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!”. 

The Missing Pieces

This beautiful lady is my grandmother, Margaret Joan Robinson.

Brought up in north-east London, Margaret was a woman way ahead of her time. Forward-thinking, dynamic, driven and extremely business savvy. Even though she was only 5ft tall, she didn’t take any crap off of anyone.

At 22, she was a sergeant in the WRAF (Women’s Royal Air Force) and after leaving the Air Force, she and my grandad ran many successful businesses in and around Devon. My grandmother was an unstoppable force of nature and was driven to succeed in everything she did.

When I was 6 years old, my grandmother bought an old pianola (player piano). I remember the first time we went over to their place to see it. The moment my little fingers touched the keys I was in heaven.

From that day on, I wanted to visit as often as possible so I could sit in front of the piano and noodle. I’d spend hours writing my own tunes (most of which I’m sure were bloody awful) or trying to figure out songs I’d heard on the radio. My grandmother taught me how to play an old traditional piece of music which I still remember to this day.

This is one of only a handful of memories I have of my grandmother. She passed away when I was 11 and the events surrounding her death changed our family forever.

Margaret lost her life in 1992 after having unnecessary surgery from a doctor who was at the centre of the Bristol Heart Scandal (James Wisheart). Wisheart performed heart surgery on my grandmother and blamed the issues on ‘faulty equipment’. 10 years later it came to light that it was in fact his incompetence that took her life as well as causing brain damage to over 100 children. There have been multiple news stories about the incident as well as a one-off BBC dramatization.

Before my grandfather passed away in 2011, he and I started creating a family tree together. We found lots of interesting information about his side of the family, but absolutely nothing whatsoever about my grandmother. She was an intensely private person and didn’t share any information about her family, her life in London, her upbringing. Nothing. And whenever I tried searching for information myself it was always a fruitless exercise.

My grandfather’s side of the tree has a plethora of information with well over 100 people in it, a couple of whom I have met in person. My grandmother’s side is quite the opposite.

It contains her, her brother and mother, and literally no one else.

And that is exactly how it has stayed all this time, up until a month ago, when someone out of the blue contacted me, saying we were related through my grandmother.

I couldn’t quite believe it and really hoped this guy wasn’t barking up the wrong tree. I asked for more info and sure enough, we are related. Not only that, but he knows a ton of info about my grandmother’s side of the family.

And guess what?

😮 THEY ARE ALL MUSICIANS 😮

All this time, I believed I was the first one to take up an instrument and play professionally. But it turns out my great-Uncle played piano for a theatre in London and my grandmother’s parents played on cruise ships as well as in the pub they ran in London. Everyone in the family was musical and apparently they all played by ear extremely well, something I have always been really good at.

I got to see photographs and look into the eyes of people I didn’t even know existed, as well as hear first-hand accounts of what these people were like and their love of music.

I even got to see photographs of the pub where my grandmother grew up:

 

Once I had processed all of this incredible information, my memories of 6-year-old me playing piano in my grandparents’ house took on a whole new meaning. I had no idea that by simply being a musician, I was connecting to people in my family line who I knew absolutely nothing about. People who were just like me.

I have always felt like a lone wolf, doing my own thing that isn’t in any way connected to anyone else in my family. Now I can truly say that I come from a long line of musicians and I’m carrying on the family tradition ❤ ❤ ❤

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’!