June 21, 2021 5 min read
One sunny Sunday in Amsterdam we caught up with Matthew Carney. Matt set up Knap.House as a platform for LGBTQI. Through Matt, we met with 3 incredible souls and basically drank wine, made content and lived our queerest lives for a day. In place of another generic rainbow print on a T shirt or similarly bland nod to pride we thought it apt to dig deeper. Have a read.
Knap.House - we love the name, explain your thoughts behind this?
A. Well, I knew I want to have a “house” as it’s a nod to houses of ballroom and drag houses, an important part of queer culture today and our history. These “houses” also represent community and family, which I want to build through Knap.House. Knap was a word that a friend put in a comment one day on an Instagram post and I was like that’s a cool word, so I google translated it, and it’s dutch for “handsome”, and voila - that’s how Knap.House was born.
Q. Well we think you're pretty Knap! Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your past, present and hopes for the future ?
A. Well, I was born in the North of England, very much being a “lad” in a working class town, and I had big city dreams - to move to London and work in a fancy advertising agency. I did that, but after a while moved to Amsterdam to re-balance, and finally “come out” as gay and started to pursue acting whilst keeping a foot in the ad industry as a freelancer. Through both advertising and acting, I felt increasingly a part of a really inspiring and creative community in Amsterdam. And besides the day jobs, I’ve always loved being in the clubs, being a part of nightlife, and basically enjoying all the best of creative culture. This love for nightlife, acting, and just creative culture in general, took me to LA, Berlin, Mexico, partying and meeting the most amazing queer people. I realised more and more my friends and community were very queer, and increasingly I was way more comfortable identifying as queer. For me it’s a less binary way of existing when it comes to gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. It is also a space and lived experience that sits outside the heteronormative mainstream. That’s where I am now and heading in the future, living my best queer life, and disrupting the advertising and performance industry through Knap.House. Queer culture is a powerhouse.
Q. Wow, we couldn't agree more. The history of pride is one that not maybe everyone knows about. We are just used to rainbow parades on the canals and almost a commercialised version of Pride. Can you give us a bit of history to widen our perspectives?
A. Pride is recognising LGBTQI+ history and the impact LGBTQI+ people and culture have had on the world. Within that, there are key moments and movements in LGBTQI+ history we highlight at Pride, like the Stonewall riots, gay liberation, marriage equality, trans rights, the aids pandemic…the list goes on. Pride is also country and even city-specific because each country and even city has it’s own LGBTQI+ history and of course people can recognise and celebrate. On a global stage Pride Month occurs to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969 in NYC, a huge moment in the gay liberation movement, led by a black trans activist woman, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, to name a couple, there were others who played their part.
Q. How do you think society and businesses can be more inclusive to LGBTQ communities?
A. In society, there should be more visibility of LGBTQI+ people in all aspects of culture, from education to media, to sports, to film to tv, for a long time it’s been a predominately heteronormative (and patriarchy) view of the world played back to us. We should make society safe and comfortable for LGBTQI+ people to be able to publicly express and celebrate their identities, whether that’s a same-sex kiss or dressing “queer”, or preferring to be referred too as they. All these ways of being should not put us in vulnerable positions, which they often do. We need to protect and create more support and safety for the most vulnerable people in the LGBTQ+ community, black trans, sex workers, kids who are disowned and abused by their parents.
In terms of business, it has been very closed to non-heteronormative lifestyles for a long time, so expressing queerness, or being trans is still a challenge as it can feel like it does not align with the traditional view of “professional business codes” basically men in suits. The creative industries are way further ahead, but still, there’s; not enough of the more marginalised people in the LGBTQI+ community (black trans) being in business leadership positions. Even men wearing nail varnish in a business context is shocking for many, which is kind of stupid.
Q. Which LGBTQ creators are inspiring you right now
Q. How do you feel about intersectionality. Do you feel like environmental issues and LGBTQI issues are linked?
A. Ok, intersectionality, well I feel we all experience a scale of privilege vs oppression. Some are pretty much all privileged ( white straight males from a wealthy background) and others are oppressed (trans black queers from a poor background). Intersectionality is of course complex when you layer religion, age, (dis)ability into our identities and lived experiences. However, there’s a lot of data to suggest, that if you are more oppressed in cities, for example, you are more likely to live in conditions and environments which will lead to illness and shorter life expectancy, and it’s really sad to think that something as simple as being in nature and having free leisure time (basically a fundamental of wellbeing and mental health) is just not even an option for the most oppressed and vulnerable people in our societies. We need to continue fighting for equality to break the current privilege vs oppressed system, through movements like BLM and Pride.
For environmental issues and LGBTQ I + issues, basically, there is profit and prejudice over people, in most countries, and this position is the dominant one! Caring for the environment and marginalised people (LGBTQI+) is not perceived as good for business usually, but it takes time and investment to undo all the damaging and toxic systems in place. Also, the LGBTQI+ community has always been challenging the dominant heterosexual lifestyle, which is scary for business, and unfortunately, pound and dollar signs are still only attached to the dominant heterosexual lifestyle, but just watch, the marginalised are rising and glowing up, to create equality, not another dominant position, but EQUALITY. And respect for the environment and nature also comes with this mission for equality.
Thank you Matthew, for these nuggets of wisdom. We feel schooled and wish you all the best with Knap.House. Keep up this (damn) important work. For more information head over to Knaphouse now
Photo Credit @Irena.Nila
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