Scene magazine - JANUARY 2022

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JAN 2022

t @SceneLGBTQ f @Gscene.Brighton D


Centre Stage


11-12 Marine Parade,Brighton,BN2 1TL 01273 670976 @centrestagebrighton


Jan 2022


Scene magazine

D T @SceneLGBTQ F GScene.Brighton I SceneMagazineUK

Editorial team

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



Photographer: Nick Ford Photography i Model: Liz Ridgway i



Jason Reid on his grooming regime


Chris Jepson, Simon Pepper, Nick Ford

Craig Hanlon-Smith on the sports superstars stepping up for LGBTQ+ rights


Personal trainer Catherine Duffy on getting fitter and getting stronger


Liz Ridgway on her journey to trans woman and fitness trainer


We talk to two people who have set up their own fitness businesses


Andi Derrick on how a life-changing experience transformed her approach


Stories of Hair Happiness from the LGBTQ+ community


Roger Wheeler goes house plant crazy

22 DON’T POSTPONE JOY © Scene 2022


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, Dale Melita


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


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

Doing more of what you enjoy is the key to happiness, by Lisa McGarva

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.


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.


In its 6th birthday year, the Trans Can Sport team share top tips to get and stay active Get your running shoes for Brighton Half Marathon on Sunday, February 27


Amalabandhu tells us about their Gender & Sexual Diversity Group Alex Klineberg gets up, close and personal with Stuart Linden Rhodes, accidental chronicler of northern England’s gay nightlife in the 1990s


4 News 48 Birmingham


36 Page’s Pages 37 #DaleyPop 38 At Home with Hootman 39 Classical Notes 40 Art Matters 40 All That Jazz 41 Arts Corner



41 42 43 43 48 44 45




Taofique Folarin has something to say about being queer and their community


We catch up with ‘sledgendary’ founding member of iconic disco vocal group


Fitzrovia Chapel announces exhibition on the renowned performance artist The World AIDS Day Concert returned to Brighton last month Catherine Muxworthy sits down to chew the fat with stand-up comedian and consumer rights hero Joe Lycett ahead of his UK tour

35 NEIL BARTLETT – ADDRESS BOOK The author tells us about his new page turner

Stuff & Things Craig’s Thoughts Twisted Gilded Ghetto Travellers’ Tales Hydes’ Hopes Rae’s Reflections Homely Homily

45 Classifieds 46 Services Directory 47 Advertisers’ Map




The Bears Are Back! Brighton Bear Weekend to return with community fundraising and furry fun in July

MindOut announces series of workshops for older LGBTQ+ people Dresback, 50+ Project Advocacy Worker, and Dawn Hayes, 50+ Project Leader.

) The Brighton Bear Weekend (BBW) team has announced this year’s four-day event will take place from Thursday, July 14 to Sunday, July 17 to raise vital funds for the Brighton Rainbow Fund. As in previous years, BBW 2022 will begin with the famous (and always fully booked) BBW Quiz. The Mr Brighton Bear competition, and the legendary garden party, will be key events, but there will be other activities planned to ensure all tastes and interests are well and truly satisfied. The team is also hoping to bring back the ever popular Club Night.


Although aimed primarily at the bear, cub and otter community (and their friends of course), everyone supporting the community is welcome. The weekend always attracts lots of furry (and not so furry) men and their friends from around the world. Graham Munday, chairman of the BBW organising committee, said “We’re thrilled that BBW 2021 was so successful, with the number of people attending events across the weekend exceeding our expectations. Needless to say, we’re excited to be back preparing an even bigger BBW. “We can also announce that, because the weekend was so successful, BBW is donating £4,000 to the Brighton Rainbow Fund. We look forward to welcoming everyone to what we hope will be an even bigger BBW 2022!” ) As you can imagine, staging major events like this takes some doing. Everyone involved is a volunteer and the guys are keen to hear from anyone who would like to donate some of their time to help make the weekend a huge success. You’ll be working with a crowd of people who are fun, sociable, hardworking and committed. Find out more at volunteer and for further information regarding specific events taking place within the weekend, visit and subscribe to the newsletter for updates.

Revenge Brighton raises £2,400 for LGBTQ+ charities ) Revenge Brighton raised a fantastic £2,400 for LGBTQ+ charities at its 30th anniversary celebrations in November. The funds will be split between the Brighton Rainbow Fund, Trans Black Pride and Terrence Higgins Trust. Club Revenge said: “A HUGE shout-out to all of you who not only celebrated our 30th anniversary with us but also supported our fundraising efforts for local LGBTQ+ charities with your generous donations. You helped us raise an amazing £2,400! Thank you beauties.”

• Assertiveness skills for LGBTQ+ people over 50 on Tuesday, February 22 with facilitators Karen Dresback and Dawn Hayes. These workshops are available to any people over 50 years old who identify as LGBTQ+, as well as any MindOut service users, volunteers, staff, and trustees.

) As part of MindOut’s Age Matters project, the LGBTQ+ mental health charity is planning a series of workshops for older LGBTQ+ people, which will be held in-person at Community Base, 113 Queens Road, Brighton BN1 3XG

You will be able to book individually for each session on the MindOut website where you can fill in a quick workshop assessment form. Alternatively, you can register your interest by emailing info@mindout. or calling MindOut on 01273 234839

D For more info on MindOut, visit: • Self-esteem for LGBTQ+ people over 50 on Tuesday, January 25 at 1pm with facilitators Karen •


Brighton & Hove Pride announces theme of 30th Anniversary LGBTQ+ Community Parade is LOVE · PROTEST · UNITY

The 30th anniversary is the perfect time to reaffirm Pride’s campaign commitments. Following meetings with community groups and activists, and to make the Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade more diverse and inclusive for all, Pride has made a number of changes for 2022



undisputed highlights of the Brighton & Hove Pride weekend and is a glorious showcase of the city’s charities, community groups and small businesses as well as invaluable emergency services, the NHS and statutory partners. It’s one of the biggest and brightest events in the city’s events calendar, with over 300,000 people thronging the city’s streets to participate in and watch the parade of community and campaign groups, and the all-singing, all-dancing carnival of colour as it wends its way from Hove Lawns to Preston Park for We Are Fabuloso, the official Brighton & Hove Pride charity fundraiser. For obvious reasons of safety and to help Pride plan steward and security requirements, all parade participants will need to pre-register as in previous years and Pride is committed to ensuring that the Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade retains its community focus and guarantee that at least two thirds of entrants will be charities, community groups and local LGBTQ+ businesses. Brighton & Hove Pride said: “With community at its heart, LOVE · PROTEST · UNITY will bring the city together to remember, to celebrate and to campaign.”

) After two years of not being able to celebrate Pride in our city, Brighton & Hove Pride has announced the theme for the (delayed) 30th anniversary Brighton & Hove Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade will be LOVE · PROTEST · UNITY and applications are now open via This theme was created to embrace Pride’s continued campaign aims: • Love: A declaration of love for all LGBTQ+ siblings and confirmation that Pride will always stand together as a community. • Protest: Acknowledging that the Pride movement has its roots in protest and committing to continuing the fight for global human rights.

This 30th anniversary is the perfect time to reaffirm Pride’s campaign commitments. Following meetings with community groups and activists, and to make the Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade more diverse and inclusive for all, Pride has made a number of changes for 2022. Building on recent years, Pride will continue to campaign for LGBTQ+ human rights around the world by: • Calling for the immediate ban on conversion therapy; an overhaul of the Gender Recognition Act; • Safe haven for LGBTQ+ refugees fleeing persecution and oppressive regimes;

Pride will facilitate the participation of any local LGBTQ+ community groups who wish to join the LGBTQ+ Community Parade. Individuals who would like to march and protest are welcome to join the campaign groups at the head of the parade. In solidarity with LGBTQ+ migrants around the world, Pride will not be allowing the organisations that facilitate human rights abuse to participate. In keeping with the parade standards Pride introduced in 2017, any businesses in the parade should be able to show evidence of having pro-LGBTQ+ policies and support the LGBTQ+ community year round. Any floats or banners must include messaging in support of LGBTQ+ human rights. The Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade is one of the

In the last seven years, Pride has raised over £936,000 for the Brighton Rainbow Fund, Pride Cultural Development Fund and Pride Social Impact Fund. The Brighton Rainbow Fund has a remit to receive donations and to use them to give grants to LGBTQ+ and HIV groups and organisations in Brighton & Hove. The Pride Social Impact Fund benefits local good causes giving grants to a range of local groups. D For more info on Brighton & Hove Pride, visit:: D For more info on the Brighton Rainbow Fund, visit: BRIGHTON & HOVE PRIDE. PIC: CHRIS JEPSON

• Unity: As hard fought for rights are being eroded around the world, a recognition that differences make us stronger and a commitment to campaign until all are treated equally.

• Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brighton & Hove Pride is the UK’s biggest Pride Festival operated by Brighton Pride CIC, a not-for-profit community organisation. All tickets revenue raised goes directly to the operational and running costs of producing the Pride Festival, Pride LGBTQ+ Community Parade, Pride Village Party and community fundraising.

Scotland allocates crisis funding to trans healthcare sector ) As part of the 2022-2023 budget, the Scottish Government has dedicated £2million of “crisis funding” to the trans healthcare sector in an effort to relieve pressure on the country’s four NHS gender identity clinics. Delivered on December 9 by finance secretary Kate Forbes, the budget “focuses on tackling the climate emergency, reducing inequalities and supporting economic recovery”. It has also dedicated a record £18billion to health and social care. Rainbow Greens, the LGBTQ+ wing of Scottish Greens, praised the decision to fund trans healthcare providers, saying: “This interim funding will help relieve pressure on the gender identity services while the system is overhauled thanks to the Greens’ cooperation agreement.”

Hold the phone! Switchboard is not just recruiting helpline listeners in a non-client facing role?

If you answer 'YES', Brighton & Hove Switchboard, a charity for LGBTQ+ people looking for a sense of community, support or information, is looking for admin volunteers to help the smooth running of the Switchboard machine. The deadline to apply is Sunday, January 9. ) Interested in supporting Brighton's oldest LGBTQ+ charity? Fancy helping

DTo apply or for more info, visit: www.

Lunch Positive holds festive community lunch LUNCH POSITIVE VOLUNTEERS

New data shows drop in HIV diagnoses


pic cap


) The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) last month published a report on HIV data in 2020 showing that there were 2,630 new diagnoses in 2020 compared to 3,950 in 2019 (-37%). According to the data, the decline in new HIV diagnoses in England was sharpest in gay and bisexual men, which fell by 41% between 2019 and 2020. The drop in testing was not as pronounced in gay and bisexual men, suggesting that the year-on-year reductions in transmission in this group have continued. There was also evidence that gay and bisexual men had fewer partners in 2020 and accessing PrEP continued. However, according to UKHSA, the decline in new HIV diagnoses were not seen across all gay and bisexual men, and was steepest in white men, men living in London and younger men. In 2020, the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets were met across the UK for the first time with 95% of all people diagnosed, 99% of those in care on treatment and 97% of those on treatment virally suppressed, meaning that 91% of all people living with HIV in care were virally suppressed in England and the UK. However, the total number of people with diagnosed HIV infection who accessed HIV services in 2020 was lower than in 2019. An estimated 97,740 people were living with HIV in England in 2020 and of these, an estimated 4,660 were unaware of their infection. Dr Valerie Delpech, Head of HIV Surveillance at UKHSA, said: “The continued decline in HIV diagnoses made in England is encouraging, but last year’s data needs to be considered in the context of a Covid-19 pandemic which saw prolonged and unprecedented public health restrictions, coupled with intense pressure on health services resulting in a decline in HIV testing overall. “It is now crucial that we continue to ramp up testing and start people on treatment at the earliest possible opportunity. We must address inequalities and find creative ways to achieve a reduction in transmission across all populations. We welcome the HIV Action Plan and expanding of HIV testing to provide greater opportunities for people to be offered an HIV test throughout the NHS.” D For the full report, visit:

) HIV charity Lunch Positive served our wonderful members and volunteers 78 people at its Festive Lunch, served for Lunch Positive’s Festive Lunch! 78 people in total; a brilliant day.” with all the trimmings, last month. D For more info on Lunch Positive, visit: Gary Pargeter, service manager at Lunch Positive, said: “Massive thanks to

Amsterdam Bar & Kitchen to become Centre Stage! Centre Stage opening January 2022 LIVE MUSIC. CABARET. BAR & RESTAURANT

SANDRA on January 16; ABBA Party - Abalicious with all the hits on January 23; cabaret with Rose Garden on January 30. All events kick off 5pm. New menu launching in February, seven days a week with a Sunday roast. Centre Stage, 11-12 Marine Parade, Brighton BN2 1TL. Tel: 01273 670976.

) With New Year all about change, 11-12 Marine Parade,Brighton,BN2 Amsterdam Bar & Kitchen 1TL is to 670976 become Centre01273 Stage, offering live music, laughter and cabaret from Saturday, January 15 at 7pm. @centrestagebrighton

Following the glittering launch event on January 15, expect top-flight entertainment from acts, including: cabaret with the ‘Whore of Hampstead’

f @centrestagebrighton ROSE GARDEN





Government extends consultation to shape future Conversion Therapy legislation

) The UK government announced last month it has extended the consultation on legislation to ban conversion therapy by eight weeks to “ensure the widest possible views are taken into account, as part of shaping the legislation”. Building upon engagement that has laid the foundations for proposals to ban conversion therapy, ministers have extended the deadline so that those “who have not yet had the chance to respond can do so”.


Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, said: “We are absolutely determined to stamp out conversion therapy, and want to hear all views on the best ways to do that.

Sea Serpents to return on January 3 with Try Rugby sessions

) Brighton & Hove Sea Serpents Rugby Football Club (BHSS) players enjoyed a well-earned break for the festive period and will return on Monday, January 3. If you're new to rugby, why not get in touch and join the Try Rugby scheme? Try Rugby, £20 for eight weeks, will see you partnered up with a buddy and given guidance to develop the skills to safely and confidently play rugby at a gay and inclusive rugby club.

During the programme you’ll learn all the skills relating to rugby, including passing, catching, kicking, running with the ball and tackling. BHSS provides a safe, inclusive and non-judgemental environment for LGBTQ+ and ally men. BHSS Try Rugby sessions take place at Hove Rugby Club, Hove Recreation Ground, Shirley Dr, Hove BN3 6NQ every Monday and Wednesday from 7-8.30pm, starting Monday, January 3. D To sign up, visit: https://tinyurl. com/5n7yuwky

“The consultation on our proposals has been extended by eight weeks, to ensure anyone who has not yet responded has the opportunity to do so.

“We are absolutely committed to a ban which will make sure LGBT people can live their lives free from the threat of harm or abuse, whilst protecting free speech as well as protecting under-18s from being channeled into an irreversible decisions about their future.” The consultation will close February 4, 2022 and you can respond by visiting Conversion therapy, the pseudo-scientific practice discredited by the World Health Organisation and more than 60 health professional associations from over 20 countries, was banned in Canada and France last month, following bans in Brazil, Ecuador, Germany and Malta.

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Royal Museums Greenwich to mark LGBTQ+ History Month

Rainbow Chorus announces New Members’ Night

) Throughout February, Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) will mark LGBTQ+ History Month with a season of events, workshops, and talks. RMG will work with members of the LGBTQ+ community and draw from RMG’s own collection to celebrate and reflect on LGBTQ+ lives throughout history. ) OUTing the Past on February 10 from 6.30pm, suitable for 12+, free: The National Maritime Museum (NMM) will host the national festival of OUTing the Past, dedicated to the celebration of queer history, with talks that will take you on a historic journey of queer resilience, brilliance, and imagination. D national-maritime-museum/outing-past

Tim Pike, the Rainbow Chorus’ membership secretary, said: “January is a great time to join the LGBTQ+ choir. The next concert performance is not until July, so the pressure is off. There’s really good time to adjust to the new routine and surroundings; get to know those in your voice section, like sopranos or basses. “The New Members’ Night starts with a brief voice placement meeting with our Aneesa, our amazing musical

director. From there, new members are invited to join RC+, our monthly Saturday workshop choir, and the section best suited to their voice. Folk can experience a full rehearsal and get a good feel for the Chorus, plus meet and chat with existing members.” If you’re LGBTQ+ and interested in joining the Rainbow Chorus, drop Tim an email at rainbowchorusmembers@gmail. com Tim is happy to answer any questions and book you in for 24 January if you’d like to give it a try. D

Aneesa Chaudhry raises funds for the Brighton Rainbow Fund the Brunswick pub last month. Chris Gull, Chair of the Brighton Rainbow Fund, “Thank you so much to Aneesa for raising these funds. This is another example of how our local community of talented performers contribute to the benefit of others. It’s much appreciated” D For more info on the Brighton ) Aneesa Chaudhry and her Eastern Flavours Band raised £60 Rainbow Fund, visit: for the Brighton Rainbow Fund at

) Queer Eye for the Museum Guide on February 22 from 6.30pm, suitable for 12+, online, free: Queer Eye for the Museum Guide explores the multiple ways in which objects can be interpreted and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community’s ability to subvert heteronormative narratives through camp, irony, and humour. For this online event, a selected group of artists, academics and activists interpret objects in the RMG collection that aren’t necessarily connected to LGBTQ+ histories with a purposeful LGBTQ+ lens. D www.rmg.


) The Rainbow Chorus, the friendly, fully inclusive LGBTQ+ choir, has announced its New Members’ Night for Monday, January 24, 2022.

) Fierce Queens at Queen’s House on February 25 from 7pm, suitable for 18+, adult £16/student £12: An annual queer takeover of the Queen’s House with Fierce Queens, Kings, and everyone in between. Hosts Adam All and Apple Derrieres will take you on an underwater journey to explore the magical depths of the Queen’s House. Featuring gender diverse performances, queer history treasure hunts and much more. D whats-on/queens-house/fierce-queenssecrets-deep



) Rainbow Week: This February half-term, join free workshops to mark LGBTQ+ History Month and discover LGBTQ+ histories around NMM. Families and children of any age can take part in protest-poster and flag-making workshops and enjoy an opportunity to learn more about inclusion. Dates: February 13, 15, 17, 20 at 11am, 1pm, 2pm, 4pm. D D For more listings and info, visit:


Sussex Beacon to fundraise at ‘Round the Horne’ at Theatre Royal

Allsorts seeks LGBTQ+ Youth Support Worker

) The Apollo Theatre Company is about to embark on a national tour of Round the Horne, including one night at the Theatre Royal Brighton on January 31.

) Sussex-based LGBTQ+ youth charity, Allsorts Youth Project, is currently seeking to recruit an experienced and enthusiastic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Worker to induct young people into the project, facilitate groups and offer one-to-one support.

On the night, Tim Astley (the company’s founder) and the theatre will be supporting the Sussex Beacon with the charity doing bucket collections at the end of the show. With its infamous movie spoofs and hilarious regular characters such as Julian & Sandy, Rambling Syd Rumpo and J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, Round the Horne was a cultural phenomenon, regularly drawing up to 15 million listeners per week and making stars of Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick and Betty Marsden. Tim Astley said: “We are very pleased to be supporting the Sussex Beacon with this production.



“Round the Horne is rightly still loved by the LGBTQ+ community, as well as by the British public as a whole and I hope our show serves as a fitting tribute to the brilliant work the original show did to help break down barriers. “It is fitting that we should help to pay this forward by supporting the Beacon and the fantastic work they do with people living with HIV across Sussex.”

