guess who’s coming to dinner


three haycorns

Oh dear. When dinner parties and activism collide….

I think there are three strands to this story.

Over there is a thin strand, the one that has to do with the life I had before I transitioned; it contains people whom I knew socially, the sort you count as ‘friends’ in the sense that you’re always meeting them at other people’s houses and pubs and parties. These are the people I walked away from, because they didn’t really want to come with me where I was going.

Right here is my very own ‘me’ strand, a bit ragged in places but fairly strong these days, bimbling along in a generally muddled but optimistic sort of way, and, in the case of Thursday evening, driving down Gloucester Road having just picked young Katie up from her friend’s house. It had been a long day and I’d done Useful Stuff with it. So I figured I’d get a bottle of wine.

The new Sainsbury’s Central was full of students, and its shelves were stacked with things that students like. Red wine and Chinese ready meals and fizzy cider and oven chips and stuff. I grabbed a bottle of wine and took my place in the checkout queue behind the girl who had been installed in the queue while her friends went and collected their purchases before joining her in the queue. I tried not to be irritated at their modern ways.

Someone I used to know long ago appeared, and we both did double takes and then said hello and so on. I was being cautious because we’d once had a difference of opinion about the levels of fidelity and honesty needed in relationships, and I’d told someone something I thought they should know, and that had really annoyed some people and especially her… I was also being cautious because the last time we’d met was in Waitrose, not long after my Employment Tribunal, and she’d asked about it. Questions like, “Did you go looking like that?” -as in, you know, dressed like a woman.

These are the sort of reasons that I am cautious about connecting with people from my past.

On the other hand, I noticed that she had embraced change and modern ways herself, to the extent that she had installed her daughter in the queue ahead of the girl in front of me, while she had gone to get her shopping.

So I advanced to join her. And we chatted until we parted, she to the self-service till and me to the cashier.

So that was useful, anyway.

Those two strands met on another occasion last week, because I’d been invited to dinner by someone whom I’ve only known a short while, but who has friends who are either connected with or part of that group of people in the first strand. It was a really fraught evening, because I was constantly misgendered throughout the evening.

This is not the sort of thing that happens to me usually, with new acquaintances. I guess that part of the reason it happened on this occasion is that the people in Strand 1 have constructed a model of me that they are happy with, and don’t feel the need to wonder if it is the right or best model. After all, it suits them. They are nice, middle class, professional types. The sort of people I would once have expected to be intelligent and liberal, before I got to know any nice middle class professional people. I guess I was a bit of a hippy meliorist, let’s face it.

Anyway, it didn’t seem like the sort of occasion to make a big thing about it, so I said nothing and consoled myself with the thought that the evening would end and then I could go home and be much more careful about accepting invitations in future.

Oh yes, I said there were three strands to this story.

Because I was at the dinner party, I couldn’t get to a meeting of the Bristol LGB Forum, where they were going to discuss and vote on the inclusion of T in the forum.

That’s the third strand. The political stuff. Because sometimes just being yourself can be a political act. Not necessarily because you want it that way, but sometimes because other people make it that way.

It’s a bit of a hot potato, this business of the relationship between T and LGB. (Sorry, if you don’t know, that’s T as in Transgender and LGB as in Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual). And it’s especially hot at the moment, because of Stonewall acting a bit silly over a few things. I’ve talked about them over on my old blog, most recently here. Stonewall are insistent that ‘there ain’t no T in the LGB’ and that they are specifically an LGB pressure group. This is fair enough, up to a point. But they then demonstrate their cluelessness about T issues by nominating a journalist for an award despite their partner organisation, Stonewall Scotland, identifying his writing as an example of transphobia. And distributing a DVD to schools which apparently condones the use of ‘tranny’ as a description of trans people. And then they talk to government departments in an advisory capacity on trans issues.

Stonewall, more of a donkey than a lion really

Stonewall, more of a donkey than a lion really

All a bit annoying, really. It’s a moot point as to whether they’re being mischievous or daft. But they make me more convinced that there should be a T in LGB. Not least because I really think that we have many common causes, and are natural allies. But also, in some cases, because I think that you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Which is more important and interesting than talking about property prices over pudding.

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7 Responses to guess who’s coming to dinner

  1. tashauk says:

    Many themes in here. sort of like blog post as fugue. Enjoyed it lots. And had to look up meliorist. I think I am one too, though not necessarily a hippy one.

  2. Dru says:

    Just as well; it takes ages to get the smell of patchouli out.

    Thank you. I was worried that it might be too rambling…

  3. Claire Hallam says:

    To quote Robert Plant “Ramble on!” Dru. Meliorist was a delight but “bimbling” deserves the prize.
    As for the middle classes , they have their faults but its all done with such stultifying “taste”, or rather with enough bad taste as to be regarded as witty by their peers. The assumption of share values than can be cloying……still at least they rarely damage your property or hand out leaflets on the High street.

  4. Richard says:

    What was the result of the vote in the Forum (sounds more Roman than perhaps it should)? Is the T to be a part of LGB in Bristol, as it is most everywhere else?

  5. Dru says:

    As time goes on, Claire, I see them less as individuals and more as a flock. Which is probably disrespectful of me, and lazy; if you look closely, you can tell the difference between them really, even if they sound the same and look more or less the same…

    As I understand it, Richard, the meeting wasn’t quorate. I’ll be looking into it… yes, the proposal was to make the Bristol LGB Forum into the Bristol LGBT Forum.

  6. Caroline says:

    Meliorist, love it though sounds a bit optimistic to me, nice to find a new word once in a while.

    I go to similar parties, had one here last night but while nobody spoke about property prices some did muck up the pronouns a bit, my own fault, slinky velvet pants did not send out a strong a message as a skirt!

    BTW I have never figured out how one is supposed to follow one of these posh WordPress things, is that notify me box all I click on? Oh spell check says WordpPress does not exist.

  7. anjiknut says:

    I think that the ‘middle class’ label is there to keep everyone on their toes.

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