Scene Magazine - November 2021

Page 1









at the

ironworks supported by




Nov 2021 Scene magazine



Know your history. By Craig Hanlon-Smith


Publisher: Scene Magazine Media CIC Editorial: Advertising: Distribution: Billie Lewis

We’re all HIV positive, and no one should feel marginalised. By Jason Reid

Editorial team


Guest Editor: Gary Pargeter Features Editor: Jaq Bayles News Editor/Design: Graham Robson Arts Editor: Alex Klineberg


What’s on where to mark this year’s World AIDS Day in Brighton & Hove Gary Pargeter on his deep-rooted passion for the voluntary sector


The role of a community hospital

News team: Graham Robson, Eric Page, Rachel Badham, Catherine Muxworthy, Alex Klineberg E West Midlands News Editor: Catherine Muxworthy E



We chat with this month’s cover designer – Sid Spencer, aka Fat Pigeon Art

Designer: Sid Spencer - Fat Pigeon Art i


Photographers Jack Lynn, Chris Jepson, Simon Pepper, Nick Ford


Activism and perspectives by Glenn Stevens and David Fray


Criminalising LGBTQ+ people fuels the HIV pandemic


The journey and what’s next

28 BRIGHTON AIDS MEMORIAL Harry Hillery tells us about his new project


Richard Jeneway reflects on what has changed with HIV – and what has not


From diagnosis, activism, and sharing with others. By Matt Webster


Catherine Muxworthy talks with the medical director of Saving Lives UK

31 TERRENCE HIGGINS TRUST Involving and supporting service users

32 MARTIN FISHER FOUNDATION Innovation and collaboration in HIV

33 LONG-TERM SURVIVOR © Scene 2021

Living with HIV from death to life. By Stephen Wrench


4 News 60 Birmingham News 62 Medway Pride Radio


Two women from Lunch Positive explain why they’re involved with the charity

47 #DaleyPop 48 Classical Notes 49 Art Matters 49 All That Jazz 50 At Home with Hootman 51 Page’s Pages 52 Arts Corner



All work appearing in Scene CIC is copyright. It is to be assumed that the copyright for material rests with the magazine unless otherwise stated on the page concerned.


No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in an electronic or other retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior knowledge and consent of the publishers.

It's back and it's thriving! Jason Reid ‘investigates’

The appearance of any person or any organisation in Scene is not to be construed as an implication of the sexual orientation or political persuasion of such persons or organisations.


Simon Adams, Rachel Badham, Laurie Lavender, Catherine Muxworthy, Nick Boston, Brian Butler, Craig HanlonSmith, Michael Hootman, Enzo Marra, Eric Page, Glenn Stevens, Roger Wheeler, Chris Gull, Jon Taylor, Alex Klineberg, Michael Steinhage, Jon Taylor, Jason Reid, Rory Finn, Nicholas Cousin, Alf Le Flohic, Josef Cabey, Dale Melita

Continuing a 40-year tradition of community-led support




D T @SceneLGBTQ F GScene.Brighton I SceneMagazineUK

The experience of two teams



Stephen Hart shares his journey with Jaq Bayles


Three self-identifying trans men share their experiences with Rachel Badham


Alex Klineberg gets cosy with legendary R&B/soul singer Macy Gray


The musical theatre lyricist, librettist and performer talks to Brian Butler


Nick Boston finds out what the tenor has been up to since his last interview


Sue Tilley, who was depicted in the musical Taboo, tells us about her life with Leigh Bowery, partying in the ’80s and becoming an artist in her own right


Jason Reid catches up with the award-winning Australian cabaret diva Dolly Diamond, who has recently arrived back on our shores...

52 53 54 54 55 56 57

Hydes’ Hopes Craig’s Thoughts Homely Homily Stuff & Things Rae’s Reflections Turn Back the Pages Traveller’s Tales


57 Classifieds 58 Services Directory 59 Advertisers’ Map




Brighton & Hove Pride announces fabulous line-up of LGBTQ+ artists for Pride at the Ironworks this autumn and winter

) December 5: East London’s infamous cabaret mecca The Glory returns for another night of festive cheer, drag mayhem and sing-a-longa yuletide shenanigans with CHRISTMAS VARIETY BAUBLE hosted by the sexiest Santa John Sizzle with Rudi Douglas, Sharon Le Grand, Margo Marshall, Prinx Chiyo and Frank. D www.brighton-pride. org/05-dec-the-glorys-christmas-bauble/ ) December 10: Cabaret Boheme presents TINSEL AND TASSELS, an exquisite explosion of fabulous performers who have come together after five weeks of learning the art of burlesque under the watchful eyes of mistress of ceremonies Veronica Blacklace and burlesque diva extraordinaire, Allegra Rose. D ) December 17: Drag Prince Alfie Ordinary returns with a festive edition of his musical bingo gameshow NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL BINGO. D

) Brighton & Hove Pride has announced its autumn/winter season with loads of new shows for Pride at the Ironworks supported by Tesco.

crimplene catwalk-cabaret show. D

The year-round cultural season of smaller LGBTQ+ events supporting LGBTQ+ artists and the wider community will feature a glittering array of showstopping cabaret, comedy, theatre, dance, film, activism and politics, live from Ironworks Studios in central Brighton. ) November 6: STILL BREATHING: THE CONVERSATION is a live literature salon event featuring an evening of readings and conversations with the book’s contributors. D www.brighton-pride. org/6-november-still-breathing-the-conversation/ ) November 13: THE ENBY SHOW brings together the best gender-benders and cis-tem offenders that the UK has to offer, in an all-star variety night popping with creme-de-la-thems. You can expect salacious singing, glamorous group performances, dazzling drag and cackle-worthy comedy. D www.brighton-pride. org/13-nov-the-enby-show/

) November 19: Superstar Rhys’sPieces’ QUEEFY will make you laugh, cry and gasp! You will leave as one of the Queerdo family… fully entertained and fully gagged. D ) November 20: Lorraine Bowen’s POLYESTER FIESTA celebrates REUSE, REWEAR and RECYCLING retro fashion in an original, comedy, dance and

) November 27: Join showbiz sensation Boogaloo Stu for a bingo experience filled with frivolity, fun, filth and flash mob dances where his slightly-festive gift hamper will be bulging with all manner of exotic prizes, so come on down and win it big! Stu will also be joined onstage by special his special guests Snow White Trash and Dave The Bear. D www.brighton-pride. org/27-nov-boogaloo-stus-big-quiffy-bingo/ ) December 4: THE BRIGHTONIAN QUEERITY CABARET is a variety show full of dulcet tones, glittering sequins and a whole lotta laughs. Host Felix Le Freak will be joined by star of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Victoria Scone, Drag Idol UK winner and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Danny Beard, award-winning drag king Adam All and founder of The Bitten Peach gender-diverse pan-Asian artist collective Shay Shay. D

) December 18: The Bitten Peach are back with a new show PEACH CHUTNEY, the only late-night cabaret morning show. Come and celebrate South Asian AWESOMENESS with a ‘Dosa’ camp fun, gorgeous games, Bollywood beats and spilling you all the Chai you could ever need… you won’t be sari! D

) December 23: Kara Van Park presents the BRIGHTON FESTIVE FOLLIES, a festive variety spectacular with Dolly Rocket, Alonso Ojeda and Liam Joseph Rouse. D www.brighton-pride. org/23-dec-the-brighton-festive-follies/ D The full programme and tickets are on sale online: Brighton & Hove Pride has raised almost £1 million for local LGBTQ+ and HIV charities, community groups, social impact organisations and cultural activities in Brighton & Hove, helping to make a difference to the lives of hundreds of people in our communities. Pride at the Ironworks continues community fundraising by ensuring that every ticket sold will include a charitable donation to the Brighton Rainbow Fund, supporting local LGBTQ+ organisations and community groups, and to make the cultural programme accessible to all members of the community, we endeavour to offer a number of discounted tickets for every performance. D Sign up to the Stage Door list to receive information on FREE pop-up special performances and preview shows and on-the-day discounted standby tickets:


Martin Fisher Foundation launches new HIV & STI vending machine The charity said: “We are installing five vending machines delivering free STI and HIV tests across Brighton & Hove in 2021. “As part of the Brighton & Hove Fast Track City collaboration, these machines help towards our commitment of zero new HIV cases and zero HIV stigma by 2030 and make testing even easier.”

) Martin Fisher Foundation launched a new HIV and STI vending machine at Jubilee Library in Brighton last month.

D For more info on Martin Fisher Foundation, visit:

My Genderation launches training and consultation services

My Genderation’s award-winning films are widely used as an educational resource, as well as having been in film festivals across the world and on terrestrial channels like the BBC and Channel 4. The production company now offers engaging, visual and informative talks about transgender people, utilising its positive and uplifting array of short films that allow the audience to see trans people overcoming obstacles and connecting with them on a human level.

) My Genderation, the team which produces films made entirely by trans people, about trans people, for everyone, has announced its new training and consultation services, where they will pool their experiences and film-making skills to make your workplace or group as trans inclusive as possible.

The talk can be tailored to fit with a wide range of needs from organisations, companies or institutions, drawing from the team’s experiences and expertise of raising awareness of transgender issues through public speaking and film. D For more info, visit:

Out to Swim South hits the pool! ) Out to Swim South, the LGBTQ+ inclusive swimming group, held its quarterly fun swim at Prince Regent Swimming Complex in Brighton last month. These fun swims allow the team to enjoy themselves; the next will be held on Saturday, December 18. D





Switchboard reveals This Is Us photography project


I suddenly realised how meaningful it was for me to have him there […] that was part of the reason I brought him in today - to include him

To coincide with the Ageing Well Festival in Brighton & Hove in September/ October, Switchboard held an open call for older LGBTQ+ people aged 50+ to join esteemed photographer Keith Burnstein at The Studio, Brighton. The This Is Us photography project aims to tackle the lack of representation for older LGBTQ+ people and show the full breadth of experience in our communities. Switchboard said: “Where cliché and ageism has failed us - these portraits hope to act as an antidote to misrepresentation. Alongside the photographs there are quotes from the sitters who we interviewed to give a further insight into the lives of older LGBTQ+ people.” To see the full series:


I think I do feel nourished by all that I’ve had


That's the first time that I can just be me 100% of the time


I could have gone to here or Colchester, and I thought Brighton’s probably more fun!


We know we’re a double act


THT announces Chemsex Awareness Training • Breakdown of the different drugs that are used during chemsex; • Findings from the chemsex survey carried out by THT, Buzzfeed and Channel 4; • The impact of chemsex on individuals; • Guidance around support that can be offered to people involved in chemsex. The training is free, and will be delivered interactively via Zoom on Thursday, November 4 or Thursday, November 25, both 10am-1pm.

) Sexual health/HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has announced its Chemsex Awareness Training will be taking place twice this month.

) If you would like to sign up to either of these sessions, email

This new one-module online training session will cover:

D For more info on THT, visit:

• What chemsex is;

The Sussex pub in Hove raises £730 for the Sussex Beacon the fact that money raised from the two events reached a total in excess of £730 for the charity. Bill Puddicombe, executive director of the Sussex Beacon, said: “We are thrilled with the support of Mike [owner] and his team at The Sussex.

) You can’t get much more variety than a drag show one night and a Marlene Dietrich tribute film evening on another, but that’s exactly what the new management of The Sussex in Hove recently staged in its seafront pub, much to the delight of regular and new patrons alike. Even more impressive is

“While we were originally the charity of the month in September, the fact Mike has now decided to continue supporting the Sussex Beacon on an ongoing basis is enormously appreciated. We very much look forward to many more fun, successful events in the future.” D Photo: Bill Puddicombe (R) receives cheque from The Sussex, Hove

Kingsway Care wins Leaders in Care Award

glamorous Leaders In Care Awards last month with the Executive of the Year award, which honours leaders who’ve provided inspired leadership on a company and sector-wide level and have driven their organisations to achieve great things over the past year.

) Hove-based homecare provider Kingsway Care was recognised at the

Olly Carter, MD and winner of the award said: “It’s entirely a team win. Thank you, yellow angels. You’re all incredible!”




Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus returns with ‘Pull a Cracker’ Christmas concert, supporting the Sussex Beacon ) Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC) is thrilled to be back performing at the prestigious Brighton Dome with their Christmas show, Pull A Cracker, on Saturday, December 4 at 7.30pm, which promises to be a festive treat full of traditional Christmas numbers and some sparkly new arrangements.


Nick Ford, BGMC chairman, said, “We’re so excited to bring our signature Christmas production back to the Brighton Dome. With a stocking bulging full of songs, there will be something for everyone! “We’re always proud to help local charities and this year we are thrilled to support the Sussex Beacon, which provides specialist care and support for people living with HIV in Sussex and beyond. We have seen at first hand the excellent work they do as they have provided end of life care for some of our Chorus friends.”


Bill Puddicombe, executive director of the Sussex Beacon, added: “We’re delighted that BGMC have chosen the Sussex Beacon to be this year’s charity partner. “After what has been a difficult year or two for many, the joy that BGMC bring into our lives is even more valued. “At the Sussex Beacon we continue to work hard to support people living with HIV. Funds raised from events such as Pull A Cracker make a huge difference, enabling us to provide vital inpatient care, as well as day support services. “I would like to extend my personal thanks to everyone involved with Pull A Cracker, as well as our warmest wishes for a peaceful and happy festive season ahead.” The Chorus is under the direction of director Joe Paxton, with accompaniment by music director Tim Nail. The boys will pull out all the stops to get the audience in a Christmassy mood with an unforgettable evening of laughter and song, infused with mirth and merriment as we follow one member through Christmases past and present. Packed full of seasonal favourites such as Silent Night, Carol of the Bells and O Holy Night with special highlights from Kate Bush, Leona Lewis and Muse, to name just a few. ) Pull A Cracker with Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus, supporting the Sussex Beacon at the Brighton Dome, Church Street, Brighton BN1 1UE on Saturday, December 4, 7.30pm start (doors 6.45pm). Tickets: £10, £12, £17 and £25 from the Brighton Dome Ticket Office on 01273 709 709, via (booking fees apply) or in person at the Ticket Shop in Church St (no fees). D For more info and link to booking page, visit:


All That Bex presents fundraising event for Martin Fisher Foundation

) All That Bex presents a fabulous, fundraising cabaret event for the Martin Fisher Foundation at the Old Market in Hove on Friday, November 26 at 8pm. With sensational host Stella Pint, Extravaganza! features performances from the world of comedy, burlesque, and drag. Within this two-part event, expect an incredible line-up of performers, including an appearance by Brighton’s very own #NHShero Sister Brandy Bex. Following the two-part cabaret is a performance by local group The Harlequeens as the spectacular finale

to this Extravaganza!. In addition, there will be a raffle with some quirky prizes donated by local businesses. Generously sponsored by Glencairn Consulting Ltd, all profits from the raffle /ticket sales will go to the Martin Fisher Foundation, which promotes treating people living with HIV with dignity, compassion and respect, and focuses on the development of new strategies for effective HIV prevention, treatment and care. D For details, visit: www.allthatbex. com/blogs/events/extravaganza



FrontRunners raise over £5,000 for Lunch Positive THE FRONTRUNNERS (IN WAD RIBBONS)

) Bruno, Brett and Tommy from Brighton & Hove FrontRunners raised a whopping £5,000+ by holding a charity dinner for HIV charity Lunch Positive last month.

work towards an even brighter future where we can finally eradicate HIV.” In addition to the charity dinner, Bruno, Brett and Tommy raised a fantastic £4,000 for Lunch Positive at this year’s Brighton Marathon.


Bruno, who volunteers for Lunch Positive, said: “I was furloughed towards Gary Pargeter added: “Our the end of last year, so it felt right to massive thanks to everyone who channel my energy into something inspired, put that personally resonated with me, as together and someone living with HIV. That’s why I supported chose to volunteer at Lunch Positive. I this amazing understand first-hand the challenges and fundraising, and needs of those living with and affected for the ongoing by HIV face, even today, in 2021.” support of Brighton & Hove FrontRunners. The charity dinner, which was attended by 100 people, was conceived over “Grassroots charities are doing amazing tea and cake with the boys and Gary work within the community and we have Pargeter, Lunch Positive service lost very significant fundraising over manager, all the way back in May. the last year and a half. Funds from this fantastic event will go directly to provide Bruno continued: “This year as we services to a rapidly growing number look forward to World AIDS Day, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on of people. We are incredibly grateful for everyone’s support.” just how far we’ve come in the last 30 years or so, but there’s still work to do as D For more information on Lunch we continue to support our community, Positive, visit: drive awareness, fight the stigma and

Win tickets to new film - MAISIE Britain’s oldest cinema, the Duke Of York’s, on November 9. Part of Brighton’s CINECITY film festival, Maisie will be showing at 6.30pm with Maisie herself, David Raven, present as guest of honour.



The film’s director, Lee Cooper, has offered two tickets for one lucky reader to win in a prize draw. For your chance to see the only Brighton screening of this film about one of the city’s most colourful residents, simply email ) Tickets have gone on sale for with your the screening of MAISIE, a film name and address. Closing date is documenting the life of Britain’s oldest November 5. drag artiste Maisie Trollette, at


su pp or tin

Campaign launches to tackle youth homelessness in the city


g One of The Guardian’s Top 25 unmissable festive shows for 2018

“ The very definition of camp as Christmas, the award-winning Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus have got it all: razzle-dazzle, sweet harmonies, laughs and lovely waistcoats ” ) YMCA DownsLink Group, the south coast youth charity, has launched a new campaign to drive awareness of youth homelessness. Figures from the charity reveal: •An estimated 20% of homeless people are aged 16-24. • Approximately 40% of 16-25 year olds in the UK have sofa-surfed at some point due to having nowhere to live. • 61% of LGBTQ+ people aged 16-25 who became homeless had first felt frightened or threatened by family. Jack has an all too familiar story. His relationship with his family broke down after he came out as gay. He found himself homeless when he ran out of places to stay. He moved into YMCA DownsLink Group’s 24-hour supported accommodation and, after two years, is able to see a future.

got so depressed and low... I was in a really bad place mentally – I think I just hated myself back then. “Moving into the YMCA was the best thing to happen to me. The support workers were amazing and they just seemed to ‘get me’ and know what I needed. They encouraged me to join a local LGBTQ+ group and that was the start of me accepting myself for who I am. “I feel so different now, I’ve mostly stopped self-harming and if I’m feeling low I know I’ve got people to talk to. I’m starting an apprenticeship soon and I feel so much more positive about the future.” Being young and homeless can create a cycle of poverty, ill-health, and exclusion that can be impossible to break. By becoming a Room Sponsor you’re not only giving a vulnerable young person a home, you are giving them a second chance.

Jack said: “When I told my family I was gay it was probably the worst day of my life. My dad just couldn’t look at me and D To find out more or to sign up, visit: mum wouldn’t stop crying. It made involved/donate/room-sponsor/ me feel terrible about myself – I

World AIDS Day Charity Concert to raise funds for Lunch Positive invite you to join them and the local community on December 1 for a concert staged to raise funds for HIV charity Lunch Positive. The World AIDS Day concert will bring together the Actually Gay Men’s Chorus, Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus, the Rainbow Chorus and other local preforming groups for an evening of sound and music in St Mary’s Church, Kemptown. It is always a sell-out and raises thousands of pounds each year for Lunch Positive. ) As part of the events to commemorate World AIDS Day, Brighton & Hove’s LGBTQ+ choirs

D For tickets, visit:

Join Brighton’s most Christmassy choir and get in the seasonal spirit with an evening of Christmas favourites and sparkly new arrangements

Chorus Director: Joe Paxton

Music Director: Tim Nail     brightongmc Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus Registered Charity No. 1171020 Sussex Beacon Registered Charity No. 298388

Tickets £10-£25 from Brighton Dome Ticket Office • Online* – or scan the QR code • By phone* 01273 709709 • In person Church Street, BN1 1UE * Booking fees apply


Brave the Shave for Terrence Higgins Trust this World AIDS Day


New partnership between Sussex Beacon and LGBTQ+ Shop on the day, the event will feature special mannequin displays of 'H' T-shirts bearing QR codes, to enable bespoke ordering ahead of World AIDS Day on Wednesday, December 1.

) Do something great this World AIDS Day by taking part in the Big Shave Off for sexual health/HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) on December 1.


Bill Puddicombe, executive director of Sussex Beacon, said: “HIV stigma in the UK and indeed around the world remains a real concern.

This year, THT is highlighting the importance of HIV testing, which is key to ending HIV transmissions. The money you raise could fund vital work to get more people testing, through awareness campaigns and THT’s programme to provide free HIV self tests. Taking part is simple. Sign up online ( big-shave), ask friends and family to sponsor you, shave your head, chest, legs or beard, set up a fundraising page online, then share the results on social media @THTorguk #BigShaveOff. You can even raise the stakes by hosting a Shave It or Save It challenge. Will your friends and family donate more for you to shave or save?! It all comes down to the day of the challenge. If shaving isn’t for you, you can challenge yourself to dye your hair a crazy colour, create a crazy hair-do, or even grow your hair as long as you can. D To get involved, visit:

It’s A Sin stars and Sir Elton John join people living with HIV in new film calling for government to ‘fund the fight’ and end HIV epidemic by 2030

) A partnership between Sussex Beacon and the LGBTQ+ Shop will be officially launched on Saturday, “The message November 6 between 1-3pm. An contained in this online-only store, the LGBTQ+ Shop new range from the was set-up in 2020 to provide a range of LGBTQ+ Shop is a powerful one. HIV high quality, quirky and fun items/gifts stigma can result in people being too for the LGBTQ+ community. worried to test and discover their HIV At the event, taking place in the Sussex status, receive available treatment and the support that organisations such as Beacon shop on St James’s St in Sussex Beacon provide. The sooner HIV Kemptown, a brand-new range of T-shirts and merchandise with the tagline stigma can be eradicated, the sooner we’ll be able to reach that ultimate goal of The H in HIV Stands For Human, zero transmissions.” So Act Like One! will be introduced. Profits from all 'H' merchandise will be D For more info on Sussex Beacon, donated to the Sussex Beacon. visit: Hosted by popular drag performer Ruffles, who will be schmoozing in true style with everyone coming along

pic cap


D More info on the LGBTQ+ Shop, visit:

Actually Gay Men’s Chorus announces Christmas concert

) Russell T Davies, Olly Alexander and Callum Scott Howells from It’s A Sin joined forces with long-time campaigner Sir Elton John and people living with HIV in a powerful new film calling for government action to end new cases of the virus in the UK by 2030. The film has been released by charities Elton John AIDS Foundation, Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and National AIDS Trust to inspire fans of the hit show to write to chancellor Rishi Sunak and health secretary Sajid Javid calling for government to ‘fund the fight’ to ensure its goal of ending new HIV cases by 2030 is achieved. The film also features Florence, Becky and Ese who are living with HIV and know the life-changing impact of being offered a HIV test. Because they got tested, they now access the effective treatment they need to live well and confident in the knowledge that they can’t pass on HIV to anyone else. Russell T Davies, creator of It’s A Sin, said: “The show has had a bigger impact than we ever dared hope. My initial motivation was to tell stories of love and loss that had gone untold for far too long. But it’s clear how much has still to be done in 2021. “The response to what we created has been overwhelming, but too many people’s views and knowledge of HIV are still firmly rooted in the ’80s. If we can play even a tiny part in helping to change that while supporting the work of charities and activists to end new HIV cases in this country by 2030, then what a wonderful legacy that would be.” D To see the video:

) Actually Gay Men’s Chorus (AGMC) will once again be bringing a dusting of festive sparkle to Christmas with their annual Christmas show Actually With Bells On on December 17 & 18 at 8pm at St Mary’s Church, St James's Street in Kemptown, Brighton. The Christmas concert is an annual fixture in the city’s calendar and is the perfect way to start the season’s celebrations. Under musical director Samuel Cousins, and accompanied by Simon Gray, the men will be taking

advantage of the impressive acoustics of St Mary’s to welcome their audience with a festive mixture of current and traditional songs. AGMC is proudly fundraising for its members’ chosen charity for 2021, the Sussex Beacon, which provides specialist care and support for men, women and families living with HIV. D Tickets are available from D For more on AGMC, visit:


Lunch Positive announces Winter Support Programme and a project to improve mental wellbeing health vulnerabilities and are otherwise unable to sufficiently shop or cook for themselves. The long, dark winter months can also be a time of greater loneliness, social isolation, and lower mood. The team of Lunch Positive volunteers will be making regular companionship phone calls to people, checking in, and ensuring people can get any help or support they need. ) HIV charity Lunch Positive is again running its Winter Support Programme for people with HIV. First started during Covid with great impact, this programme provides practical and advice support for people experiencing vulnerabilities and disadvantage that are often increased during the winter months. Through the programme people are able to get practical help keeping warm, loan of heating equipment and extra bedding, and in cases of crisis there is a small heating top-up fund. For people with HIV who are insecurely housed and those street sleeping there are a range of practical items available to help people stay warm, fed, and safe. These include sleeping bags, dining kits, and donations of basic domestic and personal care items. Lunch Positive links in with local partner Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) South to give additional access to its welfare rights service and advisors, including support with getting the most economical power provider. Through the contributions of the Lunch Positive volunteer team, the charity is also continuing its food outreach support, providing cooked food and groceries to people at home who have serious

If you or someone you know might benefit from this support, or if you would like to help by volunteering to provide this support, visit, email, or call 07846 464384. Mental Health Project Lunch Positive has also started a new project to help improve people’s mental wellbeing. Working with a volunteer psychologist, Lunch Positive will offer a regular ‘walkand-talk’ session where people can take shot 1-1 walks with the volunteer, talk about how their lives are going, find ways to cope and overcome challenges. Walk-and-talk will also be an opportunity to get outdoors, experience the natural world, and derive all the positive benefits that provides. In addition to this there will be regular small group sessions for people to meet with the volunteer, walk and talk as friends in a group, share peer-support, and to bring dogs along. This project is open to everyone locally living with HIV, and people do not need to be users of other Lunch Positive services. D



Find Your Four – a new campaign to support those living with HIV


Brighton & Hove Artists’ Open Houses Winter Festival returns

pic cap


) Find Your Four, a new campaign from Gilead Sciences to support all people living with HIV, has launched. Find Your Four aims to help those with HIV think about important areas of their broader health and wellbeing, and empower them to talk to their healthcare team or support group about why they matter.


