Finding Suburban Queerness in Essex

Cover art from Laindon 2 Maz Murray

Essex-based artist Maz Murray self-published the novellas Laindon 2 and 3 just a little more than a year ago the sequels to their 2018 short film of the same name. They follow the journalist Felicity on her perilous journey into the cultural wasteland of Laindon, Essex. There she investigates a mysterious portal inside a shopping centre scheduled for redevelopment. The portal connects Laindon to a queer utopia, a literal over the rainbow, where the striking miners were all retrained as renewable energy experts and all names are gender neutral.

When I read the two booklets, at the beginning of the first lockdown, I was not sure what to do with them. Not because they were difficult or inconclusive, but the fantasy of a queer community that was conjured up in the books felt impossibly far removed from a world where gathering in groups is both violently policed and publicly condemned. For all the justified discontent with austerity measures and increasing levels of inequality in the last decade and now that some have more free time than ever it suddenly seems that the only choice is silent compliance with healthcare guidelines, not public protest. If a trans tree falls in the woods and there is no one to hear her, does she really make a sound? Read more