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ISSUE 2 MAY 2021


FOR THE QOMMUNITY BY THE QOMMUNITY

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WELCOME TO THE SECOND EDITION OF LGBTQYMRU: THE MAGAZINE!

I had mentioned that LGBTQYMRU had already been on an incredible journey, and the past three months have been no different. With over 80,000 people having seen the first edition of the magazine, it is safe to say that I, and the rest of the team, are so grateful for all of your unwavering support. Being able to continue to create a space in which we can see ourselves and each other is the lifeblood of LGBTQYMRU and our mission to always be for the Qommunity and by the Qommunity, in our own words and on our own terms. It means so much to us that it has already meant so much to you. The overarching theme of this edition is Hope, a concept I have come to understand is hardwired into the lives of queer people everywhere: hope for today, for tomorrow, and for one another as we begin to introduce ourselves back into society and into the arms of those whom we hold dear. From our feature on bi-erasure and how to tackle it, to introducing Wales’ first LGBTQ+ supported accommodation project, you’ll come to see hope and how it can present itself in many different ways. And whilst recent events have inspired hope for a better future for queer individuals with the Queen’s speech suggesting an end to conversion therapy within the UK, our very own Owen Hurcum becoming the world’s first-ever elected non-binary Mayor, and three ‘out’ politicians being elected as Senedd Members in Wales, it is incumbent upon the Qommunity to recognise and address the growing anti-trans narrative that has been given space to fester with the wider society. As an Editorial Board, we wish to reiterate our full and unequivocal support for our non-binary and trans community. We are resolute in our commitment to provide a safe and inclusive space via the services we provide. We stand in opposition of those who harbour transphobic views or if they lack clear and positive commitment to challenge and end such discrimination. Once again, I would like to thank the amazing Qommunity Editors, Qommunity Reporters, Special Guests, and contributors who have taken the time to shape the vision for this magazine. We couldn’t have done this without you. I’d also like to extend a special thank you to the METRO Charity and partners LGBTQ+ Covid-19 Fund, funded by Comic Relief, for the support you have provided. I hope you enjoy. Bleddyn

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Editor-in-chief Bleddyn Harris Qommunity Editors Craig Stephenson OBE

Andrew White

Karen Harvey-Cooke

Owen Hurcum

Qommunity Reporters

Associates

Jordan Howell

Thania Acarón

Hia Alhashemi

Hannah Isted

Fen Shields

Sue Vincent-Jones

Matthew Tordoff Imogen Coombs Evie Barker Charles Stylianou Special Guests

Social Media & Engagement Imogen Coombs Branding & Design Tom Collins

Alistair James

Cover

Dr. Sita Thomas

Mari Phillips - Mythsntits

Travel Gibbon 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.

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CO N T E N T S 6 8 10 13 18 20 24 27 30 32 35 38 40 42 44 48 52 54 58

What’s Bi Erasure? Keeping Faith Up Close & Personal The Travel Gibbon It’s Getting Political Aubergine Café Qommunity Champion Voice from our Community Open University Ty Pride HIV Mythbusting Facts Tackling Mental Health Forgotten Figures My Chemical Romance Talk With Andy LGBTQ+ Inclusive Sports Clubs Lovelesss Book Review Queer Tales Disclosure

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Bi-Erasure What is bi-erasure? Is it really an issue? At LGBTQYMRU, we pride ourselves on being inclusive for all parts of the LGBTQommunity so we asked our guest reporter, Alistair James, to find out more. Here’s what he had to say. By Alistair James

As a white gay man I’m almost definitely the most over-represented part of the LGBTQ+ community. I don’t have to struggle to find people that look like me and share my experiences. I can name you any number of stories about gay men in the the news, and in film and TV that I can identify with somehow. I acknowledge this privilege. But I’m aware this doesn’t apply for everyone and I want to understand why some people in our fabulous community - specifically the B section in LGBTQ+ - feel simply erased. Stonewall’s 2020 Bi Report highlights a number of concerning things. It says the Bi community faces discrimination from inside and outside the LGBTQ+ community, with many also feeling excluded from our spaces and events contributing to greater levels of loneliness and isolation. And that’s before the pandemic. The report also shows Bisexual people are significantly less ‘out’ to both friends and family than gay men and lesbians, with some citing reasons such as long standing negative stereotypes around greed and infidelity.  6

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Megan Pascoe lives in Cardiff and is a Stonewall Cymru Bi Role Model. She came out when she was 20 after getting into her first relationship with another girl. It was a positive experience, but Megan says issues around bi-phobia and stigma contribute towards Bi-erasure. “I think the main problem is from the LGBTQ+ community. I think if our own community doesn't understand us, then how are we going to expect people who aren’t, to understand us?” “It’s a tough thing because if you're told that it doesn't exist you think, ‘Should I even bother coming out if you're not going to believe me? You just think that I'm straight or gay.’ It makes you feel like your sexuality isn’t valid.” Libby Baxter Williams is from Biscuit, an organisation advocating for the community. She says Bi-erasure stems from a history of looking at things in a binary, and in most cases is due to an unfamiliarity rather than wilful ignorance.  “The feeling of being ‘in limbo’ (not being ‘straight or gay enough’) is a common one. To find out it [the LGBTQ+ community] isn’t necessarily as welcoming as you expected can be quite a blow.”  And this, she says, contributes to greater levels of depression, anxiety and eating disorders in the Bi community.

“It makes you feel like your sexuality isn’t valid” “It sounds like quite a stretch, but the data does bizarrely enough support it. There are definitely links.” Research by Stonewall, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and others has made similar observations. And while both Meg and Libby agree a lot more needs to be done to remove harmful stereotypes, both feel things are changing for the better. Charities and organisations, like Stonewall, are directing more funding towards bi issues and there is greater representation, which Libby says has a trickling effect. But both say it’s on everyone to make a change. LGBTQYMRU

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Keeping Faith In tradition with our Keeping Faith column at LGBTQYMRU, in each issue, we take a look at a faith and its relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. By Hia Alhashemi

For this edition, I interviewed Delyth Liddell, member of The Gathering, an amazing faith group, based in Cardiff, on what it’s like being part of the Christian and LGBTQ+ community. WHAT IS THE GATHERING CARDIFF AND WHAT DO YOU DO? We are a safe space for LGBTQ folks to explore faith in God. We believe that God loves us all and that our sexuality and gender is celebrated by God. So we are primarily a church for LGBTQ folks and we aim to be the link between faith 8

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and the LGBTQ community, and the link between the wider church and LGBTQ Christians. At a Gathering meeting we will sing songs of praise of God, pray together, read the bible and discuss together how God can make a difference in our lives. We have also held an Inclusive Conference for churches to challenge them on how they can be more inclusive to LGBTQ people and we are holding another in April with video reflections on what marriage means to some of our same-sex couples in the Gathering.


