Name::straighttalker05 From::Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
I'm an avid dreamer. I have big ideas, and I'll probably take them somewhere. Watch this space.
I want to present what I think - and not with words minced up into an acceptable platter. Some things need to be told straight - particularly gay rights. Particularly life in the closet, it's very nature means no one hears it. If they do it's usually tinted with nostalgia.
I'm confident, I know what I like and what I don't. Please don't confuse this for arrogance. I'm probably more insecure then you imagine. View my complete profile
I out myself a little more every day. There is no one I can blame for this, because I know it’s my own fault, but I can’t quite restrain myself. Besides being seen as a bit of a gay rights guru, and a regular at the local gay bars, I do seem to make some comments that cause at best synchronised eyebrow raising.
Although I mustn’t apportion all blame to myself. I do think they provoke me, if they must ask my opinion on issues, I am the sort of person that finds it has to slip out between my lips, or I may explode.
Today’s ‘incident’ involved a friend who told me over lunch that she wants to go to a gay bar and kiss a girl, before telling the girl she is really straight. Innocent enough in her eyes, a strange fantasy if you will, but I can’t judge. This girl does have a boyfriend, even if she is slightly lacking a brain. I then told her I thought that was a pretty damn bitchy thing to do.
She retorts ‘but sure it’s only a club’. Which obviously shows something about either her previous experiences in nightclubs, or her conception of gay bars. Maybe she isn’t too far wrong, but from my point of view I’d be pretty annoyed if a girl flirted with me incessantly and then told me she was only messing with me. I told her this. (I just can’t keep my mouth shut sometimes).
I was then on a slight roll, and told her that gay venues were often as much a part of a community, where people feel they can be honest with themselves and thus, being messed about by a straight person would almost certainly end in very bad feeling.
I don’t think she really got my message. But one can but try. However her eyebrows were certainly raised by my ‘inside’ knowledge.
One thing is certain; I am one lesbian who won’t allow herself to be fooled by that particular hetero.
In a society which encourages us to wear the most popular labels, to shop in the right stores and to trust what we recognise, is it any wonder we hasten to label everything we see?
Labels help us to order things. One label is good and another is bad. In the same way our ancestors realised red plants were nasty, we give names to those different to ourselves so that we can differentiate between them and us.
Calvin Klein is popular, so we buy their clothes. Ikea is where everyone else is going for their furniture nowadays, so we organise Ulster bus trips over. Everyone else defines a homosexual woman as a ‘dyke’, so we must too.
The attack on labels is uncoordinated; some oppose them entirely, crying ‘labels are for jars!’. Others embrace them as part of our culture, ‘Queer and Proud’. Some are offended by the mere suggestion they are a ‘fag’, while others laugh it off.
I admit to it myself, I can call myself a dyke, but that is no one else’s place to call me, unless they are particularly close.
“It’s all in how you say a thing” says Robert Frost. It’s all in who says a thing. It’s all in how you label a thing.
A glance at the notice board in the sixth form common room in school perhaps betrays more about society’s values than you may presume. Admittedly the note which says ‘DO NOT LEAVE FOOD ON TABLES” is not hiding any profound meaning, however slightly to the right of this garish command is a far more exciting notice, or rather 3 pages of notices and an A3 colour poster.
Yes, It’s that time of year again – Miss Northern Ireland. An excited group of girls buzz around the normally empty wall to dream that they may be too pretty to bother with A levels like the rest of us mere mortals. The attached application form asks for ‘dress size’ – 14+ need not apply?
Yet, more exciting is the prise list, a brand new corsa, free manicures, free fake tan and hair styling for a year, free fitness and life coaching and 6 new formal dresses! Sign me up!
Sadly, underneath this loud notice (and generally unregarded by all) is a sad black and white notice, which obviously has no graphic designer on its team.
“Poetry Competition – Prize £40” __________________________________ PS. No offence to Miss Northern Ireland entrants. I'm sure you are all lovely people.
When you read this, you may think it’s “gay”. It just slips out sometimes, doesn’t it?
In Northern Ireland, perhaps more so than the rest of the UK, homosexuality is still rather taboo in education. Your teacher may blush at the very suggestion of homosexuality, and thus, homophobia is, sadly, rampant in our education system.
Take time to think on just how much homophobia you meet, however indirectly in the course of your day. Is the younger pupil in your way in the corridor ‘a fag’? The vending machine eats your money, is it ‘gay’? What you use a slang term may be potentially very damaging to your peers, not every person feels as comfortable in their sexuality as you.
