More to Me Than HIV

moretomethanhiv.life 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 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

Combating Stigma: More To Me Than HIV.

First published in Gscene 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 early 1990s, but having lived through the period before there was any treatment, watching friends die of AIDS, or from the toxicity of early medication AZT, those memories of uncertainty can still creep in and unnerve. 

With this in mind, I can imagine that for the group of people who HIV has not had a significant impact on their lives, when they hear the words HIV or AIDS they will recall the time when the only information out there was AIDS = Death, which was only compounded by the tabloid press who went above and beyond in spreading misinformation about how HIV could be transmitted. Perhaps because HIV is not part of their lives, this is their recall on what HIV is still about. It is this misunderstanding that perpetuates HIV stigma and one that needs to stamped out with re-education. 

The one thing that stops many people being open about their HIV status is the stigma, stigma that comes from outdated ideas about what HIV is and how it can be passed on. 

Let me make this perfectly clear, people living with an HIV+ diagnoses who are on an effective antiretroviral therapy cannot pass the virus on, put simply: Undetectable = Untransmittable.

People living with HIV, on effective treatment can expect to get older and get on with living their lives. Not that living with HIV doesn’t have a whole set of challenges, but having an HIV diagnoses should not be the defining thing about us, we are so much more than those three little letters and that is what is at the core of this project. 

We understand that to speak openly about our HIV+ status may be an uncomfortable step to make, but it is through this project we feel we can break down the stigma associated with HIV by showing that we are not ashamed by our status, it is something we live with but that is not a label that defines who we are. Through this photo project we will show that we are: determined, resilient, funny and capable, we are chefs, beauticians, builders, mother’s, fathers, grandparents, artists, listeners, musicians, carers, writers and so the list goes on. So for those living with HIV, we ask you to show us who you are beyond your HIV status; check out the website moretomethanhiv.life, upload three photos, one portrait of yourself and two photos that show another part of what make you, you, along with three, positive, descriptive words. Together we can combat HIV+ stigma and resign it to the history books where it belongs.

Posted on by admin in Gay, Gscene, Health, HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ, More to Me Than HIV Leave a comment

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             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, which caused me to not be vocal about my status outside of the safety of those HIV+ forums and groups.

I felt empowered by talking about my own HIV+ status at my place of work and was moved by those who spoke so eloquently and openly about living with an HIV+ diagnoses. Straight after the project had finished, I knew I wanted to build on what we had collectively presented.

From here the same team came on board and collectively we have shaped this years visual presentation for World AIDS Day 2020.

The photo project is called, More to Me than HIV; it’s main purpose is to help breakdown the stigma that many people living with an HIV+ diagnoses experience. The project will culminate in an online public gallery as well as a physical exhibition of photographs at Jubilee library and a selection of branch libraries across Brighton and Hove who are supporting the project by allowing us to use the space free of charge

We are inviting people from all communities, gay, straight, BAME and transgender, who are living with HIV to submit three photos: one self portrait, (format, vertical), and two other photos (cropped, squared to fit beside your portrait photo) These two images must convey other aspects of what makes you, you; from a hobby, your career or passion.

Please send three empowering words to accompany the images. We will format and add these to the partite image. 

Submissions will be exhibited on our online public gallery, which we will launch a week before World AIDS Day as part of the national HIV+ testing week.

From these submissions we will choose a cross section of 30 entries to make up our libraries exhibition. When submitting your photos, there will be an option to opt out of this part of the project and to have your images online only. 

From the 30 entires we would like to invite you to write  300 words (100 words for each image) to give further context to the images and what it means then we say there’s more to me than HIV. 

The team behind the project understand there be a lot of questions  participants want to ask which we will strive to answer via the website, here are a few that may come to mind.

Can I be assured of confidentiality?

Yes, we live with or are affected by HIV ourselves and recognise the importance of confidentiality. For example, when you subscribe to our email list, you don’t have to give your name, we only use it to politely address you.

How do I submit photos, which format should I use and size?

Send your photos by email to the webpage address, there will also be easy to follow details of what format and size we would like you to use.

How do you approve images?

We reserve the right not to use images that break any UK law, contain any hateful or obscene content, or are too small to represent on our platform without distorting the image.

