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    5 books every LGBTQ+ needs to read

    With the summer just around the corner, we thought it was time to scour the metaphorical bookshelves and put together a list of LGBTQ+ books to add to your reading list. Whether you’re looking for a hardback to flick through when you’re on the beach, or you want a new read to enjoy on an evening after a busy day at work, this top-five list has you covered…

     

    And Then I Got Fired: One Transqueer’s Reflections on Grief, Unemployment & Inappropriate Jokes About Death (buy on Amazon)

    J Mase III is a black, trans, queer poet based in Seattle, and the founder of awQward, the first ever trans and queer people of color-specific talent agency.

    You might expect his debut book to be filled with the ins and outs of life as a trans black man, and whilst it certainly covers that to a healthy degree, it offers so much more to boot.

    The book features a healthy mix of poems, testimony, jokes, and even a choose-your-own-journey workbook that covers grief, black trans survival, and the arts. “The book is for all of us who deserve a place to be honest when things get hard,” the author said of the title.

    Once you start reading, you won’t want to put it down.

    It’s a hilarious, heart-warming and thought-provoking book by a writer we’re bound to be hearing more of, and with Mase releasing the #BlackTransPrayerBook with awQward artist Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi in the coming months, we won’t have to wait long.

     

    Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (buy on Amazon)

    “Straight people should have to come out too,” professes Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, “and the more awkward it is, the better.” This novel follows Simon Spier, a sixteen-year-old student trying to work out who he is, and what he’s looking for.

    He emails Blue back and forth, but before long, one of those emails gets into the wrong hands, and things get pretty complicated. Simon was adapted into the award-winning Love, Simon blockbuster released last year, but there’s always something special about reading a book that inspired a screenplay. It’s thought-provoking, moving, and clever – a cozy read for every LGBTQ+.

     

    Less (buy on Amazon)

    Less tells the story of Arthur Less, a failed novelist about to turn fifty. After receiving a wedding invitation from an ex-boyfriend of nine years who is engaged to someone else, he begins to accept the invitations on his desk to half-baked literary events around the world.

    It’s not a novel about being gay, as such, but instead a story of a man who just happens to be gay. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2018, we’re expecting huge things from author Andrew Sean Greer, who already has a host of interesting titles in his back catalog.

     

    Straight Jacket (buy on Amazon)

    Winner of the Boyz Best LGBT Book and shortlisted for the Polari Book Prize 2017, Straight Jacket is a book every man needs to add to his reading list.

    It’s a call for all gay men, and for their friends and family to boot. It’s part-memoir, part-attack on the facade of contemporary gay culture and asks some serious questions, like whether gay people are as happy as they could be.

    It offers advice to gay men and tells some true tales on today’s society – certainly no rainbow-washing. It’s brutal, honest, thought-provoking, and maybe even life-changing.

     

    Ask a Queer Chick (buy on Amazon)

    Ignore the cute book cover. Or don’t.

    Ask a Queer Chick is a guide to sex, love, and life for girls who like girls is useful whether you’re a lady-dating veteran or still trying to come out to yourself.

    Featuring words from advice columnist and queer chick Lindsay King Miller, the book offers a full 360 of life as a lesbian, covering everything from parents, romcoms, the L word, and gay sex, and helps lesbians lead authentic, safe, happy, sexy lives.

    It’s a fresh, authentic read, and you don’t have to be a lesbian to make sense of the advice it offers…

    Any recommendations of your own? Let us know on Twitter using @gayboybible.

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    5 Ways to Get Ready For Pride Month 2019

    With just two months go to go until Pride Month 2019 (June), it’s time to dust off your leather pants and get ready for the hottest season of the gay calendar.

    Whether you’re going to by flying the flag at a pride event or you simply want to give a nod to the fact you’re part of the community, we thought we’d round up some of the ways to get ready for the gay season…

    Update your Grindr

    When was the last time you gave your Grindr an update?

    With pride season upon us, it’s a good excuse to give your profile a bit of a makeover, with a new picture, an updated bio and a set of stats.

    Oh, and if you live in a city that’s hosting a pride event, get picky with your preferences – there’s no point in settling for someone if they’re not your type, so hone in on what you want and make sure your dating apps are showing you the best possible matches.

    Stock up on LGBT merchandise

    If you really want to fly the flag of pride and wear something that will express who you are as a person, then consider some pride LGBT apparel to get you into the spirit.

    From pride tees to LGBT merchandise for your whole friendship group, you’ll no doubt find something that’s glittery, fabulous, and laden with rainbows and magic.

    You’re celebrating pride season, so go all out to impress; there’s no such thing as over the top when you’re dancing on a pride float!

    Book in some events

    There are tonnes of pride events to look forward to this June, including Digital Pride, which is celebrated online and gives everyone the chance to participate and spread acceptance and positivity.

    In 2017, Digital Pride reached an incredible 55 million people, and the team behind it is hoping to go one step further in 2019.

    For local events, make sure you’re checking social media for meetups and club appearances from your favorite LGBTQ+ icons and Drag Race queens, and if there’s nothing happening, then consider hosting your own pride-related party.

    Follow the right people on Twitter

    Pride month is a great opportunity for brands to spread their appreciation of the LGBTQ+ community, but it can be tough to see everything that’s going on across the month.

    Pride month is also the perfect opportunity for people to come out or share their stories. Make sure you’re following the right people so you can be kept up-to-date on everything that’s going on across the month, or you could be missing out.

    Oh, and be sure to add hashtags like #gaypride and #lgbtqpride to your Twitter saved searches so you can see what’s going on.

    Consider a trip

    Finally, consider booking a trip to a major city so you can celebrate pride month in style. It is kinda tough to celebrate in a small town in the middle of nowhere, but New York Pride offers events and experiences throughout the entire month, and London Pride follows soon after on Saturday, July 6.

    There are similar events taking place across the planet, so keep your eyes peeled and book a trip somewhere new – you’ll have a great time, be able to express yourself in whichever way you want, and meet some awesome new people. Friends for life.

    There you have it – just a few ways to celebrate Pride 2019. Whatever you’re getting up to, we wish you an enjoyable and safe season. Be sensible, be aware, but most of all: be you.

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    How to get toned for the summer season

    We may only be in April, but the summer season is fast approaching, and if you’ve let the foot off the gas over the winter months, then the chances are that you have a lot of catching up to do.

    Whether you’re going on holiday or you simply want to get ‘beach body ready’ for a day with your friends, we’ve put together some of the best ways to get toned for summer…

    Hit the gym every day

    If you really want to impress with your top off, then you should consider hitting the gym on a more regular basis to get back into the swing of things. Whether you’ve had time off or you have simply been too busy with work and life, it’s so easy to forget about exercising and taking good care of your body, but if you’re not careful, then the pounds can quickly pile on.

    Think about what you eat

    Take a long hard look at your current diet and lifestyle – if you’re always buying food on the go or socializing with friends at bars and restaurants, the chances are you’re eating a ton of bad food that’s filled with sugar, calories, and fat.

    Go on a clean-eating diet for a while and the results will speak for themselves. After all, you really are what you eat. Veggies, protein, and fiber are the winners here – prepare meals at home so you’re less likely to buy bad stuff.

    Drink more water

    If you’re not drinking enough water, then you’re going to be hydrated which will make you hungry and make it harder for you to perform at your best in the gym. Don’t overlook this, as it’s so easy to do and can have a huge impact on your weight-loss/muscle gain.

    Treat your body with respect, keep it hydrated, and you’ll soon tone up in time for the summer.

    Hire a personal trainer

    If you’re struggling to stay motivated on your own, then consider finding local personal trainers who can give you the skills and motivation you need to succeed.

    Going to the gym on your own or trying to lose weight without the right support is virtually impossible, and by hiring a personal trainer, you’ll find a buddy who’ll be there when you need support or advice on your journey. And with so many to choose between, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

    Be happy with your body

    Finally, try to think of the bigger picture, and accept that the perfect body may be out of reach for your lifestyle. A six-pack isn’t a sign of success, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re not good enough if you don’t have the perfect body. Spend some time on self-love and respect – and only pursue a weight loss or muscle gain program if your head is in the right mindset.

    Whatever you decide to do, we hope you have an awesome summer.

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    TAKING POPPERS OUT OF THE CLOSET

    AAHHH poppers! A staple of many gay males sexual lives. From the twist of the small cap on the little brown bottle, to the first huff, this has been the stuff of dreams for more than a few generations. The rush of blood through the body, making your skin feel sensitive and soft, inside and out. Almost euphoric in nature as your inhibitions fall and your heart rate pulses. First known to be widely used in the 1960’s, poppers found their claim to fame In the 1970’s. They became so big that even straight people were known to casually use them on the dance floors of famous disco clubs. Rumours say that Studio 54, and others, would pipe them into the air conditioners. The liquid gold held within these bottles would soon become the scapegoat for the AIDS virus and change views about gay male anal sex forever.

    What are Poppers?

    To be very clear, this is a generic slang term for a mixture of chemicals which has changed formulations over time and even countries.They are substances in the group of chemicals known as alkyl nitrites.  Originally amyl nitrites were used. Now isopropyl nitrite tends to be more common. Poppers are usually sold in small bottles, in the form of liquids that produce a vapour that can be inhaled.

    The most common places to find poppers for sale are in local sex shops, “dirty book stores”, leather/fetish stores and, of course, the Internet.

    Poppers AIDS Controversy

    Poppers have fallen in and out of favour with the American Food and Drug Administration since the early 1960’s, at once making them by prescription only in 1937, until 1960, reversed in 1968 then a year later, 1969, illegal. But by then it was too late. Renewed interest and research began once the AIDS epidemic and specifically Karposi syndrome (KS) emerged.

    Mr. Ian Young wrote an interesting article about poppers, usage, health warnings and AIDS for the now defunct gay magazine STEAM. Here Mr. Young outlines some of the most popular myths/facts/conclusions regarding this substance. How much of the below is true is unknown and up for debate but the issues still swirl around the gay male community along with the stigma of its usage.

    NOTE: This article was written some time in the mid 1990’s when speculation about the cause(s) of AIDS were still high. Many gays did not believe HIV was the sole cause and, like many straights, blamed poppers for cancers like KS. In short, he was a conspiracy theorist, but he was not, and is still not alone!  But, you be the judge.

    “The ban on amyl quickly became ineffective when an enterprising gay medical student in California, Clifford Hassing, altered its atomic structure just slightly – it isn’t hard to do – and applied for a patent on butyl nitrite. The genie was changing form, as genies will.”

    Soon, Hassing had been muscled out of his thoughtful little home-lab operation by larger ‘entrepreneurs,’ nominally-independent operators controlled by organized crime syndicates. They made further chemical changes and came up with butyl and isobutyl nitrite – less pure, more toxic, and even faster-acting than the original amyl. And with the post-Stonewall rise of the urban, drug-based ‘gay lifestyle,’ gays were seen as the ideal market sector for a new aphrodisiac.

    “At this point the FDA apparently wanted nothing more than to be done with the whole business, and a modus vivendi was established. The unwritten agreement seems to have been: public distribution of poppers would be permitted – as long as they were labelled ‘room odorizer and marketed only to gay men. With this cynical unwritten agreement, poppers became a multi-million dollar business for the Mob.”

    “During the Seventies and early Eighties, much of the gay press, including the most influential glossy publications, came to rely on poppers ads for a huge chunk of its revenue, and poppers became an accepted part of gay sex. There was even a comic strip called Poppers, by Jerry Mills. The unwritten agreement was almost never breached: poppers ads appeared only in gay publications. The few exceptions were women’s magazines with a large gay male readership, like Playgirl.”

    “Before the first official reports of AIDS in 1981, relatively few voices had been raised to question what health problems poppers users might be causing themselves. A few attempts were made to curb sales, but the manufacturers always got around it by changing either the chemical formula or the product name. And the gay press, dependent on revenue from ads, did not care to blow the whistle on its own advertiser. One researcher contacted Robert McQueen, the Advocate’s editor, to warn him that poppers “strongly suppresses” the immune system and could contribute to KS and Pneumocystis pneumonia. But McQueen said he wasn’t interested. The Advocate ran a series of ads promoting poppers as a ‘Blueprint for Health.’

    “During the first few years of the AIDS epidemic, poppers came under suspicion as a possible contributing factor. But after 1984, when the Reagan administration pronounced a single retrovirus to be the only cause of the growing list of AIDS illnesses, the health hazards of poppers were dismissed. All attention and funding was directed to HIV. Eventually, through the efforts of a few dogged activists and researchers, state legislatures began to get into the act, and finally, most jurisdiction made poppers illegal – in spite of a well-financed campaign by a leading manufacturer, W.J. Freezer, the ‘Pope of Poppers.’ But even then, information about poppers was still not made widely available.”

    To be clear, there has never been a peer reviewed and agreed study linking popper usage and HIV/AIDS or any other disease or long term illness.

    What are poppers effects on the body?

