ISSUE 1 MARCH 2021
FOR THE QOMMUNITY BY T H E QOMMUNITY
WHAT AN INCREDIBLE JOURNEY WE’VE BEEN ON IN THE LAST 10 MONTHS! As a response to seeing local Pride celebrations being cancelled across Wales because of the current pandemic, we formed a small Committee and - in just three short months - brought you the first-ever Wales-wide Virtual Pride, a weekendlong event with 100s of participants, 20 hours of content, 7 thought-provoking panel discussions, and much more! The response and contributions from the LGBTQommunities across Wales and our allies could not have been more enthusiastic, and we saw over 30,000 viewers tune in to celebrate, support, and feel connected to one another during a time where we may have maybe never felt more apart. You then told us that you wanted more, and we wanted to provide it! One Editor, an Editorial Board, four Community Editors, and 12 Community Reporters later, I’m proud to introduce you to the next step in the LGBTQYMRU journey: Wales’ first, free, all-Wales, and fully bilingual online magazine dedicated entirely to the Welsh and Wales-based LGBTQommunities. What started as an extension of the way we were able to connect, celebrate, and support the LGBTQommunities of Wales during the initial Covid-19 lockdown has bloomed before us into something larger and more meaningful than we had ever imagined: it’s become a space in which we can claim and celebrate our identity, our collective experiences as queer individuals, and where we can continue to take responsibility for one another as siblings in this world. To all those who have been a part in supporting our vision, I can’t thank you enough. As a volunteer-run organisation, LGBTQYMRU is the result of the hard work and passion of individuals who have a shared passion for championing the identities, stories, and experiences of our Wales-based Qommunities. You’re all truly outstanding and I can’t wait to see what we will continue to do together in the future I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank those who so willingly gave up their time to provide content for our first edition. Getting to know your stories and see your faces, all of which have brought our vision to life, has been an absolute privilege. Your contributions will forever be a part of the first step in our magazine’s journey to make sure LGBTQ+ people within Wales and the wider world are able to see themselves celebrated in history, in happiness, and in all the ways we often feel is beyond our reach. We’re also very grateful for the support provided by the METRO Charity and partners LGBTQ+ Covid-19 Fund, funded by Comic Relif. It’s clear that the future for LGBTQYMRU looks extremely exciting. When I think of what LGBTQYMRU means to me personally, the word Hiraeth comes to mind - a Welsh word that doesn’t translate all too well into English, but is often described as a longing for a place that no longer exists, or never was. It’s no secret that queer people experience and navigate this world differently to those who are often closest to us, and LGBTQYMRU has become a space where I have found a piece of that world I grew up longing for: a place where I can exist as I am, with others just like me, in our own words and on our own terms. I hope LGBTQYMRU can be a place like that for you too. — BLEDDYN LGBTQYMRU
Editor-in-chief Bleddyn Harris Qommunity Editors Craig Stephenson OBE
Fen Shields Carol Dierzuk Matthew Skinner Matthew Tordoff Danielle Herbert Imogen Coombs Emily Usher Evie Barker Charles Stylianou
Social Media & Engagement Diamond Chimdi Imogen Coombs Emily Usher Branding & Design Tom Collins Translations Ffion Emyr Bourton
The mention or appearance or likeness of any person in articles or advertising in LGBTQYMRU: The Magazine, or on any of our social platforms, is not to be taken as any indication of sexual, social or political orientation of such persons or organisations.
CO N T E N T S 6 8 9 14 16 22 24
G(end)er Swap Up Close and Personal Keeping Faith It’s Getting Political Gender Recogntion Act Hoops and Loops Welsh Gender Service
26 28 34 36 38 40 43 46
Gays Who Wine Dragged to Church Swansea University In Memory of Jan Morris Aberration Qommunity Champion Rustic Rainbow LGBTQYMRU History Blog
48 50 58 60 63
Proud to play Talk with Andy Zero by 2030 Blood Ban Talk to Coco
67 69 72 74 76 80 78 82 84
What’s in your closet? St. Fagans A Little Gay History of Wales Life Without the Choir Would B Flat The HeART of the Community Pride - Film review The Evolution of Pride in Wales It's a Sin Support LGBTQYMRU
G (E N D) E R S WA P SANTI SORENTI
Are you a trans or gender non-conforming individual in need of clothes, related resources or transitional items? Look no further. By Carol Dierzuk
We asked our Qommunity Reporter, Carol Dierzuk, to discuss the services offered by G(end)er Swap with its founder, Santi Sorrenti. What’s it all about? G(end)er Swap is a UK-based clothing outreach initiative supporting trans folks with binders, clothes and related resources. They also do trans make-up workshops, clothing swaps, and all things fashion! 6
What are the origins of G(end)er Swap? I have always thrifted my clothes as a way of exploring gender expression and identity. I noticed there wasn’t any organisation where queer and trans people could find clothes and could find a space to experiment with their expression. Going to stores can be quite uncomfortable, as most customer service staff don’t understanding fashion in relation to queer or trans bodies. I thought it
“I noticed there wasn’t any organisation where queer and trans people could find clothes and could find a space to experiment with their expression.”
would be a good idea to create a safe space for queer and trans people where they can express themselves through fashion. Because of the pandemic, how difficult it is for a person to get a binder? The demand for binders has definitely increased all around the UK. People can sign up using a Google form on our page. The packaging is completely discrete and we can send the binder to a different address if need be. You just need to cover postage costs, and you can get it delivered to any location. However, the demand is high and the wait list is long so please bear this in mind. You’re partnering with M.A.C Cosmetics for your makeup tutorials and online workshops, can people expect future in-person workshops with different companies? In 2021 we are planning on doing partnership workshops - more about alteration and clothing adjustments. We hope people will be able to find their own style on a budget.
Any big hopes for the future? I hope that we can expand globally, not only across the UK. We want to work with mainstream companies to educate them and change the ways they support gender non-conforming people. The biggest goal is to bring people together into a mutual-aid community that continues on. Can people volunteer to work with you? Yes! You have to fill in a form on our page genderswap.org. Anyone from across the world can volunteer. Where to find you online? You can find us on Instagram @genderswap_, and on our website where you can learn about upcoming events. Also, there is a Facebook page where you can exchange clothes with others and make friends!
Photo: Joel Ryder Media
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL WITH CONNIE ORFF By Matthew Skinner 8
With popular shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula, Drag is more relevant and mainstream than ever. So we asked our Qommunity Reporter, Matt Skinner, to get up close and personal with bilingual drag act ‘Connie Orff’ and her creator, Alun Saunders, producer, writer and family man.
WHERE IT STARTED With fondness of a favourite drag performer, South Wales’ ‘Lady Ding’, who sadly passed away in 2003, Alun said “I remember how much I used to enjoy her - what an impact she had on people” Inspired to write about drag, Alun took the 10 week ‘Art of Drag’ course at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London. Performing in the showcase didn’t initially appeal as researching was the focus, but a deep breath and a ‘can do’ attitude led to Alun’s maiden drag performance. Soon enough, Connie Orff was created. Alun explains that a common Welsh phrase he often uses ‘Co ni off’ (meaning ‘here we go’) quickly became his alter ego ‘Connie Orff’.
Photo: Claire Ford Photography
Alun doesn’t mind that not everyone will get the play on Welsh words, but says (and loves) that it’s a bonus for Welsh speakers. Part of Connie’s act is using crap translations (her words, not ours) of English songs into Welsh for instance, Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ and Madonna’s ‘Vogue’. Known for her light-hearted humour Connie often tells her audience that “tonight, we’re going to laugh at ourselves”. But neither will she shy away from risqué or edgy content. Isn’t that what we love about our queens - how they make us belly laugh but without being discriminatory? LGBTQYMRU
Alun tells us that S4C, Wales’ Welsh language TV channel, is developing on-line digital content which is more ‘out there’. Indeed, with live performances limited due to Covid19, we’re delighted to learn of some of the other projects, involving both Connie and Alun, that are in the pipeline. Rumour has it that, whilst Alun is cowriting songs for S4C’s comedy website, Connie has her own TV project in development (a bit hush hush right now, though). During the pandemic, we have been more than pleased to see Connie performing on social media and on-line events, However, she much prefers the live audience interaction.”Connie has to be like Han Solo, in Star Wars.” Alun jokes. “She’s in carbonite and frozen in time until I take her out of the wardrobe”
THE FAMILY MAN During lockdown, Alun thought “I’m gonna have time to write lots of plays finally! But pffft it hasn’t happened” as his focus has been stay at home teacher and dad. Alun and his husband, Kris, have two children aged 9 & 12, both of whom are adopted.
Photo: Joel Ryder Media
Alun tells me that they feel lucky to have “really good kids”. He appreciates them for their patience, understanding and lovingness, but knows that this comes from reassurance, stability, structure and spending quality time with them. He chuckles as he recalls that there has been plenty of juggling too.
Celebrating five years together as a family, Alun says, “It’s like they’ve been here forever. We don’t think of ourselves as their adoptive dads. We’re their dads and that’s it.”
“It’s not all structure - as wonderful as that might be” Alun tells me. “Imagine telling the children to please sit and do this work for an hour while I go and write a script. It would be chaos in minutes”. Praising the agency, Adoption Wales, and the social worker he and Kris were supported by, Alun says that adoption was not as intrusive as he thought. Attending training courses, the couple knew by day three that they had a shared ideal of adopting siblings after hearing that on occasion they have to be separated. Celebrating five years together as a family Alun says, “It’s like they’ve been here forever. We don’t think of ourselves as their adoptive dads. We’re their dads and that’s it.”
REPRESENTATION As our time together drew to a conclusion, I asked Alun for his views on diverse representation in the arts. He told me of a former agent who had branded him “too camp, large and too Welsh sounding to get regular parts”. It’s clear from the conversation that 40 year old Alun would, these days and quite rightly,
have some direct and harsh words to say in response. “If you’re going to cast straight actors as gay characters then what parts are left? If you don’t think we can play straight parts convincingly then give us the gay parts at least”. Though Alun laughs, the importance of this point is evident in his voice. Alun said that he would also like to see much greater representation of people from black and minority ethnic communities in the Arts too - something he builds into his multi-language theatre company ‘Neontopia’. I leave Alun so that he can return to tinkling his ivories on one of his co-writing projects. At LGBTQymru, we knew that there was more to our drag queens than just their on-stage presence. We thank Alun for his openness and letting us get up close and personal. It was a true pleasure. LGBTQYMRU
KEEPING FAITH In each edition of this magazine, we’ll be exploring a faith group and its relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. Rosie Webber, one of our Qommunity Reporters went to find out more about Hidayah. By Rosie Webber
Everyday, victims of discrimination and injustice are faced with inconceivable amounts of disrespect and abuse. Keeping faith is a term not taken lightly when we consider the incredible support network from Hidayah, a volunteer-led organisation, that helps queer Muslim people and the wider LGBTQ+ community. 12
From a small team beginning three years ago, the charity has made significant progress forming establishments in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff, and Newport, and have made transatlantic links with the USA. Osman, a volunteer for the charity, was asked to describe why Hidayah is so important.
