We hope you’re enjoying Pride Week so far! If you haven't made it to any events yet, take a look at our website to see what we’ve got planned. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been collecting some creative work shared by LGBTQ+ students across LSE. We asked students to submit creative work on what being queer at LSE means to them and received some moving and poignant poems and prose - enjoy!
For a beautifully designed version of the below artwork, click here.
I live a life of questions.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m always down to question things. Norms,
There is a thrill in questioning everything and anything. Except you have to be ready to leave them unanswered. And it’s fine most of the time,
It leaves room for more questions.
Except when it concerns me.
Except when the same questions seem to agitate my days, And nights.
Do I fit in?
Do I have to?
Who am I exactly?
Do I need to know who I am?
Labels? They are comfortable.
But which are mine? Uncomfortable.
Should I live a life with no labels?
But I need answers. I need to find a definition that applies to me. So I can paint over it.
Make it mine.
Twist it around and adopt it.
Will I ever be sure? Probably not.
I ask too many questions,
Maybe that’s the issue.
Still, I like them.
A private conversation
There is something thrilling about having a secret. Keeping it safe. Making sure it doesn’t slip out.
It’s mine. I can do whatever I want with it. Make it say what I decide. I am in control. I am me in my own head, and no one else knows. No one else can assume what that secret means. No one else but me can define me. I am in control.
I’m private, the secret says. No one needs to know. Why should they? You are proud of who you are, and it does not concern anyone else but yourself. Who cares anyway? No one would take care of me as well as I do.
But remember? Two, three years ago. When you couldn’t seem to find anyone like you. How you longed for someone with a similar experience as yours. Remember, the many times you thought “representation really does matter”, the relief of finding people like you. The frustration of not recognising yourself completely in them. Why don’t you put yourself out there, surely someone like past you needs to hear what you went through as well. You could help them. You could add your own voice to the collective collection of identities. You could be you and help someone find out who they are.
I’m not even sure I know who I am. Maybe it’s all a lie. Maybe I convinced myself of something I am not. For attention. To fit in. To belong somewhere. Who says my secret is legitimate. If I keep it to myself, it’s not exactly a lie yet. Maybe you didn’t recognise yourself in anyone because you are not who you think you are.
Then who am I?
Isn’t it you who said only you can define who you are? Isn’t it you who said it was ok to give your own meaning to labels? If it feels right, go for it, you can always change them along the way.
I guess there is probably someone out there who asks themselves the same questions. It wouldn’t hurt to voice them out.
On this Rare Sunny Day
It is a rare sunny day.
The streets are empty. No one around
I can Wonder
all I want.
I walk to the park where I sit on a bench.
Usually, I wouldn’t. Instead, I would worry about how dirty it is.
And she would tell me I’m exaggerating.
But today, with the sun shining in my cheeks,
it doesn’t matter,
I watch the shiny Léopold lake.
I admire the swans:
white, precious, elegant;
just like her fair skin.
I admire the trees:
red, calming, confident;
just like her heart.
I admire the flowers:
pink, happy, social;
just like her happy cheeks.
I hadn’t left my house in a while,
lonely, anxious, scared
confined, trapped, asphyxiated
On this rare sunny day,
I admire the world around me
And the emptiness of it all
And how much it
Reminds me of her.
The empty streets and parks,
all shops and restaurants are closed-
I have the whole city for myself.
And despite being alone,
in the big, big capital of Europe
I never felt less lonely
than on this rare sunny day
I don’t know,
I don’t know.
My mother looks down,
How can I word
The emptiness of my fear
The vacuity of an imposed identity?
“I am the same colour
Of a sky full of hope”,
“A sky that breathes”.
I raise my eyes
And smile and cry
‘A Fabulous Planet’: Demanding Queer Storytelling in Wildlife Documentaries
by Flora Ocean Parkin
Nearly 50 years ago, David Attenborough defied the stigma of his times to call for sympathetic trans representation on national TV. In 2016, he said that if he were an animal, he’d be a leopard slug - a hermaphrodite whose intertwined, upside-down sexual acrobatics involve blue, pulsating penises the length of the slugs’ own bodies that emerge through their heads. Even more recently, Attenborough’s 2017 series Blue Planet II sensationally documented a Kobudai Wrasse changing sex (FTM) for the first time, enchanting audiences and generating headlines across the UK.
Attenborough. Babe. You are a trans ally after my heart.
So why is it that nature’s sex and gender diversity feels so absent from the peerless, mesmerising footage routinely dished out by Attenborough and co?
Why the inevitable focus on reproduction and food scarcity as plotlines in the animal queendom, when we know nature to be thrillingly, uncontainably queer? Why aren’t we given a sprinkling of gay animal sex, animal gender diversity and playful animal intimacy as a treat?
These trends resurface in Attenborough’s latest series, ‘A Perfect Planet’. Whilst packed with jaw-dropping landscape shots, mind-boggling animal survival tactics, and multi-species feeding “jamborees”, the lens through which animal behaviours are filtered is heteronormative by default. Look at this courting ritual between opposite sex animals! Look at the lengths the iguana will go to to raise her child! Such difficulty for this penguin to feed their baby!
However, neatly categorising nature to conform with predominant cultural biases is nothing new in the sciences. Likewise, storytellers can often simplify the complexity of nature, as well as uncertainties in scientific interpretation, for the sake of easily-communicable narratives aimed at a non-specialist audience. Attenborough himself has been called out in this way, criticised for omitting the widespread homosexual and homosocial behaviour in animals from his narration.
Like any good queer, I love seeing gnarly fish changing sex, basking in transcendant T4T slug energy, and secretly knowing that the komodo dragons I’m watching could have changed sex in their eggs, or impregnated themselves. But explicit, positive storytelling is something different, and requires the narrator to highlight queer intimacies, acknowledge varieties of behavioural interpretation, and use the power of symbolic representation to lift up marginalised nararitives.
So what would I want to see in Attenborough’s next series on *ahem* the kaleidoscopic queerness of our nonhuman pals? Well, for one...
Lesbian mating rituals of monkeys!
Dolphins wanking themselves off with dead eels!
The pseudopenises of female heinenas!
Self-impregnating lizards and sharks going it alone!
Gay love and gender diversity in lions!
Varied descriptions of power displays by animals known to exhibit queer behaviour!
And alllllll the sex changing and hermaphrodite clownfish out there representing the queer ocean !
Then we can start planning episode two - I am not out of ideas.
We know how important storytelling and representation are to human feelings of belonging, acceptance, and empowerment. So Attenborough - this is a call to you! Let’s start documenting the hedonistically queer, non-monogomous, and truly gay stories of the natural world!
Give us the FULL spectrum of filthy, fabulous biodiversity that defines our natural world, and the queer animal stories we DESERVE! Be the leopard slug you know you are inside! Bring us Queer Nature in your drone-filmed, slow-motion, high-definition delight, and bring it to us NOW!