Don’t Keep Straight

I burned out a bit this week with a second week of recruitment interviews that frankly left me staggering around like a well-past-best-by-date zombie. Hence no updates for a few days, because I could barely function, let alone get creative, by the end of each day.

I’ve had a bit of sleep now.

Something amazing that did happen at the beginning of the week was that I ended up being the unexpected guest blogger on the work intranet. This put my face on the front page, talking about Surrey Pride. This will take place in September 25th in Godalming, and I’ll both be in the parade, and attending with the rest of the polycule.

The other half of the article was about what I ended up calling my Equalities Journey (mostly because that was the draft file name as we scrambled to meet the deadline). While most will have read it and passed on, there have also been a scattered few lovely remarks – and a request from the Surrey History Centre to add it to their LGBTQIA archive.

Not only did they ask that, but they said if I had anything else I’d like to write for it, then they’d be happy to take that too – so I said I’d have a look at things I’ve written here and would repackage some of the appropriate content for them, as well as add whimsy and thoughts along the way.

All of which leads me to this blog, where I’ve spent a morning driving my niece and Lady M to Chislehurst Caves for a visit. With a rainbow headscarf holding her fringe back while she talked about a girl in her class and their girlfriend, she was relaxed and happy.

Meanwhile, the satnav kept telling me to ‘keep straight’ on the road – and although the urge to call out ‘I can’t do that’ never passed, it kept happening and it felt more and more tiring and frustrating to keep saying it in my head. Although not the aim of it, it did start to feel a metaphor for bi-erasure: “Keep straight, keep straight. For another five miles, keep straight.”

It was exhausting, and I felt I couldn’t say anything. While it might have been funny the first time, by the third, fifth, eleventh, seventeenth time it was a mindless litany of call and mental response. Keep straight; can’t. Keep straight; not in your dreams. Keep straight; oh give over, I’m switching you off. Beep.

If only there was that option in real life – and yet, I get that I’m in a minority and that the default societal mores and expectations have nothing to do with a satnav device. And yes, it’s picky, but representation matters. Language matters, being able to say no matters.

Well, that all got a bit serious, didn’t it?

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