“Hidayah was founded in hopes of providing more exposure to LGBTQ+ Muslims - something, seemingly scarce for the double, and sometimes triple, minority individuals within society”
“Hidayah was founded in hopes of providing more exposure to LGBTQ+ Muslims” something, “seemingly scarce for the double, and sometimes triple, minority individuals within society”. A community that is subjected to rejection and silencing by most Muslim places, and in the wider LGBTQ+ community, the charity provides essential support to ensure that Muslim LGBTQ+ voices are heard and understood. These voices play a vital role in promoting social justice and education about the community to secure a freefrom-discriminating society.
Hidayah has worked relentlessly hard to provide support during the pandemic. The charity has shown this through its online support groups via Zoom which have been beneficial for the community. Activities include film screenings, interfaith discussions, poetry events, and online events in celebration of Ramadan. Hidayah aims to provide queer safe places in Cardiff in the future. For more information, or to get involved, visit Hidayahlgbt.com
Osman candidly shares the realities of discrimination against Muslim LGBTQ+ people, “Queer spaces have not always been welcoming”, “people presume just because they are wearing a headscarf or hijab that they are in the wrong place”. Consequently, Hidayah ensures a safe place for these communities as well as the wider LGBTQ+ community for anyone that seeks help and support. They spread awareness of islamophobia and damaging stereotypes to improve the welfare and support of Muslim LGBTQ+ communities. LGBTQYMRU
It's Getting Political By Danielle Herbert
Full name: Adam Price What are your pronouns? He/Him Where you are from? Upper Tumble originally, brought up in Tycroes, near Ammanford. Which political party do you represent? Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales Which area in Wales were you elected to? I represent Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in the Senedd
LGBTQymru is a non-party political voluntary group. Our magazine will feature Welsh LGBTQ politicians from different political affiliations in each edition. We aim to achieve a balance and cover people from different political affiliations depending on who accepts our invitation to participate. The views expressed will be those of the politician featured. We expect them to uphold LGBTQymru's values. The purpose of the features is solely to get to know our LGBTQ politicians a little better.
“Every community needs to be and to see itself represented in a diverse and inclusive democracy. Visibility also changes the context for society as a whole”
Why did you become a politician? The experience of the Miners’ Strike in 1984/85 – my father was a miner – radicalised me and I became active in Plaid. I saw politics as a way of achieving justice for working people, and for others facing injustice like the LGBTQ+ communities. Why is it important to have visible LGBTQ+ politicians? Every community needs to be and to see itself represented in a diverse and inclusive democracy. Visibility also changes the context for society as a whole – growing up I saw no LGBTQ+ people in positions of leadership which underlined my own feelings of being excluded and devalued. If you could change anything to improve life for LGBTQ+ people, what would it be? Closing the LGBTQ+ pay gap which amounts to some £7,000 a year on average across the UK. Economic equality hasn’t been the main focus of the LGBTQ+ movement but it if you’re on low wages, in insecure employment with poor housing then “gay equality” will have a hollow ring for so many – that’s got to change.
What has been the proudest moment of your career or life so far? Helping thousands of steel workers win back their lost pension rights by finding a European law the UK ‘forgot’ to enact. Why is politics important for the LGBTQ+ movement? Without political change, we would all of us be back in the closet and a good number of us would be in jail. Lest we forget. How do you support the LGBTQ+ community in your personal and professional life? The biggest thing I’ve done in recent years was co-found Mas ar y Maes in 2018. This is the team which – for the first time in Cardiff in 2018 – produces a LGBTQ+ programme of activity as part of the National Eisteddfod, bringing two of my greatest passions together – Wales and the LGBTQ+ community. If you could say one thing to your younger self what would it be? You’re going to be a father!
WOMEN & EQUALITIES COMMITTEE TO REPORT ON GENDER RECOGNITION ACT INQUIRY Another Inquiry on the Gender Recognition Act? Are you confused? We asked our Qommunity Reporter, Jordan Howell, to clear things up for us.
By Jordan Howell
After many delays and months of gathering evidence from over 100,000 people and over 140 organisations, the UK Government published its findings on its Gender Recognition Act consultation in September 2020. Widely condemned by the LGBTQ community for not going far enough, the delays in publishing the outcomes were also criticised by Ministers in the Welsh Government. The written statement, linked here, also outlines Welsh Government’s unequivocal support for the trans and non-binary community. Announcing the outcome of the UK Governement’s consultation and speaking in the House of Commons, Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, said that the UK Government believed there were already “proper checks and balances in the system” and support for people who want to change their legal sex. 16
“The Committee is seeking to ascertain whether the reforms proposed go far enough, whether further changes need to be made, and the potential for wider reforms.”
However, she acknowledged that the process for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) needed to be improved. Therefore, the proposals taken forward were that the whole certification process should move online and that the cost of obtaining a certificate should be lowered from £140 to a “nominal amount”. The UK Government also pledged to open three new gender clinics, in a bid to cut waiting times. At the time, whilst welcoming the proposal to open new gender clinics, Chief Executive of Stonewall, Nancy Kelley, said: “The UK Government has fallen far short on its promise to reform the Gender Recognition Act and has missed a key opportunity to progress LGBT equality.” So what is this new inquiry?
Launched in October 2020, in response to the UK Government’s own consultation, the Committee is seeking to ascertain whether the reforms proposed go far enough, whether further changes need to be made, and the potential for wider reforms.
The Women and Equalities Committee is not part of the UK Government. It is a cross-party committee of the House of Commons and is independent of Government. LGBTQYMRU
“We’re seeking views about what other changes may be required to improve trans equality: to the Gender Recognition Act, or to other legislation - for example the Equality Act, to support services and facilities, and on legal reforms which could improve right for gender fluid and nonbinary people.”
The Committee is looking to understand: ●
why the number of those applying for a GRC is so low compared to the number of people identifying as transgender;
whether legal reforms need to be made to support non-binary and gender fluid people; and,
whether the provisions for single/ separate sex spaces and facilities are clear and usable.
Opening this latest inquiry, the Women and Equalities Committee chair, the Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, said: “The Government has said it wants to make the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate “kinder and more straightforward”, make it a fully online process, and reduce the fee. Which is progress - but is it enough? “We’re seeking views about what other changes may be required to improve trans equality: to the Gender Recognition Act, or to other legislation for example the Equality Act, to support services and facilities, and on legal reforms which could improve right for gender fluid and non-binary people.”
Current rules for getting a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) ●
You must obtain a letter from your doctor stating you have ‘gender dysphoria’
You must provide a report detailing the medical treatment you have been given
You must prove that you’ve lived as your new gender for at least two years
You must sign a statement in front of a solicitor agreeing to remain your new gender until death
You must have agreement from your husband or wife if you are married
You must pay a £140 fee
To date, the committee – which includes Pontypridd MP Alex Davies – has heard from academics and experts at oral evidence sessions. The Committee has also received written evidence from the likes of Stonewall, The Pankhurst Trust, the LGBT Foundation, and many members of the public. The Women and Equalities Committee will publish its report this summer and we at LGBTQymru will be watching with interest and keeping you updated.
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JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS All around the world, people in the LGBTQ+ community are affected by domestic violence, persecution, beatings, and more due to their local laws and regulations. For these reasons, people from all over come to Wales to seek asylum away from these horrible conditions.
By Emily Usher
After being founded in 2015, local Welsh organisation, Hoops and Loops, aims to assist those LGBT Asylum seekers and refugees seeking protection. The group convenes twice a month at City United Reformed Church, Cardiff, interacting with like-minded people and sharing stories with one another. During their meetings, they discuss upcoming court hearings, have movie nights, share experiences and support each other mentally and emotionally. Hoops and Loopsis all about compassion and understanding, caring for LGBT+ people and trying to improve their health and integration in Wales.
“I was provided with the appropriate clothes during winter which I would have struggled to afford as an asylum seeker who is not allowed to work”
I spoke to Mark Lewis, an Elder of the City United Reformed Church, who took over the running of the group after being a volunteer. He believed that more must be done to assist those seeking help and boosted the group’s numbers from 10 to over 70 members today. Due to the pandemic, Mark now does daily drop-ins for members to come to have a coffee and offers support for paperwork and everyday items that may be limited for them. “We have been affected greatly due to COVID-19 as some members don’t understand the restrictions.” Mark says that he faces some sort of challenge with every individual case. “It is very difficult and stressful for the individual as they are asked personal questions about themselves both at formal interviews and in court hearings, where you could have an interpreter who may not communicate correctly or there could be a problem due to their sexuality.”
So far, Hoops and Loops have had 20 members given leave to remain, allowing them to live normal lives in Wales without worry. One member, Godwin Kofi from Ghana, spoke about how much the group helped him. “I was referred by my GP. I thought that it would be a good idea to join a social group that will accept my sexuality and share the same experiences as me. “I have made a lot of new friends in the group and prior to COVID, as a way of socialising and integrating, we would go out as a group to LGBT bars and events. “The group has also been supportive in terms of clothes. I was provided with the appropriate clothes during winter which I would have struggled to afford as an asylum seeker who is not allowed to work.” If you wish to support the group with any ideas or suggestions, you can contact them at email@example.com.
Update on the Welsh Gender Service At LGBTQYMRU we were delighted that the Welsh Gender Service had been established and we were sure our readers would like an update. By Imogen Coombs
We sent our Qommunity Reporter, Imogen Coombs, to meet with Helen Bennett, Service Manager at the Welsh Gender Service. Since it first opened in September 2019, the clinic has come a long way. Regardless on the impact of Coronavirus, the clinic is helping improve the lives of transgender people daily. The gender clinic is located in Cardiff at St David’s Hospital and covers the whole population of Wales. Prior to opening, people using gender services had to travel to London to get medical consultations. A huge benefit has been that the Welsh clinic has eased the anxiety of travelling for many. As service manager, and in terms of her role, Helen told me that “it’s all about making an impact on trans people’s lives”. She wished that waiting times could be shortened. Waiting times depend on the capacity of the clinic and the amount of people who have been referred to the clinic. 24
“It’s all about making an impact on trans people’s lives” Helen’s advice was to get a referral to the service as soon people know they want to seek medical help. A referral can be issued via local general practitioners, and then the gender service offers a range of facilities. This includes gender specialists who provide assessments. Once a patient has been endorsed for hormones, their local gender team will prescribe them and monitor bloods. Surgeries can also be discussed in the clinic. However it should be noted that they can only be performed in England at present. Peer support for anyone on the waiting list is provided by our friends at Umbrella Cymru. It should be noted that despite the pandemic, patients are still being seen virtually. Although coronavirus has had a devastating effect globally, Helen stated that patients felt comfortable being assessed in their homes virtually to help ensure that things moved forward for them.
