Tyrannical Tories, Transphobia, and Some Art
By Lucas Ind
I don’t know about you lot, but I have had a week of existential dread – with wars, bed bug outbreaks, earthquakes, and tyrannical governments, it almost feels biblical. But then I have to remind myself that one gay man fuelled by fish finger sandwiches and poppers from Swindon paired with a lack of motivation isn’t going to change the world, but maybe the Boy Wonder can?
I struggled to conjure up something to write about this week. When the world is seemingly falling apart around us it’s hard to think of something light-hearted and witty to write about, so I’m not going to. I thought maybe I could write about the geopolitical conflict taking place right now, but I don’t feel like that’s my place. So, I picked my brain a little more and thought about something that really gets my goat and something I feel I can confidently argue the toss about – Tories!
I’ve never been overly fond of the Conservative government that lords over the UK, why would I be? I’m a working-class, gay man of Romani heritage, I don’t imagine they’re overly fond of me either. But what’s upset me the most this week is their continued prejudice against and invalidation of the Trans community.
This week, as the Tories descended upon Manchester for the Conservative Party Conference, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak went on a tyrannical rant about the Trans community, boldly stating that ‘we shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be,’ which was met – rather chillingly – with a sea of applause from fellow bigoted Tories, who also shared their views that Trans people are presumably undeserving of basic human rights.
Tory Britain right now is a scary place for the Trans community, but us queers are an angry bunch with hundreds of LGBTQIA+ protestors taking to the streets of London on Wednesday to protest and call for an appeal on Trans rights. After all that rambling, let me finally get to my point: the strength of the Trans and Non-Binary British community as showcased through art – past and present.
I can’t talk about Trans brilliance and contribution to arts and culture without discussing one of my heroes, Trans Scottish music producer and songwriter, SOPHIE, known for her brash experimental artistry, which shaped and defined electronic music (note: Charli XCX). SOPHIE’s impact on music is undeniable, you can’t go to a gay club or bar without hearing something produced by SOPHIE, and since her passing, her legacy has only continued to grow as more artists lean into that brashness to carry the torch of her trailblazing production.
As the ruling Tory government attempt to silence the increasingly vocal Trans community, SOPHIE’s music provides an escape from the prejudiced world around them – ricocheting around the club providing instant glee, as her 2018 song Immaterial defiantly proclaims, ‘I could be anything I want, anyhow, anywhere, any place, anyone that I want.’
In a similar vein, British painter Gluck rejected any forename or honorific title, instead opting for the moniker Gluck, sometimes even using names such as Peter and Hig, as they’d inscribe on the back of their paintings, ‘Please return in good condition to Gluck, no prefix, suffix, or quotes.’ Though they never publicly stated their trans or non-binary identity, I personally believe should they have lived now, in a slightly more accepting society, they would have publicly been trans or non-binary, hence why I will be referring to them with they/them pronouns.
Their 1936 portrait Medallion (YouWe) presents itself as a wedding portrait celebrating the ‘marriage’ between them and their lover, Nesta Obermer. Both facing to the side, the portrait shares elements with propaganda, reading as a mockery of both the Conservative government in the UK, and of the rising fascism in Europe – and we all know how that transpires for the queer community. It’s only now that Medallion (YouWe) is being appreciated for what it is, a blatant statement about queerness and love.
Medallion (YouWe), Gluck, Oil on canvas, 30.5 x 35.6cm, 1936, Source: RoyalAcademy.co.uk
Alright, that’s enough rambling on from me, it's a shit time for the Trans community at the moment, but I hope this has restored some faith – the Trans community have always and will always be vocal and seen. Please check in on your Trans friends and give them all the love they deserve and be the best ally you can be. And finally, sod the Tories.