Interview with Hijra film makers.

By Darren Marples.

Edited by Tom Wiese.

I managed to catch up with a film maker who is in the process of setting up a documentary about the Hijra folk in India.

Hijra-Trans sex workers getting ready for work

Could you please introduce yourself:

I’m Ila Mehrotra Jenkins, I’m the director of the documentary HIJRA. I grew up in Delhi and I’ve been based in Britain for the last decade. During this time I’ve been working in British television, specifically in documentaries and current affairs with the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV. HIJRA is my first feature documentary.

Most people will not know who hijra people are who read our article, due to culture differences. How do the hijra differ from Western Transgender? Could you please explain?

Hijras are the oldest ethnic transgender community in the world. Hijras are known as the ‘holy hermaphrodites’ from ancient Hindu scriptures. The scriptures say the hijras have the power to bless and curse, and even today that belief is very prevalent.
Tradition holds that a hijra must leave their biological family and society to live within a hijra family and earn a living through their blessings. Through the centuries, the hijra community has grown to absorb very large numbers of trans and non-binary people, particularly from the lower sections of Indian society. Paradoxically, while hijras are considered ‘holy’ in society, it is a matter of grave shame to manhood to have a hijra within one’s family. Unfortunately, young trans-hijras are often excluded from their biological families to live amongst hijras. They continue to bless in exchange for money in India today, but a very large number of hijras are forced to beg and do sex work to survive, excluded from education and mainstream society. As in many parts of the world, hijra people in India face extreme violence, marginalisation and abuse; but unlike in many countries, while facing extreme ostracisation, transgender people can find a precarious acceptance in society as “sacred” figures.

What are the rights both legally and socially of the hijra community in India?

In 2014, the Supreme Court of India recognised transgender people as a Third Gender and a socially and economically backward class entitled to reservations in education and jobs, and also directed union and state governments to frame welfare schemes for them.
This tabled bill was then passed in 2018 in a much watered down and heavily amended version that provides the equal recognition and protection only in theory.
Although homosexuality was finally decriminalised in 2018, in reality, hijras continue to face massive discrimination, marginalisation, violence and abuse, as societal prejudice is very widespread.

Hijra- Trans activist – warrior, Rudrani

How important is the making of this film for yourselves and society understanding and what do you wish to achieve in the making?

We hope to share the stories of hijras. One such astonishing activist for the hijra community is Rudrani Chettri. Part of this film includes her and the hijras she helps, and through this film we hope the world will hear the voices of the trans-hijra community. Further, we hope for the film to raise support of Rudrani’s work and help with increasing acceptance for trans-hijra identities, in the way they wish to be defined.

What can other cultures learn from the hijra?

The hijra trans community inspires others to have the courage to live beyond restrictive gender norms. While they have faced severe discrimination hijras have also thrived as a welcoming community to those who choose to live a transgender identity.

Hijra blessing at a temple.

How can others support you?

We are currently asking for financial support through our crowdfunding campaign:

These funds would allow us to continue making the documentary, and will help get us into production for two crucial shoots. We’d ask you to please support us and share the project widely and support Rudrani’s work for acceptance, love and respect for the trans hijras in all their human complexity.
This film will spread the word about the struggle these incredible people face, encouraging international solidarity by documenting the hope and force of will they display, and reaching out to the wider community on their behalf.

Interview with a Black American gay female musician. 

Recently I got the opportunity to talk to @BlackWolfBrass about her career, oppression as a black gay American and her life. 

Thanks for doing this interview with me. First of all tell me how you identify yourself, sexually or otherwise? 

I identify as gay. I’m gender-non conforming in presentation. I’m biologically female.

Every day is a new day – to experience something that you enjoy or dislike – and what you enjoy may change and that’s OK.

Tell me about being a musician and how you got involved with music.  

I started with piano lessons at the age of six. I had the opportunity to select an instrument in elementary school and my mother wanted me to play the violin. As a foolish child, at 10 I thought the violin was too ‘girly’, and my mother and I agreed upon the cello. However, in the back of my mind, when I first saw a trombone, I knew that’s what I wanted to play – despite my agreement with my mother.

When I went to school, on the day that we were to select our instruments, I went through the motions and said that I was going to play cello. I was fitted for a cello, and my instructor was excited that I was tall enough so that I could play a full size cello. But my instructor noticed that I was not excited and I was asked why. I said that I didn’t really want to play cello. My instructor asked, “What do you want to play?” and I said, “Trombone.” The look on my instructor’s face was one of surprise and to this day I still laugh thinking about it. My instructor took me to get a trombone and put me in the brass class rather than strings. I was completely ecstatic. When I came home with a trombone, my mother was disappointed that I went outside of our agreement. But, she let me play it and both of my parents made sure that I kept up with the instrument. When I got to middle school, which is when I really fell in love with music – when I really started to listen to what you can do with music. On summer breaks between grade years, I would miss the sound of students warming up before orchestra started. In middle school, that is when I decided that I would make my life about music.

Being a musician is hard yet is also one of the most rewarding experiences. I am drawn to things that I can I trust. Music never lies, only people. You get out of it what you put in.

The feelings that it arouses within – in my experiences in life are unparalleled. It’s a vehicle to voice your anger, your disdain, your love, your excitement, your soul and when you can share that with another in a music making experience, you reach a whole new level of communication that keeps you vying for more. When you get to share your musical creations with an engaged audience, you create a bridge – a direct path of communication that words are too limiting to adequately describe what you’re sharing. Generally speaking, I am a very technically concerned person. I have learned what I need to technically and I still continue to learn so that I may be able to express sensitive issues concretely. As a musician I get to allow what’s going on internally to be expressed externally. And that’s why I’m a musician.

Now as a musician, I use music as a vehicle to express the trials and tribulations that I have undergone to help me achieve my open, self-assured place that I think will be beneficial to others. I do this in my solo project called Black Wolf.

 

How can we as a society address oppression in minorities? 

It’s difficult to say because it’s an internal issue which people need to address and internally it’s different for everyone. Being open to being challenged and pulled outside of your comfort level is a start for everyone.

How can we address the lack of role models of diverse backgrounds and promote visibility of minorities as a society?

They are out there and they simply just need to be asked.

By speaking to these people with strong characters. And asking them to share their opinions and thoughts.

 

You have achieved so much but what would you like to achieve in the future? 

I have a lot more to accomplish as a musician, as an athlete competing as a bull rider, as a developer do I dare dream of combining them all?

My hope with my life is that I can help people see the bigger picture in themselves and in others. There is so much that we all have to share.

Above:  Myself pictured with Eddie Windsor who only recently passed last month. I was the recipient of the Eddie Windsor Coding Scholarship from the Lesbians who Teach Conference in NY, in 2016.

Thank you for doing this interview with me I always ask at the end what positive message would you like to give to my followers? 

You’re never going to change the world by being like everyone else. It’s not an easy trek, challenging the thoughts of people daily. Good things come to those who take the time to figure out their strengths and weaknesses. And learn what it is to respect yourself, and only when you can respect yourself can you respect others. I promise that it will be a difficult journey and respecting others is not going to be easy, but when you can good things will come, and bad things will come, and those bad things will be learning experiences that will make you stronger and those good things will be worth the effort.
Always set your  goals to be better. take the time to enjoy what you have when you have it, there is good in everything.

Follow on Facebook: @BlackWolkElectric

Follow main photographer on Facebook: @thecowgirlcamera

 

Interview with the creator of a non binary film. 

Interviewed by @pridematters1

Hello Max, Thanks for doing this interview with me. Firstly tell me about yourself and how you personally identity. 

Hi Darren. It’s my pleasure! Thank YOU for setting this interview up. I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. My mom is a marriage and family therapist and my dad is an entrepreneur/philanthropist. I moved to California when I was 18 to attend film school at Chapman University. I graduated in 2014 and then started my production company – and have producing independent film projects ever since. I identify as gay and am engaged to Mark, my amazing fiancé. We’re getting married June 2018.

Tell me how you got into the film industry.

I’ve always loved movies and storytelling. I started as an actor, both on stage and on camera. While studying film production in college, I realized my interest, passion, and skill set for producing. I loved the organization and the responsibility that went along with facilitating the production of a film shoot – big or small. After graduating college in 2014, I started Landwirth Legacy Productions, and have since produced two feature films, a TV pilot, several award-winning short films, and over a dozen PSAs and commercials for clients such as Toyota, LeapFrog, and American Greetings.

I understand you are making a film about a transgender, non-binary character. Why and how did you start making such a film? 

Yes, we are! My team and I have been working on this film for almost 3 years now. We started by wanting to create a story that would wake people up to the truth that we are all much more connected and similar than we could have imagined. We knew that we wanted our protagonist to represent the clueless, average, white young male in our society and Varta, our incredible screenwriter, introduced the idea of featuring a gender fluid character as our supporting lead. With the growing conversation of transgender rights and the gender revolution in the news and in pop culture, we felt it was the perfect time to further the conversation by introducing a transgender non binary character to a mass audience. And, of course, we were very attracted to the fact that a transgender non binary character has never been authentically represented in a feature film before!


Do you think that non binary characters and performers are under represented on media?

100%. Even just with casting for our film, we found that, on so many of the casting platforms in LA, we could only select “male” or “female” actors. There are only a couple platforms that even include “transgender” as a means of searching for actors. So that immediately alienates transgender actors and any other actor who don’t perfectly identify within the gender binary. In film/TV, I have seen an increase in the number of authentic transgender characters, but many are still portrayed negatively, and very few, if any, are leading roles. That number is even smaller for non-binary characters and performers. However, trailblazers like Asia Kate Dillon, Tom Phelan, Amandla Stenberg, and Ruby Rose, are now giving a face to transgender non binary identities.

Do you feel that more trans film producers are needed as well as performers?

Of course! I feel that in order to capture more and more authentic trans stories, the entertainment industry needs more trans filmmakers and performers who want their voices to be heard and their stories to be told.

How can this be promoted? 

We’ve talked about this a lot! We’re hoping that as more and more trans-inclusive films are made that deliver authentic representation, it will encourage and inspire more trans story tellers to share their stories. Some of the stories that have been shared with us, by people in the trans community, are inspiring, heart-breaking, and powerful. They all deserve to be told.

What difficulties did you face when writing the film as a Gay Cisgender male and how was the research? 

There were a couple. One of the biggest difficulties we faced during the writing process for “L” was making sure that we successfully captured the voice of someone who identifies as being gender fluid. And we knew that, despite all the research, people we interviewed, and Youtube videos that we watched, we couldn’t create this character and tell this story by ourselves. I can’t speak for the rest of our team, but I am a gay, cis-gendered male, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fully understand the transgender experience – which is why we built a team of story consultants who are transgender- both binary and non-binary. Ann Thomas (founder of Transgender Talent), Addison Rose Vincent (trans activist/educator) and Vin Tanner (non-binary artist) have all given us invaluable advice, feedback, and suggestions to ensure that our story and our character is as representative as they possibly can be.

Have you had any criticism or feel you have made errors and how have you dealt with it? 

As I said in the previous answer, I’m a gay cis-gender male working to produce a feature film with a transgender non binary, gender fluid, character. As a result, we have received plenty of praise and criticism for this film. Because this kind of story has never been told and this type of character has never really been seen on screen before, many people have opinions on how they think this character should be portrayed and this story should be told. We understand that gender and identity is very personal to people – and we want to do our best to respect those experiences. We also know that this being told from a cis-gender perspective, so telling an authentic trans-inclusive story within a cis-gender context can present many challenges. This is also why we welcome feedback! As new information is presented to us, we are continuously adapting and changing our story in the effort to remain as inclusive and representative as possible. We need to tell this story together!

I understand that you have involved some high profile trans personalities, is this correct? 

We have made several friends and allies with some amazing personalities in the trans community. Aydian Dowling (founder of Point5cc and Point of Pride), Dara Hoffman-Fox (Conversations with a Gender Therapist), and Ann Thomas (founder of Transgender Talent) are all endorsing this film. We have also received praise and support from Jacob Tobia, Jeffrey Marsh, Chandler Wilson, and Alok Vaid-Menon – among other non-binary influencers and pioneers.

What can you tell us about the storyline? 

I can tell you that ‘L’ is a fun and beautiful story about friendship and learning about being a better ally. It’s about Will, an anti-social white guy in San Francisco, who works as a marketing strategist for various tech companies. Will’s limited world view and cluelessness about everyone and everything around him, forces his long-time girlfriend to leave him. In order to afford his rent, Will begins conducting interviews for a potential temporary roommate. That’s when he meets Lenny. Will quickly learns that Lenny is a gender fluid person who sometimes also goes by the name, Lena. Will considers himself to be a “good ally” so he decides to make an effort to understand and befriend “L”. Together, they embark on a series of wild and frequently embarrassing adventures that lead them to recognize all of the similarities that they share. Things get complicated, and Will learns the hard way just how difficult life can be for a non-binary trans person. But in the end, Will becomes a reliable source of support for L, and does what he can to help them most in their time of need.

Tell me about the production and when the film will be ready. 

We have our script, we have our team, and we have our exhibition plan; now we need the funding. Because this is an indie film, we’re able to keep our budget small and maintain creative control over this story. However, that also comes at a cost. It means that we don’t have a big studio with an infinite money supply backing us. We recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise some of our production costs and are talking with some potential investors about securing the rest of the financing. The goal is to seek and secure our full financing for this project by December 2017, start pre-production in January 2018, and then start shooting our movie in March 2018. We are slated to shoot in both Los Angeles and on location in San Francisco. The film is slated to be released and available for viewing in October 2018.

What have you personally learnt from making such a film? 

I have learned just how engrained gender stereotypes are within our society, as well as how I can be a more educated and supportive ally to the transgender community. I’ve learned to be more mindful of the language that I use when talking with or about non binary individuals, and I’ve learned just how timely and important this film really is. It seems like every day there are new articles coming out, new celebrities speaking up, new legislation being passed, and new story lines in TV/Film about gender and about the gender revolution. I’ve learned that, while it may be an uphill battle to get this film made, it’s important that we do make it and that it gives a face and a voice to the transgender non binary community.

Do you feel that the LGBT community should be more involved with each other more and if so how? 

As cliché as it sounds, we are stronger together. Even just with this film, it’s apparent, that the more feedback, suggestions, and support we receive from the LGBTQ community, the stronger this film becomes. We need to continue the conversation, continue to educate and uplift each other, and all learn how we can continue to be better and stronger allies for each other.

You can follow Max on Twitter @MaxLandwirth

Take a look at the crowdfunding project

 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1866180527/l-a-story-of-genderfluidity


An interview with an Agender person. 

Interviewer @pridematters1

First of all could you tell our followers how you identify yourself? 

I identify as Queer. I am agender and bisexual. In the new-fangled terminology I am actually more pansexual, but I came out at bi- thirty years ago. There wasn’t “pansexual” at that time and the term just doesn’t resonate with me. Queer is the only term I really resonate with. It was a political statement as well as an identity when I first came out and it still has a lot of meaning to me. 

Could you explain what exactly doesagender mean and what it means to you? 

I have never “felt” like I was a woman (I was assigned female at birth). I never saw myself like the other ‘girls’ I knew. When I played “house” growing up with the other girls in the neighborhood I was always the “dad” that went off to work or the doctor who delivered their babies. I knew I was different.

When I was in college I started to think I might be trans. I could pass as a guy (and did so on a lot of occasions) and I fit in with gay men way more than I ever did lesbians. So, I spent some time exploring if I wanted to transition.

I came down to the conclusion that I felt no more like a man than I did as a woman. For the most part, I see my secondary gender characteristics as just great props. Gender is dress up for me. I have no real connection to my gender and don’t really care if I read “male,” “female” or trans. I am kind of an atheist when it comes to gender.

I understand that many transgender folk discover they are transgender at a very young age. Growing up when and where you did, do you feel this was the same for you, or were you influenced by the environment of what is understood?

I was lucky my parents allowed me to be me. They never pressured me to be a “girl”. When my kindergarten teacher cast me as George Washington in the class play claiming there were not enough “girl” roles I knew she was ashamed that I would be a “boy.” She pulled me out of class and did this big explanation of why I had to be a boy (ultimately, it was to try and shame my parents- small, religious town and we were outsiders). I LOVED it. I wore my knickers and wig to school for week. 

I knew I was a little different from an early age and I am sure my folks did. When I saw Liberace on The Muppets at four years old, I asked for a fur coat and piano lessons so I could become his sidekick. I am a proficient pianist today because I really wanted to chill with Liberace.

All through school people would say, “There are men and women, gay and straight, then there is Bec.” I was in this undefined space, and people sensed it. I never cared about fitting in or being part of a gender. I learned not to care about what other people thought of my gender and sexuality at an early age. It was a real blessing.

Did you experience any negative response from people when you first came out?

Again, I was super lucky in this sense. I came out as queer at 14 (1988 for reference). I was the only out kid at my high school for the four years I was there. I knew all the other gay kids and was a beard for all my gay guy friends at dances. Nobody really bothered me. My sister got crap because I came out but I think people were generally afraid of me (I am tall, and have a ‘presence’ about me).

In college, I was very out and a big campus activist. The College Republicans targeted me with death threats and plans of a “fix-it” rape, but didn’t succeed on either account. I watched my back and called the police about the death threats, but I just considered it part of the college experience.

Doctors were a different situation. I am Bipolar. When I was trying to figure out what was wrong, I had a psychologist tell me that it was really just not being okay with being gay. She recommended what she called “an excellent coming out group” on campus and then handed me the number. I was the facilitator for the group. I was clear from then on that health professionals were just a bunch of bigots.

Did you experience any negative response from people when you first came out?

Again, I was super lucky in this sense. I came out as queer at 14 (1988 for reference). I was the only out kid at my high school for the four years I was there. I knew all the other gay kids and was a beard for all my gay guy friends at dances. Nobody really bothered me. My sister got crap because I came out but I think people were generally afraid of me (I am tall and have a ‘presence’ about me).

In college, I was very out and a big campus activist. The College Republicans targeted me with death threats and plans of a “fix-it” rape but didn’t succeed on either account. I watched my back and called the police about the death threats, but I just considered it part of the college experience.

Doctors were a different situation. I am Bipolar. When I was trying to figure out what was wrong, I had a psychologist tell me that it was really just not being okay with being gay. She recommended what she called “an excellent coming out group” on campus and then handed me the number. I was the facilitator for the group. I was clear from then on that health professionals were just a bunch of bigots.

Could you tell me how being agender affected (and affects) your relationships? 

My partners have never had a big issue with it mostly because I am out and open about it from the start. I choose people as partners because they are okay with who I am. Online dating sucked because a lot of guys see “bisexual” and think, “This is my chance for a threesome!” or you get men and women who think, “Agender, bisexual — this person will never be faithful to me!” and won’t date you.

I might have had more issues if this came up after I had been dating someone. Being open about who I am from day one kind of weeds out a lot of problem folks.

There is much negative feedback from people in the public eye, such as Pearce Morgan and Germeane Greer about transgender people, and issues in general. What message would you like to share with people with such sentiment? 

I don’t think most of the issues that come up in the media about trans folks are really about identity. I have been in a number of social media exchanges about trans people. The whole bathroom issue is about rape culture and not trans people at all. The claims by the right and bigots in general is that trans women want to use restrooms to have access to rape women. The reality is, trans women aren’t the threat. The fact that in America we protect rapists, and have a deeply ingrained pro-rape culture is the issue.

Some of the folks out there argue that people don’t have a right to define their own gender identity. There are people claiming that gender is a duality or that what you are assigned at birth is your “correct” gender. A lot of this hate comes from the desire for individuals to keep the power they have in society. They like the status quo. They like the idea that the government and other people have the right to control bodies of queer folks, women, and people of color. These are the same people who have issue with individuals getting food stamps, health care, birth control and other benefits. The root issue is that people in power don’t want things to change because they would lose power. Challenging ideas of gender is just one of many ways to say, “Your world definition doesn’t work. Lets try something new.” It is scary to people who love the status quo.

If someone feels that they are agender what advice would you give them? 

Take some time to explore those feelings. We live in a time where you are expected to have a firm answer to “who are you?” People in general are uncomfortable with uncertainty. The thing is, your identity is a journey. It takes time to figure out who you are.

It is fine to say, “I’m figuring it out”. I was lucky in the sense that the Internet and social media weren’t a thing when I was coming out. It gave me a bit of privacy and time to try and figure out what gender meant to me. Today, with all the sites people are on, it is hard to say, “I am unsure of who I am. I think it might be this or that, give me some time”. Time is critical. It’s okay to have an evolving idea of who you are. 

What positive message would you like to share about being agender?

There are a lot of us who came before you. We have fought for the right to identify as we want, and for the right to be who we are. We are still fighting for you. You have a big comuinity who will support and fight for you. 

My social media is as follows:

@AuntieVice on Twitter and Instagram

http://www.loveletterstoaunicorn.com/

Www.AuntieBsKitchen.com


Facebook.com/Auntievice

Interview with Kristopher, a bisexual male. 

Interviewer @pridematters1 

Hello,  Thanks for doing this interview with me. First of all, could you tell me a little about yourself and how you identify yourself – sexually and otherwise. 

Hello! My name is Kristopher and I am a 35 year old man from the state of Maine in northeast USA. I identify as a bisexual man and I am married to a straight woman and we have three children. Not sure how much you want to know but I was also in the Army for eight years and worked in a combat support hospital as a surgical technologist in the operating room. This is the person who passes instruments to the doctor, retracts organs, and other type of things. I’ve been doing that for the past seventeen years (joined the army right after high school, before college) and now I am two semesters shy of my BS in Sociology. Forgive me if that was more than you wanted.

Tell me about where you grew up and how it was coming out. Did you face any prejudices and how did you deal with this?

I grew up in a small town in Maine, approximately thirty thousand people. Maine is a fairly isolated place in the north-eastern USA and the whole state had a population of only two million when I grew up there, so you can imagine that it was very rural. I didn’t come out when I was in Maine, and, in fact, I didn’t truly come out completely until about five years ago, but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t know much about bisexuality and I also had a lot of trauma in my life that didn’t allow me to explore that piece of myself.

 I did have a few experiences with guys when I was younger, but it wasn’t very serious or deep, and I had an extreme fear of being found out. My town, although fairly accepting of people, was not very open to gay relationships back in the 90s and I was constantly asked  if I were gay, or was being called a faggot for most of my school years. So you can imagine that it wasn’t something I was comfortable being open about or exploring too much. But, I knew that even if I didn’t know what to call it, that I liked both guys and girls. I suppose, in many ways, I tried to convince myself that it was just a fluke because I liked girls and that must have meant that I wasn’t gay – so I just had to get past it. I wish I had known more then because it took me years to accept that part of myself. I guess this is where people get straight privilege from; I hid my bisexuality by dating only women. However, that never stopped people from asking if I was gay all the way into adulthood. Many times I felt ashamed because I was hiding something I knew to be a part of who I am. 

Have you always been open about being bisexual to everyone? 

As I said before, I only came out fully about five years ago. But, I did try to come out to some close friends of mine many times over the years. Through my own ignorance, I kind of thought bisexuality was more of a female thing. There were times that I talked to close friends and I was like: “You know, I think I may be gay.” They would reply with: “Well, have you been with a guy before?” I would say not really, and they would ask me if I liked women, and I would say yes, of course I do, and it would end with, well then, you aren’t gay. 

I tried telling one of my closest friends once that I though I may be bisexual and he laughed at me, saying that only women can be bisexual. So, as you can imagine, it only caused me to try to push it further down. When I first met my wife I was struggling with it a lot because I had become keenly aware of my attraction to men, and over the years I had pushed advances away (I wish I hadn’t). There was a particular guy I worked with who was openly gay, and showed attraction, flirted and even joked about being with me. I wanted to so badly, but I was too afraid and never pursued it.

Anyway, I told my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time that I was attracted to men, and she freaked thinking I was gay. I laughed it off and pushed it even further down. We didn’t talk about it again until six years into our marriage when I told her I was bisexual. It was real – not a phase, and I refuse to stay married for the rest of my life pretending this part of me doesn’t exist. 

How do you approach this when in relationships? 

I never really talked about it. I think some of my girlfriends had suspicions about my attraction to men, but as I said, many people I have encountered see it as gay or not gay for men, and so I just stuck with my attraction to women and kept that part hidden. I would have gay guys flirt with me constantly, and express a desire to fool around, but as much as I wanted to, I was so scared I never let my self be comfortable with it. 

Again, due to trauma in my life, and growing up in a small town in Maine, I didn’t feel like I had the luxury to accept that part, or think that deeply about myself. 

Do you feel when you are in a relationship with one sex or the other people view you as gay or straight and how does this affect you personally? 

Well, since I’ve never had a full official and open relationship with a guy before, I don’t know that I could answer this question properly. But, I would say that being in a relationship with a woman – people assume that it is a straight relationship. Obviously, I’m bisexual so no relationship I’ve ever been in is truly a straight relationship. But, I didn’t know enough to understand that. I would say though that it definitely affected me mentally and all that suppression for so long was not good for me and my mental health. 

Do you think as you grew up there was a lack of awareness and education of all sexualities?

Without a doubt. There was little to no education about these things where I grew up and a ton of prejudice about it. Bisexuality, in particular, was seen as much more taboo than being gay. It was seen as a problem of character in that you were just hyper sexual, or that you couldn’t accept that you were truly gay. I would say this was a huge factor in the suppression of my sexuality. I would even go as far as to say that if I had been gay and not bisexual, I would have been able to accept myself sooner because being gay, although looked down on, was not as taboo as being bisexual. 

When growing up do you think bisexuality was cloaked by the larger visible parts if the acronym?

I’m not sure, but I would say that it was seen as “worse” than being gay for where I grew up. More of a stepping stone to being gay, or simply a hyper sexuality that was more associated with slutty women. I wish it had not been that way. It would have saved me a lot of years of confusion and depression. It also would have allowed me to explore same sex relationships that I really wanted to explore but never did because I was so fearful. I don’t regret much in my life, but I do regret not being able to explore my sexuality during the years that you should be able to do that. 

Is there a message you would like to share with anyone who are questioning their sexuality? 

My message would be to be strong. Be brave and trust in your gut. Trust your instincts and never be ashamed of who you are. It doesn’t matter where you fit in the acronym, what matters is that you were made how you were made and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s not a new thing, these things have been around since man became conscious of itself. It is today’s society that has the problem, not you. Be true to who you are. There are people out there who understand what you are going through and a community that will embrace you, lift you up, and lend you strength. 

There is always hope, and through hope can find community, through community you find acceptance, and through acceptance you can find peace. 

Interview with Roxy Clarke from the Roxy Report. 

​Interviewer @pridematters1 

Hi thanks for doing this interview with me. Could you first tell me how you identify yourself?

I’m more than happy to do it! Hello, I’m Roxy! I am an Aquarius, which I don’t get as I’m terrible at swimming!

My Gender Is MTF Transgender, and I’m on my long laborious road to becoming female. Along with that came sexuality changes from straight “male” to bisexual female. At present I’m right in the middle of my transition. It’s like being in limbo, or like being in the eye of the storm; Tornado Transgender!

When did you first begin to understand how you felt about your gender growing up?

It wasn’t until college that I researched and found out what ‘Gender Dysphoria’ was, up until that point I thought I was just weird.

I remember that I would wear my Mum’s high heels when I’d go out to the garden with her and we’d talk for hours about her relationships as well. I felt comfortable being like a girl. I suppose I knew I wasn’t gay as I fancied women, so that confused me. I got on with girls better growing up, and did Textiles and ChildCare in school and college, and I was the only “boy” in them.

The moment I found out there were more people like me was amazing, it lit up a dark part of my brain that had been closed off like a dusty office. Unfortunately, back then YouTube had almost no helpful videos on the subject. Thankfully the amount of information you can find online now is endless, and I’m striving to help others with my YouTube channel TheRoxyReport as that wasn’t there for me when I needed it.

How and when did you come out and how supportive was your friends and family? 

I came out in 2011 to my step-brother, who laughed until he realised I was serious, and told me to tell my step-mum. She took it extremely well, and also took me to my local GP where they confirmed I wasn’t mad. That period was so refreshing as I could finally be myself around people, but it wasn’t enough. My Mum passed away in 2009 from cancer before I could tell her, so all that was left was the most important person in my life, my Dad!

I went online to buy a book that could ease my coming out called True Selves . It looked very professional so he had to believe me, right? One morning in November 2011 I was driving to work and I just lost it. Tears poured, and the world closed around me, I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, I couldn’t keep lying to myself, or him! 

I sped home faster than I should have, and entered the kitchen where my father eating his morning toast. He started going on about how I was reckless and putting my job at risk, so I walked to my room, grabbed the book, and slammed it on the table in front of him. 

“Dad, I’m Transgender”

I had played this moment out in my head for years. It was so lacklustre, I had expected a band begin a fanfare and for him to clap, but I didn’t get that. He sat motionless with a piece of toast hanging out of his mouth for about ten minutes. I thought I broke him! 

My Dad wasn’t clued up on anything LGBT at this point, and to have this thrown at him was a shock, to say the least. Thankfully, after a couple of weeks he started to talk about it with me, and now he is so accepting, and my driving force for my transition.

I saved the best for last; Grandmother!

I rang her up, and said quite solemnly “Hello, Nan. Can I see you? I have something to tell you.”

I got to the house with the great support of my now ex-fiancée, and spilled the beans. She looked at me and smiled.
“Thank God! I thought it was money you wanted!”

I understand that you live in the UK, how do you find issues in regards to Transphobia?

I currently live in the countryside, southern England – think Hazard County without the Duke Boys! 
Here people don’t really know a lot about anything LGBT. In some ways, it’s great as British people tend to keep to themselves so no questions are ever asked, but you still get the odd mis-gendering. I’ve never had anything bad happen here apart from one time in Trowbridge where a group of chavs (uneducated people wearing tracksuits, and saying “innit” every other word) shouted
“tranny” out of a passing Vauxhall Corsa. They couldn’t even find a decent car to abuse me from. There are a lot more cases of Transphobia in the UK, mainly in big cities, which is a shame, and hopefully as it becomes more of a known thing, and people become more open, that will fade.

I have seen your YouTube channel and it’s awesome. Why did you start this and what impact does it have on others? 

Thank you very much. TheRoxyReport was started in 2012 to document my transition from beginning to end, as I mentioned previously, the amount of Trans content back then was miniscule, so I was hoping I could help others like me. 

Nowadays, I am still pushing the biggest topics from outing Transphobic YouTubers, fighting for equality, and talking about tough subjects like depression, sex, and anxiety. One of my biggest achievements was taking on a 2 million subscriber channel JoeyFreakingSalads, after he made some very demeaning Transgender “prank” videos. I fought hard, and tried to clear up misconceptions he made in his video like “if you don’t look feminine enough, you may as well not bother!”

He viewed my video, had it copyright striked (which is illegal), and I fought back and got my video back up! It’s small victories that can make the difference. I’ve had many people come to me over the years asking for advice on coming out, and I’ve helped in any way I can. Recently a mother of a person that had come out as Transgender contacted me for advice, which blew my mind. I’m hoping if, or when, I leave YouTube that I’ve made a meaningful mark.

One of our main goals at Pride matters is to try and unite the LGBTQIA community more. How important do you personally see this and what can you and others do to ensure this? 

That is a great goal to have! We need to stick together to fight injustice and the stigma that looms over our community.
The more we fight, the more our message is heard. The more we explain, the less people who hate on us will have to use against us. Misconception and non-understanding are the main issues, and I can see that we are taking strides to a better future even in the last five years there have been leaps and bounds in progression, from gay marriage to Transgender actors!

Be strong, and know you aren’t weird, or different!  

Thank you for doing this interview. I always ask at the end what message would you like to leave our readers with?

It’s my pleasure, it’s been fun! 
Dear readers… Hello! *waves* 

A man walks into a bar.

“OUCH”

If you smiled, I’m doing my job! You’re amazing, and you will do great things, and if in doubt, watch kitten videos on YouTube, it never fails to make me smile!.
You’re Loved!
Thank you!
Bye!

You can check out Roxy’s channel 

https://t.co/pKd7DQ9ou2

Interview with a married couple. 

Interviewer @pridematters1

Thanks for doing this interview with me. Could you both first tell me how you identify yourself sexually or otherwise?


Wife: Heterosexual.

Husband: Bisexual.



When did you approach the subject of your sexuality?

Husband: We never actually sat down and had a “big chat”. We had been friends before we were a couple, so ‘husband’ just assumed and ‘wife’ had an inclination, but, it first came out in the relationship about 6 years in – 18 months after being married – we were having a pizza and husband made a comment along the lines of “boyfriends” and wife was like “yours? What?”.



What were the original feelings for you both?

Husband: There was just an assumption that because we’d been mates, the topic had been covered.

Wife: Shocked that it hadn’t been mentioned outright before, but not surprised either. It was more along the lines of “you probably should’ve mentioned that before we got married”.

I hear some people will not date bisexuals, what message would you like to give to them? (be nice) 

Husband: If the only thing stopping them is their sexuality, then that’s more a reflection on you then them. Don’t be so narrow minded. Bisexuality is no different from heterosexual or homosexual, it’s just someone wanting love. 

Wife: Stop being so narrow-minded! People complain that they can’t find ‘the one’. Well if ‘the one’ chooses you over 50% of the population – awesome! If ‘the one’ chooses you over 100% – mega wins! 



Do you think that your sexuality is masked by your relationship, is this an issue for you and how do you deal with it?

Husband: No, because I don’t go around with a sticker saying look at the bisexual! It is as a part of me as my height or hair or eye colour. You don’t expect a same-sex couple to say “oh we’re gay by the way” nor an opposite sex to proclaim straightness. I will talk openly about my sexuality and preferences if people ask. I have types, I’m not attracted to everyone no matter what bisexuality is betrayed as. I have never cheated, I’m not into threesomes, and I don’t fancy everything with a heartbeat. My sexuality is masked by my personality, not my lover.

Wife: As a straight person, I guess this isn’t really applicable. I don’t introduce husband as being bi because he is a *husband* who happens to be bi, he also happens to be left wing, have a rubbish sense of humour, have a different taste in books to me, but they don’t invoke the same stereotypes. I don’t want him to be known as bi, I don’t think he should be known as ‘name’ not as bisexual. 


I know from personal experience there is prejudice towards bisexuals, when you first began your relationship what was your view towards bisexuals, and has that changed since you have been together?

Wife: I never have and will never care if someone is straight, bi, transgender, gay, black, brown, oriental, white, or pink with purple spots! I care whether they are an arse or not. I have held this view since way before I was a teenager, and it will never change.


Thanks for doing this interview. I always ask at the end what message would you like to give to our readers? 


Husband: Assuming you’re reading this because it has triggered an interest for you, I ask two things 1. Don’t worry about offending people, if you know them well enough, admit your limited knowledge and use them to learn. 2. Love conquers hate.

It doesn’t matter who you love, all that matters is you love.


Wife: Bisexuality is NOT the same as promiscuity.  In the three short years we have been married, I have lost my brother, and suffered anxiety and depression. Husband is still here, because you know what, that is what love is about. And bisexuality does not decrease the ability to love.

Interview with Mr Gay Scotland 2017: Part two. 

Interviewer @pridematters1

Check out part one first. 

https://pridematters.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/interview-with-mr-gay-scotland-2017/

What do you think you can bring to the role? 

I don’t pretend that I have all the right answers and I do make mistakes, but I believe I am a good role model for LGBTQ+ people. I understand that so much of what happens in the world is out of our control, but what we can control is how we respond to that.
So, when I’ve face challenges I try to do so by making a success of whatever I’m doing. I’m proud that I’m a senior lawyer for a leading fashion company and I hope this shows that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve success but also the kind of life you want to live. I’ve been in jobs I haven’t enjoyed or had little prospects and I realised I have a choice and I am the only one who can and should make the choice. We have one life and we have to make the most of it. Change is good.

Being a lawyer also makes me used to debating and arguing a case, but also forces me to see and understand where the other person is coming from. This 360-degree view allows me to make a stronger and more thoughtful case and to persuade the other side to come to my point of view or to at least compromise with compassion and understanding.

At 39, I believe that I am emotionally intelligent and comfortable in my own skin. I was a bit hopeless during my twenties when my weight ballooned and I was unhappy but I’ve come through that and am now in a much calmer and happier place. 
Having trained as an actor, this gives me a good understanding of people, their emotions and the ability to empathise. I’m also used to being on stage in front of small groups but also thousands of people.
Crucially I have experience in campaigning, a lot of which I have gained over the past seven years of singing with the LGMC. Whether that’s protesting outside the Russian embassy, singing for Dolly Parton on the BBC or outside the House of Lords for Equal Marriage, singing for the Prime Minister in No 10 at an event against homophobia in Sport, performing at corporate or charity events or running a singing workshop to kids with learning difficulties. I am used to dealing and working with people from all walks of life; from Prime Ministers, Lords and Ladies, politicians and celebrities, to children and their parents who may or may not have met a gay person before.
I’m also just a friendly guy and believe that we should all do our best and look out for each other. I’m actually helping one guy who works near where I live and he’s unable to come out because of his family’s religious beliefs – he’s genuinely in fear for his life. We meet for coffee occasionally when he can and I give him support, friendship and kindness.

Can you explain for my readers how the competition now works and it’s not just a beauty pageant?  
I hope I covered this above. Saying that, I appreciate we have just done a photoshoot in our pants. However, it really isn’t about who is the most handsome or the prettiest, but yeah, Mr Gay Wales, Mr Gay England and I do like to go to the gym and to keep fit. However, there’s nothing wrong with promoting self-improvement or living a healthy and balanced lifestyle and I think that is something that should be embraced and shouldn’t be a target for mockery. Did I mention I’m 39? If youth=beauty (I hope not these day) then I’d be a goner.
However, if a photo of us in our pants does titlate and catch someone’s attention and allows us to spread our or someone else’s message, then great. 
I can’t pretend I am completely comfortable doing such photoshoots – it always sounds weird to people who didn’t know me when I was obese but I have my own confidence issues and hang ups about my body – I guess we all do.
What I would hate is if that puts people off from applying in the future or if they make people feel uncomfortable as that’s not the intention.
I understand you have a lot of work to prepare for each category, what’s been your highlight so far? 

Oh there’s so much work and revision to do!! We’re only just getting started and stuck in. I’m preparing my campaign, and working with some companies to try and do some talks, but I also need to get my head in the books to learn about LGBTQ+ issues and laws across Europe. There’s also a fitness test but I have no idea what that will entail (last year they had to run up and down a mountain – twice!) so I’ve been for a 12km run and will hit the gym in the morning. Eek.

Why do you think people should vote for you? 

I’m a good role model. I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes, but I’m pretty successful, I can speak to people from all walks of life and have experience in campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights.

Good luck in the competition. Is there a message that want to give to our readers? 

Whoever you are, whatever your gender, age, background, ethnicity, size, shape, or skin colour it’s time that we started to OWN IT and to allow everyone else to OWN IT! We need to be kinder to ourselves and each other!

Link to vote for Steven to win Mr Gay Europe is  https://t.co/331xYVWsLx and his new website is https://t.co/80BSzJLUgM

Interview with Remington Miller an asexual. 

​Interviewer @pridematters1

Recently I got the opportunity to interview Remington. 

Could you tell me a little about yourself and how you identify yourself?


My name is Remington, and I was born in October 1993. I am from the southern part of the United States, and I am a senior in college, graduating in December 2017. I identify as a queer ‘grey-ace’.

Grey ace! Could you explain exactly what that means?


On a spectrum from non-asexuality to asexuality, I am somewhere in the middle. I am sexually attracted to people, but not very often. I can appreciate someone aesthetically, even attracted and could possibly want a romantic relationship, but it has to be the right moment for me to want to have sex with someone. I’m usually rather disinterested in sex.

Did you identify yourself, as there is very little information out there about asexuality?

I did, but mainly because I didn’t know much about the LGBTQIA+ Community. After a friend of mine told me that ‘grey-ace’ was a thing I did a Google search and found some resources that really made me feel like I wasn’t the only one that felt this way.


Have you told any of your friends and family and how did they react?

I have not told my family. A few friends know because they helped me figure it out. They didn’t really mind at all, and just accepted it.

Do you think there is such a thing as ‘Acephobia’?

I totally do! People tend to fear what they don’t understand. It’s “hard” to comprehend someone not wanting sex. Sex is made out to be something you have to do to be normal, which is completely wrong.


Some aces form relationships and adopt or have children. Is that something you would consider?

I definitely want a partner. I want to share my life with someone. Children though? That’s a maybe. Kids, for me, are so exhausting and time-consuming. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I see myself in some kind of communications job, maybe a Social Media Director. I might be going back to school to get a degree in Business or Business Administration.


What message would you like to send out there for the people who are questioning their sexuality and feel that they may be asexual?

There is nothing wrong with you or the way you feel. There is nothing wrong at all! I know that it feels like you’re alone and that no one could ever understand. I’m here. There’s a community. Just reach out and we’ll help you.

 

This is an online forum I found where you can talk to others.

The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network:http://www.asexuality.org/en/

Follow Remington Miller on twitter at @remmingtom

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