Virtual appointments have also eased some people’s nerves about travelling. When discussing future plans of the clinic, Helen said she was hopeful that in the future the clinic would expand - meaning that more staff would be available to help reduce waiting times. Ideally, the clinic would aim to have all the pathways available for trans people in Wales, including the surgical element. Though there are currently no solid plans for this, it is believed that this would provide most comfort for patients. Helen believes the main purpose for the gender clinic is that it allows people to be “cared for closer to home” which is proving to be a great benefit. More information about the Welsh Gender Service can be found on their website here
GAYS WHO WINE Shaun and his husband moved to Cardiff about ten years ago and recognised the urban isolation within the LGBTQ+ community. By Charles Stylianou
“Gay bars in Cardiff are fun, raucous with great drag queens, but you go out with a group of friends and it's not really where you go to talk and relax. We had the idea of creating a space to get everyone in the community together over a shared interest of wine, nice food, good vibes and that’s what we did”, the founder said.“Gays Who Wine” is not a permanent physical venue, 26
it’s a friendly, pop-up gay wine bar offering wine tastings, food and company all in a welcoming, judgement-free venue. They started holding events back in April 2019 and sold more than twenty tickets for their first event. The pop-up events are informal and Shaun stresses this is not a serious wine club. You don’t have to wear a name badge or get told where to sit, it’s fun with some structure.
“I love the thought that when the box arrives on a Friday all of these people are having a shared experience, we really do offer something for everyone.” Shaun says “I really like the fact that we have representation from across the whole LGBTQ+ community. As a white gay man myself I know that a lot of places you go to can feel as though its full of just the same people. I wanted to create an environment that is a lot more inclusive than that.” So how has 2020 impacted the business? “A couple of people had the idea of hosting something via Zoom and we just tried to keep the community going, coming together and socialising. We had set this up because of isolation and we now found ourselves in the most isolating circumstances ever with COVID and lockdown.’ Gays Who Wine started selling boxes including wine, cheeses and nibbles to your door and they are now selling boxes nationally. Shaun says ‘I love the thought that when the box arrives
on a Friday all of these people are having a shared experience, we really do offer something for everyone. I can’t wait to get people back in a room together but we have managed to survive and thrive through this difficult situation.’ Furthermore, a percentage of the business’ profits are being donated to LGBTQ+ charities. As the website says, this is somewhere where you can go alone, as a couple or as a group and have a great night, learn something new and meet others. Whether that be in person or online gayswhowine.com is the place to go.
'Dragged to Church' demonstrates the charitable heart at the centre of drag There're not many sure-fire signs from God, but a pigeon defecating on your bible after flying in through a partially collapsed roof is probably one. By Matthew Tordoff 28
This was the catalyst for ‘Dragged to Church’ - a charity event benefiting St. Andrew’s URC, organised by and featuring some of Cardiff’s most prolific drag performers. I spoke to Rob Keetch, who performs as the iconic Dr Bev, and is one of the enigmatic minds behind this history-making event. Rob has a personal connection to religion and “saw Dragged to Church as an opportunity to give back to a community that doesn’t always appear to have been on the LGBTQ+ community’s side.” There were apparently some raised eyebrows at first, but people quickly grew to love the event.
Rob has a personal connection to religion and “saw Dragged to Church as an opportunity to give back to a community that doesn’t always appear to have been on the LGBTQ+ community’s side.”
“The church was overflowing with people, they welcomed us.” The evening was so popular it’s now become an annual event. Unfortunately LGBTQYMRU
last year’s performance had to be prerecorded due to coronavirus, although a global pandemic wasn’t enough to stop the ‘Dragged to Church’ team, who raised over £2,000. The future looks even more promising, with a feature film based on the event currently scheduled for production - and Torchwood and Keeping Faith alum, Eve Myles, is attached to direct. Rob described the film as “Billy Elliot meets Calendar Girls, with a bit of Pride! and Two Wong Foo thrown in for good measure.” Rob, however, isn’t just looking to the future. He stressed the importance of drag as a vehicle for bringing communities together: "That’s what the power of drag can do. It can make a difference. And you go right back to the very start with the Stonewall Riots, and it’s drag queens, and members of the trans community, and members of the BAME community who stood up. They made a difference and I like to think that now, even if it’s just locally, we’re still making a difference today.” You can follow Dragged to Church on Instagram and keep an eye out for the film in a future edition of this magazine.
“And you go right back to the very start with the Stonewall Riots, and it’s drag queens, and members of the trans community, and members of the BAME community who stood up.” 30
WE’RE RECRUITING! Are you interested in joining the LGBTQYMRU team? All roles are voluntary and we take a supportive, oneteam approach to producing high quality articles for the LGBTQommunity by the LGBTQommunity in our free quarterly and fully bilingual magazine. If you’re interested in joining an inclusive team, see the application pack here.
STORIES At LGBTQymru, one of our drivers is to ensure that our LGBTQommunity stays connected. Our mantra is ‘for the Qommunity by the Qommunity’. For us, that means the whole of Wales. So, we’d be super excited to hear from you if you have a queer story to tell or an idea to feature in a future edition. Don’t be shy – get in touch by dropping us a line at Magazine@LGBTQymru.Wales and put ‘Feature’ in the subject box.
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We're here, we're queer, so give our network a cheer! At Swansea University, equality is very important not only between students but also between staff. By Emily Usher
The university has several social groups for minority students to join, but they also have many networks for staff that need a safe space to feel included and be themselves. We spoke to Alys Einion-Waller who is one of the cochairs of the LGBT+ staff network. 34
In 2012, Midwifery Lecturer, Alys Einion-Waller, became a member of the LGBT+ Staff Network after experiencing a lot of mistreatment for being a lesbian at a previous job. She then became co-chair alongside Daffydd Turner and Siân Elin Thomas, and in 2017 the group went on to win Stonewall Cymru’s Network Group of the Year.
Swansea University LGBT+ staff network holds regular social events, networking opportunities, workshops, and training, as well as providing information and guidance on matters relating to the LGBT+ community. The network also offers confidential support and advice to all staff (not only those who identify as LGBT+). Staff can report bullying and harassment incidents on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity to the network co-chairs. The network is also involved in taking part in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. The staff group has worked hard to organise events that raise awareness including gender awareness training and collaborating with Swansea’s Student Union to paint their main entrance kerb stones in rainbow colours. The group has also had its fair share of challenges, particularly in light of COVID. When I asked Alys about this, she said: “Most of our struggles come from lack of time. We all volunteer for the network and COVID has meant moving everything online, which does feel a lot harder. There will always be times where we may face a little bit of negative backlash, but as long as we are putting out a positive message it doesn’t affect us.”
“If you are already at Swansea University, or thinking of joining and looking for support, you can contact our group. We are committed to growing and understanding.”
Alys finished with a key message “If you are already at Swansea University, or thinking of joining and looking for support, you can contact our group. We are committed to growing and understanding. For this reason, we not only provide support but are open to new insights and developing new contacts. We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going anywhere!” You can contact the Swansea University LGBT+ Staff Network via their Facebook page at @ LGBTSwanseaUni or email the LGBT+ Society at firstname.lastname@example.org. LGBTQYMRU
In Memory of Jan Morris Credit: Evie Barker eviebarkerart.com
Jan Morris, the Welsh writer, and trans trailblazer who broke new ground with her book Conundrum, has died aged 94. By Danielle Herbert 36
“What was important was the liberty of us all to live as we wished to live, to love however we wanted to love, and to know ourselves, however peculiar, disconcerting or unclassifiable, at one with the gods and angels.”
The journalist, acclaimed author, and historian led a fulfilled and varied working life before she passed away on November 20th.
In her memoir, Morris accounts her extraordinary life and her 10-year transition. The book was one of the first to discuss gender affirmation surgery.
Announcing her death her son Twm wrote, “This morning at 11.40 at Ysbyty Bryn Beryl, on the Llyn, the author and traveller Jan Morris began her greatest journey.”
In the book, she said, “I never did think that my own conundrum was a matter either of science or of social convention.
She leaves behind her children and wife Elizabeth, who she married in 1940. The couple remained together following her transition in 1964. Morris first made history in The Times on the morning of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, when she broke the news of the first-ever ascent of Mount Everest. She went on to work for The Guardian where she revealed that France and Israel had colluded to invade Egyptian territory, whilst reporting on the Suez Crisis in 1956.
“I thought it was a matter of the spirit, a kind of divine allegory, and that explanations of it were not very important anyway. “What was important was the liberty of us all to live as we wished to live, to love however we wanted to love, and to know ourselves, however peculiar, disconcerting or unclassifiable, at one with the gods and angels.” Jan Morris will be remembered as a transgender pioneer and noteworthy figure in both Welsh culture and the LGBTQ+ community.
The tireless talent published her memoir Conundrum, which was chosen by The Times as one of the ‘100 Key Books of Our Time’. LGBTQYMRU
By Jordan Howell
Ruth Fowler is co-ordinator of Aberystwyth University’s LGBT network and has previously featured on WalesOnline’s Pinc List. In 2014 she founded Aberration. She took some time to sit down with us and talk about the project, how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected it, and what her plans are for the future… What is Aberration? How did it start? Aberration is a series of LGBT arts events, organised by myself and my good friends Helen and Jane from SpringOut – an arts event organisation. We usually host it at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, but we’ve also taken it to venues across Wales. 38
Aberration means ‘a departure from something that’s normal’, so we played with the idea of queer people being different. Plus, we liked the play on words with Aberystwyth… it just worked!
Photo: Jess Rose
I started Aberration when Aberystwyth University alumna, Rosie, got in contact and said she’d like to donate towards LGBT activity at the university. I wanted to put on an LGBT event, as there were none happening in Aberystwyth – approximately 100 people turned up and it was a roaring success!
and take over Aberration, basically, and it could be anything from how to play the drums to how to do a belly dance.
Why the name ‘Aberration’?
We’re used to having the support of an amazing tech team at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, so to suddenly have to do everything, and all through Zoom… it involved a lot of work!
Aberration means ‘a departure from something that’s normal’, so we played with the idea of queer people being different. Plus, we liked the play on words with Aberystwyth… it just worked! How has the project grown since you started? It’s really developed. Aberration used to just be an event or two a year, all cabaret style. Now it’s gone to three or four shows a year, and they can be so diverse in terms of how we style each event. We also do smaller intimate shows, such as panel discussions about pressing LGBT issues. With the pandemic continuing the event was moved online this year – what were the challenges you faced doing that? The first set of online events we did – Aberration Adre – were weekly and audience-led. There was some core planned entertainment, but the rest was up to the audience. They could perform
The second event we did online – Aberration Pride – had professional performers. It was a whole new world!
