I’m still on such a positive high even after coming home from the most amazing weekend that I’ve probably ever had. It’s hard to put into words how wonderful this weekend has been but either way I’m going to try!
Let’s start with my arrival in Galway, a place I had never been before. The city and the hostel that we stayed in were great and I can’t wait for the next time I get to back there which I have no idea when that will be. My delegation arrived to NUIG early so we had time to relax and register before most of the other colleges arrived. As a delegation, we went to the Sult bar and had a drink. I think the best thing about this though is that it was a good bonding session for us ahead of the weekend. I just loved how decorated the campus was for Christmas and it just made me love NUIG so much that I would actually consider transferring to there.
Next, we all split up and headed into our icebreakers which I was quite nervous about because I never liked it last year. However, I had such a good time and talked to so many people from different colleges which really helped make the weekend more comfortable socially for me for the rest of the weekend. Our facilitator for our icebreaker was lovely and great so I think that helped it a bit. Leading on from that then was the opening speeches and the Lip Sync Battle. I was so happy to see such amazing lip syncs especially since this is only the 2nd time they’ve ran this event at Pink Training. We then went out and had a good time, the highlight of it being learning how to say “YAAAASSS Queen” in Sign Language. We were all kind of taking it easy drink wise because we wanted to being alert and not too tired for attending all the workshops on Saturday. To be fair, we actually were fine and made it into the college on time for the plenary talk at half 9 on Saturday morning.
So every year, the first of the workshops starts with having Coming Out Spaces for the various sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as a talk for allies to support someone who is coming out. I never went to them last year but I wanted to make the most out of my Pink Training experience this year. This year it wasn’t necessarily specified as to what each space was to be representing but in the context of the whole I went to what I would consider the Bisexual Coming Out Space. This set up my whole weekend and I heard stories that made me feel empowered to fight against the likes of bi-phobia, even though I don’t identify as bi myself I feel so much more comfortable in bi spaces sometimes because as someone who identifies as asexual we also face similar phobic behaviour from people. I went to it with a member of my delegation who does identify as bi and she told her coming out story and that’s changed a bit of a perspective, don’t know if that’s the word I’m looking for, on my own situation. This being because, I’ve had a crush on her for well over a year and a half and her story made me feel liberated to tell her that about my crush, which I did that night before we went out, but I’ll come back to that later.
This got even better as I moved onto my next workshop which was ‘Too Gay To Function’. The two speakers we had for that were unreal. The whole workshop was extremely interactive and I learned so much in the way of positive coping mechanisms for stress and also I learned about the phrase ‘minority stress’ which I constantly have about every aspect of my life so while I was aware of it, I didn’t know what it was called. One of the ways we found to be a positive coping mechanism was through group chants. We banged our hands on the table to create a beat and then some said a word that we would then shout out a few times and then change to a new word. The one that will stick out the most in my mind was yelling out the word ‘penis’ a couple of times.
I then went to ‘There’s Something Queer Around Here’, in which we heard about the first times people had heard the word queer and the context in which it was used. I found it interesting but I think it was very drawn out because there was a lot of us in the room giving a lot of similar answers and that took up most of the workshop. While it was important to hear, it just seemed very long.
Next, I went to another bisexual workshop again because I’m all for fighting against bi erasure which is prominent both in and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community. It was called ‘What Does Bisexual Politics Look Like?’ We did a bit of a game where we had to pick answers to questions and it was multiple choice but the answers were all bisexual stereotypes and intended to sound ridiculous. We then wrote a bi agenda as a group which felt extremely necessary to create and it ended up really well.
Now, this next talk is one that is close to my heart and I missed this talk last year so I’ve been waiting so long for this it’s unreal. It was ‘Asexuality 101’ and I wouldn’t necessarily say I learned something in it but that was never my reason for attending it because I know a lot about the topic anyways. My reason to go to it was to finally feel the acceptance that my sexuality is valid and is real because up until that talk I didn’t have that. I usually just tell people I’m a lesbian because saying I’m a homo-romantic asexual takes too long to explain and no one believes it exists. I also like the fact that this workshop informed so many people about what asexuality is when beforehand they hadn’t previously known much about it. I think it made it more interesting that I was there with my friend from my delegation was there and watching her learn about these different terms and asking questions that she easily could have asked me but never did. Either way her learning about this no matter where it’s from is so important. Of all the talks she could have gone to I was so happy that she decided to go to that one.
