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TURN TO PAGE 14 FOR MORE PICS, AND COMMENTARY, FROM TRANS PRIDE LONDON 2021


BRIGHTON BOX – PAGE 34

July 2021 BRIGHTON GIN – PAGE 26

Scene magazine

D www.scenemag.co.uk T @SceneLGBTQ F GScene.Brighton I SceneMagazineUK Publisher: Scene Magazine Media CIC Editorial: info@scenemag.co.uk Advertising: info@scenemag.co.uk

Editorial team

News team: Graham Robson, Eric Page, Rachel Badham, Catherine Muxworthy E news@scenemag.co.uk West Midlands News Editor: Catherine Muxworthy E midlandsnews@scenemag.co.uk

Cover: Brighton Bear Weekend Photographer: Tom Selmon E contact@tomselmon.com d www.tomselmon.com Simon Adams, Rachel Badham, Jack Groves, Catherine Muxworthy, Nick Boston, Brian Butler, Craig HanlonSmith, Michael Hootman, Enzo Marra, Eric Page, Glenn Stevens, Netty Wendt, Roger Wheeler, Chris Gull, Jon Taylor, Alex Klineberg, Michael Steinhage, Jon Taylor, Jason Reid, Rory Finn, Nicholas Cousin

Photographers

Jack Lynn, Chris Jepson, Simon Pepper, Nick Ford, Tom Selmon, JJ Maurer

11 KINK AT PRIDE

Jason Reid on why LGBTQ+ kink should be on display at Pride

12 DO MORE AND DO IT BETTER

Craig Hanlon-Smith on why we need to do more to protect gay men

13 BLACK PRIDE: INTERSECTIONALITY Jack Groves on Black Pride and intersectionality

14 TRANS PRIDE LONDON 2021

Tom Selmon and Rory Finn capture last month's event in pictures and words

18 TRANS PRIDE BRIGHTON & HOVE

Rory Finn tells us what to expect at this year's online event on July 17

19 TRANS COMMUNITY

Tom Selmon captures some local people in pictures

22 ELLIOT DOUGLAS

The content creator talks to Rachel Badham about trans representation, deaf inclusion and why we need to address homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth

24 BRIGHTON BEAR WEEKEND

Bear chair Graham Munday tells us what’s planned on July 22-25 to raise money for the Brighton Rainbow Fund

26 THE SPIRIT OF BRIGHTON

Kathy Caton and Charly Thieme from Brighton Gin talk to Jaq Bayles

28 KRISTEN BJORN: A LIFE IN PORN

Legendary gay porn director Kristen Bjorn chats to Jason Reid

31 GAY BRIGHTON PAST

Jaq Bayles uncovers a new Facebook group inviting the community to share their memories of Brighton & Hove’s LGBTQ+ past © Scene 2021

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.

SARAH SAVAGE / TRANS PRIDE - PAGE 18

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.

WELL OILED SISTERS – PAGE 36

Contributors

Features BRIGHTON BEAR WEEKEND – P 24

Features Editor: Jaq Bayles News Editor/Design: Graham Robson Arts Editor: Alex Klineberg Art Director: Tom Selmon

32 MISS MARTY

The iconic Birmingham queen talks to Catherine Muxworthy about why they're hanging up their heels

34 BRIGHTON BOX

We put some questions to the team behind the venture, which is showcasing LGBTQ+ artists and raising funds for the Sussex Beacon

36 WELL OILED SISTERS

Jaq Bayles catches up with “the original Cowpunk and badgrrl band”

News

4 News 58 Scene in Birmingham 60 Scene in Manchester 61 Medway Pride Radio

Arts

40 Classical Notes 41 Art Matters 41 All That Jazz 42 Around the World 43 Page’s Pages 48 At Home with Hootman

Regulars

49 50 50 39 ALLAN JAY Alex Klineberg talks to the recording artist about his special brand of feelgood 51 dance music 52 44 INKANDESCENT 52 Nathan Evans from publisher Inkandescent tell us about a new anthology 53 of short stories 54 45 SASSY PLANET

38 BILLIE RAY MARTIN

Alex Klineberg tunes in to one of the best voices in pop

Alex Klineberg reviews a new book, which offers up the latest on what’s hot in 40 cities around the world

46 QUEER IN BRAZIL

Liam Campbell, editor and chief photographer at Elska magazine, tells us about his new book, which shares the bodies and voices of queer São Paulo

Craig’s Thoughts Roger’s Ruminations Stuff & Things Rae’s Reflections Homely Homily Netty’s World More to me than HIV Turn Back the Pages

Information

53 Classifieds 56 Advertisers’ Map 57 Services Directory


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Brighton & Hove Pride teases plans for an extensive cultural LGBTQ+ festival

LGBTQ+ History Month in February and potentially a Winter Pride season. “The need for community has never been stronger and as one of Europe’s biggest Pride Festivals we are delighted that some of our regular partners, and some new ones, are continuing to support us through these challenging times, and we are looking forward to announcing our launch season in the next few weeks. “In keeping with our core aims, every ticket will include a charity contribution to ensure we continue to raise funds for our essential local charities and community groups.”

events from the Ironworks, an event and community space in the middle of Brighton, while The Identity Project, a stunning collection of portraits of the LGBTQ+ community, will premiere simultaneously at the Ironworks and Jubilee Library during Pride month celebrations.

) Brighton & Hove Pride has teased plans for an extensive cultural LGBTQ+ festival through August and September 2021, following the cancellation of this year’s Pride event. Although Pride is unable to hold its usual large-scale Pride events this year, it has announced Pride at the Ironworks supported by Tesco, an extensive season of smaller LGBTQ+ cultural events supporting LGBTQ+ artists and the wider community while fundraising for essential local charities and community groups that do such essential work all year round.

One of the first events Pride will support is Trans Pride Brighton, which is delivering its 2021 online

PAUL KEMP

Feedback from Pride’s recent annual survey, to which almost 3,000 people responded, highlighted the desire for accessible and varied Pride activity throughout the year. Pride at the Ironworks will be a season of cabaret, comedy and live music, campaigning and politics celebrating LGBTQ+ culture and diversity, and part of a fantastic new year-round cultural calendar that views the world through a variety of lenses, amplifying unheard voices into the mainstream.

Brighton & Hove Pride is also engaging and collaborating with other local organisations, producers and artists as well as continuing to work with existing contractors and staff working on plans for next year to make Pride 2022 more spectacular than ever. Paul Kemp, director of Brighton & Hove Pride said: “We were hugely grateful for the support of the Culture Recovery Fund: Grants Programme that allowed us to continue our planning for in-person Pride events for this year and develop a fuller year-round diverse cultural programme as well as well as progressing our advance planning for 2022. “Our initial Pride cultural season will run from August to September and will launch a year-round programme incorporating Black History Month in October,

CHRIS GULL

With the ongoing challenges that Covid continues to bring, fundraising for essential local charities and community groups has never been more important. Pride at the Ironworks will allow Pride to continue to ensure that every ticket sold will include a charitable donation to the Brighton Rainbow Fund. Chris Gull, chair of the Brighton Rainbow Fund, said: “Pride is once again proving that they really are ‘A Pride with Purpose’. Fundraising for local LGBTQ+ and HIV projects has been at the core of everything that they do, and we are honoured to be trusted to distribute the funds in a fair way, according to need. “We’re looking forward to hearing about the events that they have planned for this year, and to seeing the benefits that the funds that they raise bring to our communities.” Since 2013 Brighton & Hove Pride has raised almost one million pounds for local LGBTQ+ and HIV charities, community groups, social impact organisations and cultural activities in Brighton & Hove, the vast majority of it distributed through the Brighton Rainbow Fund to specific LGBTQ+ projects that make a fundamental difference to the lives of hundreds of people in our communities. To make the cultural programme accessible to all members of the community, Brighton & Hove Pride will be offering a number of discounted tickets for every performance. Sign up to the Stage Door list to keep up to date with events and news from Pride at the Ironworks: www.brighton-pride.org/ironworksstage-door/


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Worthing Pride postponed till Saturday, September 18

Vaccination champions needed

) Following the government’s announcement to delay the lifting of full social distancing until at least July 19, 2021, organisers of Worthing Pride 2021 have announced the event at BeachHouse Grounds is postponed till Saturday, September 18, 2021. While the date may have changed you can expect the same acts, traders, stalls and location. In a statement, Worthing Pride organisers said: “The safety of our guests has always been our number one priority and all of our risk assessments detailed the fact that if government guidelines changed we would look to move our date and have plans in place for this to happen. “We have worked incredibly hard behind the scenes with all local government agencies to ensure that we will be able to bring Worthing Pride to life this year. “We have ensured that all acts, traders and infrastructure are available for this event to go ahead as planned on the new date, so this is simply a chance for every single one of our guests to ‘get jabbed’ and ensure that we are all set to close the summer in style at Worthing Pride. “All tickets already purchased via our ticketing site will remain valid and you do not need to do anything. Anyone not able to make the new date will be entitled to a full refund under terms and conditions listed on our website. “Worthing Pride will now spend the next 10 weeks ensuring the amazing event we had planned is now even better. All tickets holders will be contacted in due course.” D For further details and updates, visit: www.worthingpride.com

Prince Regent Swimming Complex to reopen on July 12 ) The ongoing and extensive repairs to the electrical system at the Prince Regent Swimming Complex, where LGBTQ+ swimming group Out to Swim South usually meets, are nearing completion, with the facility set to reopen on Monday, July 12.

MARTIN OSBORNE

Following the serious flooding over the Easter weekend, electricians have been working their way through the building, replacing all the damaged wiring and distribution boards. Miles of new cabling, along with modern distribution boards, are being installed to ensure that, when completed, it passes all the required electrical testing and inspections.

ENABLING INDEPENDENT LIVING AT HOME

Cllr Martin Osborne, co-chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee, said: “We know that people are keen to see the Prince Regent reopen as soon as possible and apologise for the delay, but the safe installation of wiring and distribution boards and checking of all the various electrical and mechanical services has been an absolute necessity.”

OUR SERVICES: Home Care Home Services Companionship

Prince Regent Swimming Complex is based at Church St, Brighton BN1 1YA. Out to Swim South normally (outside of lockdown) has three sessions there three times a week. During summer months, the group also offers open water swimming sessions in the sea of Brighton & Hove. D For more info on Out to Swim South, visit: www.outtoswim.org/brighton CONTACT OUR FRIENDLY TEAM FOR A CHAT

01273 077444

WWW.KINGSWAYCARE.COM

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Allsorts launches #StillProud fundraising campaign

Katie, chief executive of Allsorts, said: “We’re #StillProud, and this Pride season, we’re celebrating the inspirational LGBTQ+ children & young people we work with, who’ve overcome so much in the past year. We’re asking if you can help us continue to offer vital support services as we ease our way through Covid recovery.” It has been over 15 months since the first lockdown. For Allsorts, this meant moving all its specialist LGBTQ+ youth services online for the first time. In this time, many people have been isolated from their communities, which has led to a sharp rise in the mental health challenges already faced disproportionately by LGBTQ+ children and young people. Allsorts’ online services have ensured that LGBTQ+ children and young people have had access to youth groups, one-to-one support and advocacy services throughout the pandemic, both in-person (Covid secure) and online. “Immediately I felt so safe within the community Allsorts has created, and so grateful for all the support available. It has been amazing.” - Allsorts Young Person Between June 18 and July 30, Allsorts will be promoting a range of fundraising events, including its first ever Online Auction on July 29, to raise awareness of its work, and raise funds towards its vital services. If you would like to get involved, donate something to the auction or have a go at fundraising, email fundraising@allsortsyouth.org.uk. Effie, Allsorts fundraiser, said: “For all charities, securing funding has become increasingly difficult and your donations are more critical and valued than ever. We understand that not everyone is in a position to give right now, but if you are, your donation will go directly to ensuring LGBTQ+ children and young people are listened to, connected and supported following what has been a turbulent year for all of us.” D To donate or find out more, visit: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/stillproud

“We want to have lots of fun! We want everyone that comes in to have lots of fun too! We want people to come in, have time out, and hopefully leave with a smile on their face to carry through for the rest of their day. DARREN (L) & SCOTT (R)

) Allsorts Youth Project, the Sussex-based LGBTQ+ youth charity, has launched its annual crowdfunding campaign, #StillProud, to raise £2,000 towards its specialist youth services as the charity eases its way out of lockdown.

Kingsway Care brews up a new venture

) Kingsway Care, a modern home care provider, supporting clients across Sussex, has announced the launch of a new coffee shop and community space in Hove, which is run by Scott (who you may know as Drag With No Name) and his partner, Darren.

“I’ve been performing in drag for the past 20 years, and I want to bring that air of cheekiness with me to the Kingsway Coffee is a happy, warm, coffee shop, minus the high heels of inviting place for people to meet, work and socialise. Although Scott and Darren course. Darren, on the other hand, is are focusing on making the best coffee much more sensible and will bring the experience possible, they’ll have much calmness needed to the proceedings.” more to offer – a very exciting selection Kingsway Coffee is located at 22 of teas, and the most delicious selection Victoria Terrace, Kingsway, Hove of cakes and food – all sourced locally. (the former Alibi pub) – near the King Alfred Leisure Centre. Scott said: “We’ve got some exciting plans for the future. It’s going to focus on the best of local produce and talent, and embrace that community spirit we feel has somewhat been lost over time. It’s being run by myself and Darren, my partner for 20-odd years.

Progress Pride flag redesigned to include intersex people

D For more info on Allsorts, visit: www.allsortsyouth.org.uk

Sussex Beacon welcomes winner of Joe Black competition ) The Sussex Beacon welcomed the lucky winner of its Joe Black H&M dress competition to its St James’s Street shop last month. Sean Shoesmith, a healthcare assistant from Hastings, is now the proud owner of the infamous H&M dress, which has raised over £12,000 for the Sussex Beacon The Sussex Beacon said: “We would like to thank everyone who entered the competition, our friends at H&M and most of all the fabulous Joe Black.” D For more info on the Sussex Beacon, visit: www.sussexbeacon.org.uk/

D www.kingswaycoffeeclub.co.uk fi @kingswaycoffeehove e scott@kingswaycoffee.co.uk z 07816 917327

) To mark Pride Month 2021 last month, the Progress Pride flag was updated to be inclusive of intersex people by incorporating the official intersex flag. The original Progress Pride flag was a combination of designs by Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs and Daniel Quasar. It builds on the classic LGBTQ+ rainbow flag by adding in the trans flag, as well as black and brown stripes to represent queer people of colour. The intersex flag was first designed in

2013 by Morgan Carpenter and Tony Briffa of Intersex Human Rights Australia, and features a purple circle on a yellow backdrop. When explaining the meaning of the flag, Carpenter said: “The circle is unbroken and unornamented, symbolising wholeness and completeness, and our potentialities. We are still fighting for bodily autonomy and genital integrity, and this symbolises the right to be who and how we want to be.” The latest version of the Progress Pride flag features the intersex flag and was designed by Valentino Vecchietti of Intersex Equality Rights UK. Announcing the new design, the organisation said on Instagram: “Our intention for this flag is to create intersex inclusion because we need to see it,” adding that the flag aims to bring “extra intersex joy to Pride this year”.


DAILY NEWS UPDATES: www.scenemag.co.uk

THT says: “discriminatory blood donation restrictions remain”

Black donors are ten times more likely to have the Ro and B positive blood types urgently needed to treat the 15,000 people in the UK suffering from sickle cell disease, which is a painful and debilitating condition particularly prevalent in people with an African or Caribbean background.

) Last month, new eligibility rules for blood donations came into force with a move to more individualised risk assessment, which will allow more gay and bisexual men to safely donate blood in the UK. But, despite that, HIV/sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has released a statement saying that the government has “retained a discriminatory restriction in England which predominantly affects black communities’ ability to give blood”. The restriction relates to a three-month deferral period for anyone who has a “partner who has, or you think may have been, sexually active in parts of the world where HIV/AIDS is very common” and references “most countries in Africa”. The question has been removed in both Scotland and Wales, but retained in England, while Northern Ireland has postponed changes until September.

“The question would almost be laughable if it wasn’t discriminatory and stopping a group whose blood is in short supply from donating” According to THT, the question is “vague and difficult to interpret by both individuals and healthcare professionals, but acts as a significant barrier for many who wish to donate and at the expense of the blood service’s urgent push to get more black people to give blood”.

The independent FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) group, which was established to review the latest scientific evidence and which THT sat on, recommended the question’s removal alongside the other changes, which focus on behaviours rather than blanket rules. The government’s own independent advisory group on blood, SaBTO (Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs), also agrees with the removal of this question based on the evidence. In its statement, THT said it is “deeply disappointing to see such progress on ensuring the rules are fairer for some marginalised groups, while failing to do so for others when there are no clear obstacles for doing so”. Need for Bblack blood donors THT and National AIDS Trust, alongside membership organisation One Voice Network, last month wrote to Matt Hancock MP, secretary of state for health, calling for the question’s urgent removal to enable more people to safely donate and help address the shortage in blood and plasma donation from black communities. THT added: “This barrier to the donation of blood and other blood products will perpetuate the health inequalities faced by black communities, including individuals from these communities who desperately need blood and other blood products.”

IAN GREEN

To get the best treatment, patients need blood which is closely matched to their own. This is most likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity. Yet only 1% of current blood donors are black. Ian Green, chief executive of THT, said: “It’s great news that far more gay and bisexual men can safely donate blood. But the excitement of that announcement is significantly dampened by another discriminatory question being retained by government in the blood donation process in England, which presents a significant barrier to black donors in particular giving blood. This is despite it being removed in both Scotland and Wales, and the blood service actively encouraging black communities to donate plasma and blood due to shortages. “The question relates to having a partner in the last three months who has ever – or may have ever – had sex with someone from a country with high HIV prevalence and references ‘many countries in Africa’ but not specific nations. The question is not evidencebased. It is non-specific, vague and difficult for both healthcare professionals and individuals to interpret. But would mean, for example, that someone who is in a long-term, monogamous relationship with someone from or who has ever lived in Africa most probably being unable to donate. The question would almost be laughable if it wasn’t discriminatory and stopping a group whose blood is in short supply from donating. “The changes being brought in are a move to a more individual risk-based assessment focusing on behaviour, which we welcome – but that ethos is abandoned with the retention of this question in England. The question both prevents and deters people from donating – especially those from black and specifically black African communities – and we strongly call on government for its urgent removal.”

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) Terry Wing, a long-time contributor to Gscene magazine, lost his short battle with cancer on May 31, 2021. Our condolences go out to his many friends and colleagues, and most particularly to the lights of his life, his beloved family - daughter Ceri, son-in-law Joe, and his two grandchildren. Terry’s often acerbic/hilarious contributions, under the title Rita’s Snatches, were a staple of Gscene for many years. His involvement in the community stretched from setting up St John Ambulance Regency Division to being an integral part of organising Brighton & Hove Pride, under various leaderships, for 25 years. Paul Kemp from Brighton & Hove Pride, said: “I’m really sad to hear of Terry’s passing. He was a dedicated Pride volunteer from the early days right up to 2015, managing the Community Parade. “He’s a well known scene character, always willing to step up to support our local community events and fundraising. He’ll be sincerely missed.” Terry’s funeral took place last month. His daughter, Ceri, said on Facebook: “I would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone for making the funeral so special. “To all those that helped with the organising, played a part on the day, attended the service in person or webcast, joined us at the wake, or even just offered me words of love and support, it really has meant the world 🥰 “I know someone will be smiling down at us all! It was the perfect send off. And he’s probably laughing at the fact I teased you all with his age. Ceri xx”

Brighton Half Marathon postponed

Ask For Clive announces first Pub Pride event

) Ask For Clive, a charity combatting discrimination in the LGBTQ+ community and encouraging entertainment venues to become safer, more inclusive spaces, has announced the launch of its first ever Pub Pride nationwide event.

Danny Clare, co-founder of Ask For Clive, said: “We are proud to be uniting the UK’s LGBTQ+ community on one big night in July. We have already seen an overwhelming response from venues across the country reaching This inaugural event takes place out to learn more about the night. It across the UK on Friday, July 23 and is shaping up to be a national event encourages venues across the country reaching pubs in all corners of the UK. to host Pride events. Pub Pride is a We cannot wait to paint the country with nationwide campaign that is activated a rainbow and show the world that the UK locally – it gives landlords total freedom is one of the most inclusively diverse and to set the scale and content of the night accepting countries. in a manner that is tailored to their community. “It has been a horrific year and we want to give the community one night to Ask For Clive has launched the event as celebrate who they are, what they stand a way to unite LGBTQ+ communities for and to reunite. What’s more, we will across the UK to celebrate the end of be raising funds for both the charity and lockdown and Pride season 2021, while local UK Pride organisations to continue supporting businesses that have suffered supporting the wider community. from the economic ramifications of the pandemic. “The night will play an important role, especially for those who have come out Pub owners and managers looking to during the pandemic and have not been take part in Pub Pride 2021 can register able to experience the love and support their venue by purchasing one of two within their local LGBTQ+ community event kits from the charity. All profits due to restrictions.” made from these kits will be split between Ask For Clive and the venues’ D To register your venue, visit: local UK Pride organisation. www.pubpride.com

pic cap

Terry Wing loses battle with cancer

DANNY CLARE

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Miss Jason & Davina Sparkle present - Carry on Camping Golds, a top UK Kylie Minogue Tribute Show, drag hostesses Darcy Knox & Candi Rell, Barmy Bingo and Jelly Wrestling.

) The Brighton Half Marathon, which is organised by the Sussex Beacon, has been postponed till Sunday, October 10 following the delay of easing lockdown restrictions. Organisers say: “The regulations under Step 3 are that no events can be held that include more than 4,000 people. This includes staff, volunteers and spectators. “Our priority is always to ensure that runners, volunteers, staff and the wider community in the city are safe at the race... “All of us working on the event share this disappointment and we thank you for your patience and understanding during these uncertain times.” The Brighton Half Marathon is the biggest annual fundraiser for the Sussex Beacon, which offers care and support for people living with HIV in East and West Sussex. D For the statement in full, visit: www.brightonhalfmarathon.com/all-news/postponement-announcement/

Facilities on the camp site include: shower and toilet lorries, outside and inside bars, free parking, food vans and stalls to buy breakfast, lunch, dinner or ) Miss Jason & Davina Sparkle present Carry on Camping, a special snacks, an adult ‘relaxation’ tent, and fetish tent with demonstrations. weekend away, from Friday, August 13 to Sunday, August 15. Don’t miss Welcome Bubbles at the Bring your own tent, caravan or mobile home (or borrow / hire one) for a camp, gay weekend in rural Herefordshire at Barons Cross Camping Arena with an on-site pub and top entertainment all weekend, including: a cabaret marquee with performances from Miss Jason & Davina Sparkle, drag sensation Baroness Mary

Tent Erection Party with a prize for the most impressive erection! Wristbands issued and no electricity in camping area but phone charging unit in the on-site pub. Cost £99 per person. To purchase a ticket, call 01273 725331.


