Long Days

I’m still, in some ways, processing the death of Queen Elizabeth and the change that brings to the sensation of what I’m calling the touchstones of normality. That said, my work has required me to be involved in making sure that protocols and agreements are rolled out effectively in how my libraries operate and communicate at this time.

There’s nothing outrageous, just a lot of communication and relaying of questions up and down the chain – and thanking everyone working for me for their hard work and resilience during some fast-changing times.

That’s partly why today I herded the polycule all into one place so we could just spend some time together at Geek Retreat to chat, gossip, and support each other. One touchstone may have gone, but we have each other and the affirmation of being in each other’s company as another touchstone.

Tomorrow will be a quiet day of recharging batteries and, for me at least, some prepping of options for the D&D game in the evening.

Camberley Pride

I was wearing three metaphorical hats today and no physical ones as a sunny day dawned on Pride in Surrey at Camberley’s Recreation Grounds.

Eight in the morning saw me assembling the library stall as part of a wider group putting together stands in the Surrey County Council marquee and there was very little let up from that point.

My metaphorical hats were those of being one of the Library Group Managers, of being co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Staff Network, and part of my extended polycule as we coordinated various vehicles and modes of transport to get there. Somehow the plate spinning didn’t get out of control and I was able to slip between the competing roles with ease, which was helpful.

The whole day has been amazing – a much bigger site than last year at Godalming and thankfully all on a level rather than the entertaining slopes we coped with previously. The route of the parade was also far longer, weaving through the town and shopping centre before heading through residential streets to the park. Barring one very small group of teenage boys trying to be edgy we also had nothing but support and cheers from the crowds who had turned out. If there were counter-protestors (as had been threatened) they didn’t disrupt or dismay anyone.

Instead I was able to support colleagues, network with politicians and other organisations, mind our library mascot for their appearances, and still spend time with my loved ones and the assorted children we had with us.

We may even have persuaded our political portfolio holder to get his face painted with flowers and he very gamely let us decorate him in celebration of his being a fantastic ally both of libraries and the lgbtq+ community.

I’m home now, footsore, slightly sunburned, but fed and watered. Everyone has been delivered home to where they need to be, and I’m having my last cuppa to round out the day. It’s been a good one, and so’s the cuppa.

Bracelets

I’ve recently started wearing some bracelets made of wood, leather, and fabrics following our trip to Alton Towers. They’re similar to a similar set boy s is wearing addition should be no surprise therefore that there’s the link. In addition there’s a bracelet that was a gift during lockdown from Mre B that has a small reserve mental spoon attached to it.

We’ve talked about doing something like this for a while as a casual marker of our relationship – and the styles are eclectic enough to appeal on an aesthetic level but I’ve found it difficult to wear things on my wrist for years.

In large part it’s a holdover from when I was attacked – memories of wrists being held making it very uncomfortable – but the work I’ve been doing in therapy has contributed to putting some distance in recently.

I’m choosing instead to use the sensations at my wrist as a focus. On the one hand it’s a reminder of the boy. On another it helps to imagine all the skin crawling anxieties gathering there in one place rather than uncontrollable and everywhere. In effect it can be imagined as a shield

It’s a whimsy, it’s a way of focusing. It’s a distraction, and it’s a statement. I take them off at night before bed so I can settle, metaphorically removing the cares of the day. It’s a small and positive ritual that brings a measure of calm.

And I think they look good, and I enjoy seeing the counterparts on the boy

Approaching Pride

Even with having a part in preparations for work’s presence at Pride In Surrey this year I’m still feeling unready – but mostly because I’m not sure how I’m actually going to get there. There are train and bus disruptions so I suspect I may have to get a taxi, and this just considering me. Somehow we’ll get the whole Entourage there

In the meantime I have a stack of flags in my bag to use as table cloths on the day. So that’s useful. I need now to start thinking of what I’m going to wear on the day and use as props. To be fair if these are the biggest worried I need to deal with I’ll be fine.

Then next week starts my Leadership training, which I’ve gained access to with my Network Chair role as well as my managing and mentoring a group of managers in the day job. While I’m not expecting anything life changing, I am looking forward to it, and it is already opening doors.

Now, if the anxiety and depression could all nip off down the shops and not come back, that would be helpful.

Datavore

I came up with a new word to describe how Lady M interacts with the world: datavore. If there’s information, she has to have it – from reading the labels of parcels in the foyer, and peering over shoulders at social media or messages, she just can’t help herself.

Show her a message, and without thinking she scrolls up to see what came before. When challenged she says she’s looking for context, or “just in case it’s important”

As someone who has already filtered and positioned a piece of information for consumption, or who has put the start of the relevant information or story front and centre, it therefore never fails to make me clench my teeth.

It isn’t a worry that anything compromising may be seen, it’s what my brain identifies as disregarding the effort made to consciously present information – like someone wanting to see the unpublished cards in your PowerPoint presentation while you’re in the middle of starting your presentation.

I know she can’t help it, and that her entire being is dedicated to gathering information at all times like a sponge – but I may have to start keeping an old copy of Private Eye rolled up and to hand to lovingly boop her on the nose next time it appears at my shoulder…

Either that or arrange to have something truly strange on my screen the next time she looks

Haven’t Melted Yet

It has felt a bit of a close-run thing, but the feeling of living in a blast furnace has retreated somewhat – and as I write this with the door open to the balcony I have a strong breeze ebbing and flowing in. I think there may be a storm on the way – or at least some bursts of rain. It has been interesting to point out to the cub that this evening’s temperature of 23C is nearly half what it was on Tuesday and before this week he would have been complaining that it was hot. He is still trying to wrap his imagination around the fact that Monday and Tuesday are the hottest that the United Kingdom has ever been since they started recording such things. I think he’s more used to reading about history than living through significant moments of it.

