Token Gesture

​I write this poem as a direct appeal to Facebook to retain the rainbow pride button they introduced for Pride Month. I do this in the spirit of friendship and equality and to remind them that though the pride season may be at an end in the USA that is not the case in the UK or in many other countries in the world where many important pride marches have still to take place during the summer months. There are and it has to be said many sceptics within the LGBTIQ community who believe that the rainbow button was only a token gesture used to generate good PR for the social media site. I however am prepared to offer the hand of friendship and give the organisation the chance to show it more rainbow friendly than some people think, and hopefully they may yet prove me right. I have given the poem the title Token Gesture due not only to how the removal of the rainbow button may be perceived but also due to the fact that there are still some people who believe that token gestures are good enough to satisfy a community which is larger and more diverse than they think and that we will be happy to be tolerated whether we are accepted or not. Well  I’m here to tell these deluded and ill informed souls that is not and will never be the case.  I hope you enjoy the read. 

Token Gesture 

As  a token gesture 

we are given  a rainbow button on social media sites 

I ask myself does it give us the right 

to express ourselves with pride 

fight for equality during pride month

surely that can’t be right 

or is it simply a sign that the ultra conservative right 

who champion traditional values

 will tolerate our existence 

on the grounds they can’t wish us away 

there are those among us who are nervous of anyone who is 

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, 

or anywhere else on the spectrum 

they are still apprehensive 

when they see us holding hands , kissing, 

or daring to show any public display of affection 

and believe me they are more numerous than you would like to think 

the boys wear blue and girls wear pink brigade 

still use God to excuse their views on equal marriage 

personally as a Christian I find that so 19th century 

what don’t they get about the fact that the world has moved on 

and so has the church 

I remember a colleague commenting on the length of my skirt 

I replied that I didn’t come to work to flirt 

I go to the dancing for that 

and anyway there wasn’t any man in the office 

 I found attractive enough to waste my lippy on 

but men might look at you she claimed

honestly she should have been ashamed 

to even suggest that anyone would be so unprofessional 

as to look at me in that kind of way

when I was only doing my day job 

but this is this kind of thing I had to face

disgraceful yes , but not surprising 

when you consider the attitudes which are out there in wider community 

some of them are a cross between mythology and lunacy 

are usually grounded on hand me opinions 

from tabloid and television screens

where reality is lived through soaps and the six o clock news 

which many take as fact without ever questioning why 

meanwhile we watch as equality dies 

and we travel back in time to a past 

when life was colder and crueller 

and those considered different are labelled by triangles 

as one by one colours are removed from the rainbow 

and tolerance replaces acceptance

as the new normality 

and those who can will control the buttons 

we no longer are able to push. 

© Gayle Smith 2017 


It’s Good To Have A Friendly Chat And Bloggers Do It Better 

​At this time last week I was bricking it and it had nothing to do with pre election nerves as to how my party may or may not perform. Trust me that wasn’t even on my radar  as I physched myself up to prepare for something which was in at least in my world, much more important. 

You see, last week marked my debut as a monthly host of the blogging twitter chat Bloggers Do It Better. Using the @BDIBChat twitter handle I had to think of at least five questions to ask the participants who would be arriving in the chat space at 7 pm 

Remembering that I had worked as an equality trainer I reminded myself that the secret to the success of the chat was just like the secret of a successful training session . In other words it was all about the preparation so it was time to questions sorted, fast. 

Having decided on the questions I then saved as draft tweets to be asked at roughly 10 minute intervals during the chat. Job done it  was time to get changed in to my smartest skirt ,get my lippy on and wait for my guests to arrive. 

