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Islay – arrival

June 16, 2019 2 comments

Unprecedented for a “two go on an adventure” trip, it is not sunny. Soon after the ferry left kennacraig the rain started, and now an hour after landing in port askaig, its still coming down. The weather definitely made our planned long trek to an claddach this evening much less appealing, more so when we clocked a cosy bar/hotel at the harbour. I was feeling shy but, buoyed by our previous experiences on islands, we went in and asked if there was anywhere close by they could recommend to pitch a tent. Immediate friendly response from first son, then mother (who runs hotel) was to check if someone was already there, and then invite us to pitch on the grass next to their little concrete slipway in front of their house, behind the hotel!

And so what seemed initially like a bad beginning to our adventure turned into a heart-warming reminder of how lovely folks are away from “civilisation”. After pitching our tents we went into the general shop as I needed to get some waterproof tape to fix a rip in my backpack. It was a shop that sold one of absolutely everything. Another customer bought cat food and party balloons. And we were offered a camping spot – we explained we were fine and turns out he’s the husband of the hotelier.
And thus the first 3 Islay folk we met all went above and beyond, volunteering information in order to ensure 2 strangers had somewhere to sleep, even when we already did!
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Categories: politics

Healing from PTSD, emotional numbing and disassociation. Newly experiencing grief, Day 5.

January 10, 2019 1 comment

As my PTSD and disassociation subsides, I am rediscovering feelings and emotions. I lost a dear friend, a sweet sister, to suicide at the weekend. This is my first bereavement in years, and the first I have actually gone through any proper grieving for. For the dear dear friends who died before, my numbing just deepened and I struggled to cry at all.

So I feel like someone plunged into the ocean, having never been to the seashore before.

The waves keep washing over me, though their hues have changed over the days. Initially the rawness was frequently tinged with denial. I felt that I could return to some previous saved game state and alter her passing. Telling someone about her death, talking about her in the past tense, even using her name in a facebook post made it too real and was to be avoided. But then the reality would hit, and tears would flood out of me, accompanied by guttural moans. It almost felt like being possessed, because of how involuntary this was.

Before I began my healing journey I would do anything to avoid letting these feelings out, for they felt bottomless, that they would overwhelm me, and the vulnerability was terrifying. Additionally, many of the times when I would have felt distress and sadness in the past it was not safe to do so, because I was still around my assaulter, or because I was in warzone. I got very good at pushing them down. However a few years ago I realised that it had become impossible to filter which emotions I could suppress, and I was losing the good uns with the bad. I was not experiencing life because it was all grey without emotions to colour it. In order to feel joy, I had to feel pain. And I made a conscious decision that I would begin opening myself up to those feelings too, and trust that I wouldn’t lose myself forever in a pit of despair, but that my body and mind would find a path to stumble through to some other side. I began to cry. I’m still not good at it – like an immobilised muscle that is very slowly strengthening I can manage only a few minutes at a time and feel utterly exhausted afterwards. But I don’t fear feeling it anymore, as I know there will be another side, and it will probably be a washed clean (temporary) peacefulness.

And so now when I feel the buildup of pain, I let it come. It is still a conscious effort, with me telling myself over and over “it is safe to cry, it is not a burden on whoever’s around me, it is consented to, it will pass and there will be another side” until the tears finally, blessedly, break and I’m engulfed. Which feels weird – instead of pushing pain down I am facing it head-on. No longer am I fleeing from my own shadow.

Observing, as well as experiencing, grief, here is what I have noticed.

When I’m depressed I comfort eat. In grief I am having to make a conscious effort to eat at all. And when I do, its been easy, moist foods. A friend cooked soup for us on Monday, and otherwise its been beans on toast, boiled eggs or cereal. I think the difference is that when I’m depressed I feel empty of feeling and so hunger and eating are louder and more compelling against that flat landscape. In contrast, ear-splitting grief drowns out other feelings and exhausts my capacity to feel them. There is no satiation in eating, no pleasure of taste, and little hunger drive. I understand better now why so many cultures and religions emphasise the importance of bringing food for the grieving.

I was due to work a 12 hour shift the day after finding out about her suicide. My first impulse was to keep that shift. I need the money, but that was just an excuse. I realised that the “new, post-PTSD, me” correct decision was to cancel it and prioritise self-care and grieving. Additionally would I have the concentration required to safely give out medication to patients? It was the latter that sealed my decision. And I went to Edin instead to spend the afternoon with 20-30 of Danielle’s friends. This was definitely the right thing to have done. I was making her death real, being around people who were also mourning her, sharing memories, making sense of what had happened, and crying, a lot, in public (unprecedented!). I went home exhausted but was aware of how healthy and necessary the day had been. Refusing to let myself grieve for those I’ve lost before has not kept them with me, and nothing will bring Danielle back.

