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

Gay hate

George the Great!

Gays of a certain age will remember the furore Jason Donavan made way back in the 90’s when The Face magazine suggested he may not be straight. At this stage in his career Donavan was a bit of a heart-throb, with a good few many gay men buying his CD’s and spilling out their pink pounds to see him waltz around on stage in his amazing multicoloured dream-coat as he swished around as Joseph.

On hearing what the style icon magazine The Face had printed a story suggesting Donavan was gay, instead of giving a wink and moving on Donavan decided to take out a lawsuit against the magazine and sued them for £200.000 (with the magazine ordered to pay a further £100.000 in legal cost. The outcome was a bit tragic for all concerned, with the magazine asking its readers for donations so they could carry on printing, while Donavan tried his best with a damage limitation exercise by not taking the full amount owed him and spoke out saying  he was neither homophobic or suing for the money, the damage was done.

In hindsight it seems rather odd that The Face should have run with the story, but what was even more tragic was Donavan’s reaction which saw him wandering in celebrity obscurity for a good few years, getting messed up with cocaine use, until realty TV stepped in and offered him away back into the nation’s heart with a stint on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and Celebrity Come Dancing. In his defence Donovan would later say that sueing The Face wa sthe biggest mistake of his life.

How refreshing it was then to read an interview with George Clooney in the American gay magazine The Advocate. Ever since his days as an actor, (we’ll make a surgical bypass Clooney’s early work with the likes of, Return of  the Killer Tomatoes and start with his role as Dr. Douglas “Doug” Ross in ER, men and women of all sexualities sat up and took notice and so began the question, “Is Clooney gay?” Unlike Donavan or the countless other people in the spot light who have gone Baltic at such a suggestion, Clooney has continuously ignored the question, until now. When asked why he hadn’t gone out of his way to say stamp out the gay rumours, he’s reply was:

“I think it’s funny, but the last thing you’ll ever see me do is jump up and down, saying, “These are lies!” That would be unfair and unkind to my good friends in the gay community. I’m not going to let anyone make it seem like being gay is a bad thing. My private life is private, and I’m very happy in it. Who does it hurt if someone thinks I’m gay? I’ll be long dead and there will still be people who say I was gay. I don’t give a shit.

At a time in America where the presidential race is being fought on the back of gay hate by far right Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, it is important that high-profile figures like Clooney stand up and say he defends gay rights as people who may not engage with or know anyone LGBT personally, will take notice of what people like Clooney are saying and listen.

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in film, Human Rights, LGBT 2 Comments

Speak Out Against Homophobia.

Here in the UK, the LGBT community can celebrate the many rights we have all fought for and won over the last few decades, from having homosexuality abolished as a criminal offence, the equal age of consent and most recently the right for same sex couples to have their union together acknowledged in the form of civil partnerships. Looking at such ground breaking achievements it would be easy to think that we can sit back and relax because all the big battles have been won; but this really is not the case.

For every outdated piece of legislation that has been overturned there are still those who see homosexuality as second class to their straight counterparts and this is passed down to the next generation through a variety of ways. Last week it immerged that Google had rolled out a new app giving mums the opportunity to answer twenty cliché questions to determine if their son is gay.

Some of the ridiculous questions that the makers claimed would determine the outcome of their son’s sexuality included,

  • Is he a fan of divas (Madonna, Britney Spears)?
  • Does he spend time getting ready before being seen in public?
  • Does he like musical comedies?

So what if someone, gay or straight, takes a while to get dressed up to see Madonna in a musical comedy, but the way these questions are backed up by,

  • Does he like football?
  • Does he read the sports page in the newspaper?
  • Has he ever been in a fight?

It become perfectly clear that the people who put the app together are suggesting that if someone’s son doesn’t conform to the outdated gender norms, they are less of a man and as such are seen as inferior to others in society. Of course the people behind the app would say that such questions should not be taken so seriously and they are just a bit of fun; but it is these same outdated views that bullies use to undermine their peers from the playground to the workplace and keep many people from declaring proudly that they are gay.

A prime example can be seen in football. At present there is a campaign DVD due to be launched, titled; Homophobia: Let’s Tackle It! with the makers hoping to follow the success of, ‘Show Racism the Red Card’. The makers had wanted a gay footballer to front the DVD, but have been greeted by a brick wall. Not since Justin Fashanu, (who committed suicide in1998) has there been another professional footballer ‘come out’ as gay. They also found it impossible to get a straight footballer to speak out against homophobia, for fear of a backlash from the terraces and in the press.

It is without doubt that the main reason for such an absence of ‘out’ footballers speaking out on the issue isn’t down to gay men, as the app questions would suggest, not being any good at sport but more to do with homophobia still being rive within the ‘beautiful game’.

In the same week there was a conference for the Orlando Republican presidential debate. During the session Stephen Hill, a US soldier serving in Iraq, spoke via video link saying he was pleased he was able to be open about his homosexuality now President Obama had abolished the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that had meant gay and lesbian service men and women would be fired from their post if their sexuality was exposed. The response from the chair came that should the Republican Party take office again, the ban on homosexuals in the forces would be put firmly back in place. The people behind such thinking are fully aware that there are hundreds of gay and lesbian people working in the arm forces, but to show that gay men and women are working in environments outside the clichéd stereotypes would show that the only thing different between sexualities is the gender we decided to sleep with.

These are just a few examples of how a part of society believes that to be gay is something that must be ridiculed, hated and stamped out. We may have won some big battles, but we must keep our voices heard loud, expose gay hate in all its forms, and stamp out the hatred so the next generation will only find homophobia in the history books.

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Human Rights, Leisure, Zhoosh 1 Comment

Speak Out Against Online LGBT Bullying

For as many people who go out of their way to say something nice, there are a few bad apples who think it quite acceptable to spout words of hate believing their actions have little or no consequence to their victims; this is never the case. Last week it was reported that a fourteen year old boy named  Jamey Rodemeyer had taken his own life after suffering a sustained campaign of homophobic abuse at school and online. Some of the messages read “’JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!’ while another said: ‘I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it 🙂 It would make everyone WAY more happier!’

New York police have said they are considering charging three students for sending messages of hate, Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Human Rights, LGBT Leave a comment