘bisexuality’ refers to the attraction to multiple genders, but a bisexual person may feel attraction in different ways for different genders. ‘Pansexuality’ refers to the attraction to multiple genders too, but the way pansexual people may feel attraction to others does not change dependent on gender. There are a number of terms that people with attraction to more than one gender may use to describe themselves, so it’s important to ask, and, if they are comfortable with it, ask what that label means specifically for them. Humans are incredibly idiosyncratic, so no one label will ever work for all those that show similar attractions. ‘Asexuality’ can often be used as an umbrella term, a label to signify that someone feels little to no sexual attraction at all. Under this umbrella, there may be terms such as ‘demisexual’, where a person needs to feel a strong emotional connection to someone before they
will feel any kind of sexual attraction. In much the same way as sexual orientation works, asexuality differs for each and every person who identifies with that label. Asexuality does not equal a lack of romantic attraction, either. Asexual people can enjoy romantic relationships with others and may be romantically attracted to people of all genders. However, if a person is ‘aromantic’, this means that they feel little to no romantic attraction to others. Again, each person who identifies with this label has a different understanding of what it means for them.
LGBTQ+ Identities Gender Gender and sexuality shouldn’t be conflated. A person’s gender identity is not linked to their sexuality, and assuming someone’s gender based on their sexuality, or the other way round, can be offensive. If a person is transgender, this means that they identify with a different gender than the one that they were assigned at birth. For example, a transgender man would be somebody who was assigned female at birth but identifies as male. Despite what you might have been taught at GCSE, gender is much more complex than simply ‘man’ or ‘woman’. There are three intersecting aspects of gender and sex: biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression. Only one of these terms refers to a person’s gender, and the pronouns they might wish for you to use, and that is gender identity. A person’s gender expression (clothes they wear, for example) has no bearing on their gender identity. A binary view of biological sex ignores the massive range of variation that happens on a genetic and physical level. The suggestion that there are only men or women in the world from a “biological” standpoint excludes intersex people, who have characteristics that aren’t limited to one gender. An intersex person may have both female and male sexual anatomy, or they may have a high amount of testosterone despite having female reproductive anatomy. To take the stance that binary biological sex is the only decider of gender is not only scientifically incorrect, it also ignores the lives of intersex people entirely, who make up 1.7% of the population.
Getting into the routine of using ‘they/them’ pronouns before you legitimately know a person’s pronouns can also be really helpful. If you meet someone new, do not assume their gender based on how they appear, as their gender expression may not align with their gender identity. When a person tells you their pronouns, make sure you are respectful of this, and if you slip up, correct yourself quickly and move on. Don’t linger on the error, as no matter how uncomfortable it is for you, it is much more uncomfortable for them. This guide has only described a small part of the myriad identities of the LGBTQ+ community. In each of these definitions, it’s so important to recognise that what works for each of us differs. In much the same way that neither sexuality nor gender identity is binary, our understanding and use of these terms evolves and changes every day. You are allowed to make new discoveries about yourself in relation to your gender and sexuality, no matter how old you are, or how settled you previously felt in a label. No one can experience your sexuality or gender for you, and no one should be able to dictate how you’d like to refer to your own identities. So make sure you are respecting others’ identities. words by: Kate Waldock design by: Kacey Keane
So, gender identity can perhaps be most simply described as the gender you feel within yourself. If you are a cisgender man reading this, for example, have a think about how you feel male. The feeling someone has of their gender goes beyond the physical traits they might have. The term ‘non-binary’ can be an inclusive term for those whose gender identity doesn’t sit within the boxes of male or female. A person who is ‘non-binary’ may have aspects of their gender identity that fit with either male or female, or their gender may relate to neither. There are many terms that somebody whose gender does not fit into the binary may use, such as ‘genderqueer’, ‘agender’ or ‘genderflui ’. It is important to ask to make sure you are using the term that they feel represents them best.
it is trans people that are affected by this consultation. In September 2020 ministers officially ruled out reform to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, deeming legal self-identification to not be a ‘top priority’ for trans people, instead they pledged to help make the existing process ‘kinder’. Strangely, there is a lot of emphasis on countering the rise of gender-neutral bathrooms, as the government wants to have more places with gender-segregated toilets. From my personal experience, gender-neutral toilets are the safest approach for everyone and lead to less chance of harassment. The school I went to until I was fourteen had gender-segregated toilets and it created a space where kids could bully each other, or even harass gender non-conforming people, with the teachers unable to supervise for privacy reasons. Once I went to sixth form, there was a long row of fully separated cubicles, which meant students had full privacy and no one cared which bathroom they used.
