J is for Janice

J is for Janice From the day she was born, Janice was given everything she wanted. She didn’t need to cry for too long before either her doting father or loving mother would be at her side, fussing over her with reassuring words of comfort and kisses on her forehead. From this moment on Janice knew that she was a very special person and because of that she could have Read more

I is for Impossible

I is for impossible. Having blown out her one hundred candles, with a slight relieve that her dentures didn’t come flying out covering the butter icing, Alice was quite exhausted and glad to be back in the solitary of her room, where she lit up a stogie and sat back in her chair. As much as everyone had made a great fuss over her centenary birthday, with just as many making Read more

H is for Hipster

H is for Hipster. The reason the new eatery stood out so much to Donald, was its choice of setting up shop in a part of town where the most exotic experience to be had was a mangey charity shop for a local cat charity. But that’s how these Hipster cafe’s start isn’t it, they move into a place with low rent and once they are established others move in. Read more

G is for Glenn

G is for Glenn. I’ve always loved horror stories. Skeletons have been at the forefront. I had a full size paper, glow in the dark skeleton and then a bit later the poster on the opposite side of my bed was of a skeleton on a motorbike, which I thought was great! I think i got it after seeing th esketon riding a motoabike in the Hammer Horror, Doctor, Terrors, Read more

F is for Fur

F is for Fur. Roger lay in bed, every time he opened his eyes the room span madly making him shut his eyes tight again. Downstairs he could hear the others getting on and knew that he too had to get up. Ever so gradually, Roger held both hands tight round his face as he lifted his head off the pillow. With his eyes still tightly shut he made the familiar Read more

Gscene

Gscene piece: November 2016

th-1In my last column, I wrote about how their has been a steady change in segregation in the gay bars and clubs, with a younger generation seeing men only/women only places as a relic from the past. Although there will always be a need (I think) for some kind of segregation, we certainly have come a long way from the time I remember back in the 1980s, I can clearly remember some men being mortified if a woman wandered into their watering-hole and out would come the vile, flippant  misogynist comment from some of the older gay men, with their description of lesbian’s as well, I’ll reinterpret the vile line as, ‘fruits de la mer’. There was also a pub in Hove tried to implement a policy were women were only allowed if they were accompanied by a gay man.
It would take the catastrophic horrors of AIDS to bring these two communities together which was recalled in the amazing documentary, We Were Here, about the arrival of the AIDS Epidemic in the USA. With an urgent need for blood transfusions, lesbians in California garnered themselves together and gave blood. Here in the UK, I remember many lesbians came forward to volunteer in any way they could to support the gay men who were suffering in large numbers to the horrifying effects of AIDS; along with an onslaught of hatred and stigma from the tabloid press which fed in to the fear and anxiety of the wider public.th-2Thirty-four years on since, Terry Higgins, one of the first people to die from AIDS, we really have come along way with anti-retroviral treatments. The divisions within the LGBT community has shrunk considerably and when we work together we achieve amazing things as we will once again witness on December 1st, World AIDS Day. Unfortunately there is so much more to be done to tackle the stigma of living with an HIV+ diagnoses, particularly with HIV positive and HIV negative gay men.
For me, this issue has been brought sharply into focus with the increase of HIV+ dating apps. I really understand the need for such apps which allow HIV+ people to feel comfortable about their HIV+ status without fear of stigma or abuse but we are living in a time when we have a real opportunity to eradicate HIV through use of condoms, antiretroviral drugs, PrEP and a heavy dose of compassion.
HIV+ stigma seriously needs stamping out if we are to reach a time when HIV is assigned to the history books.
THT have been running a brilliant advertisement campaign, It Starts With Me, urging every sexually active individual to take responsibility for their own sexual health. Together as a community we can make a positive difference, if people change their negative attitude about those living with an HIV+ diagnose.
So from today let’s do that, let’s take responsibility for not only our individual sexual health, but start treating everyone with respect, regardless of their HIV status.

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Positive Nation, World AIDS Day (2013) Piece.

