Since the beginning of 2019, New Writing South been collecting the stories of older LGBTQ+ people across the South East of England and they are now presenting an online programme, Hear Us Out, celebrating these stories through verbatim performance, film, creative writing and discussion.
Hear Us Out will take place between 26 – 29 November 2020, and the whole programme (below) is free to attend. Please book if you’d like to attend by email to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your tickets.
READ US OUT
Digital performances of LGBTQ+ creative writing
Thursday 26 November, 6.00pm (FREE, BSL Interpreted)
Hear creative writing from local LGBTQ+ writers, written in response to the stories older LGBTQ+ people across the South East of England have shared with the Hear Us Out project.
Join us for this collection of funny, touching and rousing readings celebrating the stories, lives and experiences of our region’s older LGBTQ+ community. Curated by Hear Us Out Artistic Director Dinos Aristidou and created with filmmakers My Genderation and composer Angèle Veltmeijer, Read Us Out was performed and filmed by our LGBTQ+ community performers over lockdown.
An online documentary series by Marlborough Productions celebrating Black queer elders’ stories
Friday 27 November, 6.00pm (FREE, BSL Interpreted)
Over three episodes, three Black queer elders and a young adult, meet to embark on an unpredictable journey into the space that surrounds their city by the sea. Weaving in unheard personal histories, Space / Walk is a joyfully honest exploration of surviving and thriving within an atmosphere that was never designed to support our existence.
This online documentary series by Marlborough Productions has been commissioned by New Writing South especially for Hear Us Out. Marlborough Productions is a leading UK producer of queer-led, intersectional performances, parties and radical community gatherings. Space / Walk has been made by artistic director Tarik Elmoutawakil (Brownton Abbey) with Carmen D’Cruz and Amina Yousif.
The following two episodes will be released early next year.
HEAR US OUT
A digital performance celebrating older LGBTQ+ people’s stories
Saturday 28 November, 6.00pm (FREE, BSL Interpreted)
“It’s a life’s work to find your own story, to find the right room to fly into”
Join Scarlet Tiger, a moth in search of stories, as they fly through the South East listening to the real-life tales of the region’s older LGBTQ+ community.
After hearing the stories of older LGBTQ+ people across the South East of England, New Writing South are thrilled to present Hear Us Out, a new digital performance written and directed by Dinos Aristidou using a mixture of new writing and our older LGBTQ+ storytellers’ verbatim speech.
In collaboration with filmmakers My Genderation and composer Angèle Veltmeijer, Hear Us Out will feature a company of LGBTQ+ community performers who all filmed themselves performing over lockdown.
In an authentic retelling of the stories, the performers will use the ‘Hear Us Out Technique’ where, listening to the original story recordings through headphones, they perform them to camera exactly as they hear them.
A celebration of all the trials and triumphs that make up older LGBTQ+ lives, will you hear us out?
HEARING YOU OUT
An online discussion for older LGBTQ+ people and their allies
Sunday 29 November, 3.00pm (FREE, BSL Interpreted)
Hosted by the award winning writer and director of stage and screen, Rikki Beadle-Blair, join us to toast being older and LGBTQ+ and to discuss the themes raised by the Hear Us Out project at this celebratory closing event. We look forward to welcoming you to this friendly gathering of older LGBTQ+ people and their allies and hearing you out.
For more info see http://hearusout.live/
Mind Yer ‘Ed
Talking About My Generation was started as a campaign so people aged 50 and over from across Greater Manchester could change the record on what it means to grow older in the region.
One of the projects is the Mind Yer ‘Ed series and members of Out in The City have been interviewed. Here are a couple more of the interviews:
Line Dancing in my lounge and long walks have been liberating
As part of the Mind Yer ‘Ed series, Patrick Pope, from Bury, shares his experiences of the pandemic and how he had a letter waiting for him when he arrived back from holiday to say he had to shield in lockdown.
But the 70-year-old has used his love of being active to get through difficult patches – dancing in your lounge is recommended!
“It was a hammer blow, physically and mentally getting the news about shielding the day I arrived home from holiday. I’d gone from being on a great holiday to receiving a letter stating I couldn’t go outside my apartment anymore for at least 12 weeks.
I’m active and sociable so suddenly having that in print, saying I couldn’t go outside my own domain for three months; I actually sat in my chair and burst into tears. I wept.
There was a period for the two first weeks where I got really down, I wasn’t really involved in anything and I got very inward and introvert, which isn’t me at all.
