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

Stephen Richards

Brighton: The Graphic Novel, Part Two

 

Th eBrighton Writer's story board

Th eBrighton Writer’s story boardQueenSpark Books: Graphic Novel. (A shameless post Christmas plug).

Brighton: a Graphic Novel is turning out to be one of QueenSpark Books best sellers of 2013 and looks to continue to do so as we enter 2014.PTDC0002

With this in mind, The Brighton Writer invites you to take another peep behind his involvement in the process along with the extremely talented artists, Emilie Majarian  and Collette Tarbuck.

Having interviewed the main drag artists David Raven, aka Maisie Trollette Dave Lynn and Stephen Richards aka Lola Lasagne (see previous blog)  The Brighton Writer set about interviewing other key players who would become part of the projects storyline.

As HIV and AIDS has had such a devastating effect on many of those within the LGBT community, The Brighton writer felt it important to include this era within the storyline. With this in mind, The Brighton writer got in touch with local artist/sculpture, Romany Mark Bruce, James Ledward (Gscene) and Paul Elgood (Rainbow Fund); who collectively enabled the development and construction of Brighton’s AIDS memorial. From their feedback The Brighton writer was able to find out that the AIDS memorial project faced a fair few hurdles, including protests that fundraising for the project would take away funds from other local HIV health care. This issue was quickly resolved by Paul Elgood and James Ledward’s reassurance that all fundraising for the AIDS memorial would be raised through individual and business private backers.) Romany also worked for two years on the project free of charge, allowing all funds raised to go towards the completion of the AIDS memorial project.

One of the other major problems Romany faced was having the 11ft clay structure collapse while he was working on it, forcing him to begin the project all over again. This storyline gave The Brighton Writer the perfect opportunity to combine the ‘Brighton Angels’ alongside Romany’s journey in the construction and unveiling of the AIDS memorial By David Furnish.

Part way through, the clay structure collapsed on top of Romany mark Bruce

Part way through, the clay structure collapsed on top of Romany mark Bruce

 

Romany Mark Bruce

 

The middle section of my storyline was used as a vehicle to not only to introduce some of the other well-known faces from the Brighton scene but also allowing me to promote some of the LGBT projects they have been involved in. The main bases of the storyline was to introduce James Ledward and The Golden Handbag Awards; a project that give the LGBT community an opportunity to celebrate individuals and groups achievements from the previous 12 months. Within the storyline I also included Stephanie Starlet, who had led the march for Stomp out Stigma campaign, as part of LGBT mental health group, MindOut. Unfortunately this piece of information hit the editing floor, so I have included it here.

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PTDC0037The other well-known face on the scene I included was Ant Howells; partly for his longstanding involvement with the Sussex Beacon fundraising/social group, Bear-Patrol, as well as his involvement with HIV groups like Act-Up who were an extremely important campaign group who helped bring the plight of those living with HIV/dying from AIDS.

Jason Sutton aka Miss Jason and Poo-la-May also appear allowing me to mention one of Brighton’s oldest and perhaps most infamous gay pubs, The Bulldog and Club Revenge; both venues would be instrumental in development of the Gay Village in Brighton as we know it today.

The final story from the trilogy tells the story of Brighton’s Hankie Quilt Project. At the time of researching varies ideas for the final tale, I was introduced to Maurice Mchale Parry, who along with Peter Moxom, revived the idea of the the Names Quilt Project, through the Hankie Quilt Project, inspired by the 25th anniversary of the Names Quilt Project. Both projects have great strength in their simplicity by inviting people who had lost friends, loveres, family members to AIDS, to sew their name onto a piece of fabric, which in turn made up a quilt of many names, memories and love.

 

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The piece couldn’t be finish without a mention of Brighton’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Pride. From a few of us gathering in Queens Park to protest about the Consecrative Parties legislation, Clause 28, which effectively stopped school teachers discussing homosexuality with their pupils, leaving many young LGBTQ people unsure about how they were feeling, and without any knowledge of who to turn to for help. Since then, Brighton Pride has become an extremely important date in many LGBTQ people’s diaries, not only as time to celebrate, but to also remember their are still many counties whose anti-LGBTQ laws are causing misery and oppression and that will always be the main driving force for the visibility of Brighton Pride as we all protest and celebrate and party on down for future generations to come who will in turn leave their own mark and become part of Brighton’s unique history. The final panel had originally been designed with a host of volunteer groups from the LGBT community being represented. It was with regret that this grand scene was also to hit the editing floor, but the prominence of the AIDS quilt, the main players and one of Brighton’s most iconic tourists attractions, The Royal Pavilion helped frame this important slice of Brighton’s history.Final splash page, all the main players come together.