    • The “good”: They open blood vessels, increase blood flow, and frequently reduce blood pressure while increasing heart rate. Users often report getting a dizzying ‘head-rush’, a sort of high in other words. Poppers work very quickly, producing an almost instant “rush” of warm sensations and feelings of dizziness, similar to sensations of extreme alcohol intoxication. The effects come on very quickly after inhaling the drug, but unlike drugs such as alcohol, only last for seconds or minutes.Poppers give the user a feeling of relaxation mentally and physically, increased sexual arousal, makes anal sex easier and less painful, due to the relaxation of the anal sphincter. For this reason, poppers are sometimes (LOTS OF TIMES) used to facilitate anal sex. In addition, some users find that using poppers during sex increases sexual sensations and intensifies orgasms. Even though some users prefer to perform sexually with them, they are not addictive.
    • The “bad”: Poppers are a skin irritant and huffing can cause sinusitis around the nostrils. They can also trigger allergic reactions accompanied by wheezing and breathing difficulties. As poppers can be scented, allergic reactions can also be triggered by inhaling the perfumes in poppers. Headaches, which can range from mild to severe, are also common as a result of dilation of blood vessels in the brain. Poppers can also increase the fluid pressure in the eyes, known as intraocular pressure, which may be problematic to people who are at risk of glaucoma. Because of the sudden change in blood pressure, some guys, unfortunately report loss of, or inability, to gain and sustain an erection. If you have heart or blood pressure problems, poppers can be dangerous because of the way they lower blood pressure and increase heart rate.  And for similar reasons, it’s a bad idea to take them with Viagra.
    • The “Ugly”: Swallowing poppers (rather than inhaling the vapour) may cause cyanosis, unconsciousness, coma, and complications leading to death. Methemoglobinemia can occur if poppers have been swallowed. Poppers are also highly flammable and should be kept very far away from open flames. In the truest since of the word, poppers are a drug. This means that they alter the body and mind to varying degrees depending on the person, body mass and mix of other medications or drugs, including alcohol.                                                                                                                                                         Numerous studies have linked popper usage to an increase in risky sexual behaviours, number of sexual partners and infection of STDs, including HIV. But, it is not considered to be the cause in the increase, rather, one of the drugs used by those seeking out those encounters. Also, they are one of the minor “party drugs” and not harmful as crystal meth or MHB.

    Some things you might want to know:

    The American TSA does not allow poppers in checked or carry on luggage. This model is followed in most parts of the world. Here is a cautionary tale for those of you that are hard headed.

    For some reason, there is a high level of stigma surrounding those who use poppers. Many gay males even deny being users even though they are sold almost all over the world and in every major city.

    Though technically illegal as a nitrate, poppers are sold under names like “head cleaner” and “room deodorizer”.

    Some form of poppers can be found all over Western Europe, with formulas that are known to be stronger than in the United States.

    Poppers, by any name or formula make-up, are illegal in Canada. They cannot be sold under any name.

    Poppers are sold under many brand names, strengths and sizes.

    To preserve freshness, many are known to keep poppers in the freezer.

    Some Internet idiots may try to convince you to make your own poppers at home. Don’t try this! It even sounds stupid.

    The cost of poppers will vary, but in the USA they range from $15 dollars to as much as $40. In Europe small bottles are 10 Euros and large ones are 15. So we are tol

    Tell us what you think. Are poppers over? Are they not worth the trouble and money? Or do they make your sexual life much better?

    Let us know on Twitter using @GayBoyBible.

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    5 gay-friendly travel destinations to consider

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    If you’re looking for some LGBTQ+ travel destinations to consider for your next vacation, you have come to the right place. Below, we’ve put together five of our favorite for you to choose from, each charming, full of character, and welcoming to those in the LGBT community.

     

    Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular cities, welcoming more than seven million tourists per year. It was previously known as the Gay Capital of Europe and perhaps most interestingly, was the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage.

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    There are a number of gay bars around Reguliersdwarsstraat, and there is so much to see and do, including a visit to the Red Light District and The Amsterdam Sex Museum.

    Fun for the whole family…

     

    Brighton, England

    If there was a Gay Capital of the United Kingdom, it would be Brighton. With its picturesque pier and tonnes of bars, restaurants and gay-friendly accommodation, you’ll be spoiled for choice in a city as vibrant and multicultural as Brighton, and because it’s easily accessible from London and the major airports, it’s no hassle to get there from anywhere in the world.

     

    New York City, United States

    Where do we even start with NYC? The city has one of the largest populations of LGBTQ+ people in the world, and with world-class gay bars, more drag shows than RuPaul could handle and a bunch of museums and experiences, like Madam Tussauds, you won’t have a minute for breath.

    Henrietta Hudson in the Village is one of the city’s remaining lesbian bars, but if you’re not a big drinker, then Elmo or Cafeteria are LGBT-owned restaurants that serve delicious food. Need more tips and tricks? Fagabond is the ultimate site for gay travel in the United States – make it your first choice when planning a trip to NYC for reviews and deals.

     

    Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

    Another popular European destination for gays is Gran Canaria, the Spanish island that is part of the Canary Islands. Why? Well, it’s just off the coast of Africa, which means you’re guaranteed year-round sunshine, and with some incredible gay-friendly bars and restaurants, there will be enough to keep you busy on your trip.

    What’s more, the island hosts a number of pride festivals throughout the year, including the Maspalomas Fetish Week in October, Maspalomas Gay Pride, and Maspalomas Winter Pride in November.

     

    Tokyo, Japan

    Finally, let’s turn our attention to Japan. Sure, you maybe didn’t imagine Japan to be LGBT+ friendly, but its people are kind and welcoming, and the country’s crazy culture – made up of cosplay, cat cafes, vending machines and so much more – makes it a must-visit.

    Tokyo has more gay bars than London, and with so much to see and do, it’s hard not to want to add the country to your bucket list. The good news is that Japan is relatively progressive by Asian standards when it comes to homosexuality. Sexuality is considered private, and so whilst gay life is not necessarily promoted in the country, the majority of people aren’t against it.

    You might want to steer cheer of public displays of affection, but spend an afternoon in the Ni chome district – old, low rise buildings with hundreds of gay-oriented bars and love hotels.

     

    Wherever you go, we hope you have a fun and enjoyable vacation. Share your experiences on Twitter using @GayBoyBible, and check back soon for more gay travel advice.

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    The Importance of LGBTQ Inclusive Education – My Experience.

    LGBTQ inclusive education is paramount, yet protests against this have swept across the country like an epidemic. So, I’m going to share the sex education I received in high school and state why it cannot go back to that.

    ‘Who can tell me what these are?’ Our teacher asked as she held a box out in front of the class. ‘Anyone? ‘She tailed off, leaving the question open, her words hanging in the air awkwardly. Most of the class knew what she was holding, it was a box of condoms. Yet I sat anxiously clutching my desk.

    A minute later the token class clown yelled out, ‘Rubbers, Miss!’ and the room exploded with laughter. To anyone passing by it probably sounded like someone detonated a circus. Our first sex education class was in full swing, and it was about as fun as being forced to dig my own grave at gun point.

    During the next class, I tried to keep to myself. I shrunk into my seat and avoided the teacher’s gaze. Yet as time ticked by, I started noticing the videos and diagrams were all to do with how heterosexuals have intercourse – but what about me? As the lessons and weeks passed, I went from trying to be invisible, to genuinely feeling as though I was.

    I was thirteen at the time, and the self-loathing seed had been planted.

    I can say with confidence that the lack LGBTQ inclusive education was nothing to do with the teacher’s personal prejudice, it simply wasn’t a part of the curriculum at the time. As a result, I had to learn about my sexuality and the LGBTQ community in unconventional, and often tainted, ways – through my peers.

    To them, the word ‘gay’ was nothing more than a slur; and when I first came to school with my nails painted, I was called a ‘tranny.’ After that I tried to hide my feminine traits because everyone around me treated them as taboo.

    The first time I was privy to how gay guys had sex was when I secretly started binging episodes of Queer as Folk after my parents went to bed (subsequently the show was also where I first learned about HIV and AIDS.)

    Whenever I talked about liking a boy it was met with remarks like ‘poof’ and uncomfortable, disgusted glances. I was hit, mocked and made to feel as if I was inherently wrong for being gay – the worst part, I started to believe it.

    But how was I or my peers to know better? Our LGBTQ knowledge was limited and ignorant; nothing more than little scraps of information picked up on the playground and tossed about idly.

    Being denied an LGBTQ inclusive education not only slowed the growth of my emotional intelligence, it also left me resenting an immutable aspect of myself: the fact I am gay.

    Now, with all these anti-LGBTQ inclusive education protests, we’re facing the possibility of recreating that same toxic environment for another generation of youths. We cannot have that. Here’s why:

    High schools may be full of kids, but they can be Game of Thrones when you pull back the veil – particularly for LGBTQ+ youth. And this hostility can often be amplified by lack of awareness and inclusive education on same-sex relationships and gender identity.

    As a kid you assume the people you love will love you unconditionally for the rest of your life. By denying any child an unbiased education on what it means to be gay, trans, bisexual, to be themselves, you’re going against that narrative. 

    You’re saying, ‘who you are isn’t worthy of acknowledgement’ and that message is toxic to the growth of any young person.

    In life you need the strength to find people who will love you for being you. If we don’t teach children (regardless if they’re cis, gay, straight etc) about the existence of LGBTQ people you’re essentially setting up emotional barriers and social roadblocks for them and others they’ll meet in life.

    How can we expect kids to treat others with love and kind, when we’re entertaining ideas that will teach them only hate and exclusion? This is why it’s imperative that kids are taught about LGBTQ people.

    Us existing is not ‘age inappropriate’ – it’s a normal part of everyday life.

    All I took from sex education classes was how to put a condom on various vegetables and that I couldn’t get pregnant – that and a whole bunch of self-loathing.

    I didn’t leave armed with a clue of the risks and dangers that you face as a LGBTQ person. It wasn’t until I gained some traction from real-life encounters that I started to become more educated (I also learned that most guys typically don’t have a cock the size of a cucumber.)

    I also wasn’t taught until years later that there’s nothing wrong with being gay.

    This is why education should operate without bias. It shouldn’t be tailored or hindered by the beliefs of individuals. More so, we shouldn’t use faith– regardless of what your religion may be – as a disguise for a personal brand of prejudice.

    I found out recently that my old high school now has a LGBTQ society set up and that honestly made my heart swell.

    The idea of a haven for any one struggling is nothing short of beautiful. Particularly in a small community where it once didn’t exist. Can you imagine that being taken away?

    By denying children an unbiased education you’re fostering the belief in another generation that being LGBTQ is wrong – when it isn’t. And if we take away inclusive education in schools, we run the risk of resurrecting the hate and ignorance we are still fighting so hard to beat back.

    What are your thoughts on the matter? Tweet us @GayBoyBible

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    Why I’m Not Attending Your Wedding

    Despite taking a shockingly and unacceptable long time, Australia finally acknowledged marriage equality, allowing Aussie’s to marry the person they love commencing from December 9, 2017. Since then I have been privileged and honoured to have attended two same-sex weddings and have been invited to a third.

    In High School, I had a best friend named Ritz who I met when we were both 14 years of age. I started to tell people I was gay at the age of 17 and Ritz from the age of 18 (after we graduated High School and he fled our small-minded country town to the city). Fastford to the present and we’re both 34 years of age, live in the same city and Ritz is getting married to his long term boyfriend, Jatz, and they have invited me to their special day. I hesitated but decided to accept the invitation.

    Why did I hesitate? The truth is, I didn’t know that Ritz and I were still friends and I was surprised to receive an invitation. Why did I think that we were no longer friends? See, Ritz and I don’t only live in the same city, we live about 2 miles from each other, with only one suburb between us. It’s about an eight-minute drive with traffic. Back in 2016 I started hosting games night at my place and each time would invite Ritz and Jatz to join, and each time they would decline. Games aren’t really their thing, which is absolutely fine. So, during 2017 I took a different approach and extended invitations to go out for dinner and drinks, which was something we had done dozens of times over the years. Ritz still declined. Fair enough!

    Soon 2018 arrived, and a new opportunity arose where Ritz and I could catch up. I started a new job working in the City Centre (Downtown) literally in the same block as Ritz, with only three office buildings between us. My job was a contract that was restricted to just a few months before it came to an end. So again, I extend the invitation to meet for lunch or a drink after work, advising that we would only be working neighbours for a few months. You can probably guess what the answer was… I’m busy; I don’t have time blah blah blah. A month after my contract ends a good friend we have in common visits from interstate and is staying for five weeks. And, once again, no effort made by Ritz. Not to see our visiting friend or me. At this point, I feel like I’m being treated the same as a Grindr/Scruff “date”. It’s now early 2019 as I write this and Ritz and I have not caught up for 1.5 to 2 years and have more or less stopped communicating.

    A wedding invitation recently arrived, and after some hesitation and persuasion from my sister, I accepted. Her words were “just go and be happy for them”. I have since cancelled my acceptance. I am sincerely happy for Ritz and Jatz and am confident they will have a wonderful life together. But I can’t, in good conscience, pretend that everything is okay and we’re close friends like we once were, because it’s simply not true, and I’ve now accepted that and moved on.

    The truth is, I feel that Ritz knew many years ago that our friendship was dissolving (or he chose to gradually dissolve it) and I didn’t notice or didn’t want to notice. Since becoming adults (in comparison from our time in school together), I realised that we don’t actually have much in common and slowly and surely Ritz pulled further away, continuously declining to catch-up. Which, I am now entirely on board with and agree with him.

    So why the wedding invitation? Am I being a dick by accepting and then cancelling it? The reason I gave was “unforeseen circumstances”, which we all know is a bit of a cop out, but honestly, I don’t think Ritz could handle the truth. Am I being a total a-hole?! Let me know your thoughts!

    Comment on Twitter to @GayBoyBible and @AuthorJasonS
    www.gayboybible.com
    Facebook: Jason Spark
    March 20th, 2019

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    Grindr: A Quick Guide for Your Straight Friends

    How many of us have found ourselves thrust into the awkward position of having to explain what Grindr is to a straight friend? Recently this happened to me. So to save myself from any future horror, I’ve penned an introduction of sorts.

    Around a month ago I decided to just stop dating. I had reached the decision that it was nothing more than cluster f*ck of emotions and hormones and feelings and involved way too many thoughts about your appearance and the length of your pubic hair. So, I was taking myself out of the game.

    Then I got lonely. Or horny. Probably both actually.  

    Eventually I caved and enlisted the help of an old app I’d promised to never return to. I am of course referring to the festering skid-mark on the underpants of the digital dating world; an app that’s more commonly used as a dick-pic dispensary and is the gay guy’s equivalent of a Pokédex.

    Armed with the same brand of scepticism it left me with last time I deleted it, I returned to the App Store and downloaded Grindr. RIP my dignity.

    A few days later I was shamelessly scrolling through profiles in a half-empty Starbucks. After the third ‘chirp’ (the sound Grindr uses to announce a new message) my straight friend raised her head to ask what I was doing – I’m losing the will to live, Charlotte. That’s what.

