Monday, 2 March 2015

A bit of background

Trying to pin those moments

My parents’ summer wedding plans for 1979 were rudely ruined… by me and their preceding pre-marital relations. Once I was old enough to figure out the gestation period of the average human, they had set themselves up  for a lifetime of not being able to preach ‘not until after you’re married’. Mum and Dad married in the January of 1979 and in the summer I popped out. (Yes, popped... don’t listen to my Mum’s exaggerated ‘you were a long and painful labour’ nonsense. Can you tell I haven’t had children yet!?).
I grew up in Brizzle, or Bristol to my international friends, specifically in a small town called Nailsea. Here, I ran around the playground of my infant school screaming ‘Mighty Mouse is on the way, here I come to save the day’ with my coat over my head as a mock cape. I saved various females on the playground from many imaginary dangerous situations and still believe I was the reincarnation of Mighty Mouse. Anyway, the signs were there at 5/6 years old that I did love to rescue the lovely ladies.

In my adolescence I was often forced by friends to date people I didn’t really like. Well, it wasn’t that I didn’t like them – I just wasn’t interested in them ‘in that way’. I had to do a lot of faking interest in the hope that one day there would be someone I liked. However, the only real interest I had in anyone was my female teachers… Ahhhh, I always had a thing for older females in positions of power... I struggled with these feelings a lot. I was always buying Just Seventeen magazine and would hopefully search the agony aunt pages for someone else who felt like me. About twice a year there would be a letter from a distressed girl about a crush they had on a female teacher or classmate, and Agony Aunt Anita Naik would helpfully explain it was just a phase.

I would like to express my insincere gratitude to Anita Naik for encouraging me to stay firmly in the closet until I was 22: I convinced myself I was straight, it was just a phase, I hadn’t found Mr Right. My head was a complete jungle of what I should be feeling and what I should be thinking. I was petrified of being rejected by friends, disappointing my family and just being classified as weird.
My social circles at this time were filled with derogatory comments about ‘rug munchers’ and how weird it was that there was a ‘vagatarian’ couple who had reproduced – probably with a turkey baster - and how they both probably fancied us all… Because yes, that’s how it works. I heard countless stories about how gay people were promiscuous and lead unsavoury lives.
I fell in love in my teenage years and I couldn’t tell a soul. I was mortified and I suppressed it. I tried to ignore it and I tried to quash every natural feeling and joy I felt around this person.
It. Was. Torture. 
I cannot even begin to tell you how horrible that period of time was for me. I am quite an honest person and holding that in was awful. I just felt ashamed of myself, my feelings and I wanted it to stop. In hindsight, my friends must have all known: I couldn’t speak about my new ‘friend’ without my smile stretching from ear to ear and my voice full of such pride and adulation for a wonderful woman. How dreadful that I couldn’t celebrate with friends that I had found a person I felt so attracted to, so drawn to and had such a connection with, and most of all, how sad that I couldn’t be honest enough with that person for fear of shame. It was one of the most amazing feelings in the world but such an juxtaposition of emotions.
Woah… Dawsons Creek drama.
At  22 I met a lovely, amazing and awesome couple who just happened to both be female. They owned a house; both worked hard, loved each other and had been together for a number of years. I will forever be grateful to them as finally I came out of my firmly locked closet because of their support and the example they set for me. Naturally, the first thing I did was chop all my hair off… Because that’s what you do. It was a massive identity thing – all of a sudden you want everyone to know who you are, and chopping your hair off is the right way to do this!
During this whole period of time I always wanted to write down a story to capture what I was thinking and feeling… Mainly because I couldn’t express it and I wondered how many other people would be feeling the same as me. I always wanted to make sure that nobody else felt the way I felt, or was ashamed of who they are. I wanted to write a fictional story that drew on my emotions to help other people rationalise what they were feeling.
It takes time to come out the other side of this newfound honesty and feel comfortable with yourself and others. It takes time to admit who you are and who you are attracted to – some people move through the process faster than others as it is so natural - they just knew when they were a child and never questioned or fought it – hats off to those people! Gay, straight or bi, we all go through a process when we’re falling in love, I just think it’s unfair that the usual challenges of being in love should be added to by fear of what people think or concern around how they may react.
The most comfortable I ever felt was when I ended up in a loving relationship. I think that is the happiest I have ever been in my own skin. Although I am no longer in that relationship I think it was the most pivotal moment in time for me because finally I felt loved and accepted. That is the best feeling in the world. I will forever be grateful for that and I am so happy I experienced that feeling of contentment with who I am.
This is why I have written  my story, and where the motivation to get it on paper came from. Times are changing and the world is slowly adjusting to the reality that some ladies love ladies, some ladies love men and some ladies love a bit of both. There is more acceptance, but there is a long way to go globally. The more we get the message out there, the more likely we are to eradicate ignorance so the masses know that homosexuals are normal people that just love like everyone else – we are not a threat and we are not looking to convert everyone around us. We just want to be accepted and loved.
Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett, who is a legend.

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