We showed Leadmill how to really throw a party this July with our biggest event ever – A Reyt Queer Extravaganza!
An evening packed with lewks, lipsyncing and crazy choreography, our artists and fantastic audience made it a night to remember.
Legendary MC Rikki Beadle-Blair kicked off proceedings in full bridal couture, and served powerful looks and even more powerful laughs throughout the night.
Sheffield’s very own House of Forgeous made their debut bringing style, vogue, attitude and queer joy to the catwalk.
Jaws were seen dropping as South Yorkshire legends Bi Polar, King Confuza, Ivy Alexander, Ditzy O Darlin, Northern powerhouses Val Qaeda, Kaan Ghetto, incredible singer/rapper Meduulla and the unstoppable House of Noir and House of Blaque – stunned with impressive looks, walks and tracks in categories from Turn a Lewk to Queer Kink to Lipsync.
Overseeing the evening was our judges – Stuart, Claud Cunningham and Heather Paterson who gave 10s across the board to our performers.
Tasty vegan cake, merch and a slightly more chilled vibe was found in room 2. There, our audience could take a breather, have a chinwag, meet our fantastic volunteers and try to stop themselves buying all of our badges!
And the whole crowd looked incredible of course – were we ever in any doubt?
We’re so grateful to all of you who came down and made A Reyt Queer Extravaganza our biggest party ever. Getting together in a huge party, seeing the support for the artists and being in a room full of love and joy made the night truly magical!
And a huge shoutout to our fantastic volunteers (who really are the glue that holds everything together), our incredible audience and to our partners Arts Council England and The Civic, Barnsley – your support made this event possible!
Keen for more? Get tickets to The Kingdom Come #6 NOW!
And why are our General Entry tickets sometimes £20?
We’re here today to tackle the tricky question of money. Not in a ‘here’s a spreadsheet, please enjoy’ kind of way (we know that’s a niche joy), more as a way to be transparent on what it really costs to produce the scale of live events we do, and where that money goes.
It won’t have escaped you that there’s a state inflicted poverty war being waged, and so it could be argued we should be offering all our events for free. Problem with that is, we’d not survive long in a capitalist society, and competition for funding gets more fierce every year, so we need to earn income.
We are a not for profit social enterprise, which means any profits we make, go back into supporting the aims of our organisation, namely to create spaces where queer culture is celebrated, and our community has space to connect with one another. We believe in being transparent about our need to be sustainable aka, we’re in this for the long run.
So lets break this down.
You might be here as a community member trying to work out why our ticket prices seem high compared to other queer cultural offerings in South Yorkshire, or you might be working in the culture sector and here to magpie. Its all good. Read on for the inside goss. . .
Our smaller events, like A Reyt Queer Do, cost around £3000 – 4000. That’s just the bare bones. Half of this is on artist and crew fees and their expenses like travel. When we say ‘crew’ we also mean the freelancers who support with production and marketing. A huge amount of time and effort goes into producing our events in a way that is caring and accessible for the team we work with and our community. That prep work needs investment. As does good access. We are committed to ensuring our events are accessible, and we pay people fairly for their skills. Think BSL interpretation, captioning and all the time we put into communicating so that our community knows what access provisions are in place.
What that £3k does not cover are our overheads. Things like insurance, IT, staff wages (we’ve currently got one part time employee) and the associated costs of running a business, like taxes, professional fees and website maintenance. Fun eh?
It’s also important to note we don’t have a venue. So while that helps keeps overheads down, it does mean we spend more on hiring quality venues that are accessible. Some venues have been incredibly supportive in offering us free hire or discounted rates, but at the scale we work, venue and tech is still a significant cost, and Sheffield is not blessed with as many live performance venues as other large cities, so we have to be flexible on the spaces we use.
So now we come to our larger events like The Kingdom Come, our drag king cabaret. Here, we spend more. Whereas A Reyt Queer Do is for an average audience size of 140 – 170, The Kingdom Come is designed for 300+ people to enjoy. Bigger event, bigger budget. So we’re looking at around £5 – £6k. Again half of this is on artist and crew fees. But even with a sell out, we are not breaking even, because the costs of access, overheads and staff time are not covered by our ticket sales.
So WHY DO YOU BOTHER we hear you scream at your screen? That’s where funding comes in. When we embarked on this queer culture journey, we quickly worked out that to make this sustainable, our core team would need paying. Can’t pay rent on the feel good factor eh? We know enough of our DIY queer scene herstory to realise burn out is a real and present danger.
It should also be pointed out that in the drag and cabaret scene it is not uncommon for performers to be paid way under the industry rate, or not paid at all. We believe fiercely in the value of drag and cabaret as an art form that pushes boundaries and gives voice to those otherwise marginalised, and its also *the most * entertaining too. The artists making it deserve to be paid fairly! (Don’t get us wrong, DIY scenes run by a committed team and serious amounts of volunteered time are wonderful and have produced some amazing culture, but that has become increasingly challenging in this neoliberal climate we live in).
So in order to support staff wages, and freelancers, we apply for grant funding and generate income through other means, like our merch, commissions and bookable training and workshops which includes our Gender Awareness Training and Gender Exploration Workshop. This supports the rest of our programme delivery. But without the grant funding, we could not produce the programmes of creative activity like the live performance events and workshops that we do.
