9. Solstice stories

This autumn I was lucky enough to travel and to go on tour again after a few years delay and a lot of staying at home. To celebrate the winter solstice, here are some stories from the tour, news about our new zine, some thoughts on keeping art political and how to survive the haters. Happy solstice ✨

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 Hi everyone. I am outside today. Sat next to an incredibly beautiful brown river. Very dark, um, where there are sometimes dippers and, uh, kingfishes. Uh, I haven’t seen any today, but I think if I sit here long enough I might be lucky enough to see one. Um, and it is the winter solstice. It felt like a nice moment to come outside with a microphone and yeah tell you a little bit about how the last few months have been.

It, it’s all been a lot. Um, which, you know, I think a lot of us say all the time, um, as you might know, uh, after a very kind of slow and restful summer, in another very beautiful place. I seem to be blessed with like very beautiful places at the moment. Uh, I went on tour, which was an amazing experience. Uh, I think particularly because. . Yeah. This Switzerland tour was planned for like April, May, 2020. Um, and that obviously didn’t happen. I was in lockdown as so many of us were. And, uh, yeah, didn’t have that tour. Everything got delayed by a couple of years and that just made it, I dunno, the, uh, the suspense and the anticipation, uh, made it even more amazing. Also, the fact that like, you know, so much had happened and so much, uh, yeah. So many difficult experiences had happened during that time that to actually be able to travel again, um, after mostly being like at home, uh, for a few years and being able to see some very dear friends and, uh, meet some new amazing people.

And I don’t know, the whole thing was just, Like set up to be really amazing and I wasn’t disappointed. It was that amazing. Um, there were podcast recordings in like, Um, weird little abandoned rooms in old squatted factories. There were book readings in like the feminist library, which is so gorgeous, the queer feminist library, um, and coloring in and all these like, amazing conversations. There were like walks in parks and queer animal and plant bingo, which was so like, so cute and so fun. Um, and I think extra special because, um, when we played the bingo, you know, it was inside this, uh, queer youth festival and there were like many, many more people than I expected came on this walk. Um, and we had our little bingo cards.

So it was like, if you see, um, I can’t remember what the, what they were now. Like a willow or a lichen or a mallard. Then you would like, theoretically tick it off your little bingo card and then eventually you get bingo. But the whole point was just to have like something to do and have a nice chat about, um, some of the queer animal plants and other species that were around us in the park on lake Zürich.

And, uh, yeah, so we like gathered, we left the, um, the festival. , which was um, a bit of a relief for my nervous system because it was very loud and busy and I’m just not used to that. Uh, it was also amazing and beautiful and we started our little walk along the edge of this very amazing lake in this very posh area.

Uh, I dunno if all of Zürich is posh, but this is like, seems to be a posh area to me and I dunno how many people we were. , dozens of people, um, in full like festival, uh, mode. And I think we just like broke some people’s world. You know, there’s like people like, I don’t know, older cis-het appearing couples just kind of taking their stroll in the park and then there’s us just like playing gay animal bingo um, and I don’t think they knew what to do with us and I kind of loved that. Um, And just like geeking out about lichens, it was just, it was really beautiful. It was very bizarre. as I kind of expected it to be. And oh yeah, it was really nice. There was also some moments in that where I was like, oh, okay, this is like an, an accidental reclamation of green space because, um, you know, I dunno how I feel about Zurich, but this park, uh, It’s a nice park. It’s a nice green area. I probably, if I was by myself, I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing what I was wearing and spending 10 minutes looking at a lichen, I would’ve been a lot more careful or defensive or something. And as we were a big group, somehow that felt more okay, or like I was more free to do that than we all were. Um, uh, to a certain extent. Of course, that was still like, you know, safety is always, is always a question. . Um, I think there was, for me a sense of like being in this group and being able to do more, um, which felt very in touch with queer ecology, which was, um, yeah, a big subject for me during the tour, um, as we had just like released the queer plant zine and, uh,

Yeah. I also, um, was with Anja, the illustrator of the zine, um, just recently in Glasgow. And we did a, a zine launch there at the Glasgow Zine Library, which was so amazing, like, so cozy, so gorgeous. Uh, I did a writing workshop before that. It was just like the perfect space to hold that

and yeah, like, I don’t know, I feel with writing workshops, I still feel like I’m just, at the beginning, I kind of have no idea what I’m doing, and that’s kind of okay because I think so much of writing, for me at least, hasn’t been about like theory and technique, although I would love to know more theory and technique. Um, but I just don’t have that education yet.

But I, you know, I think often people have it and they still don’t necessarily have the, the safety or the confidence. to be able to create things and you know, there’s all those layers of imposter and, um, who, what is a person like me doing writing things and, you know, I like have to push through those things myself. And it’s so nice to do it collectively and like create, co-create these spaces where yeah, we can work through that together. And, um, sometimes. Yeah. We like, I think a lot of people in these workshops have a lot of theory and knowledge, much more than me and a lot more experience than I do. Um, that’s for sure.

Um, and still there’s. Yeah, sometimes we just need like a cozy space together just to like be supportive and take care of each other and share some stories. I just, I really love it. So that’s been really nice. Um, and yeah, reminding me how much I, I enjoyed those spaces. And then as I say, the zine launch came afterwards.

It was super cozy. Anja was amazing. Talking about, um, yeah, the plants that they love and. , uh, yeah, just like really getting into the details, which I just, I love, like everybody was just so into it as well. It was like, okay, I have like a hundred questions about Primroses now, and I don’t know, it was so like perfectly geeky and wonderful.

And yeah, so that’s, I don’t know that this whole zine project, um, with the queer animal zine and now the queer plants and friends, um, this evening also, there’ll be like, Uh, breath work, um, event, also as part of launching the zine and it’s breath work and it’s queers. And then it’s like raising funds for Solidarity Apothecary, which all the zines do with every sale.

