Queer Diary is a night which invites LGBTQ+ people to read from their teenage diaries (or teenage poetry, or fanfic, stories, etc) for a live audience!
Reading your teenage secrets might sound scary, but it can be hilarious, exhilarating, and empowering. It can be nerve-wracking, but is a wonderful chance to feel seen and recognised, to connect with your younger-self, and bond with each other.
It's also amazing to hear your own words alongside other people's. Some of our experiences will be eerily similar, but many are as vastly different as we all are from each other. In sharing, we want to celebrate all of our queer coming-of-age journeys: our moments of joy, discovery, resilience, passion. We also revel in the 'boring' detail! Sometimes a rush of nostalgia feels most potent when we're reminded of the banalities: what song we were listening to, what we ate for lunch, what the weather was like in the particular time or place of our formative years.
“It's like that ‘Mortified’ podcast, but all queer!!!” - Audience Feedback
In 2020 Queer Diary events started on Zoom, supported by the QAF Space online queer community.
Since April '22 we've been hosting monthly Queer Diary nights at The Common Press in Brick Lane.
We also sometimes host Queer Diary pop-up events in other venues and festivals, recently including: Omnibus Theatre, Clapham (96Festival, 2021 & 2023), Stanley Arts, Croydon (Queer History Month, 2021), Matthew's Yard, Croydon (Croydonites Festival, 2022), Gala Theatre, Durham (Durham Pride, 2023), DINA Sheffield (2023), Bank Vault Aberystwyth (with Aberration Events, 2023), Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate (2023), and Blundabus & Pleasance, Edinburgh (Edinburgh Fringe 2023).
Email us if you'd like us to bring Queer Diary to your area.
Queer Diary is hosted and founded by Beth Watson, and produced by Josephine Shipp. Each event raises funds for Beth's autobiographical show Hasbian (which is based on, you guessed it - a teenage diary), and for LGBTQ+ community organisations focussing on supporting youth, community and education.
Wanna join the fun by sharing something?
Still got questions?
Frequently Asked Questions
I don't have anything to share! Can I just watch/listen?
Yes! We need an audience for this event to work!
Anyone can book to come and be in the audience.
To be kept updated with the latest Queer Diary event dates follow us on social media:
What are the events like?
A Queer Diary evening usually consists of 2-5 people sharing (who have signed up to do so using the form) and 15-40 audience members.
It's hosted by Beth, who also usually shares a couple of diary entries, and creates a friendly atmosphere for participants by chatting to the audience.
It's an informal space with NO pressure whatsoever to participate/share/join in, except on your own terms.
The aim of Queer Diary is to create a fun, relaxed and inclusive social space for celebration, connection, and solidarity for everyone in the room - whether you're sharing something or just watching/listening.
Feedback from past events:
"During lockdown, [Queer Diary] created a little safe space.
I had a good laugh during these and felt like we could all relate to something we shared.
I was nervous but quite glad I got to read this in front of a live audience.
I’m so glad I got this opportunity to share my story and receive such support from the people who popped up watched and read."
- Amandeep (via instagram)
“A fun, friendly sharing where we can pretend to be shocked at everyone else's adolescent high jinks. Very welcoming to all identities.”
“It'll prove that you weren't as weird as you thought you were - or that we're all as weird as each other.”
"It was a joy to be a part of."
Am I "queer enough" to take part?
"Queer" is used here as an umbrella term for everyone who is not heterosexual and cisgender (it's also a neat pun on "Dear Diary").
We will NEVER police how you identify with queerness, or question where you sit under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.
You are welcome here!
I didn't know I was queer til late in life / didn't write about "queer stuff"
Can I still bring something to share?
Yes!!!!!!! All queer/LGBTQIA+ life-experience is valid. We want to include it all.
Whether you came out of the womb waving a rainbow flag, or are still thinking about how you identify.
Whether you wrote about every crush in intense detail, or mostly wrote updates about your favourite TV show.
