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A slightly aimless ramble, on the subject of acceptance. I am an ally.

A not insignificant portion of my custom work is for Mr&Mr and Mrs&Mrs folds.  

From time to time, customers have suggested that I make a thing of this, and I'm never sure how or why.  Well, I kind of know how and why. But, like, I wish it didn't need to be a thing!  

This could be a controversial blog post. Please forgive me if I use any language or terms that don't sit quite right...I don't know how to be PC.  If, however, you are offended by my not caring who someone else fancies or sleeps with, feel free to fucky offy.  Hopefully that opening will set my stance on the subject, even if I do end up using wrong words or terms in what follows hahaha

When the subject of homosexuality and gender comes up, I have often stopped myself from saying "I don't care". Because I know how that could come across. I'm 43 years old and live in a small corner of rural Scotland. Ever since school, I've had male and female friends who are gay, and a couple who are F-M (no M-F though, which I think the media paints as far more common). In more recent years, some have realised they're non binary.  And, I just don't care. Not in a negative way.  Not in a virtuous way.  Just in a 'it doesn't affect me' way. 

Because it's never been a thing for me, it's dangerously easy for me to forget that it's a thing, a BIG thing, to other people.  It's a big thing to those who come out as whatever.  It's a big thing to their families. And it's a big thing to bigots. I have to check myself, and ensure that my...apathy? no, that's generally a negative word.  My acceptance?  it's not my place to accept anyone other than myself.  I don't know the right word.  But I have to remind myself that, even in 2023, people need allies.  And I hate that word too!  I am an ally. I am a safe space and a safe person. And I think it's awful that anyone needs to state that - but I am, I'm stating it, in case you're in any doubt. 

I was showcasing during NoBooksOnTour once, and through the crowd of 20 or so people around my stand, I saw a guy point and chuckle at the book that said 'arse'.  I joked "Oh aye, can tell a lot about someone when that's the first book they see!" and instantly his face turned to thunder.  I got the vibe he still liked my work, but he looked like he HATED me.  After a few minutes, some of the crowd had dispersed, and I saw him walk away...hand in hand with his same sex partner.  I wanted the shopping centre floor to open up and swallow me.  I hadn't made the quip as any kind of homophobic reference, but, obviously, that's exactly how he'd taken it.  Urgh. I wanted to chase him and apologise.  I wanted to assure him that many, many of my friends are gay.  I wanted to tell him I hadn't even noticed he was with his boyfriend.  But I didn't.  That would all have come over as disingenuous, guilty, rude, inappropriate, and desperate.  But it's all true. 

At school, I had pals who were openly gay.  I had a couple who were firmly in the closet, including ones who didn't 'come out' until 10/15 years later.  And coming out is another thing.  I wish it didn't exist. Why should it?  I didn't sit down with my folks and say "Mum, Dad, I really fancy boys", so why should anyone else?  I know, I know, I'm typing from a very naïve place, and I think that's the danger.  Because it's not remotely a thing for me, it's easy to minimise what a massive thing it is for other people. Both positively and negatively. 

In the mid 90s, one of my very young gay pals was jumped, battered and chucked in a river. For being gay. Like really?  What the actual fuck is wrong with people? WHY do they care so much about who someone else is attracted to?? Like really, WHY??

I also live in a very safe country. And I take that for granted. I have a lovely, lovely Polish friend, who has lived in Scotland for a very long time. I once asked him if he thought he'd stay here forever, or would he go 'home'? I was taken aback with his answer...he couldn't really go home, because it's still illegal to be homosexual in Poland!  WTF? This is 2023, but that's the kind of reality check I get.  Just because I don't care, doesn't mean other people don't care!  And I must change my verbiage.  I DO care.  I care so fucking much.  It pains me. 

I have another pal, who I've long since lost touch with. She took a deep breath and told me she was a lesbian. Fine. A couple of years later, she told me she was actually convinced she was in the wrong body, and was transitioning to becoming a male. Fine. My reaction "oooh, I can see that, you're actually a REALLY good looking guy!!" - yeah, so in hindsight that was a backhanded compliment, but that was my only thought about the subject.  And he IS a really good looking guy, so I wasn't wrong! haha

I have been to more same sex weddings, than mixed sex weddings. This only struck me recently, when I had the honour of being Best-Man/Best-Woman/Best-Bitch at my friend's wedding. Someone asked me if I'd ever been at a gay wedding before, and I had to actually stand and think if I'd ever been at a same sex wedding!

A couple of years back, another maker's child became/realised they were non-binary.  I think that's the right term.  So they/them.  A while later, I was chatting with their Mum, and she mentioned something said child had done recently.  Can't remember what she was telling me, but I enquired along the lines of "oh that's good she did that"...."no, wait, that's wrong isn't it? That's good they did that", or words to that effect.  I sometimes struggle with the grammar of they/them, and wish there was another noun or title, or whatever, because any time I slip up, I hate that it may be taken as a slight, because I don't care.  Except, as you're hopefully picking up on, I DO care! 

Very recently, we were in family company, and one of the teenagers was on her phone.  Mr No Books jokingly said "are you talking to boys?" and her Mum said "it might be girls".  I wasn't sure exactly what this meant, so I just laughed "ooh, do you like both" and the answer was a big, beautiful smile and nod. And that was that. 

Why am I telling you all this?  I don't really know.  I don't need to prove my allie-ship to anyone. It's never been questioned (apart from that guy in the shopping centre....arrggghh, flashbacks).  Except, maybe I do??? Maybe I need to flag that I am a safe space?? I really don't know. Going by how frequently I fold Mr & Mr and Mrs & Mrs, I'm assuming that comes over just fine haha Same sex unions are completely standard around me. I don't even notice them, until I have to think about opposite sex couples.  Oh, I know a throuple, too. Just to chuck that in there too hahahahah

I'm not getting in to the issue of race or colour (my feelings are the same), but I remember a TV interview sometime during covid.  No idea what it was, I was channel hopping. But a white person had said exactly what I think: "I'm not racist at all, I don't even notice what colour people are", and a black lady stood up and challenged her with "If you don't see my colour, then you don't see ME!", and I was really struck by that. I do fear that I might be the same when it comes to gender and sexuality. In my head, it doesn't affect me in the slightest.  But maybe I should be more mindful that it does affect others.  Is it like becoming nose blind? Just because I don't notice or care, doesn't mean it isn't there?  I'm just not sure! 

I wish for a day when it doesn't matter to anyone, in any way, shape or form. When no one has to 'come out'.  I know we're getting very close to that, but there's still far too many people and countries that that is far, far, FAR from the truth of the matter. Will it ever not matter?  I'm not convinced.

I've finally added the trifecta of Double Mars, Double Venus and Transgender symbols to my range.  I actually designed a trans one a few years ago, but wasn't totally happy with it, so never released it.  So I was delighted when one of my American stockists asked if I could create it - I love an excuse to dig out old design notes and finally bring things to booky life! 

This was a huge ramble, with very little tangible point. Thanks for reading!

~ Jo

P.S. This just popped in to my head, after posting.  As far as I'm concerned, the only time I would have any need to have any interest in someone else's sexuality, is if I was single, they were single, and one/both of us were on the pull! 


  • Thanks Lisa!
    ~ Jo

    Jo from
  • 100% perfectly said x


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