    I tried to steer the conversation down a less sordid avenue, but curiosity got the better of her. Fast-forward twenty minutes and I’ve traumatised my friend with Grindr horror stories (complete with visual aids) and probably set gay rights back around ten years.

    Explaining what Grindr is, and how it works, was about as fun as swallowing a matchbox full of coffee granules, then somehow regurgitating it into my mouth. In order to never have to go through that ordeal again, I decided to write this introduction: Grindr: a guide for your straight friends.

    If you have never used Grindr before, or don’t associate with a homosexual that does, then I suggest closing this tab; it isn’t for people with your level of self-respect. If you decide to keep reading, then allow me to illuminate your ignorance by sharing with you a typical Grindr experience.             

    Grindr has somehow earned itself the mantle of ‘dating app’, which is a formidable achievement. Especially considering it’s not really a conventional dating app at all, more a big online bin full of blank profiles and the occasional weird-shaped penis to lighten the mood.                            

    You sign in to find that half of the users look like a rejected prop from a Ghostbusters movie and the other half are shrouded in mystery as they apparently don’t have a face.

    Within 0.7 seconds of opening the app, the first dick pic will flop into your inbox.  There it is staring at you, looking like a chubby, throbbing thumb after a brutal hammer smashing.

    Side note: Guys, nothing makes me want to pluck out my own eyes more than receiving a dick pic from an anonymous stranger. It’s essentially the equivalent of a cat bringing you a dead bird as a present. Stop it.                                     

    The more you use the app, the more you’ll wonder what Grindr depletes more: Your phone’s battery, or your soul. Yet as heinous and unholy as Grindr is, there’s no shortage of characters on it that’s for sure.

    Here are the type of guys you may encounter whilst on Grindr:

    There’s that one guy who (no matter how many times you block him) keeps coming back like a monster in a movie, or an unpaid bill, or casual racism.

    Amongst a sea of ominous, faceless profiles, a user may well pop up and offer you money for sex in a way that implies it’s a term of endearment – which, by the way, it’s not.               

    There’s also the guy who opens the conversation with a rudimentary greeting, swiftly followed by a dick pic and an intimate shot of his colon. Then, when you don’t reply, he kicks off.

    Not to mention the guy who hounds you so incessantly for nudes that you consider going into Witness Protection just to get away from them. And even if you did, the other guy you blocked earlier would probably still find you and pop up AGAIN.

    And of course we’ve all encountered that one guy who (without prompt) shares, in explicit detail, the sexual acts he’d like to do with you.

    There may be plenty of people on Grindr, but there isn’t much to choose from. The app isn’t encoded with love, so if you’re looking for good-boy chivalry and harmless comments, then advise your straight friend not to recommend it to other gays in their life.

    There you have it, a quick guide to Grindr for your straight friends.

    NOTE: I have since deleted the app as it made absolutely no difference to the trajectory of my love life.

    What is your worst Grindr experience? Any funny stories? Share them with us on Twitter @GayBoyBible

  • in ,

    Dumbledore and Grindelwald: Lovers All Along

    When someone says the name J.K. Rowling, certain images always come to mind: a legendary writer, a woman who lived in poverty, a champion for feminism and prominent Trump Troller. She set up the Lumos Foundation to help children grow up in loving families. She is by all means, a wonderful person; I speak from experience having met her on the Half-Blood Prince book launch night back in July 2005. From what I personally experienced with Jo and the way I saw her treat others in the crowd, I whole-heartedly confirm she is a gem. The beaming smile, the friendly chat; she’s so charismatic and treats everybody like an old friend who she hasn’t seen for a long time. Above all, she’s an inspiration…but lately she has found herself at the core of controversy. 

    Controversy:

    J.K. Rowling has revealed that Albus Dumbledore had an “intense sexual relationship,” with dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in their youth. While their relationship has been a talking point since 2007, the news of their relationship being sexual has whipped the LGBTQ community into a frenzy. Some praised J.K. and some called her out for not including Dumbledore’s sexuality in the main Harry Potter series and instead outed Dumbledore at a Q and A session shortly after the final book’s release in 2007.

    J.K. Rowling signing books in 2007

    Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent, but he met someone as brilliant as he was and, he was very drawn to this brilliant person and horribly, terribly let down by him.”

    J.K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall in NYC. 20th October 2007.

    I understand that representation is a huge thing for us and in today’s world it is something unquestionable. It’s easier than ever to have representation now. I get that people are upset that Dumbledore wasn’t outed in the books but we have to remember that the first book was written in the 1990s and the series was published between 1997-2007. It became the biggest selling, most commercially successful franchise of the literary world and even if Jo had wanted to out Dumbledore in the books, she wouldn’t have been allowed by her publishers and editors as it may have harmed sales in anti-gay countries. There was enough controversy already with fundamentalist Christians over the use of magic. 

    As a writer, I understand what it’s like to know your characters inside out. I could talk all day about my characters histories and moments in their lives that don’t ever make it to the books. This is exactly what has happened here. The Harry Potter series was Harry’s story and Dumbledore’s sexuality was never important – he had more important things to worry about, like shaping Harry into a strong wizard, capable of defeating Voldemort. Had he been outed, his relationship with Harry would have been looked at as inappropriate. He would have, to uneducated folk, turned from mentor to paedophile, which he absolutely isn’t.

    How Gay is Dumbledore?

    Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Order of Merlin First Class and Headmaster of Hogwarts

    Instead of outing him, J.K. cleverly hid hints within the text throughout the books and with the knowledge of his sexuality, small moments gain a new meaning. Most notably he never mentions a Mrs. Dumbledore nor any female love-interest. He’s one of the most famous and greatest wizards of all time. He could have his pick of anyone but he choses not to.

    He has a fascination with knitting magazines:

    ‘No, I was merely reading the Muggle magazines,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I do love knitting patterns. Well, Harry, we have trespassed upon Horace’s hospitality quite long enough; I think it is time for us to leave.’

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Page 73)

    His flamboyant language and dress sense (which is always extra, even for Wizards) reveals a classically camp air to his character.

    When he looks into the Mirror of Erised (a mirror which shows your heart’s desire) he claims to see “thick woollen socks.” This is an undoubtedly evasive answer to hide the truth. As revealed in Fantastic Beasts 2, it has been confirmed that Dumbledore sees Grindelwald. However, in later years he sees the same as Harry. He sees his family alive and together again.

    Dumbledore sees Grindelwald in the Mirror of Erised

    Throughout the final book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) we learned about Dumbledore’s past and discovered that there was so much more to him than we ever knew. The story of his “friendship” with Grindelwald is revealed through the Rita Skeeter expose, “The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore.”

    The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore

    Dumbledore and Grindelwald

    The book within the book covers many things about Dumbledore’s tragic family life and his meeting with the future dark wizard who came to live in Godric’s Hollow with his great, aunt Bathilda Bagshot. Bathilda was the wizarding author of the History of Magic. Grindelwald had been expelled from Durmstrang, the Eastern European wizarding school, known for its links to the Dark Arts. He had been carrying out “twisted experiments,” that were too much even for Durmstrang. This in itself gives us a clear insight to what Gellert is capable of. Upon his move, he and Dumbledore became instant friends. They both saw brilliance in the other and shared common goals of finding the Deathly Hallows and creating a new world order in which wizards would rule over muggles. In one letter, Dumbledore stresses that wizarding dominance should be done “for the greater good.” It’s the final line of this letter that gives us all we need. 

    “This was your mistake at Durmstrang! But I do not complain, because if you had not been expelled, we would never have met.” 

    This line could be innocent and is subtle to say the least but this is from a time period (1899) where their love would have been forbidden. Around this time, during the “Two months of insanity,”as Dumbledore calls them, the two make a blood pact which would prevent them ever fighting each other should they disagree on their grand plan to overthrow muggles and take charge.

    Later on the boys agreed that they needed to leave Godric’s Hollow to put their plans into effect but Dumbledore clashed with his brother, Aberforth who wouldn’t let him leave. Dumbledore’s father was in Azkaban, his mother had been killed in a magical explosion caused by Ariana who was unable to control her magic powers and needed constant care. Aberforth turned on the young lovers who were determined to leave together to rule the world.

    “Grindelwald didn’t like that at all. He got angry told me what a stupid little boy I was, trying to stand in the way of him and my brilliant brother…And there was an argument…and I pulled out my wand, and he pulled out his and I had the Cruciatus Curse used on me by my brother’s best friend – and Albus was trying to stop him, and then all three of us were duelling…and the flashing lights and the bangs set her off, she couldn’t stand it- and I think she wanted to help, but she didn’t really know what she was doing, and I don’t know which of us did it, it could have been any of us – and she was dead.”

    Aberforth Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Page 457)

    While Dumbledore and Grindelwald couldn’t fight each other because of the blood pact, it would appear that Dumbledore was caught in the middle. We can assume he tried to protect both parties but was still met with tragedy. From that moment on, Dumbledore’s relationship with Grindelwald turned sour.

    “Albus (out of shame, or fear?) never saw him again, not until forced to do so by the pleas of the wizarding world. Neither Dumbledore nor Grindelwald ever seems to have referred to this brief boyhood friendship in later life. However, there can be no doubt that Dumbledore delayed, for some five years of turmoil, fatalities and disappearances, his attack upon Gellert Grindelwald. Was it lingering affection for the man or fear of exposure as his once best friend, that caused Dumbledore to hesitate?Was it only reluctantly that Dumbledore set out to capture the man he was so delighted he had met?”

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Page 293)

    The above quote really hits the nail on the head. I believe Rita Skeeter knew what had really gone on between them. The quote feels like she’s hinting as much as she can but even she and her sensationalist Quick Quotes Quill, would not resort to outing a dead man. I can imagine her writing it like:

    But why did Dumbledore not out himself?

    Dumbledore could never, would never reveal his relationship with Grindelwald. Not only did Grindelwald become likened to a Wizarding Hitler; to do so would mean admitting that he had planned on assuming authority over mugglekind and ruling by his side. In later life Dumbledore was known as a “Muggle-Lover,” and became a defender of non-magic folk, so this would have destroyed his good reputation in the Wizarding World. He was so hurt by this relationship that it seems he never loved again. JK Rowling admitted herself that the love between him and Grindelwald was Dumbledore’s “Great tragedy.”

    “Muggles forced into subservience. We wizards triumphant. Grindelwald and I, the glorious young leaders of the revolution…Oh, I had a few scruples. I assuaged my conscience with empty words. It would all be for the greater good, and any harm done would be repaid a hundredfold in benefits for wizards. Did I know, in my heart of hearts, what Gellert Grindelwald was? I think I did, but I closed my eyes.”

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Page 573-574)

    Grindelwald, being a master of Dark Arts, almost certainly had some sort of hold over Dumbledore and young Albus became infatuated with young Gellert. Now, this is Dumbledore’s first love. Our first love is always the one where we fall too hard and too fast. We are blinded to what’s really going on. Dumbledore was the same. Our first loves shape us, and like we look back at some of our exes who used us or hurt us and we regret them, this would be something that ultimately really hurt Dumbledore. He thought he had met an equal – someone with whom he shared common goals and the two of them could go on to rule the world together but he didn’t initially see the evil within Grindelwald (or chose to ignore it) because he was so blinded by everything else. For those two months, Albus was essentially trapped in a kind of abusive relationship where he followed Gellert, naively, wanting nothing more than to impress him. Something he would later be ashamed of and want to keep quiet.


    “Grindelwald lost control. That which I had always sensed in him, though I pretended not to, now sprang into terrible being. And Ariana…after all my mother’s care and caution…lay dead upon the floor.”
    Dumbledore gave a little gasp and began to cry in earnest.”

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (page 574)
    A portrait of Ariana Dumbledore in The Hog’s Head pub

    While here, it may appear that Dumbledore is grieving Ariana’s death, if we look closer, it goes back to the feelings of embarrassment that he was duped by Grindelwald’s charm. His shame that the young man he had fallen in love with had manipulated him and ultimately brought about this tragedy, only to flee and leave him alone to suffer the consequences. He was left with the guilt that he would have abandoned his family for Grindelwald; the grief of losing his sister, ruining his family and losing the man he loved and the shame of his obsession with Grindelwald being the cause.

    “He ran while I was left to bury my sister and learn to live with my guilt, and my terrible grief, the price of my shame.” 

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Page 575)

    The Years After

    It was a lot for Dumbledore to deal with, again, remembering that the time between 1899 and 1945, homosexuality was still punishable by imprisonment. He couldn’t talk openly about what happened. Dumbledore moved on with his life and became a teacher at Hogwarts. Meanwhile, Grindelwald continued to chase his dreams of establishing wizarding control of the world. He kept the blood pact vial close to his heart, knowing that with it safe, while he could not harm Dumbledore directly, his biggest threat (Albus) could not harm him either. However, Grindelwald was cold and attempted to use others to do his dirty work and dispose of his enemy.

    It was in 1927 that Newt Scamander’s Niffler managed to steal the vial and allowed Newt to pass it on to his old teacher. Between here and 1945, Dumbledore somehow found a way to end the blood pact, which prevented him from fighting Grindelwald and led to their final confrontation in 1945.

    “They say he feared me, and perhaps he did, but less, I think, than I feared him. Oh, not death…Not what he could do to me magically. I knew that we were evenly matched, perhaps that I was a shade more skilful. It was the truth I feared.”

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Page 575)

    Even with the blood pact destroyed, it would have hurt Dumbledore tremendously to accept that he needed to fight Grindelwald. Though he had once loved him, he would also associate him with the death of his sister and the loss of his family. He would be so conflicted but seeing him again would make it very real and reawaken those old, painful memories. 

    Representation Takes Time

    Until now, those years bridging the gap between their meeting and the showdown have been elusive except for the brief mentions of the grand duel but with the Fantastic Beasts series, we finally get to see what happened. When JK Rowling mentioned that Dumbledore would not be explicitly out in Fantastic Beasts 2, there was an outcry from the LGBTQ community, understandably. The idea of a gay character not being portrayed as gay is queerbaiting at its finest. However, the film did subtly address the issue. While subtlety might not seem effective, now that JK Rowling has acknowledged that the later films will address the relationship further, instead of a positive reaction, the outcry has been even more critical than before, resulting in thousands of tiresome memes.

    We need to remember that there are going to be five Fantastic Beasts films. We have seen two so far. The second introduced the idea of there being something between the two of them. There are three more films building up to the legendary duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. That’s three whole films left to explore the relationship and Dumbledore’s guilt and conflict. The story will have its time in the spotlight. This series is being released in a different world to the original books and films – a world where we can have openly gay characters. 

    I’m sure everyone would agree though that when writing characters as representation for minority groups, it’s much better to write them sensitively. It makes sense to take time to build a fully rounded character, rather than just force a storyline for the sake of having token representation. Had Dumbledore come in with jazz hands and talked about hot guys or that time he and Grindelwald did it in Godric’s Hollow, it would have felt jarring and desperate. J.K. Rowling knows what she’s doing. She’s carefully crafting her story and she’s writing realistically. Nobody wants forced representation. That can be as damaging as no representation at all. At the end of the day, does Dumbledore’s sexuality have to be screamed from the rooftops? Surely it’s better to write him as a realistic human – to show how he had this relationship with another man but it’s no big deal. It just happened.

    “This is a story about two men who loved each other, and ultimately have to fight each other. It’s a story for the 21st century.”

    David Yates, Director

    It was passionate, and it was a love relationship. But as happens in any relationship, gay or straight or whatever label we want to put on it, one never knows really what the other person is feeling. You can’t know, you can believe you know. I’m less interested in the sexual side — though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship — than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationships.

    J.K. Rowling, Writer

    Representation is important. It always will be but with this story we just need to have patience. It will be worth it in the end.

  • in

    Musicians You can Follow to Get Out of Bad Moments

    We all have our moments, the good as well as the bad. But when we are in that bad place with a bad moment, we need something or someone to lift us out or at least to give us a little boost. Nothing at that moment is better or more effective than a good musician, and of course some great music!

    Each of us has armor and nothing seems to penetrate into our souls with the prowess of music; each his own special preference:

    Sam Smith

    With his own heartbreaks obvious in his music, he feels our pains as well. Listening to him as he goes through those painful lyrics seems to make our own pains fade out in comparison. It is nostalgia and it is sharing, so it will definitely give us a mood lift.

    Ariela Jacobs

    She is bound to make you smile stupidly whether you want to or not. And when you just can’t smile, this songstress will make you smile with her folksy pop, light singing that touches the heart. She is rising quickly due to the genre that she depicts, that is, to say the least, refreshing in a world that needs it. Listen to her, you will definitely get what she is about.

    Against Me!

    Now, this is a band that has not beaten about the bush but has gone on ahead and made it their mission to expose and explore gender issues. Check out their music, and listen carefully to the lyrics as you go along – I assure you they are just great. You can search here for music concerts tickets without service fees to have an affordable deal.

    Kindness

    Gentle tunes that go smoothly on to a slightly higher rhythm – they take us along with them – we feel almost instantly better. It is not just one or two songs, but it is the style of this band. But then, that should be obvious from the name of this band – Kindness.

    Mykki Blanco

    Be it investigative journalism, or making her voice heard – this musician has it all. There are no boundaries to the issues that are depicted in her music. One thing is for sure, you will find yourself lifted up along with the tunes that flow from the rich tones that are her music.

    Shamir

    Lilting tones that do the work of magic as we listen to this young musician, with lyrics that are open in their meaning. It is good to listen to any issue handled so lightly along with those light tones that are the signature of this young artist.

    Brendan Maclean

    Unafraid, bold, uncensored – you name it, and he says it. Not just that, but he has also made his music graphic. It is shocking and acts as a wake-up call to pull us out of our comfort zones and see all that is happening in the world right there in his videos along with his hard-core music. You have nothing to lose, so get the experience of listening to this bold, award winner with the softly spoken words that are still too bold but so true.

    There are many more musicians, but one thing is for sure music makes us feel better; all we need to do is find out our favored musicians, style, or songs.

  • in

    Adoption is Loss

    We have *letter box contact with our sons’ birth parents, which means we, along with the boys, write to them once a year, to which they can choose to reply to or not. We received our first reply, handed to us by our neighbour on a Sunday evening. The letters had originally been sent to the wrong address (always encouraging!). At this point, the boys where in bed, and I had consumed the best part of a bottle of wine. It was a Sunday evening after all.

    My partner and I, intrigued, decided to read the letters, on the sofa having paused Amazon Prime, with no thought to it, poised to carry on our viewing after we had dissected the information in hand. We tore open what was left of the teeth scared sodden envelop which had once been ravished by our neighbours dog and each of us holding a side, got stuck in.

    We weren’t prepared, not at all, and in the time it took us to read it, we experienced more emotions than we had throughout our entire adoption journey.

    The process informed us of it, I thought I had mentally prepared for it, but it was only while I was sat on my sofa, puffy eyed with tear soaked cheeks that it dawned on me the tremendous loss that is adoption.

    Don’t get me wrong it is a great thing! These children; our children, needed love, they needed to be looked after and they needed a home but behind this, clouded in the mist of everyday, often chaotic life, there lies a great deal of loss. Regardless of the situation, the birth parent loses on adoption day and so does the child. No matter how pretty a picture you paint, adoption isn’t anyone’s ideal.

    It takes guts to apply to adopt children knowing that your life is about to be closely scrutinised. My partner and I had no idea what we were doing when we first had the ‘why don’t we adopt’ conversation three years ago but we welcomed the process and actually thoroughly enjoyed it. Our social worker gave us the freedom to explore our options and took it at our pace. We knew we were doing the right thing and for those that do weather the adoption journey the level of dedication required clearly comes from one overriding wish: to give children love and a good experience of care.

    The letters where a humbling experience to realise that I didn’t have it all together and in reality the parent I thought I was going to be, and the parent I have ended as, are very different. You can say ‘meant to be’ and ‘better off,’ but I’ve come to appreciate the difficult walks of our sons’ birth parents. I don’t know their pain first hand, but their loss is part of our family story.

    Right now, our boys are too little to grasp the loss that predates their entry into our family, but one day soon, they’ll ask the hard questions. Our boys bring us happiness and a sense of fulfilment which we never imagined, but their stories begin with loss and I’ve learned to respect that.

    *The Letterbox is a system that enables birth relatives and adoptive parents to stay in contact by exchanging written information. The frequency with which you exchange information via the Letterbox will be discussed and agreed on when the adoption is being planned.

  • in

    Why Buffy is Still An Icon for LGBTQ People Around the World.

    Today marks the 22nd anniversary of 90’s cult classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now, all these years on, Buffy remains a cherished figure to many of us. One that represents resilience and empowerment.

    Growing up gay, I idolised an army of female characters. When I was little, I’d always pick Chun-Li every time my cousins and I played Street Fighter. Whenever Halloween crept around, I’d secretly mourn the fact I couldn’t go as Lara Croft (I still kind of do, to be honest.) And when I was in gymnastics class I’d somersault backwards off everything and pretend I was former WWE wrestler Lita.

    But there was one female character that shone brighter than the rest; one whose strength, compassion and resilience reinforced my sense of self even in the darkest of times. Someone who, even while kicking ass, still executed witty quips and killer-looks.

    She is a character that so many queer youth related to and still love to this day. I am of course talking about the icon that is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Even though Buffy herself did not identify as queer, she was never anything short of a champion to me. My connection with Buffy was less to do with her identity and more to do with her story.

    Growing up in a small town I was quite literally the only gay in the village, a dooming sensation that so many queer youth can empathise with. Buffy was the only slayer; the one girl in the whole world chosen.

    While I didn’t have superpowers, and made a point of not carrying sharp, wooden sticks around with me, I related to her story – and what queer kid couldn’t?

    Buffy’s ‘chosen’ status saw these characteristics thrust upon her, ones that tended to leave her isolated in a way that nobody around her truly understood. Something that so many of us felt; the lonely sting of initially coming to terms with our identity.

    At the end of season 2 Buffy reveals her slayer status to her mother, who doesn’t take the news well. The reaction given mirrored a lot our own experiences. ‘Have you tried NOT being the slayer?’

    Even though her mother’s reaction was innocent, it was also problematic and ignorant. It’s a tongue and cheek play on what a lot of queer youth go through; how even the best people in our lives can have misconceptions of what it is to be gay, lesbian, trans… I know it may not seem like a massive step now, but the concept was huge when the show aired.

    Although being the slayer was not a metaphor for being queer, it did forge an undeniable affinity for Buffy. Throughout the show’s seven-seasons, Buffy continued to struggle finding her place in a world that was full of people who were different from her; many of which hated her for simply being herself.

    As Buffy Summers grew as a person, she started to foster her own community, one that formed a safe circle around each other. Buffy recognised what it meant and how it felt to be different, something many of us reconcile with each day. She never held prejudice to anybody in her group, whether they were a straight werewolf, or a lesbian witch; a smouldering, formerly evil vampire or a lovably blunt ex-demon.

    She taught us resilience and acceptance (both self and of others). She injected us with a sense of empowerment every time she overcame an obstacle thrown at her either by demons or the world. And even when Buffy was beaten down, she always got back up, armed with an arsenal of snappy puns.

    To the outside world, Buffy seemed like a simple show where a pretty blonde girl battled demons, but if you pull back the veneer, you’ll see many more layers. The demons weren’t just demons, they were a symbol of daily struggles and fears we’re all forced to confront.

    There were too many times where the challenges in my life made it feel as though the world was going to end. Buffy and her ‘Scooby Gang’ were fighting the monsters we all have to face in real life. An ex turned bad, an evil professor; the horror of minimum wage employment and the relentless battle against a world that threatens to swallow you whole.

    During its seven seasons, the show combats a wide spectrum of issues that so many face – both figuratively and metaphorically. Themes of heartbreak over the one you love turning on you; of loneliness and depression. Stumbling into adulthood, battling of addiction, trying and failing at higher education and dealing with family loss. There’s solace, sex and also abuse in relationships and friendships. Most, if not all, of these areas continue to strike a resonating chord with so many of us.

    Buffy was complex, but undeniably human. It’s because of this I feel so many queer youth still need a character like her. Buffy was emotional, imperfect and often under-appreciated by those around her; yet she never gave up despite how crushing and hard it sometimes got. In her own words, ‘The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it.’

    The show may have ended back in 2003, but its nostalgia and relevance still has substance in today’s world. Its humorous script, character development and underlying themes hold up against every show I’ve since watched. To this day I still find myself asking ‘WWBD?’ – What would Buffy do?

    If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend binge watching it.

    Were you a fan of the show? What’re your favourite moments and who’re your favourite characters? Tweet us @GayBoyBible and share your thoughts!

  • in ,

    Confessions

     “I need someone who works out more and is older than me.” I’m 10 years older than him but he didn’t know that.” —EDUARD C.

    “I’m sorry, but when I asked
    you out, I didn’t think you’d say yes.”
    —Andrew K.

    “I can’t see you anymore because you didn’t want to hookup on the 1st date.”
    —Aaron C.

    “My skin was gross.”
    —Josh M.

    “I can’t make it tonight, I forgot it’s my night to smoke weed with a friend.”
    —ADAM S.

    “Don’t have an interest in you romantically—but, am sexually attracted to you.”
    —Donovan A.

    “I don’t date men, I only have sex with them.”—After 3 months of dating.
    —Shaun L.

    “I decided I’m gonna stay with my boyfriend.” I did not know he’d been with someone prior to the date.
    —Kevin K.

    “NOT INTO FEMS!” —LEVI Y.

    “I don’t like your eyebrows”
    —Joshua S.

    “I know we’ve been together for a year and a half, but because of all the time we’ve been hanging out with “Tom” lately, I’ve developed feelings for him and I want to try dating him.”
    —Jermey S.

    “We were both from TN, so we both had accents… but his excuse was that he didn’t like mine”
    —Dylan A.

    “My sister has been crushing on you for years and I just can’t do this to her.”
    —Jene R.

  • in , , ,

    Why We Need LGBT-Inclusive Education

    Age-appropriate education regarding same-sex relationships is vital in a modern world. There is absolutely no disputing that. As a rational, forward thinking individual, I believe that teaching children that LGBTQ people exist is the best way to tackle homophobia and transphobia. “Age-appropriate” is the key word most people seem to forget here. They won’t teach five year olds the ins-and-outs of gay sex. They’re not going to teach kids about cruising and poppers. They will simply learn that some children have a mum and dad, some may have one or the other and some will have two mums or two dads. It’s simple steps like this that will help finally bring an end to prejudice.

    Over the last few weeks a school in Birmingham has hit headlines after parents have taken around 600 children out of the school and led protests over a “No Outsiders” project, created by Assistant Head teacher, Andrew Moffat. The project had been created to teach children age-appropriate information about the wide spectrum of differences between people in society from race, religion, gender, sexuality and disability. Its sole-purpose is to create understanding and acceptance among young people.

    However, despite the project’s positive influence, some strict Muslim parents are angry that their children are being taught about same-sex couples. This has sparked a huge row among the LGBTQ and Muslim communities. There have been awful comments flying around on both sides but we need to remember that as minority communities we are stronger if we stick together. We need to remember that these people are not necessarily the majority. There are actually a lot of forward-thinking Muslim people who are on our side. Below is just one of many examples:

    THREAD: As a Muslim, I’ve been observing for a while now – with anger and embarrassment – the brewing scandal at that Birmingham school regarding their LGBT+ inclusivity teaching programme. This decision truly fills me with shame. 1/13https://t.co/m7o6wxRYes— Umaar Kazmi 🤝🌹🎗 (@UmaarKazmi) March 5, 2019

    The main problem is that since the debate hit headlines, Labour MP, Shabana Mahmood has suggested that “LGBTQ lessons are not age appropriate” for primary schools and that “religious freedom” should be taken into account. The speech she gave felt like a step back in time to when the Conservative government introduced Section 28 in the late 80s.