We support the Faith Tent at Pride Cymru and this August will be reflecting on marriage of same-sex couples from a multi-faith perspective, as well as our usual talks and panel events at Pride Cymru. WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP WITH BEING CHRISTIAN AND LGBTQ? IS THERE A CLASH, OR DO BOTH SUPPORT EACH OTHER? We don’t think that there is a clash at all. Christians can be LGBTQ and LGBTQ folks can be Christians. However, we know that not all Christians believe this and that many LGBTQ people have been hurt by individual Christians and the church in general because of the attitudes towards us. The Gathering is a space where LGBTQ folks can share their pain and experiences of being hurt by other Christians .

We want to empower people to be shown the inclusive nature of God, including unpicking parts of the bible that have been used to shame us and instead show an alternative understanding that God celebrates our relationships and who we are. WHERE DO YOU MEET?

“We are a safe space for LGBTQ folks to explore faith in God. We believe that God loves us all and that our sexuality and gender is celebrated by God.”

We are currently meeting on Zoom every Sunday night at 7pm. In non-Covid times, we meet at City URC on Windsor Place in Cardiff. One of the benefits of meeting on zoom at the moment, is that we are being joined by people from all over the country and we hope to continue this, even when we can meet again in person. HOW TO GET IN TOUCH? Visit our website www.thegatheringcardiff.org Find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/ TheGatheringCardiff and send us a message, or email mail@thegatheringcardiff.org

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UP CLOSE & PERSONAL WITH MAGGI NOGG

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We wanted to get to know Maggi Noggi and the person behind her, Kristopher Hughes. We asked our Qommunity Reporter, Jordan Howell, to find out more for us. By Jordan Howell

Kristopher Hughes grew up in the village of Llanberis in North Wales, at the foot of Snowdon, but since the age of 13 he’s lived on Anglesey. He started drag in the early 1990s and has had various incarnations of drag personas since then. It was on a journey to Brighton, with his partner of 30 years, that Maggi was born. “I was fast asleep in the passenger seat,” he recalls, “and Ian suddenly blurted out ‘Maggi Noggi!’” “As soon as he said it, this entire character came flooding in. Suddenly, I had this entire woman's family life and background in my imagination.” Having studied, but also having become a teacher of celtic history, ‘Maggi Noggi’ was a clever play on the word ‘mabinogi’ - ‘mab’ originally meaning 'boyhood' or 'youth', later also taking on the meaning 'a tale'. Kris describes Maggi’s personality as innocent and naive. “She's aware that there's things going on in the world,” he says. “But she's also aware that you can make things better by bringing joy into people's lives.” Maggi is also far more bubbly and interactive than Kris, and loves being with people - Kris is a writer, and likes to spend his time in isolation. “I don't like pubs, I don't like nightclubs, I don't ever want to dance, and I don't want to be in places that are like a cattle market. Maggi loves those situations.”

“I did drag for my own reasons, and primarily for the transformation of my own anxieties which I was riddled with them as a young gay man and drag helped me overcome them.” LGBTQYMRU

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She’s unapologetically Welsh, but makes sure her comedy is accessible to all, providing English translations too. “It was apparent to me that I needed to do something to address the vacancy in the Welsh speaking world, as there still aren’t that many drag queens who are Welsh speakers.” Maggi’s Welshness is one of the reasons she is so popular with the Welsh-speaking TV channel, S4C. Regular viewers of the channel will already be well acquainted with Maggi, having featured on Y Salon (The Salon) and Gwely a Brecwast Maggi Noggi (Maggi Noggi’s B&B) to name a few. Her most recent appearance saw her mentoring comedienne Kiri Pritchard-McLean on Iaith ar Daith (Language On Tour) - a series following a Welsh television personality teaming up with another personality who is learning Welsh. Filming Iaith ar Daith was Kris’ first outing as Maggi in 12 months, due to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. She was also due to head out on a national tour, and work on a

“North Wales isn’t like the south - we don't have cities, we don't have that community. There's nothing to gravitate towards here, so, my drag is simultaneously a response to that.” number of other projects, all of which had to be put on hold. “It just all dissolved overnight, but I was so fortunate in comparison to so many other queens that I know - performing is how they make their money, and then it just disappeared overnight.” Surprisingly, one of Kris’ other occupations is as a Pathology Technician at the North Wales Autopsy and Bereavement Centre. When the pandemic hit, he spent a lot more time there. However, as restrictions ease, Kris has returned to the role part-time to focus on his other commitments. When Kris comes home from the mortuary, he manages to leave the horrific things he sees there behind. Using drag, his writing, and his spiritual role as Chief of the Anglesey Druid Order as a way to circumnavigate the “landscape of horror” that he lives in. Ian is very supportive of the work his husband does, especially Maggi, as she is somewhat of a joint project. Ian helps put together a lot of the jokes, and he also makes a lot of Maggi’s jewellery. "We've been together as long as I've been in drag,” Kris says. “So he's quite used to the fact that the house is full of wigs and stilettos, and ladies underwear. There’s more ladies underwear in this house than there is in a straight man's house... I would imagine!” You can watch Maggi’s episode of Iaith ar Daith with Kiri Pritchard-McLean on S4C Clic now, and you can order Kris’ latest book Cerridwen: Celtic Goddess of Inspiration online.

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The year of the UK Staycation We're proud to have partnered with independent travel consultants, The Travel Gibbon, to bring you the latest in holiday news and views.   By Travel Gibbon

Whilst international travel is looking more promising for 2021, things are still very unclear and many have embraced the opportunity to enjoy what the wonderful British Isles has to offer and booked a UK Staycation.

There are some incredible places to stay, breathtaking places to visit and a host of bucket list experiences to be had on this land we call home.

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Some ideas for inspiration here in Wales

Be warned, the UK holiday accommodation market is seeing a boom in demand and many places are already fully booked until September, so start planning that trip now.

1 Chillax in a luxury converted railway wagon stay with private hot tub near Llandrindod Wells – Pen Rhos

2 Experience a Yoga & Detox weekend on a country estate on Anglesey

3 Immerse yourself in the Snowdonia countryside in a luxury treehouse

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4 Absorb the stunning views from your hot tub at a coastal clifftop lodge in Pembrokeshire – Fishguard Bay Ty Gwyn

5 Relish a 7-course Michelin star tasting menu, during a stay at a 5* country chateau near Snowdon – Pale Hall

Tips for a UK Staycation Expect some on-going CoVid restrictions – shared facilities may not be fully operational, masks and social distancing will be with us for a while. BOOK EARLY – places are already booking up for Autumn so don’t wait as its unlikely ‘late deals’ will be available – expect prices to higher than usual due to increased demand. If CoVid restrictions make it illegal to travel you will be entitled to a change of date or refund – if, however, you are required to self-isolate this is not covered, so you need to be clear of the accommodation policy.

