Durham Pride – thoughts

Last year I wrote about Newcastle Pride and how I didn’t think it was my cup of tea. I returned to another Pride march this and this one took place in the City I was born – Durham. 

The pile of sick I stepped over in front of a Champagne bar in Durham might have been a foreboding to what I was going to experience throughout the day. I had travelled from my home into Durham city and made my way down to ‘The Sands’ which is a field next to the river Wear.

Durham Pride is in its infancy and we must take that into consideration. The fact that it was founded in 2014 and only has been running for 5 years makes us realise that this event does have a few problems and stuff that needs, in my opinion, ironing out.

I arrived about 2.30pm an hour and half after it officially opened to see some stall holders already starting to pack up. The event itself is only running for half a day from 1-6pm at The Sands. I thought it was a bit mean of those people who had decided to put their stall out to start dismantling things not even half way through the afternoon.

It was good to see organisations like Police, NHS and Samaritans get involved in promoting their cause and even local bus services had brought a vehicle designed in a LGBT theme celebrating pride.

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The music was okay I am not a huge fan of every song being the dance version of every hit you have ever heard. The queue for the bar was about ten minutes long and overall the prices where reasonable for this sort of event. The only thing that I thought was a bit steep was the price of a full bottle of wine at £18. Strangely I didn’t witness anyone take up this offer and people mainly stuck to pints or shots with a mixer.

At around 5pm people were leaving in droves and it was only when I was walking back to catch a bus home did I catch the headlining act (albeit via facebook live) of Sonique. They had decided to put her on about 5.50pm when the majority of the people had gone home.

I think overall people were happy with the event. It’s manly attended by the 16-30 crowd which is great if you are that age, but someone who is knocking on the door of middle age and reluctant to go inside, it does make me feel that once you have passed the milestone of thirty in gay terms you are in retirement.

There was nothing I could see for people past thirty we all aren’t interesting in drag queens and repeating infinitum the mantra that we are ‘having a good time’ at the host requests.

This for me is where Pride events fall down. The ageist opinions of not just the attendees but the mindset that people in organisation make invisible those who have experienced the 80s and 90s and have the grey hair to prove our non-existent status in LGBT world.

Good points – young people ready to embrace their sexuality and others willing to support them

Bad points – 15 toilets for 25 thousand. Not enough variety of food. Stalls packing up way before the end.

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Billy Preston

Billy Preston isn’t a name you would have heard of and probably wouldn’t know what part he played in music history. 

I was mulling over some time today and listening to some Beatles songs and it got me thinking about their infamous roof top concert they played at the end of the 60s. I was reminding myself of how much I love the song their performed called ‘Don’t let me down’. It was during this performance I noticed a man playing keyboards and wanted to know who he was and what connecting he had to the band.

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My first reaction to him was that I loved the hair. But who was he and where did come from? His name was Billy Preston and he was born in Houston, Texas and his family eventually moved to Los Angeles where Billy was a renowned child prodigy as his keyboard skills had got him work with Little Richard as his keyboardist (their name not mine). It was while performing in Hamburg in the early 60s he met the Beatles.

Billy hooked up with the band again just as they were breaking up at the end of the decade and he played during the ‘Get Back sessions’ and kept the band together for what would be some of their final work.

He struggled all through his life with sexuality, knowing he was gay, which was in direct conflict with his strict evangelical Christianity. It must have been terrible of him knowing that who he was in a life which would have been fraught with guilt and self-loathing as homosexuality to those around him was a grave sin.

During the latter years of his life he struggled with drugs as it was a way of coping with the sexual abuse he suffered a child. It didn’t help his well-being that his mother did not believe him when he disclosed the abuse he had experienced.

Billy passed away in 2006 as a result of hypertension and pericarditis. He was 59.

In some ways the world has made great steps in LGBT inclusivity but still there remains pockets of hatred and ignorance when read of stories where people have been attack or worse killed because of their own sexuality.

I am no fan of Pride

I have been to a few pride events and I have decided I am not a fan. There are many reasons why and I know that some might not agree.

I attended my first Pride march last year in Newcastle and the second was in Prague. Both great times and it was a great atmosphere to be experienced. What I don’t like about Pride is that they are always trying to recreate a club atmosphere but in the middle of a park.

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I hate clubbing. I was watching a documentary the other day about the rave scene in the late 80s I remember even back then I had no desire to stand and wave my arms around to music in the middle of an abandoned warehouse with a lot of people I didn’t know. I despised being charged a fortune to stand in the middle of THE hottest dance floor buying the most expensive drinks.

