Be Nice It's Tuesday


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Plus

I think most people know the LGBT acronym, standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, which has been used for a long time. I don’t know how long, but I know that’s how I first heard the acronym several years ago. Nowadays it’s often written as LGBTQ, although people often get confused about whether the Q stands for Questioning, Queer, both, something else entirely. And I guess that’s the biggest problem of the acronym; confusion.

Writing and saying LGBTQ does start to become a bit of a mouthful, but it’s still leaving so many people out. The longest I’ve seen it written is LGBTQIA. Here we’ve got the A, standing for Asexual, Aromantic, Agender and (???) Allies, and I for Intersex, which is not the same as transgender, non-binary or agender. And even once you’re writing a 7 letter acronym it’s missing people out. Where’s the P for Pansexual and Polyamorous? Why should demisexual/romantic people have to share the already over-crowded A?

I absolutely support people using these labels, and I absolutely condemn the (minority of) (usually) straight people who make ‘jokes’ of writing the acronym with many random letters, or who say they are all ‘made up’ labels. I also understand that for many people, particularly those who are heterosexual and cisgender, it can be difficult to keep track of such detailed, ever-developing language.

But I hope that you, whoever is reading this, can understand how it feels to not be cis-het, but be left out of the acronym. I can only speak from the perspective of being asexual, but I imagine other people share my feelings. Every time I see someone write or say LGBT, or LGBTQ, or more recently frequently LGBTQI, I think ‘but what about me?’ (a very selfish thought, I know, but I’m only human). It feels like just another reminder that so much of society ignores my very existence, and why I still don’t feel able to come out to most of my friends and family. Not because they wouldn’t accept it, because they just don’t know what it is. But this isn’t just a problem of a predominantly straight society. So many people within the LGBT community only talk about LGBT or LGBTQ, which feels even more like being shunned from what should be a safe, welcoming, inclusive community.

As I said, I understand how confusing it can get. And in general conversation you probably don’t have breath left for that many letters, and if you do it just hurts your jaw after a while (is it just me who dislikes acronyms in general?). But! There is an easy way to get around this. A way to include EVERYONE, without having to remember so many letters and orders etc. And that is the +. Just in case anyone is unfamiliar with this, the plus sign (written +, said ‘plus’) can be added to the end of the acronym to mean ‘and others’. A lot of the time it is used. But a lot of the time, and not just by straight people, it is neglected. You might think it is a small and insignificant detail, I mean, who even notices? Me, I notice. Sure, I’d love it if everyone included asexuality and all other identities at all times, but I’m perfectly happy to sit on that little + rather than be completely left out.

Seriously, I don’t expect many people to really understand how much impact the presence or absence of a + can have on someone (outside a maths class), I was surprised by my own feeling on the matter. But please, whoever you are, listen to what I have said, and do one thing for me. Every time you need to talk or write about people who are not cis-het, use the plus. LGBT+, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+, whatever you use, just add the +.

Please.

Thank you.


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Happy New Year

I’m not going to write something really long and elaborate today, I think there are enough people writing meaningful New Year messages and I am just one tiny voice in the massive crowd that is the internet.

But at this time of year I think it is important to look back on the past year and everything that has happened. To be grateful for all the wonderful things that have happened in our personal lives and in the world as a whole. And to reflect on the not-so-good things, and think about what we as individuals and as the human race can do to improve the societies, living conditions and political world that we are carrying forward into this new year.

I wish you all a wonderful New Year. I hope that in 2017 you will be happy, peaceful, healthy, and surrounded by love. But even if you get all of these things, I hope that we all remember to spare a thought for the people who are ill, lonely, threatened, and don’t have the luxuries and privileges which I know I often take for granted. I don’t have New Years Resolutions as such this year, but I do hope and intend to do good in whatever ways I can, and I hope you will join me on this.

Much love 🙂


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Winter Kindness part 2

(Read part 1 first here)

Yesterday, as I said in the previous post, I was thinking about small, random acts of kindness, and then I came across a post by a Facebook page I follow, Kissing Fish (whatever your views on Christianity, I recommend having a look at this page, you may well be surprised at what you find). This post linked to a blog post by Make Me Happy Today, which has a free download of a ‘Kindness Advent Calendar’. I’m not going to repeat everything said in the post, I recommend you all go and look at it here. I think this is a beautiful, fantastic idea – I kind of wish I’d thought of it, it’s just so lovely. I shall definitely be doing it this year, and since day one is to share the calendar with other people, I’m doing well at it so far.

If you are a Christian, then advent is a time of preparation, of looking forward to Christmas and the coming of Jesus. It’s a time of looking for peace, and spreading joy to all people. I often think that Christian celebrations in the western world have become commercialised, and made all about self and not others. I do have a chocolate advent calendar, but do I really need a little piece of chocolate every morning in order to prepare myself for Christmas? Isn’t loving all other people, and spreading that love and happiness a far better way of embodying the Christmas spirit, and making myself open to Jesus?

I have made this a lot about my religion, but the original post was not, and I think non-Christians who celebrate Christmas will see a lot of their values and Christmas spirit in what I have said. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I would still recommend looking at the calendar, and choosing and 25 days to try and do these acts of kindness.

A little kindness can go a long way, and remember, happiness is like jam – you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself. So Happy Advent, and I hope you can all go out and bring joy to the people around you.


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Winter Kindness part 1

I am very busy with deadlines, applications and music rehearsals at the moment, so I will keep this brief, but this post felt like it was just meant to happen.

I’ve written before about the power of small acts of kindness in making the world a better and happier place, and when things happen to me I often want to write about them but don’t get round to it. But today there were two occasions when a stranger was kind to me, and although they weren’t big things, they really made me happy.

This morning I was sitting at my desk, which is next to a big window overlooking the road, and I saw the postman walking up the path to my front door holding a package. I’ve been expecting something from my friend in Manchester, so I ran downstairs and opened the door as the postman was putting the package down in the porch, so he handed it to me and said ‘ahh, you were expecting it’. I smiled, but then saw that it was addressed to my housemate, not me, so I told him it wasn’t what I’d been hoping for – just as a way of making conversation. I thanked him and went back upstairs, and as I sat back down I saw that he had gone back to his trolley and was searching through the bag of parcels, presumably to see if he’d missed one for me. He didn’t find one but it was so nice that he cared enough to check.

Later I was walking in to uni. It was very cold today so I’d decided to wear my hat that looks like a penguin. I walked past some workmen on their break and one of them said ‘Is that a penguin on your hat?’ I replied that it was, and he said ‘That’s quality that, I love penguins.’ Again, this was just a nice interaction with a friendly stranger.

These two people probably didn’t think twice about what they did or said, but it stayed with me all day. But I try to do things for others too. This morning there was a very heavy frost, so I ran outside to look at it and take photos and enjoy the closest thing to snow we’re likely to get in Bristol. Our porch door had frosted over, so I scratched ‘good morning’ reversed into it, so my housemates would see it when they left the house, and one of them told me that that had made her day. It’s so easy to do little things that make other people happy.

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Continued tomorrow…


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Dating as an Asexual

As you may be aware, this week has been asexuality awareness week. If you’re now asking yourself what that is, well I’ve made you aware – now go and find out more, there is so much info on the internet (maybe start with AVEN). I am asexual, and there is lots that I could, have, or hopefully will write about it, but today I’m going to focus on one thing which has been happening recently in my life.

I mentioned in my last post that I had asked someone out on a date. This was quite a big deal for me, as I’ve never really done the dating thing before – I’ve had two fairly long term relationships, but both times they’ve been someone I saw every day at school/ college, so by the time we got together we knew each other very well and skipped straight to the relationship. But I went on a few dates with this guy, and I’ll admit there were some fairly awkward moments, but I think that’s inevitable, and in general it was going well.

But I did have a slight problem, in that all the time when I was seeing him I had it hanging over me that at some point I was going to have to talk to him about my asexuality. This is something that most people don’t have to deal with – coming out to someone they’re dating and telling them that they will probably never have sex (I realise this isn’t the case for all asexuals, but it is for me). I didn’t know how to bring it up, or what to say – what if he didn’t understand what it is? I’m still not really comfortable going into great detail about it, and I think neither of us are people who find it easy to talk about meaningful, personal things like that. And it’s so hard to know when to bring it up – too soon and you might scare someone off, too late and they might think they’re getting some action when you genuinely just want to watch Netflix with them. I also hadn’t done this before; my previous boyfriends had been before I realised I was ace and I just said I wasn’t ready for sex.

In this case though, that problem was partially solved for me as the situation with this person and the number of mutual friends we have required us to have the ‘where is this going’ conversation earlier than I might otherwise have done. I felt like I couldn’t really get into the right way of feeling to potentially have a relationship without having first told him that I’m ace, more for my benefit than his really. I laid some groundwork by getting a friend to casually bring up asexuality awareness week when he was around, to ensure that he (and other friends) knew what it’s all about. And then when I met up with him this week we had a conversation, and I told him.

I was so nervous, it had become a really massive thing in my head. Over the past year I had become so convinced that it was going to be very hard to ever find someone willing to date me once I told them that, and I could sort of cope with that while it was in the abstract, but now here was this real person who I really liked, and I had no idea how he was going to respond to what I had to tell him. What if he just left? What is he said it was fine then changed his mind? What if he was annoyed with me for not telling him sooner? But, after a very long pause of me trying to speak and no words coming out, I did it. And his response was ‘I know, I heard you talking about it at that party’ (which, by the way, was just before I asked him out in the first place). We had a bit of a chat about it and, while I’m not quite sure what we decided about whether we are now in a relationship or still just seeing each other, at least that is all sorted out, and it is such a relief to have it out there. As he said ‘It’s good to be straight with each other about these things. Or rather, not.’

This isn’t meant to be a story with a proper message or information in. These things happen differently to everyone, so I’m not going to generalise my situation to other people. But I think this is a topic where there are a lot of misconceptions and confusions, so the more different, real stories that are out there, the better. I know I was desperate to hear of asexuals who had success in dating, so I hope my experience can encourage other people.

Whether or not you are ace, I wish you a happy asexuality awareness week, and hope things are going well for everyone.


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Changes

A lot seems to have changed in my life recently.

Mid-September I left home again and moved into my new term-time house which I am renting with some amazing friends – it’s really starting to feel like home, and there haven’t been any arguments yet (even when we disagree about when the floors need cleaning). A week or so after moving in, my second year of university started. As well as being back to intense classes of German and Russian language, I’m doing modules of history and linguistics, and I’ve picked up Czech language. I’m enjoying the classes but it’s a lot of hard work, and I feel slightly like I’m drowning in an endless sea of vocab.

I’ve got back into the societies I was in last year, and am on the committee for my choir. Last week I went to an LGBT+ meeting for the first time, which was quite a big step for me. Also at the start if this term I started a new part-time job, and I am in the process of applying for two more.

A particularly exciting thing that’s happened is that I successfully asked someone out on a date. That was very scary, and I’m now nervous about meeting with him, I haven’t really done the whole dating thing before, in the past it’s taken so long for things to happen that we’ve just skipped straight to a fully formed relationship. But I resolved last summer to get better at doing things that scare me, and not just waiting and hoping things will happen, so I thought I should just go for it.

Finally, my family is currently very spread out, with one of my sisters in New Zealand for the next year. The other sister is in Edinburgh, not so far away, but still difficult enough to get to from Bristol that I don’t know when I’ll next see her. So I’m just trying my best to keep in contact with them as much as possible.

All of these changes are exciting, and I feel like I’m in a good place in my life right now, however they take up a lot of time and I am often very busy and tired. When I do have free time I usually watch Netflix or play my musical instruments. If I’m in the mood for writing I’m trying to write more of the piece of fiction I started over the summer (calling it a novel sounds too grand, but story sounds too juvenile). So as much as I want to keep blogging, and have loads of ideas, I just don’t really have the time and energy for it at the moment. I’m not giving up for good; I may post random things at odd times, and I hope to get properly back into it sometime, but for now I am freeing myself of the guilt I feel for not writing up any of the things I want to.

Until I write again, I hope everyone is doing well and staying positive, and don’t forget to keep smiling 🙂


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Freshers’ Week is Overrated

It’s that time of year again when across the UK (and a lot of other countries) young people are heading back for another year of school, college and university. I’m about to start my second year of uni, so inevitably I’ve been thinking a lot about how I was feeling this time last year. It was not the best time for me.

This year I am working as a mentor, so I have some new first year students assigned for me to email and meet up with and generally help out as they settle in to university. All of them have said in their emails how nervous they are about things like feeling homesick, meeting new people, living alone. One thing which has been mentioned a lot is Freshers’ Week.

For anyone who doesn’t know – I don’t know how it varies in different countries – Freshers’ Week is the first week of the university year. It’s when everyone moves in but before lectures start, a week filled with all sorts of exciting events to help new students get to know the uni and city. It’s something that really gets hyped up, it’s meant to be the best week of the year and all these new freshers go out partying every night and are drunk the entire time and you meet all your new best friends and go wild because you don’t live with your parents any more, etc. etc. But from my experience and  from talking to people this year, I think all that hype is actually too much pressure.

I enjoyed my Freshers’ Week. I went clubbing as many times that week as the rest of my life (i.e. twice) and met some cool people, and did some events that weren’t to do with drinking (shock horror). But people like me who don’t like clubbing often worry that they will have to go to lots of big parties, and that can be quite worrying. I was also very overwhelmed and homesick, so I wanted some time just to be by myself in my new room. And there are so many events going on, it’s often hard to know where to begin.

But the thing is, Freshers’ Week isn’t the be all and end all of your university life. It’s just the beginning. There’s the opportunity to go to clubs and parties all the time if you want to, and if you don’t want to you don’t have to. And I carried on meeting new people and making friends all the way through last year, and I’m sure I will again this year.

So if you’re starting uni in the next few weeks, I’m not saying Freshers’ Week will be bad. It is a really good opportunity to enjoy yourself before classes start, and I think it is important, in that week at least, to put yourself a bit out of your comfort zone and try new things. But don’t worry about it, if you want to have a night off then you’re not going to miss out on everything from that point onwards. And it really isn’t as big a deal as people often make out.