Emotions come in waves, lasting from minutes to hours. None lasts longer than that. Initially frequent visitors included denial, anger and guilt. Gradually they have been replaced by deep sadness, missing her very much, and slowly accepting that she did what she needed to do. I feel these one or two in a row and then go to “numb” as some kind of emotional refractory period.

Sometimes I don’t want to talk about anything apart from Danielle. Other times I need a break from that. She is never far from my thoughts. But I don’t want to share them always. I am super lucky to have been with people who have been open to hearing, but not been pushy if I don’t want to talk about her. I’ll be thinking about her, but talked out, and not want to explain whatever is going on in my mind.

Last night I even went out on a date. I warned the person in advance about what had happened and that I would be subdued. But I honestly felt that I needed a break from constant 24/7 grieving. I needed daylight and fresh company and a change. I was very lucky that my date was familiar with grieving processes and a total sweetie about it. I have been having a big family crisis as well, and that was also on my mind. But it was a relief to at least partly get away from all that.

Today I crashed again though. As if the sadness that didn’t express itself for 12 hours or whatever had time to make up for. I still feel like taking that break and going outside of myself for that time was healthy. Pre-new-me would only have done that – kept myself busy and distracted and with a full to-do list and schedule. However I think a little of that is probably necessary.

For my own reference as much as for anyone who’s managed to follow my stream of consciousness this far, here’s what I wrote on facebook about Danielle.

CW: transphobia and suicide
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My heart hurts. You have left a unique, unfillable space in the universe. I’m glad I got to know you, and had you in my life. I wish you could have internalised how much love there was for you, and I’m furious at a transphobic world for making your life so much harder. The world was not ready for you, and you suffered for that. We, and the world, suffer for losing you. You will be dearly missed, sweet sister.
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On Friday the world lost a wonderful, unique, beautiful person. And, in large part, it was transphobia that meant she could no longer face life. It was having her gender questioned and doubted and fetishised and mocked in popular culture, and most painfully of all, amongst those that pre TERF (TERF is someone who is anti trans people, but claim to come from a progressive, feminist, perspective) wars, she would have thought were on the same side as her, as an Anarchist.
 
I hope to write a longer post once I have recovered from losing a beloved sister from my life, but in the meantime, please do one thing in her memory.
 
Offer a hug to a trans person, or someone else who faces structural prejudice and oppression. Remember you are doing it as an offering to them, so please do it in a way that does not pressure them – some people don’t like touch, or only on their terms. I suggest the phrasing “Would you like a hug?” and genuinely listen that they actively want that.
 
And whilst I’m at it, please remember that it shows care and respect to ask someone “What pronouns do you use”, and, inevitably when you get it wrong (as everybody does at some point) “Sorry, she/he/they” and continue with the conversation. Remember most importantly, when you get it wrong do not turn it into a big deal where you are apologising and explaining so much that they need to comfort you, when you were the one that trod on their toes! “Sorry” and move on is all that is required.
 
But back to our dearly missed, sweet sister Danielle. She is not with us because the world is transphobic. When we argue with those who use language that insults, minimises, fetishises or stigmatises trans people its not just an abstract political theoretical debate. These things matter. Real people suffer. Their lives are made unliveable. And we lose dear people from the world, and from progressive political movements.
Categories: politics

Aird arsaig to leverburgh via tarbert and beaches. Outer Hebrides day 5

June 30, 2018 Leave a comment

Beautiful spot to waken and breakfast, on the tip of the little peninsula.

Next stop tarbert. Pretty port village. Stopped at only place we could see and struck gold. The bar at the hotel at the port has amazing food and pot of tea for 2 was £3! My burger was freshly made in house. Very very yummy. And we charged phones and hand washed a day of clothes each too.

The local shop didn’t have camping gas, and hardware shop closed as its the weekend. We have the Kelly kettle as well as the gas stove so its not an emergency. Did restock some food.

I struggled with the next hill – I think the burger was sitting heavy in me, and for 1st time this trip I had to push up the hill! Landscape now mountainous with lots of small lochs and rocky outcroppings. Apparently was the setting used for Jupiter in 2001!