When it comes to political and legal support for the LGBTQ+ community, whilst the situation is better than say, fifty years ago, it has started to move backwards in the past year regarding transgender and nonbinary people’s rights. A leak published in the Sunday Times in June 2020 revealed the government’s plans to scrap proposals, suggested under Theresa May, that would make it easier for transgender people to change their legal gender without going through the medical process. Theresa May’s plan of self-identification was to be put aside in favour of protecting ‘safe spaces for women’, such as public toilets and refuges for victims of domestic violence. This now seems ironic, considering the way women’s safety has been treated lately in light of Sarah Everard and the aggressive response to her vigil. The plan is also transphobic, as it implies that a trans girl who needs refuge could be denied it if she has not completed certain medical procedures. This also seems a strange way of prioritizing who gets help and who doesn’t, considering the Equality Act 2010 has already stated that women-only refuges must include trans women.
Regarding self-identification, the current process for a person to change their legal gender is to show proof that they have identifi d as their new gender for two years, that they will continue to do so, as well as get a diagnosis of gender-dysphoria from two different doctors. The process has often been criticized for being too bureaucratic and rendering transitioning harder than it needs to be. There is also the criticism that such a long analysis is not necessary because being trans is not a health issue, physical or mental. The government also denied the fact that 70% of the people taking part in the Gender Recognition Act consultation supported introducing self-identification. They believed trans rights groups skewed the responses, which disregards the fact that
One of the only positive recent changes is that this year’s census will include a question on gender identity for the first time, alongside one regarding the person’s legal sex. The 22nd September decision also pledges to cut the time and cost of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate, as well as cutting waiting times at NHS gender clinics. However, considering the disappointment regarding the NHS ‘pay-rise’ it seems unlikely that a decrease in waiting times could be achieved with current under-staffing and low pay. LGBTQ+ rights organisation Stonewall also criticized the proposed measure as ‘inadequate’, saying that ‘while these moves will make the current process less costly and bureaucratic, they don’t go anywhere near far enough towards meaningfully reforming the Act to make it easier for all trans people to go about their daily life’. Scottish plans to allow selfidentification have also been put on hold in response to criticism across the political spectrum, including the Scottish National Party. No change has yet been pledged, however, Scottish ministers state that they are still ‘committed’ to gender recognition being made less stressful. The law has never fully served the LGBTQ+ community, after all it is only now that the government is actively working to make conversion therapy illegal. However, it cannot be disputed that through the laws they pass, or the ones they refuse to, the government discriminates against people who do not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. Trans people are fighting every day for things as simple as using the toilet for the gender they identify as, while non-binary people are ignored entirely. It was only in September 2020 that non-binary people were confirmed to be protected under the Equality Act 2010, and they are still being excluded from conversations surrounding issues such as gender-neutral bathrooms. The government needs to be held accountable, but they are dictated by people’s opinions, treating trans and non-binary people as a debate as opposed to real human lives. More people should care about the threat to trans and non-binary people’s safety, not just because their siblings, friends, and colleagues may be affected but because it is common decency to care about the human rights of others.
words by: Francesca Ionescu design by: Madeline Howell
L o u k a
P e r d e r i z e t Louka is a 21 years-old French photographer and artist – who happens to be trans. He doesn’t want to be defined as simply “the trans photographer”, because as he says, he’s a human with emotions above everything. He and I met while when we were in high school, in a small town in the east of France. Through this interview, we got to catch up on his work and inspirations, and talk about trans activism and documenting a transition through photography To start simple, can you tell me about your artistic and professional journey? I started photography as a hobby when my grandpa offered me a small camera. I liked it a lot, but the quality wasn’t great, my fingers were on every frame, I was just inexperienced you know. Around the age of 9, I started urbex photography, and it’s all I did for a while. During that time of my life, in early teenagerhood, I was in a really dark place. My pictures’ aesthetic reflected that. Because I wasn’t happy in my body, I started to want to convey messages to my family through photos. I wanted to show I wasn’t doing well, since I wasn’t able to put words on what I felt. I was staging pictures with fake blood, skulls, and all that. My family was a bit like “huh, well, your pictures are beautiful but… are you okay?”
‘‘Changing country, culture, and meeting more open people changed my life.’’
