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Chris Collett

Chris Collett, born 1977


Chris Collett is a 30 year old gay male. In this interview he talks about drama groups he has been involved with. He also talks about two gay youth groups. Chris also mentions gay bars used by the youth group in the late 90s.


Drama Groups - 10 20
Coming out to parents - 15
GAPP - 20
Attitudes to mental health and psychiatry - 15
Youth Groups Maypole - 30
Youth Groups Nechells- 40
Going out on the scene - 50
Route 66- 35
Peacocks - 35
Jester 50
Rent boys 50

10 Early Drama Groups

Chris talked about the drama group that he was a member of at the age of about 14 years. The group took a production to St. Davids in Wales. At the age of 16 Chris became a member of the Midlands Arts Centre Youth Drama group and did a couple of shows with them.

About 13 years ago (1994) Chris joined a gay drama group which operated at the Wellington Pub. This was a gay venue and the drama group rehearsed in the top room. He doesn't remember the title of the show but does recall that the show was videoed.

15 Coming out to parents

"I went to London Pride in about 1996. I had a wonderful time, I was not out but picked up loads of pamphlets and magazines as you do. Came back home and hid them in my bedroom and my dad found them, we had a big argument and he wanted me to see a psychiatrist. I quickly went back into the closet at that time, I denied it all but I came out again about a year later. Although my parents never discussed my sexuality it was not hidden away, for instance when I have lived with boyfriends, they and other family members will come and visit."


The most important drama group Chris has belonged to is GAPP ( Gay And Performing Proudly) which Chris joined about 9 years ago (1998). The group was created by an American named Tim Miller. These days GAPP meets at the Birmingham Rep and is funded by Healthy Gay Life. Some of the productions that Chris has been a part of have been produced at the MAC; a show was also produced in London in a performance pub. GAPP is part of the alternative theatre scene. The group has also made appearances at Pride; one year opening the festival by putting on a show in Victoria Square prior to the procession leaving. In its early days GAPP's membership was mainly older, and rather 'camp' men but it now consists of women too. GAPP is one of the community groups involved in the very successful Birmingham Opera Company. They provide the actors for the shows and are about to perform in the National Indoor Arena in Graham Vick's Verona production of La Traviata. (Autumn 2007) In 2000/2001 GAPP was granted the use of the bar room at the Birmingham Rep. Steve Ball was influential in arranging this. GAPP advertise for new members in gay magazines and press. The South Bank Show on ITV filmed the members of GAPP in gay clubs, during their production about the Birmingham Opera.

30 Nechells Youth Group

"When I first came out (1995) there was one gay youth group that used to meet regularly on a Saturday at a youth club in Nechells." The age range was from 16-30 and it was a mixture of male and female. Lots of people were coming out onto the scene for the first time. They used to meet at 2pm for a few hours then the older ones went to the bars in town.

35 Peacocks and Route 66

"After gay youth group on Saturdays, we used to go to Peacocks. This was opposite New Street Station where Debenhams in the new Bullring is now, next to a club called Tin Tins. Peacocks was dark and dim, it had a reputation as it was next to Tin Tins, it was not too well kept, a bit seedy. We used to take over the top floor. Route 2 was another venue used. Early evenings it was used by younger people and older men would loiter around. The boys felt safe when they were in a group."

40 Maypole Youth Group

"Later a second group was created and it was called the Maypole group, they used to meet at Barnado's on Broad Street on a Wednesday. Gary Palmer, a teacher, and Ken Simon, a social worker, ran the group. There was also a woman called Cat, but I don't know her surname. I was with that group from the start and they had an age range of 16-25. We did workshops on things like confidence and socialising also, we played pool and video games."

50 Going out on the scene

As he got older Chris wanted to go out on the adult scene. He knew very little about gay venues but bravely he went to the Jester on his own. He was picked up by an older man who introduced him to the gay youth group. The clientele at the Jester was mainly older men and rent boys, but it felt very relaxed and safe. The Village, too, had good vibes although Chris doesn't remember the clientele there as he mostly talked with the bar staff. At this time Chris was still young - 18 to 20 years old. (1995 - 1997)