But being able to help other people as well as continuing with some of the groups I was part of over Zoom really took the weight off my mind.
I was asked to be a chat line respondent for the NHS and I was asked to get involved with a few schemes through Out in the City. One of these was a buddy-line scheme and I was linked up with people who were isolated, lonely or in need of a bit of company and I would ring them in the week. We kept that going for ten weeks and not only did it give me a purpose, it gave other people a link to the world as well.
I know a lot of people are a bit Zoomed out now but that was also a great benefit. I’m in a choir in Bury and we did Zoom sessions every Wednesday. I’m also part of a gay line dance class in Manchester. It sounds crazy, but we dance on Zoom. We’ll do that for about an hour and a half. They play music and we dance in our lounge. I’ll move the furniture out of the way, get Zoom up on my phone and put it in a position where I can see the teacher’s instructions and dance around to the music.
As soon as I was allowed to go outside again, I took off and did loads of walks on my own and with a couple with friends who were living close by. I’m also part of a walking group and I got back involved with that again.
Getting to do these things has liberated me, not only physically but mentally as well. It’s something to look forward to all the time.
We had a really good spell of weather in April and May and I’m a big fan of gardening so I worked on it endlessly. I get my green fingers from my late father. It’s so therapeutic.
I’m aware of the kindness people have shown me week in week out. When I was shielding, quite a few people rang me every week, one of them every day, to check I was alright and people volunteered to do my shopping. I won’t forget those acts of kindness.
My big hope is people don’t forget all the good things that have happened and the good things that people have done to help each other. May that long continue.”
Keeping Busy, being creative and optimistic woke me up
As part of the Mind Yer ‘Ed series, Stephen Cuddy, aged 60, shares his experience of the pandemic and how he’s used cooking and other activities to keep his mind occupied.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the pandemic has been harder for those aged 50+ who are members of the LGBTQ community, because many of us live alone.
There’s a lot of depression in the gay world anyway and there are a lot of people I know who feel completely down right now, and sometimes I don’t recognise them because they’re so down. I think it’s just leaving them feeling vulnerable.
I think it’s about the economic situation and the cultural situation as well. So many people in my circle of friends who are gay go to the theatre or the concert halls. It’s a big part of their life and they can’t do that anymore.
It’s so sad when you’re on the tram and you’re going down Mosley Street or you go past The Bridgewater concert hall all dark and closed. It brings it home to you how fragile life is in a way. It’s a bit of a wake-up call.
It’s not so much anxiety that I feel, but fear for the future more than anything. I just think we’re going to come out of it into a different world. I try to handle that feeling and I try to do little things to take my mind off it. I’m quite good at putting things to one side.
One article I read about being creative and optimistic as opposed to worrying all the time triggered me into doing something and accepting that nothing is perfect in life. You just have to deal with it the best you can. It woke me up.
That routine is beginning to kick in more and more each day. It’s about staying busy and not watching the telly or putting the news on all the time.
I’ve rediscovered the kitchen recently too. Normally I’d have been a bit lazy and bought a ready meal, but I’m roasting my own chicken and vegetables now.
For me it is all about the oven. I love slow-cooked food and I like the smell that fills the house and the warmth created in the kitchen. It’s very comforting during this time and it’s a bit like having a gin and tonic.
My favourite meal to cook is bacon, or chorizo, and cheese pasta bake. It’s easy to do, cheap and tastes good hot or cold. The leftovers will keep well in the fridge, too.
I’ve found walking a good coping mechanism as well, and I’ve also been out in the garden more. It’s never been so neat and I’ve never planted so many plants and shrubs in my entire life. I do think there’s a connection between the gardening and the walking that’s keeping me healthy, mentally and physically. I just love it.
Normally, I go to Gran Canaria at least once a year, and I actually bought a Gran Canaria palm. It’s only about four foot tall right now but it just makes me smile and keeps me balanced. It gives me happy memories.
It’s like a survival mechanism kicking in – the need to keep busy. Those are the three things I always look forward to doing.
When you’re in the garden, when your outside and when you’re cooking there’s an optimism about the whole thing and a sense of normality. I can’t believe I’d let something so simple and free and so good just lapse. I think it’s taken COVID to wake me up a bit to what I truly enjoy.
I’ve learnt there’s still a lot energy and strength inside me and that I am much happier being active and busy. When it’s over I’m definitely going to get a part-time job or volunteer. The most important thing is to face your fears and be happy.”