TRAVEL OUTSIDE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS (if you can) – there are much better prices available. USE AN ABTA AGENT – it wont cost you anything but an agent will make sure you understand the T&C’s and explain the situation should you not be able to travel. The Travel Gibbon is an ABTA certified independent travel agent Please see The Travel Gibbon Facebook page for the latest offers or drop me an email at thetravelgibbon@gmail.com

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Thinking of travelling abroad? If you are hoping to go on a foreign trip in 2021, keep an eye on the UK Government’s traffic light system which is to be reviewed and potentially changed every 3 weeks. Also, find out about the CoVid testing requirements but here is some advice: It isn’t just the UK regulations to consider, there country you are visiting will have their own set of requirements – you need to know these too. If PCR tests are required for entry into any country, these currently cost approx. £100 per person per test – this could be a significant outlay on top of your holiday cost. Some resorts are offering to reimburse customers the cost of their test. There is no guarantee that CoVid restrictions won’t change in the run up to your holiday or while you’re away – we saw this happen last summer – this is completely out of your control but is a risk you need to consider. The tour operator will not cancel the holiday until they absolutely have to, and you cannot cancel until it becomes illegal to travel, so it can be a nervous wait if there are CoVid spikes. 16

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Take out travel insurance AS SOON AS you make a booking – if you want to include cover for CoVid, a premium will be added, as it is excluded from insurances now. Book a PACKAGE – it is not advisable to book separate flights and accommodation at this time as you are not covered under the Package Travel Regulations. Visas – most European countries will allow a 30-day tourist visa on arrival for UK passport holders – remember to check as some countries will have changed the regulations since Brexit. Do remember you may have to go to the non-EU passport queue at your destination. Use an ABTA agent – it wont cost you anything but an agent will make sure you understand the T&C’s and explain the situation should you not be able to travel. The Travel Gibbon is an ABTA certified independent travel agent – please see our Facebook page or drop me an email at thetravelgibbon@gmail.com


Davinia Green LGBTQymru welcomes Davinia Green in her new role as Director of Stonewall Cymru. For a detailed interview on what Davinia and the Stonewall Cymru team will be delivering for Wales in the future make sure you check out Issue 3!

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It's Getting Political By Craig Stephenson

The name you’re publicly known by. Nia Griffith What are your pronouns? She/Her Which political party do you represent? Labour Party Which area in Wales were you elected to? MP for Llanelli, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales

Why did you become a politician? 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. 18

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Because I wanted to change things for the better, and I realised from my student community action days that so often you are dealing with the symptoms of deeper problems, and that, to effect real change, you need to be influencing the vision of the society we want, and backing that up with the necessary legislation and prioritisation of resources, and that’s what politics is about.


“We need to stick together, and, at the moment, we should focus on providing better all-round support for trans people and tackling transphobia."

Why is it important to have visible LGBTQ+ politicians?

Why is politics important for the LGBTQ+ movement?

It’s really important, in order to be truly representative of our society and to provide role models so that both LGBTQ+ people and wider society can see that it’s alright to be LGBTQ+, as well as being able to speak from direct experience on issues that particularly affect the LGBTQ+ community.

Because it is through politics that we pass the laws and prioritise the resources that we need to effect change in society, whether that is outlawing discrimination, tackling hate crime, enacting equal adoption rights, legalising same sex marriage, providing more accessible support for people transitioning or tackling homophobic bullying.

If you could change anything to improve life for LGBTQ+ people, what would it be? Priorities will change over time, but we need to stick together, and, at the moment, we should focus on providing better all-round support for trans people and tackling transphobia. What has been the proudest moment of your career or life so far? For me, working on the 2008 Climate Change Act – a world first, ground-breaking Act, but I worry that we have not made enough progress since then in tackling climate change.

How do you support the LGBTQ+ community in your personal and professional life? As well as supporting and speaking at LGBTQ+ events, just as important for me is raising LGBTQ+ issues more widely such as asking the workplaces and educational settings I visit what they are doing to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying. If you could say one thing to your younger self what would it be? Don’t be surprised at how long it takes to effect change and how many times you have to repeat the same arguments! LGBTQYMRU

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Aubergine Café Selena Caemawr, one of the team at Aubergine Café & Events, has a passion for creating spaces and places where people feel they belong. By Karen Harvey-Cooke

Aubergine Café & Events is an autism-friendly café, serving tasty plant-based food, and providing a whole range of workshops and events for autistic and neurodivergent adults in Wales – from arts, to sports, to advocacy and peer support. They are there to respond to the needs of autistic and neurodivergent adults in Wales, and to build a strong network for their Aubergine Family. 20

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Selena talks openly about the frustrations and challenges in employment that led to this point. ‘I had a number of incidences over the years in my career where I kind of had an inkling that I wasn't necessarily being treated the way that everyone else was, but I could never really put my finger on what it was.’ Each member of the Aubergine team has experienced their own adversity in the workplace, be that via managers who haven’t


understood their needs at work or workplaces that haven’t provided the reasonable adjustments that they’re legally obliged to. The team represents a whole host of intersectional identities, autistic and neurodivergent, people from the LGBTQ+ community, people from low income and working-class backgrounds, and people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. ‘There's this thing about not really ever fitting in and I think that's something that queer people and autistic people can empathise with. I'm one of those people who sit on many intersections. I'm mixed race, queer and later on realised I was autistic. When we're in different situations, we are conditioned to present in a way that fits because it's a bit of a safety thing.’

