Parkland – Florida​

A town which remained unremarkable in history until this week. Things changed dramatically for it residents and it would never be the same again. 

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Sometimes you draw a breath and you are stunned about how much a country and its people can take without inaction. The fact that news agencies are arguing over what has been classed as a school shooting is a testament to the fact that these incidents are happening far too often.

Seventeen people are dead at the hands of a teenager with a gun. If you ever experience a fraction of the hurt that this causes someone surely a person with a rational mind says ‘enough is enough’ and this cannot be allowed to continue.

It’s no longer about rights to protect someone’s ownership of a gun but the lives of those who are innocent and slaughtered.

I said in my blog post from last year when the horrific shooting took place in Las Vegas.

“If ISIS had carried out this attack, USA would have reacted. If North Korea had done the same they would have bombed their country. The utter madness and insanity in this that America cannot and will not police itself. Believing their second amendment right outweighs the rights of those who tragically lost their lives.”

The USA has to realise it has a serious problem. The problem is gun control. This problem isn’t just of mental health, which isn’t unique to America, it is all over the world. It is how we respond to it out children and their children will judge us.

heteronormative world

I don’t mind gay people just wish they wouldn’t be so gay.

The closet is a lonely place. Really lonely. If you aren’t true to yourself you will never find happiness or love. I spent the 80s and some of the 90s in the closet and it made me miserable. I felt I couldn’t tell anyone that I was gay because of the rejection and fear it would cause.

Footballers and pop stars are no exception. There is an underlining fear that if you do come out then somehow your life will never be the same and that’s true to a certain extent. There is a fear that you won’t be accepted in the wider world. Best to keep things quiet and live a heteronormative life.

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I said it hundreds of time ‘Im not gay’ not only to others but to myself. Its speculation and inquiry that has lead to a lot of denials. Social media rushes to defend those who have publicly denied their sexuality. But as I always argue it’s not about whether someone is gay or straight it’s about honesty.

We value honesty above other virtues. Sometimes it can be brutal to hear but I would rather know in the end. Denial of sexuality isn’t honest with others and most importantly yourself. I have experienced first hand the damage that it can do psychologically to someone who is struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.

I watched a programme about Liberace and how he was in utter denial about who he really was and his sexuality. Eventually, his denial would lead to his death as he contracted HIV and refused medical treatment for the condition. This maybe an extreme example of denial but ultimately and sadly it’s consequences.

I think when you are mature enough and brave enough you should tell people who you are. The ones who stick around and are with you years later are the ones who love you. There is a reason why those people are in the past. Things do get better and it may not be great at first. My mother didn’t speak to me for days when I came out to her but it did get better and we were closer than before.

50 years ago

My best friend was born. Sgt Peppers was released. Homosexuality was no longer considered as a crime. A lot has changed in 50 years. 

I watched a programme about Princess Diana last night and was reminded of the amazing work she did with those who were diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in the 1980s. It was a difficult time for gay men, as they were branded vile and all other sorts of horrendous names in the press.

In the back of my mind was always thought that I couldn’t come out as gay then as people would automatically assume I had AIDS. I did mention to someone in 1987 that I was gay and I swore her to secrecy. I was just miserable at the thought of being gay as it was in direct conflict with my faith as a Christian at the time.

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I know now that there would have been a tremendous support network in my friendship circle as I came out a few years later, in the early 90s, to some wonderful friends. Being out for 25 years has caused me to readdress those early feelings of being terrified. I didn’t come out to my mother until I was 36, as I knew she didn’t approve, but we became closer as I knew that she loved me just as much as she did before.

The closet is a lonely place. It must have been awful for those living with the fear of being outed before 1967. A time when you could have been dismissed from your work if they found out about your true identity.

I still believe despite the progress that this country as made we have a long way to go to be accepted in society. I did a short survey of the Christian Institute’s YouTube channel and tallied up the number of videos they had posted in 2017 to their site. It’s a total of 170 videos and out of that 69 videos mentioned LGBT issues; that’s nearly 41%. Even in their own videos, they quote that LGBT people only make up 1.7% of society; they devote nearly half of their content to LGBT issues. There is no mentioned of homelessness or poverty in the UK and no mention of the plight of children in Syria.

As I said in my previous post, Evangelical Christians are obsessed with sex. Particularly the LGBT community. I really cannot understand how a supposed Christian Organisation such as the Christian Institute can justify levels of LGBT articles on their site. I will write to them and as to why they highlight such issues, I am sure they won’t reply.

Dear sirs,

I am a writer and blogger and campaigner for LGBT rights as well as mental health issues. 
I undertook Theological training for three years and I have a degree in Religion and Sociology. I also hold a PGCE in Education in Religion from Westminster College Oxford. 
In a short survey I looked at your content on the Youtube part of your social networking and was interested to note that nearly half of your posts mention LGBT issues; despite only 1.7% as you claim of people in the UK identifying as LGBTI. I was intrigued to know why this was as it seems a rather unbalanced view of the ‘news’ as you report it.
I would love to hear your response and even a chance to talk with a spokesperson from your organisation. 
Thanks 
Yours sincerely 
Philip Evans

Chester Bennington

What do we do when someone we know commits suicide? How do we handle it? Do we mock them for being weak and ‘taking the easy way out’? Do we simply brand the person selfish? If only the answers to those questions were that simple.