Down off the higher ground to the coast, and stunning white beaches. Swam in the clear water, mountains and islands all around coming out of the blue ocean.

At the entrance to a campsite we were beckoned to a burger van by the scent of frying fish and enjoyed a super good Cullen skink and then outstanding fried locally caught herring and mackerel coated in oatmeal.

More miles of stunning coast, machair, beaches, flowers, cliffs, and interesting sea, feature rich with islands and peninsulas.

Tonorrow, the uists!

Categories: politics

Stornoway! Western Isles cycle day 1

June 26, 2018 Leave a comment

Off on installment 3 of “Two go Island Hopping” with E, my semi regular partner in crime. Been wanting to get to Outer Hebrides for years, and finally yesterday I saddled up my noble steed for 12 day trip. Deliciously familiar to have camping gear, food for 4 days (we’ll restock as we go) and feel that sense of self sufficiency, independence, and awaiting to find what adventures are around the next corner :)

Managed to get cheap trains to Garve, but only by leaving Monday evening. So we stayed in a cheap hostel in Inverness and I popped across to the shop so we had 6 boiled eggs for breakfast! Very very crowded train took us to garve for midday.

Very hot with slight headwind cycle across from garve to ullapool. The pub we were planning on a tea and ice cream break was closed so we had to manage it all on the 2 cups of tea we’d had at breakfast!!! O_o

E’s fitness and cycling endurance continues to improve and she is a much stronger cyclist than our previous trips. The route was very scenic but the traffic was fast and not always good at leaving us wobble room as they passed.

Ullapool is pretty village making the most of its stunning location in a bend in a sea loch. And the cafe gave us a free tea refill after we glugged down our pot!

Newish ferry now doing ullapool Stornoway route. Very swish observation lounge. Which was good as there were lots of cetaceans to observe! Harbour porpoise before we’d gone far. And multiple dolphin schools leaping and playing, especially as we got closer to Lewis. Shared experience with all the other excited observation lounge occupants as another dolphin was sighted.

Bought some bread in the co-op which do actual reductions with end of day bread at 10% of original price. This place is so civilised!

Now in pub in Stornoway. We only count having been on an island having consumed something on it, so this is our official arrival on our latest archipelago. And it seems great so far :)

Categories: politics

Sex work as a choice people make in trying to survive capitalism within a sexist, cissexist, racist society.

January 27, 2018 1 comment

I would have to think hard to count how many of my friends either do now, or have done, at some point done sex work. and almost all of them are nervous about letting people know because of how judgemental folks attitudes towards their mode of surviving capitalism, sexism, cissexism[0], racism and other intersectional[1] oppressions are. there’s so much shame around it :( so much whorephobia. stereotypes of sex workers as naive, immoral, vapid, stupid, vulnerable, unable to make decisions about their own bodies. as if every person surviving capitalism doesn’t have to make hard choices and compromises about what they do with their time, energy, mind and body in order to pay their rent and bills. and for many this is literally the best choice for them. does the person cleaning toilets get same judgements?

I felt it strongly around the comments about that ukip leader’s racist girlfriend. so many of the articles and comments seemed to centre, and be titilated, that she worked as a glamour model. because that brought in people’s prejudices and stereotypes. here’s an easy exercise – be honest with yourself, and imagine a glamour model or other sex worker. think about what you think they are like, what their background is, education level, interests, knowledge of current affairs and politics. their sexuality and how (outside of work) consent to sex would be likely for them.

now know me. think about what qualities you think i value in friends. and take i have upwards of 30-50 friends who i know to do sex work now or in the past. there is huge variety in the sex work my friends do, but a lot of it is that most stigmatised as “street prostitution”[2] and it definitely includes “models”.

and all these interesting, smart, wise, clued up people who are my friends have taken the decision that for them sex work is the best way to survive capitalism and all the intersectional[1] oppressions.

i mean i wipe people’s bottoms for a living – does that seem any better? ;p

To survive in capitalism means having to have some level of income. And we all make compromises about what we do with our time, bodies and brains in order to get that income. None of us would keep working in the way we do if we got a windfall. We’d probably still want to do something meaningful, and maybe that would mean volunteering somewhere. But it would be different to what we do for work right now. Because we are forced at some level to do that work because we need to pay the bills. We make a choice (ideally) from within what society offers us in the way of work. Many of us have multiple options, and from within that we choose based on the payoff (wages) vs the hours, arduousness, how interesting the work is, how much it fits in with the rest of our life etc etc. For some people the best choice for them is sex work. That gives them the best payoff, and they maintain some degree of freedom and ability to control how and when they work. They are choosing between all the work options they personally have and deciding that sex work is the best out of those options.

