Meet the Judges

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.

A 6 stripe rainbow arch curves from bottom left to top right. A pink camera graphic sits on top with the words reclaiming the rainbow beneath. The Andro and Eve logo is shown in pink and white on the top right hand corner on a lavender background.

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.

Zoyander Street
A white woman with short briwn hair and blue eyes is smiling at the camera with just her face and shoulders showing. She stands against a shutter painted yellow and grey

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. 

Nelly Naylor

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.

A Chinese man with shoulder length hair stands looking to the left. He has a moustache and goatee and dark rimmed glasses and is wearing a white shirt with patterns of faces on.

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.

Up for grabs is a fabulous selection of prizes from local traders including Birdhouse Tea, Showroom Cinema, Elly Joy, Truffle Pig Vegan, Beer Central, Moss and Clover, Vulgar Vintage, Artisan and Eco and Louche Mag.

If you’re LGBTQ+in based in South Yorkshire, send us a photo now!

The photo should be

– Inspired by the phrase ‘Reclaiming the Rainbow’ and

– Show either yourself or another LGBTQ+ community member in a location in South Yorkshire.

Deadline for entries is midnight 1 Aug. Full details on entering, can be found here. Good luck!

Our Logo and some LGBTQ+ History!

A Black, female photographer takes a picture of a Black, femme lesbian wwearing and Andro and Eve logo T Shirt

CW – Holocaust, AIDS, Homophobia

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!

Two women in early 20th century dress are seen kissing by a tree. One of them is wearing white and the other a pink dress.

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.

a pink triangle on a black background is over the words Silence = Death in bold white writing.

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!

A pale turquoise cotton tote bag has the andro and eve logo printed on it in pink with white lettering. The design is in the centre of the bag. The bag sits on a pink surface.

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.

Lavender Menace activists, 1970. Photo by Diana Davies via New York Public Library

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.

The Andro and Eve logo is shown with a lavender triangle on a hot pink background

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!

4 people stand with sunglasses on wearing the grey marl Andro and Eve Logo Tee. Two of the people are Black women wearing blue jeans, one person is an Asian woman wearing a pink skirt, and another person is a transmasculine person wearing blue ripped jeans.

References

(1) From Sherrie Innes – National Women’s Studies Association Journal (referenced from JStor Daily).

(2) Most famously used in Carl Sandburg’s biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Further Reading

How Gay Culture Blossomed During the 1920’s. Sarah Pruitt.

2020 In Review

a zoom video call shows over 20 people onscreen and they are all doing their makeup

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.

Silvana Imam, a slim, blonde haired rapper, kneels at the front of a stage rapping. She wears desert boots, shorts and white hoodie.
Swedish Rapper Silvana Imam

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.

5 drag kings are placed in a montage. There is Prinx Silver, a spanish, white king with a crown and moustache. Christian Adore, who has olive skin, long balck hair, and dinner jacket on, with a bare chest. To his right is Georgeous Michael, a George Michael lookalive wearing a silver jacket, and in the centre is Wesley Dykes. He is a Black king with purple hat and sharp suit on. Mo terboat is in the corner, playing a guitar with open mouth. Mo is a white bloke with hoodie on.
Clockwise from top left, Prinx Silver, Christian Adore, Georgeous Michael, Wesley Dykes, Mo Terboat.

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.

The resulting zine, Centre, featured the voices of a whole range of Northern LGBTQ+ people, specially commissioned pieces by director and writer Rikki Beadle – Blair, activist and founder of the Black Trans Foundation, Azekel, as well as an interview with one of our friends from Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield. The zine sold 50+ copies in its first month on sale, raising £105 for Yorkshire’s Racial Justice Network. 50% of all sales go towards RJN, and we still have copies on sale, so grab one before they’re all gone.

A bright yellow zine with the words Centre Zine, in bold, black lettering sits on top of a hot pink surface.

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..!

DJ Xzan at a Reyt Queer Night In

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. 

a slim, East Asian model with mid length black hair is wearing a purple jumper and holding a turquoise and pink andro and eve logo tote bag.
New Andro and Eve logo tote bags in the Trans Pride flag colours!

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.

Artistic Director of Trans Creative, Kate ODonnell, and Artistic Director of Andro and Eve, Katherine Warman at Queer Arts North Artist Showcase in March 2020.

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.

Andro and Eve volunteers enjoying some pizza, post training, March 2020.

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.

With love and solidarity

Finn

Stop the scandal

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.

Black painted text says 'Hands off our prints' with a stylised fingerprint placed behind some prison bars to the left

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:

  1. The dismantling of the Hostile Environment: the UK must be a safe place for all people to seek and live a decent life.
  2. The severance of all links between the Police and Immigration, including a firewall between the police and all Home Office databases.
  3. 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].

Sources:

  1. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn03878/

2.https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmpubacc/1518/151806.htm#_idTextAnchor025

Drag King Workshops Online

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!

 

Finding My Community

‘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.

Drag king louis Cyfer tutors workshop participants in drag makeup skills
Drag king Louis Cyfer teaches some drag makeup skills

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.