Please click the link below for my piece for Positive Nation, World AIDS Day, 2013.

 

http://issuu.com/talentmedia/docs/winter2013/13?e=1363912/6713304

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Brighton: The Graphic Novel, Part Two

 

Th eBrighton Writer's story board

Th eBrighton Writer’s story boardQueenSpark Books: Graphic Novel. (A shameless post Christmas plug).

Brighton: a Graphic Novel is turning out to be one of QueenSpark Books best sellers of 2013 and looks to continue to do so as we enter 2014.PTDC0002

With this in mind, The Brighton Writer invites you to take another peep behind his involvement in the process along with the extremely talented artists, Emilie Majarian  and Collette Tarbuck.

Having interviewed the main drag artists David Raven, aka Maisie Trollette Dave Lynn and Stephen Richards aka Lola Lasagne (see previous blog)  The Brighton Writer set about interviewing other key players who would become part of the projects storyline.

As HIV and AIDS has had such a devastating effect on many of those within the LGBT community, The Brighton writer felt it important to include this era within the storyline. With this in mind, The Brighton writer got in touch with local artist/sculpture, Romany Mark Bruce, James Ledward (Gscene) and Paul Elgood (Rainbow Fund); who collectively enabled the development and construction of Brighton’s AIDS memorial. From their feedback The Brighton writer was able to find out that the AIDS memorial project faced a fair few hurdles, including protests that fundraising for the project would take away funds from other local HIV health care. This issue was quickly resolved by Paul Elgood and James Ledward’s reassurance that all fundraising for the AIDS memorial would be raised through individual and business private backers.) Romany also worked for two years on the project free of charge, allowing all funds raised to go towards the completion of the AIDS memorial project.

One of the other major problems Romany faced was having the 11ft clay structure collapse while he was working on it, forcing him to begin the project all over again. This storyline gave The Brighton Writer the perfect opportunity to combine the ‘Brighton Angels’ alongside Romany’s journey in the construction and unveiling of the AIDS memorial By David Furnish.

Part way through, the clay structure collapsed on top of Romany mark Bruce

Part way through, the clay structure collapsed on top of Romany mark Bruce

 

Romany Mark Bruce

 

The middle section of my storyline was used as a vehicle to not only to introduce some of the other well-known faces from the Brighton scene but also allowing me to promote some of the LGBT projects they have been involved in. The main bases of the storyline was to introduce James Ledward and The Golden Handbag Awards; a project that give the LGBT community an opportunity to celebrate individuals and groups achievements from the previous 12 months. Within the storyline I also included Stephanie Starlet, who had led the march for Stomp out Stigma campaign, as part of LGBT mental health group, MindOut. Unfortunately this piece of information hit the editing floor, so I have included it here.

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PTDC0037The other well-known face on the scene I included was Ant Howells; partly for his longstanding involvement with the Sussex Beacon fundraising/social group, Bear-Patrol, as well as his involvement with HIV groups like Act-Up who were an extremely important campaign group who helped bring the plight of those living with HIV/dying from AIDS.

Jason Sutton aka Miss Jason and Poo-la-May also appear allowing me to mention one of Brighton’s oldest and perhaps most infamous gay pubs, The Bulldog and Club Revenge; both venues would be instrumental in development of the Gay Village in Brighton as we know it today.

The final story from the trilogy tells the story of Brighton’s Hankie Quilt Project. At the time of researching varies ideas for the final tale, I was introduced to Maurice Mchale Parry, who along with Peter Moxom, revived the idea of the the Names Quilt Project, through the Hankie Quilt Project, inspired by the 25th anniversary of the Names Quilt Project. Both projects have great strength in their simplicity by inviting people who had lost friends, loveres, family members to AIDS, to sew their name onto a piece of fabric, which in turn made up a quilt of many names, memories and love.

