Hampshire Pride (& What I Wore)

Last Saturday, I got the train to Winchester for something other than crying over my dissertation!

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Me, Paige & James (Image courtesy of Sarah Penfold | Infinity Photography)

 

It was the second annual Hampshire Pride and this year, it was even bigger and better!

 

Hampshire Pride is a festival celebrating LGBTQIAP+ identities and championing equality and diversity in and around Hampshire. It is an event run by Hampshire LGBT Alliance which includes Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue, Hampshire Constabulary, Solent NHS Trust and the University of Winchester.

The day kicked off on campus at the University of Winchester with speeches from Co-coordinator Sarah-Louise Collins, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Stuart (who is also the university’s senior diversity champion) and renowned teen vlogger and public speaker about trans issues, Hannah Phillips. All shared some really motivational and powerful words with a crowd of very excited and inspired people and there was a short film shown that was made on campus called ‘What is Love?’.

Next we all assembled outside on the steps for a lovely photograph in which you can really see how the Pride parade has grown in a year. Just look at the numbers!

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Hampshire Pride 2015 (Image courtesy of the Hampshire Pride Facebook Page)

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Hampshire Pride 2016 (Image courtesy of Sarah Penfold | Infinity Photography)

 

The march left campus and a sea of rainbow flags, hair colours and clothes walked through Winchester singing, chanting and blowing whistles. There were families and pets, partners and friends all in unison and you could sense the love and kindness in everyone’s hearts as they walked. Some of the shops had put colourful displays and Pride flags up in their windows to show their support which was really lovely!

 

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Hampshire Pride 2016 (Image courtesy of Sarah Penfold | Infinity Photography)

Here’s what I wore, it was uhh… interesting.

(Note, I am not a fashion blogger. I’ve linked to the product or similar but most is old stuff and out of stock!)

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|Lady Rainicorn hat | lilac Primark vest | crushed velvet New Look skirt | rainbow socks | leopard print Converse shoes |

 

We finished at the Discovery Centre in town where there was a Market with stalls from various local Hampshire groups and charities raising money and awareness of services. After a welcoming speech from Councillor Roy Perry and an entertaining excerpt from How To Love read by author Sally Edwards, everyone had a little boogie and a heartwarming moment as the Southampton Gay Men’s Chorus performed a few tracks. There was also an incredible performance by the Wessex Dance Academy and refreshments outside courtesy of mobile baristas Coffee Cruiser and The Pie Hole, Southampton.

 

That evening, my friends and I went to The Railway Inn for the Afterparty and we were not disappointed! I opted for something a little classier, which you can see here:

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| New Look blanket cardigan sequined crop top | black pencil skirt | lace up heeled boots |

 

Upstairs we watched a Cabaret show compered by the glamourous and funny Spotlight Vocal Duo and we were treated to performances from catty and sparkly Portsmouth drag queen Cherry Liquor, comedian and lip synch maestro Harold and melodic rapper and singer Paul Andreas.

My absolute favourite performance came at the end of the night in the form of London drag king, Adam All. Adam is a metrosexual cheeky chap with a really impressive array of suits, beatboxing skills and some hilarious musical numbers. Oh, and some rather impressive abs. I managed to get a chat to his parents as they were sat next to us and ‘hadn’t been allowed’ to go to show before (its a bit rude) and I was pleased to see them supporting, taking pictures and cheering him on in the front row. He’s definitely a new celeb crush of mine and he was featured in BBC Newsbeat’s documentary ‘Drag Kings of the UK’ which you can watch here.

After the Cabaret finished, we went downstairs where local student DJ George Nott kept us dancing til the early hours with some camp classics and chart toppers. We had so much fun and it was such a great day to celebrate being who you are with other friendly people!

 

Have you been to a Pride event before?
Were you at Hampshire Pride?

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below.

Jenna

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Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
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If you liked this post, you should check out:
Why I Never Really ‘Came Out’ – I talk about being pansexual and my experiences
Queer Bloggers Network – Jess, Zoe and I have started a community to share content and support those with LGBTQIAP+ identities in the creative industry
My Queerness Erased – A piece I wrote for Zusterschap about ‘straight passing’ and my queer identity

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Being ‘bossy’ vs being ‘the Boss’

I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time because it’s something that we spoke about at the She Who Dares Wins conference back in October and its been playing on my mind ever since.

I personally have been called bossy in my life. Granted, it was when I was a little girl and I had big ideas and wanted everyone to cooperate in making them happen but nonetheless the word still stuck. Bossy is a pejorative term. It’s a word that means you’re overstepping the mark and maybe you’re forcing people to do things that they don’t want to do.

