The Beat of Our Hearts: Staging New Histories of LGBTQIA+ Loneliness
LGBTQIA+ loneliness has a long history, as do the relationships and spaces that LGBTQIA+ people have built for solidarity, creativity, and care. The Beat of Our Hearts will engage LGBTQIA+ and non-LGBTQIA+ audiences with these histories, reconnecting them with past queer lives.
This project is part of an AHRC EDI Engagement Fellowship led by Dr Charlotte Jones (PI), with Dr Richard Vytniorgu (PDRA), in partnership with local writer Natalie McGrath, the Intercom Trust, and the Northcott Theatre. The project is supported by Exeter City of Literature, and based at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health (WCCEH) at the University of Exeter. This work draws upon previous and ongoing loneliness research and collaborations developed by Dr Fred Cooper and Dr Charlotte Jones as part of the WCCEH’s Loneliness and Community Beacon Project. More information about the team can be found here.
Our project logo was created by Frank Duffy, an amazing local illustrator.
What are we doing?
The Beat of Our Hearts began with a programme of creative workshops about loneliness and belonging with LGBTQ+ communities in Devon and Cornwall, in partnership with the Intercom Trust, a leading LGBTQ+ charity in the South West. This will culminate in the development and staging of an original performance at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre as part of LGBT+ history month in February 2022. The performance will be written by playwright Natalie McGrath, drawing on a community of queer writers and artists. The performance will be accompanied by a parallel festival of stalls and discussions, bringing in local and national LGBTQIA+ charities, groups, and initiatives.
Why are we doing it?
Many LGBTQIA+ people in Britain have been subject to exclusion and isolation, both historically and today. This can result from explicit discrimination and hostility in family homes, on the street, and from institutions such as our education and healthcare services, as well as a more diffused cultural biases which favour and naturalise some lives and relationships over others. Loneliness is one of the most significant emotional and psychological expressions of this marginalisation.
Over the summer and autumn of 2021 we held our online creative workshops, which were open to LGBTQIA+ people of all ages based in the South West. Tickets are now on sale for our production at Exeter’s Northcott in February 2022, a theatrical celebration drawing on our previous research and engagement workshops, written by Natalie McGrath.