We send like 20%, uh, to Solidarity Apothecary and then it’s raising like the money from the event will send copies of the zine to books Beyond bars. and they’ll send it to queer and trans people in prison. I love how all of these things are super connected and also people get to color in and learn about queer plants and that’s really beautiful in all, all of itself.

And so it’s also this super political project and bringing in some of my like favorite people doing this gorgeous work together and. Yeah, I mean, Anja’s just been such an amazing part of that. Their illustrations are gorgeous, their breath work is amazing. Um, they’re just doing all this like really powerful, um, community work and I, I feel like they don’t really. think of themselves as a person who does that, and yet, you know, it’s happening. They’re supporting these amazing projects. They are doing amazing projects. Um, yeah, so just a big shout out to Anja because I love you.

Um, and yeah, so that all of that has been happening over the last few months, which has been there a little bit wild and a very different pace from, from staying still for a few years, which was also like an incredibly busy time. Um, but then over the summer I really had some slow months and was mostly working on writing and swimming a lot because I live next to lakes now. And yeah, suddenly there was movement and new people and different spaces and yeah, there were even like more events than the ones I’ve talked about.

Like I just, I had such a. A great time. All these events were so different. I got to meet all these new people and reconnect with, with friends from years back. Um, and honestly I just felt like really touched. There were just like these moments where I was like, wow, how do we get to be here? Like we, you know, considering what we’ve all just been through and what a lot of us are like, you know, still going through, um, It’s, it’s amazing that we are having this moment where we’re all here together doing a thing like how incredible and like, yeah, like how transient as well, because you know, there’s like a book reading or an event or a walk and then obviously like, you know, it comes to an end and we get on with our day, but I don’t know, these moments just kind of stay with me.

And they were like, yeah, these. Memories and connections and new projects that grew out of things, but also just that moment in itself, um, when we are all standing there by a lake watching a swan , just like, I don’t know, , um, just felt really powerful. I felt very, very lucky to yeah, be able to share those moments and to be invited to places and taken care of and, uh, yeah.

and yeah. The last thing I wanted to talk about in terms of big events that happened, um, was that I was in Belgium in Gent and did, uh, yeah, the largest, uh, public speaking event. Um, That I’ve done. And it was in, uh, a theater hall and it felt like a castle and it looked like a castle from the outside. And I was like working some full Disney princess vibes.

And, uh, yeah, like a little microphone, which now I watched the video. I’m like, oh wow. I do not know how to wear a microphone. But, um, you know, that’s cute. And, um, Yeah, being hosted by, uh, Studium Gent, Studium Generale, and, um, Olave, who was just like an incredible person to share a, a stage with and like, Um, oh my God. So smart, so powerful, so beautiful. Like, just amazing to just be like having a little chat and like sitting in our little arm chairs together. Um, and I did a presentation that, um, I’d been preparing for a few months because I like to prepare for things and because I was very nervous of like being live streamed and standing on a proper stage in front of people on, um, and.

It went really well, and I had a really great time, and I wasn’t even like 10% as nervous as I expected to be. Um, I don’t know why I, I think Olave just made me feel very at home and everybody was like, so sweet and so caring. I was like, oh, okay. I don’t need to be that nervous. Um, no, it was really, really good.

Um, and then the video of. Of the presentation was uploaded yesterday and because the internet is a trash fire, a, like the comments were left open and there were immediately like transphobic, um, you know, violent trolling messages. Um, I. Which, uh, was obviously like shit for me. And also like, I was like, oh no, I’ve just like sent this link to a bunch of people, you know, don’t look at it yet.

I, I’ll try and get it fixed and get the comments switched off, which we did and that was fine. Um, yeah, and I, it’s, it’s difficult because it was such a, a beautiful event that I felt really like in my power and talking about things that I cared very much about. , um, and some amazing friends were there in the audience and the whole thing.

It’s just like, wow, this was a really beautiful thing. What an amazing opportunity. And then yeah, like transphobic trolling is, uh, shit and, uh, had the effect that I’m sure it was intended to, of like making me feel less safe in the world. And, um, yeah, I, I. Yeah, it’s difficult. I think like finding myself like stuck between two, two possible responses of just like, oh, don’t give them any time. Just ignore it. Don’t let them get to you. And then also be like, well I also don’t want to like repress the feelings that actually, like, that’s quite intense and like a bit scary. And you know, of all the transphobic violence that we all face every day, of course this is like just a drop in the ocean. Um, but it’s a reminder and. a reminder of like, nothing good. I think it’s also interesting that in this presentation I’m not really talking about anything trans. I just like happen to like look very trans and be on a stage, um, existing and people don’t like that necessarily. Um, the only time I really talk about trans stuff, um, specifically was like transphobic violence, uh, trans misogynist violence, particularly in Berlin. Um, so it was very, I guess on point, um,

Which makes me think about resilience, it makes me think about what community organizing I’m doing right now. It makes me think of getting something ready for next trans day of visibility. Um, and also really staying focused on my writing, um, because that’s, That’s what I’m doing right now.

And I also happen to be in one of the most beautiful places in the world, which is really like great for writing. And my bed is covered in cats right now, so it’s a really good place to be. Yeah, working on some stories, um, which yeah, hopefully will be coming out next year.

Um, Right. Wow. I talked a lot . I’m always like, oh, I’ll have nothing to say. I’m like, oh my God. It’s really hard to stop talking. Um, there’s a little robin that’s come to visit who is completely gorgeous and yeah, so from me and the robin and the river, um, wishing you a very peaceful and calm winter solstice and sending you lots of love. Bye.