So, I promised you a post about Oxford Pride 2012. However, that is not quite possible as I did not manage to get there on the Saturday. However, I did manage to go up there on Sunday to ‘do lunch’ with MTS, plus the Oxford Pride Committee.
I am reliably informed that everything went very well and the Committee has a lot to be proud of. With a different lineup to previous years, with much variety, the team have a lot to be happy about. They clearly take Pride in their work!
Before I turn to the main thrust of my post, let me say a few words about Oxford itself.
Oxford will always have a special place in my heart. It is a diverse, multicultural melting pot of a city where pretty much anything goes. The reason why it has a special place in my heart is because I studied there, at Oxford Brookes, and did a degree in English and Sociology.That’s actually a slightly misleading sentence, as it sounds like what I am saying is that it is my degree which made Oxford special. No. This is not the case.
What does make it special though, is that I experienced some of my darkest days there, in a drunken haze. and some of my best. It is where I bought my first female clothes, I particularly remember a pink and gold skirt, with a kind of golden threading design. Now I must have looked pretty stupid in it, because I did not bother coordinating it with other things.
To be honest though, I did not really care. All that mattered at the time was that it was a female item of clothing, and it was mine. Something female, that I had bought, and that belonged to me. I will say less about the Boy George hat and lipstick that was meant to be a gentle introduction to the world of trans for my mother. All you are getting is two words. Lead balloon. That pretty much sums up things as regards the state of that relationship too.
Oxford too was a place of psychological strides for me. It was the place where I first came out as trans to my then counsellor, Liz Arbiser. I like to think of Oxford as being quite an enlightened place, nothing much really bothers people there. I remember blurting out to her, “I want to be a woman, I can’t cope as a man any more” “OK” she said, “you will lose a lot of power as a woman you know that , don’t you?”
I guess I did. Liz recommended me books by Mike Scott-Peck to read, The Road Less Travelled, and Further Along The Road Less Travelled. The subliminal narrative of those books seemed to be about taking risks for the greater good, in other words, for your own good, and for your own mental health, stability and well being. Also, she recommended another book by Thomas Harris, entitled, “I’m OK, You’re OK”
To conclude this part of the piece then, the moral of the story is that without Oxford, and Liz, I would not be where I am today. It is such a vibrant, cosmopolitan place. I really loved being back there at the weekend.
Naturally there were other people and places who contributed to my personal growth and development, but Oxford was pretty crucial to it. Liz for example, was one of the first people I came out to. One of the Indian shops in Oxford was where I bought my first skirt. In a nutshell, Oxford will always be special to me, and I am glad of that.
Something else that I imagine will always be special to me is my friendship with Drew, Donna, Karen, Lewis, Sarah and Fox. You may know them better as the cast of My Transsexual Summer. The nice thing about my friendship with them too, is that it has snowballed and formed other friendships too, namely with Sarah C, Jodie, Aeryn and Samy.
Even though I could not make it to the actual Oxford Pride event on the Saturday, it was my privilege to be invited to join them for a roast dinner on the Sunday, at The Jolly Farmer in Oxford.
It was a special day really, kind of fusion cookery between a place that is special to me and friends who are special. I did not feel like an intruder or a spare part or anything. I was made to feel welcome and a part of the the group, as indeed I am am any time we go out, whether it is in London, Oxford, or as we are soon to be, out in Manchester for Sparkle 2012.
They are all very special, genuine, empathic and caring people. At this point, though let me revisit something from the recent past.
At the time, my decision to leave The Edge was greeted with bewilderment and in many cases. I believe I have been vindicated in that choice, because I have found something better. Not in a na na na na na sense, but simply, something better for me. Let me explain.
Leaving The Edge was a massive massive gamble. I literally took myself from hero to zero in the course of a night, in a 144 friend cull. Leaving a scene is also a massive gamble, as you go from having your social life passively mapped out for you to an empty diary.
Leaving The Edge was also weird because I did not know what was on the other side of the tunnel if you like. It could have been a big fat nothing. But it was not. I have had a better and more meaningful social life with people I genuinely love, and who I know when they are sober as well as drunk. I also am saving money and am able to treat myself more by indulging in my own passions and hobbies. I also feel more in control and in the driving seat. It frees me up to spend time with my trans friends and take advantage of available opportunities, like Oxford, like World Pride, and Sparkle 2012 for example.
In short I think leaving The Edge was the right thing to do. Though I am and always will be eternally grateful to them, as that is where the newly planted seed of my friendship with them all was formed, and I would never turn my nose up at going back there with them in the future. When I say better for me, I am reminded of the bed as versus bed with dichotomy. My friendship group is acutely aware of both strands of it, and for that I am grateful.
The conversation last Sunday flowed as well as the drinks. As I always do, I will keep those conversations out of the blog. But it is so nice to just spend a relaxed Sunday amongst friends, where you can just say anything without feeling awkward. I feel comfortable and equally friendly with everyone and there is nothing I could not listen to or speak about around them.
One thing though, look up the word queefing. It generated a lot of giggles around the Team Trans table last week. Oh and Lewis birthday cake was lovely and not left out in the rain. Sorry I could not save you a piece.
But the key thing here is that word Facebook is so fond of, mutual. The friendship, understanding and caring and empathic relationship between myself and others mentioned is mutual I feel.
I sometimes cannot work out what they see in me, out of the thousands of people they meet and have met. But that is mainly during a funny five minutes. Most of the time, I see a fabulous friendship and a beautiful bond.
Perhaps this for me best illustrates it. I joined them at the pub for dinner. The pub is non wheelchair accessible and in a very old building.
They had a special table set out for them in the pub. However, they chose to not use the table in the pub and came outside and ate with me. I was touched by this as I thought it was a very unselfish gesture.
You see, so often in my life, I felt excluded from things. I have not been able to do what others do, or go where they go. But yet, my friends have removed these socially constructed barriers at a stroke, with fifty per cent fab attitude and fifty per cent bloody mindedness. They help me when I need to too, and seem to actually care.
That is the mark of my trans friends, they care. I feel excluded too sometimes, as a trans woman in a heteronormative world.
But when we are all together, the crap and difficulty we have experienced melts away to be replaced by friendship and laughter.
To anyone who thinks these friends of mine are not genuine, you are wrong. They are. To anyone who thinks it is OK to insult them via the Internet, carry on. It is only you who looks stupid.