What Does Popper Use Have to Do with De-stigmatizing Gay Sex?

As a non-profit organization dedicated to the de-stigmatization of any action taken by the LGBT community, http://Nitrite.org  is committed to fostering LGBT rights throughout the US. We are particularly focused on the use of nitrites, also known as “poppers”. There has been quite a lot of about nitrites in the news lately with the recent decision in Britain to maintain their status as legal to purchase for personal use, which is in stark juxtaposition to the US’s stance that they still must be regulated by the FDA and not available for human consumption. 

It has never been gay love, but gay sex that has always been at the forefront of the discussion regarding LGBT rights, popper use, and government regulation. The heterosexual community has historically been very uncomfortable with physical acts of love between members of our community. 


What can we do to normalize the act of sex between two same sex people? In this article, we look at the history of nitrite use in order to educate allies and dissenters alike about the gross information that has often been distributed on the topic due to stigma and anti-gay rhetoric.


This post is meant to highlight the injustices surrounding the sale, distribution, and purchase of nitrites simply because of their use primarily by the gay community. Over and over again, the government’s own studies have shown a complete lack of harm. It is only because of stigma against LGBT individuals, as well as an unfortunate grouping with substances that are harmful if used for recreational purposes, that there has been such legal restrictions within the US.

A Brief History

Amyl nitrite is a synthetic liquid initially used as a vasodilator for the treatment of angina pectoris. That’s right, it was prescribed by doctors as a treatment for a disease. Nitrite relaxes the smooth muscles in the body, aiding in alleviating angina symptoms. For our discussion’s purposes, it’s also important to note that the sphincter muscles of the anus and vagina are also smooth muscles relaxed by nitrite inhalation.  


So, like most recreational substances, the initial uses were medicinal. However, by the 1950s recreational uses were discovered. The relaxing effect on the muscles surrounding the anus as well as a sense of heightened arousal made this a perfect substance for homosexual men.

This drug became a favorite among gay men in Britain’s show business industry. It had a reputation for being an aphrodisiac and enhancing orgasms but there hasn’t been any research to support or deny this. It’s likely, as is the case with most aphrodisiacs, that there simply exists a placebo effect based on belief.

By the 1960’s, amyl nitrite had made its way across the pond and gained popularity in homosexual hotspots like  New York and San Francisco. Historical information can be limited as, at this time, homosexual acts were still considered a crime or a sign of mental illness. Amyl nitrites remained popular in the gay club culture through the 1970’s and 80’s and became known as  “poppers”, due to the popping sound made when opening a bottle.


The Beginning of the End


In the late 1980’s, a new series of steps began to be taken to regulate nitrites. Following each restriction, producers simply made small changes, often of only one molecule in the formula, to bypass the restriction.


Due to a lack of government oversight in quality and safety, new street formulations began to appear that also contained additions outside of pure nitrites. Just as street drugs like cocaine are often cut with low quality products like rat poison, street poppers began to contain harmful substances that cheapened production costs as well as possibly had pyschoactive properties. As numerous studies have shown, pure poppers are not actually psychoactive, so the term “drug” is often used erroneously in reference to them.

Degraded formulations of nitrites, which have also incorrectly come to be called poppers, cause a major risk for users. How do users differentiate between the poppers of the 70’s and 80’s and the poppers of today? Without approval by the government for recreational use, users are forced to trust distributors who may be less than honest. They can’t actually know what is in the bottle.


Today’s poppers are often sold as room deodorizers or solvents. Since they are not allowed to be marketed for human consumption, there is no requirement to list the ingredients on the label or go through any kind of safety testing. This has led to not only misinformation and stigma, but also actual harm because users may purchase a product that is not actually safe like original poppers formulations.


Where Are We Now?


In an attempt to prevent a recent bid to ban poppers under the Psychoactive Substances Act (http://1.legislation.gov.uk ) that took place on May 26, 2016, the UK’s Conservative MP, Crispin Blunt admitted to using the substance. He outed himself in hopes of preventing black market formulations that would surely arise. A new investigation by the government reaffirmed that poppers were safe to use. This same level of common sense and acceptance has, unfortunately, not made its way to the US as of yet, which http://Nitrate.org aims to change.


As we stated above, the US’s lack of acceptance has led to dangerous situations here for users. In 2014, UCLA professor Timothy M. Hall wrote about finding in a study on American men that have sex with other mem (MSM).  In the article Sometimes Poppers Are Not Poppers: Huffing as an Emergent Health Concern among MSM Substance Users, he warns  that the newest poppers on the market are being made with more harmful chemicals like “huffing” solvents.


