I had a real, albeit solo, weekend this weekend – a chance to think about me and to spend time understanding how the experiences of others resonates or differs from my own life and my own path. And I finished it off lying in the warm and wonderful Turkish warm room at the Arlington Baths, just dreaming a bit.
I began with Saturday at the annual Bi-Tastic Conference held in Scotland which brings together third sector groups and individuals who identify or work with LGBTQI and particularly Bi folk. I went last year and was pleased to be back as I begin to see familiar faces and hear deeper stories. Discussions around being bi-enough resonated a lot and gave me opportunities to think about being hidden, staying quiet, and also the need for people who can to open up the discussion. I wear my bicolour band happily and whilst most people have no idea what it is, it does allow some conversations with people who want to talk about their experiences. Travelling internationally the band is anonymous enough not to be too confronting, and I make a point of hiding my hand behind my back when photographed with any students or younger delegates from countries where sexuality is officially hidden.
After finishing off (I hope) my annual 18/19 accounts paperwork and getting it off, I then had some time on Sunday to begin dipping into the new podcast by my old school friend Nicholas McInerny entitled Rainbow Dads. He has brought together 6 people who are all dads, and who all came out much later in life to their families. Nicholas is famous, of course, for his award-winning series How to Have a Perfect Marriage
I have written the following short reflection on his site “I’ve just taken an hour to listen to Nicholas McInerny‘s powerful first Episode of Rainbow Dads. Here he talks with a number of men who grew up in the 60-80s about hiding their true identity. One describes it as burying their real body in a coffin underground, others about locking rooms in their human house. This is disturbing and fascinating. I hope that it could be useful to parents of any teenage children now, boys or girls, mothers or fathers, especially any where the child is at boarding school or may not be talking about themselves and their authentic truth. I hope Anna and your colleagues at Stonewall will find it useful. I was at school with Nicholas, but on a different journey. Lots to talk to him about. I look forward to taking time to listen to each episode. Congrats to you, your five colleagues and to Richard Shannon for producing this. I told some of the delegates at BiTastic! 2019 yesterday and am connecting in Bi and Beyond Edinburgh and Stonewall Scotland too”
I feel the 1hr programme has massive amounts of useful reflections for any parent to listen to – not necessarily an LGBT parent, or someone wondering about their own teenager’s path, but just a parent who wants to do their best to help ensure that fewer and fewer people end up telling these kind of stories of loneliness and isolation when they are older and dads themselves. I will settle down to another one tonight I hope.
As I finished my listen, the sounds of flights of Geese burst overhead and I thought how lucky we are to live in this part of Scotland with its welcoming pub across the road (which I spent far too long in last night with friends)
With Nicholas and his guests thoughtfully still in my mind, I hopped in the car to the Sunday night sauna/swim gathering for naturist folk in Glasgow. The Arlington Baths are beautiful and the team there are most welcoming. My first time. I got 20 lengths in and then tested out the sauna and steam rooms before ending up in the room shown in the picture, just unwinding and thanking my lucky stars that I now live the idyllic spot I do with all that Glasgow and Edinburgh has to offer on my doorstep.
Now back to work for the week from home and into London, and then another treat – popping down to Salisbury to see the opening performance of Breaking The Code directed by Christian Durham. And then, at last, welcoming back my workshopped-ful wife back from 5 weeks in France. Can’t wait.