Leics LGBT Centre Youth poetry contest winners

(featured image: Unsplash)

Image: Cynthia smiling and staring into the camera, doing the peace sign. T-shirt from Weirdo Zine Fest, nails from Elegant Touch, scarf from Primark, fingerless gloves knitted by herself.

The lovely folks from Leicester LGBT Centre invited me to judge their latest poetry contest for members of their social youth groups First Out (13-15 yrs), T Party (13-18 yrs trans kids) and Jump (16-18).

The topic was Pride, Progress & Change, inspired by work by Dean Atta and Musa Okwonga as published on the anthologies Proud (ed. Juno Dawson) and A Change is Gonna Come (ed. Mary Bello).

Image: Leics LGBT Youth.

The “baby queers” from the centre are so close to my heart, as I have mentioned before when talking about the times I’ve given them workshops. They did not disappoint at all. Everyone’s work was powerful, honest, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, but packed with a lot of soul and determination.

Books: Odd One Out by Nic Stone, Little&Lion by Brandy Colbert, The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters, and Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett. c/o Category Is Books Solidarity Shelf Scheme. Image: Leics LGBT Youth.

It was so, so hard to choose only five winners out of nine excellent entries to be rewarded with books supplied by Category Is Books (the best indie library in Britain!) to keep reading for inspiration and encouragement. I was relieved the runner-ups wouldn’t go empty handed and would get some nice notebooks to keep honing their craft.

To read all the entries, go to Leics LGBT Youth’s Instagram (cw: slurs, LGBTQ+phobia, but kept PG-13 and optimistic). Wonderful stuff.

National Poetry Day workshop at LGBT Centre

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Last minute, I gave a poetry workshop at Leicester LGBT Centre on Thursday, in order to commemorate the National Poetry Day. It was oriented to teenagers from the First Out group, including members from the lesbian, gay, bisexual an trans community who are currently doing college, sixth form and first year of uni. Something I wish existed back in my days, back in my hometown, where a lot of us were stuck in the closet or else we could get extra bullied because somehow, sometimes, everybody knows you’re bent. Everybody knows but you.

Either way, it’s nice to see how these kids have freedom of learning, expressing themselves, seeking guidance and expressing themselves.

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They did a few exercises on the past, present and future of poetry. Writing about being themselves way back in the past. Even using their imagination to imagine they’re gay dinosaurs. Writing about their favourite shows, books, music artists. One of them wrote an excellent puny poem called “Eastbenders”. As an EastEnders fan, it made me cry with laughter. These kids are great at their memes, love Steven Universe and American Horror Story, and relate to the same colourful and painful stuff we relate to. They’re basically pint-sized versions of ourselves and we should respect them and let them speak, learn, live.

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And like back in the days, some of them were really into yaoi. But instead of imagining threesomes in Inu Yasha, they have very real canon queer stories on Yuri on Ice. Like when Ranma 1/2 made us realise we were trans, and Revolutionary Girl Utena and Madoka Magica made us aware that we were sapphic af.

But you know what else I really loved? Remember in the late 90s/early 00s that all the kids said that something was “so gay” to mean it was a bad thing? It was so common, Hilary Duff made a PSA ad asking us to “knock it off”.

Well, now the kids say something is “so gay” when it’s something good. Which now means that top is not gay enough. Maybe if it were the skirt-as-top’s colour? Either way, it’s good that kids are growing up with a sense of pride in themselves and not afraid of being fabulous.

They still have to deal with t e r f  y hags who behave like massive toddlers having more power on the GRA consultation than them tho. So please, speak up and stop bullying them from your positions of power if you can. Think of the children. REALLY think of the children and let them be the happiest, free-est version of themselves.