Sunday, 17 June 2018

Sick Fucks/RESILIENT(and resisting)

I went to a communtiy event recently where some one assured me they had read my blog, when I laughed and said 'Wow, one reader!' they seemed to think I was expressing false modesty. How funny that gap between RL and how others percieve us is.

Anyhow, as it's a couple of YEARS since I've blogged I thought I might give it another roll of the dice. Two years! In which I've accessed meds via an online buyers club, had a massive upturn in levels of physical health! (The mental health is pretty much the same), I've written another book, AND fought tooth and claw to win funding for a new project: 'Sick Fucks' < now rather crappily renamed 'Resilient' (and resisting), as the Heritage Lottery Fund *probably* don't fund projects called 'Sick Fucks'. One of the more curious moments in that funding process was being asked how I would respond when 'The general public' complained about the work I was producing. (!!!) Apparently the general public have a reputation as Daily Mail reading arseholes. I pointed out the WE (queers, crips, perves, sex workers and survivors) are also the general public and our stories have the right to be told. More info on the seeds of that project and combating stigma here:

I've been writing like a demon of late, listening hard to interviews, marvelling at the amazing people I come into contact with. Sometimes I feel as if I am being changed by peoples stories as I listen. I set myself a deadline to conduct and write four interviews in the first month of the project, which *may* have been over ambitious. Now I'm trying to slow down, spend some time on teaching DIY History workshops, and figure out how to record and collaboratively edit some small group discussions. What I notice is that it seems to be rare to work collaboratively. Also that as I increase the network of groups I'm in touch with, as a result I'm doing extra community work. I wouldn't have been physically able to do this 12 months ago, it's weird thinking about access, when the reason you are doing more is because it's possible to get up and walk around.

OK, going to lay down for a bit, not edit the remainder of a semi written piece called 'Sex, Repression and Mental Weath' and get on with some relaxation.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

stone femme shoes archive September 07, 2008, 08:41:53 PM

stone femme shoes archive
September 07, 2008, 08:41:53 PM

uh.....sitting at home contemplating 'the joy of airports' and staring at the contents of my suitcase - spilling out across the floor.

did i ever mention how much i HATE traveling? it goes, but yeah - whinge, moan, complain - even tho i haven't even left yet im already looking forward to getting home.  ::)

Beograd is one of those places that when i do get home, have the luxury of walking into my room and closing the door .....i sit down and go 'wow, *sigh* London is SO QUIET'

ive spent much of the day stuffing costumes, props, wigs, shoes, scripts, soundtracks into my bags and then wondering 'where the hell are my 'ordinary' clothes ???'

on the upside its rumored to be around 30 degrees and sunny in Beograd so YAY! SUMMER!

but uh - yeah an early morning flight  :( ain't looking forward to it, i feel LAZY, TIERD already - not the best stepping out mood for 3 weeks of working like a hell in crazy surroundings. 

days like today i have to give myself a GOOD HARD SLAP - cos i get to go and do what i LOVE, to be part of something really great. but yeah its been a BUSY year - this is my last big task and i sooooooo looking forward to being on the other side of it.

im hoping that as soon as i step out into the chaotic ZING that is Beograd that i will be back on track - up, and in a better mood....well hell, I BETTER BE!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

stone femme shoes archive September 03, 2008, 12:35:32 PM

stone femme shoes archive
September 03, 2008, 12:35:32 PM

Only a few more days before I fly to Serbia. :D

Im REALLY looking forward to seeing my friends, I miss them A LOT.
Im already nervous and dreading the volatile collective arguments…but as one of my friends said ‘best to accept that this will happen as a certainty and just know that…of course this always happens'. so yippee...more yelling.  ::)

Im still writing the scripts (or not writing as the case maybe) and im still short of a performer – but fuck it – I will do the bloody thing myself if I have to. dresses up in best 'gay man' drag

Slowly reaching that point where worry, stress, ....whatever....
– the craziness will take over and we will just be IN IT – DOING IT.

So much good stuff seems to be happening at the moment,
The Turkish group KAOS-GL publish a large article about us online this week with another version coming out in their hard copy magazine later this month.
…….maybe….just maybe...... we will take the ‘border fuckers’ cabaret to turkey!!!