And arrive they did, bang on 7 o’clock from Scotland the other nations of the UK Canada , and believe it or not Sweden. Yes those of you who aren’t bloggers may find this difficult to grasp but bloggers can and do chat to each other from just  about every corner of the globe and boy can we talk 

After getting everyone to introduce themselves we proceeded with the chat and had a  lively, interactive, and fast paced discussion which made my first @BDIBCHAT pass really quickly and the healthy turn out of Scottish bloggers and many of my closest blogging friends made me made me feel really supported and you know what I’m really looking forward to doing it a again on the First Monday of every month and any other time Claire may want me to cover. Well , its good to have a friendly chat  and Bloggers Do It Better 

Till next time 

Gayle X

If You Fly With The Crows

Hey everyone Before I start this post let me say for the record I do have unionist friends and friends who do not share my political beliefs and that in a healthy democratic society is exactly as it should be.  To the unionists who have stayed friends of mine throughout the referendum and beyond I commend you and value the friendship you have given and continue to give me. I have however, noticed a wee bit of a decline in your numbers of late. This did not happen after the referendum as i thought it might but after the General Election when my party of choice enjoyed a historic victory,  I have since come to the conclusion that those did leave what i consider to be my virtual village did so because they are the kind of people who when  it comes to criticism  can dish it out but not take it. They will i am sorry to say be no great loss to my life and quite frankly my world will be a better and kinder place without them in it.

To  my remaining unionist friends i am expressing a note  of concern, You see i have noticed that some of you are still going on about cybernats.  Now, it is fair to say, i am actually as every bit as concerned as you are on this issue and indeed probably more so as I will not tolerate in any way sharp or form people who by their reckless actions bring either the Scottish National Party or the cause of Scottish Independence in to disrepute. It is i think valid to make the point that I am not a huge fan of the Labour Party, or the Daily Mail. I did however read the article by my former MP Margaret Curran on the First Minister and the so-called cybernats which was posted on facebook my friend Caron Lindsay  who is a pro union supporter and a member of the Scottish Liberal Democrats . For the record, i should perhaps clarify that this was no speed read.  I read the full article twice and believe me it made my stomach turn. No one, and I mean no-one should be hounded by an unauthorised film crew when they are going about their business. Whether that is you, me, or Margaret Curran it makes no difference. This is abuse pure and simple there can be no debating this issue.

However, this abuse is by no means as one sided as some of the more fanatical unionists would like to claim. So I hope should The National decide to out some of the most vicious cyber brits amongst our number, and make no mistake they do exist, that my unionist friends will give it the same coverage. I will not however be holding my breath on that one. You see in the bizarre parallel world in which many of these people live, criticism of the SNP be it just or otherwise is not just socially acceptable, it is, on certain parts of planet union at least an absolute prerequisite for a successful political career. Indeed the amount of smears they tried in the months running up to the election was enough to make any decent unionist cringe. and some of the comment on and after the election have revealed a culture of arrogance and entitlement which is buried deep in the hearts of many of this political creed.

Allow me if you will to present the evidence or as I call it the case for the prosecution. I shall start my case by stating some examples from my own personal experience. In the past few months I have been told to my face that I support ‘queerhaws’ the abusers word not mine. I have also had it said to me that my SNP vote must mean I support the IRA is Home rule is Rome rule and an Irish Catholic plot to take over Scotland. When I said to the person concerned that the government of Ireland had better things to do than take over a friendly neighbour I was told to shut the f *** up as I didn’t have an effing clue what I was talking about.

Far from shutting up however I just turned up the power and before too long a humiliated unionist got out of my face having been destroyed by this one simple comment. ‘ I have a Geography And Politics Honours Degree from The University Of Strathclyde. What university did you go to? Oh I forgot you didn’t, but the school you went must have been good I mean it was  probably approved. Speechless, this plank of unionist wood got out whilst I was still in a good mood. I think he probably he was so far out of his depth he was in serious danger of intellectual drowning as the deep end of political debate proved too turbulent for someone with such a shallow mind.

More recently in the post election aftermath I have been called a Nazi by a for buying a copy of The National. This outrageous comment was made by a rather bitter old man who will never see 80 again and called me’ a dirty Scottish bitch’. The irony in the fact that he did this with a Scottish accent did not escape me.

I have also been informed that we will never take Ulster for the ‘Feinian’ cause by a rather irate and irrational women who made the rather deluded comment that the Orange Order will never surrender in Scotland or the six counties. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky with the calibre of unionists I’ve been meeting recently or maybe and far more likely many of them are a lot more narrow minded than the image they attempt to portray.