Think that sex work is degrading? First off, why? Is sex innately degrading to those on receiving end (ie mostly women or men who “bottom” for other men)? And anyway lots of people’s jobs involve tasks society has deemed degrading. What about cleaning other people’s toilets? Or the way service sector workers are treated?

Feel that nobody would choose sex work as it is dangerous and harmful to sex workers? In that case why would anyone ever choose to work in “forestry, farming and fishing” which has highest incidence of workplace injuries in uk[3]?

Sex workers must be stupid? Brooke Magnanti (Belle de Jour) is an easy counter example[4] as someone who started in sex work to support themselves through their PhD. Or countless of my friends. Again, who do you think I have as friends? There are countless sex workers within that population.

What all of the people I know who are sex workers have in common is that none of them are white, cis, middle class men. Almost everyone I know who is a white, cis, middle class man has a reasonably paid job that he chose to do from amongst many *career* options. And note that even the fact that he got to have a career is notable – that implies some level of interest. Do you think your supermarket checkout assistant chose that because they’re super fascinated by the price of groceries? How many middle class, white, cis men do you see cleaning toilets or stacking shelves for their working lives?

Can you accept that because of how intersectional oppressions operate within our current society, many people don’t have huge numbers of awesome, tempting job options to choose from? And within that, sex work might actually be the best choice for them?

So given all that, can you become aware of your prejudices about sex workers? About who they are and what they’re like? And then think about how that prejudice, if unexamined and unchallenged, might spill out into comments you might make about sex workers. And then how this could project shame and judgement onto sex workers, when actually they’ve just found the best way they know to survive within capitalism and a sexist, racist, cissexist society.

 

[0] how society is set up to take the gender of those who are not trans (ie you, if you’re not trans) as more real and valid than a trans person. and therefore all the shit that trans people have to go through. its similar to how sexism treats all women.

[1] intersectionality is how one person is affected by all the different oppressions within society – class, racism, sexism etc. so for some oppression they might be privileged, but they might be oppressed by another one. for example a working class, white, man who uses a wheelchair is oppressed because he’s working class and disabled, but is still better than a black woman in the exact same situation. but worse off than a middle class man in a wheelchair.

[2] though mostly they don’t do it on the streets anymore due to how the internet has changed how sex workers meet their clients

[3] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belle_de_Jour_(writer)#Career

2017 personal retrospective

January 1, 2018 1 comment

This has been a year of reassessment of projects and priorities, personal development, and reshaping of what I put time and energy into. Much of this is ongoing, rather than neatly concluded in time for a new year’s retrospective. But I feel at peace with where I am right now and that I am midway through a lot of current personal projects and reassessments, and that’s ok.

In May/June I had an unpleasant debacle with a flatmate who was moving out. Mostly I haven’t discussed this publicly, and (being a believer in drama minimisation and not dragging people into fights where avoidable) I’m not going to give much of the details from my point of view in this post. However they did decide to bring a lot of mutual friends into our disagreement, lied and misled them* and some did decide to make judgements purely from listening to their side of the story, and are gone from my life. Additionally they weaponised an internal grievance procedure and have (at least temporarily) got me removed in a particularly nasty way§ from the local political organisation (Glasgow anarchist federation) which I have been a member of for 10 years.

Overall I feel super positive about what this has resulted in however. A lot of people were super there for me, and I feel my friendships deepened, and I lost some crud. Like many things that you fear, once you actually are in them, its oddly liberating. They tried to cause maximum damage to me, within the small subculture we share (radicals and queers in Scotland and wider). And that kind of playground politics I hate and dread, yet I actually found an inner strength and peace even in the middle of it. An acceptance that the people and groups who want to believe I’m some greedy landlord can ostracise me as they like, but that I have enough inside me, and wonderful people around me, to keep on keeping on. I feel more free and light because, not despite, the entire fiasco.

Politics

The ex-flatmate clusterfuck, combined with a bunch of thinking and feeling about politics to lead to a major and ongoing reassessment of my political activism and commitments. I’m still going through it.

This year has seen TERFs in UK increase their visibility and organising to attack trans rights, specifically the gender recognition act. They had an anti-trans intervention at the london anarchist bookfair and a bunch of nastiness and splits have resulted when even folks who are not anti-trans didn’t understand the necessity of challenging TERFs and removing such oppressive politics from our spaces.

