Out on a dike

Out on a dike phr. [mid 19-C] (US) going out in one's best clothes. [DIKED DOWN] I'm out as a dyke, occasionally out with a dyke. What I do when I'm out on a dike can become your business once I write about it here.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

On this day ...

On Saturday 30 April 1988, I joined the demonstration in London protesting against Clause 28. Clause 28 was passed into law as Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 on 24 May, with support of then Local Government minister, Michael Howard. How many connections there are for one week, almost half a lifetime on! Don't forget that's what the man stands for when it comes to voting this May 5th.

I remember this because it is again a May Day bank holiday weekend and in 1988 I took part in my first May Day (Labour Day) celebration, just after that march on London. I was young, naive even, but I'd been politicised, and I stood up at that May Day celebration in De Montfort Hall, Leicester, when they asked for someone to speak out for equality and against the Clause. I didn't know about the international holiday in honour of workers until 1988. Now, in 2005, the association between the May Day bank holiday and Labour Day is almost forgotten.

It's worth remembering this act of solidarity as May Day approaches:

1988 - On April 30th some 30,000 demonstrators marched in London to protest the passage of Section 28. This is still the largest lesbian and gay rally in UK history. [Reference]

It's also worth remembering that it took until 2003 for Section 28 to be repealed.

In that same week in April 1988, I was instigating my personal protest and plan to escape from university halls of residence, due to homophobic harrassment from other students. I already knew the climate of Clause 28 was doing me no favours.

At the London rally I bought my "Never Going Underground" t-shirt. I had also been at the North West Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Equality demonstration in Manchester earlier that year.

On this day we should also remember:

1999 - On 30 April, a bomb exploded in the Admiral Duncan, a gay pub in Old Compton Street, Soho, the third in a series of bombs targeted at minorities by a lone extremist. Three people died and several injured. [Reference]


Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Growling Days

I don't often have days when I find it hard to sit within my own skin or to share space with anyone else. Today was one of those days. I'd had enough before it began. It was a feeling shared by at least one other colleague in our small team at work today. Is there such a thing as getting out of bed the wrong side? More likely it's a build up of stress that is gradually being recognised at a similar pace. All it takes is a night of little sleep - for whatever reason - and perhaps there is far less energy the next day to contain those ordinary frustrations. I was distinctly prickly. A day when even being polite to strangers might have been asking too much - and I know how to be polite.

At least on days like this I can be assertive without the anger and irritation bringing tears close behind. I don't do angry all that well. That may be the case for many women - anger gets turned inwards. It's hard to direct it at the external targets where it's often clearly deserved. I don't get angry for nothing. I work hard to earn that emotion. I don't do relaxation well either.

I like my work but it certainly hasn't felt easy recently.

It was my partner, Andrea, who gave me the word for the day. She left me a note for when I got in from work, "Hope you didn't have to do too much growling today." There were moments of shared growling in the office. There is some reassurance in that. We know where we're at; it's the others who have it wrong.

I may not be able to relax and I may have to hide tears of irritation behind a toilet door occasionally (very occasionally), but I don't give up my self-belief. No way. And on growling days there are no tears. There is only righteous, honed anger. On growling days there is no available space for anything to be turned inwards; it spills over until it finds its mark.

Growling days could be necessary, healthy even.
In all this, I can't help feeling I seep, not seethe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

¿Qué hiciste hoy?

Trabajé en la universidad como de costumbre. Soy asistente de información. Dirijo una base de datos de antiguos estudiantes. Hoy por la tarde fui a mi clase de español. La clase termina el próximo semana. Tengo el examen oral pronto. Este verano, espero ir a España para las vacaciones. Voy a tomar el sol. Si no es posible escribiré en mi ordenador.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Number 84

I'm not alone in seeking the significance of Number 84. It seems 84 is an abundant number, sometimes even an excessive number.

And in my forays into Google, I keep coming across these words or similar:

Every one knows that the numbers seven and twelve are the most glorious in Holy Scripture ... and 7 x 12 = 84 ... thus 84 really stands for the perfect consummation of God's salvation plan for all those whom God has chosen to save ...

That won't be me, then.

In searching for 'significance', I had hoped to reach out to something beyond maths or religion. Even though the two subject prizes I won at my secondary school prize-giving were for maths and religious education, I only ever wanted the English prize.

Perhaps that is the significance of Number 84.

In 1984, the year before I won those prizes, I realised I was in love (oh yes, far more than a crush) with my female English teacher.

So, for me, 84 indicates a beginning of sorts.

I could go on to add that 1984 was also the year I holidayed with my family in the Norfolk Broads, went out with a boy for 6 months with the pleasingly rhyming name of Sean Vaughan, bought a Wham! t-shirt, refused to read George Orwell's 1984, kept a diary in which I insisted on recording the time I got up and went to bed each day, strode out in a pair of red boots ...


