This is a serious Trans post, which will give all my other fans warm fuzzies about Self-Acceptance and Personal Growth, even though the title is yet again click-bait for t-central. After counselling, I went to the Tate.
I loved Sculpture Victorious, and after eating my packed lunch in the sunshine went for a tour. The Tate is deserted for the Chelsea Flower Show, and I talk back to the guide: she asked if I was an art student, I don’t think sarcastically. We end with the base of a crucifixion:
-You know about Francis Bacon?
-Didn’t he write “No man is an island entire unto himself”? I am on a roll today.
She gives her interpretation, then I give mine. “I want to give an LGBT interpretation.” There he was, Out when it was really dangerous, a Sodomite or Invert because “Gay” had not been coined, a “promiscuous homoSEKKKKS-ual” inspiring disgust in right-thinking people, who would fail to see his courage, and deny his humanity. These are self-portraits. They are he, they are I, blind, screaming, yet Not cowering away. They stand there and face outwards. I will not hide, or run.
Bacon said he wanted to paint mouths like Monet painted sunsets, she says, and if you look at the layering of the paint you will see he did just that. His father was an army officer, who threw him out of the house, so he went to Paris and lived with a sugar-daddy, she tells us.
She sends us off to see more Bacon. I am not sure this was the one she had in mind:
25 years later, these may also be self-portraits. To me, they are all in the moment of orgasm. Pools of ejaculate cover the floor! Again, he says, I AM HERE but in a more joyous manner, though still with something which a day ago I would have seen as twisted monstrousness. No longer.
She had said that in 1947 people hated the triptych, and I understand. Looking at a work of art or reading a novel I like to sympathise with the subject. Knowing that it will be impossible for normal people to sympathise, he flings this ugliness in their faces. I Love him, and I love these creatures.
Arted-out, I walk to the Tube. I told Serra that I want to fear less, but no: I want to fear more! I want to rejoice, exult, luxuriate in my fear, let it effervesce in me, for it is my vulnerable Power. Part of this is because of Mrs Mounter, whom the guide showed us. I see in her fear and confusion, yet she looks out at us or the artist, resigned. There is self-respect and even authority there.
On the train I chat to Izzie, who is 25 and teaches PE at a fee-paying school. She tells me how facilities in state schools are really poor, and how her class sizes are 15 tops. She has had a job interview which lasted from 9-5 the previous day. She got fed up telling different people the same things, but is not fatigued because she resides in the pupils’ living quarters, so is always on duty. Her best sport is netball, her worst tennis. She is not bad at Badminton, because like netball it requires a loose wrist.
At the bus stop four women and I pet a pretty, friendly staffordshire bull terrier cross, and chat to her owner. So much connection!