Friday, September 11, 2015

The Scottish LGBTI Awards and the speech that never got spoken.


I remember the last time I was at an awards ceremony it was for me and the Lyceum’s FAUST. We never won anything; and I left feeling hurt angry and humiliated and cross with myself for caring. And I said I would never attend an awards ceremony again.

But last night where was I? At the Scottish LGBTI awards ceremony. Of course.

So I spent a certain amount of the evening with the part of me that was proud to be shortlisted and knew I deserved to win arguing with the other part of me that knows that the work has to go on, whatever, go on to my own satisfaction and that awards don’t matter the slightest bit.

Both sides are right, of course, which makes the debate an endless one. 

And anyway it wasn’t me who won the culture award but Glasgay, and they deserved it too, for years of dedicated work promoting LGBTI culture. I owe them a special debt of thanks because without their support I’d never have managed to get THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN staged. They recently lost their grant and generally have been treated pretty shabbily, I can’t help thinking, and they absolutely deserve our strongest appreciation.

And then this morning I woke up with both parts of me somehow reconciled.

But also with an unspoken speech.

We had to prepare an acceptance speech, the organisers told us, and it had to be 100 words or less. And there it is, rattling around inside me, with every word of it still true.

So I want to write it, because that frees me up to make it longer, and perhaps a little more eloquent, and then perhaps it will stop scratching at the door of my head like a cat wanting out.

It would have gone something like this:

“ When I was young and forced to live as a boy I was also led to believe that I would never be able to live openly as myself and would have to hide for the rest of my life.

Well that wasn’t altogether true. Obviously. As you can see...

But it left scars. Scars that meant it took me twenty years of intense struggle to find my voice as a playwright. And now fifty years to begin to discover myself as an actress and performer.
I was lucky to win through.

But so many of us didn’t.

We’ll never know how many talents, how many creative skills and how many extraordinary gifts have been lost to the world because they were blocked before they came to fulfillment. 

Blocked by the oppression we LGBTI people have historically suffered and continue to suffer here and so many places around the world.

What we do know is that a gathering like this one is quite extraordinary.

In years to come, of course, no-one will think twice about it.

But for now it is extraordinary... and certainly unthinkable even five years ago.

Unthinkable to be here, 400 of us gathered to celebrate LGBTI achievement in the presence of our country’s First Minister, at an event that could have been filled many times over.

And it represents a much wider movement that is truly revolutionary and is setting free so much creativity, so many gifts, and so much capacity to love for the benefit of everybody.

I am so very proud to be part of this.

I’d never be here without your support. None of us would be here without the solidarity and support we give each other.  

So thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

And thank all of us....”

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