Updates and Plans at the Tea Cosy


As you can probably tell, things have been pretty busy here at Tea Cosy Central over the past few days. Many cuppas have been had and Serious Topics discussed as NaBloPoMo gets into full swing. It’s been a hell of a lot of research and hard work, but it’s also been awesome. I’m loving getting to know all the new bloggers and commenters I’m connecting with.

However, I’m afraid that things are going to slow down a little over the next week or so, because of a couple of Very Exciting Things going on. I’ll still be getting at least a post up every day, but I may be a weensy bit distracted from dealing with Serious Business. Don’t you worry, the serious topics’ll still be there when I’m back.

The first of these is that I’m off to Glasgow for a week to visit my gorgeous, amazing, fabulous and wonderful girlfriend. I haven’t seen her in a couple of months, and I’ve never-ever been to Glasgow before. Much as I love blogging, I have a feeling that exploring a new city and spending oodles of time with my sweetie may take priority. Just sayin’.

By the way, if there’s any Tea Cosy readers from around Glasgow, you should totally hit me up and say hey.

The second exciting thing happening? After I get back from Glasgow, on the weekend of the 17th and 18th November, is one of the biggest events in the Irish student calendar. Pink Training! Where hundreds of LGBT students and allies from all over the country gather for a weekend of workshops and, well, all sorts of shenanigans. Every year, PT brings that wonderful combination of fun, learning and poignancy that never fails to be memorable. I’ll be giving not one, not two, but three workshops over the course of the weekend. I’ll be running a Coming Out workshop, one on Bi Awareness, and also a Bi Safer Space. I absolutely can’t wait- I’ve been giving workshops at PT for a few years now, and it’s always a wonderful experience. Of course, this means that I’ll be busy putting together the absolute best workshops I can between now and then, and for the weekend will be off hanging out with wonderful, inspiring queermos from all over the country, and sitting back with the rest of the old fogies and sniffling at how adorable the young wans are these days.

Throughout all of this I absolutely plan to keep blogging daily! But posts will probably be a bit shorter. While I’m in the UK I won’t have mobile internet most of the time (data roaming is expensive and I am an unemployed broke person), and will be relying on whatever wifi I can find around, so I’ll probably also be a bit slower to mod new commenters and contribute to comment threads. I’m going to rely on You Lot to be civil and not to wreck the place while I’m busy makin’ smoochie faces with my lady. ‘Kay?

Have any of you been to Glasgow? Where should I go, what should I do? How about Pink Training- have you ever attended it or something like it? What did it mean to you? For so many people, PT is one of the first times they’ve felt like they truly belonged in a space. Have you ever had that kind of experience? Where was it, what was it like?

 

Elsewhere this week: Julie Bindel and the Trans Health Forum


Over at Gaelick, I wrote a response to Julie Bindel’s latest biphobia:

I’m not sure how bi women’s liberation is in pretending to be lesbians. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to be ‘liberated’ by sublimating many of our desires, re-closeting ourselves and denying ourselves love if it happens to come in her idea of the ‘wrong’ package. Of course, in Bindel’s world being a lesbian or bisexual doesn’t seem to be about love. It’s about patriarchy and politics and tyranny.

TENI held a Trans Health Forum in Dublin this week. I livetweeted (check out my twitter in the sidebar!) and blogged about this over at Feminist Ire:

Trans people don’t just show up from nowhere. We all live in local communities, go to schools and colleges, live in neighbourhoods, go to jobs. Trans kids growing up should know that there are other trans people out there, and so should the cis kids growing up with them. They need to know that they’re not the only one out there. The media have a huge role to play here in providing positive and varied non-stereotyped portrayals of trans people. Trans people are part of our society, and it’s time our society started acting like it.

Also, I’ve been playing around with the look of this place. What do you think?

Enjoy!