So why is it still sometimes £20 for a General Entry ticket if you’ve got grant funding?
With Arts Council, we have to have at least 30% match funding for a programme of activity. So if a programme costs £30,000, we need to demonstrate we have got £9k of other income. That could be in the form of other grant funding, commission fees or ticket sales. So ticket sales still make up a vital part of our income stream.
We also believe in the quality and uniqueness of our work. Compared to larger subsidised theatre, or the commercial drag sector, our tickets are still competitively priced. We are also unique in offering a clear and consistent Sliding Scale Ticket pricing system in place to support those on lower incomes to attend our events. We got this idea from Leeds Queer Film Fest and SQIFF, and this system has been in place for our events since 2017. It also enables us to give free tickets for refugees and people seeking asylum. Currently we do this though our friends at Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield.
Solidarity Tickets were our own invention, and they are a way for those who can afford to, to ‘pay it forward’ and contribute directly to our ticket fund. This is ring-fenced money that directly supports the provision of cheaper and free tickets at our events. If you can afford to, we very much encourage you to buy one of these tickets.
It’s also worth noting, that we have been successful in getting funding to support free programmes of activity, like Joyful Noise zine in 2021, and there’ll always be parts of our creative programmes of workshops and events that are free for people to access, like the current Feeling Fabulous follow on workshops this July.
Our current programme is our most ambitious to date, and A Reyt Queer Extravaganza at The Leadmill, is our biggest ever event, with 20+ artists performing, (compared to 5 – 7 at our usual cabaret events). We have also been working in partnership with Ghetto Fabulous to produce and programme this event, which has needed proper time and investment. So our budget is reflective of the scale and ambition.
We’re here to demonstrate the value of queer culture to our LGBTQ+ community and beyond, and implement best practice when it comes to accessibility and equity in our working models. We know this is the harder way, but the payoff in terms of wellbeing for our community and those we work with, is worth the investment.
So next time someone says ‘why are Andro and Eve’s tickets £X’, feel free to signpost them to this blog. We here, we’re queer, and making space for long term investment in our community. See you at the Extravganza on 30 July!
Back in the day, after a year of running Andro and Eve we started to learn a lot more about the LGBTQ+offer in Sheffield. And it was fairly slim pickings. Then a guide came out describing the gay scene as ‘thriving’. So we wrote this blog in response. We basically were talking about cats in DIY shops as ‘queer’, because we were working so hard to find you all the queer things!
But its 2021, and despite a global pandemic, things have changed a bit for the better in terms of an LGBTQ+ offer in Sheffield. Theres a long way to go, but there is at least *something*.
We were recently commissioned by Visit Sheffield to write this article for LGBTQ+ visitors to the city, and locals too. Below you’ll find much of the info repeated, but with added sass and, (no shade), better font sizing.
Well this guide is not about the spaces a quick web search will help you find, (few though they may be). It’s about the queer alternative, the low-key and welcoming venues that are not LGBTQ+ specific, but where you will find LGBTQ+ people.
It is written by a 30 – something non binary person (androgynous to masculine presenting) who has experienced their fair share of homophobia and misogyny and understands the need for spaces that are genuinely welcoming. This is one of the reason’s I co-founded Andro and Eve back in 2016.
From night – life to cafes, culture and sports, this guide should have something for you to enjoy. This guide focuses on more centrally located places owing to their accessibility to the majority. Access has also been prioritised. The majority of spaces have been chosen because they offer options for those with physical disabilities, dietary requirements or sensory processing issues.
So read on to discover some hidden gems!
Pubs and Bars
Traditionally the LGBTQ+ scene has centered around LGBTQ+ specific venues for important safety and community building reasons. Although this guide is about so much more than that, its still well worth highlighting some Sheffield drinking establishments you can spot fellow queers at, and that feel safe.
The Rutland is a ‘traditional pub’ in the sense that it has original windows, and an excellent selection of cask ales, wines and spirits, but that’s as far as the traditions extend. It stands out from the crowd for its décor. Understated it aint. Think queer with a capital Q, weird horror, placards from previous protests in Sheffield, topped off with a bit of spangle and the surreal. The jukebox creates a real sense of atmosphere (just don’t choose the forbidden songs), and their beer garden is spacious. Their famous ‘Rutty Butty’ is chunky and reyt tasty, and like the rest of their food, gives you a decent amount of vegan options. Reliably open 7 days a week, and situated in a handy to access spot in the Cultural Industries Quarter. Step access at the front, but the venue has a ramp they can grab. Sadly no disabled toilet. Pre pandemic they’ve been known to run LGBTQ+ specific nights, but you’ll always find a selection of Sheffield queers here.
Nearish to this on Sidney Street is Industry Tap. Relatively new to Sheffield’s roaring real ale scene, its already made a mark for its frankly banging, and ever changing selection of draught beers and ales. Its position means the outdoor seating gets that lovely late afternoon / evening sun, and it is unofficially run by queer women. Attracting a real mix of people, from goths to hipster types, its got level access and a disabled toilet and does not play loud music. There are two gendered toilets but they are both self contained off the main space. Gluten free and vegan options, and open Tuesday – Sunday.
