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F.A.G. Club, Bristol, England (with Chris Hubley / Crystal Mighty)

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This week we are catching up with Chris Hubley, a musician, artist and art historian who is also known by his drag alter-ego Crystal Mighty.

We talk about a LOT of things this episode – language and how it evolves, strange, intense platonic relationships, and DIY culture… which were all the subjects that branched off of our original reason for meeting, which was F.A.G. Club, an event night held initially in Cardiff, but for the majority of its run in Bristol. F.A.G Club was an inclusive D.I.Y night for QuAGS (queers of all genders and sexualities), that Chris put on with a group of friends after meeting them at the Queeruption, which is an annual international queercore festival.

Some of the terms discussed on the episode (I stole these definitions from https://gender.wikia.org/)

  • Transtrender, a portmanteau of the words transgender and trend, is a derogatory term used to describe someone who is pretending to be transgender for attention or for pity
  • Transmedicalism / transmed is broadly defined as the belief that being transgender is contingent upon experiencing gender dysphoria or undergoing medical treatment in transitioning. Transmedicalists, sometimes referred to as “truscum” by themselves or others, believe that individuals who identify as transgender but who do not experience gender dysphoria or undergo a medical transition—through methods such as sex reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy—are not genuinely transgender.
  • Transmasculine is a term used to describe transgender people who generally are assigned female at birth, but identify with a masculine gender identity to a greater extent than with a feminine gender identity. Usually transmasculine people try to appear stereotypically masculine in terms in their gender expression in order to create social recognition of their dominant male identity.
  • AFAB – Assigned Female at Birth
  • AMAB – Assigned Male at Birth
  • Assigned Sex (also referred to as birth sex) refers to the sex you were interpreted as at birth, which usually corresponds to the gender identity you were raised as and/or assumed to have in childhood. As a phrase, this is a way to refer to the sex that was put on your birth certificate, without making assumptions about your actual/current sex, body or identity.

Chris Hubley 0:00
It was a really special thing. The people who were come to it definitely said that they felt it was a space that they could just be really free and be really themselves. It was extremely wholesome as well, like the queer scene in general at the time was quite, you know, a lot of places would have like sex parties and things like that, whereas we were very much. It was just the the people who were We were, I mean, I would totally be not for the taxpayers. But like, the other people that were there. It was very, it was very wholesome and it was very inclusive.

K Anderson 0:34
Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories they created there, and the people that they used to know. This week, we are catching up with Chris Hubley, a musician, artist and art historian who is also known by his drag alter ego, Crystal mighty. We talk about a lot of things this episode, language and how would evolve strange intense platonic relationships, and DIY culture, which were all subjects that branched off of our original reason for meeting, which was fact club and event night held initially in Cardiff. But for the majority of its run in Bristol and grunt fag club was an inclusive DIY night for quacks, which stands for queers of all genders and sexualities that Chris put on with a group of friends after meeting them at queer option, which is an annual International queer core festival. Anyway, let’s get to it. The last thing that I wanted to say is that there are some terms that we use in our conversation that you may not be familiar with. And if that’s the case, then I have included some definitions within the show notes for the program.

Chris Hubley 2:38
The first one I went to was Amsterdam in 2004. And that was a pretty amazing experience for me, because I was I just finished my Art Foundation course at the time, which was a year long course after a level. So I was 19 2020, I would have been, and I had come out as trans a few years before that, and had just started taking testosterone, and was in this very trans med, sort of trans culture that was around at the time. And you know, there was some internet resources happening, but it was very limited and very, this kind of very specific way that you’re supposed to be trans you’re supposed to, you know, start on hormones that have surgery, and then, you know, ideally, be a very conforming heterosexual person post transition.

K Anderson 3:33
And is that what you mean by trans man? That

Chris Hubley 3:35
is alright, so trauma transmit. Yeah, so trans medical ism is, is the idea that to be trans, you have to follow a very specific, specific medical pathway. So if you don’t want hormones, and if you don’t want surgery, then you’re not trans. And you’re, you know, there’s the term trans trend that people sometimes use the idea that you’re just doing it to be trendy or pretending or whatever. Yeah, it’s, it’s pretty, it’s pretty gross. And I but it was all that was around us how it was the least. It was all that was around for me, it was all that I could see. And when I went to corruption, it was the first time I’d ever encountered people doing their gender in different ways. And people talking about like gender fluidity term genderqueer was used a lot then the term but I don’t remember people using the term non binary, but it’s so being if there was kind of the idea that to be queer was kind of to be almost inherently non binary, because it was all about breaking down the binary gender constructs that there was a lot of influence from the kind of academia of queer theory and and those sorts of things as well. It was Yeah, and You know, I was meeting people who weren’t planning on having any medical treatment or any medical transition. And that had never occurred to me as an option. It just wasn’t a thing that was ever presented as something that you could do before then.

K Anderson 5:15
And do you remember then how you initially reacted to that? Were you like, fascinated? Or were you a bit like, because you’d been down this trans medical pathway where you’re like, Oh, that’s wrong.

