Tag Archives: Queering SSSA

Queering the Archive: Chat with Lady Rampant

We once again have another podcast to showcase as part of the ongoing Queering the Archive initiative! For the third in a series of podcasts, Archive and Library Assistant, Elliot, recorded a session with Lady Rampant, Scotland’s political drag queen.

Lady Rampant got her start in the drag scene in Amsterdam, and has worked across both Amsterdam and Scotland. With a background and interest in Law and politics, Lady Rampant has blended politics and drag in her performances and activism. Her work as well as her podcast, Rampant Rundown, has featured causes such as Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, HIV awareness in Scotland, and encouraging voting within Scotland and much more. She has also worked with politicians and political parties as well as Scottish third sector LGBTQ plus charities like TIE Scotland, HIV Scotland, and LGBT Youth Scotland.

Lady Rampant has also recently performed at events at the Edinburgh Fringe, including the pre-show for ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ the musical, as well as ‘Aye Cons’, a celebration of Scottish drag that platforms kings, queens, and other performers and icons in Scotland.

In this recording we discuss all things performance, drag and politics, the current political climate, and issues facing the LGBTQ plus and specifically the Trans, Nonbinary, Gender Nonconforming community and wider LGBTQ plus community and more.

 

Listen to the podcast with Lady Rampant here: https://edin.ac/2W2BSE7

 

 

You can find Lady Rampant on the following Social Media accounts:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LADYRAMPANT/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/ladyrampant

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ladyrampant/

And the Rampant Rundown Podcast here: https://anchor.fm/lady-rampant

 

Lady Rampant:

The International Scottish Lioness

Best Political Queen GDA 2020

Bookings: DM or email ladyrampantqueen@gmail.com

 

For more updates on Queering the Archive, keep following our blog and Twitter @EU_SSSA.

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Queering The Man and Woman’s Love Song

 

An image of our Tale archive with a Progress Pride flag filter. The image includes cabinets, index card boxes on top, and shelving with books above.

 

 

 

Throughout Scottish tradition and history we have heard many iterations of the Love Song, be it through themes of unrequited love, courtship, lamentations at the loss of a lover, or even bawdy tunes and romance. No matter the theme, there is always one thing in common – that they are a man and a woman’s love song. There is not much in the way of recorded queer love in traditional Scottish songs, and it would have been near impossible for these to enter into the mainstream of known love songs. However, in my research on what we hold on the traditional Man’s Love Song and Woman’s Love Song, I have found some content that can be ‘queered’. Through a mix-up of pronouns in song or change of the gender of the singer and the protagonist we can find queer undertones and subtext within these traditional love songs. 

Within the Man’s Love Song, we of course have many examples of songs with a male protagonist describing his love or telling a tale of love about a woman. I will take you through a few examples of songs that can be ‘queered’ through being sung by a female singer and no change of the gender of the person the protagonist loves. Below are just a few example of songs that we hold that can be viewed through this lens. 

For example, there is “Mo Ghaol an Tè Nach Dìobair Mi”. This version, sung by Mary MacRae and recorded by Donald Archie MacDonald is a Man’s Love Song on how ‘he will always stand by beautiful Mary as being a woman of virtue.’ What I like about this version is that the lover is named, and through queering can be seen as a romantic tune about the virtues of women as recognised and sung by another woman. Listen to this track on Tobar an Dualchais linked below:

MacRae, Mary, “Mo Ghaol an Tè Nach Dìobair Mi”, recorded by Donald Archie MacDonald, The School of Scottish Studies Archives, SA1964.062, Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches, http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/104516

There are also examples of unrequited love. “Och Mar a Tha Mi ‘s Mi nam Aonar”, sung by Peggy Morrison and recorded by Morag MacLeod is of a man’s love song for a beautiful girl from Lochcarron. The protagonist hopes she gets a man who is worthy of her. As this particular recording is sung by a woman, we can view this recording as being about a woman’s unrequited love for the beautiful girl from Lochcarron, but they cannot be together so she hopes she finds a good man who is worthy of her love. Listen below:

