How to be Gay

Adam Mars-Jones writes:

Back when the Independent was young and thriving, the paper used to sponsor lunchtime ‘theatre conferences’ at the Edinburgh Festival in association with the Traverse. The description ‘theatre conferences’ makes these public discussions sound starchier than they were. I was happy to do my bit chairing events in exchange for the train fare and somewhere to sleep. One conference was on the subject of drag, and though the subject made me a little uneasy, it was a memorable session. Lily Savage was appearing at the festival that year, but Paul O’Grady turned down our invitation on her behalf, explaining that Lily didn’t know she wasn’t a woman. How could she contribute anything? This made sense of a sort, though it was probably O’Grady we wanted to hear from. There was no shortage of available guests, though: Bette Bourne, best known then for appearances with the troupe Bloolips, said yes, and so did two members of La Gran Scena Opera Company.

(LRB 22 November 2012)

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