Reflections on my time as a visible bisexual

Happy Bisexual Visibility Day! Sorry to bring down the mood, but here’s a slightly melancholy blog looking back at my time as a visible bisexual. I wanted to reflect on how as I’ve become more visibly queer, it feels less and less safe to be so.

There’s a lot of things about my experience as a bisexual I haven’t gone into here; positive things, negative things, complicated things… But why write it all in one blog when I’m sure I have many more Bi Visibility Days ahead of me.

Me sitting on the floor wrapped in a bi pride flag

Coming out

I started coming out as Bisexual when I was about 16 by casually dropping it into conversations with friends. As the number of men on my list of celebrity crushes dwindled and my crush on a girl at school hit the year-long mark it had finally hit me what was going on. At the time it was easy, most of the people I spent time with were incredibly chill and I would guess maybe half of them might even identify as queer now. My boyfriend at the time acted a bit strange about it, but was, in fact, terrible in many regards so this was nothing new. It barely touched my life at all for the rest of high school.

Selfie of me with pink hair in a bun and a bisexual flag painted on my face
I wish I had more pictures of me being super bi from high school, but there are none, so here’s me from the end of Pride this year

University

I arrived at University out and proud. I also arrived at University single, and this made a huge difference to how comfortable I felt in my sexuality. I hadn’t realised it before but I HAD been holding back. I was a queer girl in what appeared to be a heterosexual relationship. Maybe during those last couple of years of high school, the only reason my sexuality had been so entirely inconsequential was that no one ever had to see it. It was all inside of me. Maybe even then some people thought it wasn’t real.

Two things happened at University (Well no, many things happened at University but there are two I want to talk about here). 

Firstly; straight girls started making out with me. For fun, for giggles. I thought I was into it – I wanted to kiss girls so badly that I took every opportunity. It has taken me years to fully unpick what I felt then. I don’t know if those girls thought I didn’t mind because I went around kissing so many people that surely my feelings were never in it anyway? But I hadn’t kissed girls at high school, and the straight girls that played with me at University didn’t know it, but they were chipping away at me bit by bit.

The second thing that happened is people actually saw me as queer. I assume it was the dungarees that did it? I remember when I first kissed a guy I had been into for some time. He said he hadn’t known if I was into guys, or only girls. Suddenly, the victory of making out with this person I had been crushing on so hard was overtaken by the glee I felt at being recognised as queer. I kissed them harder. I remember the first time I was called ‘dyke’. I bubbled with anger but then, relief? This was hate speech. I felt attacked but… they knew! They saw that I was queer. I was in danger because of it, but it was finally being recognised.

Me holding a giant bisexual flag up. I'm wearing a black tank top with rainbows, a pink transparent skirt, sequinned fanny pack, and a rainbow flower crown
Edinburgh Pride 2019

Now

I am increasingly discovering how to be truly comfortable with myself. Many of the changes I make mean I am more visibly queer. I have never been so afraid. When I am out alone or with queer friends I have begun to feel scared again in a way I’m not even sure I ever did. I’m scared of what will happen at pride. I’m scared when I wear my gay t-shirts that someone will verbally or even physically attack me. I still have a vivid memory of the terror that gripped me when I boarded my bus the day after the news about the attack on two women on a bus in London.

I face conflict every day as a bisexual person. I face internal conflict about labels, visibility, and how my evolving gender fits in with my sexuality. I face conflict with people who still think I fake it to be interesting. I face conflict with people who believe that because my current partner is a man I’ve somehow lost my queer identity. All of these things are fucking hard. 

But nothing has ever been so hard as trying to exist visibly in a world that often wants to see me and my queer community gone. We’re supposed to be moving forward. I feel certain now that we are not.

I am proud of my identity. I am proud of every single bisexual person who celebrates their visibility today. But I also understand every single one of us who doesn’t want to celebrate, doesn’t want to stand out and proud right now.