Beer Engine is worth checking out for its tasty tapas, (hello vegan and GF options) delicious wine, gin and cask ale selection and decent sized beer garden. Situated on the edge of the city near London Road, you’ll often find some LGBTQ+ community members (often lesbian / queer women) tucked into its cosy snugs and raising a glass to their chosen family. Toilets are gendered, but decent.
Down in Kelham, Bar Pina is the one for those of you who love a cocktail. This Mexican themed bar is refreshingly free of any signs of cultural clichés, and simply serves up mouth – watering margaritas and fresh tacos. Their tacos are so fresh with great vegan options. Staying open late on weekends, the bar can get lively, but their beer garden is the perfect place to chill with friends. As of Summer 2021, they’ve also started doing a monthly queer night. They have ramp access through the beer garden, but the ground outside is gravel. Gendered toilets but with private full – length cubicles.
Over in the upcoming area of Victoria Quays, is quirky waterside drinking hole, Dorothy Pax. LGBT+ owned, it’s really come into its own in 2021, with a lively crowd drinking by the canal day and night. Known for its eclectic live music offer, often featuring folk artists, it comes highly recommended for the service and warm welcome guests are provided with. Sadly, no level access, (unless you stay canal-side, where the ground is uneven).
Nightlife and Entertainment
If you’re after a night out, but want a cultural hit to be the focus, look no further than Andro and Eve!We are most well known as the creator of drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come. (Drag kings have often been the overlooked artists of the drag scene, so we put them front and centre). Pre pandemic, you could find us popping up in venues around the city, including Abbeydale Picture House, sharing the most exciting UK queer performance with a side order of vegan cake. During the pandemic, drag king workshops previously offered in person, have moved online, along with workshops in zine making, creative writing and gender exploration. Plans are afoot to bring back an in person offer, but in the meantime, you can get hold of our print offer, in the form of Centre zine, or upcoming zine, Joyful Noise.
The ever welcomingTheatre Deli, home of Andro and Eve’s queer cabaret, A Reyt Queer Do, is a great place to find the best in new theatre, with plenty shows focusing on LGBTQ+ stories, and a programme exploring diverse voices. Home to excellent local festivals including Migration Matters, you can also catch some exciting Fringe shows before they make their way to Edinburgh. The venue is quirkily decorated, with level access and both gender neutral, gender specific and disabled toilets.
Newly relocated DINA also serves up a healthy dose of queer performance, including alternative drag shows and locally run variety evening Sounds Queer. Their new venue in Fitzalan Square feels airy, with a bar serving drinks and snacks, and level access and disabled toilet. The performance space however, is not wheelchair accessible. You can also catch bigger drag acts and live music at famous Sheffield venue, the Leadmill, which has level access and disabled toilet.
For late night thrills head down to Gut Level, Sheffield’s new queer club and workshop space, run on a not for profit basis. Gut Level is now the home of long running queer techno / acid house night Club Rush, (@club.rush.party) as well as hosting workshops with collectives including Working Them’s Club and Flaw Collective, focused on making space for marginalised genders. Their courtyard also offers opportunities to garden with Wet Patch. No level access or disabled toilet, but toilets are all gender. To gain entry you need to be a member.
If your after a queer film or two, get down to Showroom Cinema, Sheffield’s original independent cinema which also has a bar where you’ll often spot more mature members of the LGBTQ+ community and bag a drinks offer. Level access and disabled toilet provided.
If you’re keen on some board games you might want to check out Treehouse Board Game Café. Situated at the bottom of London Road, tables are booked in timed slots, and then you have access to over 700 board games. With a café / bar serving a great selection of cask ales, wines and spirits and plenty hot beverages non alcoholic options, alongside homemade food catering for vegans, you can expect a warm welcome here. Pre pandemic they ran Treehouse Rainbow Gamers, for all members of the LGBTQIA community. Keep an eye on their social media to see when this may return. Level access and disabled toilet.
Cafes / Eateries
As well as being famous for its ales and local brewing scene, Sheffield also does good coffee, and has a thriving independent café scene. You can find top quality coffee and your fair share of the LGBTQ+ community in fave local haunts like Tamper Sellers Wheel, a New Zealand inspired café, with sheltered courtyard and level access, which serves delicious fresh cooked food, and Kelham based Gaard Coffee, which also has a cute courtyard with an emphasis on cakes and simple food catering to vegans. Both venues are open daytimes seven days a week, and have level access but no disabled toilet. However, all gender toilets are provided in the form of self – contained bathrooms.
Airy and bright Birdhouse Tea Bar and Kitchen is the home of Yorkshire’s much loved loose – leaf Birdhouse Tea, and open Wednesday – Sunday. Situated on Sidney Street, this independent local business offers a plethora of drinks, with tea both served traditionally, and in cocktails and tea lattes (their chai latte is dreamy). Owner Becky is a whizz at creating moreish cakes and bakes, catering to a range of dietary requirements and they serve stone baked pizza and tasty brunches. Their courtyard is a great place to meet friends, and they have level access with disabled toilet, and all gender private toilets. Birdhouse is welcoming of everyone, and a real mix of people can be found here. Also, rather uniquely for a city centre venue, if you have a canine companion, you’ll be pleased to know dogs are also catered for, with doggy treats and water provided.
