Cynthia Rodríguez

Writer. Performer. Translator. Filmmaker.
Body Image | Internet | Manchester | Mental Health

A Body Project: Cynthia Rodriguez On Her Chin(s)

By on 13 June, 2017

A few months ago, I went to Manchester for a photoshoot for the online magazine Bustle. It was for the series A Body Project, led by the talented journalist Marie Southard Ospina and portrayed – on its Manchester leg – by Paddy McClave. The series highlights people of all genders, races and sizes, and particularly focuses on what each of these people might consider “their trouble areas”, that particular body part they can’t seem to make peace with no matter how far they are into their self-love journeys. My monstrous body part, of all the possibilities, was my chin. My chins.

The photoshoot itself was fun, albeit a bit soul bearing at times – chin bearing? Sitting inside an egg talking about Rebelde, scratching my head doing that comedy pose all the Russells love to do in their tour posters, cuddling Marie and Paddy’s beautiful baby Luna. Trying not to hide, trying not to use flattering angles for the first time in perhaps decades. Later, the bigger challenge came when answering Marie’s questions by email. That was a lot bigger and harder to hide than the chins themselves.

Either way, here is the article for you to read. I warn you, some bits are quite heavy as I talk a lot about extreme bullying in primary school, CSA and internal and external fatphobia and self-loathing. But it’s got a bit of a happy ending, I hope. At least I hope it does to you too, and you get to make things, take up space and be awesome.

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ANATOMY | Poems | Poetry

NaPoWriMo 2017

By on 28 March, 2017

I’ve been terrible at writing this year. Great at reading it out loud and also about shouting and chanting a bit (yoyoyoyoyoyo check out my band ANATOMY), but creating new stuff? Not really.

This is why, and also because I love a challenge, I’m doing NaPoWriMo this April. It’s like NaNoWriMo, but instead of writing a novel, you write a poem each day.

I’m following the pitches and ideas from The Poetry School. If you join their free group online, they can send you information every day.

Also, if you have a website, add it to the official list so you can show your commitment. Scary. But fun. But scary. But fun.

Particularly because it’s my birthday on the 2nd of April, I’ll be belting all over the East Midlands during the first half of the month, and maybe reading stuff during the second half. Fun.

Save me, Barry!

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ANATOMY | Film | Films | Leicester | Music | Music | Painting | Poetry | Portfolio

House of Her – An International Women’s Day videocast

By on 8 March, 2017

Hello, cuties. I’ve been doing so much stuff these months I seem to have neglected this blog. Gonna break the silence and share this luffleh press release by the luffleh House of Verse. Luffleh.

“House of Her”

Leicester’s female performers and artists come together in new video for International Women’s Day

Over 15 female artists, performers, writers and musicians have come together to create a compilation of performance pieces to celebrate International Women’s Day, 8 March 2017.

Produced by House of Verse curator Jenny Hibberd, the video offers a kaleidoscope view of the issues and thoughts of Leicester’s female artists, and what International Women’s Day means to them.

“After a conversation with fellow poet Asher X, we realised that only one fifth of the House of Verse performance collective are female and we wanted to think of something we could do together to big up the ladies. Realising it was soon to be International Women’s Day was mega inspiration to create this multi-woman video.”

– Jenny “Hibword” Hibberd

Artists contributed one-minute pieces, offering uplifting, empowering or challenging messages in response to International Women’s Day. With everything from performance poetry to hula-hooping, the video shows a variety of perspectives and represents the many talented female artists making work in Leicester today.

“Wo! Man. You glow, man. Kind of everywhere. You know? You brimming, flowing, human beam. You light-packed fateful gleam. You dream.”

– Hibword

Released on 8 March, the video will be shared on House of Verse’s website, social media and Youtube accounts.

Many of the artists featured in the video will also be performing at Moonshine Word Jam, an International Women’s Day special at The Exchange Bar on 9 March. See the Facebook event here.