Its something usually said to children, right?

Wrong.

Back in 2014, research by Nic Subtirelu (Ph.D. in applied linguistics at Georgia State University) showed that ‘bossy’ is used 1.5x more frequently on Google for women and girls than it is for men and boys. This isn’t just an age thing, this is a gender thing.

Around that time, a campaign to #banbossy was started and it was backed by several big names including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Beyoncé and even former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice! The idea was that girls who are called ‘bossy’ tend to then shy away from speaking up in class or leading team projects.

If I think about it, the word definitely had an influence on my eagerness to take charge when I was younger. In my experience, girls that got called bossy were labelled ‘opinionated’ too, meaning they spoke when they ‘weren’t supposed to’ about things that ‘weren’t their business’. So I never took heed of that warning and I still speak my mind now but I definitely worry about not being heard or that people won’t take me seriously. We already know that social media can be a pretty difficult place when you’re growing up and trying to find your passion in life. But we also know that there are some incredible women leading projects and speaking out about a whole range of things now too.

So what makes a woman ‘the Boss’? I don’t necessarily think it’s people calling her it. I think its demanding respect for what you’re doing and it’s other people taking note that you and your work matters. Regardless of whether you’re fifteen or fifty, being ‘the Boss’ shouldn’t be about gender, it should be about taking charge. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to dominate or oppress anybody, that just means that you shouldn’t be discouraged if people are uncomfortable with your authority in that role.

 

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At She Who Dares Wins, I asked two great women Melissa Rowley and Tamara Sword what they thought the difference was between being ‘bossy’ and being ‘the Boss’ and they told me how they think women are socially penalised in business for asking for more (raises, promotions, leadership etc).  They advised women not to be discouraged from this and said that being ‘the Boss’ is about negotiation and leadership skills that will fight the institutional bias. I was truly inspired by this idea, that the power lies in me to change that!

In every workplace and following every hobby, there’s always going to be people who feel the need to comment on how you do something or ask why you’re doing it. While criticism and reflection can be a good thing, if someone’s just uncomfortable with you taking charge or calling the shots then I think a crucial part of being ‘the Boss’ is not letting that commentary hold you back.

What would you say to a little girl who’s just been called bossy for trying to organise her school project or giving a speech about equality? She could be the next Malala Yousafzai, Stefanie Mainey or Nina Tandon. I think I’d tell her that she’s The Boss and that no-one can stop her from achieving her dreams.

What do you think, is ‘bossy’ a discriminatory term?
What makes someone ‘the Boss’?

 

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below.
Jenna
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If you liked this post, you should check out:

Feminist Wishlist – some cute items to help you destroy the patriarchy!
“You Can’t Be A Feminist If…” – genuine advice from a self-identified feminist about what it means nowadays….
the empowerment playlist series – music to make you feel strong and beautiful

 

 

 

Why I Never Really ‘Came Out’

CWs: LGBTQIAP-phobia, threatening behaviour, verbal abuse

 

I’ll be attending my second ever Pride celebration this weekend and so I thought I’d write about a little something that’s quite close to home for me. I tend not to talk openly about my sexuality unless its asked about and unless those questions are respectful and genuine. However when I saw so many of our #queerbloggers  talk about their experiences for this month’s ‘Coming Out’ theme, I thought it was about time I told my story.

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I knew I wasn’t just interested in boys from quite a young age. I would see women on television and think they were beautiful in a way that I didn’t yet fully understand.

As Katherine Hockley said in her piece, ‘00s Music Videos & Their Role In My Bisexual Awakening’, “… it made me feel guilty and “bad”, because it was ingrained in my head that culturally I should only be getting turned on by men. As a kid who was already unpopular and a bit weird, anything else that could make me different could not be a good thing (or so I thought)…

Growing up surrounded by images of sex and heteronormative relationships as many of us do in the Western world, it became quite apparent to me that I had feelings that weren’t so widely represented in the media.

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Me in 2008, out as bisexual and pretty badly bullied…

In my teens (at about fourteen years old) I fell in love with two girls, one after the other. They were close friends of mine but I was completely besotted and wanted more. I still don’t know to this day if they reciprocated those feelings but I remember mine and boy, was I obsessed! When they each told me for different reasons that we would never work out in a relationship, I was so hurt. I couldn’t see the problem with openly expressing my love for them but I think they weren’t quite sure if they could be with me romantically.

My mum knew, but I did affirm her suspicions one day and told her how I felt about those two girls in my life. I was very lucky in that she was really supportive and told me that she loves me no matter who I love, as long as they make me happy.