Workshop participants enjoy exploring gender as performance
Exploring gender as performance

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.

Andro & Eve director Katherine leads a session in gender as performance. They are sat in chairs having fun 'manspreading'.
Katherine Warman, Andro & Eve creative producer leads a session in gender as performance.

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.

Maria.

A group discusses creative ideas about creating scenes

What is a drag king cabaret?!

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.

Drag king romeo de la cruz onstage dancing
Romeo De La Cruz performs at The Kingdom Come 5, May 2019

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.

Adam All and partner Aple Derrieres perform at The Kingdom Come, June 2017.

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)!

Chiyo onstage at The Kingdom Come, with tattoos and piercings on display
Scene star Chiyo performs at The Kingdom Come, May 2019. Abbeydale Picture House.

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, female bodied 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.

350 audience members watch Shesus and the Sisters onstage in Sheffield.
Shesus and the Sisters hosting The Kingdom Come at Abbeydale Picture House, May 2019.

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!

We hope to greet you there! 

Drag Kings: Lets break this down

We write this post because, yet again, the Drag Kings we work with have been done a disservice by the media. Sadly, this time it is Sheffield independent publisher Now Then that has pretty much failed to represent what a Drag King is while promoting our next event A Reyt Queer Do. While we’re very happy that the work we’re doing gets exposure, we cannot have the drag kings we work with be described as ‘women in men’s garb’. At best the phrase is reductive, at worst it is insulting.

If you’re sat thinking, ‘hey, thats what a drag king is right?’ then please read on.. Because that description does such a disservice to a scene that has traditionally embraced a wide range of gender identities, and often provides an outlet for creative expression for queer people who may not feel welcome in mainstream ‘gay’ venues. Yes, 19th and early 20th century music hall stars like Vesta Tilley or Hetty King were women impersonating men, but the UK Drag Scene now, is very different and so much more exciting. As London scene star Benjamin Butch puts it,

“A King show will overturn any expectations you may have, we are performing gender to introduce a position from which perspectives can be viewed differently”. 1

To break it down. You may perceive a person as ‘female’, but that doesn’t mean that is their gender identity. Ask before using a pronoun that misgenders a person. Many Drag Kings are trans, meaning their gender identity does not align with the one they were assigned with at birth. Generally a Drag King will perform as a ‘he/him’ on stage, but that does not mean they become ‘she’ offstage. This is similar to the Drag Queen scene where..

‘To many queens past and present, the distinction between gender performance and gender non-conformance is blurry, if it exists at all’. Alex Varman. 2

It is because of gender pioneers like Leslie Feinberg, Marsha P Johnson, Miss Major  and others, and the work of nights like Bar Wotever’s Non Binary Cabaret, and Boi Box’s weekly drag king open mic, that we have a UK Drag scene that plays with and critiques gender and celebrates trans identities. Our aim is to make a space for this wonderful scene to flourish in Yorkshire. To widen access and be part of the network of regular drag nights like Kingdom in Brighton that help spread the appeal of Drag Kings outside the UK’s capital city.

And while we’re at it. The term bio queen is gross and misogynistic. As performer Rodent Decay said ‘If you’re policing the genders of the performers you’re completely missing the point of drag’ 3. This piece also gives a broader discussion of the importance of women to the evolution of the drag scene.

For further reading we recommend this piece published earlier this year in ID magazine. Get to know and love some of the most interesting Drag Kings on the UK Scene right now! Sure to be appearing at a Sheffield venue near you sometime soon..

1.. From ID Magazine piece by Caryn Franklin.
2… From The Establishment piece by Alex Verman.
3. Taken from an article ‘No Girls Allowed on HSKIND by China Deathcrash

Whats in our name?

Why Andro and Eve? Let us tell you where our name comes from!

Well we love a pun for starters.. But this famous origin story of Adam and Eve called for a reworking in our minds… Something that reclaims the ‘woman’ from ‘man’ and says women can be so much more than the ancient stories we were told. Andro and Eve is a name that recognises women don’t need to be femme. We are androgynous, butch, dykes, tomboys. Also the divine feminine and ‘Eve’ character is also just as powerful as the archetypal man, masculine woman or genderfluid person.

We like our name because it acknowledges the blurring and broad spectrum of gender identity, and we seek to ensure our events and ethos are inclusive, and for us, queer community is about building a family outside of heteronormativity. We are about uniting different identities across race, class, gender, sexuality, disability and age. Lastly, our name was also chosen because we are keen that all women have a space they feel safe and free to explore queer culture, and break down some barriers that sadly, sometimes exist between different women and other marginalised genders.

Now we just need to remember all that next time we get asked about our name!

In this post, we’d like to acknowledge the pioneering and wonderful work of those who’ve gone before us, and were / are part of the inspiration for making spaces that promote queer and women – centered culture. In no particular order… Kate on Autostraddle in ‘Butch Please‘, Leslie Feinberg, Miss Major Griffin, Ani D Franco, Kate Bornstein, Bitch Planet, Susanne Sondfor, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, Patricia Highsmith, Cheryl Dunye, to name but very few…

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