What if I don’t want to be identified?

We will not attach any name to the portraits for the project. You may choose not to show your whole face in the portraits, however, we would like to encourage you to combat stigma by being visible.

I’d like to take part, but I’m uneasy as I’m not out about my HIV Status?

We recognise that choosing when and who to disclose your his positive status to can be difficult, as we have been there ourselves. You may want to choose this project as part of your disclosure strategy to show others how diverse we are. Being pictured with others may be of comfort to you, as you are not alone. 

If you would like to speak to an HIV positive Peer Support Volunteer, the Sussex offers a one to one bespoke service to help you stand with you on your journey.

Our website will be updated throughout the project as more questions come in so please do check the website. We look forward to seeing your images as we all stand together and say, there is so much more to name than HIV.

Posted on by admin in Health, HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ, More to Me Than HIV Leave a comment

In the beginning…

The way many of us saw the corona virus as something on the other side of the world, was how many of us in the UK saw the onslaught of HIV and AIDS. For me it was something that happened in Africa and America then we started to hear that gay men in London were falling ill. 

In Norwich, we were in a bubble, I can’t imagine anyone would be putting there hand up to say they had HIV. The reason why became very apparent when two gorgeous American solders came to the only gay club in town, and much to my shame none of us spoke to them, they just stood in the corner for a bit and eventually left.

Do You Understand?

I used to think that AIDS happed to
Africans and Americans
Well, that’s what I was led to believe
and with that knowledge I felt safe.

Do you Understand?

I heard that the plague was rife in London
so it was best for a provincial queen like me
to stay clear of any East End Rough

Do you Understand?

I once heard of a friend of a friend who
knew someone who had died of cancer
It was best not to call it AIDS

Do You Understand?

I’ve sat by the beds of friends who looked
starved and grey, who shit themselves and could
not tell me it hurt and degraded them

Do You Understand?

I heard today I’ve got five years to die
to join the statistics on some government list
I prepared to pack away my Go-Go Boots and fans

Do you understand?

Seven years on, I’ve still not gone, I’ve decided
not to take my doctors advice
I’ve kept my boots and fans, i’v decided  to give
death a miss, for a bit….and I’ll dance to
some HI-N-R-G song

Now, do you understand

written 1995

Do You Understand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on by admin in blogging, HIV/AIDS Leave a comment

The Power of a Kiss

thSince time began the emotive power of a kiss has been well documented, from Judas’s betrayal kiss to Jesus, to the emotional pull of Rodin’s world famous sculpture, The Kiss. This simple show of affection continues to be extremely powerful when shared with the wider public, particularly if the kiss is between a couple of the same sex and even more so if the same sex are male. One just has to take a look at the furore caused by the chaste kiss between the two Eastender characters, Colin (Michael Cashman) and Barry (Gary Hailes). This gay kiss was a first for any UK soap opera and caused equal amounts of praise and homophobic abuse from fans of the show. The red top tabloids went into meltdown with headlines like Eastbenders. Since then all the major soaps have included gay characters, reflecting the majority of the public opinion that being gay and showing affection through a kiss is not something to be ashamed of. However, there is still a section of the community who are literally repulsed by the sight of two men kissing; rather predictably two lesbians kissing receives a more titillating response from the tabloids and the majority of those (mostly male) homophobic complainers. Most recently Eastenders introduced a new gay character’s, Danny Pennant and Johnny Carter (played by Gary Lucy and Sam Strike) and once again complaints from viewers came in, however, the amount of complaints was dramatically smaller to those received back in the 1980’s. What is interesting to note is there has apparently been no complaints from viewers of Hollyoaks when they aired there own gay storylines. This has been put down to Hollyoaks having a younger, and perhaps a more enlightened audience fan base. Away from the soaps, John Barrowman’s man on man kiss at the opening of the Commonwealth Games got many of the social media sites buzzing with many people congratulating organisers for including the kiss, which helped highlight the fact that gay marriage is illegal in 42 of the 53 commonwealth counties taking part in the games. Even The Mirror congratulated the games with their online page showing “14 more amazing gay and lesbian snogs” Of course there was the usual backlash from others who were so disgusted that they had turn the television off and go and sit in their shed and fume. Living in Brighton it is easy to forget that there is still so much prevalent homophobia across the UK, and worse anti-gay legisation in the other countries across the world. For this reason alone it is all the more important that high profile, out gay men like Barrowman, show the world the power of the kiss, giving hope to all those who fear to share this simple act of love. John Barrowman’s Commonwealth Kiss