Chris Hubley 5:28
Um, I think I just thought it was great. Immediately, I was like, Oh, my God, I had no idea this was a thing. This is amazing. Yeah, I think I’ve been I’ve, when I, when I’ve sort of encountered new ideas, I’ve always been very open minded to them, even if I had not necessarily occurred to me before that that was a possible thing. And I think, you know, it was things as well, like people were talking about using terms like heteronormativity, which I had never heard before. And yeah, and just, it just really kind of sparked something in me. And something that was quite exciting. I think as well, because I’ve always been quite a, I’ve always been, I’ve always enjoyed being quite flamboyant, and doing things that are considered quite feminine. You know, like, we had a quite a substantial dressing up box when I was a kid. And I was, I was very into that it had sort of like, quite poofy strange dresses and things that she could What was your

K Anderson 6:27
favorite outfit?

Chris Hubley 6:28
Um, I remember a dress that was like, black with, like, a blue rose pattern all over it. And it was kind of sort of rushed around the top

K Anderson 6:41
roost Say no more must be.

Chris Hubley 6:44
I’m not sure if that’s the right word. I’m not, I’m not but it was sort of all like elasticated all around the top. So it’s sort of snug in and then poofed out at the bottom and had like one sleeve and it was quite, sort of squishy.

K Anderson 6:59
sounds quite a tease was it velveteen? Probably,

Chris Hubley 7:02
it wasn’t velvety, but I’ve got no idea where these things came from, they were just like in the house. Maybe they just kind of manifested in this dressing up.

K Anderson 7:12
I’m sorry, I’ve taken you off.

Chris Hubley 7:17
I never thought about much about the dressing up box for a while. So that’s, that’s nice. So yeah, like, I always felt a bit that kind of transmits ideas, I definitely felt quite hemmed in by them, particularly, in terms of my the way I was expressing myself and the way that it was considered that I should be expressing myself like as a trans man. And, yeah, the idea that, you know, I mean, it’s a bit later, but the term transmasculine started being I mean, obviously, it’s still used now. But it started being used a bit like, as a synonym for a fab trans people. So the idea that if you’re, if you’re assigned feminine at birth, and you’re trans, then you’re automatically masculine, or the reason that you’re trans is because you’re somehow drawn to the masculine, which has never really been my my thing, you know? Yeah.

K Anderson 8:13
Well, even I mean, even what you said before about the assumption that you would then transition and become this kind of heterosexual serving member of society, I have no idea why I just said that. Like, was that kind of the assumption that everyone that you were interacting with had?

Chris Hubley 8:32
I think so I definitely felt like there was this, this thing, the part of being trans is wanting to be, you know, quote, unquote, normal, and it’s the it’s wanting to, it was wanting to disappear somehow. And, you know, the idea that there was kind of a bit the idea that if you did, if you were, if you enjoyed being trans and likes that you were trans, then you kind of weren’t really trans because to be trans was to want to be a cis person of the opposite sex, basically.

K Anderson 9:09
And to just be in turmoil.

Chris Hubley 9:11
Yeah. And to for the ultimate, the ultimate kind of prize of transness was to be seen as a cis person. And yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s really pretty cool that I, the the fact that a rejection of that has kind of become the norm within trans culture. And I think that that’s quite it’s pretty incredible reading quite exciting that that because it could have gone totally the other way it could have been the as trans people became more visible, I mean, I guess there is something in the embracing trans visibility does kind of come along with embracing the sort of, you know, trans nurse as a as a good In itself and being trans as a as a positive experience, or you know, how that it has the capability to be a positive experience. And the sort of celebration of the variety within trans people, I think is a really important part of that.

K Anderson 10:17
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. This is just a completely like segue into to another. Sure. topic, it’s semi semi topic. And so like, I’ve been watching soap recently, which is this sitcom from the 70s. It was created by the woman who created the Golden Girls. So that was kind of like, the reason I wanted to watch it. Yeah. But also, it had like, one of the first gay characters on primetime TV, which, you know, which, you know, all these things were ticking boxes. And then on like, the first episode, or like the first number of episodes, the gay character, decides that in order for him and his boyfriend to live, like a normal, you know, air quote, normal life, yeah, he is going to have a sex change. And it was just like, I mean, I noticed how it was from the 70s. I don’t know if I said that already. It’s like, you know, from a very long time ago, but just watching it was just like, that. Who greenlit this, this this plot, like, this is just so weird. Like, his whole thing was, Oh, yeah, I’m gonna, that’s gonna happen, and then my life is going to be sorted and everything’s gonna be fine.

