No really, I’m fine: Celebrating queer life in London

No really, I’m fine: Celebrating queer life in London

Five years on — On Sunday night London's LGBTQ+ community came together to mark the five year anniversary of a failed suicide attempt, a reminder of the power of community.

To live in a massive metropolis often feels like a constant process of navigating contradiction after contradiction. The pull of the big city is its endless opportunities and the millions of potential friends and lovers to be met. But the reality – as we all know – is often characterised by struggle, loneliness and isolation. A mental health crisis, stagnating wages and unaffordable rents are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems facing young people, but together they create a recipe for disaster. These are the ingredients of a cocktail that could take anyone to the brink. What once felt like a place where dreams can come true quickly becomes the setting of an inescapable nightmare.

ChrisBethell-17 ChrisBethell-11 ChrisBethell-7

On Sunday night at a small queer bar in North London, a community of people came together in a display of defiance to this expectation.

It has been five years since writer Ben Smoke first attempted suicide – a story you can read for yourself. On the anniversary of each year since this (thankfully) failed attempt there has been a celebration to mark the occasion. What started out as a trip to the pub this year turned into a night of resistance. Held at Her Upstairs, a queer venue in Camden, ‘No really, I’m fine’ was an evening of panel discussions, performances, a film screening and dancing that went on late into the night.

What might have been a time of mourning and sadness was transformed into a celebration of life. Drag kings and queens took to the stage, comedy turned tears of sadness into laughter, conversations both formal and otherwise got people talking about mental health and a whole load more. Funds were raised for the Outside Project – the UK’s  first LGBTIQ+ crisis winter night shelter.

ChrisBethell-1 ChrisBethell-21 ChrisBethell-26

LGBTQIA+ people often talk about “chosen families” – the communities we create when traditional family structures aren’t always welcoming. Estrangement and abandonment hit the queer community hard, and so people rebuild their own support networks and ways of living. If ‘No really, I’m fine’ showed attendees anything, it’s that, whatever our identity, finding people we can share our lives with can be a saviour when it all feels too much.

Around four per cent of gay and bisexual men have attempted to take their own lives in the last year; the figure for all men is 0.4 per cent. Some 52 per cent of young LGBTQ people have self harmed. Nearly 48 per cent of trans people between the ages of 16 and 24 have attempted suicide, 30 per cent of those have done so in the last year alone.

Celebrating five years since a failed suicide attempt on Sunday night was a life-affirming moment. Coming together and communicating in an open and loving environment a joyous concoction of group therapy, emotional stimulation and a party to boot. There’s no single solution to navigating our own mental health or those of our loved ones, but sharing in in both the good times and the harder ones can only do us good.

ChrisBethell-23 ChrisBethell-31 ChrisBethell-33 ChrisBethell-29 ChrisBethell-36 ChrisBethell-38 ChrisBethell-42 ChrisBethell-25

Find out more about The Outside Project.

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.