Rebecca Tallon De Havilland, Find Your Four ambassador and founder of Trans Project Bootcamp, UK & Ireland, said: “It has been an incredibly hard year for so many people and looking after yourself and your wellbeing has never been so important, especially if you are living with HIV. “The concept of Find Your Four is a simple and engaging way of helping people living with HIV to improve their overall health and wellbeing, whether that is through a focus on their mind, body, everyday life or ensuring they have the information and support they need.”


Leena Sathia, medical director at Gilead Sciences, added: “Living with HIV is a very different story to what it was 20 years ago and most people now have a life expectancy similar to those not living with HIV, however there can be stark differences in the quality of life of those individuals. “This campaign is part of a broader commitment from Gilead to support people living with HIV to not only live, but to live well with HIV, and we were delighted to collaborate with the HIV community to bring this commitment to life through Find Your Four.” D For more information about the campaign visit:

During this time, hundreds of artists and makers across the city will be opening their houses and studio spaces to the public, offering the rare opportunity to buy direct from the artists in their own homes.

Every artist shows a personal poetic technique that will make the viewers reflect on specific aspects of life. Part of the income will be donated to the Hummingbird Project and artists featured include Jack Hardy and Scene magazine’s very own Enzo Marra.

There is a hugely diverse selection of artwork, ceramics, homewares, crafts, jewellery, children’s toys, Christmas cards and foodie gifts on offer. Many of the houses also offer festive food and drinks to ease you into your Christmas shopping. The Artists’ Open Houses Winter Festival provides a fantastic opportunity to shop away from the High Street and buy unique Christmas gifts in an inspiring The Artists’ Open Houses Winter environment. Festival 2021 will run over three One of the highlights of this year's weekends: November 27 & 28, festival is Trouble Makers, presented December 4 & 5, and December 11 by Metropolis Contemporary at & 12. 170 Edward Street, BN2 0JB, which gathers local and international artists D For full listings, visit: to trigger a dialogue between cultures.


The campaign aims to celebrate the community and frame a positive outlook to the future of living with HIV. At the core of the campaign is a website, designed to support all people living with HIV to think about four elements of their broader health and wellbeing that they want to focus on and where they can find information and support. The website also has a message for people not living with HIV, but from communities who are disproportionately affected, on how they can be an ally to the HIV community.

) Brighton & Hove Artists’ Open Houses Winter Festival 2021 will run over weekends from November 27 to December 12.


The campaign has been developed with the HIV community and is underpinned by research into the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV, also initiated by Gilead Sciences, that found over half (55%) of people with HIV report that their physical health has deteriorated since March 2020 compared to 30% of the general population and four fifths (81%) of people with HIV report feeling more stressed or anxious since March 2020 compared to 54% of the general population.


Fat Pigeon Art to auction off Scene magazine cover artwork for the Brighton Rainbow Fund All profit will be donated to the Brighton Rainbow Fund to distribute to HIV/sexual health charities in the city. Fat Pigeon Art produces beautiful digital prints, photography, homeware, cards, shirts and more. To read more on Sid’s work, check out the feature on page 26. e If you are interested in bidding, email: e For more info on Fat Pigeon Art, visit: ) Multimedia artist Sid Spencer, aka Fat Pigeon Art, is to auction off his cover artwork designed for this month’s Scene magazine, which is the annual HIV/AIDS edition published to mark World AIDS Day. The A3 artwork will be mounted and framed, and its guide price is between £130 and £150.




Award launched to celebrate Queer Creativity

) Queer Britain (QB) has teamed up with wine brand Madame F to launch the Queer Britain Madame F Award. This year’s theme is Queer Creativity, inspired by illustrator Justin Kemp, who designed the Susy the Frog image featured on the Madame F wine label.

Send an illustration, painting, drawing or photo that celebrates the theme, along with a maximum 200-word explanation about how your entry represents queer creativity and what that means to you. There are three cash prizes and winning entrants will be exhibited by QB. Winning images will help support the mission of QB in setting up its national LGBTQ+ museum, for all, by featuring on official QB merchandise. D For more info, visit: artaward2021

Marlborough Productions call for LGBTQ+ performers


SEAS exhibition at the Ledward Centre to examine queer identities

) Socially Engaged Art Salon (SEAS) is staging a large group exhibition of lens-based artists and photographers with works that include an examination of queer identities, documentation of Pride and other LGBTQ+ events, exploration of ‘queer spaces’, participatory work with marginalised communities, narrative-based projects and works that defy definitions.

All the works will be shown on digital screens and at night will be projected on to LGBTQ+ community and cultural hub the Ledward Centre’s window on Jubilee Street, Brighton. ) Marlborough Productions has relaunched its New Queers on the Block community development programme, with three £12,500 commissions available for LGBTQ+ performance artists. Since 2018, the scheme has supported the development of numerous queer performers, including Oozing Gloop, Malik Nashad Sharpe, Rachael Young, Harry Clayton-Wright and Subira Joy, across live art, theatre, dance, cabaret, film, spoken word and visual art. Selected artists/groups will embark on a holistic six-month development period with no public-facing outputs expected

at the end. Creative director Tarik Elmoutawakil and executive director David Sheppeard said the scheme strives to “empower marginalised LGBTQ+ artists and producers”, adding: “[The programme] disrupts the capitalist origins of this way of working, breaking new ground and allowing artists and producers to determine for themselves their optimum conditions to thrive.” ) Applications are open till Thursday, November 4. Those interested can apply by visiting

Unisex Hairsalon 18 St Georges Road, Kemptown, Brighton BN2 1EB

01273 623 408

The exhibition, supported by Arts Council England and Sussex Communities Trust, was launched last month as part of Brighton Digital Festival and will continue until January 15, 2022. Photography (from left to right): Jenny Nash, Francesca Alaimo, Keith Race, Eva Marschan-Hayes, Simon Pepper, Ben Sharp. D For more info on the Ledward Centre, visit: D For more info on SEAS, visit:

The Brighton Box opens gift shop in Brighton Station ) If you’re Brighton-based, or find yourself passing through Brighton Station, make sure you drop into The Brighton Box’s brand new gift shop. The artworks in the gift shop give you a taste of what you can find in the main gallery in Dukes Lane (with the sale of selected artists’ works benefiting the Sussex Beacon), and there’s also a lovely selection of other items that are hard to resist! The Brighton Box says: “It is with great pleasure that we can finally announce that our Brighton Station Gallery is now open for business. Rest assured, the Gallery in Dukes Lane will also be open as usual.” D For more info on the Brighton Box, visit:


Sussex students demand removal of ‘transphobic’ Kathleen Stock

) Students from the University of Sussex have launched a campaign to demand the removal of ‘gender critical’ philosophy professor Kathleen Stock who has caused controversy over her supposedly anti-trans views. Although Stock has previously denied that she is transphobic, the students argued: “Transphobes like Stock are anti-feminist, anti-queer and anti-intellectual, they are harmful and dangerous to trans people.”

Trans activist Katy Montgomerie responded to Tickell on Twitter, saying: “She’s signed a declaration calling to ban trans people from public spaces and end their healthcare. That’s not They went on to criticise the university for academic freedom, it’s campaigning employing Stock, adding: “The university against people’s human rights.” is actively enabling and encouraging The students leading the campaign her transphobia by not firing her, which have not publicly addressed Tickell’s whilst not surprising, has continued for statement, but concluded their mission far too long.” Since the campaign was statement saying: “Our demand is launched, #ShameOnSussexUni has simple: fire Kathleen Stock. Until then, been trending on Twitter. While many you’ll see us around.” social media users penalised the uni KATY MONTGOMERIE


In response to the situation, Adam Tickell, University of Sussex vicechancellor, said the activity is being “investigated”, describing it as an “attack” on “Professor Kathleen Stock for exercising her academic freedoms”. He continued: “We cannot and will not tolerate threats to cherished academic freedoms and will take any action necessary to protect the rights of our community.” ADAM TICKELL


for not firing Stock, others shared messages of support for the professor, criticising the students for campaigning against her.

The Clare Project Inclusion


) This month, the Clare Project is running a variety of consultations with community members in order to get some feedback on how the charity is doing, and how it could improve.

The Clare Project said: “As have many small and growing organisations, we have made some mistakes, had some successes, but most importantly, are listening and continually evolving in order to support our wonderfully diverse community. “The Clare Project prides itself on being informed by lived experience at every opportunity, and we encourage you to talk to us in whatever way you find accessible.” Everyone participating in this survey will be entered into a prize draw for one of four £25 retail vouchers. Participants in consultations will also receive a £15 voucher for their time (approx 1-1.5hrs).

Having supported the transgender, non-binary, intersex and gendervariant community for 21 years, the Clare Project is looking to hear from everyone and anyone from these groups, D For more info, visit: of whether they have visited clare-project-inclusion.../ the charity before.


18 Scene to Act One of a drama we as yet see no end to. At the height of the fear and anti-gay hysteria, a prime minister emboldened by a successive third election victory with a majority our current government could only dream of, stepped in with a killer blow. An amendment to existing legislation which over time has been historically misremembered as Section 28. It was actually Clause 28 which added section 2A to an older piece of legislation as part of the Local Government Act.

AIDS. UGLY & VITAL OWN IT. IT IS OURS By Craig Hanlon-Smith ) “Why can’t you

write something funny,” said a friend as I shared with him details of my play Sunday’s Child, a rehearsed reading of which was to feature in the inaugural AIDS Histories and Cultures Festival in London, in 2018. He then cited a particular gay fringe theatre that regularly produces romps in the vein of ‘Whoops Vicar There Go My Trousers’ with a gay twist. The twist being there’s a half-naked cast of pant-less homos. I cannot, these three years later, recall my exact response, however it would have been something along the lines of; there’s room for all genres in the expanding minefield of queer theatre. AIDS disproportionally ravaged its way through the lives of gay and bisexual men and,although perhaps in a different way, continues to do so 40 years on today. It’s a disturbing history, present and future and avoidance is understandable, denial is a powerful tool. It’s however a vital and critical part of our identity and you’re right, it’s not funny. I recently went to see the Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart in London, which addresses the experience of gay men living through those early years in New York. As the cast left the stage and the lights came up, Peter Tatchell, a row or two behind, stood up and began to loudly recall the UK government’s response to HIV/AIDS at the same time the play had been set. It was both an arresting and equally vital response to the evening and drew me out of the world of the play set in America, to the experience of being a gay teenager and young gay man here, on these islands, during that time. The first person to die from AIDS related illnesses in the UK was in December 1981. The government launched a major public information campaign to address the disease in 1987. Almost six years later. In the wake of Covid-19,

critics of the government in 2020, cite threeweek delays in public information as critical to the lives of thousands. Six years. Much of the inaction across the Western hemisphere is absolutely attributed to an assumption that AIDS was a gay man’s problem, brought upon themselves through immoral and ‘risky’ sex. As those directly affected became a broader group, none were considered a priority. Gays, Africans, drug-users and prostitutes. Haemophiliacs, who had been infected via government sourced blood products, were often referred to in the media as having contracted HIV/AIDS ‘innocently’. The rest of us clearly had it coming. It took six months to generate a vaccine response to Covid-19, for an HIV equivalent we’ve been waiting 40 years. Gays, Africans, drug-users and prostitutes. It is also impossible to know exactly how many died from HIV/AIDS related illnesses during that time or indeed for up to a decade later. Family doctors at the request of relatives sought not to mention the virus on death certificates, replacing it with the actual infections which caught hold of an immune system free body, such as tuberculosis or pneumonia. Gay and bisexual men who lost their partners, after sometimes multiple decades of togetherness, found themselves turned out onto the streets. Locks changed on the order of solicitors, instructed by grieving and shamestricken blood relatives. Last Will & Testaments that were successfully challenged by previously disinterested nephews and nieces, but who now emerged from their neglectful shadows for the loot. Undertakers who refused to arrange burials for suspected AIDS sufferers. Nurses and doctors operating in government funded healthcare, who refused to treat us. Often gay and lesbian nurses and doctors stepping in as others stepped out. In the context of clap for carers and rainbow adorned living room windows, it seems almost unbelievable. And then for the crescendo. A spectacular finale

The clause prohibited any local authority from intentionally promoting homosexuality, or from publishing material with the intention of promoting homosexuality. It also ensured that local authorities would not “promote the teaching in any maintained [council funded] school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. And despite opposing the legislation at the time, it was not repealed by the New Labour government in England and Wales until November 2003, two and a half years into their second term of office. It had been repealed in Scotland in 2000 following devolution.

“We talk so freely now about the need to address or consider our mental health and wellbeing, and yet... it is clear why these psychological traumatic episodes disproportionately affect our LGBTQ+ communities.” Such was the threat of the amendment that local authorities removed gay and lesbian, as they were then known, support services at a time when they had never been more crucial to survival. We talk so freely now about the need to address or consider our mental health and wellbeing, and yet walking through the above timelines, it is clear why these psychological traumatic episodes disproportionately affect our LGBTQ+ communities compared to a mainstream society. Watching It’s A Sin earlier this year, which I consider to be vital television, I struggled to engage emotionally with the characters or their stories. Perhaps there’s so much to say about those years, it is an impossibility to reflect it exactly in a handful of episodes. However, one phrase chilled me. The idea that ‘going home’ was the end. Boys go home to die. And so to end on a memory. 1988? Perhaps it was ’89, I don’t recall, Glyn disappeared. Glyn was one of the adult volunteers in our youth theatre, clearly the boyfriend of the director Anthony, although in small town 1980s Lancashire nobody spoke of it. After several weeks of Glyn seeking, I asked one of his friends and another volunteer Cath, “where is he?” Whilst casually handing out Chupa Chups from the tuck shop, Cath replied “he’s gone to live with his Dad”. Glyn never came back. Know your history mother fuckers. And tell EVERYONE.




Starring Layton Williams & Bianca Del Rio

TUE 7 DEC 21 - SUN 2 JAN 22

20 Scene


) I’m writing this

as someone who has been HIV negative, HIV positive, diagnosed with AIDS, and now HIV undetectable. That’s important for me to say at the outset because I believe in writing from experience as much as possible. In the 16 years since I was diagnosed and admitted to hospital a great deal has changed with regard to the sexual politics of people with HIV. Much of which is due to two things. Firstly, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) – a groundbreaking treatment that comes in the form of a pill which is taken pre-exposure to prevent HIV. PrEP does not protect against STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis and hep C. Despite this, on the whole, I believe PrEP is a significant force for good. It encourages sexually active people to be purposely proactive in taking control of their own sexual health. You’ve probably seen articles and/or ads for PrEP all over the place. Before PrEP, and when I was first diagnosed, the safe sex message was always centred around condoms. Condoms would – and still do – reduce the risk of passing on HIV and STIs. So why do I rarely see them mentioned anymore? PrEP is now the fashionable alternative that’s become like a must-have accessory, and that’s good, it proves that the messaging has worked. But perhaps condom usage should be amplified as well? Talking as a layman, isn’t it just common sense to continue some condom messaging alongside PrEP in order to reduce the rise of STIs? Whether people want to use them or not is another personal choice matter altogether.

For me, it’s about having full confidence in the sexual health organisations to empower people and authentically spell out all risks and ways to avoid them in order for them to partake in a fulfilling and mindful sex life.

“You don’t have to keep up with others peacocking on social media to feel like you’re achieving with your HIV management. If something makes you feel inadequate or marginalised, remove that barrier. Your mental health is too important” It’s disingenuous to suggest that PrEP is the magical solution. Yes we need hope, but we need it with a hefty dollop of pragmatism. I’ve been HIV undetectable since 2009. Pretty damn incredible – from a CD4 count of nine when I was in hospital with weeks to live in 2005. Which brings me on to the second thing that’s changed the lives of people with HIV immeasurably in recent years: those who are on effective antiretroviral treatment with an undetectable HIV status for six months or more do not transmit the virus though sex – undetectable equals untransmittable which is also known colloquially as U=U. U=U has now become the ultimate goal. The pinnacle of HIV health. Like PrEP, the messaging is everywhere. Personally I’m delighted that it has been such a success, and has changed many people’s perceptions of HIV. I didn’t really try to achieve undetectability to be honest, it just happened as a result of years of adhering to my combination therapy. But what about those that can’t? Are they being supported and represented? Do they now feel like they’re

under constant pressure to attain the HIV ‘norm’ of U=U? These things can become incredibly overwhelming. I remember how bad my mental health was after I came out of hospital, quite bluntly I was a wreck for years – and that was before all the wall-towall jubilation about U=U. Not sure how I’d cope now. In fact, I’ve friends who didn’t develop AIDS-defining illnesses who also suffered terribly with their mental health in recent years because, in part, they felt at odds with the wider conversation. It feels like some orgs have been taking the live, laugh, love approach to portraying people living with HIV. Which I can understand, given our history.

“It’s disingenuous to suggest that PrEP is the magical solution. Yes we need hope, but we need it with a hefty dollop of pragmatism” A few years ago I wrote a piece about being proudly positive, and this is a stance I will always take. HIV is something that is now part of my very being. In the same way that being visibly gay is. Choosing to live this way, while also understanding the benefits of my undetectable status, is, for me, a political act – one of subversive liberation that hopefully serves to break down HIV stigma. To those reading this who are not undetectable and are struggling, I want you to know that you are no less than any of those carefully selected people in the glossy ads who are “living a great life with HIV”. You’re a warrior. You matter. Even when it feels like you’re being completely left out of the conversation. A phrase that has served me well that l like to refer to when I’m feeling low is “comparison is the thief of joy”. Life is not a glossy ad, popping a pill and everything is fine, and becoming undetectable is not the be-all and end-all. You don’t have to keep up with others peacocking on social media to feel like you’re achieving with your HIV management. If something makes you feel inadequate or marginalised, remove that barrier. Your mental health is too important. There’s a lot more nuance to living with HIV, and I think modern-day life is becoming more and more bereft of nuance. That’s something that desperately needs to be clawed back. Yes we’ve made great strides and we should pat ourselves on the back, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that everything is hunky dory for everyone. Let’s keep it real. Let’s raise every voice. We’re all HIV positive, and no one should feel marginalised.


Scene 21

WORLD AIDS DAY DIARY ) Wednesday, November 24 - Saturday, December 4: BRIGHTON AIDS MEMORIAL EXHIBITION: A remembrance project showcasing the stories and history of the AIDS epidemic in the Brighton & Hove area. Open to visitors at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church, Brighton BN2 1RL between 10am-4pm. Closed Thursdays, with refreshments provided by Lunch Positive. Also on display in the windows of the Ledward Centre on Jubilee Street, Brighton. More info, email or follow on Instagram @ thebrightonaidsmemorial. ) Sunday, November 28: LUNCH POSITIVE COMMUNITY LUNCH at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church community rooms, Dorset Gardens, Brighton BN2 1RL from 12.30pm with lunch served 1pm. This gathering is an open invitation to the community to spend supportive social time together over an enjoyable community lunch as part of the city’s World AIDS Day activities. Provided by Lunch Positive volunteers. For more info, visit or email ) Sunday, November 28 onwards: MORE TO ME THAN HIV EXHIBITION at Jubilee Library, Jubilee Street, Brighton, BN1 1GE. An exhibition challenging HIV stigma and celebrating HIV lives. For more info, visit: ) Wednesday, December 1 at 6pm: BRIGHTON AIDS MEMORIAL CANDLELIT VIGIL at New Steine Gardens. All are welcome to attend the remembrance event of those we have lost to HIV/AIDS in Brighton & Hove. There will be a reading of the names and space will be available for anyone seeking quiet moments of reflection. A series of videos of support will also be shown during the day on the Brighton & Hove World AIDS Day Facebook page: The annual gathering at the Brighton AIDS Memorial is hosted by the Brighton & Hove World AIDS Day Community Partnership. New names to be read (in addition to those read in previous years) can be emailed to by November 28, or can be added to the list at the New Steine Gardens memorial space between 4-5pm on the day. ) Sussex HIV Chaplaincy - SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE AND HOPE. Details to be confirmed. For info, contact Revd Heather Leake Date: 07867 773360 or

HIV COMMUNITY REPRESENTATION By Gary Pargeter ) I consider myself privileged to be born and grow up gay in Brighton. I know it was easier here for me compared to many elsewhere, and it’s now almost 30 years since being diagnosed HIV positive. Taking part in the recent Identity Project by Chris Jepson was a joyous thing, giving me the opportunity to celebrate my HIV status proudly as integral to my identity, largely through a long held selfacceptance. It gave a space to acknowledge that the tremendous and still deeply felt loss of partners, friends and acquaintances, together with a changed path of life have all helped me develop a greater resilience; hopefully a deeper appreciation and broader outlook on life. Of course it hasn’t always felt this way. Especially when I was younger the path often felt insecure, worrying and uncertain. Communities I have known and continue to know, those I am part of and how they have supported are so important. For the last 28 years I have in one way or another been involved in the local voluntary sector, as service user, volunteer, worker, sometimes all these together. It’s the voluntary sector that I have a deep rooted passion for, its community base, ethos and values. Since 2017 I have volunteered as an elected HIV community representative for Brighton & Hove Community Works. This gives the opportunity to share insights and perspectives gained through active involvement in the voluntary sector. Local planning and decision making can be informed through the reps’ input, and for some time now much of my role has been supporting the HIV Fast Track City task force, equalities forums, and local authority policy alongside other themed community reps. Much has changed in the voluntary sector since my first involvement and continues to. Not only the funding landscape, but also the ways charities and community groups operate; the health and social care system; the dynamics, balance of power and influence between local authorities, statutory agencies, large and smaller organisations; and the opportunities for communities to have a collective control of their own support.


Living with HIV has changed beyond what we thought imaginable 20 to 40 years ago, and of course much of the voluntary sector has changed with it, as you’d expect. Where people with HIV have themselves been involved, and the genuine needs of people with HIV, rather than only the interests of those in authority have been central to that change, it must be good. Largely that’s my experience of being an HIV positive man in Brighton. Long may that continue, and always more clearly heard should the quieter voice be! D For more info on the Identity Project, visit:

22 Scene


The role of a community hospital ) The Sussex Beacon has changed in role

many times over the years, but one thing has never changed – our commitment to provide the best possible support and care to people living with HIV. Next year will be our 30th anniversary. The charity was generated from the community in Sussex as a response to the AIDS epidemic and the Sussex Beacon was originally a hospice. Before the development of effective treatment for HIV, many people passed away at the Beacon. We can all celebrate the positive change that has occurred since then. Our role now is to work with those for whom HIV presents a challenge, either on a daily basis or for a period of weeks or months. While antiretroviral therapy has vastly improved the lives and life expectancy of the majority of people living with HIV, there is still a sizeable group who have physical and mental ill health, related to their HIV status. There are also many for whom social isolation and stigmatisation are a constant factor in their lives. The patients in our inpatient unit may be recovering from operations or cancer treatment. They may need to switch their drug regimes. For some we provide mental and physical health support to avert a crisis in their lives. Our community services provide practical and emotional support, through group work and individual support. We have activities to counter some of the distinct issues of ageing with HIV, including an exercise class led by a physiotherapist. Our peer mentor programme brings together people who have personal experience of living with HIV with those who are struggling to deal with their diagnosis. This support is targeted at the particular issues that the individual is facing and is time limited. Our women and families’ work is unique in

Sussex. The group meets regularly, for support and to take part in activities together. The group provides a welcome safe space for some who feel stigmatised in their communities. All of these activities and services are supported by and generated from the community of Sussex. The Beacon was built on community participation and continues to maintain these strong connections. We learn what will work best for our service users by asking them and then adapting our services to meet their need. We asked our service users to tell us what the Beacon means to them: “HIV can be a lonely illness. Coming here you get a release from what you go through. Although primarily it is an HIV centre, being here makes me feel like HIV is not the biggest thing.” “It got me out of a hole, a rut that I was in, and helped me realise that what I was doing was hurting myself.” “The help was there, I just had to ask.” “It is not just a hospital.” “When I come here, I know everyone else has HIV. I can talk freely; I feel more relaxed and accepted” In discussion, service users said that there used to be lots of other services like the Beacon in the UK but they all closed down. This is terrible – people living with HIV need targeted services. They said the garden is beneficial for people who do not have a garden. It’s good to interact with people who have the same condition. The food is excellent and we learn about nutrition. We can get lots of information about benefits and energy saving so we get practical help. Day service is good for people with anxiety as you can socialise in a quiet, safe place.

Users talked about it being a lifeline to come into the inpatient unit. They talked about the importance of our day service for reducing isolation – one person said it’s their only opportunity to socialise. Some service users talked about the stigma of HIV and about how they cannot tell a lot of their family and friends that they’re HIV+ – they feel they wouldn’t get sympathy, people may disown them, people may think it is their fault for contracting HIV. They think they may always have to hide their status from people, but at the Beacon they can talk freely and this is a really important space because of that. One person said staff at the Beacon always listen to what they’re saying and take it seriously, whereas some other professionals they’ve encountered have dismissed their feelings. We are funded by long-term, loyal supporters, the NHS and Brighton & Hove City Council. Most important, however, is the role the public play in maintaining our work. The majority of our funding comes from charitable donations and grants; from supporters who run marathons and half marathons, collect at events and give their time as volunteers. We are supported by the generosity of so many LGBTQ+ venues in Brighton and beyond, who host events and collect funds for us through a range of enjoyable and colourful ways. The Sussex Beacon – born from the community, part of the community, and here to support the community for the future. D

Scene 23 understanding and empathy are “life-saving” and “exceptional”. Through regular contact with people with very serious illness we hear the deep-rooted appreciation and benefit of being “community, not clinical” and “nowhere else where HIV is so much a ‘given’ and their only peer-support”. For many newly diagnosed “being part of something and knowing they’re not alone” is a pivotal moment in coming to terms with being HIV+. Richard, one of our most recently joined service users, and now a volunteer, said: “I’m not exaggerating when I say that I credit Lunch Positive with rescuing me from a very dark and lonely place. As a single gay man I was alone. Moreover, my HIV status added another dimension to the challenges I was facing. “I’ve been an ‘out’ gay man since my late teens, diagnosed with HIV in my mid-20s. However, having lived through some of the deadliest years of AIDS. So, as an older gay man I found myself alone, lonely and without purpose.


