Today i.e. Saturday 30th July, is quite a special day. It’s the first time I have been involved with, attended, had anything to do with a Pride event. Today is the first (for a number of years) Herefordshire Pride at the Booth Hall in Hereford from 2 p.m. till late (?!). There will be info stalls (till 5 p.m.), displays, performers, music, comedy, food and drink and, we hope, lots and lots of people, so come along and have a look round.
While the focus is on LGBT, the event celebrates all forms of diversity. Basically the message is – Be Yourself. If this event is a success then next year will be even bigger and perhaps there will even be a pride parade.
While I did once, a long time ago, take part in a carnival as Penny, this is my first time at a Pride event and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be wearing two hats. With the first I’ll be supporting the West Mercia Police campaign to improve reporting of hatecrime. The second hat is as P R Ellis, the author of the Jasmine Frame books. I’ll have paperback copies of Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design available at special prices and, as a special promotion for just two days, there will be offers on the e-book versions of Bodies By Design and the novella Murder In Doubt. Visit Amazon
Post-referendum there have been lots of anecdotal reports of abuse of people perceived to be non-British. This has been aimed at people born in EU countries and elsewhere, many who have lived here for decades, and second or third generation citizens of the UK. At Pride and beyond we want to tell all these people that they are still welcome and we value the work they do and the culture they share with us. They should be confident about feeling safe but report any cases of abuse of any sort.
I hope there will be lots of trans people at Pride, from all points on the gender spectrum. We’ve had a lot of prominence in the media in the last year or so (yet another article in last week’s Observer) but there is still misunderstanding and indeed prejudice and not just from the expected quarters. We’ve got to show that trans people are not necessarily transsexuals (living fulltime in the gender they identify with) nor drag queens (often gay men who dress as a parody of women). There are many of us who simply like presenting as the feminine aspect of ourselves or reject being labelled with a gender.
Finally, to keep your hunger for Jasmine Frame stories whetted, here is another short excerpt from the as yet unpublished third novel, The Brides’ Club Murder. This is where Jasmine appears for the first time.
The Brides’ Club Murder
‘Hello, Jasmine. How are you today?’ Katie Kershaw beckoned Jasmine into the treatment room. Slow, tinkle-tinkle music played at a low volume.
Jasmine was unsure how to answer and just mumbled ‘Fine, thanks.’ On the one hand she looked forward to these fortnightly appointments with Katie, her electrolygist, as each one took her that tiny step towards ending the daily, sometimes twice daily, chore of shaving. Eventually she would have the soft-skinned face of a woman, but that was a long way off. She had many, many more of these dates with the electrolysis needle before that goal was reached and that gave the reason why she dreaded them. She had to prepare by leaving part of her face unshaved for two days before and a day after the treatment. Anyone looking at her at all closely could see that she grew a beard and would think she was an imposter, a man dressed as a woman. Not even make-up could be used to cover up the hairs as that would interfere with the treatment. There was also the small matter of the pain.
‘Come in. Let’s get you calm and settled,’ Katie said as warm and welcoming as she always was. Her own immaculate complexion and short black hair belied her forty-four years. Jasmine often wondered at her cheerful manner despite a messy divorce and having to bring up two teenagers on her own.
Jasmine took off her red duffle coat, loosely folded it and dropped it on the floor on top of her shoulder bag. She sat on a chair beside the door and took her boots off. Meanwhile Katie busied herself at her trolley of equipment.
Katie turned around and saw that Jasmine was ready. ‘Come and lie on the couch, Jasmine. Let’s see how we’re doing.’
Jasmine crossed the small room to the high massage couch and climbed on. She rested her head on the slightly tilted end of the table. Katie directed two diffuse but bright lamps at her face and bent down to examine her.
‘So, have you been busy, Jasmine?’ Katie said as she peered closely at Jasmine’s left cheek.
‘The usual. A couple of benefit fraud cases and a woman wanting her husband checked up on. Nothing interesting but it pays the bills.’ In actual fact Jasmine was bored silly with endless surveillance and longed for something more stimulating and difficult like the cases she had tackled in the police force. Paying the bills was however a necessity and the fortnightly electrolysis sessions didn’t help her bank balance.
‘Hmm. The area we did last time looks fine. You haven’t had any reaction?’
Jasmine shook her head, then realised that she wasn’t helping Katie’s examination. ‘No. I’ve hardly felt a thing after you’ve finished.’
‘That’s good. I can see you have left the hair growth in the area we’ll tackle today. I’ll clean it off so we can get started.’
‘Thanks. Do I have to leave such a large area unshaved?’ Jasmine asked although she thought she could guess Katie’s reply.