UK: “There’s no place like home”: Thinking about Belonging this LGBT History Month

Amrou Al-Kadhi:  I graduated from the University of Cambridge with a BA and M.Phil in the History of Art; I specialised in avant-garde attempts to queer mainstream institutions, which is something I now strive to achieve in my own work. After Cambridge, I studied at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting as well having trained in Comedy and Writing at the Soho Theatre, and screenwriting at the National Film & Television School.  I am the creative director of my musical comedy live-singing drag troupe Denim of which I am lead performer; Denim is sponsored by MAC Cosmetics & Bumble and Bumble, and is represented by United Agents.  

I, like many LGBTQIA+ identifying people, have a difficult relationship with the word “home.” So I think it’s important we think about how queer people negotiate the concept of home this LGBT History Month, particularly as this year’s focus has been: ‘Geography: Mapping the World.’

Implicit in the theme is the idea of home, and with it a forever complicated question for queer people – ‘where do I belong?’

Whenever I hear the word home, I am hit with a fiery pang of anxiety. In my memories, home is not a space of embryonic comfort – a lane down which to retreat – but a psychological wormhole of trauma – very much a lane to avoid. As a teenager, home was the place where my mother told me she’d kill herself if I came out as gay; it’s the place where I was locked in my room for going to watch Brokeback Mountain in the cinema; it’s the place where my colourful clothing was thrown away in front of me; it’s the place where my parents discovered gay porn under my bed when I was out with friends, who then left 21 terror-inducing voicemails on my mobile, which resulted in the most upsetting nights of my life when I eventually got back “home.”

These are not uncommon experiences. As such, for many LGBTQ identifying people, societal ideals of ‘home’ – and its connotations of comfort, unconditional love, and unquestioned belonging – do not match up with the scars of our lived experiences.

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