Seeing as it's LGBT History Month a lot of places in London have been celebrating, including the two I went to this week. The Science Museum Lates Sexuality event was really interesting, I saw a talk about whether humans are naturally monogamous (short answer is yes, otherwise male monkeys come along and kill all the kids that aren't theirs) and another about the biology of sex in humans and animals. Did you know that Charles Darwin wrote a pros and cons lists about marriage before he proposed? And that one of the pros was "better than a dog anyhow" and one of the cons was "less money for books, etc"? Charles Darwin is my kind of man.
I also went to a late event at the Victoria & Albert Museum titled Queer & Now. It was a celebration of queer culture and it was a lot of fun and very interesting to get inside a world I don't really belong to but fascinates me. There was a queer perfomance art group called Salon Outre that did some dance and a reading from a mans new book, and a talk from Paul Harfleet, the man behind The Pansy Project, which has sparked into a worldwide phenomenon in the LGBTQ community. Paul Harfleet plants a pansy at the scene of violent homophobia, and this has taken him to Europe and America already and is currently filming a documentary about with Canal+. I think it's interesting how he has used social media to create a community and a statement around attacks that are humiliating and possibly embarrassing to share, and while he was talking he mentioned how almost all pansies are only there for about a day before they're removed/trampled. This upset me momentarily because I felt like I wanted it to be a stronger statement that couldn't be destroyed, but then maybe the face that they disappear so quickly fits the kind of incidents that they're marking; most of them are just verbal abuse of varying degrees of coherence, some of them are quite funny in a dark way. While I've been doing my research and drawings I've ignored this side of the community I'm immersing myself in, mostly because I didn't want to make any sweeping political statements when I'm not immediately involved. I've never experienced homophobia first-hand so I don't feel it's appropriate for me to try and make any sort of comment, if anything I think it would be a bit crass. Instead I'm attempting an reportage angle where I am both immersed in this world and simultaneously separate from, similar to Nan Goldin. The only shame about the night was I didn't actually see any really eccentrically dressed people or anyone in drag, which seemed very odd in the context.