Tag Archive | Women’s issues

Active Citizens 

As a spoken word poet I am rightly proud of our tradition of activism on just about every topic you could name. From Apartheid to Women’s rights poets have opinions on everything and not afraid to voice them. This is something we share with all performers, but in this poem I take a look at musicians both folk and pop, and in particular the protest songs written over the years to express support of causes and campaigns to document an important part of social history . Whilst some of the songs, I’ve incorporated in to this poem may be very obviously political others may initially at least  strike you as slightly less so but when you look closely at the lyrics you’ll see they may be more radical than you think . I’ve given it the title Active Citizens as I have  long held the belief that the creative community are often a government’s more effective critics. I hope you enjoy the read. 
Active Citizens
My journey started with McGinn of The Calton 

who sang of  a may day for the ordinary people

and women pining for the pill .

Glen Daly told the story

of a wild colonial boy 

whose spirit will always live 

in the hearts of rebels with or without causes

the Corries took me over the sea to Skye 

while the hills of Donegal 

and the fields of Anthery 

showed the other side of my family tree 

both sides displaced in the name of the great white sheep 

and generations later the Proclaimers 

lamented the industrial clearances 

when they sent a letter from America

and narrated Scotland’s story 

as a  land of migrants 

throughout our history 

our so-called masters have ignored us 

attempted to silence our voices 

in the name of their false unity 

but our community remains strong

writing and  singing  the protest songs 

that expose them and their cruel deeds

carried out in the name of greed and personal gain 

meanwhile though she took a train to Leeds Central in 1989.  

we are still  looking for Linda 

and when we find her 

she will know she is one of  Jock Tamsons Bairns 

regardless of where she was born 

you see  where you are from can only be the first verse 

the starting point of the protest song

what follows is the journey about where your going to

and  how we help you get there 

by listening to the lyrics 

and the lessons they teach us for the future 

we can’t afford to be seduced and abandoned

by falling for lies and false promises 

or ignoring the 1 in 10 

we need to send the selfish homeward 

make them think again on the consequences of their behaviour 

their attitudes that make me a very angry girl 

I come from the generation who dared to feed the world 

and ask when there would be a harvest for it 

a harvest we could share 

with west end girls and smalltown boys 

we can’t let politicians create 100 000 Allentown’s 

or hold back the years in a vain attempt 

to keep us in what they think is our place 

in the rat trap they’ve created over years and centuries

to preserve what they see as the natural order 

with those McGinn sang of at the bottom 

with independence lies the hope of a better Scotland 

though we will still have our problems 

and protest songs to sing 

in the hope of the finding solutions 

as creatives we have always been political 

critical of our establishment regardless of party colours

and as our future governments will discover

we will always be active citizens

speaking out on the issues that matter. 

.© Gayle Smith 2017 

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Here’s To The Future Wherever It Leads Me

Hey Readers This morning I got a message from WordPress congratulating me on my 4 year blogging anniversary. Naturally I was delighted to receive this message but it set me thinking what have I achieved in my four years as tartantights? and how have I improved as a blogger?

Well I would like to think that blogging is a journey and like all journeys the further you travel the more you enjoy it though it can take you to some unexpected destinations. This has certainly been the case with me and I believe I’ve got bolder with each passing year in terms of what I share with you. This has improved both my blog and my confidence as I really believe me in my blog and I think it’s beginning to show.   No longer is tartantights dominated by politics and poetry reviews I have I think begun to show you more of myself in my blog and this is I hope a good thing as it let’s you get to know me better.

In the last year i have tried and achieved things I would never thought was possible when I started tartantights.  I have tackled and completed the NaPoWriMo challenge where I had to write 30 poems during the 30 days of April I have joined UK wide blogger groups and value the support I receive from fellow bloggers many of whom I now count as friends. Indeed there are a few who seem to manage without trying too hard to bring out my maternal side and without naming names they know exactly who they are. 

Talking of my maternal side it is these bloggers who have encouraged and influenced me a lot they know One of this select group has let me lead a blogger chat for her #AskABlogger group another got me to write a poem on Glasgow as it isn’t seen by the BBC or MSM but the the one who gave me the chance to write a guest post for her site and challenged me to import photographs in to my post stretched me more than any other. Now  I have to say I was apprehensive about this as I had never attempted it before but she gave me the confidence to go for it and I now use photographs in my posts whenever I think it’s appropriate. I think the peer support you can gain from other bloggers is invaluable and I know I’ve become a better blogger just by participating in these chats which is why I try never to miss them. So from not knowing these chats existed a year ago they have now become an integral part of my life and inspired me to do things differently than I otherwise might
have done.

