As an LGBT comedy spoken word artist, every now and then I get asked to perform at LGBT events, which I’m always proud to do, especially, excuse the pun, when they are Pride events. I’ve always felt this to be a happy Duty and I’m always very pleased to be asked, as if in so doing, I am affirming my place in the world, to be philosophical. My whole oeuvre, normally, I guess, is that I am a safe, unthreatening LGBT performer for straight audiences, not that I can think of any threatening LGBT performer.
Last night I headlined at the Bath Spa University pride spoken word night, and it was an absolute pleasure. For a start, it brought my adverse audience demographic down by a couple of decades. Honestly, I was the oldest person in a room of around a hundred or so students. Secondly, they are all so open, and comfortable with who they are, and questioning, and unafraid to tell the world whatever it is that stands in the way of who they are. I felt immediately comfortable among a group of individuals for whom binary definitions are definitely a thing of the past. There were no expectations. Everyone was a real, living breathing person and performer.
Everyone brought their lives to the mic, from poems about coming out, being LGBT, being straight, battles with personal demons and addictions. The night was funny, serious, angry, and wholly life affirming. Performers from other universities were welcomed warmly and local spoken word nights were publicised. The audience was high energy and enthusiastic, and I thought, they can’t surely keep this up till the end. But they did.
My set went well. In fact, it went very well. I did the usual comedic stuff and I think the audience didn’t know what to make of me for the first minute or so, but then they submitted to the inevitable and were incredibly receptive. I usually end my set with some silly comedy based around orgasms and poke fun at whoever the hosts might be, but tonight needed something celebratory to remind everyone why they were there, so I ended with my Doors poem, which looks at LGBT and human rights issues around the world and in places where people are not so fortunate in being who they are.
And to be honest, I think it helped me, too. It helped me keep in touch with who I am, and my own culture. And it helped me keep in touch with a younger audience!
It was a wonderful night and I’m still buzzing now. My set in its entirety can be heard here:https://soundcloud.com/robertdgarnham/robert-garnham-at-bath-spa