House of Her: Celebrating International Women's Day 2017

Happy International Women's Day you divine beings <3Enjoy this kaleidoscopic compilation of female artists, performers, writers and musicians to celebrate ^_^Produced by Jenny "Hibword" Hibberd.Contributing artists in order:00:05 Rhiannon Jayne Townsend01:05 Lulu Rose May02:30 Danni Spooner03:30 Asher X (Ash Er)04:41 Mellow Baku06:06 Amber Woods07:23 Rosa Fernandez08:23 Anatomy (Cynthia Rodríguez, Emily Rose Teece, Adrienne Jones, Leonie DuBarry-Gurr)09:24 Natalie Beech10:27 Punky Hoops (Rae Lloyd)11:27 Hib Word (Jenny Hibberd)13:18 Emily MerchantMusic credits: Erykah Badu – AppletreeTove Lo – Habits (Stay High) – Hippie Sabotage RemixOdesza – White Lies (Instrumental)Links:www.houseofverse.co.ukwww.facebook.com/thehouseofversewww.instagram.com/house_of_versewww.twitter.com/thehouseofverse

Posted by House of Verse on Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Produced by Jenny “Hibword” Hibberd.
Contributing artists in order:
00:05 Rhiannon Jayne Townsend
01:05 Lulu Rose May
02:30 Danni Spooner
03:30 Asher X
04:41 Mellow Baku
06:06 Amber Woods
07:23 Rosa Fernandez
08:23 ANATOMY (Cynthia Rodríguez, Emily Rose Teece, Adrienne Jones, Leonie DuBarry-Gurr)
09:24 Natalie Beech
10:27 Punky Hoops (Rae Lloyd)
11:27 Hib Word (Jenny Hibberd)
13:18 Emily Merchant

Music credits:
Erykah Badu – Appletree
Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High) – Hippie Sabotage Remix
Odesza – White Lies (Instrumental)

Links:
www.houseofverse.co.uk
www.facebook.com/thehouseofverse
www.instagram.com/house_of_verse
www.twitter.com/thehouseofverse

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Arts | Culture | Derby | Events | Gender | Leicester | Lifestyle | Mental Health | Nottingham | Race | Sexuality

Leicester Riot Grrrls

By on 23 August, 2016

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Leicester pretty much has everything: excellent food, lovely people from everywhere in the world, high-quality sports, and an ever-growing cultural scene. A significant chunk of this rise in arts, music, performance, spoken word and dance is not funded by the establishment, the government or big corporations. You can find these underground acts whispering in the corner of an open mic event at the pub or exploding on an improvised stage at an independent gallery. It could be considered punk in principles and D.I.Y. in aesthetic: if you want something to happen, make it happen in your own terms and flipping the bird at “gatekeepers”. If they don’t let you in the building, make a raucous party on the streets.

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We would assume that, with such notches under its belt, Leicester would also have a social activist scene. People questioning authority on behalf of certain cultural groups, ethnic groups, gender groups, those who are often unheard or afraid to share their voices even in the independent cultural scene I love and praise so much. How many middle-class baby-booming white men have to spread themselves like Marmite all over workshops, open mics, performances and other events when they could easily knock the door on the BBC and get their own show any time? How many topics are avoided and unquestioned, experiences left unshared, injustices being ignored? For a start, where are the women? The young people, the queer, the unemployed and underemployed, the working class, the cry-myself-to-sleeps, the disabled, the large-and-unashamed, the anarchists?

Where are the Riot Grrrls?

It’s the same thing Gemma Wicks and Meri Everitt were wondering. There have been Riot Grrrl or Riot Grrrl-inspired communities in several cities and countries, either tangent or online, ever since the manifesto was released in 1991 on Bikini Kill’s zine; some of them expanding, updating and improving the lifestyle and the scope of who is allowed in and what to fight for. Today, intersectionalism is key, and all women are real women, all non-binaries are non-binaries. People are what people are. But at least nowadays, there wasn’t a movement like this one in Leicester.

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Leicester Riot Grrrls started as an idea on Facebook. It has its own closed group, a safe space to ask questions and help each other through sorority. There is now a public Facebook page where we share news, pictures and cute/enraging/edifying things. But what would a geographically-specific group be like without – gasp – human interaction?

