I’ve never seen faery tales as childish or immature. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a matriarchal household, and learned Scottish folklore at my maternal grandmother’s knee at an early age… But it was indoctrinated into my young mind about the value of the fantastic. Fae and folks in these tales weren’t the stuff of fluff and fuzzy golden dreams; there was light but there was darkness, too. Balances between viciousness and compassion. It wasn’t about being rewarded simply for being pretty or fair; these stories told often showed that in spite of these favours, that you had to suffer to gain strength of character to combat adversity when faced with it. The true wonderful nature of these stories were not that these things could occur, but rather taught the value of a promise kept, going through hardships to gain a reward, and being true to yourself, even at a difficult cost.
I don’t think I officially ever came out as bisexual to my family. It’s not that I didn’t mean to, it’s just when I was in a long term relationship I mentioned to them, it was usually with a man. I always assumed that they knew I was bi, and loved people for the qualities they had, no matter what their gender, and that it wasn’t necessary for me to make a big deal of it. For once in my life, I was subtle about my choices. I think that at the back of my mind I knew that no matter what, they’d accept my preference and support it. But like all things I’ve had the luck to encounter in my life, I’ve not had a family I had to explain this hardwiring to, or worse, justify myself to them. It still makes me smile to think that this was never something spoken, but I’m sure my family has always known, and even if unspoken, accepted.
There is a sadness though, that I feel when I hear people tell me that this has not been their experience. That when they have gathered courage to share their true selves with their family that they’ve been cast out, cursed, and told never to darken their door again. How dare they… it was as if they had deliberately decided to be that way to frustrate and embarrass their families. Although, to be honest, I fail to see how this is an embarrassment to one’s kith and kin. As if having someone who is gay, trans or bi is somehow a poor reflection on other individuals in that family. But then again, I don’t understand humans much, and this complicated way they have of thinking. I feel sad for anyone who would eschew their own children on the basis of something they had no control over, rather than celebrating that they trust and love you enough to share it with them.
Much like the protagonists in these old folk tales, these unwanted children have to leave their homes and go out into the world, shape shift, endure a series of hardships to grow and finally, hopefully, find happiness. I honestly hope each and every one has one hundred dazzling days for every dark hour they had to endure. So sayeth this Scary Gothmother. It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible, and worldwide, slowly these lost souls find their ways back to the others like them, where some have had a lot of difficulty and others less, but they find one another and others like them who welcome them.
There is a term in science that when a species spontaneously births a new genetic trait that is favourable, it’s referred to as a ‘hopeful monster’. I love that term. I like to think of fantastical creatures like mermaids, dragons, and unicorns as hopeful monsters from the days of when those original folk tales were told, and taught people the value of being different within their societies. It also does my heart good to hear people in the LGBT community referred to as unicorns. It makes me hope that maybe people now view these hopeful monsters as the magical creatures that they are, and embrace and celebrate them, rather than casting them out.
The road isn’t easy. Old fairy tales told me that, and even in the oldest of old, it was never about sitting around, waiting for someone else to rescue you from your unhappiness. The most recurring themes I’ve seen are that you must be content with your own company, so that when others around you doubt you, have unkind words, or cast you out, you’ve your own strength of that self’s company and character to help bring you to the place you really belong.
Pride is happening this weekend in my province’s capital in Victoria. It’s the edge of the Western world, where the Lotus Land ends before the big splash of the Pacific Ocean. It’s my hope that the hopeful monsters, the unicorns, the lovers, and loved ones all gather there, and show that sometimes you really can live happily ever after.
Little Miss Risk
Photos: Shimona Henry
Make up by Teresa Bussey of Dead Heaven Make Up Design.