Continuing a 40-year tradition of community-led support ) Lunch Positive has now been running for

more than food, important as this is. Through the HIV lunch club and shared meal sessions, we bring people together in a unique, safe and supportive community space, helping people overcome challenges living with HIV, finding friendships and peer support, breaking the cycle of social isolation and loneliness.

12 years, having proudly and directly evolved from grassroots HIV support that started almost 40 years ago at the much valued Open Door project. When Open Door closed, its volunteers founded Lunch Positive as a new and forward-looking group, continuing the community-led ethos in new ways. Since then it’s gone from strength to strength, fulfilling an important community mission, crucially being led and provided by the community it serves, people with HIV.

Through these approaches, along with a range of additional community activities, a wide range of people’s needs can be met – all improving health and mental wellbeing. This includes an HIV food bank and outreach of food delivery to people experiencing vulnerabilities at home; HIV befriending and buddying scheme, helping people share peer-support, form supportive friendships and get practical help; winter support scheme providing extra heating and food to people in crisis; peer-support and wellbeing activities; telephone companionship, advice and information; helping people in recovery; and engagement with specialist services.

While HIV treatments have massively improved, and the experiences and circumstances of the ’80s and ’90s are far less frequent, we do still encounter people with serious health issues – physical and mental, ageing and frailty, cancer, people who come along for friendship and support knowing that they are approaching the end of their lives. Stigma, challenging life circumstances and disadvantage, including poverty, insecure housing and homelessness remain, as sadly they have done for decades.

Just before Covid hit, the charity was invited to present at the prestigious King’s Fund health think tank exploring the impact of our work, specifically being community-led. Soon after, Public Health England published similar good practice examples of our work. Community news has also reflected the outstanding Covid response over the past year and a half, including almost 35,000 meals provided to people in need, consistent companionship and mental health impact, and the 14,128 hours given by volunteers. As people rightly say, Lunch Positive is so much

“It took all the courage I had to attend my first lunch. When I arrived, the team made me feel very welcome. Equally important, our shared experiences and medical concerns gave me the confidence to stay. “Since then, my life has gone nothing but upwards. Lunch Positive not only provided me a safe space but also a means to participate in the community as a volunteer. I now have a set of new friends and new ways to add meaning to my life.” We recently hosted a community lunch for a visit by Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS, whose moving commendation of Lunch Positive was “…you have built and you sustain a community of people with HIV. Awesome!” This is of course all because of community itself – the involvement of people with HIV, allies, friends and supporters. Thank you all for all you do and being ‘all about community!’. ) Grassroots peer-led charities depend on the

support of the whole community, volunteering, practical and fundraising. To find out more about our work, how to get involved, and how to support us, visit or email


No one has greater insight into living with HIV than those who are themselves HIV+ and have experienced these issues. This is reflected in the quality and sheer scope of community-based support that’s provided by our volunteers.

“Luckily a nurse at the Lawson Clinic referred me to Lunch Positive when we were chatting about my mental health during a routine blood test.

Our service users themselves came up with our slogan, ‘all about community!’ and among many things talk about how being part of Lunch Positive “is the family they no longer have”, has “kept them fed when they hadn’t eaten for days”, and “is the only place they feel accepted and belong”. Our conversations with people experiencing mental health issues, sometimes including suicidal thoughts, frequently tell us our

24 Scene

sexually pass on HIV. U=U enforces the importance of getting tested, and if the result is positive, getting the treatment that suppresses the virus to undetectable levels.

Activism and perspectives by Glenn Stevens and David Fray ) This year’s World AIDS Day is particularly

special as the project More to Me Than HIV will be on display at Jubilee Library in Brighton from Sunday, November 28 for two weeks. Three years previous I decided I would like to put together a project at Jubilee Library, with a miniature replica statute of Romany Mark Bruce’s AIDS Memorial, Tay, accompanied by a video installation by David Fray. We also displayed the brilliant Hankie Quilt Project by founder, Maurice McHale Parry. I organised for people living with HIV to join me and talk about their experiences.

“HIV doesn’t have to dominate you... I allowed HIV to come into my life and I am in charge of that. My picture represents I am still living and going about my business, enjoying the fact that I am living a healthy life” Although I have been happy to speak about my own HIV experience at various HIV organisations, I was particularly nervous about talking in my place of work. I had my part of the project tucked away at the back of the library and subconsciously ended up with participants sitting in a close-knit circle, almost forbidding anyone else to join in. The turning point for me was when guest speaker Sue Hunter from Positive Voices, and Radio Reverb’s HIV Hour, spoke, giving me an instant confidence to put together a much more public exhibition for World AIDS Day 2020. I put together a team of five, four of whom were also HIV+ with the idea of hosting a photo exhibition at Jubilee Library. We quickly established a name for the project: More to Me Than HIV, aiming to show the many other aspects of people living with HIV.

We had our first meeting in February, then Covid-19 struck. What has been amazing is that we all pulled together, had monthly Zoom meetings, and adapted the project as an online event. We asked people to send in a portrait of themselves along with two images that represented the ‘More to Me’ part of them along with three inspiring words. We were delighted when people began to submit their images and words, which David Fray put together as a montage Lockdown forced the project online, which suited this stage of the project perfectly. As the new year settled in, the group had a reshuffle and started to move the project on to the next stage, gathering people together to have their portraits taken. And now here we are, and the project is complete. I would like to thank Angus, David, Frances, Ian, Jason and Malcolm for all their hard work, as well as a shout out to Eric Page and Gary Pargeter for their help with our grant application and special thanks to all the staff at Jubilee Library for their support.

“We can show that there is nothing to be scared of ashamed about HIV. HIV It is not something that controls our lives or holds us back from living fulfilling lives” U=U recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Not many people outside of the community of people living with HIV are aware of U=U, but it is an absolute game-changer, and should be shouted from the rooftops. U=U stands for Undetectable equals Untransmittable. This pinpoints the scientific fact that people with an undetectable HIV viral load cannot

At our project, we believe that the main barrier to getting tested and on treatment is HIV stigma. The UK national HIV awareness campaign in the 1980s was effective at educating the public about the presence of HIV, but it used fear as a motivating tool. The ramifications of this is the stigma that people living with HIV still endure decades later. It is a fact that people living with HIV can now live fulfilling and long lives, provided they have been tested, and are on successful treatment. We believe that it is visibility that’s the key to educating the public and reducing the stigma associated with HIV. We can show that there is nothing to be scared of or ashamed about HIV. HIV is not something that controls our lives or holds us back from living fulfilling lives. Here are some quotes from our participants explaining why they are taking part in our exhibition: “There is a lot more to me than just the stigma that some people carry around with them, so I was really happy to be a part of this project.” “I am taking part because I believe that visibility is the key to educating the public.” “There is so much more to an individual than a long-term health condition that they carry around with them. I think it is important to explain that so other people don’t have any fear or disregard for people living with HIV.” “HIV doesn’t have to dominate you... I allowed HIV to come into my life and I am in charge of that. My picture represents I am still living and going about my business, enjoying the fact that I am living a healthy life.’ ) You can see our exhibition from Sunday,

November 28 at Jubilee Library, and on-screen at the other libraries in Brighton & Hove. Details can also be found on our website:

26 Scene

better, to understand more, to put themselves in others’ shoes. That’s my kind of hero. What is your passion? My passion is our two adopted kids. The strength they have to move on and thrive after the horrors of their early years is so powerful. To hear them talk about their friends who are queer, trans, disabled and/or BAME without a hint of judgement is fantastic. I’m in my 50s and remember the ‘70s and ‘80s, the hatred and intolerance of our community and the world. I don’t see that in theirs. Who you love, how you look, where you came from, what your history is, is celebrated and praised in their group, which is fantastic. What projects are you currently working on? I’m currently exploring oil painting. Portraits mainly, which is a lot of fun, and also clay sculpture. Working on figurines of drag queens that have passed on, such as Phil Starr, Dockyard Doris and Danny La Rue. I find the clay great to work with and can get a likeness quite well but I guess I’ll leave that judgement up to others.


Jaq Bayles chats to multimedia artist Sid Spencer, aka Fat Pigeon Art, who is the designer of this month’s front cover ) Multimedia artist Sid Spencer runs Fat

Pigeon Art, which produces beautiful digital prints, photography, homeware, cards, shirts and much more. Sid is also the cover designer of this month’s Scene magazine, which is the annual HIV/AIDS edition published to mark World AIDS Day. Tell us a little about yourself? I’m Sid, husband, father to two teenagers, artist and writer. Brighton born and bred. Why ‘Fat Pigeon’? It took me months to settle on a name. I wanted something catchy and easy to remember and had thought about Big Bear, Old Grey Gay and so it went on. Then I was walking home one day and a huge juggernaut lorry pulled up at the traffic lights and on his dashboard the driver had a numberplate that said Fat Pigeon and it made me laugh to myself so I pinched the name. My apologies to the driver. Where do you get your inspiration? My art mainly came around at the first lockdown. I was stuck at home with the two kids and my husband and needed to be able to have a bit of me time occasionally so just started doodling on my tablet. My art, I hope, is always bright and cheery. The topics I pick are pretty much LGBTQ+ themed. So famous supporters, bands, drag queens and old much-loved films and TV series. I’ve been mainly doing digital as it fits well around my

life, but I’ve just also started to work with oils and clay sculpting, so let’s see what comes next. It’s all experimental. What informs the various styles of your art – how do you decide which medium to use? I’m a huge David Hockney and Andy Warhol fan. The bright, solid colours they use really appeal to me. I love street art too; we have some incredible pieces in our city. Who are your heroes? For me the heroes are the strong survivors of our community. The drag artistes that are out there making us laugh, helping us to forget the grim world for an hour or so, as well as using their art to fight for equality, diversity and raising much needed funds. The people of the trans community, every day fighting to be who they are, changing the world as they do. Those working so hard to educate people to be

Thank you so much for agreeing to illustrate the cover for the our HIV/AIDS issue. Why was this important to you? I’m very honoured to have been asked to work on this month’s cover. Sadly, like many, I have lost some dear friends to this disease over the decades, so being asked was, for me, a great way to say to them that they are not forgotten and they are missed greatly. HIV / AIDS is still here and we need to keep supporting those who are searching for that cure, we need to keep up the fundraising and we need to keep tackling the ignorance. What projects are you currently working on? I’m currently working on a series of six digital pieces that are focused on social media and sex. How people portray themselves on dating apps and the reality of it. ) To see some of Sid’s art, including this

year’s Drag Queen Christmas Cards, head to All profits from the Drag Queen Christmas Cards will be donated to LGBTQ+ mental health charity MindOut.

Scene 27



Criminalising LGBTQ+ people fuels the HIV pandemic

The journey and what’s next

) AIDS isn’t over. While the UK and other rich countries have made huge advances in preventing and treating HIV, in other parts of the world AIDS is still killing hundreds of thousands of people every year. Frontline AIDS is the world’s largest partnership of community organisations working to end AIDS, with offices in Brighton and Cape Town and partner organisations across more than 100 countries worldwide.

) With the introduction of the first lockdown, as a charity based around social activities for people living with HIV in the Brighton & Hove area, we were concerned what the impact would be on our service users. Lockdown meant that activities had to be cancelled. The only exception was our popular yoga sessions delivered by Alistair McCall, which moved online. This has now resumed at St George’s Church Crypt.

Our partners tell us every day that HIV is spiking among the communities with the least power – those who are stigmatised and marginalised just because of who they are; sex workers who risk arrest if caught with a condom, and who are not offered support after being sexually assaulted; people who use drugs, who can’t access clean injecting equipment because governments refuse to provide it; and we’re talking about gay, bi and trans people who can’t access condoms, lube, STI testing and treatment, safer sex information or HIV testing, because where they live, society considers them criminals.

One action prompted by our then chairman, Alan Spink, was to access repurposed laptops and tablets and donate these to service users who didn’t have access to the internet. We were aware of the impact of ‘internet poverty’ and how being in lockdown would increase the social isolation that some people experienced.


The usual swimming and bowling sessions, Bent Double comedy nights, and other events all had to be cancelled. Another casualty was a planned afternoon tea. Across the world, 71 countries criminalise private, consensual, same-sex sexual activity, sentences ranging from two years in prison to the death penalty. In these societies, LGBTQ+ people are frequently rejected by their families, kicked out of their homes, sacked from their jobs, denied education, discriminated against by health services, assaulted by the police, and ridiculed and attacked by people in their communities.

During the periods when the lockdown restrictions were eased, we resumed the bowling and swimming sessions whenever possible. Although the cost of our activities are heavily discounted for service users, the online yoga sessions were free of charge. It was considered important to be able to continue to provide a service and support our service users. The online attendance averaged 72 people per month.

We work on several levels to change this. Together with our partners, we campaign to change harmful laws and social norms, we train health workers to provide non-discriminatory services, and we offer safety and security training for LGBTQ+ activists in hostile environments to protect them against violence and abuse.

One big loss for the charity was the disappearance of our volunteers who used to help organise, run events, and collect payments. So when we relaunch our various activities, pre-payment online will be required. Despite advertising for new volunteers, we have only had two applications. Our chairman recently stepped down as a trustee, so we are actively recruiting for a new chairperson to head the charity. Other trustee positions for treasurer, marketing and digital resources are also vacant. If you are potentially interested in joining the Board, or know somebody else who may be, please contact for an informal discussion.

Our Rapid Response Fund offers help in urgent situations where LGBTQ+ people struggle to access HIV services because of stigma, discrimination and the threat of violence. Grants have been used to safely relocate LGBTQ+ people who have been released from prison following false charges for breaching Covid-19 regulations, and to provide crucial medical care for those who were injured or suffered lapses in medication in the process of arrest and detention. At Frontline AIDS we are proud to fight for the rights of all marginalised communities to access HIV and other health services so we can end AIDS for everyone, everywhere. Find out more and support our work by following us on social media @frontlineaids.

The loss of volunteers and trustees over the last 19 months has had a severe impact. Current trustees have done their best to keep the charity functioning. We have sadly decided that if there isn’t a new chairperson recruited by December this year then we will have no option but to formally close Peer Action. Of course we are hoping that this won’t be the case. D

28 Scene


) Brighton AIDS Memorial (BAM) provides

a space where loved ones lost to AIDS-related illness can be remembered through stories, anecdotes and photos to be sure they are never forgotten. On World AIDS Day (WAD), we huddle together in New Steine Gardens to ‘hear the voices of dead friends.’ Over 200 souls taken by the virus are remembered as their names are read, one after another. When I hear my friend Andrea’s name, memories crowd my thoughts, but what settles is the smiling face of the bright-eyed Brazilian florist who made me laugh every day. For me, it’s important that Andrea dances in my mind like the glitterball he once was before pneumocystis pneumonia choked the life from his lungs on an AIDS ward. My experience has fuelled a desire to free the memory of victims like Andrea and celebrate lost and previously unheard voices. I started BAM after being directly inspired by the AIDS Memorial on Instagram, which has become a global phenomenon with 186,000 followers. I felt that with each passing year Brighton & Hove stories were being lost, fading like photos left out in the sun. It concerned me that all that might be left of Andrea and others would be a list of forgotten names forever bound to the virus and death. The Brighton area was hit hard by AIDS, and due to the number of victims and their age, many likened the experience to being in a war. When I opened the Evening Argus or walked up St James’s St and saw GAY – GOT AIDS YET sprayed on a wall, it certainly felt like we were under attack and losing. But as writer and activist Neil Bartlett once reminded me, using war as a metaphor is dangerous because

it suggests an end. World War I stopped at 11am on 11 November 1918 with an armistice, but HIV, AIDS and the stigma that surrounds it continues to this day. My hope is that BAM will provide a space where local names can be reunited with their essence and our shared history pieced together. Despite the carnage the disease wrought on the city and the heroes it made, little remains, just ghosts, shadows and a few buildings turned into flats. As well as celebrating lives with a space where memories can spark and ignite like the sea of candles on WAD, the project also aims to join the fight against stigma by talking openly about the past and empowering those living with HIV. A steady stream of people have opened their hearts and shared deeply personal stories about those who died. These stories, alongside photos, orders of service, paintings, letters and books demonstrate a heartfelt need for the site from this community. What seems common and shared by all is a sense of cathartic release that has come through revisiting the trauma of the times with distance and a new lens. By sharing their stories, contributors seem to have experienced a sense of healing and hope, and as a result the WAD Partnership has invited me to help plan this year’s events. If you would like to add something to BAM, however small, email brightonaidsmemorial@ Take a look in those old shoe boxes under the bed, or the scrapbooks and photo albums in a cupboard and help me build this collection. It can be viewed on Instagram ‘BrightonAIDSMemorial’ and Queer Heritage South ( as one of the collections. My intention is to house any physical objects like letters, books and photographs at The Keep

( where they’ll be catalogued and made accessible for future generations. In this way lives lost to the disease will be remembered in perpetuity alongside the queer heroes and trailblazers, the organisations, photos, writing and ephemera.

Some exciting news… ) From November 24, BAM will be viewable in

an exhibition supported by Brighton Rainbow Fund and organised to coincide with WAD. Fifteen names and their stories will be displayed in two locations in the city. Ten will be shown in an exhibition open to the public at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church with refreshments provided by Lunch Positive from 10am-4pm every day excl Thursdays. The remaining five names and stories will be displayed in the windows of the Ledward Centre on Jubilee St to accompany the wonderful More to Me than HIV exhibition at Jubilee Library next door. “Love is life that lasts forever. My heart’s memory turns to you.”




Scene 29

Richard Jeneway was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 and lost his partner, David Jones, to the disease in 1999. He reflects on what has changed – and what has not


) I was recently invited to have my portrait taken for one of the many exhibitions that will mark World AIDS Day on December 1. I’ve asked for this photo to be taken in black & white and displayed with a small synopsis of who I am and my HIV status.

) When I was diagnosed with HIV in November 2011, it was one of the most terrifying and isolating experiences of my life. I was devastated, I felt my world crashing down around me and ultimately that I was going to die. I felt ‘dirty’ and ‘unclean’ – all of those stigmatising phrases that get used for people living with HIV.

This has brought me to reminisce about those first years I was diagnosed, my lifestyle before and after, and those friends and family who were lost along the way. It’s also led me to contemplate how different the world is today post-80s epidemic, particularly how it affects and has changed among the young and newly diagnosed – as well as what hasn’t changed. While I’m now very relaxed with my HIV status, as are many of the HIV+ people of all ages I know, I do understand that is not the same for everyone, for stigma remains, and whether that is real or perceived is irrelevant as it is a reality for those experiencing it. For example, I’ve a younger friend who’s a teacher and very worried about his status becoming public knowledge, so wouldn’t consider taking part in any event with HIV+ people in public because of perceived stigma from students and their parents. This smacks of the ‘90s to me and reminds me of when my goddaughter wrote a story in 1999 about her godfather, my partner, who died of an HIV-related cancer. At her school as a nine-year-old her friends were not allowed to mix with her and their parents were even more cruel to her and her parents. The consequence of that was she could not return to that school and now, as a 31-year-old mum, is very aware of stigma. This is one of the reasons social groups such as Lunch Positive continue to provide the vital support and bond that many need, even though today the newly diagnosed face a radically different reality to the one I did. Then, a diagnosis was seen as a death sentence and you could only look forward to a remaining life of hard medication and stigma, as opposed to the full, healthy, asymptomatic lifestyle modern treatment for the most part offers. Indeed, it is a reality beyond anything a medical profession would believe was possible back then when the media was hellbent on demonising an anti-Conservative emerging lifestyle and took every opportunity to make the public afraid of us or, worse, hate us. Nowadays, what I’ve gathered from those I’ve met and mentored is they live in a world where there is a substantial improvement to an all-out war on our LGBTQ+ communities and those with HIV especially. The public have grown to accept us for who we are as a whole, in the UK anyway, and understand that HIV was never realised as this worldending disease it was made out to be. The past lives with us in our present and I feel very optimistic for the future, but also believe it’s important we continue to remember those we loved and lost.

From diagnosis, activism, and sharing with others. By Matt Webster

“HIV isn’t a death sentence any more and people live with a near-normal life expectancy, but stigma still exists and this can be the most debilitating aspect of life with HIV” The miseducation and fear I’d been subject to growing up led to an intense self-stigma that affected me for years following my diagnosis. The fear that you’re slowly dying from the inside is something that’s hard to describe. HIV isn’t a death sentence any more and people live with a near-normal life expectancy, but stigma still exists and this can be the most debilitating aspect of life with HIV. Now, I’m truly at peace with my diagnosis. I understand the effects it had on me, I see the challenges people face with a new diagnosis. I’ve spent the past year talking openly about my experiences of coming out and being diagnosed with HIV and I’ve been challenging stigma around HIV through videos and social media via my Instagram @meandhiv. This has enabled me to support people across the world who are struggling with their own diagnosis and experiences.

“As a volunteer befriender I’ve been forming a friendship with someone who’s been recently diagnosed with HIV. It’s been another transformative experience in my life” Among the fantastic support I received from my doctors and other medical professionals, it was my friends that truly helped me to feel more comfortable, accepted and so much less isolated than I’d felt at the start. Having a supportive group of friends around me was the best thing I could have asked for – taking the time to learn and understand what living with HIV means. Recently, I’ve been volunteering with Lunch Positive and TogetherCo. I’ve come to see the true value in safe spaces for people living with HIV and the strength in the community. As a volunteer befriender I’ve been forming a friendship with someone who’s been recently diagnosed with HIV. It’s been another transformative experience in my life. Supporting someone who’s a little older has been fantastic, and brings about some similarities in how we’ve dealt with our diagnosis – having a community and having someone who understands is vital to overcoming your own self-stigma. Just as my friends supported me, I’m now able to provide that same support to others.

30 Scene


Catherine Muxworthy talks with the medical director of Saving Lives, a UK-based charity that was created “to fight stigma and raise awareness of HIV in non-clinical settings, where people’s minds can be changed” numbers of people who could have been diagnosed earlier were not. Over the years, Saving Lives’ work has changed alongside the advancement of the research in the field including the introduction of antiretroviral combination therapy in 1997 which “enabled us to tell patients honestly and straight-forwardly that an HIV diagnosis was not a death sentence or a tragedy”.


Dr Taylor also highlights the importance of undetectable equals untransmittable (U=U). “What this means, simply put, is that, if you’re living with HIV and are on medication, as long as your viral load (the level of virus in your blood) is undetectable you cannot pass the infection on to your sexual partners.

) Dr Steve Taylor is a consultant physician

in sexual health and HIV at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, an honorary senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, and the medical director of Saving Lives, a UKbased charity that was created “to fight stigma and raise awareness of HIV in non-clinical settings, where people’s minds can be changed”. At university and as a young doctor, Dr Taylor “saw first-hand what HIV could do – to my friends, to my patients, to communities”.

It was this experience that lead Dr Taylor into researching and specialising in the area of sexual health and HIV. He explains: “It simply seemed like an obvious path for me to follow; where I could make the biggest contribution, the most difference. By researching HIV and helping treat those who contracted the virus, I could do my bit in making things better.” Saving Lives began in a hospital as a campaign to help non-specialist doctors know when to offer an HIV test to patients. Very often, Steve explained assumptions were made about who needed testing, which meant significant

“The reason people die of HIV-related illnesses today is that they are diagnosed too late. Today’s medication is highly effective and can provide those living with HIV a near-to-normal life expectancy. People living with HIV can now take one pill a day and, as long as they are diagnosed early, can live a long and full life.” Dr Taylor believes that the reason people don’t get tested is simply because of the stigma, lack of education, and lack of awareness surrounding HIV. Both in his own practice and through Saving Lives, he hopes to campaign for the normalisation of testing, and he also believes that shows like It’s A Sin “can promote a better

When Saving Lives was approached by the Birmingham AIDS & HIV Memorial team for support “we didn’t hesitate. Saving Lives began in Birmingham, is still headquartered here, and still does a lot of its work in the city and region. We love this city and its vibrant communities, we’re part of them, and we wanted to help. “What’s so great about the Memorial is that it’s going to be big, and it’s going to be central. This means that the history it commemorates – the people it remembers – will be hugely visible to everyone in Birmingham. Given everything I’ve said about how, in its early days, HIV was an invisible illness, this is incredibly fitting – it’s a fantastic tribute to those we’ve lost. “Crucially, it’s an important reminder to those in Birmingham of the hundreds of people who died before there was effective treatment. We owe it to them to take advantage of the fact that there is now life-saving treatment available to those who are diagnosed early. The best way to honour the past is to get tested today.” Saving Lives has gone from advocating HIV testing to providing it themselves, through a postal service. “This is a great way to get tests to people who are reluctant to attend a clinic,” Dr Taylor says. As part of its contribution to World AIDS Day this year, Saving Lives is offering a free bloodborne virus testing kit (worth £79) to those who know they’ve put themselves at risk but have not tested recently. They can visit www. to order a free HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C testing kit using the code SCENE1 throughout the month of December. Listen to the Saving Lives podcast Sex Unwrapped to hear stories like that of Marcella: one of Dr Taylor’s first heterosexual patients, who recalls being treated like a leper by society in the early days. Marcella is still with us today and has recently felt able to come out as HIV positive. “Her story offers real hope.” D t @savinglivesuk SAVING LIVES AT BIRMINGHAM PRIDE 2021

Back in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Dr Taylor worked on Ward 29 of Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. “Back then our wards were full of young men and women who were dying, wasting away to nothing with tubes coming out of their chest. We knew at the time that for some people their immune system was so damaged we could do little except palliate and make them comfortable. Many of them were scared and often had no time to make peace with their misinformed and estranged families before they died. So many sons, brothers, and friends had their lives cut short.”