You don't need to have known you were queer. Your sharing does not need to be about queerness.
Does it have to be a diary? Can I bring something else to share instead?
Yes! We're very open to you sharing any writings or artefacts from your teenage years, childhood, or youth.
Examples of things people have brought before include:
- Songs, poetry, fanfics, plays, or short stories written when they were teens.
- Love letters, emails, messages - handwritten, printed, or dredged up from the depths of the internet*
- Video clips or audio recordings
- Sketches, collages, scrapbooks, collections, clothing, photos, GCSE art work.
If it's not a piece of writing (ie. you bring a drawing or a t-shirt) then we might ask you to "show and tell" the item, to provide some context. You might want to share a memory from that point in your life.
*if you had Livejournal, MySpace, Bebo, Tumblr, see if you remember your old passwords!
The Internet Archive Wayback Machine can also be very handy in finding your old stuff online
I have something but it's not from my teens - can I still take part?
"Teenage Diaries" is a guideline. We're not strict!
Some people discovered sexuality or gender in their 20s, rather than their teenage years, so like to bring something from that time, as they feel it better reflects their "coming-of-age" experience than their teens.
Some people bring diaries from their pre-teen years, because they wrote something really funny or sweet when they were 10-12.
It's all good.
We just ask that it's written/created by you, and from your past.
Is this a performance night?
Can I bring something I've written recently?
This is NOT a professional performance night.
If you're a performer, and want to read something, you're very welcome, but please bring some raw teenage writings, NOT your regular/rehearsed stand-up/spoken word set (even if it's ABOUT your teenage years).
We're NOT a space for rehearsed, edited, pre-prepared "material".
If you have anything to plug that may be of interest to Queer Diary audiences, then you're welcome to do so - just let us know!
Is this just for nostalgia-obsessed narcissistic millennials, or can older people share?
Queer Diary is for all (adult) ages!
Our history is too often hidden by cis-het-patriarchy, so we love to hear about queer lives across generations. LGBTQIA+ Gen-X & Boomers are very welcome at Queer Diary! Fellow millennials, please tell your older queer pals/mentors/parent/grandparents, etc.
Is this suitable for people who are currently teenagers?
Not as participants. Queer Diary is a space to share stuff from your past, not your present.
Our readers are adults getting a kick out of sharing their inner-most younger thoughts with an audience of peers - long after they've grown out of that stage of life. If you're a teenager yourself, you're probably too close to the material to have fun doing this!
We advise that this space is likely to sometimes contain content that may not be suitable for under-16s, so please use your discretion if you have young people in your life.
My diary is a bit depressing - is that OK?
Let us know if your diary needs any content warnings, or is serious/intense/sad in tone. We will hold space for you, but always need to make sure the audience knows what to expect, and that you're taking care of yourself.
We try to fill Queer Diary nights with a balance of different content, and we welcome teen angst as much as coming-of-age joy. If you're sharing anything serious in tone, please let us know so we can take it into account when planning the evening.
When deciding what to share, please check in with yourself, and set your own boundaries.
Consider whether you are comfortable bringing up old emotions in a public space with strangers, and think about how to care for yourself before, during, and after reading - especially if you're touching on anything sensitive.
Diary-reading can be cathartic, and the support of a room full of friendly queers can feel healing as well as fun, but we're NOT therapists.
Please also consider our audiences.
If your teenage diary contains offensive language or discriminatory ideas about others. If you go into details or write long passages dwelling on extremely intense or triggering topics, please use your discretion when choosing what to read, and think about whether you need to do some editing.
We recommend using post-it notes to remind yourself to give content warnings, or skip certain words/passages.
What kind of content warnings should I give?
Warnings may include:
References to sex, violence, mental or physical health, death or grief, food or body issues, abuse of any kind, slurs or out-of-date language, drugs, alcohol. Anything you can think of that might be sensitive or triggering.
You may also want to include spoiler warnings if you're talking about movies or TV, just in case anyone's not up-to-date!
