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

sexuality

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

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

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

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

Update on Terrence Higgins Trust HIV Brighton Services.

THT (South)

Update on THT Servicers.

June 2011 marks the 30th Anniversary of the AIDS epidemic. So much has change from those early days when volunteers like Father Marcus opening up his kitchen for those affected by HIV. Thankfully to the continued success of medical breakthroughs in the shape of combination therapies people are living longer, but there is still a need for emotional support for those newly diagnosed, to others living with HIV for a number of years.

For those living in Brighton and the surrounding areas they have the benefit of accessing a number of groups run by the excellent team of paid staff and volunteers at Terrence Higgins Trust in Brighton’s Ship Street and South Street, in Eastbourne.  Read more

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

National Condom Week

Tomorrow, 18thMay is National Condom Week. Okay, so there may not be a parade through the streets with a 12 foot condom being held aloft the revellers waving condoms on sticks to celebrate the day, but it’s still very important to flag up the safe sex message.

If you are sexually active, particularly if you have multiple sexual partners, then condoms should be included in your play. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Leisure, LGBT, THT, Zhoosh 1 Comment