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Out to Lunch - free community food Vaccination LGBTQ+ Domestic Abuseneeded webinar champions risks, barriers, and concerns that the day at Dorset Gardens LGBTQ+ community may experience ) Join Lunch Positive and Brighton & Hove City Council LGBTQ+ Workers’ Forum for Out to Lunch - a gentle celebration of community at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church & Gardens on Sunday, July 18 from 1pm where you can eat, meet, and chat over some delicious food cooked by teams of dedicated volunteers.

around domestic abuse • Feel comfortable and confident in working with LGBTQ+ survivors as well as managing disclosures and discussing their experiences ) An LGBTQ+ Domestic Abuse Webinar - for professionals, volunteers and students only - will be taking place on Wednesday, July 7 from 1011.30am. This webinar will look at how best to support LGBTQ+ people who have experienced domestic abuse, which can manifest in different ways within different communities. Having the understanding of how this can present is essential in providing effective support for LGBTQ+ survivors. This webinar aims to support attendees to:

HIV charity Lunch Positive has been hosting community-oriented spaces for more than 12 years, with a focus on providing social opportunity, peer-support and nutritious, tasty food for people to eat together. The charity understands the importance of providing space which is safe (and fun) for LGBTQ+ people to be authentically themselves, to support community engagement and to provide a place where people relax, share space, food, and experiences. On the day, there will be a selection of hot food, including vegan and glutenfree options, so bring some LGBTQ+ friends, sit and share and enjoy being in the company of other LGBTQ+ people in a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere.

• Have a good knowledge of local LGBTQ+ support organisations and professional resources • Understand referral pathways to LGBTQ+ domestic abuse support in Brighton & Hove During this session, you will hear from Vicki, who is LGBTQ+ specialist caseworker at RISE, an independent, Brighton-based registered charity that helps people affected by domestic abuse. As this is a webinar, cameras will not be on, but there will be an opportunity to ask questions throughout the session.

) To register, email • Gain an understanding of how to better engage with and support LGBTQ+ LGBT@riseuk.org.uk. A link to the webinar will be circulated upon victims/survivors of domestic abuse registration. • Be able to accurately identify specific

Brighton & Hove Frontrunners win Run to the Sea ultra marathon

King Jamsheed will be taking the piano throughout the afternoon to provide musical accompaniment and you may want to request a favourite show tune. Chris Jepson will be inviting you to be part of his ongoing photo exhibition, The Identity Project - www.theidentityproject.co.uk. Gary Pargeter, service manager at Lunch Positive, said: “We understand that many people may not have been out much or been in a space with more than a handful of other LGBTQ+ people. We recognise the anxiety many people feel about venturing out again into a social space and ask those of us who feel more confident to consider asking a more cautious friend to join us. “A welcoming hand and smile can go a long way to making someone relearn and regain the confidence of accessing social spaces again. We have all been starved of LGBTQ+ spaces this last year, we invite you to feast with us and mingle once again in a happy group of LGBTQ peers. “Our food preparation, volunteers, and the Dorset Garden building all have an acute awareness of Covid safety, to make sure that – vaccinated or not – you can share a space with others in a comfortable way. We are asking everyone who attends to please be aware of social distancing and recognise that many people may still experience discomfort in social spaces.” Cost: pay what you can; donations will be much appreciated on the day and will help cover the cost of the food and also support the Lunch Positive HIV lunch club. There will be a card reader to minimise the use of cash. ) For more info, email Gary - gary@lunchpositive.org, or Shanni lgbtqworkersforum@brighton-hove.gov.uk. D For more info on Lunch Positive, visit: www.lunchpositive.org

) Brighton & Hove Frontrunners, the LGBTQ+ running club, has been going from strength to strength since Covid restrictions eased and the group has grown considerably.

As restrictions relax the group shall be bringing back its twice-monthly postrun socials. The group follows current England Athletics and government guidelines.

Last month, five runners took part in the Run to the Sea ultra marathon - hard enough, you can imagine - but not only that, they were the winning team!

The group also has twice-monthly Monday Run sessions which are interval based, starting at various locations throughout the city, for all abilities.

The group said: “This is an amazing achievement for our club and for LGBTQ+ runners. Well done to our ultra team winners! First outing over the 50km distance for them too. Amazing!”

Brighton & Hove Frontrunners added: “Any questions get in touch, and do let us know if you plan to join us for the first time, so we can look out for you. There’s normally a few of us in our signature purple tops, so you can’t miss us!”

An LGBTQ+ inclusive running group, Brighton & Hove Frontrunners meet every D For more info, visit: Wednesday at 7pm in the King Alfred www.bhfrontrunners.org.uk Playing Field opposite the car park.


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Actually Gay Men’s Chorus returns!

“The Chorus has been beavering away non-stop in the background, learning music and meeting weekly on Zoom to talk through each piece. Last week we finally began rehearsing in person again, and we really couldn’t be happier. And, with only ten rehearsals left, we’re now working hard to create an amazing show that celebrates music, community and family – everything that AGMC is about!

The team, comprised of some of the best LGBTQ+ players in the country and managed by Dr Sophie Cook, writer, speaker, broadcaster & diversity champion, will take on an all-star ex-professional team in partnership with team sponsors Utilita, in Football United 2 on the pitch on Saturday, August 7 at 3pm. Tickets: £5 for an adult; £2.50 for children under 16. The new Eco-Kit, made from recycled plastic bottles, has been provided by Whitehawk FC’s new sportswear provider, Hope & Glory Sportswear, and designed by Turner Prize artist and one of the most popular visual artists in the country, David Shrigley OBE. For every Rainbow Rovers shirt sold, Hope and Glory’s partners One Tree Planted will plant one tree. The team also unveil a new website, designed by Rovers’ back-of-shirt sponsors Huxley Digital, which features news, player profiles, details on how to purchase the new shirt, and how to purchase tickets for the big match in August. The team is really excited to re-launch its campaign, as Sophie explains: “When we originally launched Rainbow Rovers back in 2019, no one believed that our ambitious idea of a team of LGBTQ+ players could take on, let alone beat, a team of ex-professionals and yet here we are two years later with one of the highest-profile LGBTQ+ sides in the country. “For our players, many of whom had expressed difficulty being involved in the game previously due to their sexuality or gender identity, it was the experience of a lifetime to walk on to the pitch at the Enclosed Ground alongside players that they had followed for their entire lives.

LEVIATHEN HENDRICKS

“Since I came out as transgender at AFC Bournemouth back in 2015 the game has taken great strides forward towards LGBTQ+ inclusion with support from all levels of the game. Unfortunately there is still more to do and I hope that Rainbow Rovers play a small part in showing people that football really is for all.” The launch is dedicated to Rainbow Rovers player Leviathen Hendricks who passed away recently. A tireless campaigner for increased diversity in sport, he was a member of the original Rainbow Rovers squad despite telling Sophie that he “hadn’t really played much football”. Despite his limited playing experience he was a central member of the squad, enchanting everyone with his infectious enthusiasm and seemingly permanent smile. D For tickets and more info, visit: www.rainbowrovers.org

) After six months of lockdown and rehearsing every week on Zoom, the Actually Gay Men’s Chorus (AGMC) returns to the Brighton & Hove stage this July with a new production, entitled “This Is The Hour will have something This Is The Hour, to raise funds for for everyone – from show tunes to the Sussex Beacon. classical, and a bit of contemporary Featuring many Chorus favourites yet too – and we really can’t wait to sing blended with a generous helping of new for you again.” numbers, this 90-minute celebration of strength, resilience and pride will showcase the talents of one of our city’s best-loved choruses. Samuel Cousins, AGMC’s musical director, says: “It’s no secret that making music has been extremely challenging over the last few months, however I am so pleased that we can perform our regular summer show as planned. This was supposed to be our 15th anniversary concert, but instead it is our defiant testimony saying that we made it through the last year, we’re still here and we’re back on stage.

SAMUEL COUSINS

DR SOPHIE COOK WITH NEW KIT

) Rainbow Rovers, Whitehawk Football Club’s LGBTQ+ team, has begun its campaign for the 2021 season with a new Eco-Kit, a new website, and the announcement of its first match of the year.

This is The Hour takes place at St Mary’s Church in Kemptown on Friday, July 30 and Saturday, July 31 at 8pm. A strictly limited number of tickets, priced at £16, are available for each performance. All profits will support the Sussex Beacon. D For tickets, visit: www.actuallygmc.org

Imaa Queen wins Eurostars Drag Contest from Europe, however only 14 made it through to the final, which was broadcast live on UKTV. Finalists represented Norway, England, Scotland, France, Switzerland, Finland, Belgium and Greece, however more than 30 nations competed in the semi-finals, which had been broadcast over six consecutive weeks. Imaa Queen wins her own TV show, which will be broadcast on Revry TV in over 120 countries across the globe and E1,000 worth of paid gigs.

) Sweden‘s Imaa Queen has taken first place in Eurostars Drag Contest, Linda Gold, host and creator, said: judged by 37 LGBTQ+ icons. “It’s amazing that The contest, hosted by Linda Gold, Imaa won but equally Louis Cyfer, Sedergene and Janey amazing that finalists Jacke from Drag Race Holland, were made up of featured big names on the judging queens, kings and panel including real housewife of members of the trans community. It New York, Sonja Morgan; Stonewall really was the most diverse drag show founder Lord Michael Cashman; I’ve ever seen on TV.” Drag Race legends and winners of the ) Catch up on Revry TV or visit: Eurovision Song Contest. www.eurodrag.co.uk. The star-studded show began with more than 2,000 drag performers LINDA GOLD

Rainbow Rovers unveils new kit, website and first match of 2021


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who have children and want to bring them to Pride events and parades, and even though I think family-friendly events are more suited, I believe they should be welcomed. Good parents can make appropriate judgement calls, and the responsibility lies with them, ultimately. However, families who come to gawp and point, treating Pride like a day out at the zoo, should stay away. This isn’t your time. Every other day is for you. Take the kids to the M&Ms shop. We’re not a spectacle. Pride should never be sanitised down to appease those who have oppressed us.

I’m embarrassed to be associated with this Pride is a time for all LGBTQ+ people to be their true selves without all that horrible judgement and constant micro-aggressions that many face daily merely for existing outside the parameters set by a heteronormative society. The last thing people need is to be judged by their own on their special day. Inclusion is key. If you don’t understand why someone dresses a certain way, start a dialogue and get to know them. Form your own opinion, don’t adopt one that’s been carefully curated by agenda-driven media companies. Kink is not always inextricably linked to sex. The best way to learn and broaden the mind is to meet new people from completely different backgrounds.

Kink shouldn’t be at Pride

KINK AT PRIDE By Jason Reid

) I’m constantly

baffled as to why this subject keeps cropping up as a ‘debate’. Every year. Sometimes more often than that. The whole discourse is tedious and makes me highly suspicious of some people’s ulterior motives that seem to be as visible as a leather daddy’s arsecheeks in backless chaps; there is definitely an element of people (some within our own community) acting in bad faith, raising this matter repeatedly – that is whether LGBTQ+ kink should be on display at Pride. The answer is always yes of course; there is no debate to be had. Stop it. This kind of thing is straight out of the Daily Mail’s handbook of how to whip up hatred and divide a community. Kinksters are as much a part of the LGBTQ+ community and the history of Pride as anyone else; in fact more often than not through the turbulent decades of the past you’ll have found them on the frontline fighting for the very rights and sexual freedoms we enjoy today. They’ve been doing this since the early days of Pride. They helped to start Pride. They are

integral to modern day Pride. Without them, Pride would not be Pride. We owe kinksters a debt of gratitude; not hysterical derision. So, please, step away from Twitter and Reddit, go outside and touch some grass – get some perspective, read up on our collective history, and, most importantly, try to understand those who came before us; afford them the respect they deserve – before jumping to obstinate and hurtful conclusions. I suppose it would be remiss of me to not address some of the bait takes dressed up as ‘legitimate concerns’ that have been circulating on social media, so here are just a few that piqued my interest:

Won’t somebody please think of the children? Why? What are the children who are glancing at a passing Pride parade saying? “Look at the man pretending to be a dog. It’s funny. Hahaha.” Much like they’d see someone dressed up at the theatre, or circus, or a theme park. Adopting faux outrage on behalf of children and, strangely, instantly linking their everyday experiences to sex in order to attack LGBTQ+ people is the only concerning element of this scenario. Of course there are LGBTQ+ people

As I said before, kinksters have been at the forefront of Pride protests and events across the world since forever. They were instrumental in the formation of the gay rights movement. They belong. They are us. Of course we all know what people really mean when they say kinksters shouldn’t be at Pride: that they’re all buggering each other silly at any given opportunity, which is not true. This viewpoint is nothing more than peal-clutching hyperbole. Gays and drag queens and lesbians and trans people and kinksters all have sex – none of them are doing it during Pride parades – but for some reason it’s the kinksters who should be excluded. It stinks of scapegoating and we will never stand for it. Maybe use that energy to call out politicians and bigots, and stand in firm solidarity with all LGBTQ+ people. Also, Pride is not about conforming, quite the opposite in fact. LGBTQ+ people are still under attack and while there are demagogues across the world whipping up division we probably always will be, and that’s why Pride is so important. Pride started as a riot, a movement that centred sexual liberation, it was never meant to be a familyfriendly, corporate event. We must remember that. We must also remember that older kinksters not only fought for our rights, they saw a generation of their friends die of AIDS. We are letting them down. Let’s change that, immediately, and work together to accommodate all in our community. We are always stronger together.


12 Scene this effort, making sure that future European generations grow up in an atmosphere of equality and respect.” Of course this letter is not signed by the UK PM as we are no longer part of the European project with respect and tolerance at its core. Nor did the UK government or associated minister make a statement about the UEFA/rainbow discussion. There has not been a statement from a minister about the violence inflicted upon these gay, bisexual or hetero non-confirming young men, nor has this torrent of violence been reported in the mainstream media. Interviews shared by the BBC were limited to Newsbeat – its Radio 1-connected youth wing. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who remembers the spate of attacks in the St James’ Street area of Brighton two years ago. Despite affecting dozens of local men, some of whom were hospitalised, these stories did not make the national news. So why now? Without a decade of well-funded research it would be naive of me to suggest these assaults are linked in any way to a football tournament, even if one of the most unpleasant experiences I remember in recent years was in Brighton during the World Cup in 2018, And FYI England was at that stage, winning. However, let us look momentarily at the circumstantial evidence.

DO MORE AND DO IT BETTER By Craig Hanlon-Smith

) Josh Ormrod,

aged 19, was one of several men who in the month of June were assaulted in so-called ‘homophobic’associated vicious and unprovoked beatings in the city of Liverpool, England. Curtis Stewart had his face fractured, Greg Hewitt his leg, and Tyler Jones alongside his boyfriend beaten while held at knifepoint. All assaults were accompanied with language which clearly defined these assaults as anti-gay/ LGBTQ+ infused. I am struck by the bravery of these men to speak out on social media and to give interviews to BBC Newsbeat to spread their story, and also by their seeming need to apologise for doing so. Josh states “this isn’t about me. I wasn’t sharing this for my own gain”, Curtis: “I wasn’t going to post about this… but since the police can’t/aren’t doing anything about it…”, and Tyler begins his post by stating “this is difficult for me to share but awareness needs to be raised”. These were separate assaults on different days and at different times, some in broad daylight in busy central city areas. These attackers were not afraid and therefore I will step away from using the term ‘homophobia’ to describe them. These assaults and the sharing of their experience by those who were attacked has resulted in an impromptu Pride march in the city to protest about safety for LGBTQ+ people, but this is not an issue which is limited to Liverpool. Recently, in Hungary the government introduced

legislation which prevents ‘promotion’ of LGBTQ+ lifestyles to people under the age of 18 and Hungary is an EU state. The Hungarian PM Viktor Orban is also the only EU leader post-Brexit to have, thus far, been invited to Downing Street for an audience with Boris Johnson. At the same time some gay and bisexual young men were getting the s*** kicked out of them in Liverpool, the Euro football tournament ploughed on. The mayor of Munich asked UEFA if his stadium could be lit up in rainbow colours for the Germany/ Hungary game to show solidarity with young LGBTQ+ people across Europe. Despite adorning their online logos in LGBTQ+ colours for the June month of Pride, UEFA said ‘no’ on account of this being seen as a political act. Germany responded by illuminating all its other stadia in the colours of the rainbow and a wind-turbine next to the one in Munich.

The lid is off. Parents are not allowed to attend their children’s sports days this year on account of Covid, but the marauding masses can travel from all parts of the United Kingdom to get s***-faced in a square, hug and swallow their mates’ spittle in the name of football. Drink, lots of it. More drink. We’re winning (mostly) so cue lots of gorilla chest beating and surges of real man testosterone. We are fast emerging as a culture of blame, my impoverishment is because of the other. We began by blaming EU citizens for our troubles, immigrants, now the term ‘white-privilege’ and once the finger pointing starts, it is to all who are not the massive.

“Gay and bisexual men, or individuals who present as men to the external eye but who do not necessarily gender conform to a stereotype of mankind, are five times more likely to be physically assaulted than other members of LGBTQ+ communities”

All those who were recently assaulted in Liverpool sought to seek an apology for sharing their stories. They also do not conform to a heteronormative ideal. Gay and bisexual men, or individuals who present as men to the external eye but who do not necessarily gender conform to a stereotype of mankind, are five times more likely to be physically assaulted than other members of LGBTQ+ communities. A 2020 study carried out by New York University across 23 countries including Western democracies, concluded that gay men were more likely to be subject to behaviours associated with a ‘dislike’ than gay women. In every country that was tested.

Following the match, which saw both teams qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition, Angela Merkel posted an open letter signed by 16 EU leaders which read: “We must continue fighting against discrimination towards the LGBTQ+ community, reaffirming our defence of their fundamental rights. Respect and tolerance are at the core of the European project. We are committed to carry on with

Josh, Curtis, Greg and Tyler, I thank you for sharing your stories and your bravery in doing so. I am so saddened that you were subjected to physical harm because of how you present, behave or look in the name of your sexual identity, physical attraction and love. There are people who are with you every step on your journey and yet, we must do more and we must do it better.


Scene 13

BLACK PRIDE: INTERSECTIONALITY By Jack Groves

) I am intersectional:

Black Pride honours the voices of those who do not live uninhibited. Just being LGBTQ+ and having Black Pride challenges unjust systems crossculturally and systemically. Intersectionality is beauty, but beauty is brutal. And intersectional demographics are still disproportionately affected by violence and discrimination. I discovered that intersectionality is feeling proud, yet lost and uncertain too. I’ve experienced social acceptance and praise for my performing castability, colloquialisms, whiteness and blackness... but also shame and hesitancy due to my light-skinned privilege. Now more than ever has it been fundamental to find love, support, and community. I’ve flipped back a few years to see what I have constituted as pride and why sometimes my pride was shy. As Marsha P. Johnson coined it: “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” Pride was initiated as riots: Stonewall Riots, 1969. Black Pride serves to uplift marginalised voices. People in these intersectional groups do not live uninhibited and therefore their voices need honouring. Black Pride honours all and doesn’t intermediately wear our rainbow for a stamp of approval only in June. That is what makes it beautiful and why I fell in love with how inclusivity straight-up denotes positivity. #FACTS. The pioneers of Pride, who were subject to mass discrimination, played massive roles in liberating all LGBTQ+ people through a rebellious uprising. We remember them – black people gave us pride – so again, there is a story of sacrifice. One that I am proud of. Expressing myself, living in London, hasn’t always been easy. Expressing my queerness came naturally, with the acceptance of my family, but it also took courage when pushing the boundaries of my identity. However, it was expressing my Caribbean heritage that

how communities view the LGBTQ+ community. Media representation has a positive effect on members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially LGBTQ+ youth. As representation grows and relies less on stereotypes, audiences’ prejudices can fall away easily and it serves to undeniably stimulate all viewers. 3. Policy: Positive Representation = Policy Change.

was difficult; chiefly for cautious reasons and knowing the sensitivities around appropriation... Although that didn’t make sense, because I grew up with the Caribbean side of my family. I’ve taken from my poem, Light-Skinned Privilege, which briefs on how intersectionality is both beautiful and brutal: “How can you say it with your chest, yet be afraid to appropriate culture embedded in your own heritage, because of the melanin in your skin?” Last year, the violence that people of colour endure was broadcast globally. This resulted in the largest protest and uprising in US history (with support all over the globe). It also prompted my writing and activism. Yet still, I was told that I’m “jumping on bandwagons” ... despite being part of the community. However, this allowed me to establish my voice and redefine that fictitious narrative that was disposed of me – wotless boy. It’s difficult to understand, wherein a community that is marginalised, validation is separate from acceptance. Although intersectionality is lonely, the creative ambiguities are perpetual. I know I’m not alone in being fed up with homonormative Pride campaigns. Especially ones that are solely based on LGBTQ+ trauma. Sadly, we live in a society that thinks progression is harnessing everything that marginalises you as a kickstart for empathy applications. I’ve been told countless times to “use what you have to your advantage” – ticking boxes to be tokenised within companies. So, to combat this, I’ve come up with five reasons why intersectional LGBTQ+ POC representation is fundamental: 1. Representation has a great influence on audiences, mass relatability, content that holds such breadth and power, pain and sustainability. This representation is hard to get, systemically concreted five steps behind, but this will positively affect intersectional life experiences. 2. Media: LGBTQ+ exposure in media can affect

4. Positive intersectional representation is not a fallacy. Further, it is not an opposed dichotomy either – intersectionality works together to reinforce collaborative duality and change. 5. A different perspective that is usually not shown in the Western media, helps to deconstruct eurocentrism and depicts minority groups in a positive light – which is valid.

“Intersectional demographics are still disproportionately affected by violence and discrimination. I discovered that intersectionality is feeling proud, yet lost and uncertain too” My background in musical theatre and aerial skills was problematic, however this shaped who I am today. Throughout my training, I experienced questionable praise due to my castability. I was told I could play anybody and that my mixed heritage made me desirable for agents. While I was happy to hear this, my peers were overlooked for being “too dark”, “overweight”, “a mover, not a dancer” etc. All of this from predominantly white male tutors. I was told to look for “terrorist” roles and that I can’t play a “straight” character. I said to myself, “Who gave you the agency to dictate what roles I can and cannot audition for as an actor?” – I also remember thinking: choosing to camp up a character, playing to my strengths, to avoid a low grade, is a beneficial decision. My creative choices aren’t for others to manage. Granted, tutors can assess and grade accordingly – but my creative lead as a performer shouldn’t be militarised by your standards. I aim to find belonging in the non-belonging through myriad creative content. Ultimately, I shouldn’t be afraid that I am appropriating culture as this is my culture and I’m not profiting anything. Having pride constitutes many facets: culture, identity, heritage, sexuality etc. You should never be ashamed of who you are.


14 Scene

TRANS PRIDE LONDON

Rory Finn attended Trans Pride London, which took place on Saturday, June 26. Here he tells us why this Pride is not a parade, but a protest. Photography by Tom Selmon ) Trans Pride march through London is the

first march for many since lockdown restrictions meant Pride celebrations had to be cancelled. But this Pride is not a parade, it’s a protest. The route from Wellington Arch took the large ensembled crowd along Piccadilly into Soho. The thousands of marchers filled the streets and came from all sections of the LGBTQ+ community. Marching alongside their trans and non-binary siblings were cisgender allies; LGB with the T. The march ended at Soho Square. For more than an hour, trans activists, community leaders and celebrities took it in turns to take to the microphone to address the crowd. Roars of applause and agreement met RuPaul’s Drag Race runner up Bimini Bon Boulash, who has gone on to be a shining light about non-binary identities since their appearance on the show. Joining them was poet Kae Tempest and singer Mzz Kimberley who performed to the appreciative crowd. Speeches came from model and activist Monroe Bergdorf and Youtuber Abigail Thorn, who told the crowd: “Being trans is a gift. There is power in this.” The atmosphere in Soho Square was joyful. One marcher, Ellis from London, explained why they were there: “Protesting and marching, and being seen and heard, is a vital part of the activism work that needs to be done to combat the transphobia in the mainstream media and government. Also to show solidarity with trans people globally, especially to trans people of colour. It’s also a bit of a hug to be with other trans and gender diverse people and queer people.”


“TO REPRESENT AND BE PROUD. TO BE HERE TO BE PRESENT AND COME TOGETHER. TO BE VISIBLE AND PROTEST OUR RIGHTS. THIS PAST YEAR, WITH COVID AND THE STUFF HAPPENING WITH TRANS RIGHTS, WE’VE NOT BEEN VISIBLE IN PUBLIC. TRANSPHOBIA IS ON THE RISE. WE WANT TO PROTEST OUR RIGHTS AND BE SEEN. YOU CAN’T IGNORE US. PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES FOR BEING TRANS”


28 Scene

“I REALLY SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE HERE BUT APPARENTLY, I DO. HOPEFULLY IN A FEW YEARS‘ TIME WE WON’T NEED THIS SHIT ANYMORE” – EMILY

“I'M HERE TO SUPPORT TRANS PEOPLE, NON-BINARY and EVERYBODY UNDER THE TRANS UMBRELLA WHO ARE FEELING ISOLATED AND DESPONDENT. WE‘RE CALLING FOR AN END TO CONVERSION THERAPY AND MEANINGFUL REFORM OF THE GENDER RECOGNITION ACT” – JENNY


“WE’RE HERE TO SUPPORT MY SISTER. WE BELIEVE JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE IS DIFFERENT THEY HAVE TO BE RESPECTED AS MUCH AN ANYONE ELSE” – LEGIA

“WE LIVE IN FOLKESTONE BUT IT’S HARD TO FIND MANY TRANS PEOPLE TO BE AROUND. IT BRINGS ME A LOT OF JOY TO BE NEAR OTHER TRANS PEOPLE SO IT FEELS IMPORTANT TO COME. TRANS RIGHTS! IT‘S GOOD TO BE AROUND PEOPLE AFTER A LOCKDOWN” – RAY AND CELYN

“I AM A TRANS MAN, I CAME FROM KUWAIT, WE’RE NOT ALLOWED TO TRANSITION THERE. I CAME TO THE UK TO HAVE MY FREEDOM AND LIVE MY LIFE AS TRANSGENDER” – ADAM “I SUPPORT HIM, I AM HIS PARTNER. I WANT HIM TO LIVE AS HE WANTS. I SUPPORT HIM AS A MAN” – REBAB


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• Poetry by Kat Kai Kol-Kes. • Local musician Michelle Steele.

Why Trans Pride? Trans Pride Brighton & Hove 2021 occurs at a time of heightened visibility marred by divisive and damaging media coverage of the trans community.

THE ‘SOFA YEARS’

Rory Finn rounds-up what to expect at this year’s Trans Pride Brighton & Hove, which takes place online on Saturday, July 17 ) Trans Pride Brighton & Hove takes place

online again this year with the annual celebration of trans life and the coming together of community live streamed on Saturday, July 17. Starting from 12pm, the line-up for the event will include speakers and performers who will be joined by a small TV studio audience. This year they will be using Ironworks Studio, a local professional TV studio, and their broadcasting expertise. Combining live performances with pre-recorded ones, with some of it being filmed at Green Door Store or recorded elsewhere. As with previous years you can expect to see an eclectic mix of music, spoken word and poetry and artists, all from the trans community. There will also be workshops with topics including workers’ rights and unionisation, sports and fitness, and wellbeing. Trans Pride seeks to show the trans community in all its joyous glory – trans people as artists, musicians, writers, performers, as well as trans people as everyday people just getting on with their lives. Just existing as ourselves is a source of Pride and being able to celebrate our lives is part of the journey towards full liberation. To raise money to run the event, Trans Pride is selling souvenir T-shirts to commemorate the Sofa Years. These limited-edition hand-printed T-shirts will show your support for trans, nonbinary and intersex communities and can be purchased from www.transpridebrighton.org/. Talking about the success of last year’s event, Sarah Savage, chair of Trans Pride, said that between 15-20,000 viewers tuned into the live stream on Twitch and the YouTube channel had over 1,000 concurrent viewers. The comments section was buzzing with activity and really brought people together, “people were in the chat talking about how amazing it was and how much they were enjoying it”. Some even went on to set up Discord server chats and exchange contact details in a similar way they would have done at the in-person park event. Trans Pride, a registered charity, has received

funding from Comic Relief’s LGBTQ+ Covid-19 Recovery Fund, in partnership with METRO Charity and NAZ, to continue its work. They’ve recently taken on new trustees and with the help of funding have for the first time created two temporary paid roles of project manager and community manager, which will support the overall aims of the organisation. D More info: www.transpridebrighton.org/

The line-up • Evoking the 80s discotheque, solo artist Husk will be serving gay disco synth pop. • Esme, a harpist from Brighton, will transport you away to another place with songs that touch on themes of identity, gender and attachment. • Storyteller Amy Sutton will be retelling myths and fairy tales that celebrate non-binary characters. • Indie folk from Colours and Fires, a group that spans the gender spectrum. Their songs give insight to personal transformations across genders and relationships. • Non-binary sea creature The Mollusc Dimension is an East-Asian British artisit who invites you to draw while he brings you magical songs. • Country folks singer song writer Wild B will be performing original songs. • Animal handling session with River Lismer. • Bouncy guitar based music with quirky lyrics by folk-punk band The Spirits.

We see trans people discriminated against in access to healthcare, employment, housing, sport, services, justice and facilities. Transgender children are vilified in the media, bullied at school, used as a political football and have their identities doubted. We’ve seen a continuation of the divisive coverage of proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, as well as hurtful and often dangerous coverage of transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Recently we’ve also seen attempts to restrict the right of transgender people to participate in sport, with decades-old legislation and sporting policy being attacked. Meanwhile, trans people struggle to access healthcare, with waiting lists for Gender Identity Clinics stretching to five or six years in some parts of the UK. There has been a long-running debate in the media about the validity of trans people’s lives; Trans Pride is here to say that we are real, we are valid, we are talented and we can be loved. We want to make a space for trans people to feel welcomed, loved and respected for who they are. We love Pride, but not all of our community feels as welcome at some events as they should, which is why we’re here. The trans community is small and it can be easy to lose sight of us at big events. At some events we’ve seen protests against trans rights, many of which are by people not even part of the LGBTQ+ community. We are pleased to note that we’ve had wonderful support from other parts of the community, and particularly from the successful #LwiththeT, #GwiththeT and #BwiththeT campaigns. We hope that by taking this opportunity to celebrate our lives and our achievements with our friends, families and allies, we will be able to show off the amazing people we call our brothers, sisters and siblings. D More info: www.transpridebrighton.org/


PHOTO BY TOM SELMON

Sarah Savage, chair of Trans Pride Brighton & Hove “Trans Pride Brighton is about discovering people like me. Before transition I had never met another trans person, and I couldn’t imagine being happy as a trans person. But now if an ‘egg’ comes to Trans Pride they see that everyone is so happy, it’s so joyous to be with a group of people who are like them. People who transitioned in the ’80s and ’90s come up to me and they’re amazed that something like this can exist, because they remember when trans people were so marginalised that they couldn’t even find each other. We couldn’t even find our community. Now people can come to this one place and that’s their people, that’s their community. It’s more than just one day in summer. Trans Pride actually changes lives.”


30 Scene PHOTO BY TOM SELMON

PHOTO BY TOM SELMON

Seb R

Rococo

To be trans is to have to forge your own place in nature – something not many other people have to do. If you can accomplish finding your place in the world as a trans person, you’ve overcome a hurdle that the majority of the people around you can’t even comprehend.

Attending my first Trans Pride as an ‘out’ trans woman was a truly magical experience. Spending a lot of my life feeling othered, being surrounded by so many others with similar lived experiences felt incredibly liberating.

As a Jewish person, finding other Jewish people who understand the transgender experience has been something I’ve done during the pandemic, and feel stronger for it. Pride to me also means being kind to yourself, finding celebration among all the struggle and showing that trans people are more than our pain – we are also trans joy, trans creativity, trans talent.

It’s been particularly difficult over the pandemic as a trans person, experiencing a great deal of dysphoria over the various lockdowns, so it’s been more important than ever to keep my trans siblings close. I feel incredibly lucky to have a tight-knit community of people who will always have my back when I need it, and I theirs.


PHOTO BY TOM SELMON

PHOTO BY TOM SELMON

Arthur

Anna

I’m an artist and also a queer trans man. I’m not proud of my identity, I’m proud of surviving in a world so hostile towards trans people. The journey I’ve been on to learn how to survive AND be visible is something I worked so hard to achieve. I’m proud of who I’m becoming in the process.

I’m 20 year old trans women, Jewish, drag artist aka ‘Tranna’.

The more community I interact with, the more relaxed I am. Sometimes that’s through Instagram (during the pandemic) as well as dating or making work. Pride is important to me often because it’s a time of reflection, mourning, hope and education.

I’ve been reaching out and connecting, exploring my own trans identity. I’ve discovered new parts of myself. I’ve stopped conforming to standards and started appreciating myself. I don’t have to explain myself anymore. Trans Pride is a time to remember and be thankful about how far in our personal journey we have come. We’re so engrossed in our daily life that we forget to take the time to step back and realise that every hurdle you’ve overcome has made you the strong person you are today. Where you come from doesn’t dictate where you’re headed in life. Where you want to be in your mind will be your outcome if you believe in it. Own yourself, be authentic and love it.


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someone else’s experiences might be a bit different, so I think everything should be done with an openness to learning.” As Elliot continues to share his experiences online with the hope of educating and supporting others, he’s planning to begin sharing his full story: “I was homeless at one point, and I want young LGBTQ+ people to know that they’re not alone. One in four homeless youth are LGBTQ+ people and I could actually see that when I was at the halfway house I lived in. I could see visually, we did make up 25% of the people that lived there, and that’s just telling.”

INTRODUCING... ELLIOT DOUGLAS

The up and coming content creator talks trans representation, deaf inclusion and why we need to address homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth. By Rachel Badham ) From partnering with The Buzz to provide vital educational content for young deaf people, to collaborating with Gay Times in a move to shine a light on diversity and inclusivity in the queer community, 21-yearold YouTube creator and trans rights advocate Elliot Douglas is certainly making waves on the LGBTQ+ scene.

After taking a hiatus from his drama degree in light of the pandemic, Elliot is dedicating his time to offering the representation that he didn’t see as a young, queer, disabled person. After receiving a “flattering” offer to work alongside The Buzz, the only educational community website for young deaf people in the UK, Elliot says: “Growing up I didn’t see any deaf representation in the media, let alone any trans representation, so to be that for younger deaf kids feels amazing.”

without barriers to those living with disabilities such as Elliot, who said queer events need to take steps to improve accessibility: “I went to the first Trans Pride in London a few years ago and but I couldn’t actually get close enough to lip-read the speakers... It’s all about making sure these events are accommodating to everyone, and so much more needs to be done.” On the other side of the coin, disabled trans people often face greater limits on their access to gender-affirming healthcare, with Elliot highlighting that many gender clinics aren’t accessible in terms of travel, while also not providing essential services such as interpreters to accommodate the deaf community.

A proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Elliot’s online presence has provided a safe space for many young trans and queer people: “With having a platform, I worry that people put me on a pedestal. But I don’t want to seem out of reach – I used to feel alone in my transness and my queerness so to see so many young people just existing as trans people is amazing. If I can, I just want to give some of that support which I didn’t have as a young person.”

Discussing the issue, he said: “Members of the disabled community have sometimes been turned away from receiving healthcare and I think that’s so important to talk about – trans healthcare is not always accessible to those who need it.” So what can be done to improve accessibility and inclusion across the board? Elliot believes it begins with small steps: “Little things really make a difference. I went go-karting with my friend Noah [YouTube creator NOAHFINNCE] and the first thing he did was ask me: ‘Hey man, can you see the instructor’s lips, do you want to stand here?’ It was such a small act but it just made my day.”

However, the LGBTQ+ community is not

“We’re all our own people and we forget that

However, three years down the line, Elliot – now living with his boyfriend in London – says: “I want to start talking more openly about homelessness because the pandemic has given me time to process these things a bit more... I have to remind myself to be proud of myself for how far I’ve come.” Also in the pipeline for the creator is discussing the realities of life with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) to create a discourse around the rarely spoken-of mental health condition: “With my BPD, I’m constantly finding new ways to work on myself. People with BPD get so much stick but, like everyone else, I think we just want to be loved and accepted.”

“I don’t want to seem out of reach – I used to feel alone in my transness and my queerness so to see so many young people just existing as trans people is amazing” As Elliot’s following continues to grow, he is becoming ever more prominent in the LGBTQ+ community after being selected to be one of the faces of Gay Times’ GT133 team – a group of emerging queer talent, selected for their bold individuality and dedication to promoting inclusion for all LGBTQ+ people. The project was set up to help younger audiences interact with the brand, with Tag Warner, Gay Times’ chief executive, saying the publication is “proud to be spearheading this movement” of Gen-Z LGBTQ+ people being brought together. Elliot, alongside seven other LGBTQ+ creators, can be found on TikTok @gaytimes sharing educational content and spreading queer joy in a time when so many of us are in need of it. Elliot’s Instagram: @theevolutionofelliot Elliot’s Twitter: @elliotn_doug


ELLIOT DOUGLAS


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Mr Brighton Bear competition So far there have been 12 entries for the contest, but Graham expects that may drop as people who have filled out the online entry “in the joys of alcohol may be not so keen in the light of a new day”. But for those brave enough to take to the stage there’s a plethora of goodies up for grabs. “The winner gets a lovely sash, a lovely crown made by Tom Bald, there’s prize money of £100 and the runner-up gets £25, and there’s a T-shirt, lanyard and other goodies, plus, the winner gets our love and admiration for a year. We just want people to have a good time and enjoy the night.” Voting this year takes place in the run-up to the big night online and again in person on the night, giving everyone a chance to vote twice for their favourite entrant. More details are available at www.brightonbearweekend.com

GAVIN BENNETT, MR BRIGHTON BEAR WINNER 2020. PIC BY JACK LYNN

“That does make us the biggest LGBTQ+ event in Brighton this year,” says Graham, with a certain incredulity, and still keeping everything crossed that the so-called roadmap doesn’t go off the rails, to mix a metaphor. But everything is fully planned for the big weekend – the marquee has been bought, licences from the council obtained, the police are onside and Graham and the rest of the team are “hoping that most people will be double vaccinated by then. A couple of weeks after the second vaccine, it’s as good as you get”.

THE BEARS ARE BACK!

After the lost year that was 2020 for major gatherings, Brighton Bear Weekend returns from July 22-25. Bear chair Graham Munday tells us what’s planned to raise money for the Brighton Rainbow Fund ) The writing was on the wall for Brighton

Bear Weekend in February, when the assembled committee agreed that what was going on in Italy and France was going to hit the UK soon. And when it did, they also agreed that the lockdown wasn’t going to last for the three months that Boris Johnson had claimed. “It’s a bit like how they claimed the war was going to be over by Christmas,” says Graham Munday, citing the oft-quoted popular British opinion of 1914. In fact, the end of the first 12 weeks would have been just in time for the Bear Weekend, but in common with festivals up and down the country, the decision had been made quite quickly to cancel the event in light of the pandemic.

From there the group went ahead with Mr Brighton Bear online – with Gavin Bennett winning the 2020 title to join 2019’s Taylor Leigh in the line-up of top bears to date – and managed to hold some online club nights, “then the rest of the year didn’t really happen”. But this year it’s full steam ahead again for the fun-loving fundraisers, although the Brighton Bear Weekend is taking place at a later date than its originally hoped-for June 25, with the committee knowing it needed to push the date back and not wanting to clash with other community events such as Trans Pride and Brighton & Hove Pride, both of which have sadly had to be cancelled as physical events.

The main event starts with a welcome party at the 500 people-capacity Dorset Gardens on the night of Friday, July 23, following the Thursday night quiz at the Camelford Arms, but there is still uncertainty around how many people might attend. “Are people going to decide never to go out again or are they going to go back to some semblance of what was beforehand?” asks Graham. “I don’t imagine there’s going to be a huge rush. Some people think there’s going to be some sort of explosion and everybody rushing out at once, but I think people will be a bit more timid about it.” And of course, the normal influx of European visitors won’t happen this year, while there is no knowing whether visitors from other UK countries will want to make the journey. “Looking at the bars the footfall is still down on previous years and it hasn’t really picked up as yet. A lot of the bars aren’t doing so many cabaret nights so they are still hedging their bets. But we believe by the time it gets to the weekend of July 22 they will be up again,” adds Graham. “In previous years we have had between 15 and 17 events over the weekend, but this year we are bringing it all back again to just being a bit more basic. “Having our welcome party in the marquee in Dorset Gardens allows us to bring in more


money for Brighton Rainbow Fund because we have the bar takings, and from there we are going to tease our Mr Brighton Bear contestants then the full Mr Brighton Bear competition we are having in the Amsterdam.” The normal breakfast event on the Saturday morning won’t be happening this year, but from 12-6pm there will be lots of stalls in Dorset Gardens, plenty of acts throughout the day, the Gay Classic Car Club will be on site and Lunch Positive will be providing food to raise funds for its own important organisation. There is no entry fee for the Gardens but people will be asked to donate. In previous years, the weekend has raised between £10,000 and £12,000 for the Brighton Rainbow Fund, but takings are likely to be down in 2021 as the organisers feel it would be unfair to ask businesses for discounts when they have not been open for a year. So there will be no wristbands or big raffle, but volunteers will be bucketing and selling Brighton Bear merchandise to raise funds.

On Sunday there are roasts at the Amsterdam and Drag With No Name will be performing one of his last shows before retiring. Already there’s a buzz around the weekend. Graham says: “There’s an anticipation and excitement about it – lots of people are asking what’s going on, when’s it happening. There’s always a thought in the back of my head that anything could go wrong, but I think politically Boris won’t want to go backwards and if there is another lockdown it will have to be sometime in September, but I don’t think that will happen.” The long-term weather forecast gives cause for optimism too, so all things considered, it’s looking bright for a successful weekend where people will be able to mingle in a way they haven’t done for quite some time. And in further good news, there’ll be no app to wrestle with when you want to buy your drinks, and cash will be happily accepted – in fact, it will be preferred when it comes to making donations.

For more info on BBW, visit: www.brightonbearweekend.com/ For more info on the Brighton Rainbow Fund, visit: www.rainbow-fund.org

Confirmed acts for BBW 2021 Actually Gay Men’s Chorus Dave Lynn Jason Thorpe Colin Pianoman & Miles Miss Jason Chris Hide Candi Rell


PIC CRED - VERVATE - HTTPS://VERVATE.COM/

ELLIE DOBING, DIRECTOR; PAUL REVELL, DISTILLER; KATHY CATON, FOUNDER; RACHEL BLAKE, EVENTS COORDINATOR & MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT; CHARLY THIEME, OPERATIONS MANAGER; JUDE WHITE, PRODUCTION MANAGER.

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THE SPIRIT OF BRIGHTON Not just your average distillery, Brighton Gin has been delivering LGBTQ community support for years. Founder Kathy Caton and operations manager Charly Thieme tell Jaq Bayles why the team is so important and how they stepped up to do their bit during lockdown ) Brighton Gin is, as far as founder Kathy

Caton is aware, Europe’s only craft distillery that is LGBTQ+ run and staffed (“with the noble exception of our production manager”, who is Kathy’s mum) and, indeed, has staff who “look after every letter of the acronym”. So was this a happy accident or by design? “It was by accident,” says Kathy, “although then we look back and say, ‘or have we done this subconsciously?’. Have we given opportunities to people who may not have had opportunities elsewhere? My background is so much in all things community-shaped, whether it being involved in setting up Radio Reverb back in the day, or my community focused radio show and the LGBTQ show I’m doing for BBC Radio Sussex [Out With Kathy] and I think it’s sort of happened without thinking about it in a way – but it’s something I’m really delighted we have done.” Set up in 2012, Brighton Gin has a rich history of supporting the LGBTQ+ community, including raising money for the Brighton Rainbow Fund for the past five years with its annual limited-edition bottle celebrating Pride

and showcasing queer artists in the process. This year it is planning something big that will provide longer-term Brighton Rainbow Fund support; details should be announced soon.

“We are a bootstrap business and our team has really put their shoulders to the wheel and responded to the fact they were suddenly being asked to make notfor-profit hand sanitiser, delivering locally around town on pushbikes” It also tries to support some of the Fund’s key charitable organisations, for example providing raffle prizes for the Sussex Beacon or Brighton Bear Weekend. “There’s so much value in the fact that the Brighton Rainbow Fund is instrumental in making sure some of the much smaller organisations have been supported and the need for that is not going anywhere,” says Kathy. She adds it’s important that the team reflects where Brighton Gin is made and the diversity of the city, especially as so many gins that claim to be locally made are actually produced by the same major distiller. “It says Brighton

Gin on the bottle so we should be born and raised in Brighton. I love the fact that we have a 53-year age gap between our oldest and youngest employee. People just bring such different experiences to things – our lead distiller used to be a ballet dancer – I love that there are all these different skills people can bring that come from a different perspective. I didn’t realise how even having a woman running the distillery is a pretty unusual thing.” “And actually a woman who’s not the wife,” chips in operations manager Charly Thieme, “it’s not a husband and wife team, which is very common in a distillery.” Championing the team’s diversity is one of Kathy’s big passions and she is committed to the company being what it says it is. “We are under the whole community spirit banner and this is so far from a pink washing or rainbow washing thing.” The company’s commitment is throughout the year and it clearly riles her “when people put a rainbow on things and don’t actually give anything back – a pub you would normally be scared to go into puts a bit of rainbow bunting out one weekend of the year.”


“We are a bootstrap business and our team has really put their shoulders to the wheel and responded to the fact they were suddenly being asked to make not-for-profit hand sanitiser, delivering locally around town on pushbikes. It was a short-term emergency response last March and, wow, here we are still doing it.”

“There’s so much value in the fact that the Brighton Rainbow Fund is instrumental in making sure some of the much smaller organisations have been supported and the need for that is not going anywhere”

SOUTH DOWNS COOLER. PIC CRED - VERVATE - HTTPS://VERVATE.COM/

In common with many other businesses, Brighton Gin found itself having to make major changes over the past 16 months, not least in pivoting to providing not-for-profit hand sanitiser.

messages she wrote from someone was: “Congratulations on your ordination”. She adds: “We had some quite teary days writing these messages, going ‘I’m so sorry I can’t see you but let’s meet online and have a gin together and talk’. That’s been really fantastic because we have been focusing so much on to build the business through wholesale and trade and naturally over the years that’s probably distanced us from people, so to be part of that again we’ve got to know some of our customers really well.” The extra time has also allowed Charly to hone their cocktail-making skills and perfect the art of making their own ingredients. Here they share some favourite serves with Scene readers.