‘I really wanted a place where you didn't have to give a crap about any of these things and where people can be all of their identities at once. I just wanted there to be a place where we could be the role models that we never got to see.’ As with many communities the Aubergine family have had to respond to lockdown. They’ve provided a range of workshops to keep people occupied and connected, from arts & crafts workshops run by autistic and neurodivergent artists funded by Arts Council Wales, to peer support network sessions with Autstic UK. More recently they’ve teamed up with Spokesperson CIC to provide cycle maintenance workshops and 1-2-1 guided cycling sessions, as well as starting weekly online cooking classes. They’ve tried to keep things varied and fun, whilst also making sure they’ve been listening and tending to the changing needs of their Aubergine family during such a difficult period. It goes without saying that the main hope for the future was to get the Café open again but also to embark on a national consultation into

"I just wanted there to be a place where we could be the role models that we never got to see" LGBTQYMRU

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"I love Aubergine so much. It feels like a beautiful queer neurodiverse family. There is a sense of warmth and acceptance here like nowhere else I’ve ever worked." Welsh terminology for marginalised identities to create a glossary of terms that organisations and individuals could use. Longer term plans to start consultancy work for organisations, to encourage others to do what the Aubergine team have done such as sensory audits in workplaces and providing feedback on what could be done differently. Selena mentioned research that shows that an organisation that is autism friendly actually makes a better workplace for everyone. As our conversation drew to a close we talked about a quote from her colleague Aarwn, who had been out as queer/gender non conforming for 3 years before joining Aubergine but had never found such understanding and recognition of the wholeness of who they were. ‘After joining the Aubergine team I began to feel confident enough to begin using they/them pronouns because I knew that I wouldn’t have to explain or justify myself to anyone. Aubergine has given me opportunities I never would have had anywhere else. Here I’m encouraged to work in ways that make sense to me instead of trying to fit a mould made for someone else. I love Aubergine so much. It feels like a beautiful queer neurodiverse family. There is a sense of warmth and acceptance here like nowhere else I’ve ever worked.’ To find out more about Aubergine Café & Events visit auberginecafe.co.uk

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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 at: LGBTQYMRU.WALES

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 – you can submit your pitches by following this link and selecting 'Pitches'.

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The Qommunity Champion

OWEN HURCUM Owen Hurcum is an outspoken activist, and North Wales’ first openly non-binary mayor. LGBTQymru spoke to Owen about their activism, their plans for the future and the challenges and opportunities facing North Wales’ queer community. By Matthew Tordoff

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"I want to show that non-binary individuals can be part of the community and even part of a group that is traditionally seen as conservative."

I wanted to start by asking what drew you to North Wales and specifically Bangor? I moved to Bangor for university and within a week I’d fallen in love with it. I was given the opportunity by the party I represented at the time to be a candidate at the local council elections, but through lots of weird paperwork stuff, that didn't quite work out. A few months later, there was the chance to do it again, so I snapped that up and got onto the city council. I saw it as an opportunity to be part of a community that I'd absolutely fallen in love with.

How do you think you challenge the perceptions & stereotypes of what people expect a Mayor to be? I want to show that non-binary individuals can be part of the community and even part of a group that is traditionally seen as conservative, such as a city council. I mean, we've got ceremonial robes and chains, we’re as aristocratic and antiquated as many groups of people are. I like to think through this I can represent non-binary people and show we can do things other people might not consider possible, that's really what I want to achieve in my unconventional way. LGBTQYMRU

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"I think when a queer community comes together, with their mind focused on something, it's very hard for anything else to happen, other than a success."

What do you think are some of the challenges facing North Wales’ LGBTQ+ community? Local communities have been devastated by COVID-19, there's no getting around that. Bangor has been specifically affected, because a good chunk of the student population have not been able to return and within that, the LGBTQ+ community is facing problems. The only queer bar we had closed down because of the pandemic, we launched a Pride back in 2019 but we've not been able to keep that going because of the effects of the pandemic. What steps are people taking to help resolve these issues? There is a really good community here and I want to give back. One of the things that's really exciting is Bangor First, which is the name of the Bangor BID (Business Improvement District) got re-balloted and in their manifesto is a commitment for them to organise a Pride. If we can work with local organisations to help LGBTQ+ people into employment opportunities, with employees that value them as individuals and respect them, then that would be great as well. And hopefully getting a venue; either a club, or a pub, or just a cafe where we can get people together - because I think when a queer community comes together, with their mind focused on something, it's very hard for anything else to happen, other than a success. What about North Wales and the LGBTQ+ community there brings you hope? I think, in North Wales, it's more rural and less cosmopolitan and stereotypically these places are viewed as more backwards and more bigoted. In my experience North Wales isn’t like that other than the odd occasion. That gives me hope that as an area we are positive towards the LGBTQ+ community.

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Voices from our LGBTQYMRU Community Numerous LGBTQ+ communities struggle with acceptance of themselves as much as acceptance from others, especially when a pandemic has affected the ability or our community to get together and celebrate ourselves. However it is still important to find ways to do this and as such some of our reporters here at LGBTQymru have been talking about their experience with working together as part of our Qommunity so far...

Why is LGBTQ+ representation important in Welsh Media? It’s important for LGBTQ+ individuals to see themselves reflected in what they watch and read. Living in a particularly rural area as opposed to a big city like Cardiff shouldn’t mean you feel alone. It’s all the more important that Queer stories, like the ones LGBTQymru tells, are from all areas and available to read in all areas; the online accessibility of the magazine is ideal. Evie Barker (she/her)

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What motivated you to submit an application as a reporter and why at the LGBTQymru magazine? I wanted to apply for a position at LGBTQymru because of how welcoming the queer community across Wales has been. It felt like the perfect opportunity to contribute back to the community and help amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ individuals, while also gaining some experience as a journalist. Matthew Tordoff (they/them)

What's it been like working remotely while in a pandemic? Working during a pandemic was never going to be easy, but is surprisingly manageable in some situations now the technology for distance working is fairly accessible. Fen Shields (they/them)

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What skills have you gained/developed as part of the LGBTQymru team? I’ve gained a whole host of journalistic experience, from interviewing to pitching articles. I’ve also had a chance to showcase my artwork and passion projects which I’m so grateful to the editorial board for. Evie Barker (she/her)

How have the relationships formed in this work environment been positive for you? I’ve had an amazing time working with everyone at LGBTQymru! It’s been so validating to exist and work in an openly queer space and I look forward to contributing to the amazing articles we’ve got planned for the future. Matthew Tordoff (they/them)

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The Open University Trans Staff Network It was in November 2020 after a midnight moment of inspiration when Amo King decided to set up the Open University Trans Staff Network.

By Charles Stylianou

Initial plans were a monthly email update and virtual meet-up to ensure that the network was sustainable, starting small and building from there. “No matter how supportive your colleagues are, it can be difficult to feel significantly different from those around you, particularly as some of the challenges of daily life can be tricky to explain to colleagues outside of the community.” “As a transmasculine person whose gender is read in both directions by strangers, I found myself unable to fully participate in some social events because I had concerns about accessing toilets in the busier bars in Cardiff city centre.

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“No matter how supportive your colleagues are, it can be difficult to feel significantly different from those around you, particularly as some of the challenges of daily life can be tricky to explain to colleagues outside of the community.”

