In a small suburban town in Surrey, a 74-year-old gender-fluid singer has been performing songs on the street to lift people’s spirits during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Former biker Carley, from Ewell, has been singing hits from her doorstep armed with a microphone, an amp, and a backing track every week since the lockdown began – much to the joy of neighbours who dance, cheer, and sing along.
And now LGBT writer, campaigner and presenter Tom York, who is living with his parents in Ewell during the pandemic, has made a short film to celebrate the positive impact that his neighbour is having on the community.
Tom published his film – Carley – to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia (#IDAHOBIT) which is a worldwide celebration of gender and sexual diversities.
Before seeing his neighbours’ reaction to Carley’s performances on the street, Tom said he never could have imagined that a gender non-conforming person would be accepted as part of the community in Ewell.
Tom York said:
It’s mostly retired people in bungalows who live here. Not exactly the kind of people who are famous for having liberal, accepting, or forward-thinking views.
So to see such genuine warmth and appreciation for Carley was incredible. I felt overjoyed, proud, and quite emotional.
I wasn’t worried at all about getting a bad reaction from my neighbours. I’ve gone past that. Everyone here knows what I’m about.
I was more worried about the weather than people’s reactions.
It does mean a lot to know that I’ve got my neighbours’ support, and it’s given me a real boost and more confidence to want to keep on doing it.
The LGBT charity Stonewall defines gender-fluidity as a subcategory of the non-binary gender, which is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.
Watch Tom York’s short film – Carley – on YouTube:
I think Carley’s story shows that we are living in a more socially accepting world.
We still have a long way to go, but whenever we discover pockets of acceptance, especially in places we might not expect to find it, we must recognise and amplify it to help raise awareness and increase understanding and support.
The Rooftop is the home of good news worth shouting about.
It is funded by social enterprise Campaign Collective.