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Sounds Queer

Sheffield-based LGBTQ+ organisation celebrates return to in-person events with a glorious night of queer creativity at Portland Works Makerspace.

Talya colour pop

To say I was excited when the folks from Sounds Queer asked if I’d like to come to their upcoming event, Reclamation + Return, would be an understatement. The opportunity to spend an evening in a shared space enjoying a top line-up of queer talent is a joyous one.

I chatted to SQ organisers Tommi and Talya to find out more about the organisation, their future plans and what we can look forward to at the Makerspace on Wednesday 30 June.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and Sounds Queer. Why did you set it up?

We’re an LGBTQ+ events organisation, promoting and platforming queer talent and perspectives. We’re volunteer-run by Tommi Bryson (she/her – composer, actress, comedian) and Talya Stitcher (she/her – poet, photographer, fundraiser).

We both felt Sheffield needed an open and accepting space where queer/questioning artists could explore any medium, regardless of how new their craft was to them. Some people discover new hobbies or talents and think they aren’t polished enough to perform or share these, but we want to encourage sharing the joy that can be found in expressing yourself, whatever that means to you.

An example that captures this perfectly is a performer who did our open mic a couple of times and was quite shy and nervous. Before their last performance with us prior to lockdown, they surprised us and the audience with an announcement to thank us for creating a space where they felt safe, loved and accepted, because they weren’t ‘out’ outside of SQ. They felt safe to be their whole authentic self within the community we’d nurtured, and we were so moved because that’s exactly what motivated the formation of SQ.

You're collaborating with Only Lucky Dogs Theatre on a special event this month. What can we look forward to there?

Reclamation + Return promises a celebration of queer creativity as part of OLDT’s summer season at Portland Works Makerspace. We’ll be bringing you an exciting range of acts from South Yorkshire and surrounding areas' LGBTQ+ community, featuring poetry, drag, music, theatre, comedy and works in progress.

As lockdown restrictions are hopefully coming to an end soon and in-person events return, what are your future hopes for Sounds Queer?

We’d love to get back on track with some of our pre-pandemic ideas, including the collaboration we had in the mix with Museums Sheffield, fundraisers, exhibitions and more. We’re extremely grateful to OLDT for being such a supportive platform from which we’re launching back into live events.

Reclamation + Return is a hybrid event with an in-person audience as well as being live-streamed online. Going forward, we’d love to incorporate this into other events to increase accessibility for those who cannot attend in-person.

However, for queer spaces in particular, live-streaming isn’t necessarily safe as people who aren’t publicly ‘out’ (as queer, disabled etc) may not be able to perform or attend. When live-streaming performances, it needs to be very clear beforehand for all involved so they can decide if it’s safe for them or names/faces can be hidden. This was already in place under our Safe Space Policy for photography consent, but the newfound intricacies of live-streaming are something we’ll need to be cautiously optimistic and pragmatic about for future events.

And finally, who would be on your dream Sounds Queer line-up?

[Talya:] Oh there’s so many! Alok Vaid-Menon, Travis Alabanza, Bimini Bon-Boulash, Joelle Taylor, Prinx Chiyo... How realistic do you want me to be? Angela Davis, Olly Alexander, Lil Nas X, Janelle Monae…

[Tommi:] My dream line up is at least 50% people that I’ve never even heard of before the given project. One of my main drives for doing all this is to help create a safe, small-scale platform for our community to share and be comfortable, so any line-up where it’s someone’s first time performing is always very special for me.

That being said, I’d love to get Ginny Lemon to do something with us within the next couple of years because I keep hearing such lovely things about them.

Got a question, idea or want to perform with Sounds Queer? Email queernightcellar@gmail.com

Filed under: #LGBTQI+

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