Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Sparkling at Sparkle Manchester (long post!)

So Sparkle was this weekend just gone. To be honest neither Lucy or I really knew what to expect but we were both really looking forward to it.

It started on Friday morning with Lucy leaving the house as 'him' and we pulled up a couple of miles from home where Lucy got changed and put her makeup on ready for the journey. This was the first time she had been dressed in the day out of the house (a first). We had a nightmare drive which took far longer than it should but every minute was a minute that Lucy was being herself in public so she wasn't too bothered and in any case I was driving so she just sat there and chilled and took lots of selfies, ha ha.

The parking for the hotel was round the block and not connected to the hotel so we parked up and took our loads of cases and bags round to the hotel. The car park had a marshall there who called us both 'ladies' and directed us to the pedestrian entrance. His whole attitude and words made us both smile. The receptionists at the hotel did not bat an eyelid and were very friendly as we checked in.

As we were later than planned we got everything up into the room, Lucy unpacked all her stuff and we got ready fairly quickly to go and and meet another trans friend, Paulette, we had only met in the last month (at Pink Punters). We got our glad rags on and Lucy did her own makeup..... actually she did it day and night all weekend and is quite good now. Very proud she made the effort.

We met Paulette and went for dinner together (a first) at a lovely Italian restaurant. The staff were great and the meal was lovely. After we went for a walk down Canal Street to have a look around and the place was packed and busy with lots of lively bars and trans girls everywhere. We hopped around a few and found a couple of places that we liked. We danced the night away and stumbled back to our hotel at stupid o'clock in the morning.

We had been told of a local hairdresser before we went so I booked an appointment for Lucy to go on the Saturday and have the fringes sorted out on the two new wigs. This meant we had to get up out and about relatively early for us as we were also meeting up with some friends afterwards at Sparkle in the park. We trotted off to the Village Hairdressers for Lucy's appointment with Kurt. He was fantastic and as she sat in the salon chair (a first) he made Lucy feel really comfortable. She swapped the wigs around and he sorted out the fringes and made both look amazing and gave Lucy tips on how to care for them. It was such a great experience for her which she really enjoyed. She is looking forward to being able to go to the hairdressers again and can see how sitting having your hair washed, cut, dried and styled could be a great thing.

We went on to the Sparkle park which had loads of stalls giving advice and selling wares. Lucy bought herself a new pair of boobs (only until she develops her own) which are far superior and realistic than what she had although they were about 15 years old. She was very brave standing by the stall all dressed up letting the stallholder lady do all the adjustments (a first). Lloyds Banking Group also had a stall seeking positive and negative experiences and we were able to tell them about out negative experiences with Lloyds bank which they had eventually turned into positive experiences (Lucy has no trouble at all now with the bank). They were very keen to take notes and learn by what had happened and also it was great to hear that they were actively trying to recruit trans people to their work force.

We had booked tickets for the Sparkle lounge which was a raised platform with seating and a private bar. Although in reality it was a lot of money for what you got it was nice to have that area so we didn't get as muddy as everyone else where it had been raining and mostly we were able to find seats. We met up with some people and their partners that I have met on the Facebook support group I mentioned in my previous post. Such lovely people and one couple in particular we spent a huge amount of time with, Jennie and Ethan.

Saturday evening was the Sparkle ball in the ballroom of a local hotel. The venue was lovely with crystal chandeliers and a large sweeping staircase at the front so there were plenty of photo opportunities for everyone. This was great as Lucy was able to dress up in a long dress (a first and she looked totally gorgeous) and attend a ball (a first). Paulette went too and we met up with a few other friends there. The only real negative was that the ballroom was so very hot even with mobile aircon units every 10 ft and the music was a little old fashioned. However the overall event was great.

We left a bit early (it seemed that most people were too) and we went back to the hotel to get changed, Lucy wore her famous Batgirl dress) and off back out to Canal Street where we met up with some of our friends (Paulette came along a bit later). We started at a few bars and ended up at G.A.Y which was great fun and met some other friends along the way way who came with us. While we were in there a petite young cis girl came in with a friend with a funky haircut and loads of personality, dancing away. We spent some time with her having a dance and having pictures taken. It was only the following day did we realise that we had been partying away with Cody Frost from the UK Voice. Apparently she had been performing on the Sparkle stage in the park as well as a club in Canal Street. Yet again we staggered in at silly o'clock and feeling very euphoric from the atmosphere and Lucy being just Lucy.

