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/
You may remember a week or so back I posted about a new HIV awareness campaign in England called ‘It Starts With Me’ – designed to educate people about HIV, how it’s spread, how it’s prevented and what they can do to fight HIV.
Well the campaign is really in full swing now, with events and awareness materials rolling out across England.
Yesterday I returned from a trip to Berlin with my friend Anthony to find a ‘It Starts With Me’ t-shirt waiting on my door step. So I popped it on and took a few snaps, you’ll probably see me at a few events up and down the country – including pride events wearing it, talking to people about their attitudes towards sexual health, testing and HIV.
Some quick HIV related facts from the It Starts With Me website:
- 1 in 4: The number of people with HIV in the UK aren’t aware that they have it
- 10 years: how much shorter your life could be if you delay testing
- 8 in 10: gay men get HIV from someone who doesn’t know they have it
- 25-29: the age group in which the most gay men test HIV positive
- 96%: Treatment for HIV can make you upto 96% less infectious to others
Please make sure to head over to the It Starts With Me website to find out more about HIV, and how YOU can stop it in its tracks.
Well hello there!
Don’t you look fine in your best Summer shorts? It’s such a beautiful day today, seems a shame that I’m writing to you from deep inside an air-conditioned building with little to no natural light.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, I’m Sam. I’m a 25 year old gay guy from the UK who ended up being diagnosed with HIV last Summer. Ever since I’ve made it my mission to raise awareness of the disease, fight the stigma surrounding it and raise money for the charities who are on the ground helping out.
When I was diagnosed I found it nearly impossible to relate to any of the literature I was given, and when I searched online I couldn’t find anyone with HIV around my own age to talk to either. So I set up this blog and my twitter account to share my experiences, with the aim to both educate and show the world that it’s not all doom and gloom, but nor is it a walk in the park.
A couple of months back I was contacted by Matthew Todd at Attitude Magazine, Europe’s No.1 Gay Lifestyle magazine, he asked if I would become a regular contributor and share my message. I was, what I call, thrilled.
My first double length column (ahem) is out today in the Attitude iPad edition, which can be downloaded from the iTunes store. The physical magazine will be in stores next Friday (1st June). It’s also the ‘Naked Issue’ this month, so you’ll be treated to more hot flesh than you can (or probably should) shake a stick at! You’ll learn all about my life to date, my past, how I found out I had HIV, what’s happened since, and my plans for the future.
I hope you take the time to download the iPad edition, or pop to the shops next week and pick up a copy.
I’d also be really interested to hear what you think of my first piece, so please please please write/email/tweet into Attitude Magazine to let them know, and feel free to leave comments here as well as tweeting/emailing me.
Sunny Smiles all round,
Happy Monday one and all,
I trust you all had a pleasant weekend, made the most of the sun, maybe even had a BBQ? I didn’t, I spent it in agony with a broken tooth – but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
In just a few days I’ll be taking part in the THT Walk for Life. A 10-kilometer sponsored walk around London to raise funds for the THT, the UK’s leading HIV charity.
The Walk for Life started with Crusaid a HIV charity set up in 1986. The 2008 Walk for Life was the biggest HIV/AIDS walk in Europe to date. In 2010 Crusaid merged with THT, and the Walk for Life became the THT Walk for Life, continuing Crusaid’s legacy.
My first Walk for Life was in 2010, and I still have the medal proudly hung in my bedroom. I planned to attend the 2011 walk too but was unable to due to a serious injury. There were over a thousand walkers last year, from every walk of life (see what I did there?) all giving their time – and their money to help those living with HIV.
Every penny of the money raised goes into the THT Hardship Fund. With this fund THT can issue grants to those, living with HIV, who need it most. Speaking to Genevieve Edwards (Exec Director for Communications, Fundraising & Health Improvement) at THT earlier she explained that, in this period of economic gloom, the hardship fund was more important than ever. Food for the unemployed, baby clothes for struggling HIV+ parents, respite care for the terminally ill. The THT wants to help them all, but can only do so with your support.
It’s not too late to register for the event, you can do so at www.walkforlife.co.uk, you can do so up to the night before the walk.
If you can’t make the event, for whatever reason, please please please, sponsor someone who is walking, every pound you donate makes a real and tangiable difference to someone in crisis. If you’d like to sponsor me you can do so here: http://fundraising.tht.org.uk/ukpl-w4l
When I first decided to write a blog post about acceptance I had no idea where to start. Do I do it from a HIV point of view? A gay point of view? Then I thought to myself acceptance shouldn’t labelled or pigeon-holed, acceptance should be universal.
