I'm sure they're in there somewhere....

(I don't usually copy an article verbatim, but I thought it interesting that neither RainbowNetwork.com nor The Independent on Sunday saw anything unusual in the distinctly low numbers of influential lesbians in British society. With only 14 lesbians appearing on the list, I was just wondering who would make it into a wholly lesbian top 100?... Who else is out there? Or more to the point, who else is out out there? At this rate, I could well be appearing on next year's list myself...)

"The Pink List" (from RainbowNetwork.com 29th June 2005)

The Independent on Sunday has published its annual celebration of the 101 out movers and shakers in British society, naming Elton John as the UK’s most important out gay man.

Ranked according to power and influence, the list includes gay men and women who “serve in the navy, sit in parliament, represent us at the Olympics, write blockbuster novels, campaign for civil liberties, appear in Hollywood films, make sublime clothes and run top companies.”

Elton was chosen because he has been “Mr Big Stuff “on the world music scene since the early 1970s, having at least one Top 40 single every year from 1970-1996, and becoming one of the biggest selling solo artists in history, selling over 200million records.

The paper also notes that he was the first major pop star to announce that he was bisexual in 1976, and that he has now become a “national institution”.

His charity, the Elton John AIDS foundation, has also given out over £16million in grants since 1992 and he has announced that he plans to marry his long term partner, David Furnish, when Civil Partnerships become legal on 5 December 2005

Elton John was followed in the Independent on Sunday’s list by Sir Ian McKellen (2), Peter Mandelson (3), Cameron Mackintosh (4) and Sir Michael Bishop (5). Also in the top ten were: Matt Lucas (6), John Galliano (7), David Hockney (8), Sarah Waters (9) and Lord Waheed Alli (10).

Although the Pink List was set up to celebrate the contributions of gay men and women to society, the paper admits that it had also thrown up some of the very problems that gays and lesbians can face by publicly appearing in print as gay.

Permission was asked from all the names on the list, but the paper says, “in quite a few cases, permission was withheld.”

“It is surprising to see, in 2005, eminent people…who were happy to be known as gay within their immediate social circle, [but] do not want to be identified in print as being gay,” the Independent on Sunday said.

The paper says that refusals came from a “number of chefs, even at a time when they are being promoted for their personality as never before.”

The Independent On Sunday’s Pink List In Full

1. Elton John, musician
2. Sir Ian McKellen, actor
3. Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner
4. Cameron Mackintosh, impresario
5. Sir Michael Bishop, chairman, BMI
6. Matt Lucas, comedian
7. John Galliano, fashion designer and couturier
8. David Hockney, artist
9. Sarah Waters, artist
10. Lord Waheed Alli, executive director, Shine
11. Alexander McQueen, fashion designer
12. David Starkey, historian and broadcaster
13. Peter Ackroyd, biographer, novelist and psychogeographer
14. Howell James, Permanent Secretary
15. Alan Hollinghurst, author
16. Alan Duncan, Conservative MP
17. Alan Bennett, playwright and author
18. Nicholas Hytner, artistic director, National Theatre
19. Remy Blumenfeld, creative director, Endemol
20. Matthew Bourne, choreographer
21. Stephen Fry, television host, actor, author
22. George Michael, musician
23. Nigel Coates, architect
24. Michael Grandage, theatre director, Donmar
25. Chris Smith, chair, London Cultural Consortium
26. Simon Callow, actor and author
27. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, composer
28. Nick Brown, Labour MP
29. Miriam Margolyes, actress
30. Ashley Steel, Director, KPMG
31. Eileen Gallagher, CEO Shed Productions
32. Ivan Massow, entrepreneur
33. Paul O’Grady, television host
34. Simon Russell Beale, actor
35. Philip Treacy, milliner
36. Peter Tatchell, campaigner with Outrage!
37. Graham Norton, television host
38. Angela Mason, director of the women and equality unit
39. Julian Clary, television host
40. Brian Paddick, policeman, deputy assistant commissioner
41. Carol Ann Duffy, poet and playwright
42. Boy George, musician and DJ
43. Tyler Brulé, chairman and creative director, Wink
44. Jasper Conran, fashion and product designer
45. John Maybury, film designer
46. Ben Daniels, actor
47. Neil Bartlett, theatre director and novelist
48. Kevin Elyot, playwright
49. Sir Adrian Fulford, Judge
50. Rupert Everett
51. James Clark, ambassador
52. Issac Julien, filmmaker and artist
53. Scott Mills, DJ
54. Michael Clark, dancer turned choreographer
55. Angela Eagle, Labour MP
56. Sir Antony Sher, actor, author and playwright
57. Gregory Doran, author and associate director at the RSC
58. Matthew Williamson, fashion designer
59. Patrick Cox, show designer
60. Anya Gallaccio, artist
61. Jeanette Winterson, novelist
62. Philip Hensher, author, critic
63. Craig Jones, Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander
64. Wolfgang Tillmans, artist
65. Peter Gill, playwright
66. Howard Hodgkin, artist
67. Neil Tennant, musician
68. Clive Barker, horror novelist
69. Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP
70. Guido Palau, hairdresser
71. Bryony Lavery, playwright
72. Nick Partridge, chief executive, Terrence Higgins Trust
73. Russell T Davies, screenwriter
74. Rob Newton, athlete
75. Maureen Duffy, author
76. Jonathan Harvey, playwright
77. Peter Gordon, chef
78. Dr Pepe Catalan, psychiatrist
79. Jonathan Hari, journalist, playwright and novelist
80. Matthew Parris, political commentator, author
81. Doctor Theo Nicholaou, medical oncologist
82. Guy Black, press secretary to Michael Howard
83. Maggi Hambling, artist
84. Beatrix Campbell, author and academic
85. Spencer Fox, managing director, Axis
86. Ben Frow, head of features and entertainment, Five
87. Jake Arnott, crime writer
88. Andrew Cooke, film and video examiner, BBFC
89. Joanna Briscoe, novelist
90. Mark Harper, lawyer
91. Michael Brown, political columnist
92. Gary Stolkin, headhunter
93. Michael Cashman, Labour MP
94. Mark Simpson, cultural commentator
95. Tim Flear, deputy head, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
96. Justin Ryand and Colin McAllister, television presenters
97. Steve Parkinson, marketing director, Chrysalis
98. Barnaby Dawe, director of marketing, Sky Networks
99. Reverend Richard Kirker, Church of England Deacon
100. Rabbi Lionel Blue, Rabbi, broadcaster and author
101. Marc Short, Stonewall FC captain