Morrison, Peggy, Och Mar a Tha Mi ‘s Mi nam Aonar”, School of Scottish Studies Archive, SA1975.210.A4a, Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches, https://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/track/108130?l=en  

There is also another about promises of marriage, sung by Nan MacKinnon, in “Gur Tu Mo Chruinneag Bhòidheach.” In this love song, ‘a man praises his beautiful darling. He would do many things if she promised to marry him’. Different from Och Mar a Tha Mi ‘s Mi nam Aonar”, this song allows for a reading of a woman promising many things to her lover if she married her, and is not about unrequited love or not being able to marry the lover described. Listen below:

MacKinnon, Nan, “Gur Tu Mo Chruinneag Bhòidheach”, School of Scottish Studies Archive, SA1958.132.5, Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches, https://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/track/97353?l=en  

 

 

There are also a few examples of The Woman’s Love song as sung by men about a man the protagonist longs for or is telling of love for him. Although we have less examples of men singing the Woman’s Love song, there are still more recordings of this type within the collections. 

 

The song “Ò Hù Tha Mo Ghaol air Òigear a’ Chùil Dualaich” is a, ‘woman’s love song to the young man with the beautiful hair.’ This version is sung by John MacLeod and recorded by Polly Hitchcock. Again, through the singer being male, we can hear the description of his love and admiration of the man with beautiful hair.  Listen below:

MacLeod, John, “Ò Hù Tha Mo Ghaol air Òigear a’ Chùil Dualaich”, School of Scottish Studies Archives, SA1951.43.A7, Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches, http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/90295

 

In “Cha Bhi Mi Buan ‘s Tu Bhith Bhuam”, the singer, ‘will not survive if she is parted from her beloved, whom she has loved since she was young. She sits on the hillock, looking over the narrows seeing his boat passing.’ This version sung and recorded by Calum Iain MacLean can be viewed about the sadness of the childhood lover leaving for sea and being so in love it is difficult to part with him. Listen below:

MacLean, Calum Iain, “Cha Bhi Mi Buan ‘s Tu Bhith Bhuam”, School of Scottish Studies Archives, SA1953.79.1, Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches, Tobar an Dualchais

 

  

 

 

With Queering the Archives, we are creating a finding-aid to help other’s locate queer and related records. If you are interested in responding to these recordings with your own work or researching our queer collections, please do just get in touch with us. Visitor Information | The University of Edinburgh 

Why not take a look at the material we hold remotely on Tobar an Dualchais and think of ways in which our sound recordings can be ‘queered’? If you are interested in recreating our material in any form, please get in touch with us or submit an access to digitised collections form directly. Access to Digitised Collections | The University of Edinburgh 

As always, we would love to hear thoughts on the material we hold and would love for you to work with us and our records. 

Queering the Archives will have our very first workshop held on the 25th August from 13.00 – 15.30. This is a public workshop and is open to all under the LGBT+ and Queer umbrella and allies. Get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/165396797273 

This will take you through understanding of queering, what we are doing for Queering the Archives, and working with our queer records and will involve discussion and practical work on improving our search-terms and catalogues. Access to event via QR code below:

 

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Queering the Archive: Chat with Rufus Elliot and Rylan Gleave from OVER/AT and their new EP, “Folk’s Songs”

 

 

An image of some of the SSSA collections and shelving with the progress pride filter added. Bottom text says Queering The Archive in white.

 

As part Queering the Archives, we will feature conversations and podcasts with various people undertaking work and projects that feature LGBT+ voices and representation. My first conversation is with musicians and vocalists Rufus Elliot and Rylan Gleave about their work with OVER/AT and their new EP, “Folk’s Songs”.

 

“FOLKS’ SONGS is a new E.P. from the trans music-making world of OVER/AT. It comprises three exclusive, newly commissioned audio pieces by three Scotland-based trans, non-binary, or other gender-minority artists: new songs for/by/with the Folk. It is unlike any trans music-making which has come before it in Scotland.”

