Last Tuesday evening I attended the world premiere of the Jamie Fletcher production of ‘Dancing Bear’ at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. Although this was a social visit rather than a work one I have decided to share my experience of what was an extremely insightful show.
Dancing Bear has been in development for three years and tackles the worlds of faith, sexuality and gender; focusing heavily on the LGBTQ community. It has a small cast with drag queen Divina Decampo (who you’ll know from The Voice and various other tv shows) as the shows lead.
It’s a frank insight into the world of gender equality and the issues surrounding being gay or transgender when religion has been a large part of your life and the stigma surrounding this. Each cast member discusses their experience in a conversational way making you feel as though you are having a one-to-one conversation. Their stories are hard-hitting but there is enough humour throughout to stop the script from being too serious. The show also includes a full frontal scene as the result of Divina’s character being attacked and then stripped completely naked for being dressed in drag. This scene was so raw and I felt every single emotion of what someone in that situation would have felt.
Although I am educated when it comes to the topics discussed, I fall short when it comes to knowing all the terms which are used in the community and which terms are seen as offensive. For example I have always considered the term ‘queer’ as being offensive. However from listening to conversations between fellow drag queen Courtney Act in Celebrity Big Brother and from Dancing Bear, I now that this isn’t the case. I also spoke to some friends this week and we all came to the conclusion that all the terms are an absolute minefield. So lets discuss what they all mean.
L is for Lesbian. Women who are attracted to women.
G is for Gay. Men who are attracted to men.
T is for Transgender (or Trans). If a person’s assigned gender at birth is different* from their innate felt sense of gender, then they are Transgender.
Q is for queer. Dancing Bear say that for them Queer is a way of celebrating a way of living that does not support or conform to a heteronormative/cisnormative* culture and society. But because Queer is a reclaimed word it’s contentious and can mean many things to different people. As such some people choose not to use it because they associate it with its history as a word used to insult and attack.
Q is also for Questioning. If someone is thinking about and/or exploring their gender and/or sexuality they’re questioning.
I is for Intersex. Intersex conditions are the fusion of different combinations of sex characteristics.
A is for Asexual. Asexual people can fall in love and be attracted to others but they do not have a need to express their attraction sexually.
A is also for Allies. An ally is someone who is supportive of LGBTQ+ people.
P is Pansexual, Pansexual is a term that has been growing in recent years as a way for people to better indentify their sexual indentity. The term is reflective of those who feel they are sexually/emotionally/spiritually capable of falling in love with all genders.
So as you can see there are so many different layers to sexual indentity. Sitting through this 1hr 20min show taught me so much about how I can be even more accepting and educated on the subject of religion and the effects that it has on so many people growing up. Yes it’s an institution and as someone who was rasied as a Christian I respect this but no religion is perfect and it is important to be open enough to look beyond this and live in a world where we can be accepting and tolerant of everyone. As a mum to a young girl I will raise her to be educated on all communities and to be accepting.
Thank you Dancing Bear for giving me the education which I hadn’t even realised that I needed.