 

 

Posted on by admin in Commonwealth Games, Gay, LGBTQ Leave a comment

Sound and Visionary: Francis Poulenc

Francis Poulenc

Way back in 1899, famous French gay composer, Francis Poulenc was born to Emile and Jenny Poulenc. His mother, an amateur pianist, taught Francis to the piano, which in turn would begin his life-long love affair with music.

In his early career he embraced the radical Dada movement, (imagine the work of Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam without any restraints and that’s Dada art)an art form that suited Poulenc’s playful compensations as shown at the end of this blog.

th-1

During this time, Poulenc joined forces with a group of French and Swiss composers who would become known as the avant-garde group, ‘Les Six’. Together the group set about redefining musical compositions, while reacting against the impressionist and late Romantics of their time; including, composers: Richard Wagner, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

th-3

From the aged of eighteen, onwards, Poulenc had an extremely successful career in music, which would take him across the globe. During the years of 1921-25, Poulenc undertook his first formal training, but the majority of his learning from thereon in was self taught compensations. It has been said that he’s work was influenced by that of Stravinsky and Satie, but when one listens to his work, it is distantly his own. 

Although it has to be said being gay in 1920’s Paris wasn’t seen as particularly shocking, Poulenc was always open about his homosexuality, had a string of affairs with men but was rather taken by the painter, Richard Chanlaire to whom he dedicated  the ‘Concert champêtre’ and is quoted as saying of  Chanlaire, “You have changed my life, you are the sunshine of my thirty years, a reason for living and working”

 

Random fact: Poulenc’s piece, Perpetual Motion Nr. 1 was used as part of the soundtrack for Hitchcock’s gay themed film, Rope.

Poulenc’s , Perpetual Motion Nr. 1used in the film, Rope

Poulenc’s , Perpetual Motion Nr. 1used in the film, Rope

in 1936 the death of his close friend and fellow composer, Pierre-Octave Ferroud, led Poulenc to return to his Catholic faith, which interestingly did not stop him embracing his own homosexuality. However, his musical output changed dramatically where he composed both liturgical music and compositions laden with religious themes.

Pierre-Octave Ferroud,

In later life he would dedicate the one act opera, La voix humaine (The Human Voice) to his lover, Louis Gautier who was with Poulenc on the day he died of heart failure in Paris on January 30th 1963.

As well as giving a little history lesson, the Brighton Writer wrote this piece because, with Christmas but a distant memory, and those New Year shenanigans locked away as you get yourself back to the grindstone, he asks you to take a moment of time from your day to sit back and enjoy the beautiful composition from Francis Poulenc, while watching this brilliant piece of Dadaism at the same time.

(http://youtu.be/zRvDH9OTyXY)

Suite en 3 mouvements, FP 19 (1920)

http://youtu.be/oeosT_6vG7g

1928 Dadaist Film

Posted on by admin in Music Leave a comment

What Do the BrightonWriter and Miley Cyrus Have in Common?

th

PTDC0012

Read this months Gscene column from the

BrightonWriter to find out…

http://issuu.com/gscene/docs/gscene_jan14 (page 49)

Posted on by admin in Brighton & Hove, Gay, Gscene, LGBTQ Leave a comment

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

Jodie Foster, Golden Globes[1]Earlier this year, I watched Jodie Foster’s rambling speech as she kind of told the world that she was gay. Although for many, such news about Foster’s sexuality has been an open secret; for Foster, being in the public eye from a very young age, she has been fiercely protective over her private life, seeing it as the one thing she has full control off. Of course, there is also the added factor that Foster grew up in a time when homosexuality, particularly in Hollywood, was not celebrated in quite the same way it is today. With this in mind, I imagine when Foster left that stage, a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders, or at least I hope so.

