Can you introduce yourself to our readers and give us an idea of what you do?
My name is Carol and I am a liberal feminist and performance poet. I am a gay woman with a trans history and my poetry is often personal and based on my life. I also write about issue which are current and affect LGBT persons and communities as well as being an LGBT representative on a number of panels (past, present and definitely future). I love life and get the most out of it by feeding positivity into everything and I do. I travel a lot and have a love of churches, more so foreign churches such as St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt and Greek churches are worth a visit, I always pop into churches on my travels. I went back into education as a mature student re-doing my GCSE’s and A Levels and went on to complete my Degree in Health and Human Sciences studies at the University of Sheffield where I won an academic award for excellence and graduated in 2004.
- When did you start writing poetry and how did you get into it?
Surprisingly I wrote my first poem in 2001 and only went on to complete my second poem eight years later in 2009! I began writing poetry seriously after being encouraged by a friend, who at this time will remain nameless (although she knows who she is!). It was a massive step as one of my fist major poetry experiences was at an open mic night. It was a great feeling for me to be not only liked but for my poetry to be loved! I haven’t stopped writing since then and have gone on to perform my poetry all over the UK and have been lucky enough to be published (link).
What was your motive for writing poetry?
There are some gay and LGBT perspectives and spins in poetry, I have looked at different opinions and perspectives and I wanted to introduce my own. It’s such a great sound, hearing people laugh and I do incorporate comedy into my poetry even though I am writing about serious subjects such as religion and LGBT. I never take the mick of religion but that doesn’t mean we can’t all have a laugh! “a bit tongue in Cheek”
How has your writing progressed?
I really enjoy exploring different genres of poetry and prose and how the spoken word can be used and really enjoy hearing different ways of using the spoken word such as through music and rap. This coupled with the fact that I love to take on new challenges has led my work to be constantly progressing. I don’t want to give too much away, as this is still a working progress, however, as I have mentioned I like looking at new perspectives and have come across a brilliant way of presenting them. I am currently working on re-interpreting biblical art. I can’t say which image as that would be telling, but what I will say is that I am putting a new and fantastically camp spin on an old and well recognisable image! SO my writing has progressed quite dramatically. While poetry is my most common form of writing, I love a challenge and the way my writing has progressed definitely provides me with plenty of challenges.
Your HP page says that much of your poetry is based on your life and experiences. How do you feel about sharing such personal things with complete strangers?
I write about what I know. I’m not here to force my views on anybody and I expect the same courtesy from others. I believe even those that have opposing opinions should listen to each other with an open mind and be prepared to be educated.
I love the title ‘Gay Biblical Whispers’ and the images it brings to mind. What prompted this sequence of poems and where did you begin with writing them?
I feel that there are whispers of gay and LGBT in the Bible, almost as if they were always there but kept a secret. My sequence of poems gives a voice to these whispers and allows them to be explored. I was prompted to write such as sequences of poems as I love personal challenges. I believe you should be continually challenging yourself and this for me has been my most recent challenge; to write some new, from a new perspective, something that is different and controversial (but funny as well)! I love comedy and often perform through both poetry and prose and my material can be a bit tongue in cheek.
How did you get involved with Hidden Perspectives?
I have been involved with LaDIYfest for a while and in 2011 was asked to do a workshop for gender identities. I really enjoyed the workshop and my involvement with LaDIY, they must have liked me too as they invited me along to perform at the Hidden Perspectives launch and festival!
Why do you think projects like Hidden Perspectives are important?
Projects such as this give people the chance to explore new perspective, perspectives they possibly have never considered or even heard of. This kind of project is great as you can explore aspects of religion and gender that you wouldn’t get the chance to explore elsewhere such as what it means to really ‘love thy neighbour’ rather than condemning people for who they are. Something I find fascinating is that God is male, I like exploring the possibility that God is female as looking at other spiritualities and religions around the world, you find there is a focus on the feminine and the female, such as ‘mother nature’ and other female deities. Religion is often seen to be patriarchal and misogynistic, Hidden Perspectives provides a platform to explore and even begin to change this.
Have you been involved with any other projects, similar to Hidden perspectives or completely different?
I have been involved with numerous projects, panels, groups and organisations that work in favour of equality and the acceptance of LGBT individuals and other minority groups such as being trained to deal with domestic abuse, World Wild Label who raise awareness about violence against women and girls, various ‘Pride’ events, I sat on the Racial Equality Council in Rotherham before it was disbanded, performed for World Café events in London, featured in the Guardian, also other media articles and filmed a couple of documentaries regarding LGBT, worked with the Centre for HIV and Sexual Health, I was the only poet to perform at Doncaster pride, appeared in Diva magazine, a quite a few other things. I am dedicated to raising awareness about important issues; I’ve been in the media and survived it! Something I’m really looking forward to is a conference I’m performing poetry at the University of Sheffield based on ‘Troubling Gender, Multiple Identities Conference’ on the 24th May.
What has been your experience of the interaction between LGBT & Religion?
I have had some bad experiences with religion especially when LGBT and religion have intersected such as at ‘Pride’ events. The London Pride event in 2007 is one of the most memorable experiences where religion and LGBT have come together due to the abuse and hatred that came from Evangelicals that had come to protest at the event. At that time there was a large police presence due to recent bombings in London and the police had put the Evangelical groups and the BNP groups together, that was a difficult experience for a lot of LGBT individuals and a day full of emotion on both sides of the barricades.
Furthermore I think the Catholic Church in general is openly negative regarding LGBT and that there have been a lot of negative repercussions for LGBT people due to this. Such as the image being put forward by the Catholic Church that same sex couples are condemned because they stop the procreation process of life. This is ridiculous as many same sex couples bring up children in loving and caring environments in a way that nurtures and preserves the procreation of life. Moreover the Catholic Church seems to have instilled the idea that same sex couples will raise LGBT children, this is obviously complete nonsense.
Another experience of religion and LGBT interaction after appearing on an Iranian English News channel called ‘Press TV’ in 2008 on a programme called ‘Women’s Voice’ where I discussed gender variance. Unfortunately there was a lot of negativity aimed at myself and other LGBT people after that appearance.
What are some of your hopes for the future of LGBT & Religion discussion?
I really don’t like the term ‘tolerance’, LGBT individuals should not be endured they should be accepted, therefore I hope that the world can become a more accepting place, that we can all reach a point where people are more accepting not just of LGBT but of women and other minority groups as well. I also hope that in the near future there is a n understanding for LGBT individuals that it is not a lifestyle choice but that we were born this way. People should be accepted for who they are regardless of being straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or any other sexual minority. I think that if I had been born 30 years later I would have been more widely accepted soon, but I wouldn’t change anything because I have my two wonderful daughters. I think this acceptance is important worldwide not just in England or the UK but everywhere as there are some places in the world that do not allow LGBT people to practice their religion and this is wrong.