I remember clearly the first hen night I went to, for my friend Clare. It was a myriad of pink, feathers and L plates that ended up on my wheelchair. Pre-transition, it was a world I had dreamed of gaining access to, craved it almost. Up to that point, I had had to make do with mainly anecdotal, second hand accounts from other women as to what such occasions were like.
But at that point I felt like a door had been unlocked. In a Narnia-esque way, it was a door into a world that I had never ventured into, but wanted to venture into.
In my previous life, I’d been out on a lads night out and lasted a mere 10 minutes. The talk of “Phwoar, look at the tits and arse on that,” coupled with the implicit objectification of women lying underneath it appealed to me as much as sucking on a lemon tied up.
This was one of the many flashpoints , or lightbulb moments when I knew something wasn’t quite right. I remember watching Big Brother on Channel 4 when there was a stag do versus hen nighr task, and thinking how the hen night looked more fun.
Anyway, the upshot is that I’m here, and the lightbulb in my brain is energy saving and burning brightly.
Another Narnia esque door will soon be unlocking for me. I shall be going to the engagement part of my friends, Lianne and Tiani. The only difference is that this ain’t no man/woman ting, y’getme? No they are two beautiful women getting married.
This marks another milestone on my journey. Not only does it affirm me as a woman, it also affirms, accepts and assimilates me as part of my local gay community and these three words affirmation, assimilation and acceptance mean the world to me.
You see, when I come to The Edge (www.theedgesouthampton.com) it feels like coming home. Though I have built up a good network of friends now and have more confidence, I am the sort of person that needs an anchor to keep me centred, something I can really rely on and that for me is the gay scene.
Affirmation is the most powerful thing of all. For me it means that other people believe in me and respect me and the path I have chosen to walk. It means I feel safe in the environment of The Edge to express myself and be myself which can only be a positive thing.
I am a bit iffy about the word acceptance. It is a bit like the bare minimum possible, but it allowed me to get three A’s into the title and made it sound catchy. It may be slightly clinical, but at its best and most meaningful, acceptance is a wonderful thing. It makes you feel wanted, supported and cared for, all essential ingredients in human personal development.
For me, assimilation means I am at one with the people around me. That is to say, I belong. Without the gay community, I would be very lonely, since most of my genuine friends are in it. Assimilation means there is a shared level of understanding, whereas I sometimes feel I am talking a foreign language to non-LGBT people.
I will go to this engagement party, feeling affirmed, accepted, and assimilated, and also centred and rounded. That gives me a lot to feel thankful for, and maybe a desire to help those who struggle too.