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REVIEW: The Big Vegan Cheese Making Kit

REVIEW: The Big Vegan Cheese Making Kit




"But I can't give up cheese"

This is one of the most common excuses you hear from vegetarians or meat-eaters who would like to be vegan but just...say they can't. I do sympathise, to an extent, as I was once a major cheese lover. In fact, I didn't make the full switch to veganism until Violife came onto the health food shelves. But since then many other brands have also launched new cheeses, some very similar to the dairy versions.

But if the (many) shop versions aren't doing it for you, there is another option: making your own.

A while ago the makers of the Big Vegan Cheese Making Kit* got in contact asking if I'd like to try their product. Obviously, I said yes. Between being a vegan who does miss cheese and someone who loves to experiment in the kitchen, this sounded up my street.

The kit comes with six cheese recipes - and another six recipes showing you how to use the cheese in regular dishes! The six kinds of cheese this kit can make are mozzarella, ricotta, mascarpone, halloumi, feta and parmesan. The kit also includes a muslin cloth, a thermometer, and some of the ingredients you'll need: Anhydrous Citric Acid, Organic Sea Salt, Agar Powder, Tapioca, Nutritional Yeast, Dried Basil, Dried Paprika, Lemon pepper. All the cheeses are nut-based, and you will have to buy the cashews and macadamia nuts yourself (along with plant milk).



The cheeses themselves are simple enough to make, but you do need to be above intermediate in the kitchen and own a powerful blender. You also need to set time aside because you will need to soak the nuts overnight to soften them (or quickly boil them in hot water, that does the trick).



Out of all the cheeses, my favourite was the feta. In fact, when I crumbled the feta into my Greek Salad (a recipe that came with the pack) it tasted the same (and I used to love a Greek Salad!). It's probably because feta has a dry, savoury taste anyway so this nut-based recipe worked well as a substitute.

The parmesan was a close second, as it was very believable.



I also liked the mascarpone and ricotta recipes but (there's a but here) I can't remember eating the dairy versions. So I'm the wrong person to ask.



I also enjoyed the Halloumi. But (big but here) it didn't resemble dairy-based halloumi, as it lacked the squeakiness. Saying that it was still delicious - but in its own way.



The only cheese I didn't enjoy was the mozzarella. Not only did it not really resemble mozzarella but it also didn't really work as its own unique thing.

Now, I love cooking and experimenting with tricky recipes but the negative of this kit is that it was just a bit of a fuss. I have made each recipe only once and it is a bit of a novelty. And there are more and more pre-made cheeses coming out that are very believable and tasty. In fact, the only time I'd whip out this kit in future is if I was wanting to show off at a dinner party or was making something for someone with allergies where I wanted to be really sure there were no harmful ingredients.

Do I recommend this kit? It depends. You need to really love cooking. And have a bit of time on your hands. Maybe if you're retired, or you have a partner who you split up the household chores with (someone marry me and take on all the cleaning, and I'll cook every meal for you for the rest of your life). As mentioned, it might also be a good shout for people with allergies who really want to be sure their cheeses have no trace of dairy. As a vegan, I think there are some really good cheeses on the market now so I'd only go for this kit if you really don't like anything store-bought and like to know what's in your food.
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I watched all the Friday the 13th films and here are my thoughts

I watched all the Friday the 13th films and here are my thoughts



I love horror films - specifically, slasher films. As much as I have a place in my heart for creepy girls climbing out of a television or, uh, experimenting with a crucifix, it's the slashers that have my lifelong love.

Primarily, it's the slashers that were created between the mid-90s into the early 2000s that I love the most. With Scream being not only my favourite horror franchise - but just one of my favourite franchises, period. But I know that those films wouldn't exist without the golden oldies.

But I've not watched that many of the old slasher films, because I'm a bad horror fan. I've seen about half of the Halloween series (but let's be real: that franchise got wildly out of control), a few of the Nightmare on Elm Street films and only half of Psycho because I didn't actually like it. Until very recently, I had only seen two Friday the 13th films (the first one and Freddy VS Jason). That changed when I randomly stumbled upon the entire Friday the 13th series on NOW TV. So if you've not seen me recently and thought I had died, that is actually what I was up.

My perception of Friday the 13th before this was...meh. I had seen the original and Freddy VS Jason and had never quite taken to Jason. Personally, I prefer my villains to have more complexity, with a backstory, and the ability to talk. So I never gravitated towards the man-child that is Jason.

But, I am a big horror fan. And as a big horror fan I have still always appreciated that Friday the 13th was one of the earliest slasher films created and that, without it, many of my favourite films would not exist. Many of the horror tropes used today were developed from Halloween and Friday the 13th.

