Writing Place 2020

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How I Know I'm Invited

By Kai Ash

I know I’m invited when the event website includes an ordered list of what to expect on arrival. An agenda that doesn’t just say ‘lunchtime’ but explains the sort of space in which lunch will take place – whether there will be shared tables, food available for purchase (along with type and cost) and whether mixing between attendees and speakers will be encouraged.

I know I’m invited when there is a well labelled map of the event location, provided in advance and in a printable format.

I know I’m invited when the toilets on that map are labelled with information rather than designation: this one contains sanitary bins, this one a urinal, this one is single occupant, this one’s shared.

I know I’m invited when I’m asked for my preferred name rather than the one on my birth certificate.

I know I’m invited when there is a quiet smoker-free space near at hand, where I will be able to sit in silence and breathe and recover. Sometimes this is a park, sometimes a garden, sometimes a nook with a pot plant growing bravely in the shade. More important than its appearance is its scent, its light and the quality of its sound.

I know I’m invited when participation is encouraged, but no one is shamed for hanging back. When there are options to put myself out there, but they are just that – options. Yes, you can present. Yes, you can pitch your work. But it is not required. You can share, but you don’t have to.

I know I’m invited when the price is no more than I earn in a week. When the after-event wine comes in only two varieties: white and red. When the dress code is comfort and no one’s wearing matching outfits. When I’m asked what I’m interested in and not what I do.

I know I’m welcome when I arrive and see that some people are older and some are younger, some lighter and some darker, some in sleek new clothing, some decidedly rumpled. When I see that some people are leaning on objects while others can’t keep their feet still.

I know I am welcome when my arrival in unremarkable. I am simply another variation to add to the growing tapestry of this space.


About Kai Ash

Kai is a trans autistic writer with an interest in gender and neurodiversity. Kai recently moved back to Brisbane after two years in Melbourne, where Kai was shortlisted for the Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards 2020.


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