The successful candidate will act as a positive LGBTQ+ role-model for service users and join a growing, professional and passionate team who support LGBTQ+ children, young people and their families and challenge exclusion, prejudice and discrimination in all areas of their lives. Katie, Allsorts’ CEO, said: “We are thrilled to be in a position to recruit a new LGBTQ+ Youth Support Worker, and to continue expanding our services across Sussex. The last two years have been so challenging for all of us, and for many LGBTQ+ children & young people, specialist services like Allsorts’ have been a lifeline. If you

have experience in this area and would like to be part of our growing team that supports LGBTQ+ children & young people across Sussex, we would love to hear from you.” Allsorts' new full-time position at £24,491 per annum is open to all members of the LGBTQ+ community and will offer a fixed term contract until February 2023 (subject to passing probation and funding thereafter). Allsorts particularly encourages applications from PoC, those with disabilities / neurodivergence and/or those who are from other marginalised groups in society, as these groups are currently underrepresented in the Allsorts workforce and the wider charity sector. ) For full details, job pack and application form, visit www. or email recruitment@allsortsyouth. for further information.

D For tickets, visit: D For more info on the Sussex Beacon, visit:

Terrence Higgins Trust to run Chemsex Awareness Training ) Sexual health/HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has announced it is running Chemsex Awareness Training on Zoom this month. This new, one-module online training session will cover: • What chemsex is; • 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 Wednesday, January 12 or Wednesday, February 23. Both sessions 10am-1pm. ) If you would like to sign up to this online course, email D For more info on THT, visit:

Trans 101 course with MindOut This training is an introduction to trans awareness with an aim of helping participants to develop more transinclusive practice. help increase knowledge and develop inclusive practice. If you're unable to make that date, another session will be held on March 16. D For more info and to register, visit:

) LGBTQ+ mental health charity MindOut is to run its Trans 101 course D For more info on MindOut, visit: online on Tuesday, January 11.

10 Scene

say there is something emotionally satisfying by the support of the LGBTQ+ cause by straight men. You could possibly write a thesis linked to the above sentence and the patriarchy, but I don’t care. I found the gestures, no they were not gestures they were statements of support, to be overwhelmingly supportive and culturally significant. When Harry Kane ran onto that football pitch with a rainbow around his bicep, and Lewis Hamilton stuck a rainbow sticker on his helmet, I mattered.


) I’ve often felt that

progress for LGBTQ+ communities does rely upon the behaviours of our allies from the heteronormative tradition. As irritating as this may be to our emotional selves, minorities only progress when parts of the majority begin to listen and speak on our behalf. What is most surprising and perhaps unfairly so, is where the support has come from in 2021. Most recently Euro 2020, delayed and played in 2021, is remembered for the violence which marred the pre-final festivities across London and most notably Wembley Stadium. But I will remember this summer’s football tournament for the pro-LGBTQ+ stance taken by heterosexual male football players from across the continent. Some of the most vehemently anti-LGBTQ+ governments are geographically centred in and around the continent of Europe. Sporting teams and sporting presence is featured in international events from these countries run by authoritarian regimes who take great pride in introducing archaic legislation that the 1950s would be ashamed off. Imprisoning those perceived to be gays and lesbians, refusing to acknowledge the existence of trans people, and ensuring the disappearance of those who have dared to be different. Hungary is one of these countries led by the aggressively backward Viktor Orbán, and the national football team of said country was beset with a range of positive statements from male heterosexual players and European teams that challenged anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. German captain Manuel Neuer, vocal throughout with his pro LGBTQ+ stance, our own captain Harry Kane wore a rainbow flag on his arm as he ran onto the field, and although UEFA

(boo hiss) refused to allow a Munich Stadium to be illuminated in rainbow colours, while Hungary played inside it, the whole of Germany responded by illuminating every sizeable building it could find, including telecommunication masts, railway stations as well as alternative sporting buildings, in rainbow flags as the game in question played out. Boris? Now that’s what you call a libertarian democracy.

“When Harry Kane ran onto that football pitch with a rainbow around his bicep, and Lewis Hamilton stuck a rainbow sticker on his helmet, I mattered” Internationally renowned motorsports superstar and repeated world champion Lewis Hamilton delivered a damning indictment on anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the Middle East during the Formula One championship in the United Arab Emirates. He even wore a helmet adorned with rainbow colours, and if that subtle messaging wasn’t enough he was openly critical of middle eastern regimes which oppress LGBTQ+ communities. Living in Brighton or swanning around London with our pink wine in a plastic glass, it may not feel as such, but we are minorities, there are parts of the United Kingdom where I dare not go for fear of standing out a little too much.

I was also consumed with pride. Pride in belonging to a movement, pride in belonging to a journey of progression that has led to this. I am one of thousands who has helped develop a cultural shift that results in a heterosexual male sporting superstar promote equality and fairness for LGBTQ+ communities across the world.

“Living in Brighton or swanning around London with our pink wine in a plastic glass, it may not feel as such, but we are minorities, there are parts of the United Kingdom where I dare not go for fear of standing out a little too much” The action of these sports people tells us that our work is working. The decades of writing, shouting, marching, posting, sitting, is changing how the next generations think and now speak. If you are reading this, and you are an 80-year-old former activist, you stuck that sticker on Lewis Hamilton’s helmet. If you’re a 50/60-something who kept faith in the 1980s and attended vigil after vigil amidst the smell and pain of death, you have wrapped the arm band around Harry Kane’s bicep. You know who you are. We know who we are. I know who I am. There will have been years when progress felt slow, non-existent and our actions exhausting. There have been days in recent times when in this country it has felt as though developments were beginning to roll backwards. It is vital for our hope and sanity to survive to take these moments of pride and progress, and to thank ourselves and those around us or in far-off lands who have contributed to today.

This sporting magnificence, at the height of their career, had nothing to gain from supporting us in this way. We are no longer trendy, I certainly feel that we are not the current box to tick, I see no reason why these individuals are supporting us for any other explanation other than they know that it is right. Our humanity equals their humanity. We know it, they know it and they have taken a decision to shine a light upon the plight of others who do not necessarily have the platform they do. We thank them.

And lest we forget while essential, it is not all about the straight support. You, me, we are the reason Tom Daley has the strength to compete in international competition as an out and proud gay man. Do not underestimate the power of his words at the post competition press conference at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. He knew exactly what he was doing when sat in between the bronze and silver competitors from China and Russia, he spoke of his sexuality and how proud he was to be a gay gold medallist. He is to be congratulated for that moment. We all are.

As a gay man of an age, I am not ashamed to

Keep the heat on. It’s working.

Scene 11


) Okay I’m going to

say it; I’m sure we all think it anyway? People who say that appearances don’t matter at all when looking for a partner are being extremely liberal with the truth, or to be completely frank – they’re more than likely lying to themselves. We all care about appearances. It’s a given. Especially our own, and potential lovers’. What else do we have to go on when seeing someone for the first time? Unless you ask them to submit an audition video in advance, and if that’s the case then I bow to your ingenuity. Having said that, the older I get the more acutely aware I am that, once the initial attraction has drawn me in, what I also deeply desire is a mind, and a heart – someone who is socially conscious and cares about others. That sounds very clichéd, doesn’t it? But it’s where I am right now. When I was 20 it was all about shagging left, right and centre in myriad exciting locations with men I barely exchanged more than a few sentences with. I’m 40 now, and I’m not saying I don’t want that wild sex and those random adventures in parks and the backs of cars, but I also want lovers who I can rage with about the state of the country and overthrowing capitalism and the Tories (I know those things are extremely unlikely to happen, but we can dream). As for appearances, my tastes have also shifted somewhat over the years. I’m not sure what’s caused this. Maybe because when I was younger my hook-ups and partners were super-masculine men who played the role of the alpha male, square

jaw and boring haircuts, you get the drift. I always saw myself as more feminine and sexually submissive, so perhaps my mind was responding to that by seeking out the masc guys. Thankfully, my understanding of masculinity and gender has now evolved and I’m attracted to a wider range of guys. Like art, beauty is subjective, and always changing. What is beautiful to me is not to someone else, and vice versa. That’s why societal beauty standards are so absurd. Who on earth decides? And how? These standards have existed in a rather pernicious way in the gay world for as long as I’ve been a mincer – less so now but they are still prevalent. The pressure to achieve the perfect gym body by whatever means necessary or be super-slim and preened to perfection. Thankfully I’ve never had the urge to prescribe to any of the ‘fitting in’ lark, which is not to say that I don’t seek acceptance and validation – it’s more to do with my innate urge to rebel against uniformity. The mental health implications of such pressures cannot be understated. Social media now plays a huge part in bringing those anxieties to the fore and amplifying them. Keeping up with the Joneses on speed. Sometimes I think back to when I was growing up and am grateful that social media wasn’t around. Scrolling Instagram for 13 hours a day, seeing perfect bodies and constantly comparing would’ve had my head in tatters. In a way, I’ve had the best of both worlds – the first part of my life was rolling around in the grass and sneaking a peek at the top shelf of the newsagent’s when no one was looking, and the second part with a device glued to my hand that has all the information and stimulation I could ever need. I’m starting to sound like a fingerwagging elder gay now; I’m really not judging

– just curious as to how young LGBTQ+ people in particular compartmentalise all of the information and Insta perfect content that’s now available to them at such a young age. I think at this point many are addicted to social media. I know it’s one of the first things I go to in the morning – even though it is my job, Twitter is fired up immediately for fear of missing out, I guess? My appearance has always been something that I’m especially conscious of, and my confidence reflects how I look because the better I think I look the more confident I feel. There’s no better feeling than having a fresh haircut and strutting down the street feeling like cock of the north.

“I’m 40 now, and I’m not saying I don’t want that wild sex and those random adventures in parks and the backs of cars, but I also want lovers who I can rage with about the state of the country and overthrowing capitalism and the Tories” I always try to stay clear of criticising people for getting botox – which I’ve had in the past, and would again – or any kind of cosmetic surgery. It’s very naff to sneer, and ironically shows an unappealing superficiality on the criticiser’s part. Look, If I had the bank balance, I’d have the lot done! Do we as gay people have lower self-esteem than straight people, in general? It’s a common trope. If I had to answer, I’d say yes. But I can only speak for myself, and over the years there’s been more troughs than peaks. I manage that in a variety of ways, looking after my appearance being one. It’s an important part of self-care that I highly recommend to anyone. First and foremost, I tan and trim and bleach and whiten for ME! If any of that impresses other people, well that’s an added bonus. Go on, treat yourself to a trip to the salon this month. You’ll feel so much better afterwards.


) In time-honoured New Year fashion, this issue we bring you features to inspire and enthuse, whatever your goals are for 2022. Whether you’re looking for a new hobby, thinking about your physical health or seeking some mental peace in the ongoing chaos around us, your imagination is bound to be fired by our look at how members of our community have changed their lives for the better.

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While all exercise is good for everyone, strength training (exercise using body weight or additional weights) in particular comes into its own for women during and after menopause as women lose significant amounts of oestrogen, which is needed for bone strength and growth. Strength training is particularly beneficial in strengthening muscles and through that, building denser, stronger bones. The NHS recognises the benefits of strength training and these are some: • It can help us to retain functional fitness, so carries over benefits into daily living – think of the carrying of shopping, of children, shifting furniture, decorating. Stronger arms, back and legs helps to stave off niggles and aches. • It can make us feel happy. It is well documented that exercise releases endorphins that help to make us feel good. • Strength training can help us to sleep.



) So, this is me. I was a social worker, director

of children’s social care for a big local authority, funeral celebrant and now, since lockdown, a personal trainer. Or rather that was me, on the left. The photo on the right is from June 2021. Like most people in lockdown, we walked when we could, we stayed at home, worked from computers, ate and drank. The dog loved our new life… the rest of us struggled. And in the midst of all the fear, illness and loss that we were experiencing, to different degrees, I am probably not the only one to say something changed in me.

I’ve always done things a different way. I have three ‘children’: Alex, 41 (from a straight relationship); Leah, 31 (donor dad); Isaac, 16 (Elaine and I were one of the first lesbian couples to use her eggs and my body – and a donor – all through the NHS); and four grandchildren.

“I will now lift until I really can’t lift anything anymore, and if clients decide it’s not cool to be trained by a fit, strong old lezzer – even then I shall lift” I knew I wanted more – the fitness gains from your living room can be good, but I loved the feeling of pushing weights about. At all ages you need to make sure that you avoid injuries, so I got a personal trainer to teach me to lift – and I haven’t looked back. I love it. I love it so much I retrained as a PT because I wanted to use my skills and to support others if they wanted to give it a go. And it felt important to me to reach people who may feel these goals were out of reach for whatever reason… that they don’t look like the women or men in the gym pics, they are too old, or too big, or too whatever, concerns that the gyms are not gay or trans-friendly. And that’s all before the world of self-doubt that may start with wondering how to lift that weight. So I am a 62-year-old lesbian mother and grandmother. I am a lifter – and now a trainer, which I get so much from. I will now lift until I really can’t lift anything anymore, and if clients decide it’s not cool to be trained by a fit, strong old lezzer – even then I shall lift.

• Strength training can help us to regain the strength to do the things we used to do, to play like we did as children – remember trampolines, handstands and cartwheels? The combination of strength training and healthy eating can do wondrous things for us, bringing benefits that would truly amaze you. Trust me – I know from experience. ) Catherine’s personal training service is

Seabird Strength and Fitness. Find them on Instagram @seabirdstrengthandfitness. She trains people of all ages and stages on a 1:1 basis in her private studio in Seven Dials. For more info, call 07803765239. CATHERINE AGED 62. SUMMER 2021

It started playfully enough as we – my partner, Elaine, and I at home with our son – connected as a family with our grown-up kids and grandchildren by all doing “PE with Joe (Wicks)” each morning. And my body and mind responded in a way that it never did with any previous exercise or PE when I was at school. I felt energised, better – and wanted more. I made it harder. I introduced dumbbells – really difficult to buy through lockdown and mine were like great lumps of cement – and I saw gains quickly. It honestly wasn’t about the weight, it was about getting stronger and fitter and being able to move easily – and being healthy for me, for my partner and for our family.

I changed my eating habits, always building every meal and snack around protein, and I cut right back on alcohol, and my muscles responded kindly. My body changed, my weight fell and I could see muscle replace it. It gave me the reward I needed to keep going and get stronger, able to lift heavier and heavier weights – it’s all relative – I weigh 53kgs (now).

• It can help with keeping us a healthy weight. By strength training you build lean muscle, which is more productive at burning the fat that the body doesn’t require (our bodies definitely do need fat, though!). Strength training uses lots of energy, and although we should all do as much walking as we can, a good strength session can use as much energy and has less impact injuries than pounding the pavement.

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behaviour that we see so often in gyms. “When we first talked about how we could be more welcoming, we were really open as an organisation that we weren’t inclusive enough, particularly for trans and non-binary people, but more widely for the LGBTQ+ community, so we discussed some objectives we could work towards to demonstrate a visibly welcoming nature. “During Trans Awareness Week we launched a trans inclusion policy for employees and members; I also wrote tips for the company intranet on how to be great trans allies. “We are really opening up and looking at the ways not just LGBTQ+ people but older people, non-white people can feel more welcome and included. “I feel really good about using my experience as a trans woman in this way. It’s wonderful to see – despite what we are shown in the media – a lot of organisations are keen to be more trans aware. I’m honoured to be asked to work on that kind of stuff.” It’s been a personal journey for Liz, who is originally from Adelaide, Australia, and came to the UK in 1996 “for a holiday, and 25 years later I’m still here”. She spent a good few years working in the arts at London’s Barbican, although she always played sports alongside that, which, she admits, “is an odd mix really, having sport included with the arts, but I’ve always been a bit of a fitness bunny”.


Liz Ridgway talks to Jaq Bayles about her journey to trans woman, fitness trainer and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community ) From stage manager for theatre and music, to

‘tart with a cart’ in Qantas First and BusinessClass long-haul, to retail, to running her own business as a personal trainer, Liz Ridgway has seen her fair share of transformations over the years – not least being her own transition. Armed with a wealth of knowledge garnered in various sports as well as gym work, Liz is now on a mission to empower more people with the physiological, mental health and social benefits of staying fit, with a particular focus on trans and non-binary people as well as the wider LGBTQ+ community and women. Currently working as a PT at The Gym Group’s Madeira Drive outlet, she also has a healthy online presence, saying: “There are very few trans PTs in the UK or around the world, so I have to be accessible for clients as they aren’t just based here. They are in London and around the country – I even have some clients overseas. “I spent all that time in gyms and people were saying: ‘Liz, you know so much. Why, don’t you take this to other people and help them to be knowledgeable and confident in a gym?’ Particularly for women and trans people, gyms

are pretty intimidating places to go. I had this background experience and was confident in a gym and there’s the fact that I am trans, which is a little bit odd, but there was an opportunity for me to help trans and non-binary people, LGBTQ+ women and cis women be a little more confident.” The face of gyms has been slowly but surely changing in recent years, and Liz has been one of the architects of that change at The Gym Group, which has some 1,600 employees and 120 sites around the country. “I have experienced a lot of harassment, particularly in retail where I worked behind the counter and on the shop floor, but The Gym Group at Madeira Drive is really inclusive, superqueer – a very large percentage of members are LGBTQ+.” But she has been doing a lot of work strengthening that diversity and inclusion. “We have had a number of different streams around gender and disability and LGBTQ+. The organisation has been really keen to move forward and make the place more welcoming for those groups of people and trying to move away from this hyper-heteronormative, masculine

“Particularly for women and trans people, gyms are pretty intimidating places to go ... There was an opportunity for me to help trans and non-binary people, LGBTQ+ women and cis women be a little more confident” Getting to the point where she needed “a bit of change”, she spent seven years flying round the world with Qantas “at the pointy end of the plane”. This coincided with her sister being ill, and meant she could return to Australia “a couple of times a year as opposed to once every five years”. Liz picks up the story from when her sister sadly died: “I was in the middle of my transition so I came away from that and started in health and fitness and a bit of retail to help support my business and growth, and gained my qualification as a personal trainer.” Her transition started around 2007 and when she I felt she was towards the end, “which came with a medical transition”, she got to a new point in life. “I thought I could live a little bit more authentically, so it was the choice to move to Brighton. I wanted to be by the seaside with a smaller community. I moved here in 2017 and that’s where I slowly started my business.” Working in Marks & Spencer to support herself, she also joined a men’s Australian football team,

building, strength building, some weight loss, body transformation and the mental health aspect. I teach people how to find their wings and off they go.” The online side of her business has been something of a revelation. Like many people she was forced during lockdown to make changes to her life and, along with a group of like-minded trans people during the early days of lockdown, started doing some Instagram live broadcasts across the world. “We thought that if others saw a few dozen trans people congregating and talking about their experiences of lockdown and so forth, surely we could make a difference.” This led to Trans Can Sport asking her to do some online classes, “and that brought me from zero to heroine.”

which had another couple of women players, and between them they decided to start a women’s team. “Thus we birthed the Sussex Swans women’s team,” says Liz. “In 2017 there were just one or two of us, now we have a squad of about 35 women and this year have been competing against all the teams up in London “It’s just so rewarding to see spaces for women to play sport and that’s probably what I’m most proud about,” says Liz, who was recently presented by the club with a lifetime membership. “I feel proud that I’ve been able to make space for women to play sport, made a big contribution to keeping the club going and then handing over to other people as my body becomes a bit older and tireder and recovers from injuries a bit slower. “ But she’s not about to slow down personally and it’s her mission to support others on their own fitness journey. So what is that her clients ask of her? “It depends on the individual, but generally people want to feel better about themselves and their bodies, particularly after the last couple of years. Some of my clients want to make changes to their body, so it’s about strength and conditioning, toning. Other people want nutritional advice about how to manage stages in their life. “Generally they are looking for someone to hold their hand, help them feel more confident, create space for themselves and impart some knowledge about how to train their body and live more holistically. “It’s not just about lifting weights but things we can do to improve our flexibility, central nervous system, neural pathways. It’s fascinating what happens to the body when we start moving. It’s a combination of muscle

“Generally [clients] are looking for someone to hold their hand, help them feel more confident, create space for themselves and impart some knowledge about how to train their body and live more holistically” She continues: “I decided I wanted to give more opportunities to people who weren’t working and I just knew that being able to move your body at home would be beneficial in some way. I put together three of four different programmes on a website and reached out to trans, non-binary, non-trans women and the LGBTQ+ community. During lockdown I was doing about eight classes a week. “It was on the basis it was going to be free or pay as you can, which is a wonderful thing about our community – we do these kind of things, pay as you can or pay it forward. It was a really great experience despite all the difficulties and being locked up. That pushed me into online.

