Happy Birthday to Jim on 12 June – 91 years young!
I am proposing an Out In The City meet up on Wednesday, 24 June from 1.00pm to 3.00pm (subject to weather permitting).
The venue is Sackville Gardens on Sackville Street. If you are coming on public transport you need to wear a face covering (scarf or mask). In order to keep social distancing we will meet in groups up to six people. There are some benches, but it would be helpful if people brought blankets to sit on and each person needs to bring their own sandwich or snack and drink.
It is essential to contact me so we are aware of numbers attending. Please phone or text or send a message here
Pauline reports on two Pride in Ageing meetings and the LGBT Foundation Volunteer Awards (held on Zoom):
Pride in Ageing 1st Birthday Party – 5 June 2020
It’s hard to believe it’s just over a year since so many of us from Out in the City attended the launch of Pride in Ageing on 5 June 2019.
On 5 June 2020 there were two birthday celebrations, the first was a small group of about five or six of us from the Pride in Ageing Advisory Committee. We had a sort of “kaffee klatsch” (or on line coffee and cakes) in a Zoom meeting from 10.00am to 11.00am, which was hosted by Lawrie Roberts and Emma Meehan from the LGBT Foundation.
Emma is covering for Lawrie for the next 3 weeks as he is on furlough. It was mainly catch up about how we are all coping and struggling with lockdown in different ways, from loneliness through to seeing people on line rather than physically.
Part way through Paul Martin from the LGBT Foundation joined us with his coffee and cake and expressed his concerns about how many older LGBT people are struggling with loneliness and isolation during lockdown, especially those of our community who do not use digital media or the internet.
I had been talking with Sarah Timms, who is the UK Press Officer for Age UK about something else and asked her after the meeting how Age UK was handling this issue. My email was forwarded to the groups at Age UK who are working on this; I figure if I can be proactive we may find different ways to help those in our group who are dependent on landlines and mobile phones. Maybe we go back to using letters … the old snail mail to stay in touch with those on our group who struggle?
The second and main celebration was a Zoom meeting in the early afternoon with Kate Charlesworth, a lesbian, activist, cartoonist and story teller; she was born in 1950 in Barnsley and studied at Manchester Art College in the 60s, where she discovered Canal Street and the Union. In her words … her first steps as a baby dyke.
All of us on the Advisory Committee had (if they wanted) a free copy of her autobiography and history of LGBT struggles and rights since 1950. The book is called Sensible Footwear, A Girl’s Guide. It is 320 pages of her story with each page packed with drawings and cartoons – a tour de force indeed; it is published by Myriad Editions.
There were about 60 visitors on line watching Lawrie ask various questions and Kate showed us her storyboards for her book, which took five years to write and draw, and answered all the questions.
The Advisory Committee had had chance to submit one question each before, and mine was included. Kate started by explaining her current thinking, and made some trenchant comments about the shambles of the current government and how nasty racism has raised its ugly head again.
Then she explained why it took her five years to put the book together and the time she spent looking through old photos, all her memorabilia, ephemera and clothes from different decades. Her goal was to write a personal memoir as the thread to hold the story and the cartoons together.
It is much much more than an LGBT encyclopedia and history, as her own story is interwoven. She wrote the story line first with all the research needed and then she put together storyboards to show where the drawings and cartoons would fit, and finally a chart of the whole book on one huge piece of paper. She showed us some of the storyboards, with rough drawings and then the whole big storyboard. It was amazing to see all the detail, and also how clearly she is very professional and how good her rough drawings were.
Then my question: When did you accept being a gay woman / lesbian?
Her answer: Playing “games” as a child with another girl and it not being accepted by her parents, especially her mother was very difficult. And then for the rest of her life there was a gradual process of acceptance. It was easier since her mother died and coming out was her saviour.
Another question: What were the influences on her art?
Her answer: Her art teacher helped her develop her skill. And she learnt much from Daily Express cartoonists … Giles with his depictions of strong women and Osbert Lancaster using words and drawings. Other influences included Minnie the Minx, the Backstreet Kids and Desperate Dan in 50s comics. And Ronald Searle.
Another question: About memories and archives?
Her answer: A large part of the book is about growing from a baby dyke to a young dyke. She talked lovingly about being at Art College in Manchester in the1960s, and going down Canal Street and how she loved being in the Union, which she said was really rough then. And then in the Anderson years going to places like Ashton-under-Lyne for night life without God’s copper. Looking at her life from the mid 1980s was interesting; she remembers coming to Manchester for the Big March against Clause 28.
Another question: Your involvement in the older LGBT scene in Scotland (where she now lives)
Her answer: Not many LGBT only spaces. She had an exhibition in Edinburgh in 2006, and received lots of comments like “we have never seen anything like that” from people in the LGBT community. She is also enjoying being in an LGBT choir.
Another question: You use the word “dyke” a lot (lots of positive texts about this during the Zoom show)
Answer: I think we should take back ownership. She felt originally it was a word from the black community in US to disparage gay women. And lovingly referred to Dykes Delight magazine with its old “teddy boy” look. Also it was seen as an oppressive or even fashionable word. In the 1980s there was a trend for leather wear and leather jackets from Boss; and lesbian sex in the 80s/90s was about what kind of sex to have with a political ideological stance. Were you choosing to be a lesbian, you could make jokes about it then?
And she reflected on the lesbian wars, which have been reprised by the trans wars, except that Facebook and Twitter make it worse nowadays. She hated the lesbian sex wars and she hates the trans wars too.
Another question: What is your focus now?
Answer: Her archives and memorabilia have been packed away and sent to Glasgow Library as she has left all her archives to them. Covid has slowed down creative stuff and there is a lot of lethargy about new stuff (from her). She is finding it tough right now to start a new project.
Final question: The financial impact of Covid?
Answer: Its tough for cartoonists right now with no government support. Many cartoonists are sharing ideas and luckily in Scotland bookshops are classed as essential places to go.
LGBT Foundation Volunteer Awards – Friday 5 June 6.30pm till late
The Volunteers Awards party ran from about 6.30pm till after 8.15pm … it was still going strong when I left at 8.30pm. Like many other attendees I had slightly too much to drink. Sadly there were not too many volunteers. It was mainly trustees (we all were part of a video which included clips of each of the Trustees) and staff.
There were various prizes and awards and an amazing video put together of famous people that Carl Austin Behan knows (he is a trustee too, but with much more weight and contacts than me) … starting with Rowetta, some drag artistes (both M to F and F to M) that I didn’t know, some singers I didn’t know to Owyn the BBC weather man and drummer, Michael Cashman reading out a story and finally Graham Norton. It will be hard to reprise that next year.
One of the highlights were various members of the management lip synching to a Donna Summer record, with various people in 60s outfits and one woman as Mrs Slocombe with a purple dress and wig.
I am really getting too old for this and as the theme was the 1960s I had on a flared frock with big petticoats … but on Zoom you can’t see that of course. It was very enjoyable even if I was a tad Brahms and Liszt at the end.
Saw this on Facebook: