Interview with Mr Gay Scotland 2017: Part One.

Interviewer @pridematters1

Recently I got the opportunity to interview this year’s Mr Gay Scotland and contestant in Mr Gay Europe. 

​Hello Steven, Thanks for doing this interview with me. First of all could you tell me a little about yourself?
It’s a pleasure. Thanks so much for asking me.
I always find this question a bit tricky as I don’t like to be defined by my day job but I guess it’s all part of who I am. I’m a 39-year-old “gymming, singing lawyer” (that’s how my boyfriend describes me to his friends) from St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. I now live and work in the huge melting pot that is London – a city that I adore. 
I like to think of myself as a smiley, friendly and motivating person who likes to help people (whether at work, through fitness or somewhere else in life). I love challenging and pushing myself, trying new things and living life to the max. I’m a weird mix as I can be a total show-off at times (I love performing, presenting, singing and acting) but I’m equally happy plodding away on my own. I’ve always been excited by change and sometimes in life I think you need to press the big red button and just mix everything up. Life’s about grabbing opportunities that come your way and the adventures on which they can take you – like being part of Mr Gay Europe! 
To clarify I don’t normally sing when I’m at work; for my day job, I’m a media and marketing lawyer for a well-known fashion company. For years, I always felt like I had to apologise for being a lawyer and this comes from worrying too much about what other people think. However, now I’m 39, I’m more comfortable in my skin and I’m proud that I’m a successful lawyer and for the skills that being a lawyer gives me.
I have a real passion for fitness and am a qualified personal trainer and nutrition coach. I once tipped the scales at over 120kg so I’ve been on my own crazy fitness journey. If I can help other people improve their lives through fitness and nutrition then that’s a positive thing.
Finally, I also sing and campaign for LGBT+ rights with the London Gay Men’s Chorus, the biggest all male choir in Europe. Joining the LGMC back in 2010 changed my life. Not only do I get the chance to perform at incredibly inspiring venues and events but more importantly I’m part of a wonderful community of hundreds of gay men of all ages, backgrounds and shapes and sizes, each with their own story to tell. So often in parts of the gay community we limit ourselves and friendship circles to people who look and behave like us which I think breeds a level of prejudice which means we don’t always treat each other with kindness. Being part of the LGMC really opens your mind to the different backgrounds, values and opinions of the membership (and boy, there are a lot of opinions).

Tell me about where you grew up and how it was coming out.
St Andrews is a beautiful and historic town on the North Sea with around 17,000 people. It’s a strange but wonderful bubble of a place and not like anywhere else in Scotland as it is incredibly international and cosmopolitan as it has the oldest university in Scotland, is the home of golf and was the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland. It was also next to RAF Leuchars which is now an army base. Saying that, it’s also a small town and everyone knows each other’s business.
I feel incredibly lucky and proud to have grown up there. Mum and dad moved there with my brother from west Fife just before I was born so I’m a true St Andrean. My folks still live there and I love going home to see them and to spend time there.
I went to the local state schools which offered me and my older brother pretty good opportunities (mum taught at my primary school), and I did pretty well academically which has no doubt helped me get to where I am today. It’s funny, I was always determined to get away from the small town to a big city although now I’m getting to age where I’d love to go back.
As for coming out, that’s a bit more complicated. We come out all the time to people and I don’t think we stop. I think this is something some straight people don’t realise or understand.
First, I had to come out to myself. I knew from a very young age that I was different. I had the biggest crush on He-Man and Jason Connery in Robin of Sherwood. I also remember being desperate to be friends with a guy a few years above me in primary school. I must have been just six or seven at the time. I remember vividly wanting to be best friends with all of them or for them to me my brother or cousin – as these were the only male-male relationships I knew to exist at the time. I didn’t know that men could be together or that gay people existed. I was so confused about it all, but once I realised that there were gay people, it all fell into place. However, this was the mid-late 80s and that came with huge dollops of shame, fear and prejudice as it was the peak of the AIDS crisis. I remember people making anti-gay jokes when Freddy Mercury died and I also remember when a neighbour was arrested for cottaging in a local public toilet which was surrounded by whispers and derision. 

I’m not sure how, but I managed (I think) not to be too affected by it and just got on with things – school, my friends and my hobbies – one of which was the local youth theatre groups. A cliché I know, but I loved performing and being cast as Joseph in my Primary 7 school show, sparked that passion. 
By the time I was 13, I was pretty certain I was gay and it was somehow confirmed by the taunts of classroom and playground bullies who would call me “poof” and “gay boy”. Of course, the teachers did nothing (they couldn’t thanks to section 28) but one even asked some of the other kids if I was gay on a bus back from some school trip. Bizarre. 
I ended up falling for a guy in my year at secondary school. I wasn’t out and the thought of that was pretty scary and I thought I’d have to keep it a secret forever. But he was the first person I told. Well, I say told but he actually found out as I had written about it in my diary (I know…) which he opened and read on my 14th birthday of all days. I was petrified about his reaction and worried he might tell my parents who were downstairs at the time. But he was amazing – so emotionally intelligent for a 14-year-old and (I think anyway) he kept it to himself and we remained friends. We drifted apart as friends do but he was always very supportive through school and when we ended up at the same university. So that wasn’t a horrific experience and was pretty positive in hindsight.
That was 1992, and that summer I did a lot of growing up. I was asked by Maggie Kinloch, the Artistic Director of the Byre Theatre in St Andrews to be in On Golden Pond as part of the Byre’s summer rep season – my first professional acting job! It was there that I met the wonderful Steven Wren who played my dad. It was the first time I’d spent any time with gay people – and they were normal (whatever that means), intelligent, lovely, talented, compassionate people – fantastic role models. Steven was reading Tales of the City which I of course then read. We would chat loads in the Green Room (not about me being gay – I was never that explicit) but in those weeks, I just knew that everything would be ok and I would simply need to bide my time. People didn’t/couldn’t really come out at school back then so I would wait until university. Steven reminded me recently that I asked him on our last day how you know if you’re gay. He told me that if I had to ask the question then I already knew the answer. He was so right.
I didn’t come out to the wider world until university – and of course, it had to come with a side serving of drama. I knew I was gay, but as a typical (horny?) teenager and young adult, I found myself experimenting but with girls – so I had a few (short-lived) relationships with girls. I’m not sure why – some part of me probably gave in to the pressures of the hetero-normative society in which we live, but also part of me liked the fact that I was getting attention from these girls and they were more accessible than gay guys at the time. I didn’t really know any gay guys. Shallow I know.
But in my second year of law at Edinburgh University I came out properly to my closest girl friends and I knew things had to change and I ended up joining the “Friends of Dorothy” gay support and friendship group at my Law School which tutors, lecturers and students could attend. To cut a long story short I ended up dating one of the tutors and this triggered me telling my parents and coming out (dramatically) to my friends at university. My university friends and flatmates were brilliant. Just brilliant.
Coming out to my parents was hard though, I’m not going to deny it, although I do remember them telling me that they still loved me and that was all I really needed to hear. I think we all struggled with it for a number of years – it was an unknown for them and they didn’t really know any gay people and they had lived through the AIDS crisis and the fear and disdain pedalled by a homophobic media. I think they were just worried about the kind of future I would have. Would I have to live a secret life? Would my friends reject me? I was determined to show them that I would make a success of my life and that I would be accepted and that times were changing. I could feel it, for example, France had just introduced civil partnerships. 
Bizarrely though we ended up not discussing it for years. I love my parents very much and they are so supportive of everything I do, and I think it was just easier for our relationship to not have to deal with it. I do regret hiding so much from them – so much fear and misunderstanding comes from people keeping secrets and not being open, so it was toxic for my previous relationship as both me and my ex hid our four-year relationship from both our parents.  How could my parents speak to me about it if I was keeping major secrets from them?
Saying that, I now have a fantastic relationship with my parents, they love my boyfriend (I sometimes think they like him more than me!), they come and visit us, we all go on holiday together and we go home to see them at holidays. 
Those were the big coming out moments. But I feel like I have to come out every day. When I’m on the tube with my boyfriend and someone looks at us funny or when I’m in the back of an Uber and the driver is asking me about my girlfriend. I’m quite glad that on my CV it mentions the LGMC as it means I come out to prospective employers from the outset. If they don’t interview me, it could be because they don’t like gay people (or I’m just not right for the job), but quite frankly I need to be able to be me wherever I work. I’m very fortunate that in all my jobs I’ve been openly gay and it’s never been an issue. Some of my friends aren’t so lucky and work in places where they aren’t and can’t be out at all because of macho cultures. And this is in London. In 2017. Being able to be authentically me is so important.

Did you face any prejudices and how did you deal with this?



I did face some prejudice when I was coming out from a few people but on the whole people were great. So much prejudice comes from people not understanding or having had exposure to those who are different to them which breeds division, fear, suspicion, hate and a whole load of negativity. As such, I feel somewhat sorry for these people as they are products of a section 28 society and all we can do is try to change their minds by being the bigger person, being kind, showing that we can be a success and be a good role model and human being to people regardless of sexuality. 
I’ve only felt threatened twice (which is of course two times too many). Once when I was on the tube with my boyfriend and another passenger stared at us with so much hate and disgust for the whole journey and the other when I was at a work do, and another client of the barrister we were using would whisper in my ear how much he hated me and gays and how he wished we’d all die. I didn’t deal with that situation very well as I was a bit drunk and felt vulnerable and scared.
Where I do feel and see prejudice is often within the gay community itself and that’s one of the subjects of my campaign, “Own It”. It’s not prejudice about being gay per se, but around the wrong type of gay, the wrong body size or shape, the wrong age, the wrong skin colour or the wrong ethnicity.
For example, I was out in Newcastle recently with Mr Gay Wales and Mr Gay England and we were all wearing our Mr Gay t-shirts. A young guy of around 20 came up to me and said in a mocking tone “You’re Mr Gay Scotland?  What year was that?” implying that I was too old to use the title.

Recently you were crowned Mr Gay Scotland, what made you enter this year? 

Haha. Ok, first there was no crowning of Mr Gay Scotland. I don’t see it like that at all. I’m definitely not saying I am “King of the Scottish Gays” or the only Scottish person who represents LGBTQ+ people in Scotland. I wasn’t elected by my fellow gays in a nightclub (other competitions used to do that I believe) but was selected after applying and interviewing with the team at Mr Gay Europe (I have a bit of imposter syndrome as I wasn’t even first choice as the guy before me stood down!). 
I think it’s important to understand what Mr Gay Europe competition is.
The goal for the Mr Gay Europe is “to package the fight and work for human and gay rights with a positive, happy and entertaining event.” 

What I love about the competition is that guys from all over Europe come together to share their experiences and challenges, to work together on team projects and it’s an opportunity for us to all learn from each other and act as a support to each other. We are stronger together and can break down barriers and push the buttons that need to be pressed. 
Saying that, although Mr Gay Scotland is a label given to me by the #MrGayEurope competition I believe it still comes with a responsibility to be a voice and a role model. 
There are so many great people doing brilliant things at a local level in Scotland and beyond. If I can lend them my platform and voice, raise awareness or help promote their causes in any way then that’s good and positive and I’ll have made a difference – however small. But I don’t want to think small. We need to think big. 
I’m just one of thousands of Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms/MxGayScotlands and we are ALL and live as Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms/MxGayScotland every single day of our lives. We should all stand up for who we are, what we believe in and stand up against all bullying and homophobia. 
That’s why as part of my campaign I’m going to be interviewing LGBTQ+ people from all walks of life and sharing their stories. This is a platform that should be used.

In part two I will talk to Mr Gay Scotland 2017 more about Mr Gay Europe. 

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

A follow up interview with Tom Dingley, the creator of The Outcome Project. 

​Interviewer @pridematters1

After the success from the Outcome book and the Exhibition, Tom Dingley has began taking the exhibitions out of our capital. 

I got the chance recently to catch up with him. 

Thanks for doing this second interview with me. I do appreciate how busy you have been. 
What response did you receive from the launch of your book about exhibitions? 
The launch of the book was such a positive evening with so many close friends, family, Outcome participants, press and contributors there! It really propelled the project on it’s tour. Making connections on the evening with other University LGBT groups as well as business organisations. I was told a few times “this needs to be seen by more people” which just encouraged me to follow up with connections and get the exhibition to many different places. At the time, it was national Coming Out Day – and I found myself busy in February for LGBT History Month. Next is IDAHO Day where I’ll be in Harrow, with a pop-up studio should people wish to be photographed for Outcome. It’s nice to have these important days throughout the year, but a project like this can be exhibited at any time, as I think it’s always important to show positive role models in the LGBT Community, and reach out to those who need the support.
Did you have any negative responses, and how have you dealt with it? 
Thankfully, I have not had any negative responses. Which is also a real boost to the project and wanting to take it further afield. It was interesting when I exhibited in Greenwich University, I heard a couple of comments of “What’s this?” “Why is this here?”. When explained, the students appreciated it more and understood a need for such an exhibition. 

Have you learnt anything crucial about yourself and your work since launching the project? 
I’ve learnt that practice really does make things easier, and to do things that scare you. Before embarking on such a big exhibition, book launch and promotion of it, I had not really done any public speaking. Now I’ve done a fair few speeches and been part of panel discussions on LGBT topics. For myself this has been a huge boost – doesn’t mean I still don’t get nervous when it comes to addressing so many people about my work! Having kept an eye on social media surrounding my Outcome project and it’s theme of coming out, I have seen the benefits online. Being in touch with people who are not out, but use the internet to make the right kind of connections for support and help. The internet gets a lot of rap for being too open and a dangerous place – which it can be – but it is also such a powerful and useful tool.


I understand that you took the exhibition outside of London to Sheffield, how did this exhibition go? 

Did you notice any differences between Sheffield and London in regards of the LGBTIQ Community?
Since the launch in London, I have had small exhibitions in different London boroughs, but I have also taken it out to Kent, Sussex, as far as Lancaster and recently Sheffield! All these exhibitions went really well. It was interesting holding shows in places with little or no gay scene. But it is surprising how many LGBT groups and community schemes there are all over the country. I found that if people aren’t in the same city as the exhibition, but close enough, they still feel connected via social groups,  and therefore make the effort to visit. In London we are lucky to have a big LGBT+ scene with a lot going on throughout the week, whether it’s Lola Lasagne hosting a pub quiz, gay cinema at the BFI, concerts, or equality dinners, there is always something happening. In other areas, for the LGBT Community it is fresh to have something new to check out, and it feels special. I have had a a lot of appreciative comments such as “Thank you for wanting to bring your work here.” Which is lovely to hear. Makes the train journeys worth it.
I believe you are taking the exhibition to other cities. I know Cardiff is on the cards. How can people get involved? 
Yes, the exhibitions do not stop here. I want to get the exhibition into some Prides this summer in one way or another. Pride Cymru are hoping to host an exhibition for their Pride weekend, which will be exciting. There could even be the possibilities of digitally exhibiting overseas. When this happens, you’ll be the first to know! People can get involved by keeping tracks on social media – @OutcomeLGBT (Twitter and Instagram) At each exhibition I host a studio day when LGBT locals and visitors can be photographed to take part in Outcome! It’s all very straightforward, and a nice way of adding to the Outcome portfolio, with people from all over the country!

Interview with Peter Tatchell: Part two. 

Interviewer @pridematters1 

Peter Tatchell has been a LGBTI and human rights activist since the sixties. I got an opportunity to interview him about events that have shaped the LGBTQIA movement over the years. 

Can you explain what OutRage! was? How necessary was it to be involved in this project and how does the climate differ from today’s to make it so needed at the time? 

 

PT: The queer rights movement OutRage! was established in 1990, mostly in response to police indifference to dozens of homophobic murders, and near-record levels of arrests of gay and bisexual men for consenting, victimless behaviour (nearly 1,800 convictions in 1989). Our demand was “protection, not persecution”. Modelled on the direct action tactics of the suffragettes, we forced a reversal of police repression. We also targeted other homophobic institutions: the government, churches, media, armed forces, prisons, and the education and health care systems. Faced with institutional homophobia and official intransigence in the 1990s, OutRage! had no choice. Our battle cry was: “Queers bash back!” – non-violently. We strove to transform LGBT and public consciousness, from victims to victors. OutRage! did dramatic, irreverent high-profile protests to expose and challenge homophobia. We captured the headlines with “protest as performance” visual spectaculars like the kiss-in, wink-in and turn-in, as well as the mass queer wedding in Trafalgar Square, and the Queer Valentine Carnival in Soho. The 1992 Equality Now! campaign of feisty civil disobedience, including what was in those days an illegal march on Parliament, involved non-stop protests almost every fortnight for six months, which resulted in masses of arrests – making it one of the longest, most sustained civil rights protest campaigns in modern British history. OutRage! direct action put LGBT rights in the headlines, raising public awareness, provoking debate, changing hearts and minds and helping pressure the authorities to drop their homophobia – paving the way for Britain’s dramatic, successful LGBT law reforms since 1999. 

 

Many people frown upon public outings of others, do you think the uneducated mind would see this as a home goal for equality?

 

PT: In 1994, OutRage! famously named 10 Anglican bishops and urged them to “Tell the Truth” about their sexuality. Since they preached that the rest of us should tell the truth, surely we had a right to ask them to practice what they preach? Furthermore, they were part of a homophobic church that opposed legal equality for LGBT equality. We were targeting their hypocrisy and homophobia, not their homosexuality. We saw this ethical outing as queer self-defence. We were defending our community against public figures who were abusing their power to do us harm. Outing had many positive effects. Within weeks, Anglican leaders began their first serious dialogue with the gay community, and the House of Bishops issued its strongest ever condemnation of homophobic discrimination. The dismissal of gay clergy fell sharply. Congregations all over the country discussed LGBT issues. According to the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement, outing the bishops achieved more in three months than polite lobbying had achieved in 17 years.

 

What in your eyes is the greatest achievement of yourself and of the UK LGBTQIA community since 1967?

 

PT: It is impossible to single out any one achievement. But I am very proud of the OutRage! campaign against police harassment of the LGBT community in the early 1990s. The police refused to end their homophobia, and wouldn’t negotiate seriously. So OutRage! began a high-profile campaign of direct action. We invaded police stations, interrupted police press conferences and exposed ‘pretty police’ undercover agents who were luring gay men into committing criminal acts and then arresting them. Within three months, the police were pleading with us to negotiate a resolution. We did. Within a year, they agreed to most of our demands for a non-homophobic policing policy. Within three years, the number of gay and bisexual men convicted for consenting behaviour fell by two-thirds – the biggest, fastest fall ever. We saved thousands of men from arrest and criminal conviction. Direct action worked, where lobbying had failed. 

 

I know you are involved with many overseas projects. Do you think more pressure needs to be put on the Commonwealth in order to eradicate the anti-LGBT laws that have been left out there since the days of Empire? 

 

PT: 36 out of the 52 Commonwealth nations still criminalise homosexuality, under anti-LGBT laws that were originally imposed by Britain during the colonial era. They account for half of the world’s countries where same-sex relations are illegal. Seven of these Commonwealth countries stipulate life imprisonment: India, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Pakistan, Uganda, Bangladesh and Guyana. In parts of Nigeria and Pakistan, there is Sharia law, which stipulates the death penalty for same-sex acts. This massive scale of homophobic persecution makes a mockery of the Commonwealth Charter. It supposedly commits the member states to respect universal human rights, including the human rights of millions of LGBT Commonwealth citizens. Despite most member nations having failed to meet this commitment, the Commonwealth says and does nothing. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) has refused to even discuss LGBT human rights for 40 years. We are trying to get LGBT issues on the summit of the next CHOGM, which takes place in the UK in 2018. Our key demands are: Decriminalisation of homosexuality; laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; the enforcement of legislation against threats and violence, to protect LGBT people from hate crimes; and consultation and dialogue with LGBT organisations. 

 

 

Pride began as a protest March and as certainly at some festivals focuses on LGBTQIA issues. What message would you like to give to people who believe there should be a straight pride festival?  

PT: Straight people are not oppressed. They’ve always been the oppressors of LGBTs. But if they want to organise a Straight Pride, go ahead and organise one. It’s a free country. 

Many young LGBTQIA people have reclaimed the term Queer. What are your thoughts on this term, looking back as a derogative term and now it’s being recycled?

