Playwright Jennifer Cerys' new play Dandelion at the King's Head Theatre explores queer history through a lesbian relationship in the time of Clause 28. Here she talks about why queer history is important and the need to diversify queer narratives in mainstream theatre.
Though it may be 30 years since Clause 28 was introduced, and 15 years since it was repealed, the effects of it can still be seen in our education system today.
The School Report by Cambridge University last year found that 40% of lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people are never taught anything about LGBT issues at school.
Though schools should obviously be the place where queer history is taught, showing it on stage will hopefully be a step in the right direction.
I know a young, queer me would’ve loved to have learnt about my community’s history at school, as it would have given me a greater sense of belonging and identity.
Some of the biggest plays of the past few years have centred on gay characters - Angels in America, The Inheritance, My Night With Reg (to name just three) which is fabulous to see but stories which feature lesbian narratives still feel like the preserve of fringe theatre. Is there a queer glass ceiling that needs smashing?
Definitely! It’s great to see any queer characters on stage, but lesbian narratives do seem to be forgotten.
I saw the brilliant Grotty by Damsel Productions earlier this year and that show was the first time I had seen lesbian characters on stage.
When I was growing up, lesbians and bisexual women were presented through a male gaze in an overly-sexualised way and I saw a lesbian for the first time over the shoulder of a boy at school who was watching porn on his phone.
Shows like Grotty (and hopefully Dandelion) show lesbians as much more 3D and complex than simply someone’s sexual fetish.