 

The world should be safe for queer people, and yet…

A Handmaid’s Sequel

I’m not quite sure what I was looking for when I delved into The Testaments. I’m sure I expected an acknowledgement of where we are now, and a reflection on how it all seemingly got worse. Perhaps I was looking for some form of hope. An indication that no matter how bad it’s going to get we can find a way out. Regardless of my hopes, I’m not sure I got what I wanted from Margaret Atwood’s much-anticipated sequel.

I mostly enjoyed reading The Testaments. It’s an engaging enough story. If it hadn’t had such big shoes to fill perhaps I might appreciate it more. Having said that, even if it shed the heavy expectations I don’t think it lives up to what I know Margaret Atwood can do. 

The book, the testaments, sitting on outstretched legs on a park bench

The story is told through three perspectives, one of whom is the already familiar Aunt Lydia. These are the chapters I liked the least. I saw someone describe this book as reading like fanfiction of the original, and when we were in Aunt Lydia’s head I felt that particularly resonated. I would be interested to know why Atwood chose to try and redeem Aunt Lydia. I would be interested to know whether other readers feel she was redeemed. I felt her characterisation was somewhat underdeveloped. I feel that perhaps anyone could have slipped into her shoes. 

We can only assume the two other characters are June’s daughters. As with Aunt Lydia, I am completely lost on the motivations of these characters. I think Atwood knew parts of the story she wanted to tell and knew which characters she wanted us to meet or explore, but maybe didn’t consider whether these characters she was interested in were well matched to the events that she wanted to take place.

A further element that sat uncomfortably was the way relevance to our current society felt shoehorned in. The Handmaid’s Tale has recaptured our attention in recent years because our fears for society increasingly line up with the events in the book. The Testaments had an opportunity to exploit that fear and really hit us where it hurts. Instead, the efforts to be more relevant to our present lived reality feel cheesy and poorly considered. A lazy mention of climate change that made no sense at all frustrated me with its thoughtlessness. The Handmaid’s Tale did a much better job of reflecting a possible reality, if only because it wasn’t trying so hard.

I love Margaret Atwood, and I think she creates spectacular things. I expected this book to be important, but I don’t think it has added anything to the conversation that its predecessor wasn’t able to.

What I am glad of is that Atwood did choose to offer hope. Sure, we knew Gilead eventually fell as the close of The Handmaid’s Tale, but somehow throughout The Testaments, I was poised for everything to fall apart, and the characters good intentions to ultimately be hopeless. Most likely that says something about how helpless I’ve been feeling lately.

There will always be those of us willing to do the right thing no matter the cost. Let’s hope we’re not all left to do it alone.

5 years in Scotland: 5 things I’ve learned

In 2014 I moved from New Zealand to Scotland, aged 18. The goal of this move was to be as far away from my high school as I could possibly manage for AT LEAST the next 4 years of my life. I truly believed that this adventure would make me an undeniably fascinating and enigmatic individual both to my friends at home and the new friends waiting for me in Scotland. It has now been five years since I made the move, so here are five things I have learned:

You will always be learning (and that is brilliant!)

When high school wrapped up I already thought I was the most in the know anyone ever could be. Something about surviving high school really makes people cocky little shits for a while. 

In an academic sense, the reality of learning hit hard and fast. I should have known a course called ‘Molecules, Genes, and Cells’ would break me. That was Year 1.

Beyond academia, I was reminded of why my love of learning is central to who I am. I would be devastated if I ever stopped. I firmly believe you could be the world’s leading expert in a topic, and there would still be something new around the corner. It would be boring if things were any other way.

Sunset over bruntsfield links

Keeping people in your life who make you unhappy does more damage than being alone

University in a new country plunged me into the deep end when it came to forming my first new relationships as an adult. I have been all too willing to prostrate myself and accept my role as a doormat. Welcome! Abuse my empathy! I would do so for the meekest of offerings of affection or attention, often swiftly followed with backhanded compliments, rude comments, and abandonment for a ‘cooler’ crowd.

I wasted years on people who never cared. I cared deeply. 

As I grew, I learned where to look for friends who would share my values. I learned to surround myself with people who made me feel safe. I still never felt truly equal in any of my friendships at University, but I felt more whole.