Proper regulation for the distribution and use of poppers will prohibit dishonest vendors from continuing to market huffing solvents and aerosals as what is traditionally known as “poppers”. Shady distributors benefit from these faulty regulations by producing formulations with substitutions like ethyl chloride (also known as chloroethane), which can cause potentially permanent impairment in memory, executive functioning and in rare cases fatal arrhythmia (Tormoehlen, et al. 2014). 

The risks of misrepresenting chloreothane and other additions to nitrites within a community of people, that still does not live as publicly as we would like, should be of great concern to all of us. The US has made great progress recently, but, as we have seen in states like South Carolina, we still have a long long way to go. 

Nitrite use within the gay community is just one part of a much larger struggle to overcome stigma within the US, but one we hope to win soon.


References


The Guardian (22 March, 2016) Poppers escape ban on legal highs 

Retrieved from thehttp://theguardian.com  Website:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/22/poppers-alkyl-nitrites-drug-escapes-ban-on-legal-highs …


http://nitrite.org  (27 August, 2016) Are Poppers Safe to Use? Government Report Clears Up Any Confusion

Retrieved from the http://nitrite.org . Website:

http://www.nitrite.org/poppers-safe-use-government-report-clears-confusion/ …


The National Archives (4 August 2016) Psychoactive Substances Act 2016

Retrieved from thehttp://legislation.gov.uk  website:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/2/contents/enacted …


US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (14 October 2014) Timothy M. Hall, Stephen Shoptaw, Cathy J. Reback Sometimes Poppers Are Not Poppers: Huffing as an Emergent Health Concern among MSM Substance Users. Retrieved from thehttp://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov  website:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4399803/ …


Tormoehlen LM, Tekulve KJ, Nanagas KA. Hydrocarbon toxicity: A review. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2014;52(5):479–89. [PubMed]

​Note from Pride matters: This article is posted in good faith in order for people to make informed decisions about use of amynl nitrate. It is not the policy of Pride matters to push the use of any drug, legal or otherwise,  but to inform people of social views, allowing ourselves to make our own choices. 

We do not condone the use of illegal substances.

Getting old! (older) 

By @pridematters1 

In the UK, the average life expectancy age is almost eighty years for men, this has increased by six years over the past two decades. As the global population increases and generations get older, society must change and realise that in future, the older populations may need help. That is to say, it has become apparent that the help older generations need may have to come more from private resources as current government resources are feeling the strain already.
Members of the LGBT Community are three times more likely to live alone than our heterosexual counterparts. According to Stonewall UK, approximately forty-one percent of our LGBT Community members that are retired live alone, there is also evidence to suggest it can be lonely out there too.

Gay Retirement homes are becoming more popular in the western world. The First Gay retirement home has opened in the UK a few years back. Many in the LGBT Community fear that the standard retirement homes can sometimes feel  homophobic. It is easy to understand that they may not be aware of the needs of a LGBT Community member; however, gay retirement homes are few and far between at this present time and they are also concentrated in the epicentre of global LGBT Communities.
They can also be expensive; research by Age Concern UK suggests that eleven percent of the retired population live below the poverty line.

It is also feared that a large percentage of the LGBT Community will return back into the closet, unable to go out and socialize as they once did if they were to live in the standard retirement homes or even at home.
So as a LGBT community what can we do about the issues?
Past LGBT Community actions have provided strong networks and support systems for other situations where some members may feel there is no help available. This was evident with the Buddy system, set up in the height of the AIDS epidemic to help others out. Wouldn’t a similar system be ideal in order to help our aging community? Maybe other younger LGBT Community members would be able to visit retirement homes, ensuring that those LGBT Community members living there aren’t losing touch with their roots. This may also help to reassure they are not feeling any homophobia.
How many times have you heard an O.A.P (Old Age Pensioner) reminisce about the past? Would someone enjoying their gay retirement be any different? The only exception may be the strong likelihood  they cannot talk so openly to other residents of a standard retirement home, so a friendly face from the LGBT Community would go a long way.
Many in the LGBT Community have not got immediate family that they may be in contact with, and even though most have been in this situation for years, it is still lonely. They are in positions whereby they may have been forced to because they cannot live self-sustaining lives anymore, and they could feel trapped inside the house. For anyone it would be lonely, but it would be more so for someone who doesn’t feel as though they can talk openly about the love of their life to other people in fear of homophobia, as an example. 
Furthermore, we must think about the transgender community too. Even though attitudes are forever changing even people within the LGBT Community will admit to being trans-unaware.  After doing a recent documentary on Muslim drag Queens and Transgender in the UK Sir Ian Mckellen admitted that he was ashamed of knowing so little about this area of the LGBT Community, he even compared it to the more homo-unaware days of forty years ago. If a prolific gay man is unaware of such subjects how can we expect main stream retirement homes to understand?
Maybe what it would take is someone who already has a certain amount of knowledge of retirement homes and simply ask for volunteers to be police checked, and create it as a business or charity, charging a small fee to the retirement home in order to keep it sustainable. Allowing the retirement home to advertise throughout the LGBT Community within the immediate area, making sure the staff understands the needs of the LGBT Community at the same time, with the possibility of workshops to raise awareness further. Naturally it will also help the fight against homophobia in general.
Additionally, one of the biggest advantages is when facing gay retirement in the future, we wouldn’t be faced with the dilemma of having to leave the area we have lived all our lives in order to move to a safe environment. 
Not only could such a scheme be easy to implement with the technology we have today, by simply rating the LGBT Community visitor, a reliability factor and safety level can easily be achieved. It could then be expanded to people enjoying their gay retirement at home, and may even be used in a similar way for disabled members of the LGBT Community who would love someone with a similar background to call round once a week for a coffee.