What has been the response from the community about the move online? The community response was positive and appreciative. We’ve also been shortlisted for a community arts award because of it, so it’s definitely been well received! What are you planning for the coming year? We’re meeting soon to make plans, but I think we’ll definitely do something for LGBT History Month. We really need to see how 2021 starts to pan out, though, as planning anything is very difficult with the ongoing pandemic! You can find out more about Aberration via their social media and website.
The Qommunity Champion
ISAAC BLAKE The LGBTQ community comes in all shapes, sizes, colours and ethnicities. The Roma and Gypsy communities are no different. By Carol Dierzuk
Isaac Blake, a gay dancer and founder of The Romani Cultural and Arts Company, decided to bring his Gypsy and Roma Traveller (GRT) communities together with the power of arts as a universal means of communication and healing.
“I lived on two Gypsy sites for about 25 years,” says Isaac. “I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship in contemporary dance in Trinity Laban in London; I did lots of projects in New
York and Canada as well. In 2009 I did a piece for Gypsy and Roma Traveller History Month, and it got me thinking that there was a lack of activities for the GRT community. Our charity started on-site programs for children that explored visual and performing arts, starting with the sites I grew up on.” When asked what has kept him going during his 10 years as a Charity Director, he shares that it’s all about his people. “They give me strength. When I’m unsure about a project I’m working on, they encourage me to keep going. We will make it work - they say. I feel deeply connected with them.” But it isn’t always easy to work with external organisations. “People can be quite apprehensive because of what they’ve heard about Gypsies. Some don’t believe we have academics or policemen within the community, to which I’m like - of course we do! We strive to change the narrative by telling our stories, instead of having them told by someone who doesn’t know much about us.”
“I had two lives: my gay life, and my Gypsy life. Now it’s just one life. If people can’t accept my Gypsiness, they’re out. I’ve got no time to waste.”
“If you think about it, we are discriminated against three times: because we are gay, Roma, and gay Roma - said my friend from the Czech Republic. And it’s true”, confesses Isaac. ”Sometimes people are casually racist, sometimes it would be a homophobic comment directed at me. Our people sometimes avoid talking about gayness. My aunt had a girlfriend on the site, and even then they would be treated as ‘the gays’. Not every site is accepting, there wasn’t much gayness on the site I grew up in England, as opposed to experiences in Wales. It is slowly changing, and the LGBTQ community is becoming more and more visible. We as a company, and I, as a director and a gay man, LGBTQYMRU
cannot deny the existence of the LGBTQ people within our own communities. Some don’t want to talk about it much and prefer to keep their distance, but hopefully, it’ll become easier to open up for those folks.” Slowly but surely, the Romani Cultural and Arts Company is able to lift the stigma that comes with both being gay and Gypsy through Isaac. They’ve done outstanding government-level work with Gypsy and Roma policies. “Before 2012 it only mentioned the Gypsy community. We managed to get the Roma part on a Welsh document, which is such a big achievement because it’s important to include everyone.” Isaac is also working on intersectionality. “If you look at policies in Wales, there is no mention of gayness when it comes to the Gypsy and Roma Travellers. Last year, we recommended an update to the Enabling Gypsy, Roma and Travellers Policy to mention LGBTQ people.” Why is it so important, you may ask? “It’s a guide for every organisation, really, NHS Wales included, so it’s important they know how to treat LGBTQ Travellers.” Isaac’s work is crucial for the LGBTQ individuals living within the Gypsy and Roma Traveller communities. “As much as my experience with homophobia was limited, that isn’t the case for everyone. During our conferences, I had the privilege to listen to people talking about their traumas, and it’s heartbreaking to hear what they’ve gone through.” Reminiscing about the past, Isaac shared that “Whilst growing up and wandering around town with my friends, I had to make sure I did not pass by gay bars. I led two lives - a gay one, and a Gypsy one. Now that I am working for a charity, it’s just one life. I don’t want to pick and choose which part of me I show. I am proud of who I am - a Gypsy gay man. You can find out more about the work of the Romani Cultural and Arts Company at http:// www.romaniarts.co.uk/
CHAMPIONS We all know someone who does amazing things for our LGBTQommunity in Wales. So, get in touch and tell us about someone you know who deserves some recognition for the great work they do, work that makes a difference, something that merits a bit of a spotlight. We’d love to feature some of our unsung heroes from across Wales in future editions so please drop us a line at Magazine@LGBTQymru.Wales with ‘LGBTQ Champion’ in the subject box and tell us a little more.
Just ‘come out?’ Moved to a new area? Looking for connections? Surely many of us within the LGBTQ+ community can relate with that daunting feeling of joining a new group. By Matthew Skinner
RUSTIC RAINBOW Luckily when it came to focusing on my own self help this year, I found companionship in a non LGBTQ running group. However I question whether I would have felt more comfortable if I’d been aware of specific LGBTQ+ groups? Could I have quashed that initial feeling of anxiety on ‘fitting in’ because of my sexuality and sought help earlier? Living in Cardiff, I can network with like minded people on my doorstep. However, if you’re living in rural North Wales, what’s the ‘go to lifeline’? I spoke to Patsy Hudson, who lives in Saltney near Chester, one founding member of ‘Rustic Rainbow’. ‘When I moved from Leeds to Rhyl I was missing a sense of community, I had been a member of ‘Gay Abandon’ the Yorkshire LGBT choir and I’m not a great scene person for pubs or clubs. I met
up with Karissa (another founding member of Rustic Rainbow) and we decided to run monthly events through Facebook. LGBTQYMRU
“Growing up I had no social media. It could have been absolutely life changing! Having an acknowledgement that LGBTQ+ people exist. Section 28 came in as I was finishing school but I think not being able to talk about homosexuality was already in place. It was never mentioned, it was just used as a term of abuse in the playground. It would have been hugely validating to know, if you could hold out to adulthood that you could actually meet people that were out & proud.”
Past events have included visiting CADW castles particularly when they ran free entry days. Patsy says ‘we wanted to ensure accessibility (financially & mobility wise). We also recognised that due to religious beliefs, meeting in a pub may not be suitable for everyone and we wanted to create a group where no one felt excluded.‘ Events were rotated across all of the different parts of North Wales but Patsy says that running a voluntary group can be challenging so we had to evolve our approach. One example of this was the involvement of Jenny Anne Bishop OBE (Welsh Govt spokesperson from Rhyl), who became involved with the group and provided connections to share on the Facebook page. Jenny runs ‘UNIQUE’ a Trans support group and community house in North Wales where Trans people go for support after recovering from surgery. 44
I ask Patsy how Rustic Rainbow has been functioning during COVID 19. "I realised how important it was to have the group’. We are restricted in the way we can meet as a group, although I’ve ensured I post something weekly such as articles and events. Patsy also works for Chester Pride ‘although it falls on the Wales/England border I have been vocal in stating that lots of our supporters are Welsh." Unfortunately there couldn’t be a Pride parade this year, so we approached sponsors and set up ‘Just Ask‘, a telephone helpline service, where Patsy is the Project Officer. ‘We are crowdfunding to have a community Café in Chester next year, a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community. Ideally there will be space for ‘Just Ask’ beneficiaries to meet with me to talk privately away from the shop floor.’
‘Growing up I had no social media. It could have been absolutely life changing! Having an acknowledgement that LGBTQ+ people exist. Section 28 came in as I was finishing school but I think not being able to talk about homosexuality was already in place. It was never mentioned, it was just used as a term of abuse in the playground. It would have been hugely validating to know, if you could hold out to adulthood that you could actually meet people that were out & proud.’ Someone who accessed Rustic Rainbow in its infancy and benefited from the sense of community was Kate Hutchinson. Kate recalls, ‘I was looking for a focus, somewhere that I could reach out to connect. The first event at a garden centre I could see a table with people sitting with a rainbow flag. Back then I was quite shy and scared to come out. It was a valuable group providing a space with people I could relate to.’ Fast forward 8 years and Kate has become an influential figure for the LGBTQ+ community where she wears many hats as an activist, founder of ‘Wipeout Transphobia’ and Regional Officer at Diversity Role Models. ‘I never planned on being an activist. Receiving abuse in the streets drove me to encourage education, empathy and changing attitudes. ‘ Much of Kate’s work is going into schools to hold workshops with students to promote visibility as a Trans woman. It has been inspiring hearing Kate speak now as a strong person with a voice, miles apart from the shy person she was plucking up the courage to attend her first Rustic Rainbow event. I have come to the conclusion that despite being told the old saying is a myth… you may in fact find a pot of gold at the end of the Rustic Rainbow.
“I never planned on being an activist. Receiving abuse in the streets drove me to encourage education, empathy and changing attitudes.”
You can find Rustic Rainbow on Facebook and learn more about Chester Pride online at https://www.chesterpride.co.uk/
TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE (THE LGBT HISTORY OF WALES)
By Imogen Coombs
The history of the lesbian, gay, bi, trans community is rich in Wales and it is crucial to devour this history in order to acknowledge the original foundations of LGBTQ+ communities, address the founders and most importantly, celebrate how far the community has come.
This article will steer you in the right direction on where you find unique stories about LGBT Wales. There are numerous blogs and articles that discuss and delve into the history of LGBT Wales, some of these are, Wales since 1945, The Heritage Fund, Youth parliament of Wales, The British Museum, The Comma Press Blog and Cardiff School of Journalism touches on stories of LGBT history.
“If you prefer to learn on the go, we’ve got you covered. Podcasts are increasing in popularity and many have been produced about LGBT history. A podcast was created by Simon Brown which connects us to our LGBT heritage.”
Norena Shopland, founder of The Rainbow Dragon, produces stories about the history of LGBT Wales. A favourite tale she shared was the life of Girly Grey from a newspaper dating all the way back to 1890. The story tells the story of Girly Grey who formed a relationship with Lady Anthony, the two would often rehearse plays together at the lady-ships home. Girly would often dress in women’s clothing and play the part of the female and Lady Anthony would acquire the males role, when they weren’t acting, the lady-ship would rather be referred to as Girly’s ‘boy’.
are completely in the dark’. Mark intertwines humour into his stories, so for a light listen, this podcast is a must.
If you prefer to learn on the go, we’ve got you covered. Podcasts are increasing in popularity and many have been produced about LGBT history. A podcast was created by Simon Brown which connects us to our LGBT heritage. Attitude Heroes also dedicated an episode to its podcast featuring Mark Gatiss talking about his personal experiences and the LGBT scene in the 70’s. Mark describes being gay in the seventies was like ‘picking your GCSE options in school, you
It’s been a long fight for equal rights in Wales which still continues to this day but, it’s a fight that will go down in history. The LGBT community has paved a way for a just world and this will never be forgotten because of those who remember, celebrate and share their stories.
