New Year, Same Disaster

It feels like just a few weeks since you last wrote one of these letters, but it is in fact a year. As mad as it might make me appear to the outside world, I enjoy sending these letters to you, and I like to imagine me (or you) reading them, back before all of these things happen. I often wonder if you’ll believe me.

This year has been full of ups and downs. As always, we will begin with January.

NFTs were all over the place, and you had no idea what they were. You still don’t. You were starting to write your next album and planned for it to be entirely in Spanish (it isn’t), the nation was hungry for justice as more and more details of misconduct in the Johnson administration leaked, and conflict was brewing as Russia made its intentions clear against Ukraine.

You were angry with your government, but you are almost always angry with the UK government, so I don’t suppose they saw it as a cause for concern. Where Ukraine was concerned, as well as many other things, you would continue to be angry with your government, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

At the time, you were weeks away from meeting and falling deeply in love with a girl that seemed like she was perfect. She had a whole other relationship, but you don’t find that out until summer. If by chance, you do get this letter in time, tell her to go fuck herself, or to go fuck her ACTUAL girlfriend, instead of fucking with your feelings, because you deserve better.

You’ve never felt that you do, but you do. I say it all the time, so much that sometimes, I get close to believing it. Maybe I don’t even believe it now, but I’m trying.

You do get some great songs out of it though, so maybe it was meant to happen.

The beginning of the Dream Girl era happened around this time. The title track got its first airplay, and it went on to become one of your most streamed songs. Dream Girl was your first loud and public expression of your sexuality, and as you waited for it to be played for the first time, you felt sick, but it went well. More on all that later, for now, we move on to February.

You turned thirty, and the world didn’t end. You felt a little rushed though, so you started going on dates. You’d been putting this off for months. You were out, doing a good impression of being proud and had no reason not to date but it made you anxious, so you didn’t. Eventually, around February, you did, and it was… an experience.

You felt like you’d missed out on a lot, so you said yes to everything, including things that you weren’t really ready for, but along the way, you did learn to be stern with yourself and take things slow. It’s still a learning process, and currently, as I write, you have someone sweet in mind that might become very important, or may be just another winter’s tale. I suppose we will see.

At the time though, there was one girl, after a few that became VERY important. She’s the one I mentioned earlier. You’ll know when you see her, but even with this warning, you’ll still probably dive right in like an idiot, which is fine, I suppose.

February was not just about your love life, and your anxiety about getting old. Russia invaded Ukraine, and the entire world seemed united in their disgust. You have been alive through war (and recall with great fondness your place at many anti Iraq war demonstrations as a child), but never as an adult, and never as close. The war was not happening to you, but you felt lost in helplessness and hopelessness.

Russian tanks ravaged the streets of their much smaller neighbour. Children cried out in terror and families were separated. The people of Ukraine were brave, but they were living in a nightmare. In a rare moment of decency, the UK government stepped up, issuing sanctions against Russia, providing aid to Ukraine and (after a lot of pushing) beginning a programme to resettle refugees from Ukraine to the UK. As I write this, I wish I could tell you that Ukraine was free, but still, they are locked in turmoil. I can only hope that their freedom will come soon, and I wish that there was more that I could do.

March was a special month, because you released Dream Girl, perhaps the most personal album you’ve ever written. The next one is more personal though, but that’s a story for next year’s self indulgent blog post.

April was full of gaslighting from the UK Government as they repeatedly tried to insist that Boris Johnson’s misconduct and criminal behaviour, and Elon Musk was rumoured to be buying Twitter. Increasing political insanity in the UK was frustrating but very useful to you, as the audience for your podcast, “What The Actual F*** Is Going On With This Whole Politics Business?” grew with every ridiculous and obnoxious scandal from the Tories. You finally fell into your destined role, Charlie Brooker in a push up bra. Feels good man.

This was also around the time when you began a weekly stream on Twitch, Storytime Sundays. This was the perfect outlet for you, and something you enjoyed very much. Luckily, it seems other people seemed to enjoy it too, which is always nice.

Summer came along, and you thought it would be a peaceful, chill time for you. That was dumb. You don’t get to have a peaceful, chill time, babe. Not ever.

Late July was a weird time. I got a voice note that would define my entire summer, in the worst way. I was friends with Laura Blake. We had been friends for a while, but got close during Covid (Christ, remember that?). We’d worked together, hung out, made plans for holidays and days out. It was a great friendship.

She sent me a panicked voice note, after being off the grid for a few days. Laura had just attended Twitchcon, so that didn’t seem unusual. It’s normal to be a bit quiet after a weekend of travelling and partying, right? Except something bad had happened.

I won’t tell the story of what happened at Twitchcon, because it isn’t mine to tell, and those involved have already shared what they feel comfortable sharing, but my involvement began with the voice note.

Laura told me that she had been accused of assault by another streamer, but that she had no memory of it. She was distraught, disgusted with herself and what she may have done when drunk. At first, she said she couldn’t remember, and then she said that she could remember but had just misread the signs, and then she said she couldn’t remember again. It went back and forth, but with one common aspect. She said that she was suicidal.

