I stopped writing partly because I got fed up and partly because I was away and never re-started when I came back. I think the main reason, though, is that I always get to the point where I read things that I’ve written and cringe and am discouraged from writing further. I’m trying again now; I don’t know how long it’ll last, but we’ll see.
I now live in lovely Edinburgh because I’m studying at the University of Edinburgh. C and I are sharing a nice flat (much bigger than we had expected) with high ceilings and big sash windows (we’ll freeze when it gets colder, but we still like it) and lots of space. It’s close to the university, which has the dangerous effect of me leaving the house with too little time to get to my classes, but I haven’t been properly late yet – I just walk fast… It’s a beautiful city, and I’m very happy to be living here with her.
Academic stuff seems to be going well so far; I’ve started learning Swedish, which is exciting (and means I’m taking 3 languages – Swedish, German and Russian). Yesterday I was listening to ABBA songs in Swedish. ABBA’s pretty awesome, but they’re adorable in Swedish! And Sweden’s queer-friendliness makes me happy. (Especially when compared to Russia…)
Freshers’ week wasn’t bad at all, and had some very good bits (as well as some mediocre bits). We successfully avoided Freshers’ Ball by going to Pussy Whipped, which calls itself a ‘queer-feminist festival’. https://www.facebook.com/groups/267565329929858/ We only managed to go to the Saturday night event, which was a little sad as the other parts of it looked like they would have been good, but I’m so glad we went. As soon as we got there we felt that it was right somehow, that this was a space we felt accepted in. We didn’t manage to stay that long as we were tired, but we’ll definitely go to other PW events.
I think our feeling of relief when we turned up was largely to do with the fact that Freshers’ week is all about talking to lots and lots of people you probably have very little in common with – and most of those people will be straight. Talking to so many people, having to come out over and over again and sometimes being met with awkward silences when you explain you’re not living in halls but in a flat with your partner (I don’t think the silences were exactly homophobic, but more because they weren’t expecting me to say that) is exhausting and often quite alienating. It was good to go the BLOGS (the university’s LGBT+ society – except they don’t write the + and I take issue with the name ‘BLOGS’, but that’s for another post) meeting and finally to meet some people like me to whom I could moan about all the heteronormative people I’d had to talk to. I did have a good evening, but at the same time (and this was really confirmed by going to the BLOGS brunch later in the week, which I didn’t enjoy), it didn’t feel like enough; the problem is that BLOGS doesn’t seem to be very ‘queer’ at all. In fact, I’ve only met one person at the society so far who used the word ‘queer’ – she identified herself as queer and explained why she used the word – and it’s making me a bit sad that they don’t seem to think about the world in the same way as I do. I didn’t think like this when I was at school, so maybe if I’d come here straight from school I might have felt differently; I don’t know. Spending a year out of education and meeting lots of lovely and interesting queer people at SM Dykes and reading lots of things means I’ve had different experiences from most of them and makes me feel like I don’t properly belong. My identity as a queer woman is very important to me and central to my way of looking at the world (I find it hard to understand how it could be otherwise) and the people I want to meet and socialise with are other queer people. (I suppose I’m saying ‘queer’ as opposed to ‘LGBT’ here. It’s partly about self-identification and partly about frameworks for looking at the world, I think.)
When I was thinking about university over the summer I wasn’t sure whether being kinky or queer would be more important for socialising; whether I would feel happiest in a group of mixed (i.e. mostly heterosexual) kinky people, or in a group of non-kinky queers, and what would feel closest to ‘enough’. (I now that queerness is more important than kinkiness – though I think I probably did know that already.) We went to the University FetSoc meeting (they meet weekly in the back room of a pub), and whilst we didn’t have a bad time and it was nice to talk to other kinky people, we didn’t feel particularly happy either. It wasn’t anything that they did or said – they were a friendly group of people who did their best to make us feel welcome – it just felt odd trying to be part of a culture to which we didn’t feel we belonged. The worst parts were when they talked about clubs and we had to say that we weren’t interested in going to them (I especially have no interest in going to mixed clubs on the straight scene), and worst of all was when they would mention being drunk and then playing, a cultural difference between the queer women’s and straight scene that I still fail to get my head around.
I just keep feeling that every new group of people I meet isn’t really right, isn’t enough. I want to be sociable (I’m a talkative extrovert – I need to talk to people or I’d go crazy!) and do new, interesting things, but if things don’t feel right then I don’t see the point in doing them; they’re meant to be enjoyable. I’m sure I will find groups of people with whom I feel like I belong, but it’s frustrating trying and failing at the moment. I wonder if I’m being too ‘picky’, and when my standards for people I want to socialise with became so high. I know it’s not me being picky, just a feeling of ‘otherness’ which means that the spaces in which I feel I belong seem to be few and far between, and I think SM Dykes has definitely spoiled me. I was wondering when it got like this, when I started feeling so alone and like I didn’t belong so much of the time; I think I’ve felt like this for a long, long time, just often without thinking about it as much or in these terms. (I don’t think I felt like that much in 6th form, but I know I did as a child and younger teenager.)
I want to temper the slightly depressing outlook of this post by saying that I have met a few lovely people, and that I’m glad we discovered the existence of Pussy Whipped so quickly on arriving here. (That would be because we were searching frantically for events that we could go to where we’d feel happy rather than awkward and fed up of young-seeming freshers.) I’m happy to be here and studying again, though I’m finding adjusting to studying a little hard, and I hope that my ‘social life’ will improve with time.
P.S. I don’t mean to sound ‘straight-bashing’ in this post; I just don’t often feel accepted in heteronormative environments.