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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > January 2020 > ALL RISE

ALL RISE

Attitude talks to two LGBTQ activists to find how and why they started down that road, what they see as their mission and what their hopes are in the years ahead. Plus, four more campaigners tell us about their lives and work

Performer Scottee and model and activist Munroe Bergdorf have a long personal history with each other that — like many queer friends -— was born on the dancefloor, under the mirror ball of a gay club. What neither of them could have predicted at the time was how their lives would follow similar tangents as they went on to become two of the most outspoken voices for the communities in which they once struggled to find belonging.

As Attitude celebrates the LGBTQ activists and allies our community has fighting its growing battles, Scottee and Munroe sit down to reflect on their journey and dissect the complex challenges facing us all.

And four others from the army of inspirational people out there, who are doing their bit to break down the prejudice faced by our queer and intersectional identities, speak to Tim Heap.

Cliff: How would you describe yourself and what you do in the context of activism?

Scottee: I’m an artist. I’m mouthy and I’m fat and common and effeminate. I’m council class and that has informed the way I talk about things. The bears dislike me: I’m always having a go because they create these gender-exclusive spaces. People who love Drag Race also seem to dislike me because I’ve talked about whether we can improve that as being the major cultural offering to the outside world. So, mouthy, a show off, and it’s OK if you think I’m a bit of a prick. An iconic prick [laughs.]

Munroe: I’m black, trans, tenacious, empathetic, an activist. I’m a work in progress, flawed but also very conscious that we’re all flawed. I don’t know, I hate talking about myself in this way.

When did you first meet?

M: It was in a tiny lesbian bar in Brighton. I was about 19.

S: And I was about 19st. No, I think I was only 21.

M: Yeah, we were babies. A long, long time ago. I was at university and we were very much club kids.

S: We had to make our own culture because gay culture at the time was very gaymale oriented and dancefloor, pumping muscle. There were a whole bunch of weirdos and rejects.

M: You’ve always been very much the antidote to that, and it’s always been needed. I gravitated towards that. The club was called Punching Judy, I remember it clear as day. I had a mohawk, skinny jeans, wedge heels and awful make-up.

S: And look at you now.

M And look at me now. Nothing’s changed [laughs].

S: She just grew her hair.

When would you say you had an awareness of yourself in terms of your identity?

S: I did then, but without the language and without feeling people had my back, or that there were enough of us to cause a fuss, make a movement, or change anything. I knew I was fat because all of the pumped-up queens were telling me so. I knew I was common because those queens would also tell me I was. I knew I didn’t fit the mould. I knew I was safer in a lesbian space and I was welcomed in. I just thought, well, we’ll put on club nights, run our own thing. Looking back at that, what we were doing was setting up our own communities and groups, our own thing to feel we can see each other.

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About Attitude

The Activists & Allies issue! Starring The 1975's Matty Healy! Lorraine Kelly in drag as Morning Gloria! Munroe Bergdorf in conversation with Scottee! Bake Off's David Atherton, and more.