This meant that I would leave early, avoid social trips altogether, or even sneak back to the office when I wanted to use the toilet.” Colleagues have described a feeling of hope and relief at the prospect of being able to build connections across the Open University. In addition, the network has provided a space for those who are beginning their exploration of their identities, testing out pronouns and chosen names, without necessarily needing to take the plunge into social transition within the wider work community. “One of the biggest challenges has been maintaining positive forward motion in the context of the present climate of hostility towards trans people in the UK. Along with the pressures of lockdown, it is emotionally tiring to engage with LGBT+ issues and issues of trans inclusion at work.” “While celebrities like Sam Smith and Elliot Page are bringing trans identities into the lexicon of more people, a lack of support from the government along with an increase in

platforming of anti-trans voices within the media is beginning to bite.” “However, I’ve received a huge amount of support, from immediate colleagues as well as allies, many of whom have gone out of their way to offer advice and encouragement as I’ve worked to get the message out.” The reaction to the network has been overwhelmingly positive, with support from the Open University’s new Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor Marcia Wilson. Over the next year, King is planning to focus on consistency to grow and establish the network. “Although, video calls are heavily associated with lockdown life, meeting online has meant that we are able to include colleagues from across the Open University, including the four nations.” For more information search Equality at the OU or contact people-services-EDI@open.ac.uk

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Ty Pride We're desperate for more safe spaces for homeless LGBTQ+ people

The manager of Wales’ first LGBTQ+ supported accommodation project says she’s “absolutely desperate” for it to grow, as more LGBTQ+ young people face homelessness. By Jordan Howell

Based in Rhyl, Denbighshire, the Tŷ Pride project was set up by the youth homelessness charity Llamau, after research showed that young people within the LGBTQ+ community are four times more likely to become homeless than their non-LGBTQ+ peers.

It was given the name ‘Tŷ Pride’ - meaning Pride House - by some of its former residents.

Emma Evans is in charge of the three-bedroom property, which acts as a safe, non-judgemental and inclusive space for those that have been made homeless, or have been threatened with homelessness

Once a young person is referred, they move into the house and begin a programme of intense life skills support - immediately giving them structure and a routine. Residents learn to budget, cope with living alone, even how to register with a GP and a dentist. They can also take part in movie

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Emma said: “It's such a unique and special project, and there is such a huge need for more projects like this.”


nights, walking groups, and other activities and the simple fact of experiencing living with other people from the LGBTQ+ community..

people and the staff team. They do this through youth groups and one to one support and LGBTQ+ specific training.

A young person living at Tŷ Pride said “There are only 3 housemates and we are all from the same community, so I feel we are the same. I have experienced homophobia in other projects.”

“We just really wish that we were bigger, and that we could grow so that we can just try and help as many youngsters as we can,” Emma continued. “We are desperate to grow, absolutely desperate, because we know that the need is there.”

As space at Tŷ Pride is extremely limited, and each person’s stay is dependent on their individual needs, those that cannot immediately move in are supported by one of the project’s key partners, Viva who provide specialist LGBTQ+ support at the project, for the young

Tŷ Pride’s launch in December 2019 followed the ‘Out On the Streets’ report into homelessness amongst young people, by End Youth Homelessness Cymru, which recommended the opening of specific LGBTQ+ supported accommodation projects. Llamau, Viva and LGBTQYMRU

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“It's such a unique and special project, and there is such a huge need for more projects like this.” Denbighshire County Council came together in a unique partnership to open Wales’ first LGBTQ+ accommodation in the hope it wouldn’t be the last. Speaking recently to The Big Issue, Llamau’s Operational Director Sam Lewis said: “We knew that the percentage of LGBTQ+ people having to access our properties because of being homeless was increasing and the research backed up just how much of an issue it was. “It also backed up just how much more vulnerable they were to discrimination, to family breakdown, to stigma and to the additional psychological harms that went alongside trying to be accepted in your community for being you.” To date, nearly 50 people ranging from 16 to 25 have been referred to Tŷ Pride, from right across Wales. Those referrals have come from other third sector agencies, local authorities, mental health teams, homeless teams, social services, and child and adolescent services. The team are in regular contact with key partners, Denbighshire County Council and North Wales Housing, trying to find new properties that they could take on, in order to increase the amount of young people they can support. You can find out more about the project, and how to get support, on the Llamau website llamau.org.uk

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HIV Mythbusting Facts Together with Fast Track Cities, Cardiff and Vale, we have brought together a number of facts to raise awareness around HIV with the aim of erasing the stigma and bringing us closer to the goal of no new transmissions

ANYONE CAN GET HIV Viruses do not discriminate. 30% of new diagnoses in Wales are in women. (https://www.gov.uk/ government/statistics/hiv-annualdata-tables)

HIV IS STILL AN ISSUE 123 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Wales in 2019. Over 2,300 people living in Wales received HIV care in 2019. (https://www.gov.uk/government/ statistics/hiv-annual-data-tables)

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PEOPLE ON EFFECTIVE TREATMENT CANNOT PASS THE VIRUS ON Someone living with HIV and on effective treatment can’t pass it on. Your likelihood of passing on HIV is linked to the amount of the virus in your blood. Effective treatment reduces the amount of the virus to undetectable levels (having an undetectable viral load). In studies where a HIV positive partner with an undedectable viral load had sex with a HIV negative partner, there were no instances of HIV transmission. Undetectable = Untransmissable (U=U).

PREP PREVENTS HIV INFECTION IF TAKEN BEFORE SEX PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. It’s a pill that a person without HIV can take every day to prevent them getting HIV. It is available for people who are at a higher risk at sexual health clinics.

PEP CAN PREVENT INFECTION AFTER SEX PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis. It is a combination of HIV drugs that can stop the virus taking hold. It has to be taken within 72 hours, but the sooner the better.

IT’S EASY TO GET TESTED Home testing is now available in Wales to test for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. You can order the kits at friskywales.org and then post it back to the laboratory in the pre-paid envelope.

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HIV AND AIDS ARE DIFFERENT AIDS is a late stage of HIV infection. People with HIV infection who are on effective treatment do not develop AIDS, as the treatment stops damage to the immune system.

A PERSON LIVING WITH HIV HAS A SIMILAR LIFE EXPECTANCY TO AN HIV-NEGATIVE PERSON Providing they are diagnosed in good time, have good access to medical care, and are able to adhere to their HIV treatment.

WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV CAN GIVE BIRTH TO CHILDREN WITHOUT PASSING ON HIV

If you follow medical advice closely, you’ll protect your baby from mother-to-child transmission.

HIV STIGMA IS A PROBLEM IN WALES Talking openly about HIV can help normalise the subject. Improving education and awareness will help reduce HIV related stigma.

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Tackling Mental Health Nigel Owens is a world-renowned rugby referee, a farmer and, for several years now, a vocal champion for mental health awareness. By Matthew Tordoff.

