New Year, new them

There will be a couple of small changes to how I refer to one of my partners on this blog – and indeed in day to day life – as they continue to evolve and become more comfortable in their expression of who they are. As a loving partner it is no great effort to support and acknowledge them and the smile on their face as I do makes the world a brighter place.

I’ve previously mentioned how lady s had been more comfortable in talking about their gender identity following bouts of dysphoria, and they’re now far happier to use more gender-neutral terms to describe themselves and interact with the wider world. A change of forename and middle name has begun, while still retaining their surname to keep life simpler for the cub. A mix of feminine and neutral pronouns is now being used as well – and so for the purposes of this blog I will start using the latter. It intersects nicely with our existing dynamic. A change of title has also been agreed.

The graphic above is a list I found of a variety of gender-neutral titles used around the world (which of course also appealed to the word-magpie writer that I am, collecting elements I can weave into my fiction). Some of them were familiar, and some of them were new to me – and this formed part of the discussions around how to proceed from here.

Myr stood out in the end for a couple of reasons. One was the sheer geekiness of it being a Game of Thrones reference: the city of Myr being referenced in several ways through the books and tv series. The other reason again referred back to our dynamic – though mainly in an ironic and tongue in cheek way.

So that leads me back to myr s – who remains the same loving and amazing person they ever were, but now comfortable to begin expressing themselves in a more genuine and comfortable way. Love you.

It’s Nearly the Weekend

I don’t know if it’s the tail end of a bug or something but I seem to be very tired again as a consistent base-level status. Fortunately it’s almost the weekend, and in this instance that’s three days off. I’ve just got to get past an early start to oversee an asbestos audit of one of the buildings I manage. Who knew being a library manager could be so exciting?

I’m going to spend a couple of days with lady s – our first catch up this year – and part of it is going to be spent supporting her as she continues to develop and firm up the expression of her non-binary feelings. She wants to have the option of dressing and presenting in a more masculine way as she deals with her gender dysphoria – but has expressed that she wants to continue using she/her pronouns. To that end I’ve offered to help her pick out some masculine cut clothing options while I’m there.

How do I feel about this? It’s an opportunity to go clothes shopping, and as we’re a fairly similar build it does give us both wardrobe options if either of us is visiting the other. More importantly I’m supporting my partner in a matter that has been causing considerable distress and in a way that will hopefully help them feel better.

I have however been told off for suggesting buying a squeaky toy to put in her boxer shorts. No matter what, the teasing and silliness continues..!

Consider That You May Be Wrong

I was cornered (literally) recently by someone who had had rather a lot to drink, and who had some pressing truths that he wished to share or possibly impart upon me. So yes, I got harangued by a drunken relative recently. What was I harangued about? Well, to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure – as it was a long rambling monologue that veered between the present day, my childhood, parental behaviour, my being an enigma, the infrequency of visits to this person, my coming out, my relationships, my immediate family, and that I had been heralded as someone who would take over the world one day.

Now, aside from a champagne glass that I had held aloft to join in toasts, and a glass or two of wine with the meal, I was entirely sober – and so was mindful enough to cock an eyebrow and let them ramble rather than try to unpick the unholy mess.

Since then, I have been trying to unpick it slowly so that I can process and discard each element rather than trying to react at the time even as another three statements were loaded on top. The whole thing was topped off with the quote that I’ve used as the title to today’s blog – “Consider that you might be wrong.”

Now, my entire modus operandi is to assume that I might, and probably am, wrong – it manifests as perfectionism, hypercriticality of myself, and no small degree of anxiety on an ongoing basis – so “consider that you might be wrong” is hardly a great challenge. As the conversation didn’t actually specify what I might want to be considering, I thought it best to just let the monologue die rather than wade into some potentially very murky waters.

Was I being urged to consider that I am wrong about my career choices? Or about my relationships and sexuality? Was I being told I was wrong to be an enigma, whatever was meant by that? Or was it wrong that I had decided to be myself rather than following someone else’s path for me?

