Saturday, 27 February 2021

Finding Myself in LGBTQ+ History Month


*warning. Derogatory homophobic language used in post*

I didn’t realise until I saw Lesbemums Instagram at the beginning of February that it’s LGBTQ+ History month.

Ever since there’s been a nagging feeling that I should write......something; even if I did publish it in the last day. 

I had an incredibly misogynistic, homophobic, ablest, racist and bigoted childhood.

Dad was at the centre of it. To me, Mum would verbally oppose it.

Through my mum I saw gender identity boundaries broken down. She embodied and publicly supported feminism. I saw a strong fighter for minorities and equalities in every job she had.

She was the one who showed me that, despite my disability, I had a lot to offer the world.

Yet around my dad she was complicit.

For a long time I would say they were part of the “uneducated generation” but I won’t excuse it. They BOTH negatively impacted my understanding of LGBTQ+ communities and my personal relationships.

Growing up it felt different. Dad encompassed the bigoted world and was very vocal about it and, unlike Mum, I never witnessed ANYTHING outside of that opinion.

Anything other than heterosexual was wrong and he made sure I knew it mentally and physically.

The abusive vocabulary was constant. The gay couple on our road were given many negative names when we drove past their house. Dad also promoted objectifying women and would berate me repeatedly when I refused to join in.

The moment I showed independent passion in activities away from his own they were criticised and HIS opinions were enforced.

I wasn’t sporty. I detested sport which was, for him, an instant reflection of my sexuality.

I was forced into football, cricket and karate clubs to “toughen me up" and to teach me to be a “real man".

Even when I did something “sporty", like becoming a fantastic figure skater, it just added fuel to the fire.

I would play families with my teddies, read, draw, sing and re-enact musicals; all activities deemed for “Poofs” and “Queers”.

99% of people around me were female. I sat and played only with girls at school. So much so that it was often raised on school reports; something that would enrage dad.

At home I had pictures of Elvis, Buddy Holly and Kenneth Williams on my wall. They were mostly torn down, ripped up and then later mocked and berated by my brother and dad over the “pictures of my boyfriends".

I loved listening to old comedies like Round the Horne and Julian and Sandy; with the latter teaching me some Polari. You can imagine the reaction from Dad when I said “Bona to vada your dolly old eek" (Good to see your pretty face)

All of this reinforced with his hand or heel of his shoe.

When I was older and started dating the boys mum, got married and had the boys I would hear with a “joyful" phrase “Thank God. We all thought you’d turn out a poof" at each event.

I know that none of the things I did or still like is associated with the LGBTQ+ community. We all know they’re just interests but that was my childhood.

Here’s my problem: although I never changed who I was, I never spoke openly about my sexuality.

Every gay experience I’ve had, scared me. The moment something was “close” I ran in the opposite direction; I felt caught mentally in the constructs my parents created.

Even now, it is incredibly difficult to say that I’m not heterosexual.

Without influencers like Lesbemums and DaddyandDad I wouldn’t have half of the understanding I do and even then I am incredibly naive.

I have, however, worked incredibly hard to not allow my history to become my children’s future.

The kids are showing, discussing and investigating their identity and sexuality.

Midge is very open that she’s bisexual. She’s not, to my knowledge, been in any relationship but our conversations have allowed her to state it.

James is James. He identified, prior to starting school in Year 4, depending on his “costume/shield". He had costumes that identified him as “James the .........” which often crossed gender lines. Like wearing an advertised “girls" nurses costume made “James the nurse” he didn’t see gender and I didn’t change it. His language and behaviour crossed so many "social gender" lines that we couldn't pinpoint how he saw himself. Frustratingly his school peers quickly taught him gender association when he brought a pink lunchbox in.  However, at home he's still the same kid as before.

Will shows no interest in any gender. He likes to form few personal relationships but he never shows anything beyond that.

Arty has changed a lot. Without direct input from his dad, Hannah and I have been able to break down gender and sexuality stereotypes and educated him regarding LGBTQ+ communities; all, of which, we’ve heard him correct his dad with.

They’re all still young and I know they may change growing up and that’s great. We will support them whatever happens and whoever they are.

I already appreciate the above Influencers impact to my life and I hope that following on beyond LGBTQ+ History month they will continue to help me educate myself and my children whilst opening myself up to who I really am, despite my history.

*please note. All children mentioned in this posts, despite not using their real name, read the text written about them and gave me consent to post*

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