Chris Hubley 11:34
I mean, that’s very much Blanchard. You know? So a lot of people talk. Well, a lot of turfs talk recently about autogynephilia, which is the idea that of trans people are transitioning in order to because they will trans women specifically transitioning because they’re sexually attracted or turned on by the idea of themselves as a woman, but the other side, and that’s only for the trans women who are attracted to women for the other people. The trans women who are attracted to men, they’re seen as homosexual, transsexuals, air quotes, the idea being that they’re so into guys that they want to pretend to be women in order to get with straight men, which I guess doesn’t quite maybe it doesn’t quite fit, because if he was gay, they wouldn’t need to become a woman to be attracted to them. But it’s definitely got I feel like they might have been reading some of that, or that that might have been influencing that idea that that’s why trans people exists. And oh, it was an expert who said it. So that must be accurate. You know,

K Anderson 12:44
I think this was the days before consulting experts. I think it was just like, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 12:47
Anyway, sorry.

K Anderson 12:52
Reviewing TV. So you put so you when you when you went and you were introduced to new cons? Yeah.

Chris Hubley 12:59
Yeah. So yeah. And because I’d been involved in DIY gig scenes before then my, my big sister has been very, she was in, she was going to gigs since she was a teenager, and a lot of her friends were running their own nights and doing DJing and in a very sort of indie DIY kind of way. So I was very, very much exposed to that from a very young age. So it was kind of, although I feel like it was slightly different in the the kind of anarchist squat scene is a lot more explicit, obviously a lot more explicitly political, there was the idea of people just making stuff happen, because they want it to happen rather than because they’re trying to make money out of it, or because they’re, I don’t know, trying to get kudos or whatever, was really, yeah, it was something that I was already very used to the idea of, and it was just kind of expanding that into talking about gender and sexuality. And this idea that is very much applying the theories of anarchy, or anarchism, I guess, in the squat scene into conversations about gender and sexuality. So breaking down, sort of heteronormative ideas, breaking down the structures of how we’re supposed to how we’re expected to be. And also, I mean, the gay scene that I’ve been exposed to is extremely tame and very, like, oh, we’re going to all sort of wear the same outfits and like, stand around listening to shit music, and sort of be snidey to anyone who looks a bit weird. Which is not really, you know, it’s, I basically was going because I was like, this is how I’m going to meet other queer people. But I wasn’t actually into I used to just have to get really drunk to to deal with how shit The nights where, whereas you know, I’d also I was in a ska punk band around that time as well when I was sort of in my late teens. So there was and there was like three ska punk bands in my school. So we had our own kind of little, little scene going on. So I’m going off on a tangent again. But yeah, so yeah, my point is I, you know, the idea of creating your own culture and creating your own ideas about how you can be and how you can live was very much, it wasn’t completely new to me, but it was just being presented in this new way. And it was like, oh, have you considered thinking about these other things from this perspective? So? So yeah, I mean, like, I say, I’d already been on testosterone for a few months when I went to corruption, Amsterdam, but I kind of, I ended up making the decision not to have chest surgery for a while. Partly because of the, the effects of the testosterone was so much that I didn’t really feel like I needed it. And I kind of wanted to let that settle in a bit. But also, it was just like, Oh, I don’t have to have surgery straightaway, I can kind of just be as I am. And, you know, not not put myself through that at the moment.

K Anderson 16:20
So So, absolutely. Tell me if you don’t want to discuss the show, because I’m just gonna, like ask medical questions. Like, when you like, when on the testosterone? Was it just like, okay, we’re gonna book this, and we’re gonna book this and we’re gonna book this in? Or was it like, Do you want this? Like, was it just that that was the expectation that you would be doing this, this, this and this to trans?

Chris Hubley 16:43
I got my I ended up getting my testosterone privately because I’d been on the NHS waiting lists for two and a half years at that point. And apparently, that actually closed down for a year, and didn’t tell me that. So I went for one session, one private session, where they just prescribe testosterone. And I based I went with the intention to get testosterone. So we didn’t even really talk about anything else. Because that wasn’t what I was what I was going there for, and I ended up going to the getting an NHS appointment about a year after that. And, and I was thinking I was going there, because I was thinking that I might still want chest surgery. But I wasn’t sure at that point. But yeah, it was just really bad. It was just really, like, they were talking to me as if I was stupid, it felt like and just really, it was just really not a positive experience. And I level and I just I didn’t feel like I could be honest with them. So I just I just stopped going to them.

K Anderson 17:52
So what do you mean, like stupid like that you hadn’t thought things through or that you didn’t know, they would just find you involved?

Chris Hubley 17:59
They would just talk to me like really slowly and really like, as if I couldn’t like comprehend what they were saying to me or as if they were expecting me to, I don’t know, like struggled to just comprehend things that they were telling me. And I just didn’t feel like they were they talked to me, respectfully at all. And do you think that’s because of your age at the time or it was but was possibly part of it? I think it was possibly a combination of age and people within the mental health sector not necessarily being that good at talking to people who because you know, it was although being trans isn’t a mental health condition. They were. They were people who were trained as mental health practitioners. So yeah, I think that was part of it.

K Anderson 18:45
So they didn’t necessarily have a specialism?

Chris Hubley 18:48
No, I mean, I don’t I don’t know. But I mean, the clinic ran like one day a month or something. So these people were probably doing other stuff as well. And then we’re just like, covering the, the trans stuff. Like

K Anderson 19:05
they say they say like, you just kind of disengaged and just stopped going.