    It’s vital that schools follow the guidance for teaching #RSE, with parental engagement and proper consideration for pupils’ religion and background. Yesterday, I made this clear to Education ministers in response to a petition signed by 1,763 #Birmingham #Ladywood constituents. pic.twitter.com/M3Whe4SgDs— Shabana Mahmood (@ShabanaMahmood) February 26, 2019

    I’ve written a lot about Section 28 lately. It has a lot to answer for and cast a long shadow over our community, but for anyone unfamiliar with what it meant, here’s a quick history lesson: 

    Section 28

    1988. It’s the height of the AIDS epidemic and the LGBTQ community are desperate for help. Thousands of men are dying in the most horrific ways – lots of them, barely even old enough to have lived at all. They are weak and in agony. The community is grieving, hurt and angry. In our community’s darkest hour, instead of giving support, people turn their backs.

    HIV/AIDS struck fear into the heart of the public and Section 28 took full advantage of the homophobia and disgust towards LGBTQ people. This law played on public fears that children would be “turned gay” by simply knowing that LGBTQ people exist and that those children who were so corruptible would end up dead from this “gay cancer.”

    Of course, gay rights groups had been making a lot of noise about it all, demanding that somebody do something. Education was needed to help prevent the spread of the disease but Margaret Thatcher saw things differently: 

    “Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay,”

    Margaret Thatcher on Section 28

    Her government introduced Section 28 which prohibited LGBTQ subjects being even mentioned in schools and denied generations of children vital education that could have cut short the AIDS crisis. As a child I heard the word on the news all the time. I vaguely remember the sensationalist fear that surrounded it. AIDS = death (in reality Silence = Death) AIDS was a gay disease – not that I knew what “gay” was when I was that small.

    Growing up Gay

    I grew up in Scarborough – a sleepy, isolated and dying seaside resort in North Yorkshire; my family, working class. In Scarborough we’re sandwiched between sea and countryside. The nearest cities, York or Middlesbrough, are an hour away. Gay people were not seen, nor spoken about. Those who were visible were met with prejudice. I was lucky. I’d grown up with gay people all around me. There was the gay couple over the road who were close family friends (I don’t think I ever realised they were a couple) Mum’s best friend was gay and he was like a big brother to me. Her pet name for him was “poof,” and he was fine with that. Her best friend! Poof!

    In mum’s defence, there had been a child in my class when I was five who suddenly came into class one day and asked to be known by a name of the opposite gender and started to wear clothes to match. When we asked our teacher who had been supportive of the child, they didn’t explain. Confused, I talked to mum about it and she simply said: “Some people are just born into the wrong bodies. A girl might be born a boy and a boy might be born a girl and they have to go through a lot to eventually become who they really are.”

    Five year old me got it straight away and carried on with life, never judging my friend. Just one example how age-appropriate education is vital to a child’s understanding of just how people can be diverse.

    Still, while I knew gay and trans people existed, I didn’t know or understand anything about what it really meant to be gay except for we were always the clown character in TV and films. We existed to be mocked. We were the punchline of jokes. We were meant to be camp and effeminate or we had to be seedy and over-sexual with everything we did and said…but I didn’t fit that stereotype. Was there something wrong with me?

    At twelve or thirteen things start to make sense. I notice boys rather than girls. While girls tend to fade in a dull blur of black and white, I notice boys shining in glorious colour, golden auras around them and moving in slow motion. From being tiny, I always had an over-fascination with certain male characters in TV and games: Billy the Blue Power Ranger was the most memorable. Angel from Buffy (actually, Riley and Xander too – never Spike for some reason), Leon and Chris from Resident Evil. I worshipped Lara Croft but not in a sexualised way. I obsessed over Spiderman and the X-Men. I loved Cyclops but always wanted to be Storm in the playground at school. I had older guy friends at primary school who I was always very close to and idolised. Of course primary school me didn’t know what a crush was but when puberty hit, it all made sense.

    For my thirteenth birthday a family friend gave me a copy of FHM and joked I was old enough to understand now. The woman posing suggestively on the front in that soaking wet, white bikini didn’t excite me like it was meant to. The thing that really got me excited was that picture of topless footballer, Freddie Ljungberg, in his underwear. I tore this page out and hid the rest of the gross, sexist, alienating “lads mag.” (Anyone remember them?) I spent hours, secretly admiring him instead of the women in their bikinis. Out of all those pages that should have appealed to me, this one, single page did.

    To an inexperienced, adolescent, just discovering themselves it felt like the perfect metaphor for being gay and how inclusive the world would be for me. A hetero world would never understand me. This magazine, full of women that I didn’t care for, wasn’t for me. I just wanted that one man. That was it. Being gay meant a harder life. A life with less people who would understand me; less chance to meet people like me (because, especially in a small town, gay people are rare). I’d likely be alone forever. I might never know love – I’d never get married. Gay people couldn’t do that. (Civil Partnerships were still at least a year away)

    Maybe I’m imagining it. Maybe it’s a phase. Maybe I’m just curious. I try to lie to myself and pretend that I am interested in the girls in the magazine. I’m not. But I pretend to be.


    Freddie Ljungberg – the underwear ad that changed my life.

    The Death of Section 28 (Or Not)

    As I move into my teenage years, school is hard. Teachers are forbidden to mention anything “gay.” That is a filthy word just like the people it describes. I don’t know they’re forbidden to talk about it. I just think they don’t care. There’s a feeling of unease around the subject – that it’s taboo. Gay is used as an insult and hurled across classrooms at the straightest of boys who become inexplicably enraged by being accused of such things (clearly those stereotypes affect his thinking too)

    It’s also a word thrown at the quiet kid who keeps their head down, trying to be invisible. The kid who attracts negative attention without trying to. The kid who is an outsider – who doesn’t quite fit in and grew his hair long so that he could hide behind it. That kid who is different but isn’t sure why. Me. 

    They call each other gay and laugh but the difference is that when they call me “gay” there’s venom in their tone – a deep-rooted hatred, a sneer on their lips and that dangerous gleam in their eyes like a predator about to attack. Sometimes they do.

    I’m in Year 9 back in 2003 when Section 28 is abolished. I’m still thirteen. I still have a further two years of secondary education after the death of the vile legislation. I don’t know section 28 existed. It might as well have never ended.

    I haven’t actually come out at this point. I pretend to have girlfriends when interrogated about my sexuality by the bullies who circle around, leaving me with no way to escape. I lie and say I’ve had sex with imaginary girls while on make-believe holidays to disguise the feelings I’m trying to hide from myself – even more so from them. They can never find out how I feel inside. Ever.

    It’s two years later and I’m in Year 11 when I finally pluck up the courage to come out; first to a couple of girlfriends who support me – later to my best friend whom I have a crush on. Our friendship had surprised me. I was unpopular, hated even. All because I grew my hair long and was quiet and shy. He was popular and loved by everyone. We were complete opposites but we had loads in common and our friendship flourished. Eventually, I confided in him privately, convinced he was gay too. He promised to keep my secret. Next day I turned up to school and everybody knew. 

    First, the name calling got worse: Gay boy. Faggot. Poof. Bum boy. Arse bandit. Fudge packer. Fairy. Pansy. Shirt-lifter. AIDS Freak. Queer. I brush them off, hoping that things will die down. I keep quiet. I take it. Words don’t hurt. Outwardly, at least. Inside I’m falling apart and have nobody to turn to. I’m optimistic that if I don’t rise to them they’ll stop. I’m wrong. They get worse.

    IT Class. The first day that everyone knows. Someone comes after me with a fire extinguisher, threatening to smash my head in with it. Naturally, I try to distance myself. Once the teacher notices and calms the situation, she walks me back to my seat and we find explicit, hardcore gay porn on the screen. The class gather round and burst into hysterical laughter. I am sent out. I did nothing wrong but I am being punished.

    Science. Every. Single. Damn. Lesson. We’re doing experiments with bunsen burners. The bullies threaten to set me on fire. The tone of their voice says they mean it. Experiments with acid are a no go. I sit right next to the teacher as if that’ll save me when they decide to throw acid in my face or pour it over my head like they threatened. Scissors or scalpels on the table – they threaten to cut off my hair and stab me. They tell me they’re going to kill me and I believe them. 

    Sex education is always about straight sex – the “right way.” Not the dirty, perverted “bumming” way.

    They make a point of reminding me of that, loudly so that everyone hears. Everyone except the teacher who pretends not to notice. Soon the whole class is in a frenzy, screaming and shouting insults and throwing textbooks at me. Only then, the teacher steps in but they still ignore the reason why this is happening. When we learn about STDs we discover that HIV/AIDS is mostly a disease for “homosexuals” (“Poofs,” someone interjects and goes unchallenged) but some women can get it. The information ends there. When the questions come and the abusive, violent, homophobic language begins, it is ignored again and they are told to “calm down.” They don’t.

    We don’t know what HIV is or what it does. We just know that if you catch it, you die and if you don’t die, you’re on medication that ruins your life and you won’t live long. Moving on to the other STDs, Sex Ed is basically like Mean Girls.


    On the way to another lesson I’m confronted at the top of the stairs. We’re on the third floor. The stairs snake down so there’s a huge gap right down the middle. I’m pushed up against the railing so much that I’m leaning dangerously far back to try and breathe without them right in my face. The slightest movement could unbalance me and I’d fall three stories to my inevitable death. They’re snarling at me; a whole group of them, invading my personal space. I hardly make sense of what they say. The world is spiralling out of control and the moment is just a haze of panic and adrenaline. They let me go. I think I’m free but as I start to descend the stairs, I feel a heavy force on my back and I stumble, lose my balance and fall down the flight of stairs. I crash down onto the midway landing. I’m sore and I’m bruised. They’re laughing and my pride is hurt but I’m not broken. The cracks are spreading inside. Invisible. I’m breaking but I’m just about holding myself together. I pick myself up and run.

    Maths. I’m quietly working, struggling. Maths is my weak point so I’m in a lower set than everything else. The worst bullies are in this class. The name calling goes unchallenged by the teacher. Then it gets physical. They’re kicking me under the table. I ignore them. I grin and bear it. They punch me and the teacher watches, dumbfounded. I think (I hope) she’s just stunned which leads to her inaction. She’s scared of them. I am too but she’s meant to protect me. 

    “Simon, if you’re going to keep causing a distraction, you can get out.”

    I leave. Furious. Until this year I have been a model student. I’ve been strong in every lesson except maths which I always struggled with. It’s different now. The last few weeks (it feels like months, but it has only been weeks) have taken their toll. I’m dismissive. I’m moody. I answer back. I wear my tie looser and leave my top shirt buttons undone, I wear the chunky, steel-toed boots I’ve been told to leave at home and a metal chain hanging from my trousers. I don’t care. I leave the class and instead of going to isolation, I leave the premises and hide in the woods that border the school field.

    The pain of having nowhere to turn, no one to talk to, begins to consume me. I’m angry and I argue with mum. It’s just me and her. We’re close but we’re drifting apart. We argue and I’m verging on a meltdown. She knows something’s wrong but I can’t tell her. I feel ashamed, like I’m letting her down because I’m an only child. She always talks about how she wants grandkids. She calls her best friend “poof,” she’s said things in the past like “I’ll always love you, even if you’re gay.”

    “Even if.”

    My mum is the least homophobic person in the world. I know now that she loves and supports me. She’s a massive ally – hell, she looked after her gay friends who had been beaten up in the 80s. She marched with them on protests. She hung out with LGBTQ folk before I was born and has always loved us unconditionally and is fiercely loyal to our community. On my wedding day, she cried as she walked me down the aisle because she was so proud.

    When I finally came out to her (another story for another time) she said she always knew. 

    After School

    Even after coming out and leaving school I spent my late teens and early twenties dealing with mental health issues and self-harm. I struggled with myself and my perception of gay culture. Still living in Scarborough, I became a typical masc4masc, femme-shaming bully. It was a defence mechanism. Small town mentality is dangerous. I felt like if I wasn’t a “typical” gay, my “gayness” would be more accepted and I could change people’s perceptions on LGBTQ people – “I’m a man who just happens to be gay.” (I hate that sentence now. Actually, not hate…LOATHE!)

    It didn’t work. Homophobes will always be homophobes. Stereotypes and lack of education have rooted themselves deep into the psychology of the general public and that’s what we need to reverse.

    For me, my defining moment came when I left home and moved away for uni. My world expanded and as I moved out of the tiny pond that acted like an echo chamber of self-loathing and low self-worth in Scarborough’s seedy gay underworld, I evolved and set off on the path to finding myself and becoming the person I am today. I look back now, ashamed of that person I was. Embarrassed that I had been so cruel, often to people’s faces. It all comes back to the need of education. If I had felt accepted and equal, how different might those years have been? If I had not spent that time feeling confused, conflicted and hating the LGBTQ community and the people who “give gays a bad name,” imagine how much better things would have been.

    The fact remains that our community suffer a higher rate of mental health issues and there are higher cases of suicide among LGBTQ people. Without decent role-models, representation or exposure to queer culture, it’s too easy to fall on the same path I did. Education is the key to righting this wrong. Like I mentioned earlier, that simple explanation of trans people when I was five stuck with me. I understood and it didn’t ruin my life. It made me understanding.

    It is sixteen years since Section 28 was defeated in England and Wales and it is only now that things are moving forward significantly. More teachers are comfortable being out to their students, the new SRE (Sex and Relationships Education) curriculum is mandatory but LGBT inclusion is “optional” at Primary level. Faith-schools can, sadly, opt out at all levels. Hopefully they will move on with the times and eventually catch up to the modern world. “Religious Freedom,” is no need for ignorance. To quote my favourite words of wisdom that I ever came up with:

    “If you can disregard living, breathing human beings and deny their equality and rights on the word of an ancient deity of which there is no solid proof, you’re a pretty awful person.”

    Simon Sayers-Franklin on “Religious Freedom”

    However, the fact that most schools are taking LGBT inclusive education seriously is a huge step forward and will hopefully help to make this generation feel much more comfortable than those who suffered under Section 28.