There are community schemes already running in certain areas for heterosexual needs in such a way. All is needed to be done is a couple of phone calls and maybe you could offer your time as a volunteer for anyone who is facing gay retirement.
Moreover, we should think about the years that we are still active and need interaction with others.

In the UK there is an organization called The University for The Third Age. It is a charitable organisation that meet up on a regular basis with the aim of socialising and fundraising through splinter groups organising vacations around the UK and abroad. It is affordable for most members, with day trips run throughout the year, allowing others to integrate and socialise with the members of the group.
I recently contacted U3a and they inform me that anyone is welcome but they have no record of what groups would be suited for the LGBT Community because their groups are ran as individual concerns. My concern at the moment is that of anti lgbt attitudes are higher in that over sixties, naturally as we get older this will change. 
There is nothing stopping someone in the LGBT Community organising a meeting place once every month on a similar basis, maybe organising transportation. Some things don’t have to be charitable, but ran for a small profit piggy-backing on a main business. Potentially, they could use a back room of a local gay bar at early doors that would otherwise be empty at that time. By using technology it wouldn’t take too much trouble to set up a nationwide LGBT Community version of The University for The Third Age.
These are only two examples of ways we could help as a LGBT Community, but we need to ask ourselves what we can do? 

What is suitable for one person may not feel right for another. 
The main issue is that as a community we often don’t think about the future, maybe it’s about time we did? We all understand the struggles we have had in our own lifetimes towards homophobia, imagine what it was like for our older generation, who would have been in their twenties when homosexuality became  legal in the UK. At this time Homosexual men where treated no more than criminals by certain elements of society.

Even when the law was changed back in 1967 there were parts of the original law that hindered the fight for equality and didn’t allow our sexuality to show at that time. Between the late sixties and the late nineties it was technically to hold hands in public. The first gay pride march in London 1972  raised this issue. Knowing this it is understandable why some heterosexual old age pensioners, even if you can not agree with their attitudes. Its most certainly inherited unfortunately.
Is it time we took action and do something in order to help these heroes that have paved the way for ourselves, so that when we get to the stage where we need to still socialize and be a part of the LGBT Community there is something there for us already.

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

Among Christians there shall be neither male nor female’s 

@JoschKjK talks about a remarkable service that took place in Germany on Human rights day, probably paving the way for more exceptance in the Christian Church for gender and sexual diversity. 

On Saturday 10th December it was International Human Rights Day, which we remember the ideals stated in the 1948 UN Declaration, Article 1: 

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. 



Of course, this includes LGBTQI+ human beings and any other human for that matter, regardless of their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, belief, expression, or any other human element.

However, we are now used to hearing some religious speeches and facts which do not agree with the Human Rights Declaration: some of them even Christian. 
Since the new millennium, LGBTQI  rights have been recognised more and more,including  constitutional States where religion and law are separate entities. Today more than 23 countries have legalised Same-Sex Marriage, which is also a Human Right, according to Article 16:
Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.

In the spirit of the Human Rights International Day, a Christian service was given in the evangelic church of the city Halle an der Saale in Germany, led by the priestess Carola Ritter and her team, part of the Middle-Germany Evangelic Women and Germany Evangelic Church: Hier ist nicht Mann noch Frau  meaning: here is one neither male nor female.
Service included some chants with organ and guitar, and a retrospection opened by speaking about Human Rights International Day celebration and equal treatment no matter people’s sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, given that even in today’s climate there is discrimination and life threatening situations for LGBTQI people all over the world.

Even in the city of Halle itself there has been an attack against the Gay and Lesbian Meetings Centre. Four Paschal candles were enkindled in memory of the victims in Orlando (USA), Uganda, Turkey, Halle and around the world. Victims of anti lgbtqia hatred and prejudices. 

Central lecture (Galatians 3:26-28) was the argument on which the priestess is based, to support equality of LGBTQI people from a Christian perspective:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.