“There’s a certain amount of privilege around being non-trans because you can access spaces easily, travel easily and in the current climate, which feels quite hostile to trans and nonbinary people, I know much of the community are hiding away. Being able to reach out via this kind of format is vital in some ways.” New Year is one of the busiest times in the fitness industry, but how many people actually keep up their resolve into the spring? “A lot of people do fall off their journey but I always talk about making incremental changes as opposed to popping a mountain in front of yourself, putting your backpack on and starting off on the trek. If you can break down those massive changes you’ve decided to take, successful long-term change is more accessible.” Liz’s own goals for 2022 include being involved in a Pride again and getting back to being a DJ. “The last gig I played was the closing night party of Trans Pride 2019. It was a wonderful moment, kind of a dream.”

more info i @lizridgwayfitness D ) Thanks to Platform Fitness Studio

(i @platform.btn) for the use of the studio ) Photography by Nick Ford Photography:

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could be part of. “While HITZone is a franchise, its ethos is very much about community and acceptance and belonging, so that’s what I’ve embedded in my studio. To me it is really important that a space is not intimidating, or a place where we don’t get acknowledged. We know all our members’ first names, many of them their children and their dogs’ names and a couple of them their neighbours’. We all need to feel connected and seen and I think we do that in our studio very well. “We are not a gym, we are an exercise studio and, more importantly, a community.


We talk to two people who have changed their own lives and set up fitness businesses, in the process working towards changing the lives of others HITZone Hove Unit 23 Hove Enterprise Centre, Hove Lagoon D


) Gary Vaughan opened his franchise of a

global organisation in September 2019. The catalyst for change from a 15-year career in clinical psychology came when he and his husband moved to New York from Melbourne, Australia, and he started thinking about his career path. He wanted to transfer his skills in both psychology and a range of sporting activities – including half marathons and scuba diving – to a different space to help people make positive change. He realised there was a stereotypical perception

of fitness trainers as being in their early 20s, while there were plenty of people over the age of 40 who still wanted to stay fit and healthy. At the age of 35 he decided it wasn’t too late.

Gary’s journey “I was raised by a gay father in the north of England and as a child I experienced a lot of discrimination. I wanted, where possible, to raise my daughter in a community where she wasn’t in so much of a minority having two fathers. We visited Brighton and the deal clincher was we visited a couple of nurseries and there was a little boy aged about five who, when we walked in said: ‘Oh, two daddies.’ “We’ve all experienced, in some form, your very traditional high street gym with the egos and the attitudes and the mirrors and people wearing earpods that don’t acknowledge you. That was never going to be a facility that I

“Ninety-nine per cent of our members say ‘I hate the gym, I hate exercise’. So the first thing we say is: ‘Thank god – you’re in the right place because so do we. We hate the high street gym and the egos and the attitudes.’ And I also say to our members: ‘Hey, we have no mirrors in our gym, we are not about intimidation, we don’t have attitudes, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.’ And people are relaxing into it. We do have members who come with high levels of anxiety, so it’s about building that confidence around exercise, body image, in a place with other people. “We do exercise with a twist, a level of fun. We know a lot of people bring negative connotations around exercise so we are really working at relaxing some of that and having a bit of fun and camaraderie. “We run quite a lot of games in our studio sessions, no two sessions are exactly the same. People get bored of doing the same thing. When people come they know they are doing a session, be it HIT, pilates, core, boxing – but don’t know the format or routine. We mix that up each session so people don’t get bored and they stay on their toes. “Our members are probably 80% female and 85% over the age of 40. It’s a safe space that’s accepting and where they can be themselves. About 5% of the population is in a high street gym, so where do other the 95% belong? Where do they exercise, where can they talk about menopause and bras and sexuality in a space that is not judgy or looking down? “One of our members nominated us for a transfriendly business listing and we were one of the founding members. We are also doing some work with Across Rainbows. “Something I believe really sets us apart is that we do social events. Once a month we move outside the studio and maybe go for a walk up Devil’s Dyke, or do Sunday morning litter picking on the beach. We’ve done a couple of sports days on Wish Park – again it’s that community connection space.”

in my hand. You don’t hear guys saying that. “Even when I walk down the street and know I’m not 100% safe there is a certain way I’m holding myself from training, there is a confidence it brings. “We shouldn’t really be promoting self-defence, we should be promoting education for the men to not do it in the first place. “Martial arts trained me to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Having to deal with confrontation on a daily basis has not only made me physically stronger but has also helped my mental health so much. “Especially in the queer community it’s more difficult for us in society, so having that community and learning a sport that’s so empowering is quite uplifting, and I found it’s helped a lot of people with their mental health. I’m also studying counselling part-time, so I’m incorporating a mental health element too.

Team Queen

D ) Christina Saunders is a queer woman who

has been doing martial arts since the age of six, training with men most of her life. She was in recruitment, “doing mundane sales, soul destroying stuff” and dreaming of setting up a female-only martial arts club, but the 9-5 of her job made it difficult to concentrate on how she could achieve that.

Christina’s journey “Team Queen is the first female-only martial arts club in Brighton. It’s for female-identifying and non-binary kickboxers. There are female-only martial arts classes available elsewhere run by mixed gender clubs, but this is the first female identifying/non-binary club in Brighton, and almost certainly Sussex. Perhaps the UK even! “It’s for people who are comfortable in a space that centres around the experience of women and is a queer-friendly, ‘no hate space’. As it says on the Team Queen website, ‘the space was created after experiencing many years of training in gyms radiating toxic masculinity and acknowledging the need for a safe space for minorities’. “Personally I’m amazed that something like this wasn’t set up in Brighton years ago, and it’s really taking off. Classes are fully booked on a weekly basis. “I work with a community gym called Nam Yang. They do a lot of work with people with disabilities and asylum seekers and a lot of the

“Someone said to me once ‘you’re not going to get a lot of clients, you’re basically splitting [your potential base] in half’, but my classes are fully booked and I think the reason is women and the trans and queer community want to come because it’s not a male-dominated, intimidating space.

“The abuse around women is something I’m really passionate about and want to help [combat] as much as I can. Me teaching kickboxing isn’t going to stop the actual issue, [which is why I want to do] fundraising for charities, getting more education around misogyny” “I think the attraction is especially because of so much that’s been going on lately with Sarah Everard and stuff like that. A lot of people want to feel a little bit safer, so they want to learn a sport that’s quite empowering. I don’t want to label it as self-defence because self-defence is saying ‘if you knew those skills then what happened to you wouldn’t have happened to you’ – and that’s not the case. No matter how skilled you are in any martial art there’s always going to be a risk involved whenever you’re walking down the street. “I’ve had so many clients come to me and say ‘after everything that’s been going on lately I really wanted to feel like I was doing something to help me feel better about everything’. It’s quite sad in a way, but I completely get it because walking down the street at night as a woman, it feels like you have to brace yourself for some kind of danger. I always have my keys

“I got my British Championship title a couple years ago in Savate, French-style kickboxing – that was quite an achievement for me. “I’d like to do more for the queer community. Team Queen has raised money for local charities RISE and the Anti-Harassment Club, and is going to raise more money in the future. “The abuse around women is something I’m really passionate about and want to help [combat] as much as I can. Me teaching kickboxing isn’t going to stop the actual issue, [which is why I want to do] fundraising for charities, getting more education around misogyny.” CHRISTINA SAUNDERS

Then lockdown came and her job went, providing her with the space she needed to think about how she could set up her own full-time business – and Team Queen was born. Keen to give back, for the first three months of running her business, Christina gave all the money she received to charity, and aims to continue to raise funds in the future.

way I run the gym is similar to Nam Yang. If people struggled to afford the classes I would give them discount and if some people couldn’t afford to come to classes I’d let them come anyway, which is the same mentality my gym had for me when I couldn’t afford to come.

“Kickboxing is definitely becoming more popular. I did martial arts as a kid and I never really saw any women role models, but now they are all over the TV, women are headlining main stage fights, which is amazing.


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) For 26 years Andi Derrick worked in the film

industry as an Emmy award-winning foley artist (creating sound for film and TV). From the Harry Potter and Bond movies to The Crown and Peaky Blinders, Andi has created countless sounds for countless movies. Today, Andi couldn’t be further from the insular world of making sound magic in dark studios – she is now a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) instructor, running her own business, Glo Wellbeing, from Goring beach, at the Sea Lane café near Worthing. It’s a massive life change – and was brought on by an apocalyptic event. Eight years ago, after three misdiagnoses, Andi was told she had stage three endometrial cancer. Two weeks later, the diagnosis was of stage four. “I was told I was having palliative chemotherapy and there was nothing the doctors could do for me.” So she started looking into alternative treatments that might help, from Chinese herbs to Jin Shin Jyutsu (an ancient Japanese healing art), and all things spiritual. She also found herself going back to the water again and again. “As a foley artist I was in studios for 26 years – dark, dusty, dirty, brilliant places for creativity, but not really good for my health. “After the first lot of chemo I went to a Greek island and I started to feel much better. I was in the sea all the time and I’d really missed it. The second time I went, in 2015, there was a great woman called Catherine who had a paddleboard, something I’d never seen before. She said, ‘jump on girl, off you go’. So I got on and off I went. I paddled for an hour and when I came back, I went: ‘Oh my god, I need more, that’s changed my life.”


Andi Derrick tells Jaq Bayles how a life-changing experience transformed her approach

Returning home, Andi treated herself to a Red brand 10ft 6in paddleboard and took to the water as often as she could, meeting fellow paddleboarders, among them Mark Beadle, who would become her business partner. “I was getting myself back to a really good place, feeling stronger than I had for years. I found myself thinking about my future again, that maybe I’ve got a life to live after all.” PHOTO CRED: LUISA DELFI - WWW.LUISADEFI.COM, @LUISADELFI_UK


So she and Mark set up Glo Wellbeing. “It was my calling, a new personal passion centred on my wellbeing, and I started to let the foley go. “In 2016 I took a leap of faith, contacted the council, and asked if I could have a postage stamp-sized spot on the beach where I could hire boards and teach paddleboarding.” It turned out the council had just decided to designate a spot for that very activity and there were just 24 hours left to get a pitch in. “I sat down, gave the application my best shot, and crossed my fingers.”

“One of the great things about SUP and the SUP community is that we leave our problems behind. As soon as you hit the water you are transported into a different world, a supportive community that doesn’t give a hoot what you are, where you’re from, what colour you are or what your sexuality is” Two weeks later she got the call that cemented the deal. Both Andi and Mark by then had achieved their BSUPA qualifications, so “we just ran with it and now, four years later, it has really taken off”.

I attributed my recovery in part to my diet, which I changed considerably – no sugar, no meat, no dairy. And, of course, there was the Chinese medicine, Jin Shin Jyutsu, and me sitting down with myself and letting go of negative baggage I no longer needed to carry. “I changed my lifestyle – I was always a glass half-full girl, I didn’t have to work on that, but god I had to dig deep.” Next May it will be nine years since her diagnosis.

So, aside from the fact it improves balance as well as core, leg and arm strength, what is it about paddleboarding that is so magnetic? A lot of it is about being in the ‘now’. “When you go out on that water you can’t think about anything else, you’ve got to be focused on where you are. This is a great way to rebalance and recentre. As you get better and your confidence grows, you can go up a notch and start paddlesurfing, SUP racing, which is brilliant. The sea offers you loads of options.” Andi herself has recently taken up wing surfing. “On the river it’s tranquil. It’s all about nature, seeing that little bit of land, wildlife and water from a different perspective that we never get a chance to see in a car or walking. It is so uplifting and magical, the mental wellbeing is massive. What’s not to love?” As long as they can swim, anyone can do it, which is why the SUP community is so big. And

it’s also a great space for LGBTQ+ people, as it’s a wonderful way of meeting people and making new friendship, says Andi. “These two communities have no boundaries, so they merge together beautifully. We all face challenges in this world and as a gay woman I know only too well some of the difficulties we may face. One of the great things about SUP and the SUP community is that we leave our problems behind. As soon as you hit the water you are transported into a different world, a supportive community that doesn’t give a hoot what you are, where you’re from, what colour you are or what your sexuality is. It’s a win-win. “It’s a great place to build confidence too. I’ve met people who don’t think they can do it, then they come off the water and punch the air and say ‘what’s next?’. Suddenly their lives have opened up just from that one lesson. It’s given them confidence because they didn’t think they could do it and they did it, so now they’re going to go rock climbing! “Now I’ve fallen in love with wing surfing. I don’t think I’ve ever been as strong and fit as I am at the age of 58. One day I’d like to teach wing – why not?!” D PHOTO CRED: LUISA DELFI - WWW.LUISADEFI.COM, @LUISADELFI_UK

In 2017, baffled doctors told Andi her cancer had gone. “Then six months later I had another CT scan and my oncologist said: ’It’s a miracle. You are good to go’. I was clear, not even in remission.”

Mark left Glo Wellbeing after three years to concentrate on his main business that was now expanding, but Andi is now “about to go into what will be the fifth year of Glo Wellbeing, with her small and growing business, encompassing river trips, retreats, European breaks, and yoga.

20 Scene myself. I have now gotten a binder and have gained the confidence to wear what I want, and it’s all because someone cut my hair and allowed me to feel safe in my own skin.” - LJ (they/he) “The media tells us that we need to look a certain way to present as a certain gender, so young queer people probably feel pressure to look a particular way. We should all just be able to express themselves however we like because TALLULAH


no matter what your hair looks like, you’re still beautiful!” - Tallulah (they/them)

Stories of Hair Happiness from the LGBTQ+ community By Rachel Badham ) Having brought Lady Gaga’s fabulously queer

In celebration of unapologetic self-expression, LGBTQ+ people and allies share their thoughts on stylistic individualism and stories of what their hair means to them: “Before I transitioned, I began to grow my hair out as it expressed my identity more effectively. When I came out, I felt more feminine and more in tune with my actual gender identity as this style is associated with feminine attributes. I’ve now started to style my hair in more feminine ways, as it’s an explicit visual representation of my identity and has also made me feel more confident in the process.” - Robin (she/her) “I believe hair is a canvas for individuals to not only express their creativity but to use it as a medium to experiment with their own image, without any long-term commitment. There’s an

“I always felt pressure to cut my hair just to make sure I got gendered correctly pretestosterone – I had long, thick, naturally wavy hair, so cutting it was hard, but then I’d start getting gendered correctly so the gender ETHAN

With Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s iconic character Fleabag also affirming that hair is everything, it’s no wonder that many of us view our hair as a visual translation of our inner selves. For the LGBTQ+ community in particular, autonomy over our personal presentation has been a lifeline, as many queer people have found joy in transforming their hair to reflect their identity. Trans icon Elliot Page even told Time magazine that he “could not have enjoyed it more” when he cut his hair to reflect his gender identity.

endless number of things you can do with hair, and its versatility can allow trans, non-binary and queer identities to discover what style they feel best reflects their identity. I’ve witnessed many friends using hair as a stepping stone during their transition, and the positive impact it has on the perception of their own image – boosting confidence and helping those feel more comfortable with themselves.” - Kristian (he/him)


Born This Way in 2011 with the little money I had as a 12-year-old, Hair continues to be one of my most-loved tracks on the record, as Gaga triumphantly exclaims: “I am my hair”, before being accompanied by an ‘80s-inspired dance beat. Although many of the songs on this particular album are explorations of identity and self-confidence, this infectious yet heartfelt song is a reminder of the importance that our hair harbours in relation to our freedom of selfexpression.

“I cut my hair over five years ago. I first cut it into a bob, but I knew straight away that wasn’t enough and got it all chopped off. That’s what confirmed my gender identity to me because I felt so much better for having hair that

reflected who I truly am. Now, I only see it as hair, but back then it really was a big deal for me.” - Riley (he/him)

euphoria I felt was amazing. Now I’m a lot further down my transition and I feel I can do a lot more, including shaving my head, dyeing it... and who knows? Maybe I’ll grow it long again when I have a bit more facial hair.” Ethan (he/him) “Growing up, I went to an all-girls school, so most of my friends were girls and there was always this expectation on me to be more ‘feminine’, even though femininity never resonated with me. It was only at the beginning of 2021 that I told my best friend that I thought I was non-binary, and I cut a lot of my hair off. After that haircut, I truly felt more like

“As a stealth trans man, I prefer to keep my hair simple and masculine – partly to blend in and partly because that’s how I feel most comfortable. To be honest I barely give it a thought. However, since starting testosterone, body hair has become incredibly important to me. Watching my snail trail grow was the best thing to ever happen to me – I couldn’t shut up about it! Every part of my body gets a little hairier and I start to like it a little more. Even all those weird long shoulder hairs. And of course, I have very high hopes for my tiny moustache. Body hair makes me feel more like a man, more comfortable with myself and around other people.” - Anonymous (he/him) “My hair isn’t really specific to one gender, so it allows me to be more fluid genderwise. Plus, it’s long so I can headbang like a motherf**ker!” - Shea (he/she/they/them)

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interaction with house plants “can reduce physiological and psychological stress compared with mental work” (US National Library of Medicine). A critical review of the experimental literature concluded: “The reviewed studies suggest that indoor plants can provide psychological benefits such as stress-reduction and increased pain tolerance”. Reviews, studies and reports from worthy groups can prove that the Earth is flat, read any review and while there is some truth, if a plant in the room makes you happy then get two.


Roger Wheeler goes house plant crazy ) It’s a New Year, it’s been the party

season and we couldn’t help noticing that suddenly a few friends appear to have gone slightly house plant crazy – living rooms have sprouted all kinds of exotic plants, they are all green, of course, must keep in with our new environmental concerns. With some clever lighting they have completely redesigned their rooms without too much work. So maybe it’s time to look at my own rather tired living room. I always quite liked it but with the help of a few plants it can have a whole new look. This was caused by my friendship with someone who has become a real house plant nerd, he knows his stuff and, within a very few days of our, now close, friendship he has virtually redesigned my living room and most of the rest of the house. Be careful, this is catching – from someone who just bought the occasional plant I have now become very interested in the subject. It is fascinating and they don’t talk back. I started small, you don’t have to invest much, and it’s fun to watch things grow. It seems that you won’t kill them all – some, yes, by simply over watering, which is apparently a very common mistake. It is a myth that all house plants need a window sill. That couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact very few want or need full direct light, that’s for the outdoor and hardy, butch garden types. Most of the currently popular house varieties look delicate but they are quite tough in their own way. I have noticed on the many plant blogs that some plant-crazy people have started to give their plants names – Brian the Boston fern, Pauline the palm– and if not actual names they are usually ‘she’ or ‘he’ or just ‘baby’ nothing gender neutral so far. There is, of course, a gay plant blog (Boys With Plants). House plants have become surrogate children.

