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What's On?

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What's On?

There's only one Oscar favourite I haven't watched so far, the based-on-true events I, Tonya. I remember the original attack on the skater Nancy Kerrigan, and how her rival Tonya Harding was later implicated in the attack (specifically, Harding was found guilty of conspiring to hinder the prosecution). I don't know what Nancy Kerrigan is feeling, seeing Hollywood's most likeable bad-ass girl, Margot Robbie (famously Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad), playing Tonya Harding for sympathies, on billboards and on TV and in magazines. I get that it could be a fascinating story - descent into crime always makes a better story than a tale about Ned Flanders of The Simpsons or some similar do-gooder. I also know of people who have watched this film and liked it. But personally, I'm guessing the film re-opened the trauma of the assault for Kerrigan, and now this added injustice of Harding playing victim – I wonder if a Tonya Harding book deal will be coming soon? Anyway, I really feel for Nancy Kerrigan, and I'm not interested in Tonya Harding.

So instead, I'll watch a popcorn movie. Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence, is the perfect post-Oscars event, with its world of espionage and plot-over-character. In such a world, what could be better than a female Bourne (from what the trailers showed) kicking arse in a slightly fantastical way. This may seem like double standards, given what I've just said about Tonya Harding, but I don't have a problem with violence as long as it's far removed from my world, or anyone's in real life. I enjoy the ridiculousness of James Bond and loved the Bourne franchise, so am hoping for something similar.

Since I'm watching the film with friends, I may go afterwards to Edinburgh's gay quarter. I've always been underwhelmed by this part of Edinburgh, and perhaps there's a part of me that, as trans, doesn't want to go. This may sound paradoxical, but with the physicality of my trans identity, I wonder if some people go to the gay district with the hope of something exotic, of seeing men kissing, or a trans woman, or a drag queen. Decades ago, I had straight male flatmates who sometimes went to gay clubs, despite their homophobia. They would boast about how, if any guy tried it on with them, they would beat them up. I never went to the gay club with them, and never understood why they needed to go. Actually, it's strange why they only went to the gay clubs (in Cardiff, if you're asking) when I wasn't around. I was in the closet at the time, with a poster of Pamela Anderson on my bedroom wall to prove my masculinity. Maybe the flatmates were protecting me, like Van Helsing trying to protect Mina Murray from Dracula's kiss, lest she go to the dark side. Maybe my flatmates worried if I entered a gay club with them, I would leave in a gold dress and the conquest of several men on my hands; a werewolf finally confronted by moonlight.

What was strange was that I genuinely think they were straight. Why do homophobic guys go to gay pubs and clubs? Perhaps my then-flatmates felt gay men were inferior, and that trans was like a freak show. Perhaps it re-affirmed their own normality. Fast forward, and I know I'll be with friends this Saturday, but my journey into the gay district will be one in which I listen and watch intently for anyone approaching, especially for gangs of drunken men, and the echoes of my own life twenty years ago.

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Friday, 21 September 2018

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