Category Archives: Culture

Introducing Virina Flower

By Keiran Potter

Though the UK is considered one of the most accepting countries in the world in regard to the LGBTQIA+ community, it is important not to ignore the fact that there is still so much work to do. Until every single queer person feels at home in their own skin we cannot rest. 

That’s why I reached out to several Plymouth Queer nightlife personalities, in order to highlight how Pride has no opening hours. The fight goes on long into the night but so does the fun. Here’s an insight into a drag queen’s perspective of Pride in our city.

Virina Flower (@VirinaFlower), 23, grew up in Ukraine, and takes drag inspiration from their relationship with her/his Mother. Virina represents the unifying power that queer arts have. Drag performance in particular invites people from all walks of life, all abilities, all races, all genders, to inhabit the same space. A space where we’re all just people; the way it should always be.

When asked what advice she would give to queer youth in Plymouth, Virina said, “Be you. I know it sounds cheesy but be openly you. The queer scene here is rising and now that I have the residency at OMG Plymouth I feel like I have a responsibility to encourage people to be free and open. We will always have homophobia/transphobia, but you will never live forever.”

The LGBTQIA+ community in Plymouth is accepting of everyone and has room for a diverse group of performers and queer artists; a family that is ever growing. Virina explains that this includes, “Femme queens like Dixie Macarbe, Trans queen/king Casenovah, a lyric writer and cabaret act like Dex Amfetamine, and even some burlesque representation such as Lady Shakira Diamond.” The list does not stop there however. Plymouth is also home to “Beauty gurus like Arabela ( Jonathan), and of course the traditional British cabaret style Mary Hinge, who also happens to be the current mother of the scene”.

Virina adds, “Each day [in Plymouth] I meet more and more people. If they are confused and they don’t know about the community, then I take my time to make sure they feel comfortable speaking about the LGBTQIA+ community and our struggle. Usually the results are positive.”

So, if you’re feeling invisible, need some support and can’t seem to find it, look no further than the rhinestone doors of OMG Plymouth and The Swallow, where people will call you family no matter who you are.

Virina wants to be a voice for the queer community and do what they love full time. She explains that it is important to be visible, as for every queer artist that is being recognised and celebrated, there are hundreds of non-queer artists. She says that the queer youth of this generation deserve representation, and I couldn’t agree more.

I thought it was important to mark the end of Pride Month by emphasising that we need to celebrate ourselves every single day for the rest of our lives, not just for 30 days. We deserve to be heard loud and clear all year round. So, if you’re a young queer person reading this: find your tribe, be seen when you’re ready. You have a safe space wherever you are, if you are surrounded by likeminded people. Now be proud, you are incredible. 

Pride in Plymouth is coming up in the next month. This will be a time to celebrate the beautiful queerness of Plymouth. I’m sure Virina and many more amazing people will be there, so why don’t you head up to Plymouth Hoe and say hello? Whether you’re queer or just want to show your support for the community, it’ll be a beautiful day to celebrate.

I’ll let Virina close this article, as she solidifies the importance of Queer art. She says, “Pride to me is a feeling. I try to take pride season as an opportunity to be visible. Maybe one day when I’m walking in town in full drag, a kid or a teen or maybe even an adult will look at me and think, ‘Look at him being himself and happy! Maybe it’s not all that bad.’ Be proud! This is our season and our time!”

Happy Pride!

Under (Social Media) Pressure

By Affinity May

Scrolling through social media is one of the most popular pastimes of today’s generation. The concept of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat make them a perfect way for companies to grow in popularity, in addition to creating platforms to share knowledge and art with the world. However, are these websites merely creating entertainment for today’s youths, or are they putting pressure on young woman and creating unnecessary expectations for us to try and adhere to?

The pressure to be presented as ‘perfect’ is increasing day by day. There seems to be an unwritten rule about how you should look and act. With young girls exposed to this on a daily basis, consequences such as insecurity, low self esteem and limited confidence often occur. 

I spoke to a group of women in Plymouth about their perspectives on this topic, and the answers were devastating. Amie Marie, aged 16, stated, “I feel the constant pressure to change myself to be a better person or to be accepted by society’s harsh rules/expectations”.

Kayleigh Smallest, aged 15, said, “Personally I have felt society’s pressure by the way people comment on things like skin , hair and most frequently the expectations of having ‘perfect’ teeth”.

Megan Symons, aged 17, stated, “I feel like everyone has this (…) ‘if you don’t look like this or don’t do these things, then you are bad’ attitude. It does affect me personally and I know that I need to find ways to combat these negative feelings”. 