I have tried to commit suicide. There I said it. I’ve wanted to. I don’t feel ashamed of saying it, but I am not proud of it. I don’t wear as a badge in a ‘feel sorry for me’ statement. My mental health has reached crisis point and it’s acknowledging that it’s got so serious.

Others have mocked people who have tried to take their own lives. A simple disruption to someones travel plans of a few minutes is met with derision on social media if they have found out that it was due to someone’s action at that critical point. It was someone on the lines or someone at the top of a building; cue the insults.

I don’t wish my worst enemy the thoughts of suicide. Believe me. If you have been there you know what it is like. Nothing that you could ever put into words or have a go at describing.

Chester Bennington’s death seems to some a natural consequence of a rock star lifestyle.

“He struggled for years with alcohol and drugs addiction” as is often reported in these cases. So do a lot of people, despite their wealth or fame, but suicide isn’t inevitable. It is the treatable manageable disease of depression which causes it. Depression and mental health problems aren’t helped by substance abuse although people seek short-term fixes to alleviate the suffering.

I have come to terms with my suicidal thoughts, I acknowledge them. If they get bigger than I can handle I know I have to seek help. Recognising they are serious is the first step. Stopping yourself getting to that crisis point by telling someone else you are feeling this way. I have done it numerous times. People will be happy enough to stick with you if they are good friends. It’s the pain of not reaching out to someone at that point that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Social media gets me down

I spend too much time on social media. I admit it. I cannot stop looking to see if someone has updated their Facebook or Twitter account. Most of the time they haven’t and if they do, it isn’t interesting. So why then do I spend so much time waiting for something to happen?

Social Media

I would love a digital detox. Take away my phone and laptop. Leave me with a newspaper and I will probably go through cold-turkey, but I have realized that social media is making me unhappy.

Yesterday, I read that there should be a pride march not just for the LGBTI community, but for those in the heterosexual community. Seriously? Are people that close-minded that they dismiss the pain and suffering that the LGBTI have endured over the years? It’s not only dismissive but adds to the anguish of those who are struggling with their own sexuality and trying to understand the feelings they have as they come to terms with who they are.

I regularly see vile racist comments on Twitter and Facebook. People think its somehow ‘justified’ in today’s climate while talking about religion and faith. When did we become so full of hate? I know I have to continually remind myself that there are a lot more people in the world who are caring, loving, accepting of others. It’s just that social media for me doesn’t reflect a caring world.

Sometimes 

Sometimes when you are mentally unwell life can seem useless. The perception of you being a burden or a bore.

At the moment, I cannot shake off this feeling, so instead of bending my friend’s ears, I am turning to my writing.

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From the age of 14, Kenneth Williams kept a diary for much of his life. It is an impressive collection that the British Library has recently acquired and a testament to the great man of comedy. But the diaries were his confessional. His ‘other half’, the one you ‘sound off to and the person you usually come home to when your pissed and need to talk.

For many years I have done the same. I live on my own and I often need someone to chat and the diaries over the years also have become my companion. The writing I do for this blog is certainly censored and a diary is a true reflection of one’s state and feelings.

I was thinking back at a time when I didn’t seem to have a care in the world and the person that I was when I was in my 20s is not the person I am now. The depression came a few years after my father passed away, and it hasn’t left me since. So my outlook on life has changed dramatically. I don’t suffer fools gladly (others might disagree) and I don’t spend time, as I should, doing things I actually enjoy.

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Back to therapy

“If I could pay to have you in therapy for the rest of your life I would”

Is what one of my doctors said to me a few years ago. I don’t take it as a negative thing as therapy and talking works for me, certainly better than most medication, although in the long run that has helped as well.

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It was good to realize that I can look forwards rather than constantly backward on my life. I have never been a one to get excited about what’s going to take place in the next six months, more regretting what has happened and why things went so wrong.

Having someone that’s completely independent, someone doesn’t know anything about who I am or what I have done, giving their honest opinion. As the therapist said ‘I am not here to tell you what you want to hear’.

The opinion on matters and what they think about them. Unlike someone who has known you for some time, they aren’t afraid to give their honest response. One of the things I noticed I was doing was apologizing for those things that interest me like books, religion, and music. I always got a strange look and a pitied reply when I told them that my degree was in Religion. It seems I have had to apologize a lot for what I like.

Things have changed in the last few months. I have managed to get on a plane and fly to another country on my own. If you knew what state I was in twelve months ago you wouldn’t believe I would be able to do such a thing. But I have and I will continue to get better and more confident. There have been some knocks but I am resigned to put that in the past and moving on.

Last week I gained the most visits and views on my blog here than ever before and that has made me one happy person. Not that I am sitting hoping that I get thousands of views but to know that maybe some people are interested in those things I often apologize for.