At the tender age of 12, Rob put on a full-blown Disney parade for his giggly Grandma. In dodgy wigs and improvised costumes, he gave her Ariel, Belle, Mary Poppins and Mickey Mouse while doting Dad acted as stagehand, sound technician and general props-body. It didn’t go well.
As much as I dislike the whole ‘we’re all queer, now’ thing, I jumped at the chance to see My Son’s a Queer, written and performed by Rob Madge at Norwich’s trendy Playhouse Theatre. It’s received some spectacular reviews, selling out at London’s off-West End Turbine Theatre in 2021 and taking the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe by storm. It’s currently on national tour before heading to yer actual West End this October. We saw the single-handed touring version and it was glorious – a fabulous autobiographical tale of Rob’s upbringing as a Disney-obsessed, uber-flamboyant child delivered in words, music and old family videos.
Just an everyday ordinary family with an everyday extra-ordinary child; the love – and sometimes the exasperation – shone brightly through those old movies. Despite the teachers, the bullies and the rejection, Rob stuck by his sequins and, thanks to Rob’s courage and loving family, proved beyond doubt that home is where the heart is. This isn’t always the case for the child who’s just a little bit different. We laughed a lot, we cried a bit, we jumped to our feet at the end. The simple answer to the question but what can you do? to parents everywhere is just roll with it; it will bring you endless joy.
Our rainbow day came hot on the heels of the opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham earlier that week. Eccentric, multicultural and with a distinctly steampunk feel, it was a gloriously quirky start to the games. Check out the amazing pictures from the Guardian.
For me, a spectacular high point of the show was Tom Daley, Olympic champion diver and growing national treasure, carrying the Queen’s baton flanked by gay rights activists each holding the LGBT progress flag high and proud.
Seen by over one billion viewers worldwide, they were there to spotlight the barbaric situation where in over half of Commonwealth countries homosexuality is illegal and also where, in three of them, the maximum penalty is execution. Just think about that for a moment. That’s another good reason why we need pride events.
But now the ‘Friendly Games’ – and they were terrific – are over for another four years, will Tom’s rainbow flag-waving make a lasting difference? We can but hope.
Click the image below to see the footage on the BBC.
Last Saturday Norwich Pride was back painting the town pink after a three-year absence because of you know what. And it was back with a bang – bigger, brasher and better than ever. Our bus into the city was transformed into a pride express, stuffed with jolly rainbow people from town and county. After arriving in the city, we joined the crowd of many colours heading to the centre and pitched our tent along Gentlemen’s Walk to watch the parade. It ran late. Turns out that a cast of thousands wanted to get in on the act, so it took a while to gather them all up.
When it did set off, the exuberant mega-march just went on and on and on. It was truly heartening to see a long chorus line of so many young people putting it out there, happy and unafraid.
Norwich Pride is fully inclusive, everyone welcome, no one turned away. Why? Because it’s free. Some other pride events are now ticket-only. I get it, really I do. Many are run on a wing and a prayer and a bad weather day can result in a wash-out, leaving a trail of unpaid bills. But not everyone can afford the price to be proud, especially right now. Just like the NHS, let’s hope Norwich Pride remains free at point of access for many, many years to come.
Gay, resilient, easy to clean, good to look at, made to take plenty of knocks and with a life of give and take. Just the ticket for a hunky handyman in a checked shirt, and a steal at five shillings a foot. Could be my Grindr profile. Swipe right, anyone?
On our recent trip to London we strolled past the Greenwich Tavern, just outside the gates to Greenwich Park. Before it went all gastro-pub with real ales and posh nosh, it used to be a spit and fairy-dust bar called The Gloucester, with weekend drag to amuse the boozers and cruisers. I went a couple of times back in the day. It was fun.
The Gloucester of old featured in Beautiful Thing, a 1996 Channel 4 film. Shot on a rough and ready South London council estate during a heatwave, the screenplay was written by Jonathan Harvey based on his play of the same name and had a fantastic cast of newbies, many of whom have gone on to bigger things. It’s my favourite coming out tale – warm, grounded, gritty and witty – played to a soundtrack of The Mamas and the Papas. Here’s the trailer:
When we got back to the village, I dusted off the DVD and we watched it all over again for the umpteenth time. A beautiful thing indeed.