 

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The piece couldn’t be finish without a mention of Brighton’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Pride. From a few of us gathering in Queens Park to protest about the Consecrative Parties legislation, Clause 28, which effectively stopped school teachers discussing homosexuality with their pupils, leaving many young LGBTQ people unsure about how they were feeling, and without any knowledge of who to turn to for help. Since then, Brighton Pride has become an extremely important date in many LGBTQ people’s diaries, not only as time to celebrate, but to also remember their are still many counties whose anti-LGBTQ laws are causing misery and oppression and that will always be the main driving force for the visibility of Brighton Pride as we all protest and celebrate and party on down for future generations to come who will in turn leave their own mark and become part of Brighton’s unique history. The final panel had originally been designed with a host of volunteer groups from the LGBT community being represented. It was with regret that this grand scene was also to hit the editing floor, but the prominence of the AIDS quilt, the main players and one of Brighton’s most iconic tourists attractions, The Royal Pavilion helped frame this important slice of Brighton’s history.Final splash page, all the main players come together.

 

 

 

 

One more thing, check out the brilliant animation from Angie Thomas, who has brought the whole project to life.

http://www.angiethomas.co.uk/portfolio/brighton-the-graphic-novel

queensparkbooks.org.uk

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Remembering Ruby

Maurice, Ann and Peter, Hankie Quilt Project

 

Today I saw a message on Facebook from Maurice, one of the founders of the Hankie Quilt Project, reminding us that it has been a year since the launch of this brilliant idea. HIV isn’t just about on World AIDS Day, it’s here 365 days of the year, and so are the memories of the people we have all lost to AIDS; here is my memory of one of those people, my lovely friend, Mark Royston, aka Ruby Two-Shoes.

When I was twenty years old, I ran away to sea; well I got a job on the newly refurbished QE2 and2013-04-24 13.09.20

joined the ship in Germany. On my first, night, while sharing a small cabin with three straight men,2013-04-24 12.43.11 I began to wonder if I was the only gay on board, when I heard someone shout, “Mark’s in the corridor and he’s wearing a dress!” My heart leapt as I ran out to see my saviour in sequins, Mark Roysten, aka Ms. Ruby Two-shoes.

Mark and I became friends instantly and I quickly packed my belongings and swapped cabins with a straight guy (both of us were greatly relived) and moved in with Mark and two other gay men, David and Nigel.

Apart from having to wake up in shifts to shower and avoid any squabbles over the one mirror in the cabin, sharing that cramped space was filled with much fun and laughter.

During our time at sea, Mark said he wanted to put together a drag revue show for the staff party. Mark’s passion for the show saw him enrol our cabin mates David and Nigel and we became the Ruby Sisters. Mark was the type of person who made things happen; he gained us a budget for our drag and wigs (which we bought in New York) had our dance routine put together by two of the women from the Peter Gordino dance troupe and our wigs where back combed to heavenly heights and make-up thickly applied by the prestigious Steiner Salon hairdressers/beauticians.

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The show went down so well, we were asked to perform it again that same night for the customers. Just as we had brought the house down for the staff do, as we came dancing down the sweeping stair case to “We Are What We Are”, the effect was even greater when our customers suddenly twigged that their professional stewards, who had given them a five star service in the restaurant for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, were now transformed into glamorous drag queens. The show was such a successes, that we performed it for next few transatlantic crossings.

Mark and I worked together, played together and shared a cabin 24/7 for eight months, then we both came back to dry land. Mark and I stayed very close, with me visiting him in London or him coming down for a weekend in Brighton and even doing a few ad-hoc shows for friends and one memorable alcohol fuelled show in a London bar.

The months flew by with so many laughs and boozy nights out, we thought it would be like that forever; then one day I had a call to say that Mark had been taken ill.

AIDS swallowed Mark too quickly. Within a month he was taken into the Mildmay Hospital. Mark was defiant to the end, propped up in bed, cigarette poised just above his left shoulder, delivering his ever cutting wit, but it was obvious I would never see him alive again.

At his funeral he had a flower tribute of the QE2 on his coffin and a pair of red high heels, while his favourite song, ‘Cabaret’ played as his body  was brought in.