Steamyard Coffee is a bit legendary in Sheffield for their dedication to coffee and doughnuts. They also serve up amazing grilled sandwiches, bagels and stock Elly Joy doughnots, for those who need their sweet treats gluten free and vegan. Located on Division Street, and attracting a real mix of folk, their service is always excellent. Toilets are self – contained bathrooms and they have level access and disabled toilet.
Opened in 2020, Terrace Goods is centrally located on a sheltered terrace in Orchard Square, and is open Wednesday – Saturday. This place comes recommended for its very friendly service, delicious diner style food (vegan diets catered for) and cocktails. They are soon to launch bottomless brunch events. If you like your music loud, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere. Sadly it is not wheelchair accessible.
For those of you more inclined to get active, Sheffield is called the Outdoor City for a reason. To be honest, historically it has been harder to meet fellow LGBTQ+ people if you are not the sporty type in this city! Thankfully, Sheffield’s ‘active’ offer now has something even for those who prefer to watch than participate!
You can’t go wrong with some rock climbing in Sheffield, and there are a huge choice of climbing walls in Sheffield. But for guaranteed ‘flirting’ aka, ‘checking in’ with a queer hottie who just fell off a wall / scaled to the top, the Climbing Works bouldering centre wins.
Rainbow Blades is a Sheffield United supporters’ group but they welcome everyone. They meet at Sheffield LGBT+ bar / café Spirit of Sheffield every Sheffield United home match day, where they eat, drink and socialise in this safe & welcoming LGBT+ venue. Even if you don’t feel comfortable attending Bramall Lane, you can still attend their meet up’s to meet likeminded people.
If you like your sports fast and furious, and have some skating skills, you might want to get involved with Sheffield’s ever popular Roller Derby scene. Sheffield Steel Roller Derby (SSRD) are the OG’s with skating opportunities for both 18+ and juniors 8 – 18. The juniors’ league is open to all genders while the adults’ league caters solely to female and non-binary skaters, and they are explicitly trans-friendly. As of Autumn 2021, SSRG are returning to weekly in person training at Skate Central. Matches, when they happen again, are a brilliant way to be surrounded by queer women and enjoy the thrills of this welcoming sport. For those wishing to be part of a more gender expansive team, The Inhuman Leaguebased in the North of Sheffield are open to all adults.
If you like Skating but in more of a chilled, ‘have a go at an ollie and fall over, but everyone cheers anyway’ then Queer Skate Sheffield could be for you. Currently organised by a very informal group of volunteers, in meet up’s around Sheffield, boards or blades are welcome to attend. Check out their Instagram @queerskatesheff for more information.
Trans Active is a social group for trans and non-binary people in and around Sheffield. Their aim is to provide a relaxed space where trans and non-binary people can socialise and improve their fitness and mental wellbeing through sport. Their current offer includes weekly swimming sessions for trans and non-binary people, and monthly activities which are also open to cisgender friends/ family/ partners.
If you’re looking for non – sport based activities to meet fellow LGBTQ+ folk, then read on.
Out Aloud are Sheffield’s LGBT+ choir with over 80 members and have been going strong since 2006. They’re open to anyone from the LGBT+ community with no auditions. Out Aloud’s mission is to sing to build pride and resilience, and to educate people about the LGBT+ community. Singing everything from pop to madrigals, they have performed in Paris, Dublin and London and are regulars at Pride. You can also find them giving a free concert every Christmas in Sheffield’s Winter Gardens and performing at civic events.
E.D.E.N Film productions are a brilliant social enterprise based in Sheffield who offer online and in-person filmmaking workshops for the LGBTQ+ community, producing short and feature films, as well as running events such as trans film festival, Transforming Cinema. Head to their website to find out about free upcoming courses.
Another ace way to meet fellow queer people is at Sheffield Zine Festival. This annual one – day festival showcases queer and margnialised voices making print and zines on all sorts of topics, and is a brilliant way to unearth hidden stories. Although on hiatus owing to the pandemic, they are always up for hearing from folk who’d like to get involved and help support future editions.
For those aged 11 – 25, SAYiT, offer activities and support groups for LGBT+ young people, supporting their emotional wellbeing. LGBT Sheffield is a volunteer-led charity attempting to give Sheffield a unique, centralised and shared LGBT identity, and can signpost LGBT+ people to specific services that may be on offer.
So that concludes this Alternative LGBTQ+ Guide to Sheffield. It is by no means comprehensive, but hopefully has given you some inspiration or helped you discover something new. Happy exploring!
For our Reclaiming the Rainbow Photo Challenge we have assembled a brilliant bunch of South Yorkshire Creatives to judge entries. Read on to find out more about them and how they feel about the rainbow flag!
Reclaiming the Rainbow Photo Challenge is a way to raise awareness of the Pride flag as a symbol of safety, build connections, and celebrate the strength of the South Yorkshire LGBTQ+ community through this difficult time. You can find out more about it and on how to enter here.
First up is Zoyander Street (Pictured above). “I am a neurodivergent, genderqueer trans man living in Rotherham, and an artist-researcher and critic working at the fringes of indie videogames for over a decade. After becoming increasingly sensitive to the limitations of linear text, I began exploring interactive and tactile mediums of communication, because I want to surface ambiguity and allow mess to stay messy. Led by ethnographic and historical research, I create lo-fi glitchy games and custom hardware for festivals, galleries, and museums”.