For the festival itself im so happy with what we have put together,
Within our theme of ‘direct action’ we have our opening night cabaret, bands, parties…..but also a gathering of anti-fa groups from around the region with people attending from Russian, Belarus and turkey – its so fucking good to be able to invite people to come to the festival from places where Beograd looks luxurious and easy in comparison!

and host some closed “queers of colour’ meetings – one for Roma only, the other open to all queers of colour – its very good that we have an opportunity to provide space for this – issues of race are so often raised in queer spaces – yet so seldom really addressed.

Theres also the likelihood that there will be another small more ‘closed group’ talk for people wanting to come from wider Europe to explore surgery options for transition in Serbia.

In the four years we have been working together as a group we have come a LONG WAY.
I feel proud.

On the not so good side of things I got this information today

yesterday m got a call from a journalist from the free daily newspaper, who was asking around about the festival.. and even though m explained that we do not communicate with media until after the festival, and that any articles could affect our own and participants safety, the stupid idiot published the text..
not only that - it was on the front page!

in short, the headline is: "The 5th clandestine gay festival from 18-21st September"
its not homophobic, but very much sensationalist and stupid.. they published our web site address and most of the info they took from the web site..
for now, we expect that tabloids also write about it in next days, so for now, we send emails to LGBT lists and individual activists not to respond to possible calls from media.

hopefully by next week it will be old news

does anyone have any more ideas on how to react on this?"

this is really the first time we have been 'outed' by the media - in the past we have worked very hard to keep things underground - to carefully choose our public moments so as not to set ourselves up for violence. its funny in a way because this year our confidence has grown so much that we are considering some more 'direct action' style public events.....
but where we get to plan properly in advance, organize so we come out on top.

so ive said before the idea of fascists frightens me...but hell...thats life.

i guess i'd better pack practical shoes  ;)

Friday, 22 July 2016

stone femme shoes archive August 28, 2008, 09:41:29 PM

stone femme shoes archive
August 28, 2008, 09:41:29 PM

strangely........while spending a lot of time  working to have inclusive spaces, not nessecarily identifying with the label 'woman' and reading reading reading about 'post human' stuff i seem to have written a script that i can only describe as very 'second wave' ..uh weird

and theres the thing i have my roots in that sort of feminism, the eighties - yeah i was there - and women only spaces, the whole woman identified thing was pretty important to me at the time. altho it was also something that also sowed the roots of dissent for me. as much as i loved the feeling of safety i found in womens spaces i also found they excluded ME - because i was femme, because i had relationships with men, because i wasn't happy to live according to the sisterhood and all its very arbitrary rules. i dont want to live according to dogma.

when im in serbia i find i have even LESS visibility as a gender queer femme than i have in london. i spend loads of time outing myself to people and having to explain who i am just so i have some sort of context to live in. second wave is alive and kicking in that part of the world. many schisms have occured between our queer movement and the traditional feminists....but i have friends who i respect within that feminist movement and i want to maintain those links, not take part in a continual fragmenting of movements.

i value the work done by women who have that politics, the womens centres, the crisis lines, the shelters, the education programmes - so much pioneering work to be proud of!

the script i have just written is about womens stories during the war, (bosnia and kosovo) particularly the under stories of women exchanging information and building solidarity through the 'womens' practice of talking, maintaining communication. and my performer for this script is a women who works in the crisis centre that originally was so much a part of the anti war effort and worked to set up rape crisis centres in solidarity with bosnian women.

there are some points made about partriarchy and its part in wars.......

and always it is the difficulty of how to name real problems, real links between nationalism, patriarchy and militarism and how NOT to fall into the easy way of saying 'oh this is a mens issue'. because i also know that it is about a culture, a way of behaving, an indoctrination a nationalist war machine....that many people fought against.

so much of our focus as a collective in beograd is to build an open and inclusive space where we can ALL be together and have some NEW freedom to be ourselves.

how to acknowledge what exists, and yet to move forwards. most often it appears that in order to move forward we have to go back to the roots and pull all this mess apart, over and over again.