I am not a trained mental health professional. I’m not even in control of my own mental health, but I did what I could to help in the situation. I tried to keep her from doing anything stupid, but as the days went on and more details spilled out, things spun out of control.

I was trying to keep Laura from doing something regrettable while also trying to support Laura’s own fanbase and community who were panicking at her absence and the whirlwind of accusations being levelled against her.

I was arguably going through the least in the situation, and would never seek to compare my experience with the victims, but I was overwhelmed. I was getting messages all day, every day from concerned fans, as well as people urging me to speak out against Laura, while also playing the role of “emotional support lesbian” to Laura who was still spiralling and regularly discussing self harm and suicide.

I encouraged Laura to make some kind of statement to at least reassure people of what was happening and to calm some of the uncertainty, but she deleted her social media profiles and instead asked me to post a tweet, not quite on her behalf, but reassuring her own audience, many of which were also my audience due to our shared projects, that she was safe.

I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with it, but did it anyway. This is one of the big lessons you learn this year, Hunnybee, you learn (very late) to start putting your own comfort first.

I didn’t feel comfortable with it because the details that were coming out made me doubt Laura’s story, and I felt as if I was being manipulated. Every time I expressed some doubt or that Laura should try to take accountability, she would begin talking about harming herself, or would talk about how I was her only friend left in the world, and so, I’d keep trying to guide her back down the right path.

It just went on and on. More details came out as those involved felt more comfortable sharing their stories and Laura watched from the sidelines, through a selection of burner accounts that seemed deeply unhealthy as the whole thing played out.

I still get messages about it now, despite being incredibly uninvolved, as does my friend Mersadist. Mersadist also received a number of transphobic and abusive messages from people who believed her to have been involved in or supporting the assault, as well as abuse from Laura’s fans who were angry that she did not support Laura.

I reached out to Laura one last time and pleaded with her to make a clarifying statement, just to confirm that Mersadist was innocent, but she wouldn’t. I explained the threats and abuse she had received but Laura still refused. I begged her to finally do one small thing to make amends in some part for the hurt she was still causing, and she simply said that she couldn’t.

It was hard to take.

On a happier note, this was a year in which you got very close to the aforementioned Mersadist. She has been a beautiful, shining light in your life, and someone who will be a huge part of your life for much longer.

July was also the month when things fell apart with the aforementioned “special” girl. The one, as they say. She wasn’t. She never could have been. You just really wanted to be in love. Sorry to be harsh, but you spent several months crying over it and if I can get you to the point of feeling better with a bit of tough love, I’ll take it.

The next few months were spent crying, writing concerning things, eating a lot of ice cream and crying a bit more. The world went on around you, and you were appalled, because… well… you were heartbroken and nobody bloody cared!

This went on until September, when you decided to try and do something productive, instead of being an emotional wreck. You wrote a cheery and optimistic Christmas song for lesbians, you wrote a ton of content for Halloween in preparation for Spooky Season, and you had the idea for another new podcast.

Yes, you’ve got another bloody podcast. You decided to take the short stories you were writing for Storytime Sundays and expand them into little audio podcasts for the weekly show, The Unearthly Library. It’s one of your favourite projects from this year and something you’re excited to work on in the new year. The Tories did more messy shit and swapped Prime Ministers, so you picked up some new listeners and got to share your angry, sweary rambles with more people.

War raged on in Europe as Putin’s cruelty continued, the public screeched at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle about something that has nothing to do with them, Liz Truss was a few days into her short reign of tyranny. It was starting to feel like a normal day, but then, on the 8th of September, rumours began to spread, newsreaders changed into black outfits, and shit got pretty real.

The Queen died. To be completely honest, you weren’t particularly upset by it, beyond finding it sad that a person had died. You’re not a monarchist, but you’ve never wished them any ill will (besides Andrew, for obvious reasons), but it did feel like the end of an era, as they say. It was uncomfortable to watch her family’s final moments with her essentially playing out on 24 hour news coverage, and you felt a lot of sympathy for her and her family as the obligation to display their lives to the public became disturbingly difficult for the viewer to consume.

There were a number of awkward and weird tributes from brands that became memes, and a strange ritual of national grieving that you didn’t know how to navigate. You’re still not sure how you’d handle it if you had the chance to do it again. I don’t know that you will ever know.

Life did go on, once the national mourning period was over, and Autumn seemed to slip away quickly. Christmas approached, the tories swapped Prime Ministers again, and you headed to London to film a music video with Mersadist for the single Red Motorcycle. It was a lot of fun, and she looked as stunning as ever. You looked back on the year with a strange fondness, because, well, it hadn’t been too bad.

You learned a little more about yourself, you found new ways to be creative, you branched into new platforms and you survived it. You say it every year, around about 11:30 on New Year’s Eve, and you did it again this year. “I survive everything.” and you do.

Here’s to surviving for another year, and maybe, if you’re feeling up to it, let’s really live.

All my love,
J x

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