Gilbert Baker said that he chose the rainbow for the flag because it is a “natural flag” that “comes from the sky” – it comes from the same place as the light that shines equally on everyone and sustains the myriad forms of life on earth. Just as you can never find the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, you can never perfectly locate queerness or pin down the boundaries of our community; we exist as an expression of the beautiful variety of forms that exist in this world.
Next up is Nelly Naylor. “My names Nelly, I’m a proper Yorkshire lass, I live in Sheffield with my girlfriend and our cats Slim and Shady! I studied photography at Sheffield Hallam and in my final year I launched my business. I noticed that couples in the LGBT+ community were not represented at all! I knew I was the girl to fly the flag for our community so I become a LGBT+ specialist wedding photographer. 5 years on, a few awards in the bag and 150 5-star reviews online, I’m still championing equal marriage and documenting it in my unique colourful fun style!”
The rainbow flag to me was something I could identify with- for me the symbol if I saw it in a cafe, bar, or on someone’s website, I knew it was a safe space for me to be myself. I know it sounds cliche but I do wear the flag with pride, on clothing, shoes, umbrellas whatever it may be the symbol says to people this is me, I’m comfortable with who I am and this is my journey. I’m also really glad we now have a progress flag now, I feel every year we do progress in everyway.
And finally, our third judge is Yuen Fong Ling. Yuen Fong LING is an artist and curator based at Bloc Studio, Sheffield, and Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University. Ling has a socially-engaged and performance-based art practice that explores his biographical connections with omitted histories, people, places and objects.
Recent projects include: “Towards Memorial” (2019-ongoing) explores the remaking, gifting and wearing of sandals once designed and handmade by gay socialist activist Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), and “The Human Memorial” (2020-ongoing) explores the empty plinth to consider what monuments and statues we want in public space? What we stand for, and importantly when and where?
My relationship with the rainbow flag has been different throughout my life. There were times when I shied away from it, embraced it, was protected by it, exposed, made vulnerable by it, and even rejected it. What this has meant, is that it’s constantly evolving and changing symbol for me. Now, more than ever, do we need to reclaim, rework, make our own, these colours for our community
Yuen Fong Ling
We hope our judges words inspire you to think about your relationship with the rainbow flag and take your own photo for Reclaiming the Rainbow.
This LGBT+ History Month we have been inspired reading about people and groups within the LGBTQ+ movement and wanted to share more about the design of the Andro and Eve logo and its links to LGBTQ+ History. Read on for an exploration of colour, symbology and LGBTQ+ representation in history!
We were inspired by this fascinating Twitter thread by @AlexPetrovnia that delved into the history of trans lives and the colour pink, and its associations. During WW1, propaganda led to boys being dressed in pink, and then 1920’s flappers wore pink to appear more masculine. It was not until the Nazi use of pink triangles to mark out homosexuals during the holocaust, that pink was associated with queerness, and then femininity. History loves a bit of revisionism, but we must not forget.
The image to the left showing two women kissing is from around 1916 -1918, when during WW1, women took over jobs traditionally done by men. Here in Sheffield, women became munitions workers at the local steel factories.
The pink triangle has been reclaimed over the years by many in the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of resistance, most significantly with ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) formed in 1987, to raise awareness of and fight for the rights and healthcare for those with HIV / AIDS. They inverted the pink triangle and added the slogan Silence = Death.
The pink triangle is also used as a symbol of remembrance as with San Francisco Pride where, since 1996, a 200ft tall triangle is installed upon the Twin Peaks every year.
Latterly, the Rainbow Pride flag has been more commonly associated as symbol for the LGBTQ+ community, but triangles and pink triangles are is still often seen in queer imagery.
It is important to note that during the holocaust, homosexual women, along with sex workers, Romani, and the homeless, were given the ‘asocial’ badge of black triangle. The grouping of lesbians with others under this badge and widespread use of the pink triangle feeds into a common observation about the erasure of lesbian herstory. This collection of pin badges by the former manager of Gays the Word Bookshop in London, (Paud’s Pins) shows a huge range of LGBTQ+ symbols including plenty use of the triangle symbol, labrys and the lambda.
It is this LGBTQ+ History we drew upon when redesigning the Andro and Eve logo in 2017. You’ll notice that our recent run of logo tote bags uses a pink triangle, but most often our triangle is displayed in a lavender or violet colour. No coincidence!
Violets have been associated with lesbians since 600BC, when the ancient Greek poet Sappho would often write about violets and other purple flowers. In 1930’s New York, lesbians would give posies of violets to women they were hoping to woo, a practice inspired by the play The Captive, which was closed down after 5 months on Broadway in 1927. In it, one female character sends bunches of violets to another character. (1) After this censorship, Parisian lesbians wore a violet on their lapel to show solidarity.
Violet was also one of the original colours in the Pride rainbow flag.
Similarlarly, lavender has been associated with queer life since the late 19th century with the art movement Aestheticism promoting beauty and ‘art for arts sake’, with fans of this movement labelled ‘effeminate’. Oscar Wilde frequently spoke about his ‘purple afternoons’ with rent boys. In the 1920’s, a ‘lavender streak’ was used in North American slang to mean ‘male on male’ love,(2) and later a ‘lavender marriage’ helped Hollywood actors hide their sexuality in line with morality clauses in contracts the 1920’s and 30’s. The lavender scare of the 1950’s saw American homosexual government employees fired as part of an anti communist campaign by the US government.