However even without all that, I’ve been feeling a need for reassessment on what I think I should be doing politically. The context is so so dire (climate change, wars, brexit, austerity, racism, militarised borders), whilst we have hopelessness and inaction in the wider class. So I have resolved to spend this externally imposed break from the group I have been most politically active in for 10 years in order to do some reading and thinking and discussing what is useful for me to do now in order both to alleviate some of the suffering in the world as well as challenging the root causes. Climate change is particularly urgent and important but I as yet have no clear idea what to do, and that is one of next year’s priorities.

Open University

I have started studying again, because I enjoy and miss it. Open University courses are fully funded in Scotland and I’ve been loving the level 1 maths course I’m doing, and plan to do more. I am looking at doing various maths, physics and electronics modules, not for any formal qualification (I already have a masters…) but because I love learning.

Psychotherapy

I am not closeted about my mental health so if you feel uncomfortable reading about such things, look away now!

I have variable mental health, probably related to various traumatic incidents that happened over my life including sexual assaults, 4 months in Palestine with 2 friends killed in front of me, violence of the police / state to me and those close to me, and awareness of horror in the world; the deadly, man-made brutality of borders killing our fellow humans for the crime of being born elsewhere, climate change, the occupation of Palestine, disregard for human life or any accountability for man-made disaster in Bhopal that is still causing suffering over 30 years on.

My GP has been great – very supportive. For several months when I was unable to work due to PTSD he signed me off, and has also referred me for help when I’ve needed it. However even though I rarely have acute symptoms anymore, my life is a balancing act and my mental health is a major reason I only work part-time. Also I suffer from chronic insomnia, poor memory/recall, emotional blunting, and “brain fog”. During Vince and my otherwise amazing LEJOG bike ride in 2015 I resolved to start “feeling” again as I felt like life was happening without me being in it, or remembering it. So I returned to my GP for help. When a short course (12 weeks) of counselling only started to touch on helping me, I was passed on to a more long-term service. Since May this year I have been getting weekly psychotherapy which is open-ended (initial time-frame is 2 years). It has been very intense and difficult and draining. I am super lucky to have amazing support from loved ones during this challenging time.

Psychotherapy reminds me a lot of the physiotherapy I had to have after my 2008 shoulder (rotator cuff) operation and subsequent 3 month immobilisation. I dreaded physiotherapy sessions – it was painful to slowly stretch open those muscles and ligaments in order to regain mobility and function. And like going to a gym, for couple of days after psychotherapy I am drained and achey and need rest.

Its definitely having effects, but I can’t yet see the end result. I can feel that things are happening and changing. I have decided to trust the process and give it time and energy for 2 years. Its a big commitment – I am arranging a lot in my life to make this happen. But the alternative is wasting this only life I have. Also I have the ability to put this time aside because I have some financial and temporal wiggle room after fulfilling my weekly commitments. So here goes!

Niblings

I have a brand new nibbling! She’s a cutie. I now have four! Thanks siblings! :) Being an aunticle is very cool. This year I’ve had more time with the 4 year old, and the beginnings of building an independent relationship with one of the eldest with whom I had a fun day out. Trouble is they’re all the way down south, so this heavily constrains how much I can see them. One of my 2018 resolutions is to see them more often.

Personal relationships

I continue to be polyamorous with multiple sweeties in my life. There have been some comings and goings during the year, which all feel right and true to who we are. I feel super blessed to have wonderful delicious humans wanting to be close to me <3 <3 <3

Travelling

Due to weekly psychotherapy I have had to curtail travel plans. I am still managing 3-4 monthly visits to see long-term lover in San Francisco bay area, mostly arranging them for when therapist is away or clinic closed anyway.

I had a fabulous 10 day cycle trip with awesome pal in Shetland over Summer solstice.

Other trips this year have been 2-4 day mini breaks close to Glasgow, eg Arran.

I feel a huge pull to be out exploring the world. Whilst I am having to hold off on that, I am saving into “future travel” bank account so that as soon as I can, I can fly off again! I want to feel the wind pulling me over the next pass, not knowing what I’m going to see next, what’s round the next corner. Free and living moment to moment to feel and experience and see as much as I can.