Summer Cocktails by Charly Thieme

As most of Brighton Gin’s production was destined for the hospitality industry it suddenly faced the loss of a lot of its customers, but it was able to change production “pretty much overnight, certainly in the space of a week, to making hand sanitiser”.

Summer is here/near! We’ve always loved cocktails at the Brighton Gin cave but especially over the past year, we’ve tried to hone our skills. On our website you can find a whole feature on homemade cocktails and syrups, focusing on making mixology accessible and affordable for everybody – you really do not need a Boston shaker. PINK SUSSEX 75. PIC CRED - VERVATE - HTTPS://VERVATE.COM/

However, the company did also pick up new customers as more locked-down individuals began ordering bottles through the website, bringing the company closer to its end consumers. Charly explains what the move meant. “It kept us busy because obviously it takes much longer to wrap one bottle up that someone’s ordered on the website than put 30 cases on a pallet. It was nice, it meant that we could cycle to work every day, we had a reason to go to work every day and didn’t have to be stuck inside.” Often when they were making local deliveries on the former Post Office pushbikes that they use they found they were the only people their customers had spoken to in weeks in person. “We did get the odd comment in the beginning, like ‘haha are you an essential service?’, but we showed them the hand sanitiser so that was all good.”

South Downs Cooler A long, refreshing, navy gin-based cocktail for early evenings or rambling Sunday lunches. Add 50ml Brighton Gin Seaside Strength, 40ml St Germain elderflower liqueur, 25ml fresh lime juice and ice to a shaker/clean jam jar. Shake for 10-15 seconds (that’s longer than you think), then strain into a tall glass. Top up with soda water and serve with a lime wheel and plenty of ice. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and replace the soda with English sparkling wine if you’re feeling fancy.

Pink Sussex 75 This is a tribute to the classic French 75 cocktail but with a Sussex and seasonal twist, perfect for celebrating Pride with friends. Add 50ml Brighton Gin Pavilion Strength, 20ml fresh lime juice, 20ml rhubarb syrup (for an easy homemade recipe, check out our website) and ice to a shaker/clean jam jar. Shake for 10-15 seconds, then strain into a flute/your fanciest glass, top up slowly with sparkling wine (it will foam so be careful). It should have a cute pink hue.

Vegan Brighton Gin Sour

Lots of people were sending bottles to their friends and family around the country, “saying ‘here’s a taste of Brighton, I’m so sorry we won’t see you for your 30th, 40th, 50th, 100th’.” Cathy says one of her favourite VEGAN GIN SOUR. PIC CRED - VERVATE - HTTPS://VERVATE.COM/

Among the botanicals we use are fresh lime and fresh orange peel – our distiller, Paul, peels dozens of unwaxed fruit on a weekly basis so a lot of our cocktails will contain lime or orange juice (as alternatives to lemon juice, for example) as we’re always on the lookout for ways to use up those ‘naked’ fruits. Alternatively, we recommend Mexican or south east Asian cuisines, which use A LOT of lime juice! We also love replacing egg whites with chickpea water (aquafaba) - not only because it is a pain to have leftover egg yolks but also because it makes it accessible for vegans, and Brighton Gin was the first contemporary gin to be fully vegan registered. This not only covers our liquid but also the gum used to stick on our labels as well as the hand-waxed top. Aquafaba foams really well and adds an ever so slightly nutty lightness to the drink, making it excellent in so-called Sours. Here are our top three cocktails for this summer.

This is an incredibly easy but show-stopping cocktail which packs a lot of flavour. You want to prepare the sugar syrup in advance: Add sugar (caster/granulated/brown) and hot/ boiled water to a jar/bottle in a 2:1 ratio (sugar:water). Stir/shake to mix until the sugar has dissolved, allow to cool. Add 60ml Brighton Gin Pavilion Strength, 30ml fresh lime juice, 20ml sugar syrup, 20ml aquafaba and ice to a shaker/clean jam jar. Shake for 10-15 seconds, then strain into the shaker and dry shake without ice for extra fluff. Serve in a tumbler or short glass and top with a lime wheel. Tag us in your posts @brightonginstergram or Twitter @BrightonGin and let us know how you’re getting on. PS. Brighton Gin also makes a cracking Martini or Negroni if you want to keep it classic. Please drink responsibly D For more information about Brighton Gin, visit: www.brightongin.com Win a drag king workshop place


ROBIN SANCHEZ

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I wasn’t too interested in porn per se. But I found a niche in the porn industry which allowed me to work doing something I loved; photography and later film work, plus being able to live where I wanted to. How did the AIDS crisis affect your outlook on porn and life itself? From 1982 to 1984, when the HIV virus was finally found, it was really a scary time. No one knew how the virus was spread. But once we learned that HIV infection could be avoided by using condoms, it made it much easier. When I made my first hardcore film in 1989, the models wore condoms.

KRISTEN BJORN: A LIFE IN PORN

In a rare magazine interview, legendary gay porn director Kristen Bjorn talks candidly to Scene magazine’s Jason Reid about starting out in porn in the 1980s, the evolution of the industry and how his own studio has had to change, surviving pandemics, hopes for the future, and much more ) I imagine most people will be wondering

how and why you initially become involved with the porn industry? Indeed, how anyone did in the 1980s. Back before the internet, porn did exist in the form of magazines and video tapes, which were sold in sex shops. In 1980, I was a university student in San Francisco. A fellow student told me about the films he was shooting, and suggested I try it. It took a year for me to work up the courage to actually call the telephone number he had given me, which was that of Falcon Studio.

magazine business. While I worked as his assistant, he introduced me to the editors of a group of magazines in New York called Mavety Media Group. At the time, it consisted of Mandate, Playguy, Honvho, and Torso magazines. The following year, 1982, I moved to Rio de Janeiro where I remained for eight years working as a photographer for those magazines, as well as another magazine called Advocate Men. In 1988, Advocate Men started a series of solo videos called Advocate Men Live, which they asked me to film for. This was my move from still photography to video.

My career as a porn actor was very brief. I only performed in two videos, and that only took three days. What did have an impact on me was my friendship with Falcon’s photographer, Fred Bissones. I had studied photography since the age of 15; my dream was to become a travel photographer. As my mentor, Fred taught me about the gay

What do you remember most vividly about those early years? I worked for six years as a photographer before doing erotic, non-explicit photography for magazines before I started directing videos. And the first videos I shot were solos. My approach to erotica was as an art-form. Although I was always a very sexual person,

There have now been two major global pandemics in the last 40 years that have seriously affected the western world, AIDS and Covid-19. Which was worse for the porn industry, and you personally? We are not out of the Covid-19 pandemic yet, but I hope that we will be in the near future. For me personally, the AIDS pandemic was far worse than Covid-19. HIV was a death sentence until 1995, and I knew many, many people who died from it, including close friends. As far as how the pandemics affected the porn industry, many people died of HIV in the ‘80s, producers and porn stars alike. But later, gay studios started filming with condoms, while the straight studios relied on testing. So, HIV didn’t change porn after that. Covid-19 seems to have had no effect upon the porn industry after coming out of lockdown. Most porn actors are fairly young and fit, so they carry on the same as always. They aren’t at high risk of getting ill from Covid-19. Do you think porn has changed for better or worse over the years? Porn has gone through different stages over the years. When I worked for Falcon back in 1981, the films were quite crude. They were shot on 16mm cameras without sound and were sold on 8mm reels. These were called loops, which were 15 minutes long. With the invention of VHS players, the studios started compiling four loops on to VHS tapes, which were one hour long. That is how scenes got started. In the years to come, studios started making more lavish films with much higher production values. And with the invention of the DVD, the films became much longer. There was also amateur porn, of course. But the bigger studios were making big, expensive productions until around 2008. The combination of the worldwide financial crisis, plus the advances in internet technology which made it easier to pirate porn were like the perfect storm to destroy the porn industry. So in my opinion, things are worse than they ever have been for the porn industry. How much of a threat are free porn sites to


MAX HILTON

DELAN BENOBE

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sectors have been decimated and online porn has survived, I guess I wouldn’t do things differently after all. Hindsight is 20/20. It’s hard to know what the future holds. What’s the key to being a successful porn director such as yourself? Work hard, and be professional. And a successful porn actor? Porn has never been a real career for porn actors. Even in the best of times, I never knew any who managed to make a living just making porn. It’s something they can do for a while for fun, but they should really consider some other career for the long term. In your own words who is Kristen Bjorn – the alias you adopted? I’m a private person, I never wanted to be a celebrity. But I got a lot of satisfaction knowing that people enjoyed my work.

What makes Kristen Bjorn porn stand out from the rest? We still maintain a high production value. The scenes are well lit, well shot and well edited. Few other studios do that these days. How have you had to evolve in order to keep membership coming in? We have had to downsize to stay in business. We no longer make long, lavish, scripted films, but web scenes. That is what people want to watch on their phones now. In your experience what is the most widely held misconception about the porn industry? That there is money to be made in the porn industry. There was a time when that was true, but it’s certainly not the case anymore. What was your greatest fear when you started out and what is it now? I think they are still the same; to adapt and survive the changing times. If you could, would you go back and do anything differently? Before the pandemic, there were times when I regretted not getting into another line of work like tourism or hospitality. But now that those

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your work? Some people told me that my work had helped them overcome their shame of being gay. And can you recall the strangest criticism? Once I was told that my actors were too handsome, and they created unrealistic expectations. He went on to say that I should work with average looking people instead. That was the strangest criticism. There are a multitude of porn categories now available. What was your favourite category to shoot, and favourite to watch? My favourite category of film to shoot were the big budget films we used to make between 1994 and 2008. We shot in beautiful, exotic locations, and each scene was shot over four days. But we no longer have the budget to shoot that way anymore. That would also be my favourite category of porn to watch. How would you like to be remembered? As a filmmaker who made some beautiful films over a number of years. What does the future hold for you and your studio? Hopefully, we will adapt to the times and survive. We can’t control the wind; we can only adjust our sails. D For more info, visit: www.kristenbjorn.com

HERACLES

the industry and the people working within it? Free porn sites are pirate sites. They steal their content from the producers. Piracy has caused the collapse of the porn industry as we knew it.

When you look back over your long and varied career, what stands out as your proudest moment? There isn’t one particular moment that stands out, but several. Those were times when I felt I had achieved a greater level of skill, and the films came out as I had envisioned them.


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OPENING UP THE VELVET VAULT OF MEMORIES

A new Facebook group inviting the community to share their memories of Brighton & Hove’s LGBTQ+ past is proving popular. Jaq Bayles spoke to the founders to find out more ) Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be – in

Gay Brighton Past: Our Velvet Vault of Memories attracted some 400 users in its first couple of weeks, with numbers rising daily as people share their memories of the city’s colourful romps through the ages, alongside reflections of the more serious issues.

fact, it’s enjoying something of a revival in Brighton & Hove circles thanks to a new Facebook group created by local historians Alf and Tina.

With Alf and Tina both collectors, they already had a wealth of materials at their disposal, from nightclub flyers to newspaper ads to beer mats, all foraged over the decades to ensure this slice of queer heritage didn’t get lost to the mists of time. And as they began posting online these treasures, the 1980s and 1990s emerged as a particularly busy period, being the time of Section 28, the AIDS crisis and a great deal of campaigning. It was also a fast-moving age, when club nights would open and close with alarming frequency and people would scamper from venue to venue in an effort to beat the vagaries of the licensing laws and this obviously struck a chord with group members, who have flocked to add their stories and memories from this period.

“We found an empty niche and thought we would open the door to the velvet vaults and encourage everybody to come in, but we’ve got a couple of gargoyles at the door. We know how precious our history is” Now emerging is a trove of precious personal recollections, with people interacting in a safe place, jogging each other’s memories over shared spaces and events. “We were just grabbing everything in the ‘80s and ‘90s so it didn’t get lost - leaflets and flyers, beer mats,” says Tina. “Separately Alf and I were both touring round town with the same notion that somebody’s got to get hold of this or that history is going to be lost.”

SHAMELESS HUSSIES FLYER DESIGNED BY MICHELLE ALLARDYCE

Alf chips in: “The ‘80s and ‘90s were very paper-based and analogue, so unless one person kept a flyer and knows where it is that moment’s gone. We discovered we both had the same Brighton Pride 1995 beer coaster. I don’t know why Pride made beer coasters in 1995… “Most people have their own personal photos they’ve stashed away or a ticket to a club night that was important. Sometimes their own memories are enough. It’s all stuff that’s very easily lost, especially if we don’t have biological family or our close friends don’t realise what’s important after we go.”

A good example of how a missing comma can change the sense of a sentence… if you like your showers exclusively gay, this was the place for you.

While it may not have felt like it at the time, looking back there seemed to be an awful lot going on. “If you go through the listings,” says Tina, “every night there were several things you could go to.” She points to “an amazing time in the ‘80s” when the likes of Bronski Beat, The Communards, Joan Armatrading and Erasure could be seen in Brighton – “it was queersville”. One point of particular importance to both the gatekeepers of the group is that it is “a very safe environment” in which people can chat about their collective past. It’s really important that you create a safe environment”. This is so anyone can share their story, or photo, and know that nobody is going to give them a hard time or make a joke about it. Alf adds: “We found an empty niche and thought we would open the door to the velvet vaults and encourage everybody to come in, but we’ve got a couple of gargoyles at the door. We know how precious our history is.” As to the question of why it’s called Gay Brighton Past as opposed to the now more familiar LGBTQ+ Brighton Past, apart from the fact that the latter is pretty unwieldy in a title, in the time frame being covered, the term “gay community” was a catch-all, whether you identified as gay, lesbian, bi or other. And it’s definitely not just for gay men. “It’s about pitching it for everybody, that community that was fractured and came together then was fractured again.” f To get involved, visit: www.facebook.com/groups/gaybrightonpast


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BON VOYAGE!

Catherine Muxworthy catches up with iconic Birmingham drag queen Miss Marty, who’s hanging up their heels for good ) Marty Smith aka Miss Marty is hanging up

their wig and retiring from drag. They considered retiring from drag a few years ago but decided they weren’t quite done. This decision to step back follows some health problems during the lockdown, though “nothing life-threatening”. Marty also struggled to adapt to digital performances and wanted to give a special thanks to the people who helped facilitate shows. “I’m a complete technophobe so it’s been a learning curve,” Marty laughs. “It’s been interesting but also nice that we got to open out to a whole new audience… We’ve all taken a journey together and shared each other’s ups and downs along the way.” On a positive note, lockdown allowed Marty to rediscover their love of painting. “I just felt it was time to move on to a new adventure, to give my body time to reset, and find new passions. I’m going to take a bit of time to

gather myself; right now I’m focusing on promoting my artwork to see where that leads.” Marty also plans to “spend more time with family and friends. When you’re gigging, you miss out on a lot”. Twenty-two years ago, Miss Marty made their drag début, and they admit: “I wanted to sing and was far too chicken to get up there as me. I dressed a couple of drag queens backstage at the time – Phyliss Stein and Alfie Hooker – enjoyed watching them, and thought maybe I could do this.”

“Be passionate about your craft… It’ll take up a lot of your time, not to mention energy and if you’re not passionate, you’ll fall at the first hurdle” They were asked to host at The Wellington. “I was clueless but armed with a few second-hand

dresses and a £10 wig from the rag market, I hosted karaoke on a Friday and brought the drag acts on stage on a Saturday night.” Marty remembers being thrown on stage due to a no-show. Having previously only done karaoke, this became Marty’s act. “I couldn’t tell you what I said between numbers but it went well. I do remember that my opening line was ‘please be nice to me ‘cos I’m terrified’.” Marty lists many influences. “I was guided in my early years by Dec (Phyllis Stein), and we’re still friends to this day. I’ve been lucky enough to become friends with a lot of the acts I looked up to when I started out, like Tilly, Rose Garden, the Divine Miss M, Dave Lynn, Lola Lasagne, Connie, Kara Van Park, Sandra, to mention just a few. Not forgetting the dearly departed Asa aka Vanilla Rimmer for all the drunken mashups back in the day.” Marty’s act has always included live singing and


Scene 33

Year at the National Diversity Awards. Many stories from Marty’s drag career, they joke, would land them in trouble. “There has been a fair degree of misbehaving over the years,” with Miss Penny “including cream cakes and gravy granule fights on stage.” Marty also remembers one Pride, a RuPaul’s Drag Race queen (who remains unnamed), announced that they were the cabaret tent’s final act because anything else would be a poor choice. In response, Marty, Miss Penny, and Kara formed a new girl group, Poor Choices, and “bought the house down with a live rendition of Tina’s Proud Mary”.

“I couldn’t tell you what I said between numbers but it went well. I do remember that my opening line was ‘please be nice to me ’cos I’m terrified’.” There’s no hesitation when asked what they’ll miss most about drag: “The people and the fun we had. My show has always been about my audience and what they want, and they were never shy about getting up there with me to do whatever mad game I had planned. So, I’ll miss all of that.” “banter with my audience. It wouldn’t be a Miss Marty show without a few naughty games along the way”. Marty remembers in the early days of touring, they would often get disparaging looks for singing live. “I remember a dearly departed friend, Elsie, telling me not to be discouraged because they were bitching about me, I was probably doing something right, and, hopefully, well. I’ve never forgotten that advice and to this day I pass it on to up-and-coming drag queens.” Marty first came out at about 16 years old and says: “The [Birmingham] scene has changed so much over the years. There were very few live drag queens in Birmingham when I started. A lot of venues have come and gone... We have a good mix at the moment although, sadly, some cherished venues didn’t survive the pandemic. I’m unsure of the future of our gay scene due to construction and developments but we’ve weathered a fair few storms over the years and I doubt we will go down without a fight. “The Village and especially the Nightingale will always be dear to me because they are home,” Marty explains. “I was The Nightingale’s hostess for ten years! “Sunday nights at Bar Diva with my drag sister Miss Annie were always legendary,” Marty reminisces. “My shows at the Coventry Cross were always full of fun and friskiness, and every show I’ve ever done at the Langley Social Club has been a family-fuelled bundle of fun. The Steam Packet Inn, Workington, was always a fun night and by fun, I mean drunk, and it was always a pleasure to work with Lady Wanda at Gender Blender in Chester.” Marty was even “lucky enough to perform at

Heaven and the Black Cap before they closed”. When asked about their favourite people to work with, Marty laughingly says: “I have to say Miss Penny else I’ll never hear the end of it. We’ve had some amazing times over the years. “I absolutely adore performing with the Divine Miss M, we’re like a couple of old wives and usually end up three [sheets] to the wind, perched on a bar stool, wigless and shoeless, having an old-school mash-up. “You can’t beat an impromptu singalong, and I’ve been able to have them with a lot of Brum’s best, like Amy Laqueefa, Trisha, Trixie, Blanch, and my drag daughters Timmona and Charlotte.” Marty has fond memories of singing with Brenda Edwards at a charity event, and getting to meet some of their heroes: Heather Small, Gabrielle, and Boney M. One of their career highlights though is being nominated for and winning awards, including Midlands Personality of the

Marty reels off a list of upcoming stars in Birmingham: “Betty Bangs, the whole package; Misty Vans, phenomenal; Black Peppa, amazing; Dahliah Rivers, beautiful; Ashleigh Marc, funny; Just Joe, such a cute queen; Fatt Butcher, a superstar; and so many more, just check out the Church of Yshee on a Sunday at the Village Inn,” and believes that “in a lot of ways it’s harder to break into drag nowadays, there is so much more competition.” And advice for them: “Be passionate about your craft… It’ll take up a lot of your time, not to mention energy, and if you’re not passionate, you’ll fall at the first hurdle... Your show is quintessentially about your audience. “Embrace new things and love your sisters because when the chips are down, they will look after you. Have at least one older queen in your circle, we might be old but we have the knowledge. Just because I’ve hung up my heels doesn’t mean I’m not available to help and guide anyone in need.”


34 Scene

Sean’s childhood dream – why is that? Sean has dedicated his working life to teaching undervalued students and helping them realise their full potential and achieving positive social changes through the education industry.

CANDI RELL AT BRIGHTON BOX

Sean’s love for ensuring that students receive their rightfully earned recognition through the display of their artistic capabilities has contributed to filling the void in communities.

“We are in a prime position to help raise funds to allow the Sussex Beacon to continue with its fantastic and much appreciated work” Initially, he was focused on performing arts, but deep down, Sean has always dreamed of owning an art gallery to provide yet another platform to share artistic experiences and the artists’ interpretations of life with others.

ON THE BOX

The recently launched Brighton Box is supporting and showcasing LGBTQ+ artists and raising funds for the Sussex Beacon. We put some questions to the team behind the venture to find out more ) The Brighton Box is an LGBTQ+-owned

art gallery and gift shop which opened in Duke’s Lane just before the first lockdown. The brainchild of owner Sean Headley, with his long-time friend Craig Harwood taking care of the marketing side, the 25sq m store features some 300 artworks, with around 1,000 available online The company has about 40 artists on its books, many of them from the LGBTQ+ community, and is currently raising funds for the Sussex Beacon, including through the sale of prints of seven Brighton drag artists by Jack Lynn. Each print is signed by the

artist it depicts and £10 from each sale goes to the charity. Drag artists feature heavily in the store’s promotions too, acting as hosts and monitoring gallery numbers between noon6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. To date Candi Rell and Stephanie Von Clitz have been the most frequent resident hosts, also handing out leaflets to those interested in the currently Pride-themed window. Craig offers some further detail on how and why the venture got off the ground. You described this businesses as being

The ultimate goal is to make artwork available to everyone at affordable prices and bring communities together using the interest and love of art. Why did you decide to support the Sussex Beacon? The Sussex Beacon has been and continues to be an incredibly valuable charity to our community and we feel that we are in a prime position to help raise funds to allow the Sussex Beacon to continue with its fantastic and much appreciated work. The Brighton Box is dedicated to raising as much as possible for the Sussex Beacon for the next three months, after which we will be raising money for Breast Cancer Research. How did the Brighton Box start? We launched our business at the worst possible time and have had to manage three separate lockdowns – but we’re now excited about finally being able to embrace our


mission of showcasing local artists, designers and photographers.

