we had a place like this

In 2017 Luke was one of ten writers invited to make a guest appearance in James Ley’s play Love Song to Lavender Menace

As part of their appearance writers were asked to recall a place they’d known like Lavender Menace - a gay and feminist bookshop in 1980’s Edinburgh, that was the heart of the LGBTQI+ community - and a much loved book that had changed them in some way.

We had a place like this where I’m from it was called October Books, this radical bookstore - in Portswood - Southampton

When I was thirteen, not long out to myself, but to no body else

I remember, then, it had bright pink painted window frames, flaking, and not very clean windows, some faded books in the display, the abc’s of activism and some ‘cheerful’ gay literature for who ever was passing by and glancing in …

A grey door and fusty carpet

I was too afraid to buy a book that first time or to take one home but they sold buttons and badges and so, I left with a small metal pink triangle that I could pin on my denim jacket and as soon as I got anywhere near home, hide in my pocket.

 All that shame and fear

I was so terribly shy in all that time I only ever came away with books and badges, never spoke to anyone, but these were the beginnings of being able to understand myself as queer, to be in a place and see myself as part of a community…. A few years later I moved into a house share not more than a block away, drank in those bars it had neighbored, it was a compass for my coming out

[Luke notices a book in a box and pulls it out]

Oh my goodness  - Derek Jarman’s Chroma I first read this when I was doing my Masters

[Luke opens the cover]

A Book of Colour – June 93

It’s the last thing he wrote before he died (in 94)

He was writing this that same summer I – as a shy, awkward, embarrassed, illegal teen - was making my first visits to October Books

It’s an extraordinarily beautiful contemplation of colour and an insight into the politics of a recent queer history - all to easily forgotten - into the artist as activist, into process, painting, the landscapes of a life, plants and mortality  

I think it was amongst these pages that it became so much clearer to me that memory is a live act - a choreography of connection – that, we can re-remember, we have a responsibility to re-remember

I felt so heartened, by the things I found in these pages, that remembers worlds, moments, movements, differently to the terrible stories I’d been told, those evil apocalyptic adverts of ignorance I was watching on the telly as a child in the 80’s

To read this beautiful thing, that for me proved that – as well as cocks and cum, and clubs and pubs and gigs and noise, queers make other beautiful things, quiet, soft, tender, poetic things and they are all full of love…

 That everything exists and belongs in nature, that everything is possible.”

presence, absence, power, play

the talking place