by now, i’m sure pretty much everyone has heard about the awful events in orlando. there’s been a huge variation in how this is being reported in the media; what they seemed to have in common, though, especially in the immediate aftermath, was a refusal to acknowledge that this was an attack specifically directed against the LGBTQ community. from newspaper headlines focusing solely on the shooter’s supposed ties to IS, to Owen Jones eventually walking off Sky News after being talked over & shouted down for daring to suggest that this was a hate crime, there seemed to be an overwhelming focus on making this event relatable to everyone. this was an attack “against human beings”, it was claimed, against “the freedom of all people to try to enjoy themselves”.
and in a way, this is true. like all acts of terror and unthinkable violence, it does affect how everyone sees the world & possibly how we live our lives. and i try to think that these comments are coming from a place of kindness; that non-LGTBQ people are trying to show their solidarity. but it feels dismissive; like we who are part of this community are unjustly trying to claim some kind of ownership, like we’re just cheering for our team in some kind of awful Oppression Olympics. and while other acts of terror have definitely impacted me, this one feels different.
in the nearly two decades since i came out as queer, many things have improved for me – less than nine months ago, i was even able to finally legally marry my partner of fifteen years, and was fortunate to have family & friends who were excited to celebrate this milestone with us. but over these two decades, i’ve lost friends and had rocky moments with family members. i’ve had abuse and threats shouted at me in the street, and garbage thrown at me from passing cars. i’ve been shoved, kicked, and spat on. and i’ve been one of the lucky ones – my legal rights are protected here in scotland. i haven’t been imprisoned or tortured, or had to endure forced marriage or corrective rape. i haven’t been seriously injured or beaten, like some of my friends have. and i’ve never genuinely been afraid for my life. yet in 74 countries, being who i am is still illegal; in 13 countries it’s punishable by death. in many other countries, being who i am can still be dangerous and life-threatening. even countries that had previously been making progress towards equality are seeing rights rolled back and safety becoming precarious. and this is what makes this attack different for me, and for other members of the LGBTQ community. yes, it was an act of terrorism. but it was also a hate crime – the shooter deliberately chose to target and kill people like me, because they were like me. it was a sharply painful reminder that there are still so many people in this world who are so angered, so disgusted, so afraid, so filled with hatred toward me that they think i should die. and suddenly, even here, i am not safe.
it’s very hard to know how to process this. i suddenly feel sick, and scared, and sad, and so very old. i feel like this will never end. and as i was driving in to the vigil in Glasgow on monday, i felt like there was nothing at all that i could do about any of it. but when i plugged in my ipod and hit shuffle – no fabrication or exaggeration – this song came on. followed immediately by this song.
for the 2014 Ravellenic Games, in response to the issues of homphobia around the Olympics being hosted by Russia, i created “nothing to hide“. this rainbow sock yarn was dyed only for the Ravellenic Games, with £5 from the sale of each skein going directly to Stonewall UK. i intended it as a limited edition fundraiser for a specific event; but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the need for it is going away anytime soon.
i’m not a freedom fighter or political activist. i’m not particularly brave, and i have limited energy and resources. i can’t fight every battle that i’d like to fight. but i can do what i can do, which is dye yarn. so i’ve created a new rainbow-hued yarn on a new base; this one is more layered & shifting than the previous one, and will be dyed exclusively on a 75% superwash merino/20% nylon/5% gold stellina 4ply base. it will retail at £17 per skein, and £5 from each skein sold will go to Stonewall UK, so they can continue to do battle even when i feel like i can’t. and instead of being a limited run, this will be part of the OMA colourway range indefinitely. because for as long as bigoted people filled with hatred, anger, & fear continue to show us their true colours – i’ll show mine.
(you can find the new colourway true colours on the new gold sparkle base here. if it’s out of stock, don’t worry – i’ll keep dyeing more for as long as i need to.)