He has brought visibility to men’s mental health in sports and spoken honestly about his own struggles with depression and bulimia. I spoke to Nigel about his career, his activism, and his hopes for the future of mental health in rugby and beyond. Owen's attributes his fascination with rugby to his childhood as, according to him “rugby was a part of growing up in Wales, it’s in your DNA.” That passion and determination helped propel his career to un-paralleled heights, where he refereed some of rugby union’s biggest tournaments. He retired from international rugby last year, though he’s been keeping busy since by helping to bring visibility to mental health in

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rugby. “Between the TV work and the talking [about mental health], and there’s obviously the farm work, y’know, there hasn’t been any spare time really.” There’s been a noticeable shift in rugby culture over recent years, in part because of activists like Nigel who have helped root out toxic masculinity in sports. He says: “because of the macho world of rugby, and the macho image of rugby it’s very difficult to, sort of, imagine coming out. But obviously when I did, the rugby community; from players, to spectators, to coaches, to registrators, to fellow referees, were all very hugely supportive. It just shows really that rugby truly is a diverse and inclusive sport.”


“SHOWING VULNERABILITY IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS, IT’S ACTUALLY A SIGN OF YOUR STRENGTH.”

By Florian Christoph from Dublin, Ireland

This attitude of openness in regards to both sexuality and mental health is a welcome change and a necessary one, too. A survey by the RPA discovered that 62% of retired rugby players have suffered from mental health issues. This “suffer-in-silence” attitude is what Nigel wants to challenge. He is adamant that for men in sports, talking about mental health and creating an open dialogue is a necessary first step: “showing vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of your strength.” I asked how he’s able to talk so openly about such traumatic subjects, and discuss his own experience in detail. He told me that “knowing it helps really. That it raises awareness around all those different areas around mental health, because when I was struggling with it myself, if

there had been anybody else out there who’d been talking about that experience, it would have really helped me a lot.” Nigel’s’ advocacy around the topic of mental health has helped to lessen the stigma around mental health in men’s sports. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but things have changed. They are getting better, there's no doubt about that. There are steps in place now to encourage people to talk about it [mental health].” At the end of our conversation he left me with a message to anyone struggling with mental health issues, saying: “you can get through it, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of people out there, people that you may least expect, who have been or are going through mental health issues.” LGBTQYMRU

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My Chemical Romance Originating in the 1990s London gay scene, ‘chemsex’ is the name given to the act of taking drugs (particularly GHB, crystal meth and mephedrone) to enhance sexual experiences. By Fen Shields

On the scene, GHB can be called “Gina” or “G”, crystal meth is often referred to as “Tina” or “ice”, and mephedrone has the nickname “meow meow”. These drugs are used because of their ability to increase libido while lowering inhibitions, and keeping a person awake for days at a time. All this allows the users to have sex parties spanning multiple days without getting tired or worrying too much about the possible consequences of these actions. Although it began before the turn of the century, popularity for chemsex really picked up with the release of gay dating apps such as Grindr. This modern technology gives people instant access to

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potential partners and even nearby drug dealers. All of this helps to earn chemsex a renowned place in gay hookup culture. At first glance, chemsex can seem appealing because of the apparent easiness of obtaining the drugs and willing participants. Tempting people in with the offer of an apparently good time, it is not discussed enough that there are many dangers that chemsex brings with it. For example, it should be known that GHB is not a safe drug to drink with as it heightens the chances of overdosing. This is particularly dangerous because it is one of the easier drugs to overdose on as it is, meaning measurements have to be precise. All drugs


"All drugs come with their own risks but the culture around it allows it to become even more unsafe."

come with their own risks but the culture around it allows it to become even more unsafe. Due to the fact that these drugs lower inhibitions, it is common for people partaking in chemsex to engage in unprotected sex which makes them vulnerable to STDs. The Terrence Higgins Trust have resources to help and support HIV positive, LGBT+ men who partake in chemsex. They run sessions which you can sign up to through their website. While they do not ask you to give up the lifestyle completely they do require you to work towards lowering and managing your use of chems which is very achievable to do with the support they are offering. Stay safe.

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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. 44

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"I do understand that being open and honest, especially at the outset of a new relationship can be important. There can be a fear around rejection, and a partner not understanding what it means to be HIV positive in 2021."

QUESTION I’ve started seeing someone and I need advice. I’m HIV positive and I don’t know when I should disclose my status to them. ANSWER You are not alone with this. There are many aspects to a HIV diagnosis that go beyond any medical intervention. Dealing with the emotional, everyday aspects can be challenging, and of course can have a detrimental impact on your mental health. There’s no one definitive answer to your question as there are so many variables to be considered. You may want to think about how you view this new relationship; can you trust this person; are you and your partner using condoms; is your partner taking prep; do you know your partner’s status; is your CD4 count healthy; is your viral load under control. Running through these questions should get you closer to your answer. Choosing to tell a new partner is a choice – it’s a balancing act of your right to privacy and

being upfront and honest. There’s no law in the UK saying you must tell a partner your HIV status, although there are laws around reckless transmission in both England and Wales. This means that should a partner contract HIV, as a result of unprotected sex, and they were unaware of your positive status, you could be prosecuted. If you’re on antiretroviral medication with a suppressed viral load, and you’re adhering to taking it, the medical evidence tells us that you cannot pass on HIV. Remember, you have a virus, so don’t ever feel that you must apologise for being HIV positive. I do understand that being open and honest, especially at the outset of a new relationship can be important. There can be a fear around rejection, and a partner not understanding what it means to be HIV positive in 2021. Most stigma originates from a place of lacking in knowledge. You may be more informed than your partner, so you can help broaden their understanding or you may find them able to teach you a few things too!

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"You may have met other transgender people and belong to a community that have similar experiences to you, and have felt supported by them. When you tell a parent, their journey starts at that point - they have lots to learn and accept."

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have had several years to realise and accept that you’re transgender. You would’ve learnt all the terms, labels and lingo. You may have met other transgender people and belong to a community that have similar experiences to you, and have felt supported by them. When you tell a parent, their journey starts at that point - they have lots to learn and accept. Very few parents imagine that their child could be transgender, even those that question their child’s gender expression can be confused, angry and upset. You may have seen some of this present itself in the days, weeks and months after coming-out. If you do choose to tell your partner, make it simple, you don’t have to share your whole life story. Tell them what feels comfortable for you at that point – you can always add more as you get to know each other, and your confidence in the relationship grows. Encourage them to ask questions, and you could direct them to the Terrence Higgins Trust website (www.THT. org.uk), where you can find a wealth of useful information and resources on living with HIV. QUESTION How do I explain to my mam that she should be referring to me as her son and not her ‘trans son’ when she’s talking to people? I don’t want to hurt her feelings because we’ve come such a long way since I came out, but she never just calls me her son to people. It feels like she still doesn’t fully accept it. ANSWER I can understand how important it is for you to be identified in your correct gender, especially after coming-out, which can be an emotionally tough experience. The coming-out bit can seem for some, like the last piece of the jigsaw, although there’s still a whole load to complete before you get near to seeing the full picture. It sounds from your question that your mam is really trying, and you can see that. You may