Chris Hubley 19:08
Yeah, I think I think what happened is I gone away for for maybe a month or something. And then I came back and had a letter saying that I’d missed an appointment. And so they were going to what’s it called? Like D for say, defer is the opposite of reefer discharge. That’s the word discharged me. And I was just like, well, I guess, you know, I don’t really care. So registered and it just didn’t keep.

K Anderson 19:38
But yeah, I’ve had amazing that like mental health, like the you miss one appointment, and then they’re like, Well, yeah, have you got her like they couldn’t? Yeah, it’s not possible that there’s millions of reasons, including potentially a mental health problem. See? Yeah,

Chris Hubley 19:55
I think in theory, if I’d have contacted them and said I was away at the time that they Have Bree, you know, got me back on again. But I just wasn’t I wasn’t bothered at that point. So, so I didn’t basically

K Anderson 20:08
you’re giving them the benefit of the doubt and flagging them off. Sorry. It is just yeah, it is just fascinating, isn’t it that these these systems are like, I mean, I’m sure it’s automated. And it was just like, any, like a letter that just went out, like, without any humans involved. But just like, Yeah, not thinking about what the impact of that is on the Yeah.

Chris Hubley 20:28
And and like, you know, if it was being sent to someone with a mental health condition, they might just, they might have had a really good reason to have missed it and not felt able to contact them again, because, you know, yeah, but yeah, anyway, going, I’ll go back to going back to what we’re talking about before going on a bit of a tangent without one. So when I went to corruption, Amsterdam, it was the summer before I was going to university in Cardiff. And while I was Amsterdam, I met a couple of people who lived in Cardiff, and we’re very into all the stuff so it was great. It was like, I just learn about all this amazing, cool stuff. And I’ve just met people who lived in the city I was about to move to who were also into the staff. And you know, and we became like them and other people that have friends who we kind of became like this little gang in Cardiff known as the fags because we did the night called Fight Club. And which actually is an acronym, which stood for friends are great. So it was the friend.

K Anderson 21:44
Wait, okay, but hang on, came first. And I’m just I made this acronym to make it fit.

Chris Hubley 21:50
I wasn’t there when the conversation, so I can neither confirm nor deny any of that. I think, you know, we’ve, we’re very into acronyms. I mean, really? Yeah. Like, whenever we wrote it, we’d always write it in capitals. I don’t know if people thought we were just shouting it but it’s like, it’s an acronym. But I mean, we would also like makeup, all other things that it stood for, and just have fun, like thinking about all the all the stuff that fhg could stand for. But the sort of overriding one was the friends are great club.

K Anderson 22:21
Alright, so what were the alternatives?

Chris Hubley 22:24
I can’t even remember now French. We just it’s random. just random words like frogs aren’t giraffes

to green? That’s Yes. Yes, that’s true. I mean, it was good.

Yeah, that was a follow a gauntlet. And there you go. follow a great free, that’s better. Oh, it was just a fun game to play when we were drunk, basically. So yeah, we we started putting on putting on shows when I was in. It was when I was while I was at university, which would have been from 2005 to like, 2007 or eight. We started out putting on putting on shows in Cardiff, which so we would have them in these, like tiny upstairs pub rooms. And hardly anyone would come to I don’t know who ever been to Cardiff, but it’s a very small city. There’s not a lot going on. It’s really beautiful. Um, you know, I highly recommend visiting this and great secondhand book shops are really fantastic Park, like a really fantastic Park. I think it’s one of the best parks that have been to. So how’s that going for it? Yeah. But in terms of like nightlife and, and things like that, there’s, I mean, there were a few other people that were doing stuff, but it was very, you know, people just weren’t really into it. So I think this is the thing we were put on some fantastic staff and people were just weren’t coming to it, but we didn’t really care because we weren’t doing it to like try and be seen to be, you know, we weren’t like trying to make money or trying to as long as we could cover our costs, we were kind of happy. And we, you know, we would have bands who were kind of traveling and we’d like put them up and we’d always, you know, give the really nice food and all this stuff and just kind of generally, you know, we have this really great community within the group of us and we kind of really wanted to like well welcome other people in that community and the bands that were touring, but also people who were coming to the night so we became this very kind of tight knit group, which is you know, part of what the friends are great comes from because, you know, I think fat club was like very much came from Our relationship as a group, you know, it’s kind of the first time and kind of the only time I’ve really felt like part of a gang in that way. Like, I really was part of this thing. And, you know, we were like a family in a lot of ways. Like, we lived together, we spent all our time together, we organised shows together. And it was very, I mean, it was it was great. I mean, you know, looking back now, there were things about it that were quite, like toxic, in some ways, just did not, you know, it’s very easy to kind of lose yourself when you’re in that kind of group. And I think the I kind of reached a point. I mean, I mean, this is all skipping forwards now. But the, you know, we, the, the, the Knights basically stopped, because the main reason was because we kind of drifted apart as friends. And I mean, I think also, we had got quite burnt out with it all. But for me, it finishing was kind of good to be able to, like, take a step back and be like, okay, who am I, apart from this very close knit group? So yeah, now it’s, you know, sort of trying to find the balance between finding community versus staying true to who I am.