Bi Visibility


Bi visibility is always an odd one. We’re constantly on about being erased, and we’re hyper-critical of anyone who is openly bi. We expect perfect behaviour from our role models. Can’t be too stereotypical. Can’t be seen to be sleeping around too much. If they dare be in a monogamous, long-term relationship, they lose either way. Either they’re taking the easy way out from within nice safe het boundaries, or they’re letting the gay side down

Better written late than never, my post for Bi Visibility Day is up on Gaelick. Check it out!

New? Check. Exciting? Check. Awesome? Check!


Ladies and gentledudes, I am really really happy to be able to let you know that the Awesome New Project I’ve been talking about lately is up and running! Come check out Feminist Ire:

We are feminists.

We are Irish, or Irish-ish, or based in Ireland.

We want to create a space for those on the margins and between the lines. We want to question traditional ideas about identity, about sexuality, about who we are and where we should be going.

We would like a nice cup of tea.

We have some fantastic, opinionated, articulate people writing over there. I’m incredibly excited (in case you hadn’t guessed already) about creating a new space for progressive Irish feminism.

If that wasn’t enough for you? How about checking out my first Feminist Ire post, in which I give Dan Savage a stern talking to about the difference between outreach and research, and why it matters to take bi kids at their word.

Dan, as activists and people who reach out to kids, our purpose isn’t to prove ourselves right. Our purpose isn’t rigorous study design and eliminating false positives. Our purpose is to be heard by the people who need to hear us. It’s to let them know that they’re not alone, and that there are others like them out there.

When one of the major difficulties a group faces is doubt over their very existence, then we need to stand up for that existence.

You know you want to check it out.

Marriage equality and the trickle-down effect


I’m writing this on a Saturday, before tomorrow’s* March for Marriage. Marriage equality is something incredibly important to me. It’s important because I care that my friends all deserve the same protection and dignity under the law. It’s important because I want any future relationships I’m in to be judged on something other than single letters on our respective legal documents. It’s also incredibly important because I never seem to have enough chances to dress up pretty and cry in public.

But here’s the thing. While marriage equality is essential, I worry that it might be taking attention from all of the other things that we need to do if queer people are to live our lives with the same dignity and respect given to our straight friends and loved ones. I worry that equality under the law is taken as synonymous with social equality. I worry that assumptions of equality could mask some of the most horrific excesses of homophobia and transphobia.

I worry, in short, that marriage equality isn’t going to Make It Get Better. It’s not going to stop queer kids being excluded, being abused, being kicked out of their families, ending up homeless and dead.

Marriage and Equality
The first thing I’d like to reiterate is that I am absolutely and without reservation in favour of marriage equality. It’s one of the few things that will get me off the sofa and on to the streets. The right to have our families equally protected and respected regardless of the gender(s) of the people who make them up? It’s essential. It’s essential both practically and symbolically, and it’s essential that we legislate for it now, because there are kids out there who are legal strangers to their parents, there are people forced to live thousands of miles away from their loved ones, there are people without rights to visit their sick partners and bereaved people having their homes taken from them. And there are people getting sick of the airquotes around “husband” and around “wife” when people talk about their relationships.
None of this is okay. It is absolutely a good thing that we campaign and work towards marriage equality, and it’s frickin’ awesome that we’re making (sloooooowww) progress.

Marriage equality is very, very important. Essential, even. And yes, I do expect that the legal rights it grants same-sex couples, as well as its symbolic importance, will absolutely do something to erode some of the most pernicious aspects of homophobia in our societies. But it’s not the universal panacea that it’s made out to be, and I want to discuss that.

Equal legal rights are not the same as equality, as anyone with a background in anti-oppression work will know well. They’re an essential part of attaining equality, but they’re just the beginning. Once equal marriage rights are achieved, we’ll have reached an important and visible milestone. We’ll be able to point to the laws of our country and see that they acknowledge our equal dignity and that of our relationships. But will still have a hell of a lot more work to do. The legal system, while all-pervasive and incredibly powerful, is not the only institution of this kind in our societies.

Our laws, you see, are the easy bit. They’re written down, for a start. We have specific and recognised methods for changing them. We have specific and recognised methods for enforcing them. It’s relatively easy to tell at a glance if our laws discriminate against us. If someone disagrees with this we can simply copy and paste the laws that discriminate against us, go make a cup of tea, and automatically win the argument.