“There are people still dying of HIV/AIDS but not because we don’t have effective treatments. They are dying because they haven’t or won’t be tested, they won’t accept that it can happen to their communities, to heterosexuals, or to those who believe that God will protect them. All around the world millions of dead contest to those beliefs.

understanding on every level – and that will save lives”.

Scene 31

“Sadly, many of the HIV positive people we support report mental distress or mental illnesses. In some cases this is the primary reason for support, and for others it is a secondary impact of coping with stigma or HIV”

Involving and supporting service users ) This World AIDS Day, together we can

remember those we’ve lost and how far we’ve come since the early days of the epidemic. Together we can join in solidarity with people living with HIV today, and transform the future for everyone by ending HIV transmissions. Every week 80 people in the UK receive a life-changing HIV diagnosis and many people living with HIV continue to experience poor mental health, stigma and discrimination. Despite medical advancements which mean that people living with HIV who are on effective treatment can’t pass it on and can expect to live just as long as anyone else, stigma and misconceptions about the virus continue to halt progress and impact many people living with HIV. It has been over 1,000 days since the UK government committed to ending new cases of HIV by 2030 – an ambition that can only be made a reality by expanding HIV testing, increasing funding for HIV prevention, and establishing new national programmes and campaigns. Crucially, we must also strengthen support for people living with HIV to thrive, and end the stigma they face. People living with HIV are twice as likely to experience poor mental health – HIV-related stigma is a huge factor in that. Brighton & Hove can be a leading example to the rest of England in efforts to meet the national target of ending new cases of HIV by 2030. The inspiring work taking place in Brighton & Hove demonstrates the benefits of a person-centred approach to HIV services. In 2017, Brighton became the first city in the UK to join the Fast-Track Cities initiative, a group of cities from across the world that has pledged to work towards zero new HIV infections. The city has earned its reputation of being a world leader in HIV prevention and treatment by exceeding the initiative’s target of 90-90-

90. Ninety-three per cent of people living with HIV know their status, 99% of those are on treatment and 98% of those on treatment are undetectable, which means levels of virus in the blood are so low that they can’t pass it on.

The work in Brighton & Hove is shaping the overall approach to involvement – this is appropriate given the significant history of the charity in Brighton. The UK-wide Positive Voices programme, where people living with HIV share their stories to challenge stigma and discrimination, started in Brighton. It now has 28 speakers delivering over 130 talks a year – and as of this year is entirely community-led by HIV+ people.

Terrence Higgins Trust’s (THT) Brighton & Hove service has actively embraced new ways of working by listening to what people are saying and then responding to their voices with action. Why? To better respond to needs in rapidly changing contexts and to create opportunities for people to share their skills and experiences to design services that better meet people’s HIV and sexual health needs. Marc Tweed, centre manager for THT Brighton & Hove, says: “Our involvement work recognises that everyone has something to give, and that people are passionate about helping to shape the future of the charity. Brighton & Hove services have always been very receptive to involving people. “As we reach World AIDS Day 2021, over 250 people have given over 2,000 hours of their time to shape how the charity works and what it does. Much of this work has happened in Brighton & Hove. We went back to basics really, bringing service users in early, rather than designing a service and then going out and trying to get people to validate it.” Over recent months the charity has been asking people living with HIV what matters to them as they grow older to help us refresh local and national services for people aged 50+ and living with HIV. Over 50 local people took part in our interviews, focus groups and survey, which will inform our strategy for supporting people to live well with HIV as they age. Sadly, many of the HIV positive people we support report mental distress or mental illnesses. In some cases this is the primary reason for support, and for others it is a secondary impact of coping with stigma or HIV.

Florence Obadeyi has been sharing her story through Positive Voices for over three years. She has spoken in schools, colleges and workplaces and to NHS audiences. “For me, the biggest value of Positive Voices is the ability to talk to young people about HIV. Positive Voices uses unique opportunities to share people’s personal stories and experiences of HIV to break HIV stigma and promote healthy sex education. “By talking to young people from these communities, they then go home and share the message with their parents, who go on to share it with their peers in their community. It helps to stop stigma now, but it also means we are stopping a generation from experiencing HIV stigma in the future.” D To find out more about THT Brighton &Hove, visit:

32 Scene

Innovation and collaboration in HIV ) Brighton & Hove became an HIV Fast

Track City in August 2017 with the aim of reaching zero HIV transmission by the year 2030. We intend to achieve this by scaling up HIV prevention initiatives, increased HIV testing, keeping people living with HIV engaged with care, and tackling negative attitudes and behaviours towards HIV. We are making excellent progress thanks to integrated working across the city and effective commissioning for the last 20 years. At present 94% of people living with HIV in Brighton & Hove know their status; 99% of those are on treatment with 98.5% of those have undetectable viral load. The Martin Fisher Foundation was founded in 2015 to take forward the work of Professor Martin Fisher, an inspirational leader and an outstanding physician. The charity has led on digital innovations in HIV testing with the development of a worldfirst touch-screen vending machine distributing free HIV self-tests. A further four machines were rolled out to venues around Kemptown. User feedback was positive but suggested STI testing kits would be a useful addition. During the Covid-19 pandemic, when venues were closed and sexual health services limited, the machines were upgraded to include STI kits. These machines are now installed across the city in Jubilee Library; Portland Road, Hove (between Wish Park Surgery and Kamson Pharmacy); the Wellsbourne Centre in Whitehawk; the Brighton Sauna; and the Black & Minority Ethnic Community Partnership Centre in Fleet Street. An HIV self-test machine dispensing free HIV tests remains in Prowler, Kemptown. It is hoped the presence of the vending machines in prominent locations will normalise HIV testing and reduce stigma. We asked users of the first machine to give us feedback: “I think this is genius and am so impressed. My friend has HIV and his family

disowned him for it. Thank goodness times are changing and people understand that there is nothing wrong with being in very close contact with someone with HIV. It’s charities like yours that are changing things for the better. Hopefully in the future no one else will have the same problems with family as he has had. I want to say a huge thank you to you for all you do and also for my test too.” “I can’t really think of any disadvantages. You take it home and you just test don’t you. Because it’s quicker for one thing, rather than to go to the clinic, I would just come here.” These machines have now been installed in Zambia (in collaboration with the Centre of Infectious Diseases in Zambia), in New Zealand and Japan. HIV prevention continues to be developed and expanded. While condoms, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and behavioural changes remain important, more recent strategies linked to effective HIV treatment have led to rapidly falling rates of new infections over the last six years. ‘Treatment as prevention’ (where people living with HIV are promptly started on effective treatment and are unable to pass the virus on) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) have been central. PrEP has been available through the NHS since October 2020, one of our aims was to reliably deliver the medication to people who need it, while enabling them to maximise their adherence and overall sexual health. PrEP EmERGE is a digital mobile health app (mHealth) launched in May 2021, designed to support people using PrEP and co-designed by community and clinicians in Brighton, including Terrence Higgins Trust, the Martin Fisher Foundation, University of Brighton and University Hospitals Sussex NHS Trust. The app aims to support people using PrEP by providing them access to their results,

medication reminders to support adherence, vaccination history, details of appointments and a messaging system which allows direct communication from the clinic directly to the end-user. The app supports a reduction in necessary clinic appointments by providing a virtual pathway. People say: “I like being able to see my latest test results and vaccination status. Not having to go to the clinic to do a check-up”, “Seeing my test results and appointments in detail. Access to FAQs which answer pretty much every question I could have about PrEP”, “Lets me take responsibility of my own PrEP journey”. We have been working alongside clinical, voluntary, academic and community partners to deliver innovations and interventions to reduce HIV stigma in healthcare settings and across the city as a whole. This includes education programmes for healthcare professional groups and public awareness campaigns. The Martin Fisher Foundation Bus travels through Brighton and beyond every day with words ‘HIV isn’t scary anymore’ and ‘Towards Zero HIV’. The bus has 15 information panels inside which travellers can read and digest during their journeys. One of only a handful of HIV-themed public information buses in the world, the bus was co-designed with people living with HIV, encouraging people to have an HIV test and get treatment if they need it, while tackling some of the myths and stigma that still surround HIV. A number of ongoing studies by researchers and clinicians in Brighton are aiming to better understand ways of tackling HIV stigma, and as a community we are ready to implement evidence-based recommendations. Community and stakeholder engagement has been central to shaping our action plans for increasing public awareness of HIV.


D For more info, visit:

Scene 33

LONG-TERM SURVIVOR Living with HIV from death to life. By Stephen Wrench ) “Yes, but you didn’t die.” It’s a familiar response when I try to explain what it is to be a longterm survivor of HIV and AIDS. I’ve yet to find an effective reply to this: to explain, particularly to people who weren’t there and can’t know, what it was like back then, a time that’s with me, mentally and physically, every day. I was an indestructible young man of 32 when I was diagnosed with HIV, riding high in my career as a journalist, living the life of a gay man out and about, taking every care – or so I thought – to protect myself. It turned out not to be enough and I have only myself to blame for that. “Even if it’s five years,” my best friend said on the line from New York that night in 1993 when I was diagnosed, “even five years wouldn’t be enough.” “I’ll live until I’m 40,” I’d say. No one would quite meet my eye. Because everyone knew that very few survived the eight years that that would require. My friend in New York had friends dying around him. In London, there was always news of someone else diagnosed, someone else dying. I almost died of PCP, a bacterial pneumonia that killed so many at the start of the HIV pandemic. I emerged from hospital frail and a little broken, no longer indestructible. But thankfully, a year later, what seemed, and still does seem like, the miracle of the right antiretrovirals saved my life. So I’m still here, way beyond my target age of 40. Now at 61 I’m a long-term survivor, defined as being diagnosed with HIV before 1996, on what I call “the other side”, a time when there were no effective drugs to treat us, when we were all certain to die unpleasantly and soon. But there are costs to this survival. There are the side effects of both medication and HIV itself, usually with long names: peripheral neuropathy, causing constant pins and needles in hands and feet; lipodystrophy, which means I’m a really weird shape; and pancreatic insufficiency, which requires a handful of pills to digest food. I feel guilty having written that. Why am I alive and not so many others? Talented, beautiful men who died horrible deaths? What about the fellow patient, always cheery whatever was happening – chest shunt, brain shunt, the works – who one week wasn’t in his usual seat at the clinic? And then there’s … and … and … I sometimes think I could fill Brighton seafront with the dead. My friendships with other long-term survivors take all of this experience for granted. There is room for conversation about lovers lost and side effects gained, for tears and laughter. So yes, I didn’t die. But in so many other ways I did.

HIV SERVICES DURING COVID: THE EXPERIENCE OF TWO TEAMS The Community Specialist Service ) This service delivers care to the most vulnerable and complex HIV patients here in Brighton & Hove and West Sussex. These are a group who often struggle to engage with services, and have many psychological and sociological issues to deal with. When Covid first hit hard and during the first lockdown, 75% of the nursing workforce was redeployed, leaving a depleted team, forcing those left behind to work in a different way. Prioritising workload became crucial and significantly reducing face-to-face visits and increasing virtual working was introduced. Over the past year the team has built back its capacity, ensuring highquality care is delivered to this complex and vulnerable group of patients in their homes. Covid has taken its toll and staff are tired and exhausted. This last year has also left its mark on our patients and we have seen an increase in mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems and deterioration in physical health. In terms of future approaches when dealing with patients with complex issues, virtual working cannot replace face-to-face visits, and the benefits and advantages of seeing our patients cannot be overstated. We gain so much more from a face-to-face visit as opposed to a phone call. Often our patients are isolated and lonely and we cannot underestimate the importance of human contact. Patients have described their community HIV specialist nurses as ‘lifelines’ throughout the pandemic.

The Lawson Unit ) In March 2020, the majority of staff in the Lawson Unit were redeployed to inpatient areas to support the Covid response at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals. We were able to keep a core team in the Lawson Unit to deliver essential care to people living with HIV. We had two main goals during the initial and subsequent lockdowns – first, to ensure people with HIV had uninterrupted access to antiretroviral therapy and second, to be available for patients who needed urgent blood tests or who had pressing HIV medical problems. This meant that many face-to-face visits were replaced with telephone appointments and all joint/specialist clinics were postponed. We were concerned by the mixed messages that people with HIV were receiving about shielding and worked with national organisations to ensure the correct information was communicated where this was possible. Feedback from patients who contacted the clinic for advice on Covid was very positive. As a clinical team, we worked closely with our local NHS and voluntary sector partners to provide additional support for patients who were particularly vulnerable during Covid. The whole experience has taught us how quickly we can adapt services in a crisis. It has equally reinforced the need for the clinic to provide a menu of services, including face-to-face appointments alongside virtual options such as telephone, email and apps to respond to patients’ individual needs.

34 Scene


The Brighton Sauna is back and thriving! Jason Reid ‘investigates’ ) Saunas are embedded in gay culture and

history, going back many decades. Personally speaking, they’ve been part of my gay journey and many people I know, and I’m of the strong belief that our scene would be a much poorer place without them. I would also go so far as to say a less safe place. The decline of the gay sauna across the country over the past decade was bad enough, but when Covid struck and we were in the terrifying grip of a virus that knocked our collective sense of being for six, it seemed – for quite some time – that saunas would never open again. Thankfully, as the saying goes, this too shall pass and, although some saunas did sadly fall due to Covid, others like the Brighton Sauna have come back fighting.

“We’re a proud community-based sauna and want to continue that into the future – engaging with the community and vice versa” I went along to check out how they’re doing and get a feel of the vibe and facilities on a blustery Sunday, Naked Day, which is dubbed the alternative Sunday roast. Upon entering the venue, I was met with super-friendly staff – a credit to any employer – and dozens of men relaxing in the lounge area. There was a buzz of chatter over drinks being poured, which instantly made me think this was a place that made people feel at ease, even with their knobs out. A selection of drinks are available, both soft and hard variety, and there’s even a hot and cold food menu. The lounge area is comfortable, open plan with ample space to relax, plus a TV and internet. Also on the ground floor there’s a cinema room showing porn.

Some of the extra touches that make this sauna special are the discreet alternative rear entrance, community focused approach, and on-site HIV and STI testing. Gillian Dean, HIV consultant at the Lawson Unit, has been working closely with the sauna. “The idea of creating a ‘smart’ vending machine followed conversations with the sauna’s owner in 2016, who felt that some service users weren’t engaging with existing testing opportunities, and would prefer a more anonymous way of obtaining an HIV test. The compact machines are wall mounted or supported on a sturdy stand, touch screen and involve the user providing anonymous epidemiological information, before being provided with a code on their phone which releases a test. Initially they were designed to provide HIV self-tests, but in response to user feedback and the coronavirus pandemic, were upgraded in 2020 into full sexual health machines dispensing both STI kits and HIV tests. We are immensely proud of this initiative, which wouldn’t have been possible without the involvement and support of the community, and the Brighton Sauna in particular.” It’s heartening to see such a socially conscious approach being adopted by a gay sauna. On the lower ground floor there’s a wealth of facilities including secure lockers, plenty of showers, a spacious sauna with an added dark area, a clean and constantly warm steam room, orgy bed with TV, dozens of private rooms, two slings, glory holes over two sections (one in a dark room), and a jacuzzi. Massage is also available, and day and weekend passes – meaning customers can come and go as they please during the specified time.

The Brighton Sauna feels safe – that’s an incredibly important factor when visiting a sauna – and I could tell it’s run by people who have the best interests of their clientele at heart. I sat down with owner Paul Gray to find out more about the evolution of the business, the impact of Covid and what the future holds… How long has the sauna been open, when did you take over, and how has it been going? The sauna has been running since 2009. I took over in 2013. Since then we’ve been constantly renovating. Why all the renovating? Because it was looking old and tired, and we want to keep bringing the sauna right up to date. Not only cosmetically; we also replaced most of the electrics and plumbing, and there’s now all new heating systems. A constant work in progress? It is. We’re getting to roughly where we want to be now. Within the next two years we’re going to be installing a custom-built Jacuzzi downstairs. And that should be just about it, for a few years. I think if you do not update your business, people will simply go elsewhere. People want to see a funky, clean and tidy sauna. That’s what I think our customers expect. We don’t leave anything broken for more than a day, and that’s the way it should be. The pandemic must’ve been devastating for you? Horrible – that’s the only word for it. We didn’t know if we’d reopen again. Not because of the financial hit; it was more to do with what the government was doing. Because they grouped us – saunas and sex entertainment venues – in with nightclubs. They could’ve very well turned round and said you’re not opening again. So we left the refit until the last four months before we reopened. It was all a bit of a rush. We were lucky, we survived it, and we’ve had great

feedback from customers since reopening. But now we’ve got loads of added pressures as a result of Covid, as in building insurance – our insurance pre-Covid was £1,800, now it’s £9,000. A lot of saunas haven’t been able to get any insurance at all. The insurers now want all the money upfront. There’s no payments over time. And that’s all down to Covid? Yes. There’s just two insurers. We’ve been absolutely screwed as gay businesses. What Covid safety measures are in place? We’ve massively increased ventilation throughout the building. There’s now ventilation on the top floor, and on the ground floor. The air is exchanged very rapidly now. We’ve also put in measures to protect our staff. Of course, we are limited in what we can do in these old buildings. Every one of us has to take responsibility. Over the past decade or so gay saunas have been closing down at an alarming rate. What does it take to run a successful, long-lasting gay sauna? Look after your customer base. They’re the ones who are going to come in week in, week out. You’re never going to please everyone. But you can always aim to please the majority of customers. If you keep updating and making the venue look new, it gives people confidence to use your business. If the sauna is fresh, clean,

and the hospitality is top-notch, customers will be happy. We are probably 20-25% up on customers compared to pre-lockdown. It’s a really good story. I’m not saying it’s levelled out there, but I’m hoping it will. We’ve relaunched the kitchen with new food. The lounge area is completely revamped. Where we had seating for nine people before, we can now fit up to 30 people in the lounge. The downstairs sauna was overhauled. Any issues there were have now been addressed. All the showers are now infrared. Providing customers with a safe and warm environment, and having good, friendly staff is paramount.

Saunas are safe spaces for many. What would you say to those hesitant about using them? There is a grey area with some people who are in two minds about using saunas. That’s why we’ve tried to make ours not just a sauna experience – people can come in and have a drink, some food, meet other people. Dip your toe in as deep as you want to go. You’ll find it to be a clean, friendly, safe environment. Being in the sauna is safer than going cruising in the bushes. The Brighton Sauna is also the first in the world to install an HIV self-testing machine, in conjunction with the Martin Fisher Foundation. We took a pragmatic approach, and I approached the hospital – the Lawson Unit – and we decided to work together. You strike me as very community minded – it’s not just all about business. I’d like to think so. I was a doorman in Brighton for many years. Hopefully I’ve picked it up from doing that. Also, my business is based in the community – the two are intertwined. We’re hoping to do more community-based fundraising with Chris Gull (Scene magazine MD) and the Ledward Centre. Should all gay saunas be engaging with the community in this way? Absolutely! It’s common sense. People from the local community are your core customer base. You have to engage with them. People also travel to come to saunas; we have new people come in every single day. But we have our hardcore costumers who turn up week in, week out and put money in our till. They are the ones that, hopefully, we’re getting it right for. We didn’t have too many bad results before the refit, but you can always go bigger and better. But we work with a limited budget. What does the future hold? We will be here for a long time to come. We’re a proud community-based sauna and want to continue that into the future – engaging with the community and vice versa, it’s a two way street, coupled with hopefully a lot more fundraising for the LGBTQ+ community. D

36 Scene “I’d been adopted at seven weeks old and my adoptive mother had schizophrenia, so my childhood was really hectic. There were lots of times when she was very high and lots of times when she was extremely low. I experienced a lot of things as I child and I was told ‘do not tell anybody’, so I never did. “But I realised I had to tell someone and by writing it down I felt I wasn’t betraying anybody because it was just for me. Then I showed it to my new agent who told me: ‘You need to do something with this, it’s so powerful it’s so emotional, it’s so important’.” Stephen took the one-man show that his life story became, Shadowed Dreamer, to New York in the hope he might get a three-month run out of it.” It was far enough away that if it all fell flat on its face it wouldn’t affect my career over here,” he says. “It was also far enough away that I could talk about what had happened to me and that I was living with HIV and not have those same fears I had here.”


Stephen Hart is a gay actor, YouTuber, and presenter on Radio Reverb’s HIV Hour who managed to turn a harrowing event into an inspirational story for others. He shares his journey with Jaq Bayles ) Stephen Hart has been living with HIV

since 2006 after being drugged and raped. While he says it felt like the end of the world for two years, he eventually managed to write his story, which later became a one-man show, Shadowed Dreamer, which ran in New York for nine months, closing off Broadway in 2010. As a London-based actor for some 20 years, Stephen had “some really great jobs”, but after the rape his life changed. “It was massive,” he says, “because I remembered so little, which in some respects was a benefit but then in other respects was very confusing, because you feel when you’ve gone through something like that you should remember. It was hard to get my head around. Six months later I was diagnosed with HIV so everything I’d known, everything I’d been working for as an actor, it all just came crumbling down because, even though it was 2006, there still weren’t a lot of people who were talking openly about [HIV], especially in the entertainment industry, so I kind of closed down for about two years.” Stephen got a job as a theatre front-ofhouse supervisor, which, while still being in the industry he loved, was very different to acting. “I just didn’t see a place for me as a person living with HIV and as an actor. I

told a few close friends [about the diagnosis] and my agent told me that nobody with HIV would ever have a lead role in the West End or on Broadway, and that kind of stayed with me.

“My agent told me that nobody with HIV would ever have a lead role in the West End or on Broadway, and that kind of stayed with me” “It’s crazy – it was only 15 years ago but in the acting game it was hard to get people to understand that it wasn’t a death sentence, because that was how people looked at it still, so I started looking at it that way myself. “I’d grown up as a gay man and I knew some things about HIV – I remember when Freddie Mercury died, I remember when Rock Hudson died, I remember the tombstone ad and all those kind of things – but I still wasn’t as educated as I needed to be. It took me two years of watching YouTube and trying to find somebody like me, listening to a lot of Whitney Houston and just being really sad.” But then Stephen started writing his story, which was a breakthrough in itself as he had been brought up in a household where secrecy was insisted upon.

“I’d grown up as a gay man and I knew some things about HIV – I remember when Freddie Mercury died, I remember when Rock Hudson died, I remember the tombstone ad and all those kind of things – but I still wasn’t as educated as I needed to be” Ultimately the show ran for nine months and closed off Broadway, becoming the springboard for the next phase in Stephen’s life. “It was amazing because it opened the door to so many other people to tell me their stories. I’d get back to my New York apartment at night after the show and there were so many emails from people telling me their stories, so it became this vehicle for other people to be able to talk.” By now it was 2010 and after returning to London it took a couple of years for Stephen to decide that YouTube would be the best medium to both continue to tell his story and help other people to tell theirs – and so Hart Talks was born, running every other Thursday, with guests from all walks of life sharing their experiences. The interview format for that caught the eye of a producer for the HIV Hour on Radio Reverb and led to Stephen becoming a permanent fixture on the show. He’s now also working on a play with another writer, and hoping to begin casting later this year. “I’ve learnt over my 49 years that the more you know about people and their lives the less scary it is and that really is why I’m doing it. For two years I didn’t know if I still should be here, I felt that sad and miserable and alone. I now try to make sure nobody ever feels that way if I can help it.” D

Scene 37

help came from charities – the Sussex Beacon gave him nursing care, support and a cosy room to stay in, while various offices sorted accommodation for him, and they still offer periods of respite stay, should he want it. My friend has HIV-related dementia, he needed, and needs routine and a community, a safe place to go, where he can eat a hot meal and feel supported. And we really couldn’t have dreamed Lunch Positive up. Charities such as this fill a much-needed gap in the council-run social system. Those with HIV still experience stigma, prejudice and fear. They are still dealing with grief, loss and ongoing health conditions. The world threw medication at it and the problem went away. But for those in the middle of it, it is a very immediate and real part of their lives.


Two women who work with Lunch Positive explain why they are so inspired to be involved with the charity Michele Allardyce, kitchen volunteer

vigils and AIDS/HIV fundraisers over the years was important to show support, especially in the early days when there was so much homophobia and stigma around AIDS. Now I’m very happy to be able to carry that connection on by volunteering at Lunch Positive.

) I heard about Lunch Positive’s Friday lunch

club for people living with or affected by HIV via Gscene (where I worked at the time). I’d been looking for a volunteering opportunity in the LGBTQ+ community and I love cooking, so it was a perfect match. Preparing and sharing meals together is fun and rewarding – you really feel part of a community. I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones. When the weekly lunch club was suspended during the first lockdown, my partner Frances and I made huge batches of vegetarian meals every week for home delivery. Giving your time to do something practical like that to help people out is very satisfying.

