Mapmakers Do It Cartographically

For Merry, though not about her.

Veins crisscross your skin like winding roads cover maps,
The AA Ordinance Survey map of you.
I can almost see the contour lines that denote your body’s hills and valleys,
As I kiss you
Up
and
Down them.
Stretch marks cover your breasts and belly like river lines.
I am glad you cannot see inside my head.
You would not appreciate the cartographical beauty I can see in your body.

On The B and The T: A Response To GCN’s LGBT Soup

We have a bit of a problem.
And when I say “we” I mean the LGBT community, otherwise known to some people as the LGBTLMFAO. Recently Ireland’s longest-running national gay publication GCN published an article that has raised a lot of comment and heckles- LGBT Soup

Now before I dive into this, there are two clarifications I want to make. Firstly that I usually really enjoy GCN and it’s writings, it’s interesting, relevant even if I find it focuses a bit too much on the G in LGBT sometimes, this is not an attack on GCN that I’m writing, but an article published by GCN and written by the deputy editor was the catalyst. Secondly, I’m majorly focusing on writing about bisexual and trans* issues and marginalization here, and being neither bi nor trans* I am admitting now that I may screw up on something somewhere, but if I’ve messed up, please tell me what I’ve gotten wrong or if I’m inadvertently offensive because I am happy to learn and be corrected.

There are masses and masses of issues I take with this piece, majorly the marginalization of bi-sexual, trans*, and asexual people, all of which I will get to in a minute.

While I do agree with the basic premise as put forth by GCN in their The Editor Responds, to write more opinion pieces and create and facilitate discussion, which I believe is the first step to changing any social opinion or feeling, and to comment on the use of LGBT and the extended abbreviations that are also added on (A quick look at Wikipedia tells me that the letters often used are LGBTQQUCITTSAPSHOFP) I do not agree with the way Ciara McGrattan has chosen to phrase her views.

Let’s start with the thorn-bush-like issue of the acronym. I think practically everyone can agree that it is too long and fairly damn confusing, but right now we don’t have anything better. Since I came out I’ve been involved occasionally with a few official LGBT groups and I really love the feeling of community that I’ve found there, a community majorly built on acceptance and openness to individuality, so it upsets me to hear other people saying that some people don’t belong in the movement. We need an umbrella term, a really big and lovely umbrella term to describe ourselves, and the community that we’re building but until then let’s stick with what we’ve got and let people add on what they need as they need? Yes it’s sometimes a bit off putting, and quite unwieldy, but is that the worst thing in the world?

Now we get into the section where I start quoting… When talking about trans* people and their place in the LGBT movement she says “By including an identity not specifically referring to same-sex attraction (T), the flood gates were opened.” “But as big a fan as I am of sensitivity to marginalised individuals, I am more concerned with accuracy of language.“. I understand that the trans* community has issues that are not always mirrored by the issues of the L, G and B, as gender and sexuality are often separate issues, but there’s still the major point that draws us all together and means these conversations are even an issue in the first place, the fact that we all face marginalization and discrimination, and we can fight that together.

“Even the current LGBT mouthful is unnecessarily long, when ‘gay’ suffices for all same-sex attractions. This doesn’t cover bisexuals, you might argue. It doesn’t need to: ‘bisexual’ is only a description of what someone is doing when they’re not same-sexing it up.”

“I propose it’s time to simplify and perhaps employ a modicum of moderation to the unwieldy beast of LGBTLMFAO initials. Do you sleep with people of the same sex? Welcome to Gay Club. In a relationship with someone of the same-sex? Welcome to Gay Club. Trans and exclusively attracted to people of your gender? Welcome to Gay Club. Attracted to both sexes? Good for you, but unless you’re with someone of the same-sex, you aren’t part of Gay Club.”

That’s Ciara McGrattan’s view on both bisexuality and what we should use instead of our current, lovely umbrella term. And I disagree heartily with both. Isn’t the whole reason we banded together because straight cisgender people didn’t want us in their club? Now is not the time to get all cliquey!

