I was normal, most of the time. The dress hung in my box room unworn, a reminder of my weirdness. I could put it behind me, I did not need it any more, so I threw it away. Then I met a woman through a dating small-ad, who would tolerate me cross-dressing, and I got another dress, to travel a hundred miles to meet her. I never wanted to meet her again, but I did want to meet others, so I got a wig and joined the Northern Concord.
If I was not ashamed enough of myself, plenty of people were willing to remind me. I went to the concert hall, as I thought if I were to do this I had to go out among the straights, and the moment I stepped off Canal St onto Princess St someone roared out “It’s a fucking bloke”. Sir Cyril James Anderton, CBE KStJ QPM DL, had been Chief Constable quite recently, and a friend was stopped by the police as she drove home, in her street. They kept their blue lights flashing, in case anyone was asleep, and had not looked out to see what was going on. The morality police imagine they are the good people, and my problem after my upbringing and aversion therapy was, I agreed with them.
Writing for The Friend and The Friends Quarterly is too narrow. One way to break into being paid for occasional pieces might be to write for TransLiving International, which is in a magazine shop locally. It also does not pay, but I might produce articles I could show to the editor of Diva or Pink News. I looked at it, and could not bring myself to buy it. I found it unbearable. It seems mostly photos, more drag than trans. I still want to be normal.
I am allowed to be weird, but only in particular well-bounded places where the weirdness may be exaggerated. I want my weirdness integrated. I am not a whole person with a weird part let rip then suppressed. It is the same with male submission: a gothic weirdness is separated out, rather than part of ordinary life.
On the train, the ticket inspector called me “Sir”. I have complained to the railway.
After Meeting, and lunch with Friends, I went to Tate Modern. I love the Leonora Carrington self-portrait, not out of copyright: she was twenty.
I want art to enclose me, enfold me, and in the Turbine Hall there is Adventure Play.
On a previous day children were encouraged to decorate the place with strips of cloth and pens, and now they are encouraged to take wood, saw it to the size they want, and nail it in place. The “House” has narrow corridors and a doorway fitted to a six-year old. I fold myself up to go through. This is art I can touch.
Then Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Rooms. K complained to me that only members could get tickets, but it is an unsatisfying experience. I queued fifteen minutes to spend two minutes in each room. “How did you find it?” I asked the young couple behind. She had her eight-week-old son in a sling on her front. “Underwhelming,” she said. They live a few minutes’ walk away, along the river. My grandmother’s dressing table mirror had wings so that you could see yourself from the side, and if aligned, see multiple versions stretching out into the distance. The rooms are black, and filled with light. An unselfconscious heart finds them fabulous, but I was not quite that. Kusama lives in a mental hospital. On the walls are photos of the old lady, weird among the normies, using a golf-umbrella as a parasol.
Before the second, we are warned “Don’t fall in the water”, several times, by the curator. It must be an awful job, shepherding passive-aggressive art lovers into a room for only two minutes, with so many to get through before the next quarter hour and the next lot come in. “Oh no, someone’s fallen in the water,” she says, like a resentful nanny with a stupid child. She tears off some tissue to go and dry off the path. “If you get disorientated, look at the ceiling or the floor” she warns, in case someone sues, perhaps. On the wall I read Yayoi: “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment.”
I did not fall in, but bent to ripple the water with my fingers. A wave machine making the lights move would be good.
The Tate won the privacy action this flat block’s management brought against it, but the 10th floor viewing platform is still not open. This meditating woman is not looking into the flats either.
I walk slowly over the level four bridge. There is the sound of hammering from below. On the South Bank, with no wind in the beautiful Spring sunshine, a busker plays soaring melodies on a guitar with a backing-track. I weep with the beauty of it. I feel so alone.
How to answer you sincerely, when you write so clearly from the heart? Can you not present, in each day, each half hour, as you wish to? I imagine that true freedom would be, not to feel self-conscious, whatever one was wearing, or being, or seeing. A hope I can truly identify with. Though it feels hopeless at times, sometimes our hope is the best defence against cruelty. That, and quietness.
Yayoi is completely herself. Some people get it. I have been writing for years on the theme “I must not let it get to me/it need not get to me” and still it does- online, and in person. Perhaps there is a difference between rage and the railman’s disdain. I seek unselfconsciousness, and he pulls me back into selfconsciousness. I need to be selfconscious, because how I appear and how others judge it matters to me. Sometimes it can be a threat. And I might have appreciated the mirror rooms more if I had not sought a photo, and in quietness sought to appreciate the experience and the thing itself.