Helena Oele, session worker

“I looked at my friend and saw how safe and comfortable he was [at Lunch Positive], saw those I had chatted with and heard their stories”

) I guess some people volunteer for a sense of

social consciousness, sense of belonging, sense of purpose, sense of community, an opportunity to use one’s skills. Including me, I volunteered for all of those reasons, only it’s not how it started and I didn’t know that until I was in it. HELENA


I have a dear friend who became gravely ill due to HIV at a time past the ‘80s, past the ‘90s, when everyone thought it had just gone away. He was so ill that doctors didn’t really believe it, some doctors were too young to have ever seen it, and it took 18 months to get him the support and care he needed. Part of that

As I navigated the system to find my friend the support he needed, I became increasingly aware of the amazing work people do. Once my friend was settled, I met him at Lunch Positive, work allowing, for lunch most Fridays. On the tenth anniversary of Lunch Positive I looked around me and remembered every Friday, looked at my friend and saw how safe and comfortable he was there, saw those I had chatted with and heard their stories. I remembered other friends not in Brighton, still negotiating medication, grief and stigma. So, with a sense of social consciousness, instilled in me by my mother; a sense of belonging, as I negotiated my own grief and loss; a sense of purpose, to support my friend and the great work that Lunch Positive does; a sense of community, as I looked around me and felt a part of something, and an opportunity to use my skills, I asked if I could volunteer. D For more info on Lunch Positive, visit: MICHELE (L) AND PARTNER FRANCES (R) SERVE VEGGIE SHEPHERD'S PIE

There are quite a few lunch club volunteers and members who’ve lived in Brighton as long as me and I love that connection of a shared history. I first became aware of AIDS/HIV as a student in the early ‘80s when I worked at Sherry’s Laser Disco (later The Pink Coconut, Paradox etc). On Sunday night London gay club, Bolts, came to town and photo journalist Bill Short, who was involved with Brighton Bolts, would leave me a pile of Gay News to sell from my cloakroom hatch. That was where I read the first reports of a ‘gay plague’ from the US that had started to take hold in London. At this time it was the friendships with older and worldly wise gay men who took me under their wing when I was young and unsure of everything around sexuality and gender, that helped me along my path. Their friendship meant a lot to me, so going along to World AIDS Day marches, remembrance

As government budget cuts continue to squeeze the services that the NHS and social care can provide, people start and build on charities, to provide ever more needed services for our communities.

38 Scene

Dowsett), began medically transitioning four years ago at 35, after grappling with dysphoria since childhood: “I knew at six I wanted to be a boy but didn’t have the vocabulary for it or understand why I felt that way. I didn’t realise until I was 34 that the feeling and dysphoria I’ve had all my life was because I was transgender. That was a scary realisation but also a relief. I’d referred myself to the NHS Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) at the same time as contacting Gendercare in 2018. It’s now been three years since I’ve been on testosterone and I still have yet to have a first appointment with the London NHS GIC.”


Sharing their experiences with Rachel Badham, three selfidentifying trans men explain how inadequate healthcare and a lack of access to gender-affirming treatments and surgery has affected their daily lives and mental wellbeing, and why the government needs to prioritise the needs of the trans community now ) As of October 2020, the UK has had no

clinics and the lack of surgeons able to perform gender-affirming operations, means trans men and non-binary people are having to grapple with gender dysphoria without access to testosterone and transitional surgery.

surgical facility able to perform phalloplasty and metoidioplasty operations, leaving many trans men and non-binary unable to access this form of gender-affirming care. Those who were on the waiting list for surgery, or have already had the first stage of the surgery, have been left suffering both mentally and physically, with many seeking alternative options overseas.

Endeavour (he/him, YouTube: Endeavour

According to Stonewall, more than 50% of trans people reported they have been told by their GP that they don’t know enough about trans-related care to provide it, while a report from GenderGP found that some trans people have been waiting for around three years for an initial appointment with a specialist gender clinic. The insufficient number of professionals who have been provided with adequate training on trans healthcare, coupled with overstretched


Chay Brown, director of TransActual, confirmed that the contract for St Peter’s Andrology Centre – the only UK location able to provide phalloplasty and metoidioplasty – was discontinued at an unknown point between October 2020 and April 2021, with patients only being made aware of this in May. Although the NHS has now confirmed that it is in the process of securing alternative providers of this lifesaving surgery, thousands of trans people across the UK are still struggling to access any form of gender-affirming healthcare.

Because of the long waiting times, Endeavour decided to get top surgery privately and was able to do so with the help of GoFundMe. However, he is now struggling to get a hysterectomy, which he is in need of due to extreme cramping pains from testosterone: “My GP has been fantastic in referring me to gynaecologists for a hysterectomy but the gynaecologists are refusing without referrals from the NHS GIC and I’ve yet to see them! Essentially I’m at a dead end and the pain I’m in is not taken seriously enough. Both gynaecologists I’ve seen have not been good experiences either. Either knowledge is poor or they think I’m making it up. I contacted the NHS GIC for advice for them to refuse to engage with me as I’m under private care and yet to be seen by them. I cannot go further privately and the NHS is ignoring what is a problem for many trans men/non-binary people on testosterone who have sought medical care elsewhere to get on hormones.”


Healthcare professionals need to receive sufficient education on trans-related care.” Soph (he/they/she), a trans non-binary person, is hoping to begin medically transitioning, but has been on the GIC waiting list for nearly two years: “I’ve known for years that I didn’t fit as a woman, but wasn’t able to put a name on how I was feeling until a good friend of mine came out as trans about three years ago. I came out about a year after them and haven’t been able to start medically transitioning yet. I was referred to the GIC back in January 2020 so I’ve been waiting nearly two years (about 21 months).” Soph has found that their depression has worsened due to healthcare barriers, and finds it “shocking” that there is only one GIC in the South East and London:

“As someone who works as an NHS student nurse, I know that NHS funding is limited. But the way trans people like me are treated has been quite a shock” Ethan (he/him), a 20-year-old trans man, began hormone treatment just over a year ago, which has helped to alleviate his gender dysphoria, but has been unable to afford top surgery: “As someone who works as an NHS student nurse, I know that NHS funding is limited. But the way trans people like me are treated has been quite a shock. I’ve still been waiting for one single appointment after years, so I’ve lost any hope of being able to access surgery via the NHS. I have had to rely on friends/family/ strangers who have supported me financially via GoFundMe to continue education and get the medical care I need and pay for my prescriptions.” As a result of being “let down massively” by the current healthcare system, Ethan is planning to go abroad to access surgery: “I am currently funding my top surgery, which I will be forced to go abroad for. Even private waiting lists are going up or just far too expensive for anyone to afford. No young person should be worried about if they’ll be able to continue their education or living costs because of healthcare

and prescription costs. Additionally, wearing my binder every day has caused immense back pain and my blood levels aren’t being checked as often as they should due to my GP feeling he has inadequate knowledge of trans healthcare.

Sources: The Waiting List for NHS Gender Identity Clinics: Patients’ Experiences, GenderGP, February 18, 2020 ETHAN

He believes the government urgently needs to address the “unacceptable” trans healthcare crisis, adding: “There should be better support in private/NHS shared care. It’s often frowned upon if you seek private healthcare if you’re trans but in other areas of medicine, it’s better accepted.” After many years of struggling, he attributed gender-affirming healthcare to preventing his mental health from reaching “rock bottom”, and described it as life-saving.

“I was diagnosed with depression about five years ago, which I realise now is due to being trans and how I’ve been feeling about my body. The waiting list time hasn’t helped and it doesn’t give me much hope for the future. I was referred at 25 and probably won’t be able to start transitioning until after I’m 30, which is very depressing indeed.”

40 Scene

) Macy Gray released her first album On

How Life Is in 1999. The lead single, I Try, became one of those smash hit records almost everyone on the planet can sing along to. Very few artists have broken through with quite the same level of impact. Undone and The Disco Song are Macy’s latest singles, and they’re as good as anything she recorded in her imperial phase. She’s currently recording with R&B/funk collective, California Jet Club. We caught up with Macy to discuss her new tracks, working with Frankie Grande, travel and more.

“I advertise being yourself, being honest and saying what you feel, no matter what anybody says. And no one embodies that more than the LGBT+ community” What’s the inspiration behind the song Undone? “To me it’s so appropriate for everybody’s life; it’s about stripping it down and taking the time to discover who you are. It’s also about what love can do to you, how it can bring you to nothing and make you do things you never thought you’d do.” The video really brings that to life. It stars Frankie Grande in drag, tearing it up in his inimitable way. You worked with Ariana Grande before, is that how you came to work with Frankie Grande? “No, I was already following him. All through lockdown he was posting videos of him singing in the bathroom. He would always be topless and he’d have on all this makeup. He’d be doing these Broadway songs – things you do when you think you’re alone, but he’d be doing them on social media. I thought this dude is wild. When we got the idea for the video I decided to call him. He’s very expressive, very epic; he’s a fun guy with huge energy. Frankie is really passionate about everything he does so he was perfect for it.” Was it his idea to do it in drag? “No, that was my idea. There’s a quick shot of him with tape over his balls – that was his idea! We wanted to go quite full on with some other stuff but he said ‘no, I don’t want to do that.’ He didn’t know how the LGBTQ+ community would take it.”


Alex Klineberg catches up with R&B/soul legend Macy Gray to discuss her new tracks, working with Frankie Grande and her LGBTQ+ fans

Do you feel an affinity with your LGBTQ+ fans? “I think so because through my music I advertise being yourself, being honest and saying what you feel, no matter what anybody says. And no one embodies that more than the LGBTQ+ community. To be honest about something that’s still taboo but to still come out and be who you are. Some people live in countries where it’s still illegal. I think that’s where the connection is.” The Disco Song presents quite a contrast to

Undone. “Disco is the best music. It’s a recipe of many styles mixed into one and it puts people on the dancefloor. It’s the one genre of music that’s survived. It transformed into dance music. I’ve always loved that style of music and those old Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer records with the big orchestration – it’s the most amazing sound. We wanted some disco on the record and we kept calling it the disco song: that’s where the name came from. We didn’t write the lyrics until the last day we were in the studio.” Macy has one of the most distinctive voices in modern pop. How did she develop her singing style? “The tone was always there. There’s also alcohol and lots of weed! I still have a vocal coach, Roger Burnely. And of course touring – nothing is better for your voice than touring, if you do it right. You’re practising every day for two hours. It’s like anything else, the more you do it the better you get. As I get older it’s developed more; it’s definitely more seasoned than it used to be. I can control it better than I used to.” The music industry is notoriously tough. Is it difficult to sustain a music career longterm? “It is because it changes almost everyday. The way we hear music has changed dramatically. There are CD buyers out there but mostly everyone streams. Radio is a lot less important than it was. People have different ways of listening to music. You can programme your own radio station and only hear what you want to hear. The styles of music have changed too: hip hop has changed, pop has changed and rock & roll has changed. To survive all that and pop up 20 years later is an accomplishment, I think.”

“The styles of music have changed too: hip hop has changed, pop has changed and rock & roll has changed. To survive all that and pop up 20 years later is an accomplishment, I think” Were you shocked by the scale of success you had with your first album? “Yes, I was, I wasn’t expecting that. I remember in my first week I sold 8,992 records. I was jumping on my bed; I thought I’d made it because I’d never sold records before. I was happy with my 8,992 but when it kept going no one was more surprised than me.” The album went on to sell over 10 million copies. Who are your biggest musical influences of the past and today? “Of the past I’d say the regulars: Aretha Franklin, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and I’m a huge Led Zeppelin fan. I also love Biggie, Jay Z and Kanye West is a big influence. The new ones I wouldn’t say

anyone is influencing me to the point that I’m changing my style, but I admire a lot of new artists.” Do you enjoy touring? “I love performing. Travel is different though, sitting on a plane for 14 hours to get from one place to the next I don’t enjoy. Especially now we all have to wear masks; but I love performing. I’d go anywhere to perform. I don’t think I’d have seen the world the way I have if it wasn’t for performing. Travel isn’t really in my blood. I never had a great desire to go to Italy, but now that I’ve been there I do.

“There’s no better education than seeing the world. There’s no better way to learn acceptance and learn to adapt. It’s one of the best things you can do.” Will you be coming to the UK? “Yes, we’re on our way. We’re doing the Playground Festival in Scotland. Next year we’ll be coming back. We start a worldwide tour in May 2022 and we go straight to the UK where we’ll be playing in a lot of cities.” D t @MacyGraysLife

42 Scene


that he met his now husband Jonathan, who is originally from Nottingham. Jonathan was transferred in his job to London and at the same time Michael’s job disappeared. “I stopped working and performing. We adopted and I stayed at home.” But after a musical theatre workshop, his professional performing and writing career began in earnest. And that’s when his working partnership with Luke Bateman started, leading to a number of shows all with Michael’s keynote dark, edgy comedy. “We almost always work separately. I don’t invest too much in my first draft – you can’t be too married to what’s in your head until the music comes along. But I’m a fast worker once the outline of the show is solved. The second act of my recent show The Sorrows of Satan I wrote in an afternoon”.


Brian Butler catches up with Michael Conley, the Londonbased musical theatre lyricist, librettist and performer ) A singing devil who likes throwing women

out of high windows, a female clairvoyant whose stage act may be a total fraud, and a failing queer actor who will stop at nothing to play leading man – just three highly-detailed characters from the pen of hugely creative queer actor/writer Michael Conley. He’s been super-productive in lockdown, writing and performing online his own brand of dark comedy. All in a day’s work for Michael, who juggles his career with being a father to his 10-yearold adopted son. The oil boom led his family to move from southern California to frontier town Abilene in Texas, a deeply religious environment where he eventually attended the Christian University. But his neglect of his Bible studies persuaded him to leave before graduation and move to New York. Work at the Gap store in New York led to a temp job at Banana Republic’s headquarters, all the while being a cabaret writer and singer in his spare time. “I auditioned for Broadway


The first Conley/Bateman show I saw was the Fabulist Fox Sister – about a famous female clairvoyant who may or may not be a fake. “Originally it was meant to be a three-woman show. I hadn’t performed in 10 years: I tried the part and it worked.”

and when it didn’t happen I stuck with cabaret work. I always hoped it would lead somewhere – I just had to do it,” he tells me. And so he found himself at the world-famous show tunes bar Don’t Tell Mama, where even I have sung! A great influence on him was cabaret pianist David Maiocco, who did Liberace impersonations. “There was a Judy Garland show there too, and it’s where I made lifelong friends”. One thing led to another and Michael became the host of the Gay and Lesbian Comedy Fest – though still working in retail full-time. “I was 21, it was all wonderful with the singalongs by performers after their Broadway shows at night.” He admits his mother outed him, and he says she cried, “because she didn’t want life to be hard for me” – he had always thought his sexuality was a phase: that there was no alternative to a wife and kids. His first full show was Hello Boys – “I wanted to be Bette Midler: I followed the ebb and flow of her act.” It was at Don’t Tell Mama

He admits ideas pop into his head or are suggested by others. His most recent streamed show – The Cancellation of Crispin Cox – came from a request from his co-producer Alfred Taylor-Gaunt, who asked for a show about cancel culture. “I wrote the first draft in a weekend and then revised and revised.” The show, which I recently reviewed, is a very dark comedy about revenge, outing, cancelling someone’s reputation and life, all played with delicious villainy by Conley, making up in his dressing room for a performance. Its denouement is shocking and unexpected. Though there’s no doubt his shows work online, he doesn’t deny he’s longing to get back in front of a live audience, though he says when you livestream you get instant tweets from the audience online, so there’s a kind of link. His next two shows, in Southwark and Hackney, will certainly benefit from bums on seats. He’s written the book and lyrics for a musical version of Indecent Proposal, based on the bestselling book by Jack Engelhard. ”It’s a very different kind of project,” and one where Michael will not be performing. Set in ‘80s Atlantic City it will be seen through an up-todate lens, where the offer to sleep with a man’s wife for $1million may resonate differently. Vanara, by contrast, is set on another earth at another time, with a strong positive message. Michael has written the book. Asked my favourite question about what advice he’d give a 15-year-old Conley, he says: “Lean into things you don’t like about yourself, things that set you apart, where you don’t fit in. Embrace your flaws: you’ll love them later.” Tickets ) Vanara:


) Indecent Proposal: www. indecent-proposal/

Scene 43

set out to make them happen. It’s about saying things out loud and navigating the way there. So I’ll say it, one day I want to sing at Proms in the Park – putting it out there makes it real.” The new album definitely shows the results of all his hard work over the past 18 months. As Ian says: “I spent every day doing vocal somersaults and training hard to get to this point. This also included navigating some of the mental health stuff that goes with challenging yourself with something that (last time) ended in a bit of a mess.”


Nick Boston finds out what the tenor has been up to since his last interview ) Back in 2020, just before the world was

turned upside down, I spoke to tenor Ian Farrell about his then new album, Ten for Ten, celebrating 10 years of being sober. Shortly after, we all went into lockdown, and my interview was in Scene’s first online only edition. So it seems fitting that as Scene emerges back into print, I got to catch up with Ian and find out what he’s been up to in the meantime. And of course, never one to sit back and wait, Ian has been working hard throughout the past 18 months, and has now come back with a new album, il Significato di te. Building on the first album’s predominantly musical theatre repertoire, Ian has now moved into more classical territory, returning to the roots of his musical training. Ian says: “For so many years, I knew that I wanted to get back to singing the opera/classical stuff of my uni days, but in order to do that, I really needed to do some serious training with the voice.” So that’s what he’s been doing. As we explored in my previous interview with Ian, after his early classical training, things went somewhat off the rails before he could

embark fully on that classical singing career. To recap, Ian sang in choirs throughout his childhood before success at music college, winning the Worshipful Company of Musicians scholarship in his final year at the London College of Music. A glittering career beckoned, but as Ian says, the pressure told and he began to “self-destruct”, and alcohol dependency took hold. Fast forward to 2009, and Ian stopped drinking and began to turn his life around – the first album, Ten for Ten, marked 10 years since that transition, and a step on the way to “putting things right”. As Ian said when I last spoke to him: “I’ve learned that just because you make mistakes in life, however monumental, which sometimes lead you down a different path than the one you thought you were going to take, it doesn’t mean that with determination, self-belief and a dream you can’t navigate your way back to your dream or chosen path.” Now he says: “I was stood on one side of a river, and my dreams were on the other side, but I couldn’t work out how to get across. Now, I’m not going to wait for anyone else. I set myself projects, and then

There are some big pieces here – O Sole Mio, and Che gelida manina from Puccini’s La Bohème, for example. And Ian brings his powerful voice to these to great effect. There’s even some Wagner, in Siegmund’s aria, Winterstürme, from Die Walküre. Yet there is tenderness too – in the Puccini, but also in two beautiful French songs, Fauré’s Aprés un Rêve, and Duparc’s stunning Phidylé. The Duparc is in fact one of Ian’s favourites here: “I sang this song in my live lunchtime concert at London College of Music in 1999, and I used to listen to it in my darker days and used to get so frustrated that I’d ‘messed it all up’.” Well he’s certainly laid that ghost here with a tender and heartfelt performance of this tranquil gem. In the bigger numbers, it would be great to hear Ian performing with a full orchestra at some point, as his powerful voice deserves a fuller backing than was always possible here. But there can be no doubting his commitment here, particularly in the full-on power of Nelle Tue Mani (form Gladiator). Overall, that’s the most impressive thing here – that Ian can go from that tenderness expressed in Phidylé to the extremes of dynamics and range required by Nelle Tue Mani, or O Sole Mio. It is so clear that he is enjoying exploring the extensive capabilities of his voice here, and his commitment and hard work over the last 18 months is clearly paying dividends. ) You can download the album from Ian’s

website:, and you can find him on iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Spotify too. Let’s hope it’s not long before we can get to hear him performing live – watch this space.


44 Scene

to anything, even working in Burger King. It wasn’t really the career path he wanted. Imagine now, he could have been the MD of Burger King.”

“My eyes fell on Leigh. He wasn’t dressed freaky then. Well, I suppose some people would think he was. We started talking and that was it, we were friends for life” When did he develop his look? “A year after we met, if that. He lived near Brick Lane. There were a lot of fabric shops selling cheap stuff around there. He put together this look but he was too shy to wear it. So, he put it on his flatmate Trojan. When Trojan wore it a few times Leigh saw how much attention he got, so he started wearing it himself.” The clothes weren’t made with much of a budget. “Some of the fabrics cost 50p a yard. He made me a lovely gauze dress, but because the fabric was so cheap it dragged along the floor. Also, it was very nasty if a cigarette got anywhere near you: up they went up in flames because they were so synthetic.”


Sue Tilley was depicted in Boy George’s musical Taboo. As it turns 20, she tells us about her life with Leigh Bowery, partying in the ‘80s and becoming an artist in her own right ) Sue Tilley became a celebrity in the

art world when Lucian Freud painted her. Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995), which depicts Sue nude on a sofa, is one of his most significant late-period works. The painting was later sold to Roman Abramovich for £17 million.

What went through your mind when you first saw Taboo, the musical? “I was very excited; I couldn’t believe I was in it. I saw a dress rehearsal and was thrilled. It brought back the ’80s.” How did you meet Leigh Bowery? “At the back of Heaven there was this club called Cha Chas. You had to go down a dirty alley to get there. I was friends with Stephen Luscombe from Blancmange. He took me one evening and my eyes fell on Leigh. He wasn’t dressed freaky then. Well, I suppose some people would think he was. We started talking and that was it, we were friends for life.” Did you get the sense that he was destined for great things? “Not really. Maybe a little bit, but I never imagined he’d become as

famous and as special as he did. He wanted world domination.”

How did his club night Taboo emerge? “Tony Gordon found the club in Leicester Square. I’d never been there, I don’t think anybody had. So Tony arranged it and asked me if I’d like to host it with him. Obviously Leigh took over and took the credit for everything.”

Leigh had been working at Burger King before he met Sue. “He told me all about it. He was mortified when they tried to make him the manager. That was it, he knew he had to leave. Some people can turn their hand

Taboo developed a reputation for being very hedonistic. “Oh yes, you could do whatever you wanted. You’d go down the stairs and suddenly you were in a wild playground of misbehaviour.” BENEFITS WOMAN SLEEPING

As well as being a muse to Freud, Sue was best mates with fashion icon Leigh Bowery.

Did he set out to be a designer? “Anything that made him world famous. He got famous for lots of things but it wasn’t really of his own accord. Like when he worked for Michael Clark’s dance company. He wasn’t in charge, you see, although he tried to be.”


Were you working at the job centre by then? “I was. I had this bizarre life. A lot of the regulars at Taboo signed on with me.” Leigh also started his own band, Minty. “Their performances were always great, but something always went a bit wrong. Like the performance at The Fridge when he decided to have an enema.” Let’s just say there were scenes. “There was a letter of complaint in a gay magazine. It was supposed to be from two lesbians who were horrified but Leigh had written it himself. Leigh was such a joker, anything he could do to entertain.” He would have thrived with social media and YouTube. “I know, he’d be perfect. He might explode from all the attention. Just before he died I was getting my first computer, we didn’t have mobile phones or anything. He was 33 when he died. “He did so much with the time he had. Before Leigh found out he had AIDS he’d have some days when he was so hungover he just laid on the sofa. We’d be on the phone chatting. But after he found out he was ill he worked every day. He knew he didn’t have time to waste.” Did he get the credit he deserved? “He got the attention but he never had any money. He said you shouldn’t judge life by money but through what you achieve and your experiences. He was always doing something.”

“Before Leigh found out he had AIDS he’d have some days when he was so hungover he just laid on the sofa. We’d be on the phone chatting. But after he found out he was ill he worked every day. He knew he didn’t have time to waste” Sue recently launched her own career as an artist. “I did train to be an art teacher. I later posed for Lucian but I forgot about drawing, really. Then there was an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of Lucian’s works and they wanted me to model. I met a guy who did art classes in Bethnal Green. I went to one and I realised I could still draw. I’m not as dedicated as Leigh but if I turn my hand to something I can usually do it.” Sue now lives in St Leonards-on-Sea. “I went to visit a friend in Hastings and came here, we went to Kino-Teatr on Norman Road. I thought ooh, it looks nice here. I’d never dreamt of leaving London. I saw people who looked a bit quirky and thought, I could be friends with them. I looked on Rightmove and realised I could sell my grotty flat in Bethnal Green and get a magnificent one here. So two days later I put my flat on the market. Suddenly I’m moving to a place I’ve only visited once where I only know two people.

I’m not usually that kind of person but it’s the best decision I’ve made.” It looks like an artist’s house. “I love my flat. There’s some amazing second-hand furniture shops around here. I threw my Ikea stuff away and bought vintage. Things I’d always wanted but never had. And when I was 60 I got it, so don’t give up on your dreams.” Tell us about your art classes. “My friend Wayne Shires who ran all the gay clubs in London, he moved down here as well. I do art classes at one of his pubs. I did them online during lockdown. I’m starting the art classes again at Trinity Townhouse by the pier. We’re having an exhibition in February of the work done online during lockdown at Hastings Museum.”

How would you sum up Leigh’s legacy “An inspiration to everyone of how to live your life. Don’t be scared and do what you want to do. If people don’t like it just carry on.” ) Popstacular, an independent collective

group of designers, artists, illustrators and artistes bringing limited-edition apparel, accessories and homewares, will be opening a shop in The Lanes, Brighton before Christmas with many of Sue’s designs. ) Boy George’s award-winning musical Taboo

returns for one night only on January 30, 2022 at the London Palladium to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the show’s original production. This star-studded charity concert, featuring members of the original cast, is in aid of Terrence Higgins Trust and Shelter.

46 Scene How did you spend 2020 ‘down under’? I was in my flat in St Kilda for most of 2020 and only really allowed out for an hour’s exercise a day. I thought that wasn’t really long enough, so I didn’t bother. I got given the opportunity to co-host a live streaming show with my friend, Kerrie Stanley, all from my lounge room. We got a sizeable chunk of money from the government and managed to share it around with a lot of great performers. It kept us sane for quite some time and was a great experience. You must be very pleased to be back on the stage after Covid... Performing is so important to me, it always has been and like most things in life you realise how much you miss it when it’s taken away. What do you like most about Brighton? Brighton has always felt like the perfect place to escape to, it’s got everything I like, and a town that knows how to enjoy it all. I was out bike riding and swimming when I got here a month ago and the shopping is pretty fabulous. I’m definitely still in tourist mode and could easily spend hours wandering the Lanes. Same could be said for all the bars as well, though. Would you move here? I could definitely see myself living in Brighton but I’m not sure I’d give up my home in Melbourne on a permanent basis. My goal is to have a working life in both countries, so we’ll see how that pans out. Your friend Rose Garden recently moved here. Tell us about your relationship. She adores me and I her. We get each other and you should always hang on to the ones who are willing to take the rough with your smooth.


