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

lesbian

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

Older

I think most gay men have the conversation at some point in their lives, were they discuss how they wish to spend their twilight years. Just like the fantasy game SIMS, gay men will construct a rest home, where the nurses are cloned from the genes of Brad Pitt, the loo seat are never cold and the food tastes first class. Of course most importantly all their LGBT friends will be at this rest home, sitting the south facing veranda in rocking chairs, watching the sun set, reminiscing about the good old days and how many more are yet to come.

Surprisingly, such projects, well the LGBT part, has been put in place in both America and Germany as health professionals identified that many LGBT elders entering the care system had found themselves going back in the closet for fear of being ostracised, persecuted or in some extreme cases, asked to repent for their sins against God; a very real issue that has been highlighted in Stu Maddux brilliant documentary Gen Silent.

However, the outcome from the documentary, and findings related to the exclusive LGBT care homes is that older LGBT people have no wish to live their lives in a gay ghetto, but prefer to be cared for by health professionals who understand and respect their chosen lifestyles. This same view is echoed in a report by Brighton and Hove Council who recognise that for many older LGBT people entering the care system may have reservations when discussing their sexuality. On this matter the council’s report does go on to point out that: “The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 make it unlawful for public authorities to discriminate when providing public services.” The report goes on to say: Research suggests that there is a need for specific services targeting the LGBT community but that staff training, displaying LGBT friendly signs, publicity and partnerships with LGBT organisations all improve access to advice.

Also recent news reports have highlighted at present there is a half a billion pounds short fall for the U.K. care system; so the guarantee that such projects will be implemented in the current climate is unclear.

With this in mind, I had a quick search on the internet to see what support there is for LGBT elders in Brighton and Hove. Age UK have a section dedicated to older LGBT people offering a whole range of support and information; one of the main issues highlighted is that of isolation. Groups like GEMS (Gay Elderly Men’s society) a social group for gay men over fifty have been running for the last twelve years offering practical support, friendship, and entertainment to their members. Other servicers like LifeLines, a volunteer service for people over fifty offers a buddy service, where younger LGBT people befriend an older LGBT person enabling them to join in one of the many groups and servicers listed in Gscene, RealBrighton and Zhoosh.

So instead of thinking my friends and I will be in rocking chairs, in the future I see us all cutting up the dance floor underneath a massive glitter ball, with Brad pitt on call just in case.

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Health, LGBT 2 Comments

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

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

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

Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing.

All of us from time to time will have days when we just can’t find a smile to put on our face. Having a blue day, feeling under the weather, (particularly if that weather is stormy and grey) a bit depressing. Thankfully the majority of the time we find that by the end of the day we have found some way in resolving such matters and are able to wake up the next day with that smile firmly in place.

However, for some people getting up in the morning can become a daily challenge as they feel they can not face the world and in turn find themselves trapped. Such feeling may stem from, problems at work, money worries, relationship difficulties, coming to terms with your sexuality, particularly for those who are LGBT and living in a household that have expressed a dislike for all things “queer”. For others it may be receiving an HIV diagnoses and all the mixed emotions that can be potentially thrown up. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, LGBT, THT, Zhoosh 5 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

GLB going’s on at Charleston House

Charleston House is a small 18th century farm house just outside Lewes, famous for its past tenants and the legacy they left behind. The run down farmhouse was discovered by Virginia Woolf in 1916, who in turn suggested to her sister, Vanessa Bell, that she should make the place her new home. At the time Virginia and her husband, Leonard lived in the nearby town of Asheham, later moving to Rodmell, making Monk House their home.   Read more

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

Diana Rowe: Senior Counsellor at Terrence Higgins Trust, Brighton.

Senior councillor THT Brighton

Following a successful career in TV production at the BBC, Diana Rowe moved to Brighton in 2004 seeking a new challenge. She had trained as a Person-Centred counsellor in London and in Brighton. Her counselling experience includes working for the Brighton Women’s Centre, Mankind UK as well as managing Age Concern’s counselling service. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, LGBT, THT, Zhoosh Leave a comment

Mandy South, HIV Health Trainer, Terrence Higgins Trust, Brighton

Mandy South, HIV Health Trainer. HIV Heath Advisor, Terrence Higgins Trust

Mandy moved down to Brighton two years ago from Essex, where her work background varied from hairdressing, to working with young people with learning difficulties, and later as a trainee midwife. However, a change in personal circumstances, led Mandy to leave her home town and start afresh in Brighton, where she volunteered for THT as a community support volunteer.

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Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, LGBT, THT, Zhoosh Leave a comment