K Anderson 26:13
It is a weird thing, isn’t it? Like when you I mean, I’m sorry, if I’m speaking on your behalf when I say this, but when you grow up as a queer kid, and don’t have that community, necessarily, and don’t feel like you fit in necessarily, it’s so intoxicating to Yeah, suddenly have a group of people that may accept you for who you are. And just to be all in and and to be all in so quickly as well. Yeah, can be can be quite dangerous.

Chris Hubley 26:44
Yeah, totally. Yeah. And on top of that, I ended up moving around schools when I was younger, so I kind of did, although I sort of kept friends with people, like I didn’t feel like I was in part of the gang. So I think that kind of added to that as well. And

K Anderson 27:05
desperate to be part of again.

Chris Hubley 27:10
Yeah, yeah, I think I mean, I think a lot of us are and I think that having, you know, the other thing as well is that I’ve not really had much in the way of romantic relationships in my life. And these kind of like that kind of intense friendships sort of took the role of that in some ways. It kind of like we really were like a domestic unit in a lot of ways.

K Anderson 27:34
How many? How many of them? How many of how many of you.

Chris Hubley 27:40
So I would say there was about five people in the kind of inner circle. I mean, when we were when we were living in Cardiff, we were in a, I think, a five person house and we all moved up over to Bristol. This is this is the next stage in the in the story of Fag Club. So when I finished uni, I mean, there’s kind of a lot of reasons why we ended up moving to Bristol. Part of it is the, it’s I mean, it’s it’s pretty close, it’s like just across the bridge ready. And we knew a lot of people here, and it’s, it’s quite a I mean, even now it’s quite a cool city, I kind of like me, all my friends really wish the Guardian would stop writing articles about how cool Bristol is. It just makes it really hard for people who already live here and want to like find somewhere to live that isn’t ridiculously expensive. So when we got here, like a few, I think, I think three of us moved up originally, and then a couple of others have joined us. And then we started putting on fire club in a friend of ours ran a like an arts warehouse is basically basically a warehouse space that had studios around the side and in a big space in the middle. And it was just off Stokes craft, which is the extra cool, but you know, Bristol is like this cool, say Stokes Croft is like the extra cool bear. It’s where like, there’s all these bankruptcies. And, you know, it’s kind of had a lot of regeneration and gentrification over the last few years. So yeah, there was this, this warehouse that and so we started putting them on that and I think part we it kind of became like, very popular for a while. And I think part of the reason is because it wasn’t actually legal to put nights on there. So on all our publicity, it would say secret warehouse location. So I think I mean, there were like, they weren’t good nights, but I also think a bit of it was that people were like, Oh, it’s like it’s it’s a mystery. It’s this kind of cool, like secret warehouse.

K Anderson 29:52
So what happened then? So like, you’d get the flyer and you knew it was at a secret warehouse, but then how would you find out where

Chris Hubley 29:58
they’d be a phone number Or add an email address. So basically people would call us or email us and find out where it was, which you know, is for security is not actually that good. But we we never got into trouble for it. I think part of the thing was we so you didn’t email them back and say like,

K Anderson 30:15
are you a police officer?

Chris Hubley 30:17
No, we didn’t ask them to answer the police questions. Yeah, I mean, we did. I think the first few we attempt, we sort of tried having a bar of sorts, but then we were like, Well, no, because if we do get caught, then selling booze is like, what’s really gonna, you know, cause problems. So we added a hug a T bar, which is very cool. So people could like, listen to queer punk music whilst drinking a cup of herbal tea, which is kind of the dream, how

K Anderson 30:50
was how extensive was this?

Chris Hubley 30:51
It was pretty extensive. I think that was when a friend of a friend of ours was working at a whole food shop. So they managed to get like a good stash of properties. So we had a decent range of them there. So yeah, I mean, one of the, the big focuses of what we wanted to do with our club is, I mean, obviously, a major part of it is building community and creating space for women and queer people to present that to, you know, to have a should be able to showcase what they do, and also a safe space for people to be able to gather and, you know, connect and all that. We also really wanted to not have a very strict barriers about the kind of things that we were showing. So we were, you know, we’d have like I say, punk bands. But also, I mean, it was kind of the electric clash era. So there was a lot of that sort of stuff around. We also had, you know, things like performance arts and poetry. I think we might have had some sort of theatre type things sort of like short, small scale, I have a kind of vague memory of that being a thing, some of them. I think one of the things we really prided ourselves on was having a night where you’d see all this really by diverse stuff than you wouldn’t think to put together but it all kind of worked. So rather than it being Okay, we’ve got punk nights, we need to think of punk bands or like we’ve got a RT electro nights we need all RT electro bands it was it was very much about just throwing stuff together and making it work and people kind of seeing stuff that they wouldn’t necessarily see otherwise, which air is definitely a pretty, a pretty exciting thing. And I think that’s something that we’re going back to where we were talking about drag before, like, it’s one of the things I find really exciting about drag, but it’s like, you can see things that you might not see otherwise, or, you know, people are doing the more creative and weird stuff.