 

Rufus is a composer and musicians and founder and producer of OVER/AT, “a trans nonbinary and gender diverse music making world” that works directly with Scottish and Scotland based trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse musicians. OVER/AT is designed to empower and create imaginative responses from trans voices. It commissioned three artists to make pieces, responding to the idea of the trans voice. This included Malin Lewis, Harry Josephine Giles, and Matthew Arthur Williams. They each made completely different responses to that idea that made up the EP of “Folk’s Songs”.

Rylan Gleave is a composer and vocalist based in Glasgow, who also teaches singing and has produced and worked on the OVER/AT project. Rylan held introductory vocal workshops and individual lessons with some of the artists from the EP. He also recorded Viv singing Out of Existence, on Rufus’ direction, due to C19 restrictions. Alongside Rufus, Rylan created some accessible singing resources, including making audio voice-overs and BSL interpretation to go on the website

The EP is an incredibly visceral record that takes you through the trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse music experience through the voice and its eclectic sounds. The EP explores the idea of speaking out, the voice, and trans voices and spaces and being empowered to explore our voices. The voice is something that can be so personal to each trans experience and the EP is an example of how strong the trans voice and creativity is, as well as showing how trans, nonbinary and gender diverse Folk can use the voice and create spaces in the music scene and beyond. It was a joy to chat everything OVER/AT and the EP with Rufus and Rylan and delving into the influences of the EP and their own work, as well as trans and queer representation in music and elsewhere.

 

Listen to the podcast here:

https://tinyurl.com/yah5j8vr

 

 

 

“Folk’s Songs” was released March 26, 2021.

artwork – Jamie Crewe
additional design – Leo Valenti
producer – Rufus Isabel Elliot
mixing and mastering engineer – Kay Logan

track 1 recorded by Malin Lewis
track 2 recorded by Matthew Arthur Williams & Joel Cu
tracks 3-7 recorded by Rylan Gleave
track 8 recorded by Matthew Arthur Williams and Rufus Isabel Elliot

The work was made possible by Sound and Music’s Composer-Curator programme, and supported by Creative Scotland. Composer-Curator is supported by Arts Council England and PRS Foundation.

Find further information on OVER/AT and purchase “Folk’s Songs” on Bandcamp here: https://over-at.bandcamp.com/  Access the learning resources here: https://www.ambf.co.uk/learning-resources

Find more about Rufus here: https://www.ambf.co.uk/

Find more about Rylan here: https://www.rylangleave.com/

And check out the album, “Not Passing” here: https://comfortglasgow.bandcamp.com/album/not-passing

 

 

 

Written by Elliot Holmes.

Elliot is one of the Archives and Library Assistants at the School of Scottish Studies Archives and uses He/They pronouns. You can also find him on twitter @elliotlholmes

Follow @EU_SSSA on twitter for updates and sharing our collections.

Please do feel free to get in touch with Elliot to take part in a podcast or other Queering the Archive blogs and information on the workshop and future events!

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Queering the Archive: Cross-Dressing Ballads in the School of Scottish Studies Archive

As the first in our series of blogs as part of ‘Queering the Archive’ initiative, I discuss some infamous ‘cross-dressing’ ballads within our collections.  

Here at the School of Scottish Studies, we hold many records of the popular cross-dressing ballads that exists in Scottish oral tradition and traditional songs. Protagonists of these forms of ballads and songs are often women. These ballads involve a humorous tale of women in forms of drag and concealment as a way to engage in male public life or work. Common forms of this are cross-dressing sea-ballads that describe the protagonist entering the workforce. Women were excluded from joining the ranks of the navy and any work at sea was relegated into different roles for men and women. As such, the selected ballads can be viewed as a way of subverting gender roles and societal expectations through drag and cross-dressing. While these are not necessarily queer stories, we can apply queer theory to these records thus allowing us to queer the archive and Scottish sounds. 

