31 August 2011

Manchester Pride

This weekend was a big event in the city's calendar. Manchester's Gay Pride celebrations attract people from all over the country who come together to share a week of fun and acceptance.

While this is a weekend of friendship and fun, it is still a political event. I won't pretend to know the pain and trials of LGBT experiences, but I thought I might share my own perspective.

I've been marching in the Manchester Pride Parade since I joined the Quakers three years ago. In fact, it was their attitude towards same-sex relationships which attracted me to Quakers in the first place.

For me it's simple, God is love. Anything that brings more love into this world is a good thing - no matter their gender.

I'm not gay, simply because I've not yet a woman I'm attracted to in that way (and that's unlikely to change now I'm in a happy monogamous relationship), but I do have gay friends.  When you speak about their relationships and lives, it's clear they are experiencing the same love and emotions we all feel.

If the feeling and experiences are the same, how can you say that gay marriages are different?  Quakers have a wonderful phrase 'For we marry none; it is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses.' As far as Quakers are concerned God has already been binding gay couples in loving relationships and now it's our responsibility to recognise them.

For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only, and not the priests’ or magistrates’; for it is God’s ordinance and not man’s; and therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together: for we marry none; it is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses. (George Fox 1669)

We're not trying to force other religions to do the same, but currently we're legally prevented from following our religious leading. Quakers are now actively petitioning the government to change the law so we can register and perform gay marriages in exactly the same way as heterosexual marriages. 

21 August 2011

Silent Sunday


Silejavascript:void(0)nt Sunday

19 August 2011

More Permanent than Marriage


So it’s official. I’ve renounced my citizenship, my documents finally arrived yesterday.
I am a bit disappointed; normally when you give the government lots of money you get some posh piece of decorated paper - like a passport or citizenship certificate. This time I’ve paid £276 for a few stamped photocopies. The only thing that looks real is the stamp in my cancelled passport.
It feels odd. I can’t say I’m upset it’s gone, but it’s been an integral part of my identity for years. In ways it feels like I’ve closed a chapter of my life, cutting the last strings to a past that has held me back. The years I lived there were hard and painful - and that’s okay, but surely I can now let them go.
By renouncing I’m making a choice about who I am - and I want to move forward.

17 August 2011

Black & White


Like Postman Pat I have a black and white cat; his name is Mac. He’s surprisingly difficult to photograph, so often he just looks like a strange black blob stretched across the bed or sofa. We’ve been together for ten years now, but it’s something of a love-hate relationship. Mac’s cute and extremely cuddly – but he can also be a huge pest! Don’t pay him attention immediately; he’ll go bang the kitchen cupboards. Leave the house before giving him cuddles; he’ll pull things out from under the sink. He climbs in the lap of anyone who comes to visit – whether they like cats or not! He’s pushy, demanding and a bit of a thug, but I love him anyway.

16 August 2011

Stress, What Stress?

Rocky Vista

This has been a hard month. It started with renouncing my citizenship, which was an extremely difficult decision. Then someone tried to break into our car and slashed all the tyres. Then a week after getting the car back from the garage the neighbour jams his trailer between the wall and our car causing £850 worth of damage. There’s been a fair bit of stress from the medical tests I’ve been sent for, as we’ve been giving conflicting treatment plans, and I bought a lovely second-hand dresser from eBay that turned out to need more work than advertised.

But by far the biggest worry is that the six months is nearly up. Finally the moment I’ve been impatiently waiting for is nearly here, and I’m suddenly quite scared. I desperately want to start trying for a baby, but so much went wrong last time. They’ve not sorted the hyperthyroidism and don’t seem to think it’s important. We only have four cycles of Clomid and our pregnancy chances have been cut in half. And finally I almost died last time. Though I know the same thing won’t happen again, it’s opened up all the possibilities you assume will never happen to you.

I’m sure I’ll be fine as soon as I take that first Clomid tablet, but until I commit to that decision I’ll be over here melting under all the stress.

14 August 2011

Silent Sunday

Miss Selfridges

Silejavascript:void(0)nt Sunday

11 August 2011

Manchester Wombles

Riot Womble

I like this new nickname! This morning I joined people from around Manchester for the Riot Clean Up, it was really wonderful. The whole idea spoke to me as a Quaker. It was peaceful, proactive and didn’t set out to confront or condemn anyone. Granted some people did lay blame during their TV interviews, but for the most part it was a powerful statement of positive resilience. It was a brilliant expression of our anger at the riots, while also rising above petty violence to show the best of human nature.

Manchester Riot Clean Up

Ironically there wasn’t much left for us to clean, the council had worked tirelessly through the night with amazing results. Sleepy commuters may not have even noticed the damage. But none the less hundreds of people took to the streets with their brooms. We wandered down Market Street, along to the Printworks and then up into the Northern Quarter before we found some glass from a smashed window. There were occasional ripped gates & broken shutters, but most of the damaged windows were already boarded up and looked remarkably civilised.


At times it was simply comical. I joined a group of about 25 who walked nearly a mile to Great Ancoats Shopping Centre in the hopes of finding a broken window. When we found one shattered pain outside JD sports, there was a polite scuffle as people jostled for the privilege of sweeping it up. It was brilliant to watch so many people working together, making new friends and making a stand. I was even lucky enough to meet MrsThrifty who also came out to help. While there may have been a shortage of work to do, a crowd of hundreds marching through Manchester city centre made an impact. The brooms inspired cheers and smiles from complete strangers the whole day. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a pretty good achievement for your average kitchen broom.

7 August 2011

Pins & Needles


The last two weeks I’ve been falling apart. My pain levels are up, my anxiety has a hair trigger and I feel like I’m trapped in skin a size too small; and I’ve got a fairly good idea why. Tuesday I’m off for a thyroid scan where they pump you full of radioactive material and take an x-ray of your neck. (I’m hoping I gain radioactive super-powers!) The problem is that they get all that radioactive goodness into you with a needle. I know it’s not a big deal; in fact I’ve had the same test done before when they wanted to check my kidneys for stones. I’m even better about needles then I was then; I mean I’ve had eleven blood tests already this year. It’s never pleasant, but I get through it without too much drama.

The problem is that last test I had done six years ago. Apparently my veins are small and tend to roll, which makes the whole process that tiny bit trickier. I was nervous and cold and laid on a hard x-ray table while the doctor attempted to inject the iodine. I locked my joints so I couldn’t flinch, but she still missed the vein. She turned to me and snapped

“You need to relax you’re making this harder for you and me!”

Not exactly the best thing to say to someone with social anxiety and a needle phobia. What exactly was I suppose to do about it? She filled a rubber glove with hot water and directed MrG to hold it against my arm to bring up the veins while she disappeared off somewhere. Luckily on the second attempt she hit the target and the worst was over.

Tuesday I’m having the same test, but I can’t have anyone with me for moral support. After the kidney stone test I came up in red itchy blotches and now the doctors won’t come near me with iodine. So this time they’re using technetium, which means I’ll be radioactive for several hours and they don’t want to expose anyone else. (After the test I’ll need to sit in the waiting room for four hours till I’m safe to release.) I understand the concern, but as someone who’s been bullied by doctors and specifically has anxiety attacks around people in authority – this has left me really concerned. I was going to go in and talk to my GP about it, but she was on holiday last week and only works Wednesday to Friday.

It looks like there’s nothing I can do but wait and hope that my fears are unfounded, assuming I don't meltdown from the stress.