Encounters at Buddhafield II

figures

figureThe gender binary oppresses everyone. Our enforced ideals of “man” and “woman” limit the expression of both. I said this in the workshop, and after a woman came up, eyes shining, to thank me for it.

-I have read that all LGBT issues are T issues. It is all about gender. And we liberate everyone: first us, who are really oppressed by gender ideals, but also everyone else who can just about rub along with them, and is only a little oppressed.

She nods, agreeing, and we hug. So wonderful to express this, which I find Radical, and be completely understood.

Another woman comes to thank me and agree. I am feeling so affirmed, I want to continue the conversation, and let out some of my feelings. Do you mind if we prolong this encounter? She assents- she is very easy to be with- and I expatiate on the differences between same sex and opposite sex marriage enshrined in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act- just passed last week, amazing and wonderful and yet not quite enough. Pension funds, for example, are protected from not having known that gay couples may officially be couples: for contractual rights for “spouses”, only contributions after 2005 when Civil Partnerships were enacted apply. They are not protected from the fact that in 2005 we were all told there was an end to boom and bust and growth would continue indefinitely, but they are protected from the around 1% of their members who may get a same sex marriage, and whose contributions for perhaps thirty years before do not count towards spouse rights. I go into great detail on medico-legal pathways to transition, and nullity of marriage.

She did not know any of this, and loves to hears what impassions people, because she is a story-teller. She takes people’s stories, and tells them in a folk-tale style with elements of myth. This fascinates me: how do you get gigs? Do you have jokes? No, she involves people in other ways, and she finds it difficult to extol her wonderfulness, as you have to; though she was pleased to have stood up for herself. She applied to lead a workshop in time, but Buddhafield lost her application, and then when she checked the date had passed. So she told them they had lost her application, and they fitted her in.

She is a leading light in the Transition Towns movement, and her workshop told stories of it and then led discussion of how we might meet the challenge of peak oil. I don’t think subsistence agriculture is the answer- even if people had the gifts for it, England is not big enough for us all to be peasants- but she says my belief that technology will provide the answers is a stage people go through before realising transition is the way.

A woman there talks of how Socialist ideals for the liberation of the masses are outdated, and how her parents and grandfather were disheartened by 1989 and 1991, the fall of the Wall and the end of the Union and the socialist experiment. I hope Socialism may inspire new ideas for living together, but am unsure how.

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