Here's the thing though: despite its commercial success, critics hated it. And fair enough. From a critical and artistic standpoint, it's a pile of shite. Even Betsy Palmer, who played Pamela Vorhees, didn't expect it to be a hit and only took the job because she needed money for a new car! It's not a good film, in the technical sense. But what people who graduate from film school don't always understand: what is good from an academic or professional standpoint isn't always what audiences want.

And that's where marketing comes in. Or, more accurately, understanding supply and demand. The creators of Friday the 13th admit that they wanted to create something similar to Halloween (largely regarded as the film that created the slasher genre). Audiences wanted more and the creators saw the gap in the market; there was the demand but not supply. A large part of Friday the 13th success was the right time and the right place.

When talking about slasher films, especially the older ones, the book Men, Women and Chainsaws will come up. I actually own this book and read it several a years ago. And in it is the answer to why audiences loved the low-budget slashers of the 80s: they were simple, accessible, and lacked pretentious art school vibes. So pretty much: the very reason film experts hated them was the same reason mainstream audiences loved them. The book also calls Silence of the Lambs a "slasher film for graduate students" and I've always lol'd at that. I love the Silence of the Lambs film (it's actually a favourite) but let's not pretend that Hannibal Lector isn't a pretentious snob.

Regardless, Jason became a horror icon. Which is strange to anyone who has seen the Friday the 13th series and/or the opening sequence of Scream:




Maybe I love Scream so much because I don't mind spoilers.

Jason didn't actually show up until the sequel, which I knew because of my aforementioned love of Scream. But what did surprise me while watching the series is that (spoiler alert) he doesn't get his iconic hockey mask until the third film. And even then it's not until a good chunk of the way through the film. All that iconic imagery that I had been familiar with since my teenage years showed up later in the franchise.




But I love this scene. Not just because he obtains his mask, but also because of the nonchalant way he waddles back to the house.

And then he uses the hockey mask to cover his disfigured face for the rest of the franchise.

Speaking of the entire franchise...do you want to know which of the films I actually liked?

The one that stood out for me, and a lot of horror fans, is the 6th film: Jason Lives. Yes, it's very random that six films in they created something that received some positive reviews from critics. It's slightly humorous in a passive way, the kills are gory, and there is more characterisation. While it was released in 1986, it's humour and meta dialogue make it look like a film that could have been made in the late 90s in a post-Scream world. And I love Scream. Scream in the best.

It's also the film where Jason is resurrected and would remain immortal and powerful for the rest of the franchise.

 

Who doesn't love watching a bunch of annoying company execs being killed in the woods?

The other film I really liked, and I might get some flack about, is Jason X. Some fans really hate this film. Like, really hate it. But I like it. It's Jason in space which is a ridiculous idea, but the film knows that it's ridiculous so, in my opinion, they get away with it. And Jason gets a make-over and becomes futuristic Uber Jason. Okay, I know that's probably why people don't like it. As mentioned, slasher flicks started out as simple films without anything too out there. So sending Jason ino space and having him become half-robot was going to anger the purists. But,I.do.not.care. I like this film. It's silly.

Sadly, Uber Jason was only seen in this film and Freddy VS Jason decided to old old-school Jason.



And while Jason Takes Manhattan is probably the worst film in the franchise because HE SPENDS MOST OF IT KILLING PEOPLE ON A BOAT that one scene where we see Jason standing in Times Square was incredible. And I just love that people don't bat an eyelid because...New York. That city sees dressed up weirdos all the time.


One of the main criticisms you hear about the Friday the 13th films is WHY SO MANY BOOBS! The whole franchise has a lot of naked chicks, and this has been up for academic and feminist critique. There's a horror trope about "sluts dying first" that really needs to get in the bin (and has done so, to an extent). But the Friday the 13th series is probably one of the boobiest horror franchises out there.

My opinion: the critique on the naked chics being mostly young, white, conventionally attractive, thin women is valid. When you're going to have sexualised characters, have a bit of variety. But also: stop being prudes. It's not just about the "male gaze". I'm a queer woman and I'm not going to pretend I didn't enjoy the boobs. Boobs are nice. And I like hot naked chics as much as any straight dude.

Though race: the third film has black characters...but they are gangstas. Okay then. I was hoping for a tiny bit of diversity. Thanks to Scream 2 we know that horror is a white-centric genre:



You tell them, Jada Pinkett Smith!

My main bug bearer about Friday the 13th is small, and pedantic. I was wondering how big Crystal Lake actually is? And how many houses can you fit around one fucking lake? And how did Jason hideout in the woods that long with no one finding him? And in the ninth film, there's a Vorhees Estate that fell into the hands of a random half-sister? Half-sister I can believe but this massive mansion? Why did Jason live in the woods when there was a mansion that was rightfully his? Blah blah blah artistic license blah blah blah.

Would I say that the Friday the 13th franchise is going to become a personal favourite? No. But I did enjoy my binge, even if it was only from an I'm a Horror Fan and Really Enjoy Watching All the Horror Movies Because I Just Love Horror That Much sort of way. For me, my binge was a massive geek sesh.

