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 Rights

Russia’s LGBTQ Comminity, You Are Not Forgotten!

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Although it is still frustrating that the big news corporations still hold the capital on what they decided to be newsworthy, Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like have paved the way for all of us to exchange a much wider selection of  news, views and the occasional skateboarding cat. Despite the numerous chances for any of the main channels to show the brutality many of Russian’s LGBTQ community are facing. For the last few weeks there has been no reports on the draconian law Putin passed, stating that it is against the law to promote homosexuality in  any form. It seems only that the major news channels are only giving a small snapshot of this problem, referring to the Human Rights Act, when the brutality the LGBTQ Russian community is facing is not being fully addressed. Read more

Posted on by admin in Brighton & Hove, Gay, Human Rights, Lesbian, LGBT Leave a comment

Russian LGBT Commuinty, You Are Not Forgotten!

russia-gay-pride[1]

Although it is still frustrating that the big news corporations still hold the capital on what they decided to be newsworthy, Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like have paved the way for all of us to exchange a much wider selection of  news, views and the occasional skateboarding cat. Despite the numerous chances for any of the main channels to show the brutality many of Russian’s LGBTQ community are facing. For the last few weeks there has been no reports on the draconian law Putin passed, stating that it is against the law to promote homosexuality in  any form. It seems only that the major news channels are only giving a small snapshot of this problem, referring to the Human Rights Act, when the brutality the LGBTQ Russian community is facing is not being fully addressed

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There could be an argument made that the fact the Russian Government are not the only country in the world to have such draconian laws passed against people who do not identify as heterosexual, when so many other countries have used homosexuals as scapegoats. In the past anti-homosexual legislation has been used as a smoke screen to try and appease the masses about their countries catalogue of economic failings. ‘ In the UK, we only have to look back to 1988 and see just how backward thinking our own Conservative Government was with their introduction of Clause 28 as a way of trying to divert the general public from the disastrous economic situation at the time.  Back then, with no internet to help, it took a team of feisty lesbians to invade the BBC newsroom to make the dissatisfied voices of the LGBTQ community to be heard.

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What is really exciting here and now is the way many of people are taking to the internet to help the Russian LGBTQ community, who are being silenced through a mixture of legislation, intimidation and force a loud and clear voice.

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It is without doubt that President Putin and his team of advisors truly believed that they could carry on attacking a minority group and no one outside of their jurisdiction would much care and in turn make a little fuss. After all, for the last few years they have allowed the Neo-Nazi faction within Russia to thrive and commit random acts of brutality on anyone who tried to hold a peaceful Pride March through the city. More recently there have been widespread reports of similar right-wing groups luring young gay men to a meeting place. Once captured, these groups then record themselves sexually torturing and humiliating these young men. The recordings are then posted on the internet along with the young men’s personal details and contact address. This has led to one of the victim taking his own life. Another report to come out of Russia was about a gay man who was raped with a beer bottle and had his head smashed in with a rock. Apart from the outraged reports in the LGBTQ press, such acts of violence have had little impact on the main news channels and so the brutality continues, thrives and now it has reached the point where the torture and murder of someone over their sexuality is practically sanctioned by law.

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What the Russian bureaucrats hadn’t quite banked on was the backlash from Russia passing these anti-gay laws, while also preparing to host the Winter Olympics in 2014. This has been were the online community has come into its own. Not a day passes without another thread being uploaded detailing the rise and rise of online petitions against the Winter Olympics being held in Sochi.

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Stephen Fry is well known to have thousands of followers on twitter, so when he posted an open letter to the Olympic Committee, comparing Putin to Hitler. The  news of the plight of the LGBTQ community in Russia reached a mass audience which the main news corporations could not ignore. On Friday there was a small mention on the main news channels about the growing dissent, mainly focusing on the safety of LGBT athletes and their supporters competing in Russia Winter Olympics.

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This in turn forced the Russian Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko to public say, “Calm down.” (who does he think he is, Michel Winner?) He went on to say that no LGBT athlete would come to harm while visiting Russia. A u-turn of what has been previously said from Russian officials. What the news channels have also conveniently left out of their report is the comment made by Alexander Mikhailov from Siberia’s Zabaikalsk region.

“I want to call on people to get a healthy perspective of this disgrace (homosexuality). Our district needs a law that would give troops the right to grab gays on the street and drag them to the city square, where Cossacks would whip them,”

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A few years ago, none of us would have hoped to believe that we the LGBTQ community would have the equality rules being passed through government. Positive change is happening in the UK, with the public opinion turning against the views of the dinosaurs still roaming around the back passages of Parliament and the House of Lords. Thanks to social media the homophobes views are being exposed and in turn the voice of the dissident is gathering memento.  As a community we can pull together and help combated the hate and ensure the Russian LGBTQ community can in turn make a difference. At the time of writing this, the BBC lunch time news has mentioned the human rights laws being broken in Russia; our voice of protest is getting louder, let’s insure it becomes too loud to ignore. Post a message of support to the LGBTQ Russian Community. Comment and repost news reports about the brutality the LGBTQ Russian community are facing. sign the petition below. together we will bring a positive change and stamp out homophobia.

http://chn.ge/13jhR37

– See more at: http://www.thebrightonwriter.co.uk/?p=2008&preview=true#sthash.Y6EzClwq.dpuf

Posted on by admin in Gay, Human Rights, LGBT Leave a comment

Right-wing Group One Million Moms Hate Campaign on Graphic Novels Backfires

There’s a gay hate group in America, dressed up with the rather fluffy name, One Million Moms. OMM is a right wing group in America whose main objective is to stir up fear and hatred about homosexuality. Their latest target is Marvel and DC comics who are both introducing positive storylines involving major characters. OMM main bone of contention runs along the line that with the upcoming copy of Marvel’s comics, Astonishing X-Men #50 there long running male characters, Northstar and Kyle are getting married in New York.

