Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Letter to the Time Bandits

Big Ben, London, England
Gillian Cornwall, September 2016

Dear Time Bandits,

Saturday night I sat up in my bed, with my eyes closed and hot tears streaming down my face. I spoke slowly to prevent the sobs that bubbled volcanic just below the surface, the words expressing my pain and frustration to my compassionate, brilliant and loving partner.

My computer had decided to indulge itself that day with one of its epic, mind-numbing, unannounced, hours-long, Windows 10 updates just as I had sat down with a tenderly carved-out, single hour to work on my novel. The times I have to write are limited and as precious as my own breath and heartbeat.

Needless to say, I was devastated to have this hour snatched away by an untouchable computer deity. I lost my mind, freaked out, yelled at the laptop, wept and swore like a sailor. I imagine my neighbours hiding behind barricades of furniture clutching their brooms and rolling pins to fend off whatever attack was coming their way. Sorry, it was just me, flavoured with the hormonal nightmare that is menopause.

But it's more than that and that is what I was able to tease out with the help of my partner on Saturday night and again with my dear friend, Kelly, on Sunday. It's not just that one hour. It's realizing that I finally accept, even celebrate, who I am and what I should be doing and there is so little time left to do it.

It is the time that has been stolen from me for as long as I can remember - in every social, school and workplace I ever had. I figured it out at last. You see, I've lost at least ten years of cumulative time, battling, just to get to the same starting line as the heteronormative male dominant society that prevails. I'm still not there. I'm still asking for answers and getting blank stares or people staring at the floor. 

I've been fighting just to get on an even footing with those who are straight, or pass as straight, because I have been treated as 'less than' for who I love for as long as I can remember. I have dealt with everything from being flashed by another woman at work to being told it would be easier for me if I just behaved and dressed more like a regular woman - if I just tried harder to fit in. 

Well, you might as well try to be gay as me try to be straight. Folks, it just doesn't work that way. You can't ask a vacuum cleaner to make your toast in the morning any more than you can ask me to pretend to be straight. It's absurd, yet you expected it. You still do. It infuriates you that I will not just stay in my box long enough for you to tape it up and get the label on there! I'm like a cat you want to contain and take to the vet and it just isn't going to happen.

...and it has cost me. Your fear, anger, petulance and lack of understanding around my unwillingness to fit your norms has cost me - not just jobs, but dignity, safety, peace and friendships. Most tragically, it has cost me epic amounts of time...

...and I want it back. All of it. Now. Please. There is less time ahead of me than behind me and I need every second of it to do all of the things I should have had the time, well-being, energy and safe location to be doing all along.

So, it would be great, society, if I could take a wee break to catch up and
 do the things that many of you have always been able to do. Simple things like:
  • hold your partners hand in public, 
  • get married to who you love, 
  • apply for jobs and get them because you are qualified, 
  • tell people you have someone in your life without fear of repercussion and listening to stories about the gay auntie everyone has. 
I could go on, but maybe you get the picture?

You see, Time bandits, that which you have robbed? the things perhaps you take for granted? I have had to spend more time hiding, fighting, recovering and changing the world to be a safer, kinder more equitable place for me and those who are coming after me and now, well, I am asking you to pay back your debt. I want my time back please and an apology would be a good start to pay off the interest on the debt. Acknowledgement would go a long way too, but most of all, I want my time back so I can finish my book, draw beautiful pictures and complete a legacy that includes more than an entire adult life of ploughing a line and paving the way for lesbians and gays who have come after me. I'd like a bit of time, well, just to be me. 

I'd like to start today if it isn't too inconvenient for you.

With sincere gratitude and acknowledgement to all those who have come before me and the price they have paid for me to walk my path more freely.


-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 13, 2016

Princess Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Gillian Cornwall, c. October 2016

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