Oct 052012
 

I’m a criminal. On paper, anyway.

 

Yes, this is my confession. I have, at times, consumed narcotics. Class A. Jazz salt. Etc.

 

Of course, I’m hardly alone in that. The (so-called) wider community is rife with it, with the nature of the product consumed depending as much as anything on the bank balance of the user in question. Between junky and judge, there’s really little other difference.

 

But we are often told that in the LGBT community, the incidence of drug use is much higher. I’m in no real position to assess the validity of that claim, but taking it to be true, what reasons could there be for this?

 

Mental health issues are likewise, apparently, more prevalent in our community. Are we self-medicating, to alleviate the symptoms of depression, for example? Or does the causation run the other way? Does drug use lead to the conditions in question? Almost certainly, both of these statements are true in some cases, but they don’t strike me as the case particularly widely.

 

Perhaps its our innately hedonistic lifestyle? Sex on tap, clubbing ‘til dawn, champers and coke, darling! Well, if anybody knows where that’s going on, could they please tell me? While there may be a tendency to be more up front and honest about our activities and proclivities, I don’t think there’s really much difference in frequency! The heteros are at it just as much as we are, though most probably with far less panache.  

 

Is it our marginalisation from mainstream society? Does the impossibility of the pipe and slippers home life drive us to drugs? Well, even if it once did, that’s hardly plausible now. We’ve attained the same level of boring as everyone else.

 

Perhaps the reality is that, as in other aspects of our lives, we’re generally far more open   . It’s not that long ago that just being us put us on the wrong side of the law; perhaps there’s some cultural attitude we’ve all adopted in some way, that makes us less hesitant to share these things? I’m gay, so what? I enjoy sex, so what? I take drugs, so what?

 

Happily, that reaction seems to be trickling down to the general population. Maybe it’s a generational thing, maybe it’s just social evolution, maybe it’s none of the above. But in the past fifty years, homosexuality has gone from outré, to passé, and the enjoyment of sex has gone from sinful to joyful. Given the wealth of data supporting the fact that drugs should be legalised, that drug use is less damaging to both the individual and society than alcohol, and that a significant proportion of all crime is related to the criminal status of drugs, perhaps we as a whole are about to wake up and realise “oh, you do drugs? So what?”

 

 

 

Jul 012011
 

This is not “news” per se, but it’s the sort of thing which needs to be reported on and brought to the fore as much as possible.

The quick version: Colton Haynes is a not-too-brilliant American actor, who’s starring in the new MTV show “Teen Wolf”. He may or may not be gay. He also appeared, as a teen, in a photoshoot for XY magazine, aimed at gay teen youth, in which photoshoot he a) was shirtless and b) kisses another boy! Shock.

The trouble is, an attorney has been sending threatening letters demanding the removal of any copies of those pictures online, making claims along the lines that they are “private”. Despite having been published in a national US magazine and/or that they are pornographic or sexually explicit.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want any embarrassment to be caused to young Haynes. What I do want, however, is and end to the subtle, low level of homophobia which moves like this seem to perpetuate. The idea that pictures of him, kissing another boy, are likely to end, or at least, damage his career. The idea that such pictures are inherently pornographic or sexually explicit.

So let’s see shall we:

XY Magazine – 2006

Colton Haynes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the magazine says, “shocking”.

Colton Haynes – recent photos

Let’s see the hugely different, non-private, non-explicit, non-shocking photos with which his attorney has no problem shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, there you go – clearly a huge difference!

Basically, I think these photos need to be kept out there, and the story kept out there, because;

  • the attempt to remove them from the public domain intimates that there is something inherently shameful in homosexuality,
  • it perpetuates the idea – which may therefore become self-realising – that to make a career in Hollywood requires one either not to be, or not to be perceived to be, gay,
  • it’s a deeply worrying threat to freedom of expression,

    and, of course,

  • they are very nice pictures! The boy is easy on the eyes!

So, that’s my little bit of activism for the day!

 

1 – these pictures may be copyright – if so, I will happily remove them if so advised

2 – I don’t know Colton Haynes’ sexuality; any speculation is just that – or wishful thinking

3 – more coverage here and here

A couple more pics from the XY shoot, just to keep them out there:

 

 

 

 

May 012010
 
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”
Doubtless many of us were told to recite this to ward of the nefarious attentions of attentions of taunting classmates. If only the mantra were true! Sadly, as all of us now know, often it’s words that cut the deepest and leave the nastiest scars.
Personally, I have been gay bashed in the past – a fairly horrific, painful and upsetting experience. But, an experience with which I’ve been able to deal, and move on. A physical assault is direct, up front and – in its own way – honest. To me, bullying is something different, nastier … more insipid and hidden. Its effects less immediately obvious perhaps, but painful nonetheless, and a pain which is cumulative. Rather than dealing with the pain and then moving on, the victim of a bully often relives the misery over and over, each time adding to the suffering.
As a nation, we seem finally to be waking up to the fact that it’s not “just” bullying, something which “everyone goes through” and that a stiff upper lip and Anglo-Saxon stoicism aren’t the answer to it all. This is a good thing, but it’s not enough.
It’s not overkill to repeat some familiar statistics – 51% of gay men and 30% of lesbians were bullied physically at school, compared with 47% and 20% of straights. Add to that the fact that 50% of LGB adults who have been bullied a school contemplated self-harm or suicide and 40% have made at least one attempt. The list could go on, but it’s not really necessary; they should be shocking enough. The distressing thing is that we’re not shocked by these facts any more. The familiar statistics are all too familiar. And familiarity can breed contempt, or at least, disinterest.
Why do we carry on this way? We should be in absolute uproar at the horrific conditions in which LGBT youth are still growing up – instead, we seem to laugh it off. After all, many of us lived through it … perhaps we don’t see why the next generations shouldn’t? But in that outlook, we’re overlooking both the impact that bullying has on the individuals involved, and the reinforcement of the implicit acceptability of homophobia to the general public.
Surely we ought to want to continue the trend of the world getting better for our community – our goal should really be to leave behind a world where the possibility of homophobic bullying simply doesn’t exist, as no-one could conveive of a reason for such bigotry. Dismiss it as a utopian, pie in the sky, dream if you wish – but as you do, remember that many of the rights we now hold and cherish, were equally unimaginable not so long ago. Many people still remember dreaming a dream not dissimilar to today, so why not dream?
Apr 072010
 
