Me Too. Again.

I get hit on by dudes, a lot.

I do not make this statement to brag like I’m some super-hot chick. Quite the opposite. I don’t understand it at all, but outside of that, I find getting hit on by men uncomfortable and often very annoying.

I remember sharing a ride with a musician friend a couple of years ago and me telling him the exact same thing.

‘Ooooo, there, there’ he responded in a patronising tone, patting me gently on the shoulder, ‘how awful for you!’. He them slumped back in his seat and said ‘it’s *always* fun getting hit on. Something must be wrong with you’.

Is it fun though? 

I mean, here’s the thing. I’m gay, right?

That means I have to deal with unwanted attention from men who I don’t wish to interact with in that way, and there’s not an awful lot I can do about it.

If you’re a straight person, imagine if you will, venturing outside your home, doing menial tasks such as grocery or book shopping, and people of the same sex blatantly staring at you and then coming over to chat you up, and even when you make it crystal clear that you’re not interested, they still keep going, and when you eventually get mad and tell them to kindly bugger off, they make out like YOU’RE the a-hole! 😮 

Don’t get me wrong, there have been a couple of guys who have approached me and been incredibly sweet and kind, but most of the time, it’s really icky.

I know you’re probably reading this thinking:

‘Blimey, KM is a right man-hater!’.

How very dare you! I am no such thing.

FACT: Most of my friends are straight dudes.

I love hanging out with a group of guys, because we have so much in common 🙂 but my male friends accept me for who I am and know that nothing is ever going to happen between us, other than in-depth conversations about cars, or sports, or action movies, or video games, or probably a combination of all these things.

I was super proud of the fact that back when I lived in the UK I was invited to my friend’s Stag-do (Batchelor Party) before he got married. It really meant a lot to me ❤ We all went bowling, they drank a shit-ton of beer. I made sure no-one went off with anyone strange. We hit a club, danced to crappy music, got some fast food and went home. It was a fun night.

When it comes to strangers, like so many women, I have had more situations than I care to remember where I had incredibly uncomfortable interactions with guys.

I no longer use Lyft as I had 2 back-to-back incidents of male drivers who were total creepers and were acting in an inappropriate way. One guy spent the entire ride saying he’d like to be my new boyfriend and how we have time to hit a bar before my flight, the other tried to reach over and grab my leg.

Why didn’t you report this to Lyft? 

I did. You know what happened? A-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y nothing. Except now I no longer feel safe being driven to wherever it is that I need to go, which is a bloody shame, as there are so many awesome Lyft drivers out there, one of which I wrote a blog post about.

The thing is, I want to make choices about what clothes to wear each day, but if I’m venturing out into the big wide world, I get very insecure that I will in fact draw *more* attention from the opposite sex with my clothing choice.

And btw, I’m not talking about dressing up like I’m about to go and work for a few hours down the clocktower (aka turning tricks). I’m just talking clothes that make me feel good. That’s all. Trousers, shirt, shoes, that sort of thing.

I was disappointed to learn recently that while wearing one of my trouser / shirt / shoes clothing combos that a simple, seemingly inoffensive interaction with a guy has cost me a regular gig that was going really well. I did absolutely nothing wrong except decline someone’s advances, something they clearly took offence to. More on that in a bit.

It reminded me of a situation that happened about 10 years ago, back when I was doing more of my ‘KM Singer-Songwriter’ thing. I was asked by a popular music magazine to do an interview, something I was super excited about.

My interviewer turned out to be the editor for the magazine. He seemed a little quirky but nice enough. We met up at a local cafe and chatted for around an hour. Towards the end of the interview, he told me that he had 2 free tickets for a concert to see one of my all-time favorite artists (someone we had talked about in my interview). He told me the second ticket was going spare and I was welcome to have it. I thanked him for the very kind gesture and said that would be amazing.

About a week later I had a solo gig. Shortly after arriving, I noticed Mr.Magazine-Dude was already in attendance, fancy DSLR camera at the ready. He greeted me with a big hug as I walked in, and during the gig took literally hundreds of photos of me playing.

Yeah. It was awkward and weird.

The more Magazine-Dude was interacting with me during my show, the more I realised that he was thinking of the free-ticket offering as some sort of date, which was not how I interpreted it at all.

The following day I sent him an email, which I had spent considerable time writing to make sure I was being courteous, polite and above all else, kind. I explained that as much as I appreciated the ticket offer, I would no longer be able to accept it.

I hit the send button.

The response I received a few hours later was staggering.

It consisted of paragraph after paragraph of angry ranting, calling me this and that (and the other).

I did what I usually do when someone decides to drop one of these delightful messages in my inbox.

I rang him up.

It’s amazing how much smaller people’s balls are when you’re talking to them on the end of a telephone vs a computer screen.

