The Queer Alternative: Goths, punks, metallers and more!

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www.queeralternative.co.uk

Queer Alternative is an organisation which promotes the acceptance, visibility and equality of queer people within goth, metal, punk, and other alternative subcultures. Biscuit chats to Ashleigh Loeb, one of the group’s founders, about why she set it up, what its members have been up to and her experiences as bisexual woman on the alternative scene.

“The Queer Alternative started in 2011 with the London Gothic Meetup Group. I was seeing my friend Kat who was one of the main organisers of the group at the time and we knew that there were quite a few LGMG members who were on the LGBTQA+ spectrum. We wanted to get together and celebrate our sexuality, also showing the LGBT mainstream community that there are LGBTQA+ people within the gothic community. It was all about raising awareness in both the LBGT community and within the gothic community.”

“The following year we decide to expand our remit for Pride 2012 to reach out to all alternative communities (punk, metal etc) and became The Queer Alternative. Since then, Kat has moved abroad and I have stepped back somewhat from the running and organisation, instead sharing it among a number of safer and more organised hands.

“Initially we set up The Queer Alternative to celebrate alternative sexualities within the alternative scene. However as we’ve banded together, you start to realise that there can be prejudice towards LGBTQA+ people within the alternative scene as there can be prejudice towards alternative people within the LGBTQA+ scene, which we aim to confront.

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“As a bisexual cis-female in the alternative scene, I think the biggest prejudice is this idea that “Oh of course you’re bisexual because you’re a woman in the alternative scene and therefore are a bit ‘freaky’ sexually.’”

“My personal experiences haven’t been too bad. As a bisexual cis-female in the alternative scene, I think the biggest prejudice is this idea that “Oh of course you’re bisexual because you’re a woman in the alternative scene and therefore are a bit ‘freaky’ sexually”. It’s this annoying assumption that my sexuality and alternative culture tastes are linked. It’s not that simple, although feeling an outsider (which being LGBTQA+ can make you feel), can draw you towards alternative subcultures where being an outsider is often seen as an asset.

“I’ve also been around trans friends who have had problems in the alternative scene, particularly relating to gendered toilets in alternative clubs and prejudices of bouncers. It’s often not the people running the clubs or the attendees but some of the staff employed that need some education to develop an awareness of those who are not within the gender binary. I hope that most of these people aren’t genuine bigots, but instead are just not aware of LGBTQA+ issues, and that’s what we are here for!

“I think the reaction of the LGBT scene to us has mainly been positive. Often we stand out at Pride due to our predominantly dark clothes at the very colourful parade. Our music also stands out and is quite different to the cheesy pop often being played by the other groups. Because we are such a broad community in terms of our sexualities encompassing gender neutral, pan, poly, asexual, questioning and ally members, there is a small minority in the more traditional elements of the LGBT community that can see us as a threat. I think it’s a problem with them feeling as if we’re invading “their” group instead of seeing us as a spectrum of people all with the same aims – to combat hate, violence and discrimination against people on the LGBTQA+ spectrum.

“We’re still very much Pride-focused as that’s how we started, but we are definitely looking to diversify in the future. We initially set up our club night “Liberte, Egalite, Cabaret” as a Pride fundraiser but we’ve had such great feedback and wonderful acts that we are hoping to put on more events if we can. We also run our “Monochrome” parties and our pride after-party was listed as one of Time Out’s “seven great places to celebrate London Pride” last year. We’re always looking for suggestions from members and volunteers who would like to help us to run events. We’ve had a few pub and games nights run by our members which we’re hoping to continue in the future.

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“Our Queer Alternative cat calendar features members’ cats!”

“We’ve also been selling our lovely Queer Alternative Cat Calendars,  featuring cats owned by members. I’m very proud of my Sushi-cat being Miss May in reference to an “Absinthe Fruhstuck” joke started at Wave Gotik Treffen. We also had a limited run of T Shirts which we’re hoping to find a way to sell again. The T shirt has started lots of conversations, particularly at alternative gigs and festivals.

“Our aim with all our events is to come together as a community, to combat prejudice and hate by raising awareness and to be a support network for LGBTQA+ people within alternative subcultures.”

www.queeralternative.co.uk

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Charlotte Dingle

Charlotte 'Lottie' Dingle is Biscuit's founding editor. When she's not running freelancing for a diverse bunch of clients ranging from Cosmo to Occupy, she enjoys teaching life drawing, discussing life/the universe/everything with her beloved (but smelly) 22-year-old cat, writing flash fiction for her MA course, getting pretentious tattoos, listening to folk music, creating surrealist art, trying to change the world and drinking red wine. Oh, and My Little Pony. Don't forget My Little Pony. Her favourite biscuits are cream crackers (do they count as biscuits?).

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