Events are available to the public to enhance knowledge on the history of LGBT Wales. This includes a talk at the Senedd that takes place during LGBT History month, these talks include unique stories that societies generally aren’t taught about, like the lesbian suffragettes who fought for equal rights during the sixties and the marvellous Richard Desmond who helped combat stringent and unjust laws.
#PROUDTOPLAY LGBT+ Sport Cymru are a voluntary organisation created by and for LGBTQ+ people, they work to make sport more accessible for queer people in Wales. By Fen Shields
Michelle Daltry (the Chair of LGBT+ Sport Cymru) writes “Our vision is to support the creation of a thriving, inclusive, sporting community across Wales, where LGBT+ individuals feel safe, welcome and free from discrimination…”. They work towards this goal by cooperating with other groups such as Sport Wales and Stonewall Cymru. Their core statement is “Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport is unacceptable”. Their website features a section titled ‘Clubs’ where you can find LGBT+ inclusive sport clubs near you. You can search by selecting one of the sixteen sports available ranging from rugby to crossfit to adventure, or by postcode to find the most accessible clubs for you to join. The majority of these are located in South Wales but LGBT+ Sport Cymru is actively working to increase their presence in North and West Wales. They are hoping to open more queer friendly clubs in these areas soon. Resources on their website are sorted into four main sections: Charter, Good Practice Handbook, Including LGBT+ Young People, 48
Our vision is to support the creation of a thriving, inclusive, sporting community across Wales, where LGBT individuals feel safe, welcome and free from discrimination… and Trans Participation. Each organisation that works with LGBT+ Sport Cymru has agreed to follow the outlines in their Charter to help with inclusivity in Sport. Their handbook highlights political commitments that were made to battle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport. Relevant articles about what progress is being made and what work is being done are also published on the website under the heading “Stories”. You can find the website at https://www. lgbtsport.cymru/en-gb. It is incredibly accessible as it gives options to change text size, text font, contrast, highlight links and reduce motion.
BUSINESSES Do you own or run an LGBTQ business? Do you identify as LGBTQ and run your own business? Do you know of a LGBTQ-specific business or business owner? If so, we would love to hear from you wherever that business is in Wales. We are extremely keen to provide a platform for our LGBTQ businesses in Wales and would love to feature them in our quarterly publication. Message us at Magazine@LGBTQymru.Wales with ‘LGBTQ business’ in the subject box.
GROUPS Are you a member of an LGBTQ community group? Perhaps a LGBTQ reading group, choir, performance group, dinner club or sport team? We know that many are currently having to meet virtually and some not at all. But we’re interested in shining a light on Wales’ local groups and telling the wider-Wales LGBTQommunity about them – perhaps even encouraging more members to join you. If you want to tell us about your Qommunity group, whatever it is, drop us a quick Email at Magazine@LGBTQymru.Wales with ‘LGBTQommunity Group’ in the subject box.
Our resident psychotherapist, Andy Garland, founder and clinical director at Andy Garland Therapies, the mental health clinic, joins the LGBTQymru team to answer your questions.
Andy’s specialisms focus on trauma cases, addictions, adolescents managing self-harm and eating disorders, complex bereavement, grief and relational issues. Working closely with gender and sexual diverse groups, he also has expertise in this area of mental health. QUESTION What would be your top tips to keep on top of your mental health as we emerge from a global pandemic which seems to have impacted many people negatively. Rosa
ANSWER This is a popular question Rosa. The pandemic has challenged how we perceived a ‘normal’ life. The truth is, there is no ‘normal’, just our individual ways of dealing with stuff. I’ve heard this time being described as a ‘wake-up call’, and I believe it’s an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how we live our lives, and to take care of ourselves and each other.
Credit: Talk with Andy
When something bad happens, many of us, and only then, have a call to action. Think of it like someone who doesn’t look after their oral hygiene, and then notices decay. It’s only at the point of an emergency do they decide to take action and make change. It doesn’t take a therapist to highlight that prevention is far healthier than cure, though I guess it does, some of the time! MAKE IT SIMPLE. That’s the starting point when considering how to care for your mental health. If you over complicate self-care it becomes a chore, and you’ll be far less likely to stick to it. Which leads me onto the next tip. BE CONSISTENT A patient once asked me how long they should continue with the exercises I set them. My response, ‘for the rest of your life’! Let’s go back to our oral hygiene – wouldn’t it be an unhealthy decision to choose to clean our teeth only once in a lifetime? I’m hoping most people would agree ‘yes’ to that question! Put as much care and consistency into your mental health as you would your personal hygiene.
DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU There’s lots of suggestions floating around in magazines and online forums on how to care for your mental health. There are no rules, so make it up. Do the things you love and challenge yourself each day with something new. These things don’t need to be big gestures, so sitting still and noticing the silence or listening to a song that lifts you up can bring you joy and fulfilment. Make it varied and change it up – nurturing your mental health can be fun and rewarding. ACCEPT THE LOW TIMES Our mental wellbeing is fluid, which means it changes and isn’t always stable. Accept this and acknowledge what it is you’re feeling. Avoiding it or pushing it to the side, may give some short-term relief, though it rarely goes away by pretending it’s not there. I appreciate that facing intrusive thoughts and difficult experiences can bring discomfort and trauma, though you own your mental health – don’t let it control you.
“Our mental wellbeing is fluid, which means it changes and isn’t always stable. Accept this and acknowledge what it is you’re feeling. Avoiding it or pushing it to the side, may give some short-term relief, though it rarely goes away by pretending it’s not there.”
REACH OUT AND ASK FOR HELP We have moved forward in big strides to challenge the stigma surrounding mental illness. It’s more than okay to have times when you feel mentally unwell, so let the people around you help. Just because you feel unwell, doesn’t necessarily mean that others’ get to see it. So, speak up, let them know, and ask for help. I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the positive response you’ll receive. QUESTION Dear Andy. I've been fortunate to always have good mental health. However, it changed during the pandemic - not drastically - but I wake up most mornings, over-thinking, am a bit anxious and worried about smallish things that I didn't used to worry about. Is this normal? Do you think my mental health will revert to its pre-pandemic state? Thank you. Jay
ANSWER It’s been widely reported how many people have noticed a shift in their mental health since the pandemic started, and I have seen this personally at my clinic. Some of those people would have experienced poor mental health for the first time, and it sounds like you are one of them Jay. Our lives and the world around us changed at a rapid pace at the start of this pandemic. This meant, for most people, their experience of life got smaller. With less activity, routine and social contact our thinking brain can go into overdrive. Here’s just a little bit of science: our brain is made up of neural pathways, and they are connected by a series of neurons. These neurons send signals from one part of the brain to another, and they process the information we receive. They allow us
Credit: Talk with Andy
to interact, as well as experience emotions and sensations. They are also responsible for creating our memories and enable us to learn. Basically, neural pathways thrive in familiarity – they grow stronger and establish more patterns. When our lives change, especially during a crisis or trauma, your thinking brain is trying to pull you in one direction, and your reality in another. When this happens it can cause over-thinking, worry, fear and anxiety. So, your experience is normal, and for the majority of people, they will revert back to good mental health. I truly hope our experiences during this crisis will ensure that we don’t revert to anything prepandemic in the same way, and this includes not taking our mental health for granted. QUESTION Dear Andy. My child came out as trans during lockdown, and I’m really struggling with it. I feel like I’ve lost the child I raised and now I’m constantly making mistakes. It was so out of the blue and this is all brand new to me. I will
always love my child with all my heart, but right now I can’t help but feel worried for them, guilty at not knowing this sooner and grief at losing the child I thought I knew. Peter. ANSWER I can see by your question Peter, that you care very much. Your child has made such an important step to tell you, and I can be sure that it wouldn’t have been easy for them to come out to you. All you have to do in the short-term is let them know they are supported and loved. You don’t have to agree with their decision right now, though find a way to accept it. It can sometimes be too easy to forget the impact ‘coming-out’ can have on the extended family. Societal norms are changing, though there’s still a way to travel before transgendered people receive a similar acceptance to other parts of our LGBTQ+ community. That child you say you’ve lost has actually become more of a person, so there’s more of them to love and get to know. Making mistakes
“Worry, fear, guilt, anger, anxiety – all of these are valid emotions. Don’t push them away, in fact get to know them, ask yourself why they are there? What positive purpose can they play? When we embrace all life’s emotions in the same way as we do happiness, joy and contentment, the difficult times become easier to get through.”
is absolutely fine and asking lots of questions is very normal, and important too. No-one is expecting you to be an overnight expert on all things trans, so take the pressure off. Getting used to new pronouns, and a name change can take some time. Remember that your child is also facing new challenges and experiencing themselves in the world in a different way, so you’re both outside of what was previously normal. Your experiences will be different, though they are shared. Worry, fear, guilt, anger, anxiety – all of these are valid emotions. Don’t push them away, in fact get to know them, ask yourself why they are there? What positive purpose can they play? When we embrace all life’s emotions in the same way as we do happiness, joy and contentment, the difficult times become easier to get through. Guilt is an interesting emotion, it almost says you are responsible, and something is your fault, and of course, we’re not all faultless all of the time. I understand how you may be experiencing guilt, 54
through not knowing sooner, and the grief of losing someone you thought you knew. You will know as a parent, that you kind of make it up as you go! There’s a song by Savage Garden called Affirmation, and one line reads, ‘I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do.’ There are exceptions I know, though in principle I agree with this. You can’t reshape the past, so find ways to put all of your energy into accepting, and getting to know your child in a fuller way. QUESTION Since lockdown I’ve been working from home, which means I’ve been able to be myself. I wasn’t out at work, but lockdown has allowed me to be myself in the comfort of my own home without the fear of being bullied or thought of differently. Do you have any advice on how I can overcome this anxiety? Jamie.
ANSWER You don’t ever have to be the perfect version of yourself, just a version that you can accept. That’s your starting point Jamie, and I feel from your question that you’re already on track. Many people struggle with being themselves in every area of their lives. You just need enough confidence to continually be yourself. Imagine how freeing that would be? This confidence begins with caring less about your perceptions of what you think, other peoples’ perceptions are. Read that again…and one more time! If you are being bullied and fearful of individuals at work, find a way to call this out. Confide in a colleague, a line manager or anonymously via
Credit: Talk with Andy
your Human resources department. No person should experience harm, in what should be a safe environment for you. It’s often our own thoughts and judgements that hold us back. Maybe write down ten things you like about yourself, and then ask if you allow others’ to see these things. The more awareness you put on your qualities, and embrace and celebrate your differences, the more comfortable you will become by just being you. If you have a question for Andy, send it to Magazine@LGBTQymru.Wales and put ‘Talk with Andy’ in the subject box.