“The ultimate goal is to make artwork available to everyone at affordable prices and bring communities together using the interest and love of art” Over 90% of our contributors are from the East Sussex area and many are working with us to help the Sussex Beacon. Why is supporting artists from within the LGBTQ+ community so important to you? Although not exclusively, nurturing and supporting artists from within the LGBTQ+ community is so important and is a mantra for our business model. Many local LGBTQ+ artists were keen to find an outlet from within which their work could be exhibited in an inclusive and safe environment, free from judgement. We at the Brighton Box have created such a space where this creative freedom has been nurtured and thrives. What artists are you selling at the moment? We have a number of exciting LGBTQ+ artists and contributors at the gallery currently. From the wonderful Jack Lynn’s LGBTQ+ Lives collection, showcasing local and national

drag artists, and Johnny Meacher with his original papercuts (which must be seen to be fully appreciated), to Sid Spencer of Fat Pigeon Art with his PRIDE collection focused on pop icons. Our resident artist, Lorenza Gamberi, has fashioned several unique pieces to celebrate Pride Month. What do you have planned for this summer? We have a number of Pride events planned for the gallery over the summer, including an exciting new host over Pride weekend

as well as drag hosts to welcome guests every weekend during July and August. We will be swapping out the installation art in the gallery in early August to enable us to showcase even more local artists and contributors. We have something to suit everyone and every purse, from the discerning local to the summer tourist wanting to take a little slice of Brighton home with them. D www.thebrightonbox.com D www.sussexbeacon.org.uk


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and found themselves (not entirely naked, but some topless) in a press conference for Siouxsie Sioux. That was the kind of image the Scottish-formed band liked to perpetuate, and that, along with their “a bit punky, a bit Pogues-y and the kind of pisstake element of the cowboy” music, was what drew so many lesbian fans, seeking an alternative to the rather more serious performers of the time. “The famous ones like Joan Armatrading, Tracy Chapman, k.d. lang, they were really quite intense and serious but there was not a lot of having a good time to it. It’s beautiful and poetic but it’s not like Saturday night beered-up music and having a good dance and just being a bit uninhibited.” The band were originally together for around a decade, but “we sort of fell apart mainly because the bass player, who was my main musical soul partner, fell in love on one of our Australian tours and went there to live, and so did the drummer. Both on one tour. I virtually came back on an empty plane”.

STAND BY YOUR BAND

“We were at a quite big Swedish festival, which did something about dropping the alcohol prices and everybody in Sweden headed there. I got so pissed on the plane that I was actually sick in a nun’s shoe”

) Hang on to your stetsons – lesbian music

The band now comprises Lucy, “token heterosexual” Alison Jones on fiddle, Alics Gate-Eastly on bass and backing vocals and Angie Thomson on accordion and backing vocals, with temporary drummers drafted in.

The Well Oiled Sisters are back with a new EP featuring remastered classics. Jaq Bayles finds out why now and takes a trip down memory lane with lead singer Lucy Edwards royalty the Well Oiled Sisters, who took stages around the world by storm during the 1990s as “the original Cowpunk and badgrrl band”, are releasing an EP called Refreshed featuring newly remastered tracks from their two existing CDs on July 3. Coincidentally, their song Trouble is featured on the soundtrack of the widely lauded new movie Rebel Dykes (on general release later this year), which chronicles the 1980s underground activist London lesbian scene (more on this in Scene later in the year). So is there a renewed appetite for the kind of raw energy and hetero-disruptive behaviour that characterised the Sisters’ image and the excesses of the ‘90s? Lead vocalist, songwriter, guitarist and gifted raconteur Lucy Edwards, who lives in Brighton, thinks so and is hoping the band will get to gig again to give their legion of existing fans and a new generation of live music lovers another chance to experience their unique brand of punky country music.

“I do think it could reach a younger audience – I hope it wouldn’t be some ‘novelty granny in cowboy hats’ deal. I think there’d be a resurgence of people who used to come and see us but I do think there’ll be younger people who are ready for this just for the live music and the fun thing. It’s something a bit different – it’s all so homogenised now,” says Lucy. We’re chatting over zero-alcohol beers – oh, how times have changed! Google the band and it’s not long before you find they once “walked naked into a Swedish press conference” – not something you hear every day. “We were at a quite big Swedish festival, which did something about dropping the alcohol prices and everybody in Sweden headed there. I got so pissed on the plane that I was actually sick in a nun’s shoe,” recounts Lucy. “I had to wash it and put it back furtively under her seat, wet. That was the start of it all.” After using the pool at the posh hotel they’d been put up in, dressed only in “nasty lesbian boxer shorts”, the band flung open the doors to the wrong room

“The core of us have been together since the beginning of the ‘90s but about the year 2000 that was it really – we’d tried everything, we had a record deal and had to end up buying ourselves out of that because it was such an appalling deal.” After that the band launched what would probably now be seen as a crowdfunder, with people donating to get a second CD made, but “it was very badly mastered and produced and we were never happy with it”. They last played together in 2018 for a 20 Years After tour, which included gigs at WOMAD and London’s Hundred Club. Lucy had been living in Wales for 11 years and when she decided to move back to Brighton she realised she had all the original reels for the CDs. “They were just sitting in a drawer but had not been mastered properly so it was just a waste and a shame, although it’s very hard in all fairness to replicate a band that’s basically


live and get that across.

and each night people would pay to join the train that I hated, it was so facile and annoying, but it and hear the music (it was being filmed as part of was an instantly woo, woo, woo fast song and in “We had a friend and benefactor, a guy called an ABC documentary). my dream we came off stage after miming to the Drum, who’s got a lovely recording studio in song that had been a novelty number two hit and “It was five days across the desert, which was Devon. He got his hands on these and started I was weeping over a bottle of brandy and looking brilliant, and in the middle we stopped in a little adding things and I went down to Devon with at one of those lightbulb mirrors. I thought, that Alison and Angie and we put some more stuff over town called Pimba which is like a population could have happened and then you’d just be one some of the old tracks. Now he’s remastered them of 20 and they’d put up this massive stage and of these joke singles or a Trivial Pursuit question. and they sound great. He’s going to do both CDs hundreds of people, particularly indigenous folk, It felt like a prophecy. There was no way we were but at the moment we are going to put out three came from hundreds of miles around and we were going to be k.d. lang, we weren’t that polished on Amazon and Spotify and then will put out one playing as the sun was setting and they were and we didn’t have the management to drive us kicking up the red dust. The indigenous folk love a month. There are probably about 20 tracks, all in that direction. And by this point we were all in country music – you could hear the sigh of relief originals I wrote with some contributions from our thirties and I don’t think anyone was going to when the one-string fiddle player got off.” other band members.” start wearing a gingham dress and pigtails.” Lucy recently spotted one of the band’s CDs going “People are dying to get back to For now, the band is hyped to release the on eBay for £45, and also received a Facebook gigs and I think there’s going to be remastered tracks (the first to be Trouble, message from a 15-year-old girl who said she had a new way of listening, I hope from Amphetamine and Seven Hours) and Lucy found one in her mum’s attic and the music had any great catastrophe good art concludes: “It’s very satisfying that this is “blown her away” as she’d never heard anything comes out and good music” happening. I just feel at this stage you’ve got like it – “and that’s from a shitty CD” – so that nothing to lose. If we get some gigs out of it, it The band never chased chart success, “we were augers well for the new releases. will be great.” never going to make it with our image – the “People are dying to get back to gigs and I think Spice Girls had just come out so there was no more info there’s going to be a new way of listening – I way that was going to happen. I don’t think any hope from any great catastrophe good art comes of us wanted it that much to compromise.” D www.thewelloiledsisters.com out and good music. I think live music is going f i @thewelloiledsisters And Lucy remembers a vivid dream she had on to make a big comeback, playing live instruments, t @welloiledsister the subject. “It was quite pathetic. We were in not music that’s pre-programmed, so we would Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/ this nightclub in Blackpool with the disco floor like to do at least one more gig.” B097XJC8XK/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp# all lit up and there was [puts on a compere voice] iTunes: https://music.apple.com/gb/album/ ‘And now ladies and gentlemen, performing their The band’s big break came in 1992 when they refreshed-2021-version-single/1573801898 smash hit…’ and it was a song called Scratch toured Europe with Morrissey. It sounds an odd pairing, but Morrissey requested them as his support after seeing them at The Power House in London. His ‘people’ got in touch with their manager and a strange exchange followed when the offer for the tour was made. “They said ‘it’ll only cost you £200 a week’ or something,” says an incredulous Lucy. “Even though it was Morrissey we went ‘fuck off we’re not paying’, and they eventually agreed to pay us. So that was quite good negotiating. Then I got told ‘oh god, you’re supporting Morrissey – you’re going to get killed’, because the fans were so obsessive and gave the support band a hard time. They would boo you off because they wanted him on, but actually we did OK. But it was terrifying – we’d gone from doing pubs to the Olympia with 20,000 people.” On the back of that came their long association with WOMAD, and Lucy fondly remembers her favourite gig with the festival during a train journey from Perth to Adelaide, with, among others, “throat singers, a Chinese fiddle player, an African whistler guy” – a classic WOMAD line-up –


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assume you were heavily influenced by American soul growing up in Germany? Actually I was not, funnily enough. I became aware of soul much later as a teen. I grew up listening to whatever was on the radio and to my grandparents and parents’ The Beatles and Elvis records, Rolling Stones, German Schlager, you name it. This is why I’m so rooted in ‘60s music, because they had that record collection. But there was no soul. That came later, and when it did, it blew my mind. My first soul music records were Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and The Supremes. What more do you need? Well, much more followed of course. But in my early Berlin days I was actually more listening to Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle and many others. When soul entered my universe I knew I had to figure out how to combine the two. That’s how all that started.

SOUL MACHINE

Billie Ray Martin, one of the best voices in pop, talks to Alex Klineberg about new music, what makes her tick and why she wouldn't be where she is today without her queer audience ) Billie Ray Martin describes herself as “a kid

from Hamburg’s red light district, who wanted to be a soul singer, but ended up playing repetitive machine music, while still trying to be a soul singer”. Billie came to prominence as the lead singer of Electribe 101 who scored a number of hits, most notably Talking With Myself. Their debut album, Electribal Memories, is a house classic that went on to inspire many artists. She went solo after the first Electribe album, scoring a massive hit with Your Loving Arms. Best known for her electro music, Billie has released several albums, including Deadline For My Memories and The Soul Tapes. She has many new releases to come, including never before released collaborations with Frankie Knuckles and the long awaited second Electribe 101 album. We caught up with her to find out more. How have you coped with the pandemic? I suppose, like everyone, I do my best. I feel more isolated from my fellow human beings than ever before, and not through physical distance, but from witnessing unquestioning attitudes, attacks on those who have differing opinions, acceptance of loss of rights, as long as oneself is favoured in the equation. It is now becoming harder to cope, but sanity keeps me afloat. The Frankie Knuckles remix of Talking With Myself is a true house classic. How did you come to work with him? Initially I suppose it was set up by the record company. But it soon became clear that Frankie put his heart and soul into any remix work he took on and hence a relationship developed. Frankie was a big fan of our group and even contacted the record company asking to remix

Diamond Dove. They refused. Later when I went solo he would be there, waiting backstage for me at six in the morning at Twilo, to say hi and offer to remix my songs. A beautiful soul. The Heading for the Night remixes he did sound amazing. How come they were never released? I understand that Inside Out had not been successful enough as a single (BBC Radio 1 had not scheduled it), and hence Electribe 101 were not considered as a priority group any longer. The Electribal Memories album has become iconic and the sound is so distinctive. Did that album fulfil your artistic vision? I don’t think we ever thought about it. The sound and production came naturally to us and when it was done, it was done. I remember the guys sending me their final mix of the album version of Inside Out and I called and said that I felt it was the most perfect thing they’d done thus far. With this album it was almost as if they’d waited for the right situation to put their combined skills to use and create something new and fresh and, while I can’t speak for them at this point, I can say that I feel proud of our effort.

Any plans to hit the road when travel restrictions are eased? I’m currently working on a few albums so I’m recording and constantly organising sessions. But who knows… Maybe when the first of those albums finally comes out I’ll have time for some shows. You have a crowdfunding project for three new albums, the next one being Gezeitenraum. What kind of music can we expect? It’s music played with a group of musicians, and I guess you could call it ambient, jazzy gospel… I don’t really know what it is. The album is about my childhood in Hamburg, gentrification, destruction, re-building, homelessness, freaks and hookers (of course!). The recording was delayed of course, but can now hopefully commence. Your dance records have always been popular on the queer scene. Do you have a particular affinity with LGBTQ+ audiences? Of course! I grew up in the red light district of Hamburg, where I already had contact with all sorts of different genders and gender-mixes. Half of my family wasn’t sure if they were male or female, so for me it was always normal to not even differentiate or place any importance on what gender someone was. As a musician I wouldn’t be where I am, maybe I wouldn’t even be around at all if it wasn’t for my LGBTQ+ audiences, which have been just beautiful throughout and continue to show up for me.

Will the second Electribe album finally be released? It will. Later this year or early next year. Pressing plants are backed up for vinyl and are not taking orders right now. I’m overseeing the mastering right now and the artwork is done. Lewis Mulatero, the original photographer of the first album, sent me all the original negatives from New Zealand, so the artwork is a dream come true.

Which of your solo albums are you most proud of? I am proud of The Soul Tapes, because it was fun producing and mixing it. I felt like I could do it suddenly. Of course Jon Tiven had produced the initial recording session so there was already a basis to work with. I do love most of those songs too. But I’m not sure I can say which recording I’m most proud of. I like some better than others.

You have a big, soulful voice. Is it safe to

D www.billieraymartin.com


Scene 39 voice over for the Disney Channel. I went along and didn’t think I stood a chance, but I got it! I did High School Musical and it was great. I really love dance music though. It was Sandra London who suggested I should speak to UK labels. I did one track with Energise Records. It did well and I did more stuff with them. I was then approached by other labels. I’ve worked with all kinds of different labels over the years and I’ve been very lucky, I have to say.”

DRAMA QUEEN

Alex Klineberg catches up with Allan Jay to discuss his latest release, Maisie Trollette and the ever-changing music industry ) Allan Jay, a Scottish recording artist with

a big presence on the LGBTQ+ dance music scene, found his niche as a live performer and his brand of feel good dance music is perfectly suited to the club and festival circuit You’ll often find him onstage with shirtless dancers. He even managed to stay busy in lockdown. Allan is releasing a brand new single, Drama Queen, which was produced by 7th Heaven and is a cover of Denmark’s 2007 Eurovision entry.

How has lockdown affected things? “Performance-wise it’s been hard. This track is being released through DMM records. I’ve also done some tracks for an American label. I managed to do bits and pieces when restrictions were eased. Live performance is going to be delayed a bit longer. As most of my live work is at festivals, clubs and Prides, they’re just not allowed to go ahead at all. My diary has had stuff in it, then it’s been empty and then it’s filled up again. Everyone is having to deal with it though.” The Maisie Trollette documentary recently premiered; what kind of response has it received? “They’re waiting to see what offers they get after a successful screening at the Sheffield Doc/Fest. I’ve only seen snippets of it while they were putting it together. I really want to sit down and watch it properly. I think it‘s important that people realise drag didn’t start with RuPaul. RuPaul is immensely talented – it’s a very different style of drag and there’s a place for it all. It’s good to show people the history of it; Maisie has been doing it for over 50 years.”

What drew him to cover that particular song? “The director of the Maisie documentary, Maisie: Britain’s Oldest Drag Artiste, wanted to use it. I collaborated with 7th Heaven who I’ve worked with before. I’d recorded the same song a while back. We re-recorded the vocals and did it as a brand new single. It’s camp, it’s over the top and it’s fun – I think we could all do with that. It’s probably over-the-top camp, let’s be honest! But it’s great for the documentary.” The accompanying music video is certainly camp. You can see him dancing around with some of the UK’s leading drag queens. “With the title Drama Queen, it lends itself to that type of thing. On the gay scene I’ve crossed paths with so many of the queens over the years, so I asked them. Between me and the video production company we got them all together and they all said yes right away.” The video was recorded at Legends. They recorded it after restrictions were lifted, obvs.

What’s your musical background? “I trained in musical theatre initially. I did an audition for

The music industry has changed dramatically in recent years; what’s it like being a recording artist in the age of streaming? “I think the industry has settled down but not really in a good place. Streaming services are great, but as artists we get very little from it. I love live performance and that’s how you earn your money. I think you get pennies or 0.8 pence for streams. You have to do live events so for me it’s great. If you land in the dance charts more venues want to book you. People curate their own music with playlists and we have less influence over it. People don’t buy records unless they want to frame them. Even downloads – they are 99p but by the time you divide it there’s not much left. On the other hand, it makes music more accessible. I suppose there are pros and cons.” Allan is very much a fixture on the scene and at Pride events. “I’m very fortunate in that I perform across the whole of the UK. I get booked from Edinburgh to Glasgow to Brighton to Blackpool. I feel very fortunate. I’m lucky in that many Prides have booked me many times over the last 15, even 20 years. I’ve got my dancers and I generally have a new record out so I get asked back. I like to sing ballads but I really love dance records. And these festivals need that type of music. “The industry can be tough for artists. They might have to record material that isn’t exactly what they want to do. I’m lucky in that I record songs I really want to do. I always put my own twist on a record. I then have new stuff to perform with my dancers to a crowd that loves it.” D For more info on the Maisie documentary, visit: www.propercharlieproductions.com/


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CLASSICAL NOTES BY NICK BOSTON

BRIGHTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL ) You can still catch the tail end of BREMF’s Midsummer Season of live outdoor events from with two final events.

HANNAH ELY

) The Monteverdi String Band, led by Oliver Webber, with soprano Hannah Ely, explore the dramatic possibilities of the madrigal, vocally and instrumentally in The Madrigal Reimagined (Sat, July 3 at 6pm & 8pm).

Then you can catch highlights from Francesca Caccini’s opera La Liberazione di Ruggiero performed by a cast and band of young performers, fresh from filming this first opera by a woman, in a fundraiser to close the summer season and help support the project (Sun, July 11 at 7pm). Both events are at the Royal Spa, Queen’s Park, Brighton. More info and tickets at www.bremf.org.uk – audience numbers are limited so book early.

REVIEWS

) Johannes Pramsohler & Ensemble Diderot Sonatas for Three Violins (Audax ADX13729). Johannes Pramsohler and his Ensemble Diderot have excelled themselves with their new recording of Sonatas for Three Violins. Pramsohler is joined by fellow violinists Roldán Bernabé and Simone Pirri, together with Gulrim Choï on cello and Philippe Grisvard on harpsichord and organ. The works included here cover most of the 17th century, with a few nudging into the early 18th. While a few of the composers are familiar, many

were new to me, such as Giovanni Battista Buonamente (1595-1642), whose beautiful Sonata seconda has the three violins taking over one after the other, picking up the pace with each section, building the intensity and level of ornamentation until the virtuosic canonic conclusion, and final emphatic thud from the organ. Another revelation was Johann Sommer’s (1570-1627) Der 8. Psalm, and its developing embellishment of a mournful chorale melody, with cascading violins imitating each other and dancing over the top of the sombre chorale chords. From more familiar composers, we have Henry Purcell’s (1658/9-1695) Three Parts upon a Ground and Pavane, with sighing violins, running scales and a brief solo harpsichord moment in the former, and darker, twisting harmonies reminiscent of moments from Dido & Aeneas in the latter. And Johann Pachelbel’s (16531706) ever familiar Canon, and the Gigue which often gets missed out, receives a blisteringly fast, and positively electric rendition here. The Canon flows like I’ve never heard it before, and all three violinists are clearly enjoying the highly virtuosic, rapid decoration at this speed. Also, the Gigue makes so much more sense, dancing away from the Canon’s bright tempo. Giovanni Gabrieli’s (c1555-1612) Sonata XXI is bright and brassy, and the contrast between the low pitch of the organ and the three high, ornamented violins, with stuttering and pulsing repeated notes rises to a glorious climax. The only work here for just the three violins, Johann Joseph Fux’s (c1660-1741) Sonata, is also an absolute gem, with the close harmony of the violins creating

intertwined suspensions and clashes, with some wonderful fugues, all the more complex because of the closeness of the three voices. The players’ precision and dexterity are particularly impressive here. This is a truly joyful disc, with frankly stunning performances by the three violinists and continuo players, and an inspired selection of music showcasing the attraction for wellknown and unfamiliar composers of writing for three violins. Highly recommended. ) John Carbon Inner Voices (Convivium CR058). Last year I reviewed a recording of piano works by American composer John Carbon (b.1951), then unknown to me, and I commented at the time that I wanted to seek out more of his music. Lo and behold, Convivium Records have come up with a twoCD survey of his orchestral works, titled Inner Voices, after his 1992 three-movement work which forms the centrepiece of the first disc. Carbon opens the work confidently with Tigers, although the mood quickly shifts into mystery, with brassy slides and a rather lumbering, menacing gait. Phantom comes next, with more mystery, lots of clanging percussion and brass outbursts. There’s a jazzy, Gershwinesque violin solo here too. Nightride ends the work, with quiet moments of shimmering expectation, constantly punctured by scary outbursts, and timps and snare drum dominate the clattering conclusion. There is a great variety in this collection, including three concertos, for violin, piano and double bass (the latter entitled Endangered Species). As with his piano works, Carbon creates atmospheres and images well in miniature. His suite of 14 sketches, Rasgos, inspired by Goya’s sketches in the Prado Museum in Madrid, for violin and chamber orchestra are particularly successful. Mostly just a minute or so long, these pieces are highly evocative and varied, and Carbon makes great use of the solo violin, as well as a wide range of other instruments to create different textures and atmospheres.

The harp often provides mystery, and brass instruments inject drama and urgency. He pairs the solo violin with the oboe for a lament, and with the flute and clarinet for a sultrier texture. His Ghost Town Sketches are similarly brief snapshots, and once again here there is a surprising variety of textures, with the solo clarinet here paired with viola, piano, and sliding string harmonics to create that variety. The larger-scale works tend to focus more on drama and tension, and Carbon makes use of full orchestral textures, with often harsh instrumentation for intensity and impact. However, when he allows more lyricism into the music, such as in the uneasy calm of the Violin Concerto’s central movement, there is real sensitivity too. Here, the yearning violin solo is beautifully underpinned by string harmonics at the end of the movement. And in the single movement, Piano Concerto, the central rhapsodic section, while still highly virtuosic, allows for some almost Romantic pianism to shine through. And somewhat surprisingly, it is in Endangered Species that the solo double bass is the most lyrical, really capturing the sense of yearning of a creature in peril. The performances here are all highly committed and virtuosic, from both soloists and orchestras. Overall, this is an excellent survey of Carbon’s varied output.

More info For more reviews, comment and events, visit: D nicks-classical-notes.blogspot. co.uk T @nickb86uk E nbclassical@hotmail.co.uk


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ART MATTERS

ALL THAT JAZZ

) Chris Hawkes is an artist who, having graduating in 2017 with a Fine Art Painting BA at University of Brighton, has since exhibited in London, Brighton and Liverpool, as well as completing a two-month residency in Chongqing, China, which culminated in the MORE + MORE + MORE exhibition. The work he developed in Chongqing having become very playful and loud, the result and reaction to exploration of a new place, photographing everything around him to become part of what was initially an alien culture to then muse upon and working from the images back in the safe confines of the studio.

REVIEWS

BY ENZO MARRA

Working with multiple visual languages, which blend figurative and abstract elements, which explore ideas of the sampled image, gender, taste and queer identity, all playing out simultaneously within each work. Heavily connected to pop art, they consciously acknowledge the role of signs and simulations within representation, deliberately re-engaging with the autobiographical and personal through the considered layers of accumulation. With a camp unapologetic aesthetic, Chris’ work presents a more femininely pronounced style as an act of rebellion against the potential machismo inherent in the act of painting. Chris works within a vibrant studio at Phoenix Art Space. Colour being the foundation for each of the works, with their restricted palette creating a structure for the artist to respond to with each subsequent painting stage. Combined with imagery sourced from research into art history and more personal photographs, the final achieved paintings provide indefinite potential conclusions despite the initial set of restrictions. With a mixture of different manners of painterly application, vivid colouration and linear portrayals of figurative juxtapositions, his works are equally informed by the manner of execution as well as the concepts that initially spurred them on into being. Having the initial drawings projected onto canvases before they are integrated into more abstract additional elements. They gain the appearance of sampled images, whether they are or not sourced in such a manner. The process allowing him to translate and mistranslate images into something that fits into a preferred visual language. The painting process informed by the hand applied collaging over canvas of all these collected elements. Their strong graphic presence, an indicator of how we all now live in an increasingly digital age. Chris uses imagery and references that relate to the busy world of Instagram, Photoshop and selfies, with all of the advertising and consumerist associations that accompany them. Sourced from photographs from his own life, as well as figures from Old Master paintings. The chosen imagery strongly relates to his queer and nonbinary identity, his work making steps to elevate a cultural understanding of queerness. His drive to ignore traditional gender roles and subvert them when necessary, informed by a well-reasoned combination of both being highly aware of visual gender signifiers, while spending most of his social life around people that reject traditional ideas of gender, naturally influencing his works.