Schools in Northern Ireland, by and large, ignore the slang of today’s youth. Sadly, in many cases, unless you have physical evidence of homophobic bullying, homophobia is ignored. It’s just teasing isn’t it? No one takes it seriously? Right?
Wrong. Granted, some people aren’t aware the potential mental damage they are causing to their classmates, or even their best friends. It sounds rather primary school, but how might you feel in their shoes?
If racism, sexism and ageism are frowned upon by our education system, I ask why our gay young people are being so failed. As many of our town halls (albeit grudgingly in some cases) welcome couples to partake in Civil Partnership ceremonies, why must our education system still be a trial for gay youth? _________________________________________ Picture by Rob Larrikin.
My history teacher is literally her subject. She teaches from a time before interaction, PowerPoint or computers. She talks to us, or more at us. When she said that some of what the press printed about the French Queen, Marie-Antoinette was just ‘truly horrible’, I decided to do my own research into this.
“The main theme of the attack is the portrayal of Marie Antoinette as a lesbian. The satire is particularly striking for exhibiting a clear recognition of a lesbian sexual orientation, which is variously indicated by terms such as "women of that stamp" "inclinations", and "a lover of her own sex…. At one stage the point is made that Antonina is bisexual, but throughout most of the book her passion for her own sex is shown to be stronger than her passion for men, and she is said to have deliberately disguised her love for women by taking men as lovers.” – Rictor Norton
So now I see why my teacher didn’t quite expand on the point. The eighteenth century press capitalised on irrational fear of lesbianism to demonise their queen. Perhaps this homophobia back then could help explain why France is still cautious with gay rights, their ‘civil union’ system criticised for not allowing gay people enough rights.
Homophobia as the root of the French Revolution? Far fetched I know. However, it is interesting to note just how powerful feeling against homosexuality was. Could homophobia really be a revolutionary notion? Some believe gay rights to be an ongoing revolution, so perhaps the radical right are running their own counter-revolution.
The example of France ‘back then’ causes me to wonder if homosexuality could cause the downfall of today’s rulers. Could a hate campaign against ‘Tony Poof Blair’ bring him down? I’m sad to say, probably.
Homophobia does drag us down, not just lesbians, rulers or Marie-Antoinette. It drags down society, it drags us all down.
One of the things I love about literature is the great scope to which it allows us to put our own life experiences into it so find an entirely different meaning to it. I like the way it encourages debate and the way so few words can change the plot entirely. However, it might seem others around me dislike my non-textbook ideas, as at A2 level, anything that isn’t on the syllabus is poo-pooed.
If you aren’t familiar with Edith Wharton’s “Age of Innocence”, I don’t blame you. It’s a tale of illicit love in old New York. Newland Archer marries May Welland, despite having much stronger feelings for her European cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska. The story line is too complex to write here, read the book is you so wish. In fairness it’s not a bad piece, but the continuous descriptive passages tend to make it a drag. Plus anything studied at A level is done to a brutal death.
So yes, as the only self respecting dyke in the class, I can’t help but find myself sniffing out the subtle undertones of lesbianism in my A level text.
“She paused. “I knew you’d been the one friend she could always count on; and I wanted her to know that you and I were the same – in all our feelings.”
What is so absurd of me to suggest that May Welland, the speaker above has just told Countess Olenska that she loves her? It would explain why the Countess Olenska then leaves so abruptly for Washington. Why she eventually moves back to Europe. Why May blushes in the presence of her cousin and her husband. May understands what is expected of her as much as her husband, why is it so difficult to imagine her also struggling against the tide of tradition?
In a book that serves to show that in the supposed “gilded age” of New York, things were not as “innocent” as they appeared, why is it so daft of me to presume that the female protagonist may not be as entirely straight as she appears?
In the 21st Century “Age of Innocence”, homosexual suggestions are non-textbook.
As the school yearbook is compiled (how very American), I am reflecting both positively and negatively on my time at school. I have been lucky in that I have not faced extreme bullying or hatred. I have tided myself along, in my opinion, well.
I write my page, which details my favourite moments and my most embarrassing moments, I can’t help but feel that even in the climate of reflection throughout the year, I am still different. My experience as a young gay girl fighting to remain in the closet and avoid suspicion does seem to have very different highs and lows to the rest of my peers.
I must envy those whose most embarrassing moment was falling off a chair in English in 2000, or spilling beans down their skirt in 1999. They all seem comparatively simple to me. As I was battling to contain my blushes in front of an attractive female teacher; they were doodling on their files. As I struggled to comprehend how I could be different, and why I did not find any of the boy bands attractive, they were happily singing those repetitive choruses to each other.
