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Umbrellas of Love! / 27 June 2014

Photo of poets Vince Laws and Trudy Howson, pictured naked, surrounded by 100 white umbrellas, ready to be painted

Photo of poets Vince Laws and Trudy Howson with 100 umbrellas, ready to be painted. Photo (c) AD Thacker

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I want to highlight homophobia in the Commonwealth during the forthcoming Commonwealth Gaymes in Glasgow, July 23 - 3 August, 2014, so I've invented Umbrellas of Love!

There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth, and in 41 it is illegal to be lesbian, bisexual, or gay. In 7 Commonwealth countries I could be imprisoned for life for being myself, and in 2 countries - in parts of Nigeria and parts of Pakistan under Sharia law - I could be executed because of who I love and who loves me.

I decided to paint the names of the 41 countries in blood red on white umbrellas and get them seen during the Commonwealth Gaymes. Because I'm a penniless poet, I appealed for donations to create Umbrellas of Love! and soon got enough to do all 86 countries around the world where homosexuality is illegal.

I chose umbrellas because they are light and easy to carry, lots of people can get involveduseful if it rains or gets too hot, and because the Commonwealth is like a giant umbrella, only some people aren't allowed to step under its protection. Each umbrella will have a giant letter on it, so collectively we can spell out: LOVE IS A HUMAN RIGHT, NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL, WE ALL BLEED RED, LOVE AND LET LOVE, and COMMONWEALTH GAYMES, among other things!

I'm currently designing and painting the umbrellas at my rural Norfolk home. Once painted, the Umbrellas of Love! will be sent to Glasgow, where Amy McLachlan Sayer will organise a photo-opportunity or two, probably at Glasgow Pride, and during the Commonwealth Gaymes - get in touch with Amy if you'd like to be involved in Glasgow.

After Glasgow, the Umbrellas of Love will appear in the Norwich Pride Parade on Saturday 26 July - get in touch with Vince if you'd like be involved at Norwich Pride, or for any other info.

Thanks to everyone who has helped. Over 30 people chipped in and raised over £500 to make Umbrellas of Love happen, I'm very proud of that.

Glasgow contact: amymclachlansayer[at]
Artist: vincelaws[at]



Keywords: commonwealth games,gay and lesbian issues,hate crime,performing arts,positive activism