The group meets ideally once a month. The first meeting was in July, upstairs at Firebug. It was quite successful and people came all the way from Nottingham and Derby to participate and maybe make something like this happen in their towns. So I guess we’re pioneers in the East Midlands? We had a bit of an open mic and I am amazed by the quality and passion of all the performers; some of them regulars in the local and regional circuits, some of them shy and terrified kids who had never done it in public. This is an excellent opportunity for them to practice, share, and keep doing things here, there and everywhere.

thejword

There are a few smaller groups within the group, and they each specialise in one kind of activity or project. The music jammers, the book club, the film club, the zinesters, and anything else that comes by. You’re all welcome to perform, share your writings and your readings.

The next Leicester Riot Grrrls meeting is on the 31st of August at Duffy’s, a very friendly Irish pub just around the corner from Firebug. If you want to be part of it, organise stuff and believe in the ideals, feel free to join! We’ll also be hanging out at that thing called Leicester Pride at Victoria Park on Saturday 3rd of September.

letskeeptalking

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Culture | Gender | Lifestyle | Nottingham | Poetry | Race | Sexuality | Spoken Word

Cutiepocking Notts Pride 2016

By on 26 July, 2016

nottspride

After Coventry Pride, and after all the gross stuff going on with the world, I felt it was my responsibility to get more involved with Pride and speak out as a member of the community. So, going the extra mile, I’ll be performing not once but TWICE at Notts Pride this year.

queerzinedeanatta

First, at the Mouthy Poets Queer Zine launch. The zine was conceived by Dean Atta at his Queer Poetry Masterclass, as a way to show the resulting exercises and similar material. It was a very fruitful experience, and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands. It features work by Atta, Alex Bond, Denise Dee, Petra Mijic, Neal Pike, Barbara Schaefer, Beccy Shore, Milla Tebbs, Joni Wildman and yours truly. The launch and readings will be at Lee Rosy’s Tea on Broad Street, 2:30pm. But please, be there from 1:30pm to enjoy the full Poetry Corner and see regular performers from Write Minds Wiff Waff.

qtipocalypse

Later, the end (or the beginning?) will be near at the QTIPOCALYPSE, an open mic for Queer Trans and Intersex-Identified People of Colour (or like you can pronounce the acronym, Cutiepock). It’s organised by QTIPOC Notts, a group that was just set up last November and aims to give space to people of colour with diverse genders and sexualities who may not feel comfortable in the average mainstream LGBT community. Allies are welcome to watch and listen. Hosted by the grand Dr Angela Martinez Dy, better known as El Día. It will be upstairs at Rough Trade Nottingham, also on Broad Street, 7pm.

So yeah, come to one. Or the other. Or both. I recommend both. Also, everything else at Notts Pride. Marching, listening to music, making music, looking at pretty things, getting pretty things, celebrating our identities and fighting for recognition with words and glitter.

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Film | Films | Internet | Media | Mental Health | Poems | Poetry | Spoken Word | World

The Tube of You

By on 22 July, 2016
All these tubes are yours. Image: MorgueFile.
All these tubes are yours. Image: MorgueFile.

Dunno if I’ve mentioned it already, but when my therapist found out I was trying to do “poetry stuff”, she told me to film myself and upload the videos on YouTube. It sounded terrifying. I mean, I’m going to therapy and stuff. Why would I want to be so “exposed” to mockery and disdain? That’s why I uploaded most of my film work and footage to Vimeo instead. No chance of sick comments, very niche, from filmmakers to filmmakers. Plus, none of that soul-selling copyright nonsense. I didn’t know YouTube let you register your films under Creative Commons!

Image: MorgueFile
Image: MorgueFile.

Then, Pangaea World Poetry Slam came. Submit your videos, people can vote, you may win money, and will definitely get to be known internationally. However, you have to upload them on YouTube. Nowhere else. Get naked. Also, there are some cool free workshops on Hangouts that will help you to improve your game.

Thank you, Pangaea, for making the impossible, possible.
Thank you, Pangaea, for making the impossible, possible.