My initial shock at this has softened to the realisation that, in many ways, we do look after the plants, nurture and care for them. What has happened to me? Have you heard the story of someone who carefully watered their plants for years only to eventually discover that they were plastic? Yes, it was in the US, but it makes you wonder. You do need to know something about what you are buying. I didn’t, but am learning. A simple rule, just poke your finger into the soil to see if it’s wet, a sign of too much water which can be lethal. If it’s dry that can be fine, counterintuitive perhaps, but most plants can survive a drought. I have learnt that you basically neglect some of the more interesting plants, they seem to thrive on being ignored. Our ‘sudden’ interest in house plants is probably due to lovable Monty Don, the quirky Alan Titchmarsh and all the other television ‘experts’. Nowadays an indoor garden is becoming quite ‘on trend’ A 2015 study showed that active

“This is catching – from someone who just bought the occasional plant I have now become very interested in the subject, it is fascinating and they don’t talk back” Our new general interest in house plants exploded during the Covid-19 pandemic with people forced to spend more time indoors, many filled their homes with house plants. Plants were mentioned on Instagram an average of 3,000+ times a day in July 2021. Popular house plants in 2021 include monstera, cactus, philodendron, calathea, hoyas, and snake plants – which used to be called mother-in-law’s tongue and can be seen in most restaurants, shops and my house. Plant sales in 2020 were at an all-time high, which brought concerns about the environmental impact of the industry. So, no matter how hard we try to be ecologically sound, we will fail somewhere along the way. This is an enormously complex and interesting subject, it has certainly got me hooked in many ways. The seeds have been sown now watch them grow.

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sustain us in dark times. During wintery, wet Brighton days my mind goes to inviting experiences such as the exhilaration of getting some vitamin seaswimming at the waterfront during winter, breathing the cool, fresh scent of the trees and sea by taking a walk on the Downs, feeling my muscles soften and relax on my yoga mat, taking in the beauty of a golden sunrise or simply holding a warm cup of tea in the sunshine. Each are beautiful moments to welcome joy into my life that, while are perhaps simplistic, have a massive impact on my mental and physical health.


By Lisa McGarva - educator, yoga therapist, counsellor and volunteer at the Rainbow Hub in Brighton ) It was January

30, 2020 when the World Health Organisation made the declaration which changed the world. There has been a weight of heaviness which requires space to respectfully acknowledge a journey of hardship, and for many, grief. When you have been carrying a heavy weight around for such a long time it begins to feel normal. Sometimes we may even forget to put the heavy load down and have a break. Perhaps it is now the time to put the load down, and experiment what it feels like to welcome spaces of joy into your life again. Remember how it feels to be joyful, how it feels to be happy, content and at peace. When we feel this way, our lens of how we see the world is one of optimism and of hope. But how do we welcome it into our lives when things can feel uncertain and bleak? When life is difficult, and things feel dark, you can still find pockets of joy amidst the darkness and uncertainty. The pockets of joy can look like pockets of time, physical spaces or experiences in your life to feel the pleasure of simply being alive. Being open to it enables you to have experiences of joy and awe which accumulatively begins to change your brain. When we are open to joy by giving ourselves permission to experience it, and can completely immerse ourselves in it through engaging our senses, we can be more mindful and present. By inviting such regular moments into our lives, slowly we begin to change our neural pathways in our brains which help us to feel less anxious and

stressed. We begin to programme our brains to be more responsive to joy learning to be present and mindful. In what you experience, take a moment to consider engaging your senses. What scents you can smell, the taste in your mouth, the sounds that you can hear, what you see and the sensations on your skin. Full immersion of the senses is the key for practising mindfulness. Spending some time either outside in nature, or going within, are pathways to the feeling of connection with yourself or something bigger than you. You can tap into the feeling of awe which soothes, gives you strength and resilience. These are the things that can help

“When life is difficult, and things feel dark, you can still find pockets of joy amidst the darkness and uncertainty” Can you imagine what the experiences of your senses would be as you engaged in these things? What are some ways that you can introduce healthy moments of joy into your life? Can you see yourself sharing these joyful moments with others? Plan for the regular practice of joy. It is a practice. ) Lisa McGarva, presently engaged in

postgraduate studies of Clinical Sexology to be a sexual and relationship therapist, runs an online private practice – – as an educator, yoga therapist and counsellor where sessions are available by appointment. Lisa calls a few different continents home, but when in Brighton you can find her volunteering at the Rainbow Hub in Brighton.


different path, try another gym or yoga studio. Do little and often It’s said that it takes only a few weeks to form a new habit. Consistency is key here. Set goals that are achievable, and you’ll most likely meet them. Instead of thinking it’s marathon or nothing, break it down into chunks.

“Exercise has so many benefits, and enjoyment is one of them. If it’s not making you feel good, then try something else.”


In its 6th birthday year, the Trans Can Sport team, who are dedicated to transforming the wellbeing of trans people through physical activity, share top tips to get and stay active ) Since 2016, Trans Can Sport (TCS) has been

providing activities to trans and non-binary people in Brighton & Hove, and since 2020 going online has meant people from further afield have been able to take part. TCS has been awarded funding from the National Lottery’s Awards for all 2022 activities, which will help the organisation continue to deliver free and low-cost activities to participants. Services are designed first and foremost for trans and non-binary people but they welcome anyone whose gender identity prevents them from taking part in sports, or who feel they would benefit from joining in. Many activities also welcome friends and partners, but TNB people are always prioritised. Motivation It’s the time of year many people say they’re going to start a healthier lifestyle. But why do you want to do this? Is it to feel better, to make friends, to feel more fit? Knowing why you’re doing something, what changes you want to make and what benefits they will bring, will help you stay focussed and motivated.

Make it easy on yourself. Find a group or gym that’s close to home or your workplace. Schedule in your workouts, like you would a work meeting or social engagement. These small things can really help. Do something you love It’s surprising how many people torture themselves by doing activities they think they should be doing rather than what they want to be doing. Running a 5k at the crack of dawn is great, if you like that kind of thing, but that doesn’t mean it will suit everyone. Find an activity that makes you want to do it again, and again. There’s so many options and they needn’t cost a lot of money. Exercise has so many benefits, and enjoyment is one of them. If it’s not making you feel good, then try something else. Add variety Try something new. Perhaps something you never thought you would be interested in. You won’t know until you try it. TCS provides lots of taster sessions which many of our participants have gone to develop and love. Vary your locations. Run a different route, cycle a

Celebrate your successes, no matter how small you think they are. Keep track of your achievements. They’ll help you feel better on blue days and over time you will be able to see your development. Learn to rest This might seem counter intuitive as a tip for getting active, but it’s important. Our bodies need time to repair and recover after exercise, no matter your level. Start off any new activity gently, including if you’re restarting after a bit of time off, and build yourself up. Rest doesn’t mean doing nothing. Active recovery is beneficial and includes taking a walk or gentle stretching. Find a buddy A lot of people find motivation and enjoyment when they can share their active time with someone else. They can also help with accountability. That could be a mate who spots you in the gym or being part of a sports group. If you prefer to do things on your own, you can still link up with others in social and tracking apps like Strava. Don’t Rush It Physical changes don’t happen overnight. It takes time, practice and consistency to improve your skills and fitness. Many people experience an immediate buzz from exercise, but long-term regular exercise can have a long-term beneficial impact on your mental health. D To find out what activities are coming up and to take part, visit: i


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Get your running shoes on for the Sussex Beacon at the Brighton Half Marathon on Sunday, February 27 ) Running is good for us; running for charity

is even better! The Brighton Half Marathon is one of the biggest events in the city’s calendar and the Sussex Beacon want YOU to join them as an exclusive runner and fundraiser for #TeamBeacon on Sunday, February 27! Each year the Brighton Half Marathon raises vital funds, ensuring we can continue to support people living with HIV in Sussex. Join us in 2022 for our 30th birthday and help us raise the most money yet! Our runners Our runners have helped us since the race was founded, raising funds and representing people living with HIV at one of Brighton & Hove’s biggest events. In 2021, #TeamBeacon helped us to raise an incredible record amount of £50,000, the most the half marathon has raised yet. By joining our team, you could help the Sussex Beacon raise even more for our 30th Birthday.

In addition we would like to thank long term friend of the Sussex Beacon Andrew Buchan of Glencairn Consulting Limited. Andrew has been a continuous backer of #TeamBeacon. We would not be where we are now without that support and we are forever grateful for his support over many years. Why be part of #TeamBeacon? • Meet family and friends before and after the race with exclusive access to the Sussex Beacon Marquee • Refreshments, hot food, and toilets only for our runners • Exclusive family cheering point • Team Beacon technical running vest • Team Beacon medal (in addition to race finisher’s medal) • Team Beacon members only Facebook group for news, tips and motivation • Support and advice from our challenge events fundraiser to help you smash your target.

Our celebrity runner this year is Zoe Lyons, a comedian known for her appearances on Survivor and Mock The Week. Our race sponsors We are delighted to announce that sponsoring #TeamBeacon this year will be the Sussex Freemasons. The Sussex Freemasons have been long-term supporters of the Sussex Beacon and we are extremely thankful for their continued assistance and sponsorship.

• A reason to keep going! Knowing that you are helping improve the lives of local people living with HIV in Sussex. Tom Oakden has brought a group of runners to Team Beacon for the last five years, and here’s why: “I decided to run for the Sussex Beacon as have some friends who have been served so excellently by you. To be available 365 days of the year, helping serve people in real need, I find it a privilege to be fundraising to support that, for our city. “Sponsorship is so much more than raising money. There’s much opportunity to bring awareness that the Beacon is simply there,

what you do, your history, and the reality of the needs that you serve. So many people seem to have an affection to the Sussex Beacon, a lot from personal association which is a brilliant encouragement.” How to join Team Beacon You can enter the 2022 race on 27th February by visiting: https://brighton-half.eventize. Resources & Help Visit our #TeamBeacon page on our website which includes: fundraising and JustGiving tips and guidance, a printable sponsorship form, a fundraising planner, and a competition sheet. Once you have signed up to the race, set up your personalised JustGiving page in just a few simple steps so you can start fundraising! Any questions? Call us on 01273 034800. D For more info on the Sussex Beacon, visit:

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health, and it can be that people have a curiosity about Buddhism that maybe has been sitting with them for some time but the pandemic has brought things forward. “People are seeking things out because they may be struggling with their mental health, or they want connection and these meetings are very much about enabling people to have connection and support when they might feel quite isolated and disconnected from a spiritual community or like-minded people.”

BRIGHTON BUDDHIST CENTRE Jaq Bayles talks to Amalabandhu, who runs the Brighton Buddhist Centre’s Gender & Sexual Diversity Group ) Earlier this year,


Brighton Buddhist Centre set up a Gender & Sexual Diversity Group (GSDG), aimed at “LGBTQ+ people new to meditation and those with an established meditation practice”. The group came on the back of an existing GBTQ+ Group for men, which was previously led by Amalabandhu, who now works with the new group. He explains the evolution of the two. “The GBT Group started because, as a gay man and having friends, it was an opportunity to meet at the Buddhist Centre and practice together and talk about Buddhism and create a safe space to do that. “As time went by, I was noticing that some people were saying that’s quite binary and how about doing something more inclusive. About a year ago I was having coffee with a friend who is more gender fluid, non-binary identifying, and I said ‘how about we start a new group?’, which we did in February of this year, acknowledging that the other group was binary and we needed something more inclusive.” While there is nothing in the teachings of the Buddha that “segregates or discriminates or would indicate that people were not welcome, so as a path and spiritual practice it is absolutely inclusive”, Amalabandhu recognises that not everybody necessarily knows that. So the point of the groups was to invite people in so they could then experience the wider Buddhist community. GSDG was initially run as on online meeting due

to the pandemic, and now meets both in person at the Centre in Tichborne Street and online. Since its February inception around 85 people have joined the mailing list. And Amalabandhu says he has personally learned a lot from the group. “One of the things I’ve noticed and really appreciated is that it tends to be a younger population that are drawn to it, possibly because the language has changed. “Younger people are using language that’s evolving. For example, my generation struggled with the word ‘queer’ and now that’s something that people are using, and I’ve become more comfortable with it and quite enjoy it as a term because it feels like it’s all-embracing. I’m learning a lot [from the group]. I’m learning a lot about people, about differences and diversity. It’s lovely to meet amazing people. Ever since we stated the group, for the first few months we introduced people [as they joined] and they told their life stories, what they’d been through to get to that point, and it’s very moving to be able to tell those life stories and be heard by people who are very receptive and appreciate that safe space.” There has been much talk of the effects the pandemic has had on people’s mental and physical health, so was there a correlation between that and the interest in meditation? Amalabandhu says: “The pandemic has had an impact for us in different ways and I think one of those has been to look at what’s out there in terms of what supports people’s wellbeing. “It can be that people are interested in Buddhist meditation from a secular perspective. They know that mindfulness practice and meditation have a positive effect on mental

As to what benefits Buddhist meditation can offer, it is calming and develops awareness of mindfulness, which Amalabandhu says has positive effects on both cognitive and physical wellbeing, as ”mindfulness is very much related to physical health”. Alongside meditation classes, the Brighton Buddhist Centre offers a range of related services, such as yoga and study groups. The Brighton Buddhist Centre is part of the Triratna Buddhist community, which was started in the UK in 1967 but draws from different and ancient traditions. Amalabandhu explains: “Our practice is very much focused on the altruistic – transforming self and the world. It’s about our own evolution and transformation but also about supporting the world around us. We are not monastic, we are ordained but we are in the world, in the community. We have regular jobs, regular families, regular lifestyles.” D For more information, visit:


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) Stuart Linden Rhodes was a teacher in

the ’90s. By night he accidentally became a chronicler of northern England’s gay nightlife. His photos capture long-lost gay bars and clubs. Before he began to share them on Instagram (@linden_archives), the photos hadn’t been seen in decades. His Instagram account became a hit and the photos have now been gathered together in Out And About With Linden, a limited-edition photography book. What inspired you to put the book together? “I put all these pictures up on Instagram, thinking a few people might like them, but that turned into thousands. People were asking me if there’d be a book. I was interviewed by Joseph Ingham in Vice magazine and I mentioned the book idea to him. He said ‘I’ll help you.’ So here we are, we ended up with a book. “My day job was teaching. Photography was just a hobby. The first time I did photography for a magazine was in 1989. There was a free magazine in Manchester called Scene Out. They had a ludicrous competition: the prize was a free ride on the Orient Express. Everyone was like yeah, right. The competition was to take photographs and write a review of the gay scene where you lived. So I wrote a little review of Harrogate’s scene. Was there a gay scene in Harrogate in 1989? “If you can call Hales Bar a gay scene then yes, kind of. Of course it didn’t win but I was a runner-up. It just coincided with another friend of mine in Leeds who’d started a gay magazine called All Points North. He asked me to be their scene reviewer and photographer. I thought OK, free nights out! And that’s how it started. I got myself a decent camera and I was away.


Alex Klineberg gets up, close and personal with Stuart Linden Rhodes, accidental chronicler of northern England’s gay nightlife in the 1990s

“The gay scene began to change in around 1993-94. It went from small bars and clubs to big venues that held a thousand people. In the ’80s most gay bars were run down. They were underfunded by the breweries, but the breweries started to take an interest in the pink pound. You had entrepreneurs like Terry George in Leeds putting on big events. It all took off. MANCHESTER CARNIVAL 1993/94

“My section in All Points North was called Out And About With Linden. I would go to as many bars as I could and then write a review of the scenes in different cities. Where do the leather queens and all the other subculture groups go? People were reading it and choosing whether they wanted to go to Birmingham for a weekend. It was almost like a holiday brochure. We were inspiring gay tourism.”


You realised that you were in the middle of something.

Where were the most happening places? “Number one was always Manchester – it still is. When I first went there were just two or three bars, The Goose, Napoleons, Rembrandts. All of a sudden all these other bars opened like Mantos on Canal Street and New York New York. Birmingham was a close second, but no other city quite managed to have a village like Canal Street.” LILY SAVAGE - 1994

“The gay scene began to change in around 1993-94. It went from small bars and clubs to big venues that held a thousand people. In the ‘80s most gay bars were run down. They were underfunded by the breweries, but the breweries started to take an interest in the pink pound” The photos would indicate that you were a disco dolly. “I tried to be invisible, I am not a disco dolly by any means! I was a voyeur. There are two types of photographs in the book. There are group photos where people are posing and looking at the camera, but my favourite ones are the candid shots. The ones that capture those moments of people on the dancefloor, living their best lives. I’d then go up to them afterwards and ask if I could use the photo in Gay Times or All Points North.” The only ‘no’ he received was from an angry bouncer in Manchester. Everyone else was more than happy to have their moment captured.

“People contacted me through Instagram having found their past lives in the photos. Sometimes they’re saying ‘look at my hair, what was I thinking?’ But you also get sad comments about people who’ve passed away.” How does it feel when you look back at those photos now? “It feels like another life. It’s a time I look back at with great fondness. I won’t say I get emotional but it evokes a lot of memories of that decade. I surprise myself actually. Sometimes I think that was a good photo, did I really take that?” i @linden_archives


Stuart’s photos anticipate the rise of social media. Now everyone is taking photos of their nights out. No night out is ephemeral these days, but in the ’90s they were – unless someone like Stuart was there recording. He captured moments that would have disappeared otherwise.

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Brian Butler catches up with out and proud performer Taofique Folarin, who has something to say about being queer and the wellbeing of their community ) As a child performer in Wolverhampton,

Taofique Folarin quickly progressed to the National Youth Music Theatre, doing shows in Easter and summer holidays. At 16 he enrolled with the world-famous Italia Conti school. ”It was 100% what I wanted to do: I discovered you could make a living out of theatre”. He tells me frankly that he was very aware of racial prejudice at school. “You got a thick skin. It was systemic in the private school I attended. I was the one black boy in my year.” His first big break was an ensemble dancing role in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. On sexuality he tells me: “I came out at 18 at college, but didn’t see any other black queer actors. It didn’t hold me back in musical theatre and I’ve played straight roles, but my passion is to see black gay men on-screen”. Before he graduated, he played Tyrone in a Dutch tour of the musical Fame, coming back to graduate. “Fame was a highlight for me – I was so young”. He followed it with two years in Avenue Q in the West End. “I had to learn puppetry and it’s very hard”. Then came the allblack Five Guys Named Moe, and a stint in the Lion King as Banzai the hyena, again displaying puppetry skills, with the added complication of performing on stilts and a massive harness to

hold the head gear. Taofique is the latest queer actor I’ve interviewed who appeared in the highly successful streamed series The Grass Is Always Grindr, with its plot about living with HIV, alongside the likes of Denholm Spurr, Sian Docksey, and Alexis Gregory. Taofique costarred as a shy, closeted gay boxer and his portrayal, I have to say, is moving and realistic. Moving away from acting, he had been working for Impulse – a global gay men’s project to improve sexual wellbeing – and his role as events director led him to mount events concerning HIV in the black community, and so he was asked to be in The Grass Is Always Grindr. ”I was clued up on HIV and the lived experience, but it was hard to get my head into that space. But it’s a very non-judgemental series. I was surprised how successful it’s been”. The series is currently on a number of platforms. Taofique started to think about moving his career away from musical theatre after a successful run in Stiles & Drewe’s The Three Little Pigs at Sydney Opera House and a production of the musical Heaven on Earth, which went into liquidation after six weeks. And so he turned to his passion for fitness.