And their exegesis went about Christian duties of acceptance and respect of all the people, no matter of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity; as well as acceptance of all the given forms of love: this was really amazing, because it links directly with our #LoveIsLove idea. Also the litany of intercession has included pleadings in favour of LGBTQI people and the Christian Community in the sense of becoming wiser every time, since no one is supposed to judge anyone, according to Jesus word. 

Finally, the vicaress has also referred to Ellen De Generes receiving the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom on November to commemorate the work she has done regarding the LGBTI rights throughout her career.
This singular service is a very huge gesture by the German Christian Church, where Lutheran Reform began, since in many countries, Germany itself for example, Christian political parties still reject or block any legislation activities in parliaments which intend to recognise the human right of marriage for LGBTI people.    

 

 References

http://www.mz-web.de/halle-saale/angriff-in-halle-farbattacke-auf-begegnungszentrum-fuer-schwule-und-lesben-24346106
http://www.theguardianonline.com/news/2016/11/27/ellen-degeneres-receives-presidential-medal-of-freedom/

https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article141510500/CDU-bremst-bei-der-Gleichstellung-Homosexueller.html

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/homo-ehe-die-gesellschaft-ist-weiter-als-es-cdu-und-csu-wahrhaben-wollen-1.2492734

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/homo-ehe-cdu-nein-in-berlin-erspart-angela-merkel-neue-debatte-a-1045233.html

What simple message would you like to give to someone who is anti lgbt that gives positive thought to them? 

I find the best policy if you engage with someone who is being phobic towards out comuinity is to politely engage with them a little, but be in control. 

I personally use phrases like however I understand that these phrases don’t suit everyone. 

All we are after is equal rights, simply the same as you and you can fault a fellow tax payer for wanting that. 

Sometimes saying

Loving someone doesn’t hurt anyone but ignorance does! 

And others 

It may well be your belief that my sexuality is wrong but it’s my belief it’s my choice to live the way I was born and feel inside. 

It’s always best not to get angry and often not to over engage. 

Over engaging is SOMETHING I SOMETIMES fail with. 

On social media I have a five engagement rule, then I finish the sentence off with……

I am sorry that you don’t understand,  but thank you for making me stronger to fight homophobic hatred!

So I asked what positive message you would give to someone that is anti lgbt and these are some of the replies….. 

@Leah_Kitty13

We are your friends, family, neighbors, and the people you loved before you were aware of who we love. That hasn’t changed. 
@estaizzy

Hate serves no real purpose. We are all still human live & let live. Remember your loved ones could be lgbt. Respect all!
@SuzannadeeMusic

Every person has a right to love sum1 no matter, race, culture, gender or age. What do U fear? We’re on this earth to love. 

@ACalloway13

Why do you hate me when yesterday before you knew me fully you loved me. This is what you are fighting against, me, and who I am.

@EmmaPrendergas7

 Stop being an eejit

YesEquality

@_AlexandraClare 

If we reject someone on only 1 aspect of themselves, we are all in danger of rejection. Look for what you have in common.
@lionelfosters 

We are who we are and we will be who we are. We live amongst you and our children school with your children. We are people.
@Sammyjwaz

We are all human, we are all equal and deserve to love. Love one love all without prejudice or judgement. 
@EmrldHzrd

Always love yourself!

It’s the one thing that i am the worst at.

@AA4F

To one and all the  anti LGBT out there! 

Your hypochondria can be cured, with conversion therapy.

Lgbtqia and the media. 

​By @letatdemoi 

Laverne Cox from Orange is the new black.

It would be wrong to say that the media does not try to incorporate homosexuality, however the way in which this is done is what needs to be discussed and altered. It is rare for there to be an LGBTQIA+ couple that is positively portrayed within the media. Either one person must be a drug addict or suffer from other psychological issues and this presentation sends out a message to the rest of the world that members of the LGBTQIA + community are unstable and problematic, which further alienates them from the rest of society. The fact is anybody is prone to become victims of substance abuse and experience mental health issues and these problems are not exclusive to members of the LGBTQIA + community. Shows such as Orange is the New Black explore homosexuality but this is predominantly based on desperate circumstances such as being incarcerated. These presentations do not help to create the best image of the LGBTQIA+ community and it is becoming frustrating. Characters are not allowed to just be homosexual, there must be a background horror story that ‘caused’ them to be gay, suggesting that had such circumstances not occurred, they would be heterosexual just ‘like everybody else’. The conjunction that is accompanied with LGBTQIA+ needs to be eradicated, there needs to stop being a clause that de-normalises and ostracises the LGBTQIA+ community from the rest of society. People are not ‘gay but’, ‘trans but’, just let them be. The media is a key influencer of society and so it is primordial that the right message is portrayed. Hopefully there will be a day whereby there are characters who are members of the LGBT+ community who just get to be themselves with no complications or drama. That is the representation that is needed.

