LGBT+ Throwback Thursday

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On Tuesday, 7 August, the three Salford LGBT+ Youth Groups celebrated Salford’s Youth Day. This event celebrated the great work Salford’s LGBT+ young people do for their communities, and thanked them by connecting them to a part of Greater Manchester’s larger LGBT+ community: drag—something that is often made inaccessible to young people due to the age restrictions of many LGBT+ events. An important part of the LGBT+ Youth Groups is to introduce the young people to their own community and educate them about LGBT+ topics and history. While drag artists are often seen as entertaining performers, they have played a vital role in the fight for LGBT+ rights internationally, and they do a great deal of work to support the LGBT+ community. One such drag artist who works to fight for and support LGBT+ people is Cheddar Gorgeous. Cheddar is based in Manchester and has performed all over the world, using drag to challenge restricting notions of gender and support liberating forms of expression. Cheddar is internationally renowned and will soon star in a new Channel 4 series. She currently has over eighty-five thousand followers online. Follow Cheddar at: www.instagram.com/cheddar_gorgeous

     For Youth Day, Cheddar came to the Eccles Youth Centre to speak to over a dozen young people from Salford’s three LGBT+ Youth Groups. Cheddar agreed to run this event at a significant discount because of the importance of LGBT+ Youth Groups. She taught the young people about the multiple histories, styles and practices of drag artists around the world, and the different reasons people have dressed in drag internationally. She then talked with the young people about Greater Manchester’s own history of drag, and drag’s important role in developing Manchester’s internationally famous LGBT+ village: from the famous 1880 Drag Ball to the infamous Foo Foo Lamar. The young people were also taught about the use of makeup and dress to explore and express their identities. Cheddar taught the young people about moving beyond makeup, exploring crafting techniques to construct items to include in one’s look. The young people were then given the opportunity to try this themselves, playing with makeup and craft supplies to explore a variety of ways to express their identities in unique and liberating ways. Here are some of the young people’s responses to the event: ‘Today I felt good about myself and my identity. I liked putting the makeup on and exploring makeup. I liked experimenting and playing. I felt safe to do this here.’ ‘I think this activity was brilliant! It delivered what drag artists stand for brilliantly, and explained the history behind it. I would like to thank Eccles Youth Club for hosting and arranging it and Cheddar for coming. Thank you!’ ‘I liked how I could use makeup for something useful and I learnt what drag is as I didn’t understand what it’s about.’ ‘My drag means being open to new ideas and trying new things.’ ‘This workshop was very influential to me. I personally love Cheddar Gorgeous and to meet her in person was a great experience that I will never forget. Drag as a performance, career, and hobby is so important to people, especially LGBT+ people. It’s an art form that allows people to express themselves and feel confident. Workshops like this provide a gateway for self-confidence and expression. It also lets us meet people who we look up to and admire.’