His company Folarin Fitness works in studios across London and he’s also a regular trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp – oh, and he’s studying for a Masters in Psychology at Brunel. “If I’m not being creative, I get restless – my life balance is now better and more flexible.” He’s also more interested in film acting nowadays, with a marvellous role opposite Ben Aldridge in Thrive, where he again plays a gay character with HIV. Lockdown led to a role in Alexis Gregory’s verbatim production Safe – reviewed in Scene – and he’s also been helping people online struggling in lockdown with their fitness. “It’s given me time to focus on film writing and selfreflection,” and it’s paid off as he was named Men’s Health Best Coach of 2020.

“I came out at 18, but didn’t see any other black queer actors. It didn’t hold me back... I’ve played straight roles, but my passion is to see black gay men on-screen” He’s working on a workshop for a show 1 in 2, which deals with issues around HIV and the gay community. Asked to name an ambition he’s very clear and direct: “I want to play the lead role on BBC or Channel 4 as a recurring character – and make a big feature film.” He’s currently writing on wellness for Gay London Life. Asked to give advice to a young self, he told me: “Trust your instincts, embrace yourself and don’t rush. I don’t regret anything in my career”. D More info, visit:

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“Originally I Want Your Love was our record, and He’s the Greatest Dancer was theirs (Neil and Bernard’s). At the last minute they flipped it. You can hear my sisters and I singing background on I Want Your Love. Years later we were asked to sing the background on Material Girl for Madonna.” Nile Rodgers of course produced the Like A Virgin album. “He always mixed in different artists. Luther Vandross sings on every track on the We Are Family album. Once you know he’s on there you can hear Luther’s voice.” Do you have a favourite Sister Sledge song? “Thinking of You hands down.” I feel like I was born knowing the lyrics to your biggest hits... “You probably were! I did some gigs at Soho House and I’m loving how younger audiences seem to know all the songs. I make sure the vocals and the music are just like they were on day one.



Alex Klineberg catches up with the ‘sledgendary’ founding member of iconic disco vocal group Sister Sledge ) Sister Sledge formed in 1971. They

achieved global success with their 1979 album We Are Family, which produced a series of classic hits, including He’s the Greatest Dancer, Lost In Music, Thinking of You and, of course, the title track. They captured the zeitgeist in the disco era, and their music continues to resonate with people who weren’t even born in the ‘70s. What can we expect from the Sister Sledge show in London this May? “I’ve been producing festivals and concerts. Things like Mighty Hoopla, and it was really fun. The integrity of the music means everything to me. Now I’m hyped about O2 Indigo because I’ve worked there before; it’s going to be an electric concert. So put your seatbelt on!” Mighty Hoopla has become one of the biggest LGBTQ+ festivals in the UK. Did you enjoy playing there? “It was incredible. I was 16 when I recorded Thinking of You and We Are Family. And I’m seeing these kids, sometimes with their mums, knowing every lyric. They weren’t even born when I recorded them. “My voice is stronger than it’s ever been. When I did those songs in the early days I wasn’t even allowed to hear them until it was time to record them, songs like We Are Family. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards believed in spontaneity. Nile and I have remained great friends. We laugh about it to this day. I used to ask him if people would even play our music. He would say ‘It’s going to be huge.’ I loved his confidence; he was right of course. “Even songs like He’s the Greatest Dancer

would be fed to me line by line. So it’d be ‘One night in a disco,’ OK, cut. And then I’d get the next line: ‘On the outskirts of ‘Frisco.’ I didn’t get it then but I trusted them. These producers were in their 20s but they were geniuses. They had hit after hit, and we still hear their music to this day. They had a formula that worked for them and the spontaneity was part of that: the artists not knowing the songs too well.” Nearly every track on the We Are Family album was a massive hit. “I know, and it’s a massive hit all over again. The pandemic worked for me in his respect. People would Zoom into my living room with me singing it. The music resurfaced, especially Thinking of You with D-Nice and Club Quarantine: even Michelle Obama was involved. Thinking of You became the theme song. It made me the queen of quarantine, although I don’t call myself that! “I’m a huge fan of Freddie Mercury. He was uninhibited and he knew his gift, but I never knew mine growing up. When I saw [the film] Bohemian Rhapsody I was balling when the credits rolled. I started watching Queen documentaries. They talked about how they opened with We Will Rock You. I was like that’s it, I’m opening with Lost In Music. “At my show, when the lights come up you see the silhouettes of the dancers. The choreography is authentic early Sister Sledge, and then you see the huge screen of the sisters, and then you hear the strings of Lost In Music. So you’re on your chair at the beginning of the show. By the time we get to Thinking of You near the end it’s very special.

“I can do 90-minutes of our hits and it stays new. I might want to hear one or two new songs at a concert but I want all the hits as well. It’s like an education hearing the new stuff, but I want to dance” “When I go to concerts I want to hear the hits. I can do 90-minutes of our hits and it stays new. I might want to hear one or two new songs at a concert but I want all the hits as well. It’s like an education hearing the new stuff, but I want to dance. “After everything we’ve been through in the last two years, people are running towards the feel-good music. I think that’s why Thinking of You gets an electric response live. From my vantage point I just see smiles everywhere. It was the same thing with the roaring ‘20s: people wanted to feel good. I’m happy that my music does that.” ) You can see Sister Sledge at 02 Indigo,

London in May 2022. For tickets:

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Fitzrovia Chapel in London announces exhibition – Tell Them I’ve Gone to Papua New Guinea – to celebrate the life and work of renowned performance artist Leigh Bowery ) Fitzrovia Chapel has announced an

exhibition – Tell Them I’ve Gone to Papua New Guinea – to celebrate the life and work of legendary performance artist Leigh Bowery from January 7 to February 6. The chapel is the only remaining building of the Middlesex Hospital, where Leigh died from AIDS on New Year’s Eve 1994.

He was also known as one of Lucian Freud’s most famous models, sitting for the renowned painter for several years and becoming close friends, his naked form becoming almost as recognisable as when wearing his own outlandish and ornately decorated costumes and creations. Leigh died of AIDS on New Year’s Eve 1994, shortly after his last performance at the Freedom Cafe, Soho, in November, where people saw for the last time his legendary ‘Birth’ performance, where he ‘gave birth’ to his assistant and close friend Nicola Bateman live on stage, with Freud, Alexander McQueen and his other close friend Sue Tilley all on the front row.

Torry, David Holah and Lee Benjamin. Dr Rob Miller, who looked after Leigh, and who is now a trustee of the chapel, will also be interviewed, and artist Charles Atlas will have his film, The Legend of Leigh Bowery, played as part of the exhibition. ) For more info and to book, visit: CHARLES ATLAS' 'THE LEGEND OF LEIGH BOWERY'

Leigh spanned the worlds of art, fashion, dance, club and music. Essentially he himself was the living, breathing work of art, his now iconic designs and costumes were ubiquitous and meant for Leigh, as he pushed his body through ever more extreme creations, designed to shock and thrill onlookers from dancefloor to gallery.

The Fitzrovia Chapel has worked with the Leigh Bowery Estate and in particular Nicola, who he married shortly before his death, to create a stunning but poignant exhibition of Leigh’s costumes, presenting several of his iconic ‘looks’ against the backdrop of the gold mosaic ceiling and marble walls of the chapel. There will also be a specially produced short film with interviews with some of Leigh’s close friends and collaborators, including Nicola, Sue, Boy George, Les Child, Richard



) The World AIDS Day Concert returned to Brighton on World AIDS Day last month, raising funds for HIV charity Lunch Positive. After a year off due to you know what, Brighton & Hove’s LGBTQ+ choirs and musicians - including Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus, Rainbow Chorus, Actually Gay Men’s Chorus, Rebelles, Resound and Qukelele - came together for a moving show at St Mary’s Church in Kemptown to support frontline, grassroots HIV support in the city. Images courtesy of Nick Ford Photography:








32 Scene


Catherine Muxworthy sits down to chew the fat with stand-up comedian and consumer rights hero Joe Lycett ahead of his UK tour ) Comedian and consumer rights activist Joe

Lycett was born in Birmingham and began his career as a stand-up comic in 2007. Growing up as a queer child in the West Midlands, Joe recollects his coming out experience. “I was very upset when I told my parents,” Joe told Scene. “My mum was the first person I told in the family and then I spoke to my dad about it and he was really great. They were both really great but you know I was very nervous about telling them, and I wasn’t sure it was going to go well but they were wonderful.”

“The idea of going to a straight club fills me with sort of dread. I go to gay clubs all the time and have the best time, it’s a better place to be” Older family members, however, had been raised in a different time and needed to shed their ingrained prejudices in order to accept Joe’s queer identity. “My grandad sort of said in this weird passing statement, he said that if he knew any of his kids were gay he would have drowned them at birth,” Joe reveals. “It was such a sort of dramatic thing because he wasn’t a dramatic person and I remember being like ‘oh that’s weird’, and I hadn’t come out in any way at that point and then I got older and started doing stand-up and I never formally come out to him, but he completely changed his mind on that because he realised it was an old-fashioned view that he probably just picked up when he was a kid and it wasn’t actually what he thought. It was just what he thought he should say. And all that came from the fact

that he met me, and he saw me, and he loved me, and he knew that I wasn’t anything to be frightened of and there was nothing wrong with me and that he loved me as I was. So, representation is really important in real life, it’s important to meet people from different cultures, sexualities, genders, and backgrounds. “I came out in sixth form and I think I was the only person in my school, in my year group, who was openly anything but straight,” Joe says. “There wasn’t any out-and-out homophobia, well there was probably a little

bit, but generally it was just like ‘uh he’s weird’ rather than slurs or anything like that. “What I’ve realised in more recent years and have found out is that there are a lot of kids in my year, a lot of people that were in my year that came out afterwards, and some who ended up in long-term relationships with people that they maybe weren’t happy with but felt that they had to, you know, be straight. And that is a real problem and a real travesty for those people. It [my childhood] wasn’t that long ago, but I really feel like you see the kind

of young people now and the kids in school and how much things have progressed and I’m just so in awe of that and I’m so impressed by it, and obviously there’s still homophobia in schools but it’s way less than I think it was in my era and I really hope that continues to kind of f-off basically. It would be nice to know that in the next few years homophobia in schools doesn’t exist because then it won’t exist in those generations as they become adults. “But I don’t know politically, I feel like we’re not going in that direction. I do worry about it a lot,” Joe admits. At first, Joe “was quite scared of going to gay bars because I didn’t know what to expect, and then the first place I went was The Village Inn in Birmingham, which is now one of my favourite places to go”. He continues: “I remember all my friends at school were straight and went to straight clubs, and I remember feeling like, god everyone’s a prick. Everyone was sort of peacocking and trying to make themselves look really cool, and I was like am I meant to do that? Is that what I’m meant to do? Then going to The Village, I was like oh this is just people genuinely having a good time and letting themselves go and being themselves, and that’s way better than this nonsense so I really ended up loving going to the gay village.” After growing up in Birmingham, Joe left for Manchester University and continued

going to gay venues in a new city. “I took my housemate to Canal Street one night,” Joe remembers fondly, “we just had the best time, so fun, so free and easy-going. The idea of going to a straight club fills me with sort of dread. I go to gay clubs all the time and have the best time, it’s a better place to be.”

Birmingham stuff. What I loved in the first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK was how funny everyone was and how Baga Chipz was just so funny. That’s why I tune in more so, I’m not a huge connoisseur of fashion, for me it’s like what funny stuff are they doing and what performances are they doing?”

“There’s still homophobia in schools but it’s way less than I think it was in my era and I really hope that continues to kind of f-off basically”

As well as watching live drag performances, Joe enjoys playing with the drag artform himself. “I keep coming up with drag names and can never land on one that I’m happy with,” he admits. “My friend Matt is brilliant at drag names. He came up with Elaine Closure Joe is no stranger to queer culture and which is a great name, also Emily Bank Holiday was recently a judge of a drag lip-syncing Sunday,” Joe says, explaining that if he had a competition in Birmingham called the Church drag name it would be a pun. “Fatt Butcher is of Yshee run by Yshee Black. “It’s a brilliant a perfect example, they’re a friend of mine and show. I went to watch the final last time round they are very good. a couple of years ago and it was really good, the winner Black Peppa was extraordinary. But “Birmingham drag particularly seems to like revel in and ... the standard this year has really stepped up really enjoy that kind of trashy and I think that’s because people have seen drag” the possibilities for the artform.” He also explains that he enjoys the rougher, less polished side of drag. “I think Birmingham and Yshee Black sort of embodies this. Birmingham drag particularly seems to like revel in and – Ginny Lemon and a lot of these other characters from around this area – really enjoy that kind of trashy drag. It’s not slick, it’s definitely not traditional ideas of beauty, I mean Ginny Lemon; the costumes that she wears are just jokes. They’re elaborate, beautiful, funny jokes. It’s a very funny artform a lot of the time and particularly the

“I performed, years ago, as Nigella Farage,” Joe continues, “where I basically dressed as much like a kind of bastardised version of Nigella as I could and did a load of sort of anti-European jokes while making a goat massaman curry. You know it needed some work, but there’s something in it.” Joe will be performing (not in drag) in his new comedy stand-up tour across the UK in 2022 including London, Brighton, and Birmingham. D For tour dates, visit





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Alex Klineberg gets up to speed with author Neil Bartlett OBE, whose latest novel, Address Book, takes you on a tour of queer history from the Victorian era to the present day ) Neil Bartlett OBE entered the theatre world

in 1983. He worked for Theatre de Complicite and later became artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith in 1994. Bartlett is also an author and playwright. He published his first book, Who Was That Man: A Present for Mr. Oscar Wilde, in 1988.

to pass on: as queer people we have every reason to hope. We have this incredible history, this incredible culture, this queer family of ancestors. If we turn to them they’re going to tell us everything we need to know about to deal with the different situations we find ourselves in.

Address Book comprises seven stories. What theme threads them together? They’re all about what happens behind a front door. The front door is the dividing line between the outside world and your personal world. We never know what goes on behind somebody else’s front door, but we want to know. That started to coalesce in my mind with the stories we don’t hear, especially queer stories. The stories we’ve kept hidden or the stories about people who supposedly don’t matter.

Your first book about Oscar Wilde, the ultimate queer ancestor... It’s been a thread throughout my work. Stories give us strength, they don’t just pass the time. When I wrote my first book, I was living in a pretty terrifying council flat on the Isle of Dogs. It was the height of the first wave of the British AIDS crisis. You couldn’t walk home safely at night. You’d be spat at at bus stops. You couldn’t go into a newsagent because every newspaper was screaming hatred at you.

I sat down one night and tried to write a list of every place I’ve ever lived. There was a penny drop moment where I realised I’d just passed through those places. In every room you’ve ever lived in, someone else has also lived there.

I was part of a posse of glorious queens. We’d go dancing at Heaven and camp it up on the nightbus. I needed food for my soul though. That’s why I turned to Oscar Wilde. Here was a man who was once the most celebrated personality in London, and he was destroyed by homophobia. His two-year sentence of hard labour killed him. The flipside of the story is that he went through that ordeal with incredible dignity and courage. He’s the visible tip of an iceberg; of an astonishing network of friends, lovers, artists, drag queens, immigrants – all of whom came through his life.

I went back to seven front doors that had been significant places in my life. I stood outside them, stared at them, and I asked the walls of those rooms to tell me a story about someone I didn’t know. In the book there’s a doctor, there’s a pregnant housewife – people who are utterly unlike me. Yet in some way I was able to channel them and hear their stories. People often ask what a book is about and I never know. If I did I could just write everyone a letter and say it’s about x, y and z. If I had to sum it up I’d say it’s about courage. The seven people you hear in the book all need it. They all discover that they have it already. One story takes place at the height of the AIDS epidemic, another takes place in the home of someone who’s just lost their life partner. I’m 63, I’ve been queer since the day I was born, and I’ve been working as an ‘out’ queer artist since I was 21. It’s something I want

Do you have a favourite character in the new book? I love them all. I can only create out of sympathy. To answer the question though I’d have to say the pregnant housewife. She lives on the top floor of a crappy old Victorian house. I lived there in the early 1980s with two flatmates and a thousand mice. I love her. She’s pregnant with her first child and she keeps a diary of her pregnancy. She finds out she has a queer neighbour. She’s never met a queer person and even though their worlds have nothing to do with each other, they form a strange alliance. I love her voice. I felt like I didn’t write that

story, I just typed it. I love the way she describes having sex too. She grew up in a household where you didn’t talk about those things at all. I have to pinch myself and remind myself that the characters are not real. I finished the book in lockdown so those voices in my head were almost the only voices I heard for weeks. You’ve been with your partner for 32 years. They say six months is a long time in gay years. What advice can you give us about sustaining a relationship for so long? Oh lord, well, it kinda helps if you’re mad about them, which I am. He’s away at the moment and talking to him on the phone this morning, you get that little kick, just like the first time I met him. Practical advice: Talk and don’t lie, you really don’t need to. If you ever find yourself caught in a situation, don’t wait three days or three years, just be honest. Tact is also great. Learn the difference between tact and lie. Tact is not barrelling in, suddenly dumping everything that’s in your head. “Hello, darling, I’m not going to ask you about your day but here’s everything you need to know about mine.” Also, when did you last buy the person you love flowers? There you are, that’s three things: Don’t lie, tact and flowers! How’s it been working with Inkandescent, the independent publishing house? It’s been fantastic. My last book was released by a big commercial publisher. It was no fun. They don’t really get my queer world, and I certainly don’t get their world: it’s posh and only about money and reputation. Working with Nathan and Justin is the opposite. They said ‘We really love you, we’ll publish your book. It’s just the two of us around our kitchen table and we don’t have a marketing budget.’ They really believe that books matter. Everything now is about marketing, it doesn’t matter what the product is. That’s rule number one of capitalism: never mind if the product is any good, is the advert good? Also, they’re young and gorgeous. They even got me on Twitter. I was like, oh god, what is this thing? It’s not my world but we’re doing it. I’m Tweeting away and Facebooking. So, I offer you my story. If it can be of any use, take it, have it and share it. Talk to me about it. I’m getting so many people coming back to me telling me they found themselves in the book. Other people’s stories have meant so much to me, and it’s what’s made my life possible: the inspiration that stories can give us. D address-book

