A blog on god and making queer work by Sam Curtis Lindsay
Star, star shining bright
Please don’t make me gay
And every night
I wrote that down in my diary when I was 10, after I’d had my first dream about having sexy time with a boy. I was so afraid of being gay that I prayed to the first star I saw in the star each night until I was 15.
It is autumn last year and my co-director Nina is on the phone to me in tears.
She had found a nasty video online of a sermon by the BIG BIG guy who ran the church who’d been renting space from us each Sunday for the last six months.
What followed over the next 48 hours was the messy and unceremonious kicking out of the church. We’d been led to believe they were cool and progressive. They’d seen all of our posters about queer art and the like. They had liked lots of our stuff on Instagram. They had Nespresso machines and slogan T’s. I’d chatted to them about our work and they were like “we’re cool with that”.
Then it turns out our cool-vibes church, well, they actually hated the gays. We met with the lead pastor, he told us his story of conversion to christianity as a student, about him coming from a ‘broken home’, the church giving him family, belonging and safety. I hear you girl.
I went to a church social group around the same time I was wishing on stars not to fancy boys. The club was called DND (Definitely Not Disney) and – after several weeks of messing about on wheelie chairs – I came to realise that that their version of the bible literally was not like Disney: we had to understand the very real PAIN and SUFFERING of Jesus. (Whilst we rubbed against each other during a game of tag.)
In actual real life I did feel a bit Christian at that time, I was dabbling with the liberating idea that someone might be watching over me and had a plan for me. I believed that we should be nice to each other and not be total evil fuckers. If there was a god then they would want us to love and accept each other for who we are and not hurt each other cos of it.
Throughout the two-hour convo with Church Man, we repeatedly challenged him on his homophobia. We pressed him. He deflected. We challenged him. He sidestepped. His smile was fixed, his serenity unwavering. They loved us, he said.
There was this overbearing sense that they wanted to hide their homophobia. Rather than a fundamentalist declaration of hate, this was the more cultish approach: avoid, obfuscate, charm and seduce.
Dear Mr Church Man,
I want to say thank you for hiring our cathedral to Queerdom with its gold slash curtains and rainbow neon-light bar. You helped to fund our space during an unprecedented time in the disappearance of LGBTQIA+ venues. I wish you well and hope when you do realise that you were on the wrong side of history you will repent.
In the meantime, THANK YOU for making me remember all the fabulous people I have in my life who have survived being disabled by a world not designed for them. Thank you for helping me remember those young people discovered by fleece-wearing dog walkers hanging from the trees in the woods near their houses because they couldn’t survive long enough to know that the other side would be just about OK.
THANK YOU for reminding me of my current privilege and that the fight is far from over, that although we’ve legalised gay marriage in some parts of the world we still have some of our team being pushed off buildings or having their vagina’s mutilated because they had dared to express the unstoppable force of love.
Thank GOD for the £9,600 you paid in rent over those six months, keeping our building going and enabling me to go on me holidays. I had a lovely trip and thought for a long time on the beach about our artistic mission. Since then we’ve been commissioning and supporting some urgent work by some of the most transgressive, pioneering, experimental, radical queer artists in the UK.
We’re currently supporting the work of Travis Alabanza, Lorna Gayle, Lucy McCormick, Malik Nashad Sharpe. And this month mounted our first in-house production with the exceptional queer artists Peter Clements and Oliver Dawe and their stunning creation, Frau Welt – genre-busting new play where cabaret meets drag meets drama, charting the journey of an outsider and exploring the pain of isolation. There is a ticket here with your name on.
Finally, Mr Church Man, thank you for reminding me I am made of blood, water and piss and shit and that I FEEL and am not just an email sending drone and that I no longer feel like I am wrong or broken on those few days I’m not hung-over or hungry.
And I hope one day you will stop hurting other people with your smiley, passive, love that isn’t actually love.
Frau Welt is on until 21st October: hackneyshowroom.com/frauwelt/