CHOSEN FAMILY

THE FOUR SIDED TRIANGLE

(A summary of Robert Taylor’s contribution to an exhibition  commissioned by Queer Britain (a new LGBT + history project) , celebrating the phenomenon of chosen families in the LGBT+ community, sponsored by Levi Strauss, as part of a larger celebration of Pride Month in London.)

Gay men are often resourceful emotional ecologists. Hating to waste all the good stuff discovered, created and honed during attempted romantic relationships, we are pretty good at finding ways to stay meaningfully in each others lives, even as we court new princes. Ive enjoyed witnessing various flavours of connection between these four gay men for over 30 years.

The word family has often had challenging connotations and associations for queer folk. These four men have definitely appropriated and detoxified it for their own purposes.

(L-R David, Lorne, Bill and Kenny)

The Family of Four 2002 – present

Bills been the family anchor, and his flat, a haven to all of them at different times. They flourish together amidst complex shared and overlapping narratives, loving, supporting, challenging and amusing each other. Ive been encountering at least 3 and often all 4 of them together for over 30 years, in all sorts of social situations. Creativity and nurturing are the key family traits: Bill Wilcox (artist, photographer, linguist, mentor/educator and social activist), Lorne Burrell (sculptor/artist and erstwhile model), David McAlmont (singer, songwriter, art historian, queer historian and DJ), and Kenny Clay (teacher, astrologer and sometime massage therapist)

 

 

 

Bill and Lorne

Bill and Lorne 1982 – present

Although lovers briefly, their connection really blossomed with Bill becoming the benign mentoring mother to Lornes flamboyant fiery daughter. One of their most poignant and fruitful joint enterprises manifested in the creation of FUSION, a multi cultural gay mens social group that flourished in the 1980/90s, with an informal side project of offering emotional and practical support to men struggling with the then often fatal diagnosis of HIV/Aids, even though navigating their own positive diagnoses. They now thrive in the era of combination therapies, with Lornes late bloom under Bills watchful eye – as a talented sculptor, and Bill, a keen photographer.

 

 

 

Bill and David

Bill and David 1989 – present

They were lovers for a couple of years, but flourished as a household for 15 years after that. Davids biological father left home when he was 6. Bill inhabited some of the lingering gap, fertilizing and nurturing Davids passion for art, music, film, and pretty much all the gay sympathetic realms of expression stamped on by his religious Guyanese biological family. David has thrived and soared as a highly respected musician and arts warrior, crafting a unique career combining his many interests, to the delight of various cultural tribes. These days Bill and David function more as younger and older brother than father and son.

 

 

 

David and Lorne

David and Lorne 1989 – present

Lorne has always felt very protective of Bill, so he was initially wary of David, the bright young thing suddenly erupting into Bills world. David and Lorne were both very close to Bill, and – in their very different ways great performative stylists, so there were always going to be frictions and competition. There were years of tensions and sibling bickering before their relationship eventually settled to that of supportive loving sisters. They now share a home, both very busy with their respective creative endeavors, never very far from Bills gentle watchful eye.

 

 

 

David and Kenny

David and Kenny 2002 – present

They were lovers for 11 years, then carried on as companions, with sporadic hints of the maternal from Kenny in response to Davids occasional diva moments. They have always enjoyed a deep and intimate intellectual connection, sometimes straying into astrological and astrological realms. Theyve seen each other through myriad highs, lows and demanding enterprises. A recent manifestation was Kennys supportive role during Davids second wave of higher education in fine art history. Their peaceful shared home life was a fine setting for David to step back from the mania of the music industry to enrich and reorient his world view.

 

The term ‘FOUR SIDED TRIANGLE’ is a playful reference to the LGBT community’s capacity for creating it’s own solutions.