Cruella deWinter and the LGBT Pride cake

LGBT Pride Month and Coffee with Cruella

A rather fierce sense of LGBT pride has been coursing through my veins all this week. Before you accuse me of arrogance, I should clarify that it is pride in someone else’s bravery: One of my oldest and closest friends has decided to come out to her friends and family.

Hello, my darling,

I guess I shouldn’t dive into this story without first offering you a coffee. Well, I say offer, but you will have to help yourself. I am typing this on a small, round table in a sunlit corner of a large Caffè Nero that has recently opened near the offices of yourLayeredLife. And, there is a rainbow creeping across the parquet flooring – there must be a prism effect coming from the corner of a window somewhere.

It gets busy later on, but so early in the morning it always feels quiet and unhurried. Everyone is either deeply absorbed in a book, or typing away at a laptop, like me. But there is also at least one older gentleman reading an actual newspaper. It’s not always the same gentleman either.

This is one of the many mini-joys of living on a slow-paced Mediterranean island. Especially to the older generation, retro cool, as a concept is completely foreign. They just continue to do what they have always done, even if they are currently sitting in the middle of a retro-cool coffee shop.

Pride in Print

The sight of a newspaper always fills me with joy these days. It is in every sense a pièce de résistance. The contrast of a practically redundant vehicle that encapsulates and contains within it the essence of something critically vital moves me. This is the same reason I wear a watch.

And it is also for this same reason I have agreed to head the project of yourLayeredLife, which will include in future a print magazine. Yes, on the surface, from the point of view of our fast-paced digital lifestyle, this appears to be nuts; but reading a print magazine is an experience impossible to replicate, let alone recreate digitally. Many of you in personal communications with me have confessed to missing the sheer sensory exuberance of it.

Tearing open the nylon wrap, getting the first whiff of ink and luxuriating in the scent of freshly printed paper, that odd woody olfactory blend of faint sulphur and sweet vanilla. And all that, before you have even started immersing yourself in a parallel universe constructed only with the written word.

Could this be why reading is stylish again?

Reading seems to be the decorating theme of this particular coffee shop. It comprises metal shelves that reach to the ceiling, populated with pristine hardbacks. That nobody will ever read. It feels like a stylish library designed by someone who loves everything about books, except perhaps actually reading them.

You would expect that such a superficial replica of the authentic experience would frustrate me. Strangely, it does not. On the contrary, I find it soothing. I choose to see it as a celebration of the sheer joy that is to read a real ink-on-paper publication with a cup of coffee to hand.

Which goes to show that I will forgive a lot for a good double espresso.

Speaking of which, you should run along and fetch me another one before morning coffee lovers and gym escapees start queuing at the bar. But do try and exercise some self-control, darling, and stay away from the pastries.

Pride in the LGBT Pride

My brave friend’s star sign is Leo. I don’t believe in star signs of course, but she does look like a lioness, which I find rather pleasing and befitting. She has a mane the colour of turmeric whose volume changes to match her mood; and when she moves she gives the sensation of indolent power.

I met her through her girlfriend, who is a fellow writer. As far as I know, for the longest time, nobody other than the three of us was aware that this Lioness was gay. She was especially paranoid about her parents finding out.

It has taken her nearly a decade but last week she finally worked up the courage to clarify to her loved ones the precise terms of her cohabitation with her flatmate. I understand that there was shouting and tears. But I am happy to say there were hugs too.

This is a small island in the North-East corner of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a textbook example of a ‘shame-based society’, a system that keeps everyone in line under threat of potential ostracism and lifelong ignominy. It works extremely well.

It has taken my Lioness friend nearly a decade to come out, but that is irrelevant. It is a place one must arrive at of his or her own accord – anything else would constitute ‘outing’. Eight years and 9 months since she recognised and acknowledged her own sexuality, Lioness has now recognised a few other truths. That ideas of shame much like ideas of gender are a social construct; and only hold power over us by our permission.

So, she will not be made to feel ‘shame’ for who she is. Just as she is not ashamed of her community; on the contrary, she is proud of it. She is proud of her LGBT pride.

Much as I love spending time in the kitchen, it is rare that I get the chance to dedicate four hours to any cooking or baking project. But this occasion called out for a big celebration with calories to match. I made her a rainbow cake. And there was enough leftover to bring some to the office the next day.

Cruella deWinter and a slice of LGBT Pride rainbow cake
A slice of LGBT Pride rainbow cake. Yummy!

LGBT Pride: Changing attitudes in the Mediterranean

My friend’s big decision might have been influenced by the many LGBT Pride celebrations that have been taking place here in the past few weeks. LGBT Pride is a big deal everywhere, but it is especially important on the island, as it is still a fledgling concept here, this being just the fourth year the LGBT Pride March has taken place.

The Pride Days festivities got underway on May 13 and reached their triumphant conclusion with the LGBT Pride March, on May 28. This year the Festival, whose aim is specifically to make a stand against homophobic and transphobic hate speech, has been placed under the auspices of President Nicos Anastasiades.

What’s in a symbolic gesture? When it comes to a social construct such as the idea of gender, symbolism is everything.

That’s why I was absolutely delighted to read that the municipality of Paphos, which currently holds the title of European capital of culture 2017, raised the LGBT Pride flag at Paphos town hall during Pride festivities, in support of Cyprus Pride.

LGBT Pride in Emerging Street Art

Another reason to be flying over the rainbow with happiness this month is that there is an artist at work, out and about. Seemingly overnight, the boxes of cables the Electricity Authority of Cyprus likes to keep on the side of the road, that generally stand grey and forlorn, appear to have received a stylish makeover, possibly by the Fab5 team from Queer Eye. As a result, the rainbow flag is everywhere I look this month! And I couldn’t be happier!

Cruella deWinter and the LGBT Pride street art
Graffiti with a meaning! LGBT Pride ‘street art’.

Responses to last week’s QotW

Before I wrap this up, big thanks to all of you my darlings for your amazing responses to last week’s Question of the Week.

The comment that made me smile was from DerangedPiglet who told us that:

“Chastity routine? We don’t really have one other than to send a daily morning picture of myself in my work clothes. She enjoys having a record of how I look each day.”

Wow! That brought back memories. As I have already said in my response to DerangedPiglet, when Alex and I needed to live away from each other for a few months early on in the relationship, reporting back to me by submitting photographic evidence of his submission contributed greatly to keeping us in tune with each other.

Question of the Week

By the way, I have been wondering…

Do you have any stories to share about playing with gender-roles within your relationship. By which I mean:

  • Do you play with cross-dressing or strap-ons or include other elements of binary-gender defiance?

Feel free to tell us your story. We would love to hear from you. Use the comments section below!

Until next time…

Look at the time! I have got to run now my darling. I suspect if I don’t make it to the office within the next half hour Coffee-Boy and Photo-Princess will have polished off what is left of of what was left of the Rainbow cake.

Stay well, till next time,

Cruella deWinter

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