 

PT: The reclaiming of queer happened a long time ago; pioneered by OutRage! in 1990. The idea was to turn a term of abuse into a symbol of defiance and pride – in the same way that the pink triangle badge, worn by gay concentration camp prisoners, was reclaimed from the Nazis. If we rob the bigots of their exclusive usage of the queer word it loses at least some of its negative, hostile sting. Indeed, today, “gay” is a more common term of insult than “queer”.

 

 


Above: 19-year old Peter Tatchell at the GLF sit-in at the Chepstow pub in west London in 1971, in protest at their refusal to serve ‘queers’.


The transgender community has very issues of their own. How as a united community can we help them with their fight? 

PT: It is important to embrace transgender people as part of the LGBT spectrum. Although different from LGBs, they also, like LGBs, defy heterosexist and gender norms. Sexual orientation, gender, gender roles, and gender identity are all interlinked. These are part of a matrix of issues that revolve around social expectations of what it is to be male and female, masculine and feminine. This is also why lesbian and gay liberation is so strongly linked to women’s liberation, and also linked to transgender and bisexual liberation. Straight machismo and orthodox male and female roles underpin the oppression of LGBs, transgender people, and the female sex. To disassociate the LGB from the T, and from women, is wrong and impossible. LGBs are, like transgender people, gender dissidents. We don’t conform to traditional heterosexist assumptions about being male and female, in that we have sexual and emotional relationships with the same-sex, not the opposite-sex. We also tend to adhere less strictly to traditional ideals and patterns of maleness and femaleness. LGBs are, like transgender people, gender non-conformists. We should celebrate this shared discordance with mainstream straight norms and see it as the basis of an alliance for our joint LGBT liberation. The right to be different is a fundamental human right for LGBs and Ts. The idea that people should be expected to adhere to heterosexist and gender-normative expectations is demeaning and insulting for LGBs and for Ts. We share a mutual interest in working together for both sexual orientation and gender/gender identity liberation.

Thank you very much for taking part in this interview with myself. 

Link to part one of the interview 

http://wp.me/s78BZ8-4651

Interview with Peter Tatchell: Part one. 

Interviewer @pridematters1

Peter Tatchell has been a LGBTI and human rights activist since the sixties. I got an opportunity to interview him about events that have shaped the LGBTQIA movement over the years.
You have been a human rights activist since the 1960s and are passionate about your work. When you began you were one of very few activists in the UK. What made you begin on this journey?

PT: My passion for human rights began when, aged 11, I heard about the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, in 1963. Four young black girls my own age were killed by white racists. I was horrified that anyone could kill another human being, let alone four young girls in a church on Sunday morning. That triggered my support for the black civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King.

But my first active campaign was not until 1967, when I was 15. It was against the death penalty in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia. A prisoner, Ronald Ryan, allegedly shot dead a prison warder during a jail escape. I read a newspaper report about the autopsy, which mentioned the bullet’s trajectory through killed warder’s body. I worked out that it would have been almost physically impossible for Ryan to have fired the fatal bullet, given where he and the warder were standing when the shot was fired. Ryan was hanged anyway, even though there was reasonable doubt about his guilt. I was shocked. Up until that time, I believed the government, the police, and the courts, were there to serve the people, but from that moment onwards I had an abiding scepticism towards authority. I thought to myself, what else are they doing that is wrong? I also campaigned, while still in high school, for the rights of the Aboriginal people and against Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

It was not until 1969, at the age of 17, that I realised I was gay and began to campaign for LGBT rights – very much modelled on the ideas and methods of the black civil rights movement, including their tactics of non-violent direct action and civil disobedience. When I came to London in 1971, aged 19, I immediately immersed myself in the newly formed Gay Liberation Front, helping organise many of their daring, provocative protests, such as sit-ins in pubs that refused to serve ‘queers’, and against the Christian anti-LGBT movement the Festival of Light.

I’m aware that you have met legends such as Quentin Crisp, Peter Wildeblood and I believe you were a good friend of Dudley Cave. Do you feel that these pioneers are in danger of being lost in history?

PT: Sadly many of the pioneers of our movement are forgotten – not just the ones you mention but also Tony Dyson, Allan Horsfall, Jackie Forster, Antony Grey, Esme Langley and many others. We are in danger of a new generation of LGBT people who know nothing of the past heroes and heroines who took great personal risks to trail-blaze the freedoms we now enjoy.

Quentin Crisp couldn’t understand the need for equal rights. Is this true and do you think this a mindset of a different generation? Can you shed some light on this way of thinking?

PT: I love and admire Quentin Crisp in many ways. It took incredible courage to be an out and flamboyant queer (his word) in the 1940s and 50s. But he never embraced the LGBT movement. He hated it. I only ever met Quentin once. It was a brief encounter in Charing Cross road in 1974. I was 22 and wearing a gay liberation badge, which prompted Quentin to retort: “What do you want liberation from?” He continued in a similar vein, dismissing the idea of gay pride: “What is there to be proud of? I don’t believe in rights for homosexuals.” This sad conversation sums up what Quentin Crisp had become by the 1970s: an often self-hating, arrogant, homophobic gadfly. He denounced the gay rights movement and slammed homosexuality as “a terrible disease.”

“The world would be better without homosexuals,” he declared. In 1997, he told The Times that he would advise parents to abort a foetus if could be shown to be genetically predetermined to be gay: “If it (homosexuality) can be avoided, I think it should be.” Other notorious Crispisms include his suggestion that gay men are so self-centred that they are incapable of love, and lack the capacity to care about the welfare of other people. This supposed lack of altruism is, according to Quentin, because most gay men have “feminine minds.” He was a misogynist, as well as a homophobe.

One of my earliest memories of you was the bitter election of Bermondsey by election in February 1983, when you fought hard against a backlash of homophobia. At the time how did this make you feel and looking back what did you learn?

PT: I was the left-wing pro-LGBT rights Labour candidate, at a time when most politicians opposed LGBT equality. Described by many commentators as the dirtiest, most violent and homophobic by-election in modern British history, I faced an anti-gay onslaught by the Liberals, four fascist candidates, Real Labour, and the tabloid press. It was like living through a low-level civil war. I was assaulted over 100 times in the street and while canvassing. There were 30 attacks on my flat, two attempts by car drivers to run me down, an arson attack on my home and a bullet was posted through my letterbox in the middle of the night. I received hundreds of hate letters, including 30 threats to kill me. Anti-Tatchell slogans were painted throughout the constituency, on dozens of walls, hoardings and bridges, including: “Tatchell is queer”, “Tatchell is a communist poof” and “Tatchell is a n*gger-lover”. I had to board up my flat. There was a neo-fascist lynch mob mentality stirred against me. At many moments I feared for my life. The anti-LGBT hatred bought home to me the scale of savage homophobia that still existed. It prompted me to give up work and volunteer full-time unpaid for LGBT rights for the next 28 years.

In Part two: Peter talks about Outrage, overseas projects and transgender issues.

Spanish language version:

http://wp.me/p7ZaHo-17

George Cecile Ives 


By @pridematters1 

In this series we look at various heroes and advocates of the LGBTQIA family.

In this article we focus on a gay male, George Cecile Ives. 

1 October 1867– 4 June 1950
Place of birth: Germany. 

George Cecile Ives was one of Britain’s first gay activists, living in a time were he was in danger of imprisonment for up to two years hard labour for his sexuality. 

Ives formed a secret society for gay men called The Order of Chaeronea, named after the battle site were a army of gay lovers were slaughted.

He was educated in his younger days at home, then later at Cambridge. Roughly at the time he began Cambridge he also began collecting scrap books full of newspaper cutting, on a range of subjects that fascinated him the most,  from cricket through to murder, punishments, theories of crime, the psychology of gender and sexuality. He also showed an avid interest in male transvestism. This was the beginning of a lifetime of fascistion with sexual and gender psychology. 

Ives believed that homosexuality would never be accepted by soiecity, of course at the time he was right. He went on to set up the ‘secret society’ in order to communicate with like minded people. He believed The Order of Chaeronea should cultivate a moral, ethical, cultural and spiritual ethos. What is important to understand is that Ives set this up only eight years after the Sexual Offences Act 1885. 

Oscar Wilde is said to have declined an invite to join the ’cause’.  He also had a brief affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, known best for his realationship with Wilde. Douglas introduced Ives to many poets who he tried to recruit also. 

Slowly Ives recruited many up and coming Victorian gents. 
In 1914 Ives confounded The British Society for the study of Sex Psychology. The society studied birth control, abortion, sterilisation, venereal diseases and all aspects of prostitution, by 1931 the organisation became known as The British serological Society.

George went on not only to fight for gay rights but prison reform, which incidentally many gay men of this time and up to decriminalising homosexuality in 1967 supported in the UK due to their own or their aquantances experiences. 

Considering the times that Ives lived in he was a true pioneer in what would pave the pathway to what we celebrate and take for granted today. 

How the ‘gay community’ was affected by the laws surrounding them in the latter part of the 20th century. 

​​By @pridematters1 

Combined with the Public Order Act: 1986 and the Sexual Offences Act: 1967. Many gay and bisexual men found themselves being prosecuted for simply kissing their partners in the street.
The 1967 act was far from equal. The age of consent was twenty one, which meant young same sex lovers could never feel comfortable showing their affection towards their partner if they were in a heterosexual relationship with someone the same age.

Above: The early marches were more about equality and fighting for simple rights, including education. 

I personally recall a friend had received a prison sentence because his partner was twenty, he was twenty five. If he was in a heterosexual relationship cases like this wouldn’t have happened. Imagine the mental stress this would put on young gay couples. It was common for disapproving parents to threaten going to the police because the younger was nineteen or twenty and the older in their early twenties.. 

Above: Many things we take for granted didn’t exist back in the 70s and 80s. The #lgbtqia  acronym was just beginning it’s process of evolution and the term ‘gay community’ was used. 

Attitudes brought on more chaos, with the fear of the Aids epidemic and the governments stance on education in schools and colleges. Soon Section 28 came into play and lasted till 2000. This meant that education about homosexual relationships didn’t start till much later. There is also evidence that to begin with there was confusion of what could be taught and therefore making the delay much longer. 

Phobic views were rift in parliament but the then, so called ‘gay comuinity’, fought hard against in the late eighties through to nowadays.

Above: a newspaper clipping from this period, showing that prosecutions of young gay and bisexual were taken to court for simply doing something a heterosexual couple would have taken for granted.

