National Variously Wonky Awareness Day

Blimey, so many awareness days to keep track of. Just recently, there has been World Mental Health Day, Bisexual Visibility Day, (the one where I managed to cheese off one of my favourite writers in a blog post…), Dyspraxia Awareness Week, National Poetry Day and, today, National Coming Out Day. Perhaps we could roll them all into one giant all-purpose National Variously Wonky Awareness Week for anyone who has anything to come out about…it would mega-help those of us with organisational problems…

The helpfulness or not of awareness days/weeks/months is something I’ve heard debated for years, starting when I trained as a journalist. So, a succinct-ish opinion: They are helpful when they address things that are taboo, when they are pegged to people and places of influence, and when they’re accompanied by genuine tangible effort and action (Note to PRs: An awareness day nothing happens on is not news). They’re not helpful when the issue concerned is more created by incompetence or lack of resources to address the problem than lack of awareness (child abuse being a classic example), when the only voices being heard are the relatively fortunate, and when they become more about someone exorcising their guilt/jealousy or being seen to be right than actually helping others (see: changing your Facebook avatar, having the word ‘intersectional’ in your Twitter bio…). 

Personally, the more something directly affects my life the less likely I am to actually notice awareness days, because I spend most of my life talking and thinking about things that affect it anyway. But sometimes I do like to use them just to reflect. As today is National Coming Out Day, I’m reflecting on progress. On how the borough my dad taught in where a disowned gay schoolboy ended up homeless because teachers were afraid they’d lose their jobs under Section 28 if they advised him now has an LGBT support group. And also on problems. On places around the world where it’s still life-threatening or even illegal to be gay. On how sexuality and gender identity are assumed to be inextricably linked when they really aren’t. On bisexual people who find The One and gradually everyone who knows about their trysts with a different gender drops off the Christmas card list. And on the hilarity of some people in the City who still say they can’t possibly come out when, frankly, to look at their interests and Twitter followers they may as well have a flashing rainbow GIF with the word BENDER as their avatar.

Actually, I feel rather jealous of Coming Out stories because I never had a really decisive, anecdote-worthy “I have something to tell you…” conversation like that with my folks – probably because the fact I had crushes on both genders was less of a concerning factor than the fact that those crushes were unrequited and made me desperately unhappy. Similarly, dyspraxia and depression were wrenched out of me gradually in response to mounting problems rather than over one afternoon teatime chat. But for those who did, yay you. And here’s to the variously-wonky. If life has taught me anything, it’s that that descriptor covers a lot more people than you think…

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One thought on “National Variously Wonky Awareness Day

  1. I feel similarly about coming out stories – I know I’m very lucky not to have one (because there was no need for any drama – I just came out and no one was that interested) but I feel like I’m losing queer points for not having an anecdote.

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