As an experience, loneliness can be frightening to think about. For LGBTQIA+ people especially, speaking about loneliness has the potential to trigger unhappy memories and emotions that strike deep chords within.
Which is why for our first workshop with young LGBTQIA+ people (16-25), based in Cornwall, we began by thinking about the experience of belonging.
Where do I feel like I belong?
Where do I come from?
To whom do I belong?
So together we watched Dean Atta’s performance of the poem ‘I Come From’. This is a remarkably simple yet complex poem. Essentially you write it yourself, using only ‘I come from’ as the start of a line. Usually you’d join together two quite unlikely sources of belonging, such as
I come from fish and chips and Chemistry homework.
But over time, you end up with a really intimate and personal glimpse into what makes you you.
The young people in our workshops each provided a line or so using the ‘I come from’ format. And the results were deeply moving. We’ll leave them to speak for themselves.
I come from punk and the heart of the forest
I come from a feral family and well spoken words
I come from rainbow and black and white
I come from total freedom and a medically controlled mind
I come from soft piano compositions and loud guitar screeches
I come from boy’s shirts and pretty skirts
I come from neglect and care
I come from Instagram captions and polaroids being fashionable
I come from boredom and an anxiously racing mind
I come from an empty bedroom and big crowds.
— Richard Vytniorgu
N.B.: for those who wish to credit the poem by quoting it, please use University of Exeter as the ‘author’.