Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Stepping out a little further

Last weekend we headed north to join in celebrating the 6oth birthday of Sally’s brother in law. Mine as well.

The celebration itself was at the local golf club.

We dropped by on Saturday afternoon mid way through the inflating of balloons, setting up of sound systems and laying of tables.

I sat down with a beer. Sally’s sister, P, came and sat by me.

“I have a joke for you.”

Recently a group of transgendered folk had their first meeting at the hall of the church where she goes.

She was at a meeting on the same evening, and she needed another table.

The vicar had asked people to be sensitive and not pester the transgendered group. After all, it was their first meeting and they might be a little nervous.

In the end, though, P went and asked if they had a spare table.

The person that P asked said she should check with the organiser.

“Who’s that?”

“The lady.”

At which point P smiled a little bemusedly since the only people in sight were ladies.

P asked me  a little about my “hobby”. Which made me smile.

It was a short conversation. A small event in many ways. And yet, it was a big event as well. The first conversation with a non-immediate relative that has acknowledged this part of me.

One strange kind of thing is knowing that some people know a little of Andrea, but not knowing who knows what and who doesn’t know anything.

The cat is certainly out of the bag, but I’m not sure about who has spotted it yet, nor how much of it they have seen.

Actually, I don’t really mind who knows.

But, I hope that people that know things will be able to avoid the temptation to jump to conclusions. That they’ll be able to ask. To challenge. To find out.

Later in the evening J came to say hello.

She mentioned that she’d heard that I didn’t go to church any more and wondered if I minded talking about it … and why?

It was too late to talk much … but we talked a little. Just the beginnings of a conversation. We’ll talk again. It was nice that she wanted to know.

Ponies, people, the Bible, Jesus and me

Recently I spent a while chatting with someone using the nick ponygirl in a chat room. For over a year now she explained that she has lived as a ponygirl.

She has an owner … who owns five pony girls at the moment. Some of the things that she has mentioned:

  • It’s not a sexual thing.
  • She hasn’t been forced into it.
  • She is happy.
  • The ponies spend a lot of time restrained in various ways … mostly, I think, in ways that make it feel more like being a pony
  • They don’t talk
  • The ponies are trained
  • They are disciplined
  • They are well cared for
  • The pony that I talked with has access to the internet once in a while
  • Her family visit her every so often. They don’t find it easy … but they accept her choice. She doesn’t speak to them when they visit, but they do communicate by email

She said that the thing that she likes most is a sense of belonging.

In some ways, it’s not easy to understand why anyone would want to do this.

I think that quite lot of people would also find it hard to understand what it is that makes a guy want to wear makeup, a wig and a dress.

It’s not natural I’ve heard people say. I’ve even heard myself say it.

But is clothing natural? Plastic? Automobiles? Aeroplanes?

Maybe it’s really more about acceptability than it is about naturalness?

And different things are acceptable to different people.

Plastic, aeroplanes and just wars are acceptable to many people.

Pony girls and transvestites, gays and lesbians maybe to less.

There was a time when the Bible helped me decide what was acceptable and what wasn’t.

I was more of a “hate the sin but love the sinner” kind of person - as opposed to the “fire and brimstone” variety.

Nevertheless, the Bible was the final arbiter when it came to acceptability.

And yet looking back at those times, it was really my interpretation of the Bible that was the arbiter.

And my interpretation of the Bible was always flawed.

I think, in a way, everyone’s interpretation is flawed.

I mean … is it acceptable for women to speak in church? To commit genocide if God tells you to do it? To work on Sunday – or maybe that should be Saturday? To speak in tongues without an interpretation? To use contraceptives? To kill? To be gay? Lesbian? Transsexual? Transvestite? Pony girl? To manufacture weapons? To trade unjustly? To have two coats while someone else has none? To respond to one slap in the face with another?

Different Bible believing people have different answers to these questions.

Back in 1973, just after being Born Again, I remember reading a book Genesis in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer. Even then it seemed odd to me that the author was adamant that the existence of a real Adam and Eve were fundamental beliefs, but that the story of creation in six days and the eating of the fruit of knowledge could just be viewed as allegories.

And I have had conversations with people that find it easy to own a whole collection of coats and yet condemn, absolutely, a whole series of perversions.

I know, for sure, that I am far from perfection. A little like Amy Ray’s friend:

My friend Tanner she says,
"Y'know me and Jesus we're of the same heart
The only thing that keeps us distant is that I keep fuckin' up"

And I do.

Back at Sparkle, I remember the policeman saying that his view of bad-mouthing members of the trans-gendered community was that it was similar to the racist comments that people make.

Not so very long ago, a man that lived in a Bible believing God-fearing part of the world had a dream:

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

Y’know. I think that pony girls, gay, lesbian and transgendered people are mostly just wanting to be free to be themselves.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Indigo, Dinners and Gatherings

I did get along to the Indigo Girls concert at Brighton on October 26th. In some ways it was similar to, and in other ways it was different from the Bristol concert.

The venue, Concorde2 is kinda nice. Not too big, not too small. And there is free parking right outside after 6:00 pm.

They played some of the same songs as at Bristol, but quite a few were different. Maybe this was partly because in addition to Amy and Emily, there was also Clare Kenny playing bass guitar and Carol Isaacs on accordion and keyboard. They both live in the UK and play fairly regularly with Indigo Girls in the USA. They played at Brighton because they happened to be around, and it was really nice.  For the first time ever live I heard them play Loves Recovery.

Stephanie Dosen played some songs at the beginning again. She said that she first got interested in playing music a long time ago after hearing Indigo Girls one time when she was babysitting. She’s 40 now … but looks a lot younger.

It was great.

Last night was a TV (as in transvestite) dinner at Billie and Kathie’s.

I wear my short black dress.

Sally says my bum looks a bit big in it.

There are round about 20 people there … a record attendance, I think.

As always, its great to catch up with people’s news.

Julia spent a few days in Bath and has been out and about quite a bit.

We talk about the why’s and wherefores of being a transvestite.

I mention that ever since Sally, my wife, accompanied me to a TV dinner she has been gently-ish pestering me to go along to a “Contemplative Fire” gathering with her. Each of us challenging our comfort zones.

To my horror, Julia thinks this is a fine idea.

I explain the discussions I’ve had with Sally … the reasons … or maybe excuses … that I have.

“Was that a girlie conversation or a guy one?” asks Julia.

“A guy one.”

“Ahhh I thought so” nods Julia knowingly.

Sally says that the gathering would be fine with the concept of Andrea. So who knows … maybe Andrea’s first outing to a churchy kind of thing will be to a gathering?

Then again.

Tina asks me about the story of Pink Punters and the front fastening bra.

“Why would anyone wear one?”

I know, I know, it is more liable to pop-open.

But it is my favourite.

We’re beginning to plan Sparkle 2010 … Tina, myself, Billie and Laura are planning to get there. And maybe others?

Nikki denies having a fetish for photographs in hotel corridors.

Tina thinks I don’t snore. At least not in Manchester.

Nikki thinks I breathe heavily whilst asleep and explains how useful the earplugs provided by Pink Punters can be.

I try to explain that I think Indigo Girls are musicians that are lesbian rather than lesbian musicians.

Short dresses and hold-up stockings are a risky combination. I think that the baby oil that I apply after showering maybe doesn’t help. The stocking tops are slowly sliding down my legs.

Katie is keen on an evening with a schoolgirl theme.

“So … who doesn’t have a schoolgirl outfit?

Only Kathie.

The second Tuesday of March 2010 is maybe the date.