ful LGBeauTi Life 10 +
LGBT+ terms you DIDN’T know!
Find out what it’s like to be the Chairman of a LGBT+ university society with Alex Prestage
Interview with two of the finalists for the Out On Stage music competition, including Shell Deliah’s
© Michelle Harris
ÂŠ Bold street Coffee
Welcome to another issue of LGBeauTiful Life, celebrating all that is LGBT+ in Liverpool and its neighbouring areas. This month’s edition will cover the Out On Stage competition in partnership with the Michael Causer Foundation, with exclusive interviews from the wonderfully talented competitors. As well as this, you’ll be privy to an expanded vocabulary where we’ll teach you 10 LGBT+ terms you potentially didn’t know. We hope to increase people’s knowledge of positive LGBT+ related expressions, to help limit discrimination and give you some terms to impress your friends with! You’ll also be introduced to the brilliant activist Alex Prestage, who, as Chairman for an LGBT+ society, has a passion for equal rights. He divulges tales about his role, and lets us into the daily happenings of a LGBT+ society.
Contents 4 & 5:
Out On Stage interview with the finalists of the Liverpool music competition.
As always I very much hope you enjoy reading, stay enthralled with each page turn and maybe even learn something new!
Peace, love and LGBT+, Damian Leonard – Editor and Chief Designer
© Michelle Harris
A look into the new LGBT+ bookclub in L1.
5 famous LGBT+ faces from Liverpool.
8 & 9:
“What it’s like to be...” Chairman of a univeristy LGBT+ society with Alex Prestage.
© Alex Prestage
10 LGBT+ terms you didn’t know!
Find out what’s coming up in our next issue!
© Damian Leonard
Out on Stage: Battle of the Allies Celebrating equality in the LGBT+ community, Out On Stage is back for another year to promote LGBT+ and allied musicians alike. In partnership with The Michael Causer Foundation, the competition was brought about to help support LGBT+ youth in the North West, after the murder of Liverpool teen Michael Causer six years ago. With the heats coming to a close, we’ve met up with two of the finalists who are battling it out for a winning spot, to see how they’re feeling about the competition, the cause it’s promoting and their potential imminent success.
ER N R O EC N O IN
Fighting to be the crowning glory of the competition is Samantha Cottrell, a 20 year
old student from Anfield, whose soft tones and delicate inflections guaranteed her a place in the finals. With a background in music, having spent over half her life singing, it was inevitable that Samantha would apply for the chance to get onto the stage. She first decided to compete after seeing the competition advertised. She says: “A friend had mentioned me to one of the organisers and I then noticed the advertisements and thought I’d give it a go. I’m always looking for opportunities to perform! “I’ve been singing for about 15 years now! I used to do backing vocals for my dad at his gigs. I stopped for a while as I had a knock in confidence, but I improved and got back out there. “I’ve only been a soloist for about 5 years though as I was always in groups or bands, but I’ve now gained the confidence to stand on my own.” Although not a member of the LGBT+ com-
munity, Samantha is a devout ally, stressing: “I believe you can’t help who you fall in love with and no one should be persecuted for wanting to be happy.” Samantha, whose music has been listened to 100s of times on music-sharing website Sound Cloud, has had great recognition after covering a range of artists from fellow Brit Adele to American crooner John Legend. The competition has been a great experience for the young singer so far, and has had a great response from fellow competitors. She says: “The competition so far has been amazing. I was so overwhelmed with the response to my set at the heats. The other acts were amazing and I was so nervous watching them do their sound checks! Everyone supported each other; one of the acts, Breakfast Monkey, even gave me a shout out during their set. I was so grateful for everyone there.” Samantha’s excitement for the final is prevalent, and she hopes to show a different side to her voice in her next performance.