Harriet Rogers, aged 16, said, “ I have experienced this pressure on more than one occasion and it has led to me feeling like I’m not good enough, that I’m not pretty enough, not skinny enough, haven’t got the perfect bum etc. As I’ve grown older I’ve realised that it’s not as big a deal as I made it out to be when I was younger, but I know that I’m not the only girl who’s felt this and I definitely won’t be the last” 

Of course social media is not the cause of all vulnerabilities towards young woman, but it is a reason that so many of our young teenage woman are feeling pressure to be presented as perfect online.

Rewire: The Brand Giving Plymouth a New Look

By Keiran Potter

Sometimes 2019 can feel like an unpleasant place to live. With politics in crisis, war, social injustices and environmental neglect, it’s no surprise that we’re left feeling pretty helpless. 

You may think as a young person you won’t be able to change much. But you’d be wrong. 

I sat down with Courtney Vosper to discuss her business venture REWIRE, a brand that centres itself around up-cycling and lessening our own fashion footprint, without having to sacrifice style. 

As a Fashion, Media and Marketing student at Plymouth College of Art, Courtney, the founder of REWIRE, hopes that her brand and its ethos will be one people can get behind. Failing that, Courtney is so passionate about the message behind her brand that she hopes she can find a position in the industry that shares the same ethos and vision that she does. But I have every faith that Rewire Clothing is the future of fashion. 

Rewire Clothing ‘is an up and coming brand, specialising in up-cycling pre-loved denim, with a main focus on reducing waste that would eventually end up in landfill. Rewire focuses on fulfilling our customers needs with our custom made service.’

Rewire Clothing

It’s important that we acknowledge and be held accountable for our own impact on the world, no matter our age. This emerging brand should be an inspiration for anyone hoping to leave their mark, whatever that mark may be. 

It’s not all tea and biscuits though and Plymouth’s own Entrepreneur says that the hardest part of her endeavour is how to promote and spread such a message to people who are already too embedded in the convenience of fast fashion. Rewire Clothing holds regular giveaways and hopes this will encourage people to get involved with the Rewire vision. Rewire has also recently run a pop up event in Plymouth where they invited people to get involved in the art and beauty of upcycling (so keep an eye out for more of those in the future).

Rewire Clothing say it’s not about promotion, it’s about letting people know about the amazing things they’re doing, the change they’re making and allowing that change to be accessible to a wider audience. Inspiring people to take matters into their own hands and make changes that count!

So how about we all stand up and take responsibility? Starting right here in our beautiful city of Plymouth. One way we, as young people, can perpetuate the causes that we are passionate about is by supporting local brands who are passionate about making a difference or becoming the change that we wish to see. 

I’d like to thank Rewire Clothing and Courtney for giving an insight into their up and coming brand and I hope such amazing work taking place in Plymouth will inspire others to be motivated by their own passions and enable change that is so desperately needed right now. 

If you’d like to support Rewire Clothing then follow them on Instagram @RewireClothing or on Facebook @rewireclothinguk. You can also purchase some custom products on Depop @rewireclothinguk. 

MTV Music Week

By Megan Potterton

MTV Music Week took place in Plymouth last week, which saw exciting music events being held at venues all across the city.

Young people attended events at some of Britain’s Ocean City’s top music venues, including Plymouth Pavilions, The Treasury, The Hub and Plymouth University SU. The week aimed to celebrate ‘all things music’, which included live music nights, panel talks, workshops and artist interviews.

While Plymouth Pavilions arguably got to host the biggest event of the week (Pale Waves, The Amazons and The Vaccines all performed on Thursday night), MTV Music Week organisers also put on an array of day time events for young people interested in a career in the creative industries.

We spoke to Carl Smith, Digital Content Editor of Heat, who was on the panel for the Social Influencers event that took place at Plymouth University SU on Thursday. He said, ‘It was great to be on the Social Influencers panel at MTV Music Week Plymouth; getting some great tips from Chloe (Ferry, Geordie Shore) and Sam (Gowland, Geordie Shore) and meeting students looking to get into the industry. Hopefully we answered some of the audience’s burning questions about all things socials!’

MTV Music Week followed a five year run of MTV hosting an outdoor event on Plymouth Hoe. Although this year followed a different format, the week offered some fantastic opportunities for young people to not only watch live music, but also find out more about how to succeed in a creative career. Hopefully it will return to Plymouth again soon!

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