P.S. you can buy a Camp Crystal Lake candle.


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5 things that helped me accept that I am bisexual and come out the closet

5 things that helped me accept that I am bisexual and come out the closet



A flashback to a selfie taken around about the time I came out. My face says everything about how I was feeling at that point in my life. 

Last week I wrote a long, rambly 4000+ word post about my decision to come out as bisexual two years ago, and what life has been like since.

In that post, I shared that my decision to come out was directly related to my decision to end some questionable platonic relationships. While this was the critical moment that pushed me over the edge, it wasn't the only thing that had happened in recent years that would get me closer to accepting what I had known since high school. Here are five other things that helped me accept who I really was, and result in me coming out of the closet!

1. Open-bisexual public figures

While I was growing up, there weren't any bisexual public figures to look up to. At least not any who were explicitly bisexual. I've known for decades that Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore are bisexual - but their sexuality is not well publicised.

Fast forward to the last few years and there are two prominent bisexuals in the media who everyone knows are bisexual: Kristen Stewart and Cara Delvigne. I mean, sorry if this is how you found out but anyone who follows celebrity gossip even slightly knows that these two ladies love people of any gender.

Bi-erasure is still a problem. Cynthia Nixon is one of the most prominent examples. She's been married to a woman for 11 years and has to correct people who assume she is gay. I mean, she was with a man for 15 years (which was during her Sex & The City fame) that you think would be a giveaway - but nah! I've even had to personally correct someone on Cynthia Nixon's sexuality. 

People, not even public figures, should never feel pressurised to be loud about their sexuality if they don't want to be. And they shouldn't really have to, in an ideal world anyway. But having celebrities who are loudly bisexual was a turning point for me.

2. LGBT+ people coming out in later age

I came out a month before my 27th birthday. And part of my fear was people asking me why it took me so long - or, god forbid, using it as a reason to not believe me. Any, yes, I was asked by people why it took me so long. Not all of us get it done the first day of university, okay?

In 2015, YouTube sensation Ingrid Nilsen came out as gay at the age of 26. Granted this was two years before I would eventually come out myself but it did serve as a small nudge that it's okay to come out in your late 20s.

A slightly more low-key coming out story was from local Glasgow blogger Sophie. Sophie is a friend these days, but at the time they were no more than someone I followed on Twitter. But seeing someone who was my age publicly document their coming out story was the second most important thing that helped me accept myself, only losing out to ending shitty friendships.

I came out of the closet a year after Sophie did, and their story was an important part of mine. Sophie sharing their story helped me rattle on the closet doors while ending ugly friendships was the thing that made the doors throw open. If I was to write a book about my life as a bisexual - from the moment I knew to the present-day - Sophie's influence would have a dedicated chapter.

And that's why I'm a fan of people sharing my own story. Sophie isn't a public figure. They were a random person on Twitter, albeit one that I would consider a friend now. In the past week since publishing my anniversary blog, I've had two bisexuals (one closeted) come into my DMs thanking me for putting into words what they've struggled to say. You never know who your story could help.

3. Online dating

I would like to give a friendly shout out to my good friend Tinder (and OkCupid) for making it easier to chat to girls when I still wasn't ready to come out publicly. How did queer people meet people back in the day? Especially those of us who don't look queer? And weren't confident enough to be out? Heck, I'm still rubbish at chatting up potentially queer girls in the real world.

4. Better bisexual characters

Again, growing up there weren't many bisexual characters in tv and films. Sure, there were characters who experimented or randomly came out as gay after having a healthy hetero-relationship (looking at you Willow Rosenburg). But those characters typically enforced negative bisexual stereotypes.

But a few years ago I got sucked into the Arrowverse and the bisexual character of Sara Lance. For the first time, I witnessed a bisexual character portrayed really well. She doesn't have a long-term partner on the show, so we see her date people of multiple genders - and she never "picks a side". And her sexuality is very rarely mentioned specifically - aside from an evil character here and there - it's just there. 

Since coming out I've dipped my toes into Riverdale, which boasts the bisexual characters Cheryl and Toni.

And while I haven't watched it, I've heard that Emmerdale of all things has a bisexual character now.

That's why I firmly believe in representation. Because when people can see themselves in things, it lifts them up.

5. My self-confidence

In last week's post, I shared that I struggled with self-confidence and anxiety while I was in the closet. But truthfully, my anxiety and my sexuality is a bit of a chicken-and-egg theory - which one came first? Because in the years prior to coming out my confidence had grown bit by bit. Yes, it grew exponentially the day I came out. But some of the work I did on growing my confidence since high school did lay the groundwork for me having the confidence to eventually come out.

