Earlier this year I was asked by the brilliant Miranda Roszkowski to take part in her project 100 Voices – a podcast featuring 100 Stories by women to celebrate 100 years of some women getting the vote. My story was about a group of awesome people I met around 6 years ago – here’s the transcript.
You can download the podcasts from I Tunes for free, there are brilliant stories from a whole range of brilliant women. Definitely have a listen.
There was a time in my life when I very much felt I couldn’t. Or I wasn’t. Or I didn’t know how. I worked in theatre and had always looked out to that world and saw people doing the things that I wanted to do, and felt that I wasn’t clever enough or confident enough, and sometimes I felt I just wasn’t male enough – by my mid 20s it seemed to be all of my friends that were men were getting ahead in the business, and I just didn’t know how to. I used to try and fail at things often. I’d haphazardly chase after my dreams believing that they would always stay out of my reach. I didn’t know how to get ideas off the ground and I often felt quite intimidated by the industry.
Then in 2012 was introduced by a good friend to this incredible group of people, mostly women. And they were bold and mighty and vulnerable. And I worked with them for 2 years on a theatre project called The Chaosbaby. We were all different ages, different generations and I’d not experienced that kind of friendship before. And through working with them and alongside them I learnt how to do things and they taught me that there was no secret, just hard work and resilience and a bit of confidence in yourself. And it was in spending time with them that for the first time ever I started to understand feminism and how to challenge an industry and society that structurally holds not only women, but all minority groups back.
I also began to consider that that even the most successful or seemingly confident people have days where they feel like they can’t, or don’t know how or aren’t good enough.
The more time I spent with this incredibly supportive group of people, the more I felt I learnt how to become myself. I became more confident in my ideas and putting myself forward, and that was a gift from them to me. To not be afraid of failing, but to try, to not give up and through trying things I found a part of me that had never quite fully revealed itself. I’m not saying we live in a meritocracy and I know I have lots of privilege in lots of ways.
In 2014 I decided to launch my own website, called The LGBTQ Arts Review – a website that documented and examined LGBT+ theatre. I had recently come out myself and I realised I felt that I’d been really limited in the role models I’d had on TV and in theatre, and I wanted to first of all look at where we were at with that, and then try and change it. Through running my website I noticed that there was a distinct lack of women’s voices in LGBT+ theatre and I wanted to do something that might help that, even if it was only a tiny bit. So last year I applied for some Arts Council Funding, and was successful and got given some money to run a scheme to support female, non-binary, trans and intersectional LGBT voices and writers. And this was a really important moment for me, because it was proof that I could do something and I could achieve things and I wasn’t powerless to try and change things. Five years ago I didn’t think I was good enough or had the knowledge to fill in an Arts Council form, or would have an idea worth funding.
What I’ve learnt in the last five years is that the only way to know if you’re the right person is to try. And that sometimes it will be a no, but that the more you try and the harder you work hopefully there will be more yesses. But I know that it was the support of my friends that changed this for me, and I think supporting one another and building one another up is one of the most important things we can do – looking out to the world, to the people around us that are doing cool things, seeing them and offering words of encouragement and engaging in one another’s ventures and offering a gentle boost can make all of the difference. I know that it did for me.