So I followed my therapist’s advice and here goes nothing! The official Cynthia Rodríguez YouTube channel. I’ve been uploading pieces for Pangaea once a week for the past three weeks, and will upload one very likely next week. From live footage to just talking to the camera from interesting places to full-blow film montage, I’m just looking for different ways to share stories and messages as they might benefit, amuse or *inspire* others. It’s already helping me improve and become less camera shy, and people have already started doing their own spoken word/films and looking for open mics to share. Sharing is caring!

Last week’s delivery was “How to Leave the House in Times of Trouble”. I want as many people as possible to see that one because the world needs you, obvs. Before that, it was footage of “Pepper Spray” from the open mic at Coventry Pride.

This week, the weather was so nice I sat on the grass at Victoria Park and relaxed a bit. I was so chilled out that I ended up filming and uploading my entry for Pangaea right there and then. An old-ish poem, from three months ago or so. It’s called “Frivolous”, and I wrote it after the Open Stage at The Y where I read a lot of my hardcore pinko shit and then came the adorable Anna My Charlotte with an ukulele (she plays harp too! <3) and said she would see a bit frivolous after all my stuff, and then proceded to sing and play the most charming and nostalgic stuff ever. The perfect songs to play in the park on a peaceful sunny day.

So yeah, follow, like, share, whatever, and if you have videos and words, share them to the world!

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Culture | Films | Gender | Internet | Mental Health | Poems | Portfolio | Race | Sexuality

VIDEO: How to Leave the House in Times of Trouble

By on 15 July, 2016

leavethehouse1

The world sucks sometimes. You’ve read on “Craig David” about a lot of the boogers that happened in the world, and that was just for ONE WEEK. The following weeks kept getting worse and worse in small and great scale: police brutality, terrorist attacks everywhere, your parents damning this country to hell and validating those who hate us to be more outspoken about it, horrible people inside and outside taking sneaky pictures in the changing rooms and laughing at those who don’t exactly please Grandpa Hugh Hefner’s rotten standards, etc.

It can be awful daring to step outside with the piercing fear of being attacked one way or another, but then there’s also the fear of ourselves that, if we stayed indoors all the time, we might never be able to come out and our voice will be muffed and lost. The fear of not coming home alive, the fear of not leaving house alive. This is for you, for us.

leavethehouse2

It’s a poem/film/guide thingie called “How to Leave the House in Times of Trouble”. For those of us trouble by agoraphobia, being members of one or many “minority” groups and seeing our worst fears come through every day. There’s still a world outside, and this world still needs you. So get ready and earn some courage however you can, if possible.

The poem was written as an exercise at a Writing Poetry Google Hangout Workshop with Dean Atta. He gave the queue of making a how-to poem on any topic of our “expertise”. Later, I turned it into a short film for the Pangaea World Poetry Slam, who organised said workshop. It was lovely to merge three of my loves — writing, filming and sharing — and use them for a good thing.

Here comes the fun part: click, like and share with as many people as possible. Particularly people who would benefit from the message. You never know the ordeals someone could go through just to live a “normal” day. If I ever make money out of the streams, shares and likes (LOLS), I’ll give it all to a mental health organisation, particularly one which helps queers, POC and/or people who may not speak English and need someone to advocate for them. It comes with subtitles/captions if you don’t understand my accent, and I’m working on a Spanish translation. Subtitles in any other language are more than welcome. <3

There are a couple of things that might be misunderstood. The “wear something that doesn’t attract negative attention” is not slut-shaming. We should be free to wear whatever we want, but some people don’t know or don’t want us to know this, so they attack. On low “spoons” days, you don’t even feel like fighting or defending yourself, so you keep your energy levels to a minimum and just try to roam by in a way that attracts as few bigots as possible.

Also, the “you’re still a woman on trainers, you’re still a man on stilettos” bit includes cis and trans people alike. A lot of trans people I know fear wearing items that are associated more with the gender they were forcibly assigned at birth. They don’t want to be “read” as “impostors”. A trans woman is still a woman on her Nike Air Force Ones. A trans man is still a man on his Louboutins. An NB is still an NB on whatever they want. Also, the fear of fragile masculinity or the fear of not being “seen as a woman” even if you’re cis because your exterior doesn’t match the “desirable standards” (women of certain colours not recognised in feminininininity, fat chicks like us seen as “one of the boys” by our crushes, et al). So yeah. I love you. If you find any fuckups in my work, let me know.