"Thank me no thankings...

...nor proud me no prouds, " as Capulet puts it in Romeo & Juliet (- while planning his daughter's nuptials to Paris, as memory serves: I may be wrong...)

I can't agree, myself. Both thanks and pride are useful, as far as I am concerned.
So, my thanks go to the organisers of Pride Scotia - not a bad turn-out, not a bad march and stunningly lovely weather (not that they were responsible for that, you understand, but it is so rare in Edinburgh it needs noting!) I am currently wearing my sunburn like a much prized souvenir and thoroughly enjoyed my colleagues' bemusement and embarrassment when I told them from where I had acquired it.

And as for the proud bit. Well, C'lam made some very valid points in her blog - Pride is still an important even for many of us, even if there is a temptation to be blasé and take our hard won rights for granted. So, if there are any other folks wondering whether or not to show-up for any other Pride events in what remains of Pride Fortnight, I would strongly encourage them to wear comfortable shoes (or invest in decent blister plasters) grab a bottle of water and stride, wheel or sashay down the streets with, well, pride.

That Bloody L Word

Sometimes I feel as though I am actually a bad lesbian. Not evil, or corrupt, you understand, just not as practised at leading the lesbian life as the "community" would like...

Some examples:
  • I have never watched Bad Girls or The L Word.
  • I rarely watched Prisoner Cell Block H (and only then, when very, very drunk)
  • I can't play pool to save my life.
  • I don't like cats much (although Mrs Gripes is quite fond and so I tolerate her "animal companions - unless they hawk up a fur ball or scratch my feet when I am in bed)
  • I am useless with power tools (OK, not useless exactly - but not very good either: there may be further posts on this one...)
  • I would no more wear a rainbow badge than pierce my own nipples with a rusty paperclip
  • kd lang's voice grates on me (particularly when she does that annoying swooping from one note to another. Aieeeeee, my ears...)
  • I don't actually like sport. Not even tennis.
  • If my hair is too short, I look like a Photoshopped Ronnie Barker
  • I look terrible in a suit/kilt/boilersuit...

I could go on, but you get the picture. Media representations of lesbians have improved over the past five years. There is an acknowledged diversity of ages, experiences, cultural values emerging (slowly) on TV and in film; lesbian authors are no longer solely part of a gay publishing ghetto and can make it into the best-sellers' list on their own merits; lesbian broadcasters - although few and far between - are beginning to break through from "single issue" shows and be mainstreamed. This is all good inclusive, diverse progress, but it isn't good enough to dispel the clichéd image of lesbians that we ourselves perpetuate.