Jason Reid catches up with the award-winning Australian cabaret diva Dolly Diamond who has recently arrived back on our shores... ) Welcome back to the UK. What brings you

back and how long are you here for? It’s great to be back in the UK. I missed my visit last year. I love my life in Melbourne but I needed to be back over here. It’s all still locked down back there and I need to work, so moving to the UK for a year or so feels like the right thing to do. Tell us where we can see you perform and, for the uninitiated, what to expect. I’ve only been back a month but in my usual style, I’ve hit the ground running. I’ve had a few shows at the Phoenix Arts Club and Above the Stag in London and I’m attempting to take my shows in that direction, with more ticketed events. It’s what I do in Australia and it seems to work better for me. In saying that I do love a Brighton audience, because they love their cabaret and they listen. I’ve got some shows at The Curzon in the diary and I’m chatting to Ironworks about a season of Dolly

Diamond’s Blankety Blank. I did that show in Edinburgh and Southbank in 2019, with some very fabulous faces: Rose Garden, Gingzilla, Karen from Finance, Reuben Kaye and Ursula Martinez.

“I want my audiences to be exhausted from laughing and glad they spent the night with me. I demand the same from the men who sleep with me” Would you say you’re more of a comedy or vocal queen, or both? I treat the shows as a night of comedy and I guess it’s up to the audience to make a decision on the rest. I love to make people laugh and it’s been great being back here and having that opportunity. Audiences in the UK and Australia are pretty similar and we all know how to see the funny side of life, even after all the shite we’ve gone through.

Do you like any other Brighton drag artists? I’ve performed a lot in Brighton over the years and they’ve undoubtedly seen me at my best (and not so best). I have a great friendship and admiration for Dave Lynn, Miss Jason and Drag With No Name – but I could easily name more. What’s your favourite song to sing right now and why? I’ve just started working with a new pianist, John Thorn, and he’s absolutely brilliant. He’s written so many songs over the years and I’m loving one that I’ve recently put in the act. It’s called I Put On Weight and you’ll have to see the show to know why I love it so much. How do you want audiences to feel after one of your shows? I want my audiences to be exhausted from laughing and glad they spent the night with me. I demand the same from the men who sleep with me. Your hopes and dreams for the future? I’m keen to catch up with lots of friends while I’m back and it’s great not having to rush off like I normally do. I’d love to build up an audience back here that will allow me to visit the UK every summer. I know I’ll have to work hard to get it but I’m not afraid of that and never have been.

) Music has been embedded in my life ever since I was in the womb. My Mum and Dad basically raised me on music, especially POP music. I grew up listening to Madonna, Mariah Carey, Kylie, Spice Girls, Britney (#FREEBRITNEY)... even AQUA! I feel so lucky to get to share my favourite current 10 songs from my Spotify every month and my favourite album of the month with you all from Scene HQ! Follow me: iitsdalemelitabitch tDaleMelita ) Elton John & Dua Lipa Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) OMG Elton John and Dua Lipa have given us the chilled-out beach bar vibe bop we didn’t know we needed. I know it’s November but still… Shout out to PNAU, one of the best Australian music producers, for basically inventing the remix. ) Little Boots

Silver Balloons. Victoria Hesketh aka Little Boots, has returned with this electro-pop single and in an Instagram post (and Twitter actually) she wrote: “This song is about all our plans and parties bursting apart in front of our faces over the last 18 months like shiny balloons popping... All we could do to get through it was hold each other tight.” Super relatable, and such a magical track. ) Foxes Dance Magic. Dance Magic is the second single from Foxes’ third album The Kick (out in February) and it’s giving me nostalgic ’90s dance vibes that we need right now! Louisa Rose Allen (Foxes’ real name) said: “It’s about being swept up by the chemistry with someone, and not being able to see the sometimes dark reality, dancing around each other in a fantasy you’ve both created.” Eeeep, we can all relate! ) Cœur de pirate On s’aimera toujours. Canadian

singer you need to check out if you haven’t already. On s’aimera toujours (translated as “we’ll love each other forever”) is a beautiful, intense love song but not your typical slow ballad; it’s a DELICIOUS pop synth-anchored disco song from her new album Impossible à Aimer (Impossible To Love) which I’m loving and you might too! ) Lana Del Rey Arcadia. Taken from the Grammy-nominated artist’s second (yes second, Lana stans are being fed) album of 2021, Blue Bannisters, Arcadia is a dreamy, heartbreaking masterpiece and so full of hope... A truly real artist who deserves so much more respect and recognition than she seems to be receiving. Lana has evolved so much in the 10 years since Video Games without ever straying away from the same aesthetic that defines her artistry, IMPO (in my personal opinion). ) ABBA I Still Have Faith In You/Don’t Shut Me Down. OMG I’ve personally waited 40 years for ABBA’s comeback and I’m 33 years old... I grew up listening to ABBA because my mum was and is a huge ABBA fan, so I was nervous when I heard about the comeback, for myself and for my mum and even for ABBA in case they were going to follow contemporary pop trends

but nope, thankfully! Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson said: “We’re not competing with Drake and all these other guys,” phew! “We can’t, because I don’t understand the ingredients in the songs that work today, so it’s impossible to emulate.” Both tracks are VERY ABBA and marvellous and... thrilling. ) Charli XCX Good Ones. “If Gaga’s and Marina’s music had a lovechild,” is the perfect sentence to describe this super catchy pop track – a comment I read on YouTube. Definitely an ear worm and addictive. Such a shame it’s only two minutes and 16 seconds long but I guess that’s what the repeat button is for. ) Steps The Slightest Touch. I know Steps won’t ever take part in the Eurovision Song Contest but... can you imagine if they entered with this Five Star cover from their latest album What The Future Holds Pt 2?! Speaking about the single, they said: “We’re SUCH massive fans of Five Star,

when we started brainstorming a possible cover idea to include, this felt like the natural choice. They are absolute idols of ours and have always dreamed about giving one of their songs a euphoric Steps makeover. We are SO excited about the end result and hope fans love it as much as Chain Reaction and Tragedy.” We do. Catch Steps bringing the party to the Brighton Centre on Thursday, November 25. ) Michaela Jaé Something To Say. For some reason I was always curious to know what MJ stood for – I guess I’m just nosey... Michaela Jaé  ‘MJ’ Rodriguez, star of the sickening TV drama Pose which has sadly just wrapped up its third and final season (but was so good, so go watch it on the BBC iPlayer), has released her first

Scene 47

ever single, which Michaela says is all about unity. “This song is for everyone around the world, for them to stop, look around and see how we have more in common than we actually realise,” and “to stand up for what we believe. To embrace one another’s differences. Let’s stand for love! We are one!” ) Kim Petras Future Starts Now. Kim Petras tweeted “BUBBLEGUM POP FOREVER” in September and I retweeted straight away because it’s probably the most true statement I’ve ever seen. Kim made history being the first trans woman to appear at the MTV Video Music Awards this year too, which is kind of a big deal (though it shouldn’t be). Future Starts Now is an energetic feel-good bop and it’s only the beginning, the future starts... now!

Album of the Month ) Natalie Imbruglia Firebird. I’ve always had a soft spot for Natalie, and always sang Torn at the top of my lungs when I was nine OMG, so when she announced a new single Build It Better and that it was going to be first played on BBC Radio 2 at 7.50am during the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show in June I made extra effort to set to my alarm and get up early. I was hooked straight away and it took me back to the good old days when I used to tape songs off the radio...Right back to reviewing the album, so Build It Better, according

to Natalie, is about “letting something fall apart, and being okay with that. It’s something that I have had to do in my life, numerous times, but especially moving into this record and becoming a mum. So, I’m really excited about that song, and about the video, which is total escapist fun – the world needs that right now.” I couldn’t agree more and it’s an instantly catchy track and clean and fresh and... ’90s vibes but in a good way of course. The whole Firebird album gives me ’90s nostalgia and Natalie even said herself: “Lucky me that the ’90s is trending.” Standout tracks: Maybe It’s Great, Not Sorry, Nothing Missing and of course... Build It Better.

48 Scene



together with falling melodies, create a remarkably moving memorial, finishing with the pianist plucking strings in the keyboard, “a further expression of vanished glory”. Once again, Swayne dazzles throughout with his technique, but more importantly, given the subject matter, the programme is thoughtful and striking, and his performances transparently moving and respectful.


) Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) is back with Great Baroque Playing with Fire, including music by Bach, Purcell, and Vivaldi, ending with Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks. Robert Howarth directs, joined by soprano Gillian Keith (2.45pm, Sun 7, Brighton Dome). JOANNA MACGREGOR

) BPO’s music director Joanna MacGregor leads a folk-inspired concert with the Brighton Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble, playing Frank Martin, Shostakovich and Dvorák (11am, Sun 14, ACCA). Tickets: 01273 709709, CATHERINE LARSEN-MAGUIRE

the quartets this addition makes perfect sense, building on his ) Dave Flynn Irish Minimalism use of drones, lilting lines and (First Hand Records FHR116). twisting and turning melodic Irish composer Dave Flynn catches. The final work here, Stories (b.1977) works across classical, from the Old World, presents the Irish folk, jazz and rock genres. stories with Breanndán Begley’s His album Irish Minimalism soft and warm local Kerry Gaelic explores his particular take on a dialect (translations provided in composition style largely associated the notes), mostly recited over with American composers such simple and light accompaniment as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. with occasional pizzicato or glassy He maintains that some of interjections. The stories once told, minimalism’s key features, such as the musicians take over with lively repetition and gradual incremental jigs and winding figures from the pipes. The tales are evocative and full of bawdy humour (the second story is entitled It Was With a Fart I Won Her…), but also moving as Begley shifts into song in The Piper and the Woman of the Tavern, his gently lilting voice accompanied by lightly skittering pizzicato strings in the background. After the final tale, The Old Hags, the pace picks up for a lively dance, with driving minimalist repetition changes, all fit well in an Irish to finish. A thoroughly enjoyable traditional musical context. The and fascinating collection of Cranning, a string quartet played works, effectively demonstrating by the ConTempo Quartet, has an the remarkable closeness of two arrestingly jagged opening, and seemingly unrelated musical complex dancing cross-rhythms traditions. abound. Drone effects with quiet ) Adam Swayne 9/11:20 chords building up and gently Memorials on the 20th sliding from one to another are anniversary of September 11th reminiscent of the pipes to come (Coviello Classics COV92111). I in other works here, and Donegal reviewed pianist Adam Swayne’s dance music combines with first solo recording back in 2019, Afro-Cuban and Malian rhythms. and was impressed then by his The Keening is also played by the phenomenal technique but also ConTempo Quartet, and as the name his thought-provoking choice of would suggest, is more anguished, repertoire. He’s back, and this with its mysterious, murmuring time with even more challenging opening, glassy string sounds and repertoire, both technically and cello slides, all building through emotionally. The album delves into hypnotic keening to distressed, how art, and particularly music, can screeching high violins. Following a attempt to commemorate such a keening dirge, the final movement, Cry, again uses very high pitches, with Eastern European inflections in the melodic lines, before dying away to nothing. The Cutting was originally planned as Flynn’s String Quartet No. 4, but with the addition of the uilleann pipes, it has become his Quintet No. 1 (here played by the IMO Quartet, with Mick O’Brien on pipes). Alongside

traumatic event. In Karen Walwyn’s Reflections on 9/11, she explicitly avoids the attacks themselves, focusing on impressions of the late summer morning before the attacks, followed by movements confronting different emotions following the event. Anguish begins relatively sparsely, but gradually becomes denser in texture, although its richness cannot disguise the sense of trauma. Burial is equally traumatic, but perhaps more inward looking, and it ends with some kind of sense of acceptance. American composer Henry Cowell (1897-1965) was a pioneer of 20th century piano music, particularly in terms of extended techniques such as using the forearm to play clusters of notes at once, used in The Tides of Manaunaun to colossal and dramatic effect, and in his Aeolian Harp, the practice of strumming or plucking the strings inside the piano. Fabric initially feels more conventional, but its fiendish rhythmic juxtaposition of five, six, eight and nine beats to the bar are like rich layers of fabric sliding against each other. Swayne makes this seem effortless and smooth, and the Aeolian Harp is mysterious and ethereal. Kevin Malone’s (b.1958) Sudden Memorials is the most substantial work, at over half an hour across two movements. This was inspired by a visit to the temporary memorial at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, close to the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93. On a section of wire fence, visitors attached objects of remembrance in a spontaneous way. In this piece, Malone includes all kinds of musical quotations – there’s a high school basketball song, bits of jazz, boogie, gospel, hints of Debussy and Chopin, hymn tunes and even birdsong. These emerge from among crashing, highly virtuosic and resonant material, contrasting the simplicity of the memorial objects with the enormity of the event itself. It’s a visceral work, and Swayne’s performance here is totally captivating. Not an easy listen, it nevertheless grabs, even demands your attention throughout. Following the Malone, Swayne treats us to a remarkably tender and moving rendition of Scott Joplin’s Solace, before the collection concludes with David Del Tredici’s (b.1937) Missing Towers, which confronts the tragedy by focusing on the emptiness left by the towers’ collapse. A two-part canon circles, and a ringing pulse,

) London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Catherine LarsenMaguire, perform Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with Igor Tchetuev (piano) (3pm, Sun 28, Congress Theatre). Tickets: 01323 412000,

More info Reviews, comment and events, visit: D nicks-classical-notes.blogspot. T @nickb86uk E

Scene 49



) This month I’m going to be concentrating on a gallery space within a gallery space, which is challenging the concept of what an exhibition could and should be. The artists allowed to create a world in an intimate room without control or involvement by the gallery which is hosting their activities.



Gallery DODO ( is a temporary exhibition space situated off the south stairway in Phoenix Art Space, Brighton. It is artist-led and run on a voluntary basis, and is open to the public by appointment through Eventbrite, Instagram @aproposdodo or by emailing The current programme of monthly exhibitions has invited two or three artists who share similar concerns or methods of working, to collaborate on producing an exhibition together. The intention is to allow them to initiate a dialogue as individual yet comparably connected artists, for them to explore relationships between their practices. Curating a show which presents this journey, via the cast of works that hang, sit and lean, physically present for those who visit and take them in. The previous shows have included works by Lucy Brown and Sarah Pager in It’s What’s Inside, whose individual practices share a sculptural approach grounded in the body, and a playfulness with structural form and its supports. For their exhibition they worked collaboratively on a series of sculptures which they used as a departing point to explore the idea of a space within a space. Never Seen and Yet Believed In was an exhibition devised between Hastings-based artist Scott Robertson and the London duo Sid and Jim. The show explored our faith in art and its objects by presenting the audience with a number of relevantly conspicuous absences. James William Murray and Garth Gratrix explored concepts of queer materiality through contrasting aesthetic approaches, in Object Q/The Pursuit of Happiness. Motion Sickness is an art collective based in Cambridge and Leipzig, Germany. Formed in 2018, the collective is made up of Denise Kehoe, Eleanor Breeze and Arabella Hilfiker. They presented a show which explored the concept of the technological utopia we live in, while being nostalgic and yearning for the simplicity of pure connection. They have exhibited internationally, including shows in London, Tokyo, Leipzig, Tallinn and Dublin. As a collective, they have exhibited at the Archive and the Contested Landscape exhibition as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas and have had a solo show Motion Sickness at STOCK Gallery, Manchester. Together they run Motion Sickness Project Space, a contemporary arts space in Cambridge. They have also already shown or are set to show Hermione Allsopp, Poppy Whatmore, Joseph Cartwright, Ty Locke, Daniella Pink, Bill Leslie, Lucy Delano, Guy Bigland, Ally Mcginn, Louise Bristow, Andee Collard, Camila Caneque, Lisa Scantlebury, Annie Carpenter, Gabriella Gilmore, Jon Carritt and Dan Palmer. If you looking for something to challenge or inspire you, I am sure some time at this gallery will be the perfect experience which you will remember and take home with you.


) SHIRLEY HORN At The Gaslight Square 1961 (American Jazz Classics). American singer and pianist Shirley Horn only had one speed: dead slow. Never once did she pick up pace to even a gentle stroll. On this double-headed CD, she appears first with a trio in an unknown club in the Gaslight Square entertainment district of St Louis, Missouri. Edging gently through a set of standards, her small voice is always evocative, the accompaniment so minimal as to disappear from time to time. The second CD contains the big band album Loads of Love, recorded in New York in 1962 with the 12-man Jimmy Jones Orchestra plus strings. In truth, Horn does not need a big band to support her and sounds a little lost and more than uncomfortable at the faster speeds required. But three standout trio tracks from 1959 with raffish violinist Stuff Smith ending the set more than make up for that. ) SATOKO FUJII Piano Music (Libra Records). Japanese pianist and composer Satoko Fujii is quoted as saying that she “wants to make music no one has heard before”. Well, she has certainly succeeded with this solo ‘piano’ record. I say ‘piano’ with raised fingers, because the one you thing you never hear is the sound of notes and chords emerging from within. Instead, using short, pre-recorded snippets of prepared piano music – an elbow on the high strings, a rubbing of the lower strings with a felt mallet, a dropping of chopsticks on the piano strings – she edited them all together to create a patchwork quilt of varied, fascinating sounds. The two extended pieces here evolve so organically that you cannot tell that they’re stitched together from such small, random fragments, but they do have a surprising structural coherence. This a long way from piano jazz as we know it, but it is a sonic adventure worth going on for the experience. ) ANDREW CYRILLE QUARTET The News (ECM). And more interesting music, this time from American free drummer Andrew Cyrille. By free, I mean a drummer more concerned with individual expression and feeling rather than merely keeping time, a main participant, not merely a backrow metronome. Here he is supported by wondrous Americana guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Ben Street and pianist David Virelles in a set of improvised pieces that are often quiet and always surprising: on the title track you can hear the whisper of brushes on a newspaper spread over the drumheads, while elsewhere he engages in hushed snare rolls, offbeat accents, and odd little taps of sound. Frisell supplies three tuneful pieces in which his chiming guitar notes ring out delightfully, Virelles one intriguingly catchy number, while Cyrille remains an 81-year-old marvel. Most enjoyable.


50 Scene


WITH MICHAEL HOOTMAN ) INGMAR BERGMAN VOLUME 2 (BFI Blu-ray). It’s hardly an overstatement to say the BFI’s continuing collection of the director’s work represents pretty much the crown jewels of European cinema. The director blends human drama with some of the most beautifully composed images in film. The works pose – and thankfully don’t try to answer – important

philosophical questions, but they’re also not without humour: even something as dark as The Seventh Seal has scenes of warmth and comedy filmed with a deft lightness of touch. Bergman has the technical prowess coupled with a direct emotional connection to his characters and therefore the audience. Apart from The Seventh Seal, Volume 2 contains masterworks such as his joyful romantic comedy Smiles of a Summer Night. A retired doctor looks back at his life and faces up to his own flaws in Wild Strawberries. Summer With Monika has a young man giving up a menial job to throw his lot in with a beautiful young woman. Gothic romance mixes with a meditation on art and truth as Max von Sydow stars as a travelling hypnotist in The Magician. The set also includes A Lesson In Love, Summer Interlude, Waiting Women, a short film, Karin’s Face, plus other extras and a 100-page bound book of essays. ) SHORT SHARP SHOCKS VOL 2 (BFI Bluray). Like its predecessor this collection of

macabre shorts is a fascinating look not so much at horror or the supernatural but at the representation of England in cinema. Quiz Crime shows some beastly murders where the audience have to spot the clues to the perp’s identity. Both films seem to rely on the killer lying pointlessly; they’re done without any claim to art but are both great examples of a kind of cinema that has – with some justification – been completely forgotten. The Three Children is a public information film about road safety, yet its off-kilter atmosphere and paedophilic representation of death make it an extraordinary example of the genre. I had high hopes for Mingoloo as the director, from his work in Vol 1, seemed to be an English Ed Wood; the title itself had me chuckling for a good week before the discs arrived. But it turns out to be complete nonsense which drags on until it gets to a twist, the relevance of

which had me completely baffled. Escape from Broadmoor is a decent ghost story which gives the viewer the chance to see the lovely John Le Mesurier playing a psychotic criminal. The most charitable word I can use to describe a promo for Screaming Lord Sutch’s song Jack the Ripper is ‘unfortunate’. The Face of Darkness is a fantastic find, a real one-of-a-kind about an extreme right-wing politician who raises the corpse of a 15th-century man to do his bidding.

Hangman is a training film about dangers in the construction industry in which a masked executioner talks us through some terrible, but preventable, deaths. The Mark of Lilith is an experimental lesbian vampire film, which is as boring as being forced to watch a lecture on the patriarchy – partly because it actually includes a lecture on the patriarchy. The Dumb Waiter stars Geraldine James in an English riff on Halloween, which has the feel that its funding was abruptly pulled and so it ends just as it starts to get going. Crazy, terrible, weird and wonderful, this is a fascinating assortment. ) INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (BFI Blu-ray). Don Siegel’s 1956 sci-fi horror is one of the classics of the genre, a seminal work which has been the inspiration for films

as diverse as Night of the Living Dead to The Stepford Wives. In a sleepy California town a doctor, played by Kevin McCarthy, finds a rash of patients who seem to be suffering from the same delusion: namely that their relatives have been replaced by imposters. With his girlfriend, played by Dana Wynter, he gradually comes to learn the strange and sinister truth. In terms of pacing, the movie is 80 minutes which never let up. It sets up its initial sense of unease, there’s a classic false-sense-of-security scene and as soon as that’s been blown it runs full tilt into the horror. It’s a surprisingly downbeat film in which there’s no pre-credit final clinch for the doctor and the woman he loves. In fact it was so downbeat that a prologue and epilogue had to be tacked on to make it more acceptable to the audience. Its true ending, of a man screaming the unacceptable truth only to be ignored as either drunk or crazy, is brilliant and its dilution is a bit of a shame. Apart from being a wonderful genre picture, part of its greatness lies in its protean ability to sustain a number of readings. It could equally be about the evils of McCarthyite conformity or the infiltration of Communism. Extras include a thoroughly charming commentary in which Wynter and McCarthy reminisce about making the film, an analysis of the film’s themes and, in a wonderful piece of BFI idiosyncrasy, some botanical shorts from the early part of the 20th century.



Book Reviews by Eric Page ) Guy UsinU Oil & Fetish (£20). This fine art book holds a collection of Brighton-based oil painter Guy UsinU’s works – fetish adventures and Brighton folk but not always together. I’d seen some of his work around town so had an idea of the rich, gilded, realist images he paints. UsinU’s gothic indulgences give a Pierre et Gilles feel to the paintings, heavy with metaphor and meaning, but not coy in any way at all. This is blatant, proud, sexual, electric but controlled, guided, a tease of oil on canvas. Suffused with humour, this is self-aware art, toying with irony. Each page featuring one full-colour image along with a description, sometimes a line or two about the subject matter if a portrait, or something more earthy meant to challenge and elicit more than an initial response. It’s these paintings which are the most fascinating here, providing a fantastically detailed world of kink and fantasy, but explored in a candid, honest way. UsinU’s exploration of kink, using not only the creations on his canvas but our own gaze and viewpoint, issues us with a stark challenge: look away now or look and enjoy and relish the enjoyment of imagination. The book is an evocative and crepuscular exploration not just of the people and places of Brighton but also the psycho-sexual geography of the artist themselves. Where they lay, pause, linger, what they see, feel and embrace, and what they leave in the echoes of desire, control and abandonment which are captured with such fine detail. A superb gift for anyone interested in sensual or fetish art, the colour and imagery seduce and draw you in, holding the your attention. His portraits are superb, capturing the dignity and personality of his sitters, exploring their faces with a forensic grace, and allowing their intersectional beauty to shine out, perhaps reflecting his own pedigree, coming from a line of fine oil painters. You can also order prints of the artist’s work from

) Miriam Margolyes This Much is True (£20, John Murray). We all have our favourite Margolyes creation – Blackadder, Call the Midwife, voicing the Cadbury’s Caramel rabbit, Harry Potter’s Professor Sprout. This is the extraordinary life story of the award-winning actor, creator of myriad memorable characters and, now 80, a national treasure. Conceived in an air-raid, being so mischievous with pranks led to her being known as the naughtiest girl Oxford High School ever had; how she ended up posing nude for Augustus John aged 17, being ‘sent to Coventry’ by Monty Python and The Goodies and swearing on University Challenge (she was the first woman to say fuck on TV). This book is packed with unforgettable stories from why Bob Monkhouse was the best (male) kiss she’s ever had to being told off by HM The Queen. With a

cast list stretching from Scorsese to Streisand, Leonardo di Caprio to Isaiah Berlin, This Much is True is as warm and honest, as full of life and surprises, as she is. Margolyes loves to shock or perhaps loves to live uninhibited and free from conventional ties. This rare talent to grasp the variety of live allows her to wallow in glorious spontaneity and the ability to say a loud affirmative ‘YES’ to the opportunities which life presents to her. A natural raconteur, the book is a superb read and may challenge as much as it will certainly delight. ) Terry Sanderson The Reluctant Gay Activist (£6.99). Sanderson, another of our national treasures, has published this revised memoir, in which he looks again at his very long involvement with equality campaigning and particularly the struggle for gay rights, of which

Scene 51

he formed a key role and how his life as a leading secularist guided him. I’ve got a lot of time for Terry – working class, poor, from a Northern mining community, effortlessly kind and deliciously witty, he’s a charming and engaging activist who has never seemed to stop pushing for a better world. This book is a longer version of his previous memoir, The Adventures of a Happy Homosexual, and covers Sanderson’s rather interesting life, from bold radical acts of coming out in a hostile UK society, building communities of queers in Rochdale, working with Claire Rayner as an Agony Aunt in Women’s Own in the ‘80s, being a leading writer for Gay Times and chairing the National Secular Society. With honest eye-witnessing we can feel some of the pain that LGBTQ+ folks suffered from a brutal Tory government, the horror of the impact of AIDS but also the deep warmth and generosity of queer communities building something new, learning and adapting, building strong alliances and learning to love, fearlessly and without shame, and it’s here that Sanderson excels. This memoir is a shockwave against bigotry, smiting shame wherever he sees it, crushing the bigots under an unrelenting wave of love and holding out his hands to diverse communities, all struggling with oppressions, to create something better: the world we live in today, not perfect, but better. The new additions bring us up to date with Sanderson’s struggle with cancer and his candid, searing account of facing pain and death are full of tenderness, mixed in with a clarion call to us all about the threats our community faces and how our focused, joint resistance is vital and a duty of us all.