Samantha Cottrell © Samantha Cottrell
Shell Deliah IN TH
Our other act fighting for a winning place is Shell Deliah, a group comprising of up-andcoming stars Michelle Harris and Alex Dopierala. A contemporary R&B act based in Liverpool, Michelle, 22, brings soulful vocals to 23 year old Alex’s intricately seamless guitar playing. The two have been performing for as long as they can remember, however have only recently become a twosome after meeting just one year ago. Michelle says: “We met at LIPA and started playing cover gigs together. Eventually we decided to start writing original stuff, which is when we turned into ‘Shell Deliah’.”
Although the pair will be performing together in this year’s Out On Stage, it is not their first foray into the competition. Alex accompanied another artist in the previous year’s competition, so has knowledge of the proceedings, which they hope will give them a slight edge against the other competitors. The group, however, were lucky to get to this stage of the competition, after coming up against
‘At the end of the day we’re all doing this for a bigger cause so really it’s just been great to be involved.’ hardship with the judges. Michelle says: “Alex and I are part of another band ‘Edge of Eden’ who also applied for the competition, and also made it through to the finals. But there was a miscommunication, which meant that there was controversy as to whether to allow both bands to go through. “In the end the judges allowed both bands through to battle it out themselves in the final, but there was a moment where I thought I was going to have
© Michelle Harris
to choose, which I couldn’t have done. “At the end of the day we’re all doing this for a bigger cause, so really it’s just been great to be involved.” The competition is in partnership with the Michael Causer Foundation, and members of the foundation regularly attend the competition’s live shows to show their support. Michelle says: “Some of Michael’s relatives attended our heat, unfortunately we did not get the chance to speak them but it was an absolute pleasure to play for them and be involved in their foundation.” The foundation has reached out to other organisations in New York and London to develop partnerships and expand their charity. Winning would mean a lot to the group, not only for the title, but due to the cause it’s representing. Michelle says: “All of the acts that have gone through are brilliant so it would be a tough call to try and judge who will win at this point. I think a lot of it will come down to the performances on the evening as we all have great potential to win.” She added: “We’d be honoured to be able to represent such an amazing cause, and it would be a priceless opportunity to perform on such a stage.”
A brand new LGBT+ book club, with a twist, has been brought to life by staff at Waterstones in Liverpool One. Although the book club will focus solely on LGBT+ books, it will be all-inclusive to anyone who wants to join – LGBT+ community member or not. Bookseller at Waterstones and founder of the club, Tom Hawley (pictured left), 28, said: “I believe a more successful book club is one that’s more niche. There’s so much to discuss in LGBT literature, it’s so varied in its form as a graphic novel, prose, and even poetry. With such a rich content, why would you close the membership to a few? “I wanted to enrich not just Liverpool’s LGBT scene, but also enrich Liverpool culture in general.” The book club has met only once since it was founded, and so far it’s going extremely well. Tom said: “I’m pleased with the level of interest. We’re always looking to expand and invite new members. It’s been incredibly amiable, everyone’s been broad minded and the discussion’s been fruitful.” Co-founder and fellow bookseller, Jordan Taylor Jones, 23, added: “I think as the weeks go on people get a bit more comfortable. It usually goes one of two ways, where the same people turn up every month, or the other extreme where you get different people monthly who drop in and drop out as they see fit. I think the conversation was really good and contrasting.” Jordan hopes to expand the group’s social media background, in regards to its Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as a potential website dedicated to the club. In the meantime, Tom is keen on getting some speakers into the meeting, giving its members insight into what it’s like to be an author, making the club more well-rounded. Although there are other LGBT+ book clubs in the city, this is the only one with the backing of a large organisation like Waterstones, allowing for a greater outreach of potentially interested book-lovers. Jordan said: “As a company they are quite good at letting you carry out your own ideas. We’ve got so much stuff going on in our store, such as sci-fi and graphic novel book clubs, so it just seemed quite nice to include something directed at the LGBT community.” With this only being the beginning of the club, the hopes for it are simple and modest, as Tom said: “I hope it has a life in the future. I hope new books are read and old classics are resurrected.”