Being referred to as your mam’s son is confirmation of your gender, and I get that. I remember after coming out to my parents, and the initial, ‘what will the neighbours think’ conversation, my mam would introduce me to her friends as ‘my gay son’! It did feel uncomfortable, and I recall giving her the side-eye, though she was doing her best to be accepting, and finding her way in a world that she knew nothing about. So, what you think is not fully accepting could be your mam’s process of learning, and maybe even pride in you, her son. You could help your mam by encouraging her to ask questions, and allow her to make mistakes. Just like my job as a therapist, working with gender identity issues doesn’t make me an expert – I have no lived experience of being transgender, and sometimes I’ll make mistakes. The important part is that we correct our understanding and respect what it means to be a transgendered person. There’s a great charity called Mermaids (mermaidsuk.org,uk), and they support both the child/young person and their parents – you’re possibly older than a young-person, though the advice for parents is very informative and helpful. You may be positively surprised at how well your mam embraces these conversations – you’ve got this!

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LGBTQ+ Inclusive Sports Clubs By Imogen Coombs

Proud Swans Proud Swans was established in 2014 with the aim to support and build LGBT+ Inclusion for Sports Fans and Staff at Swansea City football club. Swansea City to the founder of Proud Swans, Andrew, is a place where he can go to escape everyday life and can be seen as his safe space. Proud Swans ambitions post covid, is to continue to grow its community and spread its message to the masses. In the future, Proud Swans express their interest in working with charities, visiting schools and giving talks and even running events at the stadium to spread the message of what Proud Swans stands for. When asked for a fun fact about sport, the group gave an interesting one, Fifa officially identifies China as originating football over 5,000 years ago, back then it was known as Cuju.

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Proud Swans has done incredible work in making football at Swansea City more inclusive and we cannot wait to see what the club works on in the future.


"Proud Swans has done incredible work in making football at Swansea City more inclusive and we cannot wait to see what the club works on in the future."

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KARMA SEAS CIC Karma Seas CIC is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to embracing diversity and inclusion in Surfing, Beach activity, Yoga and Mindfulness. There is currently no other LGBT+ provision in the UK associated with surfing, which makes Karma Seas that extra bit special. After lockdown, the group hopes to resume sessions and welcome new members toit’s adult and youth groups, to ensure that the LGBT+ community have opportunities to participate.

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Did you know? Surfing is one of the oldest sports on Earth. Archaeologists recently discovered prehistoric stone carvings in Chan Chan, Peru that date back over 5,000 years ago and show people surfing. Karma Seas is bringing Waves To All and is a organization that is a credit to Wales!


THE CARDIFF LIONS The Cardiff lions are Wales oldest Gay inclusive rugby club having been founded on 1st March 2004. The club provides a safe haven for those within the lgbtqia+ community to enjoy and play rugby without pressure and fear. The chairman of Cardiff Lions, Gareth, states ‘the club itself is a family I chose to have and I love them all’. Covid has meant the Cardiff Lions has had to do rugby training online, but the club’s spirits and morale still shine bright.

Fun Fact! Most people within the rugby community and those outside will know of the Haka, the war dance performed by the New Zealand All Blacks before every game. However on 16th November 1905, Wales became the first team to challenge them when they performed the Haka by breaking out into song. They sang "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" (Wales’ national anthem).

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LOVELESS BOOK REVIEW Alice Oseman’s Loveless paves the way for inclusive fiction. Far from the usual sideline representation, this YA novel puts an Asexual Aromantic protagonist in the driving seat. By Evie Barker

Loveless radiates the warmth of finding your Queer family and encourages us to widen our definition of soulmates to include platonic friendships, which, as Oseman writes ‘can be just as intense, beautiful and endless as romance’. As the title suggests, false stereotypes brand Asexual lives as Loveless. We must do more to accurately represent Asexuality as valid and fulfilling, something Loveless achieves in a personal and lighthearted way.

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The novel successfully depicts the safe space to discover and express one’s self that University can be. This makes Loveless an ideal read for Queer students missing their diverse University community during lockdown. Oseman’s novel touches on the negative assumption that experimentation is a necessity in discovering sexuality. During her selfquestioning, Georgia experimentally kisses two individuals; they are left feeling used and Georgia, repulsed. This narrative can


be unhelpful for Ace individuals who feel pressured into normalised ‘experimental student experiences’ that go against their preferences. Thankfully, Oseman acknowledges this; Georgia’s friend realises ‘You know when straight guys find out that a girl is gay and they’re all like ‘haha but you haven’t kissed me so how do you know you’re gay’. That’s basically what I did to you!!!’. Loveless is brimming with pronoun normalisation and a diverse cast. However, it falls, at times, into the stereotypical. The choice to make Georgia a fanfiction obsessed English studying introvert may be highly resonant for some, but lacking in resonance for others, and the inclusion of text messaging, though representational of our times, can feel forced. But any individual who has questioned their sexuality can find glimpses

of themselves in this novel, a comical example being the classic ‘Am I Gay?’ quiz that the Queers of the digital age will know well. One of Oseman’s characters reminds us that Asexuality is ‘not in films. It’s hardly ever in TV shows, and when it is, it’s some tiny subplot that most people ignore. When it’s talked about in the media, it gets trolled to hell and back. Even some queer people out there think it’s unnatural or just fake’. Loveless is as important a read for non-Ace identifying individuals as for the Asexual community and feels like a step in the right direction for LGBTQ+ inclusivity. Loveless is available through its publishers website, HarperColins, or all good book retail outlets

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Fen Shields

Queer Tales Wales is full of different LGBTQ+ voices and experiences, a mixture of different Queer Tales and success stories.

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"It’s a powerful statement of who we are in Pembrokeshire, presenting some difficulties but hopefully empowering people to have conversations about these issues, and ultimately celebrating LGBT+ queer people in all our pride and glory."

Dr Sita Thomas tells us about her experience and how that manifested itself in a hit show for the Welsh National Theatre... When I grew up in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, there were very few role models that I could identify with as a mixed-race person and queer woman. I went through school feeling that I was different, but not really knowing why, or having the tools to understand the politics of race, gender and sexuality. I found my passion in the performing arts, finding joy in dancing and acting and this took me out of Wales, in the pursuit of opportunity, to London. Here, as a member of National Youth Theatre, I finally met so many people like me, from so many different backgrounds. I began to understand my cultural history and heritage, through sharing stories, tasting cooking, listening to music, watching theatre and films, and going to gigs. It was a full-on awakening in so many senses!