Even after all these years I still miss Mark a lot. I guess I just want to say. ‘Thank you’ to Maurice and Peter for creating the Hankie Quilt Project, it has been a privilege to make a panel for Mark, aka Ms. Ruby Two-Shoes, a lovely, lovely, man who will never be forgotten.  

Glenn and Mark

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Peers in Action

PA logoBack in April 2010, Richard Generway, along with Paul Harrington and Steve. A discussed the lack of a HIV+ social support group, specifically for men in the 45 year old and above age group. Although there were the very successful groups run by THT South and other independent run groups like, Lunch Positive and Outdoor Positive whose aim has been to to break down the isolation and bringing together all those affected by HIV, the team behind Peer Action were keen to find out if there was enough enthusiasm for a social peer led group that could compliment what was already being offered. By talking to existing service users of these groups, the message that came back loud and clear was yes, there was very much a need.

 I have used the other HIV groups, but was interested in what Peer Action had to offer, particularly through their social outings. Since then I have become very much involved, I now help run their website and have organised some of the theatre outings. Along the way my partner and I have made new friends and got a lot of support from everyone who use Peer Action.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jimmy. Peer Action 

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Bear Patrol

Focus on Bear-Patrol (First published in Positive Nation, December 2012.)

Bear-Patrol is the brainchild of local Brightonian, Danny Dwyer who initially formed the group as a way of getting a group of like minded people together for social gatherings.Danny D

I created a homepage so I could keep in touch with everyone more easily rather than texting to tell them where we would be starting out on a Saturday night; that was back in 2008/9 around the same time Facebook and the whole social media concept was coming into its own. From there the social meetings quickly grew which inspired me to create the social group Bear- Patrol which is open to everybody (you don’t need to be a bear to join) and we started organising trips out.

Danny Dwyer. Read more

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Provocative, inspirational, genius: Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989

Robert Mapplethorpe was born on long island, received a B.F.A From Brooklyn were he was experimenting with varies types of art, but at this stage photography was not his primary passion. It was only later when he stated using a Polaroid instamatic, taking images of his friends and family that he would turn his attention to this art form and push the boundaries and become known for his more notorious photography. The very foundations of the art institutions would be rocked as Mapplethorpe presented work that for many was simply pornographic. But it was Mapplethorpe’s eye for light and shade that made the viewer see the artistic touch within these raw images that represented the underground sadomasochism New York club scene that Mapplethorpe so loved and from that he showed beauty within the darkness.

In his interviews he claimed not to want to shock, but by mixing images such as Louise Bougeois, renowned French-american artist and sculptor with a unfeasible large sex toy says he knew exactly how to play the media game, ensuring he quickly became established as someone to watch out for.

As his career continued, Mapplethorpe played with different styles and images, moving from the shock value of the S and M scene, to portraits of the famous, to flowers.It was even with this subject that he managed to bring erotica into the frame with their suggestive protruding pistol and feminine genital shaped curves. The way he captures their form is stunning, taking the way he uses his human subjects and applying that to the flowers, using isolation of the image, making the viewer take note of the light and shade, the shadows and shapes that are thrown up.

As beautiful as these well crafted images are, Mapplethorpe insisted that this type of work was done as a way of paying for projects, he was really interested in. He also added that the flower projects were the only type of his art that would be allowed in public galleries.

Had he lived, he would have smiled to see that his work that was once seen as too controversial would now be hailed as way before his time.  Like Artist before him, Mapplethorpe pushed the boundaries, making images in art and media move forward, which can only be a good thing. What I finally want to say about this man is no matter what your view on him you must have some admiration, no matter how small that he would make you stop and think about his work, be it showing you beauty in the image of celebrities, flowers or exploring extreme sexual images and near the end of his life taking hard to view images of himself finally losing the battle to AIDS which stole away a great artist of our time.