© Damian Leonard
5 famous LGBT+ faces from Liverpool
There are several well-known LGBT+ people from the city of Liverpool, however we thought we’d show you some more obscure celebrities who you didn’t know were waving the LGBT+ flag high. April Ashley is a famous cabaret artist, activist and transsexual woman. Jonathan Harvey is a Liverpudlian playwright whose work has won him many awards. George Melly the jazz and blues singer, critic and writer was born in Merseyside. Clive Baker is an author, film director, and video game designer, best known for his work in both fantasy and horror fiction. And of course TV personality Paul O’Grady, who we just couldn’t not include.
Jonathan Harvey ©@bestofbritishuk
What it’s like to be...
© Damian Leonard
Chairman of a LGBT+ University Society
From a personal interest in LGBT+ society to an advocacy for their rights, we spoke to Alex Prestage on what it’s like to go from being an interested party to the Chair of a LGBT+ university group.
he stereotypical university career usually entails a work ethic that allows you to just about pass each arduous semester, a partying streak that only lasts roughly two and a half years and spending any free time binge watching every TV series ever created. Alex Prestage breaks this stereotype. In fact, Alex spends his time breaking down many stereotypes in his fight for LGBT+ equality. As the Chair of Edge Hill University’s LGBT+ society, he works tirelessly to bring visibility to the oppressed, challenge attacks on safe space and make every member feel like a welcomed part of the family. Although always intrigued by the LGBT+ community, Alex, 21, had never planned to become such a prominent member of a society. He says: “Most people expect this story of epic proportions about how my life was someway turned upside down by heterosexual society, and feeling forsaken and alone I turned to the LGBT+ society, but in real life it’s not like that - well it wasn’t for me. I joined because one of my friends would not stop pestering me each week, until finally I sighed and gave in.” This, however, was just the start of his voyage of self-discovery and activism. He adds: “I only began to have an interest when I realised I had experiences most other people would never have, and that the people in these LGBT+ spheres did share these experiences with me. I got interested when, for maybe the first time in my life, I felt people related to me and people actually wanted to invest in me and my growth as a person.” Alex has been a student at Edge Hill University for nearly three years, studying English Language, and hopes to further his degree by taking a masters course next year. Although his studies have always been of high importance to him, Alex remained devoted to the group throughout the year, holding weekly meetings. He explained the overall process of a meeting: “Each week we start the meeting with introductions as the membership has a turnover and people are constantly meeting each other. We usually have an agenda planned, which is influenced by the past week’s meetings and the conclusions reached, or not reached, and we may also find the time for drinks after the meeting closes.” He explains that it’s sometimes nice to get out of the building where they meet to give a freeing element to the group, so they aren’t confined to four walls all the time.
Alex was elected to chair the club in his third year of University, a year which is usually dedicated solely to a person’s degree, but as a consistently high achieving student, this wasn’t a problem for him. Being elected was an experience which he won’t soon forget. He says: “I guess I was proud. I just knew that I wanted to help sustain this group that had given me so much. I knew I wanted to continue the work already started. I guess I felt relief when I was elected, relief I would be able to do just that.” The LGBT+ community has always faced oppression and persecution, however Alex believes that there are more oppressed members of the community who aren’t getting any recognition, which is something he wanted to tackle as chair of the society from the outset. He says: “There are people that face massive hardship and oppressive behaviours on a daily
‘Sometimes I have been accused of shooting down arguments, but I do this to make sure the space is inclusive and awesome for everyone, not just the L and the G of LGBT+’ basis. I’ve had my sexuality questioned and undermined, but other people have their right to exist and belong in any society debated and discussed. Trans* people are often erased from ‘LGBT+’ activism, for the sake of actions and groups that benefit only the LG and B. “I don’t say this to condescend or assign values to people’s oppression, I say this because these people need recognition because often the image people have of the LGBT+ community erases them, it’s white-gay-man-centric. These people need visibility!” Although sometimes Alex may want to take the group in a certain direction, like in the case of stopping the further oppression of certain members of LGBT+ society, he does not have final say in the direction of the group. He explains: “The group takes the direction its membership