Let us know what might come up when you fill out the participation form, or email email@example.com
We'll have time to chat before the event to make sure you and our audience feel safe and confident with using content warnings.
I'm shy but want to share!
Can someone else read my stuff for me?
We can read for you - and keep you anonymous, or name you, whatever you prefer. It's 100% your choice.
However, in our experience, these things are usually best read in your own voice.
If you're hesitant, and want us to help ease your nerves by having a chat beforehand, or having a practice reading for 1 or 2 of the organisers, let us know. We'll have your back!
Is this a paid gig?
This is a just-for-fun opportunity to for a bit of queer bonding. We're not looking for professional 'performances' and this is NOT a paid gig.
However, we're keen to make sure everyone who wants to share is able to take part, and has the most fun night possible, so we cover expenses for anyone participating by sharing something at Queer Diary.
This could mean covering transport, refreshments, childcare, postage if you need your diaries sent to you, etc.
We budget for up to £20 expenses per participant, but you can request more, if it's what you need to take part.
How long should I read for? Is my diary/poem/fanfic too long/short?
As a guideline, most people share between 5 and 10 minutes, but we're quite flexible.
Please let us know if you only have a couple of lines to read, or if you're likely to run over 10 minutes.
It's usually fine, but it's important that we know, as we need to take the length of each sharing into consideration when working out how many we can fit into one evening, and when to have a break, etc.
If you run over your agreed slot this may impact on other participants.
Please be considerate of others by taking time check the running time of your reading beforehand.
Can you accommodate my access requirements?
Let us know if you want to take part OR attend as an audience member, and have specific access requirements that need to be met for you to do so. We'll do everything within our means to make it happen.
We're continually asking for feedback and making adjustments to ensure we can welcome as many people as possible, and we are writing access improvements into our budgets and future plans.
We keep our booking pages and social media updated with announcements about each event, and will let you know in as much detail as possible about access in our venues, and if we've been able to hire BSL interpreters, live captions, AI captioning services, or audio-describers.
We ask all readers on the open mic to audio-describe themselves.
Wherever possible we seek out venues that are step-free with accessible toilets, and parking, as well as ensuring the spaces we visit are safe and welcoming for the whole LGBTQIA+ community.
Is this event trans-inclusive?
Yes, this is an absolutely trans-positive event.
Your pronouns, names, and any experiences you share will be 100% respected.
We make sure there are gender-inclusive toilets in any venues that host us for in-person events.
Let us know if you have any concerns/questions about gender-inclusivity at Queer Diary.
Is Queer Diary recorded? Is there any chance my secrets will get out if I share something?
We don't record online/live-streamed events.
We ask for your privacy to be respected by audience members, so no one should be recording you!
For in-person events, we may take pictures or record clips for publicity purposes, but we will always inform readers about this and ask consent before taking or sharing any photos or recordings.
Queer Diary is a public event with an audience.
We ask our audience to be respectful of reader's privacy, but due to the informal nature of the events, we have very little control over how they use their phones, or what they might tell their friends or write on social media about the readings. So far, our audiences have been universally friendly, respectful and kind, but please keep in mind that anything you choose to read will be in a public space. This is something you might want to particularly consider if whatever you're sharing is personal, secret, or involves other people.
Some readers like to change the names mentioned in their diaries to protect the anonymity of their teenage friends/crushes - it's totally up to you if you want to do this!
Did you steal this idea from that other event/podcast where people share diaries?
Yes, we're unashamedly inspired by another night called 'Dear Diary' (hosted in London & Edinburgh Fringe by Helen Black), hence the name 'Queer Diary': it's a tribute to the great time Beth had reading at those events. We just added an LGBTQ+ community-focus into this tried-and-tested formula for fun.
People keep mentioning a podcast/radio show - this isn't a direct inspiration, but sounds fun!
I love this! How do I get involved?
Just fill out a short form! Someone will get back to you.