And one thing that definitely did not help me get there sooner: 

People speculating about my sexuality

Despite being femme presenting and not obviously queer, I am more than aware that my sexuality was speculated about more than once. And I know the people who did so had their heart in the correct place, but it actually made me find a dark place at the back of the closet where no one would ever find me. The idea that people knew terrified me. Even on the odd occasion where I was specifically asked I laughed and denied it.

I won't name the family member specifically, in case I have the story wrong. But there is an older family member who has acted as if they have known since my mid-teens, but never directly asked. They did, however, start showing more of an interest in LGBTQ+ issues and stopped teasing me about boys. And that was the way to do it. Allowing me to know that they knew, they loved me regardless and would be there for me when I was ready.

Coming out is a personal choice that should be made by the person. And one of the best ways to be an ally is to give them the space to figure it out in their own time.

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Two years.

Two years.


October is a bit of a funny month for me. It's home to a few major anniversaries and memories - some of which I'd like to forget. My childhood dog was put down in October, I've been dumped (twice!) in October, I was burgled, I've been made redundant, and (a good one this time) it's the month I moved to Glasgow. While I wouldn't consider myself to be a particularly paranoid person, I do feel like waving sage around my house when October comes around each year.

But there's another anniversary that makes me incredibly emotional - and in a good way.

And that's my outiversary.

While I might be unapologetically bisexual now: it was only two years ago, a month before my 27th birthday, that I stood in my kitchen one Friday night and decided I was done.

Last year, on #BiVisibilityDay, I wrote a blog post explaining why it took me so long to come out and I'm not planning to re-hash the entire story. What I'm going to focus on in this post is the coming out itself and how my life has changed since that night.

My coming out wasn't entirely out the blue and was a progression (or a reaction!) to another major decision. Somewhere in late summer 2017, a memory came up on my Facebook from many years ago. In the photo, were me and a frenemy who had been in my life since 2009. The person in question is a highly problematic individual and when I looked at the photo, I felt something switch in me. My awkward and shy face. Their creepy fucking smile. The timestamp that reminded me that I had put up with their shit for far too long.

While I had tried to distance myself a few times in the past, I had always ultimately chickened out. But something about the painfully awkward facial expression of my 19-year-old self made me snap. This time I was walking away from that person for good and anyone who enabled them.

Fast forward a few months later and I'm in my kitchen just minutes away from the moment where I'd snap about my sexuality.

You see, the weekend I came out was the same weekend as their birthday party. I wasn't going. I had been chased to go by mutual friends and I hadn't caved. I was really walking away. 

And within the adrenaline of all this, I found the strength to do something else: that night, I became an openly bisexual woman. The moment was so poignant to me that I remember that I was looking in my fridge when I made the decision. There's a running joke with my friends that I came out of the fridge rather than the closet.

My coming out was subtle and many people probably missed it. That night all I did was change my sexual orientation on my dating apps. And I only began to actually tell people when I began meeting girls off of Tinder. It would still take me another year to become the proudly in-your-face-bisexual that I am today.

The next four months of my life were some of the most emotional of my life. This is the time period where I began to come out socially. I mean, I count my outiversary as that moment in my kitchen but there was still some work to be done. I began dropping it into blog posts (the first time is here) and then told people as I began to go on dates. If you're one of the friends who I came out to directly (rather than just finding out from a blog post) I can remember exactly how it was done. Maybe you don't. But I remember where I was when I did it, and how the conversation got to that point. Those moments have never left me.

I also began seeing girls I knew on dating apps, so I guess the news was going to get out.

And while I'm at home with my story now there are still those moments where I look back - with an actual tear in my eye - and think: holy fuck I actually did it. 

For those of you who have never had to come out, the emotion I feel around this anniversary might be hard to understand.

But the impact coming out has had on my emotional and mental health has been profound. While, yeah, coming out might seem no more than a moment where I can go "woohoo, I get to date girls now" it was a lot more than that. In the year that followed that night, I felt like I was being reborn.

If you've known me for more than two years, you might recall how awkward a human I used to be. I never went to the GP so I'm hesitant to use the term and self-diagnose, but my younger self very likely suffered from social anxiety. The link between LGBTQ+ individuals and mental health problems are well documented. And for me, that manifested in struggling to connect with people, overthinking absolutely everything, being scared people were judging me for the tiniest of things, and struggling to make chit chat. I also suffered from arachnophobia (which, no, not officially diagnosed either but on more than one occasion I was left sobbing uncontrollably because a spider was in the house). I'm not a psychiatrist and have no idea if this medically adds up: but sometimes I think spiders were the physical manifestation of my anxiety. Either way, I don't have the phobia now (just a strong dislike).

Very recently I read Brave New Girl by Chloe Brotheridge. Chloe is a therapist who specialises in anxiety disorders and there was one tidbit in this incredible book that hit me right in the sweet spot: carrying a massive secret around can sometimes be the root cause of anxiety.

Oh.

A lot makes sense now.

