Pride Week!

 
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We’ve just finished up an AMAZING Belfast Pride week. It was incredible to spend a week with some of Belfast’s best business’, charitable groups and organisations to demand change and equality. We focus so much of what we do with the LGBTQ community only partly because we are members of it. For us it is essential that we all stand with our brothers and sisters and shout loudly from the position of privilege that most of us enjoy here. The startling fact that 1 in 4 young people living on our streets identify as LGBTQ has always been a driving force in our work. Massive respect to some of our charitable partners that took to the streets in solidarity with ALL who are suffering or vulnerable in our country.

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We have now landed, wrecked but absolutely exhilarated, back on our Dunmurry sofa. We are so inspired by the outpouring of love we’ve felt, seen, read and heard from so many wonderful people that have been in touch from Belfast and around the world. Thank you. We have so much love you all!

We started the week with Becky being asked to speak at the Alternative Queer Ulster event at Stormont, on Saturday 27th July, hosted by our friends, Malahai O’Hara and Clare Bailey of The Green party. Although Becky was delivering her personal story, it was very much a joint effort, Connor shared all the nerves on the night as Becky will do when it’s his turn at TedX Stormont in a few weeks.

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We’ve added the full speech text and a link to the video at the bottom of the page.

The rest of the week was FULL ON! As we read the news in bed, we were glad that the Belfast Flea at The Sunflower bar was rained off the day following Stormont. It gave us a chance to catch up a bit on some admin. Later we head to Costa del Carrick for some TLC and wisdom from Mamma and Papa Kerr.

Monday and Tuesday were spent making new products, preparing for the week ahead and getting ready for our SHOW SOME LOVE ‘Pack & Paint’ event held at our home in Vault Artists Studios

On Wednesday we were packing safe sex packs of condoms and lube, for The Rainbow Project as well as painting placards to bring to the upcoming pride march. It was so awesome to give a voice to those unable to attend, and to be able to bring so many hand painted placards to give to those arriving without one on pride march itself. We were blown away to be joined by over 40 volunteers on the night!

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Our wonderful friend and FAVOURITE DJ Neal Campbell spun some gorgeous love themed disco and we were joined by volunteer members and staff from local co-op Boundary Beer. Their community are collecting toiletries and underwear for our collection, they also brought cold beers for our volunteers to enjoy while they were packing, painting and dancing! We’re already so looking forward to the next one.

As we shared on social, our meeting with David from OI was cancelled at the last minute- (part 2 of the OI blog incoming!) This gave us time to be able to meet a request to join the Good Morning Ulster team on BBC Radio Ulster. We got to have a chat all about our stories of being part of the LGBT community in Belfast and what we do to support- Connor even managed to mention the aforementioned ‘condoms and lube’ without skipping a beat. We could sense the YEOOOOO’s from outside!

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After the BBC we popped in to ArtCetera for their Belfast Pride exhibition- ‘Queer as folk’ by Usfolk illustrate and Photographic portraits by Callum McCourt. It was so wonderful to see so many faces we recognised, knew and loved that had been interpreted and ‘seen’ through the eyes and in the hands of some very talented local people.

We particularly loved these words.

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After Artcetera we then headed off to the bright lights of Larne’s LEDCO business park to make our weekly visit to our buddies Adam & Laura Henshaw. They run both Charlie Oscar design and Belfast Beard company- we were there for a top up of stencils, hugs and emotional support.

We thought the week couldn’t get any better, but then we were delighted to be asked by our friend Michaela from Refugees Welcome NI to join the panel for a short discussion after a screening of Mr Gay Syria in The Mac on Friday evening. We LOVED it! The film itself was incredible and we’d strongly urge anyone who gets a chance to watch it.  Get in touch with us or the RWNI team if you’d like to arrange a screening. It’s powerful! We got some great questions and Connor was able to offer his perspective having experienced Greek refugee camps first hand. Becky referenced her words below about language when asked about how we can all work towards a more accepting and liberated culture in Belfast for all. Together we highlighted the link between displaced people, those homeless and the LGBTQ communities universal struggle.

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For us it was a late night but we were up early again the next day to spray even more placards, and make some vegan sausage rolls to bring along to the Black box for the Pre-Pride Breakfast and Post-Pride chill run by the frickin’ wonderful team at- Queertopia. They created a lovely family vibe, a full on spread and a smile and welcome for anyone who wanted to meet up or come and make some new like minded friends before setting off to protest for Pride!

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We had THE BEST FUN handing out all the colourful, imaginative and thoughtful placard creations made by our amazing volunteers. We brought over 100 with us but could honestly have given away the same amount again, such was the demand! We nearly forgot to keep 2 for ourselves! We’ve LOVED seeing all the pictures you’ve been sending of them in action! Keep them coming! We were especially tickled to see people wearing our SHOW SOME LOVE shirts in the crowd, particularly our mate Emma, pictured with Leo Vadakar himself!

There was no partying for us (like we had the energy anyway!) and it was an early one as we spent the next day at our favourite spot, the Belfast Flea at The Sunflower Pub. We always enjoy this day each month so much. Our friends are there either with stalls themselves, Kev Largey, @charlotte_allen_art,  @The_little_somethings and we enjoyed as always the best music in Belfast supplied by resident @andy_rudimentary and his special guest @venusrollergirl. We had awesome chats with each one and as so often happens, ideas for collaborations were flowing! The support we give each other in what we’re doing is invaluable! We’re so grateful for the crew and the awesome customers that become volunteers and friends at the Flea. Thanks to Caroline and Little Fox Events for always keeping it real and awesome.