Perhaps even more well known, are the Lavender Menaces in the USA. North American author of ‘The Feminine Mystique’, Betty Frieden asserted that ‘lavender menaces’ would ruin the feminist movement’s second wave. In response Rita Mae Brown led the ‘Lavender Menace Zap’ at the 2nd Congress to Unite Women in 1970, where a group of lesbians infiltrated the conference, wearing lavender hand – dyed T Shirts with ‘Lavender Menace’ printed on them and handed out leaflets stating their cause. This moment would help catalyze lesbians as an important part of the women’s movement and help make it more intersectional. You can read more about these radical lesbians on the brilliant blog, Dressing Dykes.
Lavender and purple have also often been associated with queer communities owing to the fact it is the colour you get when mixing traditional ‘masculine’ blue with ‘feminine’ pink. And so we come full circle with this blog, which was inspired by learning how pink came to be associated with boys, then girls!
We recognise the pain of so many LGBTQ+ people, and the erasure of women, trans and gender expansive people from our past. Andro and Eve, in name and logo, is both about reclaiming a hidden history and finding playfulness, joy and most importantly pride, in our lives and culture. We’re proud to carry on this spirit of making space and sharing marginalised LGBTQ+ stories.
Our Limited edition Logo tees are soon to be part of LGBTQ+ History too! If you fancy getting one, we’ve only got a limited amount left, so head on over to the shop to bag yours now!
2020. Wow. We did not see that coming. The start of the year seems like a hazy fog, where the idea of putting on a huge drag king cabaret for 350+ people is like some mad dream. But that’s what we were preparing for back then.
Despite all the nonsense, heartache and grieving this year has brought, here at Andro and Eve we have things to celebrate. And as relentless purveyors of queer joy, (because joy is resistance, to so many communities), we’re here to review the highs, and some challenges that 2020 has brought.
We started the year with a screening of music documentary, Silvana, at legendary music venue, Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield. Collaborating with Sheffield Doc/Fest, was a first for us, with Melanie Ireldale the deputy director, introducing this celebration of the story of Swedish rapper Silvana Imam, her rise to fame and blossoming romance with Swedish pop star Beatrice Eli. Many in the audience fell hard for this lesbian power couple that evening.
In March, we had the 6th edition of The Kingdom Come planned at Abbeydale Picture House with a stellar line up of talent. Just a few days after we trained our amazing team of volunteers at the venue, the board of Andro and Eve discussed the situation, and made the unanimous decision to cancel our drag king cabaret, scheduled for the 21st.
Facing a significant financial loss, the next week was a blur, but our community came through, with 85% of those who had already booked tickets, donating their ticket, which bought us valuable time to plan for a very different year and apply for funding. Thank you to you if you were one of those kind people.
In May we found out we had been successful in securing Arts Council England Emergency Funding. And with that a bit of breathing space. Launching our drag king workshop course in June, we were bowled over for demand for places on the course, with 50+ people taking part in 3 sessions led by drag king Christian Adore in July. Have a peep at what that involved, and what our participants thought in the video below.
Developing talent is key to our work. Our 2020 programme included an online Cabaret College, which we produced in collaboration with LoUis CYfer. Over 8 weeks, 13 emerging drag and cabaret acts were given the opportunity to develop their own material with regular mentoring from LoUis, and 4 creative sessions. As one of the participants said
The whole experience was so safe and welcoming. I was VERY nervous and always felt supported and like I could ask for help
As well as developing talent we were also aware that digital delivery would limit the audience for our work, and wanted to use print to connect. So we commissioned graduate artist, and founder of Racezine Collective, Okocha Obasi to produce a brand new zine. Okocha was mentored by artist Seleena Laverne Daye, and worked closely with Assistant Producer, Emma Bentley – Fox.
We launched Centre zine with a special online party, A Reyt Queer Night In. With a vogue workshop by Mother of House of Ghetto, Darren Pritchard, and a party makeup workshop by Christian Adore, the night was topped off with a brilliant set from Gal Pal’s DJ Xzan. The night certainly went down well with attendees..
The music was amazing, really good range covered. I liked being greeted on arrival, the friendly, multigenerational space and chance to put in requests
It sure beat our first attempt at an online party – a Netflix screening party of Clueless on March 28th! It was cute, but, not quite up to our usual standard..!
In November we launched a new range of merchandise including postcard sets, badges and tote bags in the Trans Pride Flag colours. Because trans rights matter and we’re here to celebrate trans lives. They look lovely on our newly redeveloped website.
Behind the scenes, we filed our first year accounts to Companies House (what a highlight!), and Artistic Director, Katherine developed a Gender Awareness Training session, aimed at staff in organisations and businesses of all sizes. Both Assistant Producer Emma, and Katherine, undertook anti racism training through Racial Justice Network, with Emma also taking part in Access and Audio Description training with Quiplash. This will inform the way we work in the months to come and is an important part of our mission to make our work accessible and inclusive to all.