This narrow minded prejudice is aptly demonstrated by the pro union poodles of the fanatically Anti-Catholic Loyal Orange Order who branded Scotland a nation of basket cases as 50 per cent of those of us who cast our vote dared to vote SNP. This is grossly insulting to those of us who wanted to vote for something positive rather than the lesser of two evils. This is the role the Labour Party were content to play with the we’re not the Tories mantra. Now pardon me for raising the stakes here but this is not good enough for the people of Scotland nor will it ever be. As for the Orange Order calling me and others like me basket cases I humbly suggest the this is the dirtiest pot in the cupboard calling the kettle black. If getting drunk and hating Catholics is these people’s idea of a united kingdom then it is a kingdom I want no part of it now or ever. These people are those forelock tugging bigots that even the underclass ignore and quite rightly so in my opinion.

This is feral Britain finding a voice and it is not a voice I want to hear. I am comforted by the fact that many decent unionists share my distaste of these people, though I do have to say however that until the early hours the 8th of May these unionists had many supporters in high places including the House of Commons and some still reside in that well known retirement home for the terminally bewildered otherwise known as the House of Lords. So before you go feeling too sorry for my former MP and her ilk consider if you will some of the following comments and statements made by the now former elected members of parliament.

Commenting in pre referendum  Scotland Ian Davidson Former MP for Glasgow South West said ‘Once we’ve won our victory we’ll strip their parliament of so many powers that those Neo Nats may as well as meet in a pub for all they’ll have to talk about’. Davidson who has made a career of isulting the SNP also talked of bayonetting the wounded after the referendum so his crushing defeat to my good friend Chris Stephens raised one of the biggest cheers of  the night.

Davidson however far from alone in his ranting, another name to add to the list of Cyber Brits is that of Tom Harris Former MP for  the neighbouring seat of Glasgow South who compared the SNP to Nazis. Also wherever their is anti-Scottish bile to be spouted then the name of Jim Murphy is never far away from the scene of the crime. Yes I am referring to the man who holds the unwanted distinction of being the least popular individual ever to lead the Labour Party in Scotland and  compared Scottish Nationalism to a virus and lead a once proud party into obvillion.

Not to be outdone Ms Curran has been known to make the odd nasty comment herself. Indeed she was once quoted as saying that if Alex Salmond was run over by a bus she wouldn’t ask the name of the driver. Having made this disgusting comment Ms Curran then tried to dismiss any critisism of her vile remark by claiming it’s just the way Glasgow women talk. This is in my opinion a load of arrogant tosh and conduct unbecomming of a public servant.  I would therefore be reluctant to show too much sympathy to an old school bruiser especially one who cries crocodile tears to a right wing rag like  The Daily Mail.

The comments of Ms Curran and her fellow British nationalists show what a vitriolic collection of self serving sycophants we’ve had misrepresenting Scotland in recent years. These people have until very recently been drunk of the arrogance of power, the kind of power only exercised by those with jobs for life.  However until the early hours of the 8th of May that is exactly what many unionist politicians thought they had. Maybe it goes a long way to explaining the behaviour of many of our former unionist commoners.

Not that this behaviour confined to the House of Commons, the not so noble lords had also had their own vested interests to protect, and like their more common friends they couldn’t wait to get in on act.  Perhaps the worst offender from this motley collection was the vastly over rated Lord George Robertson who claimed that ‘Scotland was a minor entity in North Britain and unlike Flanders or Catalonia we had no language or culture. Now i don’t mean to disappoint Lord George but Scotland has a not one but two languages Gaelic,and Scots which are both alive and well despite repeated attempts by the unionist malcontents to crush them out of existence.

Lord George also claimed that independence for Scotland be cataclysmic for Scotland and would be welcomed only by the  forces of darkness. This is quite clearly a deranged comment made by some in need of urgent medical help and I hate to remind him but it was neither the yes movement nor the Scottish National Party who teamed up not only with the  Conservatives whom they only pretend to hate. Nor was it the yes movement who teamed up with UKIP, The BNP,  The National Front, The Democratic Unionist Party, or the Loyal Orange Order  That was the no campaign and it is there supporters who have been turning even more vicious since the declaration of a referendum result which was in their opinion far too close for comfort.