Making our society a place which values queer folks as much as straight, though? That’s hard work. A lot harder than legal equality. It’s a job every single one of us has to do every day. It’s a relatively-thankless job, where the things we’re working against are varied and often vague, and it’s hard to tell if we’re making any progress at the time. We’re talking about everything from violent homophobia to unconscious prejudice and heteronormativity, and the whole godawful spectrum in between. We’re talking about making every workplace, every school, every hospital, every hotel, every village and town as welcoming for queer folks as it is for straight.

I don’t say this because I’m looking for some kind of utopia. I say this because I’m sick of hearing about homeless queer kids. I’m sick of hearing about dead queer kids. And I’m sick of hearing all of the concerns of LGBT people narrowed down to “gay marriage”.

Like I said before, I am absolutely in favour of marriage equality. I’m planning on marching for marriage equality tomorrow*. It has huge legal significance. It has even bigger symbolic significance. And I truly hope that the wonderful momentum and energy that’s gone into marriage equality can be harnessed for all the other, fuzzier, but still incredibly important work that needs to be done. But that’s not going to happen by itself.

So what do you think? Do you think I’m asking too much? Or not enough? How do you think we can harness the energy of the marriage equality campaign and put it to work elsewhere? Do you think we need to?

*Last week, to You Lot. I’m trying out writing posts in advance for once.

Yes, I take this personally: bi stereotypes in queer spaces.


So, tonight I was going to write a post about food ethics and part-time herbivory, and possibly round it off with a pretty photo of the delicious lentil moussaka that I just made. However, while I was waiting for the moussaka to bake*, I happened upon a post over on AfterEllen that got me all cranky. See, I really don’t like it when people go around telling me how I can and can’t identify. I really don’t like it when people say that my identity isn’t real, that it’s absolutely fine for them to talk about how it’s not real and to talk shit about people like me. And I really, really don’t like it when they also say that it’s not okay for me to be upset by this.
Which is why I did not like the recent post by Ariel Schrag, Comics ‘n Things: Queer identities in comics.
Now, there were two major sections to this article, which was about Erika Moen’s comic DAR. In the second section she criticises Moen’s attitudes towards transmen. While I think the whole issue of gender and attraction is complicated as all hell and that people should be able to express their gendered preferences, I’m also well aware that there can also be a hell of a creepy (not to mention disrespectful) element to the way that people talk about their attraction to trans people, and that is Not Okay. Nope. Not good. But in this, me and Schrag are in agreement.
My problem is with the first 3 pages of the article. Schrag talks disparagingly about Moen’s experiences as a lesbian who finds herself in love with a man, and the complications of navigating this as a queer-identified person with a big personal investment in the gay community. And then she says that, well, it’s absolutely fine for the gay community to be resentful of her, because after all she has all this het privilege now. And that Moen now has no right to claim a queer identity. And no right to have a hard time with all of this, and to talk about having a hard time. And no right to talk about being happy in her relationship.

You know something? No. Just, no.
If Moen says that it was harder to deal with falling for a guy when she ID’d as gay than to deal with coming out as gay in the first place? Then it was harder. I’ve been there, it’s fucking hard. It’s a hell of a lot harder to come out as something where you don’t get to have a nice neat pre-packaged community of people like you who have clearly signposted places to hang out. I was talking about this with a friend of mine** who put it like this:

“oh no my mother is displeased but all of my friends are incredibly supportive!”
“oh look all my friends are kind of tossing vicious slurs at me.”
“…but my mother’s less disappointed, so WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG”

Which seems to me like a rather succinct representation of the whole thing.

But yes. Not cool, Schrag. Seriously.

And any other points I would like to make are going to have to wait, because the timer just went off on the oven and it’s Delicious Moussaka O’Clock.

*it smells yummy. Yummy, I tell you!
**who insisted on either remaining anonymous or having an obscene pseudonym. Prudey McPruderson over here has decided that this means anonymity. So there.