Queer Islands Of The Nith

Blueprint100 member, Leo Marsh, writes about their experience of creating a disruption.

Taking inspiration from The Gay And Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, a micronation between 2004 and 2017 off the east coast of Australia, consisting of largely uninhabited sand islands, my Disruptors project centred around queer identity and claiming queer space. I had noticed that in Dumfries we have some largely uninhabited islands ourselves, just below the Caul in the Nith, and it seemed that they were ripe for claiming, in a region where LGBT people report feeling unsafe holding their partner's hand and parents still reject their trans kids. It could be worse but it could be a whole lot better.

So let us dream. Let us dream of a queer micronation where we can live in community, in safety and in joy, with the understanding that we are stunning creatures of great courage, with the freedom to express ourselves and feel not merely tolerated but cherished and celebrated.

The project consisted of three workshops I ran with LGBT Youth Scotland where we developed the concept of the Queer Islands Of The Nith – the young people decided that the islands were ruled by queer penguins and also inhabited by a motley crew of queer characters. These characters were developed further through work with Hope London and the results were published in a zine which we launched at our Queer Pop Up Library in The Oven (insert zine and launch at library. https://www.facebook.com/100010645934774/videos/789705761394281 The launch of the zine can be seen between 40 and 1.30 seconds in this video, with me doing a reading and Hope London doing a poem, and shots of LGBT Youth)

We then decided that the news must be spread further and so 50 copies of Menacing Times were distributed in local newspaper outlets (without the knowledge of said outlets). During this phase I discovered I wasn't as “disruptive” as I thought – under the potential gaze of cashiers in M&S, Morrisons and Spar I managed a mere 1-3 leaflets per session, but out of sight of staff in the WH Smith shelves I quite comfortably inserted many a Menacing Times into Farming Weekly and bridal magazines, crochet magazines, National Geographic and D&G Life. Go forth and be inspired/intrigued/bamboozled, readers of Dumfries, and next time you're looking out over the Nith let your imagination wander and perchance you might spot some rainbow coloured penguins lounging on the islands.



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