The thing is: after coming out I found confidence for the first time in my life. I began to move around the world with more ease, rather than shuffling around like I had done before. I looked people in the eye when they spoke to me. I could talk back if I needed to. I felt less weird having serious conversations. I could actually connect with people on a deep, emotional level.

Having the confidence to be honest about who I found attractive opened up the door for me to become honest about who I was in every sense of the word. I ditched hobbies that I only had a passive interest in and focused on my passions instead. My clothing choices became more consistent. I became confidently vegan rather than awkwardly pretending I wasn't hungry. I've also shared publicly that I would consider an open relationship. I applied to a university course last year that would have resulted in a change of career direction. I post things online that I know my family won't like, but I know now that I don't live for them.

I've become the most honest version of myself in every way possible. And, fuck, does it feel good.

And the thing is? Nothing bad came from coming out. All those years I was scared to be myself because I felt like I was too nerdy, too bisexual, too introverted, too awkward, or too vegan. Truth is: the only people I lost were the people I chose to walk away from in the summer of 2017. In the two years since I've come out, I've developed - for the first time in my life - a proper support system. Not just people to hang out with or people I talk to in a superficial way. But deep, emotional, and authentic relationships.

High school me would think you were lying if she was to be told that the 28-year-old version of her would say these words but...

....I'm popular now?

People like the real me. They really like her. Some people actually love her.

One of my friends Abbey - who I met about eight months after I came out of the fridge - told me that her favourite thing about me is that "Morag is just so Morag". I almost cried when she told me this as less than a year before I met her I was only just beginning to embrace the honest version of myself.

I've also received DMs from people thanking me for how open I am. And that shit always makes me cry happy tears. I want to hug the younger version of me and everyone who feels they have to hide from the world for something so trivial.

Coming out of the closet also helped clear up another issue that had followed me around for years: my inability to commit to someone romantically. I've only had two official relationships in my life, but these were both when I was a lot younger. I have spent the bulk of my twenties single. Which has been fine, as being single is not a bad thing. However, one reason I was hesitant to commit to anyone was that I wasn't being honest about who I was attracted to. Yes, I could have just married a man because, duh, I have always been genuinely attracted to those creatures. But I couldn't do so while knowing that I hadn't given myself to full opportunity to date all the genders that I really wanted to before picking that one special person. There was that nagging thought "do I really want to end up with a man, or would I prefer a girl?". If I end up with a man now, I'll confidently know that it's just how things worked out.

A few months after coming out I started dating a girl in the late spring of 2018. It ended a few months after it began, and after we parted ways the idea of a serious romantic partner to whom I was committed to was no longer scary. I no longer felt like I would be missing out on something that I secretly craved. Bisexuals don't have to have slept or dated a person of every gender to be valid but, for me, I didn't want to go to my grave having not done so.

Since then I've been fine with the idea of romantic commitment. I've not found anyone, but I have given random suitors a real chance. Not long after things ended with that girl, I began to develop my first big crush on someone in years. It was a man, and the idea of committing to him didn't seem scary. I mean, it didn't work out in my favour but it was nice to have a big crush on someone without being scared to do something about it (new Morag wasn't scared to pursue and did speak up!)

I've also given some thought as to how I would like to identify. I love that language has evolved to include new identities that explicitly describe someone's sexual attraction. I've chosen bisexual mostly because its the mainstream term and you don't need to explain it to people. Though the word bisexual does come with stigma, because when you get technical (and pedantic) about it: it means attracted to two genders. I do not believe there are only two genders and I am attracted to people across the gender spectrum. But I wouldn't say I'm gender blind, which is why I've always rejected the term pansexual. But there is a power in reclaiming words that have negative connotations and I would love to see the meaning of the word bisexual shift to reflect the modern world. But sometimes I worry that this is my cis-privilege showing (call me out if I need it).

However, two other identities I feel comfortable with are polysexual and fluid. Polysexual means attracted to many genders, but not all. Which does more closely sum up how I feel. But I have had to explain what it means to people - even people on queer dating apps! And fluid means that someone's sexual orientation can shift. My attraction has always been fluid, and I have no "fixed point" on how attracted I am to different genders. Months can pass by where I feel monosexual, but then I shift back into the centre.

Coming out about my sexual attraction also created an environment where I began to explore my romantic attraction and attitude towards relationships in general. I wrote about it in-depth earlier this year. When I began dating a girl in spring 2018, it was the first time where there was a big conversation about what we were, rather than just making assumptions based on labels. We were romantically and sexually involved, but we agreed that we were not life partners and were free to date other people (but be honest about it). To be fair, I had mentioned in passing before coming out that I felt curious about polyamory and open relationships (me and my first ever boyfriend talked about it!). Since we parted ways a year ago, I have tried to make a habit of talking openly to any sexual and romantic companions on how we show up on each other's life. This chat always goes down better with queer people. Even bisexual men are in tune with the idea that it's not okay to assume what you are to someone (straight men are still very bad at assuming).

