LGBT community share their stories to celebrate LGBT 50

An actress who shared the stage with Maureen Lipman and Lucy Beaumont, a recovering alcoholic and a student from America are among the writers who will share their stories as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017’s LGBT 50 celebrations.

Earlier this year, Hull 2017 put out an open call looking for 10 writers to contribute to Lost Property, a collection of writings connected to Hull and East Yorkshire’s LGBT community.

Since then, the writers have been taking part in a series of workshops with award-winning playwright Tom Wells and are working towards a zine and podcast, which will be released on 27 July to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.

Hull-based playwright Tom Wells said: “The idea of Lost Property was to invite people from the LGBT+ community of Hull, people with interesting voices and stories to tell, to write about their lives, their experiences and the things which are important to them. It’s been a real pleasure working with such a great bunch of writers, and the stories themselves – full of honesty, warmth and wit – give proper insight into contemporary life in Hull’s LGBT+ community.”

Kerrie Marsh, who performed To Hull and Back at Hull’s first Women of the World festival earlier this year alongside Maureen Lipman and Lucy Beaumont, said: “Writing was something that took me years to feel brave enough to do. I didn’t gain my GCSEs while at school and didn’t resit my English till I was 34. I still worry now about spelling and grammar but I have managed to overcome that, realising that creating content is a much better feeling than the fear of making grammatical errors.

“I wanted to get involved in this project because not only do I have many funny stories to share from my 19 years of being an out gay woman but, after recently splitting from my civil partner, I also find that being creative has healing properties.”

Matt Commerford, 43, was brought up in Hull but moved to London after he came out in the 80s. After 10 hedonistic years which saw him fall prey to drug addiction and homelessness, he retreated back to Hull, the city he thanks for saving his life.

“It was Hull, that saved me. I doubt I would have got sober if I’d still been in London. Just another statistic probably.

“Since getting sober, I went on to get a first class degree in English Literature and completed a masters in Creative Writing at Hull University. I just love to write. And I write about what I know. I write stories about situations I’ve found myself in, kind of a ‘Tales of the City’ affair with a smaller cast-list. They range from running away when I was a young kid and very nearly getting molested in the Hull Rail Station toilets, to how to steal cigarettes and drinks in a 90s London techno club.

“I write with a tongue in my cheek, and a wink in my eye. I combat dark subject matter with humour. It’s good therapy for me. I started to collate my stories into a book. I want to write more of my stories, but I sometimes find it hard to revisit those dark chapters of my past, and even harder to find some kind of humour there. I signed up to Lost Property to give me focus and finish the work I started. I have still many more stories to tell.”

Kodi Maier, who moved from the US to Hull after a doctor at the University of Hull accepted their request to supervise their thesis on the Disney Princess franchise, speaks equally as highly of the place they call home.

“I arrived in Hull as a straight female with a vision of marrying my English boyfriend and living happily ever after. When I joined the LGBT+ group on campus, things started to change. Surrounded by a rainbow of individuals whose very existence shredded my original notions of gender and sexuality to bits, I found the freedom to question my own identity. It was easy for me to re-examine myself and reshape myself in an image that finally felt like me. I no longer had to wear my cisgender identity like an ill-fitting dress.

“I really felt like I could identify with Hull, a place which, like the LGBT+ community, was often overlooked for not conforming to expectations. Within two years of moving here, I had fully grown into my identity as Kodiak, a non-binary, queer individual. I want to share that journey as a way to send out my love to Hull.”

Lost Property is part of LGBT50, a week-long celebration of LGBT+ culture across the arts, which will take place from 22 – 29 July to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

For more information on the full programme, visit www.hull2017.co.ukevents/lgbt-50