Now, there seems to be over whelming belief from all sides of the ring, heterosexual and homosexual that bi-sexuality is not a true sexual orientation and instead is the name that people have chosen to describe themselves when they can’t pick a side, are sexually thrill seeking and therefore exploiting the feelings of the people who are “genuinely homosexual”, or are just plain greedy. When I was 14 I read a novel a friend had about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality and in the novel a friend of his who was already out warned him not to date bisexuals as they were fickle and would break his heart. Now maybe it’s just me but I don’t think that’s on.
I think bisexuals possibly even have more issues to face within themselves when coming out because they face both the stigma placed on homosexuality and and the stigma placed on bisexuality. I know bisexuals who have had a massively hard time coming out and some who haven’t come out at all because of these stigmas and articles like LGBT Soup just help continue these.

And the idea that your issues only matter when you’re in a same-sex relationship? That’s just insane. It’s saying that when I’m not in a relationship or as it was so nicely put “same-sexing it up” my issues don’t count? Is everyone asexual when they’re not getting laid in her worldview? She seems to be saying that sexual attraction is only an issue when you’re acting on it, something I massively disagree with. The whole point is that we all have a place here, anyone who has had issues along the way because of gender identity or sexuality, and personally I whole-heartedly welcome allies too. Come in from the rain under our umbrella, we’ve got soup!

Somewhat Related Links- (Mostly stolen from Consider The Tea Cosy)

Other responses to LGBT Soup-

We Are Not Your Afterthought – Responding To LGBT Soup

LGBT Soup for a Reason

Further Reading on B, T and Acronyms-

Wikipedia on LGBT

STAD- Stop Transgender Abuse and Discrimination

The Case of the Missing Bisexual

The Case of the Missing Bisexual

The Cake Project Part 2: Sir Terry Pratchett

So, I’d met Neil Gaiman, and 14 year old me was halfway there on her life goal quest, owning a twice-signed copy of Good Omens.

The only problem was that part two of the plan involved tracking down a world famous author who had Alzheimers and was probably not doing much touring due to recent aid diagnosis. At any rate, meeting Neil had been a fluke! No way I could pull that one off again.
But in November my father got an email from someone in TCD (Trinity College Dublin, full ‘official’ name – The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin) where he worked saying that Terry Pratchett was receiving an honorary doctorate of English and there were limited tickets available to go and see him give a talk. Some how (Probably through dark magics) my father got me two tickets. Now believe it or not, I had barely any friends at the time who were into Terry Pratchett at the time, and I ended up with a choice of two, one of my best friends or the lad I was dating. I ended up given them to Nadia, a choice I never regretted seeing as me and her had a brilliant time, and me and the lad broke up not long after.
The night before I was going up to Dublin, I did some baking and stayed up most of the night painting an ice cream box to put the biscuits I’d made into. I painted it, painstakingly and quite impressively for the lack of artistry I generally showed, with things from the Discworld, there was the Luggage, Rincewind’s ‘wizzard’ Hat, the Discworld itself, and something else that fails to spring to mind. Biscuits boxed and bagged along with a letter I wrote Sir Terry and a bunch of books in my bag I was ready.

The talk was brilliant, when I saw Terry Pratchett talk a second time his PA had to give most of the talk as Terry’s Alzheimers had progressed further. But when I saw him in 2008 he was brilliant. But the point of our story comes at the end of his talk. He’d finished the talk and was getting ready to walk out down the central aisle. There was going to be a wine reception in The Long Room afterwards but it was unclear whether Terry Pratchett would be there, I got very worried that this was my only chance ever to give the biscuits to Terry Pratchett, As he walked out I asked Nadia if I should give it to him then, and playings devil’s advocate she said yes.
I ran across a row of chairs and jumped into the aisle in front of him, holding out the bag saying “I made you cookies!”, he smiled and laughed, saying “I suppose I’d better give you a kiss then!” and kissed me on the cheek, before walking out.

He was at the wine reception, and I got my copy of Good Omens signed by him, just beneath Neil Gaiman’s signature.

Coming next The Cake Project Part 3: Bell X1

Almost Crying With Joy Cause Someone Else Got Lots of Money?