Pride Scotia is on the 25th June in Edinburgh this year. There will be bois, bis, butches, and lipstick, chapstick even dipstick lesbians in evidence, no doubt. Good on ya, gals- keeping it real, keeping it visible. There will also be some bods, much like myself (including myself, come to think of it) who just look like your neighbours. Actually, we are your neighbours.

If lesbian visibility means adhering to a type, then I just can't do it. If it means being myself, as honestly and openly as I can, compromising only when compromise will move things forward, then maybe I am not as invisible as I fear. Maybe I'm not such a bad lesbian after all- but maybe I need to re-program my own scene-formed prejudice and question: from where did I get my clichéd image of what it is to be a lesbian?

(& where the hell did I put my lumberjack shirt and dungarees, of course...)

Bodge & Quarrel

Mrs Gripes and I have decided to overhaul the decor at Gripes Mansion. (In saying this, I really mean, "I've been given my painting orders and told to get on with it, instead of stumbling around the internet acquiring strange facts and virtual acquaintances as is my preference...)

The air is heavy with the odour of paint and there would appear to be a tinned reservoir of emulsion in the hall. I have charged my sander and groomed my brushes, sorted out my screwdrivers by type, length and whether-or-not-it-is-buggered and stuck a pencil behind my ear for no apparent reason except to look jaunty.

I would have to confess:I don't actually hate DIY (But I put if off for as long as possible...)

I come from a family of DIY bodgers - one of my happiest memories is of my father electrocuting himself by drilling through a cable and shooting across the room (a close second would be when he drilled through a water pipe...) - so I have good reason to procrastinate. Last night, while Mrs Gripes snored lightly, I buried my head in a vast DIY manual in vain hope of learning something useful. I now know that there is such as thing as a "Surrey Flange" - but I haven't got a clue what it does, or why I should need one - and so as you can tell, my mission failed, somwhat.

Better get back to the step ladder. But if anyone should actually know what a Surrey Flange is/does, please let me know.

Hiding in plain view again

(No, not written on June 10th 2005.. I'm getting good at this, eh?)

Epiphanies. Some people can go through their entire lives epiphany-free: me, I'm having wake-up calls every five minutes. Am I blessed or blinkered? I really don't know...

I know that, right now, I am reflective. Anguished, even (but that sounds darkly troubled - I don't feel "dark" I feel like a spot of oil on water, iridescent, spreading outward, growing...) I want things. I want. I pant and lust and groan, I want so much... So far, so familiar, I suppose: it is the human experience to want.

But when asked what do I need, I can't answer. I thought I needed the things I have/had, but maybe I don't. Maybe they are just trappings, maybe I am simpler than I thought. Maybe I am more complex, I'm not sure. Do I need the things I want? Do I want the things I need? The only want and need I know I have is not to hurt others, yet action and inaction can sometimes have the same effect. Can I change? Can I change?

Right now, I can't balance my needs and wants. They rely too much on others. Perhaps what I should both want and need is to be self-contained; to be my own zen garden, still and calm (instead, I have this raging, rushing force inside me! I feel utterly alive and chaotic! I'm terrified and thrilled, I lurch from moment to moment open-eyed, wanting to gaze, wanting to soak up every moment...)

I love. Should I be happy with just that?

Long time, no post...

It's a bugger isn't it?
*sigh again*

I've been feeling fairly downbeat and downhearted recently. It could be because yet another academic year has passed - and I'm still no closer to actually knuckling down and getting a PhD than I was this time last year; or even that with the SQA diet of examinations in full flow, my teaching load has dropped off and I'm finding more time to rake around the furthest reaches of my head (and I'm not sure I like what I'm finding); it could even be that the latest crop of Big Brother "inmates," my usual summer companions, are so unlikeable that I feel as though I've been cheated by Channel4. In any case, I've got the blues and there ain't no nothing I can do about it...

Oddly enough, this time of year often has a detrimental effect on my sense of well-being. Purposelessness aside, I find the relentless expectation that summer should be "fun" exhausting and gratingly naive: fun is such a meaningless concept, isn't it? I enjoy reading, taking long baths and staring at the sea (not necessarily at the same time, but I'm not ruling itm out, either...) but I wouldn't dare class them as fun: they are more intense pleasures than anything as frothy and insubstantial as "fun". Fun is the the preserve of those with no sense of consequence. Fun has no conscience. Fun is, to put it bluntly, stoopid...

I think I'm getting old...