On that note, we’ve just launched a new Community Survey. We don‘t know what the future holds, but we want to make plans with our community as the focus. If you’ve been to one of our events or workshops before, or follow us online and have 5 -10 minutes to spare, please complete the survey here. You can win a bundle of Andro and Eve goodies too!
Another highlight for Andro and Eve in 2020 was being invited to join Queer Arts North – a network of queer arts and Northern performance venues, platforming and providing talent development opportunities for LGBTQ+ artists in the North of England. It was great to be part of an artist networking event as part of Homotopia Festival in November.
The events of 2020 made us even more determined to work towards equality for all, and support the Black lives matter movement. The fight for racial equality would be nowhere without Black feminists like Audre Lorde, Angela Davis and Olive Morris, and Black LGBT+ community pioneers including Marsha P Johnson, Storme DeLarverie and Miss Major. We continue to familiarise ourselves with our history, and participate in anti racism work. On that note, this year, we’ve platformed Stop the Scandal, a campaign to prevent the use of mobile fingerprint scanners, linked to the Home Office database, by the police. If you haven’t read it yet, check out the piece by the Stop the Scandal campaign here.
At this point, please excuse some soppiness in expressing a wholehearted thanks to the two new members of the Andro and Eve board, Lola White and Ellie Wyer. Having only joined the board in February, they came through hard for Andro and Eve, and have supported the development of the organisation in this most difficult of years. A special mention must also go to Assistant Producer, Emma, who has gone the extra mile to help us produce and market all our creative projects and events in the last year.
We want to say a massive thank you to all the artists we worked with in 2020, for your dedication, creativity and hard work. Thank you also to the team of freelancers who help make our work look so bold and beautiful. And thanks so much to the volunteers who’ve helped out this year too.
In a year filled with challenges, and so much division sowed between communities, COVID has shown how unequal UK society is. We know in a way, that Andro and Eve and our tiny team are some of the lucky ones, we’ve carried on, while other enterprises have simply not been given the same support, or opportunity. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to make art, and access to culture. So we’ve dug in and got through 2020, and in many ways grown. But we know there is so much work to be done, and it is only in collective effort that we stand to make an impact.
Thank you to everyone who has told a friend about us, bought a ticket, donated, shopped or shared what we do. Your support is the reason we’re still here.
As part of Centre zine, we chose to highlight the Stop the Scandal Campaign. This grassroots campaign was created by Yorkshire’s Racial Justice Network and supported by Yorkshire Resists. They wrote the following piece for our new zine, which is on sale now. 50% of profits from sales of Centre zine, will be donated to the Racial Justice Network. Read on to find out more about Stop the Scandal.
The Stop The Scan campaign challenges a move initiated by West Yorkshire Police in 2019 to introduce mobile fingerprint scanning linked to immigration databases, using equipment funded by the Home Office.
These biometric devices are used with officers’ mobile phones, as they detain people in the street. This adds an extra, dangerous dimension to Stop and Search protocol, which according to the government’s own research, disproportionately targets Black and Brown people (with Black people 10 times more likely to be targeted by police¹).
The technology is used once police officers have deemed an offence to have been committed. This could be anything from loitering to dropping litter. If the officer doubts the given identity from the person detained, they may then use a scan of their fingerprints in order to carry out a person search on their identity. It’s crucial to emphasise that an officer uses their own discretion to determine how authentic your given identity is, a subjective judgement, which in the campaign’s view, has the potential to even further discriminate against trans people within Black and Brown communities.
Scans like this have only previously been carried out at police stations following an arrest. But what future lies ahead, where one’s dignity is stripped down and reduced to the opinion of a police officer, and a frequently inconclusive fingerprint machine?
The officer may choose to check identity against records held on IABS (the immigration fingerprint database). Stop and Scan is part of an immigration system that a 2019 inquiry into the Windrush scandal showed, to hold not only “poor quality systems and data”, but a “failure to monitor the impact of compliant environment measures” (now known as hostile environment measures)². A flag on the database – which could exist for any type of activity – may prompt a call to Home Office enforcers, heightening the risk of entering indefinite detention, or being deported.
The question remains: why use a device which could only identify those with fingerprints either on the IABS or criminal database, IDENT1?
The Stop The Scan campaign was created by the Racial Justice Network and supported by Yorkshire Resists. We are a network of individuals and organisations working together to end racial injustice. Our campaign is about alerting you to the racist nature of the intrusive power that biometric technology extends to the police. These technologies are being introduced, but they lack any meaningful scrutiny of their impact on the communities that the police are supposed to protect.
After the pilot by West Yorkshire Police ended, no evaluation of its use and impact was done before the technology was rolled out nationally.
Aside from West Yorkshire Police, no other police force is publicly recording the ethnicity of the people they are stopping and scanning. The lack of transparency makes it difficult to ensure that the use of this technology does not target certain communities unfairly.
In response to what we know, and what we can only speculate, the Stop the Scan campaign is calling for:
The dismantling of the Hostile Environment: the UK must be a safe place for all people to seek and live a decent life.
The severance of all links between the Police and Immigration, including a firewall between the police and all Home Office databases.
An end to Stop and Scan.
We are looking for support from people able to help raise awareness, to advise on the shifting legal rights landscape during the pandemic, for advisors who may help construct a legal challenge to the roll out, and for people who have been scanned and are willing to offer their experience as a case study.