.....the other thing is i dont know how the hell to make this  funny, - yes i managed to make the story about the srebrenica massacre contain funny elements - but this - jesus - i just dont know. PHEW.........fucking politics aye. ::)

Thursday, 21 July 2016

stone femme shoes archive August 27, 2008, 02:02:23 PM

stone femme shoes archive
August 27, 2008, 02:02:23 PM

well this might all seem a little melodramatic - but what the fuck - its where im at.

eggshells......its only 2 weeks till i go to beograd and im starting to feel if i am walking on eggshells

its always hard to tell what the situation will be in beograd but i am worried.
thats nothing new, the whole time ive been going there ive been scared, sometimes crazy scared - worried about walking in the streets - ruled by my own fears of 'what if'.
other times just scared in a more abstract sense, of what the fuck might be happening with the country and its politics this time.

so yeah the various worries i have had at one time or another: that some homophobe will beat me for being gay, that some homophobe will beat my lover for being gay, that we will fail to pass as a straight couple and be beaten for being gay, that tension between serbia and kosovo will spill over and another war will start, that anti western feeling will spill over and another war will start, that my friends will be hurt for any of those reasons, that my friends are stressed out for all of those reasons and i worry for their mental state, that my friends will be hurt because of the colour of their skin/nationality/accent...being different.

and i dont want to be a drama queen, yes there are worse places in the world, much more dangerous and risky situations - but this IS the one that i work in. i have chosen to be part of and keep working with 'queer beograd' collective in serbia. and as i said before - its so hard to tell what the situation will be.

believe me i LOVE the anti climax when there is NO violence...i have no problem with that aspect of a quiet life.

so for this particular festival one of the topics we approach is anti facism - following on from a bit of a falling out on an antifascist demo last year over the issue of homophobia - we have made it our focus to try and BUILD links with the antifascist movement, to strengthen that connection so we can stand together.

today a friend advised me that maybe we should not be publicising the topic 'antifascism' on our web this might make us a target. this kind of stuff makes me feel sick - i want to carry on getting away with it, i DONT want to have a face to face confrontation with guys who are bigger than me, who want to beat me or destroy our gathering....that thought terrifies me.

i keep thinking of my friend who used to dream of fascists every night when the festival was happening. i dont want to be afraid, i dont know how not to be afraid.

and then on the other hand i have some other story going on - quite different, personal - but limiting in its own way. i have been having the hardest time motivating myself to write the shows for the opening night of our festival. procrastination - endless hours of NOT doing the thing that i love the most....
and as i look underneath this writers block i find my own self destruction - those horrible internal voices that tell me 'shut up you have nothing to say' or 'shut up everyone will hate what you have to say anyway' or 'dont bother, what you do means NOTHING'....and worst of all recognizing a part of myself that wants only my own destruction - the part of myself that cannot see that i have a right to be who i am, to carry on creating the person who i believe i am.

some how this external force and this internal force must balance and serve to work each other out. because surely i write and live the way i do as an act of survival, those fucking bastards/the haters who do not want my type of person to exist, in their own way serve to keep me alive...... because i am one of those people so self destructive that i need to fight an outside force to keep my feet on the planet.

so yes - just for today - i will win against fear......and i will carry on writing.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

stone femme shoes archive August 19, 2008, 08:57:53 PM

stone femme shoes archive
August 19, 2008, 08:57:53 PM

hmmm....writing is not going very fast at the moment - well not the creative stuff anyway, tho yesterday i edited down a 8,000 word interveiw that tom cruise and i did for the turkish LGBT mag Kaos GL to just over 4,000 words so we can use it in the queer beograd book and picked the photos from transfab for the book. today i rewrote the intro for the section on trans stuff and also rewrote two short pieces describing the performances we do. *ahem* all of this while at 'the day job' YIKES wonder i always look busy while at work.  :-\

and ive been thinking of the two particular people that refers to.....both of whom taught me so much about being a woman*.

that may seem strange but my family upbringing taught me a lot of weird things about being a girl...mostly stuff based on being dependent on some one else for income/safety/anything it wasnt until i met Crystal and Lucretia that i was introduced to the idea of behaving with FIERCE dignity, being unafraid and unashamed of my sexuality and getting out there and 'FLAUNTING IT GIRRRRL'

these girls were TOUGH, but in the way of having pride in who they were, carrying on being fabulous despite physical threats, verbal abuse, dirty looks, all the shit of being out in public in a small town....

Crystal especially always carried  herself like a queen - over 6' tall and at least 20 stone she was an imposing figure. i can still remember her oft repeated words 'honey, dont ever mess with a drag queen'  from her i learned to walk tall and if anyone had anything to say to me turn and look them in the eye....

