What is it that we pass along to them or do they, too, need to start from scratch?Joseph Beam, Making Ourselves From Scratch, Brother To Brother
Sexile is the latest descriptor I have seen for the phenomenon. The enduring attraction of the city to the ready-to-cross-boundaries queer person. There are versions of this story as old as the city itself.
The village life no longer satisfying, the youth sets out to ‘seek his fortune’. The tales of antiquity contain both warnings and encouragement, the youths are set upon by brigands, or bells ring out to toll, ‘turn again, turn again‘.
Sexile, is not just the student banished to the library or launderette while a roommate gets it on – reminder and incentive to get some of your own though that may be. Sexile is the journey of LGTBQ+ people from towns to cities, driven by discrimination and lack of acceptance, and attracted by the possibility of living in freedom and being themselves.
London, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol issue their siren call.
Few can resist. Black queer people are among the moths drawn towards the bright lights and underground shadows too. The folk who ‘just geddit’ congregate in the urban sprawl where difference is normal.
People gather for the safety to be found in numbers, sometimes distancing for the same reason – camaraderie and anonymity in proportion to the day’s need. Communities of identity, such as LGBTQ+ communities or communities based on ethnicity or religion, do not necessarily have a geographical locus. This can be by choice; the stories we hold onto about gossip-prone social networks as risks to our ability to control our story; used to maintain ‘DL cover’, or to sustain the Janus-style myth that we are one person ‘in the streets,’ and another ‘between the sheets’, are to be weighed against the necessary level of turnover in alluring avatars to scroll through in hope.
Whatever the reasons, complex or base as they may be, critical mass means that their concerns may not always be given the same level of attention or recognition as communities defined by place. This can create serious challenges for these communities in terms of finding support, resources, and a sense of belonging. This is true for those who may know the city well through different lens, or (given the increasing amount of time we spend of our lives in multi generational households), for whom being a sexile proves impossible, whose move therefore has been more of perspective than postcode.
There are a number of ways that communities of identity can be included and recognized, even when communities defined by place are given precedence.
One approach is for these communities to advocate for themselves and make their voices heard, either through grassroots organizing, lobbying, or other forms of activism. This can involve working with community members, as well as engaging with policy makers and decision makers to ensure that their needs and perspectives are taken into account.
In addition, allies within communities defined by place are tasked with work to support and uplift the voices and experiences of those from communities of identity. This can involve speaking out against discrimination and prejudice, listening to the ways in which the minoritized are framing their experiences, and working to create inclusive and welcoming environments for all members of the community.
BLKOUT seeks to work with our members, peers, and partners where they are, rather than where we may wish they have got to. A Place For Us is an event that acts as an invitation to consider the ‘possibility of possibilities’ together with us. We hope that you will join us in London or in the metaverse.
A PLACE FOR US?
- Where are the spaces in our cities for Black and queer communities to move beyond survival, to access a freedom dividend and with it, thrive?
- What can we learn from the past? Celebrating our legacy of formal and informal Black and queer spaces?
- Will the metaverse be enough? What could the rise of machine learning and the end of the high street mean for the future of Black and Queer community building?
The Past, Present And Future Of Spaces In Which Black Queer Lives Can Thrive
- With our partners Queer Britain, travel with us through time to discover surprising spaces and places from London’s past that have supported and nurtured Black queer lives.
- Join London’s Deputy Mayor for Social Inclusion and Communities, to discover contemporary examples of Black queer placemaking and community building, and hear why they remain necessary
- Be inspired by a unique musical collaboration and intergenerational performance – a taste of the connections we might strengthen through sharing spaces
- Time and space to network with other guests, drawn from active experts in community building, creativity, place-making, heritage, and digital futures.
- Be among the first to add your voices and ideas to the BLKOUT community whiteboard, as together we imagine the spaces we need and co-create our manifesto for London’s Black, queer future