Clearly I can’t cover all aspects of life, love and religion in one post so I’m just going to pick a couple of issues that interest or impact on me.
Everywhere you look these days you’re surrounded by images of perfectly sculpted men and women, you can’t avoid it. Open a magazine and there are scantily clad gods hawking aftershave, turn on the TV seasoned presenters have been replaced by beautiful but clueless models with an earpiece, and have you tried finding decent porn with normal looking people in it? Impossible.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of eye-candy as much as the next person – but it’s not healthy that it’s presented as the only way to be. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve flicked through the glossy magazines only to be left with a heavy heart when I realise I’m never going to look like any of these people.
I’m in my twenties, tall, skinny and a bit hairy, in the grand scheme of things that’s not bad – but I can’t help thinking that if I were buff and shiny I’d be happier. I should be happy with myself the way I am, and that’s something I need to work on more.
HIV & The Gay Community
Acceptance and it’s evil twin discrimination aren’t just about the way we look either. There are a number of medical conditions that have stimga attached to them, such as addiction, mental health problems and the one that affects me most HIV.
I’ve never understood the rationale behind discriminating against those who suffer medically in one way or another. This is something that I’ve paid more attention to in recent months, for obvious reasons, than before. I can’t change the fact that I have HIV, I didn’t ask to contract HIV, you can’t get infected by being my friend – so why view me with a constant air of suspicion and treat me like a second class citizen?
Disturbingly, the group that seem to discriminate most against those with HIV in society are gay men. At a time when 1 in 7 gay men in our capital city are HIV positive why the discrimination? Gay men are already marginalised by society as it is, further marginalising a section of that group seems insane to me. Out of all the people I’ve disclosed my HIV status to, the only people that have had an issue have been gay men.
Come on guys, sort yourselves out.
Sophie Wilson: My Geek Hero
To end my post on a happier note, here’s a bit about my geek hero.
As some of you might already know I’m a huge geek. I work in IT, I live IT, I breathe IT. I grew up using computers from an early age, at three years old I recieved an Acorn Electron and my love affair grew from there. I had PCs at home from five years old but for most of my school life I carried on using Acorn computers.
They were truly amazing bits of kit. They played games, composed music, let me type up my school work – all without breaking a sweat. Acorn Computers collapsed in 2000 but my love affair with them has remained strong. In 1990 Acorn Computers spawned a new company, specialising in processor design, called ‘Advanced RISC Machines’, a company some of you may know as ARM. Today ARM’s processors power 95% of mobile phones, 90% of hard-drives, digital cameras, television sets and much much more.
The person behind the ARM RISC processor was always referred to as ‘Wilson’. I’d always imagined ‘Wilson’ to be a beardy guy with glasses, a Clive Sinclair kinda guy. It was only recently I found out that Wilson was the surname of Roger Wilson. In 1994 Roger Wilson became Sophie Wilson via gender reassignment surgery – and a very handsome woman she is too.
Since then she’s become one of the most highly respected electronic designers in the world. She was ranked 8th of 15 most Important Women in Tech History by Maximum PC in 2011 and has become a fellow at the Computer History Museum in California. She truly inspires me. She has show me that no matter what your past, or what people think of you, you can always do great things and you don’t have to hide who you are in the process.
Thank you Sophie.
Peace and Love,
I hope you’re all enjoying this sunny Friday afternoon, I know I am. Sat out in the park with my iPad writing this blog post.
But then that’s not the only thing I’m writing at the moment, oh no. For my regular readers and those who follow me on Twitter you’ve probably seen me hinting (rather unsubtly) at some upcoming magazine work. Well yesterday afternoon I finally nailed down the particulars and I’m happy to announce that you can now to keep up with me on twitter, on my blog and from the end of May… at Attitude Magazine.
That’s right boys and girls. I’m going to have a monthly column in Britain’s biggest selling gay magazine, starting in their famous and incredibly hot ‘Naked Issue’ – out at the end of May (pictured is last year’s Naked Issue).
I’ve been in talks with the Editor Matthew Todd (Stonewall journalist of the year, British Society of Magazine Editors’ Men’s Magazine Editor of the year) for the past couple of months, and I’m going to be using my column to show the gay men of Britain what life is really like with HIV.
Much like this blog I’ll be writing about the ups, downs, how people have made me feel, how I’m feeling in myself, how my treatment is going – and there’ll even be the odd interview thrown in here and there!
It’s not quite possible to put into words how overwhelmed and excited I am about this new project, but I promise to do you all proud – and make sure you all buy a copy of my first (double length) column, where I’ll be talking about my life with HIV to date. And for you tech-aficionados out there you can now get Attitude Magazine direct to your iPad with videos and everything!