To find out more, visit StopTheScan.co.uk and search the #StopTheScandal and #EndStopAndScan hashtags. To get involved in supporting the work, email [email protected].
Next week we’re producing our first online version of our drag king workshops, and collaborating with Christian Adore to do so.
This 3 week course is designed to give participants tools needed to make an original drag character, and have some fun exploring what can be done with them! This short video gives you a good idea of what the workshops will involve and a sense of what Christian Adore is all about!
Workshops take place at 7.30pm GMT on the 8th, 15th and 22nd July. We might not be physically gathering in Sheffield, but there’ll be plenty Yorkshire charm!
Booking for each workshop closes at 10am the day before in order that participants have time to prepare the materials they need and get the Zoom link from us.
Sliding scale tickets available and free bursaries for those with restrictive incomes. Contact us if you’d like a free place. Or book now to get in on all the fun!
‘I struggled to find a community that would really support me in my drag journey’
For years, I’ve been interested in becoming a drag king – partly because of my theatre degree and fascination with gender as performance – but I’ve struggled to find a community that would really support me in my drag journey. So, when I saw a poster advertising Andro and Eve’s Drag King Workshop in November 2019, I simply knew I had to sign up for it.
Before the big weekend, I was buzzing with anticipation, but there was also a fraction of performance anxiety, as the practical workshops, especially comedy and character development, sounded challenging. On the second day of skills workshops, brilliantly facilitated by Katherine and Natalie, I found myself literally crawling on the floor whilst performing my first ever comedy improvisation that made my audience laugh. This wasn’t just confidence-boosting, it really made me realise I could “do” things, if only I was brave enough to take the plunge.
The talent within our group is incredible. Some are charismatic performers, there are actors, singers, musicians and dancers, but everyone is warm and supportive. Our little community thrives on WhatsApp and some of us have met up at local events, such as Andro and Eve’s own Reyt Queer Do. The friendships forged at the workshop are proving an invaluable source of positive energy and inspiration during these strange times. I admit I can’t wait until I see the other Kings again on the other side of lockdown.
Developing Tristan – my drag king alter-ego – brings me a lot of joy. He still hasn’t quite found himself but he started his own life on social media and I’m looking at developing more comedy material, especially bad poetry. I’m truly grateful to Andro and Eve for giving me the tools to this wonderful, creative outlet and helping me find my place within the queer arts community.
It has come to our attention that, SHOCK HORROR, some folk don’t KNOW what a drag king cabaret is? Hold our redbush tea while we gently explain the lowdown on the glorious and rare beast that is a cabaret night dedicated solely to DRAG KINGS.
Firstly, some of you, (gasp) may not know what a drag king is, but we think you *may* have heard of drag queens. So, a drag king, instead of performing femininity like most queens, will perform a version of masculinity. This can include use of makeup, facial hair, body transformation, and just like a queen, a wholly formed persona to amuse an audience. But ‘blokes are not as exciting to look at as the trappings of a woman’ we hear some dissenters mouth.. HOLD UP! Have you seen Spikey Van Dykey? Adam All?Christian Adore?Oedipussi? The latter three kings have all performed at our very own drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come. No one with working eyesight could accuse these kings of not dazzling the heck out of audiences with their OTT looks.
Starting to get an understanding? Okay. Now. Just don’t say ‘so its a woman dressed as a man right?’ This is because many kings identify as non binary, trans-masculine or as men. That said, some kings do go about daily life as women, just please ask before assuming this. Misgendering folk is never a good look and we really don’t want our community feeling less than damn brilliant. Got it? Champion.
So what does a drag king do? Glad you asked. They usually perform a 5 – 10 minute act in which they may dance, strut, pose, sing, lipsync or clown but always with the intention of entertaining an audience. Many kings use their performances to deconstruct and play with the idea of masculinity, using props, humour and audience interaction to give audiences a rollicking thrill ride of fun, while potentially also blowing your mind with a different perspective. Even if that perspective is that you didn’t know the macarena could be performed *that* fast, (cheers Oedipussi), or you now have a taste for a dick in a box (thanks Louis Von Dini)!
And a drag king cabaret such as The Kingdom Come? Well we put 5 of these kings on a massive stage, in the historic surroundings of old 1920’s cinema, Abbeydale Picture House in Sheffield, and get them to perform for 200 – 350 people. They usually perform 2 different acts each with an interval in between. Its a room full of queer joy, community and the feeling that for 3 hours, we can come together and just celebrate. We also transform the space with decorations, a dedicated lighting designer, stage crew, and a team of amazing volunteers are on hand to support our community throughout (and sell some of the best vegan cake in Sheffield).
We do this because often, women and trans performers are marginalised, because its the turn of the kings to get the recognition they deserve, with scene stalwarts like Boi Box having helped develop the careers of so many wonderful kings, and because Northern cities like Sheffield deserve some of the finest entertainment the UK has to offer! (And like so many cities, are lacking in dedicated LGBTQ+ venues). We want to put Sheffield on the map for queer arts and culture.
Now you may have a better understanding of what The Kingdom Come is, we hope you can join us for a future edition. Because of the scale of these shows (the largest drag king show outside of London), we only do them once or twice a year. Our next is on the 21st March and you can get a ticket here, with sliding scale prices so all can enjoy a night of queer joy!