I crawl towards the end of my school career with a great heave of relief. I am not bitter; I have enjoyed my school life in many ways. However I will not be sorry to leave the tingeing memories behind me with the homophobic jokes.
The one school subject I have struggled with the most is not chemistry or French, it was studying the others around me to fit in. Not fitting in to make myself feel better – conformity is undesirable in my opinion. Fitting in to bide my time, to make it less painful, and to make it pass quicker.
In many ways my yearbook page reflects me well. Full of the pretences on which I have based my school life. It’s tempting to leave in a blaze of fire, replace my page of the yearbook with a declaration of my sexuality. Tempting, but impractical.
Yes, my most embarrassing moment was falling down the stairs in front of the headmaster. ________________________
Note: I highly recommend you check out the ‘Education for All’ campaign by Stonewall. It aims to tackle homophobia and bullying in schools.
Some may consider me paranoid. I play music on headphones loudly in study, not because I think people are whispering about me behind my back, but because I know they are. For some reason it’s easier to concentrate if you can’t hear them – they don’t go away, but I can at least block them out.
“I can’t hear you, I know you are still there but I have made the decision to ignore you.”
The ‘Above the Influence’ campaign asks if you are above the petty influence of peers who don’t have your best interests at heart – focusing on rejecting negative influences and being yourself. It’s easy for me to say now ‘I am’, but put me in a situation and I will find myself floating along the river without realising how deep I’m in. I’m lucky in some ways – my paranoia sometimes saves me because it forces me to reassess situations.
“No I don’t want to be with you because you demean me.”
Perhaps I’m too picky. There are few I count among my closet countenances. I don’t want or need to be the centre of attention. I don’t need praise from my friends. I do require a certain level and honesty. Once bitten twice shy. I may lose friends over my decisions to be myself, but then, what friends were they anyway. Those who I count among my closest would follow me I know. If others remain behind me, they are behind me.
“If you stab me in the back, I will not seek vengeance, I will keep walking.”
I’m not looking down on those who made different choices to me. They chose their road, and I chose mine. From my path I can see them clearly, and I am glad they are not my travel partners.
“Anything that makes me less than me, is not for me.”
New Year may seem an apt time to communicate a message of rebirth, new thinking and a clearer view. But I would prefer to be continually changing and learning throughout the year.
You’d think with homophobia you’d know where you stand at least. There is no disputing what someone thinks of you when they call you in no uncertain terms a ‘fag’. Admittedly it’s far from pleasant if you take it you heart, but it can be easier to shrug off verbal insults – empty vessels make the most noise and all that.
But what about the homophobia you can’t hear? That irrational hate that bubbles just below the surface is in my opinion much harder to judge. How on earth are you meant to know where you stand if someone is silent? You may be able to detect something amiss in their attitude, however the true depth of this feeling cannot be entirely judged by eyes or movement.
Sometimes it just feels like you have pen on your nose, tomato sauce around your mouth, or worse still highlighter on your cheek. The resulting paranoia is not just exceedingly uncomfortable for you, as you long to reassure yourself in front of a mirror, but also most amusing for the person whose problem is not with your outward appearance, but your inner being. This is inverted homophobia.
The danger of this insular feeling is that is often feels so much more poisonous. An enemy that is hidden is always the more deadly. Ironic, in a world where political correctness reigns supreme, ideas breed under the skin and can still hurt you if you notice them.
You can urge people to stop being homophobic. You can tell them it’s not polite to use such terms to describe people ‘different’ from them. But only by drilling the message truly home can hardened minds be hammered open to see the truth.
Maybe then people will see that diversity is not only part of living, but it comes from living.
Confused. This is what I am apparently. This is because I have volumes of gay friends. Of course, gay friends must be evilly influencing me to make me gay. Oh yes, and I talk about gay rights too much to not be confused.
Isn’t it most ironic that when I was confused, and I was exceedingly confused at a time, no one around me noticed any change in me? I was in a bad way for several months, not sleeping, under performing in school and generally living in a world of my own. Maybe they figured it was just teenage angst, but I have a sneaking suspicion they just didn’t notice. And now, when I have never been less confused, I get accused of being insecure and confused. Of course, my protests that I AM NOT confused fall on death ears. Obviously my persistence is yet further evidence that inside I am really tearing myself up.
I almost feel like getting married and having 2.5 children to prove to this excessive know it all that I am not currently confused. But upon consideration that sounds like I am confused. I think that she didn't notice when I was confused is testament enough to the fact she is wrong about knowing me so well.