Dating as bisexual woman has had a few pitfalls. I'm now a prime target for those pesky unicorn hunters. And while threesomes are a very valid sexual fantasy, the way these couples go about wooing bisexual women is so...odd. So odd, in fact, that I have a half-written guide in my drafts about how to do it ethically!

And then there's the Gold Star Lesbians who would never touch a bisexual girl. In fact, the bulk of girls I've flirted with online have been bisexual (or something similar). Very rarely do I have gay women in my DMs.

But here's my personal favourite: straight dudes who I've matched with asking what my preference is. One, it's a very personal question to ask someone who is no more than a Tinder match. And two, it stinks of the myth that bisexuals can't help themselves and will ultimately cheat on you with someone of another gender so, hey, let's check that she's more into men than girls so that I can trust her. Okay, I don't know their reasoning behind asking that question, but that's how it feels to be asked. Also: my preference doesn't stick for long (this week alone I've switched my Tinder back and forth between men and women).

Near the tail end of 2018, one of the mutual friends with the aforementioned frenemy popped up in my Messenger Inbox. We'd remained friendly-ish but she ultimately acted as if she expected me to change my mind and come running back (probably because I had in the past). I was invited to her NYE party, where I knew that person would be. I declined. Right after the new year, she messaged me pleading saying that she missed me and that she would ditch this person if it meant getting me back.

Ultimately, I didn't take her back (but hear me out).

A lot had changed since that night in my kitchen. She didn't miss me. At least she didn't miss the real me. She missed the super obedient, shy, and non-confrontational version of me that I used to be. She missed a girl that was similar to me, but ultimately wasn't me. Not true me, anyway. And our friendship had always been wooden because of that.

But also, I knew from my days in the closet that she doesn't believe bisexuals are real. As in, I've heard her say that word for word. That's the thing with spending a chunk of your adult life in the closet: you know who the secret bigots are. And she was one. You don't need to be a brain scientist to make the connection between my decision to walk away from that particular group of people and my decision to come out.

And when I turned her down, she stayed friends with the person who was stood with me in that photo - despite knowing how badly they had behaved over the years. She was never going to walk away from that person because it would have been the morally right thing to do - she was only offering to walk away if it meant salvaging a friendship that lacked any real depth (hi if you're reading).

These days I am loud and proud about my sexuality. And I know that annoys some people. There are the flat-out bigots who just want everyone to marry someone of the "opposite" sex and make babies (they probably believe women should be in the kitchen too). Then there are the "I'm not against it but why do we need Pride" types.

Quite frankly: fuck you.

I spent my teenage years terrified that someone would catch on to the fact that I fancied a girl two years above me. I tried to fight it for most of my early twenties. It caused me to have social anxiety. I became frightened of my own feelings. I've missed out on pursuing girls who I liked in a mushy way because I didn't want to admit that I liked girls in a mushy way.

I was scared to love. And no one should be scared to love.

Coming out is my proudest achievement, but it shouldn't be. What kind of world are we living in that someone's proudest achievement is learning to love themselves in a world that still tells them not to? Or overcoming the gaslighting from a society that tells us that bisexuals don't really exist?

Coming out is bullshit and shouldn't be a thing. It's easier now to come out of the closet than it was a decade ago. But not everyone can live life freely. Even though I'm a millennial and don't belong to a generation fuelled with hatred, it still took me over a decade to come out. I also live in a safe enough country, but it still took me over a decade to come out. Yes, society's changing attitude helped me slowly get there - but ultimately it was letting go of the wrong people.

But despite coming out on the internet, there are still situations where I choose to stay quiet.

I'm lucky enough to be out at work. It's the travel industry, an industry that is typically dominated by women and a lot of the men that do work in it are LGBT+ themselves. I also work in digital marketing, which is hardly the most corporate occupation ever. But I do sometimes fear the day when I move on and have to come out all over again (or choose not to!).

But I have also discovered bi-erasure first hand. Very recently I met a new person who, when I mentioned I was going on a date, immediately used male pronouns. On this occasion, I was going on a date with a man but I wasn't sure if I wanted to randomly start a conversation saying "hey, on this occasion, it is a man I'm going on a date with but just so you know...".

And then there are the people who know fine well I'm bisexual but still seem to forget.

I have made the decision, however, not to explicitly come out to my family. Since I'm loud about it online, I know a lot of them must know. It's not a secret; they are allowed to know. Largely the reason I've never told them is that the topic has never arisen. When I came out to my friends, it was when I began going on dates with girls and non-binary people. I didn't say anything until there was something to tell them. But because I've never had the kind of relationship with my family where they'd know about random flings and Tinder dates, the natural opportunity has never come up. They only know when I'm dating someone if the person I'm dating becomes an official partner - and that's why I've ultimately made the decision to only explicitly say "I like girls" if I meet a girl I want to commit to on a serious level.

