More to Me Than HIV

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More to Me Than HIV

First published in Gscene July 2020 For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being           Read more

More to Me Than HIV: GScene post Aug 2020

More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus.  When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the Read more

More to Me Than HIV: first published in GScene July 2020

For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being             diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, Read more

camp

Gay Icons: Saluting the Sissy

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First published in www.gscene.com 01/01/2017:

Happy New Year! If I close my eyes I can take myself right back to living at home with my Nana and Sister, laughing at the campness of the likes of Larry Grayson (Shut that Door) and John Inman (I’m Free!) which we all really loved. As I got a bit older, these two characters where lambasted by right-on gay men, with cries that they did not represent the gay community. My guess was that it was never their intention, they were just being themselves, doing their job. There was further outcry that their characters were deemed safe’ to be on the telly as they were both sexless. I think if anyone bothered to re-watch a few episodes of Larry Grayson’s stand up performances they’d see plenty of sexual innuendo going on with his references to his postman, Pop it In Pete, or his more romantic suggestions with his song, My Friend Everard (get-it?) Is More Then A Friend To Me.th-1
Of course the writers of Our You Being Served and John Inmman both said the character, Mr Humpries wasn’t gay, the gag was the same with Mrs Slocombe was genuinely about her cat each time she mentioned her pussy, to do otherwise was to ruin the magicial nod, nod, wink wink on which the series was famed for. For me, I recognised the gay ellement in John Inman’s character and connected with that. I clearly remember sitting up straight when watching an episode of Are You Being Served, whth-3en John Inman suddenly popped out of a Wendy House, alongside a gorgeous bloke dressed up as a sailor, sporting a black beard…maybe that’s when my fixation with bearded men first began. To me, both these men are gay icons, along with the brilliant Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams aka Julian and Sandy (Ohh, how Bona!)

Sure, it would have been great to have a more diverse set of gay characters on the TV/radio but back then, and for a good while after, camp men where the only visible gays out there; the alternative would be guilt ridden stereotypes, I know which ones I prefer.
Another favourite gay icon of mine is Quentin Crisp. When I was eighteen, I saw Crisp’s autobiography TV drama, The Naked Civil Servant in which Crisp describes how he wanted to make his homosexuality, ‘abundantly clear’, by hennaing his hairand painting his nails red, even though such acts made him the target of homophobia. Crisp’s bravery made me all the more determined to be a happy, out, gay man.

Around this time, early 1980’s, there came a new influx of ballsie gay/bi men via the music scene, including: Marc Almond, Boy George, Marilyn, Pete Burns; these guys where ‘out there’ with their looks, but I was really drawn to the likes of Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and theth-5 trio from Bronski Beat, Jimmy Someville, Larry Stienbachek and Steve Bronski. Frankie for their sexually explicit lyrics and video for Relax and Bronski Beat for their many unashamedly political gay songs, from Small Town Boy, Why and It Ain’t Necessarily So.th-6 th-7

These musicians may name check, David Bowie as a major influence, but it is the likes of Grayson, Inmanand Crisp who way before them were shaking up the norm, paving the way for other peacocks to shine. However, there’s a section of society both LGBT and straight who find camp men offensive. I recently saw the Play, Boys in The Band  (see clips from the movie) that shows that although we can all be a bit camp, it is very easy to turn on the sissy. I personally salute the sissy, the camp man, the queer. What isn’t right is that there is still very little acknowledgement for these camp men’s (as Ru Paul would say) “Charisma, uniqueness, th-8nerve and talent”. They may not have seen themselves as queer pioneers but without them this world would most certainly be a much less interesting place.

for more camp:The Queens of Camp Comedy

Posted on by admin in blogging, Gay, Gscene, LGBTQ, Pride Leave a comment

Edgar Allan Poe, The Man, The Madness, The Movie.

When it comes to great literature, gothic horror is usually classified at the bottom of the pile. This genre is often seen as little more than pulp fiction to amuse teenage boys, where they can delve into a place filled with crumbling castles and damsels in distress.  This is particularly true when discussing the works of Edgar Allan Poe, whose short stories and poems hang heavy with bleakness and dread, where the reader can be pretty sure there will be no happy ever after, but there is sop much more to his work than the usual clichés

To dismiss the work of Poe’s as little more than a throw away read would be doing this man a great disservice as his work has gone on to influence some of our greatest writers and helped bring dark stirrings into some of the best-loved literature. It was Poe who invented the detective genre, with his shocking short story, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue, (1841) which in turn led Arthur Conan Doyle to stand up and say that Poe was a major influence on his own tales in detective fiction. One doesn’t have to look too far to see how Poe has influenced other writers, including Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre where the pages are littered with gothic images, from the imposing building of Thornfield Hall, to the terrible secret locked away in the attic. (no spoilers, just pick up a copy and find out just how dark celebrated romantic Bronte was).

To understand Poe’s work, one only has to look into his life, filled with great tragedies and heart ache. Edgar Poe was born on 19 January 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins and David Poe. Before he reached the age of three his father had abandoned him and his siblings; further gloom fell upon when their mother died after a short illness. Soon after Poe would find himself separated from his brother William Henry Leonard Poe and younger sister Rosalie, and would be brought up by a wealthy merchant John Allan and his wife, moving to Richmond, Virginia. Although Poe done well with his studies, he would later become estranged from his adopted family after accumulating huge gambling debts.

