Vince Laws takes up the OUT140 challenge to tell a coming-out story in 140 characters / 9 August 2010
I told my parents I was bisexual when I was 16. They said "go to your room."
I’m involved in a project on Twitter called OUT140, which has collected coming-out stories from the LGBT community, their friends and families, told in 140 characters or less (i.e. a tweet on Twitter). Some participants then made their stories into 12-second films, which were shown on the giant Fusion screen in Norwich, Europe’s biggest public access screen, for 2 weeks in January 2010.
Mother said i wud rather you were a prostitute than a lesbian.
Next, community filmmaker, Shelly Telly, who devised OUT140, adapted it to be shown on 2 old tellys during the Norwich Dandies exhibition in May 2010. We collected more stories and currently have over 200.
When I told my cousin my daughter is gay she asked, "Do Lesbians have wombs?"
Now OUT140 is being shown on a giant plasma screen at the Norwich Arts Centre, while 39 of the coming-out stories have been blown up and stuck on the walls. I chose one story to turn into a piece of text art, a found poem, which hangs in the bar. It reads: Grandma asked Mum if I had a boyfriend. Mum said I was gay. Grandma said has she got a girlfriend then?
I like Grandma’s immediate acceptance and the fact that this short story contains 3 generations of women. I collected used greetings cards from members of the LGBT community and cut them into individual letters. Greetings cards are the invisible threads that join us to our friends and family. I stapled the cards to hanging threads, and hung the piece about a foot from the wall so you can read the shadows.
Rejection, everywhere. Church sed: possessed by demons. Hell. Threw my jeans & LPs away. Wore dresses for Jesus. Kept away from friends.
It’s easy to think that LGBT people have it easy now, everything is legal, society has moved on, but actually coming-out is a very individual experience. Only recently I chatted to a 40 year old gay man who lives at home and cares for his homophobic mother and as a result has never had a partner, never allowed himself the chance to be in love, and won’t do so until she dies.
The difficult part was coming out to me. Being gay made me feel filthy, unworthy. Then meeting Him I realised there is nothing wrong with me
OUT140 is at the Norwich Arts Centre until August 31.
Keywords: gay and lesbian issues,gender identity,visual art