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Saturday, 20 October 2012

Sexuality is fluid - but discussing it is dry

So...I'm somewhere between Jackie Clune and Tilda Swinton on this one. Not a bad place to be sat at the imaginary dinner party.
The other week on holiday in France I watched, for the second time, I AM LOVE.
It amazed me again, the fact this film took ten years to develop and find funding for. Just shows you what it's like out there trying to make something different, even when you are a 'name'.
When I arrived home to a sunny Gatwick on a Sunday afternoon, straight away I tuned into my beloved Radio 4 and listened to Jackie Clune talking about her long ago discarded vegetarianism and lesbianism. She's made a small journalistic career out of her past love life, and why not? There are many ways to skin a cat.

I met Jackie in the nineties when I entered The First Ever Lesbian Beauty Contest. I can still picture her backstage at the Cafe de Paris with steam rising from her curling tongs, with an all-in-one flared jump-suit. Jackie did the most fantastic impersonations of Karen Carpenter, so if you closed your eyes it could have been Karen C.
Jackie was an out lesbian for 12 years until she met a man and fell in love and had quartet babies. She'd realised by then that sexuality wasn't linear. She wrote a brilliant piece for The Observer about it, though gays and lesbians reacted badly, angrily lauding her as a traitor. I can see both sides- how can you fight so hard for something so true about yourself for it only to be noted that it might not be the whole story, or that you could also meet someone of the opposite sex and simply be wildly attracted to them? I mean how can anyone deny that you might contradict yourself one day because you find someone beautiful or funny or just downright unlike anyone you've ever met before? But, once you've taken all the trouble to come out, face your inner homophobe, shock your family, tell the world, isn't it disjointed to go back in and say well actually, I'm just like an everyday, 9 out of 10 person really? Jackie Clune's argument is that sexuality is fluid, but as far as her example goes, it's like that delicious American processed cheese - it formed, it melted and was pliable, then set and never melted again. Or will she shock us again with a new take on her love life when her babies are all grown up? I'm really not that worried, but the idea of 'hasbians' and 'yestergays' will always create anger because it confuses people. And just because you're gay, doesn't mean your liberal.

Now in I AM LOVE there is a lesbian daughter character. Tilda Swinton talks about the character as being an alien in the family, but not because she is gay, but because she is an artist, and artists are the outsiders in a family, unless you are from a family of artists of course, but I don't know any of those.

Yesterday, I moved into my artist's studio in Penge. I borrowed Mum's shopping trolley because I don't drive, and didn't want to ask anyone to help me move because it was about me doing it, on my own, with no one else taking part. This is my private space, not one to show off and say, look, how creative am I? I sat there and wrote a part of my new novel. All my dear inspirations are behind me; Cindy Sherman, Julia Darling, Ali Smith, Nan Goldin, backing me up, willing me again to dare to write the book that will change my life. I see them all as back bone, their spines visible with a quarter turn of my head; A L Kennedy, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Carol Shields, Richard Yates. The family.

This week I accidentally heard this and I think it's brilliant.
'If you don’t stand for something you fall for anything
Harder than you think, it’s a beautiful thing' - Public Enemy