I put the password into my laptop and set to work on the book it seemed I was forever writing. My coffee cup in it’s Starbucks mug sat beside me as I sat by the window in my local Starbucks. As I got typing, passersbys and vehicles went about their business too. I began to get lost in my own world of heroes and sidekicks and magical forests with underlying secrets. Just as I was about to start into the mentor to the hero’s long speech about ‘saving the forest from forces beyond our control’ and figure out myself what exactly that meant, I was interrupted by my friends Oliver and Alex. Both of them had better career prospects than I did. Not something I would ever admit to either of them but deep down I knew it was true. I was a part-time cleaner, part-time writer. However Oliver owned his own business which sold LGBTQ+ merchandise and was in it’s busiest season currently with Pride coming up. Alex was a lawyer, first in their family to go to college, first in their family to become a lawyer. Oliver and Alex weren’t actually dating but I knew Oliver wanted to date Alex. Had wanted to for years.
‘So how is the book coming along Logan?’, Alex asked me.
I’ve forgotten the love interest’s name. He’s called something beginning with a J I think.
‘Ah you know, getting there.’
‘I started the first in your series. Will that villain be coming back in the next book?’
‘I’m holding her back for a few books down the line Oliver. But she will be making a return.’
‘Oh brilliant. I loved the complexity of her character.’
‘How is sales going?’
‘Great at the mo Logan. We sold a lot of the flags and badges. This is such a great season for us …’
Oliver began to raise his voice.
‘You know as members of the LGBTQ+ community with Pride just around the corner.’
Oliver looked around to see if he had got any attention. None.
I rolled my eyes. I had a laptop case with the rainbow flag and a trans pin and a pansexual pin stuck to it. To me, that was how you expressed pride, not shouting it from the rooftops in a café where most people, if not all, couldn’t care less.
‘I’m not part of the community, just saying.’, Alex said.
‘You’re hardly straight honey! You slept with Frank James last week and in case you hadn’t realized he is a man.’, Oliver replied, looking at the end of his tether.
An enchanted forest … stay out of their discourse.
‘I didn’t say I was straight Ollie. I don’t label myself.’
‘Well you’re a man and he’s a man so what would you call it?’
‘Firstly I’m not a man. I don’t label my gender either. And secondly we can decide what to label about ourselves and what not to. There isn’t any rules Ollie.’
The wizard’s cloak …
‘People have been fighting for this for a long time and all LGBTQ+ people want is the security of an identity. Why are you been so cruel about it Alex?’
‘I never said anything about people not being entitled to use any label they feel like such as gay, pan, straight, bi or whatever or alternatively male, female, non-binary or whatever but I think the idea of security in your identity goes for people who don’t wish to identify as anything either so correct me if I’m wrong but technically you’re leaving people who don’t use labels out.’
A castle high on a hill overlooking a lake with a magical essence …
‘I think you just don’t want to admit you are gay Alex. And I understand. I’ve been there. It’s hard to accept even to yourself at the beginning …’
‘If I was gay, I’d admit it. I just don’t understand the sense in labelling feelings.’
‘But we label everything. If we listen to a certain type of music, we say we’re a fan of that musical style.’
‘Well it makes more sense than labelling feelings. Otherwise my blues collection might end up having Justin Bieber in it. With feelings if they like me and I like them, why would I need to label anything? In saying that if people don’t wish to call themselves blues, rock, pop or whatever fans, that’s ok with me. All these things from sexuality to gender to musical genres are created so we can all choose whether we want to identify or not as anything.’
A secret chamber in the castle …
‘I’m proud to be gay. And it took me a long time to find a word to use when I was younger and figuring things out. What I feel is very real.’
‘I never said it wasn’t.’
A rescue at the castle … to be fair to Alex they didn’t say it wasn’t a real feeling. But Oliver announces he’s gay to people before he announces his name so I think these two are on completely different pages. Alex isn’t dismissing labels but if everything they believed in was what everyone believed in Oliver would be out of business. To be fair, I’ve had this debate with Oliver too and I have much the same feelings as Alex even though I identify as male, trans, pansexual, panromantic, allosexual, alloromantic and well a fan of cheesy 80s pop. Sure it is of course right for people to respect each other’s labels but it is equally right to respect peoples’ right to not use labels. Oliver doesn’t really have respect for the latter group of people and his guilt-tripping drives me up the wall.
Oliver and Alex continue to eyeball each other. But they’ll make up by tomorrow. They always do. I’ve got two thoughts:
I don’t think they will be getting it on with each other anytime soon.
And should I bring in a secret chamber when I have no use for it?