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Me in 2009

News about my ‘tendencies’ began to spread around the school like wildfire and it wasn’t long before the bullying started. I remember sidling up to the only other ‘out’ person at my school and her and I were in a relationship for about a week but the abuse was just too much.

I was told I was disgusting… I was spat on… I ‘should be shot’… I’m a ‘dyke’… I’m a ‘freak of nature’… 

I was assaulted regularly and there wasn’t a huge amount I felt I could do at the time. A few close friends stuck up for me when they could but often I’d be targeted when I was on my own. Even after being a long term relationship with a cis boy, there was still a lot of homophobia (despite me not identifying as a lesbian) and bi-erasure. I couldn’t understand it – I was comfortable with who I was, why did it bother them? Why did they feel the need to treat me that way and why couldn’t they understand?

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Me in 2010

I still haven’t had an ‘official’ committed relationship with anyone who isn’t a cis man yet but that’s not through any active choices in adulthood. The people that I have developed strong feelings for and stayed in relationships with at this point in my life have been cis men but my feelings for women, non-binary and trans people haven’t gone away. I wrote a piece for Zusterschap a while back about having my queerness erased because I’m in a ‘hetero’ relationship, and how frustrating it is that many people, even those inside the LGBTQIAP community will still deny that I am queer.

They deny me of the support and belonging that I so desperately needed when I was younger.

They deny me of feeling that I can speak or write openly about my identity.

They deny me when they say that I didn’t have to ‘come out’ so I don’t understand the struggle.

 

Many young people are still questioning their sexualities and gender identities and it is so important if you can speak safely and openly about these things to do so. Although it’s improving, accurate media representation for LGBTQIAP people and relationships is still sparse and globally, there are still abuses of people’s basic human rights and freedoms because of their sexuality or gender identity.

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Me now in 2016 – here, queer and not giving a …

A lot of straight people ask me, ‘how can I best be an ally to the LGBTQIAP movement?’  I always say the same thing: ‘being accepting and treating people with fairness and kindness, regardless of their identity’.

It’s also important not to erase someone’s experiences. If they want to tell you about their coming out or any other personal experience then as an ally, you should respectfully listen and try to understand.

 

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Click here to find out more about the Queer Bloggers Network!

 

Finally, amplify queer voices! We have a Queer Bloggers Network now for anyone who makes content in the community or for it. To do more than that you should comment on posts, RT links, share news on Facebook, watch films and vlogs… Get that content out there. The only way that true understanding of one another is reached is through education and respectful discussion.

Hopefully one day, we won’t have to ‘come out’, because we will be seen as people and not for our differences.

 

Do you having a ‘coming out’ story that you’ve shared?
Do consider yourself an ally to the LGBTQIAP community?

Let me know and leave me links in the comments below.
Jenna
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Keep up to date with my latest posts on:
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If you liked this post, you should check out:
‘You Can’t Be A Feminist If…’ – crushing myths about ‘all modern feminists’
my queerness erased – I talk about being in a ‘hetero’ relationship and why I’m still pansexual
drag on a dime series – I copy looks from your favourite drag queens for cheap!

 

Queer Bloggers Network

So the lovely Jess, Zoe and I decided that Twitter needs a space for bloggers and creatives with queer (non-hetero/non-cisgender) identities. A space where we could share and promote content but also offer support and advice to those who may be questioning or having problems with their sexuality or being treated differently because of it.

So we present to you…

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Huzzah! This network will primarily be running through a Twitter page that Jess and I will co-manage but we are of course open to others getting involved if they want to. Please get in touch if you would want to help with the admin side of things.

The aim is, once we’re up and running, to have a weekly chat with different topics or themes and a monthly newsletter that compiles lots of great content from within the community or about LGBTQIAP+ issues.

We will have DMs on and have an email should you wish to contact us privately and we will never breach something said in confidence.

If you’d like to sign up to our mailing list to receive our monthly newsletter, please complete the form below!

 

 

Jenna

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adventures: she who dares wins 2015 (in pictures)

She Who Dares Wins is a free-to-attend storytelling event that aims to inspire and empower women in local business. The fourth installment, held at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society and hosted by Wise Old Uncle Ltd did just that, as it brought together women from all walks of life to share their journeys, their knowledge and lots of advice about how to push yourself further and achieve more. Whether you were at an early point in your career, haven’t really started it yet like myself or you’re someone who has founded their own company, many of the attendees agreed that there was something for everyone to take away from the day.

 

(Continues after gallery.)

