Starting Again in the East

I have been in the SCA for well over half my life. It has provided me with support and companionship, challenged me creatively and academically, and affected my modern life in profound ways. It was in the SCA that I met my life partner. It was the SCA that gave me the push to go to art school and then on to graduate school. The SCA has been such a formative influence in my life and identity that I cannot imagine who I would be without it.

Nonetheless, my relationship to the Society has hit some rough spots over the years. I have experienced homophobia, ableism, sexism, and other forms of discourtesy that are not in keeping with our Dream. After I went through a real-life divorce, I found that many SCA friends and companions abandoned me, some in condemnation of my LGBTQ “lifestyle.” So I guess you could say that the SCA and I have a complicated relationship.

It was both these complications and my decision to go to art school that led me to take an extended sabbatical from the SCA shortly after my divorce. I didn’t know, for a time, if I would ever come back. But it turns out the SCA was always in me. I couldn’t really stay away. It’s a fundamental part of me, and I’m incomplete without it.

My return to the Society has been delightful and surprising. I’m in a new kingdom, and although that does mean making entirely new friends, it also means that I am not constantly reminded of painful incidents in my past. I have a fresh, new relationship with almost everyone here — one which does not intersect with my ex-husband, or with the people who rejected me when I came out.

The East Kingdom is a remarkable kingdom. The populace is friendly. The arts are outstanding. There is a better balance between martial arts and other SCA activities than I have previously experienced. Performing arts are unquestionably superior, as are scribal arts. There is a lot to recommend this kingdom. My only real complaint is that the kingdom is ENORMOUS! I’m used to traveling for events, but this is crazy!

Right now, I’m working on a few big SCA projects. I’m embroidering a Persian triangle-hat for Birka — I’m entering the costume contest as “Poison Ivy as a Safavid Persian courtesan.” :-) I’m also getting ready for both K&Q Bardic and K&Q A&S. For the former I’m keeping my selections a bit of a surprise. For the latter, I will be writing and performing a Classical Arabic vocal piece in a period style and mode, as documented by Al-Farabi and Al-Kindi (medieval Islamic music theorists). My entry is going to include a paper, a composition, and a performance. Stay tuned for updates!

In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy New Year and end to your holiday season. I’ll see you in 2019!

Yours in Service to the Dream,

Sayyida Laila al-Sanna’ al-Andalusiyya