DIY culture in Southampton has appeared on my blog before, and if you check out those posts, you’ll see how much I love it, and why. With DIY3 having taken place recently, it feels like the event is growing and developing – in a good way. Though zines remain at its core, there’s music, spoken word, art-workshoppery and various other forms of creativity. This time there was also something new to DIY Southampton – a stall by TQA, The Queer Alternative.TQA’s objective is (in edited form) to promote “acceptance, visibility and equality for LGBT+ people within alternative subcultures”. Now, I’m white, male and straight, and have never had a problem with my identity, so I’m not going to risk cisplaining the issues here – the TQA website can do this better than me, as can many other places online. However, I do feel very much at home with TQA and its aims, for a variety of reasons which become relevant to a creative life as you’ll see.
First of all, there’s the simple ‘don’t be a dick’ idea. Sexuality and gender are not simple ‘A or B’ options, and not getting this doesn’t make it other people’s business, nor does it make it OK to give someone a hard time. I don’t always get the pronouns right; it’s up to me to ask and learn – not to complain because grammar has got a little bit more complex.
Secondly, supporting LGBT+ people means I am supporting many of my friends, as well as society more broadly. Why wouldn’t I want to do this? Plus, TQA is very clear that it is welcoming to all. So, a straight white guy can be an ally without feeling out of place or needing to be part of a ‘scene’, and ‘allied’ is part of the logo. This is, I think, important, not just on a personal level, but for any campaign that seeks wider acceptance and to succeed in its aims. There’s no Southampton Pride (yet), but there is #alternativesouthampton for those who like to tweet…
Lastly, and here’s where it becomes relevant to creativity (after all, this is a blog about my creative life rather than socio-political issues, but you know…), acceptance isn’t only about sexual orientation and gender identity. As Kat from TQA said, it can be about being discriminated against (even subconsciously) at work for having visible tattoos, or simply for thinking differently. This last point resonated strongly with me. I have a scientific background and am very well qualified in this, but academia (as with many sectors) is deeply conservative in many ways. I get on with colleagues, even managers, fine most of the time, but it’s abundantly clear that we think very, very differently – about what’s important in world, what needs to be changed and how, and so on. This is important because whatever it is that makes someone be seen as ‘different’ is likely to affect them negatively if whatever establishment they are in doesn’t fully accept that difference. Any goths been invited to those golf-course chats where the real decisions are made? No, me neither. So, given that much creativity is about thinking and acting differently, especially in DIY culture that eschews pesky economic drivers, it makes sense to embrace the alternative and thus be embraced yourself. I can recommend it – it’s lovely in here.