Little Elephant just can’t get enough of London. It has two screenings coming up at the prestigious Raindance Film Festival on 25 September and 2 October 2016. It’s showing as part of the Animation Shorts Programme.
Freedom to… be me! Come and take part in the London Pride Parade 2014 to support Asian LGBTQ lives on Saturday 28 June. We will take part in the parade to celebrate life, to show we exist, for solidarity, to offer hope and take action.
The parade commences at 13:00 from Baker Street and ends between 15:30 – 16:30 approx at Whitehall.
Please register your interest with me here leaving your details so that I can contact you. I need to provide quite an accurate figure of Parade walkers to the organisers. I will also tell you where we need to meet beforehand from 11:30 – 12:00 so that we can group together.
Come and support your sisters and brothers. Together we will make a difference!
Time to do it all again! After a couple of days off – which felt very strange after having spent so much time with everybody last week – we reconvened at Smethwick library yesterday, raring to go for Beneath the Surface event 2!
There was a considerably more relaxed feel in the room when I arrived. We’d done it once so why shouldn’t we be able to do it again? The post-Southbank event discussion highlighted an intensity in the room during the event. We understood part of this was the direct relevance of the content for most of the audience. Some of this would have been aided by the character of the room like the low ceiling and so on. And finally, probably somewhat informed by our own first show apprehension. We decided that we consciously needed to make the space warmer for the audience. We played some music on arrival and just generally tried to be more at ease…easier said than done.
The audience was slightly smaller than had booked. Apparently, through some quirk of irony, there was some postcode confusion for a few; some had been directed to The Smethwick Conservative Club rather than the library…without wishing to get political, I can think of nothing the Tories would love more than our audience arriving at their club! Still, we had a good number through the doors. Interestingly, today’s audience was made up of families in the main and there was a more even cultural mix of Asians and other communities. There were a few supporters of the project in too – my Dad for one! So again, it was a very warm and receptive audience.
The performers are definitely gaining confidence in performing their parts. Their smooth delivery is a marvel to watch and, personally, I have always loved listening to them enunciate their lines. During the audio extracts I find myself just listening to the hard consonants and softer vowels and the range they perform with – it’s magical!
Then it was on to the discussion after the show. Again, it was great to hear people’s reactions to what they’d seen and how their own experiences affecting their engagement with the piece. One man was very articulate in expressing his belief that you can be both gay and Indian and that while we collectively feel that it is something we cannot talk about, actually on an individual basis we are very free and open with discussing these ideas.
Similarly, I had a very interesting discussion about how the concept of family represents the idea of unconditional support and love, whether you come from a very large family or a very small one. I come from a very small, close-knit family while some of the people I talked to come from very large, extended ones. Yet we both agreed that a family takes care of each other and supports it’s members. It was interesting how people from such different backgrounds can hold very similar beliefs and I found it fascinating to discuss and listen.
So hot off the tail of Smethwick, we are in Birmingham tonight at mac birmingham. God knows what state I’m going to arrive in – ironically, while I am a Midlander through and through I have absolutely no idea how to work the bus system in Birmingham! So this may be my last blog…that or I’ll be writing to you from Glasgow or something equally ridiculous! Until the next time – stay fabulous!
(Follow Robert Beck on Twitter @Rhubarb1992…because he’s lonely and wants more followers!)
Back in December last year a conscientious final year student from a North West university got in touch who was intrigued by the project and wanted to get involved in some way. He went onto support the project by doing some media research earlier in the year. He’s an aspiring/growing theatre maker. He’s now engaged on the project as a graduate placement so that he can be immersed in all that happens in the rehearsal studio this week and the delivery for two weeks afterwards.
I’ll let him speak for himself…
Where to start? I often find beginnings the hardest. Beginning a blog; beginning the process of creating a piece of theatre; you have so many ideas and expectations and no way of knowing how they’re going to pan out. Let’s start with introductions. My name is Rob Beck (that’s me in the picture…yay!!) and this is, or will be my contribution to the project blog that will track the journey undertaken by a group of intrepid theatre makers as they devise, rehearse and showcase a piece of theatre that will explore the relatively unheard stories of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) Asians living in the UK. As a piece, it aims to shed light on these lives, the sorts of prejudices they come up against, and how their own sense of sexual, religious and cultural identity is influenced.
So how did I come to work on this project? Well, as a gay man living in the UK, you might say I’ve picked quite a good time to live my life. LGBT rights, The Equal Marriage Act, general equality and tolerance are better now than they have ever been. Yet I can’t help but feel what if I didn’t have the support of my family? What if I risked losing all my friends if I were to tell them how I really felt? What if the culture I had grown up in was less tolerant of my choices? I don’t actually know how well I’d cope when faced with all that pressure.
