Fat people with visible scars of disfigurements
Fat people who survived abuse/violence & have mental/internal scars
Fat women/femmes who don’t wear, or can’t access make up
Fat women/femmes who are bald or balding
Fat women/femmes who aren’t hourglass or pear shaped
Fat people who are older
Fat people who can’t afford or can’t access the latest fashions
Fat people who are super-fat/super-sized
Fat people who are genderqueer or nonbinary
Fat people of colour who live outside of North America
Fat people who are disabled
Fat people with multiple oppressions
Fat liberation is for you too. You will probably never see yourself reflected in anything, mainstream or alternative. You will probably feel let down by body positivity and fat positivity. But you count. You matter.
I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill;
Of things unknown but are longed for still,
And her voice is heard on a far-off hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom.
I have loved this poem for a long time. As a fellow survivor of child abuse, I can connect with what Maya said in these words. I have many scars on my body as a result of the first 22 violent years of my life, and whenever I saw them I would remember the incident that caused it. I see tattoos as positive scars, and with the bird tattoo I’m especially happy as it’s the first colour tattoo I have. Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my time as an activist – that I’m shouting into the void. But I shout for freedom – for disabled, survivors of abuse, the ageing, people of colour, and LGBT+ people to be treated better than they currently are. Freedom shouldn’t feel like an impossible dream to me. I hope this tattoo will remind me to keep going; keep on singing.
The tattoo was done by Tracy at Pride Tattoos, http://pridetattoos.webeden.co.uk
P.S – the snowflake above the bird was my first ever tattoo done in 2005.
I gave a talk recently about homelessness and minorities. A summary and my slides can be seen here http://www.neurofamilymatters.co.uk/news/2016/10/25/invisibility-and-homelessness
I was homeless 23 years ago, but its effects have never left me. The fear of being so vulnerable and alone as a black disabled sometimes-woman is something I’ll never be able to forget, as it was terrifying to me. More support is needed for homeless who are LGBT , disabled, People of Colour and/or very young or old. However much of the homeless initiatives I’ve seen tend to concentrate on straight white men. Things need to be so much better.
Also included in the link above is my partial zine on how to safely run away if you’re an adult. You can buy the complete zine on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/256116258/get-lost-a-guide-to-running-away-for?ref=shop_home_active_3
I use my real name when I write smut. I never want to hide a big chunk of myself away (small chunks are fine, but writing is a huge part of my life) so I am happy to have my full name used at the top of my stories. But as time passes, and my pay-the-bills job has becomes more treacherous, I find myself starting to have mixed feelings about things. I imagine a prospective employer typing my name into a search engine, and looking at what I do, what I love to write about.
I’m not ashamed, but I do try to be practical about things. This is hard when I know that as a black bisexual woman with a disability, I’ll already have prejudices and phobias stacked up against me before I even walk in the door for a job interview. I’d love to walk through said door feeling reasonably relaxed; that I won’t be a box-ticking exercise in equal opportunities, and that I’ll be hired because I’m a good worker who can demonstrate her skills in fifteen minutes of talking to strangers. I have never felt this way, especially when most interview panels consists of three people who are all white, usually all male. I’ve been prepared to lose out on jobs and promotions for the entirety of my working life. My writing erotic fiction is just one more thing to add to the list.
I cannot stop writing smut, and I don’t want to either. Writing is one of the things that increase the quality of my life. Writing is the reason why I’ve made most of the friends I currently have. Writing smut is activism that doesn’t make me gag.
This isn’t the end of it. A disabled woman wrote a review of one of my stories a few years ago. She said that she’d never seen someone like herself in an erotic story. She said that she started crying, because at long last she could identify with someone else who was going through the same thing she did. Another woman wrote me an email saying that one of my novellas gave her hope that she could accept all the different parts of herself. Hope through smut. I would never have thought anyone would have felt this way. Anyone but me that is. And this is the thing that I love. Writing, reading, and engaging with my readers gives me hope too. Hope doesn’t pay the bills, but it feels real good. It’s something positive to hold on to.
Bisexuals do not have twice the chance of a date on Saturday night. Believe me when I tell you that for many of us, we have twice the chance of being isolated and lonely when the weekend comes around. We have twice the chance of being written off and ignored by both queers and straights. When I tell someone that I’m bisexual I will generally not be believed. I have more than twice the chance of being told that it is just a phase. As a black bisexual woman I stand a strong chance of having unwanted sexual advances made on me; of others assuming I’m up for anything because I’m twice as exotic. As a bisexual woman with a disability, the odds are I won’t get what I need when I try to get some help. I’ll be unwelcome in support groups, invisible in resources that others can access. I’ll be the odd one out in the room full of assorted freaks. I’ll have to explain myself more than twice. I’ll have to dodge hate and threats and outright violence more than twice as much as you, Mister Allen. Personally, I can’t understand why people have to be so bigoted. I can’t understand why there’s so much hate.