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bitter sweet

is a digital magazine exploring the negatives and positives to being gay in birmingham created by Laura wood (photography), Vicky hextall (illustration) and jordan richings (editorial design). contact details: laura.wood@bcu.ac.uk vicky.hextal@bcu.ac.uk jordan.richings@bcu.ac.uk 2


contents 4 The scene

14 shout!

10 18 sexual health homophobia 3


READY TO GAYVE? gay+rave=gayve 4


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the scene Although the clubbing scene may not be for everyone, partying and having a good time is notorious in the gay village in Birmingham. There are several clubs, bars and entertainment places to choose from, all up and down Hurst Street and the surrounding side roads, from the party hard Nightingales to the more relaxed Village Inn or for a quite drink at the Angel, where coincidentally we spent a lot of our time having day meetings, all professional of course. On our adventures out at night we visited many places and each bar has its own individual scene and feel. Missing was particularly fun with a life size Marilyn Monroe statue and during the night transformed from a quiet drink in a bar to an animated party scene with a DJ and a lively dance floor. The Village in is a popular venue, much like Missing, starts off quiet and subdued and later fills up to be a lively and Lady Gaga filled dance floor. Village is also popular for trans men and women, with many flooding in for the pub/club feel of the place, which entices many in. We also took a trip into The Loft Lounge where we had a very nice quiet drink in one of the booths, what took us was how relaxed it was and with the beautiful interior it felt very welcoming with the bustle of people who filled it up in the early evening. Its brilliant that Birmingham has such a broad range of places to go within the gay village depending on what sort of night out you feel like, and that it is safe for the LGBT community to express themselves and have a good time in an area where they shouldn’t be harassed and judged by a minority elsewhere.

While the gay bar/clubbing scene is fun, bright and friendly we found out pretty instantly the problems they do have on the scene. It was about half past eight and we were outside of missing when we were approached about drugs. We could see how easy it was to get a hold of and how it potentially is a problem in the gay clubbing scene. But there is also the good going on behind the scenes, on our tours of the gay village we came across a clinic called HGL Healthy Gay Life, and here they gave us information on the clubs and that many participate in the free condoms and lube distribution program organized by them to try keep gay Birmingham’s STI and HIV rates down. Bars and clubs such as Equator, Bar Jester, Boltz, The Wellington, The Fountain Inn, Queens Tavern, Missing and The Village Inn. This demonstrations that the nightlife in Birmingham is proactive and aware of the problem in many cities in the UK and want to look after its gay village and its visitors. Written by Laura Wood.

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Will be more developed design with statistics on sexual health.

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Will include information on places offering sexual health services.

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S

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SS HS H OSH OH

GET READY TO

UOU O TUT U !TT

The hugely successful SHOUT! Festival is back in Birmingham again for the third year running. This unique festival is held over November in several locations across the city and hosts various events including queer film, visual art, music, theatre, literature and community events.

With around 38 events held between the 3rd and 27th of November there is something for everyone. Although the majority of the events are free, some do have a small price so be sure to buy your tickets early to avoid disappointment. The spectacular event showcases the work of some of the best queer artists, performers and speakers from across the country, alongside the best up and coming talent. Highlights of this years much anticipated festival include; Amy Lamé, Alan Hollinghurst, David Hoyle, Janis Ian, April Ashley, Fascinating Aida, Sophia Blackwell, Joey Hateley, Joseph Mercier, Zorras and Mandy Romero to name but a few. All of the above plus many more will display or perform a rememberable show that will discuss and relate to situations within the LGBT community. Kicking off with the free opening event, hosted by Amy Lamé of Duckie at mac in Cannon Hill Park, the night features performers, dancers, visual arts, comedy and music. Along with speeches given by various artists, organizers and sponsors, a few artists opened their exhibitions…all free for the public to view. These included ‘The Modern Lesbian’, ‘A Spot of b)other’ and ‘Imagining Intimacy’.

! !!

Over the remainder of the month we see performances from transgender artist Mandy Romero in ‘Stevenage’, a dance-theatre performance about seduction among gay men in ‘Cruising Clubbing F**king’ and a night of poetry, short stories and performances (including Birmingham’s finest burlesque acts) is brought to you in the form of ‘Dirty Words’. ‘Gay Birmingham, Back to Back’ is a very exciting and interesting performance by Women & Theatre held between the 17th-26th November. Travel with them through time as they tell the stories about four queer individuals living through the tough times between the 1850’s-1970’s. One event definitely not to be missed is ‘An Audience with April Ashley’ held at the Adrian Boult Hall on Wednesday the 23rd November. Ashley will be presenting recollections of her fascinating and incredible life. She is one of the most important and well known figures in the UK transgender community. She will talk about how she became one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery and then went on to develop a successful career as a model, even appearing in Vogue. You can find the complete 2011 programme at getreadytoshout.co.uk. Written by Vicky Hextall

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homophobia in birmingham

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Even in today’s society, many people from the LGBT community are subjected to homophobic abuse. Even though Birmingham is a very large and culturally diverse city with its own ‘gay village’, there is still a lot of reports of homophobic hate crimes. Only recently it was found that school children in Birmingham are the most homophobic in the country. In a recent survey (Out & About, Mapping LGBT Lives in Birmingham, BLGBT.com), it was found that: • More than 2 in 5 LGBT people in Birmingham declared they had been victims of a hate crime. • Almost 3 in 5 of these people suffered from verbal abuse. •More than one quarter suffered from harrassment. • 1 in 5 from physical assualt. •And 1 in 8 of these people had suffered from property damage. These statistics can be frightening to hear, you may not have to experience any homophobia for it to affect you, knowing this information can make you scared to come out and admit that you are gay. I have a friend from Birmingham who is not out to his family and most of his friends. He agreed to answer some questions for

me, aslong as his identity was kept completely anonymous. How long have you known that you are gay? For about 5 years now. How long have you felt that you have had to hide that you are gay? Allways and I will till I die, my family would not agree with it. What is the main reason as to why you are not ‘out’? Because it would causea lot of family problems and a lot of friends would turn their back on me. What do you feel would happen if you did come out? I would lose a lot of friends and also a lot of family would stop talking to me. It’s a big thing in my family to be gay. Are you aware of the support you can recieve on coming out? If so do you think the support is good? No I’m not aware. Who do you most fear knowing that you are gay?

My dad, he would probably knock me out. You’re out to certain people, most of them gay themselves. Have any of them had bad experiences with coming out that has put you off coming out yourself? My friend came out to his family and he was beaten up by his dad and his brother. After this they always watched over him when he was using his phone or his laptop. It is very shocking to hear that a father would physically assault their child just on the basis of their sexual orientation. But however not everyone has had it that hard coming out. Today’s society is becoming more and more aware and accepting of the LGBT community, even though it shouldn’t be hard to accept in the first place. What many people who are struggling with coming out do not notice is that there is support out there for them. It can be very frightening thinking about coming out, but homophobia or anything else at all should not hold you back from being yourself and most importantly being happy. Written by Jordan Richings.

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don’t hide it

www.report-it.org.uk 22


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report it. 23


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