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Book Reviews by Eric Page ) Jodie Lancet-Grant & Lydia Corry The Pirate Mums (£6.99, OUP Oxford). I love seeing us reflected in stories and with young people it’s really important that they can see themselves as key parts of fun, engaging and constructive narratives. The Pirate Mums is all of that, inclusive to the bone, celebratory of LGBTQ+ families and lives, and very gently challenging of prejudice but most of all it’s a rollicking good story. We join Billy’s life, with his two mums and their secret life as pirates, as reflected in their home décor, food and choice of family sea shanty entertainment. It’s a wonderfully daft depiction of landlubber pirate life. Up comes a school trip out to sea and Billy asks his mums to be ‘normal’, but when disaster strikes in the shape of some ridiculously silly mounting disasters, including a storm and the captain getting locked in the loo, it’s his mother’s nautical knowledge that saves the day. I adored Bird-Brain, the cross parrot, and the lovely way the narrative and illustrations are blended into one another. It’s the perfect read-it-together story for younger ones. The illustrations from Lydia Corry are vibrant, funny and full of detail, perfect for tiny hands to point out and laugh at, and the core of the book is a warm-hearted unconditional celebration of being different and embracing the wonderful things which make us special. ) Seishi Yokomizo The Village of Eight Graves (£8.99, Pushkin Vertigo). Translated into English for the first time, the narrative is a wholly original take on The Hound of the Baskervilles and is part of Japan’s most popular murder mystery series, a set of fiendish classics featuring the Columbo-like sleuth and private investigator Kosuke Kindaichi. Nestled deep in the mist-shrouded mountains, The Village of Eight Graves takes its name from a bloody legend: in the 16th century eight samurais, who had taken refuge there along with a secret treasure, were murdered by the inhabitants, bringing a terrible curse down upon their village. Centuries later a mysterious young man named Tatsuya arrives in town, bringing a spate of deadly poisonings in his wake. The inimitably charming, scruffy and brilliant Kosuke Kindaichi investigates. The book is a delight, twisting and turning in gothic wonder in your mind, bringing to life place and character with deft

prose and the narrative grips from the off. I really enjoyed the grip of the tension and adored the slow and relentless discovery of the awful truth by the fun detective Kindaichi, mixed in with strange and foreign cultural ideas of curse, fate, forbidden love. This rich murder mystery, with a tucked in romance folded fan-like between the shade and blood, will keep you

enthralled until the very last page. ) Justin Myers The Fake-Up (£16.99, Sphere). Well you know where you are with a Myers book - in super funny and safe hands - and this new book from the engaging author is superb; his usually attention to detail, character and humour giving us a trademark gallop of a rom-com. Not quite as it seems on the surface, full of complicated side plots and fabulously odd twists, which give the book thunderous momentum

and it feels like he’s not going to be able to bring all the crazy plot threads together again. Myers does, of course, it’s his style and with real flourish too. The story shows us Dylan and Flo in love. Or are they? They broke up months ago and everyone was delighted for them. Being apart gives them the opportunity to follow their dreams, and opportunities present themselves which seem too good to be true. They both thrive professionally being apart, but long for each other too. At first, it’s exciting sneaking around, hiding from disapproving friends, climbing through bedroom windows to avoid family, and concocting hilarious disguises. It’s like Romeo and Juliet, with more sex and less poison. Myers writes good filth, and his characters feel like real people - flawed, selfish, daft, shy, with complex, cute contradictions. In their sexual adventures and emotional disclosures, it’s messy and real and made me laugh out loud a few times. As the book progressed, and the tension rises, it soon becomes harder to separate truth from lies. Dylan and Flo are in way over their heads, and the games have only just begun. This is a lovely exploration of people

struggling to have it all and realising that perhaps it’s just each other that they really want, and managing their own, and others’, expectations of what love can and should be about. ) Matthew Bates, Golnoosh Nour, Sarah and Kate Beal (eds) Queer Life, Queer Love (£9.99, Muswell Press). A gloriously queer celebration of the best writing from the margins now brought centre stage, Queer Life, Queer Love explores characters, stories, and experiences beyond the mainstream. Celebrating the fascinating, the forbidden, the subversive, and even the mundane, but in essence, the view from outside. Most of this anthology introduces works from emerging writers but also includes unpublished contributions from Isabel Costello, Jonathan Kemp, Katlego Kai Kolanyabe-Kesupile, Fran Lock and Tanaka Mhishi. It’s a superbly intoxicating brew of magnificence. A result of a global call-out for original submissions, with a brief to push “the

boundaries of gender and sexuality, but also the boundaries of literature itself,” this is utterly, shamelessly, wonderfully what we get. Queer exuberance unbridled. The book shivers in your hand as it dances its electric possibilities in your mind. The prose is world class, the arguments a clarion call, although not all of them recent, they chime in our daily lives still. The authentic narrative of personal experience of transition lifts this book into Gospel and the poetry shakes it all back down again with metaphorical and emotional lightning strikes of shocking vigour. A great book to start the year with and a superb book to have experienced.

europoppy, trancey BOP and I’m so excited for new Grimes music. 2020’s Miss Anthropocene still slaps btw. ) Avril Lavigne Bite Me. Avril is giving me so many nostalgic vibes with her new fiery comeback single Bite Me, which reminds me of the ‘old Avril’. The Canadian singer

) Music’s 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, Kylie, Spice Girls, Britney... even AQUA! I feel so lucky to get to share my current favourite songs from my Spotify every month and my favourite album of the month with you all from Scene HQ! PS: Happy New Year! Follow me: iitsdalemelitabitch tDaleMelita ) Katy Perry All You Need Is Love. I do love an acoustic cover so thanks for this Ms Perry! Katy has covered The Beatles’ 1967 track for Gap’s campaign - All Together Now. $1 from the sale of each single sold will go towards a non-profit organisation called Baby2Baby which provides essentials to

mothers and babies in need worldwide. Katy, who welcomed her first baby in 2020 with fiancé Orlando Bloom, said “As a new mother, I now understand first hand the huge responsibility to give your child everything they need, and Baby2Baby helps families who might not be able to do that.” Fun fact: Katy Perry’s first paying job at 16 was folding the fleece aisle at the Gap that still exists in Paseo Nuevo in Santa Barbara, California so it’s a bit of a full circle moment working at Gap and then releasing a song for a Gap advert. ) FKA Twigs Ft. Central Cee Measure of a Man. FKA Twigs understood the brief with this FABULOUS theatrical track which appears on the soundtrack for The King’s Man... although I can imagine this song in a James Bond film more. “This song has such a different sound, which is a challenge; you’ve got to really embody the song,” FKA Twigs

said. “For me especially with my vocals, I had to pull a different side of my artistry out.” British rapper Central Cee doesn’t add much to the song but there is a cinematic version without him so maybe FKA Twigs felt the same secretly, you never know! ) MARINA Happy Loner. Nawww this song... MARINA tweeted saying that this song is “dedicated to the introverts, empaths, socially anxious + those who feel overwhelmed with life most of the damn time”. I can

relate and I know so many of us do too. I’ve always been a huge fan of MARINA’s honesty and songwriting. Happy Loner is taken from Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land (Deluxe Edition) and I know it’s not a bop but lyrically it’s just brilliant. ) Grimes Player Of Games. Grimes teased this before releasing it in such a Grimes-ey way by sharing lines of binary code that translated to the song’s title. I didn’t have a clue and hopefully I wasn’t the only one, but lots of other fans online figured it out for us. I can’t help but wonder whether this song is about Elon Musk... They’ve recently separated and the lyrics “sail away to the cold expanse of space, even love couldn’t keep you in your place,” hmmmm... Anyway it’s a

slash songwriter said: “I’m stoked that pop-punk music is coming back around right now and people are falling back in love with it. And it’s almost in a weird way, it feels bigger than ever right now.” YASSS Avril. The upbeat instrumentals, live drums, and guitar shape the fastpaced pop-punk song; the nostalgic voice might remain in the past for some but for me there’s no doubt it’s time for a fun and fresh new era. ) Diana Ross I Still Believe. What a shimmering and joyful song!

Taken from the legendary singer’s latest and first album in 15 years – her 25th album too by the way... 25th! I Still Believe is produced by Jack Antonoff (he’s affiliated with Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift) and it’s just a delight to listen to. Very fresh but also still very Diana Ross. ) Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd Moth To A Flame. Such a COOL and... atmospheric song! I’m loving all of these synthy songs

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lately, and Swedish House Mafia and The Weeknd are a perfect combo. Abel’s voice is as haunting as ever and the production of the track is *chef’s kiss*. A smooth, slick bop IMPO. ) Duran Duran feat. Tove Lo GIVE IT ALL UP. I never imagined this duet happening but here we are... Duran Duran and Tove Lo?! The track appears on the band’s 15th album, Future Past. “It was such an honour for me to join these legends on this amazing album and tune. Getting to sing along to Simon’s voice was pretty surreal,” Tove Lo said. “I’m also a big fan of Erol Alkan so I was very excited when I heard he was producing the track! It’s that kind of emotional song that keeps building in desperation and energy so you wanna dance and cry to it. My favourite kind!” Mine too!

Album of the Month ) Agnes Magic Still Exists. Magic Still Exists is Swedish star Agnes’

fifth album and her first since 2012 OMG... Was it worth the long wait? Absolutely. My only complaint with this album if I had to complain is that it’s too short, but otherwise this album is... magical (see what I did there?). Agnes has described her album as “spiritual disco” and said that it’s “a collection of epiphanies about what it means to be human and our need to constantly search for something bigger, something more.” Agnes is a songwriter too by the way and explained: “Mixing spiritual lyrics with disco felt both tempting and necessary. Disco is freedom, to express oneself and not be ashamed. But the music was also something I needed to do to grow spiritually and strengthen myself. It was an opportunity to take what I have within me, multiply it and just play with it.” Standout tracks are 24 Hours, Love And Appreciation, Fingers Crossed and Here Comes The Night. Oh and check out I Trance from the 2019 EP Nothing Can Compare... SO GOOD! Basically, the world needs to stop sleeping on Agnes.


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WITH MICHAEL HOOTMAN ) I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU (BFI Blu-Ray). Fashion photographer Alasdair McLellan’s film is set to Saint Etienne’s latest album. It’s a kind of road movie which bears a passing resemblance to Chris Petit’s

Radio On. It contrasts a Britain of industrial landscapes and motorways with its countryside; but whereas Petit’s film was strictly dour monochrome, McLellan’s is mostly beautifully saturated technicolour. A series of impossibly handsome and beautiful models skim stones on the Southampton docks, kiss in cars or ride on motorcycles. A shirtless young man strides purposefully through a suburban landscape. The models drift in and out of the film and they’re given very occasional snatches of dialogue: ‘did you see the KLF last night?’, or ‘only love can mend a broken heart’. Like the music it’s dreamy, ethereal and comforting but with something mournful being hinted at in the background. The film is set in the late ‘90s - though if it wasn’t for a thick copy of the Yellow Pages and use of a landline phone I’m not sure I’d have even noticed. McLellan and a band member’s talk included as an extra - explain that the project is about memory and what it is to misremember. This completely escaped me at first viewing I’ve Been Trying To Tell You seems to be more of an example of nostalgia rather than a critique of it - but it’s still enjoyable without seeing it

through any particular authorial lens. A shot of young men and women swimming near a waterfall can make you feel woozy with a sense of England and being young and the sheer beauty of it all. Is the finished product actually a film? Maybe, though as a moving-image coffee-table book with a great soundtrack it’s a successful example of what is practically a new form of media. ) THE LOVE OF JEANNE NEY (Eureka Blu-ray). If you’re not as familiar with the events of post-revolutionary Russia as contemporary audiences were - this silent film dates from 1927 - you may initially feel a slight confusion about what’s going on. It doesn’t really matter as this isn’t a work of historical fiction but more of a melodrama typical of the period. Jeanne is living in Russia when her diplomat father is killed by her lover, a fighter for the Communist cause: G W Pabst’s film was made during the Weimar Republic, a time when you could just about get away with having the Communists as the good guys. Jeanne flees to Paris where she has to contend with a sexually predatory uncle, a Russian lowlife (Fritz Rasp) who’s followed her to France for nefarious reasons, a saintly blind girl (Brigitte Helm, who played both the heroine and robot in

Metropolis) and a fiendish diamond-swallowing parrot. Pabst’s direction looks like a calling card for Hollywood - he does fluid camera,

impressive crowd scenes and gets some big silent-movie style emotions from his actors. The result is not exactly great, but it’s fun and has one of the best villains in movie history. Rasp is brilliantly loathsome; at times his face, contorted into an evil sneer, looks barely human in that he resembles some kind of human-lizard hybrid. He dominates every scene he’s in to the point that when he’s off screen the viewer’s interest wanes. It’s pacy, slightly ridiculous but recommended for Rasp’s barnstorming psychopathy. ) LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES (BFI Blu-ray). This is basically ‘Transgression: Fifties Style’ in which a couple of adolescent siblings construct a fantasy life for themselves with its own arcane rules and occasional forays into pushing at the boundaries of decency. Based on a Jean Cocteau novel, what was probably quite arresting 70 years ago, today looks tame verging on the insipid. Paul and Elisabeth do some light shoplifting, they stick their tongues out at a little girl, he calls her a bitch. Later they share a bath and, in a scene of slightly embarrassing symbolism, Paul throws some

milk over his sister’s face. Are there incestuous desires being hinted at? You bet there are! When Paul is badly injured by a snowball thrown by the school reprobate Dargelos (Renée Cosima) he becomes an invalid who has to be cared for by his pretty uncaring sister. Later they both end up sharing a huge mansion with a young model (Cosima again) and a mutual friend, Gérard, whose sole purpose in life seems to be witnessing a lot of bickering. Despite the pedigrees of the author and director, JeanPierre Melville, I found this absurd, obscure and just plain boring. One insurmountable problem is the leads are supposed to be 16 but are played by actors a good decade older which ends up making the leads’ behaviour slightly ridiculous rather than emotionally troubled. Nicole Stéphane has a malevolent intensity as Elisabeth, and far outclasses the pretty but wooden Édouard Dermit who plays Paul, but a great performance is easily lost in a sea of dull plotting and tiresome dialogue. Fans of slightly pretentious French cinema will probably warm to this film more than I did.

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) Adriana González & Iñaki Encina Oyón Isaac Albéniz Complete Songs (Audax ADX13784). From the opening notes of Adriana González (soprano) and Iñaki Encina Oyón’s disc of the complete songs of Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909), I could tell this would be a treat. Only the opening set, Rimas de Bécquer, is in Spanish, but the themes are familiar - lost love, the fragility of love, life and death, and visions in

CONCERTS ) The Maxwell Quartet perform Haydn, Dvorák and Prokofiev (Sun 23, 11am, ACCA).

) The London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Kazushi Ono, perform Stormclouds and Spring Flowers, including Debussy, Dvorak, and Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, with Andreas Ottensamer (clarinet) (Sat 29, 7.30pm, www. ANDREAS OTTENSAMER

dreams and sleep, etc. It is perhaps only in the later songs, such as Art thou gone forever, Elaine? and The gifts of the Gods, and then the lush expressionism of the Deux morceaux de prose, that the piano has a more virtuosic role. Yet Oyón makes the most of the subtlety of interest in earlier songs too, particularly the lilting rhythm of the Barcarola and increasingly expressive accompaniment to Il tuo sguardo. González moves effortlessly between simple romanticism (Una rosa in dono) to extremes of despair (De dónde vengo...?) and tender expression (To Nellie). She even gives us ever so slightly schmaltzy Victoriana in Will you be mine?. But the final four songs are the most evocative, full of Spanish-infused shifting harmonies and crying piano grace notes in the incredibly moving In sickness and health. Oyón’s virtuosic pianism comes to the fore here, and throughout González is a master of communicating the texts with wonderful dynamic control and variety of tone. Highly recommended. ) Emily Baines The Ghost in the Machine (First Hand Records FHR113). Now

more virtuosic piano parts, such as in the passionate and watery Dedication, the playfully chirruping Spring and the highly virtuosic, rippling Consider, her playing shines through, making her restraint elsewhere all the more impressive. Highlights of the collection include the darkly sombre A Sad Song, with its lilting but shifting harmonies and ranging melodic line, and the mysterious Autumn Twilight’s winding accompaniment, with some captivating quiet singing from Briginshaw, also showing impressive control when Warlock challenges with final high sustained notes. A great showcase of another side to Warlock, as well this talented duo.


but also her deep knowledge and her success in rescuing that ‘ghost’ from the machine. ) Luci Briginshaw & Eleanor Meynell Peter Warlock Songbook (Convivium CR062). Peter Warlock (1894-1930) is probably best known for his Capriol Suite, The Curlew song cycle, or perhaps some of his boisterous drinking songs, but he wrote over 120 songs, as well as numerous choral pieces and works for voice for some reverse engineering. and chamber ensembles. Warlock’s In 18th century Europe, there real name was Philip Heseltine, was a fascination with all things and he had a reasonably successful mechanical, and musical instruments career as a writer and music critic. such as barrel organs and organ The pseudonym was perhaps to clocks were highly popular. Before distance himself from his critical the gramophone, they were a way writings and save his own music to hear again the popular works of from the acidic scrutiny he gave the day. But what is also fascinating to others. Not formally trained is how they reveal 18th century as a musician, Delius became a tastes for performance, particularly mentor, although his own music ornamentation and decoration. moved away from his mentor’s Recorder player Emily Baines, impressionistic style, towards a mix also director and co-founder with of folk and Elizabethan influences. lutenist Arngeir Hauksson of the Soprano Luci Briginshaw and ensemble Amyas, has transcribed pianist Eleanor Meynell have got music from such instruments, and it together to record a significant turns out that more is more. Some of selection of his songs - 28 in all the renditions here of Handel, Arne, and even God Save the King, seem to have decoration on virtually every note. Baines plays on a range of recorders, as well as the ‘voice flute’, a recorder that sits in range between the tenor and treble. The transcribed works are drawn from a clock organ made in London by Charles Clay, and a barrel organ made by Henry Holland. Clay’s incredible clocks, containing works of art, and functioning organs could be seen for this new CD. Briginshaw’s bright and heard in his workshop for a tone is well suited to the direct shilling. The disc here opens with communication of many of the a ‘suite’ of three popular pieces by songs, yet she can also conjure up Handel, including the Overture to his the frequent moments of wistful Water Music, and See the Conquering melancholy. Warlock is fond of Hero Comes. The repertoire is lively lilting triple times (in more than and full of birdlike trills, twiddles half the songs here), from the and turns throughout. There’s even tender My little sweet darling, with a smattering of the 18th century its nod back to Byrd, to Rest, sweet fashion for ‘Scots’ music, with The nymphs, where the simple melody is Lass of Patie’s Mill, and Francesco disturbed by a mildly crunchy piano Geminiani’s (1687-1762) Auld Bob accompaniment. The early music Morrice, with Baines demonstrating influences are there in Lullaby, with particularly impressive virtuosity its steady walking accompaniment, when the variation takes off. Her and the Dowland-esque Sleep, effortless ornamentation throughout despite its unexpected sliding is also testament to her virtuosity, harmonies. Briginshaw delivers the expressive melodies with soft tones, yet she gives occasional more passionate outbursts full weight. Often, Warlock’s piano parts provide chromatic edge but remain in the background, allowing the simple melodic lines to take centre stage. Meynell understands this and doesn’t force the dark undertones through the texture. Yet when Warlock writes

) The London Philharmonic Orchestra also perform an allBeethoven programme - the Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral), and the Piano Concerto No. 4 with Joanna McGregor (piano). Matthew Coorey conducts (Sun 16, 3pm, Congress Theatre, www.eastbournetheatres.

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

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) This month I’m happy to introduce you to an artist who arrived in Brighton after growing up in Australia after being first born in Bath. Jack Hardy is now represented by Brighton-based Metropolis Contemporary Gallery (, and has already been included in the Troublemakers exhibition there.



Having attended film school for a year, and having realised it wasn’t quite what he had expected, he dropped out looking for a more flexible creative path. Following a painterly interest, an encounter with JeanMichel Basquiat led Jack to then work towards becoming a painter. This inspired him to travel through Europe before moving to Bristol, where he then had his first solo show, Open Hands, which was curated by Martyn Cross and Phil Root at Stokes Croft Gallery in December 2020. Following this initial achievement he then was taken over by the urge to travel again, this time traversing across Egypt where he taught English and painting. Arriving back in the UK, he was given the opportunity to be an artist in residence for the brb project which was implemented by Caraboo. This residency allowed Jack to contact local artists and curators, and allowed him to be able to experiment with the painting and effect of large format canvases for the first time. His mentor Martyn Cross wrote about him: “That same energy is there in Jack’s paintings and drawings. You know what he’s seeing and you know what he’s saying. There’s also a charming sense of naivety about what he creates which stems from his lack of formal training, and this is a good thing. There’s no dead weight. It’s fresh and it’s raw and it’s simple. It’s direct. No flab. The poetry he weaves with the words he introduces to a canvas are beautifully serene. He’s in a certain place and it’s the same place as you, if only you’d stop and look around. Even with some of his energetic mark-making there’s a calmness about their existence which suggests the author is in contemplation about his role in their creation. He’s finding his way in the world and he wants you to come with him.” The directness and confidence seen in his images, especially for someone so young in years. The differing themes he is exploring, whether it may be portraiture, text-based or painted counterploys to said text, shows an enquiring mind that is still searching out ideas to paint and draw into being. The creative community in Brighton is always developing and changing with new voices joining the creative conversation. I’m glad that Jack has settled here and that his artworks will be viewable in Brighton, where we will be able to see them grow and mature as time passes by.


