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“a bit like maxine”


Of course on finally stammering out the words to my mum that I thought I might be “a bit like Maxine” I thought my message was clear. Maxine had come out as a lesbian to the whole family and was openly in a relationship with another woman.

My mum’s reaction though, was: “oh don’t be so silly.”

After all that? After weeks, months of planning when and how I was going to tell her, my mum’s sole retort is “don’t be so silly??” After countless weekends of returning to my new girlfriend with my tail between my legs and the admission that I hadn’t come out again. That there just hadn’t been the right moment. That she wouldn’t be coming to Sunday lunch anytime soon. That was all the riposte I got? “Oh, don’t be so silly.”?

Then I realised why.

Maxine was also a heroin addict.

I wouldn’t usually mention it. It’s long time ago now. Ten years ago to be exact. I know this because I just spent the day with Maxine, with her lovely girlfriend and with my auntie, celebrating the anniversary of the day that Maxine became sober. The day she became clean. The day, in her words, she “chose freedom and chose life.” Ten years ago. I was living in Camden at the time and we joked about the fact that last time we spent time together in London is when I visited her in prison.

“Yeah, and you didn’t even bring me any drugs,” she complained. I wasn’t even allowed to give her a pen or the mix tape i’d prepared for her incase I’d secreted some narcotic or other inside. Not a great time. But ten years later and here she was. Looking healthy and glowing and happier than ever. When I asked her what her secret was she told me that she finally decided to accept herself and love herself and that meant she didn’t need the drugs any more. She didn’t need to be someone else. She could just be herself.

Like I said. I wouldn’t usually mention it. It’s private. But I know Maxine won’t mind (from her posts on facebook) because she is a survivor. And it also gives me the chance to mention how proud I am of her. What an inspiration she is. A brave, beautiful, strong and passionate woman with a soft, kind heart and a nerve of steel.

And while I joke and make futile attempts to popularise the euphemism “a bit like Maxine” to suggest that someone may be a lesbian, I would be proud and delighted to be, to any degree and under any classification, just a teeny “bit like Maxine”.


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