K Anderson 32:57
I want to ask more questions about the name. Yeah. So we don’t we don’t have to come up with new. Did the name put people love? Um, because I mean, and the reason I asked this is like, even now, there are people who really recoil at the use of that word. And people saying fat, even though there’s been quite a lot of movement and quite a lot of change in young people’s views. But at that time, it must have been very emotive for people to hear the word fag to describe a clown.

Chris Hubley 33:36
Yeah, I mean, I think I do remember, say a couple of people on various forums saying that they didn’t like that it was called Fight Club. In terms of the people who kind of target demographic, they were people who were very involved in the queer scene. So the idea of reclaiming slurs was very much something that they were up for. So in that respect, there were some criticisms, but it was never, it was never a big deal. It was never like a thing. You know, we didn’t have people trying to shut us down or anything like that. Yeah. I think I think as well, we were quite playful with it. Like we called the house we lived in we we refer to as faggy towers. And, and whenever we would, like, write a blog post, we’d sign it off as faculty towers. And I think as well, you know, there’s a long history of reclaiming things. So I think people got that it was it was part of that.

K Anderson 34:35
Yeah, yeah. I didn’t know and maybe it’s like people that I am exposed to more Yeah, because I you know, I love calling myself a fact. I’m, like, quite proud to use that word. proud’s not the right word. But yeah, um, but then there are some people who if if I, not that, not that I’m like, just casually dropping it into every conversation. obviously can’t It is important, but who I will say in front of who are just not be comfortable with it and feel really like, you know, recoil on it. Yeah, if I say it. And I guess I’m still just navigating that.

Chris Hubley 35:14
Yeah, totally. I think it’s interesting as well, that how how things have, I think it shows how things have changed, because back then, when the internet and social media was less ubiquitous, it was a lot easier to have very specific pockets of culture that kind of weren’t really exposed to each other. So, you know, it’s like, I remember the first time I was struck rice, I was really confused when they started talking about what’s the tea, because the only thing the only time I’ve ever heard anyone mentioned tea in a queer context was testosterone. So I was like, Why all these drag queens were asking about testosterone.

K Anderson 35:52
Surely you heard t mentioned a lot when you were running your notes. No.

Chris Hubley 35:57
I mean, the other kind of tea? Yes. The the third? Yeah, I think I mean, that’s, it’s interesting to see how there’s this idea that there’s a kind of monolith of queer culture. And I think it’s going back to talking about drag race before people think that that is queer culture, you know, but I’d never I’d never heard any of that until I watched drag race. And I’d been part of cuisines for like over a decade at that point. It’s something I found really interesting looking at the language around trans people, and how there’s some people who will insist that certain words are the right words to say, and then other people who will insist that those words are slurs, and that you should never use them. And it’s because they developed differently in different pockets of community that didn’t really have any interaction between them. And seeing I mean, I think there is still an aspect to that. And I think things aren’t necessarily totally globalised. But there’s definitely much more of a connection between the different groups and much more of an idea that there’s a kind of, at least it’s, it’s more possible for that to be a kind of queer monoculture, which is good in the sense of having connecting to more people and having an understanding outside of your own experience and the people that around you, but I think that it can also be quite a raising of a lot of things and, and people things like talking about the way that they talk on drag race, specifically people forget that that is specifically ballroom culture, which is black working class American people. Whereas, and so they think that it’s a universal queer thing, rather than a very, very specific to a very specific subculture.

K Anderson 37:43
I yeah, I guess the, you know, the most important thing is to be respectful of other people’s experiences, and making sure that you’re not inadvertently offending. And I guess that, yeah, that’s where I’m coming from in terms of language in there. You know, I try to be playful with language, I have fun with language, I love language. But what I don’t want to be doing is alienating or upsetting anyone through using language.

Chris Hubley 38:12
Yeah, and I think it can be very, very hard when we’re a part of a group who have been marginalised and have been, you know, language has been used against us. And people use language to, like dog whistles to imply things that without necessarily saying it to us outright. And so being able to think of that, you know, being able to use that and have people be on the same page with and understand the way that you’re using it, without finding it, you know, without it causing them pain and without them thinking it’s related to. And there’s also the fact that people, I remember the whole conversation about the word tranny, which I don’t use anymore. But there was a time when it was just a word that people used. And then, and I think, I think specifically, you know, as a as an a fab trans person. I mean, is is also a term that, you know, I know a lot of trans people who have had it used as a slur to them, but generally, it’s more used towards a mob of trans people and trans women. So, yeah, there was a time when it was just a word that I use because it kind of sounds fun, and a bit less serious, especially when the word transsexual was the word like when I was first out the word transgender. I mean, it existed I’d never heard it before. And so the word was transsexual, which is kind of not very nice to say to people, because it instantly makes them think about sexuality and makes it sound like it’s a fetish. It makes it sound like it’s about being gay or you’re all you know, it’s about how you want to have sex, which you know, it’s not an And I think you know, that’s a slight tangent. That’s a big part of why transgender has kind of overtaken transsexual as you know, it used to be that both words were kind of used in tandem. But now, while there are people who, who, who specifically identify as transsexual, it’s kind of been superseded by transgender. I have what my original track was now, I was talking about, oh, yeah, the fact that the fact that the word that I could use to describe myself transsexual is such an unpleasant word, I didn’t really want to say having a word that sounded fun, and sounded kind of playful was quite nice. But then, when I sort of spoke to more people and read more things, and it was like, this is actually a very, you know, this, this word using this word hurts me and is associated with trauma and pain. I was like, Okay, fair enough. I won’t use it anymore. I did read recently that in some places, they used to use the word transy, which I quite like, as transy chansey like pansy, but transy

