A wee cuppa, a good chat and even a dance is up for grabs this weekend as Perth’s older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community are welcomed to the area’s first ever LGBTI+ Elders Social Dance Club.
Designed to celebrate a generation who lived through a time when being open about their sexuality resulted in imprisonment, loss of jobs and rejection by family and friends, the project forms part of a co-production between Australian arts company All The Queens Men who founded the project, and the National Theatre of Scotland.
Providing a welcoming space for all members of the rainbow community to meet one another and share stories, the free event at Perth Theatre’s Joan Knight Studio on Saturday is in response to recent findings that many older men and women fear having to ‘return to the closet’ as they get older.
The Perth afternoon forms part of a year-long, series of events across Scotland – from Stornoway to Rothesay – which will culminate in The Coming Back Out Ball this summer in Glasgow, a spectacular celebration for those who have taken part in the Social Dance Clubs, their friends, families and the wider community.
Supporting the Perth event is Perthshire Pride who last year brought actor and gay rights activist Sir Ian McKellen to take part in the Small City's first ever Pride march which attracted thousands. A vocal supporter of better inclusivity for older LGBTI+ community members, Sir Ian himself was 49 years old before he came out as gay.
Perthshire Pride secretary Don von Rohland said they were delighted an event of this kind was coming to Perth.
You don’t have to be a good dancer – or even a dancer at all!
He added: “It’s so important that we find ways of making our older members of the LGBTI+ community feel more socially included. As they get older, men and women may need to move into a home or move into a different area where they might not feel confident about coming out again or they might meet people who are not sensitive to the issue.
“We hope it will be a good turnout on Saturday. This is a section of our community that can be difficult to reach. They’re not really using social media so letting them know about events like these - and that there are others like them close by – can be hard.”
So just what can participants expect from this weekend’s Social Dance Club? National Theatre of Scotland Creative practitioners Chris Stuart-Wilson and Fraser MacLeod will lead the afternoon’s events which begin at 2pm.
Chris said the emphasis was on having fun, whether that’s through dancing, sharing stories or enjoying a cup of tea!
The dance clubs are a great place to meet new people who have been nothing but welcoming and supportive.
“It’s all about social engagement, a chance for people to come together and meet each other – the dancing is just one element of it. You don’t have to a good dancer – or even a dancer at all! It’s about fun first and foremost.”
Previous participants have raved about the Social Dances with one saying: “I began coming along to Social Dance Clubs to improve my social life and contacts. I’ve made lots of great new friends but it has increased my confidence and hopefully my employability skills and work prospects, as well as improving my mental wellbeing and my fitness and weight loss. The dance clubs are a great place to meet new people who have been nothing but welcoming and supportive.”
You can grab a ticket for the next event and learn more about the fantastic LGBTI+ Elders Social Dance Club here.
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