 

A quick peek at OMM website has lines like: “Can you imagine little boys saying, “I want a boyfriend or husband like X-Men?” To the Moms who subscribe to this group, such statements read, “When I grow up I want to be Satan.” Such thinking has a very good chance of their children either growing up afraid to come to their parents or leading to them having an inbuilthatred of all things homosexual.

 

On the flipside to these vile women spouting bile about homosexuality in graphic novels, has led to a huge interest in comics that have a positive gay storyline; a point that was picked up by bleedingcool.com. OMM turned their attention to mainstay comic Life with Archie. In copy number 18, the front-page splash was dedicated to the marriage of Kevin Keller to his long-term boyfriend. Before OMM got involved the comic was selling for $4.00. But once OMM got involved and the national press took up the storyline, instead of a mass outcry and people taking to the streets to burn copies of Life with Archie, the sales of the magazine sold out in shops and copies have been selling on EBay for $50.00. There has even been suggestion this price could increase to $100.00 as demands for this particular issue increases.

 

On the grand scale of things such actions may not seem hugely significant, but they are important in helping shift people’s attitudes from the ground up and more importantly it gives a positive message to people of all ages that being gay is not a sin.  Most recently Barack Obama has once again made clear his pledge for LGBT people, to not have more rights or better rights then anyone else but to have equal rights, which includes the right to get married to the person you love regardless of their sexuality.

Posted on by admin in Fiction & Books, Human Rights, LGBT, Literature Leave a comment

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

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

“The Need to Renew the HIV+ Message.

30 years ago when the realisation that sexual intercourse was a dangerous pastime, everyone was bombarded by the Conservative’s safe sex television and leaflet campaigns. Images of icebergs and tombstones filled our consciousness along with the tag line, “Don’t die of ignorance.” From then on in the safer sex message cropped up in stage plays, (The normal Heart), films (Longtime Companion) and soap opera storylines, (Eastenders) reminding all of us almost on a daily bases that HIV existed and that as a LGBT community we had to take responsibility in looking after ourselves and each other, and we did. From the terror of what this virus was doing to people we loved, support groups sprung up in the backs of bars and people’s homes making sure the message of safer sex was out there, loud and proud and that anyone who needed
care and support received it. As the years have rolled by, the subject of HIV has slowly dwindled away from the wider public domain, with the issue given an airing to the masses once a year on December the 1st, World Aids Day. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Positive Nation, THT 5 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

Homophobic Hate Contiunes…

When I wrote about Jamie Rodemeyer taking his own life after years of being bullied at school for being bisexual, in the back of my head I really believed that the children who had targeted him would wake up to their words of hate and realise that they had been the cause of a 14 year old boy taking his life. Astonishingly this has not been the case. Instead the bullies have started a new campaign of hate and are now picking on Jamie’s sister, yelling at her that they are pleased her brother took his own life. I believe that it is up to all of us to stand up against bullying in all its forms and to make people of all ages face up to their actions and understand the full consequences. Please take a moment to follow the link to Jamie’s school and ask the adults to help stamp out bullying in their school.http://www.williamsvillek12.org/contact.cfm Let’s hope the message gets through to other schools that just because someone shouts out words of hate they can still kill. https://www.facebook.com/RIPJameyslaw
http://youtu.be/vTu9XBt6SPI

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

Authors Asked to Erase Gay Character.

Stop discrimination

You’re a writer, you have worked hard on developing a plot for your young adult, fictional novel. You have created a character you love and you know will reach out to your readership. The excitement builds as you get a call from a literary agent who says they love the book but… for the manuscript to be more palatable to the publishers they want you to write out the black character and make him white. The outcry would be huge, with such an idea hitting the six O clock news. Yet it was only twenty years ago when children’s author Malorie Blackman was asked to do just that.

 So when she was told that last week, two American writers, Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown, were told by a literary agent that their young adult, post-apocalyptic novel, Stranger, was of interest, but only on the proviso that they re-wrote the gay characters as a heterosexual couple; her adamant response was, “Are we still not over this nonsense? Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Fiction & Books, Human Rights, LGBT, Literature, Zhoosh 11 Comments

Help Stop Anti-LGBT Campaigner’s of Hate

Help Stop Anti-LGBT Campaigner’s of Hate.

Throughout the years there have been countless cranks, politicians and religious fanatics ready to jump on the bandwagon to spout words of hate against the LGBT community; some are destructive, while others are just plain ridiculous. Who can forget the right wing views of Reverend Jerry Falwell who suggested that Tinky-Winky, (an animated foam form) from the children’s TV programme the Tellytubbes, was gay.

 “He is purple – the gay-pride colour; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle – the gay-pride symbol.”  Rev. J. Falwell. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, LGBT, Zhoosh 6 Comments