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Fiction & Books, Flash Blogs, Health, HIV/AIDS, Leisure, Literature Leave a comment

Happy 60th Birthday Peter Tatchell

Happy 60th Birthday Peter Tatchell.

To some, Peter Tatchell is the People’s Protester, to other’s he is an annoyance, for this author he is a hero. Citing his constant campaigns for human rights, highlighting environmental issues with his role as the Green Party’s Parliamentary candidate for Oxford East, and for being the one man brave enough to twice attempt a citizen’s arrest on evil tyrant and outspoken homophobe, Robert Mugabe.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, today Peter celebrates his 60th birthday. Within this time he has dedicated much of his life to highlighting the atrocities dealt out by one human to another, exposing hypocrisies, while making us all take a moment to really stop and think.

Aged just fifteen he campaigned against the death penalty, later he turned his attention to demanding equal rights for Aborigine people. In 1971, Tatchell moved to London and joined the UK branch of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF); the origins of this group began in New York with the now legendary Stonewall Riots. By the time Tatchell joined the UK Gay Liberation Front, the national press were taking notice. The GLC ideals would have a huge influence on Tatchell, as they campaigned not only for gay rights, but for an end to the strangulation gender norms held over everybody, regardless of their sexuality.

In 1983 Tatchell stood as a labour candidate for the Labour party in the Bermondsey by-election. Looking back, many people, including those in government and the press, consider the way Tatchell was vilified at a very dark time in political history. Although Tatchell was seen as a popular candidate, the hate campaign led by the press and other political parties led to Tatchell being afraid for his life.

While the papers made up lies with headlines screaming out, ‘Tatchell: Militant Gay Rights Extremist’, four words to strike fear in to the far right readers hearts, they printed altered photos so it would appear that Tatchell was wearing black lipstick and eyeliner, (a technique Tatchell would turn on its head in his own campaigns) further appeasing to the homophobic voter. The press also claimed that Tatchell had “burst into tears”, suggesting he was weak, after being beaten up while staging a gay rights protest in East Berlin. The truth was Tatchell had been arrested and interrogated by the secret police in East Berlin while staging the first ever gay rights protest in a communist country. It doesn’t take much to see how the national press were baying for Tatchell’s blood, which goes to show just how frightened they were of this man.

Just as shocking came the homophobic tactics used by Tatchell’s political opponents. Overnight graffiti appeared all over the constituency, with the slogan:Tatchell is a communist poof’. Tatchell political campaign would be further undermined with thousands of leaflets pushed through voters letterboxes depicting a picture of Tatchell and the Queen, with the headline   “Which Queen Will You Vote For?” Even the Liberal Party joined in, sporting lapel stickers saying, “I’ve been kissed by Peter Tatchell”, again another attempt to gain votes from the homophobic voters.

The outcome from all of this resulted in Tatchell being inundated with hate mail, abusive phone calls, death threats and hundreds of physical, violent assaults. All this resulted in Tatchell boarding up his flat and sleeping with a fire extinguisher and rope ladder by his bed.

Tatchell would later say, although the experience was terrifying, it changed the way politicians and Trade unionist viewed gay rights. For Tatchell it also showed him the power of the press and how he could promote LGBT rights through public media stunts, many of which he is now best known for.

As well as setting up organisation UK AIDS Vigil Organisation (UKAVO) promoting issues around HIV and AIDS, he was also a prominent influence in the London-based AIDS activist group ACT UP. These two groups would subsequently lead him to launch the more radical, and in many people’s eyes the contentious protest group OutRage.

In 1994 Tatchell and OutRage ‘outed’ ten Church of England bishops, demanding they admit that they were homosexual, while hypocritically supporting anti-gay policies. Once again he came under attack from the government of and the national press labelled him a ‘homosexual terrorist’ and ‘public enemy number one.’

In 1998 Tatchell once again hit the headline when he burst in on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter sermon in Canterbury Cathedral. Tatchell verbally attacked the archbishop, Dr. George Carey’s advocacy of discrimination against Lesbians and gay men.

