Guest Blog: Chloё Florence on the Homeless Queer Experience

Chloё Florence talks about her experience as a homeless queer artist and how it has fuelled her new spoken word theatre show. 

SMOKE WEED EAT PUSSY EVERYDAY arrives at CPT on Monday 20 – Thursday 23 January as part of our Spring 2020 Season. Click here for more information.

I became homeless at the age of 17 and I still live in Hostel accommodation.
The difficult thing about being Homeless is that no-one notices (unless you tell them) and you lose your voice, no-one wants to hear you, you are literally at the bottom of society.
And it’s the same in Theatre (And Poetry).
No-one wants to notice your existence unless you force them to listen.
And at that point, you are in your most vulnerable yet bravest form.
But it isn’t that easy.
Theatre comes at a very high price
Just like housing does
And it can also cost you your Sanity.
It’s a high price to pay
But all the reasons that make me feel like I shouldn’t be in those spaces are the exact reasons that keep me fighting
All the people that die at the hands of Queer, Homeless & Underclass Issues are the reasons I fight to make those voices / perspective’s heard.
As an underclass, queer Artist I have faced a lot of hurdles such as lack of support, funding but an overwhelming presence of privilege and power in the face of everything I do.
I have been made to feel dumb, like I don’t know enough theatre jargon to do it and for everyone who tells me that I’m doing is great, it feels like it doesn’t matter if I can’t physically or financially achieve my ambitions. With others trying to exploit me and use my stories for their gain.

What is beautiful though
Is how theatre has the power to change people’s perspectives in a way other art forms don’t
There’s something very immediate about it
That you can’t just pause or run away from or talk through it
You have the power to really connect with your audiences and play with the way in which you tell stories
There’s something really empowering in getting people to look you in the eyes when ordinarily they’ll do anything to not look at you
To be able to explicitly talk about LGBTQ+ Issues without anyone to answer too like a man saying ‘I love Lesbians, I’m one myself’ or ‘How do you have sex?’ or people trying to insert themselves into your narrative
There’s a Freedom in it
It’s limitless
And that’s beautiful.

I am the maker of ‘Smoke Weed Eat Pussy Everyday’ – A Spoken Word Theatre Solo show. A queer story about finding home & identity inside party and rave culture.
It’s ‘Part Poetry. Part Rave. Part Snapchat Story. Part Political Statement.’ – it shouldn’t be such a political statement to make this piece of work but based off people’s reactions and prejudgements it is clearly a ‘radical’ act.

I’m okay with being Radical if that’s what I got to do to make change. I haven’t got time to please people or worry about their opinions. That’s irrelevant to me. If the Media can manipulate people’s perceptions, I can use my experiences to make positive change.

In this Country there’s a misconception that homeless people have a choice and that it’s easy to get help. That most people are Homeless because they’re addicted, when in reality, homelessness is likely the reason they’re addicted. Like anyone would be in that situation. It’s incredibly hard to get help, let alone if there’s problems of Mental Health and Addiction. There is no space for them.

There’s also the misconception that homophobia doesn’t exist in London, but it doesn’t matter how many Rainbow Flags we plaster around this City, me and my Girlfriend still get hate on a day to day basis.

What always gets me is – if I live in one of the most diverse and forward-thinking places in the country and I’m a white woman who experiences hate, discrimination and poverty – What on earth is it like for people in other counties?

Particularly in the London theatre scene, it is predominantly Left-Wing, regardless of class. We should be doing more to create spaces for those affected by the current political climate, smash down the walls of Privilege and give the mis-represented a voice in Theatre. We have the power to use our privilege to our advantage to help others. To break misconceptions and challenge perspectives on big social issues, not just ignore them.

As much as the Theatre Industry has made me feel rubbish, finding my voice has saved my life and empowered me, giving me the purpose, confidence and skills I need to achieve my ambitions. More people should have the opportunity to be involved in theatre and the arts and have their voice heard. We all have the power to make changes in this industry, even in a small ways (example: supporting unknown/underclass artists and providing safe spaces for them) & please never underestimate the power of kindness – it can save a life

Silence is the biggest killer of humanity

I would like to personally thank Camden People’s Theatre, Clean Break Theatre Company, Arts Council England, Talia Randall’s Studio Lab and Roundhouse for there support of my work and platforming my Art.

Smoke Weed Eat Pussy Everyday
@ Camden People’s Theatre
20th-23rd January 2020, 9PM
Twitter: @chloenottah // Instagram: @thechloeflorence