On the 4th of February, we hosted a Parliamentary Reception to mark LGBT History Month. We wanted a powerful emotional hook to draw in our audience, so we reached out to our valued collaborators at Capital Theatres Edinburgh and created an ambitious proposal: a group of young people would develop a piece of performance art in the days leading up to the event and use it to kick off the Reception.
Here's a blog post by Charlie, one of our participants, reflecting on the experience:
When I was 13, my teacher told me that I should take drama, that it'd be good for me and that I'd do well. I didn't. The thought made me ill.
When I was 14, I had to do a talk in front of my English class. I broke down, I went to the bathroom and was sick, I locked myself in there for the rest of the day.
When I was 16, our English teacher told us we would each read a part out loud while studying Shakespeare's "Othello". That night I went home and skimmed the whole text, taking the part with the fewest lines. I was Bianca. Do you remember Bianca? No one remembers Bianca - that was the point.
But at 21, I was part of a wonderful group of people who stood up and performed in front of the Scottish Parliament. We took up space, we demanded that the politicians listened to us as we talked about the legacy of Section 28, the draconian policy that lasted for over a decade, which made it illegal for teachers to give children an education on LGBT matters, or indeed even discuss our existence.
A piece of policy that cast a long shadow - even after its repeal, kids like myself didn't know that other people like us existed, because teachers were still afraid to talk about it. We demanded they listen, they don't make the same mistakes again, that they don't erase trans identities under the guise of "protecting children".
I was so far outside of my comfort zone. I didn't know we were going to perform, and I'm glad that I didn't, because otherwise I don't think I would have done it. It was so jarring to not only be allowed to be loud and visible, but for it to be EXPECTED. I was fully ready to throw in the towel, give up and go home, and it's thanks to the support of these lovely people that I didn't.
I think every single one of us felt it. To produce, rehearse and perform something in less than three days is huge. We spent over six hours together most days, every day, and went home together. We never had a break and some moments were so overwhelming. And yet we managed to come together, to perform something powerful and beautiful. I am so proud of every single person.
Taking up space in a world that demands that you be quiet, be less, be smaller and fit in more is so radical.