52 Scene



Is My Rabbit A Lesbian?

Chipping away

) Gaydio duo Chris & Emma are back for a new comedy podcast, Is My Rabbit A Lesbian?. You may remember them for the Breakfast Show - they were and in many ways still are the voices of gay breakfasts.

) I have to wonder how different the last 40 years would have been if HIV had broken out among the general population instead of some of the most marginalised groups. How many lives could have been saved if the kind of resources thrown at Covid over the last 18 months had been thrown at HIV in the same way? I am so glad that we have effective treatments, that PrEP continues to make a real difference in people’s lives, and that there may well be an effective vaccine on the horizon. However, it’s been 40 years since HIV was first documented (1981), whereas in the case of Covid we had an effective vaccine that had been tested and approved within a year.



Chris & Emma always had real chemistry together, and that’s something you can’t fake in broadcasting (as some GB News presenters have painfully discovered). Their stint on Gaydio ended in 2018 when Chris moved to New York to be closer to his husband. Manchester is quite far


away from New York, after all.

Of course, I’m grateful that Covid is less a threat now than it was a year ago. Although, as I write this, people are still being hospitalised and still dying, albeit in reduced numbers. It isn’t over yet. But then HIV isn’t an illness of the past either.

Although Chris & Emma are now separated by the Atlantic they are coming together in the podcast world, with a little help from their old ‘Producer Ellen’.

“How many lives could have been saved if the kind of resources thrown at Covid over the last 18 months had been thrown at HIV in the same way?”

In a joint statement, they gave a flavour of what to expect: “Every episode they each share a bonkers story that has somehow made the news - one from the UK, one from the USA. Each story raises a question which they endeavour to answer - such as ‘Should I do hot yoga in my bathroom?’, ‘How far would you go for Greggs sausage roll?’ and maybe even… ‘Is my rabbit a lesbian?’. You can expect life-changing philosophical debate (sort of), embarrassing admissions, plenty of LGBT+ life affirming stories and lots of laughs.”

In the UK there are presently just over 105,000 people living with HIV and receiving treatments. Around two-thirds are male, and around a third female, and a small number non-binary. In general, infection isn’t through those who know they are infected and receiving treatment, but through those who are infected but are unaware of their HIV status. You can see why testing is as crucial now as it ever has been.

Chris said: “After waking up with each other for eight years (steady now, only on the Gaydio Breakfast Show!) We are absolutely thrilled to be back together for our new podcast all about lesbian rabbits. Expect some fascinating stories, laughs and a lot of heart. Basically it’s the two of us completely oversharing. We can now finally tell the stories we weren’t allowed to tell on air. And there are lots. We can’t wait for you to join us!” Emma added: “I thought I’d got rid of him – but no! Now he sends me a Zoom link every couple of weeks to talk about lesbian rabbits. I jest. I am THRILLED to be back with my radio husband. In the last year or so we’ve all suffered our own annus horribilis – and the one thing that’s kept me going is the joy and laughter that good friends like Chris and producer Ellen have brought me. So; no highfalutin aims, I just hope this podcast does one of the most important things – puts a well deserved smile on your face and a big old laugh in your belly.” The podcast market is now a very crowded field. There are podcasts on arguably every topic known to man. That being said, a good podcast works when the presenters have chemistry, and that’s why Chris & Emma’s podcast is likely to be a hit. Have a listen and decide for yourself whether Chris really did meet Madonna on the Madame X tour. D You can listen to the podcast here: podcast/is-my-rabbit-a-lesbian/id1580399619

There are some amazing groups in Brighton offering support. The Lawson Unit and the Sussex Beacon both offer medical support. Lunch Positive, Terrence Higgins Trust and Peer Action all offer peer support. My church, the Village MCC, offers positive and affirming spiritual support. The Martin Fisher Foundation (Brighton & Hove) continues to work hard to lower transmission rates, the goal being zero transmission. Five years ago, the goal they set out was to ensure that 90% of people living with HIV in Brighton & Hove would be aware of their status, that 90% of people be on treatment, and that 90% of people with HIV on treatment be unable to pass the infection on to others due to untraceable levels of virus in the blood stream. More info: www.themartinfisherfoundation. org. By the end of 2020 they had surpassed expectations and now 94% of people living with HIV in Brighton & Hove know their status, of whom 99% are on effective treatment, 99% of whom are unable to pass the infection on to others due to untraceable levels of virus in their blood stream - great work! And wouldn’t it be wonderful if the government rolled out such a scheme nationwide? The reality is that we still face prejudice and fear 40 years on. By no means at the level it once was, but it is still there. Homophobia and misogyny continue to wreak havoc in society, and although things are changing, the attitudes around HIV are a symptom of an even deeper problem that we continue to chip away at. Oh, for a world without HIV transmission. It is possible. We can do it! And in Brighton & Hove I believe that we will. But whether the will exists to tackle the problem worldwide; well, the jury is still out on that one. D More info on the Village MCC:

Scene 53

“Pharmaceutical companies are among the most evil and greedy nightmares... What ‘research’ they embark upon is calculated only toward finding newer drugs to keep us, just barely, from dying, but not to make us better or, God forbid, cured” – Larry Kramer the original Ned, whom I knew from practically the moment he got off the bus from Florida, a shy kid so very intent on becoming a fine actor, which he did. Please know that AIDS is a worldwide plague. “Please know that no country in the world, including this one [the USA], especially this one, has ever called it a plague, or acknowledged it as a plague, or dealt with it as a plague.


“Please know that there is no cure.


The Welcome Abnormal Heart of Larry Kramer By Craig Hanlon-Smith @craigscontinuum ) American playwright and activist Larry Kramer died in late spring 2020. Kramer was a writer who pulled no punches whoever the reading audience. This included his own and most beloved gay community. In the early days of HIV/AIDS in New York, where he spent much of his professional life over the past 45 years, Kramer was a vital voice in the fight for a right to be heard. Kramer began life as a screen writer, rewriting the words of others and earning himself an Oscar nomination in the process. It was his ’70s novel Faggots which earned mixed reviews and hostility from many publications representing the gay male community. As the title would suggest, from here on in, Kramer adopted an exceptionally confrontational approach to writing and this novel navigated what Kramer defined as the shallow and promiscuous relationships among gay men in ’70s American culture. He continued to challenge gay and bisexual men on their behaviours as AIDS emerged and then swept through gay New York as though a viral heat-seeking missile with seemingly only homosexuals as its target. It was Kramer who co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and it was his own community who petitioned to have the word ‘Gay’ removed from its title. Internalised homophobia and shame knows no bounds. Disqualification from funding streams ensured that the name remained, however battle lines were drawn and Kramer often found himself shut out of the very groups he had helped to set up. Frustrated with the apathy of gay men in the face of HIV and AIDS in the ’80s, an apathy historically so often now rewritten by guilty middle-aged gay men

who at the time did shaft-all, he set up the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP). Oh and he wrote a play all about it. An honest account from his perspective of the whole sadistic episode as it unravelled before his eyes. This play, The Normal Heart, is currently in production at the Royal National Theatre on London’s South Bank. If you have not seen it, you should. There is a 2014 film adaptation currently available through Prime video for less than the price of a Big Mac. Watch that too. In 2011, the play was reproduced on Broadway and Kramer wrote a letter entitled Please Know, which was handed to every member of the audience as they left the venue. At some performances, the then 76-year-old Kramer himself stood at the theatre doorway and handed it out. The letter reads as follows: “Thank you for coming to see our play. “Please know that everything in The Normal Heart happened. These were and are real people who lived and spoke and died, and are presented here as best I could. Several more have died since, including Bruce, whose name was Paul Popham, and Tommy, whose name was Rodger McFarlane and who became my best friend, and Emma, whose name was Dr Linda Laubenstein. She died after a return bout of polio and another trip to an iron lung. Rodger, after building three gay/AIDS agencies from the ground up, committed suicide in despair. On his deathbed at Memorial [hospital], Paul called me (we’d not spoken since our last fight in this play) and told me to never stop fighting. “Four members of the original cast died as well, including my dear sweet friend Brad Davis,

“Please know that after all this time the amount of money being spent to find a cure is still minuscule, still almost invisible, still impossible to locate in any national health budget, and still totally uncoordinated. “Please know that here in America case numbers continue to rise in every category. In much of the rest of the world – Russia, India, Southeast Asia, Africa – the numbers of the infected and the dying are so grotesquely high they are rarely acknowledged. “Please know that all efforts at prevention and education continue their unending record of abject failure. “Please know that there is no one in charge of this plague. This is a war for which there is no general and for which there has never been a general. How can you win a war with no one in charge? “Please know that beginning with Ronald Reagan (who would not say the word ‘AIDS’ publicly for seven years), every single president has said nothing and done nothing, or in the case of the current president [Obama], says the right things and then doesn’t do them. “Please know that most medications for HIV/ AIDS are inhumanly expensive and that government funding for the poor to obtain them is dwindling and often unavailable. “Please know that pharmaceutical companies are among the most evil and greedy nightmares ever loosed on humankind. What ‘research’ they embark upon is calculated only toward finding newer drugs to keep us, just barely, from dying, but not to make us better or, God forbid, cured. “Please know that an awful lot of people have needlessly died and will continue to needlessly die because of any and all of the above. “Please know that the world has suffered at the very least some 75 million infections and 35 million deaths. When the action of the play that you have just seen begins, there were 41. “I have never seen such wrongs as this plague, in all its guises, represents, and continues to say about us all.”

54 Scene



Putting It Out There

No Shame

) Every so often the concept of death springs to mind. There’s an upbeat opening line for you! It happens relatively regularly. I’m wandering along, minding my own business, usually heading to work and I ponder what it’ll be like when my parents die and whether I’ll be able to cope. What’ll I do without them to guide and help me through things? I also think about my own death and whether I’ll be on my own when it happens as I don’t have a partner or children, so I ponder whether it’ll be days or weeks before I’m found. You know, cheerful stuff like that! Really starts the day off with a bang. Sometimes the thoughts go away without any problem, sometimes they stick.

) Brighton in 1986. Me, a tourist, checking out the Sunday night club, the Pink Coconut, with my mate Trevor. When the club had shut, I followed my nose to the nearest cruising spot in town and quickly became acquainted with a guy called Graham (Bona Clone to his friends). He was everything I had fancied – big moustache, leather chaps, 501s leather jacket, bottle of poppers and a cheeky smile.


“The worst thing you can do is nothing. Don’t over think and wallow. It gets us nowhere. In the immortal words of our Eurovision entry from 2016, Joe & Jake – ‘You’re not alone, we’re in this together’” It’s part and parcel of life, I guess, but for me it’s also mixed up in the whole anxiety/depression world that I inhabit. It goes with the territory. I find it helps my mental state enormously that when I start having these thoughts, it’s best to acknowledge them, look at them and get some outside help with them. Squirrelling the thoughts away just makes them fester and grow. The help usually comes by popping a post on social media. It helps to get the thoughts out of my head and into the more caring arms of my friends. They help by posting life-affirming and encouraging things which help clear my head and move on to thinking about other things like ‘Why does Tess Daley still not seem natural in front of camera after all these years?’.

“So, in the upcoming weeks and months, with a potentially tricky winter ahead of us, don’t hide yourself away. Don’t sit in the dark. It can be a hard thing to do, asking for help” This time of year doesn’t help either. Nights are drawing in; everything is darker; if you live alone then nights seem longer; you don’t go out as much; you spend more time on your own, and so on. Walking to work in the dark then walking home again in the dark is particularly grim. It’s very easy for the gloomy weather outside to permeate your head and turn it equally as gloomy. You’d think that after having to lockdown so many times and isolate and what have you, you’d get used to being on your own more and be accustomed to your own company. And it’s fine for a while but we are social animals, us humans, so it can be a strain. Best to do something about it. So, in the upcoming weeks and months, with a potentially tricky winter ahead of us, don’t hide yourself away. Don’t sit in the dark. It can be a hard thing to do, asking for help. Do it once though and it becomes much easier to do the second time around. I know that after I reach out for help, however I do it, everything seems much brighter and the gloom clears. The worst thing you can do is nothing. Don’t over think and wallow. It gets us nowhere. In the immortal words of our Eurovision entry from 2016, Joe & Jake – ‘You’re not alone, we’re in this together’.


I went back with Graham, had a great time and thought Brighton was the type of town where I would like to live. Within a week I was back and staying on Trevor’s floor. On one of my trips out on the town I went to the club known as Manhattan’s where I was to meet Graham once again. He worked there serving drinks from an alcove bar away, the walls were covered in pictures of ’80s style clones, Graham fitted in perfectly.

“What I'm so pleased about is through the Brighton AIDS Memorial project, Names Reading project and Hankie Quilt project is that collectively we can all remember and celebrate those we have lost to AIDS, including Graham: Bona Clone a lot of the time, Bona Moan on others, but always and forever, Lovely Graham” On Graham’s invitation, I moved from Trevor’s floor and in with him. Our relationship burnt bright and short, but a lovely connection was made between us. I’d see Graham on the scene all the time, then one day he came up to me to say he had been diagnosed HIV+. He was the first person I knew personally to tell me this; back then AIDS was still something that happened across the pond, then London and then, all too quickly, Brighton. It seems crazy that I’d not seen Graham for about six months when I bumped into him on Brighton Pier, and we had a lovely catch up. He looked great in ripped 501s and white T-shirt, same smile on his face; then a few weeks later I heard he was in hospital having succumbed to AIDS. I visited him just the once, he was unable to speak, but I am glad I had the chance to say goodbye. I was recently talking to the lovely Harry Hillery about his fantastic Instagram project, Brighton AIDS Memorial; the project where people are invited to post photos and memories of people they have known and loved who have died of AIDS. I was a little apprehensive of uploading a photo of Graham but I believe it is an honour to remember and remind others of him at his best. My reservation of publishing it is one I have gladly shaken off. Graham died from an AIDS-related illness, there is no shame in that and no stigma should be associated with it. What Harry’s project so wonderfully does is allows us to remember and celebrate the lives of those we lost to that virus. What I'm so pleased about is through the Brighton AIDS Memorial project, Names Reading project and Hankie Quilt project is that collectively we can all remember and celebrate those we have lost to AIDS, including Graham: Bona Clone a lot of the time, Bona Moan on others, but always and forever, Lovely Graham.

Scene 55 However, the phrase Peg the Patriachy was actually coined and trademarked by queer sex educator of colour Luna Matatas, who was not informed that Delevingne would be wearing the slogan on her MET outfit. Some also accused Delevingne of weaponising homophobic sentiments in her political statement, with Matatas confirming that the original statement was “about subversion, not about an anal sex act and not about men”. While I certainly think that Delevingne has helped to shine a light on inequality and LGBTQ+ issues throughout her career, this event was a clear example of the white feminist privilege that certainly does not exclude queer people.


The exhaustion of misogyny by one very tired queer. By Rachel Badham ) Since the coronavirus

pandemic began last year, I’ve found that getting outdoors and moving has been the greatest remedy for the isolation and boredom that many began experiencing as our normal routines were put on hold. Although I sometimes found it difficult to motivate myself to get active, the mental and physical rewards were always worth the struggle I faced to just put on my trainers and head out the door. However, recently I’ve become more aware of what is, for me, the only downside of regular outdoor exercise: exposure to cat-calling and snide, sexist comments that simultaneously make my blood boil while filling me with intense, heart-stopping anxiety This isn’t to say that cat-calling is a new phenomenon, but I’ve found myself experiencing an increasing amount of harassment recently, making me part of the estimated 97% of all self-identifying women, AFAB, and non-binary people who have been sexually harassed. And it isn’t just sexual comments; the casual misogyny of being asked to ‘give us a smile, love’ is just as belittling sometimes, with any clapbacks usually being met by further derogatory comments as the man asking me to crack a smile on his behalf realises that I do indeed “have my bitch pants on”. For me, finding a home within the LGBTQ+ community gave me huge relief from my anger at the inequalities that are entrenched in our daily lives, as I met so many like-minded people who have shared my experiences. But unfortunately, misogyny is still rife within the LGBTQ+ community, with LGBTQ+ women/ non-binary/AFAB folks often experiencing a unique kind of sexism that undermines our entire identity. As a pansexual person, I’m all

too aware of the erasure that bi+ people face at the hands of the deep-rooted misogyny that has made its way into regular discourse. After being asked by a young man at my previous customer service job if being queer meant that I’d be “down for a threesome”, I realised that even once I had learned to feel joy in my identity despite contending with heteronormative expectations, my sexuality was still dismissed as a pedestal for male pleasure. When examining how sexism has infiltrated the LGBTQ+ community itself, one of the most recent examples is the widespread criticism that Victoria Scone – the first cis woman to participate in Drag Race and self-proclaimed ‘celesbian’ – has faced since the announcement that she would be appearing on the show. And this didn’t just begin recently; drag performers who do not identify as cis men have long been subjected to misogyny, erasure and even abuse. While drag offers a mode of alternative gender expression and subversion that is quite possibly the pinnacle of Judith Butler’s theories of gender performativity, those already oppressed by patriarchal systems are often denied the opportunity to participate, even when it comes to performing as the gender that they identify with. Much of the harsh judgment that Victoria has faced has even come from the LGBTQ+ community – most notably white, cisgender men. Many mainstream attempts to address issues of sexism, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community, have been misguided to say the least, and often make a statement at the expense of another marginalised group. Take Cara Delevingne’s recent MET Gala outfit – the pansexual model wore a white ensemble with Peg the Patriachy printed across it, in what we can assume was meant to be a powerful protest against the systematic oppression of women and other marginalised genders.

Moreover, moves such as Delevingne’s are often performed in a binary way that actually reinforces sexist structures, as Delevingne’s misinterpretation of the phrase draws polarising distinctions between men and women while hinting at the power play between dominance and submission. What could have been a show-stopping and empowering statement just completely missed the mark, adding to the general disappointment I have been feeling recently as the force of misogyny and gender inequality seems to be constantly rearing its head everywhere.

“As a pansexual person, I’m all too aware of the erasure that bi+ people face at the hands of the deep-rooted misogyny that has made its way into regular discourse” I don’t quite know what the answer is, but tackling the extensive misogyny that continues to perpetuate pretty much every aspect of society often begins with simple conversations between one another about what we can do to be better allies to those affected by misogyny. Whether it’s standing up to harassment when we notice it, or educating ourselves about how misogyny affects people of all backgrounds, races and gender identities in varying ways, there are plenty of small things that can collectively make a difference. Even when daily exposure to misogyny gets exhausting, I’m grateful that I’ve grown up around a bunch of badass feminists, such as both my parents and my unashamedly outspoken gran, who have been incredible role models when it comes to both acknowledging and standing against oppression of marginalised people. But the truth is; many people aren’t as fortunate as I am, and while the misogyny I’ve found myself facing is real, it runs a lot deeper than the casually sexist remarks that I hear multiple times a week. For all the progress made, we can’t stop addressing misogyny until everyone can walk home safely, without fear of harassment or violence. Sources: Research finds that 97% of women in the UK have been sexually harassed – Open Access Government, March 11, 2021. Luna Matatas Wore 'Peg The Patriarchy' Long Before Cara Delevingne – Tracy Clark-Flory for Jezebel, September 15, 2021.

56 Scene


Gscene has been published every month for over 27 years, and is a rich chronicle of the history of our LGBTQ+ communities. Chris Gull raids the archives… “I’m grateful to the venues and businesses who have already pledged their support. Look out for the wide range of fundraising events over the coming months. We’re also asking for people who are interested in becoming more involved in the project to come forward. We want this process to be as open and inclusive as possible. The intention is to bring forward proposals for a public decision as to the nature and location of the memorial sometime in the spring. “I do want to single out Brighton Cares for their tremendous support of this campaign – it’s very much their swansong and the project will also mark the amazing contribution the charity has made to the city over the last 15 years. Thank you for all you’ve done .”

) One constant reminder when looking back

through the archives is how quickly things change and move on, while at the same time appearing to be stuck... We’re still talking about issues that we spoke about 15, 10 and five years ago.

November 2006 POLISH ACTIVIST SPEAKS OUT ) Bartek Lech, LGBT spokesperson for Zieloni 2004, the Polish Green Party, addressed a fringe LGBT meeting at the National Green Party Conference in Hove last month. He talked about the rise of the New Right in Poland and what it means for LGBT people there. AIDS MEMORIAL LAUNCH ) A permanent AIDS Memorial in Brighton comes one step nearer when the Mayor of Brighton, Cllr David Smith, officially launches the project on World AIDS Day. He will release a balloon on the Old Steine for everyone in Brighton who has died from HIV/AIDS, followed by a more formal reception in R-Bar afterwards. Two large petitions have been positively received by the City Council, which has pledged its support for the campaign. Brighton Cares has donated £5,000 towards the project, whilst further fundraising begins from the end of November. An independent finance committee has also been established, chaired by former Mayoress Sheila Levenson, to ensure transparency of all funds donated. City Councillor and Chair of Equalities, Paul Elgood, who is leading the campaign, said: “We’re off to a flying start, thanks to all those people who signed the petitions and the help and assistance of Brighton Cares. We now move to the next stage, which is to raise the rest of the funds to make the project possible. We’re not talking huge amounts of money.

November 2011 CAMERON EMBRACES GAY MARRIAGE IN KEYNOTE SPEECH ) David Cameron made his position on ‘gay marriage’ clear during his keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference: “I once stood before a Conservative conference and said it shouldn’t matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and another man. You applauded me for that. Five years on, we’re consulting on legalising gay marriage. To anyone who has reservations, I say: ‘Yes, it’s about equality, but it’s also about commitment’. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”


) Chris Gull, chair of the Rainbow Fund,

explains the difficulties in deciding which groups receive grants to provide effective frontline services to LGBT people in Brighton & Hove Until the advent of the Rainbow Fund local fundraising was somewhat haphazard, with fundraisers having to choose a specific charity to support, without knowledge of the bigger picture of need, and often responding to the strongest lobbying which came from larger organisations with paid fundraisers. Smaller and newer ‘grassroots’ organisations were often left out in the cold. The Rainbow Fund allows fundraisers to donate to a central fund, safe in the knowledge that the money will be distributed fairly to get the best value in supporting members of the local LGBT and HIV communities. Local organisations providing that support can also trust that their projects will get fair consideration on a clear and transparent playing field. So far, so good... Many grant giving organisations have very rigid criteria for what they will fund. When it was created, the Rainbow Fund decided not to go down that route. We have evolved a system where we try to assess the ‘bigger picture’ each time we announce a grants round and take into consideration the likely amount we have to give as grants and the factors that have changed (evidence of need, cuts in council funding, and how much has been donated for us to distribute, for example). Each time we announce a funding round we announce what we will give preference to. Once we have received the applications tough decisions are made. Each application is carefully considered. We try to get the best ‘bang for your buck’ on behalf of those who choose to donate to the Rainbow Fund, with the aim of supporting the local LGBT and HIV communities in the best possible and most effective way. Ultimately we have to have at the back of our minds, what it is about living with, or being affected by, HIV, or identifying as LGBT that needs support from our communities. The answer, judging by the projects which come to us for funding, is often ‘the consequences of stigma and social isolation’.