I have to say however perhaps the stupidest of all comments made by a former honourable member and believe me there have a been a right fair few belongs to the former MP for Lanark And Hamilton East Jimmy Hood who said. ‘Even if the SNP could prove Scotland would be the richest country in the world I would still vote no’ Now I’ve heard of willful ignorance but this raises it to an art form. In fact this comment is so death defyingly stupid it is actually breathtaking. It is my view that Angela Crawley performed an act of mercy on behalf of the people of her constituency and indeed her country by removing such a man from public office.

So there you have it, clear evidence that cyber brits not only exist they exist in high places and have seats not only at the margins but have seats at the top table of unionism and I want my unionist friends to stop denying reality, casting their supporters as the local goody two shoes and admit they have a problem.  Whilst this in no way is meant to under value any distress sufferered by Ms Curran it has to be said that the overly robust and on occasion inflamatory language used by this group of unionists does tend to suggest there is more than a grain of truth in the old Celtic saying If you fly with the crows you get shot with the crows.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X

From Poetry To Protest Marches From Pews To Pamphlet Launches I Shared A Common Space Or Two In The Name Of Faith And Friendship

Hey  everyone  Not only was Sunday was the longest day of the year but this weekend was the longest and most action packed weekend I’ve had for a very long time.  Honestly even with all those extra hours of daylight and the added bonus of sunshine and believe me it a bonus if you live in Scotland I still quite how I managed to fit everything in. I am however a woman and women as you know just get on with things and ain’t that the truth. Well we have to, we have no other choice.

Anyway, i was as i said active from beginning to end of a very busy weekend and is was a weekend which offered plenty of variety. It started with me making my now mandatory appearance at Baillieston Library to print a  copy of my poem for this year’s McGonagall supper which was happening later on Saturday afternoon. Print job completed i headed off to my monthly trans support for the first  time in longer than i care to remember.

Though i arrived later than i would have liked i still had time for a coffee and a chat with other women in a similiar position and when you’re trans peer support even in the smallest of ways is always a very handy thing to have. Being a political activist and member of the SNP  i gave my campaign report to the group from a trans perspective and said that i had been generally received by voters during my work on street stalls which goes to prove that our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was  right when she told me not to worry about a trans-phobic comments as the voters would judge me on the comment of my character and the merits of our party’s policies and not on the content of my wardrobe.  I also took great pleasure in reporting that my party candidate now local MP Natalie McGarry  used my talents and skills to the full and that this had been one of the best campaign’s i have ever been involved in.

In other news i said that i now felt more comfortable in my own skin than ever before and i believed that making the transition far from narrowing my friendship base had actually increased it.  It does however have to be said that not everyone is as confident as i am and  i have to say that i had a full and frank exchange of views with someone who said that they felt it was unfair that we have to live as women 24/7 to qualify for gender reassignment surgery. Needless to say i disagreed profoundly with this comment as i believe that the rest life test serves a very valuable purpose which is to demonstrate our commitment to living in our acquired gender and therefore avoid any mistakes being made in the process. The person concerned tried to fob me off by saying that they lived in  a rough area  and were too well known in the area to take the risk. Unfortunately for them however this is an area i know having grown up in a neighbouring  area  and i wouldn’t say it’s any rougher than the parts of the East End i need to travel through to get home or the area i used to work in. That said however we parted on amicable terms and i got on with the rest of my Saturday.

On leaving the group I decided to take a wee wander down to George Square or as the yes  movement call it Freedom Square. Personally I think this is a far more suitable name for my city’s civic  square than an outdated name which stinks of wealth and empire. This however is not how our city fathers see the issue.  Remember fellow citizens our glorious guardians are members of the anything for ermine brigade and would sooner see it retain the name of a long dead German king than rename it after a noble concept.  Re-naming it they say would to be concede that those horrible yes voters were right all along and the Loyal British Labour And Unionist Party will never surrender to that. Talking about no surrender it was really nice that our city guardians allowed that nice orange order to have a cultural day at the beginning of the month? Well it was in their opinion even if that opinion was not shared by those of us who put Scotland first  and believe in  a fairer more equal society. Anyway the square  was still pretty packed at around to 2.30

