Somewhere To Belong, a funny and gloriously unsubtle theatre show about bisexuality that amplifies the voices of those who are attracted to more than one gender and seeks to stamp out biphobia – is coming to The Old Fire Station in Oxford on 12 May. Here, we spoke to writer and performer Kim Scopes to learn more…

 

Can you tell us about what we can expect from Somewhere to Belong?

So, Somewhere to Belong is a very fun, very silly one-person show with lots of elements of mime, clown, and comedy as well as real heartfelt moments. The show is about the random weird moments of biphobia and bierasure that people who identify as being bisexual, pansexual, queer, or having multi-gender attraction face every day. The show was created by interviewing around about 40 people who identify as having multi-gender attraction and we used their testimonies to create the show. This is very much a show based on a collective experience of not feeling like you quite fit in and that you have to prove yourself as well as fending off these bizarre stereotypes that we seem to encounter every day when people learn that you’re queer. It will hopefully make audiences leave feeling like they have somewhere to belong and that they have a community. Also though, if people don’t identify as queer or bi or pan then hopefully, they will at least walk away having had a nice time and a better understanding as to what it’s like for other people.

www.jackparkerphotography.co.uk

 

To what extent is intended to be educational?

That’s a good question, it’s definitely not preaching – I’m not trying to preach to people, I prefer to make shows that start a conversation. So, if people walk away with a different opinion, then that’s fantastic, but if they come away wanting to ask a question or have a conversation that they felt they never could, then the show will have done its job. I don’t like to make people feel like they have been forced upon with an opinion or an argument, I feel like it should be almost holistic. I like to create enough gaps so people can interpret it how they like so it isn’t too prescriptive.

 

So how did you go about sourcing these interviews then?

Well, it was lockdown… that thing happened. We planned to make a show about this just before lockdown and we made a social media call out in 2020 thinking we might get maybe ten people but within 24 hours we had 30 people from all over the world wanting to chat. I think there are very few opportunities for people who identify under the bi umbrella term to talk about their experiences in a very open non-judgmental way. Lockdown for me was spent mostly on Zoom, talking to people from all over the world which was incredible. We very carefully crafted this set of open questions to create more of a conversation than an interview.

 

These interviews were interspersed into a game show scene, why did you choose this setting as a vessel to encompass these feelings felt by bi people?

I think we picked it, firstly, because it’s fun and utterly mad but also because it’s a format that people can instantly understand. I don’t know your sexual orientation, and I’m not going to ask, but if you mention that you don’t happen to be straight, quite a lot of the time and I’ve had people say, ‘but you’re with a man, how do you prove it?’ or they’ll ask a question like that which just instantly puts you on the spot and you don’t know what to say or do. I think the gameshow reflects that weird moment of being put on the spot by someone. I think it’s a very relatable concept because in the interviews, the one thing people talked about again and again was feeling like they had to prove they were part of the community or feeling like they had to perform in some kind of way.

www.jackparkerphotography.co.uk

 

It’s almost like imposter syndrome.

Yeah exactly. Lots of people we spoke to felt like they had to ask permission to join the community. Because I am with a straight guy, people instantly pick up on that, but it’s none of their business and it doesn’t make me any less queer. If you ‘pass’ for straight, it could be a privilege in itself in some respects, but it can be very erasing in others because it evokes the feeling that you have to work harder to feel like a valid member of the community if you can find the community at all.

 

Why do you think as a society we are so prone to erasing bisexuality?  

I think society has a very binary mindset and this is part of the reason why we’re seeing so many transphobic movements in the news and online. People expect you to be very black and white you know gay or straight, male or female, all these weird binaries that society expects us to fit into because that’s what it’s comfortable with. I’m not saying at all that people who identify as gay have it easy because they do not at all, but I feel like people can get their head around it a little bit more.

 

Do you think it has anything to do with labelling?

I think labels should be there for the people that need them. We spoke to people in the older generation who spoke a lot about this frustration with labels because they felt they fought so hard to get away from them and they were too constrictive. In our generation and those younger than us, I think there has been a real claiming of labels and embracing of them, as well as reclaiming negative words like queer. There has definitely been a weird shift in whether or not you label yourself and that itself is a binary. I think it should be something that you’re allowed to do to yourself but not necessarily do to others, so I call myself queer, for example, but I wouldn’t call anyone else queer unless I knew they used that term themselves.

 

Do you ever find it hard to keep your material light when it’s on a topic that is potentially quite upsetting?

Absolutely, I think it is a real challenge to communicate something very heavy in a way that is light and relatable, and makes people laugh. I explore the funny sides of experiences, not that I’m mocking them, but they are just absolutely ridiculous in terms of biphobia – they are mental and I think if we can laugh about them then we take the power away from them.

www.jackparkerphotography.co.uk

 

What are you reading, watching, and listening to at the moment?

I think because 2022 is really heavy right now, I’m watching Is It Cake. It’s awful. My partner leaves the room when I put it on. I really wish I could say I’m reading something really profound or I’m watching something really in line with the subject matter of my show. Rubyyy Jones has an online cabaret course which is great, so I’m doing that in my spare time because it’s sparkly and lovely and light.

 

I think that’s what we all need right now, sparkly lovely light things

Exactly!

 

Somewhere to Belong is coming to the Old Fire Station on 12 May

 oldfirestation.org.uk/whats-on/somewhere-to-belong

 

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