Unable to pay his college fees or debts, Poe enlisted in the United States Army, although he had been writing for some time it was at this stage he started to take his role as writer seriously and paid for his first set of poetry, called Tamerlane and Other Poems (1831), published. Later that same year he published a second book of poetry called Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane with growing success. Around the same time he left the army and moved to Baltimore to live with his aunt Maria Clemm, and her daughter Virginia Eliza Clemm. Poe’s brother Henry was also living at the house but died shortly after from tuberculosis.

When Virginia turned thirteen, Poe proposed and married his cousin; back then neither her age or relationship to Poe were considered out of the ordinary. However, for Poe, his marriage to Virginia and her subsequence period of ill-health would prove to have a massive influence on his work. For many months Poe would have to watch the woman he loved slip onto the brink of death. Poe would sit by her bedside and watch helplessly waiting for the love of his life to leave him forever, only for her to make a near partial recovery giving him hope that Virginia would be back in his life again. Time and time again Poe was put through these agonies, as Virginia fell dreadfully ill and again Poe would watch on in horror as death waited patiently on the other side of the bed. The experience would lead Poe to revisit these horrors in some of his most celebrated work, including, the poem, Lenore, (1831) and his brilliant short stories Ligeia, (1838) and brilliant short story, The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) where within these dark tales the heroine would come back from the dead to haunt the living.

Although Poe wrote prolifically throughout his life, he never had copywrite to his own work. So although he was celebrated during his own life time, he would struggle financially throughout. Alcohol would also play a large part in Poe downfall.

Throughout the early 1970’s Poe’s tales became the bread and butter for the films directed by Roger Corman   where their main star Vincent Price reveled in bringing Poe’s creations to life with such classics as The Fall of the House of Usher, (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Tales of Terror  (1962), The Raven (1963), The Masque of the Red Death  (1964), and The tomb of Ligeia (1965).

As camp and fun as these films are, nothing compares to Poe’s words. In a rather tragic, although very Poe way, Edgar Allen Poe died in mysterious circumstances, with no one really sure how he met his demise. A film released next Friday called The Raven (2012), directed by directed by James (V for Vendetta)  McTeigue, where some of Poe’s best known stories are brought to life. For those who have never read a word of Poe, get yourself a copy of his tales and see what you’re missing, for as much as he’s work is considered pulp, the world he has conjured will stay in your mind long after you have put down the book, now that is a true master of literature.

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Fiction & Books, film, Gothic horror, Leisure, Literature 4 Comments

It’s Christmas Time, There’s No Need To Be Afraid…(Scrap that, Be Afraid, be Very Afraid).

On the television ads, there are hordes of people who still manage not to bump into each other as they find just what they want for Christmas; and if not, there is always a handsome/beautiful/pretty/homely (delete as you wish) sales person who acts as if they were modelled on the film set of the Stepford Wives. As many of you will by this time will know, this is the world of the ad-(wo)man’s fantasy. In fact, a trip to the shops has been compared more like that to a 1990’s club nights at Trade,as you tried to push past all those sweaty bulked up men who were too butch (or stoned on steroids) to move out of your way as you squeeze along “Muscle Alley.”

The savvier shopper of course does all their shopping on-line, ticks the optional “Would you like your purchase gift wrapped” and has the presents delivered to their work, making their colleges, all the more envious as you cry out “Another present? I never knew I was so popular.” This may have the effect of getting you laid at the Christmas party, or totally ignored for being too smug. Of course the way out of the latter situation is once everybody is plied with booze, is to take them to the nearest gay club and pull out a bottle of poppers. As the advert (the one I made up in my head anyway) goes “You’re never alone with a bottle poppers.” There will be the cry of “Ohh, it smells of old socks” but once they get past the first hit and Y.M.C.A booms from the speakers, everyone, including that stuffy woman from accounts and that miserable bloke who no one knows quite what he does at the office, will be begging for a second, third, fourth and fifth sniff. Who knew that for £5.99 you could bond the whole staff group in one night, that a week in North Wales trying to create a raft from a thousand plastic straws and twenty-eight empty yogurt pots never could.

The next day you will wake up with a taste resembling dog deodorant (imagine) in your mouth and images crawling around the peripheral of your soggy, aching mind from the night before. Believe me, you want to bury all those images in that dark part of your head and throw away the key, because if you don’t you’ll end up by the nearest seashore, stripping off Reggie Perrin style and just keep on walking into the sea

With one nightmare out of the way, you then have Christmas Day to face, with Little Mix from  X-factor being at the number one spot, but at least that will stop Cliff Richard trying to compete. There are those who use the day to keep the world at bay, wrap up in loads of blankets, have a truck of chocolates, mince pies and er…more chocolate by their side, happy to have full control of the remote control and sit back and enjoy THEIR day as THEY see fit….they are the lucky ones. For others there is the trip to the in-laws. All year it has been ringed round the calendar, a promise sealed from the year before when you dared to have the special day together on your own, only to be pounded with guilt when your partner spent four hours on the phone persuading his mother not to overdose on Emva Cream.