It took 4 of my 5 years, but in August last year, I finally made connections that felt important. I have now met people I will happily pour my heart out to, and I will let them pour their hearts out to me. We would still be okay and I would still feel whole.

Loneliness is hard, but those first friendships were harder.

Princes Street Gardens in sunshine

You don’t have to prove yourself to people who think your taste in music is bad (a.k.a ‘fuck it, listen to one direction’)

It literally doesn’t matter. This person is probably worse than you if they feel the need to voice their opinion about it every. damn. time.

You’re greatest efforts will not always be recognised unless you take time to recognise them yourself

I am still learning not to rely on external validation; I’m beginning to suspect it’s a lifelong struggle. Praise and recognition are delicious. When I begin something new it is usually out of passion, but when I reach a goal, when I achieve something that feels significant, I find myself searching for praise.

It’s natural to want to be noticed when you’ve poured yourself into something. It’s natural to be frustrated if every ounce of effort you had doesn’t produce the result you wanted. But often, people won’t see all that work that went on behind the scenes. People aren’t looking out for what everyone else is up to. People will miss the wonder that is you.

I constantly fail to allow myself to be proud without someone else signing off on it first. Turns out, achievements are valid no matter who is validating it, so why not let yourself be that person.

 

Edinburgh castle in background, fountain and yellow flowers in foreground

Take every opportunity to put positivity out into the universe

Look, I know it’s all going to shit. I would love to say it’s just here in the UK but I keep a close eye on New Zealand Twitter and I have some concerns. I’m definitely not discouraging anyone from calling out the shit; I do it every single day. I am terrified, but ultimately, filled with hope.

We’re dealing with a lot of negativity on a global scale right now, and people are dealing with a lot in their own lives on top of that. I find joy when I bring joy to the table. I tell my friends when I’m proud of them, when my anxiety is okay I offer strangers a helping hand, I share any pictures of puppies I happen to acquire, and I share so many kickstarters on social media (please don’t unfollow me). I don’t manage this all the time, but when I do the impact is often instantaneous. Make a bigger deal out of some of the good things, and maybe it will leave a little less room for the bad.

sunset near george square

#DearJune Days 21 – 30

Part 3 (and the final part) of my #DearJune posts. See Days 1-10 here and Days 11-20 here.

Day 21 – Tea

Day 22 – Space

Day 23 – Diary

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📔 #DearJune Day 23: Diary 📔 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ These are my two diaries (I couldn’t find one once and now I just have two on the go. Both Moomin themed for reasons). I like to keep a diary for three reasons: Improving my writing, Venting and exploring my emotions, and the hope that in the far future my diaries will all be discovered and become an interesting piece of history and I will be posthumously famous. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Keeping a diary makes you oddly vulnerable. Diaries might hold secrets or just emotional processing that you’re not comfortable putting into words for other people. Using my diary for venting nearly ended a friendship in high school. If someone had read my diary during University it definitely would have outed some of my carefully constructed coping mechanisms and boundaries. It seems almost foolish to me that I let so much of myself be discoverable just by picking up a book I keep by my bed (though good luck reading my handwriting). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It is also fun having a diary. I get to write more often, I get to choose the lens I tell my life through, I get to keep a record of all my adventures. I do think keeping a diary has made me a better writer, I think it has helped me to be able to address my experiences more thoughtfully, and most of all it’s just so fun to go back and have a friendly laugh at your younger self over crushes, and short term friend fallouts, and even the strange and silly experiences you’ve had as a fully grown, totally mature, adult – because there will always be times you just want to call someone a butthead.