When I was little my brother introduced me to a game called The Longest Journey, it was a puzzle game, a full length point and click adventure and I loved it, I loved everything about it. (though the protagonist, April had a monkey doll that scared me, and scared me ten times as much when I clicked it one time too many and it’s eye fell out.)I got stuck, I was frustrated, I almost didn’t finish it, but I did. And it was the best game ever. And then years later there was a sequel, another long journey, called Dreamfall. And that was amazing.
A month ago I found a Kickstarter for the third installment to The Longest Saga. The Longest Journey: Dreamfall Chapters. I gave them some money, because it’s everything I adore about Kickstarter. And they got it funded.
I will properly review the game soon, but for now I’ve got to go and revisit Stark and Arcadia.
Toodlepip!

I Am Rising

I’d never heard of the V-Day Movement until last summer when I found a copy of the Vagina Monologues while on a college trip. I’d heard of them and I’d heard of Eve Ensler, but madly enough for the circles I moved in I had never heard of V-Day.

This year is the 15th V-Day held, a day to take the messages of love given on Valentine’s day and turn them to messages of love and support for any survivors or rape, violence or abuse. But this year there was a very particular call, a call for 1 Billion Rising.

The statistics say that 1 Billion women in the world are survivors of abuse, about 1 in 3 women abused, and the call went out for 1 billion people around the world to leave what they were doing, forget how they looked and rise together in a revolution of dancing.

The website says

ONE BILLION RISING IS:

A global strike
An invitation to dance
A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends
An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers
A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given
A new time and a new way of being.”

And today I joined a tiny group of women, men and children in the town where I live and we danced, through the streets and in the square. We danced and sang and we rose, with all the other people who joined us, rising around the world.

It’s a start, it’s a beginning, it’s a change, and we will all rise.

“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou

Rachel

When I was nine my sister wanted a dog. She had set her heart on a border collie dog called Shep. After a long time of wheedling and pleading my parents started asking around if anyone knew someone who had a collie.
One evening we were all sitting around the table, having just finished a late dinner and our neighbour knocked on the door. He was holding a tiny puppy in his arms and asked if we wanted her. Looking at her there was no way any of us were going to say no.

She wasn’t the Shep my sister had been dreaming of, she was a Border collie/cocker spaniel cross and therefor rather short, and my sister refused to call a girl Shep, so over the course of the evening she settled on Rachel.

She was an incredibly massive and important part of our lives as a family for the next ten years, I love our cats all dearly but they do tend to exist on a different level to the way Rachel did. We’d walk her as a family, we’d forget to walk her as a family, she was a godsend to my Grandparents, particularly my grandfather who used to take her for long walks and let her in the kitchen (Which was normally not allowed).

I used to take her for walks on the back road up Blackstairs quite a lot, up until I moved to England. After I moved I didn’t go for walks as much and when I came back home I was shocked everytime by how much older she looked. It was one of those things that doesn’t hit you quite as much until you don’t see someone for three months. Ten is quite old for a dog like her.

Anyway…
On Tuesday the 8th I got a phone call from my mother, she said that Rachel had gotten sudden kidney failure and was at the vets. There was a possibility they could get her kidneys working again but if not they might have to put her down.
I spent the evening crying on my girlfriend’s shoulder.

On Thursday I got an email from mam, they’d brought Rachel home from the vet, but she was dying, the vet was coming to our house that evening to give her an injection, and if me and my brother wanted to call, to say something, anything to her now was the time.

I rang and sat there crying on the phone to her.

After that I spoke to my sister, we spent five minutes on either side of the phone hardly saying a word and trying not to cry because what can you honestly say at times like that?

On the 10th on January 2013 our dog Rachel died.

If there are two things I regret it was these, firstly that I was too sick over Christmas to go on a proper walk with her. And secondly that I couldn’t be there, until I moved I had always been there when one of our pets died and when it was Rachel I was stuck, far away from her unable to get home and to be there.

But I’ll always be glad of the almost ten years she had with us. Always.

Super Short Story

I didn’t know it was possible to want someone as much as I want you right now.
Do you even know? Do you have any idea how sexy you look holding that slice of tomato on the end of your fork as you talk near endlessly about that book you’ve just read.
You eat things so precisely, slicing the tomato chunks. I can’t remember seeing anyone eat like that. And I want you.
How can you not notice this?

Inspired by an O’Brien’s Sandwich Bar postcard freebie for use in an art project.