This year I found myself once again elected to the board of trustees of ACERT
I also am still the education liaison for the Showmen's Guild
I'm also still doing this LGBT+ Traveller Lark. I've actually got a real job and a few years ago, thought that was what I'd be doing all the time. What on earth am I doing as the UK's premier google-able LGBT+ traveller?
A friend of mine who does traveller work (and despises the label activist as much as I do) is in a similar position. We meet up regularly for a good old moan and both say, conclusively, that we'll give up this traveller rights lark as soon as possible. I'm a trained and practicing psychotherapist, she is also a highly trained professional (not giving details as I dunno if she wants me to and am too knackered to ask her). We didn't grow up wanting to do traveller stuff. and we still don't really want to. The best role models for young kids aren't activists but are just travellers who happens to be outstanding in their own field. Renowned musicians, film-makers, politicians etc. (coincidentally, this is why there's such a movement online sometimes to posthumously claim people such as Elvis or Picasso as Roma, both of which are specious claims and I'll be glad to fight this point on another post another day)
But we also look at one another and know that we probably won't leave, despite saying every year that we will. Last year I was planning to quit the ACERT committee at the conference and ended up upgrading from trustee to vice-chair. I was also going to quit this year. I'm still the vice-chair.
The trouble is there's not a lot of us. If we had a hoard of education-loving Travellers trying to take over, I could run away and just be a psychotherapist and maybe, once in a great while, someone would remember I used to do this and invite me to a conference. Likewise, if someone turned up who was passionate about LGBT politics (I try to be but it sometimes makes my head feel like it's full of bees) and Traveller inclusion I'd hand over Traveller Pride to them tomorrow. But they're not coming anytime soon. So we stay, and my friend stays doing the world-beating things that she is doing.
Although, in truth, I don't think I could totally walk away from this stuff, but it would be nice to have a break from it all. Or to go down to doing one thing. regretfully, leaving a space at the minute opens it up to either that space being left vacant, or being occupied by someone even less capable than you (I do education advocacy work voluntarily for a Travellers organisations- the man before me who did it before me never finished school and has a quite low reading age*) or, worse yet, it falling in to the wrong hands. There's an odd creeping tide of far right, anti-semitism or ethno-nationalism from some of the more paranoid (but frustratingly charismatic or influential) corners of UK GRT spaces. So sometimes it feels better to hold on and at least do no harm. Trouble is, this isn't particularly rewarding, and can be wearing.
With that, I hope my upcoming trip away isn't cancelled because of the plague because I really want to do nothing for 3 or 4 days in a row. I'll send you a postcard.
^Artists impression of me all the bloody time.
*I am not meaning to say that there's something inherently bad about not having a formal education, just that it might make you less suited to education advocacy.