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Day 24 – Magic

Day 25 – Sunflowers

Day 26 – Playing

I like structured fun. I was keen on hide and seek and other playground games long after they were popular. Quite honestly, if someone suggested hide and seek today I might still be down for it.
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The next phase of games in primary school was card games and werewolf. When interest in these tapered off I was pretty bummed. Several years later we got to drinking games and boy was I relieved.
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I don’t get bored of these games the way other people seem to. I’m sure part of it is coming to them later, and I feel like they’re different enough each time. I do know that I find it so much easier to socialise through games. So much of my anxiety in social situations is managed by having like… cards to play with. I used to be quite confused that other people got bored by these games and the fun wore off for them. Having reflected on how I’ve felt about games my whole life, and how I feel when someone suggests a game over just sitting around talking, I think it’s just part of the way I am and the way my brain works. It’s not exactly the only aspect of social interaction that’s taken me a while to wrap my head around throughout my life.
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I am a pretty extroverted person, so I will endure unstructured fun and I can definitely begin to enjoy it. But if you ever want to play board games with me, or cards, even jackbox or role playing games, don’t hesitate for a second to invite me along.

ginger cat sits on a large dollhouse like structure for cats

Day 27 – Citrus

Day 28 – Changing

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🕰 #DearJune Day 28: Changing 🕰 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ My first instinct for today’s prompt was just to write out the entirety of the lyrics to the song changes but I’m bored on a train so here’s more writing. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I used to resist the idea that I don’t like change, because it always seems to be a bad thing. I’m coming to accept that while I’m actually happy with change more broadly, it does make me apprehensive. This is because I’m a planner. I definitely get bored if there’s no switching things up, but I don’t like a quick switch. If I know it’s coming I can prepare myself and maybe throw together some lists and agendas to make the transition more smooth for myself. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Outside of my day to day life I think change can happen frustratingly slow. Earlier this week I attended an event at parliament where an MSP chose to use the word ‘impatient’ when addressing a room full of LGBT activists. I knew what she had meant in context but the word made my heart fall into my stomach. I might not like a quick change, but I’ve been thinking about how I could feel when society is more equal ever since I realised society wasn’t equal. I’m only 23 so there’s many people who have been much more patient than myself waiting for that change. I might be a cautious person, I might like a gradual change and the chance to check in, but there’s some changes we just can not wait any longer to make. ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Anyway, let’s end capitalism.

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Day 29 – Flashes

Day 30 – Social

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👫 #DearJune Day 30: Social 👭 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I spend a lot of my time alone. When I’m not alone I’m usually with my partner, or I’m at work. People are often impressed with how comfortable I am going out to dinner, the theatre, or to a movie all by myself. Truly it is a result of convenience with a dash of unyielding fear of being rejected (which I’ll then subconsciously use as evidence that I am secretly widely disliked). It stems more from my lack of confidence in reaching out to people than confidence in myself. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I am terribly lonely. Since high school I’ve completely failed to build friendships that meet my needs. I still have virtually no friends I feel really close to in the UK. Most people I have connected with either turned out to just be kinda shitty friends, live nowhere near me (why must you all be in London?), or were so intrinsically tied with university experiences that I haven’t heard from them since (bar awkward cafe run-ins). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Being social is incredibly important to me. Despite my hounding self doubt in regards to being liked I am at heart an extrovert; I draw energy from other people and I feel so much joy when I am with good people. People are surprised when I do something like volunteer flat out at Summer in the City for 3 days straight, or travel to London for one weekend just to go to an all night Disney movie marathon which nearly kills me, but it’s these experiences with these people that really keep me going. Otherwise, I am just alone, always.

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#DearJune Days 11 – 20

Part 2 of my #DearJune posts for the Instagram challenge set by Hannah Witton.

Read Days 1-10 here and Days 21-30 here.

Day 11 – Sea

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🌊 #DearJune Day 11: Sea 🌊 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I didn’t think I loved the sea until I got in the sea when it was warm. I have long adored being in water; I love to swim more than almost any other kind of exercise, and water is so effortlessly calming. I have never been as confident in the sea though. It’s often cold and wild, and you’re never really quite sure when you will step on a crab or brush up against a jellyfish. Perhaps one of the reasons I prefer warm sea is because it’s often also clear sea, and it’s harder for creatures to hide. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In September I visited the island of Korčula and just let myself float in the clear glittering water trying to shut off my brain. It felt so good to be in the sea. The day before I had made an impulsive decision to visit another beach I happened upon on my way to the ferry. It had been months since I had been in the sea and something inside of me just clicked, the only thing that got me out of the water was knowing I was going on to even quieter beaches. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ On New Year’s 2018 shortly after the clock struck midnight my friends and I wandered down to the beach and dived amongst the waves. I had been so nervous about this new year’s, not being sure how everyone would get along, and if I would feel welcome. Jumping around like an idiot in the sea that night was one of the times in my life I have felt the most content.