Paul Coker was murdered in the summer of 2016 by long running London based soap Eastenders. 
The face of LGBTQIA +. 

My opinion like others is the media’s presentation of people who identify as LGBTQIA + is both deplorable and laughable.

The notion that throwing in one white homosexual man to a television show or a series is somehow considered diverse is abhorrent. The stereotypical homosexual person is white, a man and an atheist, yet contemporary society defies this stereotype. It is not a coincidence that the LGBTQIA + flag is a rainbow; this is seen to represent the diversity of the community indicating that various types of people of various ethnicities are members. This is true diversity. There is a Ted Talks video in which Sabah Choudrey discusses being both transgender and Muslim, they share initial fears of belonging to more than one minority group. This is a well understood fear within the LGBTQIA + community, especially amongst ethnic groups.
People should not think that being a part of one minority group stops you from being valid within another minority group. A lot of people belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community also belong to ethnic minority groups such as Samira Wiley and Laverne Cox from the popular Netflix series Orange is The New Black, writer Wander Sykes and beloved Star Trek character George Takei.

This is the 21st century and it is hoped that with the ever-growing representation of minority groups within the LGBTQIA + community, the media will more accurately represent the face of LGBTQIA+ and portray it as the colourful community that it is.
Other platforms such as YouTube have become an excellent means in dispelling myths regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly the YouTube channel Buzzfeed. They uploaded a video whereby people re-created the covers of famous romance movies such as Titanic and The Fault in Our Stars but incorporated LGBTQIA+, which I thought was an incredibly powerful concept. Times are progressing and in the foreseeable future there is hope that there will be more of an accurate representation of the LGBTQIA+ community and the film Danish Girl about a trans-woman released in 2015 will be followed by other predominantly LGBTQIA+ related movies.  

LGBT+ through the ages

There have been discussions regarding the media’s presentation of the LGBTQIA+ community and whether incorporating LGBTQIA+ experiences into platforms designed for younger viewers would result in there being a more favourable perspective regarding the LGBTQIA+ community. Undoubtedly, this would introduce the concept of having an LGBTQIA+ community and would help to eliminate confusion felt by children regarding it. However, people do not want their children to be ‘different’ unless this ‘difference’ is something that is accepted and promoted in society, such as child geniuses. Being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community is stigmatised to the point where being called a lesbian or gay seems to have pejorative implications, making people not want to identify as such. Within society, there is this inherent desire to be considered ‘normal’ and to me it is baffling that people would want to strive for something so tedious and non-existent. It is time for society to start celebrating and embracing everybody, respecting and accepting the beauty of individuality. The idea that people regard the presentation of LGBTQIA+ topics as ‘corrupt’ and ‘immoral’ is saddening, it is also sad that they feel that by demonising homosexuality this acts as a means of prevention regarding their children ‘becoming’ gay. The media, being a tool of education, can help alter such archaic ways of thinking and people will soon start to see people past the label, realising that once you peel off this label a human being is present and that, ultimately is the only thing that matters. People should no longer see people as a ‘gay man’ or a ‘trans-man’ but rather a ‘hu-man’. 

Maybe, rather than mash ups we need a real Disney lgbt love story. 

   

Interview with creator of ‘more than only’

​morethanonly http://www.morethanonly.com/

Hello Michelle, thank you for taking part in this interview. Could you tell me a little about yourself? 

My name is Michelle Leigh

Simply put I am a registered nurse, the single mother of two amazing young women and the founder of children’s theatre in my community to elaborate a bit more, I became a theatre geek at the age of 13 years and continued on that path until I was 26.  I had learned the art of performance, stage management and directing up and down the North West coast of America.

I took a hiatus from theatre after I had my first child and decided it was time to look into a career that didn’t require job to job uncertainty.
I graduated from nursing school in 2000 and have spent the past 16 years in the most amazing career I could have imagined.
Eleven years ago, once my life as a nurse was settled and other interests were able to be pursued again, I started a children’s theatre in my community. initially it was to provide an opportunity for my own child to gain the same confidence and strength theatre had given me. However it very quickly became an outlet for so many that I have kept it going.

We are currently in rehearsals for our 26th production.

Could you explain about the project you are working on? 

“More than Only” became the passion project for me,  a first time screenwriter, film director and producer.

It was a story that evolved,  literally from beginning to end without an outline or plan, once the opening sentence of the film, “my father only wanted two things; straight A’s and a straight son”, came to my mind. 

It is a story far too real for so many in the LGBT community. It evolved into becoming about showing that being told you are “Only” worthy of affection, even from a parent, if you willingly hide an intrinsic part of yourself, to discovering you are so much more when you live your life for yourself and love everything about who you are and know that you are “More”. 
How and why did you come up with this project? 

