On the importance of inclusive, accessible spaces in the LGBTQI community
BY ELEANOR NOYCE
Ahead of the next Queer Voices event (which showcases and celebrates poetry, song, drag, and more) DIVA caught up with Perceptions Warehouse Director, Izabel Florence, to discuss the importance of inclusive, creative spaces in the LGBTQI community.
DIVA: Many LGBTQI events are centred around party culture – and often alcohol. Queer Voices facilitates a space that isn’t. Do you think there need to be more “sober” queer spaces?
IZABEL FLORENCE: There’s a lot of preconceived ideas regarding artists of all kinds. I truly believe there’s a very hard-working energy within all of us, which comes alive when our passion is embraced and treasured by ourselves and others. When it comes to the queer community, a lot of events are centred around alcohol and I believe that takes away the safety I would like to grant the artists working with me.
Queer Voices is hosted at The Gallery Café in East London, an area known for its LGBTQI scene. Was it important to you to capture the “spirit of queer London” in QV?
We share a lot of values with St Margaret’s and The Gallery Café, which is crucial for me when working with other companies. East London is extremely dynamic and a place I believed would welcome my goal of creating a strong community of artists.
Queer Voices remains a by-donation event. How important is accessibility to you?
It will always be a by-donation event so that the audience is not filtered and therefore, the event can exist as a true social mirror of the community. I will always pay the artists, and I always bring artists from different backgrounds and art forms. I believe the more variety we have in the room, the more we can all learn from and inspire each other.
Queer Voices hosts drag queens and kings alike. Given the stigma often directed towards drag kings within the community, is it important to you that our beloved kings feel included?
One hundred percent. A lot of mainstream media is focused on drag queens, so knowledge is scarce when it comes to drag kings’ artform. Gender can be a very difficult subject to approach. Pushing the boundaries is brave and should always be applauded. To be a king is a powerful political weapon.
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