    Do you have any stories about growing up gay through Section 28? What are your thoughts on LGBTQ inclusive education? Don’t forget to retweet and join in the conversation on Twitter

  • in

    Manchester Pride and Ariana Grande – Thoughts on the Matter.

    Manchester Pride announced Ariana Grande as the headliner this year, but some fans aren’t happy with ticket prices or a straight artist headlining an LGBTQ event.

    It was late afternoon and I was mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, an action I do as thoughtlessly as some twirl their hair. There wasn’t anything of merit jumping out; a tweet about a bad Grindr hook-up – which I found too relatable. Then a few too many about Brexit, which is an undying source of misery akin to wasps or a stomach flu. Yet, I kept scrolling.

    Then it popped up: The Manchester Pride line-up. And with its arrival came a chain reaction of observations, implications and contrasting opinions that dominated Twitter.

    When it came to Manchester Pride, a lot of us expressed our beliefs about it with every fibre of our character – something I will always find endearing. So, the next few days following the announcement that Ariana Grande was headlining, I found myself going down a bit of rabbit hole, getting lost amongst the discussion around the event. Now that I’ve waded through an ocean worth of opinions and debates, I wanted to share my take on it.

    I think people neglect to consider that Pride events have evolved spectacularly over the years. And this rings true for Manchester Pride. These days they’re grander, more elaborate; they draw more attention and reach a larger audience – one of all ages and races.

    While the foundation values should never be ignored or forgotten, and Pride must always be a time to support and push for the rights and safety of our community, the events themselves have changed. And as equality marches further forward, we are finding ourselves armed with more allies. Allies like Ariana Grande. Allies who want to perform at Pride and express their love for us.

    When I saw Ariana was getting backlash for ticket prices, for being cis, for being straight and for how much she’ll get paid for doing this event, I felt embarrassed. There was such a fuss was caused over that Ariana herself had to release a statement.

    i saw many people discussing this so i wanted to chime in…. hope that’s okay 🖤🌫 pic.twitter.com/7joiZwI1QS

    We have always cherished the support of artists. Kylie, Madonna, Cher, Britney…The same respect should be extended to Ariana.

    It wasn’t so long ago, we didn’t have waves of support washing over us. Celebrities may have been thoughtful toward our community, but they were conflicted as to how supporting LGBTQ+ could be detrimental to their career. Ariana hasn’t wavered, not even once.

    Yet some people showered her with hateful comments.

    In regard to the ticket fees and payment I’d ask politely for people to consider this. Gigs, shows, concerts, they all take a lot of preparation and production – which costs money. There’re musicians, dancers, producers, choreographers; to say nothing of the sound and lighting crew, stewards, security and support staff. This is a job for these people; it is a source of income. They have rent and bills to pay, families and partners to support, just like you.

    Events of this magnitude cannot operate for free. All the people running them wouldn’t get paid. Are the ticket prices high? Yeah, they are. That’s how we are able to host such events. Ask yourself this: would you go to work for free?

    I’m about as good with money as I am at dating: I never have it, and when I do it doesn’t last long; but the way I worked around it was by saving prior to the announcement – sadly the same can’t be done for my non-existent love life.

    I knew Pride was coming; I knew I wanted to go. So, I sacrificed and saved. I would never dream of demanding something for free because of my sexuality, but I’ve seen people on Twitter expecting this.

    While I’d love the idea of Pride events running for free, my points earlier prove that they can’t – at least not at the elaborate levels they now run at. If they did, where would it stop? Should the gay bars give out free drinks?  Should Topman/Topshop give away the clothes you want for free because it’s Pride? Those demands sound ridiculous but complaining that performers and entertainers and music crews get paid is essentially saying the same thing.

    It was horrible to see comments and attacks on celebrities that are performing at Manchester Pride. Can we also remember that Ariana’s sibling is gay, so why are people saying she can’t perform at Pride? We are a community built on love and inclusivity. Remember that.

    In summary, Pride events require people to organise and run them, those people are working people, ergo need to be paid. They can’t get paid if tickets aren’t sold.

    This doesn’t throw their loyalty out the window; just as sexuality doesn’t cast doubt upon on someone’s support of the LGBTQ+ community. It simply makes them normal people like everyone else. We should support each other and cherish acts like Ariana that openly praises and adores the LGBTQ+ community. We should them with the same kind they’ve shown us, and that we’re meant to show each other.  

    So, if I see anyone at Pride that’s skint, hit me up. I’ll get you a drink.

    Those are my thoughts on the matter. What are yours? Tweet us @GayBoyBible

  • in

    Ask Allister

    Q_Why do guys find it the best compliment they’ve ever heard when you tell him he’s got a big penis?

    A_When you mention how big his penis is during sex, what you’re really saying is, “I can work with this.” Who doesn’t like the sound of that? Throughout our adult life, we’ve been sized up to porn actors gifted with larger than average “tools.” We want to make sure we’re turning you on, and that hot sex talk is assurance.

    Q_My FWB wants to finish on my face. How do I tell him no?

    A_Anytime you want to say no or let someone down easy, humor is the way to go. “Facials from a salon are more my speed.” The idea was probably planted from watching porn. Have to give him points for trying something new though. Try to offer alternative directions that you’re comfortable with.

    Q_So, a have a friend of mine—who I happen to work with—I’ve liked him for a while now and want to see where things go. I found out he’s talking to someone else. How do I go about this without creating an issue at work?

    A_Work relationships are very touchy and that saying, “don’t sh*t where you eat,” holds more value than most realize. The answer is pretty clear if he’s interested in pursuing something more. Take this as a sign that you need to look for a potential boyfriend outside of your job. I have a friend who slept with one of her coworkers. It went south and regrets doing it as tension has been created. Just don’t do it!


    Menology Report — MARCH 2019


    CATCH & RELEASE |verb| When someone puts effort into pursuing you until they “catch” you. But as soon as you finally agree to a date, they lose complete interest in favor of a new target.


    WEEKLY GAY BOY BIBLE POLLS ON TWITTER

    DECODING HIS BEDROOM ATTIRE

    SHIRTLESS | JUST UNDERWEAR — Comfort is key for him. He’s a down to earth kind of a guy who prefers to cuddle than showing off.

    NAKED — Screams confidence! A very chill guy since colder temps mean better sleep.

    BRIEFS | TANKS TOPS — This bro is proud of his body and wants to be admired in the bedroom. Drop hints that you enjoy the view.


  • in ,

    The Importance of Pride

    Pride is finally here and we need to acknowledge the importance of it.

    In recent years we have made huge progress world-wide in terms of LGBT rights. We can get married properly, we are protected in our workplaces and in every day life. We can adopt or get surrogates to have a baby for us. We are accepted as true, legitimate families and Wales has recently announced that it is going to start actually teaching about LGBT relationships in schools to help with that. We live in a wonderful time and that needs to be celebrated.

    We also live in a time where we can be beaten up or murdered for so much as holding a loved ones hand. We could die or be permanently physically injured or worse for daring to do something as innocent as love. Fair enough, it’s not as dangerous now as it was, say, in the eighties when the AIDS crisis enhanced tensions and hostility towards the LGBT community, but it took a lot of work to get us to where we are now and there’s still more to do. In the extreme parts of the Middle East people can be thrown off buildings for simply being suspected of being gay. In Russia gay people are persecuted on a daily basis in the most brutal, horrific ways. In Chechyna gay people are fleeing for their lives or face being slaughtered in a “gay purge.” In Uganda you can be imprisoned for life for being gay, or again, killed. Even in Dubai, the glamorous holiday destination, adored by the West is a dangerous place for LGBT people.

    This is why we need Pride.

     

     

    Why Do We Celebrate Pride?

    Pride is a symbol of the fight our community have endured and the pain they have suffered to get us to this point. It is an important part of our culture and as we enter Pride season it is vital that we should remember and respect those who afforded us the Prides we know and love now.

    To most of us, Pride is an event where we can go and have fun with friends and family. We can enjoy music and entertainment and march through our respective cities with rainbow flags flying. We march hand in hand with our same-sex boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives. We can do it with pride. We can do it safely without fear of repercussion. It wasn’t always the case.

    Worldwide, Pride isn’t safe. In the countries mentioned before, and so many more, there are often devastating scenes of cruel attacks. These Pride marches are nothing like ours. Ours are a celebration of what we have, theirs are dangerous. They are life-threatening political performances where often the events are cancelled last minute for the activists’ safety. On the instances they defiantly go ahead tragedy often follows close behind.

     

    How Did Pride Begin?

    The origins of Pride began on 28th June 1969. A police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a well known New York gay bar, owned by the Mafia, sparked riots that would change the world. Back then police raids on gay bars were common. Arrests were frequently made for tiny, inconsequential things such as men wearing womens clothing. It was during these riots at Stonewall that the drag queens were among the first to fight back. Marsha P Johnson, a founding member of Gay Liberation Front was apparently one of the first to kick off her heels and fight the police. It was a major moment for LGBT people and Stonewall became an iconic image of rebellion and resistance. It stood for our strength and our refusal to back down.

    From that moment we have celebrated Pride and we have marched to represent our strength and unity. Our community is strong together and Pride shows just that! In modern days it is a bright, colourful and joyous celebration, which sadly wasn’t always the case.

    Why a Rainbow Flag?

    The flag was devised by Gilbert Baker after he was challenged by Harvey Milk to create a “symbol of Pride” to represent the LGBT community. It debuted at the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade and has been an icon of our community from that day.

    There were originally eight colours instead of seven:

    Hot Pink (now taken out due to manufacturing issues) represented sex.

    Red is life.

    Orange is healing.

    Yellow is sunlight.

    Green is nature.

    Turquoise is magic/art.

    Indigo is serenity

    Violet is spirit.

    A modern variation, created in 2017, added black and brown stripes to highlight the People of Colour within the LGBT community. There was a mixed reaction and a lot of controversy because of how the flag never represented “race” and was always meant to cover everybody of every background and changed the artists original vision.

     

    Pride Still Gets Criticised:

    There are, however, those who believe that we shouldn’t have Pride. There are those who believe it segregates us from the rest of society and that we “have too many rights” (How can we have too many rights when we might still be murdered for simply being in love?) and this is coming from someone in our own community. I guess it takes all kinds. You can read the shocking article here.

    It’s very offensive though, that someone can make such a sweeping generalisation about Pride and be praised for it. Yes, there are some people who may use it as an excuse to get drunk and with being drunk comes some bad behaviour but the entire ideology of Pride and the strength and sense of community, hope and love that come with it cannot be tarnished by a very small minority of people!

    It’s important that we think about the true meaning of Pride – that we remember the heroes who marched before us and fought. We need to remember Marsha P Johnson and the heroes who fought at Stonewall when they had enough made a stand. We need to think of the brave souls who marched in the early Prides. They could have expected to be attacked, lose jobs and family just for being seen in the parades. We need to think of the LGSM who marched in support of the miners and won us support from the most unlikely people. They stood as a perfect example of how we can overcome any barriers and borders to create a more accepting and loving society. This is the true meaning of Pride. Not being half-naked and drunk, draped in a rainbow flag as the aforementioned, ignorant article would suggest.

     

    How Can We Support Pride?

    Sadly, smaller Prides are dying out due to lack of funding and only the big ones in the south seem to thrive by charging for tickets. Lately Primark have made waves by releasing their line of Pride merch, just in time for the season. However, the items are made in anti-LGBT countries, thus creating jobs and funding the hatred in those places. Not a single penny goes to the Prides that they are supposedly supporting. The money goes to the charity, Stonewall, which is fair enough.  Surely the money would be better suited going towards the local Pride events though. It would help them to thrive and be a symbol of hope to a younger generation of LGBT people.

    You can support your local Pride by donating to them or by purchasing merch at their event. Most Prides are volunteer-led so you could volunteer to help out on the day too. Every event is different so you could also contact your local Pride to find out more about ways to help.

     

    How Can We Best Celebrate Pride?

    This Pride season please take a moment to remember the past, live in the now and make a stand for the future. We are in a better position now than we’ve ever been in so it’s up to us to keep fighting and we can do that by being visible. Be brave and hold your partner’s hand. Share a kiss goodbye in public. Love openly, live proudly and be happy. Be the change you want to see. Be the role-model you wish you’d had as a kid because you never know who is looking up to you and above all, be proud!

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    Declaration of War on the LGBTQ Community

    It’s been two years since the horrific shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida; two years since we woke up on Sunday morning and turned on the news to watch “Meet the Press” and was greeted with images of chaos…people being sent to hospitals because a madman decided to come into a club and open fire on the LGBTQ community, killing 49 people.

    In the time since this massacre, we have become an activist. We didn’t willingly sign up for the job. Instead, it fell into our lap. We didn’t ask for it. It just happened and it occurred in a way that we didn’t expect.

    We have become acutely aware of the freedoms of our community; freedoms that others would like to take away. We are living in an era where war has been declared on people of color, people of Muslim faith and the LGBTQ community.
    Our rights are slowly being stripped away in the guise of patriotism. People are being imprisoned under the guise of Homeland Security. And before it’s all said and done, our rights to love who we want to love will be brought into question…it’s just a matter of time.

    Everything that is happening now is no different than what happened that fateful evening two years ago.

    Actually, let me correct myself; it is different in the aspect that the outcome will be slow…moving like a cancer. It will eat away at our core, claiming and eroding from the inside out. Rights will be questioned, then challenged and then finally removed. All of this done in the name of making a country great; even if the country was great to begin with.

    There was a time when I wasn’t always proud to belong to the LGBTQ community. At one point in time, being of this community was considered a curse; an anomaly that went against the commandments of God and society. It was the greatest insult you could hurl at a man…and people would hurl those insults as a means of demeaning an individual; perhaps making them feel as if they didn’t belong or that society had no place for them.

    I wrestled with this ideology for years…and then I woke up. I realized that loving someone is important, but so is loving myself. I understand that shame only works if you truly feel as if there is something to be ashamed of. And I believe with everything within me, that there is no reason to hold my head down to anyone or anything.