BY SIMON ADAMS

) BILL EVANS Live At Ronnie Scott’s (Resonant). American pianist Bill Evans is best known for his work on Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and for his stunning gigs at New York’s Village Vanguard in 1961. But in July 1968 he and his trio of Eddie Gomez on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums settled into London’s famous Ronnie Scott’s club for a four-week-residency, the highlights of which are collected together on this two-CD set. The material is a mix of Evans originals and Songbook standards, played by Evans in his typically rhapsodic, modal style. Bass and drums work as independent drivers of each song, DeJohnette particularly impressive given that he was only 25 at the time. Sound quality is a bit thin, but this is a live set that gradually draws you in as if you were in the audience. One person who was in that audience was Miles Davis, and within a few weeks he had poached DeJohnette for his own band. That’s show business! ) SARAH MOULE Stormy Emotions: Songs by Fran Landesman (33Jazz). Fran Landesman should need no introduction for, as a New York lyricist and poet, she was unsurpassed. She liked to shock: her luxury item when she appeared on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs was a supply of cannabis seeds. There were complaints. In 1994, while living in London, she met the composer and pianist Simon Wallace, and collaborated with him until her death in 2011. As Landesman explained: “I got lucky meeting Simon. That he married Sarah Moule was a bonus. She’s the jazz singer par excellence.” On this fine set, Moule sings 12 Landesman songs, all the music written by Wallace. Landesman’s lyrics require careful diction, but Moule delivers that perfectly, knowing when to hold back, to stretch out a phrase, to sing the sense and not just the line. A classy set of witty, poignant songs. ) RON MILES Rainbow Sign (Blue Note). American trumpeter Ron Miles usually comes up with something interesting to say, often in company with that great electric guitarist of all sounds Americana, Bill Frisell. On his new set, accompanied once again by Frisell and an all-star rhythm section of Jason Moran on piano, Thomas Morgan on bass and Brian Blade on drums, Miles lays down a set of funky, quirky songs that sort of shift along with an easy lilt to them. Miles’ trumpet tone is warm and burnished, his delivery measured and refined, a good fit with Frisell’s off-beam contributions and sonic contortions. Personally, I could have heard more of Jason Moran, always a pianist with a point to make, but I quibble, for this is a fine set from a strong band.


Malika Berlin, Germany Photography/words: JJ Maurer i @thunder.khat D www.thunderkhat.com “I am focusing my work mostly on single portraits. Most of the time they have a very strong, rigid look, focusing on the empowered subject, creating a very intimate relationship between the pictured and the observer. This is Malika, a close friend of mine. They are a queer dancer and an activist from Copenhagen.”


Book Reviews by Eric Page ) Chloe O Davis The Queens’ English (£14.99, Square Peg). This is very well researched guide to the LGBTQ+ community’s contributions to the English language - an intersectional, inclusive, illustrated glossary featuring more than 800 terms created by and for queer culture. It’s a fun, engaging and comprehensive guide to modern gay slang, queer theory terms, and playful colloquialisms that define and celebrate. This modern dictionary provides an in-depth look at queer language, including terms influenced by poet Sappho, leather scenes, New York’s underground queer ball culture and up-to-date lexicography from RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s designed with a breath-taking collection of icon and colours that makes the book a real pleasure to use and includes historical insights into the construction and influences that shaped queer language, including the linguistic importance of pronouns, gender identity, Stonewall, and more. Every time I opened the book I learned something new, enjoying turning the pages of this celebration of queer history, identity, and the limitless imagination of the LGBTQ+ community. Editor Chloe O Davis is to be commended for this stylish and informative addition to exploring modern queer languages, how they get used, and where they come from. ) Miguel M Morales, Bruce Owens Grimm & Tiff Ferentini Fat and Queer (£14.99, Jessica Kingsley Publishers). We’re here. We’re queer. We’re fat. This one-of-a-kind collection of prose and poetry radically explores the intersection of fat and queer identities, with a superb collection of new voices,

and some established queer and trans writers. The stories in the book are filled with passion and charm, avoiding cliché and embracing a Rubenesque radical revolution, not just marking out territory but building new spaces, not taking away with critique but giving with generous warm-hearted constructive and illuminating narratives which offer real opportunities to celebrate and love yourself. All of you. With voluptuous voices as diverse as the big bodies celebrated in these stories we experience some seriously intimate stuff – not all of it easy to read, but each story written with a connective grace which puts the author firmly in control. You read it and think, ‘I so understand what that feels like’. I enjoy a good anthology and one which highlights the experiences and adventures of anyone who has to navigate the body-shaming highways of modern life, before

turning off to the sedate byways of homo queer fat folx is a treat to find. The trio of editors have selected stories, poems, prose and a rather delightful stream of consciousness which say, loud and proud, hey I’m here, and fat, come love it with me. ) Tom Rasmussen First Comes Love (£14.99, Bloomsbury Publishing). This is a charming book, by turns funny, educational, historically illuminating, jawdropping and written with a warm and informative style which delighted me. Author Rasmussen, who has quite the interesting life outside of writing, has spent rather a lot of time obsessing over and researching, interviewing, attending, examining, asking and wondering about marriage, and lays out some of their findings in this seriously funny look at the way we’ve changed our attitudes to this most ancient of institutions. Although droll, Rasmussen is relentlessly respectful, allowing us to draw our own conclusion of some of the challenging ideas and people they come across in their adventures into matrimony, certainly pausing and letting us consider contradiction or confusion but always bringing it back to personal experience and real people, taking about their own lives and how they build relationships which works for them. All the while offering up a side-line in personal observation which pushed this book a little further into ‘I love reading this’ territory. We are asked to consider marriage as an achievement, a compromise, a selling-out, a practical solution and given experiences of authentic lives of what marriage means to a range of people across the spectrum of sexuality and class, and what the future looks like for this most historic and universal

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of institutions. Rasmussen holds up this glass bowl of performative social affirmation, turns it around in their careful hands, letting the light of a rather crystal-sharp and witty mind bounce off the deeply incised carved patterns, pointing out heritage and novelty, wear and provenance, and then settles it down again, with a glint in their eye and a ‘what now?’. First Comes Love is a welcome, queer-centred examination of marriage and the people who choose to embrace it, and a few who never, ever, will. ) Candas Jane Dorsey The Adventures of Isabel (£8.99, Pushkin Press). Not to be confused with the Ogden Nash poem, although very much in the bonkers celebratory style of his prose and radically mind-popping daftness, this is a delightful entertaining book from (one guesses the first of) the Epitome Apartments Mysteries. Author Dorsey adores words, pokes, tickles, makes them perform

these incredibly funny feats of phraseology and all the while packs in the narrative tension. I adore a writer who’s both clever and interesting, and combines it with a hefty slap from the bizarre, and Dorsey does just this. Positioning their queer female protagonist at the heart of this devilishly intricate story, we get to enjoy a particularly good murder mystery while examining some serious social issues from a queer perspective. It’s like Thursday Next on mushrooms or Arthur Dent on poppers, wild, daft, silly, laugh-out-loud, phrase-stealingly wonderful, dripping in ironic posturing but with a core of hard, solid reality which anchors this most wild of tales firmly in reality. Loved it.


KEITH JARRETT

NEIL BARTLETT

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MAINSTREAM: An Anthology of Stories from the Edges Alex Klineberg talks to Nathan Evans from publisher Inkandescent about a new anthology of short stories ) Inkandescent is an indie publisher founded

by Justin David and Nathan Evans in 2016. Its tagline is ‘by outsiders for outsiders’; its focus is on writers the mainstream often neglects. Its latest publication is an anthology of short stories from a wide range of voices. Some are well established, others are emerging; all the writers are considered outside the mainstream. The collection is called Mainstream – with a line through ‘main’. We spoke to Nathan to find out more: “The vast majority of books are geared towards a straight, white readership. A big report from Goldsmiths and Spread the Word looked into that. The report underlined what we’d been finding. Our anthology brings together different under-represented authors. LGBTQ+, BAME, working class, etc. It’s about showing that we’re all in this together – hence the title of the book.” How did you choose the writers? “Half the writers are established; they’ve been published before. We approached them first – people like Neil Bartlett and Kit De Waal. Some we already knew and some we reached out to. The other half were selected by open submissions. That was last summer. We had a team of readers who went through those. Several hundred submissions came through and we chose 12.” There are 30 stories overall. “There’s a variety of styles of writing in the book. In curating the collection we tried to create a journey for the reader. A journey from childhood through to old age. Some of the early stories cover childhood experiences. The first story by Kathy Hoyle is about growing up in the north of England in a working-class community. Philip Ridley wrote the last story – it’s about an older gay man caring for his mother, who may have dementia. There’s all the points in between. Neil Bartlett’s is about the

first sexual experience a 15-year-old has with an older man in the 1970s. There are coming of age pieces and coming out pieces. There are stories that deal with clubbing – remember that?! There’s stuff about finding a partner, partnerships breaking down. Polis Loizou’s story touches on Instagram hook-ups. ”There was no theme. Everyone sent their stories in and every story is different. But placing them together, we tried to bring out the connections between them.” Have any comparable anthologies been published before? “What’s new about this anthology is that we’ve put different groups of people together in the same anthology. There was an anthology a few years ago called Common People – that was all working-class writers. Also, The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla – made up of stories by BAME writers.” Of all the stories submitted, which one surprised him the most? “Neil McKenna is an older gay writer. His story will shock some people. Let’s say it’s very frank sexually. It’s called The Dick of Death. There’s a story by Bidisha. Her piece is about female genital mutilation but it’s told in a sort of fairytale style, so that takes some of the shock out of it. It’s a hard-hitting piece but it’s a really good story.” Selling fiction can be tricky. It’s never entirely clear what is and isn’t commercial. Do anthologies sell? “Anthologies can actually sell quite well. They are a calling card. We’re a young press and we’re building our reputation. We saw it as strategic in terms of getting our name out there and it has potential to sell. Some of the anthologies I mentioned earlier sold in very healthy numbers.” We also spoke to some of the writers. Neil

Bartlett wrote a story called Twickenham: “One of the main narratives that was drilled into my head when I was a gay child – which was back in the 1970s – was that I needed to be scared: of the world, of other queers, and especially of myself. With this story, I wanted to tell people about how the other thing happened; about how, as a randy 15-year-old, I started to discover myself, in bed, with a much older man. I guess I want to open people up to the idea that despite all the changes – because let’s face it, 2021 is a pretty different place to 1974 – it’s still true that whatever age you are, and whatever kind of queer you need to be, the day when you start to really own your body – that’s the day when you can begin your journey towards truly being yourself in the world,” he said. Keith Jarrett discusses his contribution, It May Concern: “My story revolves around a repeat hook up – and the unknowns between the two people involved. In the opening scene, the protagonist is wondering why his lover is so mysterious, and what he might be hiding, and it takes off from there. There’s much room for comedy, tragedy and projection. Maybe I’ve been writing this story in my head ever since I saw one of those Never Kissed a Tory stickers, but I wanted to move it beyond capital p ‘Politics’ to a more comprehensive musing on ‘unknowing’. I tend to return to the same territories in my work, consciously and otherwise, and so race, sexuality, religion and belonging are all undercurrents.” Organising a book launch during a pandemic is a tricky business. Mainstream will have a launch party on July 1 at Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall. Nathan tells us what we can expect: “About half the writers will be there. Those who are in or around London can come. Six of them will be reading. A handful will be sending in video messages. Videos from Prague to Northern Ireland. It’s a mini celebration. It’s been quite difficult to plan live events. Normally we’d launch in a bookshop but they are not possible at the moment. It’ll be a salon-style event. “The book happened because we put it on Unbound, the crowd funding publishing platform. There are lots of supporters to thank. Their names are listed in the back of the book.” ) For more info, visit:

www.inkandescent.co.uk/mainstream


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come towards the end. We discover the hidden gay scene of Accra in Ghana, a country where it’s been illegal to be gay since the 1860s. “Chatting with locals in Accra – the country’s capital and largest city – we found one exception to this rule. During the week-long Chale Wote Street Art Festival, the LGBTQ community becomes slightly more visible.” We learn about “the infamous Cairo 52 incident in 2001, during which 52 men were arrested on-board the floating gay nightclub Queen Boat on the Nile river for ‘obscene behaviour’”. We also find out about the notorious gig by Lebanese LGBTQ+ band Mashrou’ Leila. While performing in Cairo, someone in the crowd raised a rainbow flag. They band were banned from ever returning to Egypt and the flag waver was tortured.

SASSY PLANET

Alex Klineberg reviews a new book, which offers up the latest on what’s hot in 40 cities around the world ) We do indeed live on a sassy planet,

although some places are more sassy than others. Some cities spring to mind right away, such as London, Berlin, New York and San Francisco. You have party islands like Mykonos and party towns like Brighton. Goodness me, we could go on! Before the internet took over our lives, gay travellers explored the world armed with copies of Patroc, the gay travel guide. The pages of that book no doubt mediated many encounters. Now the internet gives us all the information we need, and also lots of information we don’t need. Patroc no longer has a print edition. It’s refreshing to know that gay travel books are still being written. Mr Hudson Explores: The Gay Man’s Travel Companion was published in 2019. In early September 2021, Sassy Planet: A Queer Guide to 40 Cities will be published. The book was written by David Dodge, Harish Bhandari, and Nick Schiarizzi. I’ve read an advance copy and can confirm: it would be a great addition to your library. The risk with printed travel books is that they inevitably go out of date. Clearly, Penguin Random House has figured that out. This book is not just a listings guide. It features interviews with LGBTQ+ business owners, Drag

Race alumni, brilliant photos and historical information. LGBTQ+ elders give their take on how their cities have changed. You’ll discover the best places to go out in Mexico City and where to go cruising in Hawaii. Find out if it’s true that Nashville’s “gay bars are legally required to employ at least two Dolly Parton drag queens at all times in case one breaks a stiletto”. Is it true that everyone in New York is gay? The authors take a deep dive and find out. Sassy Planet gives you a fully rounded view of a destination. Bars may open and close, but the essence of a city can remain largely unchanged for decades – even centuries. Travel books no longer work purely as storehouses of information. They have to tell a story as well. This is also a good book for people with very short attention spans. You can flick through it, enjoy the pictures, read an interview with an Athenian drag queen, and then spend the rest of the day on your phone. Closer to our own shores, the authors note that as a “powerful real estate industry relentlessly attempts to turn East London into one gigantic glass-box luxury condo, a vibrant and creative culture persists here”. The most interesting chapters in the book

Moving over to Lagos, Nigeria, we discover that, despite Lagos’ huge fashion, arts and cinema industries, it’s a deeply hostile place for LGBTQ+ people. Homophobic laws are actively enforced in Nigeria, “thus pushing its queer scene deeper underground”. We encounter Harry Itie, a local journalist and activist. He says: “The movement is becoming more active. We are [involved on] all fronts: pop culture, media, politics, lobbying, and litigation. Organisations are springing up in different areas. We need stronger alliances with the global queer community, and [to] realise that we all win together.” Over in Jordan, we discover that homosexuality was decriminalised in 1951. We had to wait until 1967 for only partial decriminalisation in Britain. However, although it may technically be legal in Jordan, being openly gay comes with serious social stigma. So, we learn that this planet may well be sassy. In some places it’s very sassy. Elsewhere, people are struggling to live as their true selves even behind closed doors. Sassy Planet: A Queer Guide to 40 Cities will be available in all good bookshops from September 7, 2021.


BRUNO V. PHOTO BY LIAM CAMPBELL

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QUEER IN BRAZIL

Liam Campbell, editor and chief photographer at Elska magazine, tells us about his new book which shares the bodies and voices of queer São Paulo ) Elska magazine, a publication dedicated

to sharing the bodies and voices of queer communities around the world, has put the spotlight on São Paulo for its latest book.

Shot last November-December, just as Brazil was starting to reopen and usher in a post-Covid summer season, a city full of hope and pent-up queer energy was revealed.

Although a third wave was yet to hit Brazil and the world, the issue’s release comes now at a perfect time as much of the world is seeing brighter days.

Inside, readers are invited to travel virtually to the city and get to know a cross-section of local gay, bi, queer and trans men through intimate photography and personal storytelling.

Many locals were keen to take part in the Elska project, to let the world discover what Brazil has to offer, and to declare São Paulo as ‘one of the gayest cities on Earth’.

“We’ve taken Elska to 33 cities around the world so far but nowhere did we have as much interest among local guys to take part as in São Paulo,” says Elska editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell. “People were just so easy-going and proud to share their stories and show their bodies in front of the camera.

VINICIOS R. PHOTO BY LIAM CAMPBELL

“We chose to visit Brazil for its famed diversity, which we found in spades, but we didn’t expect the locals to be so proud of their diverse nation and welcoming community. It makes me proud just to have met them, and I look forward to returning to Brazil one day soon and finding more of what this amazing country offers.” Elska São Paulo is divided into 11 chapters, each dedicated to a different local guy. These chapters include a selection of photographs by Liam, shot in a spirit of honesty and spontaneity. The men were photographed in their own homes and in their own neighbourhoods, dressed in whatever clothes they want or in nothing at all, revealing their personal style and what’s underneath. This issue


In addition to the photography, each chapter contains a story. Each participant was invited to write about anything from their lives as long as it’s something true, and these Paulistas shared a wide range of topics that invite you into their lives and into São Paulo life in general. Some of the story highlights include Murillo J’s description of a Paulista nightclub full of creativity and free-spiritedness, and how they tried to adapt it for the Covid era; Rodrigo K’s ode to anime, especially its prevalent homoeroticism and how it helped inspire him to become who he is today; Bruno V’s tale of his transition, including devastating setbacks postsurgery alongside a spirit of gratitude and much hope for the future; and Mike F’s chronology on how he discovered and then pursued his dream to become a dancer.

“We chose to visit Brazil for its famed diversity, which we found in spades, but we didn’t expect the locals to be so proud of their diverse nation and welcoming community” Elska São Paulo is 212 pages and is available from a select group of shops around the world as well as for order online from the Elska website. Also available is a special companion zine called Elska Ekstra São Paulo, containing five more Brazilian guys and their stories for whom there weren’t enough pages for in the main mag, plus behind the scenes tales and bonus out-takes. Also inside is a special feature on how Elska got started following three photoshoots in Incheon, Korea. D For more info, visit: www.elskamagazine.com

MURILLO J. PHOTO BY LIAM CAMPBELL

is one of Elska’s most naked editions, and the sexiest yet, but not by intention, just because the guys the Elska team happened to meet in São Paulo were themselves so naturally sexy and free.


PICCADILLY

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AT HOME

WITH MICHAEL HOOTMAN ) PICCADILLY (BFI Blu-ray). This prototypical showbiz melodrama is one of the last British silent films. It fuses German expressionism and a marvellously campy storyline with some deadly serious performances and it even manages to be a critique of racism – plus

there’s an excellent cameo from a thenunknown Charles Laughton as a pernickety diner. Club owner Valentine Wilmot is in a relationship with his star attraction Mabel (a luminous Gilda Gray). After Laughton complains about a dirty plate in the restaurant, Wilmot comes across Shosho (the charismatic Anna May Wong) dancing in the scullery. With revenue falling an ‘exotic’ dancer may be the thing to rescue his club, and perhaps it’s also time for Wilmot to get a new girlfriend. The sets and photography are astonishing, and because of its late date the film eschews the over-the-top acting style that was prevalent in most silent movies, opting for the most part for something more naturalistic. There’s a great scene where Wilmot and Shosho visit an East End pub and a white girl dancing with a black man elicits some ugly behaviour from

the locals – though it’s interesting that Wilmot and Shosho seem to not to attract this kind of unpleasant interest. Piccadilly also has an excellent jazz-infused score from Neil Brand which, while it never exactly takes a back seat, certainly enhances the whole experience. ) THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS (homecinema.curzon.com). This bleak psychodrama opens with David (Clayne Crawford) contemplating killing his wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi) and her new boyfriend with a gun. Although we’re introduced to David as some kind of psychopath, the film reveals him to be a basically decent person and a good father. Similarly his wife is manifestly a decent person too. Interestingly, some reviewers see her character as coming off the worse, though even the time she apologises about her behaviour I couldn’t have explained exactly why she was in the wrong. The film has an almost continual threat of violence hanging in the air – this is aided by a weird soundtrack which takes the form of sounds of gunshot and strange mechanical noises which sound like instruments of torture. Violence does happen but it comes from a completely unexpected quarter and adds further questions in itself. The performances are all absolutely convincing – some improvised scenes with the couple’s kids are not only brilliant, they also

help reduce the weight of dread which hangs over most of the movie. It’s as ambiguous and perhaps divisive a work as something like David Mamet’s Oleanna but it would be hard to deny it’s a great example of modern American cinema. ) PLAY FOR TODAY: VOL 2 (BFI Blu-ray). Probably the most famous play of the six in this boxed set is Jim Allen’s The Spongers – its provocative title card alone (the play’s name with a picture of the Queen and Prince Philip) guarantees it a place in TV history. It’s set against the backdrop of the Silver Jubilee and focuses on Pauline (Christine Hargreaves) negotiating the vagaries of the benefits system. It has a great documentary feel which is perhaps down to director Roland Joffe getting his actors to improvise. I felt the melodramatic ending overstates the case and The Spongers would be more powerful without it, but I may be in a minority on this. Despite being full of jokes I didn’t understand, The Elephants’ Graveyard succeeds on its charm and its underplayed supernatural underpinning. Two idlers, played by Billy Connolly and Jon

Morrison, meet by chance in the woods and develop a rapport based on perhaps having a number of shared experiences. The same writer’s Just a Boys’ Game is a masterpiece: set on the same council estates as The Spongers or any number of Ken Loach films, its lack of didacticism instantly sets it apart from other gritty kitchen-sinkers. Frankie Miller plays Jake McQuillan, who lives with his dying extough guy grandfather, a man he holds equally in contempt and awe. Jake bunks off work with his mate Dancer, drinks and gets into fights. It’s sort of a mini-Western played out in Scotland – the final line is as funny as it is horrible and makes for a perfect end. Other plays look at the anti-apartheid movement in England, how decent individuals can commit barbarous acts when following orders even in England and an education double-bill features two teachers held hostage by an unbalanced pupil.


