Queer Women of Homoculture.

This is my own commemoration of women on International Women’s Day and why I, and others, would not be here without women and feminism.

Before I write (or blab on depending on your opinion) further, this article is not specific to LGBT+ women, it is inspirational women that have shaped my homoculture. Perhaps I will miss some out that you are wishing or I had included in this article. I’m always interested to know who your inspirational women are that I need introduced to. Leave a comment below. It is inevitable I will miss some out because readers are looking for about four or five minute reads and not a laundry list.

The women I write about are multi-layered inspirational women, both physically that I can touch but a lot from different mediums.

From birth to school I was in contact with a lot of women. I was lucky to have my Gran in my life, a lady who was born in 1913. A staunch conservative with a small ‘c’ I could never be as open about my sexual orientation; we skimmed over this. However, I still feel inspired by her staunchness, her gentility and canniness. For her having a refined accent was the key to opening doors. Their were plenty of women of her generation with similar values, in an age when hard work got you to a certain level of living.

In my homoculture I observed my gran’s values reflected in my TV viewing when watching Margo Leadbetter in The Good Life, Thora Hird in Loving Memory or Mollie Sugden in Are You Being Served. Comedies that had at their core staunch women who gave the impression of being aspirational comedy characters. Perhaps because the comedies were predominantly written by men these women became caricatures. However, they were strong women and more relatable to me than men. They had a quick line and a haughty look that could freeze ice in Gran Canaria. As I grew up they became my canon of one liners but also I could see in other gay guys a mirror image of their preciseness and desire for respectibility; turning Hyacinth Bucket into a homoculture dinner party exemplar.

With knowledge and television my canon of homoculture women grew. I discovered why Judy Garland became so imbedded into homoculture. Because like Judy, no matter how many times she was down she got right back up to sing another song, or at least sang it from flat out on the stage. Homoculture likes these strong, unputdownable women. Sometimes though these women were not unsinkable, but they didn’t all sink without a trace.

My own homoculture women were Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and Julie Christie. Something about their lives and the film characters they played appealed to me finding my way in what was then a very conservative upbringing. My mum and I used to, and still do have these long conversations about these women. Maybe it is all the glitter and glamour away from life as a single parent family that united us in an aspiration to a different live. One that I would lead but which has been largely denied her. It can be difficult to follow your dreams at a certain time when you are confined by a child, commitment to looking after older parents but free of a crap husband.

To discover Dusty Springfield or Marianne Faithful was to discover a life lived to the full, or so it seemed. These women represented a break from the confines of suburbia. Many gay men have also wanted to break from suburbia and I was one of them. They were transgressive; shaping a different way for a woman to live. For Marianne she represented the fall from grace and the uncompromising re-establishment of her life away from drugs. Many homoculture men have experienced the same after a period on the scene. For Dusty she knew what she wanted and how to sound at her best. If men thought she was a B-I-T-C-H, we knew different.

Then we discover that Marianne was not partying as she was portrayed to be. She liked the quieter, reflective life. You know what, in homoculture there comes a time that we too want a quieter life. A relief from constant nights out in the pubs and clubs. Sometimes we even revert to our own homoculture Abigail’s Party. I have even turned into my own versions of Abigail’s party; dishing out Delia Smith dishes, baking Delia biscuits and serving a Nigella cheesecake washed down with Blue Nun. All served on 1970s dinner plates with coffee in Kiln Kraft coffee cups circa 1978. Not quite Marianne Faithful but more Margo Leadbetter, my own homoculture snobbery.

Now, my homoculture women are peppered with feminist writers; that is what education and reading does for you. Simone de Beauvoir is like discovering the music of Kate Bush. Something real but also mind expanding and reflective. Some of it is relevant to my life but mostly you want to introduce both to other young females to go away and read or listen to early Kate Bush tracks, because both put things into perspective an help you through difficult times. A call to action.

bell hooks is another call to action in her writing and articulation of feminist debates. Along with Michele Wallace, Angela Y. Davis and Gloria Steinem my own homoculture has been greatly expanded by these feminist authors. I’m not going to appropriate their work to my own life but I can use them to see the inequalities of my community. They are a canon of writers that articulate our political homoculture.

Homoculture can sometimes be lacking in political voices when I write. It may seem all Golden Girls and Ab Fab lines but I am just as inspired and in awe of Yuri Kochiyama. Yuri, an American-Japanese citizen was interred during WW II with her family. Part of the civil rights movement this small in stature woman ran towards Malcolm X after he was shot, while grown men ran away from where he lay bleeding. Her life was full and we can only hope that, if we embrace it, our life is as full as hers and we run towards injustice rather than away from it.

Because life can be fulfilling and we can be as sassy as Wanda Sykes or Whoopi Goldberg as we fight injustice, both inside and outside our community. We can be as articulate as Janet Mock from a female perspective. Or as thought provoking, sometimes debatable, as Jenni Murray for putting her own articulation to trans women and women identities out there. The thing is, International Women’s Day is still important because it is still safer to walk down a street as male than as female.

My own homoculture still enjoys the snobbery and comedic value of women characters but…it is still safer to walk down a street as male than as female. My homoculture enjoys reading about the lives of staunch Grey Gardens or artistic women but…it is still safer to walk down a street male than as female. Feminist writers and injustice fighters reflect my own political homoculture and I will never experience those struggles because…it is still safer to walk down a street as male than as female.

Let us remember and commemorate those queer women on the 8th March.

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I pay myself to think. Youth Worker and former Gender Studies student now writing on LGBTQ culture, social spaces and gender.

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Minnes

Minnes

I pay myself to think. Youth Worker and former Gender Studies student now writing on LGBTQ culture, social spaces and gender.

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