So. Here we are again. Yet another fuckin open forum. Yet another talkin shop.
This time presided over by The Great And Powerful Scottee. And this has pissed me off.
I’ve spent the last 10 years in Leeds sitting thru open forum after open forum on how the ‘queer and trans arts sector’ can work together, how we can further the cause, how we can combat the current climate of homophobia & transphobia in the UK - which current climate? there is always a current climate of homophobia and transphobia - is it only a current climate when triggering pictures of two women beaten up on a bus make it into the news? - “In recent months across the UK we’ve become aware of multiple violent attacks towards our community” - babes this has been going on longer than a month...
Tbh it almost feels like a thing u can set ur clock by - Every so often someone calls a meeting to Unite The People and take down the Big Bad. I imagine it happens in every community, but the ‘queer and trans arts sector’ is the very specific community where my passions and identity and lived experience overlap (or did, my passion for art is srsly drained after shit like this), and in the ‘queer and trans arts sector’ it happens a lot and almost always from a place of ego. And this is no different. Organising meetings happen all the time.These kinds of meetings also happen all the time.
Any twat can call a meeting.
So Scottee has called a meeting.
I’ve been putting ‘queer and trans arts sector’ in inverted commas cuz a) Scottee has used this in their open letter/call out here and b) i find it hilarious as a phrase it makes it sound like we are an established thing. Adding ‘sector’ on it gives it a certain institutional-ish gravitas, a certain legitimacy that i definitely don’t have and most of the queer and trans artists I have worked with don’t either. Maybe Scottee does and maybe some others do.
Is this only addressing them and not anyone outside of that?
What does ‘queer and trans arts sector’ even mean?
Who is included?
Queer and Trans Performance Artists?
Local Queer and Trans punk bands?
Wholesome Trans folk selling knitting on Etsy?
Queer and Trans visual artists who draw furry porn on commission?
If the answer isn’t All Of The Above And More then that needs to be said. What the fuck does ‘queer and trans arts sector’ mean? It means this isn’t about u, dear members of the community, it’s about Scottee.
I spoke to several local queer and trans artists after I’d heard about this and all of them asked who the fuck Scottee was and why they should turn up to a meeting. Honestly? I couldn’t give them an answer why this meeting was important to turn up to and what makes this meeting different from all the others.
In fact there were about 10 people in the room in Leeds. None of which were from major institutions I might add. Tbh it felt very exclusive, this wasn’t down to venue or the host, but an issue to do with how this thing came about. Scottee doing an open call. We all know open calls don’t go as far as we want to believe they do. They stay in the circle. This felt very much like it had stayed in the circle despite best efforts. That again is because its about ego.
At best this whole thing might turn out to be a semi-productive ego trip. The fact that this was rooted in ego (however consciously or not on Scottee's part) was made clear by the host of the event having to read a statement from Scottee, as if it was the fuckin queen's speech at xmas time. If this was about the community why the need for a 10 min speech?
Scottee has insisted this isn’t about an individual, but about us collectively. I agree. But then we hit this little snag - We’re not collective tho are we. And we’re not all singin from the same song sheet here. Scottee has called 10 meetings across the nation. Scottee has the national reputation and social capital (and funding - props to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for funding Scottee’s ego) to call these meetings. Hell, Scottee has more reputation and social capital than most of the queer and trans artists in Leeds combined.
So my big unanswered question (I actually asked Scottee in an email what their wider plan for this was given they have all this renown and capital) is how is Scottee going to put that to use? Is Scottee going to use that power to get institutions in the room and to actively do shit to support us? Or is it all just to stir the pot for the sake of ego and call a meeting?
Any twat can call a meeting.
So Scottee has called a meeting.
Scottee says “My company, Scottee & Friends Ltd have put the resources towards these meetings not because we think these couldn’t happened without us or that they haven’t happened before but because we feel as a company whose work is rooted and led by a queer artist this is a place to start from as a sector and not as individuals.”
A PLACE TO START FROM AS A SECTOR
I didn’t realise we hadn’t started yet. I don’t know about everywhere else but I do know that the queer and trans arts community in Leeds has been doing A LOT.
Perhaps Scottee has forgotten that using words in a particular order gives them meaning. A meaning that i’m sure Scottee hasn’t meant, but that doesn’t stop me feeling those pangs of not being good enough or working hard enough or feeling erased when Scottee says this shit.
Scottee is here asking what can WE do.
Well Scottee, do u know what WE have been doing?