I became an LGBT advocate about four years ago, I learned two things that changed my perspective and altered my mind set about advocacy 

Firstly the complacency is as detrimental to society as bigotry,  it helps no one. It allows hate to grow and spread and it defeats the purpose we were all placed here for,  to support, help and love one another.
Secondly when asked how I can support LGBT as it goes ‘against what is natural’ I learned this VERY truthful statement “you fall in love with a person: not a gender”



That has catapulted my belief and my stance on love, regardless of the gender of the person, love is love.

It made me think about love from a physiological perspective, once I made the connection again, love is nothing more than a chemical reaction to another human being that you are drawn to, knowing that that chemical draw has NOTHING to do with their gender, again my stance grew and strengthened and I can state loudly with the best of them,  love is not a choice that is made. It is a response to another who feels it as well.

What became the opening senescence of the film, “My father only wanted two things; straight A’s and a straight son,   was one I had penned, as a challenge to myself, in response to an LGBT television character and his relationship to his father.

I wanted to define the relationship in 3 sentences or less.
I saw the name “Justin Johnson” on a door name plaque in a shop almost a year later and thought “that name should be in a movie”.

On my drive home that sentence re-occurred to me,  by the time I was home what is essentially the essence of the opening voice over was written.
From there the story continued to evolve and the characters who surround Justin fell into place. 
As I neared the ending I didn’t know what it was going to be or how to settle Justin’s story, but like the opening sentence – it simply happened when I sat down and allowed it to.
My goal was to provide what I had seen many posts about from the LGBT community, a real romantic comedy and a real LGBT couple that we see laugh, cry, fight,hurt, love and carry on living their lives to the best of their ability, just like every couple that is represented in the media, gay,  straight, black, white, mixed race and so forth. 
LGBT representation has evolved a great deal in the last five years,  but it is still new and just starting to build momentum. 
I would love for my film to be a small contribution to a necessary genre.
Could you tell me about the plot? 


More Than Only
is the story of Justin Johnson, an openly gay young man.

When not under the watchful eye of his father, Justin tries to find his place in this world and someone to share it with.
After meeting Michael Garner, Justin resolves to do whatever it takes to win Michael’s heart. While not impressed with Justin’s antics, Michael is willing to give Justin a chance and a first date, if he can complete three impossible tasks first!

While Justin courts Michael, he must contend with the looming disapproval of his father,  who only wants two things from Justin: 

straight A’s and a straight son.”

So how can people help out? 

We do have a donation button up on our website and it is available.

We are planning to attempt a kick starter again in January/February, so watch out for that. 

I have applied to two different grants at this point – one with Tribeca – the second with frame line – both as a completion grant.

I am hopeful that those will be a huge assist for us moving forward as well.

We are doing the Seed and Spark Campaign through May 31. – I need 500 followers (We have just over 200 already!) for “Project Greenlight” and I have a contribution minimum to raise to assist with the final phases of post production – my link to S&S is: https://t.co/crhn6QNhWd

Please if anyone wish to help out don’t hesitate to contact ourselves,its so important for the comuinity. 

Newspapers and the LGBTQIA community! 

Newspaper readership has been declining steadily amongst all age groups as other forms of media provide more immediate news. In the last week however, social media discussions have been dominated (in Britain anyway) by the actions of newspapers. Those papers that had supported Britain’s exit from the European Union were furious that the process now had to be put to a vote in parliament. The judges who made the decision were lambasted by the Daily Mail, a mid-market, right-wing newspaper, which said:

“The judges who blocked Brexit: One who founded a EUROPEAN law group, another charged the taxpayer millions for advice and the third is an openly gay ex-Olympic fencer”.

Given that the headline was ‘Enemies of the people’, the paper clearly considers these are activities that are Not What Reasonable People Do. However, isn’t a part of a free press, that newspapers report on areas which may be potentially controversial? Yes, but then there is the way in which the story is reported. In 2015, The Sun, another right-wing tabloid, reported on a school catering assistant coming out as a trans woman. The article talked about the school’s support for their employee and the comments from parents criticised the process of notifying them, not the individual. Despite this, the story’s headline left your in no doubt this was something you should react to: ‘Dinner Laddie – School’s ‘Sir’ Shock’.

Although these are extreme examples, there are biases which apply across many papers. In Ireland, a father killed his wife and their three children, then committed suicide. Headlines included: “How could he kill those poor boys?”; “Wonderful children who will be missed by all who knew them”; “Killed in their pyjamas by father in frenzied attack.” Reading these, you might forget that a fourth person was killed: the boy’s mother. The hashtag #everydaysexism has hundreds of similar examples of where women are airbrushed from stories or presented in a stereotypical way.

