Sunday, 12 April 2020

Mentally Processing 2020

My favourite analogy for what is going on just now is that humanity has been dumped.

You know when you're on the receiving end of a breakup and you don't see it coming, and it is with someone you have been seeing for long enough that you kind of have a life together at least half-assedly mapped out in your head.

Your spending plans are tied to them. Your social plans. Your happiness. Your sense of who you are. Your sense that you can trust how things will be from one day to the next, derived from how things have been between you and them each day until now.

That's what happened to us all last month.  We were breezing happily along, suddenly the virus hit us like an "it's over between us" to everyone in the land all at once.

For the first few days of working from adjusting and switching to working from home or travelling in a zombie apocalypse, it was like the moments and days after a relationship breakup. Blinking, unsure it's quite real, wondering if they might just change their mind and this whole thing will be a horrible moment of staring into the void but then won't be so bad after all.

And all those ways we measure and plan and know ourselves fell apart.

So it makes sense you can't focus on your work properly.  Where normally feeling like this you'd fall back on your friends to reassure you of things, you can't see them or go to a pub and grouch about what has happened.  All those good things to do like taking up a new hobby that involves getting out of the house and meeting new people, getting drunk in a bar and dancing near strangers, or going away someplace new for a change of scene - nope. 

And this time whoever you are, you aren't one of the lucky, pretty, confident things that outside of analogy-land bounce straight into a new relationship in next to no time. Damn their eyes.

Inside I wonder how many of us are even at the equivalent point to that day however many weeks or months after being dumped by a serious love where you have mostly stopped crying?

This month before us is the time when you want there to be your love next to you and there is no-one. You want to make plans to go away together in the summer, to move to a new place together, to have them there to talk to and to be company when you need to share how your day was or on a day out in the Easter Bank Holiday sunshine.

We can't make plans for our new life yet. We have to stay home and will naturally tend to focus on what we lost.

Because we are grieving the life we all thought we'd have this spring, like we'd grieve the life we thought we had with someone that they suddenly snatched away from us.

And we're crushed and we're cross and we just want to hit fast forward and be past all this.  Normally we all know someone who's feeling like that but instead every single one of us is going through it at the same damn time.

On top of which a growing number of us have the non-metaphorical grief of loss to deal with as people we love die at the hands of the plague that our former life left us for.

This is why I'm trying to be more kind to myself than normal, more willing to accept that I have days where I just feel like I failed, and to extend the same to others. We are all shambling round shellshocked from being dumped by a partner we didn't even know we had: the 2020 we thought we were going to be living with.

We can get through this. Let's not beat ourselves up along the way.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

LGBT History Month is here!

In February 2005, the UK marked its first LGBT History Month.

I loved the notion: although looking back over old correspondence it seems that the organisers were perhaps collaborating on something to be marked in the more progressive schools around the country, the wider LGBT community heard about it and picked up the idea and ran with it.  So while there were no doubt a bunch of schools events (at thirtyish I wasn't really the demographic to hear about them!) there were a host of other things besides too around the country aimed at the LGBT community in general or anyone LGBT friendly in wider society.

But it was quite lesbian-and-gay despite the name.

Lots of bi and trans people felt left out and some of us decided to do things about it; but to be honest, it was much more something that got picked up within the trans community than the bi community.  So the next few years there were a host of trans events, and a slight downturn in the amount of gay and lesbian stuff - the second and third years of things often see a bit of a downturn as people who had one idea struggle to work out what to do the second time around - but there wasn't much for bis.

In Manchester we had a talk about interpretations of bisexuality in history over the past 3,000 years.  The odd person or group here and there did a talk that didn't really have much to do with history but was perhaps their latest bi research being presented, but it felt very much an LGbT History Month.
By 2013 I'd had an idea.  There has been lots of bisexual stuff that has gone on over the years, and a growing number of high profile openly bi people or depicitions of bis on TV and in film.

There have also been a lot of erased bisexual contributions to our LGBT history, When the story of the decriminalisation of sex between men in Wales and England is told, for instance, we all hear about Labour MP Leo Abse and Conservative MP Humphrey Berkeley, but there is far less mention of Tory peer Lord Montagu or Roy Jenkins (later leader of the SDP) and the role they played as bisexual men without whom the law would likely have taken many more years to change.  If we rely on the sources of the gay and lesbian press we'll never remember the stories of things like BiCon or the bi ban at London Lesbian & Gay Switchboard. 

And so I built bisexualhistory on twitter and its facebook twin bihistory - each sharing in so far as I can manage at least one thing every day about bi history.  "On this day in..." they go - they are all anniversaries or birthdays or the like.  Usually with a link to a news article or wikipedia page so you can read more on the thing in question.

As well as reminding (or teaching!) you of a little dollop of our bisexual history each day, they give an easy way to remind other people about your bisexuality - retweeting about famous bis or bi events is a subtle reminder but one no-one can accuse you of "ramming it down their throat" over, you're just retweeting a happy birthday message to Anna Paquin or Sara Ramirez or what have you. And for allies it's a really easy way of gently showing support through the year.

I'd love people to submit more dates for the calendar. Maybe you know a few or would like to help out by researching some.

And meanwhile the Month has grown like topsy the last few years with a host of events including the big "Hub" events around the UK - more than a dozen big LGBT history festivals at museums around the country and even with a couple overseas joining in.

So happy LGBT History Month. Even if it's not LGBTHM wherever in the world you are!