The problem was, and remains, hegemony. Who has hegemonic control over the subject of argument, and what terminology might be used to discuss the situation we find ourselves in? (For example: when to use the terms ‘ex-pat’ versus ‘immigrant’). What it is to actually use the term democracy as it was originally intended (by the Greeks, ironically!): the principle of participation and autonomy, as opposed to decision-making at a distance. What is it to hold responsibility in your hands, dangerous and frightening though that may be?
Sometime I think we are blinded by the language we use. We spend so much time trying to be ‘women’ or ‘men’ that we forget to be human first, and especially to be the best kind of person we can be. I don’t mean simply being ‘good’. That’s another misleading word! Who defines what ‘good’ is? Yet again, clearly I should feel ‘aspirational’. ‘entrepreneurial’, and ‘hard-working’ (… and maybe part of a ‘family’ of that type!), but I feel coercively blackmailed by these words. The more I adhere to them, the less free I feel and the less able to be myself. In fact, the more enslaved I am.
Authenticity, I suppose, lies primarily in being able to autonomously define yourself in the light of the world you live in. It’s not about just doing whatever you like, but being able to think through ones choices in a rational fashion. Too often we’re shanghaied by weasel-words and end up in thrall to them, without even knowing why.
Do I want to be ‘free’? Yes, but not on Mr Cameron or the EU’s terms. Do I want to be a ‘woman’? Of course, but not based on the restricted exigencies of the NHS or via the definitions established by popular cultural stereotypes. In fact the words ‘want to be a woman’ seem completely irrational to me. Like Yoda, one does or one does not… there is no ‘want.
The good thing about Sparkle (and maybe THE most important thing!) is that it teaches each of us self-respect in our own individual way. By that, I mean every one who attends gets the message that they can be themselves, not just in fantasy-land, but in the reality of real streets, real towns, real people, and real events. It’s a confrontation, in a safely organised manner, with the world as it is. Each can feel value for themselves, and hence be generous to others. That’s why people get the ‘post-Sparkle blues’. It’s hard to go back to acting a part when you’ve had a chance to speak your own lines.
Initial appearances are deceptive. Yeah, I know, people attend Sparkle and wear all the most extreme ‘gear’. But I think that’s not why most people are there. For many this is the first taste of authentic freedom, and like the old song goes: “How are you gonna keep ’em down on the farm once they’ve seen gay Paree?” Where DO you go from here? Back into the ol’ closet (so to speak)? It’s never that easy. This is a life-transforming experience.
The road to being oneself is not an easy one. Authenticity hath its price, and often it is seriously expensive. But life is something one only lives once, and to loose the chance to be a ‘person’ (rather than a ‘cipher’) is something that is more than a little tempting.