What does this tell us about perceptions of sexuality and gender in newspapers? It shows that the old dictum of story-writing, first simplify, then exaggerate, is alive and well. This is not a place were nuances will be recognised or explored. There are also powerful agendas behind the scenes. While the political agenda of newspapers is well-known, as readership shrinks, a technique for retaining readers can be to pander to the more extreme views. The majority of newspaper readers are older, white and male, so the tone of articles reflects this.

There is hope in the widespread condemnation of the Mail’s position. Amongst the criticism was a beautiful reaction from JK Rowling who tweeted:

If the worst they can say about you is you’re an OPENLY GAY EX-OLYMPIC FENCER TOP JUDGE, you’ve basically won life.

It was interesting that the Mail removed the words from its website a short period after this. Does that mean its approach will change?

Almost certainly not while it can still provide a solid body of readers which is attractive to advertisers. That is where a new campaign is focusing its efforts, to boycott the advertisers in the Daily Mail for indirectly supporting hate. This approach of follow-the-money comes as firms become ever more sensitive about perception of their brands. Newspapers survive because their brand has built a bond with their readers: they are trusted to report the news but also provide a reassurance that you are not alone in your opinion. On that basis, there will continue to be bigotry and sexism presented in newspapers while there is still bigotry and sexism in society and this will take all our continued efforts to eradicate.
Alex Clare is the author of He’s Gone, featuring a trans woman DI. Chat to Alex on Twitter @_alexandraclare. He’s Gone is available from Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hes-Gone-Alex-Clare/dp/1907605940 … and Hive http://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Alex-Clare/Hes-Gone/19215735

Interview with Boaz Stark.

Above: Boaz Stark, Producer and writer. 

Recently I got the chance to chat to Australian writer, Boaz Stark, who has worked on programmes such as Neighbours and Home & Away.  He is also the producer, writer and director of the hugely successful online LGBTQI series The Horizon. 

http://m.thehorizon.tv/
Enjoy………

Can you explain to my readers what The Horizon is about and how long as it been running?

The Horizon revolves around a small group of gay characters living in Sydney – a kind of “Gays of our Lives”.  We’ve been in production since 2009, although we started off extremely low budget.  I wrote the first season as a favour for a friend who wanted to produce a gay webseries.  That season was made by film students but went viral.  In 2012, I saw it was still getting impressive viewer figures, despite the low production values, and decided to do morewith it.  I found more sponsors and it has built from there.

As it is Internet based, I guess you have followers globally. Does this affect your storylines? 

It has been affected, yes.  For example, our most popular territory is the USA. That attracted an American sponsor who paid for an American actor to come to Sydney and be a part of theseries – Jai Rodriguez from “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” fame.  He was a pleasure to work with, by the way; very professional and easy going.

How do you choose your characters and of course finding the right performers to play them?

I like writing characters who represent different members of the LGBTQI community. It’s about balance and making sure no character is doubled up. Despite the series’ success, we’re still low budget, so paying actors is a consideration. We need to keep cast numbers down, so every character must be unique, able to generate story and interact with all the others.  In terms of casting, it’s the tradition route.  We advertise the need for an actor, several come in and we audition them, choose the one who best fits the role.

As it is a LGBTQI Web based enterprise, do you think it as a value in influencing external views from our rainbow family? 

The Aids Council of NSW (ACON) has supported us from the start and The Horizon includes subtle safe sex messages and health information weaved naturally into the drama.  I hope we are influencing viewers to look after their health and each other. Our series fans (#Horizontals) include many straight people, who often write to us via social media to thank us for the insight into LGBTQI life, and the health info too. For example, many people had no idea about the existence of PeP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) until we covered it in a story.  We may have saved a life.  Now we’re doing a big PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) in Seasons 7 & 8.  It’s gratifying to give this information a global platform.


Above: Cast members of the show.
In general do you feel there is a lack of certain LGBTQI roles and performers in media entertainment and how can this be addressed? 

Yes, we’re not very well represented, which is partly the reason why The Horizon is doing so well. I think members of the LGBTQI community want to see images of ourselves on screen, as any community does.  TV networks are generally too conservative to produce any queer content that’s edgy so I guess it’s up to queer film makers like me to do it and put it online. That’s the beauty of modern technology – content can be shot on phones these days and edited on personal computers, then uploaded to platforms like YouTube.  Anyone with passion and commitment can produce something and put it out there. Hopefully they’ll find an audience.  It’s obviously not all about good production values or The Horizon would never have got off the ground. 

Recently there have been calls for Hollywood to address issues of not using transgender performers to play such roles. What are your thoughts on this and how can this be better addressed through the industry?

The industry is first and foremost a business.  Producers will often opt for a known, non transgender actor to play a trans role because it helps with financing and publicity.  That’s why you’ll have people like Jared Leto (Dallas Buyer’s Club) and Felicity Huffman (Transamercia) cast in transgender roles. The bigger the project, the more likely producers will go for a “name”, so as to more easily recoup their investment.  I don’t see this changing in a hurry. The only hope transgender actors have of securing big roles is if they’re cast in smaller productions first and gain a profile – like Laverne Cox (Orange Is The New Black). I’m planning a transgender story for The Horizon at the moment with a preference to casting a trans actor because my series is relatively small and we have nothing to lose!