Without the advent of gay right groups such as Stonewall UK and individuals such as Peter Tatchell we wouldn’t have such equality we experience in the UK today. 

We have alot to thank for these pioneers that paved the way for the much better equality we have today. Although I am certain the likes of Tatchell or Cashman would scream at us…… 

It’s not over yet! 
Here are a few articles about the early years you may enjoy.

The fight for equality in the age of consent in the UK:

http://wp.me/p78BZ8-14Y

Section 28 –  A Brief look:
http://wp.me/p78BZ8-a6Section

This is the view of the author and may or may not be the view of Pride matters or any other authors. 


Sexual Offences Act 1967

By @_AlexandraClare

 The Sexual Offences Act and perceptions of homosexual relationships at the time when homosexual acts were decriminalised.

 If you wanted to celebrate the anniversary of the legalisation of homosexual acts in the UK, you have a broad choice of dates, depending on factors like where you live, whether you are in the armed services and your age. 

The obvious place to start is 1967, a nice round number of an anniversary and, on paper, a huge step forward because, for the first time since 1885, homosexual acts between men were decriminalised. The Sexual Offences act had taken ten years to make it through parliament following a recommendation from a committee chaired by Lord Wolfenden (which itself had taken three years to produce its report). The legislation applied only to England and Wales and the definitions in the act were strictly drawn: to be considered legal, men had to be over twenty-one, consenting and the acts had to take place in a private place. The act even went into detail as to what this meant:

An act which would otherwise be treated for the purposes of this Act as being done in private shall not be so treated if done- 

(a) when more than two persons take part or are present; 

or (b) in a lavatory to which the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise

Above:Lord Arran.  

Although getting the bill passed was seen as an achievement, the act’s supporters pleaded for discretion. During the bill’s second reading in the Lords, Lord Arran said:

I ask those who have, as it were, been in bondage and for whom the prison doors are now open to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity. Homosexuals must continue to remember that while there may be nothing bad in being a homosexual, there is certainly nothing good. Lest the opponents of the Bill think that a new freedom, a new privileged class, has been created, let me remind them that no amount of legislation will prevent homosexuals from being the subject of dislike and derision, or at best of pity. We shall always, I fear, resent the odd man out. That is their burden for all time, and they must shoulder it like men—for men they are.
The News of the World described the new law as ‘a blot on the country’ and a ‘charter for corruption’.

The act left a lot of potential for both heavy-handed application and active entrapment. A third person being ‘present’ was interpreted as someone else being in the same house or even when the couple were in a shared building, such as a hotel. While allowing private acts, the act toughened penalties for public offences, including Gross Indecency, an offence that only applied to gay men. This criminalised soliciting, which was interpreted as including chatting people up, so even making an arranging to meet for sex in private could be considered criminal if the parties were in public. Convictions for homosexual offences increased after the act, only peaking in 1989.

Lord Arran also commented that 

This is no occasion for jubilation; certainly not for celebration. 

History has proved him wrong. While the act was limited in its scope, it was a milestone. There is an argument that the anger generated by the compromises needed to get the bill passed contributed to the formation of pressure groups in the early seventies, along with the events in America that fueled campaigns in the UK,  all pushing the fight for equality. In the fifty years since the bill, areas of legal discrimination have been chipped away, step by step and that is indeed something to celebrate.

Alex Clare is the author of crime novel He’s Gone, featuring DI Robyn Bailley, a trans woman.

Follow Alex on twitter at @_AlexandraClare 
Other related articles about this time period.



An insight in the 1967 act and other laws gay and bisexual men had to face in this time period.

http://wp.me/p78BZ8-q0

A good article on the Labouchere Amendment and the man behind it is

wp.me/p78BZ8-4r

Another good article  explaining previous laws and why it led to the Labouchere Amendment, The Offences against the Person Act 1861

wp.me/p78BZ8-lt 

This is the view of the author and may or may not be the view of Pride matters or any other authors. 


Cleveland Street Brothel scandal and Queen Victoria’s oldest Grandson.

​In the late 1800’s one of the biggest same sex scandals rocked society since the Molly Houses almost a century prior. It even concerned Queen Victoria’s oldest grandson.

The scandal was regarding a male brothel.

The story broke in 1889 and intriguied the media both here and abroad, destroying many involved.

The investigation in the Cleveland Street brothel began in July 1889.

Constable Lake Hanks was investigating into a theft at the London Central telegraph office.

One telegraph  boy was discovered with a large amount of money on his person. This was unusual because his employer: The post office.  Charles Thomas Swincow, the telegraph boy in question admitted that he earnt the money working as a male prostitute.

The investigation led to further telegraph boys being investigated. By the time it was fully investigated the brothel was locked up and the owner had already left. 

Albert Victor Christian Edward, known affectionately as Eddy was the heir to the British throne and was subjected to the Cleveland Street scandal and his personal life questioned after the raid.

Although none of the male prostitutes named Eddy as a client there appeared to be a great deal of talk that suggested he was frequently at Cleveland Street.