 

 

 

 

One more thing, check out the brilliant animation from Angie Thomas, who has brought the whole project to life.

http://www.angiethomas.co.uk/portfolio/brighton-the-graphic-novel

queensparkbooks.org.uk

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Over the Rainbow (Fund)

Over the last few weeks there has been much to celebrate and remember within the LGBTQ community, which is really important to make note of.

This year while waiting (and waiting) to get into this years  Brighton Pride, I heard a lot of people complaining about how long it took to get into the event and the price of tickets. 

To be fair, those organising the event had to ensure security me suers were in place, so long queues were inevitable. On the plus side of things, the sun was shining and once inside the park there were just about every kind of visual entreatment you could possible wish for. Personally, I thought the early bird ticket price of £9.00 was a bargain

More importantly and something that many people perhaps are unaware of is £1.00 from each ticket was ring-fenced for the Rainbow Fund which, along with a host of other individuals and groups including: Bear-Patrol’s, ‘Bear Weekender’, Legends, Tony Chapman, Queens Arms, A-Bar, Charle’s Street, David Raven, James Ledward, The Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus and Many more helped raise over £41,000 for local HIV/LGBTQ charities.

For the uninitiated, The Rainbow Fund was initially set up by Gscene’s James Ledward and Paul Elgood to help fund the development and construction Brighton’s AIDS Memorial, with local artist Romany Mark Bruce giving all his time for free in creating the finished piece.

Since then, The Rainbow Fund has been the hub for excepting donations which in turn are given out as grants to local LGBTQ/HIV charity organisations, who each apply via a vigorous process ensuring the funds are used to help benefit the individual groups maxim potential in all areas.

This year The Brighton Writer attended The Rainbow Fund annual awards ceremony, hosted by the irrepressible Lola Lasagne aka Stephen Richards, along with many familiar faces from Brighton, including, Gary Pargeter (Lunch Positive) James Ledward (Gscene) Cllr Bill Randall, Deputy Mayor of Brighton & Hove, David Raven and Romany Mark Bruce, Jennie Castell, Davian Sparkle, David Harvie (Brighton Bear Weekend) and Philip Marini (Rainbow Fund) who were all on hand to present the grants to the following organisations.

Allsorts – £5.000 For a youth engagement worker to support the Transformer Group for young Trans* people.

Clare Project – £4,640 to extend their psychotherapy and speech therapy sessions Trans* people.

Brighton Gems – £4.000 towards support cost for befriending & support work for older gay men.

LGBT community Safety Forum –  £7.000 towards hate crime advocacy.

LGBT Switchboard – £2.500 towards clinical supervision for counsellors.

Lunch Positive – £7,000 towards food, venue hire and lunch club running cost for people with HIV.

MindOut – £7.000 towards peer support groups and housing advice for people with mental health issues.

IMG_0050Peer Action – £5.000 for health and wellbeing activities for those living with HIV.

 

 

 

 

Sussex Beacon – £4.000 towards a new occupational therapy project.The remaining funds were earmarked for a feasibility study to develop a funding needs assessment of all LGBT organisations, the service they provide and their future grant needs.

Individuals from each of the groups took to the stage to talk a little about how the grants awarded their group is so important and what a difference it will make in the coming year.

 The evening was a great success and an important event to remind us all that although the queue at Pride was a little tedious, by buying our ticket we each contributed in helping some amazing LGBTQ/HIV groups continue in making a huge difference to many people all year round. 

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David Raven, AKA Maisie Trollette.

Brighton publishing group, QueenSpark Books’ latest project is a graphic novel based on the history of Brighton and Hove and the people who have helped put the city on the map. My story revolves around David Raven (Maisie Trollette), Dave Lynn (Dave Lynn) and Stephen Richards (Lola Lasagne) as Brighton Angels; (think 1970’s Charlie’s Angels, but with bigger hair and a hell of lot more make up). The script takes the reader through three different tales of the city, which will be brought to life by graphic artist, Emilie Rose, more of which to follow. In the meantime I’d like to shine a spot light on the three protagonists, first up, David Raven.

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