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ZERO BY 2030 On World AIDS Day, I sat down with LGBT+ rights campaigner, Lisa Power, to discuss AIDS activism past and present. By Evie Barker
After sussing me out with a few swishes of her tail, rescue cat Madam made her way to a perch off screen to listen to her human’s advice on raising awareness, reducing stigma, and continuing to be an active member of your Queer community during the Coronavirus pandemic. Lisa has been at the coal face of some of Queer history’s most famous struggles. When she joined Switchboard, a telephone helpline for the LGBT community, in 1979, Lisa ‘started getting calls about this strange new thing that was happening to gay men in New York.’
AIDS presented such uncertainty for both the Queer community and general public that Lisa recalled ‘We (Switchboard) were the place that everybody called in to and we rapidly became one of the main information hubs.’ The delay in a scientific explanation of the disease resulted in widespread stigma and ignorance. One example was a phone call Lisa received from an elderly woman ‘who was worried about her cat getting AIDS if it bit a gay man.’ Lisa calls herself ‘one of the first AIDS bureaucrats’; her years of experience made her ‘ridiculously employable’, catapulting her into a career with organisations like Terrence Higgins
“Lisa’s next goal is to ‘make Queer Wales a kinder, gentler nation.’ so she encourages everyone to ‘get out there and start volunteering and helping out with your local Queer community’ as soon as possible.”
Trust, Fast track Cities and even Hackney Council. Lisa remarked that ‘For some reason they thought it would be less trouble to employ a lesbian than a gay man.’ to which we both gave a wry chuckle. With the development of life saving treatments and preventative medication (such as PrEP), AIDS activism isn’t just about tackling the disease anymore. Lisa highlighted ‘poverty, mental health and isolation’ issues experienced by those affected, particularly older gay men who lost much of their social circle to AIDS. Currently, Lisa is working with Fast Track Cardiff and Vale to pool the resources of clinicians, councillors, support groups and charities. Lisa says she has ‘never seen anywhere like Wales, where hardly anyone is open about their HIV status.’ She suggested that the solution is to destigmatise through education. Not enough people know, for example, that ‘If you go onto HIV treatment, you’re undetectable.’ meaning it cannot be passed on.
Testing is vital in reaching the goal of zero cases by 2030. ‘When we started a year ago, the only testing you could officially get in Wales was to go to an STI clinic’, Lisa said, and ‘Powys…’ amongst other counties ‘…has no sexual health services.’ Therefore, as the most accessible, fast and private form, home testing is the future. We closed our discussion with talk of the impact of Coronavirus, and how we can carry out small acts for the community within the constraints of lockdown. ‘Politics is personal.’ Lisa says. ‘Do whatever is right to reach out to other people.’ ‘I’m someone who’s pretty tough, but it’s lovely at the moment when somebody just rings me out of the blue.’ Lisa reminds us that ‘This is a long haul.’ and suggests a social media break for those struggling with the transition to life online. Lisa’s next goal is to ‘make Queer Wales a kinder, gentler nation.’ so she encourages everyone to ‘get out there and start volunteering and helping out with your local Queer community’ as soon as possible. LGBTQYMRU
LGBTQ+ BLOOD BAN TO BE LIFTED THIS SUMMER Restrictions banning some within the LGBTQ+ community from giving blood will be dropped this year, after many years of campaigning. By Jordan Howell
The change is part of a UK-wide approach, with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland also making the change. Under the current system, set by the UK Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, gay and bisexual men can only donate if they’ve abstained from sex for three months. Before 2017, the abstention period was set at twelve months. This, despite shortages of some blood types. Announcing the news, Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “This announcement will put an end to the discrimination many people in the LGBT+ community have faced.
“With the great progress and certainty that our medical experts and systems have brought, we can now remove the barriers that have long been in place and that have meant that some LGBT+ people cannot easily donate blood.” Mr Gething also paid tribute to the medical professionals, civil servants and those who have campaigned to make the change happen. The Welsh Government has continued to make progress on LGBTQ+ issues over the past decade, including on same-sex marriage and by becoming the first UK nation to make the HIV preventive drug PrEP available on the NHS. Last year, a petition put forward by Blood
Photo: Welsh Government
“Today feels like a real moment for gay and bi men who for too long have been excluded on the basis of outdated assumptions.” Equality Wales called on the Welsh Government to scrap the three-month abstention period before giving blood, instead opting for an “individualised risk-based assessment” to assess sexual behaviour. Elsewhere, a UK-wide petition set up by the founder of FreedomToDonate, Ethan Spibey, received over 72,000 signatories. He was prompted to set up the petition after a relative lost eight pints of blood during a surgical procedure. Offering to give his own, he was told he couldn’t because of his sexuality. Reacting to the news, he said: “Today has
been so special and feels like a real moment for gay and bi men who for too long have been excluded on the basis of outdated assumptions. “Much more to be done for our LGBTQ community on areas of health inequality but today is a good day.” The Welsh Blood Service have confirmed they’ll amend the questions donors are required to answer before giving blood, making the process more inclusive.
TALK TO COCO “Honesty and transparency makes you vulnerable, be honest and transparent anyway’, my final famous words to you.”
Coco, from Talk to Coco is a mental health activist and creative writer. Coco has created a safe space for thousands of people from all around the world to have someone to talk and share their experiences, feelings, and thoughts with, and just feel understood & accepted. By Hia Alhashemi
Talk to Coco came about because they wanted to break all negative stigmas attached to mental health and start talking openly - showing so many people like themself, that they're not alone and for people to see a real life person, in the flesh, talking about and projecting real life issues. We were lucky enough to have our Qommunity Reporter, Hia, talk to Coco to get their take on issues surrounding mental health. What is your perspective on mental health support and services within Wales for LGBTQ+ people? I don’t have any knowledge in regards to specific services available for the LGBTQ community in regards to mental health! That’s why I decided to start being transparent and that’s how ‘Talk to Coco’ came about: I felt as if I needed to speak out on mental health and be the voice/person for human beings, like myself, so that we didn’t feel isolated and
alone. I knew I had to make a change and that’s how ‘Talk to Coco’ came about. Talk to Coco became a platform for myself, and others within my community and around the world, to have a safe haven, a secure space where they didn’t feel judged and could see someone in the flesh experiencing just what they do. Just to feel part of something where they can be themselves completely; even by just sitting back and watching, and being able to relate is what I do and intend to keep doing. What your aims and objectives are for the future? I guess when it comes down to aims and objectives it’s a tricky one for myself. There’s transparency & authenticity; so, I guess in 64
regards to keeping that, it’s taking every day as it comes because, as you know with mental health, nothing is set and everything is a day by day scenario. So, as long as I’m breaking stigmas through that I’m happy. Also, I want to keep pushing reality as much as possible, to have access to as many sources to share my wisdom, support, and reality, so that people like myself don't feel alone, or unrelatable. To continue to be an advocate for people like us, right? To keep pushing the new normal, the fact we do exist and we’re not some crazy, weird people who deserve to be ignored, or tarnished by stigmas within society - to make the little people like us, have a world where they don’t ever have to reach the lows I did, I guess.
“I guess I would like us to be recognised, not just for being who we are regarding sexuality, gender and people, but that we are us and we are people, no matter how our mental health affects us. The problem is that I think people think that it’s easier for society to turn a blind eye, and say it’s ok, or leave it to LGBTQ charities and communities to deal with ‘us’, rather than it be a collective.”
What would you like to see be done to support mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community. I guess I would like us to be recognised, not just for being who we are regarding sexuality, gender and people, but that we are us and we are people, no matter how our mental health affects us. The problem is that I think people think that it’s easier for society to turn a blind eye, and say it’s ok, or leave it to LGBTQ charities and communities to deal with ‘us’, rather than it be a collective.
person for change. I’m trying to do all I can for people like me to not feel so demonised in this world, but I’m only one human. We’re getting there slowly, I’m hopeful. As long as we stick together and continue to push boundaries and change the ‘social norms’ we will be surviving.
We need to just be recognised and have more people interested and available to us, or at least allow someone like myself, to be the voice, the
Photo: Alfie Reddy
What's in your closet? The LGBTQ+ is as diverse as it is awesome, and this includes our styles and wardrobes. For the first wardrobe in this recurring segment one of Cardiff’s best belly dancers talks to our Community Reporter Danielle through their closet... By Danielle Herbert
Since moving to Cardiff, Moroccan asylum seeker, Rahim, has become an asset to the Welsh queer community.
Explaining how his journey of self-expression began he said, “When I was 11 I to started to explore my queer identity.
Through his YouTube channel, the 28-year-old hopes to provide an education on LGBTQ+ issues, whilst creating the representation he struggled to find when he was growing.
“I can still remember putting on my mum’s high heels for the first time and going through all her handbags.
“Since I was young my mother always used to say ‘don’t wear those jeans they are too tight’ or ‘that colour is too feminine’. Her voice is still in my mind so I am still trying to break away from what I was taught as a child. It has been a long journey to be able to live as my authentic self.”
“This allowed me to push past the toxic masculinity I experience growing up in a patriarchal culture. He went on to explain how belly dancing allows him to challenge traditional gender norms. He said, “When I perform I have the opportunity to showcase my culture alongside my queer identity. “I feel my happiest when I am on stage wearing my red belly dancing dress. Speaking on finding the confidence to express himself authentically he said, “The first time I wore a dress on stage I was so nervous that I decided to keep my jeans on underneath. “When I showed my friends the photos they asked me why I had kept my jeans on. “When I explained why they were so encouraging and gave me the confidence to take them off.
“The next time I performed I didn’t wear them and I felt like I was finally complete.” Despite moving to Cardiff four-years ago, Rahim went on to explain how he can still hear his mother’s voice when picking out what to wear. He said, “Since I was young my mother always used to say ‘don’t wear those jeans they are too tight’ or ‘that colour is too feminine’. “Her voice is still in my mind so I am still trying to break away from what I was taught as a child. “It has been a long journey to be able to live as my authentic self.” When asked if he could say one thing to his younger self he said, “Take your time to find your voice. “Little by little you will get there eventually.”
Programme for Swansea Pride held in Singleton Park in June 2010 © Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales
The saints that keep on giving
How St Fagans is making history! St Fagans is much more than a museum of Welsh history. It’s a bloodline. By Hia Alhashemi LGBTQYMRU
Since it’s opening in 1948, 72 years on, its impact is still more vibrant than ever. As quoted by poet Iorweth C.Peate (1948): ‘[The task] was not to create a museum which preserved the dead past under glass but one which uses the past to link up with the present to provide a strong foundation and a healthy environment for the future of their people’. In being a powerhouse for Welsh history, St Fagans LGBTQ+ representation and contribution is beyond inspiring. Earlier this week, I had the pleasure to interview St Fagans LGBTQ+ history curator Mark Ethridge. Asking the questions on what St Fagans is all about, and its impact on our community. What is St Fagans? St Fagans National Museum of History is in Cardiff and is part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales family of seven museums across Wales. St Fagans tells the story of Wales from 230,000 years ago to the present day through its three indoor gallery spaces, and an open- air museum site that includes more than 50 historic buildings, many that have been moved from locations across Wales. Opened in 1948 it was the UK’s first national open-air museum and has grown to become one of Wales’ most popular heritage attractions.
