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What a Wonderful World: Kae Tempest

Kae Tempest

Like so many yesterday I saw the 'news' that the poet and writer formerly known as Kate Tempest had identified as non-binary and changed pronouns to they/them and name to Kae. In fact my husband first showed me their Instagram post as he knows and follows them (and worked with them several times, not least in creating this piece of awesomeness together).

I read it without surprise but with a gradual feeling of...I guess euphoria. Both for Kae and for us all. The fact that today we have the vocabulary, the space for this to be possible for someone like Kae to find and claim an identity that feels authentic to who they are, how they feel, is nothing short of beautiful.

I grew up with a great aunt who would live with my mum, sister and I for several months each year. She was brilliant, funny, quietly supportive and a much appreciated reliable presence. The older I get, the more I understand how she was very much a casualty of the time. She was gay, but not openly and with the hindsight and education I now have, would, I think, have identified as elsewhere on the gender spectrum than entirely female. I keep thinking about her and the tragedy that she didn't get to experience the vocabulary available to us now, the conversations, the acceptance and the welcome. She didn't get to live authentically, openly and proudly in her truth.

I guess being a mum to a little one puts this into sharper focus for me, we are yet to find out how my daughter identifies, what pronouns make the most sense for...(until I know otherwise) her. But the fact that I know we can have that conversation, that the little I do know has already enabled that space to exist for us both makes me feel so happy and hopeful.

There has been so much, necessary, focus on the division, on the work we all have to do, particularly us white people. The injustice that needs addressing, the pain that has and is being endured that this story felt like a beacon of hope that we are making our way into a more accepting world.

So thank you Kae for sharing your experience, your choices, for reinforcing the vocabulary that is so powerfully liberating for so many. For no doubt making someone else out there feel brave enough to start the same conversation with their loved ones and find their own space of identity and being.

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