Queer – loves books, rats

It’s been a hell of a journey I’ve been on, clichéd as that word has become. Claiming my sexuality has been stressful, frightening, and wonderful. I was in the library the other day, looking up resources for the dreaded Concept Development project on food. Thinking laterally, I flick through books about sex looking for information about supposed aphrodisiacs or games involving food. I find a book called the Lesbian Karma Sutra and add it to my growing collection to borrow. One of my local libraries has recently extended their maximum book allowance to 40, as a result I had to buy extra green carry bags from them this day. I’m aware of a tension between the old rules – that a book like this was forbidden – and the new world – where I can publicly acknowledge my interest in the topic. There’s a sense of reclaiming territory that should have been mine all along, that should never have been fenced off.

Of course, the one book that refuses to scan at the self-service checkout is the Lesbian Karma Sutra. I put on my brave face and go up to the librarian and look her in the eye and ask her to scan it through for me. I refuse to be intimidated! I do however, walk to the desk with the older female librarian rather than the older male. Not that liberated yet!

I’m loving spending time with other queer people, especially women. I have gay male friends but very few female. It’s been wonderful to meet other people and flesh out what have been mostly media-informed stereotypes in my mind. My initial sense of being totally out of my depth and uncertain is making way for a new sense of confidence and enjoyment. I love the company of these women, and I treasure feeling accepted by them. I’m also becoming ever more passionate about making safe spaces for queer people.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some interesting experiences. One day recently, I had a huge stressful day at work, dashed home to change and dress up – trying to find that line between just enough to look good and fit in and not so much that it looks like I think I’m on a date or trying too hard… gawd it’s like being a teenager again, worried you’ve got lipstick on your teeth and playing nervously with your hair. I drive off to a group I’m meeting up with. I’m nervous and excited and hypersensitive and jumpy. Watching them watching me watching them… wondering if any of these new friends have read any of my blog and if so what they thought about the crazy new group member or if that’s a conversation yet to happen, wrestling with a bra, my nicest one, whose straps climb off my shoulders every few minutes, and slightly freezing as we’re meeting in a big, cold hall.

A new member turns up with a pet rat tucked in her jacket and I can’t resist – I love rats. I wait patiently for a cuddle of him, he’s big and placid and sweet. He also quietly pees all down my jacket front. So, having gone through the anxious process of trying to dress up but not dress up too much – to work out which part wants to attend (the same one as last time or take turns? – this affects which outfit gets chosen) and the ramifications of that choice, trying to be friendly without over-sharing and fit in without pretending to be anyone I’m (we’re) not… I’m now sitting on the floor with all the carefully made choices about how I present myself to a new group of queer/lesbian friends rather foiled by the fact that I am wearing rat piss perfume.

After some thought, I give back the rat reluctantly, strip off my jumper as if I’m not cold, surreptitiously pat my tee-shirt to check if it’s wet, decide I’ve got away with it and finish out the evening. And laugh half the way home. Life is surreal! 🙂

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