Scene 57

62 Gscene


Email by 10th Nov to book an advert





Opening Up (sort of) ) As expected, the government has abolished the travel traffic light system except for the red list, which now just has seven countries you probably wouldn’t want to go to anyway. From November 1, the US and Australia have reopened their borders to fully vaccinated visitors from the UK. But just going to any major European country, there are still a few hoops that you have to jump through with various tests, but these have been simplified and appear to be quite straightforward. The French and in particular the Dutch are almost rolling out the red carpet for all UK visitors, but you will need proof of vaccination to visit any museum, attraction or restaurant. To visit any EU countries, you will need proof of double vaccination and the usual PCR tests. The exciting news is that British Airways is on a journey to create a better, more sustainable future. It’s BA Better World. They’ve gone all sustainable and very green. I doubt that the fares will be very green. From October 1 you can no longer have a GB sticker on your car or, if it’s incorporated in your numberplate, you must now have a UK sticker as well. British motorists heading for Continental Europe must ‘cover or remove’ the traditional GB sticker, and instead use either a UK sticker or have a UK ‘signifier’ on their number plates. In Spain, Cyprus or Malta, a UK sticker is now mandatory regardless of the numberplates. You now have to pay £5 to drop off or collect someone from Gatwick or Heathrow and for that you are just allowed 10 minutes. You should use the short stay car parks if you’re collecting someone as the new fee can quickly rise to £25. Out of Office is one of the better gay travel agencies and is currently getting excited about the Greek islands, now they are of course completely accessible and are quite beautiful, but I think that we all knew that. The Greek tourism industry has had a particularly rough time during the pandemic as most of the famous resort islands rely almost entirely on tourism. It is also promoting a wonderful, but expensive, tour to Peru and the famous destination of Machu Picchu. Along with most travel companies, it relies heavily on the most over used word: luxury. What exactly is luxury? I recently saw it applied to toilet paper. There are quite a few gay travel companies, which can only be a good thing. I was once interested in Sandals, a very luxurious group of resorts which was decidedly aimed at the straight market. I spoke to one of the senior directors who, of course, hurriedly reassured me that of course same-sex couples would be welcomed at all their resorts. On further research it seemed that if you went you would be the only couple there. Make up your own mind on that one.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of statements in this magazine we cannot accept responsibility for the views of contributors, errors, or ommisions, or for matters arising from clerical or printers errors, or an advertiser not completing a contract

58 Scene

SERVICES DIRECTORY LGBTQ+ Services l Allsorts Youth Project Drop-in for LGBT or unsure young people under 26 Tues 5.30–8.30pm 01273 721211 or email info@

l Brighton & Hove Police Report all homophobic, biphobic or transphobic incidents to: 24/7 assistance call Police on 101 (emergencies 999) Report online at: LGBT team (not 24/7) email: • LGBT Officer PC James Breeds: Tel: 101 ext 558168

l Brighton & Hove LGBT Safety Forum Independent LGBT forum working within the communities to address and improve safety and access issues in Brighton & Hove. For more info: 01273 675445 or or

l Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard • LGBT Older People’s Project • LGBT Health Improvement and Engagement Project • LGBTQ Disabilities Project • Rainbow Café: support for LGBT+ people with Dementia • Volunteering opportunities 01273 234 009 Helpline hours: Wed & Thur, 7–9.30pm; trans-only webchat on Sun 3–5pm: call 01273 204 050 email webchat

l Brighton OneBodyOneFaith Formerly The Gay Christian Movement. Contact: Nigel Nash

l Brighton Women’s Centre Info, counselling, drop-in space, support groups 01273 698036 or visit

l Lesbian & Gay AA 12-step self-help programme for alcohol addictions: Sun, 7.30pm, Chapel Royal, North St, Btn (side entrance). 01273 203 343 (general AA line)

l LGBTQ+ Cocaine Anonymous Meeting every Tues 6.30-8pm, 6 Tilbury Pl, Brighton, BN2 0GY, CA isn’t allied with any outside organisation, and neither endorses or opposes any causes. Helpline 0800 6120225,

l LGBTQ+ NA Group Brighton-based LGBTQ+ (welcomes others) Narcotics Anonymous group every Tue 6.30–8pm, Millwood Centre, Nelson Row, Kingswood St. 0300 999 1212

l Mindout


Independent, impartial services run by and for LGBTQ people with experience of mental health issues. 24 hr confidential answerphone: 01273 234839 or email info@ and out of hours online chat

l Sussex Beacon

l Navigate Social/peer support group for FTM, transmasculine & gender queer people, every 1st Wed 7-9pm & 3rd Sat of month 1-3pm at Space for Change, Windlesham Venue, BN1 3AH.

l Peer Action Regular low cost yoga, therapies, swimming, meditation & social groups for people with HIV. contact@peeraction. net or

l Rainbow Families Support group for lesbian and/or gay parents 07951 082013 or

l Rainbow Hub Information, contact, help and guidance to services for LGBT+ communities in Brighton, Hove and Sussex at Rainbow Hub drop in LGBT+ one-stop shop: 93 St James Street, BN2 1TP, 01273 675445 or visit

l Some People Social/support group for LGB or questioning aged 14-19, Tue 5.30-7.30pm, Hastings. Call/text Cathrine Connelly 0797 3255076 or email

l TAGS – The Arun Gay Society Social Group welcome all in East & West Sussex Areas. Call/Text 07539 513171. More info: uk

l Victim Support Practical, emotional support for victims of crime 08453 899 528

l The Village MCC Christian church serving the LGBTQ community. Sundays 6pm, Somerset Day Centre, Kemptown. More info: 07476 667353,

HIV Prevention, Care & Treatment Services l AVERT Sussex HIV & AIDS info service 01403 210202 or

l Brighton & Hove CAB HIV Project Money, benefits, employment, housing, info, advocacy. Appointments: Tue-Thur 9am-4pm, Wed 9am-12.30pm Brighton & Hove Citizens Advice Bureau, Brighton Town Hall. 01273 733390 ext 520 or

l Clinic M

Meditation & discussion, every 2nd & 4th Thur, 5.30–7pm, Anahata Clinic, 119 Edward St, Brighton. 07789 861 367 or

Free confidential testing & treatment for STIs including HIV, plus Hep A & B vaccinations. Claude Nicol Centre, Sussex County Hospital, on Weds from 5-8pm. 01273 664 721 or

l Lunch Positive

l Lawson Unit

Lunch club for people with HIV. Meet/make friends, find peer support in safe space. Every Fri, noon–2.30pm, Community Room, Dorset Gdns Methodist Church, Dorset Gdns, Brighton. Lunch £1.50. 07846 464 384 or

l Martin Fisher Foundation

l LGBT+ Meditation Group

l MCC Brighton Inclusive, affirming space where all are invited to come as they are to explore their spirituality without judgement. 01273 515572 or

Medical advice, treatment for HIV+, specialist clinics, diet & welfare advice, drug trials. 01273 664 722 HIV self-testing kits via digital vending machines available from: The Brighton Sauna, Prowler, Marlborough Pub and The Rainbow Hub.

l Substance Misuse Service Brighton & Hove: Change Grow Live: 01273 731900, email, visit: www.

24 hour nursing & medical care, day care 01273 694222 or

l Terrence Higgins Trust services For more info about these free services go to the THT office, 61 Ship St, Brighton, Mon–Fri, 10am–5pm 01273 764200 or • Venue Outreach: info on HIV, sexual health, personal safety, safer drug/alcohol use, free condoms/lubricant for men who have sex with men • The Bushes Outreach Service @ Dukes Mound: advice, support, info on HIV & sexual health, and free condoms & lube • Netreach (online/mobile app outreach in Brighton & Hove): info/advice on HIV/sexual health/local services. THT Brighton Outreach workers online on Grindr, Scruff, & Squirt • Condom Male: discreet, confidential service posts free condoms/lube/sexual health info to men who have sex with men without access to East Sussex commercial gay scene • Positive Voices: volunteers who go to organisations to talk about personal experiences of living with HIV • Fastest (HIV testing): walk-in, (no appointment) rapid HIV testing service open to MSM (Men who have sex with Men). Anyone from the African communities, male and female sex workers and anyone who identifies as Trans or non-binary. We now offer rapid 15 minutes results for HIV/Syphilis: Mon 10am-8pm, Tues-Fri 10am-5pm, Thurs 10am-8pm (STI testing available) • Sauna Fastest at The Brighton Sauna (HIV testing): walk-in, (no appointment) rapid HIV testing service for men who have sex with men, results in 20 minutes: Wed: 6–8pm (STI testing available) • Face2Face: confidential info & advice on sexual health & HIV for men who have sex with men, up to 6 one hour appointments • Specialist Training: wide range of courses for groups/ individuals, specific courses to suit needs • Counselling: from qualified counsellors for up to 12 sessions for people living with/affected by HIV • What Next? Thurs eve, 6 week peer support group work programme for newly diagnosed HIV+ gay men • HIV Support Services: info, support & practical advice for people living with/affected by HIV • HIV Welfare Rights Advice: Find out about benefits or benefit changes. Advice line: Tue–Thur 1:302:30pm. 1-2-1 appts for advice & workshops on key benefits

l Terrence Higgins Eastbourne

• Web support & info on HIV, sexual health & local services via netreach and • Free condom postal service contact Grace Coughlan on 07584086590 or

l Sexual Health Worthing Free confidential tests & treatment for STIs inc HIVA; Hep vaccinations. Worthing-based 0845 111345645

National Helplines l National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline at and 0800 999 5428 l Switchboard 0300 330 0630 l Positiveline (Eddie Surman Trust) Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat & Sun 4-10pm 0800 1696806 l Mainliners 02075 825226 l National AIDS Helpline 08005 67123 l National Drugs Helpline 08007 76600 l THT AIDS Treatment phoneline 08459 470047 l THT direct 0845 1221200





Advertisers’ Map


























31-34 Marine Parade, BN2 1TR 01273 624462 21 Marine Tavern mm 13 Broad St, BN2 1TJ 01273 681284 22 Nautilus Lounge m 129 St James’s St, BN2 1TH 23 New Steine Hotel & Bistro mmm 12a New Steine, BN2 1PB 01273 681546 24 Nice ’n’ Naughty m 32 St James’s St, BN2 1RF









E 20




INA > 25 Paris House mm 21 Western Rd, BN3 1AF 01273 724195 26 Prowler m 112-113 St James’s St, BN2 1TH, 01273 603813 27 Queen’s Arms m 7 George St, BN2 1RH 28 Railway Club m 4 Belmont, Dyke Rd, BN1 3TF 01273 328682 29 Regency Tavern mm 32-34 Russell Sq, BN1 2EF 01273 325 652 30 Revenge m 32-34 Old Steine, BN1 1EL 31 Three Jolly Butchers mm 59 North Rd, BN1 1YD 01273 608571 32 Trading Post & Cup of Joe’s mmm 28 St George’s Rd, BN2 1EE 01273 698873 33 Velvet Jacks mm 50 Norfolk Sq, BN1 2PA 34 Lé Village mm 2-3 High St, BN2 1RP 01273 681634 35 Zone m 33 St James’s St, BN2 1RF ARDEN S





































































14 Curzon m m 7 Brighton Birdcage m 7 Rock St, BN2 1NF, 01273 697054 35 Gloucester Rd, BN1 4AQ 01273 624010 15 Dental Health Spa m 8 Brighton Box m 25 Dukes Lane, Ship Street, BN1 1BG, 14–15 Queens Rd, BN1 3WA 01273 710831 01273 722 036 9 Brighton Sauna m 16 Engleharts m 75 Grand Parade, BN2 9JA 49 Vallance Hall, Hove St, BN3 2DE 01273 689966 01273 204411 10 Brighton Tavern m 17 Fallen Angel m 99-100 Gloucester Rd, BN1 4AP 24 Grafton St, BN2 1AQ 01273 680365 18 Grosvenor Bar m 11 Bulldog m 16 Western St, BN1 2PG 31 St James’s St Mews, BN2 1RF 01273 438587 12 Camelford Arms mm 19 HITZone Hove m 30-31 Camelford St, BN2 1TQ Unit 23, Waterside House, Basin Rd 01273 622386 13 Charles Street Tap mm N, Hove, BN41 1UY, 07832 022002 8-9 Marine Parade, BN2 1TA 20 Legends Bar, Club & Hotel 01273 624091 mmm





1 Affinity Bar m 129 St James’s St, BN2 1TH 2 Amsterdam Bar & Kitchen mm 11-12 Marine Parade, BN2 1TL 01273 688 826 3 Bar Broadway m 10 Steine St, BN2 1TE 01273 609777 4 Bar Revenge m 5-7 Marine Parade, BN2 1TA CHU RCH 5 Barber ST Blacksheep m 18 St George’s Rd, BN2 1EB 01273 623408 6 Bedford Tavern mm 30 Western St, BN1 2PG 01273 739495





















































m Bars/Pubs m Food m Clubs m Hotels m Legal Services m Cafes m Shopping m Fitness/Health m Sauna


Birmingham Pride to return in September 2022


Dr Naomi Sutton becomes ambassador for Birmingham’s HIV/AIDS Memorial

) Birmingham Pride 2021 was a successful and sun-filled weekend that finally allowed the city to celebrate and be ‘stronger together’, after a difficult two years struggling with the pandemic. With this year’s Pride over, planning for 2022’s events are already underway.

Joining Dr Sutton as ambassadors are: Birmingham City Council leader Councillor Ian Ward, Lord Michael Cashman MBE, and Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands.

The campaign has also gained support from Birmingham City Council, the Public Art Gateway Group, Southside BID, numerous LGBTQ+ key figures, and other businesses. ) During Birmingham Pride 2021, Plus, BAHM has partnered with Saving the Birmingham AIDS and HIV Lives, an HIV charity founded by Dr Memorial (BAHM) team took part in the Steve Taylor. parade that marched through the streets of Birmingham, while on the main stage The BAHM has officially been granted of the event, artist Garry Jones was planning permission for the site at the joined by Dr Naomi Sutton to mark top of Hurst Street – as part of the their official launch. regeneration of Hippodrome Square – at the entrance to the Gay Village. Dr Sutton is a health consultant who The team have raised (at the time of has featured on TV’s The Sex Clinic, writing) £17,500 of their £160,000 and has recently joined the BAHM team target to make this project happen, so as an ambassador. She explained: “I now attention will be focused on the wholeheartedly support the erection continuous fundraising and applications of this beautiful memorial. It will act for grants. as a poignant reminder of the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic, and also spark They are holding a vigil for World conversations about what it means AIDS Day at the top of Hurst Street to live with HIV today. Sadly, there’s from 6pm on Wednesday, December still too much ignorance and stigma 1, followed by a fundraising Red Ball surrounding this virus, but I believe that at the Holiday Inn BCEC, Smallbrook through education and conversation this Queensway. Tickets £45 include threecan this be corrected. The visual impact course dinner and coffee, plus cabaret, of this memorial is strong, bold and and are available to buy online: www. non-apologetic and symbolises love and hope for the future.”

Usually held in May, Birmingham Pride this year was held in September to allow for the pandemic. Due to the Commonwealth Games and changes in next year’s bank holidays, the decision has been made to hold Birmingham Pride 2022 in September again. Birmingham Pride stated: “The effect of the global pandemic has impacted us all profoundly over the last two years. Being apart for so long since we last met back in 2019, having to arrange, move, cancel and rearrange the event no less than four times has been hugely challenging. With that in mind, the success of this year’s Pride March in particular, the biggest in our history, is cause for us all to be proud of ourselves and our community. The size and changing shape of the event itself was staggering this year and we should always endeavour to improve it and make it as accessible as we can. “Birmingham Pride is on a journey. The journey isn’t a sprint, it’s a neverending marathon. We will continue to listen, engage and be active, year-round. Birmingham Pride isn’t just one weekend, we will work hard throughout the year and expand on what we should do, together, as a community. “Birmingham Pride and all Prides around the world aren’t perfect and probably never will be. People will have differing views about what pride means and what it should be. Those views are all valid. “We must say a huge thank you to our stakeholders, partners, friends, sponsors, emergency services and our volunteers for your contribution and ongoing support. “Finally to YOU. If you marched, protested, performed or simply partied, thank you. Pride is yours, it is part of our community and who we are and we cannot thank you enough. We were Stronger Together.

David Puck creates murals for West Midlands drag queens

“Birmingham Pride celebrates its 25th anniversary next year and will be held over the weekend of Saturday, September 24 and Sunday, September 25, 2022.” D For tickets:

As part of Worcester Paint Festival this autumn, Puck has created a new tribute to Ginny Lemon – a local drag queen who starred on season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. If fans “fancy a slice”, they can see the

) Conrad ‘Connie’ Guest , who passed away in May, was a much-loved figure within the city’s LGBTQ+ community, volunteering with the Birmingham AIDS Trust in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and being responsible for the booking, organising and managing of the Cabaret Tent at Birmingham Pride. BLACK PEPPA MURAL

Ginny isn’t the only West Midlandsbased queen that Puck has created a mural for. Black Peppa – a drag performer, model and dancer and Church of Yshee winner 2019 – has ) David Puck is a British-American also received a painted tribute. The visual artist well known for their mural of Black Peppa can be found in murals of prominent queer figures, Digbeth, an area well known for its including drag legends RuPaul, Monet graffiti and street art. Exchange, Naomi Smalls and Sasha Velour.

Benefit gig to honour Conrad ‘Connie’ Guest



Ginny mural in the Arboretum. A full list of the Worcester Paint Festival locations can also be found at www.

This year the cabaret stage at Birmingham Pride was renamed the Conrad Guest Cabaret Stage. Coming up this month – in honour of Conrad – Marty Smith, Lawrence Barton and David Nash are organising a benefit gig at the Village Inn, Birmingham on Sunday, November 28 from 4-5pm. The benefit gig will be raising money for the charity Marie Curie and it will feature a line-up of great cabaret acts to be revealed soon.


SHOUT Festival to return in November

This year’s line-up includes a variety of events held in spaces and venues across Birmingham and the West Midlands, plus some events still available online, as they were last year, during the pandemic. There are crafting sessions at the Birmingham LGBT Centre, the Glee Club will play host to a comedy line-up, while at the Midlands Art Centre, Greg Homann will share extracts from his upcoming, new verbatim-based theatre work In Our Skin that highlights the experiences of gay men in Birmingham and Johannesburg, South Africa. SHOUT’s line-up will also feature art and photography exhibitions, musicals and other shows, and even see the return of Birmingham’s Vogue Ball. D For the full line-up and to book tickets, visit Many of the events on offer are free but you may still need to book.

New measures announced – including £200,000 to support hate crime victims – after attacks in Birmingham’s Gay Village ) Birmingham’s Gay Village has recently seen a disturbing spate of violent hate crimes against its LGBTQ+ community, leaving many concerned about their safety. In a statement from West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Foster, Councillor Ian Ward, and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, they explained the steps being taken to protect Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ community. The statement reads: “The recent abhorrent, vicious homophobic attacks in Birmingham disgust the three of us in equal measure. For someone to be assaulted because of who they are or who they love is simply not acceptable. “But hate will not win and our message to the homophobes is that they do not represent Birmingham, and they never will. Everyone has a right to feel safe on our streets, no matter where they are, day or night. “West Midlands Police has increased patrols in and around the Gay Village and the PCC has commissioned a new £200,000 service to support victims of hate crime. “Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council is providing free hate crime training to businesses at Southside venues as well as helping to develop a space open to anyone who may be feeling vulnerable when out and about... “Whilst the West Midlands Combined Authority has been working with Southside Bid and other partners to look at issues such as CCTV and 24/7 public transport to improve night-time safety in the area. “We’re a diverse city. We’re an inclusive city. We’re a city that says no to crimes like these. “The message from us could not be clearer: We’re proud of our region’s diversity. We are proud of our difference. We all feel an unwavering duty to stand together, to root out these crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

) It has been announced that Pride Sports – as part of the Pride House Birmingham 2022 legacy programme – is bidding to bring the European Gay & Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) EuroGames to Birmingham in the summer of 2024.

of Pride House Birmingham 2022’s legacy programme. Pride House aims “to create a safe space and welcoming, inclusive environment for LGBTIQ+ spectators, athletes and officials at the Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham in 2022”.

Lou Englefield, director of Pride EGLSF was founded in 1989 and its Sports leading the “aims include: combatting against bid said: “We have discrimination in sport on grounds of worked together with sexual orientation, gender identity and Birmingham City expression and sex characteristics and Council, UK sport’s to stimulate integration in sport and national governing emancipation of LGBTIQ+ athletes.” bodies and local The federation has a membership LGBTQ+ sports clubs to bring together of over 120 European LGBTQ+ what we believe is an extremely strong sports clubs and organisations, and bid. it licences and governs EuroGames, “We want not only to host a fantastic, an annual European LGBTQ+ sport well organised event, as a celebration championships. of LGBTQ+ sporting enjoyment and Pride Sports was formed in 2006 and excellence, but also to build the works “across England and Wales to participation in sport and physical improve access to sport and physical activity of LGBTQ+ people in the West activity for LGBTIQ+ people”. Midlands” The bid for the EuroGames to be D For more info on EGLSF, visit: held in Birmingham in 2024, just two years after the city hosts the Commonwealth Games, is part LOU ENGLEFIELD


) SHOUT Festival, Birmingham’s annual festival of queer art and culture, which “celebrates and platforms the work of LGBTQ+ artists and communities”, is returning in 2021 from November 5 until November 28.

Bid to bring the European Gay & Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) EuroGames to Birmingham in 2024

62 Scene

When Slackkr finished their set, the punk jumped up on the stage, and nabbed the set list taped up, he then gave it to the young lad he had been dancing with as a memento. That is the quality of BSP fans. BSP have been together about seven years, lead singer T.J. McFaull had a day down in Brighton and, in the best rock & roll traditions, just never left. “We always knew that a flash in the pan wasn’t for us and we always wanted to take the time to build a community around what we believe in,” says TJ.


Shea Coffey from Medway Pride Radio tunes into one of Brighton’s best musical exports ) Why are we writing about one of Brighton’s

current best exports for a column about Medway? Well, I could say we are hoping to attract them to our corner of the world, which is true. I could say that musically they seem to be everywhere right now, which is also true. I could add that they are one of the leading sounds of Brighton’s vibrant music scene, but this just goes without saying. While all of this is undoubtedly true, the Brighton-based Bar Stool Preachers (BSP) have so much more going on. I caught up with them a couple of weeks ago at the Fighting Cocks in Kingston, which has for 40 years been the bellwether of good bands, and BSP are no strangers to the venue.

“We’ll never question the big stuff, we’ll never have racism at our shows, we’ll never have sexism at our shows, we’ll never have bigotry at our shows, or any divisive politics at our shows...” Supported by Portsmouth’s up and coming Slackrr, friends of Medway Pride Radio, and a band new to me, Call Me Malcolm, these guys are one to watch! BSP showed admirably why they have been the top of the game for the last five years. For Brightonians and residents of further afield who do not know of BSP, here is a little info. They are a punk/funk/ska ensemble, which in the hands of lesser musicians would be a

disaster. Think Madness but in 1978! These guys know the root of their music, they know their craft and rarest of all they know the audience, which if I am totally honest is more than I knew. Let’s be honest, punk/ska is not always known (at least in my experience) for being LGBTQ+ inclusive. I could write for an hour about BSP’s music. Their name, by the way, is a reference to a Chas & Dave song. But I want to use the column to first tell you about something I witnessed at the gig and then introduce you to the lead singer of the band. The Fighting Cocks is a small venue, the largest of the underground scene in SW London. We were there early and a young lad of about 20 was there for the opening act, Slackrr, now it is important you know this lad had cerebral palsy. As Slackrr opened up, he moved to the front of the still spacious area and proceeded to dance. Watching a young man with cerebral palsy dance without a care is without doubt one of the most inspiring things I have ever seen. I was watching this while chatting to a punk (and when I say punk, I mean a proper punk with a foot-high mohican), sorry my friend I did not catch your name. He was there for the BSP, I established that shortly before he excused himself and joined the young lad dancing.

The guy had me at community, our ideals are the same... “...We knew that wasn’t going to be the easiest thing to do, to deny right-wing people coming to our gigs, because of my heritage, but we managed, and we toured America seven times in the 18 months before Covid.” The interview goes on... Anyone who does regular interviews will tell you they are dull, but TJ has my attention for the 20 minutes we speak. The guy gets it, he is not speaking for himself, nor the band, or even his skin colour/ sexuality/gender/beliefs... It is clear BSP stand for so much more, and TJ is aware that ‘drivel and hatred’ are something the band’s music can overcome. “People are really fed up of being told what to do, and we have a phrase in the band, soft hands and open hearts”... I’ll stop there as how can you not love this guy and this band? Then TJ says: “We will never question the big stuff, we will never have racism at our shows, we will never have sexism at our shows, we will never have bigotry at our shows, or any divisive politics at our shows, that is the poison that we are all holding on to. “We play this wonderful blend of ska and rock & roll, and punk and pop punk and stuff, and everyone is having a good time... And then we give them the message: Enjoy yourself and dance but we need to see changes in the world.” Does this ideal work? I have no idea, but speaking as a trans woman, I was welcomed by the band and the fans, I was safe, and I had a hell of a time. If this is the typical Brighton band, Brighton should be very, very proud!

Scene magazine is a not for profit Community Interest Company. We rely on donations and advertising to continue to bring you LGBTQ+ community news and information, together with listings, events and features. Please consider making a donation to help us cover the cost of distribution, production and printing.

Articles inside

More To Me Than HIV. The Exhibition article cover image

More To Me Than HIV. The Exhibition

pages 24-25
Jason Reid: It´s Not all Live, Laugh Love article cover image

Jason Reid: It´s Not all Live, Laugh Love

page 20
SHADES OF GRAY article cover image


pages 40-41
WORLD AIDS DAY DIARY article cover image


page 21
Lunch Positive article cover image

Lunch Positive

page 23
Saving Lives With Dr. Steve Taylor article cover image

Saving Lives With Dr. Steve Taylor

page 30
World Aids Day article cover image

World Aids Day

page 31
Innovation and collaboration in HIV article cover image

Innovation and collaboration in HIV

page 32


page 33
LONG-TERM SURVIVOR article cover image


page 33
Out of the Darkness article cover image

Out of the Darkness

page 36
Soul Food article cover image

Soul Food

page 37


pages 38-39
Spotlight... article cover image


page 42


page 43
Still Taboo article cover image

Still Taboo

pages 44-45
Hello, Dolly article cover image

Hello, Dolly

page 46
#Daleypop article cover image


page 47
CLASSICAL NOTES article cover image


page 48
All That Jazz article cover image

All That Jazz

page 49
ART MATTERS article cover image


page 49
At Home article cover image

At Home

page 50
Book Review article cover image

Book Review

page 51
HYDES’ HOPES article cover image


page 52
ARTS CORNER article cover image


page 52
CRAIG’S THOUGHTS article cover image


page 53
HOMELY HOMILY article cover image


page 54
STUFF & THINGS article cover image


page 54
RAE’S REFLECTIONS article cover image


page 55
TRAVELLER’S TALES article cover image


page 57
Benefit gig to honour Conrad ‘Connie’ Guest article cover image

Benefit gig to honour Conrad ‘Connie’ Guest

page 60
Birmingham Pride to return in September 2022 article cover image

Birmingham Pride to return in September 2022

page 60
David Puck creates murals for West Midlands drag queens article cover image

David Puck creates murals for West Midlands drag queens

page 60
Dr Naomi Sutton becomes ambassador for Birmingham’s HIV/AIDS Memorial article cover image

Dr Naomi Sutton becomes ambassador for Birmingham’s HIV/AIDS Memorial

page 60
Bid to bring the European Gay & Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) EuroGames to Birmingham in 2024 article cover image

Bid to bring the European Gay & Lesbian Sports Federation (EGLSF) EuroGames to Birmingham in 2024

page 61
New measures announced – including £200,000 to support hate crime victims – after attacks in Birming article cover image

New measures announced – including £200,000 to support hate crime victims – after attacks in Birming

page 61
SHOUT Festival to return in November article cover image

SHOUT Festival to return in November

page 61
BAR STOOL PREACHERS article cover image


page 62
Shades of Gray article cover image

Shades of Gray

pages 40-63
FAT PIGEON ART article cover image


pages 26-33
BRIGHTON SAUNA article cover image


pages 34-39
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.