As the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU aprroaches and with less than a week to go until the deadline to register to vote London artist and cabaret performer Scottee argues that which ever way you vote, it's time for the LGBT go get politically engaged again...
This isn't yet another opinion piece on whether you should vote for the UK to remain or to leave Europe on 23rd
June, attempting to convince you to be in-y or an out-y. This isn't a party political broadcast, nor am I here to lay the skewed evidence or statistics on thick - this is about a feeling I believe many queens are experiencing ahead of the European referendum - confusion, apathy and gay laziness.
For the lucky few of you who got this far into my first piece for Attitude, well done. In a world of Drag Race gifs, niche tumblr NSFW’s and topless men eating kale on Instagram, the sexless, dull and often ostracising world of politics is hardly most queens' idea of a well-spent coffee break. Even with the allure of Owen Jones, politics can bore many gay ears to fake tears.
Superficially, the lack of RuPaul and strong female lead seemingly may have muffled our attention spans when it comes to politics, but for a community often marglinised by mainstream culture, - one that fought and won its battles on being political and aggressively active (that’s not an MEP whose a top, bae) - you would have thought we would all be signed up members to our favourite boys club. Even if it was just for the rosette.
Perhaps our disenfranchisement (Google it) is linked to our newfound equalities. We can now do as Beyoncé once preached by putting a ring on it, owning the same civil rights as our heterosexual counterparts: Almost 50 years after the decriminalization of homosexuality have we become complacent, depoliticized and dare I say it, ignorant?
Being a queer and not a gay I struggle to see why mincing into your local school and ticking a piece of paper is such a ball ache. All you gays are being asked to do is take 10 minutes out of your day to part take in your own democracy. Compare that to the lengths you’ll go to rewatching series two of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
and the effort involved in organising a chill-out at 5am on a Sunday morning and voting is a walk in the park, dear. OK, I’m facetiously making wild generalisations here about why you might be ditching your vote, but by turning Question Time
off and playing dumb to politics you might as well be doing just that.
Is there really any valid excuse to wave the disenfranchised rainbow flag when you consider how fresh our equalities are? OK, I accept politics isn’t great: it’s dusty, boring and bound in pomp but some think the same of our beloved Eurovision. Which neatly places the question in your head - can we still be a part of Eurovision if we divorce the union? Plot twist.
However engaged or vacant you are when it comes to politics there is no avoiding how this #EURef stuff is extremely confusing. Every day we are bombarded with swish contradictory ‘facts’ alluding to what the effects of a Brexit would, could or might be. The noise surrounding the campaigns is loud and conflicting - we’re lost in a world where Nigel Farrage is downing a pint on repeat and nobody can agree if it is or isn’t 350 million quid we spend on being European.
Pointing the blame at the A-Gays is unfair though - when I ask my queer friends (the ones who still care about politics) what they think they collectively shrug their shoulders, see if anyone else can make sense of the confusion and go back to talking about discourse and intersectionality.
For a decision that means so much why do even those of us engaged with the debate feel like we know so little? When I’m asked to step in rickety booth reminiscent of a glory hole scenario I think I know what the right thing is to do, but I equally feel unequipped for the task in hand. I’d like Richard off Pointless
to come to my house, talk me through why remain is best, preferably with flash cards because if I can’t back up my decision how can I or anyone know they are making the right one?
There are some fickle reasons that could sway the gay vote on referendum day and perhaps these will encourage the gays as well as the queers to step out and vote with their fancy feet, but like Willam none of the ones I’m going to share are brilliantly sophisticated.
David Cameron last week announced that our weekend waltz to Berlin’s Berghain is likely to cost £230 more should we hit the Brexit button - that’s €300 less to spend on getting H&H and the flight of shame home. There’s likely to be new trading tariffs that’ll mean Zara will be charging you more for your clothes should you want to live on an island and not a continent. There’s also this whole ton of stuff about what our future governments could do with our employment, civil, political and gay rights should we sashay away.
However you navigate politics in the next few weeks, whatever you choose to listen to or decide where your bread is buttered please don’t tick the apathy box. Engage yourself and use your vote - for Eurovision’s sake, if nothing more.
In the run up to the EU referendum Scottee will be chairing three public discussions with some of the best TV, cabaret and comedy talent at partypolitics.eu. Follow him on twitter @ScotteeIsFat.
The referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is on June 23. You must be registered to vote by June 7.
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