Even though I was upset by what I had just read, I explained in a calm and concise way that I did not appreciate his email and I had done absolutely nothing wrong.

He childishly responded with:

“Well, you need to be careful who you piss of in this business”.

I took it as an empty threat, coming from someone who was clearly pissed off, but unfortunately for me, that wasn’t the end of it. Mr.Magazine-Dude was involved in multiple events and a large festival I used to play in London every year, and he made sure I was never booked at any of these ever again.

Fast forward to present day and it seems that once again, a similar situation has happened to me.

For the past 8 months I’ve been playing regularly at a venue I liked a whole lot. The bar staff are awesome, I get on well with the manager, and as far as I knew, everything was fine.

The first time I played there, someone from upper management came to greet me and seemed very friendly and helpful. I mistook this for being, well, friendly and helpful.

Whenever I was playing, he was always around and made a point of interacting with me and saying nice things about my music.

Again, I mistook this for complements about my musicianship. Darn fool.

The last time I interacted with him, he said something to me that seemed a little off and made me think that perhaps he viewed me in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with.

The following day he randomly messaged me through my website, asking me a rather vague question about my shows. It felt very much as if he was fishing for a response, and as I would be playing at his gaff the following week and would see him in-person, I didn’t respond.

I went to play my show, and not only did he completely and utterly blank me for most of the evening, when I did interact with him, he acted like a stroppy child. I ignored it, but inside I was so irritated by his behavior.

The agency that books my gigs has told me numerous times that I was this venue’s favorite act, and along with booking me multiple times a month, they would always ask me to do special events before anyone else.

It’s been over 2 months since I’ve played there.

I checked in with my agent to ask why I hadn’t been booked there for a while when everything seemed to be going so well. Their response was:

They said they’re fully booked with artists and don’t have the slots available for you to come and play 

U-huh. Ok. And I sailed down the river Clyde on a banana boat this morning.

It sucks on so many levels. It sucks because I literally didn’t do anything wrong, and yet it’s now ME who has lost a regular gig.

*Sigh*

My thoughts are this.

It’s ok to be attracted to someone, but it’s a whole other thing to punish them for not wanting to interact with you in an intimate way, because I have every right to say NO, and in a work environment, I am a professional musician of 25 years and expect to be treated as such. Penis or no penis.

But that’s just my thoughts. What are yours? I’d love to hear what you think.

Btw, I came across this guy’s Video on Youtube advising girls how to stop getting hit on by guys, it’s absolutely hilarious. It includes gems like: 

If a guy offers to buy you a drink say, “Yes! I would love that! It will give us a chance to discuss our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!”. 

Game of Life – the Gay Edition

Recently, my wife and I were going through Netflix trying to find some aimless crap to watch on tele. We came across a show called Coming Out Colton. It documents former NFL player Colton Underwood coming out to friends and family as well as the general public.

It took me back to when I came out over 20 years ago. Even though my friends and family are super laid back and cool, I had a terrible time summoning up the courage to tell them. In my head I had made it into this BIG deal, when in reality it really wasn’t at all. Some of my friends even responded with ‘well yeah, we already knew that!’. What? Really?? 

I wasn’t brave enough to tell my parents to their face. Instead, I did what I do best and wrote down my feelings on a piece of paper. I then waited until my Mum was in her room, slid the note under her door and ran away into my bedroom (to hide….and cringe, and worry, and cringe some more, and cry, but mostly cringe).

As soon as she had read it, she came into my room and gave me a big hug. As expected, she was cool about it and, as always, was super sweet and kind. She then offered to tell the rest of my family, which I said yes to, and that was that.

A few days later we were all gathered around the kitchen table having just eaten dinner (‘we’ consisted of myself, my brother, my parents and my grandad). After dinner, we decided to play that classic board game, Game of Life. 

I’m sure you’re all fairly familiar with GoL and how it works; you spin a giant plastic wheel in the centre of the board and do ‘life’ stuff, such as buy a house, dabble a bit on the stock market, buy yachts and paintings, deal with your aunt’s stray cats, that kind of thing.

One of the main elements of the game which is unavoidable is marrying someone. There is a square you HAVE to stop at and marry someone, whether you want to or not.

There are blue people and pink people that fit very nicely into your plastic vehicle, and the general assumption is if you are blue (as in male) you will marry a pink (female) person and vice versa.

When this realisation dawned on me, I started to feel very uncomfortable indeed.

I didn’t know at this point if the rest of my family knew that I batted for the other team and wasn’t sure how any of them felt about it.

I guess I was about to find out. 

After 10mins of play, my brother was the first to arrive at the church, the destination for marriages.

With a big smirk on his face, he unapologetically said

“I’m going a marry a man!”

Everyone laughed. This is especially hilarious as my brother is a typical dude and straight as a bloody arrow.

