RECAP: Factory Talk

When you don’t feel like you belong with the ‘straights’ or the ‘gays’, where do you belong?”

Told through the eyes of a young working class man, Factory Talk is a spoken word piece about identity, sexuality and self worth. Set in the industrial heart of the rural West Midlands, the piece highlights the masculine culture of the working class environment and its effects on the mental health, confidence and self worth for our young protagonist. 

For those who didn’t catch the screening as part of our Film With Pride programme, the poem begins by dropping us into the day of a young man working with his older colleague in a car factory. 

Clocking into the dated machine, the two men find their place in line, working side by side in the blue reflections of oil and steel. We see the rhythmic nature of the work, the never-changing routine of monotonous choreographed gestures, reflecting the stalled culture alongside our protagonist’s increasing boredom. 

Their task, pretreating parts ready for assembly, leaves room for small talk. Yet as the conversation turns to more than just bitter nostalgic mutters, our protagonist is left vulnerable; alienated by both his colleague and his own thoughts of guilt, self deprecation and invalidation for his identity and sexuality. His longing for belonging is made clear, but so is that of his co-worker in their own bid to cling to the thoughts and ideals that are known and safe.

Speaking of the film, Directors Lucie Rachel and Chrissie Hyde said: “Factory Talk explores real, perceived and internalised homophobia in the modern working world, highlighting the interplay of masculinity, class and bisexuality on self worth and mental health. 

“Both of us identify as queer and bisexual, with working class backgrounds, and have lived experience of anxiety and other mental health issues. The piece is based on real life events, taken partly from Chris’ experience of working in a factory where he worked alongside other men and felt the impact of being closeted and the isolation within a masculine working class environment. 

“For us on a base level, Factory Talk allows us to explore the moments where we notice our anxieties around our queer identities playing out in our everyday working lives, and how this impacts our self-esteem, confidence and self-worth. We want to highlight the prevalence of anxiety and imposter syndrome bisexual people experience navigating working class life. When you don’t feel like you belong with the ‘straights’ or the ‘gays’, where do you belong? 

“The expectation of rejection feeds an anxiety that filters through into every aspect of life. Talking about queerness alongside class and ‘Britishness’ is something we are both passionate about, from growing up in rural towns where coming out isn’t the same as in the bigger cities. 

“We hope that this film will continue dialogue about queerness and masculinity, intergenerational conversations about identity, and how socio-economic status can affect ability to openly talk about sexuality, gender and mental health.”