) KEITH TIPPETT & MATTHEW BOURNE Aeolian (Discus). Bristolborn pianist Keith Tippett was one of the great British improvising musicians of the last 50 years, working in every format from solo performance to running the 50-piece Centipede (which had 100 feet!). On this double CD set recorded in 2019, he is paired with fellow pianist Matthew Bourne, the first CD a studio set recorded in Leeds, the second a live set from the Union Chapel in Islington. The music is austere and at times difficult, the two pianists – both percussive in style – improvising in almost abstract fashion, glimmers of light occasionally appearing among the often-dark textures they conjure up. Tippett died in 2020, making the live set his final appearance on disc. It is a magisterial if demanding way to remember him. ) ALICE COLTRANE Kirtan: Turiya Sings (Impulse!). I must be fair and point out that this is not a jazz album, as nothing on it is improvised. Instead, it is a set of nine devotional songs recorded in 1981 in an ashram in Los Angeles run by Alice Coltrane, widow of the great saxophonist John. The songs are all quite simple, sung by Alice in Sanskrit over a quietly played Wurlitzer organ. The music is determinately inspirational and spiritual, spacious and intense in its devotional task. Unlike the Luaka Bop release of her ecstatic music in 2017, it is not overly celebratory or joyous. Its importance, and why this is such a necessary release, is that while her jazz records released on Impulse! define her career, they do not tell the whole story of the musical life of this most extraordinary and inspiring woman. This important album fills that gap.


) Despite the bleak midwinter, live jazz flourishes in Brighton & Hove. A few visiting stars from London and further afield drop in from time to time, but luckily there is a wealth of local talent to hear, playing free gigs nightly in pubs and bars. The county jazz magazine – for wot I also write! – has a good set of daily listings: www. ) The New Generation Jazz Festival takes place at Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham, from February 4–6: Kansas Smitty’s House Band and the wondrous Xhosa Cole on Friday 4, Chelsea Carmichael and Daisy George on Saturday 5, Alex Hitchcock and Binker Golding on Sunday 6. Tickets: www.

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Unravelling Greta Garbo

Lift that weight, pluck that eyebrow

) Greta Garbo is one of the biggest stars in the history of cinema. It’s now 80 years since she gave her final performance in The Two Faced Woman. That movie was her only flop. Stung by the lacklustre response to her poor casting in a screwball comedy, she left Hollywood and never acted again. She was 36 years old.

) There’s something I need to confess. It’s been weighing on my mind for sometime now and I feel that the time is right to unburden myself of it. The thing is... as a gay man... I don’t know how to say this, but... I don’t really do any grooming. There! I’ve said it! It’s out there.

Garbo lived for another 50 years. Over that time, she become one of the world’s most famous recluses. How could the Divine Garbo, one of the most desired women in the world, just walk away? The hope for a potential Garbo comeback haunted the minds of many cineastes, but it wasn’t to be. Did Garbo ever regret walking away from Hollywood? We’ll never know. She wasn’t really prone to discussing her feelings in any detail. She remained a mystery to even her closest friends.

I don’t pluck or sculpt my eyebrows. I don’t own a hair dryer or put product in my hair. I don’t use beard oil. I once bought an under eye rejuvenating thing but it didn’t seem to do anything. I’ve never had an exfoliating facial massage. I don’t use aftershave. Shocking!

Robert Gottlieb is a revered literary editor and lifelong Garbo devotee. His latest book Garbo attempts to unravel the mystery of Hollywood’s most elusive star. He’s 90 years old so his age gives him something of an advantage. He’s been around long enough to remember when a Garbo comeback was a possibility.

I moisturise. I trim my beard. I use a roll on deodorant. And that’s about it really. Oh, and wash everything on a daily basis of course. I wonder if this absence of grooming loses me some gay points. I see people out and about and on social media and everything is trimmed, plucked, scrubbed, exfoliated, firmed, tweaked and perfumed. I then I rock up, a bit scruffy round the edges but still looking good. You definitely couldn’t describe me as an uber gay though that’s for sure.


Her films may have dated, but her performances are still captivating. She was able to elevate often clunky scripts, making them seem like high art, at least while she was on the screen. Her performance in Queen Christina is probably her best. It’s one Swedish queen playing another. Garbo uttered her most famous line in Grand Hotel (“I want to be alone”). It seemed to sum up her life. She had a loathing of crowds and photographers. She made a point of covering her face when the press pursued her around the world: she wasn’t going to allow them a decent shot. So, how does a biographer approach a subject as difficult to pin down as Garbo? In some ways she was quite a simple person. Born into the Swedish peasantry in 1905, she dreamed of becoming an actress. It was quite an ambition for someone who came from nothing. Clearly, her ambition was fulfilled not long after she left drama school. Throughout her years of success, she remained an unpretentious Swedish woman who wanted a simple life. She didn’t seem to derive much pleasure from becoming a superstar, or from her vast wealth. On the rare occasions she attended social events, she’d eventually say “I tank I go home now” and leave. She was always leaving, always on the run. Gottlieb looks at Garbo from every angle. He’s read everything that’s been published about her. The Garbo he brings to life in 2021 is a combination of banality and brilliance. Someone you can’t pin down. In other words, the same star who captivated audiences throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and then vanished, never to be forgotten.


“I certainly couldn’t afford to buy these products and get a gym membership and perhaps that’s why I look at them slightly disdainfully. If you can do these things, good for you! I will envy your tight skin and muscles! I think I’d rather spend my hard earned dosh on mugs, charity shop bargains and what not.”

Make up for men is becoming a standard kind of thing with concealers, foundations and tinted moisturisers all available. I can’t see myself ever using them and this is coming from someone who has never had the best skin. The list of creams I’ve tried to banish the pimples is a long one but my skin remains defiantly the same and what with ‘mask acne’ now being a thing, I’m kinda letting it do its own thing. So a concealer might be useful I guess. I will ponder such things. I don’t go to the gym either. Losing more points by the second! I wonder what percentage of gay men do go to a gym and whether it would be as high as I think. It’s almost totally accepted that gay men should join gyms. I saw a film the other day with two gay men as central characters. They chatted about what a gay man does when he first moves to a new town. The second thing mentioned, after finding a home, was to join a gym. It’s almost ubiquitous. But I won’t join a gym. I will walk. I will swim... occasionally, and perhaps do the odd push up. The unsaid thing about all these grooming products and gym memberships is that they all cost a fair bit of money. I certainly couldn’t afford to buy these products and get a gym membership and perhaps that’s why I look at them slightly disdainfully. If you can do these things, good for you! I will envy your tight skin and muscles! I think I’d rather spend my hard earned dosh on mugs, charity shop bargains and what not. And biscuits, obviously. I’d find it hard I think to spend that much on biscuits I guess but I’ll give it a good go!

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our old, there are generations of our communities who never got to be the bright hopes they aspired to be, or indeed the run of the mill masses who did not live long enough to be ‘just like the rest of us.’ And yet, we found our own way. We learned why and how to change our behaviours. We learned how to live with and support those who became ill, we learned how to support those who were bereaved, in shock and saddened by all the above. We learned how to live with our virus and thrive with our virus.

CRAIG’S THOUGHTS Heard It All Before

By Craig Hanlon-Smith @craigscontinuum ) And so perhaps our seasonal festivities were not all that we had hoped, or for the second year running we enjoyed a muchneeded pared back approach to what had become an overblown, excessively demanding fast track to gout. I hope you had some semblance of the festivities you wanted, wherever they land on the scale. My access to the news is extremely limited these days, a 30-minute radio update in the morning and something less in the evening if I get wind of developments. This reduction in news engagement is less about Covid, it has been a one direction move away that started with the EU referendum. In relation to Covid I am not sure what else would be on the news were we not mid-pandemic. There are certainly some serious and destructive world events that are no longer part of the discussion. There’s a war in Syria, and also Yemen, remember that? The messaging around our current circumstances is excessively negative and increasingly oppressive. That we are mismanaged by a self-serving bunch of misogynistic racist imbeciles is a democratic decision of our own making. We did see this coming and chose clown one, over clown two. Goodness knows where we would have been in a pandemic managed by Jeremy Corbyn. Hobson’s choice. We are where we are. Prime Minister Johnson is akin to what we in the professional education world refer to as the charismatic teacher. The charismatic teacher is loved by the kids. They are often funny, zany, flexible around the rules and when the exam results come in, everyone has under-performed and the parents go apeshit. In the current climate, the word pandemic would undoubtedly

slip into the explanation, along with time pressures and the challenges of remote working. If the students under-perform again and again, the charismatic teacher is rumbled. Funny human but they don’t know their ass from they/them onions. Bye. Prime Minister Johnson is the leadership equivalent of the charismatic teacher. And we’re all about to fail our GCSEs. The key is to realise before you get to sit the exam that if you read the books yourself, you’re halfway there. All of this gubbins about parties in 10 Downing Street, Conservative Party headquarters and the decorating of private apartments with somebody else’s money – we knew it all at the beginning. And we (actually not we, I’m being inclusive, a problem shared…) knew this would happen. You can spot a pompous self-obsessed dimwit at 50 paces. It is time to take back control and to get the job done. Build back better or at the very least build back batty. We’ve been here before and, yes, I am talking about the impact of HIV/AIDS across our communities directly or indirectly. As we were largely ignored for years by the governments at the time, we had to find our own way. Granted, the oppression of the many forced us to come together ourselves and find innovative ways to cope, manage and live with our very own bespoke virus and largely ignored. Without any furlough schemes, reductions in VAT, suspension of business rates and after 40 years, we’re still hanging on for that first vaccine, never mind the booster programme. We lost too many of our young and indeed

Let us not be naive. Although we were treated as though it were, our virus was not airborne, it was not contagious from touching or spending time in the same room. It is not the same virus. One key difference is that because we were largely left alone, and then supported from the fringes we had to find a way to prop ourselves up. That is not to reduce the impact of exceptional medical research, intervention, healthcare and kindness. HIV medicine didn’t have anywhere near the resource it needed to seek out treatments or preventative therapies, not for years.

“We’ve been here before and, yes, I am talking about the impact of HIV/AIDS across our communities directly or indirectly. As we were largely ignored for years by the governments at the time, we had to find our own way” With what we did have, some of us contracted HIV anyway, some of us did not. Some of us died and some of us did not. All of us waited and the medical revolution came 15 years in, meaning many lives could be saved. It angers me that people refuse a vaccine developed less than 12 months after Covid-19 was first reported, when our communities gasped for air for 15 years. It angers me that 40 years on there is not a vaccine for our virus and we can only question why? Trillions has been poured into Covid-19 internationally, take the vaccine or don’t it is a free choice. When people contract HIV now, they are put on to a combination therapy treatment immediately – it is not only the best way to survive yourself, but effective treatment means you cannot pass it on. Vaccine refusal allows the virus to develop to mutate to grow in strength and number and to ultimately take more of us down. This is a free country. And it is our free choice. Just as I have learned to do within my own community, I will absolutely take care of myself, out of respect for myself and those I choose to be close to. What I will not do, is indiscriminately hide away, or lock myself down by decree of those who did not have the decency to live by the rules they force fed to us. I will be kind; I will be careful. I will not be compliant.

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Up for grabs

Back in the swim

) So here we are again, full circle, another turn around that huge burning orb of helium, the star we call the Sun, 365 days (and a teeny geeky bit) have passed as we whirl on this muddy rock through the endless vast darkness of space, a quivering quantum of life on this speck of temporary matter and our minds automatically turn to the future. What shall we be? What changes shall I make? What do we wanna look like? How will we get there? Can I bring my Mother? It’s all about the personal pledges this month when we, like the old knights of the Middle Ages, take our chivalrous vows of self-betterment, although they would do it clutching a roast peacock, You, Dear Reader, will have to make do with a veggie burger. But vow you shall. I will be this, I shall be that. I will stop doing that and start this, every day, in every way I am getting better and better. Oh where will it all stop! Diet and vice, gym and groceries, clothing, hair and faces – all are thrust into our furious forensic furnaces of change.

) Swimming is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise available to us. Of course, I would say that, given that I’ve been swimming most days for the past few years, but there is no denying the fact that it is one of the only exercises that utilises all muscle groups while constantly stimulating the heart rate. At least that’s what I’ve been told.



“Much to my surprise I have managed to get very fit by just swimming for about half an hour every day. It takes your mind off the small everyday problems which aren’t actually problems at all and I sleep the sleep of the innocent, so it’s obviously working” In reality no one really needs a gym, although here in Brighton there are about 28 health and fitness centres. Of course, gyms have been popular for thousands of years, the ancient Greeks loved them, but in today’s world do we really need to spend money on something that we can do for nothing, if you are lucky enough to live close to that big swimming pool we call the sea? That’s a bit extreme, so I use some of the many public and private pools that we have. There are several large public pools but they do get busy, most of the big seafront hotels have them and for usually a very small amount of money you can splash around as often as you like. There is now only one major gym with a pool – it’s in the Marina, is very nice but indoors.

Many years ago I stopped many things, luckily not breathing, and one by one my vices fell away, leaving plenty of room for more vices, contemporary ones, novel ones and vices I’d never dreamed I’d have, but this, Dear Reader, is not the point, let’s focus on the loss. My friend, the GuRu, told me that loss was a mindset and that we should think ourselves into a ‘space of abundance’, with the things we give up making space for opportunities, new ideas, new us’s. I may raise an eyebrow, to prove that there’s no botox in my brow, I go along with the mind frame of abundance. The ancient Babylonians invented New Year’s resolutions, but also invented pinecone handbags and fish-headed gods with dreads, so we can take them with a pinch of salt. During their Akitu festival they’d clear debts, cut hair and shave eyebrows, plant seeds, crown a new king and return any borrowed items, and yes that’s a dig at you Charlene to give me back my fondue set... The Babylonians, like us, chose a time of the year to make new change, and kept themselves in line with a fearful torment from the gods if they failed in their promises. Julius Caesar gifted us January 1, with his all-new 12-month calendar and Janus, the two-headed animistic spirit of doorways (we all know one, drinking and eating at the same time, hoovering up all the cock, the charming, icy blooded bitches), would lurk looking backwards and into the future. A god of beginnings, gates, transitions – we nod to them still. Our festive exchange of gifts is a Christianised theft of the gifts and good wishes swapped at the Janus feasts by them ancient Romans and like them we choose this time of year to try on a new, improved version of ourselves. Sober, buff, thin, single, educated, bouffant, tattooed, harpist or yodelling, it’s all up for grabs with the New You, or it should be poppet.

In the days of the lovely Virgin Active in Falmer, now sadly closed, I discovered the joys of swimming outdoors even in the rain and snow. It did become something of a habit, but when it comes to habits this is one of the most harmless and positively beneficial. There are plans, there are always plans, to build an Olympic-size outdoor pool on the beach in Brighton, if it happens it will be great, but living in this town I am used to plans which never actually happen. I hope to be wrong this time. As well as being a great form of cardiovascular exercise, swimming just 30 minutes a week can help to guard against heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. We are never going to end up looking like Tom Daley, but in the Rio Olympics there were 41 gay competitors and 11 were male. Remember Mark Foster who swam in five Olympic games, is now 51, still swimming and looking good?


How do we keep our promises to ourselves? With treat and threat, with dogged determination and hard-worked passion, with bribes and incremental monitoring of achievements, by bathing in the public affirmation of our pampered conceits over social media, or with a secret smugness of having accomplished a self-made goal. I prefer the arrogance, surreptitious and self-indulgent way, the ultimate vanity, too selfish even to share my triumphs with you, Dear Reader, for I do not need your approval. Nor seek your declarations of endorsement. And if you need mine then it’s time to be exquisite and never explain.

Much to my surprise I have managed to get very fit by just swimming for about half an hour every day. It takes your mind off the small everyday problems which aren’t actually problems at all and I sleep the sleep of the innocent, so it’s obviously working.

I discovered this hobby by chance after a particular life-changing experience, it helped incredibly and I met some great people, so if you want to really enjoy making yourself look young and beautiful again, this is the way to go. I know that you will be pleasantly surprised.

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RAE’S REFLECTIONS Reflecting on sobriety. By Rachel Badham ) For many people,

the new year means the routine creation of New Year’s resolutions, many of which we never actually keep. And of course, who can forget about ‘dry January’, in which the idea is to give up alcohol for the duration of the month, often to detox from the booze-fest that is Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Us Brits are well-known for what could arguably be described as our ‘binge-drinking culture’, as consuming alcohol has become almost as natural as drinking water to stay alive. Although I’ve never been a heavy drinker (besides the few occasions where I’ve gotten absolutely sh*t faced and have felt like the human embodiment of death the next morning), I decided at the end of last year that, having spent a few social occasions without alcohol, I actually preferred not to drink. I’ve been completely sober for about 10 weeks now. Although I forget the exact date when I last had an alcoholic drink, I believe it was at the beginning of October. I didn’t make a conscious decision to go sober for a specific amount of time, but the less I began to drink, the more positive I was that sobriety could be the right path for me. While it’s thought that 7% of the UK adult population exhibit signs of binge drinking, issues relating to alcohol disproportionately affect the LGBTQ+ community. Some studies have suggested that nearly one in four LGBTQ+ people have a moderate dependency on alcohol, which may be a result of emotional distress and low self-esteem. Research has also found that bisexual and lesbian women may be even more likely to engage in binge drinking, with 25% of

bisexual women reporting heavy alcohol consumption. Although I’ve certainly never felt dependent on alcohol, I’ve definitely felt pressure to drink on social occasions, such as parties, nights out and even a restaurant dinner. Considering many LGBTQ+ spaces, particularly in Brighton, are bars and clubs where attendees are surrounded by alcohol, it’s no wonder that many queer people, such as myself, have often felt compelled to drink, even when we may not want to. Similarly, while I was at university, many societies held social events in settings that served alcohol, with some hosting bar crawls and club nights.

“Considering many LGBTQ+ spaces, particularly in Brighton, are bars and clubs where attendees are surrounded by alcohol, it’s no wonder that many queer people, such as myself, have often felt compelled to drink, even when we may not want to” This isn’t to say that consuming alcohol is inherently wrong, as it can actually be a very enjoyable experience. But, at this current point in my life, drinking is bringing me no benefits – physical or emotional. Plus, if we’re talking solely about flavour, I get a lot more enjoyment from a regular glass of lemonade than I do a vodka lemonade. While I’ve not missed alcohol itself, I have personally found that one of the most difficult parts of being sober is the continuous expectation to drink, even when you make it clear that you don’t actively want to. Whether it’s anxiety related to social

situations, the fear of being branded ‘boring’, or the ingrained normality of drinking, the pressure to drink extends way beyond simply being in environments where alcohol is served. Even though I’ve not actually experienced any direct pressure from friends to break sobriety, navigating social situations where I would usually be drinking, such as visits to bars, has been challenging, considering how naturalised alcohol consumption is in our culture.

