‘It’s My Normal’ Scarlet Ladies LGBTQ Panel.

A few weeks ago (yes, this post is very late) I attended the very delightful 23 Paul Street for yet another evening of Scarlet magic. After being so kindly invited to their Blogger Social back in October, I immediately knew which official Scarlet Ladies event I wanted to drop in on first.

I remember the first time I walked up Paul Street in London, thinking ‘is everyone going to know that I’m about to walk into a gentlemen’s club?’ This time was no different. As rad as a place 23 is, it still felt incredibly risqué to be approaching the infamous house of tease, even if my intentions were innocent. Still, I was very excited to be swallowed up by the gorgeous interiors, and hearing some equally gorgeous women speak about very important matters.

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I walked into the waiting room, greeted with a glass of bubbles, and was met with a wave of chatter as members and guests alike mingled and laughed together. Once we were taken through to the next seductively lit room to get ready for the panel, I realised: it’s no irony that the entrance of Scarlet Ladies HQ is hidden behind a bookcase – the fountain of knowledge that can be found within the walls is palpable.

The lovely ladies on the panel all hailed from different backgrounds, with different lifestyles, and all had unique takes on what ‘normal’ means when you’re on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Fellow blogger Elly, the #ITalkSex campaigner who is finally exploring her true self after finding the courage to leave an abusive relationship. The amazing Keyza Rose, activist, director of BlackOutLDN and Head of Media of UK Black Pride (among many other feats), who’s in a lesbian relationship. The lovely Lisa (who I unfortunately I do not have online credentials for) who is polyamorous. And, of course, the host for the evening, kink queen Alyssa Black, who is the Trans Officer for Support U and LGBT Officer for Reading Labour, dispells myths about trans, while also having a side hustle in the tech industry. My new motto in life is now: “we have the same number of hours in the day as Beyoncé and Alyssa Black.”

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Because all of these ladies have a rich plethora of life experiences between them, the conversation flowed naturally and continuously. I don’t make a habit of frequenting many panels, but the intimate atmosphere of the cosy room and the relaxed nature of the ladies didn’t make it feel like a panel at all. More like we were all just having a mass sleepover and talking about everything and nothing that mattered. From silly questions (“who’s the man in the relationship?”) to vulnerable sharing moments to explaining what exactly a ‘dental dam’ was, no topic went uncovered.

All ladies had something to bring to the table that never really crossed my mind before. Like how despite it being quite an open and welcoming place, there is still a great deal of racism in the LGBT community, and how there are still very few schools teaching LGBTQ-inclusive education. And, no matter how far we’ve come with equality in recent years, Trans rights are, unfortunately, still leaps behind gay, lesbian and bisexual rights. We can celebrate all we want that Australia have recently accepted marriage equality — and we should! — but there are still so many parts of the world where transgender people can’t even step foot.

Kayza and Elly’s perspectives about having family from different cultures (Jamaica and Brazil, respectively) was also particularly intriguing. Kayza spoke about how even after mothering two sons and trying to be ‘normal’, she couldn’t hide who she was. She spoke about how her mother broke down at the news of her coming out, and how her grandparents in Jamaica still ask her when she is going to settle down with a nice man. Because after all, Jamaica is still dubbed as one of the most homophobic countries in the world due to the high levels of hate crimes against LGBTQ people. Elly expressed the same concern about her Brazillian relatives. Though the country voted in favour of marriage equality as recently as 2013, there are still many areas of Brazil where LGBT people and their lifestyle are frowned upon, which is why Elly fears about officially coming out to her relatives out there, even though her mother, who lives with her in London, has come to be very accepting.

We believe that it’s important to take the time to understand and listen to ourselves as women, in order to live authentically in every aspect of our lives.

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It really is a nod to the Scarlet Ladies community that they attract so many diverse and intelligent women, who speak with kindness and humour and curiosity. Founders Jannette and Sarah have created an absolute safe space where every woman can both teach and learn from one another in order to live as authentically as possible. I love their agenda of destigmatising the taboo that is female sexuality — no matter how we like it or who we like it with — in order to encourage us to grow in confidence and love ourselves. Looking around the room that night at the shadowed faces of the eager audience, I could see the sparkle in every woman’s eye. The sparkle that could only signify that they were each growing closer to living bolder by staying curious, asking more questions and speaking out.

Basically, I had a blast. And I was in awe of everyone — not just the panel and the lovely founders, but this community of women who all kick ass in their own way (me included… kinda, maybe, I hope).

So if you are in the London area, and happen to be free on a Tuesday night, do keep an eye on the Scarlet Ladies website to see what events they have on, from panels to speakers or even an Open House, where you can look into getting more from the SL community. I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

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