This weekend has been a blast of unexpected adventures! Yesterday a few classmates and I headed down to the city center for a tour on some of Belfast history, which was fascinating. Our tour guide had grown up in Belfast and had a lot of great insights into the conflicts here as well as local history that I certainly didn’t know about. The tour was a couple of hours and delightfully balanced as far as content and portrayal of the city’s history in light of all the parties involved.
Afterwards we meandered our way to Ulster Hall where a beer and cider festival was taking place- what an event! A band played some catchy songs and the place was packed; a double-tiered structure in the middle of the hall held craft beers from around Ireland and the United Kingdom and the selection was fabulous. I can’t complain about that!
This afternoon I headed to the Queen’s Film Theater to watch a film premiere of a roller derby movie called ‘In The Turn.’ The film is a documentary following the life and times of members of a roller derby conglomerate called the Vagine Regime (hells yes to the name!) who are a group of queer derby men and women on teams around the world. They provide a safe space for players who identify as queer and seek to develop the sport’s awareness of this vital group. The film also follows a 10 year old transgender girl from Canada who is unable to play on her school’s sports teams because of her variant gender identity- she can’t play for the boys because she doesn’t identify as one, but the school won’t let her play with the girls.
Her mom, a roller derby player herself, saw her daughter’s struggle to be accepted in their small community and reached out to the diverse members of the VR. Through the efforts of the players Crystal (the young Canadian girl) is able to attend a junior roller derby boot camp in California and can envision a future playing with a team that accepts her for exactly who she is.
This film made me tear up not because I can personally relate to the struggles of queer derby players, but because I have seen firsthand the impact roller derby can have on the men and women that are involved. Every team that I have played with has been beautiful, diverse, and supportive of one another no matter age, background, identity, or appearance. Roller derby allows for women to come together and be proud of who they are; to be strong no matter what their body type, and to have a community in a sport that makes them feel invincible.
Moral of the story: DERBY IS AWESOME. Watch ‘In The Turn’ if you have the chance!
Today was the beginning of the Belfast Christmas Festival (and, for all you Americans complaining that ‘Christmas is starting too early!’ remember; we don’t have Thanksgiving here. It isn’t a thing. Get over it. It’s all going to be ok.) I headed back to the city center with a few friends and meandered around the booths at City Hall which had everything from ornaments to scarves, mulled wine to delicious desserts and much more. My eyes are certainly bigger than my stomach when it comes to all the good things! I settled with some Moroccan food and am currently feeling the affects of my dessert choice- a heaping bag of kettle corn. Woo, sugar rush!
We stayed to see the switching on of the city lights including the Christmas tree in front of City Hall-
So, as you can tell, Belfast is full of interesting things to do 🙂 I’m loving it and staying busy!