Lucy popped out for a quick cigarette after we had got back to the hotel and when she came back she had a tale to tell. As she had gone out the hotel door another girl has asked for her help. It appears there had been a group of lads and one in particular had been very abusive and threatening and the girl had hit him. She was absolutely terrified and Lucy could see the lads were coming back. As with all groups there is a ring leader who was very brazen and abusive to Lucy and the other girl. Well Batgirl Lucy was having none of this nonsense and when he demanded she suck his d**k she threw some quick retorts back which threw him off-guard. His mates then ushered him away as they were embarrassed at his behaviour and one in particular, a ginger hair lad, came up to Lucy to apologise and said that in every group of lads there was the ginger one (him) and an idiot (the other lad). This diffused the situation and the lads all moved on. The other girl was very grateful to Lucy for saving her. As you can imagine Lucy was buzzing at the situation and how she had managed to handle the abusive lads (a first) face to face.

On the Sunday we had a lie in and then went to to the Sparkle lounge to meet up with Jennie, Ethan and Paulette. We had a very relaxed afternoon sitting and chatting together watching the entertainment on the stage. Paulette had entered the Miss Golden Sparkle contest and although she was very nervous we were cheering her on. Well when they announced the results, we were sure Paulette's name was called out as the winner and other people around us who knew her cheered too believing the same ...... however.... another lady came up to the stage to claim the title. We were all very confused. Paulette is a pretty unique name. We do think that the organisers need to rethink how this bit is done.

We were staying another night however Jennie, Ethan and Paulette were getting the train home that evening. We all went out for a lovely meal together which was tinged with sadness that they were going. Everyone was of the same opinion that we had all had a fantastic weekend. Not bad for 5 strangers at the start of the weekend spending so much time together. No longer strangers now though, firm friends. We just wish we all lived a little closer however we have already planned a night out at Pink Punters in October and have booked the hotel for Sparkle 2017.

Paulette went off first for her train and Jennie and Ethan came back to our hotel room for a cuppa. We stayed there chatting for over an hour and it it was great getting an insight into their lives and understanding the challenges of FtM from all perspectives which was really enlightening and we shared our stories too. We said goodbye to them which was sad as we now consider them good friends and got ready for another night out just the two of us.

By the time we got out it was about 11pm and many of the lively bars we had enjoyed time in over the last few days were closing early as it was a Sunday evening. We met up with a couple of people we had met who were staying at the same hotel as us and had a few drinks together and a chat. One went back to the hotel and we and the remaining lady went off to G.A.Y where the doorman Lee remembered Lucy and her name which she was dead chuffed about. We had a great time there and after a while escorted the other lady home as she was a little worse for wear and we wanted to ensure she got back safely.

While we were back at the hotel we popped into our room for a quick 'wee' break. This ended up being totally hilarious as we both rushed for the toilet and I ended up being pushed into the empty bath with my trousers half on. I laid there like a tortoise on its back with my arms and legs flailing around trying to get out the bath with my trousers round my knees..... I couldn't get out and Lucy couldn't help me as we were laughing so much. Such a funny end to a great day!

We had paid for an extended checkout time on the Monday to give us time to fully pack up (Lucy's stuff was EVERYWHERE) but also to give Lucy time to get ready. We left the hotel laden with bags and cases and trudged back to the car.

The journey home was long due to traffic and took about 5 hours. 4 hours 40 mins of this were spent just continually chatting, reminiscing about the weekend, the people we had met, the fun we had had and also making plans for the future and telling our daughter M next week. When we got nearer to home it was time for Lucy to take her makeup off and change out of her clothes into 'his'. This was a very emotional time for us both...... we both sat there with tears running down our cheeks. Lucy being able to be Lucy properly (or as much as she can be for now) had been totally amazing and only proves to me that she is doing the right thing. End of.....

As you will have seen, this whole weekend was full of amazing firsts. I'm sitting here two days later, missing like mad the Lucy that I spent all the time with over the four days and also missing the Lucy I have at home as she is out at work. Four days of being by her side 24/7 had been amazing and we will never ever forget this weekend.

I would like to say that there were no transphobic commments throughtout the weekend bearing in mind we were at a trans event which was based in the gay village in Manchester but I can't. Unfortunately even in this environment it proves there are bigots and those that feel they have the right to comment negatively on those that are different to themselves. From the trans lady outside the hotel, to comments thrown at Lucy (not bad) to another woman who had been accosted and robbed at a cashpoint. Unfortunately it is not just trans people who are at risk of biggoted people like this. However for Lucy she has risen above this and has treated this as one of lifes learning curve so she can be prepared for the future whatever it may bring. Whatever happens she can be sure I have her back no matter what.

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