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56 Gscene

CRAIG’S THOUGHTS

Wisdom Not Wanted or Queer Is Here And Always Has Been. By Craig Hanlon-Smith @craigscontinuum ) I recently took a Sunday stroll with a young gay woman I used to teach. Needless to say she is now 33 and I am, well, older than that. Following our meandering and obligatory selfie she posted the image on social media along with a statement proclaiming to “respect our queer elders”. I had, until that moment, never considered myself an elder but gracefully acknowledge the position in the spirit it was gifted to me. This was the second such meeting with a former student that week (the former also now in his thirties) and both calm discursive occasions seemed a fitting way to acknowledge and indeed celebrate Pride Month in a different way. Perhaps I had not considered myself an elder as there have always been, and indeed remain, those who I consider to be the elders of our community. It is an interesting concept to me that I would be perceived in that way and indeed that I am stepping into such shoes at all. Perhaps acceptance comes with age.

“I would hope that all my ‘elders’ have as much sought the friendship in me over the past 30 years as I them, I certainly felt that they have” I have always had an interest in older gay men, and before anyone sneers smuttily, I absolutely mean in the spirit of interest and wisdom. As a 20-something I was taken under the wing of a gay couple ten years my senior and, although not technically elders in their thirties, they were definitely mine and I never ceased to be fascinated by the stories of their twenties in London and across the gay hotspots of Europe. I found the idea that they had been living these exploratory lives while I was locked in my teenage Rapunzellike tower of grimness as exciting as it was riveting. They took me to bars and clubs that by the early ‘90s had lost their contemporary relevance both through the impact of the

AIDS epidemic and the gravitational pull of Soho, itself now a faded tourist trap of what once was. I adored James Ledward, our former editor and friend. He was a human encyclopaedia of relevance, and his assessment of contemporary trials would be wound back to age-old community gripes and local political stalemates, listening to him helped the world to make sense to me. My dear friend Michael, some 30 years my senior, is a delight to be around and talking to him and others is not about reminiscing. It is absolutely about comfort and confidence in the present. I would hope that all my ‘elders’ have as much sought the friendship in me over the past 30 years as I them, I certainly felt that they have. I am not so sure how much the elder is a position of worth in the long term. When my elders at whatever age took me into their care and confidence, I believe they recognised a younger them in the me they sought to befriend. I do not recognise a community much more than ten years behind me, nor do I see it recognise me. That is not to criticise ‘the youth of today’ or any other demographic of our broadening communities, it is to notice and accept the shift. There are some clear links. The addition of the Q on to the end of LGBT was not the invention of the word queer. ‘Queer As F***’ t-shirts in the ‘80s were radical, it was an ownership of the descriptor so oft used to offend. Nor is gender non-conformity as revolutionary a development as its detractors would have us believe. There has been much made of the ‘coming out’ recently of the US NFL player Carl Nassib. His revelation and simultaneous public donation of thousands of dollars to an LGBTQ+ youth charity cited across the world’s media as a turning point for men. Just wait a minute. It is the decades of men who

were deemed camp, effeminate, flamboyant, fey, limp-wristed, queer, in-drag, who dug the foundations that Carl Nassib’s daisy is now frolicking in, not to mention the trans and lesbian communities who are essential components of that historical route. I do not wish to undo or dismantle Mr Nassib’s personal journey. I will not, however, allow without a fight or at least a screaming match, the heteronormative sports world and other seemingly machismo ‘gay’ individuals to smack the queer boys and girls of yesteryear out of the way while they tear over the finish line to snatch the prize. Remember the years when you had to be a half-naked gay teasing straight boy to get on the cover of Attitude magazine? Or a gay boy who looked like one? Not in 2021 sugar tits. Get back in your locker and ask us to let you out when we’re ready. I wonder who his elders are?

“I adored James Ledward, our former editor and friend. He was a human encyclopaedia of relevance, and his assessment of contemporary trials would be wound back to age-old community gripes and local political stalemates, listening to him helped the world to make sense to me” Any Pride ‘events’ this year are on a much smaller scale than many of us have become used to. I welcome this forced change. A few years ago, another gay man of a similar age shared with me how much more he enjoyed Trans Pride as it reminded him of what mattered ‘back in the day’ when we knew what it was all for. I hope the elders at these smaller gatherings in 2021 are afforded not only the kindness they deserve, but the ears of the young who defy definition with a multitude of definitions of their own. The frustrations, irritations and disagreements of today are only under discussion at all because of all that went before. Engage it, embrace it, and know it. Our shared history can only ever be described as a continuum.


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ROGER’S RUMINATIONS

STUFF & THINGS

Choices, choices

Fun Express

) The debate about whether homosexuality is a choice has been activating opinions for years, from my point there is no debate, I was born like this. I have always known that I am gay, but whether it was a choice, that’s an interesting question.

) So, it’s July then! That rocked up fairly sharpish... once March came round it’s been full speed ahead with those months, hasn’t it? April appeared being all spring like, then May with its rain and the wonderful return of Eurovision, then June with its hints of summer and pub gardens and now Kerblam! It's July. The sweet, sweet passage of time. Supermarkets will be selling pointless crap for Halloween soon…

BY ROGER WHEELER

How does someone become homosexual? Did something go wrong at birth? These and other completely idiotic questions are still being asked of gay people, there seems to be no sensible answer that the bigots will accept, once they have formed an opinion it’s almost impossible to shift them. Words like ‘choice’, ‘preference’ and ‘lifestyle’ are loaded because they’ve been used to oppress sexual minorities. Can sexuality be ‘fluid’, a relatively new term, at least to me; this raises the whole question of bisexuality. Does such a thing actually exist? To my knowledge and to my own personal experience I don’t think that it does.

“How does someone become homosexual? Did something go wrong at birth? These and other completely idiotic questions are still being asked of gay people, there seems to be no sensible answer that the bigots will accept” Many years ago, peer group pressure almost forced me to have sex with several women, at the time I knew quite well that this wasn’t for me and for some time I felt guilty about giving these lovely ladies a completely false idea of who I was. Culture can affect views and opinions on homosexuality. As I have written about before, in some societies homosexuality is accepted, in others it is frowned upon but tolerated, and in 70 countries it is a serious criminal offence, possibly punishable by death. Would the citizens of those countries actually choose this way of life? Obviously not, they have no choice. When I was growing up in the ’60s I was aware of my attraction to men but had to hide the fact and pretend. At that time I would certainly not have chosen to be gay. There are many scientific papers written on this subject, none of which seem to be able to reach a conclusion, at least one that satisfies my own personal view. Acceptance of ‘our lifestyle choice’ has even reached the level of Harry Potter; Dumbledore, who was gay, was in love with Grindelwald until he discovered who he really was. This is a gay storyline in one of the most popular children’s books of all time; admittedly it is played down but make no mistake it’s there. There are many fascinating theories and questions, for instance are you gay if you have same-sex desire, but never act on it? What if you’re a man who has had sex with other men, but you’re married to a woman and don’t identify as gay? In my very inexpert opinion if you have any sort of sexual desire for the same-sex then you are homosexual and simply living a lie. This opinion I know will possibly upset many who think that living this life is OK so long as no one gets hurt. Eventually someone will be hurt, it is inevitable. Despite the large body of opinion, usually religion-based, that homosexuality is both unnatural and immoral, the ‘choice’ argument is simply a myth. In 2011 Lady Gaga said it all with her rallying call, Born this Way, but we should never forget I Am What I Am.

BY JON TAYLOR

And so, summer approaches with its (hopefully) long balmy evenings and everyone being on heat. I’ve kinda been on heat for months already. Being single over lockdown has not exactly been a wonderful experience. There’s been a distinct lack of physical activities. No itches have been scratched. It’s been interesting to hear of couples having to put up with each other due to them both working from home. And how they’ve been getting on each others nerves! Bless... ‘How dreadful it must be to have to spend more time with your soul mate,’ I’d think. ‘How awful to be mildly irritated by your life partner,’ and so on. I appreciate it might have grated for some couples to spend so much time together without seeing other people in any capacity but it did irritate me a bit as I could see no one at all!

”Everybody’s different and so everyone had their own moment to jump back on the saddle. Or jump onto something” Coming back out of it all and coming back to the, let’s call it the ‘dating world’ for discretion, was a tricky manoeuvre. When to come back onto the apps, when to start meeting people, when to start hooking up again and so on. And as for being indoors with someone either in a dating capacity or something more full on, that was a whole new kettle of fish. Actually, let’s clarify that. Coming back to the apps wasn’t a thing as I never really left them. Was still on them, perusing away, checking out so and so, looking at such and such but with hardly any desire or motivation to do anything about it. I think that was ‘The Fear’. The fear of Covid, and what might happen if you did meet someone. The not knowing if things were safe. This went on for weeks, nay months.

“It's been interesting to hear of couples having to put up each other due to them both working from home. And how they've been getting on each others nerves! Bless...” There were obviously guys, single or otherwise, who were meeting up throughout it all which is fine, that‘s up to them, it was when I was going to come back onto this moveable feast that was the question. Everybody‘s different and so everyone had their own moment to jump back on the saddle. Or jump onto something. I had to wait things out a bit, bide my time, see when I wasn‘t so racked with anxiety about the whole thing. And Lo, the time did come. And so I haven't exactly leapt aboard the Fun Express per se but have joined a nearby carriage with a few close friends. I'm using too many metaphors now so need to draw this feast, train, saddle discussion to a conclusion. But yes, I’m back on it and boy does it feel good!


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13 million+ subscribers, sparking joy among many of her LGBTQ+ fans. However, while she eventually decided to come out of her own accord, she made that decision after blackmailers threatened to out her first.

RAE’S REFLECTIONS

What’s the big deal about coming out? By Rachel Badham ) For a lot of LGBTQ+ people, coming out, particularly to loved ones, is one of the most nerve-wracking things they will ever experience in their lifetime. I don’t think anyone would dispute that possibly the worst response to openly expressing yourself to another is outright rejection and abuse, but a response which seems to be becoming increasingly common is questioning why we go through the process of coming out in the first place - after all, why can’t we just be people and not label ourselves? I’ve been seeing comments like this a fair amount on social media, often in response to a celebrity or public figure coming out, and they’re almost becoming more frequent than comments which are downright derogatory. The majority of these likely aren’t intended to be malicious whatsoever, but they do stem from the idea, or misconception in my opinion, that it is inherently bad to attach labels to people and that doing so is constricting and unprogressive. This argument isn’t entirely illogical, as certain labels or ways in which labels are used (or rather forced on to someone) can be limiting, but in our society, nearly everyone is automatically labelled as straight and cisgender from birth. Coming out has been a necessity for so many LGBTQ+ people to feel liberated from constriction, with scientists suggesting in a 2013 study that coming out may actually reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety in some people, and concluded coming out should not be debated, but should be considered as a “matter of public health to facilitate self-acceptance and dispel stigma”. LGBTQ+ visibility has been propelled by more members of our community coming out, and we continue to see this now. An increasing number of public figures are openly discussing their sexuality and/or gender identity, which I still believe is as important as ever. One instance of this which has stood out to me in 2021 so far

was singer and dancer JoJo Siwa coming out as pansexual and revealing that she has a girlfriend. I had never been a follower of JoJo’s career as her target demographic is predominately young children, but I know if I was seven rather than 22 I would absolutely adore her music and probably want all of her merch. After coming out, she delivered a message to her fans at the GLAAD Media Awards, saying: “You can be in love with whoever you want to be in love with, and it should be celebrated.”

“LGBTQ+ people are constantly pigeon-holed by our society and while for some people, labels can be incredibly empowering, denying someone their label of choice, or rather decision not to label themselves, is just as demeaning” To have heard this when I was a child from someone like JoJo, who has a strong connection with younger audiences, would have been life-altering, and I most certainly would have spent much less time contemplating the validity of my identity in my teenage years. Coming out is significant on both a personal level and in terms of its broader implications for all of us, LGBTQ+ or not; visibility is a testament to our community’s refusal to be silenced. However, it is vital to distinguish between someone coming out of their own accord and someone being outed against their will. Arguably one of the biggest coming out moments of 2020 was when beauty influencer Nikkie de Jager came out as trans to her

As a long-time follower of Nikkie, I highly commend her decision to take back her autonomy and come out on her own terms, but it is saddening that any LGBTQ+ person should ever experience the threat or process of being outed. Coming out is so deeply personal, and having the choice of if and when to come out being taken away can have devastating consequences, as seen after Tyler Clementi’s suicide. On the other side of the coin, a lot of LGBTQ+ people would rather not come out loudly and prefer not to label their identity, instead just living as they want to without necessarily declaring it in a way that fits the typical coming out narrative. And of course, while some are criticised for making a ‘big deal’ about their coming out, others are attacked for not doing so, or not assigning a label to themselves. Some people contend with the increasing use of umbrella terms such as ‘queer’ or the notion of people not assigning a specific label to themselves. As someone who loves to refer to themselves as queer, I find this just as problematic as criticising someone for coming out loudly and sharing their labels. LGBTQ+ people are constantly pigeon-holed by our society and while for some people, labels can be incredibly empowering, denying someone their label of choice, or rather decision not to label themselves, is just as demeaning. I think it’s most important to bear in mind that someone’s way of coming out and describing their identity is theirs, and theirs alone. All LGBTQ+ people deserve to have the coming out story which they want, and coming out as loudly or as quietly as you want is perfectly okay. The only thing which isn’t okay is belittling someone for their decision. • Study demonstrates health benefits of coming out of the closet – University of Montreal, Psychosomatic Medicine, 2013


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NETTY’S WORLD

HOMELY HOMILY

Sock it to ’em

Queer reads

) I noticed that Sock it to ’em ) What does ‘gender’ actually mean these days? I know it’s never had anything to do with sexual orientation. One definition is that there is physically male and female of our species and this DNA decision on a cellular level is immutable. Maybe the future will see an ability to alter the chromosomes that make us, but until then, we’re all stuck with XX, XY, or very rarely a true hermaphrodite may have both. Lucky things.

) There is no doubt that a well written book on issues on LGBTQ+ for anyone wanting to find their way can have a massive impact knowing you’re not alone and most importantly empowering you to be your true self.

BY NETTY WENDT

When I was a child, I wanted to be a boy. I’d secretly wear a sock down my pants. I excelled at footy and cricket with the lads. I climbed trees, played with Action Man, Meccano, and read boys comics, all the while despising the trappings of girlish life. It wasn’t a life to me, it was training to be a second class citizen.

“Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’ve come a long way from the days when I was sent home from my office job and lost a day’s wages for having the temerity to wear trousers instead of a skirt” I remember once a boy said I couldn’t play with him and his mates because I was a girl, so I lifted my school pinafore and showed him my bulge. His eyes widened “Blimey! She really IS a boy!” Being transgender was so easy in my childish world, with no operations, no hormone therapy, just an old sock and a smile! By the time puberty hit, I realised I did not in fact want to be male, I merely wished for the freedom and entitlement that is universally bestowed upon males at birth. I wanted to break free from the shackles of my female status, but I loved being a woman… and I loved other women too. Now in the modern world, we are faced with a conundrum. Is gender relevant? ‘Non-binary’ and ‘gender fluid’ are terms that tell me which way the wind is blowing, and quite frankly, I’d prefer a genderneutral world to the cultural polarisation I grew up in. But there are times when a person’s birth assignment cannot be ignored. A transgender male friend of mine still has a cervix and is currently having trouble booking a smear test, because he’s a man. Another problem all this neutrality masks is the need to identify and address difficult and uncomfortable truths.Journalists now talk about ‘people’ committing rape, when statistics show 91% of victims are women and only 9% male. We have to find new ways of tackling realities no matter how offensive or upsetting it may be to the new gender-free world. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We’ve come a long way from the days when I was sent home from my office job and lost a day’s wages for having the temerity to wear trousers instead of a skirt. What a subversive devil I was. But the world is still skewed massively in favour of men. Women are still routinely paid less than our male counterparts, misogyny is rife and I’m still scared to walk home at night. Oh bloody hell, better dig out that sock.

BY GLENN STEVENS

With this in mind, I would like to highlight four books that I have recently read as part of my journey to be a better trans ally, for those making their own gender journey and for everyone who would like to be better informed. There may be those who bemoan the inclusive alphabet, LGBTQ+; instead of seeing this as a minefield of confusion, see it as a treasure trove of better understanding the diverse group of fabulous people out there.

Gender: A Graphic Novel by Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele Because it’s a graphic novel, I found this a really user friendly way of getting a good insight of the history of gender which showed just how connected we all are in the fight to be seen, understood and respected regardless of which letter we find ourselves using. One of the most important themes in the book is that of recognising our own sense of self and to respect, embrace and celebrate other people’s journeys.

A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni, Tristan Jimerson This slim volume is an easy way to learn to understand the use of genderneutral pronouns and why this is important to understand their use.

The Making of a Man: Notes on Transsexuality by Maxim Februari I absolutely love this book, packed with a wide range of information not only regarding Februari’s journey of transitioning but also answers a host of questions people ask a transgender person, along with reminders of the type of question you really do not need to ask. As well as writing about his own journey, Februari also gives some fascinating information on transgender history, all written in an easy to access style of writing as well as a dash of humour when needed.

Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques Within this memoir, Jacques takes the reader on a very personal journey of discovery and gives an insight to what it takes to become your true self, searching for an understanding of who they are, while growing up in a time and place where speaking about being transgender was not the done thing. It is only when Jacques moves to Brighton does she have the full confidence to explore being the woman she is. Despite Brighton being flagged as a liberal town, Jacques still encountered transphobia both in her workplace and around town, which is something that still happens today. My main thoughts from reading these books is about the greater need for tolerance required by us all. Should you be one of those people who thinks it is OK to loudly express your opinions regarding someone else's gender or sexuality, take a step back, think about the language you are using and consider something positively inclusive for all.


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62 Gscene

CLASSIFIEDS

Email info@scenemag.co.uk by 15th July to book an advert

LGBTQ CHURCH/ PROFESSIONAL

SERVICES

BY GLENN STEVENS

Get involved ) There has been much said in the news and press of the government working towards eliminating new HIV transmissions by 2030. In many of these reports it talks about how many gay and bisexual men are being reached with their campaign message. However, a piece written by Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), Why we need to shine a light on trans people’s experiences of sexual health and HIV, brought up the fact that it was as late as 2015 ‘for new HIV diagnoses among trans people to be recorded in annual statistics on HIV’ and that ‘the impact of HIV within this community in the UK before 2015 remains largely unknown’ and ‘it wasn’t until 2017 that a new code to record trans people’s attendance to sexual health services was introduced’. Although outreach work is improving, there is still much more that needs to be done to enable those from the transgender and non-binary communities to feel confident in accessing sexual health information. Why is this? Partly because transgender people find themselves having to answer more personal questions to less enlightened medical staff before they can start to talk about their sexual health. Thankfully, here in Brighton there is dedicated sexual health and contraception service at the Lawson Unit for those who identify as transgender, gender neutral or non-binary. They include the T-Clinic at Lawson Unit and a dedicated service at THT. Having these services is a massive step forward in giving people from the transgender and non-binary communities the confidence to take control of their sexual health and hopefully be able to be more confident about talking about their own HIV status. As part of our project, More to Me than HIV, we would like to reach out to the transgender and non-binary communities to take part in our photo exhibition project which acknowledges all those living with HIV and also celebrates our wide range of interests. The main aim of the project is to break down HIV related stigma, which can be a barrier to many people not seeking out a sexual health screening, which in turn can have a negative impact on an individual’s well-being, which excludes them from the life-saving treatment that people with HIV can now expect. By bringing people from all communities together, to show there is no shame in living with HIV, we can encourage others to take the step in finding out their own HIV status. For those who are still unaware of how successful HIV treatments are, let us reiterate: antiretroviral medication has never been so successful at reducing the amount of HIV in your blood. For those who are HIV+, on regular treatment (two tablets every day), it is impossible to pass on HIV during sexual intercourse. So, please consider taking part in the More to Me than HIV project, collectively we can help illuminate HIV by 2030, but only if we work together and show the same compassion to all minority groups as we did when HIV first became known in the 1980s/90s. For more info: http://moretomethanhiv.life

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Turn Back the Pages

Gscene has been published every month for over 27 years, and is a rich chronicle of the history of our LGBTQ+ communities, in and around Brighton & Hove. Chris Gull raids the archives… Count Me In Too! will be able to highlight where services are failing and give a voice to those who are excluded or unfairly treated. It will also be able to champion success. It will enable community groups and services to target resources at those most in need, and provide concrete examples of what works and doesn’t work. It is an opportunity to test what you think about plans for an LGBT health and community centre, about the monitoring of sexuality and gender identity, about where you think the gaps are, about what action needs to be taken, and priorities for change. BLOODY EQUALITY ) Speaking before

Ah July! Flicking back through Julys past, those issues of Gscene are full of the joys of Golden Handbag Awards and Brighton Bear Weekends, held in June, and previews of Trans Pride in July, and Pride in August… Maybe next year…

July 2006 ) Looking back 15 years can be like looking

back to last week… News that sexuality questions in the census won´t arrive until 2021, statements bemoaning the ban on gay men donating blood (finally reversed just weeks ago) and murmuring about the possibility of an LGBT Community Centre (hopefully just months away now) and a personal testimony about the dangers of GHB… Looks as though 2021 is the new 2006. WHY COUNT ME IN TOO IS IMPORTANT ) Project Zorro in 1997 and Count Me In in 2000 proved that local large-scale LGBT surveys could radically change the way things happen and lead to community action that literally saves lives. LGBT people have never been counted in the ten-yearly National Census. The census provides baseline data by which most public services are planned. The Office for National Statistics has recently decided to exclude sexuality questions in the 2011 census – so you aren’t going to be counted by the government until 2021!