Originally, my mum thought I was just really into a gothic aesthetic. But there’s one picture that really made her think twice and realize I wasn’t doing well. I had staged two people laying down in an abandoned morgue with rabbit head costumes. I was only 14, and it really shocked her. So yeah, originally photography was only to convey messages to my close circle, I didn’t think it’d have such an impact on my life. Since then I started doing a few exhibits when I was 16/17, but it was mostly urbex pictures and it wasn’t incredible. It really clicked for me in highschool, when I started doing fashion pictures, and my creativity completely changed. But my pictures went from dark and depressing to bright and full of colours when I moved to Belgium to study photography. It was a turning point for me. Changing country, culture, and meeting more open people changed my life. I know I’m more inspired when I feel bad, but my overall style is noticeably more positive rather than always referring to death. The only thing that didn’t change is I still use photography to convey messages. For example, in my Trans identity project entitled “Boy Assigned Girl at Birth”, I’m really striving to educate people. But it’s also for me, to have archives of my transition. It’s a project that’s gonna last my whole life. I’m only at the beginning of my transition, and there are still steps ahead. Documenting this process allows me to relax and be in my world. How did you go from photographing others and the world, to photographing yourself? I realized: “I’m gonna change.” And not everyone changes in this way. And other trans people don’t know how much they
T r a n s I d e n t i t y & P h o t o g r a p h y are gonna change. When I started my transition, I was alone. Obviously, my close circle was here to support me, but no one was able to tell me what effects hormones would have on my body. Sometimes, in a matter of weeks, a major change happened, and I wasn’t psychologically ready for it. I was really happy, but I was not ready. For example, when I had my mammography, my first reflex was to pass out of shock. So my responsibility is to prepare others. About surgical operations, it may be the most vulnerable state you show yourself in? How do you deal with showing yourself like that? Actually, it makes me feel good. Being able to reflect back on my journey makes me think “I know why I’m alive, I’m constantly evolving.” A transition is really hard, it’s not instant magic, there are lots of hard moments. Photography helps me realize where I’m coming from, and educate people at the same time. How do you deal with showing yourself online despite transphobia? Have you ever been afraid of it? No, because it’s online. Transphobia online doesn’t affect me as much because it’s not from people I know, and they are not speaking it to my face. I learned to protect myself from it. It pains me more for these people that they are so ignorant, than it affects me So internet was an escape door? Yes, and it allowed me to meet exceptional people. I’m very lucky to have the network I have, especially artistically speaking. Internet is where I have the most visibility. Do you consider yourself an activist? I do, even though I had to take a break because it’s really tiring. I still answer every message, and make a post once in a while, but I had to take a break. But obviously, I am an activist, because I don’t have the choice to be one. If I’m not an activist for trans people, who will be? My work is profoundly advocating for trans rights. Do you feel that being so open about your trans journey also means you sometimes get outed against your will? No matter where I go, I’m outed against my will. Every party I’m at, people will talk about it, and friends will introduce me as their trans friend. People think that because I show it online, they can show it too, but it’s not the case. I’m trying to educate my friends about it.
intend to, my work is very much linked to my transition. I also work a lot around bodies, changing bodies, and the LGBT community. And even outside of my personal work, when I work for others, I will always privilege the LGBT community and trans artists in particular. It’s what I fight for in my life, and it’s what I fight for with my art How does your experience as a trans man affect your professional life? One of the main negative points is that being a trans artist, I’ll always come after cis heterosexual people. I don’t introduce myself as a trans man, but I’ve already been refused projects because of it. Another example, sometimes cis people do project on transidentity, and are given more credit than I am as a trans man. Someone I know did a project on transidentity and branded it as ‘breaking codes.’ I was like: “You’re white, cis, heterosexual, you’re not breaking anything.” When it comes to representation in art, we need to let people speak for themselves. You can be an ally, but you need to know your place in a fight For you, what’s happiness? Professionally, I want to have a gallery in Tokyo. I want to live from my art, while making projects on the side like books etc. Love is one of the pillars of my work. I think it’s the most important thing in my life. Feeling loved by the person I love takes a big space in my life and my work. But overall, I think I’ll never taste real happiness. I’m not saying this so people feel bad for me. But the truth is, no matter how many operations I go through, I will never be a ‘man like I’d want to be.’ Being trans is also the harsh reality that I will have to take hormones my whole life, and that my life expectancy is shorter. My daily life is about enjoying each day as if it was the last. It’s not some bullshit saying, I’m really living each day as an extreme, and experience everything, good or bad, to the max. I survive every day, and surviving every day is not being words by: Laura Dazon design by: Madeline Howell
Many trans people choose to hide pre-transition pictures, why did you decide to leave yours online? Because I know where I’m coming from, and I don’t want to be ashamed of it. It gives people hope and shows them it’s possible. You talked a lot about transmitting messages through your art, what’s your message right now? Everything I do is based on how I feel. So even if I don’t always
Follow Louka on Instagram: @loukaperderizet @louka.photographie
words by: Jasmine Snow and Elly Savva design by: Priyansha Kamdar 74
LGBTQ+ Issue, no.183, May 2021
“Hope will never be silenced” Harvey Milk