Late Night Rambling

It’s half past one in the morning and I can’t sleep, so I’m afraid you have to put up with some ramblings and idle musings for a bit. The good news at least is that I’m not coughing all the time now.

I’ve had covid before, and this time round was about the same. I think there was more coughing and actual headcold-style wooziness. The aches this time have been mostly in my arm bones, and noticeably sharp pains in my lower arms and wrists, which was odd. Somewhat ironically, given I can’t sleep at the moment, I’ve also got heavy fatigue.

So that’s all something I’m looking forward to leaving behind.

Mind you, I was already exhausted all the time before I had a positive covid test, so it’s a bit hard to tell if there’s any connection or overlap. Frankly, if it wasn’t for the fact that nearly everyone in my life is similarly ill or falling apart, I might feel that I was being particularly targeted – because that’d the type of stupid egocentrism that I enjoy teasing and joking about.

By that I mean that my facility to self-sabotage often fluctuates between perfectionism (in the sense of setting impossible targets and failure therefore confirming my own expectations), and self denigration that doesn’t always know when to stop .

Nothing particularly unusual there, many of us do it. That said, I don’t ever really recall fitting in many places. There’s always been a sense of being a bit ‘other’ and standing on the outside, looking in and not quite getting how I should be reacting.

Growing up in the shadow of Section 28 which banned teaching of anything LGBT+ also didn’t help. Looking back I can remember a number of teachers who struggled sometimes to rephrase or frame statements in certain careful ways. I had another teacher who hindsight suggests may have been trans but ill never know, or indeed enquire because it’s none of my business.

What it did all do though, and I see it happening again in the language used against trans people in particular, was to set a code of what was ‘normal’ and vigorously mocked anyone who did not conform to it.

It didn’t matter if you were lgbt or not, the very fear of being mocked or attacked if you stepped outside the poorly defined parameters had a chilling effect on everyone. Hate language is a matter of control.

If you’ve ever hesitated to do something or express something for fear of being seen as gay, or trans, or mentally ill – or anything regardless of whether you are or not – then you’ve been controlled by hate speech.

It’s why the slogan that trans rights are human rights is so important. Its the same arguments and language that’s been used by often far right groups time and time again. It leads to people being beaten for reading poetry, or singing their favourite song while exercising.

The ban on conversations and information while I was growing up kept me closeted without even knowing that was a thing. Any raising of the subject was either derogatory, or couched in terms of eliciting fear.

The news was full of people cheering the death of gay people as HIV appeared. I was told that gays didn’t do love or relationships, and that I would die alone and unloved. I could expect to be beaten up, or maybe if I was lucky and conformed enough I might be adopted as a token eccentric but would still have people whispering and removing children from the area “just in case”

I didn’t have the language to explore who I was becoming, or question things. I liked both boys and girls and was comfortably not a sports enthusiast – which in a boarding school which focused much of its identity around rugby and cricket competitions with other boarding schools, was a bit of a red flag.

Instead of worrying therefore about young people expressing themselves in a myriad of gender concepts and sexualities, I praise educators for giving people the vocabulary and concepts to see what fits them as they grow up and evolve along their life journeys.

I don’t subscribe to the “in my day we didn’t have this so why isn’t that good enough for them?” mantra. Isn’t the entire point of growing up to make sure that the people who come after us don’t have the struggles and pain we had if we can help it?

I’m still learning and evolving. I only sound like I know what’s going on or how it all works. As the strapline to this blog says, I’m making it up as I go along. I still feel like an outsider and rarely feel that I entirely fit. I compensate by being quirky and bold so that people give me mental headspace to squirm and reposition.

I am, as several people have told me, a Fool, and a Catalyst. I have a tshirt that encapsulates those concepts in a rather pithy statement: “My sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.”

I would hope that this means that you don’t waste as much time as I did fighting being the real me and being what I thought people wanted me to be. Do yourself a favour and be your own special weirdo – because there’s plenty of people who are only too happy to try and stop you. You can do it. I believe in you.

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.

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.