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So it took me to get the age that I am now to realise that pride events are very similar and I prefer the fringe events. I would rather sit and chat in a pub or read a book. Discussion on LGBT issues rather than listening to someone who was famous once 20 years ago and hasn’t had a hit record since.

The LGBT community has a problem with age. In a society where people are obsessed with youth and beauty eg. Tom Daley and treat older people with a cordial but patronising sigh when we think of people such as Sir Ian McKellen.

I will always support the need to highlight that we don’t live in a perfect country. There are countless places in the world that you can lose your life if you are gay. There should be more information about the struggle for acceptance and the support for those who lives are blighted by homophobic abuse.

Tom Daley and Lance Black

The hypocrisy of some people can be seen from space. There is casual homophobia and blatant prejudice and ignorance in a lot of people. 

Mr Daley and Mr Black announced that they would be welcoming their first child to their family a few months ago. It’s great that they feel that it is right that they can spend the time, effort and financial support it takes for starting a family.

Obviously, this didn’t go down too well with some parts of the press. The revolting Richard Littlejohn decried the idea of two men bringing up a child. The idea of this made him sick, apparently. His dismissal of two gay men bringing up a child is ‘not normal’ and that it ‘shouldn’t be so’. One then assumes, as he claims, not to be ‘homophobic’ he must have also condemned the following celebrity couples who have all used a surrogate?

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Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Jimmy Fallon and his wife Nancy Juvenon, Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kelsey Grammar and his now ex-wife, Michael Jackson, Tyra Banks, George Lucas and his wife. I could go on and on. A list of those who have used surrogates is common place in heterosexual couples and gay ones too.

Mr Littlejohn compares the news of an imminent arrival of a new life and sharing this to the world the same as showing photos of a medical exam or even an illness. Which in itself is ridiculous as its celebrating a new life and not some medical procedure.

He states that he isn’t homophobic because he ‘supports civil partnerships’. Echoing the comparable mantra of – “I’m not being racist but …” He then digs himself further by calling the sharing of a sonogram ‘Publicity stunt’.

bthbfc996People like Mr Littlejohn are thankfully now in the minority. I was terrified to come out as gay in the 1980s for the fear of being labelled (that if I did come out) that I must have AIDS. Not even HIV+ but straight to AIDS. It was this ignorance that kept me from telling others who I truly was. I am glad I live in a country where I can get married to another man and that there are laws protecting my sexuality whether it be in the street or at work.

The article that lists the celebrities who have used a surrogate fails to mention the most famous footballer in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. He has used surrogate mothers for  three of his four children. No one has batted an eyelid. Of course that’s a rich, heterosexual footballer – we can’t have a go at him.

The hypocrisy stinks. If there was anyone trying to court publicity and massage their own ego then its Richard Littlejohn and the revolting rag called the Daily Mail.

ignorance isn’t bliss

Stumbling across the local council’s facebook site I saw that they had flown the flag for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and biphobia. In 2018 you would think attitudes were more tolerant. Nope. 

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This comment was the most bizarre out of the ones I read. This lady is stating that the council do not have a right to fly a flag above their own town hall in the name of fighting prejudice. I am baffled and confused.

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If it had been phrased as a humorous comment then maybe some people might have laughed but it wasn’t. Someone actually stating that they are fed up with hearing and seeing things about those in minority groups really needs to learn some history and see how living as a minority in any country affects someones day to day life.

Also that he has gone out of his way to use his energy and time commenting on it too. What it must be like to be able to live a perfect life away from minorities and be able to function as a decent human being.

In my experience, people who have hatred towards LGBT people have issues themselves and hate that part of themselves that may even have an attraction to the same sex. Those who are comfortable in their own sexuality don’t generally seem to care one bit about those who are trying to change people’s minds.

Religious Hate Crime

Golding and Fransen jailed for what the judge said: “It was a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.”

I am no fan of the Christian Institute. I think their reporting is biased and targets the LGBT community unfairly. In a blog post, I wrote in July last year I explained to them that despite their claim that LGBT community is only 1.7% of the population nearly 50% of their youtube videos were about or mentioned LGBT people.

“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.”

I know that I don’t like their views and I am certainly unhappy that they target people in the gay community with their own ideas about sexuality. I accept they hold those views as they are entitled to do so. That’s what is meant by free speech.

Let’s say for example got really angry with them and travelled to their offices and demanded to speak to someone in their organisation. If didn’t feel I had been heard and to make my views known again I could return to their premises and ask them why they held such views about LGBT community. I could follow their director after he left work and ask him questions.

Now, this is where the law comes in. At what point do the ideas of free speech end and religiously aggravated harassment start? There is a fine line between the two and laws were set up to protect people of faith from such harassment. This is what we are as a country whether we like it or not. When you read about those laws they are there to protect the people. This is what makes us a great country of respect for others religion.

But I have read comments about Fransen and Golding:

“18 WEEKS IN JAIL BUT MUSLIM RAPISTS AND KILLERS GET NOTHING FOR THEIR CRIMES AND THEIR CRIMES ARE REAL CRIMES…..SCREW EUROPE I’M STAYING RIGHT HERE…” – Lack of knowledge about the case. The perpetrators were jailed.

Other comments are either to foul to write or completely left-field and have nothing to do with the case.

I have said it before more education is needed in religion, not the lack of it or total removal as some have advocated. Just because you understand something does not mean that you have to agree with it.

Detective Inspector Bill Thornton of Kent Police said: ‘The crimes committed by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were abhorrent and motivated by religious insensitivities.

‘They claimed to be exposing the men who had been accused of rape when in reality they knew little about the case in question and could have put the trial at risk due to their reckless actions.

‘It was the bravery of the female who was attacked and the tireless work of Kent Police detectives who ensured the men responsible are now serving a significant period of time behind bars, not because of any misguided attempt by Golding and Fransen to claim credit for their conviction by bringing religion into the equation.

‘The fact that completely innocent members of the public were accused of being rapists, making them fear for their own safety, shows how little regard they have for the consequences of their actions.

‘Kent Police simply will not tolerate any offences that are motivated by prejudice and hate, and will investigate all such incidents thoroughly in order to bring those responsible in front of the courts.

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.

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I got a pathetic response but hey at least it was a response. 

This week parents of a pupil removed their child from a school because a boy wanted to wear a dress and be known as a girl. In 2017 it might seem laughable and trivial but to a Christian couple it meant disrupting a child’s education.

I remember being hauled into the head’s office at school to help deal with a pupil who had been bullied. He wasn’t getting support or receiving praise for being different but my boss at the time was berating him for bringing in a school back that was different.

“Why can you bring something in that’s like everyone else?” She asked.

“Because I want to be me and this is who I am…” he replied.

There wasn’t a ‘Glee moment’ where the head teacher congratulates the pupil for their individuality and praises them for being who they are but tries to solve the intolerance and bullying by denying one person’s freedom of expression. All in a school bag.

My thoughts are clear on my former boss. She was a morally corrupt and bereft of humanity and empathy. She didn’t give a shit about her charges but was terrified that the  whole system would come down crashing at her feet.

My letter to the Christian Institute asking to speak about why their news feed was unbalanced was finally met with a response.

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Their opinion was that they just wouldn’t engage.

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Despite my years of experience dealing with church matters and education in this area.

The parents action which no doubt will be backed by the Christian Institute to further their growing sense of victimisation. But this is just the very reason why so many people now say that they have no religion. They are turning away from established religions in many parts of the world. The church and their non-sensical illogical beliefs have isolated themselves from the world. They will soon be made of mainly fanatical fringe belief systems. Where once the Church of England was the back bone of English society and culture soon it will become nothing more than Westboro Baptist lite.

 

 

Is it safe to be gay in the UK?

A programme title and a question that is asked by some people, others probably don’t care or respond with hate. 

I watched the BBC programme “Is it safe to be gay in the UK?“. I always thought the UK was an enlightened place to live. The UK as a beacon of LGBT rights and champion of minorities. It was my opinion until I heard the heartbreaking stories of people who had been attacked, beaten and in some cases lost their lives to homophobia and hate.

I thought I was listening to something from a hundred years ago, whereas it wasn’t, it was here and now, in the country, I once thought was safe. Gay people can get married and go to bed with the person equally as their straight counterparts. So what is it that makes others feel it’s acceptable to assault others, whether it be physical or verbal?

Having a phobia usually means you are scared of something. I can’t imagine that it’s fright that’s going through someone’s mind, when assaulting another, because of their sexuality.

Being aware of your own emotions and how to handle them is a marker of someone who is stable and mature. Nothing wrong with not understanding others but to attack isn’t acceptable.

The solution is education. Actually being allowed to talk to others about being LGBT. Having others talk about their experiences and teaching others about what is acceptable.