 

After a fantastic cup of tea and a delicious cookie dough bite from local bespoke baker Heather Brown, there was a warm welcome from our host, creative and digital consultant Matt Desmier. Matt has previously had huge success with Silicon Beach, a larger scale annual conference for creatives that gets more big names as tickets get more in demand each year.

The first guest speaker of the event… Continue reading on Bournemouth News & Info.

my queerness erased

Content warnings: threatening behaviour, LGBTQIAP-phobia, bi-erasure, pan-erasure

I came out as bisexual at fourteen years old. At home, it was as if nothing had changed. My mum always has and always will be like a best friend. I tell her everything and she has always supported me in what, or who, makes me happy.

At school, however, I experienced the real, bitter tastes of phobia and hatred. Name-calling, physical assaults and threats became an everyday part of my life for a while. I was lucky enough to have friends who were always quick to defend me, but the words still stung and the bullies still managed to find me when I was alone.

As I’ve gotten older, not only have society’s views about the LGBTQIAP community developed, but of course I have become a young woman and as a result now find myself… Continue reading this post at Zusterschap.

why selfies are inherently feminist

Content Warnings for: online abuse, threatening behaviour, body shaming, discussion of weight

Lindsay Bottos, ‘Anonymous’ (2014)

Modern feminism has placed great emphasis not only on the importance of self-love with tags like #bodyposi and #blackout trending every day, but on giving marginalised individuals a spotlight from which to shine and speak out about their experiences.

Unfortunately. despite the rise in these feminist attitudes, as Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in her TEDx talk ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, girls still :

… see each other as competitors —

not for jobs or for accomplishments,

which I think can be a good thing,

but for the attention of men.”

Young girls and boys are introduced to certain negative practices very early on in their adolescence. Concepts like ‘bitching’, ‘who wore it best?’ and even sex-shaming are rife among many different media, the majority of which focus on a woman’s appearance or behaviour. Studies have shown that young girls are severely affected by the media’s portrayal of beauty ‘ideals’. Sadly, their self-esteem is also all too often damaged by women much closer to home. If peers and relatives hold just as much prejudice and even engage in such bullying because of it, then they are no better than an oppressor. When children view these women of authority in their lives commenting on other women’s appearances or behaviours, they believe that these practices are right and will emulate this negativity.

In the digital age, so much of what we do and who we are can feel validated by the amount of likes or comments it gains. The way to break the chain of perpetuating insecurities is  therefore by doing something simple, beautiful and inspiring. Taking a ‘selfie’ can be an incredibly empowering thing. Regardless of how many attempts to get the lighting right, outfits or products you try out or how many images end up being deleted, noone can deny that a ‘good’ selfie makes us feel good. This is a really valuable and worthwhile practice. To glean some self-love from a photograph, no matter how little, is an amazing feeling and to achieve that within a culture that constantly tries to mock and belittle people, particularly women? That’s powerful.

It is important however to remember that it only takes one comment to shatter that self-esteem, one that may have taken years and a lot of courage to cultivate.

Artist and photographer Lindsay Bottos created a project called ‘Anonymous’ last year when she grew tired of receiving negative messages online, most of which were left nameless. Many of the spiteful comments made to her focused on her appearance and the selfies she had posted.

Lindsay said about the project:

The act of women taking selfies is inherently feminist, especially in a society that tries so hard to tell women that our bodies are projects to be worked on and a society that profits off of the insecurities that it perpetuates. Selfies are like a ‘fuck you’ to all of that, they declare that ‘hey I look awesome today and I want to share that with everyone’ and that’s pretty revolutionary.” (Source: Buzzfeed)

So how do selfies apply to being a good feminist or feminist ally? In the same way that one negative comment or piece of writing can destroy someone’s self esteem, one positive one can perhaps build or even create confidence in that individual. What ‘Anonymous’ shows is only one side of the power of social media but if anything it demonstrates a need for an opposing force. one that raises people up and encourages them to believe in themselves.

A few seconds out of your day to tell a colleague, family member or perhaps even just an online follower something good about themselves or what they are posting can really make their day, and you are doing so in a world that may be telling them that who they are and what they do isn’t good enough.

Showing that hate-filled messages are all too common on the internet and emphasising how truly inappropriate it is, Lindsay is working on a follow-up project this year (cw: possibly NSFW) detailing the backlash she received after ‘Anonymous’ went viral. You can keep up to date with all of her work on her tumblr blog.

What do you think, are selfies an empowering and feminist practice?
Is anon hate linked to the media and beauty ‘ideals’?

Let me know in the comments below!

Jenna
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