Category Archives: Personal thoughts
Things from my brain.
Today, May 17th 2013, marks the 9th annual International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) ((you may also have seen it written as IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia)).
IDAHO is a day where we should reflect on gay rights (or the lack there of) both home and abroad – something some of us can be guilty of forgetting about sometimes.
We have issues here the UK that’s for sure, we’re still fighting for the right to marry the person we love (the ball is rolling, but the fight is far from over) and 5 to 7 percent of the LGBT people surveyed in the UK say that homophobia is very widespread. But things are getting better all the time – one day we will have marriage equality, we will be seen as equals next to our straight brothers and sisters.
But our problems here in the UK pale in comparison to those abroad. In Uganda politicians are falling over themselves to progress their ‘Kill The Gays Bill’ which would, as the name suggests, enforce death penalties on people engaging in ‘same-sex relations’ and other penalties for those supporting these “deviants”.
Meanwhile in Russia the Moscow authorities have denied a request to carry out a ‘gay pride parade’ in the city. This apparently falls under “compliance with ethics” as to allow such an event would not be patriotic, it seems “Moscow does not need such events”.
We may live in 2013, we may have equal marriage in an ever growing number of countries including several US states, we may have cars that drive themselves and space tourism – but apparently it’s not alright for everyone to be who they want to be. That’s so sad.
This IDAHO please spare a thought for couples all over the world who’re having to conduct their relationship in secret for fear of persecution or even death, then get angry – together we can make a change. If you are one of those people, stay strong, hold out – don’t let people tell you who you can and cannot be – you have every right
Official IDAHO website: http://www.idahomophobia.org/
As some of you know I’ve had some sad news over the last couple of days. I’m not one to let me get it down though, I mean I’ve had to deal with shit since as long as I can remember – and especially since I was 13. But I always bounce back.
This song, ‘Boomerang’ by Nicole Scherzinger, kinda sums up how I’m feeling at the moment. The tune is upbeat and the lyrics really hit home as well.
To those of you trying to drag me down, screw you – you’ll get yours I promise, karma is a shit.
Here’s to a excellent weekend in Manchester.
As a single man I dread those four little words. They seem to be the standard prefix to the word “but” followed by a reason they can’t/don’t want to date you. I can’t even begin to remember all the various versions I’ve heard. Here are just a few:
- You’re a lovely guy BUT you’re not my type
- You’re a lovely guy BUT we’re in different places
- You’re a lovely guy BUT you live too far away
- You’re a lovely guy BUT I already have a boyfriend
- You’re a lovely guy BUT I’m not looking for anything right now
…and of course…
- You’re a lovely guy BUT you’re HIV+
After a while you start to wonder whether people even mean it when they say “You’re a lovely guy”, or is it just a conversational reflex? A way of trying to cushion the rapidly approaching bad news or perhaps make themselves feel better about the information they’re about to impart? I even found myself about to say it last night – I caught myself just in time but hated myself a little for almost saying it.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of rude/obnoxious/unpleasant guys who’re in relationships (or at the very least getting laid) whilst the more genuine and personable amongst us are left on the scrapheap. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong? Perhaps I should be less “lovely”? Truth be told I’m not sure I can change this far on in life – I’m stuck in lovely mode. Lovely but lonely.
If you follow me on Twitter (and you really should) you may have noticed that I changed my avatar, name and posted a photo of myself. Yes, all of my face, not a quarter of it, or obscured by a book, or an owl or something.
I’d always planned to reveal my true identity on the 1st March, just a couple of days ahead of my Attitude Magazine column – on the day I headed to Brighton for the Student Pride weekend I’m attending. But last night I was over with a friend, I was talking about the whole thing and getting more and more nervous. Then one follower on twitter suggested I should treat it like a plaster and just rip it off, get it over and done with quickly.
After a little thought, and a large Gin & Tonic I did it. I thought “She’s right. To hell with it. 5 days isn’t going to change anything” and posted “Hello, my name is Tom, and I’m @UKPositiveLad” (see screenshot of tweet to the right).
To say the response was positive is putting it mildly. I only had my personal phone on me, and not my UKPositiveLad mobile, but when I came home I saw that I’d received 53 DMs, 503 mentions and loads more RTs and Favourites. Completely overwhelming.
