27 Jul 2017

Hull’s LGBT+ community share their stories

Get a personal insight into LGBT+ life in Hull as part of LGBT 50.

A group of 10 non-professional writers from Hull’s LGBT+ community are putting pen to paper to share personal stories for Lost Property, a new zine and podcast project as part of our LGBT 50 celebrations this month.

Following an open call out for contributors back in May, the 10 writers have taken part in a series of workshops led by award-winning local playwright Tom Wells in which they have received expert guidance. Their unique stories will be released to the public on Thursday 27 July to mark 50 years since the process of decriminalising homosexuality in the UK began.

Tom Wells said: “The idea of Lost Property was to invite people with interesting voices and stories to tell to write about their experiences. It’s been a real pleasure working with such a great bunch of writers, and the stories themselves – full of honesty, warmth and wit – give proper insight into contemporary life in Hull’s LGBT+ community.”

One of the writers sharing their story is Kerrie Marsh (pictured), who performed To Hull and Back at Hull’s first Women of the World festival earlier this year alongside Maureen Lipman and Lucy Beaumont. As somebody who didn’t gain her English GCSE until the age of 34, Kerrie has faced some hurdles to take part in the project.

She said: “Writing was something that took me years to feel brave enough to do. I still worry about spelling and grammar but have managed to overcome that. I wanted to get involved in this project because not only do I have many funny stories to share from my 19 years of being an out gay woman, but, after recently splitting from my civil partner, I find that being creative has healing properties.”

Matt Commerford was brought up in Hull but moved to London after coming out in the 1980s. After 10 hedonistic years which saw him fall prey to drug addiction and homelessness, he returned to Hull, the city he thanks for saving his life.

“I doubt I would have got sober if I’d still been in London. I’d probably be just another statistic. Since getting sober, I went on to get a first class degree in English Literature and completed a masters degree in Creative Writing at Hull University.”

“I just love to write. I write about what I know and situations I’ve found myself in, from running away when I was a young kid and very nearly getting molested in Hull Rail Station to stealing cigarettes and drinks in a 90s London techno club.”

“I combat dark subject matter with humour and it’s good therapy for me. I want to write more of my stories, but I sometimes find it hard to revisit those dark chapters of my past. I signed up to Lost Property to give me focus because I still have many more stories to tell.”

Kodi Maier moved from the US to Hull to work on their thesis at the University of Hull and signed up to Lost Property to share their journey and give back to a city that played a huge role in helping them discover their true identity.

“I arrived in Hull as a straight female with a vision of marrying my English boyfriend and living happily ever after. When I joined the LGBT+ group on campus, I was surrounded by a rainbow of individuals whose very existence shredded my original notions of gender and sexuality to bits and I found the freedom to question my own identity.”

“It was easy for me to reshape myself into an image that finally felt like me. I no longer had to wear my cisgender identity like an ill-fitting dress. I can identify with Hull, a place which is often overlooked for not conforming to expectations and within two years of moving here, I had fully grown into my identity as Kodiak, a non-binary, queer individual. I want to share that journey as a way to send out my love to Hull.”

Lost Property is part of LGBT 50, a week-long celebration of LGBT+ culture to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK. Grab your copy of Lost Property from Humber Street Gallery, Thieving Harry’s and Kardomah 94.

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