It’s been nagging at me, but I don’t think I want to go back to the individual concerned to ask clarification questions because I don’t owe them any answers or explanations, and if they can’t directly ask me questions, why should I struggle to interpret a series of convoluted insinuations?

Ugh.

I feel better for getting that down on the page.

International Coming Out Day

It really shouldn’t need to be a thing – and coming straight after Bisexual Awareness Month/Week/Day it may feel superfluous to some – but the sad thing is that around the world people live in fear of not being accepted for simply being themselves and loving the people they love. I’m incredibly lucky and privileged to be who I am where and when I am – there are many who are not.

Is there a political side to this? Given the assaults on LGBTQIA+ rights where so much progression has been made in recent years in some places? Where there are whole swathes around the world where being who I am carries a death sentence? Where people are imprisoned and tortured? Where every week brings news of people assaulted in the streets? You’re damn right there is. This is why visibility and representation of the normality of my and others’ lives is so vital.

So as I’ve made no secret of being who I am (I mention it on all my social media profiles, for example) – today is just a matter of continuing to be visible. It may not be an urgency for me, but if it helps someone? Then that is a good thing.

Lanyard Inclusivity

I may have mentioned previously that I have a number of badges on my work lanyard. Some are representations of fandoms, or of work initiatives, while others are for LGBTQIA+ representation, or are purely decorative. They serve a multitude of functions – not least of which is being visible, which may seem a strange option, but does serve a function when people are struggling to describe who served them last time. “The man with the badges” works just as well, especially with the amount of swapping of staff we have to do at the moment between sites.

From time to time, a member of the public tries to interpret some of the badges that are less common in appearance, which can lead to some interesting conversations – some of them useful, some of them an exercise in confirming or denying nothing depending on the tone of the questioner.

What has been heartening recently however, is seeing the slow spread of LGBTQIA+ badges on a number of other staff members’ lanyards – either as quiet declaration or as allies – and finding the very reassurance I’ve hoped to project to others coming from seeing them in front of me.

It just reinforces how important representation in the workplace is.

Birthday girl

Despite the best efforts of her employers we were determined to help lady s celebrate her birthday this weekend.

As she was having to work the actual day, we arranged to head down on Saturday after I finished work, and we gathered together with Ladies J and B to escort her to the pub for food and drink and a quiet evening of silliness.

And the nice thing is that we don’t need to drink to have fun, be daft, and let our humour out to play. The next morning would see us having a breakfast too, but we were mindful that lady s had to work soon. So we contented ourselves with putting the world to rights over pizza, puddings, and pints of diet soda.

The following morning we showered lady s with gifts before breakfast and dropped her and Lady J to work. Lady M and I spent the day being tourists before Lady M headed home. I lurked in the area until lady s finished work and ubered her home. The rest of our evening was spent watching YouTube clips before bed called and we turned in.

Lady s said it felt in many ways that it didn’t really like a birthday this year, but a 12-9 shift will take the wind out of most people’s sails. Between us, I think we did our best to counteract it all

Capitalisation matters

The sharper-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve started referring to lady s in lowercase as opposed to the Capitalisation that I use for everyone else if I talk about them: Lady M, for example. This is not a slur, or a mistake – in fact it was discussed and agreed explicitly with lady s before I started doing it.

In D/s, the use of capitals is important for denoting negotiated power levels between partners. As I explained to someone recently when they were asking questions about “doms and subs”, you should always capitalise the reference to the person who has been given the control, and put in lower case the person who has surrendered it.

In writing about them this way, it then makes the dynamic roles obvious at a glance. Whether it is Dom/sub, Master/slave, Lord/lady, (or any other set of terms agreed between partners) you can be sure to avoid embarrassment or irritation.

These are terms and roles that are held very close to people’s hearts. Purely as a matter of not being an arse to people it’s best to acknowledge and respect that dynamic as best as possible in the same way that you might respect the terms husband and wife – and therefore the bond between them. To people in what’s called the Lifestyle, this dynamic is often treated as an analogue to marriage.