 

 

2018 resolutions / plans

  • See more of my niblings.
  • Continue to read and think about radical politics and what is useful to be doing.
  • Fitness / upper body strength.
  • Continue studying – currently looking at maths, physics and electonics
  • Finally get that ham radio licence!
  • Flat decluttering and address hoarding issues.
  • Continue to commit to psychotherapy
  • Multiple walking/biking/camping trips to explore Scotland
  • Continue to save money into both rainy day and future travel funds. 2017 was the first year I had to raid my rainy day fund (when ex-flatmate fucked me over) and that emphasised importance of having one.

 

new-year-sms-greetings_650x500_81514437324

 

* Ex flatmate claimed I evicted them by changing the locks on the flat. Omitting to say that:

  1. They hadn’t been paying their share of the bills for 18 months
  2. They’d become aggressive with me in April, and when I told them to not shout at me again (by email as this felt safer) they handed their notice in giving 2 months notice and asking me to write a letter evicting them so they could access social housing (I did this but only stated a moving out date, not that they were evicted)
  3. End of May, after I asked them where their share of May’s rent was they told me they were withholding it, leading to major financial repurcussions for me. They claimed I owed them money for the short amount of time they were contributing to council tax, ignoring the 18 months they hadn’t paid anything, nor that they had never given anything for broadband
  4. I changed the wifi password and asked them to stop using my kitchen stuff. A week later, whilst I was at work, they moved their stuff out and were not in the flat for 2 weeks.
  5. Early June, as they had not paid rent for well over a month by this point, and were due to be moving out a few weeks later anyway, and believing they had moved out as they had moved their stuff out, and the huge strain on my mental health that having this malicious person have access to my home was causing, I changed the locks and prepared to move on with my life.
  6. They then told people including my housing association, that I had illegally evicted them.

 

§ By email I was told I was to be removed from the group, and that the conditions for re-entry were to apologise to my ex-flatmate, and to lose the secure tenancy I have with my housing association. There has never been any criticism by them that ex flatmate unilaterally stopped the mediation process the group had initiated between us and had decided that instead of looking for resolution, they would to try and get me removed from the group for this personal dispute.

Categories: politics

On not being closeted, the privilege to be out and open, and the resultant deweaponisation of “shame”

January 1, 2018 1 comment

lonely_closet_m65_b1_f6In multiple aspects of my like I’m privileged that I don’t have to be closeted. That’s partly a conscious choice; years ago a concerned lover tried to get me to edit down my social networking profile in case those I was involved in campaigns against (city council, rightwing popular media etc) tried to publicly smear me for being polyamorous, queer and kinky. I decided that if this did happen, I could and would stand up and say “yes this is me and I am not ashamed of the things I do with other consenting adults”.

Trying to hide these aspects of my life makes me more vulnerable – to blackmail, to being “outed”, to having to think before I post anything as to whether I am revealing secrets I need to keep hidden. I feel more in control of my own life by being out. It feels like one less weak spot.

Also it is a political choice to take advantage of my relative privilege and personal circumstances in order to be a part of de-stigmatising and re-humanising these identities. I don’t have children I fear I could lose. I am in a unionised workplace. I have a secure tenancy. I am not financially, or otherwise, dependent on my family. I could come out and feel ok that anybody who thus rejects me is someone I can live without.

There is one big exception to my personal openness – I am not out as polyamorous at work. I am consciously closeted about that. Not being straight is fine for me in my workplace – in fact I seem to code as queer so I have to actually come out as someone who also dates men rather than as simply gay. But non monogamy is definitely something I hide, and on the rare occasions when its accidentally come out – because I’ve slipped up and revealed conflicting details about “my partner” triggering questions – I’ve felt ostracised as a result.  Also I don’t talk about being kinky with most people anyway, as its mostly inappropriate to share bedroom activity details.

I’m writing this now as I’m doing a 2017 retrospective and I realise that some of the things I’m writing about are to do with my mental health, which is another stigmatised condition that I am lucky to not have to be closeted about. In general I can be quite private, but especially having realised that me being open about my mental health has helped allow others to talk about theirs, I am consciously talking about it. After all, if it was the year I’d had my big shoulder operation and had to spend 3 months with my right arm permanently in a sling, I would mention that. Why not that I’ve a long-term mental health issue which I’m having treatment for?

Anyway, I totally see it as a combination of my privileges to be out. That I am able to be independent and have arranged my life to not be at mercy of anyone else’s judgements, as well as to live in a time and place where it is safe to be open about my sexuality due to generations of brave LGBTQIA activists. So cheers to everyone who gave me the ability to not have this burden and vulnerability of being closeted, and may I use it to help others who are not so lucky.

Categories: politics