OK, so... I eventually mustered up the courage to go to the Essex-based Women4Women (great name) drop-in – a coffee morning held every two weeks for lesbian and bisexual women. To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be like saying the Titanic hit a couple of ice cubes and took on a little water. I was A-mazed! Such a friendly bunch, and women of all ages – twenty-somethings, thirty-, forty-, fifty-, yes even sixty-somethings, and... one incredibly cheeky 89-year-old! I'm looking forward to getting to know her. All from completely different backgrounds, with noticeably different styles; but two things in common (well, three if you count the obvious): sense of humour and warmth. They were so welcoming, and immediately I was put at ease by their willingness to accept me and include me in their banter.
We all shot the breeze for a couple of hours, then a few decided they'd like to carry on chatting after the venue closed, so I joined them as they moved on to a local pub for lunch. Again, I felt completely comfortable with them, as if I'd known them for years - weird! Now, I know I shouldn't get too carried away - and past experience is telling me not to be so naïve as to take anything on face value - but I am feeling a bit hopeful about human kind after my two-and-a-half years of self-imposed exile.
And once I found out that there are quite a few members who regularly play pool and darts together... well, I was filled with more optimism right then and there! Does that make me a stereotypical lesbian? Oops. Then again, they do all sorts of things that mean just about anyone could get their fill of socialising – walks, cycling, meals, karaoke, parties, film nights, theatre, BBQs, the list goes on and on. Do I sound like I'm doing a promotion for them? Well, maybe I am!
If I'd known this wonderful, diverse, funny, kind, well-organised group of lesbians existed just around the corner from my house a couple of years ago, I needn't have spent so long sitting in solitude, doubting myself. And I'm sure there are plenty of women sitting around like I was, who would benefit greatly from making the acquaintance of these gals. So, if anyone stumbles across this blog and needs some socialising, I won't hold back from recommending them! Find them at: www.w4wessex.co.uk
Friday, 9 August 2013
Wednesday, 1 May 2013
Ok so... I went to see play a couple of weeks ago that has had me cogitating hard ever since. Put on by the third year students at Guildhall, my friend insisted I go along – firstly because she had worked on it and said that the students were brilliant; secondly because she said that the subject matter was extremely thought-provoking and controversial. That it certainly was...
I was aware of the incident around which the story revolves – that of the shocking hate-crime that was the torture and murder of gay 20-year-old Matthew Shepard in Smalltown USA in the late Nineties. I knew about it because of the Melissa Etheridge song 'Scarecrow', so-named because the boy who found Matthew 18 hours after his ordeal thought his slumped body was a scarecrow when he first saw him in the distance.
Basically, the premise of the play goes thusly:
“On 6 October 1998 Matthew Shepard was beaten and left to die tied to a fence in the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. He died six days later. His torture and murder became a watershed historical moment in the United States that highlighted many of the fault lines in American culture. A month after the murder, the members of Tectonic Theater Project travelled to Laramie and conducted interviews with the people of the town during a period of 18 months. From these interviews they wrote the play The Laramie Project, which they later made into a film for HBO. The piece has been seen by more than 30 million people around the States.” (Taken from the programme)
So, basically it's 22 people standing around quoting 69 people of the town as they spoke about their reaction to the incident. Now, thankfully an awful lot of locals learned from the situation, and changed their views about homosexuality and whether or not gay people are asking to be beaten and killed for the way they live their lives. And while some of the play was hard to swallow because of all the religious stuff inevitably tied up in it, there were some incredibly moving moments as a percentage of the population had their eyes opened and started to accept that homosexuality is not an illness nor a crime. Nor even a choice. However, my eyes were opened to a few things too, that have had me thinking ever since.
Firstly, if you have been treated like a mushroom your whole life (i.e. kept in the dark and fed a load of shit), then you could almost be forgiven for not realising that there may be opinions and beliefs that are different to yours and may not necessarily be wrong. For example, if you have been told your whole life that homosexuality is totally evil, then you may never take the time or have the inclination to question that. So I feel sorry for people in that situation, because they are born into a world of ignorance, well-and-truly behind the eight ball.
The second thing that hit me like a brick and had me sympathising with the person in question, was when the female police officer in the play pointed out that while this particular murder was definitely a hate crime and unquestionably completely evil; on the same day a fellow police officer had been shot and killed, and his story was summed up in a couple of paragraphs on page six of the local newspaper, while Matthew's murder took up the whole of the front page and sparked protests, demonstrations and outrage country-wide. The cop's murder was clearly a hate-crime, so why weren't as many people shouting about the injustice of the slaying of that human being just because of who he was? Hmmm, I have no answer, but it's got me really thinking that sometimes we in the LGBT community can be a little bit close-minded like everyone else. It's a horrible feeling to have your own selective self-righteousness pointed out!
If you get a chance to see the play or the film, grab it and let me know what you think...
Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Free at last, free at last, thank the Universe I'm free at last! Hmmm, now what? There ought to be a lesbian handbook I can consult that would tell me what to do when you split up and She-who-cannot-be-named gets to keep the friends – not that I would want them.
Anyhoo, it gets me to thinking – there should be a welcome pack awarded when you come out:
* k d Lang CD
* 'Bound' DVD
* Some dental dams (and instructions!)
* A bunch of takeaway menus
* Style guide (femme, stem, futch, butch, lone star, gold star, lipstick, chapstick, diesel dyke,
baby dyke, pillow queen, stone butch, boi, stud, lug, kiki, gayelle, etc. I mean, ffs!!)
* Packing boxes sporting a very large warning sticker if you've been together less than a
month that says 'Stop, put the boxes down, have a cup of tea, write a list of pros and cons, and if you still want to move in with her, DON'T – even if she's being evicted, has no money and none of her family will let her stay with them – there's probably a very good reason! Like deep down maybe she's not a very nice person.'
Anyway, all that's by the by, because here I am. At least I got two of the three dogs (stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason!), but I need some friends. Don't get me wrong, I'm super-happy to be single – having just gone through two years of a million reasons why you shouldn't be with just anyone to avoid being alone, but I would love to hang out with people of like-mind, i.e. lady-lovers.
I've seen lots of lesbians wandering around Southend, but I can't just saunter up to them and say 'Hey, you look gay, do you want a friend/dogsitter/project?' And I can't go to the local lesbian bar, because She-whose-name-shall-never-again-be-uttered could be there with her friends - not my kind of people.
So, to good-old-Google I turn. Upon doing so, I discover very, very few choices in my area. There is one – Women4Women – that sounds vaguely interesting. But am I brave enough to go along to an event on my own? Am I Heck! I'll either drag my straight friend (who's been showing signs of being bi-curious), or wait 'til one of my gay friends from London is visiting. I'm not going to get my hopes up though – it could just be a bunch of desperate un-dateables clinging to each other for grim death, or rather in mortal fear of living – gasp - alone.
Wish me luck and watch this space...