Here and Queer
Week 2 at uni and week 5 in the UK- and I finally feel like I’m getting my bearings here not only as a student but also as a queer person. Since I’ve last written all of you, a lot has happened in terms of being out and just trying to get immersed in Glasgow’s existing queer culture. As a student, I’m finally working out a routine balancing classes, rugby, writing, and a social life and as a queer person I’m hitting the tip of the iceberg of what Glasgow has to offer.
Last Wednesday, I attended GULGBTQ+’s first major event! It was just a meet and greet meant to get new people introduced to both the club and a few other individuals who made up Glasgow Uni’s queer environment with a few ice breakers and some games. There must have been around 50 people there, to my surprise, and of course spanning all identities on the spectrum. The last game taught me that my queer pop culture knowledge really needs some work, which is a bit embarrassing. Then a few of us head over to the Polo Lounge in the City Centre, which is one of Glasgow’s main LGBTQ+ night clubs. I have to say that it was one of the most fun club nights I’ve experienced so far with good people and good vibes all around.
On Friday I had the chance to check out SQIFF, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, held at the Centre for Contemporary Arts. First off, I am obsessed with the CCA building. When you walk up to the door, you would never get the idea that a building could open up into that much space. An art gallery hits you on the way in, you pass the welcome desk/box office and the space opens up into a full fledged cafe complete with colored lights strung atop. And that (along with the necessity for a toilet) is when you realize that there is an entire other floor that you need to explore that’s full of theaters, more galleries and event rooms. The film I was seeing, Open Windows, was held in a quaint theater room on the first floor.
To commence the event, a representative from Scotland’s LGBTQ+ Health and Wellbeing and LGBTQ Age introduced a short film called Are We Being Served?, which more or less communicated the Scotland experience of aging while identifying as LGBTQ+. A few individuals aged above at least 35 discussed feeling alienated from the youth dominated gay and trans rights movement, finding family in friends rather than blood, and their hopes for LGBTQ+ elders to be considered in policymaking. While these concerns were voiced from people living only in Scotland, they are still concerns that permeate the elder sector of the movement all around the world.
The short film was also a good way to set the stage for the primary feature, Open Windows. It featured four women from Spain and France, all in their seventies, discussing their lives as lesbians from the very beginning. When they were coming to terms with their sexualities, the term “lesbian” did not even exist and there was virtually no literature on the subject- they just knew they were into women. Which in my opinion is pretty badass because they were sneaking around Catholic school with girls they called “their closest friend” and their heats all aflutter. The cuteness doesn’t end there though because the two ladies in France (a lesbian couple) didn’t fall in love with each other until they were 69 years old. Like what! I won’t give away their discoveries- you’re just going to have to watch their love unfold. The documentary did get down to the serious stuff though when it came to activism and lack of visibility when it comes to the older LGBTQ+ community. This mostly came to light in the form of retirement homes and whether or not there should be homes exclusively for LGBTQ+ persons or if current homes need to be educated on the issue and make it known that they welcome the community. What it really comes down to is safety, because every person is different and might feel comfortable in a different environment, so there needs to be a variety of options to make the transition into that lifestyle the easiest it can be. One of the main concerns that was addressed in the film is the terrifying notion of going back in the closet when moving to a care home, which is often a reality for many people- especially in the UK where there are no homes targeting the LGBTQ+ community. But that might change soon! The first UK LGBTQ+ home for elder people is officially in the works and they seem to be taking it pretty seriously. Check out their website here!
Also if you’re interested in the Open Windows documentary, here’s the trailer.