Recovered from the age-old pilgrimage of Driving Home For Queermas yet?
From Edinburgh to London; Danielle Mustarde reflects on her festive roadtrip and why some queer folk may be more likely to make the journey
Driving home for Christmas. (My Rentalcar was a little more modern than this)
2019? Is it already that time of the decade?
It seems to be a universal phenomena for all those aged 25+ that suddenly, Christmas and New Years simultaneously come around and pass us by in the same time that it takes your nieces and nephews to rip open each of their 2,467 presents – approximately 12 seconds.
As the tinsel and baubles are packed away until next year and we all mentally prepare ourselves for the first full week of work of the year, I decided to muse over a journey many of us make over the festive period – Driving Home For Queermas.
And so begins the first leg of my #DrivingHomeForQueermas road trip 🌈 🎄✨ First, it’s #Edinburgh to #Carlisle to meet an old friend and her lovely little bab, Marnie ♥️ (after a bloody lovely couple of days here in #Scotland) #merryqueermas #roadtrip #rentalcars #allez pic.twitter.com/6lITCkMpQv— Danielle McMustarde 🍂 (@daniellejournal) 23 December 2018
Of course, this pilgrimage doesn't apply to everyone – but judging by the amount of people who were quite literally stuffed into the carriage of my train from London to Edinburgh on the 21 December, there's a lot of us who make the tinsel-tastic trip to our roots – perhaps particularly those who are LGBTQI+.
As we know all too well, sadly, not everyone's friends and families are accepting of non-heteronormative relationships and identities, however here in the UK things are improving.
The British Social Attitudes Survey found that attitudes to same-sex relationships have improved in recent years, with 64% in 2016 saying that they are "not at all wrong", up from 47% in 2012.
❄️ First stop #Carlisle to meet this lovely little human for the first time ♥️ Canny catch ups and an all important lunch stop. Next? It’s #Newcastle... 🎄 #drivinghomeforqueermas #rentalcars pic.twitter.com/H0U7ZLYppk— Danielle McMustarde 🍂 (@daniellejournal) 23 December 2018
For those of us who are LGBTQI+ and do have the support of our families, the long drive home for Christmas may be something many of us have in common – after all, us gays are still making our way to "The Big City".
The July 2017 National LGBT Survey found that lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents in the UK were most likely to be resident in London (guilty as charged) where a whopping 19% of respondents lived (with the south east coming in as a close second at 15%).
This confirmed similar estimates by the Office For National Statistics (ONS) that showed London as having the highest proportion of LGB people in the UK.
A bloody lovely couple of days in #Newcastle for Christmas Eve (and Eve Eve) now finishing up #ChristmasDay2018 in the offish hometown of Ye Olde #Durham 🎄✨ So. Full. ...but still managed a tiny disco in the kitchen with the nephew bab 💃🏼 #DrivingHomeForQueermas #rentalcars ♥️ pic.twitter.com/mM29pVx6ur— Danielle McMustarde 🍂 (@daniellejournal) 25 December 2018
The reason? According to the National LGBT Survey, "some respondents described feeling safer moving to large cities with a significant LGBT population, like London, Brighton and Manchester."
On a personal level, I certainly feel a lot more at ease being publicly affectionate with (that's snogging) my girlfriend here in London than I would if we were walking through one of the middle-of-nowhere-type villages in the north east of England where I grew up.*
*Though I usually snog her anyway in a small, personal protest.
The penultimate stop on my #DrivingHomeForQueermas road trip 🎄✨ The lovely (middle-of-nowhere-shaped) #Weardale in the north east of England. She’s pretty, eh? 🌿 #rentalcars #homefortheholidays pic.twitter.com/FRPPExsbCN— Danielle McMustarde 🍂 (@daniellejournal) 27 December 2018
Still, at the time of year when Mx Santa Claus is preparing to sleigh all day, many of us return to some faraway nook of this small island that we call home and, if you're lucky, you might even have come out of the other side unscathed.
I started my journey with a bunch of lovely friends in Edinburgh before picking up a rental car and "popping" to Carlisle to have lunch with an old friend and her downright adorable daughter.
After that, it was a swift boost east to Newcastle upon Tyne to spend Christmas Eve with the pa, before dropping south to Durham for Christmas and Boxing Day with aunties, uncles, cousins, sisters, nieces, nephews, the lot.
Next stop? The long drive back to London.
...and then I was back in Laaandaaan Taaan 🏙 What a canny #Christmas adventure – from #Edinburgh to #London! Still, it’s GOOD to be back in my (current) adopted city. She’s starting to feel more and more like home... Bring on 2019, people ✨ #DrivingHomeForQueermas #NewYear2019 pic.twitter.com/LnzSdP9p30— Danielle McMustarde 🍂 (@daniellejournal) 28 December 2018
Though it was short and sweet, for the most part it was dead canny (that's "really lovely" in southern English) and I count myself very lucky to have had those four wheels which meant I could in fact #DriveHomeForQueermas.
As it appears many LGBTQI+ folk still are, I'm happy to be living in The Big City but a December-shaped journey home is one I've come to realise I actually really look forward to, warts and all.
For now though, it's time to look forward to 2019. So, from that same big city, a happy new year from DIVA HQ – wherever in the world you're celebrating the beginning of 20biteen ✨
Danielle was kindly provided her rental car by rentalcars.com.
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