    We understand that once you hold your head down, you are giving that person power over you. And I can’t do that…not anymore.

    There are certain demographics within this country that will come for our rights and liberties in the guise of proclaiming that they are better than me because of how they worship, what they believe or what political viewpoints they hold.
    Our rights will be questioned as they are right now at this very moment. Our standing within society will be challenged as is what is currently happening with our transgender community.

    And lastly, legislation will be drafted to take away the rights that we have fought for and currently enjoy. It hasn’t happened yet…but it may be on the not too distant horizon because this is where we are.

    We have to remain vigilant as a people. We have value and we will not be dismissed because some people don’t understand who or why we love.

    We belong to the LGBTQ community; and we should be prepared to fight for this community because beside the fact that these men and women are our family; we have earned the right to be here and no one has the right to push us back into the proverbial closet.

    It’s been two years since the shooting in Florida. But the assault continues and until we all stand up in unison and fight for the right to be, we will be dismissed as another group of people that does not or will not contribute to a society that somehow defines itself as great by imposing its will on another group of people.
    We have value. We have merit…and we should be willing to fight for that merit!

    What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment at @GayBoyBible
    ~ J.L Whitehead

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    NO/HUGS: The alternative heroes you need

    By Joanna Helga Morris

    I’m one of those people that was severely depressed when the Vans Warped Tour announced that 2018 was it. I was so taken aback that I almost did not attend the 2018 Mansfield Tour Stop (Note that I haven’t missed the Mansfield and Connecticut Warped Tour’s in 10 years.) 

    However, my friends convinced me to give it one more go for the sake of endless years of heat exhaustion and all the memories we made complaining about overpriced water and crowd surfing to bands. We were waiting by the front gate to get in when I saw a giant bunny on the Full Sail University Stage.

    It wasn’t just the fact that there was a giant bunny pointing at me that caught my attention – but also the fact that behind the bunny there was an all female line-up. I was planning to make a run for it as soon as the gates opened as I wanted to catch the Maine however something about the weird setup made me stand still. That’s when I saw No/Hugs for the first time – in all their queer glory. 

    I don’t even know how to describe what I felt. I just stood still, half paralyzed by what I was seeing and trying to take everything in. And yes- I missed half of the Maine’s set because I decided to watch all of theirs. They kept everyone on their feet and everyone around me was asking each other “Who are they?” and “Who is this band?”. The highlight of it all being when I almost bumped into an old man trying to get closer to the stage and realised that it was Kevin Lyman!

    Their genre was so anti-warped tour that it made them even more warped tour. It’s almost like Kevin Lyman decided it was smart to book Freddie Mercury on Warped for the last show and – Who wouldn’t want to to see Freddie Mercury on the last Warped Tour?

    Narcissus A-Ngel is the perfect amount of what gender is their lead singer and oh my god why am i so hot and bothered by the way this person is performing? She?They?He? Is a combination of unreal high notes and a raw, empowering tornado. I’m sure that had she been on any of the Mutant stages a lot of the vets would have been embarrassed to go on after her. I’m looking at you Cody Carson.

    I stayed to shake hands – which is something you SHOULD NOT- do at Warped Tour unless there’s a designated meet and greet but I really really wanted to. I was quite surprised – years of experience have taught me that most Warped Tour singer’s are quite stuck up and full of themselves – Narcissus was one of the sweetest lead singers I had ever talked to on Warped and even though she was out of breath she tried her best to pose for a selfie with all the people lined up to talk to her. Also if I’m not mistaken, I also caught a glimpse of Shira backstage talking to them – possible spoiler? 

    A year later finds me in Somerville, trying to find parking as No/Hugs performed at Sally O’Briens and my head was completely blown away once more by the high energy set and how much their music seemed to have grown in only a year.

    No/Hugs are the queer heroes we need – with pure music, feels and emotions as well as a genuine message of inclusivity as they like to say. Go see them on tour! www.nohugsband.com.

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    Review: ZEOS for Men’s QU3 Skincare!

    Finding confidence with the award winning skincare range from ZEOS® for Men.

    For those of you who’ve never heard of ZEOS®, let me fill you in on a little bit of their history. Back in 2014, the company started a revolution in hassle-free male grooming – helping to reveal the man inside. Their warm waxing kit has helped men – and those who appreciate them – across the UK to enjoy taut, fuzz-free skin for weeks, achieved in the comfort of their own home with a professional salon finish at a fraction of the cost.

    They have since continued to push their ethos of giving men the right products, designed for them and containing the stuff they need to feel better, look better and play better by revealing a skincare range (which I’m lucky enough to review) and most recently by revealing a premium blend of beard oils too.


    ZEOS® for Men QU3 Face Scrub Exfoliant Visage: 10/10!

    Exfoliating your face is an important part of your grooming routine, removing dead skin and unclogging pores to prevent blackheads. The issue is though that scrubs can be quite abrasive and when you have sensitive skin, like myself, it can take its toll. However, ZEOS seem to have mastered that. With natural coconut husk scrubbing away dirt and oil, the Shea butter helps to moisturise the skin. I’ve been using the scrub twice a week, gently rubbing it in circular movements around my face and I can definitely feel the difference.

    Note: It does seem runnier than other scrubs that I’ve used but that just makes it a whole lot easier to rub off!
    ZEOS® for Men QU3 Face Wash: 10/10!

    The clear in colour gel just glides over the skin, lathering up nicely. The face wash is used to hydrate, nourish and protect your skin with the help of natural Vitamins E & B5. I find the product best to be used first thing on a morning because it’s so refreshing and wakes me up. However, I also have used it on a night and it can be a nice treat after a hard day at work!

    Note: You don’t need that much applied to your face which is also a bonus!
    ZEOS® for Men QU3 Hair and Body Shower Gel: 10/10!

    Bursting with natural vitamins, this refreshing shower gel helps you feel squeaky clean and fully energised. The fragrance, which continues across the full range, is light and fresh. The unique formula helps to enhance skin regeneration. I really like using this product in the evening as it leaves me feeling fresh and there’s no better feeling than that just before bed!

    Note: Just like the face wash you don’t need that much because it lathers up amazingly!
    ZEOS® for Men QU3 Face & Body Moisturiser: 9/10!

    Powered by natural Vitamins E and B5, the moisturiser fights against dry skin by keeping it hydrated and smooth for a youthful appearance that’s full of energy. The added Shea butter+ provides optimum hydration too. I really felt the benefit on my dry skin!

    Note: I knocked off a point purely because I didn’t feel the need to use this as a face moisturiser courtesy of the scrub & wash!

    These products really are the Fantastic Four. It is no wonder that the skin care range has won awards. The fact that it is so competitively priced is an amazing thing too. It is worth every penny. I’ll certainly be swapping some of my products for these and buying them as gifts for friends too!

    It is also refreshing to see that these products aren’t tested on animals and suitable for vegans. I also love the fact that they have now converted to 50% sugarcane packaging as a raw material (Maximum legal amount allowed) in order to help fight the amount of plastic waste in our oceans.

    To browse all things ZEOS for Men, visit: https://zeosformen.com/
    or visit them on twitter: @ZeosForMen.

    NOTE: Some product(s)/content in this post may be sponsored or may have been sent to us to sample. What I can say though is all the opinions and views here are honest and my own. 

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    Gay Fiction – So much to read!

    I had a gay reader refuse to beta read one of my novels.

    He generally loves my work but this story had a bisexual hero. He is an older gentleman and reasoned with me that he’d spent a lifetime reading novels with straight protagonists. There’s an explosion of gay literature to enjoy now with the advent of self-published authors and smaller presses using the ‘print on demand’ sales method. He’s spoilt with gay literature in a way he hasn’t been for most of his life.

    For the uninitiated, there are several queer publishers such as NineStar Press, Bold Stroke Books, Dreamspinner Press and various others. You can take your pick in reading mm romance, science fiction, magic realism, or any other genre you usually enjoy.

    In this post, I’d like to recommend two of my favourite novels in recent years.

    I’d read reviews of Jonathan Kemp’s London Triptych so when I saw a copy staring me in the face in a Canadian store, I had to pick it up.

    Make no mistake, this is a novel about three tragic queens set in three distinct time periods, but it’s a joy to read.

    We first meet overly sensitive Colin, trapped in fear during the 1950’s. He’s a man who has suppressed his homosexuality through a marriage of convenience and a lack of any type of sex life. It’s not until he finds a young nude model to paint that he confronts his desires.

    Next we meet David, a man in jail in 1998, recalling his life during London’s punk/new wave/new romantic period. He lives in a time when being gay wasn’t easy, and we soon learn that he is in jail for trusting and falling for the wrong man.

    Then we have Jack, the sassy rent boy from the 1890’s. Unlike the other characters, Jack is blessed with a network that enforces his identity without guilt. He lives in decadent times, as long as he has someone like Oscar Wilde to foot the bill. But like the others, Jack too falls from grace.

    The second novel is Puppet Boy by Christian Baines.

    This is not your average gay tale. It’s the story of Eric, a teenage school kid and gigolo who has an unpredictable girlfriend with damage of her own, and a dangerous housebreaker tied up downstairs. Oh, and he has the house to himself for a while as his mother runs off chasing her dreams.

    But there’s a new boy in his class. Julian is a wannabe actor and a natural frenemy to Eric, even though Eric is attracted to him. But Eric is the type of teenager who likes to stay in control.

    These are just two books I recommend, but there are plenty out there.

    Simply type ‘gay’ into the search field of Amazon and you’ll start discovering something you will definitely want to read.

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    10 Important Moments in LGBTQ History (Part 2)

    Following on from the first part, we count down the remaining five moments that defined LGBTQ history.

    5. The AIDS Crisis

    In the 1980s  a new virus made its way into the spotlight. While there had been few cases reported in the 1970’s, it wasn’t until 1981 that HIV/AIDS hit headlines. Before this point there is no knowing how many people had been infected nor how it even started; the most common theory is that it spread from chimpanzees to humans decades before. It was believed that by 1980 HIV/AIDS could have possibly spread to 5 continents. Up to 300,000 people may have already been infected. 

    The first official cases became known in 1981 when a group of healthy, young, gay men suddenly became ill with a rare lung disease (Pneumocystis cabrini pneumonia, or PCP for short) in LA. There were reports around the same time of groups of men in New York and California suffering from an aggressive cancer, Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Cases of PCP were reported in people who injected drugs soon after. By the end of 1981 there were 270 reported cases of severe immune deficiency in gay men. 121 of them died.

    The next year, 1982, saw the syndrome being linked to sexual activity. All the cases so far had been linked to gay men. This was the reason why it was given the name Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, or GRID for short. It wasn’t until later that year, when the term AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) was first used. 

    Meanwhile, AIDS cases were reported across Europe and Doctors in Uganda were faced with cases of a deadly wasting disease that they called “slim.” While the epidemic grew, several AIDS-specific organisations had been set up across the world like the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) or Terrence Higgins Trust. The Terrence Higgins Trust remains the leading charity for HIV and AIDS awareness in the UK. It was named after Terry Higgins who was among the first known people in the UK to have died from AIDS related illnesses in July 1982. 

    In 1983 the first cases of AIDS were discovered in females, dispelling the myth that it was a “gay only” disease. Following this discovery, came reports of children infected with the virus. While some feared that it could be passed through contact, it was found that the children had been infected with AIDS from the mother around the time of birth. By September 1983 transmission by casual contact, food, water, air, surfaces was ruled out but it didn’t stop people’s paranoia. By the end of 1983 the number of cases in the USA alone had reached 3,064 of which 1,292 people had died. 

    In 1984 blood tests were created that could detect the virus and scientists hoped for a vaccine within 2 years. By October saunas and sex clubs in San Francisco closed because of the high risk activity. New York and LA followed within the year. By the end of 1984, 7,699 AIDS cases had been reported in the USA with 3,665 deaths. 762 cases had been discovered in Europe. Despite the care in preventative measures it was spreading unstoppably. 

    The next few years saw a massive rise in cases spreading around the world. The epidemic began to cause even more wide-spread fear and spurred hatred towards the LGBTQ community. Homophobia rose and hate crimes were increasingly common. Even the governments used this to further persecute and undermine LGBTQ people. Section 28 was passed in the UK, which banned “Homosexual propaganda” in schools (more on that soon)

    Despite the information about HIV/AIDS, the general public remained uneducated on the subject and stigma was attached to LGBTQ people even though it was a known fact that HIV affected heterosexuals too. The “death” motif followed hand in hand with all AIDS related stories and advertising which furthered fear among the public.

    There were however, some beautiful stories of people who stuck by their friends and family during their battles with HIV/AIDS and never left their sides. The most notable of these people was Ruth Coker-Burke, an American woman who cared for AIDS victims who had been abandoned by their families. She used her own money to care for people who had nobody and even buried them in a graveyard owned by her family when they passed. Ruth was a true hero of our community who worked tirelessly to make people’s lives more comfortable without expecting anything in return. You can read more about her moving story here.

    Ruth Coker-Burke, AIDS activist and LGBTQ ally.

    We are lucky now to live in an era where HIV isn’t as terrifying as it used to be. However, there is still a stigma placed upon those who live with the virus, a stigma that we must dispel. With effective treatment, anyone living with the virus becomes “undetectable” which means that tests can’t tell they have the virus. In this condition it is not possible to transmit the virus to another person through sex. This has been proven by studies and surveys which have monitored unprotected sex between couples where one person was HIV-Positive and the other, HIV-Negative over a prolonged period of time. 1,000 couples were surveyed and after 58,000 sexual acts, there was not a single transmission of the virus. Despite this, scientists are still hesitant to confirm 100% as with all things there can be rare cases where things happen by fluke.

    Through the 1980’s and the 90’s, even though treatments were developed that could help people live with HIV/AIDS, it was still thought to be a deadly disease. Too many people lost their battle with it. Luckily treatments have become more effective as time has gone on and now, those living with HIV can expect an average life-span.