I want to thank you all for your kind words, support and encouragement. It’s been quite a journey from being diagnosed (not all that long ago really) to starting the blog as “Sam” through to coming out as Tom.
Fear not though, I’m still the same blogger and twit(terer) you’ve come to know over all these months – I’m just doing it with a face and my real name now. It’s pretty liberating.
I look forward to speaking to you all soon, I’m going leave you all with a little YouTube video (a bit camp) but the song pretty much sums up how I’m feeling at the moment!
Today I’m taking a day off. Today is all about me.
I’m struggling to remember the last time I actually took a proper breather. I’m either at my day job which has me in the office from 8am, or I’m running up and down the country attending various charity events, writing my column, or replying to the deluge of emails I get each day. I’m actually and literally exhausted.
To quote The Beautiful South “You can see where we‘ve been shopping by the bag beneath our eyes”.
Today I’ve taken a day of leave. I was supposed to get up at 9:30am (a nice lie in) I slept straight through that alarm and woke up at 11:38. I’m pretty sure that’s a combination of the lack of sleep I’ve had lately and my meds. I’m finding dragging myself out of bed impossible of late – but a 12 hour sleep is unheard of for me.
As we speak I’m on a train to go and see my family. I didn’t get time to see my niece on her birthday last week because I had a speaking engagement, and I feel awful about that. But today I’m going to make up for it. It’ll be great to see my parents, my sisters and my niece and nephew and just be me for a day.
So the emails, the phone calls, the whole HIV thing can go on the back burner for a day, starting…. NOW.
I hope you’re all having a good Friday are enjoying the snow as much as you can do. I’m sat on my sofa with a box of biscuits in my dressing gown as I watch the pretty white stuff float past my living room window – I have little intention of moving for the foreseeable future.
Last night Channel 5 (in the UK) showed ‘Gareth Thomas - Coming Out: My Secret Past’
The whole programme was incredibly moving and has inspired me to write my own coming out story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin…
I’d known I was gay from a very young age. Around the age of seven I knew something was different about me, I wasn’t interested in playing ‘kiss chase’ with the girls – instead I’d rather hang out in the library with a good book. By the age of nine I was already being gently teased for being gay. I wasn’t sure what the other children even meant by that.
I had a couple of girlfriends (as much as any nine year old can) but they never felt right.
At the age of twelve I had my first gay kiss with a neighbour of mine, he was a year older than me. I was over at his on a particularly hot Summer’s day, we were playing in the garden and at one point sought shelter from the sun in a tent that we had put up earlier that day. We were talking in the tent when all of a sudden he grabbed me and kissed me. It was a moment of realisation for me. It just felt right, everything clicked into place and suddenly the last few years started to make sense to me.
The next year was a confusing one for me. I know knew what I was, I was “gay”, but I wasn’t willing to accept it yet. I was certain that my friends and family would be ashamed and upset that I wasn’t “normal” and so I tried to hide it. I got myself another girlfriend, I started getting more involved with sports at school even though I didn’t enjoy them – I wanted to be one of the lads. Despite this the teasing progressed into bullying, things got more difficult for me at school and my grades started to suffer as a result. I even stopped going to P.E. lessons (gym & sports class for overseas readers), I simply skipped the lessons and went and hid in the library or IT room.
Things got too much for me. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t concentrate at school and I didn’t feel like I could confide in anyone. One evening I snuck out of the house and wandered up the country lane to a phone-box and called ChildLine – I wanted to know what I should do. They put me in touch with the local Gay & Lesbian Switchboard, I spoke to the guy at the end of the phone for what felt like hours. He told me of his own coming out story and I was stuck by how similar it was to my own. He also told me that no-one could make me “come out” (the first time I’d heard that phrase) only I could do that for myself when the time was right – but the sooner I got it off my chest the better I would feel. I owe a lot to that gentleman.
A few weeks later, not long after my thirteenth birthday, I was at school. I was in a chemistry lesson and another boy in my class was picked on for being gay. I could feel myself getting angrier and angrier. I couldn’t hold it back any longer, the words were coming up like a tsunami, I yelled across the room: “WHAT’S WRONG WITH BEING GAY? LEAVE HIM ALONE!”.