This past year has also seen my blog take on a greater focus with regards to my transgender identity and more general equality issues particularly relating to women’s issues. In the last 12 months I have reviewed Caledonian Dreaming which is in my view one of the most important books to date on the case for Scotland’s independence, and one of the best days of my 54 years on earth at The Girls Day Out Show to which I give my most emotional review in my four years as a blogger. With regards to statistics I am pleased to report that 2015 was most successful year to date particularly in terms of page views so I must be doing something right and whatever it is I hope I keep doing it.

So what does the future hold for tartantights? To me at least that’s a question only the future can answer. However whilst I have no doubt I will still post in support of Scottish Independence and review the best of the spoken word events I regularly attend I would like to think that I will continue to post on a variety of topics and that I will do so in way that will make you want to read my posts. So here’s to the future wherever it leads me and I hope you’ll enjoy reading my adventures as much as I will enjoy writing on them.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Unwanted Gifts I Can’t Return Are Wrapped In Missy Moments

Hey Readers As a trans woman I knew the deal I signed up to before starting my gender transition. I knew about the sexism I would have to face as a woman  I knew about the discrimination when it comes to employment,  I knew I would be  both stereotyped and ignored as
those unwilling or unable to accept my real identity would become increasingly frustrated at their inability to find a box with an appropriate label in which to be place me.

I also knew the challenges I would face when I started on my hormones one year in to my journey.  I was aware that these would have both positive and negative impacts on my body and was prepared for everything that mother nature may throw at me.  I think you can see the difference between this picture taken in the early stages of transition and the one below it which was taken on the final Saturday of the Independence referendum after the hormones had started to do their necessary work on feminising my shape

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Me at Gallery of Modern Art For All Day Poetry Event

This is me at The Gallery of Modern Art for one of the all day poetry events in the early stages of transition

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This is me with one of the rising stars of the  Yes Scotland campaign Saffron Dickson during a short break from the Women For Independence stall and as I think you can see the hormones have started working on both my face and and my bust area. Mercifully, this is a waist up shot and doesn’t show my ever expanding hips.

However I digress, you see I also knew I wouldn’t getting the pleasures of my new shape without at least some pain.  Yes I knew what was coming so I’m not prepared to moan about what I call my missy moments. Yes that’s right I’m talking trans periods.

I refer to them in this way because there is one major difference and I’m sure I don’t need to state the obvious as to what it is so not being a drama queen I think I’ll skip that little detail.

What I will say though is I don’t get off lightly with the all symptoms hitting me so hard I sometimes feel like I’ve been run over by a ten ton truck. As a poet I think my mood swings may actually be good  for my creativity though this is in a retrospective manner as I’m not too creative when  I’m ain the middle of a full blown rant.

I have learned to handle my flushes, forgetfulness, and tender breasts and I often put it down to growing older or as I like to say maturing with age.  Well I would like to say that, but I doubt very much if you’d believe it particularly if you are regular readers of this blog or know me well enough to be called a friend.

So all things considered I would say I cope pretty well with my woman things but there is one issue which really is an issue and far more difficult to deal with than any of the others and that is stomach cramps. There is nothing that can prepare you for them and the destructive and decimating impact it can have on your digestive system. Trust me when I say that when these visitors call on you they can play havoc  with your body and potentially your social diary as to be  honest you don’t really feel like doing anything. Now as I said at the beginning of this post I knew what I was signing up for and was happy and glad to do so but today my unwanted friends decided to pay their monthly visit and to be honest they couldn’t have come at a worse time.

At this festive season a woman like me wants to go to as many parties and places as possible it’s a case of see and be seen.  This means that unwanted gifts I can’t return are wrapped in missy moments. Having said that though, despite my horrendous stomach pains I wouldn’t change the last seven years for a trillion pots of gold. And  though I always admired the way my cis sisters dealt with pain it’s not until you’ve been through even a fraction of it, as  I now am on a monthly basis that you really begin to understand that women are the stronger sex both physically and emotionally.

Indeed I believe my own pain threshold has increased since the beginning of my journey, either that  or l’ve just learned to do what so many women have done throughout the years and centuries namely smile and put a brave face on things. Whatever it is I’ve done I’m glad I’ve done it. Sometimes in life you have to take risks and believe me according to some people who assume they know me far better than they have or will, told me that transitioning would be a risk too far they couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been and maybe that’s why even at Christmas I can accept unwanted gifts wrapped in missy moments. It is after all part of being a woman. 

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Words Of Love Songs From The Heart And A Place Among The Girls (The Story Of An Enjoyable Pre Valentine’sThursday)

Hey everyone. As you may know last Saturday was Valentine’s day. I can however exclusively reveal that instead of waiting for the day I celebrated two days early and had a very enjoyable pre valentine’s Thursday in which I attended two very different events both of which were inclusive, informative, and entertaining.

