Zayna Brookhouse (She, They) 

You might think an unusual title for a piece in the Fyne Times, however if you too were consumed by the film Spartacus then you might know what I’m talking about. 

So, how do we explain and encourage those to accept our sexuality orientation and gender identity in the simplest ways possible, more importantly do we have to? A lot of what I do in my work is to take those complex matrixes and distil them down into something everyone can use as a springboard to jump into self-education, self-acceptance, and self-awareness. Well, ‘snails and oysters’ does the trick. If you saw the original cut of the film (1960) the scene is missing, censored for its ambivalent attitude towards sexuality however if you see the extended cut (1991) it is included. 

It challenges whether to like snails, oysters or both is a preference of taste or has an attached moralistic judgement.  


Crassus: Do you eat oysters? 

Antoninus: When I have them, master. 

Crassus: Do you eat snails? 

Antoninus: No, master. 

Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral? 

Antoninus: No, master. 

Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn’t it? 

Antoninus: Yes, master. 

Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals. 

Antoninus: It could be argued so, master. 

Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters. 

© universalstonecutter 

You could argue the scriptwriter, Dalton Trumbo – however bold he was trying to be here – was a troublesome character in real life, although it was the church who had the scene removed. This is widely thought of as the only time that sexual ambivalence is considered throughout the entire film, which history enthusiasts might find intriguing by its omission. 

We do see vital representation and descriptors of sexual orientation and gender identity in many forms of media, sometimes we the only ones looking closely and reading the sub-context. 

The theme this year of LGBTQ+ history month is of the contribution to medicine and healthcare, yet for the LGBTQIA+ community the prevention of access, the medicalisation and marginalisation of us rings true for whatever era. When we attempt to access care, whether medical or psychological we often have to explain/defend ourselves and that is where we can refer to a once deleted and misunderstood history of our community to find a new way forward. Our treatment in these topographies has made huge leaps forward yet given the political backdrop we have so much more that we need to stand up and stride forward for. 

What if we consider the gender theory contained in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, we can identify a level of gender performativity through the lens of challenging assumptions of heterosexuality. We experience Orlando exhibiting both female and male socialised traits during their alignment process along with a multi spectrum sexuality identity. The book was written for Vita, who Woolf loved and had a romantic involvement with in the 1920’s. We could surmise that they experienced what we now call gender dysphoria and gender fluidity. If the construction of male/female binarized classifications exist and were created by a heterosexual matrix of power and influence, then what if we treated androgyny as the default. Virginia Woolf wrote about the androgynous mind being resonant and porous; with an ability to transmit emotion free of being impeded in a creative and undivided manner. A mind open and generous with patience.  

A world where a constant description wasn’t required, and we were allowed by the structures that exist to find our own sexuality orientation and gender identification without challenge and without us justifying our existence. The burden is upon us to explain and in some cases repeatably so, what if we swapped from proving something to knowing no proof is possible/needed, how might that adapt how you feel we have to explain/defend ourselves? 


Zayna Brookhouse (She, They) 

Honorary Fellow NSTT, Intersectional Therapist & Consultant, Zayna is an LGBTQIA+, GSRD, Race & Ethnicity Hypno-Psychotherapist, relationship coach, presenter, and trainer based in Oxfordshire, UK. Pink Therapy trained GSRD aware trainer, DEI Officer at The NCHP. With over a decade of client work and experience in her specialisms, she is featured in national and international press and media. 

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