Above: Wilma Bumhurt, the shows resident Drag Queen. 

Do you think your own personal experiences come out in the script?

It’s funny, my boyfriend is always catching me using stuff that’s happened in our lives on The Horizon – situations, dialogue; the works. I often steal from friend’s lives too, or things I hear about that actually happened.  I find truth far more exciting than fiction. There’s a storyline in season 7 where our drag queen character, Wilma, goes home with a kinky “Daddy”.  He makes her wear a nappy and gives her a baby bottle to drink from, then leaves without having sex with her.  People have said the story is outrageous but it’s based on actual events that happened to a friend in LA – so there!

Thanks for taking part in this interview. Is there anything else you would like to add?

The Horizon series has a unique voice and gives HIV information and general gay men’s issues a platform while it entertains. I’d simply ask everyone to watch the series and share it if they like what they see.  The more viewers we have, the easier it is for us to get funding and keep going.  We all love making  it for you. 

You can watch The Horizon from here…… 

http://m.thehorizon.tv/

Why I feel we need to stop “coming out”

By @rhyskhart

Now of course I don’t mean stay “in the closet” for ever because that is firstly, extremely unhealthy and secondly, you’d live a very unhappy, unfulfilling life.  But this is one of my fundamental views that “coming out” or even the “closet” is oppressive. Although, it is completely up to you if you do or don’t follow this article, it is a personal thing, and also if you do have homophobic family then in truth it is better to “come out” as they will need the preparation, however, if your family isn’t homophobic (e.g. you have an “out“ older sibling) you could be leading the way with this. But this is what we should do as a community to progress over time into no longer be excluded by heteronormativity, this is a goal, a check point of achievement, a step towards equality when we are finally freed from “coming out”.

So why is it oppressive? Well let’s begin, we all know of the “coming out” scenario, family (usually parents only) sat down in front of an individual “in the closet” (usually but not always a quite uncomfortable teenager) to confess to their parents that they are a part of the LGBTQIA family too. This is usually now days (though not always) followed by acceptance which is then followed by “your cousins gay” “I had a gay work college, Daniel, you remember him?” or “I always knew”. The moment your mother becomes the biggest fag hag you never knew and your dad attempts revive your masculinity (even though its either gone no where or never existed) by giving you a pat on the back and going to discuss it in the pub over a pint. Not that any of this is bad and it is not the reason why not to “come out” and in fact its quite nice, a form of relief, god knows it was for me and I loved having a pint of Guinness with my dad while he reaffirms that he “doesn’t care who I fuck”, although there was still the un spoken rule that I’d be turned away at the door if I ever came home with a West Bromwich fan.

But here comes the oppressive part, if I was heterosexual would I have to do any of that? The answer doesn’t even need to be said. So why then must I if I am not heterosexual? It’s the sad reality that anything that isn’t heterosexual is the “other” it is different and must be identified. 

You are expected to be heterosexual until you say otherwise, “literally until you “come out”. The very act of “coming out” it a transition of being normal to being the “other”. Many of you will experience the on running joke of being asked “are you gay?” over and over or people opening doors and asking “if your ready to come out yet?”, do me a favor, be better then me, don’t let the audience get their show and “come out”. Now that doesn’t mean I’m saying don’t “come out” to spite others, what I am saying is, until we lose “coming out” and the “closet” as “terms of identity our sexuality or gender”, we reaffirm ourselves the notion of being “the other”.

This may seem difficult and it is, but we need to start as a community normalizing the fact that we shouldn’t be “coming out” and that you must “come out the closet”, because it prevents the idea that homosexuality should be expected, it reinforces heteronormativity, that unless you’ve come out and showed yourself, you’re in the dark, “it prevents the idea that everyone could be and is queer”, that everyone has the ability to be more then their assigned sexuality. By “coming out” you are from then on expected to be “gay” in every sense of the word, and by not you are expected to be “straight” and anything “gay” you do was a “drunken kiss” or “experimenting”, by abolishing “coming out” we increase the ability of sexual fluidity and reduce the influence of sexual binaries and sexual categories (which to eventually should be abolished). But you can be gay without “coming out”, for those who are already gay think of all your friends who know, without you ever really needing to “come out”.

So in short by “coming out” we are actually putting ourselves in “the closet”. So don’t come out, just be who you are. 

*I use gay for myself but please replace it with what ever term is appropriate to you

If you want to read more of my articles please go to: 

https://amilitanthomosexual.wordpress.com

Or follow me on twitter @rhyskhart

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