Rurally Queer

I wrote this just now in a notebook in the garden, with a little light editing on my computer. I woke up with a full and heavy head and needed to get it all out onto paper.

It’s come out of lots of reading and thinking and listening. Out of Black Lives Matter, Pride Month, and starting to explore Climate Justice. I’m writing it after being home for months in my little Wiltshire village due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

It’s personal and immediate and in that way it feels a little like a poem. It’s intended as a way of showing and sharing myself more generously, of standing up and saying this is who I am, this is where I have come from and this is how I feel.

I’m starting to realise the value of the perspectives of people like me, at this time of breakdown and renewal, and my responsibility to myself and others to examine the politics behind my practice.

I need to read Queer as Belonging. I need to see it as wild, universal, beyond binaries, and so completely and utterly, vulnerably present.

I need to know myself and others as beautiful, as the new normal – a normal of difference and unity, all pieces of the puzzle. With bee kin and Blackbird kin (white supremacist kin?!) If you’re not confined to one group then aren’t you everything and everywhere?

And why Queer? What does it mean? For me it’s to be part of all there is – ‘this and this and…’

Shape-shifter, division-defier. When you get excluded you eventually, hopefully realise that what you were excluded from was the damaging part anyway – the cut-off, ring-fenced, self-protected, mirror-walled corral.

Beyond the corral walls are dark forests, wild beasts. Beasts of unbelonging and of otherness. On my best days I am a beast of unbelonging and otherness, of hair and fat and crusty feet. The soft skin of my husband and my beautiful black son with his bright wide eyes.

I live here in my wild house in your white, straight village. A Queer space in a daytime t.v. set of roses and Union Jacks. Is here wrong or is it just the signs and signals of Middle England that trigger me? Would I ever ‘belong’ anywhere?

No. So I slip through the gaps and play with disguise and privilege, going unnoticed one minute and standing out from the crowd the next.

Here I feel like ‘come out’ every day, on every walk, with every electrician or delivery man, every doctor, every wedding or funeral, every party. My husband, my son, my story. My queer, Queer story of growing up in the wild with a caterpillar on my leg and a pigeon on my shoulder.

It’s no coincidence that I have befriended Mason bees and that I lay down on the carpet with dogs. A deer accepts me if I step slowly and quietly, the river chills and plays with my pink ankles. There’s no ‘coming out’ to the river. In the eyes and nose of the deer I am just another animal.

This shadow on the ground in front is me, the older face in the mirror, the scared child inside wondering where the safe place is, where family and community went. From one point of view I am completely alone, standing out against ‘normality’ and from the other side completely surrounded, woven into the wild, dark materiality of life.

(The featured image and the two others at the top of this post are composted pieces, works that I placed in my compost bin with the intention of collaborating with the creatures that live there)

10 thoughts on “Rurally Queer

  1. Thoughtful and urgent: questioning, brave arms open to share and learn. This is what I take from this piece. It seems to me there is a strong central core, knowing, looking out on a bewildering ‘out there’. I’m always moved by your words and your work!

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    1. Julia, thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I’m feeling my way right now, listening where I can and thinking about the role that I can play. I really appreciate you sharing how the post connects with you.

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  2. We met, I think – lying in the long grass, sketching together. We were earthy and natural together and that’s how I’ve always seen you. Beautiful, earthy, big hands, big heart, kind-and always natural.

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