wishes it to take - it’s a democracy. For a Co-Chair, that’s an awesome and very hard experience, you may be mandated to act in a certain way, maybe against your own judgement.” This is one of the mains struggles of being Chair of an LGBT+ society, explains Alex. Although everyone in the group would ultimately like equality and respectful or ‘normal’ recognition, there can be disagreements between the members, which is a constant battle for our Chair. Alex says: “It’s mainly about balancing time and the needs and wants of the society as some people will have contrasting views and some of their views may actually compromise other people’s needs to access that space. “Too often LGBT+ spaces actually aren’t accessible and they just cater to the need of LGB students and forget to make the safe space accessible for everyone, for instance, disabled students. Sometimes I have been accused of shooting down arguments, but I do this to make sure the space is inclusive and awesome for everyone, not just the L and the G of LGBT+.” ot only can there be problems within the group, as you would find with any group of young and passionate activists, but there are also issues which Alex has to deal with outside of the group. Although there isn’t a backlash from outside members in the form of physical assault of bullying, there is a noticeable societal hierarchy, which causes different problems. He clarifies: “Heteronormativity* and cissexism* are so deeply entrenched within society that whenever someone questions this or tries to combat it they are met with resistance. “Far too many activists burn out just because society is constantly resisting the changes they feel need to be made in order for the whole picture to be more inclusive and accessible for the broad spectrum of people that we have in that picture.” This gives some idea of the difficulty faced when being a member, or Chair, of an LGBT+ society, or even just being in the LGBT+ community. Society is so accustomed to heteronormativity being the ‘norm’ that it’s harder for them to believe that LGBT+ is a real thing, and as such leads to a lesser acceptance of LGBT+ people. Alex explains what the society is to him, and why it’s so necessary, in a simple yet powerful definition. He says: “Long story short, it boils down to having a family you chose in a space that is protected and designated to discuss certain issues with people that can relate and understand.”
*Find out the definitions of these terms on page 10! © Kevin Goebel
10 LGBT+ terms you didn’t know! LGBT+ terminology is vast and spectacularly exhaustive - an A-Z list with a spectrum of definitions. Although there are terms which almost everyone will be familiar with, such as ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’ and ‘closeted’, there are numerous other terms which are important to know but have very little prominence in society’s day to day speech. Here are 10 terms which will bring a greater awareness of the LGBT+ society to the speaker’s vocabulary.
Initially coined as a derogatory slang term used to identify LGBTQ+ people, but has now been embraced and reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of pride, representing all individuals who fall out of the gender and sexuality “norms”.
a person’s own perception of their gender, and how they label themselves.
a traditional and outdated view of gender, limiting possibilities to “man” and “woman”.
A heteronormative view is one that involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity and gender roles. Heteronormativity is often linked to heterosexism and homophobia.
a person who experiences sexual, romantic and/or physical attraction for members of all gender identities and expressions.
a person whose gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex all align (e.g., man, masculine, and male). Cissexism is when non-cis people are targetted or bullied.
Intersex: a person whose sexual anatomy doesn’t fit within the labels of female or male.
a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity.
a person who generally does not experience sexual attraction (or very little) to any group of people.
the process of moving from one sex/gender to another, sometimes this is done by hormone or surgical treatments.
© Mark J P
Look We’ll find out who’s won the Out On Stage competition, with an EXCLUSIVE interview from the winner!
for our next issue!
© Out On Stage Facbook
AND we’ll be speaking to the founders of In The Pink photography, who specialise in lesbian and gay weddings. © Beverly and Pack
We’ll discover what’s planned for the ‘un-straight’ conference in Liverpool, dedicated to curators and archivests who promote diversity in their work.
ÂŠ Liverpool Pride facebook