I had my usual but abbreviated visit to Yorkshire because I had to get back to take my friend's place at an event she couldn't go to with her partner and...I can't remember if he didn't want to go alone, or if they just knew I'd appreciate free wine and nibbles, or what, but anyway I got asked to go.
All I knew from a conversation I'd only half paid attention to (I was trying to cut a cake at the time...) was that it was an LGBT thing and it was at Steve's work. He's on the LGBT steering group there and indeed someone else from the group recognized me as having been to other events of theirs -- I did a presentation with someone else about biphobia and I went to a Bi Visibility Day event a couple years ago. I had no idea who he was but he said "you had multicolored hair then" so it probably was me! (Though Em J pointed out when we told her this story that she's also been to things and also has had multicolored hair, so I might've been confused for Steve's partner again.
Apart from the posh sandwiches and bottles of beer (mine was called Cwrw so now I know the Welsh word for beer!), it turns out we were there for a screening of some short films from the Iris Prize, an LGBT short film festival.
The first one, "Mirrors" was described as "about two straight men connecting in a gay club." It was probably my least favorite of the night, partly because I've seen enough young skinny white northern lads on nights out already, partly because both Steve and I thought that to describe it as "two straight men" was rather bi-erasing.
Then there was "In the Hollow", about a woman who was shot and her girlfriend killed on a hiking vacation in the late 80s. Dramatization of their young selves is interspersed with the woman who survived going back to that place in the woods for the first time since. Seeing their normal coupley selves -- arguing, making plans, holding hands -- interrupted in such a ghastly way was really powerful, and to see the woman who survived become an activist for hate crime legislation kept the movie from being unbearably painful.
Then "Vessels", a graphic and grim account of what happens when trans people can't access health care they need and resort to the black market. The film's very well done, which means it's scary and sad and I had to close my eyes for some of it.
Then "Aban + Khorsid", which in a more linear form tells a similar story to "In the Hollow," except the terrible ending is mutual and apparently state-sponsored. Filmed from their own points of view, as if on their phones, the young couple are so endearingly normal and coupley that the longer this goes on the more you can feel the inevitable ending. I could hear lots of sniffles in the audience by the end.
It was time for well-deserved break for a quick pee or nabbing more wine or whatever -- and someone even rolled in a trolley with ice creams on it, leading me to joke it was like a proper theatre interval...though I ate a Flake out of a cone instead of the posh ice creams with little wooden spatulas to eat it with. And the last two films were much more fun and light, a good way to end the evening.
My absolute favorite of the whole evening was "Private Life". Sadly I can only find a terrible-quality YouTube copy of this one, but it's great -- the cutest, funniest cross-dressing night out in Manchester in the 1950s with a (very welcome by this point in the evening) sweet ending.
And last of all, "Skallamann" ("Baldguy"), the best Norwegian musical celebrating the virtues of snogging the follicly-challenged that you will ever see. The song is catchy as all hell too, unfortunately: be prepared for "skallamann" to be the only word you'll remember in Norwegian for the rest of your life.
Apart from its joy and silliness, one of the things I loved about "Skallamann" is that it's the only movie I saw all night that wasn't about being gay or trans. The kid who comes home and confesses to his parents he's made out with a bald guy is a boy, but (apart from maybe redirecting the stereotypical shock and disapproval of finding out your son fancies men to the ridiculosity of finding out your son fancies a bald man) it's not the gay story of Coming Out, or The Consequences of Homophobia or the voyeuristic transition story. It's just a story with someone not-straight in it.
I really wish there would be more stories like this: just, non-straight and/or non-cis people getting a puppy or inheriting the kingdom or fighting the baddies or whatthefuckever kind of stories people who get to think of themselves as the default get to tell.