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.

Just Add Lavender.

You may think this is some weird cooking recipe blog all about adding lavender to things (and quite honestly, you need to try yourself a lavender scone but that’s besides the point), but it isn’t. The saying may be outdated, but aren’t a lot of things these days? If you haven’t heard of the saying, it went something a little bit like this: ‘he contains a dash of lavender’

This term was used to describe someone who was…well effeminate and gay. A little bit along the lines of ‘confirmed bachelor’ because they’d never marry. Again, outdated but it’s all in the same vein. To me, I like the scent of lavender, I always grow it in any garden I happen to have, my hair is currently coloured the same shade of it, and y’know, it helps keeps those bees buzzing! But I am well aware that some people are reminded of their grandmas and lavender isn’t the nicest of smells for them.

Whether you like it or not though, if you’re a gay man, you contain a dash of it, even if you’re #masc4masc – learn to embrace it.

In recent months, I have found myself immersing myself in the politics of being gay, and also feminism and everything to do with the underdogs of society, because let’s face it, we are; and we all know the underdogs eventually rise to the top. Some may say I have jumped on the bandwagon as a knee jerk reaction to Trump – but I’m not American – and possibly stupid things like Brexit – because I am British – but it’s not that. It’s about becoming aware of things.

I was perhaps closed off to the notions of being persecuted because of who I am because I’m 6’3″, I’m broad and realistically, only effeminate in the company of friends or when I’m very, very drunk. Would I be able to handle myself? I have done before, so why should I be worried? Well because not everyone is afforded that same luxury. Not everyone can stand up for themselves, and not everyone can avoid being berated by strangers.

When you really examine things though, the picture is bigger, and grander than just one person. It’s more than the mainstream media. It is global, and it’s on the rise, as long as there are certain things that are understood: we are equals, we are the underdogs much like people of colour and women. Together we rise, divided we fall, and that’s where I am coming from.

I am a feminist gay man, here to fight the fight, share my views and try and change the world with a blog and my life. So add that dash of lavender and find that it gives you courage. And let’s go.