In the early 80’s, I remember visiting an elderly gay man at the General in Leeds. Staff looked on disapprovingly, for the truth was, it wasn’t only me, but a ragtailed posse from our local gay pub, who socialised outrageously around Leeds City Centre, mainly on Saturdays. I remember how lonely and forlorn, he seemed, and I realised that I knew absolutely nothing about him, bar his name: “Horace”.

At the time, I was totally lost about my identity, although self-identifying as a lesbian….and it took me until 46 years of age to find it. What really helped was reading the stories of other ftm guys. There were bugger else info, when I were young.

I shall be exhibiting at the Hebden Bridge Open Studios event at the Methodist Church Hall this July 7th- 9th My main featured works are the series titled The Life and (St)- ages of the Rainbow King. They comprise of the original painterly series and “pamphlets”of images and words (poetry and/or prose). They tell a life story of an older member of the local LGBTQ+ community, who due to scant information, found their identity (possibly?) too late.

The story is about a lifetime’s emotional response to the situations, in which they have found themselves. There is no dwelling on prurient detail, which has for so long been used to objectify the trans person. The urgency for this kind of work increases daily, as anti-trans articles appear every day and are being adopted by the establishment as proof of the need to silence us all, scapegoating us as a distraction from the dire social issues affecting this country, and, similarly, around the world. Those who are young, in the generations to come, will need their stories, too. It is not a life choice. We are born this way.

Please, come and join me and see how you might share your stories, too.

Mark King is an expressionist portrait painter. They have an MA in English Literature (University of Leeds), a first class BA Hons in Fine Art (Bradford College), and a long service award (Calderdale MBC) for working in mental health in the Halifax area, during which they “transitioned”. They continue to feel passionately about antidiscriminatory practice, having attended and led seminars about its many concerns. They are currently disabled with life-limiting chronic health problems, which further add to the sense of urgency. Conversations and Q/As are welcomed. Through such discussions we can learn so much, and lest we forget, Knowledge itself is Power.