Better dressed

I've been playing with the source code of the blog template today so that this blog and my website look their colour co-ordinated best. The header and footer have been clothed in #ffff84 and the new overcoat - or is it a shawl? - is #840084. Better still to think of it as the waistcoat. It's always unbuttoned so each day I can write on a fresh new shirt front.

I can't help feeling there must be some significance to the number 84.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


I know the sun is shining and I should be out there enjoying the spring weekend, but instead I'm looking back to the depths of winter and my activities in the Christmas break, when a certain activity present kept me busy.

Following the format of the popular board game, Monopoly, you can now Make Your Own Opoly "using your PC and any simple colour printer". Buy the kit (or get someone to buy it for you) and away you go.

I can recommend it. Not only do you benefit from all the educational and creative elements of customising your own board game (alone or with friends); you then get to play it as often as you like (better with friends).

And so, gradually, in a little under 24 hours from design concept to finished output, Dykeopoly was born. The game box proudly pronounces:

Doing it the lesbian way
Live the life, now play the game

The all-important 'Go' square is replaced by The Closet: Start Here.

With my PC and my (more-than-simple, thank you) colour printer I design a pink triangle with a pound sign emblazoned in its centre. £100 and £500 notes co-ordinate beautifully as the entire note prints in delicate shades of pink and mauve. Higher denominations express their superiority and refuse to tone in with this careful styling - £1000 (green), £5000 (orange). But they are Pink Pounds nonetheless.

Rules of Make Your Own Opoly differ slightly from the traditional game. Instead of 'Community Chest' and 'Chance' cards there is 'Good News' and 'Bad News'.

I quickly translate this into:

  • Dykey Desires
  • Dykey Disasters

(Come on, you know we all have them.)

Dykey Desires #1

Martina wins Wimbledon! Each player collects £200.

Dykey Disasters #3
You go to a party and all your ex-lovers are there. Go to Bad Hangover and miss a turn.

Bad Hangover is my take on the Jail square. However much certain TV shows may be loved (and I make sure these feature later), there are too many portrayals of lesbians in prison. Dykeopoly may specialise in stereotypes but there are still more bad hangovers in my world than dykes in jail.

I replace the 'Free Parking' resting space with Browsing the Bookshelves. Silver Moon may not offer quite the same atmosphere as it used to, but I'm not going to give up browsing.

The Property cards are possibly the most revealing aspect of Dykeopoly, especially how I've chosen to group them.

  1. Tent at Greenham Common £400; Lesbian Avengers Chapter £500
  2. Butch/Femme £900; Lipstick Lesbians £1000; Drag Kings £1200
  3. Local Lesbian & GayLine £1400; Local Women's Centre £1500; Local Gay Bar £1700
  4. Dykes on Bikes £1800; Lesbians with Cats £1900; Lesbians with Kids £2000
  5. Utilities: Manual Trades for Women £2000; Bus Driving for Women £2000
  6. The Candy Bar £2100; Diva Magazine £2300; Silver Moon Bookshop £2500
  7. 'The' Lesbian Kiss (from Brookside) £2600; Ellen Comes Out £2700; Prisoner Cell Block H and Bad Girls £2800
  8. 1950s Lesbian Pulp Fiction £2900; 1920s Lesbian Literary Salon £3100; 1970s Lesbian Feminism £3200
  9. Sappho's Beach, Lesbos £3600; The Castro, San Francisco £4000

You may well ask how it's possible to place a value on 1970s Lesbian Feminism or the Local Women's Centre. Do I place too much emphasis on popular culture? And how could I dare to place San Francisco above Lesbos in that prized 'Mayfair' position?

Well, what icons of lesbian culture would you choose?


Saturday, April 23, 2005

Say Cheese!

Why did I choose this picture? Well, I'm smiling nicely. Not so sure about my 4-legged friend.

This blog

I've chosen a title with many resonances. I like the way it reflects how I am putting myself out there/here, on show, through this blog. I enjoy the irony that dressing up can also be dressing down.

Out on a dike phr. [mid 19-C] (US) going out in one's best clothes. [DIKED DOWN]
You see me here 'in my best clothes', as I choose to present myself.

The phrase also plays with origins of words, with slang and with language that has been reclaimed. It is a play on words that reflects my desire for connection with others who will be attracted to the significance of words like 'out' and 'dike': my experience as a lesbian - although this blog is about much more than that.

dyke/dike n. [1930s+] a lesbian. [ety. unknown. ? f. dyked down, dressed up; certainly some lesbians have always dressed as men ... (?) ]
At least that's how my Dictionary of Slang presents it. The second question mark is mine.

So, I'm out as a dyke, occasionally out with a dyke. What I do when I'm out on a dike only becomes your business once I write about it here.