“I didn’t make a conscious decision to go sober for a specific amount of time, but the less I began to drink, the more positive I was that sobriety could be the right path for me” However, I’ve also found that staying sober has brought about a variety of benefits. As well as not waking up with an awful hangover the next morning, I’ve actually found myself enjoying social occasions more when I’m not experiencing the physical effects of alcohol. Drinking often made me feel very disassociated, which is something I have struggled with anyway during periods of depression, so removing a factor that worsened this has helped alleviate these unpleasant feelings. In fact, feeling more present in the moment added to the enjoyment of social events, and staying sober also meant that I would never have to endure a throat-burning and stomach-churning tequila shot. Maybe at some point I will decide that I want to start drinking again, but for now, I’m very happy staying sober. Drinking alcohol is all well and good, as long as you’re confident in your reasoning for drinking, which I wasn’t. I think the majority of times when I was drinking, I was just doing so because I felt there was no other option. However, cutting out the alcohol has actually been one of the best things I’ve done for myself in the past few months, and has given me a mental and physical boost that I didn’t know I needed. Who would’ve known that sobriety could be so fun? Sources: LGBTQ Alcoholism - Alcohol Rehab Guide, October 14, 2021

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Reaching out

) Now is the time of year when we think about how over the festive period, we have managed to eat our own body weight in chocolate and it’s time to think about making those New Year resolutions, like eating better, doing more exercise and cutting down on our screen time in their various forms. Over the next 12 months, these will undoubtedly fall to the wayside but hopefully not all together! My New Year’s resolution? It’s all about acknowledging time.

“Walking has not just been good for saving money and improving my health with my cholesterol now lower, it has given me time to think, plan and sort out the endless thoughts, ideas and sometimes worries that swirl around my head.” During the first lockdown (is it really over two years ago?!) I rekindled my love of cooking and invested the time trying lots of new recipes. When I have time, I’m up for trying something that needs smoked truffle honey, while using an Aga, then wrapping it all up in a pile of gold leaves, but mainly I have been devouring recipes from the Hairy Bikers’ veggie cookbooks, which have given me some new staples to knock out in good time when I get home from work. I have friends who swear by the gym for their health (physical and mental) but it has never really worked for me, nor swimming: I’m too splashy in the water. But during the second lockdown, I discovered I liked walking more than I ever realised and when I returned to work, gave up the bus rides and walked instead. For me, walking has not just been good for saving money and improving my health with my cholesterol now lower, it has given me time to think, plan and sort out the endless thoughts, ideas and sometimes worries that swirl around my head. When I think about my own screen time and see how most of us these days are fixed to either our phones or computer screens, I wonder just how did we fill our time before they invented such essential evils! As brilliant as this technology is, it’s funny that now we have so many labour-saving devices to hand, and yet time seems to run faster than ever, or is that just an age thing? I have found it is much easier to fire off a quick text or email rather than dial and speak to my mates. The convenience of quickly checking in has its place, but there is also a need to take the time to pick up the phone and chat and check in with our friends. It is important to remind our mates that we have time for them too. It’s very easy to think that our friends know this, but it is also good to just let those who are struggling a bit know that they can call. Sometimes it’s not about having the answers, in fact most of the time it is just about ‘being there’ and listening. Equally, and this is something I have recognised in myself, not to feel that everyone is too busy when you need to reach out and talk to someone too. Here’s to time well spent, Happy New Year.

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

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SERVICES DIRECTORY LGBTQ+ Services l Allsorts Youth Project Youth Groups and One-to-One Support for LGBTQ+ young people under 26 (in-person & online). Weekly sessions 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: www.sussex. LGBT team (not 24/7) email: LGBT@sussex.pnn. l Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard • LGBT Older People’s Project • LGBT Health and Inclusion Project • LGBTQ Disability & Neurodiversity Project • Rainbow Café Project: support for LGBT+ people with dementia • Trans and Non-Binary Link Project • LGBT Grief Encounters Project • Volunteering opportunities, call Riley 07599 434057 Helpline hours: Wed & Thur, 7–9.30pm; trans-only webchat on Sun 3–5pm: call 01273 359042 or email or helpline@ Webchat www.switchboard. Office Number: 01273 234009 l Brighton OneBodyOneFaith Brighton sexuality, gender, & faith Group. Meets monthly. Contact: Nigel Nash l Brighton Women’s Centre Info, counselling, drop-in space, support groups or visit www. 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). www. 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 LGBT+ Meditation Group Meditation & discussion, every 2nd & 4th Thur, 5.30–7pm, Anahata Clinic, 119 Edward St, Brighton. 07789 861 367 or l Lunch Positive 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 MCC Brighton Inclusive, affirming space where all are invited to come

as they are to explore their spirituality without judgement. 01273 515572 or 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 and out of hours online chat l Navigate Social/peer support group for trans, non-binary & intersex, AFAB, FTM, transmasculine & gender queer people. Every 2nd Friday of the month from 6-8pm (currently on Zoom) at Possability Place, Windlesham Venue, BN1 3AH (formerly Space for Change). l Peer Action Regular low cost yoga, therapies, swimming, meditation & social groups for people with HIV. contact@ 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 Kerrie Tolley-Cloke 07874 637593 or email somepeople@ l TAGS – The Arun Gay Society Social Group welcome all in East & West Sussex Areas. Call/Text 07539 513171. More info: www.tagsonline. l Victim Support Anyone seeking help can contact our free 24/7 Supportline number on 0808 16 89 111 or get in touch via the website A range of tools to help people cope and move forwards after crime can be found at l The Village MCC LGBTQ+ affirming community church in Brighton, open to all. 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 www. l Clinic M 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 523388 or l Community HIV Specialist Service NHS nursing team supporting patients with HIV in the community and offering free HIV training for groups across Brighton & Hove and West Sussex. www. l Lawson Unit Medical advice, treatment for HIV+, specialist clinics, diet & welfare advice, drug trials. 01273 664 722 l The Martin Fisher Foundation STI HIV self-testing kits via digital vending machines available from: Jubilee Library, Wellsbourne Centre, Portland Road (between Wish Park Surgery and Kamson’s Pharmacy), BMEC Partnership Centre, Prowler and Brighton Sauna. www. l Substance Misuse Service Brighton & Hove Recovery Service manages and delivers the adult drug and alcohol services for the city. Change Grow Live (CGL) provides tailored support to adults in Brighton & Hove who identify as LGBTQ+. CGL offers 1-to-1 support, a variety of online and face to face groups. They offer LGBTQ+ specific groups via the peer-led Speakout group and have established links with a wide range of LGBTQ+ services. To refer to the service, email or phone 01273 731 900. More info: www.changegrowlive. org/brighton-hove-recovery-service/info l Sussex Beacon 24-hour nursing & medical care, day care 01273 694222 or l Terrence Higgins Trust Brighton & Hove For more info about these free services go to the THT office, 61 Ship St, Brighton, Mon–Fri, 10am–5pm 01273 764200 or, For people living with HIV: • HIV support services: Info, support & practical advice • Welfare rights advice: find out about benefits • Counselling from qualified counsellors for up to 12 sessions Health Promotion in Brighton & Hove: Provides services for men who have sex with men, anyone from African communities, sex workers of any gender, and trans or non-binary people. • Visit clinic for free fast HIV & STI testing with results in <10 mins • Free condoms and lube • Confidential info and advice on sexual health & HIV • Face2Face for gay/bi men; negotiating sex, chemsex, newly diagnosed • Tailored support for sex workers, trans people and African communities • Outreach - say hello online and in person for info, condoms & lube, and HIV/STI testing at Brighton Sauna, Boiler Room Sauna, Amsterdam, Charles Street Tap, and Legends bar. For details please check 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 08459 470047 l THT direct 0845 1221200





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£500 raised for Macmillan in honour of the late Conrad ‘Connie’ Guest

Birmingham Pride announces theme and headliner for 25th Anniversary

sadly passed away in May 2021.

) Birmingham Pride has revealed the theme for 2022’s Pride – being held in September – is Pride and Protest, to recognise “and reflect on the advances made in terms of equality achievements, while continuing our fight against injustice, prejudice, and inequality that continues to affect LGBTQ+ people at home and across the world”.

To reflect Conrad Guest’s affiliation with the Cabaret Tent at Birmingham Pride, the fundraising gig featured a line-up of cabaret, drag and DJs, including: Ashley Marc, Blanche, ) In November 2021, the Birmingham Blu Romantic, Cherub, DJ Deano, DJ Dolly, DJ Lotty, Jason Green, LGBTQ+ community was invited to Laqueefa, Pam Katz, Pork Pie, The Village Inn to raise money for Tilly, Timmona Hooker, The Divine Macmillan Cancer Support. Miss M, Trixie Lee, and Yshee The event, Remembering Connie, was Black. in honour of Conrad Guest – known The event raised roughly £500 for by many in the community as 'Aunt Connie' – who left a lasting impression Macmillan Cancer Support, and for thanks to his years volunteering with the those who couldn’t make it to the actual event, a GoFundMe has also Birmingham AIDs Trust during the been set up in Connie’s honour: ’80s and ’90s, and his work booking, organising and managing the Cabaret Tent at Birmingham Pride. Conrad

Walsall Pride fundraising for 2022 event

Lawrence Barton, event organiser, commented: “It gives us immense pleasure to announce our theme for the 25th Anniversary next year, once again supported by HSBC UK. Birmingham Pride 2022 marks 25 years of Pride and Protest ,demonstrating our firm belief that there’s no Pride without the protest. LAWRENCE BARTON


The benefit event in Connie’s honour was organised by Marty Smith (who previously performed as the drag queen Miss Marty), Birmingham Pride co-founder and nightclub owner Lawrence Barton, and Birmingham Pride director David Nash.

“It’s as important now as it was 25 years ago. Our LGBTQ+ community is travelling a journey to achieve true equality in society, and we are far from reaching all our aims. Everyone who attends and supports Birmingham Pride – a universally inclusive event – helps further our community aims. I wish everyone a safe and memorable 25th anniversary year.” Alongside the theme, Pride has also announced that UK pop group Steps, whose hits include Tragedy, One For Sorrow, and the recently released Heartbreak in This City, will be the headliner for the 25th-anniversary Pride event, performing on the main stage of Birmingham Pride on Sunday, September 25. What’s more, organisers have confirmed that they will be holding a FREE community event – as they did in 2021 – and more details regarding this will be revealed soon. D Tickets are already on sale for Birmingham Pride 2022:

Birmingham drag community to celebrate life of Stephen Sondheim ) Like many Pride events, Walsall Pride was cancelled in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and in 2021 the decision was made to postpone the event for the safety of the community. 2022 will see Walsall Pride finally able to celebrate its 10th anniversary and organisers are hoping to make it the biggest yet. However, due to increasing Pride costs, they’re asking for help. “With costs increasing and grants decreasing, we are now looking to crowdfund some of our costs. Pride costs more than £15,000 to host every year,” wrote Walsall Pride.

Funds raised will “be used for essential services like security, first aid etc. and we would like the community to get involved to ensure we can deliver an event to be proud of in 2022. “Walsall Pride is a small Pride event that is delivered to the Walsall Borough and surrounding communities every August Bank Holiday and aims to dispel myths, break down barriers, and promote community cohesion.” DYou can donate now via the Walsall Pride 2022 GoFundMe page: https://

) Fatt Projects, run by theatre-maker, creative producer, and drag performer Fatt Butcher, has announced a new event – Send in the Clowns: A Drag Celebration of Stephen Sondheim, after the death of the American composer and lyricist. Held at the Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham on January 21 & 22, the line-up includes: Fatt Butcher as the host alongside Blü Romantic, Dahliah Rivers, Alanna Boden, and Jaii Andrew, plus live musical accompaniment from Gregor Reid. The show promises to deliver spine-tingling live vocals, lip-syncing, and “a healthy dose of cabaret camp. This is a drag show like no other!” D For tickets, visit:


Concerns raised over new development’s impact on Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ nightlife

Ginny Lemon’s ‘Hometown Heroes’ on display in Worcester


) Oasis Development is planning to demolish buildings on land that borders Gooch Street North, Kent Street and Lower Essex Street to build 456 one and two-bedroom flats. However, the proposed development will be situated close to a number of LGBTQ+ venues, including The Nightingale and The Fox, raising concerns about possible noise complaints from new residents. Cllr Gareth Moore has objected to the plans, saying that serious noise-mitigation work needs to be carried out to protect these venues from complaints. He also added that suggesting residents “close their windows” at peak hours simply wasn’t good enough. “This has been shown time and again to not be an effective form of mitigation with a number of LGBTQ+ venues, including the Loft, Missing and Sidewalk, being subject to noise complaints from residents who are not willing to close their windows,” Moore stated. Moore also made suggestions regarding the developers’ proposed Section 106 contribution of £1.5million. “Given the recent homophobic violence this money could be put to better use by enabling better street lighting and CCTV which has been asked for by members of the LGBTQ+ community.” The team operating The Nightingale said the council had facilitated ‘agent of change’ discussions between them and the developers behind a different development in Kent Street to ensure noise reduction measures would be put in place. They added that they expect the council to honour this commitment or face a possible legal challenge.


Regulatory services officers have objected to the proposal from Oasis Development, explaining that the noise issue needed to be resolved between the Nightingale, The Fox, and the developers. Cllr Moore said: “While an agent of change principle is in place for the development at 16 Kent Street to help provide better noise mitigation for The Nightingale, the recommendation does not sufficiently address the possibility that this development may be completed prior to 16 Kent Street. And that would leave The Nightingale at severe risk of complaints from future occupiers about noise nuisance. “Providing residential accommodation next to a late-night entertainment will generate complaints and should be avoided. If there is not a suitable form of mitigation then the application should be refused.” Cllr Moore continued: “There’s no onus on the developer to ensure the future occupiers are aware they will be living next to a latenight venue.” In their report, regulatory services officers said: “The scheme would make an efficient use of this brownfield site and contribute to the city’s need for residential accommodation. “An agent of change has been agreed to secure mitigation works to The Nightingale while it is considered that mitigation offered by the proposed building would be adequate to mitigate against The Fox. “There is also some harm to the significance of The Fox as a heritage asset due to the scale of the proposed development within its setting, however as The Fox is an undesignated heritage asset the scale of harm is considered to be low with this harm outweighed by the public benefits of the scheme. “These comprise the provision of housing, the economic benefits during and after construction and social benefits of creating a place with good connectivity.” At a meeting in December, however, planning committee members voted to defer the decision to allow more time for discussions on noise mitigation between the developers and the impacted venues.

) Worcester-born drag artist, comedian and singer-songwriter Ginny Lemon starred on season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK during which the opening runway theme was ‘Queen of their hometown’. Ginny’s outfit celebrated two of Worcester’s most famous exports: Worcestershire Sauce and Vesta Tilley; a male impersonator and LGBTQ+ performer whose songs made fun of male stereotypes, including the soldier, policeman, man-about-town, and the dandy. By the 1890s, Vesta Tilley was England’s highest-earning woman; a trailblazer playing with the ideas of gender. The outfit – which combined Vesta Tilley’s style with the colours of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce labels, and a ‘feeling saucy’ slogan on the back – has now been donated to Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum where it will remain on display until the end of January. After that, it will move to a new exhibition, Captivating Costume: Three Centuries of Fashion, at Worcestershire County Museum at Hartlebury Castle.

“I am delighted to have my Vesta costume on display at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum,” Ginny said. “As a queer artist who lives and works in the county, I feel it is a great honour to highlight and represent the historic queerness of Worcestershire and the West Midlands.” Deborah Fox, senior curator of Museums Worcestershire, added: “We first made contact with Ginny via Twitter when our curator saw their Vesta Tilley-inspired costume on RuPaul’s Drag Race and suggested that it enter the Museum’s Worcestershire collection. We are over the moon that this dream has now become a reality. “Ginny Lemon, Vesta Tilley and Lea & Perrins are three of Worcester’s finest cultural exports and so to have them brought together into this one iconic costume is an important addition to the museum’s collection.” The display of Ginny Lemon’s Queen of their Hometown costume has been made possible with support from Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund.


Micro Rainbow’s CEO Sebastian Rocca awarded honorary fellowship

Saving Lives donates £3,000 to Birmingham AIDS and HIV Memorial ) Birmingham HIV charity Saving Lives announced that – to mark World AIDS Day – it would be donating £3,000 towards the building of the Birmingham AIDS and HIV Memorial (BAHM). Saving Lives is already proud to be a supporter of BAHM offering administrative and governance support throughout the process.

Sebastian Rocca said: “I am humbled to be included in the Social Enterprise UK hall of fame as an honorary fellow. It has always been my dream to create new models for social change that are sustainable, scalable, and replicable and which change LGBTQ+ people’s lives. This recognition fills me with pride and the reassurance that my dream is coming true.

others to embark on a similar journey to mine and for the benefit of the LGBTQ+ community. "It has always been my dream to create new models for social change that are sustainable, scalable, and replicable and which change LGBTQ+ people's lives." "In many countries all over the world, LGBTQ+ people live in poverty and destitution because of the rejection they face by their families, communities and employers. Although social enterprises are not the solution to poverty, violence, and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people worldwide, it is my strong belief that they are a powerful vehicle for furthering LGBTQ+ equality in some countries. "I am grateful to Social Enterprise UK for this recognition and, in doing so, for raising awareness of the potential role that social enterprises can and should play in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality".


) Founded in 2012, Micro Rainbow is the leading not-for-profit social enterprise in the UK supporting the integration of LGBTQ+ people who have fled persecution and are searching safety in the UK. Micro Rainbow currently operates 11 safe houses for LGBTQ+ refugees (four in London, six in the West Midlands and one in the North West). Sebastian Rocca, the founder of Micro Rainbow, has been recognised for his contribution to supporting the social enterprise movement with an honorary fellowship.

On Midlands Today, Garry said: “I’ve thought that there should be a memorial in Birmingham to remember these people, to remember personal friends who didn’t get funerals, didn’t even get coffins, we had to bribe the crematorium to burn the bodies. Those people had no dignity in life you know towards the end of their lives, they had no dignity in the hospitals... It’s important that they’re remembered and not forgotten.” Local sculptor Luke Perry – known for his work that celebrates under-represented people – will be constructing the final artwork of two entwined, heart-shaped ribbons, and “Saving Lives’ donation is intended to help fund this crucial fabrication work”. Dr Steve Taylor, Saving Lives’ clinical director, said: “Forty years on from the start of the epidemic it’s time that we had a permanent monument in our city to remember those who we’ve lost along the way to this virus, to thank those who have worked in HIV, and highlight the continued need for support and care for those living with HIV today. As a charity, we’re proud to support BAHM.”



Birmingham artist and HIV activist Garry Jones “has been working with groups across the city to crowdsource talent – and, along with Birmingham Pride co-founder Phil Oldershaw and owner of The Fox Andy King, has been fundraising for the memorial”.

The memorial will cost roughly £180,000 and campaigners have raised (at the time of writing) £70,000. If you can support with grants, sponsorship or fundraising then please get in touch by emailing

Birmingham artist showcases drag artwork ) Birmingham artist Arty Mikey is showcasing his artwork, which features many faces people will know from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, at an exhibition in Digbeth. Arty Mikey’s exhibition came about after a visit to Digbeth Art Space with his partner during which he got chatting to Kay who runs the space. Mikey quickly became inspired by this collective and knew he wanted to be part of it.

“There is a dearth of innovative and disruptive LGBTQ+ organisations which adopt the social enterprise D For more info on Micro Rainbow, model. I hope this award might inspire visit:

Held at Digbeth Art Space, SHOW/ VEND is a group exhibition featuring a variety of different artists, including Arty Mikey. The work will be available for viewing until Monday, January 31, and Digbeth Art Space is open seven days a week, with the gallery shop – selling originals and prints – open from Wednesday to Saturday each week.


Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ nightlife offers drink spiking test kits


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