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Day 12 – Superheroes

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🦸‍♀️ #DearJune Day 12: Superheroes 🦸‍♀️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I think I purchased this T-shirt in 2014 and haven’t let it go since even though it now has holes in it. I was a little scared to wear it at first – women in particular are often questioned on their knowledge of whatever logo is on their shirt. I didn’t know a lot about comics, or superheroes, but I knew I liked badass women and I look cute in a crop top. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Since then both comics and films have been edging toward better representation for women, and I’m beginning to pay attention. I genuinely can’t put into words the emotions I felt watching Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. They sure weren’t perfect but I was actually seeing women superheroes! In big budget films! Fighting bad guys with their ridiculous powers! (Even watching the all-woman ghostbusters I felt awesome). I know it’s cliché but I always leave movies like that with the thought ‘is this what (cis, abled, straight, white) dudes feel like all the time?’ because I do genuinely come out of those movies feeling empowered. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When I learned about the fat superhero Faith I lived above a comic book store, so I literally walked down the stairs and bought an issue immediately. I had never bought a comic before in my entire life, but I HAD to read about this badass woman superhero who was FAT. That was all it took to get me into a comic store.

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Day 13 – Blood 

Day 14 – Learning

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📝 #DearJune Day 14: Learning 📝 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I love to learn. According to a ‘Via Institute on Character’ test my love of learning is my greatest strength. However, while I love it, I definitely struggle with it. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I did not always find learning difficult, it came very easily to me as a child. At primary school I was exceptional at maths in particular, but never struggled with other subjects. In my first year of high school I became embarrassed by being good at maths. By my fourth year I missed it. I couldn’t process science and maths the way I had been able to before. It was incredibly frustrating. University was a whole different ball game. I worked my ass off for my degree, and I didn’t do badly, but I couldn’t believe how hard I found it all even when I put hours and hours and hours into something. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ While I often didn’t enjoy ‘education’ I still love learning. When I discover amazing facts online, or in museums, or passing conversation, I light up inside. Not only do I enjoy it more, but I actually remember it! I don’t have to pore over books and test myself for hours and hours to drill it in. Something that strikes me is how less than a year ago I could name maybe 10 British birds (don’t tell the people that hired me). Through my job I now know more about Scotland’s wildlife than I could ever do anything with. Someone suggested to me I write a book about birds the other day, like, in a genuine way. I never sat down and forced myself to learn about birds, I’ve just read, and written, and shared such a volume of content at this point that if I didn’t know these things it would be incredibly strange. But the best part is I’ve enjoyed (almost) all of it. Maybe it’s because I’m getting paid instead of paying, maybe it’s because of the variety of ways I’m exposed to information, maybe it’s because the people I learn from are so passionate that they’ve dedicated their entire lives to the subject. It’s just so different to just listening, taking notes, and regurgitating information, and now that I’m learning outside of school, I’m learning to love it again.

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Day 15 – Home 

Day 16 – Icons

I was struggling with the theme of ‘icons’ a lot because I don’t have any specific icons of my own I look up to, and I couldn’t think of anything clever to say about computer icons. I googled icons and read the sentence ‘Pop icons of previous eras include Benjamin Franklin and Mozart’. This seemed kind of wild to me both because those two people are surely still iconic in some way today, and also because the term ‘pop icon’ just doesn’t seem a comfortable fit for them.
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I’ve realised I associate the phrase ‘iconic’ quite strongly with the queer community. Interestingly, there are many, many people with ‘queer icon’ status who aren’t queer. We end up in this weird position of wanting so desperately for both characters and actual real people to come out as queer because they fit this queer icon image. I hope in the near future there will just be more queer queer icons. They are definitely out there. I’m glad there are already some amazing queer icons to look up to, I’m just always starved for more.
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It really struck me at the Spice Girls how many of the attendees were visibly queer. I feel like the Spice Girls are such a weird image of 90s feminism and even though they were going full out with the inclusive messaging, I felt like I could see the split in the audience where there were super straight people and super gay people. Are the spice girls queer icons? Discuss.

