I had a realisation a few weeks ago that I really missed wearing odd clothes and makeup. I was watching the series Umbrella Academy and the character Klaus was wearing a skirt and I thought – I want one, I want to be at a place where I can wear one. Smith and I have travelled to Germany every summer for the last few years and we’ve planned costumes and things long beforehand. There are small gigs we used to go to where people are more free to express their wants and delights, in terms of clothing and look, than they are in the dreary offices where they work. None of these things has happened for over a year now and I think a part of me is missing.
Back when I was young, and that’s quite a while ago now, there was the first ever Red Nose Day. I was in school and I want to say I was in something like the fourth or fifth year. I will check in a moment to see when it actually happened. Now I don’t recall why I decided this but I chose to wear eye shadow and paint my nails when I went to school. We must have had a non-uniform day. Why I chose to do the makeup thing I honestly have no idea. What I do remember is liking the feeling that I looked slightly different and I also liked the look of my painted nails, I think I felt more “me”. [Just looked up when the first comic relief was and it turns out to be 1988, so I was in the fifth year].
There are some later events which made me think about the whole makeup thing a little more. I dressed in drag at a show performed by cadets at RAF Coningsby in the summer of 1988 and I had some makeup on. I remember the eyeliner didn’t really wash off easily and I got some funny looks in the JRM the next morning. I can remember going out to pubs in Bishop’s Stortford in my late teens and early twenties when I was already wearing eyeliner [badly I would say because I am terrible at putting it on]. Most of my friends were just accepting and didn’t care. Which was nice. I enjoyed wearing this stuff and as much as I didn’t have these terms I do think I felt more me when doing that.
Skip forward a long way and the rediscovery of wearing makeup occurs with attendance at the M’era Luna festival and going to Club AC a couple of times. The smaller gigs that Smith and I have attended also help as many dress up and a lot of the time the gigs run into the Slimelight club. I went through a phase of wearing nail varnish each week and while I stopped that while my kids grow up and go through school it is something I think I will return to. I just like it. One of my favourite things is when Smith and I are in the Eurotunnel waiting to get to the continent and I put on my black nail varnish. It feels like coming home once that stuff is on. Yes, I know that psychologically it’s linked to being “out” or seeing bands or having a great weekend away at a festival but I think I genuinely do miss wearing it and would like to wear it all the time.
So, I love the look and feel of makeup, I really feel at home surrounded by freaks and geeks when at a gig or festival. Walking up the stairs at Electrowerkz and entering the main venue to the sights and sounds of a gig and people just being who they are and accepting it – this feels like home and there’s a calmness that descends on me, a feeling of belonging. We are all people of contrast and the flip side to me is that I also really enjoy being part of something super restrictive about clothing and rules – RAFAC. I can dress up in uniform and I do it well, I do it to look smart and I do it to show the dedication I have to the organisation. I can spend time away on RAF bases or spend time at the RAF Club and still feel at home. So, I suppose part of me is constantly rebelling and trying to be subversive while another part of me loves being in the establishment. Perhaps I secretly like the feeling of being in the establishment but also having that other rebellious part to me. I’m quite open about how I dress and my outfits. I think it takes a few people by surprise and some just write it off as “dress up” but I honestly feel as though it’s more than that. It’s a part of me.
I am fortunate to live in a time when most people don’t care about these things. I am lucky to be able to live in a society where you can dress like this and attend your events and most people aren’t that worried about it. There are social rules that are broadly tolerant. It must be very difficult to want to dress up or wear make up or do things that are considered subversive by the country’s leaders and you don’t have the freedom to be what you are. It is such a shame that some people will judge and be disapproving, unaccepting, scared or even violent towards those who are different. I imagine the newspapers and societal need for shaming others for their behaviour when I remember the sort of thing where “MP caught wearing women’s clothes” or kink shaming would regularly make the headlines and there would be scandal. I don’t think that society has moved on from that particularly. People’s lives are judged by a set of rules which don’t fit all. Imagine a cabinet member being discovered to live within a threesome. A lot of people would lose their shit. For me the question would be – are they all consenting and are they all happy? If that was the case then I care not. It feels that society expects its leaders and people of prominence to behave like the “perfect ideal”, which doesn’t exist, but we grow up hearing so much about mum+dad+family that a lot of people struggle to be accepting of anything else.
Just think about the hoo-hah that occurs when a Hollywood celeb announces that their sexuality is not hetero. We have lots of news articles and the world seems to be up in arms for a short while. Many people seem obsessed with who puts what body part into whom and where. I would hope that one day we reach the point where you don’t have to “come out” because no-one gives a shit. You be as you want to be and we don’t care. That is a place I would like to live.