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Film | Nottingham | Poems | Poetry

Film Haiku

By on 7 July, 2016
Image: Morgue File.
Image: Morgue File.

On Monday, I went to Nottingham for a workshop with Leanne Moden in preparation for the Words for Walls contest organised by Nottingham Uni. Since the workshop was hosted at Broadway Cinema, most of our freewriting exercises were film-centric. This was the first one: writing one or more haikus about some of our favourite films without mentioning their names and letting people guess. Here are mine, and now I will ask you to guess from each plot which films I’m talking about. Answers in the comments section, please. 

1.

He had just one job,
but his car proved that he was
a real human being.

2.

Village of the damned?
Get ready for these bad boys:
have a Cornetto.

3.

“Slicing up eyeballs”.
Pixies said what I had to.
Forgot piano.

4.

My voice for these legs,
alas life under the sea
was better than this.

5.

Back in our homeland,
sing “This Corrosion” to me.
All alien robots!

6.

“I did not hit her”.
“You are tearing me apart!”
Catch the football now.

Still angry about the state of the world, but here’s some light fun as a method of self-care. 🙂

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England | Europe | Poems | United Kingdom

Smiling in the Slaughterhouse

By on 27 June, 2016

A poem for those who think we should still be friends with fascists, specially if we’re from the demographic groups they hate the most.

Image: Eli Goldstone.
Image: Eli Goldstone.

No, don’t ask me to smile in the slaughterhouse,
kindest grin reflecting on the blade as it sinks
down my neck, through my throat, through my muscles and spine;
blood splattering the walls as you beg me to sing.

Save the smiles and the memories from yesterday
and put on your new glasses so you can see clear
that your kindest affections were all shallow and fake,
for you wish that my family drowns in the sea.

When you say “it’s not you who I’m talking about
but the Poles, and the Czech, and the Muslims and Paks”,
it just feels even more disturbing to find out
you categorise people using different ranks.

Ranks so voluble, soluble, flammable, foul-
-smelling, horrible, and mutating according to the nuclear
clock, its hands manually moved by those who want
to dictate who to hate, and you fall for the trap, you don’t

question intentions, do not offer protection,
you don’t search for real clues and your rage sways towards
anyone but the real traitors and great masturbators.
You don’t look at the finger, but at what it’s pointing at.

And it’s pointing at me, at them, at everyone,
he laughs at you in secret. Though you can hear him roar,
you pretend it’s an earthquake caused by vessels in hoards
that cannot simply wait to deflate at the shore.

You can’t go have a drink with a corpse you just stabbed
and you can’t kiss and punch at the same bloody time.
Can’t give someone a ride while your car drags away
after you obliged them to leave and don’t dare to come back.

I repeat, don’t ask me to smile in the slaughterhouse,
please stop holding my hand as you’re holding the knife.
Hearing my vertebrae crush after you behead me,
you may wonder if, actually, you have no spine.

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Arts | Coventry | Culture | Gender | Lifestyle | Sexuality | Zines

Coventry Pride 2016

By on 23 June, 2016

covpride

On Sunday, two ideas/stereotypes/internalised misconstructions were torn apart out of my mind forever: the idea that Pride festivals are now mainstream bacchanals far away from their original meanings, and the idea that Coventry died after the Blitz and that since then it’s been nothing but — The Specials dixit — a ghost town. Coventry is, in fact, more galvanised than ever, and Coventry Pride is queer in every sense of the word. Weird, open, beyond the norms.

covpride_crowd
Image: Coventry Pride.

Coventry Pride took place last Saturday and Sunday at FarGo Village, a comfortable hip area in Far Gosford Street recently devised as a creative hub where young and/or alternative people can hang out, exchange ideas and establish connections. It is a bit like a compact version of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, but more focused on startups and independent stores. It seems pretty cosy, and offers anything from American sweets to books, comics, clothes and pop culture collectables. With a coffee shop and a tap house almost next to each other, I think I would spend a lot of my waking hours in this area if I lived in Coventry.

