The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at last
We have not reached conclusion, when I
Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last
I have not made this show purposelessly
And it is not by any concitation
Of the backward devils
I would meet you upon this honestly.
I that was near your heart was removed therefrom
To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.
I foolishly used the photograph of the pride flag flying above the FCO in 2014 as the featured image for my Palimpsest post.
No pride flag flew over the Foreign Office this weekend.
Perhaps in the end that is fitting? Palimpsest, n. something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.
The fabric was not there, but FLAGG, and the CSRA were both out at the parade. I parked my bike inside King Charles’ Street before walking, sparkles and rainbow facepaint firmly in place, to Trafalgar Square. And although the FCO had no flag, the MoD, Cabinet Office, Admiralty House, and all three Intelligence Agencies did; flying alongside the Union Jack and the Armed Forces flag (Pride and Armed Forces Day coinciding this year). Paraphrasing the Terminator, it will be back.
This positive outlook came at the end of a difficult and complicated week (with both fantastic and terrible events worldwide). I know that there are many who will disagree with me (for so many reasons), but this is my experience. A personal prejudice shaped a powerful statement. One which said (quite loudly, if silently) that difference is not acceptable.
I am so tired of this.
On Wednesday I was saddened by the decision not to support LGBTQ* people, and by proxy, anyone who is different. A friend saw by my face that I was not my usual self, and suggested coffee. We talked and got angry/sad/happy, and came up with plans to keep doing what we love without getting undermined by all the ‘isms’ and ‘phobias’ of intersectionality. I headed back, feeling buoyed by those goals and by friendship in general, if still quietened by my thoughts.
Then I was noticed by the hater.
A person, lets call them Mx Dummkopf, came over, and under the pretence of proffered friendship, attempted to undermine me completely. I use the word ‘attempted’, not because they didn’t completely undermine me in that moment, for that day and week, but because in the long run, these are not the people who will shape me.
With a smile, and chocolate (I have to say, that just made it so much harder to find anything to say in my own defence. I was flabbergasted. It felt like being back at school/university/other jobs all over again), it was suggested that I should look for other work, although *insincere laugh* maybe those who put me forward for the job would have to pay back their bonus then? I don’t remember the order of the conversation, I was too busy trying to decide whether it was a practical joke or if I had somehow gone back in time to high school on the prairie. But I was told that I would ‘fit in more’ if I stopped doing sports and being active, if I stopped going to cultural or literary events, and that I should definitely stop inviting people that I know or work with to said cultural events. ‘They don’t like it, don’t you understand that?’ I tried to say that some people I know really like the theatre, and come up with plans themselves, but I was cut off. Maybe I could start watching more television? (that was actually said). In addition, if I could learn to not work hard, and go out for drinks more, I would definitely be more popular. Oh dear. I have been trying to stay away from these people since the first thing really said to me when I arrived was ‘you’re wearing that?’, but I was in the wrong place to defend myself. They can smell weakness.
I’m sorry, are we 12, and have I ever demonstrated a desire to be ‘one of the popular girls’?
<— hint: this is not me. I apologise to anyone that was under the false impression that I am some sort of princess/well dressed sex goddess who goes to cocktails and champagne fountained parties every day. Ummmm. I am not those things.
I was told that those around me, and those with whom I may work in the future, would hate me and ‘get pissed off’ if I did my job too well. As this was said a few times, the underlying implication appeared to be ‘they are already pissed off at you for doing your job well’.
COME ON!!!! REALLY???
There was more, but suffice it to say that I just went home. I was sick; ennui of the soul, and I slept on the couch so that I would be surrounded by the sounds of the city, drowning out my thoughts. Besides being upset at the implications of what had been said, I was angry with myself for being upset. I was furious that words from someone I don’t even like could have any impact on me at all. And I was tired. Tired of people who cannot celebrate others’ difference and ability. This was more than one small minded person. The hatred of the whole world weighted on me in that moment. I was tired of those who still (has this EVER worked????) believe that by undermining others they will do better themselves. Tired of operating in a context where women with goals and drive are somehow not right.
35 years of people telling me not to be different. 35 years of the most amazing friendships being with those who ARE incredibly different and either proud of it, or just quietly living their wonderful lives. 35 years of being impressed and influenced by those who think against the flow, who don’t just float along or be drawn like sheep. 35 years of living life in technicolor, with the resulting ups and downs, difficult moments and heartswelling beauty and astonishment. Why on earth would I turn to boring mediocrity? If those are the things that I would have to do in order to get people like you to like me, I will follow your list to the anti-letter, in order to avoid just that fate.
You, Mx Dummkopf, are not going to undermine my life with your tired tropes and boring, hate-filled-smiled-words. I am so good at getting up again, you cannot even imagine.
Anyway, back to the beginning. Covered in rainbows and sparkles I volunteered at London’s Pride march. As expected, it was fabulous. Dorothy and all her friends were there, and (mostly) everyone was just lovely.
Let us not lose beauty in terror.