Introducing Myself: Being Semi-Closeted in Rural England

Peacock feathers

Scott asked for writers to step up and do some blogging for the QRI site, so here I am – I can waffle for a good thousand words at a time on pretty much any given subject! I’d be delighted if people wanted to ask me things or give me a topic, so please leave a comment or email me if you have any questions or topics for me to work with. I reckon I have time to write once a month, give or take.

Firstly, who am I and how have I come to be here?

Well, I’m Ally and I live in the rural south-west of the UK, in Somerset. I’ve been married to Mr AL for nearly twenty years and we have two kids who are not quite teenagers at the time of writing. We’ve also got hens, guinea-pigs, a dog and a permaculture vegetable garden. I’m pan and I’m enby and I’m still working some other stuff out.

I’m here on the QRI site as a whole because I write queer romance. I’ve got two books out with JMS Publishing and I am simultaneously working on two more, which is less complicated than it sounds. The first one centres round a gay couple. The second one is the end of the gay couple’s story and the beginning of a romance between a gay man and a non-binary not-quite-elf. The third in the series is f/enby and the fourth is gay. The fifth is probably going to be exploring the m/enby relationship some more.

So, why am I writing this stuff?

A few years back I had a breakdown– I’ve had a series in my life, every few years, triggered by one thing and another, but probably caused by undiagnosed autistic spectrum disorder, because I am VERY good at being who other people want me to be and eventually the strain gets too much and I fold. This most recent time, I read and read and read instead of interacting and I fell in to mm romance and then in to the wider queer romance bookshelves. Eventually, I read all I could manage and decided I’d start writing my own stuff.

During the course of my writing (and reading, I guess), I discovered that actually a lot of the weirdness I’d been feeling about myself is because I don’t identify as female. I identify as non-binary. All of a sudden things fell in to place and I felt that I had a place I could sit with. I’ve known I liked girls and boys since my mid-twenties. I wish I’d worked both things out earlier, but there you are. It is what it is. Writing is not only a creative task for me, it’s seems like it’s part of my journey of self-discovery.

What’s my real life like?

Not many people in my ‘real’ life know how I identify. I live in a small village and even having blue hair and seizures is enough to keep most people at a distance. I present as very female – I’ve tried binding and it’s not possible without a lot of pain and inconvenience. So I’ve just… gone about my life as a nearly fifty-year old person with a husband and two children and I let other people think what they want. People I’m close to know. Mr AL knows. I caught him researching top surgery the other day, which is something I’ve been thinking about for years, waaaaay before I worked it all out.

My Mama, who is a very English lady in her eighties who runs her own little farm (think the woman who runs the dragon’s rescue society in Ankh Morpork) knows about me being pan, but not about being enby. I haven’t told her because she just wouldn’t get it. When I came out to her, she was all but what do lesbians DO, dear, it must be most UNSATISFYING and after I’d snorted tea through my nose, we never spoke of it again.

She has been amazing with my child though. I have an eleven year old gender diverse kid. They’ve been socially transitioned for two years now and I was so worried about how our family would support them. They have, though, every single one of them. Mama is pretty good with pronouns and the new name; and although she says she doesn’t understand it, she can see how much happier Talking Child is in themselves and that’s all that matters. But I am afraid that this unconditional acceptance that she extends to my child, she wouldn’t extend to me. And I am afraid that she will say that my own journey and my child’s are intertwined.

In a way they are – my child’s courage has given me the courage to process my own state of being. But a part of me is also afraid that if I am more ‘out’, then my child will be looked at with askance by the services we are already struggling to access for them.

Being out is complicated. I pass as straight, I’m married to a man, I present as female. Over the last couple of years I’ve just come to terms with being happy with myself and learned to let other people’s reactions flow over me.

I’m a pan enby living in a middle-class, straight person’s body, in a middle-class straight-person’s life and it’s odd.

I’m here though, and I’m definitely queer.

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