“Early last year I took on responsibility for the LGBTQ+ collection at St Fagans and have started working on building up this collection to be fully representative of all the LGBTQ+ community throughout Wales.”
Badge worn during protests against Section 28. © Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales
What have St Fagans done? Since it opened in 1948 St Fagans has always been about recording and preserving the everyday lives of the people of Wales. In October 2018 St Fagans completed a six-year, £30 million redevelopment project, and in 2019 was awarded the Art Fund Museum of the year prize for this work. How has St Fagans contributed to the positive history of our LGBTQ+ community?
Early last year I took on responsibility for the LGBTQ+ collection at St Fagans and have started working on building up this collection to be fully representative of all the LGBTQ+ community throughout Wales.
St Fagans has been collecting LGBTQ+ history for many years and holds some important objects relating to Wales’ LGBTQ+ history. I believe that it is so important that the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ people living in Wales can be seen and are visible in our heritage institutions.
I have built relationships with community groups such as Glitter Cymru, a social and support group for LGBTQ+ ethnic minority people. Glitter Cymru kindly donated their banner, along with photographs of it being carried in various Pride events, and at the first BAME Pride in Wales held in August 2019. I met with members to
Banner made in 2018 by Glitter Cymru, a social and support group for LGBTQ+ ethnic minority people. © Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
Credits: Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, Glitter Cymru Banner (2018) As well as areas like Pride events I have been working on collecting other objects that represent the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Wales. One important object donated this year to St Fagans was a sign from The Kings Cross pub in Cardiff that was used in the 1990s. The Kings Cross was a gay venue from the 1970s until 2011, and when it closed in 2011 it was Wales' oldest gay venue. Many people will have memories of time spent in the Kings.
Flyer for Llantwit Major Pride, the Vale of Glamorgan’s first ever Pride event, held on 1 September 2018. © Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales
record oral histories where we spoke about the importance of Glitter Cymru to its members and their experiences of being LGBTQ+ in Wales, these are now preserved in the oral history archive at St Fagans. This year due to the Covid-19 pandemic many of the usual Pride events have been cancelled. Instead, Pride events have been virtual and held online. I have worked with a number of groups including Glitter Cymru and Pride Cymru to collect digital flyers and video recordings of these events. As I am sure readers will know LGBTQymru held the first Wales Wide Virtual Pride on 2425 July 2020. I was pleased to have worked with the organisers to ensure this important historic event was collected by St Fagans as a permanent record of how Pride events have had to adapt this year due to Covid. The whole of the Wales Wide Virtual Pride is now preserved for future generations in the audio-visual archive at St Fagans.
Unless objects and their associated stories are preserved for future generations, places like St Fagans will be unable to tell the full history of important subjects such as the fight for equal rights, protests such as those against Section 28, and also to tell visitors what it is like to be LGBTQ+ living in Wales in the past and today. Please contact me if you have any objects you would like to donate to help build up the national LGBTQ+ collection at St Fagans. email@example.com Twitter - @CuratorMark Finally, you can search and view objects from the collection at St Fagans on the Museum’s Collections Online catalogue - https://museum. wales/collections/online/CR
Sign from The Kings Cross pub, 1990s. The Kings Cross was a gay venue from the 1970s until 2011. When it closed in 2011 it was Wales' oldest gay venue. © Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales
Daryl Leeworthy's 'A Little Gay History of Wales' Daryl Leeworthy’s ‘A Little Gay History of Wales’ is a brand-new book that is one of the first books to explore how the LGBTQ community have embarked on the cycles of evolving, coming together and changing the world in Wales.
By Charles Stylianou
The book draws on the rich archival sources across Britain along with oral witnesses and material culture. The book focuses on the stories of ordinary people. One of the book’s outstanding characters is Tom Davies, who joined the army at fourteen in 1914 as a drag entertainer and ended up performing in Paris, Berlin, London, and in the bright lights of the Rhondda, all before he was even thirty years old. Leeworthy’s inspiration to write this book has been the novelist Armistead Maupin who wrote about belonging to the ‘queer diaspora’, a community which brings all queer folk together. 72
“The main reason for writing this book was to fill a gap in the history writing about Wales – and Britain more generally. LGBTQ+ history has been largely absent from the library of books about this part of the world and I felt that it was long overdue.” Daryl Leeworthy expressed. Leeworthy states that there should be a whole library of LGBTQ+ histories of Wales, covering the community in all its diversity. He identifies the lack of this as a “professional failure on the part of Welsh academia who haven’t taken LGBTQ+ people seriously enough.” The book is written in a style which is accessible to all. The writer has balanced academic
“Leeworthy hopes that ‘A Little Gay History of Wales’ can make a difference in society, as he says that when he was growing up, LGBTQ+ history wasn’t permitted in schools or libraries because of the Section 28 legislation.” terminology without simplifying the message creating a truly engaging and entertaining read. Questioning Leeworthy what the most interesting chapter was for him in the book, he said that Chapter 3 is his favourite one. He described: “I’m fascinated by the ways ordinary people navigated the confines of their time to reach out to potential partners and did so in humorous and self-deprecating ways. It’s also a reminder that queer people were often quite clever with their use of language and played around with it – thereby appearing hidden in plain sight.”
What is it about our own times that makes us care so much about a very human sentiment: love?” Daryl Leeworthy’s book, A Little Gay History of Wales is available through the Univeristy of Wales Press Website for £11.99. https://www. uwp.co.uk/book/a-little-gay-history-of-wales/
Leeworthy hopes that ‘A Little Gay History of Wales’ can make a difference in society, as he says that when he was growing up, LGBTQ+ history wasn’t permitted in schools or libraries because of the Section 28 legislation. Unless he happened to be told the stories by those who knew them, he learned nothing. “I’ve always felt that writing history of this kind can help to heal the wounds of that period whilst making us all aware of a past which was full of different desires. What did it mean, for instance, to be a miner just like everyone else in your community but you desired other men – how did you cope with that? Did anyone really care that much? And it’s the answer to that last question – which, for most of history, was ‘no, not really’ – that is the most powerful for us today.
LIFE WITHOUT CHOIR WOULD B FLAT Could it be a Welsh Magazine without talking about singing? We didn’t think so and our community reporter Rosie reached out to the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus (SWGMC) to see what they have been doing during 2020...
By Rosie Webber
Could it be a Welsh Magazine without talking about singing? We didn’t think so and our Qommunity Reporter Rosie reached out to the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus (SWGMC) to see what they have been doing during 2020... What could be more fun for a choir than to celebrate a song about their love lives? SWGMC have been busy creating a unique musical piece on the ultimate Grindr experience. Based on the most amusing stories and unforgotten messages, this fun and lively music piece comes together with the support of an associate, Gareth Churchill. This music piece is partnered with a team of skilled composers; Gareth explains how this partnership came by chance, “I found an advert a year ago supported by a facility in the Millennium Centre in Cardiff”. This provided the right support for composers such as himself, and the SWGMC to bring this idea to life. 74
The project started to come together once they collected surveys sent out to the choir about their online dating experiences. The piece also included spoken word segments as well as singing because Gareth knew it was, “a better vehicle to help get their personalities put across on stage”. LGBTQymru Magazine’s most valued notion is ‘For the Qommunity, by the Qommunity’. I ask Gareth why this piece is the perfect example for connecting to the wider audience; he describes it as, “a snapshot of everyone’s lives recently”. The song encapsulates relevant lockdown matters and past remembered dating experiences for people to relate with. Musical Director Andy Bulleyment candidly speaks about the concerns of Grindr, “there’s a lot of things that happen on the platform which are not very positive, and it has brought
“We put our thinking caps on and it became this completely online, rehearsed, recorded, and developed piece” a few of those to the forefront”. The team have sensitively designed a song that is inclusive and covers not just the light-hearted, but more heartfelt and concerning results from online dating. It has been the choir’s and their counterparts’ focus to work together and build a piece that is something they are proud of. The production process was a challenge nonetheless: Gareth mentions some obstacles they had to face following the coronavirus, “we put our thinking caps on and it became this completely online, rehearsed, recorded, and developed piece”.
Andy however expresses that it was a good challenge that, “gave the choir something to aim for” in times like this. As we go to publication, ‘Grinding’ has been recorded and the accompanying video is with the producers. Look out for it in the next month or two. Prior to this, the SWGMC have performed at many locations including The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Sherman Theatre. They really look forward to plans for the future and welcome any new participants! Visit them for more information at swgmc.co.uk LGBTQYMRU
The HeART of the Community Nathan Wyburn embodies his belief that ‘If you build a profile for yourself, you can try to give something back. 76
By Evie Barker
Nathan’s appearances on the Pinc list come as no surprise; his work for LGBTQ+ causes spans from his position as a Youth Ambassador for Pride Cymru to his founding role in Dragged to Church. But Nathan’s bread and butter, or should I say marmite on toast, comes from his career as an artist. Famously working in non-traditional mediums, you might know Nathan from his viral toast portrait of Simon Cowell. We were intrigued to know more about his first foray into food based artwork. ‘Ten years ago I saw an article about Simon Cowell’ he told us, ‘it said, “you’ll love him or you’ll hate him” and I thought…marmite.’ After uploading the portrait to YouTube, ‘it kind of skyrocketed from there’. Since then, Nathan has done it all, even dressing red carpet ready and dipping his skirt in paint to immortalise the famed gender non-conforming dresser, Harry Styles. Throughout his career, Nathan has strived to show his pride through his artwork. He thanks growing up gay in the valleys, and the bullying he faced, for his determination. The Queer influence on Wyburn’s art is perhaps most clear in his portrait of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, created using Rainbow Drops, the piece Nathan cites as his favourite and most representational of him as an artist. Wyburn’s platform allows him to create work that is political, topical and always fun. Examples include his Keyworker collage, dubbed the image of 2020, and a portrait of Elliot Page, created using the star’s name repeated on the trans flag. This artistic representation of current events mirrors the work of Nathan’s biggest influence, Andy Warhol. ‘In the 80s, Warhol was documenting things as they happened at that time through celebrity culture, and that’s what I feel like I’m doing now.’ Nathan is most proud of his work with Gareth Thomas, who he has painted multiple times including in red fingerprints to raise HIV awareness. Wyburn told us, ‘That piece is on display in a place that used to be shrouded in shame for him [Gareth], but now he’s proud.’ Pride in the community and in his country
“Nathan’s cover artwork depicts the silhouette of Wales made up of individuals featured in the first edition of our magazine and wider LGBTQ+ icons. The piece takes the form of a digital collage, a different direction to his usual style. A visual representation of the Queer excellence” radiates from Nathan; ‘There’s a pride that comes with being Welsh that you can’t get anywhere else.’ Nathan’s cover artwork depicts the silhouette of Wales made up of individuals featured in the first edition of our magazine and wider LGBTQ+ icons. The piece takes the form of a digital collage, a different direction to his usual style. A visual representation of the Queer excellence that has contributed to the publication of the magazine, ‘It’s going to celebrate everyone, showing how far we’ve come and where we are now.’ We can’t wait to see where this trafilblazing artist goes next. You can find Nathan’s work at www. nathanwyburn.com and on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @nathanwyburnart LGBTQYMRU
Photo: Stifyn Parri
The Evolution of Pride in Wales Pride has constantly evolved in Wales, from the streets of Cardiff to the virtual Pride we organised last year. Our community reporter Fen looks over the evolution of Pride here in Wales with long time activist and author of Out With It, Stifyn Parri... By Fen Shields
“The concern and sincerity has evolved into this celebratory joy and it is such a beautiful reminder of how far the LGBTQ+ community has come in terms of awareness and acceptance.”
