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Monday, 11 November 2013

Honestly... by Matt

The second batch of indoor photos took place on Saturday 09 November at the New Writing South workshop. In fact, it was more of a redo of the previous week's work but with the benefit of experience thrown in to make the concept of 'queering the photobooth' more authentically photobooth.

Anthony had a different camera and a more arm-friendly flash box this time. I think it helped to draw the focus in to the sitter, having the flash propped up on top of the camera: It was more intimate, perhaps even a little claustrophobic - definitely more like a real photo booth.

Those who weren't sitting or keeping an eye on the flash were creating text for the fourth panel of the photobooth picture panel.

It's a difficult thing to encapsulate what 'queer' means to me. What I eventually came up with felt like, in the language I used, a corporate motivational poster, rather than a genuine reflection of how I feel. I think my sentiment that I am strong because of my queerness informs how I view myself and being queer, but it's not ultimately honest.

I'm going to be honest now: I am strong because I'm queer - I am queer because I'm strong. When I was young I was depressed and lonely but I was queer (well, gay) and I somehow knew that it would be okay deep down. I realise now just how lucky I was, having escaped persecution from the community I lived in, or being ostracised by my family, or worse ending it all because it was all too much to bear,
That's not to say I didn't experience any of this, just that it was never to the extent of the extreme stories we all hear about from LGBT groups or on sad stories in the news.

I was touched for a lot of my younger life by the black dog of depression and the one thing I clinged to on dark nights and foggy days was that I am queer and it helped me through. Genuinely. Honestly.
My parents, desperate to bring me out of that funk, helped me by sending me to The Priory when I was 26. It was consensual and it was kill or cure. Really. Honestly. I hated myself, apart from that molten core of queerness that kept me going. I gradually reconnected with the things that had given me strength and one of those things was music. I dug my hands into the Earth and drew strength from the music that had shaped me as a child and a teenager and that stirred up all sorts of memories, good and bad.

I met Andrew not long after I came out of The Priory. I was still attending counselling sessions and I was unemployed. I was in my larval stage when I met him and I quickly fell in love, revelling in the new-found emotional self that I had reconnected with. His glamorous lifestyle compared to my state of being unemployed yet hopeful for the future was a heady mix. When we decided to enter a civil partnership a couple of years later, I can truthfully say that we should have ended it there - but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It's easy to say these things with the benefit of hindsight but it's honestly how I feel.

Now I am me, confident in myself (not always, you understand - I am human), with a job that I love and possibly on the verge of a great love affair. I love and am loved (although I have yet to use the word - I am cautious still of repeating a pattern or jumping into something too soon), I have strong family ties and great friends. And there's so much more out there to experience - so many Worlds to conquer. I am the master of my own destiny. I make my own luck. Honestly.

Queer is me.
I am Queer.
I subscribe to a Queer politic.
I stand up for Queers.
I love being Queer.
Queer defines me.
I define Queerness.
We are lovers and friends.
We are bound by blood.
We are Queer through experience.


  1. And here's an appropriate song by Annie!

    I used to prance around my room as a young boy, singing along to Annie Lennox songs, longing for the touch of another boy.

  2. Thanks for sharing Matt, very honest & your sweet nature shines through. x