In recent years there has been a resurgence in the use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult. It has become part of the playground vocabulary again. And it is a problem that needs to be tackled at the ground level. This is what Pink Triangle Theatre does.
Pink Triangle Theatre was formed in response to the attack on James Parkes in October, 2009. Parkes was set upon by a gang of boys and beaten after leaving a gay club in Merseyside. Of the four arrested, one was aged 17, two 15 and one 14. Paul Burgess, and his partner James Bromley, created Pink Triangle Theatre with the aim of tackling homophobia through performance. It is through pathos and an understanding of suffering, as Aristotle observed, that one learns empathy. The pair had previously used their backgrounds in teaching and music to run three non-profit organisations. For their work in the local community they each received nominations for the 2010 ‘Pride in Oldham’ awards. The four actors that make up PTT are Paul J. Burgess, Jason Bromley, Stuart Crowther and Daniel Burns.
The performance SHOW ONE! has toured schools in the north-west. In November 2011 the pioneering Sue Sanders, Polari Magazine’s LGBT Hero for Day 13, invited PTT to perform and to run workshops as part of the pre-launch event for the 2012 LGBT History Month. This was a testament to the hard work, and the commitment of PTT. The results showcased in the monitoring feedback – which you can read on the PTT website – speak for themselves. After one event, 92% of the respondents answered yes to the question, ‘Do you feel that the (negative) use of the word ‘GAY’ can have a negative & damaging effect on people?’ As of this last week, PTT are also performing the show in prisons.
PTT have also put together a film about Alan Turing, and Paul Burgess has written an impassioned article about the importance of Turing for the website Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook.
The latest project run by PTT, The Pinksy Project, was inspired by Banksy. It aims to tackle homophobia through printing out a leaflet – which can be found on the website – sealing it in an envelope with the words ‘HELP ME’ or ‘PLEASE HELP’ written on the front, and then left it in a public place. There is also a Facebook page for the project.
Tenacity, commitment and a real understanding of how to communicate with youth, are all crucial to tackling homophobia before it becomes an acceptable way of thinking. This what Pink Triangle Theatre does, and for that its four man team should be applauded.