“At seventeen, I started to starve myself. I thought that love was a kind of emptiness. And at least I understood then the hunger I felt and I didn’t have to call it loneliness…” ~ Hunger, Florence + the Machine
“In those heavy days in June when love became an act of defiance. Hold onto each other, hold onto each other…” ~ June, Florence + the Machine
Sometimes, it takes someone giving us permission before we feel we can be who we are. So, for my first post for Pride Month (which I swear, I’ll try to keep consistent this time), I want to talk about living your life in a way that gives others permission to be who they are. Mostly, I want to share an experience I had going to a Florence + the Machine concert this week that may have been life changing.
I’ve been a fan of Florence since undergrad but I feel I’ve grown with Florence Welch just as she said she has “grown up with” her fans.
They opened with the songs June and Hunger from the newest album High as Hope and I didn’t expect to be wiping tears from my eyes or to be as enraptured as I was.
As I watched the band play and listened to Florence sing and twirl across the stage, I wondered what this world would be like if we didn’t have to be afraid to be ourselves. What if I felt free enough to twirl and dance. My wife was watching me as I watched Florence and I think the expression on my face communicates more than words. What you don’t see is how much I cried during this concert because I was stunned by how beautiful the music was.
Listening to Florence sing is like the feeling you get when you close your eyes and smile when the sun gently touches your cheek. She is Anne of Green Gables incarnate…a fairy in human form. An angel without wings–well, I’m not convinced she doesn’t have wings actually. There’s something about listening to someone sing whilst being fully who they are and sharing that with others that can’t quite be put into words. I’ve been trying to do so all week.
There’s something about a crowd of people all singing along with music that’s changed your life that can’t be put into words.
And then there’s this line.
“It’s Friday night and it’s kicking in. I can’t dress; they’re gonna crucify me…”
For someone who dresses in flowing dresses and pantsuits with capes, Florence seems to be a free spirit–her soul is free in her body the way I long to be free in mine. Longing to be free in one’s own body, free to express gender that’s outside of cultural norms…afraid that “they’re gonna crucify me…” if I seek to change my body in ways that make me feel more me.
And yet she told the audience, “I’m shy…I am shy and extra. It is ok to be both.”
Maybe she’s an apparition with a secret to tell, or as the song Only for a Night from Ceremonials goes, “And I heard your voice as clear as day. And you told me I should concentrate. It was all so strange and so surreal that a ghost should be so practical. Only if for a night.”
I’ve been trying to finish this almost a week now. And it’s still not quite what I want it to be. But maybe that’s because there truly are not words to describe an indescribable experience. So, I’m just going to end it with linking perhaps my favorite song from this experience: