It’s Pride Season!

Here in the UK, it’s pretty much Pride Season now. The majority of our events take place between July and August, with many seeing London Pride as the beginning and Manchester Pride as the end. My local Pride, here in Hull, takes place on the 22nd July, and this year it is the official UK Pride of 2017, which is a happy coincidence thanks to us also hosting the UK City of Culture 2017 too.

Our Pride has been hit by a recent drama, but seemingly has bounced back after a couple of days of everyone collectively losing their shit and me passing daily commentary on the escalating dramatics. From complete strangers, to Pride trustees, I had a number of people reach out to me over my balanced opinion on what was going on, and well, as a complete outsider, it was nice. You see, I don’t particularly praise my local Pride as for years it has been the same thing year in, year out, but I also definitely don’t rate my local scene given that it’s full of cliques.

Nevertheless, I always attend Pride, and I am the first to defend it and call people to attend it. Pride is important, no matter what city it is held in, because for one day or weekend out of the year, we get the chance to be truly visible, and relaxed about it, as well as having some fun.

Most of the years, I just attend my local Pride, but in the past, due to me moving around a little, I have attended multiples in a year. This year, I am attending three (erroneously reported as two in a post somewhere), but I shall be here at my local Pride in Hull, I’ll be at Manchester Pride in August and in October I get to live my Disney Princess dream and attend Magical Pride in Disneyland Paris.

To me, it is our duty as LGBTQ+ people to attend at least our local Pride, so that we get that freedom of visibility for one day, and the fact I get to attend 3 just makes me happier than ever. It is a chance to experience different things and live my life as I always do – free and open.

Now, I could prattle on about how we need to focus on the politics and less on the Spice Girl making the most of her solo career or the boomerang of S Club Party doing their rounds, but that’s not what I want to do. Instead, I do just want to encourage anyone and everyone to attend a Pride event, and to just live your life for you, even if it is for that one day. Pride was made for you, not for the people outside of our community, and you shouldn’t let judgements of people who aren’t paying your bills, dictate what you can and can’t do. Live your life for you, for one day and gather your friends and even family and go.

I am lucky that this year I get to go with friends from across the country, those closer to home and even my mother when we go to my local Pride, and then I get to attend the others with my friends who are dear to me. It is about the celebration, and it is about being who we are openly.

If you don’t have to pay to get into your Pride, then at least donate, because that is the stuff that matters. Your money is invested into the future of your local Pride, and sometimes it is very much needed to keep things going. My local Pride is free, but I donate to it’s future because I believe that it matters. The Pink Pound has a value and it’s better spent back on you then in the pockets of people who work against us or seek to profit from us.

Don’t let things turn you away. Grab the clothes you want to wear, slap on the face you want to show, and live for you, even if it is just for one day. Embrace you, show the world you, and get involved in the community.

Advertisements

Coming Out Again.

There was a comment made not so long ago, somewhere that struck a chord with me. For any LGBTQ+ person, you have to come out to people all the time. It’s not because you’re making a fuss about it, although sometimes and in some cases, someone might be, but it’s because when you came out, it wasn’t broadcast to the world. We don’t walk around with Terminator like vision with someone’s stats and in the top right corner of someone’s vision there’s a little rainbow flag emoji to say “hold up, this person is LGBTQ+”

For us, there is the constant need to tell people that, yeah, we’re gay, as if it’s something to apologise for, or something that does actually really define us as human beings. So yeah, the first time you come out, you make a big song and dance about it, but after that, you just have to keep repeating yourself the fact starts to become a boring bit of trivia.

Now, imagine if you will, the finer intricacies of being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Every letter has the potential of being combined with another. You can be a gender-fluid lesbian, a transgender pansexual…the list is fairly endless and a lot of the time, the two realisations don’t come together. So you could have been lesbian first before realising you’re gender-fluid, and so there comes a time that even though you’ve come out as lesbian, you then have to come out as gender-fluid.

Bear with me here, because I am coming to my point…

So, for me, I have always been homosexual. I’ve considered the label ‘queer’ before, but it just doesn’t sit right for me. But, yeah, I’ve always been happy to say to someone, “hey, yeah, I’m gay”. And for a long, long, long time, and for many relationships, that’s all I have ever really said I am. Cut to the last 9 months, and perhaps things have started to change, and there has had to be many conversations for me to understand just exactly what has been changing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have tried combinations of things to see what works, and I have drawn my own conclusions, and whilst some may sit there and say “well this guy it just making excuses for his behaviour”, there is actually something more behind it.

For most of my relationships, the idea of monogamy has been instilled. For many of these monogamous relationships, I’ve probably ended up cheating. For the few relationships I have had that have been open, it’s always been about the sex, and whilst I enjoy it, I find it unfulfilling in the long run, plus those relationships have eventually broken down. And for the last nine months I have been happily not really been monogamous and enjoyed the company of many people either for the connection I have for them, or because the sex is good, or whatever reason fits for that time and person.

For these last nine months I have been very against the idea of monogamy, and it was purely based off the idea that I just didn’t want to commit, but hey, this is me, I am that person that enjoys a relationship no matter how long it’s for. My only problem is, these days, I don’t feel like one relationship is really for me. This is when I had to do a lot of soul searching, and a lot of thinking.

The reason I end up cheating in monogamous relationships is because I can’t just be with one person, it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel like me. I shut myself off from the world, I focus all my attention on one person, and it becomes problematic because I get bored, or restless. And the reason the open relationships don’t work is because they are founded on the principle that it’s just sex. No. I can do just sex with someone if it’s a one night stand, but if it’s more regular, that just isn’t good enough.

So realistically there’s only two conclusions to make: keep dating people until they get bored and find someone else who will commit to them, or realise that in reality, I can choose my own fate and realise that realistically I believe myself to be someone who would thrive better in a polyamorous set up.

Now, some people may think that this sort of thing is an excuse to cheat, but that is not the case at all. If it was just about the sex, I would just carry on doing what I do. In reality though, it’s about the connections I form with people. I have a lot of connections of various levels with people, and that means that some people are close, others are closer, and some are really close. Do I want to eliminate all possibilities with one person in favour of another? No; and it’s not for the purposes of having an ‘on-hand back up’.

My life is luckily one I can still afford to design myself, and going forward, at least I have the right labels, the right explanations and the right understanding to say to any future potential person “hey, I really like you, but you have to understand I also like this person, and if you’re okay with sitting down and talking about it, we can come to some sort of arrangement that’s good for everyone”

For me, it’s not about taking advantage, or having my cake and eating it. It’s about being true to who I am and who I am is someone who has feelings for more than one person and that I don’t feel like I have to sacrifice one for the other. Of course there will always be a primary relationship, that takes the priority in anything, but it’s finding that balance to have that other person and that other meaningful connection in life.

From my experience though, this conversation is actually harder to have with someone because it goes straight to the place where that person “isn’t enough”, when it’s nothing to do with them, it’s about me. Also, because of a lack of understanding about polyamory, there’s this whole taboo over it being ‘cheating’. I don’t know, it’s hard and it’s like having to come out over and over again. What more can you do though? π

Different Sizes.

men like me

I recently wrote a piece, that had an alternative purpose than being put online, about all the differences that make us unique – specifically, all the difference that make love unique. From heterosexual love, to gay love and beyond, I wrote word after word about potentially my most favourite song lyric from The Beautiful South:

We love our love, in different sizes.

I have talked about body image issues over and over again, but I live with them, and I have touched upon various pieces that referred to the gay media outlets perpetuating this idea that you have to be young, slim, toned and hairless to be loved, or considered attractive. Even now, after so many years, the same image is shown, and I get the whole idea that “sex sells” but don’t we all have different flavours of sex too?

One of my biggest qualms is fat shaming, but…

View original post 292 more words

Breaking Limits.

men like me

Featured image by @Greenheaddesign

I have this story. It goes back to my birthday when I was seeing a friend that I have had feelings for, for a long time. We agreed to see one another for a full day of just the two of us, and even though it had been a while since we saw each other, it all just clicked into place with the greeting hug at the train station. I had gone to York for the day and I’ve been to York many times, with different, friends, families and old partners. We had a few drinks throughout the day, but it really wasn’t that far into the day when we started to hold hands as we walked around the city. Then it wasn’t long until we were kissing, in public, in broad daylight…and nothing happened. Sometimes I justify the fact there was no trouble to the…

View original post 663 more words

Look For The Rainbow.

men like me

Ah February. A month when single people are made to feel as if they are strange creatures, or that they should now be finding their mate. It’s also a month where two minorities get to discover and celebrate their history side-by-side. What ever do I mean? Well February is both Black History Month and LGBTQ History Month.

Now, I’m not black, and I’m not going to comment on their history, but I will happily sit here now, and discuss our history. And by ‘our’ I mean, the LGBTQ people of the world. You see, I believe history is a vital and important part of who we are right now in the moment, and never has it been more prevalent than to remember what we have endured, and what we are facing in the future. Many people are focussing in on the radical reversal of things over in the United States…

View original post 672 more words

More Colour.

How harmful are a few more colours in the Pride flag? Will it hurt or help someone?

The revelation that someone has proposed adding two new stripes to an alternate Pride flag has caused some commotion. Why exactly? I don’t really know. At first I questioned it, but that’s just when you see the headlines like “two new stripes added to rainbow flag”, and I’m like “oh, are we adding back the Pink and Turquoise?”

No, we weren’t adding back the pink and turquoise, we are adding black and brown. Yeah, they’re not typical rainbow colours, but we’ve seen other Pride variants rely heavily on black, brown and orange stripes…here’s looking at you, fellow bears.

So what are these new stripes about? Well it part of ‘More Colour, More Pride’ which aims to give visibility to LGBTQ+ people of colour. So is it really harmful? No. Do we really need it? Yes. But why? I’m going to tell you.

You see, I am a white, cisgender, gay man. I am the accepted norm. If you’re gay, you’re white, simple. But it’s wrong. When you get films like Stonewall, completely whitewashing history, and changing the person who threw the first brick, you have to really question…are we representing everyone in our community?

To an outside, the rainbow flag is just the “gay pride flag” and that works…for the L and G of the group. And so some time ago, other flags were created to represent the B and T…and then the P and the A and the letters go on and so do the flags. Did people cause a fuss when a Bear Pride flag was created? Or when the Leather Pride flag was created? No, because again, I’m sure the rationale was that it included everyone even if that visibility was only to those who were in the LGBTQ+ club.

The black and brown stripes denote race. They say that people of colour are also in the mix. They are also LGBTQ+ people. Is this flag going to replace the more common six stripe flag? No. Much like the Transgender Pride flag didn’t replace the common six stripe rainbow flag. It is an alternate like Alyssa Edwards. If you are a person of colour and want to use this new flag, use it, if you are white and want to use this flag, then use it. It is about being visible and understanding that our history is vast, and is lost to those who are not within our community.

Valuable lessons can be taught and people should remember that not every person in our history was white. Not all of us are cisgender, or fit into one category, or can be represented by one symbol. Why is it a rainbow? Because we are a spectrum or people that cover all walks of life. You want to create a new flag for your part of this large community, then you do it. Just because the six stripe rainbow is more accepted doesn’t mean you can’t be visible anywhere.

What people need to remember is that this common rainbow flag is the just that…it’s common and seen by the outside as the overwhelming symbol that a location is gay friendly. But it doesn’t stop other flags being flown in other places.

Never forget that we have to stand together in all of this, and that we will be stronger united than if we are divided over things like colours on a flag.

 

BBC Three’s Queer Britain.

I have perhaps kept quiet about BBC Three’s recent series on Queer Britain, because I wanted to see where it went and how it panned out. One thing is for sure, it should not have been advertised to heterosexual people who wanted to understand our community.

My problems with the series lie a fair bit with the setting and the presenter. So let’s start off with the latter. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think someone like me could sit there and present the series and it get decent ratings, so hiring a typically attractive, well-dressed gay male was a good point, but maybe his thirst for attention was more of a distraction. In the first episode, he was more bothered about the tall, bearded guy than he was about anyone else he met. The flirting was obvious, and this seemed a theme with most of the males that paid him a compliment.

You get it girl. I’m not one to stand in your way but when a series like this has the chance of changing things, showing yourself to be a thirsty person is not always best. To start with, if you were trans, or even female then our presenter wasn’t too bothered about you. And shall we not forget that this guy is famous for his YouTube and put on 100 layers of fake tan and trivialised his friend’s race for the comedic value?

Then there was the problem with the setting. For the most part, the series was set around London, Birmingham and southern areas of the country. When a northerner was involved, it was because they’d left the North for London because up here in the North (I am a Yorkshire boy let’s not forget) because of how backwards we all are and how homophobic it really is up here…

This just added to this North/South divide, and made it seem like if you were gay and wanted a good life, London or Birmingham is where you should be heading. Hold up, wait a minute, no. I live up North, I have encountered very few occasions of homophobia and it really isn’t that backwards at all. You can have a happy life no matter where you are, but if you have to move then so be it.

Next up was the generic topics and faux conclusions. We went from religion to body image, to homelessness to race, to porn stars to understanding the term ‘queer’, and throughout it all, it didn’t draw many conclusions. It in fact pretty much just ratified ignorant behaviour.

You can’t change religion, but it’s taught not inherent in your DNA. Your body can be changed but change it for you, not someone else. Homelessness is an issue, let’s find a better way to deal with it. Racial preference is racism if you are discounting someone based purely on their skin colour and not other qualities they have that they can bring to your life. Porn isn’t the only solution to being gay and jobless, although there is nothing wrong with being in porn or being sex positive. Queer is a term that to some people is difficult to grasp, address it from a less radical viewpoint and people may be able to understand it better but don’t force people to use it.

They’re not hard conclusion to come up with or even say, but much of the programme focussed on lacklustre commentary where the presenter felt he was getting an education experiencing these things…that’s great, but why aren’t you drawing your conclusion for people to understand.

The end of the series came where it was another lacklustre response of “it takes all sorts” and that’s great. Yeah, our community really does take all sorts of people, but what about me, what about Jujubee?

The series should have really been called “Queer London” because I feel like perhaps the series better represented those that lived and thrived in London, and perhaps Birmingham but the further North you go, I think the less you could identify.

I didn’t feel particularly represented, and when one of the people on the show said that my local scene was harsh and no one liked him, yet he was a recluse and was never really on the scene anyway because he was judgemental and cruel to people…you sort of have to ask the question why he felt more comfortable elsewhere, when his ego could be stroked and no one else wanted to do it.

Ultimately, in my opinion, the series could potentially do more damage than good. It was very closed off and gave one example of things, it showed one region where things are different, and that is just the point. No matter where you go in the United Kingdom, or even the world, the gay scenes are different. Everyone is going to have good and bad experiences, but it’s how we deal with it together. The series could potentially divide people, rather than bring them together, because really there was no message of unity other than “it takes all sorts of people to make up our community…”

Cisgender.

There always comes a time when gender becomes a talking point. Whether it is the inequality of the sexes, transgender people or blatantly stupid gender rules, there is always some talk of gender somewhere.

Now, to me, it’s never particularly been an issue. I am pro-feminist, I’ll always lift up my sisters in this world rather than hold them down, and I respect those who chose to openly live their lives as the gender they feel they are, whether that be transgender, gender-neutral or the likes.

To me though, I know fully that I am a cisgender gay man. I understand that in essence I am part of the patriarchy just because of what is between my legs, but it doesn’t mean I buy into all that. In reality, I have been fairly privileged with life, I’m not going to deny that but I also don’t think it is something that should stop me being able to comment on things.

I was born male, I feel male and identify as male. This is not a negative thing. Being cisgender is not a negative. I have seen a few times when people who aren’t cisgender, saying that those who are, are clearly ignorant. Hello, no, not me. I’ll never know what it’s like to walk in a woman’s shoes (metaphorically, I have done drag in 6″ heels), and I’ll never know what it is like for my transgender brothers and sisters, nor for those who are gender neutral because that isn’t me.

I can understand that perhaps heterosexual cisgender people are a little ignorant, but that’s not always just about them being cisgendered, it’s usually about them being outside of our community. As someone who is trying to educate himself, form his own opinions and sort of champion change, I feel my cisgenderedness isn’t a negative, and having it drawn up as one isn’t helpful.

The reality of the situation is, that everyone should be on the same level. Whether you’re a cisgender male, female, trans male, trans female or gender neutral person, you deserve to be on the same level. A lot of ignorance around gender is that it is often linked to your birth-sex, and that’s how it has been taught for many years. That is perhaps the primary problem, that we are told all this and later in life we have experiences that teach us it’s not the case.

Gender is the feeling you get. Gender is feeling either male or female. Recently, my cousin has publicly acknowledged his own gender neutrality (and that any pronoun is okay with him), and people have been supportive of him, because the people he surrounds himself with know him, and looking back, it was a case of, it was always obvious that he wasn’t cisgender. He said: “I don’t feel male, and I don’t feel female, I just feel me”, and that is something that is nice to finally see him acknowledge.

Reinforcing gender roles is fairly dangerous behaviour, and here is when I look at my sister. She has created herself a little family with her husband and two children, one girl and one boy. My niece is 8, whilst my nephew is 3. In the beginning, when my niece was young, the obvious gendered toys were bought, and this continued for some time before my niece began to speak up and sometimes would rather have a so-called “boy” toy rather than the usual. Without question we would buy her it, because that’s the type of family we are. Anyway, as my nephew came along, he has grown up (so to speak) largely wanting the typical “boy” toys, but then he started to ask for dolls, a pram, and a kitchen. We again didn’t argue and allowed him to play with whatever he wanted.

Now, obviously, my niece is a little older and she sometimes like to wear nail varnish, and light make up, no harm in that at all. Eventually, my nephew saw this, and then began asking for his nails to be painted too. That’s all he wanted though, just every so often he would get a bottle of nail varnish and ask for his nails to be painted. I understand that some people would find this bizarre, but he has grown up in a family that is loving, and that seldom sticks to gender roles. Obviously, should he ask for his nails to be painted, it would be done, who are we to deny him? But some other things started to happen to. My brother-in-law learnt how to paint nails so that should my nephew, or my niece for that matter, ask, he can paint them for them.

I think that stands up on its own. A cisgendered, straight male, took the time to learn to paint nails for his son and daughter because the family doesn’t impose gender roles. There’s even been times when out shopping, my nephew gets to pick a bottle of nail varnish to buy – his last choice I can remember was a gold varnish.

Perhaps it’s our ages, perhaps it’s because we are a family made up of so many different types of people, and that realistically we are now a matriarchal lead group of people, relying on the leadership of my grandma and my mother. Gender roles, or the expected gender roles of our whole family have been slung out of the window, and realistically, it’s something that others should do. If you live alone, and you’re male, do you expect a female to come and clean for you? If you are female, and live alone, do you expect a man to come and do the DIY? No, you learn, you adapt and you get it done yourself.

Gender roles, even though many people still stick to them, are slowly changing, because we are a progressive society, even if we are a little slow. Recent comments from authority figures over “boy jobs” and “girl jobs” does nothing be reinforce stereotypes and sends out the wrong messages. Women are just as strong as men, whether you are cisgendered or not. We are all equal, or we should at least all be equal.

 

Slur Speech.

There is a fact that I think people should know about me, and there is an explanation behind it, even if other’s don’t agree. The fact is, I use homophobic slurs.

Now, don’t get all hot and bothered just yet, and wait until the end of the post to cast judgement if you will. Since around 2013, I have used varying degrees of homophobic slurs in conversations and directed at friends. I do not direct these slurs at people I do not know because I don’t want to offend people who do not understand or know my viewpoint.

When I went off to university in Bradford, I ultimately became involved in the small LGBT society that they had there. There were two individuals there who had their own agenda to radicalise a small group of people, to which I took issue with. The agenda was to turn everyone over to the school of thought provided by the Queer Movement. However, I believe their own view of this movement was a little bit skewed.

Their doctrine, that they would tell any and everybody was that no matter what, you were “queer”, should call yourself “queer” and live a “queer” life. The movement was about reclaiming the word “queer” and taking away it’s negative power by adopting it back in the LGBTQ world and away from the harmful tongues of straight men.

I have never been called queer in any homophobic incident I have endured.

I found their rationale, at the time, a little off putting and when the rest of the society voted against changed the name from LGBT to “Queer”, they left because they didn’t agree with the vote to have it as LGBTQ which is what it became.

Three years after leaving university and probably 4 years since the vote, it struck me, there was method in the madness. Yes, reclaiming a negative slur from the straight community was a good idea, but why did it just have to be the word “queer”? That’s when words started to spill out of my mouth.

At first, they were just words I used to describe myself. I was a faggot, a puff, a bum boy, a queer. Then my friends started to become them too. One by one. New friends added to the fold, they became them too. It grew, and it stuck. Some people questioned me, I told them my rationale and they either accepted or rejected it.

I understood the triggering effect it could have, and whilst I cautiously use the slurs, it is a rare occasion I shy away from it. The power is there, in my hands. You want to call me a puff, go ahead, I’m good with it, because I am. You have no power over me or that word. That word is also mine. The less you react, often the less something happens.

Could I go about life and just not react and let the words die out? Yes, but I won’t. You see, those words are a part of the LGBTQ history. They’re slurs that have been used and have been given power to someone else. I’m not going to let you have power over me. Is it okay for someone outside of the community to use the slur? No, not really, but will saying that mean they’ll stop? Not at all. Just in the same way that people of colour have to put up with slurs, they’ll always be used to try and tear you down. You just have to claim it back and realise it just builds you up.

I am a faggot, a puff, a bum boy, a batty, a fudge packer, a fairy, and I love being them!

Pride.

There are a lot of things that surround any Pride event these days. From pointless questioning of “why isn’t there straight pride?” to people moaning about it all being about the scene queens and no one else, it’s a time when we are either united or we are divided.

So, let’s review shall we? The need for Pride comes out of a political movement, to show that we are here, and queer and you better get used to it! It was about trying to force the hand of change so that we wouldn’t be treated as the inferiors of society, and was very much more about the march and the message compared to modern day Prides. The reason no one needs a straight pride, is because day-to-day, heterosexual people do not fear the response to openly showing their love for another or showing who they truly are. Pride is that one day in any city that allow us LGBTQ people to do the same; to show love, to show who we really are, and not be scared.

Modern day Prides now, tend to have a bit less of a march feel, and more of a party feel. They’re usually held in parks or in closed off streets, and are usually headlined by musicians who are current or fit the bill. This is where my own problems with Pride begin however. Now there is less of a political message, and more of a party feel, we are just seen as a community who parties and for one day a year, want to be able to get “day drunk” in the streets. Marches are smaller, or non-existent, and what banners are put up, and those who sponsor part of the event (usually the scene bars who totes muscled up men in their adverts). To me, there is usually a massive lack of diversity in it, and I think this is echoed in the fact that there are separate Trans, Bear and Leather Pride events around the UK. Any Pride event should aim to incorporate all of us into whatever they do.

As for who is on stage, most of the time its a money grabbing ploy, but what should be really considered is who is actually an ally and who is just using us for our disposable pink pound? Now, you’re probably sat there thinking “jeez, this guy just really doesn’t like Pride” but you’d be wrong.

Whilst I have many problems with it, I am also happy with it. Yeah, there are missed opportunities, but that’s the same with everything. You’ll find people who don’t like the scene because it’s “full of straights” or they don’t feel welcome because it’s geared towards one audience; and Pride has gone that same way. Pride is geared towards the LGBTQ community now, rather than making a fuss towards passing heterosexuals, and that’s something to be proud of.

In this day and age, whilst in most countries homophobia and the oppression of the LGBTQ community is rife, we are lucky enough here in the UK to be able, on a whole, enjoy a Pride event with little incident. Yeah, you’ll get those straight people there, but assume they are allies and they are there to support you. Yeah, you’ll see the cliques of people gathered in huddles, ignore it and enjoy your own circle of friends.

We should be united, but it doesn’t always happen, but just being at the same event makes us united. Love is love, and Pride is pride. We have these unique opportunities to help those coming to terms with their identity, or those who want to support us, and we should be inclusive of those people. We should make them feel like they belong because they do. There is a message in a Pride event, even if it isn’t screamed from the rooftops: we are here, we are queer and we ain’t going anywhere.