The most glamorous Dalek.
The most glamorous Dalek.

This is the second year in a row in which Coventry Pride takes place, last year being nominated as Best Live Event 2015 in Coventry Telegraph People’s Choice Awards. It is organised by people intensely active in the local LGBT+ community, a registered charity since October 2015, and it has kept organising events in preparation for every Pride all year long. I was originally invited to perform for ❤ Music, Hate Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in May, but times were complicated. It looks like it was an amazing event full of quality music, poetry and performance in general. Would love to go next time they do something like this.

Source: Sarah Beth.
Source: Sarah-Beth Gilbert.

On Sunday, I was part of the Spoken Word Open Mic event at the Urban Coffee. I was kindly invited by Jessamy Morris-Davis, organiser extraordinaire, whom I met thanks to Joe from Deathsex Bloodbath (heavily involved in the Coventry music scene) and his wonderful partner Sarah-Beth. We happen to share friends like Kerrie Sakura, who I finally got to meet that afternoon after ages of talking online; and apparently Joe also knows Charles Wheeler from the wrestling circuit. Small world! Small beautiful world!

Nim Chimpsky. Image: Andy McGeechan.
Nim Chimpsky. Image: Andy McGeechan.

Outside, we had the Phoenix Stage, with tons of mind-blowing queer music acts. Yes, even indie rock and electro noise. This was really, really important, since a lot of the times I’ve been in Pride festivals/LGBT+ events, the musical offer was rather one-dimensional: from ABBA tributes to busted Butlin’s “comedians” in drag to straight pop divas who recorded that one song about being yourself and treat the queer community as a cash cow. Stagey McStageface in the Market Hall had more cheesy pop/mainstream acts, but it was not everything the festival had to offer, as it happens in other festivals in bigger cities. This one recognised the possibilities of noise/experimental music as the epitome of all things queer beyond the “that sounds gay” label. I performed in the small silence gap between Duck Thieves and Nim Chimpsky. CHECK THEM OUT, NOW.

Duck Thieves! Image: Andy McGeechan.
Duck Thieves! Image: Andy McGeechan.

While we’re at it, please, please, please read “Noise Music as Queer Expression” by K Surkan. Print it, download it, read it on the bus, highlight stuff on it, share it, shout it.

Image: Andy McGeechan.
Image: Andy McGeechan.

Another thing I adored about the festival was its inclusiveness, its grassroots and its DIY ethos. As I’ve said before, the organisers were queer themselves and way beyond the White Gay Man with Disposable Income. Trans, Lesbian, Bi/Pan and Non-Binary folks crafted this with so much love and dedication you could feel it. On Saturday, there was a Body Positive Catwalk and I’m really gutted I missed it. People of different abilities and identities were very welcome and felt like home. As everything was at a ground level, it was wheelchair friendly, and since FarGo is so compact, people didn’t have to walk/run/rush/be dragged from one extreme to another to get to the next event. It was not crowded and it was not overwhelming; and if it was, you could go to the Info room and relax on the couch. And no, this Pride was not brought to you by Absolut Vodka, and you would not untuck in the Interior Illussions lounge.

Trans goth pride. Image: Andy McGeechan.
Trans goth pride. Image: Andy McGeechan.

(I’m still as obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race as usual but hey! The indier, the better!)

The community and info stalls — or what I managed to see from them on Sunday — were welcoming and friendly, with leaflets and material for queers and allies alike; offering help for old people, young people, people with disabilities, people of faith, victims/survivors of abuse, or even just having a laugh at the Lady Go-Diva Comedy Stage.

Gizmo Pride.
Gizmo Pride.

This event was so exciting it inspires me to get more involved in all things queer and underground. I’m tired of being read as straight just because I happened to fall in love with a dude (someone I adore regardless of gender) and it feels a bit lonely sometimes. The Coventry queer arts community seems warm, friendly and united; and I would love to keep attending their events and even just hanging out with my mates over there. If Leicester Pride were something like this, back to its roots, less corporate and more connected to punk and DIY (a bit like Anerki, but more queer-focused and with a lot more indie stalls), it would be perfect.

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