As tradition dictates I always bump in to a fair few fimiliar faces and believe me I wasn’t disappointed. I saw many friends from struggles past and struggles yet to come in a crowd much than the official figures of the press and media. Star attraction amongst them however goes to Mandy Morgan who informed me that she was about to be vetted to put her name forward as an SNP candidate for the Scottish Parliament and should she be successful in the vetting process it is likely that she will consider putting her name forward for the Provan constituncy.  Let me take this opportunity to say that I hope she has been successful in the vetting process and that she goes on to win the party’s nomination for Provan the seat in which she was born and raised.

After listening to some excellent speeches, mingling with everyone of all pollitical hues from Business For Scotland to the SNP from Communists to Greens  and being entertained by Gerry Cinnamen I finally left the square and made my way to Riddrie to the home of Colin and Irene Storrie for the 10th annual McGonagall Supper which Colin and Irene have turned in to a unique cultural feast where we pay homage to the man who has become renowned as the worst poet. in the world Dundee’s very own adopted son  William Topaz  McGonagall.

This is always an excellent day as most of those in attendance enter in to the spirit of the event with one noticable exception whose eyes are bigger than their belly and who only turns up for the food.

The format of the event is simple. We have some social time at  the beginning of the day and then after our genial host welcomes us all to the day we then get down to the business of celebrating the Bard of the Tay.

In the first part of the day we play to Oor Wullie by reading something from the great man’s work. Having done we adjourn to feed our faces, some more than others it has to be said, before reconveining to read our tributes to McGonagalll as we read the poems written in the style of the man whose name we honour. Topical topics this year included Glasgow city council leader Gordon Mathieson, who was brilliantly saterised by Catherine Baird, who was making her McGongall debut.  Alex Frew wrote about unfair pay and conditions in the workplace I tackled the topic of climate change and its impact on the Scottish weather and Andy Fleming wrote on the impact of austerity on the diet of the vegitarian proletariat. These were but a few highlights of what was a memorable event for all  the right reasons. As is always the case this event did not finish early and it was not until the wee small hours of Sunday morning that I finally returned to the village.

Bearing in mind my rather late arrival back home it was perhaps a wee bit of a miracle that I made it to church on Sunday morning but I did grace the kirk on the corner with my presence.  I have to admit though I was shattered and I think making to church did me the world of good and set me up for the rest of the day and it was good to be in attendance on the day of our Sunday School prizegiving.

After the service and the social time for fellowship with friends,  I made my way back to the flat for a quick coffee and freshen up before heading to the Art School for the Common Space launch party

Though it started six months ago this was the official launch for an innovative new media project whose aim is to break the news stories that the mainstream would tend to leave unreported. Having said that however Common Space which was set up in the aftermath of  the independence  referendum to provide an alternative service to the pro unionist media believes in collabaration rather than competition and this point was made by its editor Angela Haggerty in her welcome speech to a well attended gathering.

During what was a busy and productive afternoon for me I was chatting not only to fellow members of the SNP but to Greens and members of  Left Scotland and general movers and shakers within this much needed new media organisation. I even managed to get both a word and a couple of selfies with Angela Haggerty and chatted with Common Space journalist Liam O’Hare. I also enjoyed brief chats with video and technology expert Stephen Paton, and Kaleido Scot’s editor  Dan Littaeur . Well part of my reason for attending the event was to mix and mingle with those who are attempting to bring us the brave new journalism that Scotland wants, needs, deserves, and in my opinion has every right to demand.

One of the most informative parts of the day was the meet the bloggers which was held in the downstairs cafe. During this relaxed informal session i chatted with one of my favourite political bloggers James Kelly of ScotGoesPop.  It was at this time that I also caught up with some of those who have worked for Common Space. On meeting them I was quick to let it be known that I was a blogger who may be interested in covering the Scottish trans scene such as it is and reporting the issues that concern one of my many communities of interest. I said I had spoken to Angela about this and she had given me her e-mail address and advised to look for the Scottish angle on trans issues rather than just thinking of the issue in a more generic way. 

