Queering the Wye Valley unites LGBTQI+ folk in the area to explore the festival theme of HUMAN⇋NATURE, ensuring voices are heard and represented. Led by Aimee Blease-Bourne, the project aims to create an archive of LGBTQ+ experiences and collect ideas, concerns, dreams and wishes about art, nature and being LGBTQ+ here and now. 

The project has produced a set of beautiful and original Queer Nature Cards, exploring diversity within nature. 

We have also also made an LGBTQI+ podcast with youth groups in Monmouthshire, exploring different experiences of nature as defined by queer people in the Wye Valley. Queer to us is a collective and creative term used to describe LGBT+ community. What is it to create a safe space through sound? We are giving queer people, who are often marginalised, a space to discuss issues that affect them. There is a stereotype of queer people within the urban landscape, and we want to challenge this and bring more visibility to rural queer folks. We are weaving together the geographically separated communities and individuals across the area and creating an archive made by and for our communities.

Project lead Aimee says:

‘As a queer woman, I want to investigate nature, specifically the River Wye, through the lens of queer ecology. Building relationships between people and place, the project will promote environmental stewardship and nourish the souls of folk who have been made to feel like they don’t belong. I want to utilise skills such as fire building and other naturalist knowledge to rekindle relationships with the natural world. It is increasingly empowering to learn survival and earth-based skills. It provides a sense of peace in an uncertain world. I want to question perceptions of the natural world and reframe them based on sexuality and gender. The natural world does not have binaries: nature, like the river, must take its course. It is fluid and flexible. Like gender and sexuality, nature has a depth of diversity.’

Project partners include Monmouthshire County Council, Monmouth Youth Service, Queer Dye Clothing, Hay on Wye Pride, Hereford Pride, Basecamp Cooperative, Chepstow, Biblins Camp Site, Jennifer Singleton, Bronte Williams, Nicola Goff, Isla Badenoch, Rachel and Cam Adams, Boo La Crux.

About Creative Community Champion Aimee Blease-Bourne:

Aimee has 20 years’ experience working in the community with young people. She is a writer and artist with a passion to weave alternative histories about people, place and nature. She has developed a scrapbooking tool, Mindful Scrapbooking, which not only creates art, but also helps others to record their observations, thoughts, evaluations, poetry, art and conversations. As a doctoral researcher, she investigates the connections between people and places through creative, counter-cultural and exploratory experiences.

Contact Aimee at aimee.wvrf@gmail.com or join in with the project via our social media:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/queeringthewyevalley/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/queeringthewyevalley

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@queeringthewyevalley

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/queeringthewyevalley

Photos of Queering the Wye Gathering April 2022 by Bronte Fae Photography