“How MUCH”!?
That’s the unfortunate reaction to a quote I received recently from a “green” moving company. Offset this, reduce that, blah blah blah … the bottom line was we couldn’t really afford to assuage our carbon footprint guilt when we considered all the other costs involved in moving.
But this led me to think, why do we care about our impact on the environment? After all, most of us don’t have kids, so there isn’t really a future generation for us to worry about directly. The “children’s children” argument is only ever going to be at least one degree of separation away from us.
So what do we have left? Selfless concern for others? Possibly, but more likely we do it to salve our collective consciences and make us feel slightly better about our rapacious greed. And as a result of being such good, and green, boys and girls, we are able to feel slightly smug and self-satisfied.
That on its own isn’t really incentive enough to make major decisions, though, is it? When my partner and I moved to Brighton originally from London almost two years ago, we were well aware that commuting by train for work was going to have an effect on our carbon footprint. For us to offset our annual 3.07 tonnes of carbon released as a result of this travel would cost £49 through “Certified Emissions Reduction”; not an earth-shattering sum, but it has to come from somewhere. So, having thought about offsetting, and meaning to get around to it some time, we … haven’t. Yet more good intentions with no impetus to follow through.
Of course, trains aren’t the bogeymen of public transport; in fact, they’re considered relatively green. The real moustache-twirling villain of the piece is the aeroplane or, more accurately, incredibly low airfares. Stupendously low. Ridiculously low!
When it costs more to travel to the airport than it does subsequently to fly off to sunnier climes, something must be a little skew-iff!
However, after over a half a century of easier and cheaper flights, there has developed a sense of entitlement to such opportunities for travel. A presumption, the denial of which would cause people to feel aggrieved, regardless of the fact that such possibilities are a relatively recent development, undreamt of in earlier generations. The vast majority of people feel they could no more do without their fortnight of fun in the sun than they could water, oxygen, food or, say, a double soya no foam decaf lattè.
So, how do we move forward, past indolence and indignation?
The only method certain to achieve its goals is to take away the responsibility from the individual, much as it may sit ill with the British psyche. A universal carbon tax, which reflects the true cost, is the answer. Hitting people’s wallets, and showing separately how much the carbon which their activities generate costs them in cold, hard cash, would be guaranteed to reduce emissions. After all, you’re less likely to make those unnecessary trips if you look at the price and think:
“How MUCH”!?
Mar 062010
 

Canada Dry, by Adam Highway

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Bull.
Even the framers of that oft-quoted document didn’t really believe what they had written, or at least, not in the way that we today would. So what DOES equality actually mean? Is it a fluid, evolving, abstract thing, whose nature changes over time? Or is it an absolute, an ideal towards which we grope, blindly and optimistically? Are we destined always to live in some Orwellian dystopia, in which all are equal, but some are more equal than others?
Probably not, but it’s a thought!
Do we even want equality? After all, to be equal to is to be the same as something; perhaps we ought to strive rather for parity, or even more prosaically, fairness? Equity rather than equality? Or do we instead accept that equality has come to mean something other than its etymology would suggest, and that this is a commonly agreed and understood meaning? Probably the latter – after all, equality is also the goal between the sexes, though nobody is likely to consider men and women to be the same. (Unless very drunk!)
For my part, I know what I mean by equality. It means a world in which there is no country where it is illegal for my partner and me to share a bed. It means a world in which religious tolerance no longer means sexual intolerance. It means a world in which no person ever has to stop to think whether it is safe, before holding the hand of, or kissing, the person they love. It means a world in which, when Stephen Gately died, Jan Moir’s article, if even written, would have been regarded as, at best, the peddling of prurient and salacious gossip, and at worst as unacceptably insensitive, rude, inappropriate and utterly beyond the pale.
It means, I suppose, a world in which such well-intentioned documents as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the United States’ Bill of Rights, the United Kingdom’s Equality Act and the European Convention on Human Rights are considered outdated.
Equality will finally come when we no longer need anti-discrimination legislation, because the attitudes which they exist to combat have become archaic, and utterly unimaginable.
Equality isn’t being told that you can’t think, say or do something “wrong”. Equality is when nobody would even want to think, say or do that something in the first place.

——————————–

From http://www.gscene.com/ – March 2010

Canada Dry March 2010

Feb 012010
 

Well, I may be pathetic but I think it’s cool. My first ever published piece of writing appears in this month’s Gscene Magazine. It’s a Brighton & Hove local magazine, if you’re in the city, pick one up, or you can always download a PDF of it here. I’m on page 61, and I’d love to hear your feedback!