On returning upstairs i  had the same conversation with Dan Littaeur and he like Angela said that  he would welcome my input at Kaleido Scot as the mainstream LBGT  media tended to be biased in favour of gay men but Kaleido Scot already had two trans reporters and were far more receptive to trans related stories.  

Looking back on the event I would say that it was not only an enjoyable day but also a highly productive one for me at which I made what may yet turn out to be some really useful contacts. 

At the end of the event I went to the CCA for a wee refreshment before heading to The Griffin for what was my last event of an action packed weekend. This was a double pamphlet launch of two poetry collections Notes On AQuarter Life Crisis and The Man Who Loved Beer by the excellent Kevin PGilday.

On arrival we had a brief chat in which Kevin said that I had  probably heard all the poems in his set at least  a hundred  times. Personally I think that the ever modest Kevin is underselling himself as I couldn’t  give a flying fish supper how many times I’ve heard them because I never get tired of listening to quality and believe me Kevin P Gilday is a poet of very considerable quality 

However though he was without doubt the star of the evening and gave his audience which included friends and fellow poets Kirsty Nicholson and Jim Ewing a brilliant set of some of his classic poems such as Welcome To Dennistoun Hitler’s Moustache, The Man Who Loved Beer, Middle Class Love, Jesus In Possil, and The Workie, Kevin wasn’t content to keep the spotlight to himself and prefered to share it with fellow performers In what has to be one of the best most entertaining variety nights I have ever been lucky enough to attend.  

In young comeadianne Gemma Flynn Kevin had the perfect act to kick off the night. With material which could best be described as Guardian reading girl with Cosmopollitian lifestyle  Gemma took us all on a journey  in to Gemma’s world with carefully constructed lines which were fiesty, female, and funny. As I chatted  to her after her set this very talented twenty something said she had a show  at the Edinburgh fringe in August. Now I have to say that’s one show I’ll be going to see and I recommend dear readers you also put it on your must see list  

Next up was Edinburgh based musician A Dull Boy. Now if ever a performer didn’t live up to his name then this was that performer and I for one really enjoyed his set which was filled with quality songs from start to finish. In my opinion 21st century man was probably my favourite song of the selection but that said there  wasn’t a single bad song in his repretoire.

Next up was the main man in whose honour we had gathered the one and only Kevin P Gilday. Since I’ve already listed my favourite poems from his selection I don’t think I need to say anymore except that I will be buying both books at the earliest financial opportunity. 

At the end of his set a happy but exhausted Kevin introduced our final act of the night and believe me when I say I don’t think I have ever seen anything like The Creative Martyrs in all my years on earth. Honestly this dynamic duo were breathtaking from beginning to end of a set which was both high octaine and high quality and tackled the issues many safer performers tend to stand well clear like state control, war and death. I particularly lked their opening number The List in which they launched a brilliant attack on the horrors of too much state control and had Kevin’s wee sister the ever lovable Lisa doubled up with laughter,well it was either or terror during a song in which she was singled out for particular attention.

As they started the next song I wondered where they could go next and we didn’t have long to find out as they continued their all out assult on capitalism by reminding why the capitalist system loves war. Now when an act can openly engage an audience to think of this idea no matter how disgusting we may find it that act really does deserve those over used titles radical and cutting edge and believe me this act are worthy of these descriptions. I do however have to say that I felt really sorry for poor Lisa when yet she was the target for their brilliant if ruthless banter in the hillarious Spare Parts Baby.  

At the end of a wonderful event perhaps the wisest words of the night were spoken by Jim Ewing who advised me to ‘Get them to Sammy’s. With this very much on my mind I went over to the guys and, congratulated  them on a mind blowing set and asked them if they would ever consider appearing at our words and music night and much to my surprise and delight they were only too happy to take the details of it

And so  it was over. The busiest and best weekend I’ve had in months maybe even years. This was a weekend I will remember for the diversity of the cultural, poltical, and social opportunaties it provided  From poetry to protest marches from pews  pamphlet launches I think to its safe to say I shared a common space or two in the name of faith and friendship.

 Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X