I grew up in a small Scottish island community. “Queer” was/is an insult, and one I had had levelled at me many times. When I came out as bisexual, I was informed it was a phase. I gave up talking about my sexuality. I gave up trying to figure out who I was because I came to the conclusion nobody cared. I was clumsy and round-faced and had violent mood swings. None of the boys liked me, and that made me feel worthless.
When I was sixteen, I spent a long time trying to find myself again. I started taking my writing and art seriously. It was my only escape; a means of expression that meant I didn’t have to worry about people (men) looking at me. I won prizes for the work I did, and grew confident. I started rediscovering myself and my body. I did like women, after all. It wasn’t a phase, it was part of who I was. I wanted to fall in love with a girl. I wanted to experience what I’d felt with my best friends when I was younger – the feeling that there was a secret passage between our minds and we could dip in and out of each others’ thoughts. (It’s probably not a complete coincidence that most of my childhood and adolescent best friends have ended up liking women as well.) I imagined how complete I would feel, kissing a woman, fucking her, taking care of her. It was one of the few things I’d ever been certain about.
I began to identify as queer. This time, nobody could tell me what that meant, because queer is a word heteros cannot use and do not understand. The second I started to use that word, I felt different. I was a genderqueer dyke, part filthy Bukowski, part glittering andro punk. I could be messy, I could fuck up, I could hide in my bed, and I didn’t have to punish myself for the things I felt.
Things are still shit though. I live in Edinburgh now, and don’t face the same tense, rigid silence about non-straight identities, but I do experience (sexual) harassment (from men) on the regular. I find it hard to make a space for myself here because I’m introverted and sometimes depressed and often don’t say much. LGBTQ+ spaces are dominated by gay cisgender men and a few women, who just don’t “get” trans* issues and think the word queer is pretentious (a few of them are even Tories).
This is why I need The Ruined Surprise Party. I want to create a space for people like me to make art, care for each other, and feel less alone. I want a safe place where I can escape from the real world and feel like I matter, even though I care about feelings, intuition and expression more than “objectivity” and intellectualism.
I want a place where feminine qualities are not just accepted, but celebrated, and where queer people can be any kind of queer.
Please: help me make this happen.