Protest! Derek Jarman Exhibition … The “Q” word



The Derek Jarman Protest! retrospective opened at Manchester Art Gallery on 2 December, and members of Out In The City formed an orderly queue to view the exhibition.

We had dined earlier at the China Buffet, just two minutes walk from the Art Gallery. It’s a simple all-you-can-eat hangout offering Chinese dim sum, noodles, seafood and fortune cookies and is great value for money.

The exhibition had been postponed and unfortunately the Derek Jarman Pocket Park – a new community garden space designed and planted by green-fingered LGBT+ people over 50 was not ready due to the corona virus and the weather. However you can download the zine here.

I’m sure we will revisit at some time to engage in a planned workshop or exhibition tour with Jez Dolan, the artist in residence.

Is this an exhibit? Walter having a bit of a sit down.

The exhibition focused on the diverse strands of Jarman’s practice as a painter, film maker, writer, set-designer, gardener and political activist. This is the first time that all of these strands of his practice were brought together in over 20 years; many of which have never been seen in public before. 

Protest! captures Jarman’s engagement with both art and society, as well as his contemporary concerns with political protest and personal freedoms arising from the AIDS crisis.

There are more photos here.

The Q word

The Q Word

Almost 30 years on from Derek Jarman’s landmark “Queer” exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, the word “queer” is becoming more mainstream. We have “Queer Lit” bookshop in Manchester and the Sunday Boys recent concert at Manchester Cathedral was entitled “A Very Queer Christmas”. The priest introducing the event started: “Welcome to queers and non-queers … “.

But the word “queer” is polarising. For some LGBT(Q)+ individuals, it’s a reclaimed badge of honour, a political statement, a declaration of attraction without binaries. For others, it’s still a homophobic slur, a weaponised word that can reopen years-old wounds.

When asked what “queer” means on an American social news website, there were a variety of responses. Here’s a selection:

“It meant I was about to get my butt beat by a homophobe. I despise that word …”

“For me, it’s always meant bullying. Thankfully, I was never beaten up by someone saying it, but like the f-word, it always cut me like a knife whenever I heard it.”

“I guess it’s just all-encompassing. When I tried coming out to my brother when I was a teen, he asked, ‘You think you may be queer?’ It was the first time I heard the word used in a non-derogatory way.”

“Not straight and/or not cis”

“Queer to me means anyone who doesn’t identify as straight.”

“Queer to me means, like, non-specifically sexually and gender fluid, an all-encompassing term that doesn’t keep someone stuck in definite boundaries … When someone tries to use it as a slur, I genuinely don’t have a reaction to it.”

“I am not queer; I’m gay. Queer is an offensive word. I dislike how academics and non-homosexuals use it all the time, when it seems that a lot of gay men aren’t down with reclaiming it. If someone describes themselves as queer, I assume they are heterosexual but want to seem interesting.”

“Queer to me, denotes ‘peculiarity.’”

“I’ve always used ‘queer’ in the ‘take back the word’ sense. Also, I refer to myself as queer when I’m being very specific about how I label my identity. Although I identify as a gay man in a general sense, if I got very specific about what is going on inside myself. ‘Queer’ is a more accurate term, i.e. how I feel about my gender and who I’m attracted to.”

Does it matter who uses the word? Has the word “queer” been appropriated by heteronormative people? What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Protest! Derek Jarman Exhibition … The “Q” word

  1. I find the articles very interesting and informative. We visited Kanpus following that post, something we hadn’t otherwise we would have heard of. Shall certainly trot down to the Jarman exhibition.
    Thank you


  2. I find this discussion really important as I once assumed that the ‘community’ as a whole was using the term, a bit like black people claiming the ‘N ‘ word for themselves. There is assumption there that this is acceptable to all black people and I would bet not.
    There’s a big difference here though which is the N word would still be considered out of order on anyone else’s lips, so I don’t know why a term of offense is OK for others to use ABOUT lgbt+ people as well as BY them? I have never felt comfortable with it but take the position that I respect the terms an individual uses for themself. A client who called themselves a ‘tranny’ does not know that term is offensive to me personally. I tell people I am ‘nutty’ without meaning offense to others with mental health issues. I’m comfortable with it for myself but would not use it for others. I think that is what has gone missing in this issue of ‘Q’.


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