And I know there might be an element of "bi-privilege" to this but: I might still end up with a guy anyway, and I'd rather not put myself through an awkward conversation with family members about liking girls only to never bring one home.

Saying that I am very grateful for the family members who have liked posts on Instagram and Facebook that acknowledge my sexuality. That's all I'm looking for. I don't really feel like having an in-depth chat about my sex life with family members, thank you very much. I chose to come out in a natural way, and I'd prefer for it to be acknowledged in a natural way.

Would my life be different if I had come out sooner? Yeah, probably. But given I was surrounded by biphobic assholes for years, I was never safe to. And I stand by that. Words can be weapons and having friends who denied the existence of bisexual people caused me to doubt my own sense of self. I've not forgiven the people who made me feel like I had to hide the real me - and probably never will.

There is nothing wrong with not being out. We all have different stories and varying levels of safety. I'm not even sure if I would come out sooner if I could do my life again. All I care about is that I am out now and sharing my story loudly so that fewer people have to feel the way I did for over a decade. If just one person accepts themselves after reading this 4,000-word ramble then I consider the multiple re-writes to be worth it.

When writing this post I chose to not hold back. Part of me did almost remove certain anecdotes (mainly the parts where I discuss family and ex-friends) but I wanted it to be the real story of how coming out changed my life. Not a wishy-washy version of the story where I'm like "yeah, everything's great now and I'm not angry at all".

But all things aside, the last two years of my life have been the happiest and most peaceful of my life. I'm finally sitting right in my own skin and I'm no longer frightened of everything. And all because I did something as simple as admitting to myself that I could fall in love with someone regardless of their gender or sex.

That night in my kitchen I never imagined that coming out would lead to the level of happiness I now feel. The idea that finally accepting the very thing that I had tried to run from for over a decade was the very thing that would set me free still seemed too bizarre. I was scared really fucking scared, but it turned out I had nothing to be scared about. Because that night was the night my life really began.

Anniversaries are always special, no matter what they celebrate or mourn. But some just hold a larger significance.

And for me, the most special anniversary of all is the one where I took a deep breath and gave myself permission to love. Not just permission to love people of all genders, but permission to love myself in all my bisexual reality.

13th October 2017.
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morag | mo adore
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A Batgirl fangirl's guide to starting a comic book collection

A Batgirl fangirl's guide to starting a comic book collection




Society might tell you that comics are for children and emotionally stunted men who live in their mums' basements.

I am neither a child nor an emotionally stunted man, but I love comics. In fact, I collect Batgirl comics and it's one of my life goals to collect every single issue. Including the variant covers. I'm saving to buy my own flat right now and when I finally do have my own place I intend to display my collection in a way so that everyone who visits will be graced with Barbara Gordon's amazing wit and intellect. 

Maybe I am a nerd who needs to get out more. 

But if you thought this was a childhood obsession that got a bit out of hand once I was a grown-up with my own income, you would be wrong. I started reading comics at the age of 24. 

Yes, at the age of 24 I randomly decided that I wanted to become a comic reader. I didn't know specifically at that point that I'd end up collecting Batgirl comics but something about reading comics spoke to me. I had always been obsessed with pop culture and over the years began to gravitate towards superhero films and comics were a natural progression.

But it took me a long time to find out what comics appealed to me, and that I wanted to pursue a Batgirl collection. There are a lot of comic genres and creators out there, and even if you have a rough idea of what you want to read you still have to find out what issues to start on and where to buy said issues.

I have girls in my DMs every now and then asking for my advice on this very topic because it can be confusing knowing where to start. And a lot of the guides out there are male-centric. So I've pulled together my own guide to help anyone who might be struggling to find a starting point.

Know your comic book terms


First things first, know the lingo. Here's a fantastic reference sheet for you.


Start with graphic novels


Step away from the single issues! I only recommend you start collecting single issues when you've settled on a character or universe that you absolutely love (like me and Batgirl). Graphic novels are a great way to read a whole story run in one go and get to know different characters, universes, and locations. Many graphic novels are actually single issue comics brought together once a whole run has finished publication - it's like waiting to binge the entire box set rather than watching something episode by episode.

If it's DC you're looking to get into Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween, Batman: A Death in the Family, and Batman: The Killing Joke are generally considered the best of the best.

Look into the comics of your favourite film and TV shows


While I might be a big DC fangirl now, when I entered the world of comics I kept an open mind between DC and Marvel. I loved Rogue from X-Men and purchased a few graphic novels that focused on her, but then discovered that film Rogue and comic Rogue were very different. Batgirl hasn't been in that many film adaptations so I wasn't prepared for the idea that I'd fall in love with the character. But I've always loved Poison Ivy in the films, and I love her just as much in the comics.

