Glasgay! artists and performers discuss the concept of union

  • The List
  • 13 September 2012
Glasgay! artists and performers discuss the concept of union

This year's festival considers the notion of union in the wake of the Equal Marriage campaign

This year’s Glasgay! festival focuses on acts of union -- ‘whether they be forced, failed, loveless, romantic, new, falling apart, personal or political, blessed or corrupt’. In light of the recent Equal Marriage campaign, The List asked four creatives participating in Glasgay! 2012 to explain what the festival theme means to them

John Grant

‘I have a humorous take on equal marriage, which is just a copycat of what Dolly Parton said on it. She said, ‘Hell yeah, I think gays ought to be allowed to marry -- they should be as miserable as the rest of us’. And I like that.

I grew up in a really religious household and I know a lot of people who are very against gays having those rights. Back in the United States especially it seems like a lot of religious groups want to use the Bible as the constitution of the country. They seem to believe that by using the bible, they can outlaw certain things like gay marriage, and I just think that goes against everything that they believe in too. It’s total hypocrisy because the Constitution of the United States was not supposed to be a theocracy of the United States. The reason people went over there in the first place was because they wanted to be able to do exactly what they wanted to do, and now there’s all these people saying, ‘Yeah, well, only groups of people should be allowed to do what they want to do, and other people shouldn’t.’

I don’t really consider myself to be very political but if you start to pay attention at all, then you are forced to become political whether you want to or not. My work is very personal, but my personal life fits into all of those things as well. We all have access to the same emotions although we all have them in different combinations of course. If we’re honest about our experiences and we talk honestly about what we’re feeling, then there’s always going to be a lot of people who identify with that.

John Grant plays The Arches, Glasgow, 25 Oct

Roseannah of Tranny and Roseannah

‘Glasgow is a huge hub for the most amazing and innovative art and theatre -- and I’ve noticed there are a lot of gay people. I’m not going to lie, there must only be a few of them left in the woodwork! When you get involved in that scene, you realise how many gay people there are and the different types of people who exist on the fringes of the new, evolved gay community.

There used to be ideas of what people did in the straight world, and what people did in the gay world, but now in 2012 -- the year of change -- you can see these different, diverse categories emerging within both the straight and gay communities. With Frock On Frock Off, we want to unite all these different fringe groups and have a massive party, no matter what your gender, age, sexual preference, class, and look at how we can work together.

I think the equal marriage debate should have been had a long time ago. When there was debate surrounding the Human Rights Act in 1998, people were talking about how there shouldn’t be different rights (or lack of rights) given to people because of their sexual orientation. If straight people can marry and gay people can’t, that is surely a contradiction of those principles, tying into the whole Orwellian idea that everyone is equal but some are more equal than others…

Personally I don’t know if I would like to get married or have a civil partnership. If the right man comes along then maybe my heart will be swayed, but I think the right should definitely be given to people. Some people have this innate, ingrained desire to get married. If we say that, by law, they cannot, then that’s just discrimination.’

Tranny and Roseannah head up Frock On Frock Off, Rose and Grants and The Glue Factory, Glasgow, 23--28 Oct.

Alexandra Muirhead

‘When I approached Glasgay! to discuss the possibility of exhibiting at Rose and Grants, the exhibition itself was untitled. However, once I started to select work for the exhibition, it became clear that certain pieces worked together, and a theme began to appear. One of searching for identity, a union with the self, and the turmoil that might come from that search.

When I spoke with Glasgay! producer Steven Thomson about the work that I had selected for the exhibition, we talked about how, in lots of ways, the pictures might suggest situations and emotional states that are at odds with the theme of ‘acts of union’. Each picture contains a solitary figure, and there is often an awkwardness about the figure or sitter that hints at loneliness, uncertainty, and perhaps emotional turmoil under the surface. In the context of the festival's theme, the paintings, to me, suggest that important act of union that many of us strive to undertake. One that can often make our relationships with lovers, family and friends richer and deeper: the union with our own self. It is a union that can be particularly difficult for anyone whose sexuality or gender identification is called into question, by themselves or those around them.

I completely support the Equal Marriage campaign, and am glad that the relentless push for this equality has been successful. Each step towards true equality for LGBT people -- an equal society where LGBT lives are not to be hidden or questioned -- is a significant achievement. Though laws don't necessarily alter the way people think, it is essential for them to change in order to progress towards a more equal society. And on a personal note, the legislation to allow for equal marriage can't come quickly enough for my partner and me.’

Alexandra created the exhibition Female, Untitled, Rose & Grants, Glasgow, 1 0ct--3 Nov.

Kenny Miller

‘We all get judged. Our relationships get judged by people on the outside, and our work gets judged by lots of people on the inside and outside of our lives. For a lot of people, Harold and Maude would be a challenging story. We’d all seen the film and absolutely loved it, so when I approached Steven Thomson at Glasgay! to see if it was something he would be interested in, he said it was very much something which fitted in with his theme for this year’s festival.

The notion of a 79-year-old woman sleeping and going out with a young boy of 19 would seem completely wrong and abhorrent. It starts out as a friendship and it becomes a learning curve for Harold. Maude brings freedom to his life and gives him a different way of looking at things, which develops into love and a love story onstage. I know a lot of people would think that was very wrong, but why not? No matter what age, why can’t it develop into love?

For me, the Equal Marriage campaign is all about love. In my mind, there’s no debate on it. Everyone should be allowed to marry the person they love, regardless of their sexuality or gender. The really brilliant comedienne Susan Calman who I really love said, ‘I’m a very difficult person to live with. If someone wants to marry me and put up with that difficulty, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to?’ And I agree with that. You should just be allowed to marry who you love, regardless.’

Kenny directs the stage adaptation of Harold & Maude, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 30 Oct--3 Nov.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information displayed here is accurate, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic).

John Grant

  • 4 stars

The former Czars singer has a baritone to die for and a handful of critically-acclaimed solo albums under his belt.

Albert Hall, Manchester

Sat 18 Jun 2022

£30.25 / 0161 817 3490

O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire, London W12

Thu 16 Jun 2022

£39.20 / 0844 477 2000


Twenty two years after it burst onto the scene, Glasgay! continues to test the limits of LGBT arts. Taking place across a variety of Glasgow venues each autumn, this performing and visual arts festival presents work that includes LGBTQI artists and engages with social issues as well as questions of identity, sexuality and…

Harold and Maude

A new staging by Theatre Jezebel of Colin Higgins' play, derived of course from the classic 1971 blackly comic film about the friendship between a teenager obsessed with death and a 79-year-old widow who sees the best in everything – even funerals.

Frock-On-Frock-Off Exhibition

Young, local, queer contemporary artists present work which explores the influence of their sexual identities.

Alexandra Muirhead: Female, Untitled.

Drawing and painting exploring aspects of the female form.

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