Next to arrive at the church was my Mum.

“Who do you want to marry then?” my brother asked.

“A pink person of course!” my mother replied.

Then my Dad followed suit, he also married a man. Even my grandad said ‘yeah, go on then, I’ll marry a blue one!’.

I’ll never forget it. Looking at the board and seeing every car with either matching blue or pink people. When I arrived at the church, me marrying a girl seemed very fitting.

I care deeply about what everyone at that table thinks of me, and without saying a word they made me feel so loved and included. Being British, we generally don’t talk about feelings and that sort of thing. But on this occasion, words weren’t needed.

I’m so fortunate to have grown up around people who love me for who I am. A creative, intenerate musician who ended up marrying a pink person in real life.

❤ ❤ ❤

If you’re interested in reading about the origins of Game of Life, I highly recommend this article. The original game is surprisingly dark and included squares such as ‘suicide’! 

 

 

Regrets?

When I first started out on my journey as a pro muso (*cough *cough years ago) someone shared a well known saying with me, which went something along the lines of as long as you have your art, nothing else matters. More than a handful of occasions in my lifetime I have looked back on this particular saying and thought to myself ‘what a total bunch of hippy-dippy crap‘. These were usually moments when I didn’t have enough money to pay for the petrol I had just put into my car, or when my debit card had been declined at the grocery store checkout, or when I got late fees because bills went out of my account and I didn’t have enough funds to cover them, yadda yadda yadda. At that time I thought whoever said those stupid words had zero idea what it was like to suffer for your art. It did really feel like a terrible curse and that living like any other normal-non-arty-human-being would’ve been SO much easier.

In a similar vein, I read an article years ago about an art teacher who greeted his students at their very first class with ‘some of you will have the misfortune of becoming artists‘. Depressing, but kinda true.

You may well be wondering where I’m going with all this.

Well, I got a question for ya.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if, knowing what you know now, you were able to travel back in time and re-do your life again? Is there anything you’d do differently? What If you could go back and meet a much younger version of yourself? What would you say?

From time to time I do ponder this very question and the answer always comes back no, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m happy and grateful I chose this path. Now that I’m older, I understand that the struggle itself is a gift. I’m a stronger, more resilient person because of it. Those words that I used to resent so much now make perfect sense. These days my life is considerably easier, but through all the awful hardship and embarrassing lack of funds, it was art that got me through. Music kept me on the straight and narrow and it really is a blessing to know without any doubt whatsoever who you are meant to be. Over the years people and places would change, but music was and will always be there when ever I need it. It’s a beautiful thing.

Just lately though, I have been thinking a lot about my life over the past 38 years. Recently I asked myself that same question – do I have any regrets? As mentioned earlier, my answer is usually no.

But this time I hesitated. Actually, there are a few things I would change, or if I was able to travel back in time and meet much younger Katie Marie I’d love to tell her a thing or two.

A couple of weeks ago I had a really interesting conversation with one of my students. She’s young. Just 14 years old, and like me at 14, she knows everything about everything. We got talking about how things have changed over the years with technology and music and I began a sentence with words I never thought I’d use –

When I was your age….

Oh Lordy. It’s official. I’m an old fart.

After our lesson I really thought a lot about those 5 words…when I was your age. I reflected on when I was a teenager. What I thought about, how I felt, how I acted. And because of this, my answer to the ‘would I change anything’ question has changed.

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that most people know I bat for the other team. Now, I don’t go about waving flags or making a big song and dance about it – because to be honest, in every day situations I don’t consider it to be of great importance. That being said, I am very open about it and would never dream of pretending to be something I’m not in order to make someone else feel more comfortable.

Quite frankly, that’s just dumb.

From an early age, my parents drummed into both me and my brother: Be Your True Authentic Selves. DO NOT follow the herd. They have always encouraged us to follow our hearts and do what ever makes us happy, without any expectations. Both my parents loved that I was super into music and have always supported me wanting to be a musician.

Along with being into creative stuff, from an early age I knew that I was different and I also had a very clear idea about what I liked and didn’t like. I loved music. I adored being close to trees and nature, to the point that as a 4 / 5 year old I would get up in the middle of a lesson and either head to the piano in another classroom or go outside and sit by some trees. I’d be invited by my class mates to birthday parties and all the other children would be obediently sat around playing games and interacting with each other.  ‘Where’s Katie?’ would be a question often asked by the adults, at which point they’d go looking for me and more often than not find me somewhere on my own, either looking at a book, sitting next to an animal of some description or (if there was one available) playing a musical instrument. I found groups of people drained my energy. I was happier in my own company surrounded by animals or inanimate objects. They were peaceful and calming to me.