 

This blog was originally created in mind to not only provide my own point of interest in just some of the examples of the ‘queer’ in the archive but to introduce application of theory and some of my own thoughts to the records. Though I do not see these as records of particular LGBT+ identity, they are examples of the ‘queering’ of records and application of queer theory. 

Content warnings apply within this blog and for some of the sound material for sexual content, issues in consent, and themes and depictions of gender that some may find uncomfortable. 

 

The first ballad to be discussed is The Banks O’ Skene, which describes how a young female protagonist sought work in the navy and disguised herself in “men’s clothing”. The protagonist is apprenticed to a heckler and sings of how “the girlies all fell in love with me below The Banks O’ Skene.” This can be seen as subversion of expected gender roles and exploration of sexuality and performance that wouldn’t often be afforded to women. However, later in the ballad the protagonist is discovered by her master and the ballad continues with bawdy descriptions of exposure of identity, drinking, and her master, “taking her maidenhead” and the ballad ending in pregnancy and marriage. While intended as a humorous tale, it reflects issues and attitudes of the life of women working on ships and the reasons given why women working aboard naval vessels were frowned upon due to notions of sexual relationships, pregnancy, and conflict. Through application of queer theory, this turns into a tale of a female protoganist gaining freedom in male fields of work and performance, but ultimately having to fall to her expected female role of sex and marriage. 

Another example of a similar style of cross-dressing ballad is The Handsome Cabin Boy, in which the female protagonist disguises herself as a young cabin boy. She is described by the sailors as handsome and pretty in most versions of the ballad, while she is still ‘disguised’ as male. Her identity is only ‘discovered’ once she gives birth to the Captain’s baby. This song is similar in style and content as The Banks O’ Skene, again singing of the benefits of navigating the world disguised as a man, and later the problematic exposure narrative and relegation of roles of birth and marriage. A different queer narrative can be applied to this in the example of the hidden sexual relationships of sailors and the attraction the other sailors felt towards the protagonist when she was viewed as The Handsome Cabin Boy 

There is also another known cross-dressing ballad of Billy Taylor, or Willy Taylor. A jilted lover of Billy Taylor disguises herself as a man and finds work aboard his ship. She discovers Billy with another woman and shoots him. The Captain of the ship is so impressed by the bravery and act that he makes her commander of the ship and gives her a hundred men. This ballad is different from The Banks O’ Skene and The Handsome Cabin Boy, as while it does involve the typical problematic and often times literal exposure narrative of these ballads, it does not feature a sexual relationship that ends in discovery and pregnancy. It instead follows the ballad and protagonist archetype of a romantic heroine that takes revenge on her cheating lover. This ballad begins and ends with subverting gender roles through taking on work as a man of lower status on the ship to ultimately becoming highly ranked to a Captain when the protagonist is no longer ‘cross-dressing’. 

Not all cross-dressing ballads follow a life at sea. There is also the ballad, The Famous Flower of Serving Men, in which the female character of ‘young Ellen fair’ cuts off her hair and becomes ‘young Willie Dare’ after an attack on her life and child by her step-mother. She later goes to find work dressed as a man, and gains a job in the castle, initially as a stable boy. However, because Young Willie Dare is so handsome, which is acknowledged by her Master and the working men, she gains rank as a serving man. The Master later finds out her identity and marries her because she is so beautiful and handsome. Other ballads follow the young protagonist entering the military, such the group of ballads, “The Female Drummer”, “The Solder Maid”, and “Wi my Nice Hat and Feather”. The groups of ballads also involve similar narratives of entering the male sphere of work and roles in the military, with some queer attraction. In the version of “The Female Drummer” sung by Margaret Jeffrey, it is noted that “Although [the protagonist] pretends to be a young man, she is so beautiful that another girl falls in love with her”, however it is also related to aspects of heteronormativity by the end of the ballad, “She is told that if she ever gets married and has a son, she should send him to learn to play the drum.” 