Eddy’s father, the then Prince of Wales is said to have intervened and Eddy was never even interviewed. The scandal did taint the Princes image.
Sir Russell QC was employed to oversea proceedings, keeping details from getting into the English newspapers, although the Welsh and overseas papers did name the Prince. Never naming Eddy in the papers here caused a political backlash.
There was also rumours with links to the ‘Jack the Ripper’ stories, although proven unfounded  due to his location at the time of the attacks. Eddy was in Baromal at the time. These investigations were not disclosed by Scotland Yard until the 1960s.

The Prince died before becoming sovereign.

The royal household was further implemented with an equerry of The Prince of Wales also being investigated. However,  Lord Arthur Somerset, the equerry who appeared to have had connections along with the brothel keeper both fled abroad. 

Majority of the patrons and male prostitutes escaped light or no procections. One client even successfully sued the press for liable.

This was a time when any act of homosexuality had became punishable with two years hard labour only a few years prior. Previous to this it was only the act of buggery that was technically a criminal offence.

Interview with Tom, a gay male sharing his experiences dealing with HIV. 

Anyone who knows me well will know how much I love the channel four dating show First dates.

It is a programme that clearly wishes to show diversity as well as challenge issues.

Last season Thomas Lange appeared on the show. He stood out not only for his warm personality but his courage to talk about his HIV status.

When I got the opportunity to interview Thomas, allowing him to share important messages I jumped at the chance……


When did you discover about your hiv status? 

I was first diagnosed in November 1985 (I was 18).

Can you explain the climate at the time back in 1985 towards Hiv and aids patients?

There were two sides I will never be able to erase from my mind: On one hand I saw how close friends already hospitalized were being treated either with total devotion and compassion or the exact opposite where patients and us visiting friends were treated like one would now treat Ebola Virus suspects.I would recommend to younger readers to watch The Normal Heart (2014), it’s of course a Hollywood Film but there are some scene’s especially the hospital food scenes where patients are left without food because staff wouldn’t enter rooms,  that I have personally witnessed.

How did you cope with the psychological and emotional side of discovering your HIV status? 

To be honest I myself felt deeply embarrassed as well as hurt immediately after having been diagnosed because, I was as much as prophesied by my Father that I will catch ‘Aids’. So I never told a living soul until my partner J died from HIV related illnesses six years later in 1991. What I could have done with at the time was bereavement counselling. Loosing J was truly the most heartbreaking time of my life and still is to this day. It took some 24 years for me to realize that I needed some sort of Psychological help, which I finally received in 2007 for the very first time,  in the form of counselling from the Terrence Higgins Trust. I never hid my HIV status, but decided to abstain from Sex altogether for nearly 20 years. 

Most of my UK followers will remember you from the TV show first dates. Do you feel that making people aware of your status helps to fight against prejudices? 

I took part in First Dates on the Condition that I was allowed to mention my HIV status. HIV is hardly ever talked about or mentioned in the mainstream media. I wanted to show that it’s no biggie to encourage others who might be scared to go on dates. However I find it Important to be honest about one’s status from the word go, because if one hides this and both have already fallen madly in love and the other person then finds out much later but can’t cope with it, it will only mean heartache. (It’s something I have seen happen to quite a few Peers).The general public for instance people that saw me after the show in my local supermarket all came up to me and thought I was brave to come out as HIV+ but I really didn’t think it was a big deal myself as I have always been open and honest about my status.

What would you say to today’s youngsters to help them understand the risks of unprotected sexual practices?

To youngsters/teens I frequently say (I get invited quite frequently to give talks to groups of teens and their parents) Before you even consider having unprotected sex with anyone for the first time ask yourself this: How well do you know him/her, have you discussed any previous sexual experiences? Respect your Partner & Yourself and come prepared and NEVER have Unprotected Sex unless you have known each other for a longer period and you can be absolutely sure that you are BOTH SAFE! 

Do you feel that the stigma and climate towards hiv and aids is changing,  and how can we further this fight?

Personally I have experienced a lot of Discrimination when it comes to finding a job especially in my past career in the luxury Hotel business. I do think that we have still a lot of work ahead to dismantle pre conceptions about HIV and people need to be more educated about HIV. I am now taking part in a Work Positive Program by the Terrence Higgins Trust which is specifically tailored for long term unemployed people living with HIV and hopefully will lead to me finding sustainable employment at the end of the program.  

Do you think there is more to be done in order to help people understand the dangers of HIV and if so what can be done? 

ABSOLUTELY, first of all more people must be encouraged to go and get tested and also more information must be made available in the waiting rooms of GP Surgeries especially in areas known with a high prevalence of HIV but who also have the highest estimated yet undiagnosed HIV population like for instance in Lambeth-Southwark & Lewisham and compulsory Sex and Relationship Education in Schools. This is why I support the campaign by the Terrence Higgins Trust 

https://www.tht.org.uk/~/media/O094%20Campaign/7164200%20SRE_report_2016_FINAL_low-res.pdf

So you went on two first dates, the second guy seemed more compatible. Have you continued on seeing him? Have you met anyone else? 

Craig was a really Charming and Lovely Guy and I could have seen myself with him for the long term, however sexually we were not a match at all. So be both decided it would not make any sense to continue, plus I had asked the researchers specifically for a potential partner to be either based in London or close to i.e. the home counties in order to be able to commute between each other.

Thank you for taking part in this interview

Thank You for asking me! 

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