Productive Day

There’s a project close to my heart that I’ve been slowly pushing forward over the last four to six months, and that started to gain traction today. I’m aiming to improve access to items helpful for people with sensory processing issues in both schools and libraries – essentially a range of tactile, audio, and visual objects that can help or ground people with Autism or Alzheimer’s. The idea is that loaning these items will enable people, their families, schools, and carers to identify what best works for them at a reasonable price.

Today we agreed a project brief, and proposed some time scales to put a pilot together with some partner groups. It feels like a very concrete first step towards something quite special.

I also dropped in to the Pride In Surrey hub in Woking to introduce myself with my co-Chair hat on, and had some brief conversations around the upcoming Pride event at Camberley. I may also have bought a new mug and a snap fan in the colours of the Progress Pride flag.

Various other operational irons were stirred in the proverbial fire, but I’m mostly glad that today actually felt like I was moving with purpose again.

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.

Happy Pride Month

The sun is shining, and the flags are flying – both at home and at work – welcome to Pride Month. I’ve been busy working at the nearest library to me as we change how we manage stock, but we also broke out the flags and bunting that I got back in February so we could brighten everything up.

And then when I got home I found some extra flags I’d ordered had been delivered, so Lady M and I decided to decorate our balcony as well:

And then we enjoyed the warm summer air and listened to small children excitedly shouting about flags while we chatted with neighbours.

It’s been a good day.

Representation Matters

As we head into Pride Month, I’ve been musing on conversations about representation – particularly in the context of Equalities and Diversity at work. This has played a prominent role in recent interviews in our restructure and in conversations arising from them.

It is very often the little things that have the most unexpected effects. I was reminded of this when someone remarked this week that they were wearing a bisexual pride pin on their lanyard because they had been inspired by my wearing one.

They had found it a relief to be able to make this statement, and hoped that in turn they would be able to help someone else be able to accept and be their proper selves too.

I was profoundly moved by this. Its one thing to have previously noted the addition of the pin to their daily appearance; another to have someone say in a public forum why, and their hope for further supporting others in a similar way.

I’m proud to work in a diverse community, and be part of ensuring that my workforce reflects that too. Representation matters. Being visible matters. Showing people they’re not alone matters.

GoFundMe News

So myr s launched their GoFundMe last week to try and get the finances for their first appointments with a gender clinic and thanks to some wonderful people has enough to be able to begin that process and pay for some of the prescriptions and ongoing support required.

They are doing this privately because the waiting lists to even be seen for starting conversations are currently running at several years, and the gender dysphoria that they suffer from has been causing deep depression on an ongoing basis.

The fund is still open, and every little bit to help them will be hugely appreciated. This is literally life changing, and I want to see my partner thrive and be happy.

The campaign can be seen here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/morganrileytransition

Happy Birthday myr s

Its grey and overcast here, but it’s myr s’ 29th birthday so our support bubble/polycule chat is full of good wishes and positivity, so that’s no bad thing.

They’ve chosen today to launch a GoFundMe to try and raise money to begin transitioning under private medical care and support. NHS wait times are around three years before even starting support, so anything that can be done to help is worth a go. If you’re feeling so inclined, here’s a link to the campaign:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/morganrileytransition?utm_medium=email&utm_source=product&utm_campaign=p_email%2B2300-co-team-welcome

myr s is still mostly using they/them pronouns at the moment but we’re starting to use he/him as well in general conversation. It’s an interesting journey for all of us.

So here’s to myr s – Happy Birthday and long may the soppiness continue.

Random Wandering

Just for the hell of it I went down to Portsmouth today to gather up myr s, the cub, Ladies J and B and go grab some food, drink, and relative normalcy out on the town. And it feels so good to have done so.

It says so much about the disruption that that has happened this year that it was, for some of us, the first time for eating out. There was a palpable sense of relief and accomplishment in just being around a table in public.

To round out the afternoon, we had a lazy afternoon where we enjoyed each others company. We did some shopping, and went back to Lady B’s flat to talk and pass some time – and it has been a tonic for the spirits for us all.

And then I came home to find that my order of one of my t-shirts had arrived from Amazon. Lady M immediately grabbed it to twirl and model and I very nearly lost it to her before ever wearing it myself.