dear june icons allie grace

Day 17 – Balloons

This is the first dear June I have failed to source my own picture for, but all I could think of for this prompt was the balloon photograph in the film Funny Face and I am far too sleepy today to think much beyond that.
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The part of the movie where they go out and take all the different photos was one of my absolute favourites, even though the song in that bit is one of the least fun (Give me Think Pink and Clap Yo’ Hands please). Someone please give me pretty dresses and a bunch of balloons and let me run around Paris.
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Also, take more candid photos of me you cowards.

Audrey Hepburn dressed in black dress holding a large number of balloons of different colours with some classic cars in the background

Day 18 – Post-its

You’re really challenging my need to sound pretentious and poetic with this prompt. I don’t really use post-its myself, I like the idea of them but actually they are of very little use and they are never sticky enough.
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The only real uses I can think of for post-its are for sticking the phone number for IT services to your work desktop, and then I suppose I see lots of people put post-its on top of stacks of paper about a thing to remind them what to do with that particular stack of paper.
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I’m not sure that I have ever regularly used post-its, but nowadays they seem particularly outdated. Do you think post-its could become obsolete?

two yellow post it notes stuck to a window. One has the word 'post' on it while the other has the word 'its; with a sketch of a pad of post its

Day 19 – Wishing

Day 20 – Skin

#DearJune Days 1-10

During June I took part in an Instagram challenge named #DearJune from superstar and friend Hannah Witton. I surprised myself by managing to write at least a little something every day and also by being brave enough to be so open and to share pieces of writing at all!

I’ve decided to put the pictures I shared and all the pieces of writing up here as well, largely because I’m about to get a bit pretentious about my Instagram ~aesthetic~ and archive some of the posts.

Don’t forget to follow my Instagram @alliegrce and I might share more writing there in the future!

Day 1 – Beginnings

Day 2 – Yellow

Day 3 – Music

Day 4 – Forgetting

Day 5 – Lightning

Day 6 – Travelling 

Day 7 – Risks

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🎲 #DearJune Day 7: Risk 🎲 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This is a photo from the day I graduated university. I think it’s fair to say moving over 18,000km and spending let’s-not-say-how-much-money for university is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. It didn’t really feel like a risk when I first started, I don’t even remember feeling that scared (though there were some really sad goodbyes). I don’t remember when it hit me that I was so far from home, but I remember a lot of the times it hit me hardest. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I didn’t always think I would make it all the way through my degree at Edinburgh. I got homesick a lot, friendships that were incredibly important to me at the beginning crumbled by second year and weren’t replaced, some academic achievements seemed to be beyond my reach no matter how many hours I put in, my heart was broken at least twice (i think i only broke one heart in the same period), and I went through some of the worst periods of my mental illness that I’ve ever dealt with. I went through a lot of this alone. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What got me through was 1️⃣ my determination and drive (I am part Slytherin, fight me) 2️⃣ the amount of money my parents had invested in me and 3️⃣ not wanting any of the people that thought I couldn’t do it to have the satisfaction… ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Spite can be a powerful tool sometimes 💁‍♀️

