Credit @spit.ting

Lourdes on The Scene, Queerness and Glasgow

By Tom Gilbert

The co-host of Dolls Discuss podcast sits down with The Glasgow Guardian.

“I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I am so unashamedly myself, I will go into any space and do exactly what I do…I’ve worked too hard to diminish my light for anyone.” – Lourdes on whether she feels comfortable in non-queer venues.

The 23-year-old from Baillieston, Glasgow is no stranger to being centre stage. From up-and-coming podcast ‘Dolls Discuss’ which she co-hosts with her friend the recording artist, TAAHLIAH, to her hostess skills at well attended club nights at the likes of Bonjour, Stereo and Berkley Suite. We met in a cafe in Finnieston to talk about her experiences being trans in Glasgow, the queer scene and the resistive power of a “candidly open discussion between two trans-feminine girlies”.  

I first came across Lourdes earlier this year at a fundraiser she was hosting for Lorelai, a transfeminine asylum seeker living in Glasgow, and was struck by her stage presence and her control of the crowd. That charisma translates well through to the podcast in which she and TAAHLIAH serve hot takes and funny anecdotes interjected with important and necessary conversations on queer trans experience. 

Central to Dolls Discuss, is the dynamic between Lourdes and best-friend TAAHLIAH. “At the end of the day there’s never been an act to anything that we are doing… to the point where I’ve probably said thing’s I shouldn’t have”, she says jokingly. It is this dynamic which allows Lourdes and TAAHLIAH to effortlessly flit from hard hitting serious topics to light-hearted ones. In one recent episode, “Between a Rock and a Busted Place”, the friends go from funny dating anecdotes to discussing the unfair distribution of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for cis women compared to trans people and the general anti-trans rhetoric permeating across the American and UK political landscape. “Whilst the world is doom and gloom and there isn’t a lot of hope for a lot of people, you can highlight these things without it only ever being negative – why can’t two trans girls just talk about the stupid experiences we’ve had”. 

When asked if she had felt pigeonholed into being a spokesperson on certain issues, as is the case with many members of minority groups who have a platform, Lourdes said, “the goal of Dolls Discuss was never to be a 101 on trans experience, people can listen and be educated which is great, but it was never the main goal”. Once labelled as a podcast about trans experience, there is a concern that viewers might see Dolls Discuss as only for a queer audience. “The minute you label something people’s brains relegate it – people do judge a book by its cover… how many straight cis men are willing to listen to trans girls talk about their life? But if you just handed it to them, and didn’t tell them what it was, they would enjoy it.” 

The same can be said for the queer scene in Glasgow. Lourdes spoke briefly on how many club promoters refrain from explicitly using queer labels in advertising their events to avoid cutting off a large part of their customer base. Further, she warned of the backlash some established clubs in Glasgow face when hosting nights for queer people. “When queer nights happen at clubs with an established history and a religious following, people almost feel like their spaces are being invaded”. However, by not advertising their nights as explicitly for queer people, clubs leave themselves open to people not in tune with queerness, thereby leaving a proportion of their customers vulnerable. 

We also touched on the sliding-scale ticket system some queer venues use which require cis-straight allies to pay more than their queer counterparts for the same ticket. “A door policy can only go so far as so much of it comes down to visual representation – within that you start discriminating against people who don’t present visibly queer, but how do you even look queer? … you can end up charging someone more for not having the resources to explore their queerness”.  

Lourdes herself first went to a queer venue at the age of 19, one somewhat infamous club in Glasgow not known for its inclusion of anyone who isn’t cis-gendered, white or male. “The level of queerness in the public is not true to lived experience of queer people. When it comes down to it yes there will be a lot of white gay males but that is not the majority, so why is the majority of the queer scene catered to it”. The need for inclusive queer spaces in Glasgow is clear. Clubs like Bonjour, which offer nights deliberately inclusive of people across the queer spectrum and events which aren’t centred around alcohol, are forced to resort to crowdfunding to stay afloat.  

While Bonjour has found relative success with its crowd funding efforts, it is still undergoing financial difficulty and queer inclusive nights in Glasgow often struggle in the long run. “People need to care about something for anything to come of it, that level of posting it on Instagram is not enough” says Lourdes. “If you really cared you would show up to the event, it feels like a level of forced wokeness when people feel obliged to share something on Instagram – you post on it, but you are not doing anything about it… If you call yourself an ally but just look from the side-lines, then you are no better than a transphobe”. 

The queer community in Glasgow, and across the UK, finds itself in a balancing act. In the shadow of a cost-of-living crisis and a toxic climate of anti-queerness, a level of accessibility to wider public is necessary to stay afloat, however can come at the expense of the safety of members of the community. Further, we must assess what is meant by community and the duty we have to one another. Ultimately though, Lourdes remains positive going forward. “Change comes from a lot of years of going through a lot of s****, but you’ll know from the other side of it will have been for the better”.  

You can catch Lourdes at the GSASA X Ponyboy Degree show Afterparty on June 1st and listen to Dolls Discuss here.


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