While you might end up surprised by the differences between the source material and the Hollywood reincarnations, I'd still recommend picking up a graphic novel that focuses on a character that you're already familiar with.

Other films and TV shows that have comics as part of the shared universe includes Buffy, Transformers, Star Wars, Riverdale, Sabrina, and The Walking Dead.


Find characters that are similar to you


When I began dipping my toes into Marvel and DC I focused on the female characters. It's natural to favour characters who are similar to you and I know my fondness of Barabara Gordon is because I see parts of her in myself.

Here's a mini-guide the main DC ladies:
Poison Ivy - eco-warrior, sexy, redhead, scientist
Harley Quinn - giggly, gymnast, hyper
Catwoman - sexy, morally ambiguous
Batwoman - lesbian (since 2006 anyway) and strong as hell
Wonder Woman - a bit self-righteous, beautiful, strong
Black Canary - feisty but heart in the right place, and a rock chick

You don't need to start at Issue #1


Some comics and characters have been around for decades, so a few re-boots have been in order. Some characters have managed to die several times, then the whole thing is re-booted and they're back. Or they get paralysed, are in a wheelchair for years and become the brains of the organisation. Then the comic gets re-booted and they can walk again with no explanation. Just saying.

In the comic book world, series are called "runs" and what is more important is that you start at the beginning of run - but it doesn't matter which run that is. Here's a list of the 100 best runs to start your imagination.

Feel free to Wikipedia the character's backstory


I mean, if you insist on reading all of DC Comics from day one, be my guest. But if you start somewhere in the present day you can stop by Wikipedia to read up at some of the character canons.

Hobby Lark is also a great resource for filling in the blanks. As is Comicstorian.

Know which superheroes cross-over with each other


Even though X-Men comics and the Avengers are both Marvel, you won't find much cross over. In the world of DC, Batgirl is regularly joined by Black Canary, Dick Grayson, and Batman - but you probably won't find The Flash or Green Lantern popping up too often.

DC's publications, post-New 52 at least, are split up into the following 7 categories.

  • Justice League
  • Batman
  • Superman
  • Green Lantern
  • Young Justice
  • The Edge
  • The Dark

Personally, it's the Justice League and Batman categories that I read. Batman tends to focus on characters that are in the Bat-family (Batgirl, Robin, Alfred, etc ), their nemesis (Joker, Penguin etc) and other characters who canonically live in Gotham (e.g. Detective Jim Gordon). While The Justice League is made up of the big-name heroes who have shown up in the films, such as Aquaman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.

Comic cons are great for picking up back issues


When you've read a few graphic novels and have decided on the characters and story arcs you'd like to focus on, then I recommend attending a comic fair or con. Generally speaking, comic shops sell graphic novels and new single issues, so if you're wanting to collect back issues then it's either online shopping or comic con.

A few shops that sell back-issues include Plan 9 Comics in Aberdeen, Forbidden Planet in Manchester, and a random one-man comic shop in the Afflecks Centre in Manchester.

Some comic book shops are better than others


There is a little bit of truth to some of the negative nerd stereotypes. Some comic shops do smell bad and are looked after by people with questionable people skills. There was a comic shop in Dundee that barely had any lighting, was dusty af, and was owned by a guy with the social skills of a rabid hyena. Then another comic shop was opened in Dundee by a woman who painted the walls light blue and actually looked after the damn place. I think you know which one I preferred (and which one no longer exists).

My favourite Scottish comic shop is Plan 9 in Aberdeen. They sell a good mix of back issues, new issues, and graphic novels - as well as geek memorabilia and board games. I always make a point of stopping by when I'm visiting my family.

Forbidden Planet is a chain and is usually new issues and graphic novels. Though the one in Manchester sells single back issues.

Digital Comics are half the price


I still love the feel of a physical book or comic in my hands, so I've never got into the e-book craze. But there are a lot of comics on offer in digital form, and usually for a fraction of the price. Comixology is one of the best places to start looking for digital comics.


Libraries sometimes have free comics


Many government-owned libraries have a graphic novel section. It's worth stopping by your local library to see what they have.

Borrow comics from your friends


Admittedly I wouldn't lend out my single issues, but if we're IRL friends I'm more than happy to lend you a graphic novel (or three).


Free Comic Book Day


Admittedly, I don't make use of this as I usually have a list of issues I want to buy and don't want to clutter up my room with comics I won't read. But I know some long-term nerds who always head out on this day. It usually falls in late spring and early summer and a lot of comic shops will hand out free single issues to customers.

Some more resources


My guide only scratches the surface of the world of comics - and, uh, mainly focuses on DC and Batgirl. There are several guides out there that cover the medium more widely from people have been into comics since childhood. Here are some of muy favourites:

Comic Book Herald
Patrick (H) Willems
Nerd Sync
How To Love Comics
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morag | mo adore
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