In London, on the 30th September 1999, Tatchell and three members of outrage made their first attempt to make a citizen’s arrest on Robert Mugabe, a man famous for his disgust of homosexuals, saying; “Lesbians and gays are “sexual perverts” who are “lower than dogs and pigs”. Mugabe continues to urge his people to expose anyone they think is gay or lesbian; this in turn has stirred up more hatred, causing all LGBT Zimbabwean’s to live in daily fear of their lives. It is this violation of Human rights Tatchell has used in his bid to arrest Mugabe, accusing him of “murder, torture, detention without trial, and the abuse of gay human rights”.

“Military interrogators beat both men all over their bodies with fists, wooden planks and rubber sticks, particularly on the soles of their feet, and gave them electric shocks all over the body, including the genitals. The men were also subjected to ‘the submarine’ – having their heads wrapped in plastic bags and submerged in a water tank until they suffocated”. (Amnesty International news release, 21 January 1999).

Tatchell attempted another citizen’s arrests when Mugabe was visiting Brussels in March 2001, this time he was badly beaten by Mugabe’s henchmen, but Tatchell’s actions helped highlight Mugabe’s atrocities against his own people.

Last year, Tatchell, joined international gay rights supporters Andy Thayer, Dan Choi and Louis-Georges Tin; plus Moscow Gay Pride committee member, Anna Komarova and other Russian gay activists as they attempted to march through Moscow, highlighting the right to hold a Gay Pride March. Once again they found themselves under attack from Neo-Nazis, while the Moscow police turned a blind eye.

Our suspicion is that many of the neo-Nazis were actually plainclothes police officers, who did to us what their uniformed colleagues dared not do in front of the world’s media. Either that, or the police were actively facilitating the right-wing extremists with transport to the protest.     Peter Tatchell

Tatchell, along with Dennis L Carney, Vice-Chair of the Black Gay Mens Advisory Group (BGMAG) in London, campaigned and won the battle that stopped reggae stars, Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton from performing their songs that incited hatred towards gays and lesbians.

“The singers’ rejection of homophobia and sexism is an important milestone. We rejoice at their new commitment to music without prejudice,” said Mr Tatchell.

Whatever your thoughts on Tatchell, his commitment to highlight human right abuses, corrupt governments and LGBT equalities have been phenomenal. Happy Sixtieth Birthday Peter, I for one think you’re amazing.

 

 

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Posted on by Glenn Stevens in HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, LGBT, Zhoosh 3 Comments

Maggie! Maggie! Maggie! Out! Out! Out!

“Politicians, ugly buildings and whores, they all get respectable if they last long enough.” These words from actor john Huston in the film Chinatown, feel rather appropriate when considering the release of The Iron Lady, starring the scarily convincing Meryl Streep, as Maggie Thatcher.

Now that Thatcher no longer has the ability to breathe fire of fear into anyone, there will no doubt be those who will watch this film, championing the girl of a grocer, who came to power and promised her voters to make the world a better place…

Of course there are many who benefitted from Thatcher’s breaking up of the unions, selling off our utilities, and giving many people the opportunity to buy their council homes; but all to quickly the dream turned sour, with a generation now paying for a decade of excess and greed. But there is also a more sickening legacy from Thatcher’s era that the film makers have glossed over. These include; the introduction of Clause 28 and the lack of care or understanding regarding the devastating effect the AIDS crises would have on the UK’s gay community.

At the beginning of the AIDs epidemic in 1981 when large groups of gay men, drug users and hemophiliacs, began getting rapidly ill and dying, both Thatcher and Ronald Regan decided to ignore the impact this new disease was having. The national press was quick to flame the fire calling AIDS a ‘Gay Plague’. Those diagnosed with HIV found themselves treated with fear by the general public as well as the health professionals. For example in the early days of the disease, those seeking treatment would find health professionals using the  barrier method, wearing gloves, masks, gowns and hats; making those already feeling alienated even worse. However, there was a huge response from the LGBT community, with support groups springing up, doing much of the work that was lacking from the Conservative Government.