K Anderson 41:07
Oh, I see. Okay.

Chris Hubley 41:08
It could be transit as well, like, Gen Z trans person. But, but I think the idea is, it’s like, it’s like pansy, but transy

K Anderson 41:19
so you’re gonna, you’re gonna make that a thing? Well, I’ve got it in my Twitter bio. I got I was, I think I was originally gonna put professional transy. But then I was like, Well, I don’t get paid for it. So I’ll put amateur transy. And also, like, the word amateur comes from the word for love as well, which is nice. Because it’s, um, it’s like a more amateur? I’d never thought of so yeah, it’s someone who does something for love. And so, okay, like, so just bear with me on the next thing I’m going to talk about, we might not end up anywhere, but it’s just this thought that’s starting to spring up. So if you were going to say, Okay, I belong to the culture that uses transients, this slanderous word to me, and I’m going to reclaim that word. How many people do you need like to also reclaim that word for it to become reclaimed? Rather than it just being you banging your drum?

Chris Hubley 42:20
Um, I think if someone’s part of a group, that’s, that’s being marginalised or oppressed, they kind of don’t really need anyone else. Like, I know, people who have various health conditions that are pretty rare. And they reclaim words that are used around those. And I mean, I guess they might be in their own communities using them, but I’ve not encountered other people. And they might not even really know other people who have who who have the similar conditions. So yeah, I think I think if the words being used against you, then you totally have the right to use it for yourself. I will obviously read being respectful of other people, I think that’s definitely a balance that kind of needs to be hard. It’s a different difference between using Word for yourself, versus using a word for people in general, I think it’s something that’s interesting with the word queer, because some people use queer to mean, basically, LGBT. And it’s like an LGBT plus. And it’s, like, easy way of doing that. But then other people in you know, it’s it’s kind of the way it was used in the communities that I was part of, it’s very much. It’s, you know, it’s very much related to

K Anderson 43:36
try attitude.

Chris Hubley 43:37
Yeah. Well, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s about deconstructing binary ideas, and it’s about so the way you know, we’re in a sort of queer context, there isn’t really talking about whether someone is gay or straight, or whether someone’s a man or a woman isn’t. It’s not that simple. And it’s, it’s not something that you can, that really makes sense within that context. Because it’s like, well, what are those? What do these categories mean, and how are they constructed? And in what ways are they deconstructed and how can we deconstruct them? So, so yeah, it’s it’s, it’s been interesting to see to see those changes. And I think that I mean, that’s the thing as well sometimes queer is is literally just like, gay punk people. And yeah,

K Anderson 44:23
but then so do you feel offended then by the people using it in the context of an umbrella term for the LGBTQ i A plus community? offended hurry to stronger word? Sorry.

Chris Hubley 44:37
Yeah, I wouldn’t say feel offended by it. I think it can be unhelpful, because it includes people who don’t necessarily see themselves as without term, either because they do feel offended by it. Or you know, I

K Anderson 44:50
know a lot of conservative

Chris Hubley 44:55
maybe Well, I mean, it’s like I know a lot of bye We identify trans people who are who are straight Who wouldn’t? Who is, you know, they’re not offended by people calling them queer, but they’re just like, well, I’m I don’t consider myself queer. That’s not that doesn’t represent who I am.

K Anderson 45:13
But they would say that they were LGBT.

Chris Hubley 45:16
Yeah. Because, yeah, I think I mean, I think that’s one of the things with, with queerness, as well, it was kind of, we kind of used it as almost like a non label, it was a way to, to, to say that we’re not limiting ourselves to these labels, and we don’t see these labels as important or as, you know, rather, we see them as something that is created by an oppressive system, you know, sort of capitalism and patriarchy have sort of created these identities and these labels. So, yeah, again, I can’t remember what my heart was going with that. But

K Anderson 46:00
I’m Queer as a rejection of that.

Chris Hubley 46:02
Yeah. So queer is like, it’s a way to, to say I’m, I’m actively working to deconstruct these patriarchal heteronormative structures, like I say, was very influenced by the academic world. So that’s why I think there ends up being a lot of this very academic language in it. Which for me, when I, when I went on to do my, my Masters, my master’s degree, I was like, Oh, I know all these words, because I talked about stuff using them in queer squats, like 10 years ago.

