Why I Said Yes To The Scotland I Believe In And The Scotland I Believe We Will Win. ( Referendum Reflections And Memories From An Independent Poet)

Hey everyone. As we approach the first anniversary of the referendum many of us will look back on our personal memories of the campaign which regardless of how you voted on the day invigorated and energised Scottish people like nothing I had ever seen before and got people engaged with the political process after years or possibly decades of being apathetic to the idea of any kind of political involvement. With this in mind I have decided to share some of my highlights of an enjoyable campaign even though we got the wrong result at the end of it.

My first highlight of this memorable period in our history was being accepted in to what was then an online group and has now grown the a national campaigning organisation that is Women For Independence. As a trans woman was a big deal for me and I now make sure I attend as many branch meetings as possible as we continue to campaign not only for Independence for our country but independence for our country’s women and a better fairer more equal society.

Part of the reason I enjoyed the campaign as much as I did was the fact that I was always busy and didn’t have time to get bored. As a committed yes voter I was eager to spread the word to as many people as possible and I did this not only through the traditional methods of campaigning but also by informing undecided friends as to the benefits of independence on social media outlets such as facebook and twitter and also my at that time fledgling blog tartantights as the referendum campaign gained pace my blog gained momentum and it’s some consolation to know that I was responsible for convincing some people to embark on their journeys to yes.

Speaking of tartantights and more importantly of the impact blogging I was delighted to be invited to write a guest post for the wee ginger dug on why as a trans woman I would be voting yes. This was a big moment for me both politically and personally. It meant a lot to me to be asked asmy blog is not a political blog in the strictest sense of the word. It is if had to put a label on it, more of a lifestyle blog but more than that it is my personal space in virtual world for me to express my thoughts and opinions on a whole range of issues of politics is but one. I don’t have the financial resources to compete with the likes of the dug, Bella Caledonia, or Wings Over Scotland. So to be invited to post on a site I respect on an issue of importance to me was a great boost to my confidence not to mention my blog traffic which I’m delighted to say has continued ever since.

Another highlight for me was my involvement in the National Collective. This holds some very special memories for me as this non aligned group of creative artists provided our nation with a summer of hope as they staged the summer of independence festival also known as the yestival at venues all over Scotland. This dynamic group of artists made me so proud to be a part of it that I even wrote a poem to celebrate their memory entitled I Am National Collective and those tuesday night meetings and eventually Monday night sessions in Stereo gave me a sense of passion to add to my purpose.

It is also true to say that I made many good friends through my involvement at National Collective with special mentions to Del Eoin McKinnon and the wonderful Margaret McCabe who inspired me to put my poetic talents to use in the name of the cause and produce a few poems not only for Scotland but for my personal vision of Scotland. The Scotland I wanted and for that matter still want to see in a post independent nation. It was these discussions with a woman who has become a valued friend which inspired me to write Tights Before Trident. This is not only one of my favourite poems of those I wrote during the campaign it has also become a favourite of many poets on the spoken word scene even though many were and possibly still are deeply traumatised that I used examples learned at the legally blonde school of economic theory to dismantle the case for nuclear weapons. Yes the influence of my favourite movie still holds true.

As for my fondest memories of National Collective  well there were three which stand out above all others. Firstly there was the night at the July Glasgow sessions when I performed two of my poems to the gathering. The poems of choice were Twenty Four Romanians and perhaps not too surprisingly I Am National Collective. This was a really emotional night for me especially coming on Bastille Day just three days after my 53rd birthday and to be asked to bring the night to its end was a very great honour I was proud to accept.

The second memory was signing the creatives for yes declaration. Seeing my name and my talents listed alongside both contemporarys and icons of our national culture who have made such an impact on our society gave me a buzz I still can’t put in to words. Well its not every day you see your name on the same list as people such as Agnes Torok, David Greig, Des Dillon, Jenny Lindsay, Liz Lochhead, and Pat Kane, so I was privileged to sign this important historical document in support of the cause I had supported all my life and continue to support to this day and beyond.

My final memory of Natonial Collective  was that last Monday meeting in September just ten days before the vote. There was an atmosphere of optimism that night which was so tangible I swear you could actually touch it. You see we know how far we had travelled and we knew what our opponents would throw in the final few dangerous days of the campaign but we also know that we had a vision for the future they simply couldn’t match. All they could do was hope that apathy and fear the union’s only friends would triumph over hope in the name of what they call stability.

Just before that September meeting there was another cultural event which I have to mention in any look back on and that was the last pre referendum edition of Words and Music which I billed as a referendum special. Having compared the event since 2005, initially as a stand in for the man who taught me everything I know about hosting events the one and only Hughie Healy, then as his eventual successor after a death which saddened us all. To host this kind of event was I told going to be risky and of course I kinda knew that. However If there is one thing I learned from Hughie it was no-one can call themselves a poet and duck the big issues facing Scotland or the wider world. Thankfully my so-called risk paid off big time and with no voting Chris Young as featured writer we had a night of which both sides of the debate can justifiably proud. Indeed I would like to think Hughie would have smiled and said well done to both sides you showed the politicians how debate should be done. You see that in my view is exactly what we did.

Looking back over the course of the campaign, it is fair to say I feel I did as much I as possibly could to support the cause of a better Scotland . I delivered many leaflets, worked at street stalls both in the city centre and in my local constituency. I stuffed envelopes, spoke for alternative visions of my country as part of a rainbow movement, I encouraged friends to get involved in politics, I got smiles and abuse, handshakes and hatred, met old friends and made new ones across the political divide. I was in Buchanan Street on last Saturday of the campaign when I delivered so many leaflets for so many pro yes groups I thought I was Postman Pat’s glamorous assistant. I was there on the nights we turned George Square in to Freedom Square, and wrote a poetic letter to the future Scotland. However to me my proudest moments came on the day 30,000 of us marched on the streets of Edinburgh on our way to Calton Hill for what has been the biggest and best demonstration of my life and at 745 Am on referendum day when I placed my hopes in the future and voted yes for the Scotland I believe in. The Scotland I believe we can, and will still win.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

 

 

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