Something that was always a bit difficult was my relationship with ‘back home’, back in West Wales where it didn’t feel like my identity and sexuality were accepted, and were certainly not considered ‘the norm’. This really got me questioning, why is it that I only felt comfortable and confident to be my full self having left Wales? What would need to change so that people growing up now wouldn’t have to leave in order to exist and live freely in their own identities? Having finished my studies and PhD at University, it was time to find out. I pitched the idea to create a piece of theatre exploring these issues and was awarded a Located Residency with National Theatre Wales. It was thanks to the support of Kully Thiarai (then the Artistic Director) who made me feel that I could come home and could celebrate who I am; that my identity and creativity were of value. While I was in London, I heard news that there had been a protest in Fishguard. A group of people had come together to stand up for LGBT+

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rights, against a homophobic letter that had been distributed in the area. I saw photographs of people holding rainbow flags, some in full drag, others brandishing placards with messages such as ‘We stand for love not hate’. It felt like a momentous occasion, and I couldn’t have imagined this sort of collective support of our LGBT+ community when I was growing up in Pembrokeshire. I decided to reach out to the people involved in the protest, to connect and to share stories. There’s a type of theatre called verbatim, where the script is made up of words that real people have said. When thinking about representing our communities, this felt like the right form of theatre to make, where real stories could be told and voices heard. I believe that there is such power in increasing representation of historically marginalised communities through culture. Over a weekend, I based myself with a composer from Tenby – Phoebe Osborne - in an art gallery after putting a call out for participants,

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and hoped that maybe five people would come to visit to share their stories. I couldn’t believe that in a small town, forty people who identified as LGBT+ came to visit. I was overwhelmed, to meet kindred spirits, and to realise the need for space, for conversation, for community. We carried out interviews, and Phoebe developed her approach to weaving people’s words and testimonies into song; music is an important element of my work and it has a brilliant ability to get to the heart of emotion very quickly. We did a sharing at the end of the process with all the participants, as well as theatre partners and funders, and we had such a brilliant response. We were lucky enough to receive further funding from Arts Council of Wales, MGCfutures and Jerwood Bursaries to further develop the script and score, and we now have a piece of gig theatre ready to be workshopped and toured. It will be performed by four actormusicians, with live music, and I would love to tour it to studio theatres, schools and community


venues. It’s a powerful statement of who we are in Pembrokeshire, presenting some difficulties but hopefully empowering people to have conversations about these issues, and ultimately celebrating LGBT+ queer people in all our pride and glory. You can listen to some of the music here. Looking at where we are now, a lot has changed. We still have a way to go, towards equality and liberation, not only in Wales but across the globe. I take my responsibility as an artist seriously, it’s so important to me to use my skillset to contribute a positive shift in society through the work I create. I also present a children’s television show called milkshake! on Channel 5, and something I’m really proud of was pitching and creating a short film for Pride celebrating love of all kinds for our young audience. We shared stories of young milkshakers enjoying their family life, with for example their two mums or two dads. I’d like people to see themselves and their families

on TV, and to inspire empathy, respect and kindness for everyone. It would have made such a difference to me growing up in a small seaside village to see this on television, and I’m so glad to be able to make a bit of difference now. I look forward to creating lots of stories, shows, and films putting LGBT+ narratives front and centre, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us all.

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DISCLOSURE REVIEW If you are like me, you may have had negative experiences with documentaries in the past. Perhaps you found that the ones you ended up watching were clinical, or distant or even exploitative of the community it was documenting. By Fen Shields

Hearing of a documentary of transgender representation in film and television, I must admit that I was worried it may take the outdated form of a cis white man putting trans lives under the microscope and pushing a negative narrative. Pleasantly surprised, Disclosure was a beautiful break from this cycle. Sensitive, endearing, entertaining – it was a warmer, more intimate exploration of the subject than I have seen before. Sam Feder worked with a diverse group of transgender celebrities to get an authentic and touching insight into the impact of on-

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screen representation. Exploring examples from the early days of cinema right up to the contemporary, modern shows we are familiar with, Disclosure evaluated how these representations impacted the wider populations views and opinions on transgender people. When viewed as a collective (as opposed to individual situations), the enormity of the issues became apparent. This is one of the reasons that this documentary felt so important and relevant to current LGBT+ struggles. There is a trigger warning for nudity, discussions on violence, and depictions of sexual assault but it is dealt with in a respectful and sensitive manner. Disclosure bravely examines the links in media between being transgender and being violent and mentally ill or being seen as a joke. It looks at some of the more negative portrayals

of the community but does discuss why they are negative and need to change so it is not needless. Including big names such as Laverne Cox, Bianca Leigh, and Brian Michael Smith to name a few, it is easy to see why the documentary has been rated so high by critics and audiences alike. I give Disclosure 4 Q’s out o 5 and will leave you with on of my favourite quotes from it: “Changing representation is not the goal. It’s just the means to an end.” – Susan Stryker.

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Wales-wide Support Service for LGBTQ+ people LGBT Cymru Helpline LGBT+ Helpline and counselling service line@lgbtcymru.org.uk Umbrella Cymru Gender and Sexual Diveristy Support Specialists info@umbrellacymru.co.uk 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 enquiries@newpathways.org.uk LGBT+ Switchboard Switchboard.lgbt 0300 330 0630 Glitter Cymru BAME LGBT+ Social Group - Based in Cardiff glittercymru@gmail.com Mind Cymru Mental health information and support services info@mind.org.uk 0300 123 3393

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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 bicymru@yahoo.co.uk Galop LGBT+ Domestic abuse helpline and support service help@galop.org.uk 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 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. 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. youthcymru.org.uk/cy/transform-cymru-2/ Rustic Rainbow An informal group for LGB&T people who love the natural beauty of North Wales. 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. www.rainbowbiz.org.uk Shelter Cymru Free, independent, expert housing advice sheltercymru.org.uk/lgbt-aware Llamau Support and information for youth homelessness www.llamau.org.uk/our-vision-and-mission Newport LGBTQ+ Youth Group A new group for LGBTQ+ young people (aged 11-25) who reside in Newport. www.facebook.com/NewportLGBTQYouth The Gathering - Cardiff A registered charity with a board of trustees, and have 5 volunteer pastors who provide specific support for LGBTQ+ Christians. www.thegatheringcardiff.org mail@thegatheringcardiff.org PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide. Are you a young person who is struggling with life or perhaps you are worried about a young person who may be having thoughts of suicide? For practical, confidential help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

LGBTQYMRU

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Thank you to the Comic Relief's LGBTQ+ COVID-19 Recovery Fund, in partnership with METRO Charity and Umbrella Cymru.

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