Guest post: Women were helping the dinosaurs walk around

By latsot, originally a comment on Today in London but it got held because of links while I was out for a walk to Lake Union and back so now it’s a post instead of a comment.

YNNB:

Yes. And the dinosaur costumes were another genius PR idea from Posie Parker. It’s impossible to see one waddling down the street (or getting on a bus)

  without paying attention. And when people do, the explanation is a perfect lead into a discussion of Stonewall.

The event was brilliant, I’m glad I went. Everyone was incredibly nice and kind and looked after each other all day. People helped me get in and out of the pub and fretted about me crossing busy roads. It was genuinely moving. It was kindness given without thought or obligation.

Women were helping the dinosaurs walk around, too, because they couldn’t see their feet. At one point, a dinosaur had a handbag in one hand and the other was held by a guide, who was giving instructions. She was like a rally co-driver except she was saying things like:

There’s a bit of a dodgy kerb there…. Mind that cracked paving stone… There’s a puddle there that might be piss…but you might be all right, it could just be rainwater, it’s up to you whether you want to go round it.

I really wish I could have filmed that, but I need both hands for getting around.

To begin with, we met at the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square and I handed out leaflets for a while. A lot of people were passing and most took the leaflets. Lots more came to Talk With Dinosaurs. Everyone had either heard or heard of the Nolan investigation so there was always a good way into conversation. This is significant; previously, I’d have had to cover a lot of ground before even getting started on Stonewall but now most people seemed to have a much better idea of what’s going on. It was hugely encouraging.

After that, I was interviewed by the police, but they just wanted to know what the protest was about. I gave them a leaflet and refused to tell them where we were going next. In fairness, they couldn’t have beaten it out of me if they’d tried because I didn’t know where we were going, either. And as it turned out, neither did anyone else.

Where we did go was the buildings of various government departments and other public services. We went to the Home Office, New Scotland Yard, then to the Foreign office but I think that was by mistake. Various other places. We shouted about Stonewall getting out, children being left alone and the gay not being amenable to transing away. I had not expected, that morning, that I would be standing outside the offices of the Metropolitan police with a crowd of women shouting “get autogynophiles out of the police”. Especially since it was followed by a discussion about whether we really minded autogynophiles being in the police or not. The consensus was that we didn’t really mind as long as they weren’t dressed as latex dogs when they came to arrest us.

Then we ate our packed lunches like we were on a school trip and got on the bus to the BBC.

The BBC security guards were out in force and not happy to see us. We chanted a lot, argued with a man who came out to be a dickhead at us, there was some ill-advised singing and dancing and one dinosaur’s gyrations got out of control. Then we went to the statue of Orwell for some photographs and went to the pub. There was a lot of energy there, and a lot of righteous anger. Women are angry and that genii is not going back in the bottle.

I met some brilliant people in there (some of them even recognised me!) then went to speak with menno for a while. He’d been asked to recount his GC origin story, which is an absolute rollercoaster ride. Tears fell. He spoke of how he has always been bad at expressing anger and a particular event caused all his pent up anger to be released in a single instant, which was a major peaking event.

So, predictably, I was then asked how I’d got into all this. If you know menno, you’ll know he’s a difficult act to follow at the best of times and if you know me, you’ll know my origin story isn’t exactly a thrill ride. I didn’t Fall so much as saunter gently downwards, as Pratchett might have said. But at least I could confirm, to the nods of everyone there who follows me on Twitter, that at least I’ve never had any difficulty expressing anger.

Then – to my lasting regret – I had to leave to get my train. I wish I’d been able to stay and wish even more that I’d decided to go after all to the LGBA conference the previous day. I’d thought about it but figured that I shouldn’t take up a place an LGB person might want. But everyone in the pub said I was an idiot and should have just gone. Next time, I will.

On the way back to the station, I reached what I like to believe were record speeds down Oxford Street and in the transfer tunnel at Green Park. There was a lot of weaving around bewildered, angry people and hairpin, rubber-screeching turns into lifts.

It was good to get out and great to meet some of the best people. It was even good to be in London after so long, even now that it’s getting back to fully annoying capacity. I wish I could have been in Edinburgh and Belfast as well (I know people who were at both!) I’ll definitely go to more of these things in the future and I’m speaking with some GC groups up North to see if we can arrange some in Newcastle or Durham. There isn’t much activity around here and that’s a shame because I think we North-Easterners are natural born TERFs, if anyone is.

I’ll give you plenty of notice, guest ;)

As twiliter says, you can see pictures and videos at #ComeOutOfStonewall on Twitter. The picture Ophelia used shows around half the people who started the tour and a fifth of the dinosaurs. Some of the dinosaurs had to leave to go to work, others deflated involuntarily due to battery failure. The real reason they became extinct.

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