First stop was the Gallery Of Modern Art where I enjoyed an afternoon of quality poetry from both new and established voices at the annual Federation Of Writers Scotland Writers Love Words event. As is often the case, I arrived just a wee bit late for this all day marathon and missed the first few readers but the most important think for me was networking with new contacts and old friends.

It was particularly pleasing to see Stephen Watt who is an avid supporter of federation events performing two cracking poems Parma Violets and Slow Dancing In The Kitchen which Stephen says was written about his much needed dancing practice to get him fit for his wedding. Is this too much information before the reading of his poem or his very good friend getting ever so slightly mischievous? I think I’ll leave you to decide but let’s just say if you know me you’ll know the answer and Stephen knows me well.

As for me I was on stage literally ten minutes after my arrival. I performed three poems all of which explored the theme of day in different ways. My first poem House Rules was particularly well received and one fellow poet said it was brilliant as some of the rhymes were on topics you would never expect to be covered. My other poems were A Thorn Among The Roses explores the difficulties some families give themselves when their daughters come out as lesbian, and Leave It To Fate which explores the different ways of dating and why we really are best just leaving it to cupid.

In a busy were excellent sets from former makars AC Clarke, Ann Connolly, Maggie Rabatski and Sheila Templeton, as well as the current holder of that title Brian Whittingham whose poem on parental approval struck a familiar chord. That said though my favourite poem of his set was German Head/Scottish Heart which looked light-heartedly at the influence of his dual nationality.

The real highlights of the day however came on hearing three new voices with big futures on the spoken word. Jade Mitchell may only have read one poem but that was enough to make me realise that this is a young writer with serious poetic potential. In Peter Russell there was a poet whose performance was so slick I couldn’t believe it when Stephen Watt told me it was only his second ever public readings of his work and his poem Navy Town was one of the best of the day. There was though one new star who I think stole the show and that was Bethany Sanderson whose first poem Red was in my opinion quite simply a stunning piece of work. Believe me these three names are writers of real quality and I want to see all three at Words and Music at the earliest possible opportunity. All three will I think be huge additions to the performance scene as for Bethany I want her to be featured writer within the next year and hopefully before the end of 2015.

With quality performances from John Moody and Colin Strathdee who are also quite new to the performance scene I would go as far as to say this wasn’t just a good day for poetry, it was a great one. Indeed the quality of performers at the event made comparing easy not only for me but also for my fellow compares AC Clarke, and Etta Dunn.

At the end of a great day it was time to for a change of scene and I walked the short distance from GoMA to Glasgow Caledonian University for a gig to promote the use of a safe space for self defined women. Being a transwoman I thought this would be a good gig to attend and I wanted to show my support for a venue which I think is both a valuable and much needed resource.

This was a fantastic night of Music Art and Discussion around issues of importance to women and I was really impressed by the calibre of acts on stage. All the performers on the night, were like myself self defined women whether that definition be Lesbian Transgender or Bisexual matters not one jot on Thursday night they were defined by one thing and one thing only their talent as entertainers. Credit for this amazing night goes organiser Jill E Stevens from the group Caledonian Women who put together a truly fantastic night of cabaret to promote the use of the space.

Whilst I enjoyed all the performers I have to say the one and only Chrissy Barnacle was the stand out act of the evening though maybe I am being slightly biased as I have gigged with Chrissy before at an all women event at Inn Deep last summer.

On introducing herself Chrissy said she does have the tendency to talk a lot and I have to say she isn’t wrong. Well talking is good when you have something worth sharing and Chrissy’s chatty nature relaxes her audience and her natural talent for storytelling was something I found both endearing and engaging. Believe me this is a very major talent that we are going to hear a lot more of. I also loved Ruth Martin whose easy going laid back style was really easy on the ear. That said the most pleasing part of the evening was the fact that everyone made me so welcome. This is always good but it is even better when you realise that I was old enough to be the mum of most of those in attendance and it made my night to be told that I would be a welcome addition to Caledonian Women as it is an all inclusive group for all self defined women. Now I hate to contradict Groucho Marx but if this group wants me as a member I will be more than happy to join. So my to sum my pre valentine celebration it was an excellent and entertaining mixture where I enjoyed words of love, songs from the heart and a place among the girls.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Tan Tights On Saturdays

Hey everyone. This is a poem on why it is important for women to walk with confidence to show the world that we will never settle for a second class life. I hope it illustrates the difference between wide boys and real men can be judged on how they treat women including women like me. I’ve called it Tan Tights On Saturdays I hope you enjoy the read.