Now obviously I’m not Asian (the picture should be a pretty good indicator of that fact) but I do have some very close friends who are. My best friend growing up was an Indian Sikh. When I came out back in 2010 he was incredibly supportive but I do think it was a bit of a culture shock to him and even now my sexuality isn’t something we discuss at any great length. Another one of my very close friends is a girl who I met at university. Another Indian Sikh, she’s one of the funniest most uplifting people I know. She’s also a lesbian and proud of it too! It was having friends like her in my first term at uni that made it so easy to finally accept who I was and to come out. Yet amazingly, her sexuality is still something she has to hide at home. A couple of years ago there was a scare that her parents might try to force her into a marriage and even now she has to watch what she says online in case it somehow gets back to them. The fact that someone so strong and confident in every aspect of her life should have to hide anything was truly astounding. Having friends like these made me begin to think about the taboos that still exist in some cultures in the UK. How someone like my friend from uni copes with the constant juggling of her family life with her actual life or the reasons why I’m so lucky to still have my best friend from school when he might potentially have discarded me. This was why I got involved with Beneath the Surface and is why I will be contributing to the blog over the next few weeks as the work develops from page to stage.
As well as blogging, I’ll be helping out with the creative side of things too. I expect to have my assumptions about different cultures challenged and there will probably be parts of the show that I find quite difficult to work on. The script has been developed using real stories of LGB Asian people in the UK and therefore I am expecting some pretty poignant stuff. I’m excited, but also nervous to begin working on something that has the potential to be very powerful. The process is going to be an incredibly interesting one and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you. I should also warn you that I will be doing a lot of travelling for this show and there may be a fair amount of complaining about traffic jams and late running trains…just so you know! Anyway, that’s the introductions done. Until the next time – stay fabulous!
See feature by Gay Star News writer Liam Johnson on Beneath the Surface.
This activity is supported by Arts Council England. GEM Arts has co-commissioned the script development. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of many arts and LGBT sector partners in each city area.
Here’s the 1 min 11 edit on the Sunrise website.
And just to clarify, we’re using the real life interviews as ‘inspiration’ – a starting point. We’re not making verbatim theatre through the retelling of specific lives.
And what’s just sliced from the end of the interview is: whilst this project isn’t trying to change the world, it is about breathing life into this much hidden subject in Asian communities (to raise more awareness, discussion and understanding).
Ok, just been told there should be a longer edit – 1 minute – on the sister radio station Kismat
Sunrise Radio interview to air today every hour this morning just after the hour. This is their LGB/T coverage week. Listen live online or access in archives from tomorrow.
Last week was a busy week with a few radio interviews. BBC Asian Network’s Entertainment News covered the project. It was aired as a 3-min short at the end of the news programme flagging up the project and issue of Asian homosexuality. I hadn’t done a telephone interview in a short while. I was reminded how a live or studio recorded interview is preferable where possible to a telephone recorded interview. A telephone recording when broadcast can sound flatter, and a little lacking in energy and spark. It was great to get the coverage.
I received a text on Friday from a friend:
“Random! Was buying samosas on Dudley Road. Radio was on talking about your project. It’s def out there!”
And I thought that I’d done my job. That’s the great thing about the Asian Network – a national broadcaster… It can get into all sorts of nooks and crannies as it’s listened to by so many people – especially Asians of all backgrounds.
The interview is available to listen to for another 3-days.
On Friday I had an interview with Gaydio in Manchester – a north West community radio station. Andrew Edwards runs The Sunday Forum on Sunday mornings from 7-9am. This was a studio recorded interview. Andrew was great. He has quite a casual chatty style.
I was delightfully surprised when he asked me to pick a song to play in the middle of the interview. I chose, True Colours by Cyndi Lauper. Firstly it is a landmark song etched into my youth. I was 11 in 1986 when it was released. Cyndi certainly was ‘alternative’ yet accessible during my diet of popular chart music. And the subject felt appropriate: overcoming your inner fear and being who you are, because that’s OK, in fact it is beautiful.
For those that don’t know Cyndi Lauper is an activist for LGBT equality. She co-founded the True Colours Fund which sets out to inspire and engage all, especially straight folk in the advancement of LGBT equality.
Andrew informs me that he played an edit of our interview on ALLFM yesterday too. This gets repeated on Tuesday 12th Febraury at 9am. This can be heard in Manchester or online.
I recorded another telephone interview; with Kiran Kaur of Sunrise Radio, an Asian Southall-based radio station covering Greater London. The station’s plans to cover LGBT issues during a week of programming to mark LGBT History Month (February) I think very progressive and commendable. It is not yet known when the week will be broadcast but there’s another 17-days left in the month.
Keep the interviews coming…