K Anderson 46:39
I’ve already got my head around this. Yeah. I think Yeah, sometimes when we’re having these conversations, I’m like, okay, hang on. Wait, what? What, what did that person just say? What?

Chris Hubley 46:49
Yeah, like, Yeah, that makes me think about how I mean, one of the big issues with that, that question I was talking about is, it was very, it was very much a bubble. Like, there were all these queer, radical queer events going around all going on all around Europe, and all around the world. But people and people would travel to them and go to all these exciting things and talk to people, but it was extremely insular and extremely, you know, there were people involved in it, who were very involved in other political actions and trying to bring them together. Like there was a lot of no borders work like about immigration and asylum seekers, and things like that. But yeah, my experience of being in that queer world is that it was very, it was very much a bubble. And trying to break out of that can be a bit difficult. But yeah, I mean, again, I think it’s the it’s one of the challenges of community. Sometimes it’s like, how do you build community without it becoming a bubble or a clique? You know?

K Anderson 47:56
Yeah. And without it becoming a Yeah. and asking them? Yeah, that’s what it is, isn’t it? Yeah. That’s the thing that can be so alluring and exciting about those communities is they’re the, you know, oh, here’s some people who understand me or who I don’t need to adjust my behaviour too much to fit in. And then suddenly, the outside world becomes too difficult to interact with. Yeah. And yeah, I mean, during the outside world, any favours?

Chris Hubley 48:31
No, I mean, I definitely. For me, having that bubble, for the time that I did was very good for me. And I mean, I do still live in a bit of a bubble. Like, I live with trans people. And, and most of my friends are queer or trans. But yeah, I think the, it’s, to be honest, there’s been times when I’ve been trying to, I was like, Okay, I’m gonna, like, do this thing. So I won’t be in my bubble anymore. Like, I got a when I got my studio in, like, I think it was 2011 I got like, a small studio space and this kind of big arts thing. And I was like, Yes, I’m gonna go here, and I’ll not be in my career bubble anymore. And like, all the people I met there will quiz me because there were artists, of course, they were. I mean, no, not all. So I just seem to to attract those people towards me as well. But yeah, I mean, I, I kind of think there’s there’s no shame of being in a bubble in a way because, you know, we’ve got to do what what we can do, you know, and I think that it can be it was definitely a really good thing for me for a time at least it really helped me feel part of something and feel connected to the people around me and feel that you know, who I was was okay. And I you know, I I think I’ve although there was a lot of issues with it in the end, especially like, I definitely feel like I I got a lot from that. Yeah,

K Anderson 50:12
I’m sorry, I’ve I’ve come across as though I’m like, you should never. Okay, so we’ve gone all around the houses. Yeah, like so how did how did fanclub and,

Chris Hubley 50:23
um, I mean it like I say it kind of it kind of petered out a bit. And basically, all of us were just quite busy. And because I’d been it’s something we’ve not really talked about, but I was also playing music at the time as well, I was doing like this kind of weird, manic synth pop staff, where I kind of dress up in weird outfits and sing along to a backing track of my iPod. It was all very silly, but quite fun. But I had reached a point where I didn’t really want to do that anymore. And I was also, I think, because I wanted to start putting my energies more into Visual Art than music. So I was not feeling so enthusiastic about doing the shows. And also, one of the other issues was the the warehouse that we’ve been using, which is brilliant spaces, you know, having, having somewhere that we had complete control over was just really fantastic. Like we didn’t have to, you know, something as simple as like, we could leave the equipment there until the next day. So we didn’t have to sort everything out on the night. And also, we didn’t have to deal with you know, we’d sometimes have issues with the managers of places being shady to us or whatever. Or just like, I don’t know, being annoying. So we didn’t, we could just like do whatever we wanted in the space. And our friend who ran it ended up giving it up because they couldn’t afford to keep it going. So we kind of tried having it in different venues, and it just never quite worked. And yeah, and then you know, people ended up we have the house that we were all in together, people ended up moving out of it. And that kind of it was really I think it was really held together by friendship basically NBR kind of group sort of way of working. And once that started to come apart a bit it the whole thing kind of did as well. It’s how it was from, from, from my perspective anyway. So yeah, I think we were just a bit a bit burnt out a bit kind of, or just wanting to do different things. Yeah, there was no kind of huge big celebrator he send off or anything, which is maybe a shame, but I think by the time it sort of got to the point where we decided it was finished, like none of us were really in the mood to do it. Basically. Yeah, but like there’s, there’s loads of other exciting stuff going on. So it’s fine.

K Anderson 53:02
Did you ever go to fan club in either Cardiff or in Bristol? Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. Tell me your stories and share any photos that you might have from those times through social media. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with the user name and K Anderson music. And whilst you’re at it, go and give Chris some love on Twitter. His profile handle is Mr. Crystal Almighty. Law spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I have been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming year. You can hear the first single which is called well groomed boys and is playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to loss of spaces.







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