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Queer Shame

Dear Friends

I was planning on writing about Pride and Stonewall and the queer events I’ve been to this month. I’ve seen wonderful things – a panel about the importance of LGBT bookshops and the Trans Equality rally both at Scottish parliament, as well as an interactive workshop and a rainbow soiree; I also performed for the second time at Category’s ‘Read For Your Life’. I loved those events. I really did. But my heart isn’t into talking about them right now.

What I really want to talk about is my heart. Or more specifically the way I constantly ignore it.

I’d also like to talk about queer shame. (I know it’s Pride but I don’t always feel proud – plus it seems to be a recurring theme in my novels – Vicky’s embarrassment about her desire in VRPJ, and Allen’s mortification at his lack of desire in Kingstreet – I thought it was time I put my hand up and said ‘me too’).

Sometimes being queer is fucking hard. I don’t mean because people are especially vile towards me (there have been a few candidates over the years that I would happily hit around the chops with the vegan equivalent of a kipper). Often it’s the micro-aggressions caused by other people’s ignorance that get me – the admin workers who insist you pick male or female on their incredibly reductive form, or the long-term friend or family member who takes umbrage when it’s pointed out to them for the fifty-millionth time that they’ve used the wrong name or pronoun for you.

Don’t misunderstand, I love being queer. I love queerness. I love my queer pals. But sometimes I wish I could just pick a gender (any gender) and act ‘normal’. But that’s exactly what I’d be doing… acting. I tried that for years and it didnae work.

Recently, I had a meeting with a social worker so that I could be assessed to see what help I might need as a person with a disability who was living on their own. (I thought maybe an occupational therapist, or someone to liaise with the job centre about permitted work, maybe even an access to work grant so that I could pay my PA to travel with me to all the book festivals and events I keep getting invited to but have to turn down because I can’t access on my own.) Nope. The woman I met was very nice – honestly she was – but she seemed fixated on my trans-ness and instead of simply asking me to reiterate my pronouns (something I’d already done via email), she spent the bulk of our interaction asking me to explain non-binary identities.

I wasn’t annoyed. (Because I’m numb to cis-het folks asking intrusive questions.)

Well, maybe a wee bit annoyed. Maybe, when she announced, ‘but obviously you were born a girl’. I wanted to say, ‘I was born a baby actually, and obviously you need diversity training’. I shut my mouth though, because I didn’t want to offend her.

And that’s the problem with my poor, wee, anxious heart – it’s constantly silenced. It’s told that what it wants and needs and deserves isn’t OK in the eyes of the majority.

I’m absolutely not saying my life is shite. It’s definitely not. I’m particularly happy at the moment as it happens. It’s just that I spend so much of my time swallowing down what I really think because I don’t want to cause offence to anyone.

Well, fuck that… fuck that very much.

From now on, I won’t be performing politeness at that expense of my own mental wellbeing.

That’s kinda all I wanted to say.

Till next time.

Much love


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