So as her Dom, lady s has said that this feels a better fit to the dynamic that we have. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this makes her weak however. As anyone who has met her will testify, she’s a vivacious, strong minded, independent and passionate woman – and her offering that strength to me is a constant source of amazement.

So now you know why I have my loves: Lady M and lady s, and why I refer to them as such. They are both strong and wonderful people who make my life immeasurably better.

Meeting The Family

This weekend was a celebration in my family of my parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary – fifty years together and still teasing each other every day. The venue was a hotel near Box Hill in Surrey that we’ve used for various celebrations over the years.

The twist was that Lady S was also invited along, marking her introduction to my wider family in a somewhat wider scope than I’d ever anticipated.

I’d pushed for an invitation when they were first planning the event, partly to make the point that both Ladies M and S are important parts of my family and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice them. Given how my relatives are spread out around the place it made for an easier way to demonstrate that despite our unconventional relationship, no one involved in it had three heads.

I’m pleased to say that we had a wonderful evening celebrating my parents and catching up with each other. My family is generally one that gets more talkative and garrulous as the drink flows,and it’s safe to say that Lady S got a good look at where my storytelling comes from. We didn’t get to talk with everyone, but Lady S was happily welcomed right from the start, and our collective nerves rapidly settled.

Lovely food, good company, and a very late night as we opted to drive there and back rather than stay over – partly because of our nerves before hand in case things didn’t go well. And now… relax…

Rainbow Assumptions

A few years ago I went to a gathering of a branch of our extended family on my mother’s side down in the Valleys. It was in a part of Wales I’d never visited before – properly rural, with the phone reception to match – but beautiful in every way that the greenly lush Welsh countryside excels.

The only other members of my immediate family present were my parents, so having gone down there for the weekend we agreed to meet up in the village the night before the event for a meal. During the day the place offered cream teas, but at night it came into its own as a restaurant.

And that’s when I started spotting rainbows everywhere – typically squares with the curve if a rainbow – and recalled seeing a number in different places around the village. Had I stumbled into a stronghold of LGBTQ+ supporters in this isolated Welsh village? Was this a hidden outpost of love and acceptance?

Well, yes and no. It’s a symbol used by churches in the area, but they were all lovely people. We had a great time, and it reminded me of why I love semiotic analysis – crudely put as the use of symbols to tell or add context to a story depending on cultural expectations and shared themes.

It reminded me that rainbows have context and can’t be taken for granted, but at their best they are symbols of peace, community, and love – things we could all do with more of whether it’s Pride month or not.

Soggy Morning

I’m off to a masquerade thing this weekend, and so need to sort out a suitable mask for Lady S. Fortunately there’s a place near me that stocks all sorts of things so I’ve dragged myself out of bed in my day off to pop down to Kingston.

It’s a bit soggy. It’s raining so much the pigeons are hiding under the old barbecue on my balcony. From the sound of the cooing they’re busy making new pigeons. I’m half expecting to see them wearing galoshes the next time they’re perched on the railings.

Being Pride month, and an obstinate bugger, I’ve thrown on my Queer Umbrella t-shirt. It’s buried under my hoodie and thick coat, but it’s there. The last time I wore it was while at Con when popping out for supplies while Lady M was laid up with a migraine and heatstroke.

On that occasion I had a man yell “Queer!” in my face, which I suppose proved he could actually read. I looked at him. Every cosplayer on the street looked at him. He looked up in the silence and realised I was a head and a half taller than him and twice as wide. He dipped his head and went away.

I do not approve of this rain

I’m lucky. I’m a white male who easily fits into the bear stereotype in appearance. I’ve woken this morning to read two stories of homophobic assaults just in the first ten minutes of being awake, and as many incidences of people shouting about straight pride. I’m not dignifying that with capitals.

Pride is protest and visibility in the face of aggression. It’s political, it always has been, it started as a riot in the face of police brutality.

I’m queer. I’m bisexual, polyamorous, sex-positive, kinked and not going anywhere. Sorry, not sorry.

Just, who ordered all this rain?