“Shit” I thought to myself, as I noticed them turn their attention away from the other lad and towards me, the girl next to me asked “So you are gay?”. The silence seemed to go on forever, you could hear a pin drop – even the chemistry teacher had stopped what he was doing to listen in.
Eventually I simply said “Yes, I am gay” then turned to the teacher and said “Can we get back on with the lesson?”. That was the first proper time I’d come out to anyone, and I’d done it to an entire classroom of my fellow students. Naturally the news made it around the school in minutes via text message, absolutely everyone knew by the end of the lesson. But oddly enough that’s when the bullying stopped. No more insults or shoving in the corridors, it was like I’d taken the power away from them by doing it myself.
Now that 1,200 kids knew I thought it was probably wise to tell my parents as soon as possible, before they heard from anyone else. I went into the living room after we’d had our dinner, Mum & Dad were there reading their papers. I started up “Mum, Dad, I’ve got something to tell you” – they put down the papers and turned to me. I froze, just couldn’t do it. Announcing it to thirty kids in an adrenaline fuelled rage was one thing, but calmly telling my parents was something else.
I ran. I grabbed my coat and trainers and ran for an eternity until I ended up in a field next to the park in the next village over. I lay there in field staring at the night sky, my analytical mind trying to come up with every combination of words and how they’d be received. Nothing felt right. But my parents knew something was up now. What do I do?
Another couple of hours of star-gazing and thinking passed before I decided to head home. Maybe they wouldn’t ask? Maybe it’d just be forgotten? As I walked home I saw it, the same phone-box I’d used before. It was glowing like a beacon of light and hope on the pitch black country lane. I don’t know what possessed me, but I just ran to it – picked up the phone and dialled home.
Mum answered, she sounded worried, she asked where I was and what was wrong? I felt it again, the word tsunami… out it came “Mum, I’m gay, I’m sorry”. Immediately she replied “Don’t be silly, there’s nothing to be sorry about. Where are you? Your father has been driving around looking for you!”. I told her where I was and a few minutes later Dad pulled up in the car and took me home. It was a silent car ride, not awkwardly though – just a ‘nothing needs to be said’ silence.
When I got home Mum gave me a hug, Dad gave me a hug and I just excused myself and went to bed. I had school the next morning and nothing was going to get in my way any more. I don’t think I’d ever slept as soundly as I did that night.
Coming out was one of the most positive things I ever did for myself, it let me be happy again and stopped me feeling like I was hiding secrets from those who loved and cared about me. Thank you to my friends and my Mum & Dad for being so supportive.
I’ve made no secret of the fact I suffer from depression. In fact I’ve been diagnosed with ‘Severe Clinical Depression’ on 3 separate occasions now, for which I was medicated. This tends to happen sporadically, in between I’m mostly sound as a pound – but now and then I get little dips.
The last week or so has been one of these dips. To start with I tried to chalk it up as January Blues but after a few days I realised it was more than that.
I can identify the signs right from the beginning:
- Lack of energy
- Inability to get out of bed in the morning
- No desire to go and do things
- Becoming withdrawn and quiet
- Feeling lonely
A few years ago I’d knuckle down, get stuck into some big project at work and then come home and cuddle up with the husband to worm my way out of the depression. I don’t really have that option any more. My job is neither interesting nor involved enough to bury myself in, and my luck in love has been beyond awful for the last few years.
I actually started writing this article 30 minutes ago, with the idea of writing how I’ve been working hard not to show my depression to the guy I’ve been dating, as he’s been so sweet and understanding with regards to the whole HIV issue. But only 10 minutes ago I got a text message saying he was breaking up with me because he couldn’t handle the strain on him of dating someone who was HIV+. So I’m kind of lost now.
I just want someone to cuddle up with on the cold nights, chat to about my worries and how I’m feeling. It’s not easy being HIV+, it’s doubly not easy being HIV+ and suffering from depression. I can’t see this cloud clearing in the next week now. Sigh.
Sorry for the miserable blog but sometimes I just need to vent, and seeing as it’s just me here you lot get the raw end of the deal.
An appropriate clip from Sex & The City…