Tan Tights On Saturdays

Walking down the street
over confident guys
wolfe whistle me from the safety of cars
but I don’t really care I will be who I am
confident whatever I wear
I can’t say the same for them
they seem nervous uncomfortable with themselves
and everyone else
the mask of their manhood
hides nothing
instead exposing the flaws of those ignored by santa claus and the easter bunny
the jokes cracked may have been funny in the time of Benny Hill
now they demonstrate a lack of social skills
the complete opposite of the man
I met in a very expensive bar
who came over to me
when I was smart but causal
said he had a girlfriend
but still bought me a drink
saying it takes real bottle
to be who you are regardless
of what others may think
to him my skirt and lipstick
said woman
more than that
it said nice, decent,
stylish but respectable
It set boundaries saying
what I would or wouldn’t accept
told him what I had learned to respect
and more importantly reject
as he paid for my coke
he smiled before returning to his partner
saying it takes class to wear
tan tights on saturdays.

@ Gayle Smith 2015

Party Frocks Poetry And Offers I Didn’t Accept

Hey everyone I don’t know about you lot but I’m looking forward to having lots of lovely nights with good friends over the festive period, spending quality time in their company and catching up with all their latest news. Well being a sociable kind of girl it really is one of my favourite bits of the social swirl that is the Christmas Season.

Now it is fair to say that many of these nights will not be confined to Baillieston and some may involve trips to the other side of the city as was the case with two recent poetry related evenings within the last few weeks. At the beginning of the month I made my way to and returned safely from, my monthly trip to Words and Music at Sammy Dow’s but whilst the review of that event is another story for another blog, it is important to stress that my journey home was a lot less scary than the one the previous Thursday as I did not feel anyway near as vulnerable as i waited for the bus home

You see my experience of the previous Thursday was just a wee bit too spooky for my liking, and it really drove home the message of personal safety particularly though not relating to women at this time of year. Yes i know safety is important all year round, but with our senses potentially dulled by the heady and potentially lethal combination of party frocks and vodka goggles we need i think to be on full alert at this time of year, so we can be fully alert to smell the scent of danger before it in any way shape or form smells us.

It has to be said,that having walked all the way from Nice ‘n’ Sleazy which for those of you who don’t know Glasgow as at the top of Sauchiehall Street in other words five minutes from the beginnings of Maryhill on one side and the West End on the other to Ingram Street in the beating heart of what is the Merchant City i was in pretty upbeat mood. Well i had just been one of the judges in a brilliant poetry slam along with Robin Cairns, and Jim Ewing and enjoyed some great company with some the competitors and audience members before heading in to the night to start my journey east. So i could have been forgiven for being caught off guard but thankfully i wasn’t and when a guy asked me if I wanted a lift home i had enough wits about me to refuse and say i was waiting for a bus.

However as every woman knows some guys just know how to take a knock back and undaunted he kept on asking and I kept on refusing. Honestly this guy didn’t give up easily and said he would take me home for free. Yeah right, the only thing he wanted to take was me on the back seat with my tights around my ankles. Now considering I’m a pre op transsexual i think the situation could have become very difficult had i been drunk enough or stupid enough to agree to this idea.

Fortunately however, there are times when a girl’s best friend is her gaydar and mine was fully switched on as i saw a guy young enough to be my son standing in his own . He didn’t seem to mind that i had ‘borrowed’ him for a wee minute and engaged him in conversation just long enough for this driver to vanish in to the distance. I was right about him being gay, by the way, a few seconds after i left him i saw him with his arms round his boyfriend. That however doesn’t matter, personal safety on the other hand certainly does, and it was with a sigh of relief that i made my way to the next bus stop at the bottom of Glassford Street where the Merchant City ends and the Trongate begins. It was in those familiar surroundings that i waited patiently for my number 2 Bus and fortunately i didn’t have to wait long.

On my journey home i was left with plenty of time to reflected that though the evening had been exciting and entertaining in terms of the quality of the poetry and companionship I enjoyed, it felt great to be in a safe warm space and far away from any potential harm.

It is with this in mind that i feel i must thank publicly friends such as Chris Stephens and Chris Young both of whom have on more than one occasion stood with me often going out their own way to do so to ensure my well being and it would also right and proper to express my thanks to Derek Read as someone else who has did this for me, not forgetting those who have given me lifts home from venues in the past such as Anne McLaughlin, Colin Storrie, Danny O’Connor, Paddy Hannrahan, Siobhan Harkin, Marc R Sherland, Stephanie Smith and most of all the brilliant and most amazing wee chosen sister anyone on earth could ever ask for the one and only Catherine Baird, i owe all a debt of gratitude I’ll never be able to pay.

Anyway having had time to reflect i can honestly say i don’t think i have ever felt so vulnerable in my five years as transitioning woman. It really was a scary and unpleasant end to what had up till that point been a truly amazing evening. However if during this festive season i could give girls and women of Glasgow just one bit of advice it would be this:

Trust me girls if any guy offers you a lift and it sounds too good to be good to be true then you know what, it probably is.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X