thefairymelusine: line drawing of a knight lying by a bank of flowers (Default)

And further to the theme of Coming Out Day, a loud slam poem about self defining and roles.

“Is it just assuming a role?” she asks

Why yes, but for heaven’s sake

Not just gender but all identity’s performative

And I’m sick of being forced

Into being faux (or assumed) heternormative

Normative at all in fact, I don’t want

Unbroken skin, brown hair, or not

To have my mother in a whirl

Because you say it’s a role,

But all of me is, is many

And always will be, my own silent soliloquy,

For when there are no words,

When a fuck you, or an identity, gives me

Hope, or purpose or just something to be

Something to feel I am, for others

So that I can be there, to be loved

Or hated, or ignored, but without that

All the lies and rumours and hostility

Is true, and not in the way that I want

So this, all this, the style, the actions, the loves

Are all just me, roles, but what I want

And should, and need to be, complete

Imperfect, changing, and essential

thefairymelusine: Knight in Circle (knight circle green)
Today, I think, is Coming Out Day, and the Outer Alliance have asked people to write about their coming out stories. I remember being dragged to a discussion group once which was discussing the fact that in terms of mainstream literature, quite often gay people only seem to exist in terms of coming out, and the emphasis that is put on that as a single action.

I can't speak for everyone, or indeed anyone other than me, but for me coming out has never been cut and dried. Being twelve and confessing to friends and my mother that I might be attracted to girls (and being told that it was a phase) went on for about four years, until I was finally comfortable enough to just be open about my sexual orientation in a way that made me feel I didn't still need to come out, although in certain circumstances I still did. Then, a while later, I started my first serious relationship, which happened to be with a man, and had to negotiate a strange sort of re-coming out, or trying to reinforce my queerness while acknowledging this relationship. And later still various other comings out, as bisexual-queer, as polyamorous which would be irrelevant were it not included in this coming out again as attracted to and having relationships with women

I will probably always have some people to whom I have to come out as queer, and that frustrates me. There are some ways I will probably never come out fully, for example I can't imagine coming out as polyamorous in certain circumstances. And the response has switched slowly from "is it just a phase" to "do you really want to put that label on yourself", and most of the time I do, because of the echoes I have of being sixteen and at summer camp and able to be myself, able to make jokes about my take on the world.

And I am aware I'm privileged. I am aware of all the areas in which I can come out, in which I am safe and unthreatening, in which I am in environments which are at worst unwelcoming, but not threatening, and that possibly my comings out don't matter.

And finally, I should use this day to say something, about my current coming out, and exploration of gender, and I have come over just as coy as I always do in these matters. I am starting to identify as genderqueer, and to present as male some of the time, and realise that I don't really think of myself as female, although I don't have a problem with female presentation, I just don't want it to be the only option. And I don't know whether I think of myself as male either, I just know that throughout my teens I thought of myself as a courtly lover, and still kind of do (which brings it's own bundle of problems with gender roles and sexism) And telling you this is probably self indulgent, and unimportant, but I thought I should. Because coming out is always about being allowed to show an aspect of yourself, to be more yourself, and it is mostly coming out about identifying as me, not a woman or girl or even courtly lover.
thefairymelusine: line drawing of a knight lying by a bank of flowers (flowers)
A few things that happened in the last few days which have irked me. and about which I think I can make a more general point.

I had to write a bio for the play reading. This was it:
thefairymelusine has written two and an half plays, one of which is being performed at the (NAME OF FESTIVAL REMOVED) this May. She began to write plays when on courses at the Royal Court Young Writer's Programme and somewhere along the way discovered that she wants to write plays that change the world, preferably in a three act structure. Two years of her perceived path of life (academic school, good A levels, university applicant) being periodically interrupted by spells on psychiatric wards have given her a fair bit of time to write, redraft and do  a combination of internships, depressing paid jobs, part time study and strange running jobs on performance art projects (such as trying to catch an ice cream van on a housing estate on the Isle of Dogs to get the ice cream man to distribute small cones of nuts to the audience of a performance art piece on the history of the area). All of which she is told will help her writing.

I personally quite like that. It touches on my life, and things that affect my writing. It is of course reductive, but bios always are. My family came to see the reading, and the following day I recieved a text from my mother. It said I shouldn't mention the dull jobs or mental health problems, as I "risked being pigeonholed as a writer with mental health issues". It also said I should focus on wanting to write.

Now, there are two issues with that. The first is that it should not be a problem to be a writer with mental health issues. It should not be a problem to be a secretary or librarian or teacher or business person with mental health issues. It shouldn't be an issue, and it shouldn't be stigmatised. I deliberately didn't talk about certain things in the bio, and possibly I should have, or should at some future date (suicide, self harm, psychosis) because those felt too personal. But it is a significant part of my life and it really, really does affect my writing, and sometimes I write about it or related things.

Now writing is possibly one of a few areas where it is unlikely to adversely affect your career if you have mental health issues. Aside from that, the whole issue of pigeonholing yourself. You make yourself vulnerable to pigeonholing and categorisation when you write. You reveal various aspects of yourself when you write. Really, it doesn't matter what's in your bio, because much of your weirdness, oddness and prejudice will be there, in the text or on stage. And therefore revealing a bit more, which possibly helps give context, or is just amusing, doesn't matter.

The second thing just made me despair of general expectations. The first was that one of the mental health professionals who works with me is pregnant, and has to limit clinical contact with patients owing to a risk assessment. The problem being not that she can't work, but that contact with people with mental health problems is  automatically dangerous. This does make me sad. The team who work with me are good, and aim to help people live the life they were living before they had problems. Both the people who work with me have despaired of the stigma around the issue. But the same team assumes that all the people using their service have to be considered as violent and unpredictable. Or, I don't know, possibly they thought it was contagious

There's another thing, but that's more to do with writing and general expectations of people regardless of health, so I'll leave it to another post.


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