We also hold many more examples of these types of ballads, as well as examples of cross-dressing ballads where men were dressed as women. This is also often used as a form of anecdotes and tales, where men were dressed up to escape a skirmish or the authorities. The most famous of these songs surround Bonny Prince Charlie dressing up as a female maidservant to escape to the Highlands, which includes the songs Moladh Mòraig‘ [Marion’s Wailing’, and many more. Other examples of this cross-dressing narrative, includes the tale of Mac Iain Bhàin Ghobha and the robbers”. The Gaelic tales describes how Mac Iain Bhàin Ghobha’s partner leaves for America to find where work as a servant. She is later captured and taken to a cave of robbers, in which she finds Mac Iain Bhàin Ghobha dressed as a woman. They fight and deal with the robbers and gain money for bringing them to justice. They both marry once they return to Scotland with their new riches. The majority of these ballads or tales are Romantic in nature and feature a brave heroine, a daring protagonist, or forms of escapism and running away and heroics. It is notable that most of these ballads and tales also end in finding love in heterosexual marriage, thus relegating any subversion of binary gender roles or examples of any kind of sexual fluidity and exploration back to the traditional heterosexual spheres of marriage. 

 

We can apply queer theory to these records in the sense that the ballads often explore subversion of binary gender roles and include some form of queer attraction and aspects of fluidity. However, these ballads are often told and passed down through a cisgender and heterosexual lens. Some ballads reduce queerness and cross-dressing to mockery, and at times, dangerThemes of deception can be common which can make some an uncomfortable listen when considering themes and narratives of these forms of ballads. Almost all of the ballads in our collections end in a heterosexual marriage and raises questions about the context of expected societal roles and views of fluidityQueering the Archive will allow us to analyse these records and more through queer theory within the workshops and beyond. 

 

The records discussed in this blog are available for listening on Tobar an Dualchais: 

 

“The Banks o Skene”. George Hay recorded by Hamish Henderson. Aberdeenshire, Skene. SA1957.17.A3 http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/20800  

“The Handsome Cabin Boy”. Jeannie Robertson recorded by Hamish Henderson. 
SA1954.72.B8  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/2363 

“Billy Taylor”. Robb Watt recorded by Arthur Argo. 
SA1960.255.A4 http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/82824  

“The Famous Flower of Serving Men”. Jeannie Roberston recorded by Hamish Henderson, SA1954.103.A1; SA1954.103.A2, 525  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/38037  

“The Female Drummer” Margaret Jeffrey recorded by Hamish Henderson.
SA1956.123.A5,  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/20185  

“The Female Drummer”. Donald George Gunn recorded by Donald Grant.
 SA1963.87.A9  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/48437  

“The Soldier Maid”. Rob Watt recorded by Arthur Argo.
SA1960.253  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/59181  

“The Drummer Maid” James Laurenson recorded by Alan J. Bruford.
SA1973.62.A5   http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/75663  

“Wi my Nice Hat and Feather”. Jimmy Taylor recorded by Hamish Henderson.
SA1952.32.B18 (B25) http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/46812  

“Moladh Mòraig”. Pipe Major Robert Bell Nicol recorded by Pipe Major Neville MacKay.
SA1964.264.B2  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/71946  

“Mac Iain Bhàin Ghobha agus na robairean” Angus MacLellan recorded by Donald Archie MacDonald, SA1963.57.A2  http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/78752  

 

(There are also other versions of these ballads on Tobar an Dualchais. To find our records, select School of Scottish Studies only within Advanced Search. All of our records will be listed under SA.) 

 

 

If you are interested in taking part in Queering the Archive workshops, or if you are interested in researching LGBT+ records or using our collections for your work, please contact eholmes@ed.ac.uk  

 

Written by Elliot Holmes. 

Elliot is one of the Archives and Library Assistants at the School of Scottish Studies Archives and uses He/They pronouns. You can also find him on twitter @elliotlholmes  

Follow @EU_SSSA on twitter for updates and sharing our collections. 

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