            In my lifetime I have met men who have kept their sexuality a secret from either their families or work colleagues for any number of reasons, from fear of being rejected, or thought of as not a real man, whatever that may mean. Read more

Posted on by admin in film, Gscene, LGBT Leave a comment

Role Models & The New Normal….

For all of us, when growing up, regardless of our sexuality, we seek role models in a variety of ways, the most obvious place to start is with our parents or guardians and then our wider family and the friends we choose to be with. Beyond that we turn to the media, be it famous people in magazines pop stars or actors and personalities on the television, or world leaders, people in power….personally, with very few gay role models around when I was growing up, I settled on Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones as my perfect male icon.

Harrison-Ford-Indiana-Jones[1]

Thankfully, television and those that make the programs happen, have been more willing to embrace peoples differences; admittedly it has taken years, but at least this media is moving in the right direction.     Read more

Posted on by admin in Leisure, LGBT Leave a comment

Ground Level Gay Pioneers

Last month I had the privilege of being involved with a project run by City Books, who have been getting the town to read the 1950’s Brighton based novel: My Policeman, By Bethan Roberts. The story explores a time and place where many gay men lived in fear of arrest or persecution for loving someone of the same sex. Read more

Posted on by admin in Brighton & Hove, Gscene, LGBT Leave a comment

Brighton and Hove City Reads: My Policeman, By Bethan Roberts

My Policeman, Bethan Roberts’ third novel, and this year’s Brighton and Hove City Reads, revolves around a Ménage à trois, set in 1950’s Brighton that is doomed from the start.

            As an awkward teenager, Marion is befriended by, Silvia. I was thinking – you look alright, will you be my friend? During one of their shared times in Silvia’s bedroom while listening to Nat King Cole, Patti Page and Perry Como, Silvia’s brother, Tom makes an appearance at the bedroom door.

            He couldn’t have been more than fifteen – barely a year older than me; but his shoulders were already wide and there was a dark hallow at the base of his neck.

            From that moment, Marion is besotted with Tom, ignoring all the signals, and the coded advice from Silvia that Tom isn’t the boy Marion wants him to be.

            I know you’ve got a crush on Tom. But it’s not the same, Tom’s not like that.

            Tom struggles too with his inner emotions about his sexuality. Not because he hates the way he feels, but because society tells him that his feeling are perverse. After a spell in the army, Tom returns to Brighton and enrols in the police force; much to Marion’s delight. Unlike her friend, Silvia, whose main ambition was to get married and have a baby, Marion enrols in teacher collage, sharing the same passion and inquisitive streak as Tom, wanting to know more than the boundaries of Brighton. Although Tom shows little interest beyond a friendship with Marion, she is still hopeful that love will blossom if she continues to persevere.

            Meanwhile, Tom’s life is about to be turned upside down when he is asked for his assistance regarding a minor road accident by Patrick; a respected art curator at Brighton Museum and closeted homosexual. As is the case with Marion, Patrick falls deeply in love with Tom on their first meeting. And so begins the tragedy of one love destined to be unfulfilled and one dangerously forbidden. 

            Roberts presents the story through Marion’s present day manuscript and Patrick’s diary, written during the time of his love affair with Tom during the 1950’s.  Through these accounts we are reminded of the hopeless marriages many women unwittingly entered into and the sadness of those men who were compelled to enter into sham relationships; while all the time longing to be true to their hidden sexuality.

            Roberts’ is a well cvrafted storyteller, pulling the reader into the world of Marion and Patrick as they both share the love of their policeman. The draconian laws on homosexuality are exposed for their outdated views, with minor characters highlighting the opinions of many at the time that a change in the law about who we can love should be changed.

            We all knew he was queer – so many of them are around here – but one can’t help but feel sorry. Sometimes this country is too brutal.

            At times her beautiful description of their doomed love makes it nearly unbearable to turn the page as Marion fights to save her marriage, while in equal measures Patrick brings joy into Tom’s life as he swims ever deeper into a world that will ultimately destroy all their lives beyond repair.

            Roberts has created a story that once finished, this author felt compelled to start at the beginning and read the whole novel again.

      

 

 

 

Posted on by admin in Brighton & Hove, Fiction & Books, LGBT, Literature Leave a comment