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/
It made a nice change from chatting with them on the phone! I spoke about my big disclosure, the ‘functional cure’ story concerning 14 patients in France, my appearance on BBC World News and the first birthday of rucomingout.com
As before you can download and listen to the show in MP3 by clicking HERE
If you want me to appear on your show please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the contact page on this site.
This Thursday (21st March 2013) is LGF’s ‘Sex Tips Live’ night at the Eagle Bar, Manchester.
Hosted by the handsome Martin Coops Cooper the night promises to be a fun filled affair in game-show format – it will test how much you know about sex, safer-sex and how to get the most out of your man! There’ll be fun, games and prizes – not to mention alcohol. Plus visiting hunks from Manhunt.net on the premises. Oh and I’ll be there – in leather. What’s not to like?
The bar opens at 5pm and the fun kicks off around. The fun and games start around 8pm. Entry is free.
Come along, you just might learn a thing or two
For directions check out The Eagle Manchester’s website
For more on the Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) check out their site.
See you then,
A quick event update for you all:
Positive East and the London Gay Men’s Chorus ensemble announced that they will be putting on
another show together to raise funds for the charity’s HIV support services for gay men in London.
The show is called Good Vibrations, and takes place in St Pancras Church on Saturday 13th April.
Following on from last year’s spectacular show the Chorus will put on another night of show
The event will raise funds specifically in support of Positive East’s services for gay men in London.
It’s estimated that 1 in 12 men in London gay are HIV positive. There are more gay and bisexual men
living with HIV in London than ever before. This makes the work of Positive East, and their network
of one-to-one and group support sessions, more important than ever before.
It’s vital that people don’t become isolated from their communities as a result of their HIV status,
and supporting this event will help make sure that doesn’t happen.Tickets for this one-off show are available online, at www.ticketsource.co.uk/positiveeast.
For further information you can call the box office on 020 7791 9353.
All the best,
Just a quick note to let you know that the March 2013 issue of ATTITUDE Magazine is out now, and wow is it a tasty one! This month is is ATTITUDE’s famed ‘Naked Issue’ – featuring toned torsos and buttocks from the likes of Shayne Ward and Colin Gentry.
But fear not dear reader it’s not all style and no substance, this Naked Issue ATTITUDE have teamed up with NAT (National AIDS Trust) to talk about safer sex, condom use, HIV and the importance of getting tested – a must read.
Oh, and don’t forget my column – this month I talk about how I’m having ups and downs with my medication but how I remain thankful that it’s now, and not 30 years ago. Find out why…
Lots of love,
Tuesday 29th January 2013 heralds a new era for the LGBT community in Birmingham, and the Midlands in general with the opening of the Birmingham LGBT Health & Wellbeing Centre.
The Big Lottery Fund and Birmingham City Council have generously donated £479,263 and £250,000 respectively to get this ambitious project off the ground.
None of this would be possible without the hard work and persistence of Steph Keeble (Director) and David Viney (Health & Wellbeing Manager) who’ve worked tirelessly over the last year and a half to make this project a reality.
The centre will offer a range of services from it’s in-house clinic including a Sexual Health service, provided by Healthy Gay Life and Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust – along side smoking cessation and alcohol misuse counselling.
Depression, self harm and suicide continues to damage the LGBT community and especially LGBT youth. This problem is especially profound in Birmingham where 48% of LGBT people interviewed claim to have thought about suicide, and 20% claim to have attempted it.
There will be a Cafe/Bar area run by MatchBox – who will provide a range of healthy light meals and drinks, this space will be available in the evening for events in the LGBT community, along with a number of training and meeting rooms – which will also be able to be hired out by local businesses.
To find out more about the Birmingham LGBT Health & Wellbeing Centre either pop along to (38/40 Holloway Circus Birmingham. B1 1EQ) or visit their website: http://www.blgbt.org/
This morning my alarm went off at 7:00am, time to get up and make myself a coffee. I was on the radio in 30 minutes.
With their permission I’ve included an MP3 of the recording for you to download and listen to here! We touch on blogging, twitter, celebrities, HIV support and gay mugs. Check it out!
If you want me to appear on your show please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the contact page on this site.
Just a quick note to say I’m still here, things are just a little manic in Sam’s world lately.
- My day job has had me in every day of the week – unlike the part time hours I’m used to.
- I’m on the Gaydio Breakfast Show this Thursday morning (from 07:40) – listen in!
- Attending the opening of the new Birmingham LGBT Community Centre Thursday afternoon.
- Attending the Q:alliance General Assembly in Milton Keynes over the weekend
- Got a photo-shoot next week for my reveal on here and for Attitude.
- Working on a blog post for this site with the handsome Doctor Christian Jessen.
All of which is driving me a little doolally. But bare with me, please
Lots of Love,
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.
Just a quick heads up to let you know that the February issue of Attitude Magazine is now out, both in luscious iPad Edition and good old fashioned print format!
This month’s cover story is West Ham FC’s Matt Jarvis talking about footballs “last taboo” and saying why it’s time that gay players were finally accepted in our national game.
Nigella serves up some tasty treats whilst Louis Smith serves up some moves and works off those calories. How about some gadgets to help you entertain yourself through those January blues? We’ve got those too!
My column this month focuses on whether Valentines day is harder harder for people living with HIV and my experiences with online dating since diagnosis.
So go download your copy from iTunes or dash out and pick up a copy in store!
Have a spiffing Tuesday!