Lucretia was a slightly different kind of girl - i remember celebrating with her when late in life she decided to begin transition. sitting the kitchen table one day we were talking about learning to feel good about ourselves. of breaking the habit of low self esteem and not appreciating our own looks. i was talking about looking back at pictures of myself in my early 20's seeing that i was pretty! which was SO different from how i felt about myself at the time. she was talking about looking at pictures of herself as a young guy, thinking 'hmmm, not bad, i could fancy him' we both never appreciated what we had at the time. from that point on i swore to always find some way to feel good about my stop listening to the mental shite that told me anything else.

i would sit with them as they sewed sequins and feathers onto elaborate costumes for hours at a time, we would do 'girly' stuff together, enjoying dressing up, being glam, from them i learned it was ok to be LOUDER and more full on....because growing up i had always been taught to tone it down.

we would talk about relationships, the pleasure and pain of romance....talking about men one time Lucretia said 'bloody hell sweets think i used to be one!'

one night when i was broken hearted after another disastrous romance i went to Lucretia for help.....and she did the greatest thing for me of all....she handed me a camera, a beautiful 6x4 meduim format SLR pentax. a talented photographer herself she knew that the best thing, the only thing she could really do for me was push me towards creating something for myself.

that night i went home and for the first time ever consciously dressed in drag...more make up that i would ever wear in public, an outfit that felt risque at the time, shiny gold shoes, my hair slicked down....the pictures were titled 'tonight i feel like a drag queen'.
thats when i began to be Femme.

*A term I have a complex relationship with.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

stone femme shoes archive August 11, 2008, 08:11:58 PM

stone femme shoes archive
August 11, 2008, 08:11:58 PM

Today i booked my flight to in a few weeks i will be setting off again to Serbia for our little QueerBeograd festival.

in the meantime ive been starting work on a few of the things that need to be done -

every year we make a book that contains transcripts of the political discussions we hold as part of the festival. last year the panel discussion of sex work fell into a million confusing and horrible pieces midway through  :-\ it was one of those nightmare facilitation moments - i had stepped in at the last minute because the person supposed to be facilitating was ill.
i turned to the next speakers ....and through an interpreter asked 'so do you want to share your story' which the person replied 'well actually we're not sex workers, perhaps there has been a mistake.

i have to say at that point the world kinda FROZE for me..... its the kind of fuck up that makes you want to just disappear through the floor but i had to think of something FAST just to get us through to the other side ...
it was very hard to tell what the situation was: perhaps the person who invited them to the panel had completely stuffed up, perhaps they had at the last minute decided they were not comfortable with being 'out' (the speaker prior to them had just been talking about how there are no sex workers speaking publically in serbia as advocates for workers rights because of issues with safety) perhaps we had been totally off the mark .......anyway it was BAD.

...some how in yet another disaster the sound technician didn't record the very fruitful - energetic - argumentative - debate that wound up the discussion....with some of the audience choosing to out themselves as sex workers and speaking very articulately on the political necessities and realities of sex worker rights.

and now im trying to stitch the whole debacle together into something readable that makes political sense! and doesn't make us look like complete and utter bastards.

*ponders, ponders some more* for the moment im drawing a blank on that one. ::)

im also starting to think about writing the shows/finding performers for our opening night.
im so happy that our berlin guy who came to transfabulous will join us in beograd and do his  show again. my friend in amsterdam will also come to beograd and and we are chatting about his long history as a no borders/human rights activist - tho i want to see him perform whatever we come up with in character as the handsome rockabilly gay boy he is.

i finally want to write a story that made a strong impression on me when i first went to beograd - of the cooperation between women in serbia and bosnia during the war.
while i was visiting the autonomous womens centre - a kind of crisis centre dealing with rape and domestic violence against women - one of the women there told me about how the first rape crisis centres were set up in bosnia with the help of  women in serbia. the women were only able to communicate over the phone. women in serbia  had been trained in workshops in amsterdam, and passed on their knowledge to the women in bosnia who were trying to deal with the many cases of rape resulting from the war. its such a beautiful and powerful story. and im pleased to have one of the women who works in the centre agree to perform the i just have to write it.

funny how hard it is to start sometimes....i dont know what it is i wait for, im always a little tierd, anxious, afraid that the words wont do justice to the story, that it wont 'come'.
but yes how can i NOT tell such a story...its such a privilege.