After that wonderful workshop, I went to ‘Feelin’ Repealin” which was being given by someone who has been the main reason I am so involved in all things to do with the student movement and the SU in my college. I always feel the need to go to any talk that is in relation to Repeal the 8th because while I know a lot about it I’m always trying to be very careful with how I word things if I get asked about it and why I want the 8th repealed. The workshop helped a lot and I got some great merch from it. I feel a little bit more confident in answering questions in relation to Repeal the 8th.
Last, but certainly not least, I went to a workshop on Consent. This was really was also really interactive. I felt like I was in a good space, however when in came to the group stuff I didn’t really give any input I just sat there and listened which is always a lot more beneficial to me anyway in workshops like this where I only know definitions and such but not the actual actions of consent. I always thought consent had to be verbal but I learned about some of the non-verbal ways in which consent can be given. After that we had talks from Microsoft and from activists that were so empowering and amazing.
I’m going to move onto the Sunday and then I’ll come back to Saturday night. So we missed the talk in the morning because we got the campus a little bit after the workshops had started so other than like learning about queer history and hearing the closing speeches in the plenary, I was only at one workshop. I went to the ‘Asexual Safe Space’ which I think was kind of necessary to go to because I’ve never felt like my identity as an asexual has ever been truly accepted and/or acknowledged and it was important that I got that seeing as it is a major part of my identity. There was only 4 of us in the room, including me, and while there was one or two awkward pauses because we didn’t know what to say I think it was a good session. I shared my story about my news from Saturday night which I’m going to refer to as my ‘Pink Training Coming Out’, because I told my friend I have a crush on her. I also shared my story about how my Nan once jokingly asked was my female friend that I was texting my girlfriend and when I told her no, she said “Well, either way it wouldn’t matter if she was!”. That got a collective awe in the room and it’s really the only time I’ve been told that by my family, which I guess is fair enough since I’ve never come out to them.
Now I’ll talk about Saturday night, kind of, it’s more so going to be about me telling my friend I have a crush on her and how now after Pink Training this is going to affect me. So the two of us went out for a cigarette and if you’ve read my blogs before I’ve have a pseudonym I’ve used for her which is Jodi, and to make this whole thing easier to write I will be referring to her as that. So we were outside having a smoke and I said to her than when we get back to Tralee that I wanted to talk to her about something and that it was a secret I was keeping from her for almost 2 years. She asked me if I was comfortable sharing it at that moment while we were outside and since it was just the two of us I decided that I would tell her. I didn’t want to leave Pink Training really without telling her because I was worried that I would lose all that confidence and liberation that I felt from being there. I said “So for the last year and a half, well a bit more than that, I’ve had a crush on you.” I already knew that she knew because I would talk about her all the time to practically anyone who would listen so everyone our mutual friends knew but I had never made it known to her myself. My main fear was that she would be like “Yeah I already knew that, and I don’t care. But now that you’ve told me we never have to talk about it again!” I was also scared that it would ruin our friendship and she’d find it weird. Luckily, that didn’t happen which I should have known because that’s not the kind of person she is. Instead she said that she was happy I told her and was really nice and cool about it. Towards the end of the night when we were all just kind of hanging around near the Christmas markets in our group outside the pub she did something which was really cute and I wish it happened when I was more sober so I could remember it better. She came over to me and gave me a really long hug, and said something which might sound made up but I do have a good memory and I do remember some of what she actually said. She said “I love you and you have all my heart.” Which at the time I didn’t really pay attention to the second part and responded with “I love you too, and I don’t say that to anyone ever!!” She said “I know and I do feel privileged about that”. Also she rang me on Sunday morning to say she wouldn’t be into the talks until later and instead of saying hi she said “Sandra Moynihan, queen of the gays and queen of my heart, how are ya?” If there was ever I time I couldn’t cope with her, it was this weekend.
