Swingerella, alter ago of Birmingham mother-of-two Andrea Smith, attended Pride after reportedly being driven out of India (Photograph: Adam Yosef)
Swingerella, alter ago of Birmingham mother-of-two Andrea Smith, attended Pride after reportedly being driven out of India (Photograph: Adam Yosef)

Birmingham Pride 2016. In truth I was supposed to be somewhere else – in India helping the acid attack survivors share their stories.

It’s been my dream all year to meet the Sheroes. Dreams don’t come true. You know that right? I was chased out of India a week ago for performing my show Swingerella’s Dark Fairytale – a show about surviving rape and domestic violence.

So here I am. Birmingham Pride 2016. Yes I look fabulous. Yes everyone wants a selfie. Yes I am ‘cute’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘brave.’ Yes. Yes. Yes. I should be proud.

In truth I am not.

Swingerella will be fighting back the critics by attending Birmingham Preide this bank holiday weekend (Photograph@ Andrea Smith)
Swingerella hoped to fight back the critics by attending Birmingham Pride over the weekend (Photograph: Andrea Smith)

LGBT. Birmingham Pride celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans culture. It’s the biggest celebration in the UK. It’s loud. It’s colourful. A bit like me. But it has cracks. I can see them.

Since returning to my beloved Brum – a city that I championed throughout the week on a global stage – I have yet to receive a sheroes welcome. In fact it’s been quite the reverse.

I feel like the one no-one wants to pick for their team in P.E.

According to the Birmingham Mail, the city is ashamed of an ‘indecent female drag queen in knickers.’ Well that’s what the front cover seemed to suggest and really who reads any more than that?

I’ve also been collecting comments from the LGBT community like fag butts: ‘You are misrepresenting the trans community’, ‘You can’t be a drag queen. You’re a woman’.

Even worse, it seems, that until I label myself as a lesbian, I can’t be part of the LGBT at all – this gloriously proud movement. Who knew? The straights are no better, but at least that feel less like a betrayal.

‘What the fuck is IT?’ is a common rhetorical question into my face along with the slightly less aggressive, ‘So let me get this straight. You’re a woman dressed as a man dressed as a woman, right?’

Swingerella with news presenter Andrew Stelly at Birmingham Pride (Photograph: Adam Yosef)
Swingerella with news presenter Andrew Stelly at Birmingham Pride (Photograph: Adam Yosef)

In fact, I am impossible to label – and I think that’s the way Pride should be. To me, looking on as the outsider I have reluctantly become since India, I think Pride has lost its way. My sexuality should not be a barrier or a passport to voicing and promoting equality. Why is some of the LGBT community insisting on labelling, dividing and protecting their small segments?

Pride 2016 leaves Swingerella more than a gender mongrel. She has become a rescue dog of a woman. She prowled around Pride 2016 looking for her pack. Hoping to belong. She wasn’t asked to perform because, in truth, where does she fit?

Swingerella on Hurst Street, attending Birmingham Pride 2016 (Photograph: Adam Yosef)
Swingerella on Hurst Street, attending Birmingham Pride 2016 (Photograph: Adam Yosef)

She pulls apart everything she sees with such raw truth. She’s not the generic Vengaboys. And she would never lip synch to I Will Survive. But survive she does – even when I try to kill her off.

The WEF conference in New Delhi hit back at me a few days ago, saying I left India through shame. ‘She must have felt bad.’ They were wrong. I don’t feel bad. I feel proud to be free with a voice so powerful it belongs to no one. I want to belong. But maybe rescue dogs never truly do.

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You can find me online at www.swingerella.co.uk, and on Twitter and YouTube.

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Swingerella

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Swingerella is a comedienne, compere and self-proclaimed “Goddess of Fabulousness” who is currently campaigning against domestic violence as part of the Goddess Foundation. You can follow her on Twitter @Swingerella.

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