The cub has been staying the last couple of days as his school term finished yesterday about lunchtime, and boy s is working. With Lady M off the other side of London for work, I’ve therefore been balancing work with having a young lad around the house. He’s not quite old enough to be home alone, but the difference just this last term has made in how he’s growing up tells me he’ll be fine. For now he’s sat in the other room eating his supper before he goes to run around the estate a bit more to burn off some energy from being cooped up.

On the work front I’ve been getting more engaged with the new co-chair role for the LGBTQ+ Staff Network and meeting a number of stakeholders in the EDI work being developed by Surrey County Council. I’ve begun work drafting some training slides for an Allyship program we hope to roll out next year – on the basis that we need a starting point and I have the capacity and expertise to create some copy to begin the conversation. What has struck me is the enthusiasm and understanding of the importance of this work by so many people. It has been heartening to have level-headed positivity mixed with the pragmatic acknowledgement that there is no simple fix and there are a lot of hard conversations that need to take place.

I’m cautiously optimistic – and I hope that the need to be kind is something that can be nurtured and brought to bloom.

Post-Pride Month Thoughts

I’m tired. I don’t really feel like I’ve had a Pride month to speak of and I’m not sure if that’s down to being incredibly busy, being worn out in support of Trans partners and friends, or as a bi man not feeling particularly part of the community at the moment. Everything feels just that little bit more of a struggle this year – even as I acknowledge that good things are also happening, at least on the personal front.

I think in part, to be fair, this has been down to being focused on family and childcare – these have always got to take priority, and as an extended household that includes cover during half term for smaller people who aren’t quite old enough to be home alone for a couple of hours. It means I’ve been doing a lot of time slicing to help out. I’ve written about how supporting each other is a big part of the spirit of Pride – this year seems to have had that element land squarely on my shoulders – swings and roundabouts I suppose, at least in the microcosm of what my parents have called ‘The Entourage’

A lot of the public focus has also been focused on the Jubilee – a major public event across the nation – so it sounds petty to point fingers at that in any way because it has been a major unifier of communities. I think as I’ve been so involved in supporting my staff in setting up and running events related to it I’ve missed most of the holiday buzz that so many have enjoyed.

Plans on the work front are now focusing on Pride In Surrey, and on some work I’m doing for the libraries on Equalities, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). There’s a lot to do, especially balancing with the day job, but when isn’t there?

So – looking at my social media streams, people are generally enjoying their Pride Months and events – and I will no doubt enjoy the August event when it arrives in Camberley, but none of that buzz and excitement is currently swimming round either me or those immediately around me. As if to illustrate that, I just looked at my phone and saw a reminder that its London Pride tomorrow – and my internal response was a resounding “meh”. Maybe the burnout is coming from being so front and centre in being an active voice – the feeling of banging my head against a brick wall feels particularly ubiquitous at the moment.

I obviously need to get out much much more

Father’s Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day – as far as I am aware, a completely fabricated excuse to sell cards rather than anything traditional (I’m pretty sure it didn’t exist when I was younger)

Still, it’s a nice excuse to do and say nice things, and to recognise the good that most people do. Within a varied polycule of people with various gender expressions it gets a bit complicated until you settle down and relax. My daughter sent me a card and a Viking-style glass drinking horn. The cub went the traditional eleven year old boy route of not even noticing it was happening. I left an answerphone message for mine which I’ll follow up today, and various others had interactions with those parental figures still alive or present.

And for those having a bad day, we gathered round and were found family.

And now back to the grind, time to put the kettle on.

An Achievement

It’s finally official: I have just been voted to be co-chair of my work LGBTQ+ Staff Network which is a great honour, and one I aim to lift and use to help promote and celebrate EDI improvements. There’s a lot to do, but it dovetails with other similar roles and groups I’m working with so I’m expecting this all to be very fulfilling.

It’s not something I ever thought I’d do, or be considered for but I guess all my standing up to be counted and advocating for people in recent years has set my feet wandering this direction.

Interesting times. I hope I can live up to it.

What Does Pride Mean To Me?

I got asked to contribute to a thread on the work forum about what significance Pride has for me – either as an event or a way of living and working. It didn’t take me long to put together the following, so I thought I’d share it here too:

Pride for me – is having the support and acceptance to be my true self, not the facade I constructed for so many years to fit in with family and societal expectations. Its only since coming out and living life authentically that I realise just how exhausting carrying that mask at all times was. Pride is representing each other – supporting those who are actively suppressed, or who may not be free to speak up, or who may be overwhelmed – raising common voices so that no one has to feel that they are alone. Pride is acknowledging our history that is often unseen, and working together to move forward so that no one is left behind. Pride is curiosity, recognising that we evolve and grow over time. Pride is a challenge – facing those who would divide us or oppose us and speaking our truths. Pride is found family, the people we come to know and cherish along the way especially in the face of adversity.

And Pride is fun. Its a celebration of positivity despite everything thrown at us (sometimes literally). It is holding our heads high and being as loud or as quiet as we are comfortable with because sometimes just the act of being visible is rebellion and inspiration enough for people we’ll never know.