1. Milkshake is a creative space to feel free to express yourself, how’s your experience been?
Eli - I went to Milkshake for the first time with my mother who initiated it, we both went in full pink, her in her lesbian dress with women kissing each other on it, and me in weird make up. It was my first year of doing drag, I was not out as trans yet but I knew I wasn’t cis. Being there amongst so many beautiful creatures fully expressing themselves and seeing so many performers I looked up to was so amazing. Milkshake felt like I was in a space to feel free and people were cool with me being me, a space where we can also respect each other's differences and hold each other accountable, to be the best person they can be.
David - I share the same experience. Milkshake is a big co-creation. It has grown so much, a community of beautiful souls in the making, you feel the energy and you understand where people come from all in one place. There are so many young people finding their identity at Milkshake, and we even saw this when we went to Brazil and London as Milkshake. For me what’s special is sharing experiences with older performers looked up to, meeting peers there, doing our make up together. I get chill bumps now.
2. What is a safe space for you?
David - Like Eli said, it’s a space we are all accountable for creating, we’re all responsible for our behaviours, even our words. For example Milkshake, is one big community with lots of different sub groups and each stage has a different vibe, different music styles, different generations, and parts of the community coming together with mutual respect. I love seeing this.
Eli - But also it’s important to recognise, not everyone is like Milkshake, the queer community are not always safe in spaces which claim to be safe spaces, like in nightlife.
David - Yes, we need to look out for each other, especially in queer spaces where people should be free to express themselves. We are all there to make a party but we can be sometimes operating in our own bubble, we should look around, take responsibility and contribute. We are all responsible for the space and the atmosphere, we all need to check ourselves at the door.
Eli - Yes and you can’t assume who is queer or not in a lot of spaces and we should also respect our non queer allies if they are also bringing love into the space.
David - labeling something as a ‘safe space’ is not a one-time thing. A safe space is not a static concept but constantly evolving. It is not for the club or company to decide if something is a safe space or not, it depends on the people who are present at the moment. We need to constantly include different perspectives, we are not all the same within LGBTQIA+ and we’re constantly changing.
Eli - Yes, within activism, what you are doing is constantly learning and unlearning. We have to keep progressing. LGBTQI+ is not to be generalised, for the people who need to be listened to and protected the most. We should be responsible and make sure we’re not just taking up space.
3. As Global Pride is now starting, what does it mean for the LGBTQI+ community in 2021?
David - It’s still very binary thinking, only a place for gay or lesbians. What about intersectionality, what about black trans women, who are so vulnerable, it needs a queer intervention. We should feel the urgency of Pride. And one thing the pandemic has exposed, is that there are structures that don’t support the most vulnerable in our community. Nightlife is still the only place sometimes our community feels supported.
Eli - As an activist, I always remember that pride started as a riot, we should always remember that amongst the celebrations. In terms of community, at Pride I still celebrate and I feel validated by the people I’m with. However, there are people who only take it as an opportunity to party, which I don’t connect with.