Six years into the epidemic, the Conservative Government brought us the Don’t Die of Ignorance campaign, which basically said ‘Abstain from sex and you’ll be fine.’ The campaign failed to address the real issues and year on year those diagnosed HIV+ has continued to rise.

In 1994 a new AIDS campaign was produced at the cost of £2 million pounds including a pocket guide “Your Pocket Guide to Sex” aimed at educating 16 – 25 year olds on safer sex. However, the Conservative Government got all hot under the collar and had the whole project deleted from existence, much to the disgust of its author, Nick Fisher.

“I don’t believe this government has teenagers’ interests at heart, it has become a political exercise to be seen to be stamping on things that are considered rude. Have they actually thought about how many teenagers are getting pregnant, how many are screwed up because they don’t know whether they are gay or straight, how many are not using condoms because they don’t know where to buy them or how to use them properly? If people are so messed up about sex that they deny its existence on such a massive scale, then there really is something wrong.”                             Nick Fisher.

Fast forward to present day and we find that once again Thatcher’s legacy living on, with the Conservative Government unwilling to provide funding for HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns.

With funding for HIV treatment costing the NHS 1bn per annum, there seems little reason to celebrate the mass destruction Thatcher has caused in her lifetime; and then there’s section 28.

Things first kicked off with the Daily Mail newspaper ranting that there was a campaign by the liberal left to pursued children to be homosexual, feeding the public with the idea that homosexuality was a choice which people could be persuaded to make. Books like Jenny lives with Eric and Martin were used in the propaganda war, with suggestions that such books were being used to undermine the heterosexual family.

Although no school was prosecuted, Clause 28 stopped many schools from teaching or talking about alternative sexualities, which without doubt had an effect on many young people growing up as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender with feelings that they are in some way wrong to have these feelings. It is all too easy to think there are many support groups like the brilliant Diversity Role Models for young LGBT teenagers to get in contact with, but back then there was no internet and just a couple of gay magazines which were only marketed at the older LGBT groups.

One of the best things to come from Section 28 was the way the LGBT community pulled together, stood united and fought back. Lesbians assailed into parliament, while others stormed onto the live set of the BBC’s Six O Clock News, with one woman managed to chain herself to Sue Lawley’s chair. From here, MP’s and famous actors like Sir Ian McKellen came out, as did film director, Derrick Jarman about being HIV positive. These high-profile people added their voices of support and helped form LGBT action support groups including Stonewall and OutRage and even a couple of protest songs

When the Labour Government came to power, they began to pave the way for the Clause to be removed from the statutory books. It is worth noting that those unelected people in power in the House of Lords tried time and time again to keep Clause 28 in place, however, the Clause was eventually scrapped by the Labour Government pushed through the abolishment of the clause on the 18th November, 2003.

Interestingly, when David Cameron was an unelected Conservative member, he spoke out against a repeal of Clause 28 and accused Tony Blair of being ‘anti family’. Although he has since apologized and said equality should be taught in schools, the new legislation, Sex and Relationship Education (SRE), guide mentions that schools are obliged as a minimum to talk on issues of HIV and AIDS, but there is still no legal requirement for schools to talk about LGBT relationships. This may certainly leave many young people believing the way they feel is wrong and unacceptable, showing just how Thatcher’s legacy continues to do more harm than good.

Instead of spending money on seeing Meryl do an impersonation of Thatcher, I have invested my money in the Chumbawamba single, a celebration of Thatcher’s demise to be released on the day she pops her steely clogs.

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in film, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, LGBT, Zhoosh 4 Comments

Count Down to World AIDS Day

A report from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed that last year, 3,000 gay and bisexual men received a positive HIV test, the highest since records first began twenty five years ago. This announcement can be seen in two ways; the ongoing campaign for sexually active people to be come forward and take an HIV test is proving a great success. On the other hand, the campaign urging people
to look after themselves and each other and practice safer sex is not getting through.

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