I chose to include a painting set in a club in the UK in the 2000s as I felt that as a teenager and young adult, club scenes felt like there was a particular kind of intensity around 1.) what you looked like, and 2.) who you had feelings for. From memory (I stopped going to these kinds of places a while ago, although I respect people that still go), the clubs that I attended (these tended to be varied, but never specifically ‘gay’ or ‘lgbtq’ clubs) were never spaces where people were openly anything other than heterosexual.
It was common to see people kissing in these spaces, for example, but this was never (in my experience) anything other than within a heterosexual dynamic. This is obviously my own experiences and observations that I’m sharing. I did visit clubs in a few different cities in the UK at the time, and it tended to be the same, or in some extreme cases, I would describe people’s attitudes as homophobic towards even the idea being anything other than straight. This was probably about 10 years ago now, and even as someone that identified as bisexual, I still felt afraid.
It was a subtle attitude from some people who obviously weren’t comfortable with people being anything other than straight, but it was also very blunt, at times. I respect people who never attend these kind of clubs, and only go to ‘gay’ or ‘lgbt’ clubs for that very reason. I personally never did, but at least there were spaces out there that openly recognised that being lgbtq+ was legitimate.
The ‘Who do I sit with?’ painting represents my attitudes towards how I viewed these ‘groups’ of people – l.e. people that identified as ‘straight’ and people that identified as ‘gay and lesbian’. Obviously, this binary between the two groups isn’t always the best way of describing the demographics more generally either, but it’s how I felt about it at the time. You’ll notice in the painting that both groups of people are actually the identical image. This is because, what I thought was the case, was actually completely imagined. This was because 1.) How did I (or would I) ever know what sexuality people identified as, and 2.) Why was it ever important?
I think the feeling like the I didn’t ‘belong’ to either group, was largely the product of me feeling isolated because I felt I couldn’t ‘come out’ in these kinds of spaces, but actually, perhaps I wasn’t the only person feeling like that. And actually, perhaps it really doesn’t matter what sexuality people identify as, perhaps who I hang out with is just about the person?
This painting is really about moving forwards from how I used to feel as a teenager and young adult, to how I feel now. It also suggests that thinking about people solely in terms of ‘groups’ isn’t always the most helpful way of thinking about others.
As well as this message, I’ve tried to make the painting as inclusive as possible, although I know more could always be done around this.
I’ve included in the club scene members of the BAME community and also wheelchair users. It was important for me to show a broad range of what people who use the term ‘bisexual’ or identify as being part of the LGBTQ+ community (or anyone, for that matter!) may look like, as I think it’s important to remember that people have intersectional ‘identities,’ beyond what sexuality they identify as. Growing up around me, the club scenes weren’t particularly diverse, but I wanted to create a scene that was as diverse as possible. It was important for me to create a representation that resonated with as much people as possible.
Find out more:
If you’d like to find out more about the Bi in the 2000s merchandise, you can click the ‘Shop’ icon on the left hand side of this blog, or you can visit anna-frances.com/shop
I’ve recently launched a Bi in the 2000s™ illustrative series, that explores themes around bisexuality and lgbtq+ visibility.
I created the series to address the urgent need of representation of bisexuality and lgbtq+ communities.
You can check out the Bi in the 2000s™ organic cotton merchandise on the website address below:
You can find ‘Who do I sit with?’ organic t-shirts and tote bags as part of the collection (see pics below).
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