World Blood Donor Day (June 13) about the current situation where men who have had sex with men are excluded from giving blood in the UK, Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for Women & Equality, Lorely Burt MP said: “Anyone who gives blood should be applauded. However, the government needs to look at whether the current exclusion criteria are the most effective way of ruling out individuals at high risk of from giving blood. It seems perverse that the criteria allow a woman to give blood even if she has had hundreds of sexual partners, but exclude a man who has had safe sexual relations with another man only once many years ago.” THE DANGERS OF GHB ) Think it’ll never happen to you? Then here’s a wake-up call – clubber Sheridan Maguire’s story of how it all went nearly fatally pete tong. I had just come from a club and knew I had alcohol in my system. There were three of us in the room and one person suggested doing some GBL (GHB).* I’d heard about avoiding alcohol, but I’d also done it before at clubs and been OK. One

poured about a shot’s worth into a glass then topped it up with tonic water. I asked him if he was sure that it was not too much, we both agreed that it was a reasonable amount. The other two had about the same amount of the GBL liquid. I took a sip of mine and it tasted horrible, The effects kicked in really strong and fast. I started breathing heavily to try and control myself. Two minutes must have passed between me first feeling the effects and passing out. At around the same time the other two guys passed out as well. When they woke up, they felt fine, but wondered where I was. I had been taken to hospital. Another flatmate was in another room, lying in bed. He started hearing strange noises coming from the lounge. When he looked, he saw the three of us unconscious and me with white foam coming out of my mouth. The strange noise was me trying to breathe through the vomit in my lungs. When you are heavily under the influence of GHB the systems that govern your automatic bodily functions shut down. In casualty they have to hit your chest hard in order to get you breathing again. Apparently they spent two hours trying to keep me breathing. They contacted my parents, to inform them that the situation was critical. Once my lungs were cleared I was put into intensive care, where I spent three hours in a critical condition. When I woke up the next day, I felt great. I didn’t realise the severity of what had happened until it was explained to me. If the flatmate hadn’t heard me I would be dead. I’m 24 years old and fit and healthy. I look after myself. Knowing how close I came to death I realise how stupid a risk this was. All this time I’ve sought to protect myself and then I overlook one obvious major risk and almost die . Three people have died from it within the last six months in clubs in London where it is known to be more frequently taken. I don’t know of any other recreational drug that is this dangerous. It’s like crossing the road with your eyes closed. Most of the time, you can hear the traffic and know when to cross. But just sometimes you’ll be caught out. *GBL is a liquid that turns into GHB in your body. Its effects are identical, however GBL tends to be stronger. RITA'S SNATCHES ) We were sad to hear of Terry Wing´s death. He was a regular contributor, writing his column Rita´s Snatches for many years. I’m fond of London. I was born in South London and later bought a house in Harrow where I spent many happily married years, until I divorced, and then I was even happier living my life as a gay guy. What a happy queen I was. I was a fucking happy bunny, and god I was fucking like a happy bunny too! I went through a succession of guys until I met Geoff. Geoff was very special – well, he did have a very big thick knob, and that equates


with madly-in-love in my book. Geoff was agoraphobic, and he struggled with life as I struggled to cope with his behaviour. He was terrified that I was going to leave him – a stupid thing for him to think, as he did have that massive weapon after all. I was happy and contented. Then one day I flipped. I told him that after three years of virtual house arrest we were going to have just one day away from the house and visit Brighton. He was terrified. I told him that he could sit in the car if he felt he needed security, but I needed a change of bloody scenery. We arrived in Brighton on our day visit and walked and shopped along Western Road. He had to hold my hand as he was so frightened. He relaxed later and observed that nobody had given us any strange glances during that summer of 1984 in Brighton. “We must move to Brighton,” he said, “as this is the only place that I’m going to get any better.” So, 21 years ago, I sold my Harrow house and bought a Brighton house for the same amount. Geoff did get much better, so much so that within six months of us moving to Brighton he fucked off and left me...!

This prestigious honour recognises outstanding voluntary contributions and sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering, with the work of those awarded being judged to be of the highest standard.

July 2016 ) And just one more passing to recognise,

as we report on the setting up of the Martin Fisher Foundation and the Toward Zero Strategy. TOWARDS ZERO NEW HIV INFECTIONS IN BRIGHTON & HOVE ) The Martin Fisher Foundation has been set up in Brighton & Hove to take forward the work of Professor Martin Fisher.

and Hazel, Davidmann’s uncle and aunt, and how it emerged early on in their marriage, in 1958, that Ken was transgender. This uncle, an ophthalmic optician, ballroom dancer and all round charming person, is the centre of this story, but it’s the people around Ken who featured in exploring and discovering how these people lived privately and publicly surrounded by people attempting to understand, offering support and respecting space, place and identity in ways we don’t associate with an apparently traditional Britain of that time. Hazel and Audrey wrote to each other frequently in the late-1950s and early-1960s, after Hazel discovered that Ken was transgender; these letters tell their very private story. Publicly, Ken was a man, but in the privacy of the home he was a woman. Hazel supported, nourished,

The Foundation’s work will continue Martin’s ethos of treating people living with HIV with dignity, compassion and respect and will focus on the development of new strategies for effective HIV prevention, treatment and care.

July 2011 ) We were also sad to report that Peter Otto

died recently. Here´s some news from happier times for GEMS, which he ran for so long. GEMS AWARDED MBE IN QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY HONOURS LIST ) Brighton’s Gay Elderly Men’s Society (GEMS) have been awarded an MBE by the Queen, for groups of volunteers who work in their local community.

The Martin Fisher Foundation’s vision is to accelerate towards zero HIV stigma, zero new HIV infection and zero deaths from HIV in Brighton & Hove and it is currently working to develop a Towards Zero Strategy.

protected, helped and supported Ken throughout their transition, contacting specialists on Ken’s behalf and struggling to find a middle way of compromise and support that worked for them both.

This work will include an assessment of any current gaps across local services to ensure a seamless pathway for people needing information, care and support.

The book’s title is taken from Sara’s mother’s writing on one of the envelopes in the archive. Luckily the images, letters and story were saved.

KEN. TO BE DESTROYED ) In 2011 Sara Davidmann was left a family archive of letters, photographs and papers from her mother. This archive told the story of Ken

Ken and Hazel’s life sounds extraordinary. The bit that touched me more than anything was the fact they stayed together until the end of Ken’s life – a true accepting unconditional love story of immense power and inspiration to us all.


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14 Paris House 21 Western Road, 01273 724195 www.parishouse.com 17 Regency Tavern 32-34 Russell Sq, 01273 325 652 18 Three Jolly Butchers  59 North Rd, 01273 608571 www.three-jolly-butchers.co.uk 19 Velvet Jacks 50 Norfolk Square, 07720 661290 http://tinyurl.com/VelvetJacks 20 Lé Village 2-3 High Street, 01273 681634

26 Hilton Brighton Metropole 1 Kings Rd, 01273 775 432 www.hilton.com 11 Legends Hotel 31-34 Marine Parade, 01273 624462 www.legendsbrighton.com 24 New Steine Bistro 12a New Steine, 01273 681546 www.newsteinehotel.com 27 Queens Hotel 1/3 Kings Rd, 01273 321222 www.queenshotelbrighton.com

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28 Barber Blacksheep 18 St Georges Rd, 01273 623408 wwww.barberblacksheep.com 29 Dental Health Spa 14–15 Queens Rd, 01273 710831 www.dentalhealthspa.co.uk 30 Velvet Tattoo 50 Norfolk Square, 07720 661290 http://tinyurl.com/VelvetJacks

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25 Gullivers Hotel 12a New Steine, 01273 695415 www.gullivershotel.com

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38 Brighton Women’s Centre 72 High St, 01273 698036 www.womenscentre.org.uk 39 Lunch Positive Dorset Gadens Methodist Church, Dorset Gardens, 07846 464384 www.lunchpositive.org 40 Rainbow Hub 93 St James’s St, 01273 675445 www.therainbowhubbrighton.com


Scene 57

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

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.police.uk LGBT team (not 24/7) email: LGBT@sussex.pnn.police.uk • LGBT Officer PC James Breeds: Tel: 101 ext 558168 James.breeds@sussex.pnn.police.uk

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

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

l Brighton OneBodyOneFaith Formerly The Gay Christian Movement. Contact: Nigel Nash nigelnash@me.com. www.onebodyonefaith.org.uk

l Brighton Women’s Centre Info, counselling, drop-in space, support groups 01273 698036 or visit www.womenscentre.org.uk

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

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

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

l Mindout

info

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

l Sussex Beacon

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

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

l Rainbow Families Support group for lesbian and/or gay parents 07951 082013 or info@rainbowfamilies.org.uk. www.rainbowfamilies.org.uk

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 www.therainbowhubbrighton.com

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

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

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

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

HIV Prevention, Care & Treatment Services l AVERT Sussex HIV & AIDS info service 01403 210202 or confidential@avert.org

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.brightonhovecab.org.uk

l Clinic M

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

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

l Lunch Positive

l Lawson Unit

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

l Martin Fisher Foundation

l LGBT+ Meditation Group

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

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

l Substance Misuse Service Brighton & Hove: Change Grow Live: 01273 731900, email brighton.info@cgl.org.uk, visit: www. changegrowlive.org/brighton-hove-recovery-service/

24 hour nursing & medical care, day care 01273 694222 or www.sussexbeacon.org.uk

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

l Terrence Higgins Eastbourne

• Web support & info on HIV, sexual health & local services via netreach and www.myhiv.org.uk • Free condom postal service contact Grace Coughlan on 07584086590 or grace.coughlan@tht.org.uk

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


58

Trans police officer celebrated in Pride of Birmingham Awards

Skye states that attitudes at work have definitely changed and she feels that she would not have been able to come out earlier in her career. “Twenty years ago, the police was a very different organisation, culturally. I certainly would not have known how to come out. It was something I locked away. I bottled it away and carried on only telling close friends and family. “We’re undoubtedly in a more tolerant era now than 10 or 20 years ago – that’s what held me back from coming out earlier – but it’s still scary.”

) The annual Birmingham Live Pride of Birmingham Awards, in association with TSB, is an event which allows members of the public to nominate and vote for people from their community who they view as “true heroes of the city”. Expert taser trainer PC Skye Morden is one of two police officers who have been honoured in the Pride of Birmingham Awards 2021. Skye has been presented with a Special Recognition Award while her colleague PC Emad Choudhury has received the Pride of Birmingham Emergency Services Award for his work tackling knife crime and youth violence. Skye has been a West Midlands police officer for 20 years. She joined the police force in 2001 and was one of the first officers to be trained in using the X26 taser. She is now a police taser subject matter expert and tactical trainer – one of the Midlands’ foremost trainers in this area. What’s more, she is also currently working with Amnesty International and academics on a project which explores the public perception of the use of force by police officers. For most of her distinguished career, Skye has been working on the front line. She has dealt with rioters, tackled armed robbers, rescued people in crisis, and she was even stabbed in the line of duty while

protecting members of the public. The 44-year-old officer, however, considers her bravest act to be her coming out as transgender in 2018. Skye went public with her story in November 2018, in support of Trans Day of Remembrance. “Ever since I was young, I knew something was different about me,” Skye explains. “There was a disconnect between my brain and my body. It caused constant worry, anxiety and stress which I have tried to hide, ignore, run from, and bluster my way through. By 2018, I simply had enough. I realised that I needed to be me, for my own sanity.” Skye says it was scary and took a lot of courage to come out to her colleagues. She says: “Walking into a training centre as a transgender woman to 30 police officers I’ve never met before was pretty terrifying. “But it was the right thing to do,” she added, “I couldn’t live a lie anymore. And every day it gets a little bit easier. “I’ve no doubt we all know someone who’s struggling with their gender identity. I wanted to show them it’s alright, to encourage them to talk about it and get support.”

Much to Skye’s relief though, her fellow officers have been overwhelmingly supportive, which has allowed her to continue in her career and journey, as well as flying the flag for others who may be struggling to be their true selves. Despite the fact that attitudes have changed, Skye admits that we still have a way to go and she still faces challenges in everyday life. She explains: “My friends and family have been supportive. But just being me seems to be a political statement and that shouldn’t be the case. Everyone has an opinion and a view. I just want to be me.” Skye has revealed that even grocery shopping can feel like an ordeal as people often stare at her. She says that she will likely feel this way until she has undergone her gender reassignment treatment. Due to long NHS waiting lists, Skye has chosen to do this privately and is picking up extra shifts at work to cover the costs. “At work, my colleagues see that I am having a slow transition and that in itself is important. And however hard it is, I feel ridiculously happier now though. It’s like I’ve been let off the leash and that my world has gone from black and white into colour.” She also adds: “The love I’ve had since going public has been incredible. I’ve had countless messages of support and I hope I’ve been able to help others on their own journey.” The police officer was shocked to receive her Special Recognition Award: “It’s lovely and I’m truly touched,” she said. “It takes a lot to leave me speechless but winning the award did. I feel so humbled. The thing is, I’m no braver than any other trans person. Just being yourself is terrifying, telling friends and family, ‘I am trans’, is the most courageous act I’ve done. “Being in the police, standing up and trying to say who I am is really important. But I certainly never thought about any recognition for doing so. I just think we need to carry on being compassionate and kind.”


59

) Trustees of Walsall Pride have announced in a statement the cancellation of its 2021 Pride for All event.

“It is with sadness and regret that we must announce this year’s Walsall Pride, which would have taken place on Saturday, August 28, will not go ahead as planned,” they wrote on their recently launched forum. They added: “While we appreciate that the community were looking forward to a return to normality and us being able to stage our 10-year anniversary event it sadly isn’t possible to stage this year.” They explained: “As a small charity we rely on funding from grants and sponsorship and as such it’s been difficult to obtain funding due to the current climate.” What’s more, “with restrictions in place it proved difficult to plan our event as we usually do. There is currently no guidance in place for events post lockdown, which means we are unable to plan for any guidance that may be put into place and for any costs that would be associated with this.” LGBTQ+ people living in Walsall – and the surrounding areas – will understandably be disappointed in this news. However, Birmingham Pride is still currently going ahead in September so many will still be able to celebrate in the Midlands. The Walsall Pride for All board of trustees wrote: “We know that this news will be of huge disappointment to a lot of people and will be a huge loss for Walsall town centre with the visitors that Pride attracts each year with our relaxed, welcoming, and inclusive atmosphere.” They added: “This decision has not been taken lightly and we have reviewed the situation regularly, however we promise to be back in 2022 with our 10th anniversary event on Saturday, August 27, 2022 and we hope that you will all join us then.” They ended their statement by saying: “We would like to thank everyone for the support we have had from the community of Walsall. Please take care of yourselves and loved ones; and we as many of you look forward to a return to normality.” D For more info and other opportunities, visit: www.shoutfestival.co.uk

Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ community pays tribute to Conrad Guest ) Conrad Guest, known by much of Birmingham’s LGBTQ+ community as Connie, was responsible for booking, organising, and managing the Cabaret Tent at Birmingham Pride, plus helping out with the parade and the team of volunteers. In the late ’80s and early ’90s he also volunteered with Birmingham AIDS Trust, “doing amazing work in our community.” ‘Connie’ sadly passed away in the early hours of Monday, May 31; the loss has been felt by the community who posted countless warm tributes and stories. Birmingham Pride wrote: “We can’t help but feel that his passing, on what would have been Birmingham Pride Sunday, is a touching tribute to his cabaret magic. We will miss him terribly, and we send love to everyone who knew him.”

Coventry Pride launches ‘Summer of Pride’

) Coventry Pride has announced an ambitious and exciting line-up of Pride events, which will include partnership art installations and connections with the Coventry City of Culture Trust. Organisers have successfully secured funding – much of which has been provided by the Coventry City of Culture Trust – and support to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community can engage in diverse and inclusive programming.

Melanated Spaces Paul Desson-Baxter, chair of Coventry Pride, said: “We’re proud and pleased to be launching such a dynamic, ambitious programme of events over the next few months. The entire UK has had to deal with the challenges presented by the pandemic, with members of marginalised communities like ours, often feeling the heaviest of impacts.

PAUL DESSON-BAXTER

Wallsall Pride 2021 cancelled

The theme of this year’s pride events is Pride and Joy, “reflecting the yearning felt by many, within and external to the LGBT+ community “We wanted to provide opportunities for moments of pride and joy, lost for moments of joy, as well as space during a year dominated by the global for the community to reconnect, reflect pandemic”. and be proud,” he continues. “We have so much more to announce in and around each of these headline events, which we have actively designed to be inclusive and reflective of our various intersectional communities. We’re pleased to be working with some brilliant partners including Coventry ArtSpace, the Tin Music and Arts venue and Belgrade Theatre.” The Summer of Pride events will The charity is hoping to engage with a include an orchestral concert in wide range of people, from volunteers, the cathedral ruins, experience entertainers and stallholders to artists, exhibitions in the city centre, and a performers and research participants film production focusing on cultural (for its partnership initiatives with diversity and family fun in green Coventry City of Culture). At the time spaces. All events are designed to of writing, commissions for LGBTQ+ complement the centrepiece, which is artists and application details were due the annual Pride festival itself. to be soon revealed via social media. The headline dates for Coventry’s More details on the line-up of events Summer of Pride are: as well as opportunities to purchase • Saturday, July 17 – Classically or book tickets will also be announced soon. Anyone wishing to be involved in Queer the Coventry Summer of Pride, should • Saturday, August 7 – Pride & Joy follow them on Instagram or Twitter – Coventry Pride Festival 2021 (@pridecov) or search for Coventry Pride on Facebook. • Saturday, August 14 – Family Fun Day D For more info on Coventry Pride, • Wednesday, September 1 – Art visit: www.coventrypride.org.uk is a Protest • Wednesday, October 20 –


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Up close and personal with LoUis Cyfer ) Drag king LoUis Cyfer was one of the hosts at this year’s EuroStars Drag Contest. We got up close and personal with LoUis to find out all the gossip he has to share with us. Hey LoUis! What’s it like being a drag king in the UK? It’s a very exciting time to be a drag king in the UK. A big change is coming and I’m thrilled to be surfing the wave of mainstream drag appreciation for not just queens or kings, but everyone. Can you see drag being the future? I definitely see drag as the future. It allows you to express your true self beyond the limits of gender.

CHERRY VALENTINE

Are there any drag kings that you really look up to, and why? I really look up to all kings, each one of them has something that I can learn from them. They all have their own different style, they all have their own different message. The kings I look up the most are The Mouse or old kings like Hetty King and Stormé DeLarverie. They laid the road for us to walk all the way to the stage with ease and confidence... Stormé gave us rights; Hetty lit the way!

Celebrating Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month ) Last month was Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month (GRTHM), which celebrates the diverse ways in which the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities add to the vibrancy of life in the UK and recognises the varied contributions that these communities have made to British society historically and today. Since 2008, GRTHM has been

celebrated throughout the UK over the month of June. GRTHM shares the history, culture and language of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities, as well as other travelling communities, including Showmen and Boaters. Through celebration, education and raising awareness, GRTHM helps to tackle prejudices, challenge myths and to raise the voices of Gypsies and Travellers in wider society. We spoke to RuPaul’s Drag Race series two’s Cherry Valentine, who is a proud Gypsy Traveller from Wigan. Why is it so important to raise awareness for LGBTQ+ people in the Travellers community?

CHERRY VALENTINE

“Because we are here, and visibility is the key and people in the community are valid and important. “Raising awareness highlights prejudices, inequalities, and puts a spotlight on things that need to change. We need be more proactive than reactive,” said Cherry.

You were one of the EuroStars hosts this series. What was that feeling like? I absolutely loved being a judge on EuroStars; it was refreshing and inspiring to be a part of something so inclusive and it opened my eyes to the talent that exists across Europe. Outstanding! D For more info on EuroStars, visit: https://eurodrag.co.uk/the-eurostars-drag-contest

Dutch queens invading Manchester this September ) Comedy queen Sederginne, who placed sixth on RuPaul’s Drag Race Holland, and her partner in crime Janey Jacké - second runner-up of the same series - will be touring the UK this summer with gigs planned in both Manchester and Liverpool.“The biggest thing after you come out of Drag Race is touring the world with your sisters, and for us, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.” said Janey. The Netherlands, like many Drag Race franchises, went into lockdown around the same time the show was aired; like the rest of us, they’ve been quarantined under lockdown rules and are only now in a position to start touring again. We asked Sederginne how she felt about the upcoming tour: “It’s been a difficult year for all drag artists, so to finally see light at the end of the tunnel, argh, I can’t even describe how happy that makes me.” We were also excited to find out exactly what these fierce queens will be doing in the show. “Oh honey... UK ain’t ready for this!” said Janey. The Dutch queens will be touring the UK with FunnyBoyz at New York, New York on Canal Street, Manchester on July 6. D For more information about other dates, visit: www.funnyboyz.co.uk


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A walk through Intra ) Between Chatham and Rochester is a little known area, even to the people of Medway. The area, known as Intra, is a haven from the busy shopping of Chatham and the pre-Covid tourist trap that Rochester could often be. Rich in heritage, with links going back 300 years to the local dockyards, the area is home to many historic buildings, including Master Brewer’s House, Hulks Lane Brewery, a very rare synagogue and several important, if currently dilapidated, examples of Victorian architecture. For the last decade, local artists and designers have made some of the vacant shops their home and the area was recently awarded a grant to help improve this historically important area.

Medway Pride Radio ) Start a radio station they said, it’ll be we have a breakfast show to get you fun they said…. And it is, it’s hard work, to work; a drivetime show to get you home; a talking sports show with but the most amazing fun. Kellie Maloney and sport scientist Just before Christmas and lockdown, Joe Dunbar. Kellie also partners with Hilary Cooke, CEO of Medway her former Big Brother housemate Gender Sexual Diversity Centre Dee Kelly for their Loose Lips chat (MGSD), approached me about helping show. Sunday sees a comedy hour, a set up a radio station for the community. comedy panel show from the lovely Having recently left another radio people at Much Laughter, and a station, I had been asked by a few poetry show listeners can get involved people about setting up a new one, but in. Monday to Thursday at 6pm we Hilary’s passion and commitment to have community news, there is even a the community, not just the LGBTQ+ chance for young DJs to get involved community but across the board, with Superstar DJ on a Saturday is infectious. I thought about it over morning. Christmas, and with one tweet saying However, as packed as our shows are, we would open in time for LGBTQ+ we have found time to bring listeners History Month we were in business! the most amazing array of guests, January was a flood of activity, and we including Judy Murray, celebrity made it, we opened on February 1. stylist Rachel Gold, trans icon Medway is full of the most amazing Christine Burns MBE, award-winning talent, and we have been so very lucky US LGBTQ+ journalist Mark Segal, in attracting DJs (both professional and actress Elizabeth Coffey Williams some who never had done it before) and author Ben Aaronavich. Musicfrom Medway and across the country. wise we have had Lilly Winwood, When you tune in, you quickly discover Susan Werner, Chesney Hawkes and bands Deco, Autumn Fires, we’re different, we don’t have a top Slackkr and the Hot 8 Brass Band. of the hour news, instead we donate Most amazingly this list just scratches the time to charities and community organisations. In fact, for them it’s free to the surface. advertise. We want our listeners to know We’re without doubt the busiest radio just what amazing things are being done station in Kent! by people all across Medway and Kent. How do we do it all? So, what do we broadcast? Music of many genres - pop, rock, dance, R&B, Tune in and find out! Or maybe even get involved by visiting: show tunes, jazz, classical and even prog rock. However, we don’t stop there; www.medwayprideradio.co.uk

However, Intra is also home to the LGBTQ+ community and has sheltered us for hundreds of years. Local historian Rob Flood said: “If Chatham is the gay capital of Kent, then Intra is the crown jewel. “Undoubtedly,” continues Rob “the dockyards brought the workers, and they in turn brought the prostitutes which would eventually lead to the LGBTQ+ community coming along. As far back as the 1850s court records detail a case where a black sailor wearing women’s clothing was arrested for ‘importuning’. In fact, importuning was the term given to men arrested for engaging in sexual acts with other men.” The main building for the community in Intra is the Ship Inn, which is the oldest operating LGBTQ+ venue in Kent, with a long, sometimes potted but always fascinating history. With plenty of inside space and a courtyard area, the pub is home not just to the local gay and trans community but also to much of the local student population. Just behind The Ship Inn is the ME1 gay sauna, offering a quiet, comfortable safe space for locals with large sauna and steam rooms, a hot tub, relaxation cabins and three lounge areas, in short what you would expect. Nestled among hair salons, tattoo parlours and laser surgeries is Hilary’s Electrolysis, which is also home to the Medway Gender and Sexual Diversity Centre (MGSD). MGSD holds weekly support groups for all LGBTQ+ communities, including a support group for partners of trans people and another for parents of transgender youth. While Covid has forced most of the group activities online they have recently started monthly meet ups in the Ship Inn (where else?). It is the HQ of Medway Pride and the newly established Medway Pride Radio. D For more info on MGSD, visit: www.mgsd-centre.org

Profile for Scene LGBTQ+ Magazine

Scene magazine - July 2021  

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