As we can see in Stifyn’s photographs, Pride Parades in Wales have evolved quite drastically over the passing years. The most evident change, to me at least, is the tone of it all. "The concern and sincerity has evolved into this celebratory joy and it is such a beautiful reminder of how far the LGBTQ+ community has come in terms of awareness and acceptance."
“Lesbians & gay men out and proud” read the signs from the first image. These signs show us another big difference: demographic. Where previously, only the L and G of LGBTQIA+ was spoken about, Pride paved the way for more marginalised identities to be seen and heard. LGBT+ is now the shorthand for our community and pride fights for the rights of many more people than ever before.
Of course there is still more to do, but Pride is a yearly reminder of how far we have come. The importance of it has not wavered despite the cultural changes surrounding our community. Another noticeable change in Pride is the format. What once was a protest has become a celebration and, while we do still march, we have stalls and performances and music. Fighting for rights is what we set out to do, and now Pride stands as a yearly celebration of our rights and a reminder of what we have achieved and what we have yet to obtain. LGBTQYMRU
PRIDE! LGBTQYMRU Film Review With our magazine making history as Wales’ first ever LGBTQ+ focused bilingual magazine we asked our community reporter Matthew to share their review of a classic film about some other LGBTQ+ history makers in Wales… By Matthew Tordoff
PRIDE! follows the historic, real-life story of ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ - a group of queer activists who raised money for and stood in solidarity with Wales’ oppressed mining communities. You might think a comedy about queer activists would be light on detail, but while the story is (at points) fictionalised, many of the specifics about LGSM and their achievements are accurate. LGSM began at the 1984 London Pride March. They operated out of the now infamous ‘Gay’s the Word’ bookshop and collectively they raised £22,500 (equalling £69,000 in today’s currency) 80
via collecting donations and organising the iconic ‘Pits and Perverts’ benefit concert. LGSM’s efforts to aid the struggling miners were reciprocated when the National Union of Miners voted unanimously to enshrine LGBT rights in the Labour Party manifesto. LGSM’s activism was bold and determined, and even today many of its founding members are still fighting for disadvantaged communities. This heart-warming film is buoyed by heaps of brilliant comedy from it’s star-studded cast, the likes of which includes; Bill Nighy, Dominic West and Imelda Staughton. Andrew Scott even
makes an appearance, though this is before his infamous turn as the ‘Hot Priest’ in Fleabag. While PRIDE! is primarily a comedy, it’s actors bring a pathos and earnest warmth in order to balance the otherwise whimsical tone. They deliver multi-faceted performances that capture both the levity and respect that is needed for this particular story. Bill Nighy is especially good as a stoic, yet kind-hearted member of the miner’s union. This un-apologetically queer movie is propelled by disco syths and fast paced editing, and while sometimes the pacing feels rushed, it nevertheless does a great job of conveying the story of LGSM. The film is bookended with clips of protesting (in the beginning) and captions (during the film’s final moments) which relay the history of strife and bravery that underpins PRIDE! and foregrounds the film’s historical context for audiences who may not be otherwise familiar. It wears its Welsh history proudly and captures the gruff charm of a rural village like
Onllwyn perfectly. The film also has a timeless relevance, especially now as the LGBTQ+ community (particularly our trans brothers and sisters) still face harrassment and discrimination, from even the highest in government. It encourages us to stand in solidarity and refuse to accept abuse. It encourages us to always stand our ground. PRIDE! is ultimately a celebration of the groundbreaking queer activists who made history by fundraising for striking Welsh miners. A poignant motif that’s repeated throughout the film is the symbol of two hands, joined together in union. I think it’s this image that best represents the film’s central theme of friendship and community - themes best verbalised by Dai (Paddy Considine), when he says: “by coming together all of us, by pledging our solidarity, our friendship, we’ve made history.”
IT'S A SIN It’s not often that a TV programme has such a huge impact – and not just for entertaining people – for raising awareness, changing attitudes and behaviours. By Craig Stepheson OBE
It’s great news that the Terrence Higgins Trust reported earlier this month that HIV test orders have been at their highest ever for HIV Testing Week. It attributes the increase as a legacy of It’s A Sin and its cast who have been busy raising awareness of HIV testing since the drama was aired. Widely reported in the media, and hardly surprising, was that It’s A Sin had also broken All 4’s streaming record as its most binge-watched 82
series ever. At the beginning of February, 6.5 million views had been recorded almost doubling the figure from the previous year. It’s obvious then that It’s A Sin is having a profound impact. It’s been raising awareness and educating younger members of our Qommunity, reminding us of the discrimination our Qommunity endured in our recent history and, for some, it’s made us think back to the people we lost in the 1980s and 90s.
“It’s been raising awareness and educating younger members of our Qommunity, reminding us of the discrimination our Qommunity endured in our recent history and, for some, it’s made us think back to the people we lost in the 1980s” In Wales of course, we’ve focused some attention on our home-grown talent. Russell T Davies, the master of the pen. He seems to be able to sense what works and crafts stories that leave enduring impressions imprinted on our mind. And let’s face it, it’s not often that a hardhitting drama with something powerful to say about our society is also a commercial success. But once again, he’s created the most talkedabout drama of 2021 (so far) – and boy, didn’t we need it in our jaded January lockdown lives. And then there’s newcomer and valleys boy Callum Scott Howells. Freshly graduated from our very own Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, he’s widely regarded as the breakthrough actor of It’s A Sin. Who wasn’t touched by his character, Colin’s, innocence,
his relationship with his mother and the horrific circumstances of his hospitalisation? We’re so excited to see more of Callum. At LGBTQymru, we were delighted that It’s A Sin, with Russell T Davies at the helm as it’s executive producer, ensured that LGBTQ+ actors played LGBTQ+ parts. It added authenticity and a realness which brought the characters and story lines to life. If you haven’t tuned in to It’s A Sin yet, where have you been? Seriously, it is a hard-hitting but not-to-be-missed emotional roller-coaster and is bound to sweep the board in the next awards season. At LGBTQymru, we’ll be watching and waving our Welsh flags with pride. The full series is now streaming on All 4. LGBTQYMRU
Wales-wide Support Service for LGBTQ+ people LGBT Cymru Helpline LGBT+ Helpline and counselling service firstname.lastname@example.org Umbrella Cymru Gender and Sexual Diveristy Support Specialists email@example.com 0300 3023670 Kaleidoscope Drug and alcohol support services 0633 811950 Fflag Support services for parents and their LGBTQ+ Children 0845 652 0311 New Pathways Rape crisis and sexual abuse support firstname.lastname@example.org LGBT+ Switchboard Switchboard.lgbt 0300 330 0630 Glitter Cymru BAME LGBT+ Social Group - Based in Cardiff email@example.com Mind Cymru Mental health information and support services firstname.lastname@example.org 0300 123 3393
Samaritans Support for anyone samaritans.org/wales 116 123 LGBT Asylum Seeker Support and guidance for LGBT+ Asylum seekers - Based in Swansea 01792 520111 Stonewall Cymru LGBT+ Information and guidance 0800 0502020 Victim Support Hate Crime and support and reporting 0300 3031 982 Wipeout Transphobia Information and support for Gender Diverse People 0844 245 2317 Bi Cymru Network for bi people and people attracted to more than one gender email@example.com Galop LGBT+ Domestic abuse helpline and support service firstname.lastname@example.org Galop.org.uk 0800 999 5428
Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru HIV and sexual health information and support 0808 802 1221 Head Above the Waves Information and guidance of depression and self-harm in young people Hatw.co.uk UNIQUE A voluntary group supporting Trans* (transgender) people in North Wales & West Cheshire. Elen Heart - 01745 337144 or email email@example.com Welsh Women’s aid If you or a friend are experiencing domestic violence/abuse and would like further information. Dyn Project Provides advice and support to heterosexual, gay, bisexual and transgender men who are experiencing domestic violence/abuse. http://www.dynwales.org/ Trans*form Cymru A project funded by the Welsh Government supporting trans* young people to understand their rights and to support youth-facing operations to address discrimination. https://youthcymru.org.uk/cy/transform-cymru-2/ Rustic Rainbow An informal group for LGB&T people who love the natural beauty of North Wales. https://www.facebook.com/ groups/443148552374541/
LGBT+ Youth Club The LGBT+ Youth Club is an opportunity for young people aged 15-21 to enjoy themselves, have fun, meet friends and be themselves in Caernarfon. LGBT@gisda.co.uk
Carmarthenshire LGBTQ+ Project a project set up to promote the LGBTQ+ community in Carmarthenshire. carmslgbtqplus.org.uk Rainbow Biz This social enterprise encourages inclusion and celebrates differences in Flintshire. https://www.rainbowbiz.org.uk/ The Wave Newport (LGBT Youth Support Group, Newport South Wales) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 07745718701 thewavenewport.yolasite.com Facebook: The Wave / Y Don or Newport Pride Shelter Cymru Free, independent, expert housing advice https://sheltercymru.org.uk/lgbt-aware/ Llamau Support and information for youth homelessness https://www.llamau.org.uk/our-vision-andmission Newport LGBTQ+ Youth Group A new group for LGBTQ+ young people (aged 11-25) who reside in Newport. https://www.facebook.com/ NewportLGBTQYouth/
Thank you to the Comic Relief's LGBTQ+ COVID-19 Recovery Fund, in partnership with METRO Charity and Umbrella Cymru.