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We decided to jump onto Facebook live after the market, some may say we’re gluttons for punishment but we have genuinely grown to love it as a medium. It’s an essential tool in our commitment to transparency, plus it’s always a laugh. We love your interactions and feedback! Both during and afterwards. Keep your questions coming!

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This week we have been giving Priscilla the Caravan/ soon to be studio a bit of a facelift as we get ready for our podcast! SHOW SOME LOVE RADIO IS GO GO GO! All will be revealed over the next few months but watch out for us at festivals and events around the country.

Get in touch with your stories of incredible humans, acts of love and your experience of the fantastic happenings in our wonderful city and beyond.

Connor & Becky x

ALTERNATIVE QUEER ULSTER SPEECH- Becky Bellamy, Stormont.

SHOW SOME LOVE WITH LANGUAGE’

“Hi everyone,

Today I want to talk about language. Speaking comes so naturally to us all, we converse with everyone we encounter and rarely do we consider the impact that words can have on the world around us. Now, I’ve had plenty of warning so I’ll not swear, in fact, I’ll not mention the DUP at all

We’ve all heard the conversations or worse, been part of them:

You know, where one person says something like “Here, did you hear who has turned out to be bisexual?”

And the reply is usually something like “Sure it’s trendy now. Isn’t it? Probably just a phase. I guessed as much, sure look at that fringe!”

My awesome fringe aside Why is it ok for people’s sexuality or gender to be idle gossip? Have you engaged in conversations like this? Because I have.

The correct answer to that conversation should have been “so what” because it shouldn’t matter.  

The reason it can be harder for people like me who come out as bi or, more correctly, pansexual is that we don’t actually have to. Often, we don’t really want to either, we don’t want a label to complicate our thoughts especially if we’re still figuring things out.

For me personally, I made an agreement with myself that if I met someone that made it necessary to be open about my sexuality, then I would, but until then I didn’t want to be defined by a label. Honestly, as a woman working in the corporate world, I wanted to retain the relative anonymity and straight privilege I enjoyed and be known for my talent rather than my scandalous but irrelevant sexuality.

Although I never denied it, I was never asked. When I moved to London and met the man I would eventually marry, (and am now divorcing), I felt comfortable to be open about it. What did it matter then?

Today I’m a strong, happy and confident woman, living my purpose with a life full of joy and enormous privilege that I’m still enjoying compared to many people, such as having this opportunity to speak today.

Being able to speak about my experience so casually, or as casual as one can be in Stormont, I consider it my responsibility to use my privilege and my voice to talk openly about how we can all make small changes in our language to show some love to each other. Lets fight fear and division in our lives.

Gossip and Labels are bad news. Both start as a tool for connection but often they become a cage. Allowing one to be assessed as to their worthiness of the label. In my case the question was around if being pansexual meant that I wasn’t gay enough, or even worse, that greedy word, well I prefer the word lucky! Stepping outside of your known label frustratingly means A NEW LABEL! This stifles experimentation, limits our experiences and true freedom in knowing and expressing one’s self. If a label must be chosen, then personally I like ‘queer’ for that reason, but then what about the self-labelled or assumed ‘straight’ people, often the most repressed of all. Although from what I’m reliably informed, most of the pictureless profiles on grindr and tinder conceal the identity of men and women, hiding their shame, when they’re finally being brave enough to anonymously experiment, even if sadly they do often have a partner, or a family at home.

Since my twenties I have met amazing female friends, but growing up I rarely felt truly accepted or included in any girl groups, and didn’t want to provide another reason to feel separate or different. I always felt safety and closeness within the LGBT community, disguising myself as a vehement and mouthy ally, I found a particular affinity with gay men. I was a classic hag.

However, at that time, one thing gave me a cause to remain tight-lipped about my sexuality, sleggin. I had one friend in particular whose sole sense of humour was and unfortunately still is, based around putting other people down, I can now see that this sadly demonstrated his own insecurities but I wish as a younger person I had been brave enough to speak up.

Now I’m in no way too woke to joke, our humour here is what brought me back from London. It’s often witty, warm and familiar, but we all need to evolve and change up our language. We can still be the funniest people on the earth, without sleggin’ entire groups of people on topics of gender, sexuality, race or religion. We are all now equally and rightly horrified if someone is crazy enough to use the ‘n’ word. So, if you’ve ever complained about finding it ‘hard to keep up’ I’m talking to you. Be on the right side of history.

We all have a bit more knowledge now and a responsibility to act on it. Show some love to each other by simply trying! Never mind if you stumble. You’re doing better than someone who ignores using, for example correct pronouns. It’ll get easier. Language will always evolve, especially as the world gets smaller and we can easily communicate with people who are ‘just like us’. When I was younger and still figuring things out, no one spoke up for people like me. Now I’ll always do my best to speak up where I can, to use my voice, my privilege and basically whatever I’ve got to stand strong and take on a conversation if needs be.

People show their fear or their insecurities by poking ‘fun’ it’s about time we all got a bit more responsible about how we act towards each other. It’s essential that we hold each other to account and ensure that our actions and our language comes from a place of love and acceptance. We should ALL be proudly and deliberately inclusive and supportive. If you see someone looking uncomfortable, do something about it. Have a chat, it often creates an opportunity for a conversation to be had, and a more meaningful connection to be shared. Sharing personal perspectives, and using platforms like these to share our stories is vital.

Another World is possible. Unless you’re daft enough to listen to Jim Wells

Speaking of ANOTHER WORLD, my life now revolves around our message ‘SHOW SOME LOVE’. Of course, it’s a call to action for our Love Pack Campaign and Activism work, but it’s also an everyday reminder that it’s a tough world out there, and if we’re all a bit kinder, and more considerate of each other, it’s an easier world to live in.

 SHOW SOME LOVE BELFAST”