I had a talk with her today to kind of discuss the whole crush thing a bit more. I didn’t want to do it at Pink Training because I wanted to be sober and have a conversation that wasn’t going to be interrupted. I explained some of the struggles I’ve had to coming to terms with this crush when I realized that I had it, how it was sometimes the root to a few of my problems and left me feeling very down and unlovable. Sometimes those dark days would make me feel so bad that I had done things to myself that I since regret. Although she knew I had a crush on her, in the first few months of it when the obsession was real, I was doing things that she probably wasn’t aware had any link to that. She had a crush on someone about a year ago and was getting quite close to them and I was so angry but only to a minor degree was due to jealousy. I was angry because she wasn’t being treated well and it was making her upset which I really hated to see. In turn, that probably added to the jealousy a little because in my mind I was like “Why does she like someone like that? I wouldn’t treat her like that! What’s wrong with me?” I do know now that you can’t help who you fall in love with, the only thing you can do is decide how you’re going deal with it. I’ve always had a past of skipping meals, but this wasn’t always intentional, but when it was it was usually because I was feeling extra fat and wanted to lose weight but this method of skipping meals doesn’t help with changing anything much. I thought maybe if I was skinnier she might like me. That was the first thing I tried to change, but this only lasted for a few months.I also used to try and wear makeup on days I knew I’d be seeing her. I think I also tried changing how I would react to her. Up until I started trying to change myself, I would always laugh at every little joke she said because I either found it genuinely funny or a little stupid. I tried not to laugh as much because that’s doesn’t seem cool and it’s not appealing. I don’t really know what I hoped to achieve by doing this but it didn’t make me happy because I like laughing. I eventually got over that and now we are just constantly laughing all the time because we’re both just happy idiots with a sometimes stupid sense of humour. Something else I regret, and I will regret it for the rest of my life no matter what, is when I let my jealousy and pent up feelings get the better of me and I actually got angry at her. I couldn’t give her a reason for why I was angry without giving my crush away so it made it a lot worse. I think she thought I hated her and I was really giving out to her, I turned into a monster for a few minutes. I made her cry. I really upset her and while I can deal with the fact that it’s all over and every time now I re-apologize for it she says it’s grand and we’re past that, I will never ever forgive myself for it. That was the beginning of a downward spiral in which I was bottling up a lot of feelings in order to make sure that I never did that to her again, and thankfully I haven’t. This downward spiral is only starting to ease now and I’ll be starting talk therapy sessions soon with a medical professional so I’ll be talking about this a lot more and hopefully getting some ways to cope with it and get better. That’s not the only reason I’m getting therapy but it should be beneficial to dealing with this better on a long term basis. I know for the most part this crush thing sounds like it’s been a lot more bad than good, however, there are a lot of good things that it’s done as well. While never in these last two years I ever expected, or ever really wanted, a relationship to come out of this I liked the idea that in some alternative universe if it happened how amazing it could be. As unrealistic an idea as it was, it was always something that made me feel happy for a little while but I know I can’t keep living my life in the wonderful world of dreams. The main thing is that no matter what our friendship has never changed and only has gotten better as time has gone on. As someone who experiences a lot of social anxiety she’s always been able to make me feel at ease and I’ve always felt like I could talk to her about anything. She listens to me rant about everything on a daily basis, when everything sucks and I feel like everyone would be living a better life if I just ended mine, she reminds that I do have a purpose in life and that I am loved by her and so many people. She makes me laugh all the time and she makes me feel like I am funny which is my main goal in life and making her laugh is just a plus and makes me really happy too!
So it might be a while before I get over this, that’s if I ever actually do. I value our friendship more than anything else so I would never try and push anything further. Unfortunately unlike ‘Lush Life’, while this is a crush and I might have went and said too much, I haven’t given it up!! I’m going to end this with two final things and in the gayest way I know how. Jodi, I love you and I think you’re perfect!!!