If and when I come out to this girl, I can almost hear her singsong voice squealing ‘I told you so’. And when I tell her I have in fact been entirely sure and comfortable with my sexuality since I was 15, I am quite sure she won’t believe me. Persistence would just be evidence of me lying.
Newspapers and the like keep proclaiming that reality TV is dead. And yet it still seems to hanging around like 3-week-old haddock under the sink. Lives are no longer governed by months and years, but instead the continuing drudgery of the television listings. No sooner is ‘I’m not a celebrity please keep me here’ over, than Z Factor is starting, and who could forget, 3 weeks of more loosely termed celebrities in a house.
Has no one thought that reality TV actually died a long time ago? It’s all been replaced by spectacle and showmanship. I see little or no reality in showering in front of a glass screen before going to perform increasingly ridiculous tasks to gain money for booze. Well, perhaps there is some reality after all, but it is skewed by the personalities that dominate these shows. We all love to hate them, but aren’t we the ones who cry ‘They are boring me!’ when all they do is sunbathe?
The real reality is that we are entertained by drama. Why else would C4 invest so much time and money auditioning to find the most repulsive groups of people? Arguments make ‘good TV’, so sticking a transvestite with a high pitched giggle in a bedroom with a boozy lad must equal ‘must watch’ viewing.
And people think I’m sad because I liked period drama? Bring back the good old days before we were all deluded into thinking star quality was found in the most brash or fame seeking people on the street.
Big Brother is watching them, and sadly enough, so are many of us.
I’m apparently a fiery character. I know it myself, sometimes my temper gets the better of me and I rant and rage in a most terrifying manner. And yet I am really rather restrained, but mainly because of cowardice.
Today at lunch I foresaw the conversation getting onto dicey ground – men (or more specifically boyfriends). It seems to be a girl thing to compare them over egg and onion sandwiches, before competing to see which is the most romantic/boring/rich etc. Oh and of course, how many men we have all kissed. As a closeted lesbian, I find this most unjust. I just cannot compete in their stories of which boyfriend scored the most tries in rugby, because I don’t have one.
So I sit there and feel ugly. I think they regard me as the ugly boyfriend-less one of the group. If they took time to look up they’d realise I ain’t looking. However, if it makes them feel better about themselves, yes, I’m the ugly virgin.
This is when the little tantrum queen takes the stand. Clearly my women are JUST as romantic, and could probably score JUST as many tries in rugby. The number of men I have kissed if meagre, however if we talk about women I could give three of them put together a run for their money. I find myself bursting to come out with this, for a split second I want to be ‘one of the girls’. And then I remember, they are small-minded, small-headed idiots who couldn’t truly compare a lesbian relationship with there own.
I live in a different world. It is the only truly logical conclusion I can come to when I find myself telling someone about why youth apathy is counterproductive on many levels and am interrupted by an acquaintance with panda eyes, talking about how their mascara is meant to make their lashes twice as long, but really it takes two coats to do that, and then it clumps up.
Granted youth apathy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But I didn’t really expect my friend, who did instigate the conversation after all, to completely forget apathy in favour of the new Max Factor lip-gloss.
This drew me to thinking how ironic the subject matter was. Of course this didn’t entirely numb the feeling of rejection, but I overcame that by thinking how they’d look with 2 noses. They’re just lucky I’m mature enough to rise above them. Humph.
I don’t imagine myself on a wavelength above them. It’s strange how sometimes knowledge can make you feel aeons below others, and other times can feel so empowering.
Sometimes I just wish people would lift their eyes from… well… in this case their eyes, to see that vanity is the least of their concerns.
Welcome to 2006. Always a bit of a let down, we work ourselves up for some magnificent change, but in reality it’s just the same as any day. I’ve learnt if you want a change, you have to be the change.
I woke up on 1 January 2006 to remembering. I spend an awful lot of time remembering, thinking and digesting. In fact, I do it so often some people worry about me.
Memories make me feel big, and small. There are things I’m proud of, and things I’m ashamed of. Someone told me I should have no regrets and only remember the good things, but it seems the good things are the ones that will pass into obscurity. Besides, I reckon I might be quite hard to get on with if I lived on past glory. Memories keep me grounded.
The future is also unbelievably humbling. There is nothing to bring a lump to your throat quite like the confusion it presents. This time next year, I have no idea what I’ll be doing, where I’ll be. Change doesn’t necessarily scare me, but the passing of time does. I’m not worried about the future – just uncertain.
When you think about it – we are in a race with the past. Even as I type this, the words are moving into the past. I know that sounds terribly primary-school-history-teacherish, but it’s true. While the future seems daunting and long, when I reflect on memories it will whiz by in a blur.