I’ve been involved in several LGBTQ events and workshops over the last few weeks in Leeds and Barnsley, with adults and young people. Never seeing myself as a ‘gay writer’, more as an artist who happens to be gay, I found myself telling stories about my experiences over the last fifty years, acting as a living witness to the sexual revolutions that took place in that time.
This coupled with my much more personal collection, ‘A Bench for Billie Holiday’ [to be published in October] has meant that I have spent time reliving, in my writing and my retelling of that experience, some of the emotional turmoil of my past. It initially left me quite sad and unsure of myself, just as I was all those years go. But the clouds are lifting [as they always seem to do] and I walk forward a little more steadily.
The Barnsley group worked with me and wonderful textile artist, Gemma Nemer, on producing T-shirts with designs and slogans prompted by what was important to them as individuals. We were at the Barnsley Civic Gallery where the fabulous exhibition. ‘T-Shirt: Cult, Culture, Subversion’ sparked off many ideas. After a great session finding words which might appear on their T-shirts, they worked with Gemma for two afternoons the following week. I dropped by on the last workshop to find them stitching away at letters and designs to make their tops beautiful and meaningful.
Sometimes my work as a writer makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world.