My parents (thank God) never tried to change me and just accepted me the way I am. They didn’t ever say things like ‘you must interact and socialise with the other children more Katie’, quite the opposite, they encouraged me to be myself and made it very clear that being unique and different is most definitely a good thing. If I didn’t want to hang out with the other kids and wanted to talk to a cow in the next field, then so be it.

I had this loving, kind and extremely accepting energy from my parents – and yet the moment I turned into a teenager *everything* became complicated.

At 14 years old I did NOT think that being unique was a good thing at all. I was different and it was a total pain in the bottom.

I wanted to be like everyone else. But no matter how hard I tried (and I really did try) I just couldn’t do it. At school the teachers attempted to squeeze every ounce of individuality out of each and every child and push them into the same shaped hole as everyone else. All the other kids went along without a lot of resistance. They accepted being herded into the sheep pen and told that your life will be exactly the same as everyone else’s.

Those teachers taught me that when you get older you get married to someone of the opposite sex, have a fancy job (which isn’t necessarily something that makes you happy, but it does make a butt load of money and impress others), buy a house, have kids, watch them have children and then retire.

Which is totally fine, if that’s what floats your boat and makes you happy. The problem for me is that’s what every one *else* does. And in my school if you didn’t want the above and wanted something different, something outside of the realms of what was presented by those people – you were considered an outcast, a waste of space and someone destined to amount to very little.

I remember meeting with multiple ‘careers advisors’ and teachers who were supposed to help us decide what jobs we were going to work towards. When I told them I wanted to be a musician, each and every one of them replied straight away with ‘that’s NOT a profession, you have to pick something else’. ‘But that’s what I want to do with my life, isn’t it my choice?’ I would ask. After refusing to change my carear choice I ended up getting a detention for being disrespectful to my teachers.

I know, talk about things that make you go hmmmmm?

The problem that these people refused to acknowledge or recognise, was that I’m not meant to follow the herd, have a regular job and do regular people things. I’m an arty sort, something I’ve known my whole life. But my school teachers were hell-bent on spending their days slowly but surely trying to mould me into something I wasn’t.

There was also a very heavy assumption from both school and society in general that:

  • I would *want* to get absolutely wasted on what ever liquor or substance I could get my hands on
  • I’d *choose* to stay out late and hang out in crappy nightclubs listening to shitty music at an annoyingly loud volume while at the same time oogling at dirty-smelly boys
  • And worse than both of those things put together – it was a given that I would be attracted these dirty-smelly dudes and want to sleep with them

So when none of the above was of interest to me at all I seriously thought something was wrong with me.

You have to remember – this was pre-internet and Google. Back then the only way to have questions answered was by writing a letter to the Agony Aunt column in Bliss Magazine and hoping they’d select your question. This was (of course) highly unlikely as hundreds of confused and needy girls would write letters to Bliss about boys and va-jay-jays every single week. Also, living in a small rural town in Devon, there wasn’t exactly an eclectic mix of people to hang out with and there was certainly no mention of there being any alternative ways of living. My heart knew what I wanted and needed, but day after day, month after month, year after year, I chose to ignore what it was telling me and did the complete opposite, just to fit in.

Laaaame-o.

I would tell myself, surely if I do all these things over and over at some point it will feel normal??

Rather unsurprisingly, it never did.

My heart repeatedly told me:

I love staying up late and working on new songs or learning covers by my favourite artists and bands.

I am most at peace when I am around animals and nature.  

Playing music makes me very happy.  

Drinking and doing drugs in public places makes me feel very uneasy.

I am not attracted to dudes. Not at all. And that’s totally ok.

It told me this over and over again. At first quietly, then the further I moved away from my true self it got louder and louder. I kept ignoring it. I kept telling myself that because I’m not like other people something was WRONG.

Which of course, is ridiculous. I know that now, decades later. But back then I wasn’t brave or kind enough to know that outside approval is most definitely not needed and that you should always follow your heart. It knows the way. Always.

So – to answer my original question, my only regret, the one and only thing I’d change, is that I wish I could’ve been kinder to me and been true to myself.

I would love to go back in time and meet me at 14 and say ‘you know what KM, it doesn’t feel right because it ISN’T right! And that’s totally ok. You aren’t meant to follow others. You are unique and that’s a gift! You were meant to march to a different drum beat – everyone’s in 4/4 and you’re marching to some kind of super hip 7/8 beat where the accent changes with each measure (*sorry, nerdy music talk)’

At the time, external validation was SO important. I needed ‘insert name of popular person here’ to like me and think I was cool. Why can’t I think I’m cool and that be enough? Because I was 14 and figuring shit out and stupid unimportant things like that matter to you at that age.

So that’s my story. What about you? Do you have any regrets? Anything you’d change if you could? What would you tell a younger version of you?

Thanks as always for reading this far ❤ You are a legend.

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