Picture by David Mery – Quote by Muriel Lester (1883-1968) hanging on the wall of the Bishopsgate Institute in London
There’s been the Paris attacks, which targetted people like me. Being a trendy Parisian is no longer safe. I am down one home.
There’s been the Orlando attacks, which targetted people like me. Hanging out in the queer world is no longer safe. I am down two homes.
There’s been the Brexit, which targetted people like me. Being a European citizen in the UK is no longer safe. I am down three homes.
Contemporary history has been slapping my immigrant queer French female face over the course of eight months. Pulling the carpet from under my feet.
My world as I’ve always known it is vanishing, and I haven’t even turned 33. I never imagined I’d be hit by nostalgia so long before menopause.
I suppose that it is how it goes about privilege: you don’t realise you have it until it gets abolished. I never thought an era would come when I would be part of the threatened group(s). I am grateful for having lived a fairly protected life so far. My “only” experiences of discrimination and violence have been sexism, street harrassment and homophobia – which are all solid trainings. Yet, I never imagined being afraid for my life in the city where I was born, nor being seen as an unwanted immigrant whose accent is a flaw rather than an aphrodisiac.
It feels like London’s face changed overnight after the referendum. London has always been that extraordinary Tower of Babel where all humans have been creatively co-existing, sucessfully mixing and joyfully getting along.
I refuse to see the end of that ideal world of clever diversity.
Because fate has humour, I happened to hand in my resignation on the day of the referendum results: June 24th, 2016. I had been planning for months to give my notice at the end of June, and just like a lot of people, I never believed in Brexit. My professional rebellious statement got somewhat absorbed by the political context. I wanted to send a firm message across to my upper management about my worth and how much I should be paid and what a terrible loss I represent, but when I found myself in my resignation meetings, all I could talk about was Brexit. ‘I am not prepared to face xenophobia. I am not prepared to see the new face of London” I said in all honesty and humility. Fuck my career statement. I claimed my love for diversity and the EU for 40 minutes to American managers who had just got in town. They were somewhat thrown off. I didn’t plan that my 4 year career in corporate would end on such an emotional and humanist note.
I am relieved to leave the ship. It feels like a wave of cool people will be leaving the UK, the progressist Brits and the gutted EU citizens. Hopefully we’ll all meet somewhere immigrant-friendly, queer-friendly, equality-friendly, to carry on.
The question that is running on everyone’s lips is: Where shall we go next?
Where in the world will I receive some fresh and hopeful wind on my queer immigrant arty woman’s face?
Which dance floors will I burn next?
Oh Gawd. I am there again.
Found in London underground 5 days after the referendum