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Day 8 – Connections

Day 9 – Bodies

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👯‍♀️ #DearJune Day 9: Bodies 👯‍♀️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I could say A LOT about bodies. Much of it about mine, but I’m not short on commentary on societies perceived ownership and right towards other people’s bodies. The obvious example being reproductive rights, but it doesn’t even come close to stopping there. I’ve decided to talk about fatness. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As someone who has been fat most of my life, people have often felt entitled to comment on my body. I remember almost every incident when strangers have commented on it in public. I remember people telling me how awesome I looked when I lost weight. I remember all the times even family and friends made me feel guilty for eating while being fat, filled with good intention. I remember people thinking I should be grateful that they wanted to hook up with me. Up until this very day people will assume a lot about my health and not be afraid to tell me about it. Society’s fatphobia has become completely ingrained in me. I am still terrified to show my body. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Yesterday I went to Murrayfield stadium and I didn’t fit through the turnstile. Now, I’m a small fat, so I still have mucho privilege, probably amplified by my mostly hourglass shape, and I STILL have these moments where I don’t fit through spaces, I’m in pain in cinema seats, and I get people giving me angry side eye when I slide into the plane seat next to them. The world is not designed for us. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There’s a body positivity movement, which has been embraced by people of all sizes. There’s a big emphasis on learning to love yourself, regardless of what society thinks or says. While I understand the value of that; I understand that my journey to loving my body isn’t complete (though I have come very far), it’s not really the problem. What good is loving myself if I’m still less likely to get hired, taken less seriously by medical professionals, and unable to even find clothes to wear. The problem isn’t fat people not loving themselves, I think you’ll find most of us know we’re fucking brilliant. The problem is the rest of society acting like it’s our fault we didn’t love ourselves in the first place.

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Day 10 – Glitter

 

Read days 11-20 here and days 21-30 here.

Edinburgh Film Festival: Balance, Not Symmetry

I really wanted to love this film. The director seems like quite the sweetheart, and it was clearly a deeply personal journey for him. The cast includes some incredible people I adore to see on screen. Biffy Clyro make sick music and of course I’m delighted to hear more of it. Unfortunately, so much of this movie had me rolling my eyes.

Image of Jamie Adams and some cast introducing the film at the Festival theatre

I enjoyed parts of Balance, not symmetry – honestly I really did. There were bits of it that were nice, and it did have touching and real moments. I thought many of the actors were pretty excellent – Freya Mavor was wasted though. Despite being perfectly nice, this movie isn’t one I would ever fully enjoy. The message of the movie is so outrageously pretentious it made me want to bang my head against a wall. The film really is deeply personal to Jamie Adams, but it’s so personal that I don’t think he was able to view it objectively at all. 

By the close of the film my take on the messaging was that art exists as a cathartic process for artists, and nothing more. The movie is simply trying to justify its own existence throughout. This isn’t entirely untrue, but it sure demeans the power of art. I can’t help but feel like the Director knew it was going to be a poor film, so wanted to make it clear that he doesn’t care because it’s just him processing his emotions.

image of movie ticket gin and tonic and salted caramel ice cream

Art is in part for the artist, I will accept that. It is an incredibly productive tool for addressing the experiences, emotions, and journey of an artist. However, part of that power is how the human experience will resonate with the audience. The audience is important, and connecting with an audience through your work is important, as much as this film doesn’t want it to be. The story Jamie Adams wants to share is just too close to him to make it something the audience can share in.

This a perfectly nice movie with nice moments. The music is good, though an awkward fit at times (especially given it was written for the project). The cast is lovely, though their skills don’t always rise to the improvisation challenge. It’s an interesting exploration of the art world but one which ultimately rests at a boring conclusion. There are just too many ‘buts’. Unfortunately this movie is ultimately forgettable.

Edinburgh Film Festival: Yesterday

If you’re looking for a nice and fun film that you will leave feeling content, Yesterday is a good bet. This would be your cookie cutter rom com were it not for the core premise: a man bringing the music of The Beatles to a world where he’s the only person who remembers them. There are very few people across the globe who wouldn’t be charmed by a story that starts there, and this movie is full of charm.

The leads are impossible not to love; one played by Himesh Patel, whom Danny Boyle quite rightly said had a certain soulfulness in him that made him a perfect choice, and Lily James, who is Lily James and therefore impossible not to love. There’s lots of opportunities for these characters to do something unlikeable in the film, but it never happens. Any wrong step they make feels entirely forgivable. All their decisions are full of heart and true to the characters and their story. The level of nice-ness of some characters is almost cartoonish at some points, so it’s quite impressive that they managed to maintain any conflict.