So, you’ve packed enough outfits for every event, knowing full well there will never be an occasion in Ipswich to wear those hot pants and matching vest, but hey, it’s good to be an optimist. Once settled in, you may be under the illusion that your help in the kitchen is needed; but only the brave would offer to cook the Christmas dinner for the in-laws. For many mother’s this is the one time they can remind their offspring that no one cooks like them, and only the insane would try to prove otherwise. keep reminding yourself, you may think a sprinkling of edible glitter on the roast potatoes and sprouts, would be the best thing ever, but the reality is this could well be the proverbial straw that sends your mother in law marching towards WW3. In most cases it’s always best to offer to either peel the mountain of spuds, sprouts and carrots needed the night before or better still, say you’ll do the washing up, particularly if all you need do is load the dishwasher.

Parlour games can be fun, but stay away from anything competitive, particularly if that ‘must-win-at-all-cost’ gene is hardwired into you. No one likes to see you punching the air when you have beaten your partner’s eight year old niece at Tennis Wii, and no one will forgive you for frying grandad’s pacemaker just because you thought wiring Operation to the mains would make things a little more interesting.

In the words of Aretha Franklin, r.e.s.p.e.c.t is the name of the game, so when it comes to bed time, leave the full on kinky sex for when you get back home, no one wants to have to take a hockey stick to the sheets to get them in the washing machine.

And so you come to the end of the holiday, and hopefully you’ll look back on it more like the last few pages of a Charles Dickens novel and less like the middle bit of a Christmas episode of East Enders. Either way, congratulate yourself for surviving this once a year celebration, safe in the knowledge that you have the next twelve months before you have to do it all againMerry Christmas Everyone!

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Zhoosh 1 Comment

Zombies invade Brighton (again)

Vacant stares, feet shuffling aimlessly as you following the crowd, low moans filling the air. No I’m not talking about the Saturday night pub crowd stumbling up St James Street at 3am, but the rather brilliant Beach of the Dead invasion, that will be hitting the streets of Brighton on Saturday 22nd October.

Judging by the hoards of zombies that took to the street last year, it is safe to say that the Zombie fest, Beach of the Dead will now be an annual fixture in Brighton’s “must do” calendar. For those who missed it, what a treat you missed! Last year the streets were awash with every conservable members of the un-dead as you could possible imagine, from the stereotypical Dawn of the Dead, white faced, torn shirt brigaded, to some extremely imaginative creations; including a bride and groom zombie fighting over a severed hand, a Where’s Wally, and even a Hunter S. Thompson/Jonny Depp ala Fear and loathing in Las Vegas Zombie.

As we slouched through the daylight streets, people cheered rather than ran off with screams of fear…well except for one woman who was caught up in a gang of zombies banging on the side of the bus as she called out, “I’m not a zombie, I really do want to get the 26 to Fiveways.” Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, film, Gothic horror, Zhoosh 2 Comments

In the Name of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Pride.

Photo By Angus Stewart

With only two days to go before Brighton’s LGBTQ Pride hits the streets, with people either choosing to stay at home, pay to go to the organise event in the park, gather in one of the other parks, hit the beach or congregate in the ‘Gay Village’ up and down St James Street. Although the weather forecast is not looking that great at the moment, but hey you never know it might just break out into sunshine just for us on the day. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Gscene, Health, Human Rights, Leisure, LGBT Leave a comment

la cage aux folles (then & now)

 

If the word “camp” claws your throat then please look away now, for everyone else get yourself a ticket for the Brighton Theatre Groups production of the fabulously camp La Cage aux Folles. This brilliant gay farce was first produced in France in 1973 with the premise revolving around two gay men, Georges, the owner of the drag revue night club were his long term lover, Albin takes to the stage each night as the super glamorous Zaza.

Although gay men having children is no longer seen as partially shocking, the play was way ahead of its time by having Georges and Albin as proud gay parents to a son ( a result of a short fling George had twenty years before) called Laurent (in the musical his name is Jean-Michel).

 

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Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, film, Leisure, LGBT Leave a comment

Gothic Read.

While you’re out in the sun, you might fancy sitting down for a read. For those who like a touch of gothic fiction or equally want to delve into a tale that explores feminist studies, then I’d strongly recommended The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. First published in 1892, the story explores one woman’s battle to take control of her wellbeing, while trapped in a patriarchal household.  Having been prescribed the rest cure, (the same cure had been prescribed to Gilman by her physician, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell; the result was this short tale.) Dispite her wishes both her brother and husband coerce the narrator to stay in the at the top of the house. Forbidden to partake in any stimulus, she writes in secret, spilling out her inner frustrations regarding her husband, her home life and lack of energy, each made worse by her long neglected, hated surroundings. However, as each night passes, the room begins to give up it’s secrets, releasing the woman, as other women had done before, from her male tormentors  forever. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Fiction & Books, Gothic horror, Leisure, Literature, Zhoosh Leave a comment