No ofc not why would u care that the Leeds queer and trans arts community has continuously marched out to protest TERFs everytime they have come to our city and our neighbors like Bradford (Jenni Murray, Linda Bellos, Germaine Greer) or indeed the ones based in the city begin to stir. Why would u care that we have been constantly making safer spaces for ourselves out of whatever the fuck we can find. Why would u care that we’ve built intricate and complex support networks so that we can look after as many of us as possible.
So much for “no one is stepping forward” eh Scottee.
Yes, every city has its own particular war going on and every city has its own shit that it has built. Is Scottee going to every city tho? No, they’re hosting the Manchester one because Manchester looks good on a renowned artist such as them. Why are these meetings taking place all at the same time on the same date? Cuz it looks good doesn’t it - ‘10 meetings across the nation to talk about how the queer and trans arts sector can combat the current climate of homophobia and transphobia across the UK’. If I was a funder I’d be fuckin throwin cash at Scottee if I was approached by that line I’d be absolutely creamin my knickers at it.
I am tired.
I’m tired of watching Activism be an ego vehicle for artists/activists/organisers and I am tired of being made to feel like I’m not good enough and not doing enough cuz some Big Name Artist™ decided to call a meeting to “start” whatever effort they haven’t even envisioned.
I’m tired because I need to pick up extra shifts at work to make sure people in my community have food to eat and a place to go. How are these meetings going to put food in bellies and clothes on backs? They’re not.
I’m tired of people like Scottee waltzing in with all the renown and capital (and ego) and doing shit like this which leads to capitalising and cannibalising all the hard work i’ve done and the work of many others before me have done. Or worse ignoring all that and setting up a new facebook group or facebook page (for the love of satan pls don’t add me to anymore…) to create a central hub for all the queer arts stuff going on. It wouldn’t be the first and it won’t be the last, hell let’s raise LVAF (Leeds Visual Arts Form) from the dead and we’ll just queer LVAF. Pls Scottee don’t inspire another fuckin facebook group.
And none of that doesn’t mean that Scottee hasn’t worked hard on their shit, but things like this have a life of their own. How many environmentalist movements can u name other than Extinction Rebellion right now? How many existed long before XR and are full of people now depressed and burnt out because a wonderful and comfy middle class revolution (it might not have started out like that but there were a great many ways it turned into that) took place that got way more attention and action than their years of hard graft? How many people that leapt up for XR are gonna join those other groups and movements?
Why is Scottee calling these meetings to make a ‘start’ rather than calling for people to look at what has already been happening and assisting in those efforts? Because that shit don’t look as good as calling 10 meetings across the nation. Platforming people who are already working tirelessly and using your renown and capital to get people to join them and help share that workload doesn’t look as good as calling 10 meetings.
I do want to say I don’t blame any of the people getting involved because they want to use this as an opportunity to do some small good. I admire those people a lot. I just can’t help feeling like the ‘queer and trans arts sector’ is just a fuckin echo chamber and more and more i’m reaching the point of wanting to stop being an artist and performer and organiser in the arts because at this point its becoming painful.
I was asked at the end of the meeting if i felt like it was any different and honestly i felt like it wasn’t. It was the same conversation i’ve sat thru 100s of times in open forums and down the pub.
I do hope Scottee’s latest ego trip is a productive one.
I hope that Scottee inspires people to help do more support work for the queer and trans community here and to turn out and protest transphobia and to call this shit out on a daily basis.
I hope i’m not left in the dust of some flashy lookin movement whilst i’m trying to fend TERFs off with one hand and feeding people with another and then left even more exhausted and depressed because a standard has been set and more is expected of me than the limits i already passed about 5 miles back.
I hope this movement that Scottee is hoping to be the creator of doesn’t fizzle out from a lack of direction and facilitation and then nothing changes and another damn open forum happens with the same damn shit. I hope this does some good and this whole thing does go forward and takes it’s chunk out of the great wall that the cis-heteronormative capitalist patriarchy is, because as i keep saying thats all we can realistically do is take one brick out of that damn wall and hopefully everyone that is taking a brick destabilizes the fucker.
I hope that i stop feeling like shit because someone with more power, renown, capital and access to resources has decided that ‘no one is stepping forward’ and that enough isn’t being done and making me feel erased and like i'm completely fuckin inadequate.
I hope I stop being angry at all of this soon because once again my energy and attention is on someone’s ego that has potential to cause damage here and i hope that people start to see how harmful ego-centred activism is to our community.
If this latest ego trip doesn’t inspire some action and improve things for our community here in Leeds and nationally and stop being a fuckin echo chamber then let me resolutely and wholeheartedly say in advance F U C K S C O T T E E
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