My project Lavender Menace has been running for 9 months now, and has grown from humble beginnings to a platform which facilitates a broad range of experiences for volunteers and participants. A collaboration between Blueprint100 and LGBT Plus, we’ve had film nights, discussions, discos, exhibitions, art classes and meditation, all with a queer focus. We have brought about countless moments of belonging and acceptance, which cannot be quantified or even described but which have the power to transform, and have shown what’s possible with a big idea and buckets of determination and support.
I started Lavender Menace because I loved everything about The Stove – the events, the activist spirit, the community engagement – except that there wasn’t any explicit queer presence. Queerness itself has radical potential which I felt would add a vital component to the conversations already happening there: the word queer is traditionally a slur but has been reclaimed as a liberation framework, acknowledging that we are different and do not wish to conform. We reimagine systems of identity and desire, of support and connection, we embody ways of being which we’re told are wrong and impossible. Not all LGBT people identify as queer, some are happy to try to blend in to the mainstream, but for me this disruption of convention is vital in allowing me to be my fullest self, and I know I’m not the only one.
I had been exploring my gender and was wondering if had to leave this area again to find a community where I could feel validated. LGBT Plus convinced me that I didn’t, and that if I started organising events people would come out of the woodwork; they were right. I had never run public events before but after spending several years isolated with chronic illness I was eager to develop my skills and connect with people. I previously lived in Glasgow for 6 years and knew that living rurally suited me better. I found it hard to feel grounded and find a sense of community in the anonymous buzz of the city. I’m delighted that all of this is happening in Dumfries, which feels vibrant and full of potential, and I hope Lavender Menace will inspire others to stay in the region too.
I look forward to doing some training this year, and to strengthening the network of volunteers so that we can aim higher and reach more people. It’s incredible to think where the next year will take us. Please get involved if you like what you’ve read, regardless of how you identify. We’d be nothing without our friends and family, we are all our most powerful when we work together. And while it’s not always glitter and rainbows, it often is!
Written by Lavender Menace