The story itself poses lots of moral questions as well as lots of just… questions. With The Beatles having such a colossal impact on the world, the filmmakers basically had free reign on choosing the consequences. They were relatively restrained, which works in the films favour as very little of the story they’ve chosen to tell is about The Beatles. Some of the most powerful moments in the movie are though. Bits that truly touch your heart do so because of the true passion so many of us share for not just the music of The Beatles, but the people themselves. I don’t want to share my favourite bit of the film here, because it would spoil a lot of the tension, but it involved the recognition of how much the music is loved, and how much it is valued.

Honestly, this movie is a fairly cliche tale of the sudden discovery of fame throwing the moral code and relationships of someone into chaos. I’m willing to admit that if it weren’t for my investment in The Beatles it might not feel special at all. But it does feel special, and it never does a disservice to The Beatles. It’s just a nice story, that will leave you smiling.

Edinburgh Film Festival: Boyz in the Wood

I was left a little flat after the Edinburgh Film Festival Opening Gala last year, so I wasn’t entirely optimistic for this year. I was excited by the Scottish-ness of the film, and intrigued by the comedy horror premise, but totally unprepared for what a brilliant time I was going to have watching it.

The obvious influences in the film are Edgar Wright and Taika Waititi: two of my favourites certainly, but also adored globally. The humour, particularly the more gory moments, blatantly echoed the cornetto trilogy. The story and certain characters felt quite directly inspired by Hunt for the Wilderpeople – though one incident of foreshadowing in the story felt so Edgar Wright that I knew exactly what was happening in that moment and proceeded to look out for what it had been hinting at.

Despite the heavy influences Boyz in the Wood took on a whole life of its own. It didn’t feel the need to recycle any jokes, it creates all its own absolutely wild humour out of the situations it threw its characters in too. Despite the complete absurdity of the film, all the characters felt somehow believable. The four core characters are no doubt pretty close to some actual Scottish schoolboys out there.

Boyz in the Wood does not shy away from social commentary. In fact, the bizarre nature of the film perhaps let it get away with being even more brash with some of this than another kind of movie would be able to get away with. The metaphor was not far beneath the surface, and many of the best jokes were deeply unsubtle. There was one moment towards the end where I shifted uncomfortably in my seat a little, thinking the point was being driven home a little too hard, but what followed quickly broke that discomfort.

I would be interested to know a bit more about Ninian Doff’s decision making behind the Scottishness of it all as well. Going up against the tweed-clad villains who were not so Scottish couldn’t help but stir a little Scottish patriotism in me.

The entire audience could not stop laughing throughout – I don’t think I have ever been part of an audience that has so clearly enjoyed a film together. It might not be the kind of humour that would appeal to everyone, but there was such a range of people in that audience, and I didn’t see one person who looked anything less than delighted afterward.

NaNoWriMo Day 1 (and Radical Book fair day 1!)

This year I’m participating in NationalNovelWritingMonth (NaNoWriMo) for the first time since I was 15 (I just logged into my account and my username was ‘Starwhale’ so that’s where I was at back then).

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to three of the characters in my novel:

Theo – One of our leads. She is 23 and works two part-time jobs. One is at the University, the other for an indie publisher. She likes to bake.  She’s bad at it.

Margot – Another leading lady, she’s just a little older than Theo. She writes and makes coffee at an edgy cafe. The cafe falls apart whenever she leaves. She goes on holiday a lot.

Robin – Despite his efforts to be mysterious, we are pretty sure he is just your average guy-in-his-20s.

So here is our trio, with many more characters to come.

The story is going to be set primarily in Glasgow (wow look at me distancing my characters from my reality by a whole 1-hour train ride). It’s speculative fiction and I think there’s plenty about Glasgow that will add to my fantasy.

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The other quick thing I wanted to say is that LighthouseBook’sRadicalBookFair started today! Followers of mine will know I love Lighthouse books and the rbf is a highlight of the year. They have loads of fantastic events over the next few days – find out more about them here!

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See you soon,

Allie