    In 2012 PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) became known as an effective treatment. One pill per day essentially prevents the virus from copying itself in the body if it is come into contact with. In turn this prevents the virus from being able to attack the body in the way it normally would and it lowers the chance of catching HIV by more than 90%. Combining this with practicing safe sex increases safety even further. PrEP must be taken consistently for it to work effectively; like most medication missing too many doses can have an adverse effect its reliability. 

    4. Section 28

    Margaret Thatcher, Conservative Prime Minister of the UK (1979-1990)

    Section 28 began in 1988, under Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. It was a product of fear and homophobia brought about by the AIDS crisis and the homophobia of the time. Section 28 sought to drive a hard divide between “us and them” by banning all promotion of homosexuality in schools.

    The 1980s were a turbulent time for LGBT people. Int started off promisingly. The early 80s saw London Council begin funding and donating to LGBT groups. Alliances were formed in the most unlikely places, by the most unlikely people. The LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners) and LAPC (Lesbians Against Pit Closures) were well known for coming together in a mutual hatred for Thatcher’s cold approach to her politics. The story of the former became so famous that it spawned a film in 2014 named Pride. However, in 1983 the Daily Mail reported a book “Jenny lives with Eric and Martin” had been found in a school library that was run by a Labour group. It supposedly told a story of a young girl who lived with her father and his male companion. This combined with the AIDS crisis created an atmosphere of tension and hostility towards LGBTQ people.

    The real LGSM

    The Conservatives saw this as a time to strike. During the 1987 election campaign the Tories issued posters attacking the opposition. It stated that Labour wanted to put books about homosexuality into schools. Tories claimed the books with titles like “Young, Gay and Proud,” “The Playbook for Kids About Sex,” and the ominously titled “The Milkman’s On His Way,” were being taught to children as young as five and six. According to Jill Knight, MP, the books featured “brightly coloured images of sick men showing the children how to have homosexual intercourse and, indeed, glorified it, encouraging the youngsters to believe it is better than any other sexual way of life.”

    This was the start of a long, slippery slope that ended up with wide-spread fear that children would be allowed, by the left-wing, to be taught about homosexuality. Section 28 was their answer to that. Part of the “Local Government Act 1986 (Amendment Bill) also known as “An act to refrain local authorities from promoting homosexuality,” it passed the House of Lords and was passed through the first stage at the House of Commons. At this time, though, the election had taken over importance and it failed.

    It ought to have been a stroke of luck that it fell through but in December 1987 it was brought back by David Wilshire, MP. It was here that it became known as Clause 28 (or Section 28) This legislation banned all promotion of homosexuality. Teachers were banned from even mentioning that it was possible for same-sex couples to exist. Libraries were not allowed to keep books or films that openly featured themes of homosexuality. It was a dangerous move. In a world where HIV and AIDS were taking lives, education could have saved lives. Instead all information, help and support for young people became illegal. Small LGBT groups still existed but how would anyone, especially young people who needed the services most, know about them if they weren’t allowed to promote? 

    Section 28 was the first piece of homophobic legislation in a century and was met with strong opposition. It was a huge step backwards for a community that had been doing so well. In retaliation, activists rushed into a live broadcast of the BBC 6 o’ clock News on 23rd May 1988. They handcuffed themselves to cameras and disrupted the entire broadcast to draw attention to the issue. Meanwhile in Manchester more than 20,000 people joined together in a protest March. It was here that actor, Sir Ian McKellan, came out publicly so that he could stand against Section 28. 

    The Lesbian Activist who invaded the BBC 6 O Clock News in protest of Section 28.

    Section 28 remained firmly in place until it was repealed in Scotland in 2001. England and the rest of the UK followed in 2003. While it was no longer illegal to teach about same-sex relationships and transgender issues, they simply just weren’t talked about. Section 28 ended sixteen years ago and most schools still haven’t adapted. Their students are still denied decent representation and education on their relationships. A majority of teachers still feel uncomfortable to approach the subject of LGBTQ relationships, even though it’s perfectly allowed. Now, in 2019, steps are being made to ensure that schools are finally doing the right thing. In the UK, LGBTQ issues will be officially addressed in Sex and Relationship education for the first time from 2020.

    3. Russia’s Anti-Gay Propaganda Laws and The Chechnyan Purge

    While we look back now and find it shocking that something like Section 28 ever existed, for the people of Russia this is still their reality. In  2013, the Russian government created a law that makes it illegal to promote homosexuality. No books, no films, no songs, no flags, no LGBT groups. Nothing. People in Russia can’t even use apps to meet people without fear of being caught out. Many innocent people have gone to meet someone and been ambushed by groups who have then filmed their violent attacks. Tactics used to humiliate their victims involve shaving their heads, beatings, urinating on them, forcibly raping them with broken bottles. Some have not survived their encounters, and those who do are too scared and ashamed to seek medical attention. It is a dangerous and brutal country. 

    In neighbouring Chechnya a gay purge has been taking place for roughly two years. The Head of the Chechnyan Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov consistently denies the existence of the purge and of gay people, claiming that there are no gay people in Chechnya because their own families would kill them. This is exactly what has been happening. Those who have managed to flee the country speak of being locked up in cells, being beaten by police who interrogate and torture them to give information about other LGBT people. The Chechnyan singer, Zelimkhan Bakayev has been missing since August 2017. He visited his family for his sister’s wedding and was never seen again. He, too, is believed to have been murdered by his family. This has even been ominously confirmed by Ramzan Kadyrov, himself.

    Ramzan Kadyrov with Zelimkhan Bakayev before his disappearance.

    It’s terrifying and disturbing that this can happen in a modern world. You can learn more about the Chechnyan Purge in the video below.

    2. Admiral Duncan and Pulse

    The Blue Plaque outside the Admiral Duncan pub, London.

    In 1999, London was shocked by string a horrific terrorist attacks which involved bombings across the city. One in Brixton, one in Brick Lane and the third in the Admiral Duncan pub. It was the last of these bombings that was deliberately aimed at the LGBTQ community.

    The attacks took three lives and injured 140. All three deaths occurred at the Admiral Duncan, and 70 of the injured were from the Admiral Duncan too. Some of those hurt, suffered from life changing injuries including loss of limbs.

    Treating the injured outside the Admiral Duncan

    This vile attack was carried out by neo-Nazi terrorist and BNP member, David Copeland. Copeland intended to stir up hatred and fear and instigate a war between minority groups. He was sentenced to fifty years in prison.

    The reaction to the Admiral Duncan bombing was one of support and unity in London. A massive meeting was organised in Soho Square on the Sunday following the attack. The meeting was attended by thousands and many speeches were made, including the Metropolitan Police who attended to show their support to the LGBTQ community. They promised that a crime scene van would remain at the scene until the attacker was caught. Not only that, this van would be run entirely by LGBTQ officers who could be approached with any information. Until then, this had absolutely been unheard of as the police and LGBTQ communities had suffered a rocky relationship to say the least.

    Sadly attacks on the LGBTQ community are still ongoing and in 2016 we suffered the most devastating blow. On 12th June of that year, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was propelled into headlines. In the biggest mass shooting in American history Omar Mateen opened fire inside the club and killed 49 people. He injured over 50 more. The majority of the victims were young and had their whole lives ahead of them. They were guilty of no crime and were just going about their lives and having fun. Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman confessed that she knew of her husband’s intent to carry out the attack. She even scouted the nightclub with him. She should have been charged with aiding and abetting terrorism. Sadly, in another cruel twist of injustice, a jury found her not guilty.

    The Pulse shooting is one of the most heartbreaking events in our LGBTQ history and is a sobering reminder that there are some out there who still actively seek to harm us despite all the progress we make. However, at the darkest time for our community, we fought back with love and light. LGBTQ communities and allies gathered in their thousands and held emotional candle lit vigils and memorials worldwide to remember and pay respect to the victims. We will always remember them.

    The Victims of the Pulse Shooting

    1. Civil Partnerships and Marriage Equality

    Civil Partnerships were introduced in 2004 as a compromise and marriage alternative to same-sex couples which allowed them to have their relationships legally recognised. While being very similar to marriage, there are a few differences. Unlike marriage, and probably the most important difference is that there is no need for vows or even a ceremony. It just involves signing a document to register the civil partnership. Marriage ends in divorce, whereas a civil partnership is ended by a Dissolution Order. Marriage certificates include only the father’s name while civil partnership documents include both parents and when it comes to overseas travel, some countries recognise civil partnerships while marriage is recognised all over. Sadly, even with the event of same-sex marriage, some countries do not accept our marriages so they still count for nothing in those places.

    Civil partnership was a massive step forward for same-sex couples and allowed us another step towards being equal to heterosexual couples. However, religious groups insisted that our relationships are “less than” or “not equal” to those of heterosexual marriage. They also believe that our fight for marriage equality would “redefine” marriage and disrespect the word of the Bible.

    This became a fight that would be ultimately won in England and Wales in 2013. parliament finally voted that same-sex couples should be given the right to be legally married.

    The proposals of the bill included to allow same-sex couples to access civil marriages in a registry office or  any licensed premises. It never intended to trample over religious marriage, as some claimed. Religious marriage remained only for heterosexual couples until a little later when certain progressive churches welcomed same-sex ceremonies but had to have religious content cut. Civil partnerships remained an option and for those who already had a civil partnership, the option was there to upgrade to marriage and the final point was to allow individuals to change their gender without being made to end their marriage. 

    Scotland followed England and Wales in 2014 by allowing same-sex marriage across the border. However, six years have passed and Northern Ireland are still falling behind. While the subject has been voted on five times (the fifth time being a marginal win in favour of the marriage equality) DUP leader, Arlene Foster, continues to defend her position on the subject. Foster claims that she will use a Petition of Concern to block any bill that tries to ever pass same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Any married same-sex couples entering Ireland from a place where their marriage is recognised will only be accepted as being in a “Civil partnership” while in Northern Ireland. 

    The complete opposite of Ireland, the Netherlands, recognised domestic partnerships between same-sex (and heterosexual) couples from1998 and was the first grant same-sex marriages from April 1st 2001. 

    The subject of equal marriage had been very divisive among the LGBTQ community. Some weren’t happy because of the connotations of religion and heteronormativity whereas others just wanted to have the equality of being able to call their relationship marriage because Civil Partnership, as close as it was to marriage legally, felt very different. It isn’t as strongly protective as marriage and the name sounds more like a legal term. Civil Partnership doesn’t carry the weight and the respect that marriage does. It was essentially just another divide that separated LGBTQ people and perpetuated an “us and them” culture.

    In the years since the bill passed, same-sex marriages have been on the increase and civil partnerships have dropped. However, in 2018, a bill was passed that would give heterosexual couples a choice between Civil Partnership and marriage so that their relationships may be legally recognised without having to be married. 

    The fight for marriage equality was long but when the bill passed there was an overwhelming sense of triumph in the community. It was a definite, legal equality the likes of which some had never seen coming. Some of those first couples to marry had lived through times where they could have been imprisoned for their sexuality, some had lost loved ones in the AIDS crisis and many had been victims of hate crimes because they weren’t seen as being worth equal to straight people. 

    Over the years LGBTQ people have struggled and faced a tough journey filled with heartache and horror. We have suffered injustice and pain and we will likely continue to suffer while people remain ignorant. Going into the future, it’s up to us to do our best to live honestly, love openly and always meet hatred with education. Make friends with older LGBTQ people, listen to their stories and share them. Only together can we educate and help to end the horrors that are still faced around the world. It is our actions that will lead to the next important moment in the history of our beautiful, rainbow community.

    Don’t forget you can catch up on the latest articles and gossip from Gay Boy Bible on Twitter.

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    Maroon 5 Concert Review

    Last night I had the privilege of attending a Maroon 5 concert in my home city of Brisbane, Australia. And, naughty me, I thought they had five members, quickly learning they’ve had seven members for the past 7 years, Adam Levine being by far the most famous.

    Swoosh me all over for Adam Levine is gorgeous! Even better in person. You could see the passion in his eyes and felt his charm and charisma radiating from the stage and deliciously hitting me in the face. It was evident during their performance, that after hundreds of concerts together (including the recent super bowl) that the band loved their work and respected each other. Much to my disappointment, Adam didn’t take his shirt off.

    Having been fortunate enough to have attended my fair share of concerts and live performances, I am thrilled to be able to say that the sound quality was sensationally flawless! By far the best I’ve ever heard. In addition, the strobe and digital lighting were perfectly suited to the venue, individual song playing and overall atmosphere.

    A concert for – let’s say, for example, Lady Gaga – will have exaggerated and over the top props, backup dancers and generally a theme or storyline. Maroon 5, however, has a different target audience, and were more focused on the raw talent of their band members, without the bells and whistles. This often means it’s more affordable and cost-effective to produce a show, which generally means cheaper tickets. #winning!

    Cell phones! For every song a thousand phones were raised high, the owner choosing to capture the moment on video, rather than experience it in person. For me, this is something I don’t understand. At a concert, I immerse myself in the performer, their music, their interactions and observe their body language. I want to witness them as a human. The person I went with (who had never been to a concert before) spent almost the entire time recording videos, taking photos and then going as far as to start uploading them to Facebook. Definitely not style!

    Thank goodness for Adam Levine! For the final two songs, he told (he didn’t ask!) everyone to put their phones away. Once the phones were gone, he encouraged the audience to join in singing, throw their hands in the air and dance to the closing song. Fun fact: life can exist without your phone glued to your hand. Gasp!

    If you’re a fan of their music and know most of the songs, definitely try and see them live. You won’t regret it! Unfortunately, their Red Pill Blues tour has finished touring North and Central America, but if you’re located in Asia or Europe, you can catch them at your nearest major international city.

    Gay Boy Bible want to hear from you! What has been your best concert experience? I’m also curious to hear about your worst concert experience! Comment or send us a Tweet!

    Comment on Twitter to @GayBoyBible and @AuthorJasonS

    www.GayBoyBible.com

    Facebook: Jason Spark

    February 23rd, 2019

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    Meet The One Man Instagram Show, Michael Schneider

    If Michael Schneider doesn’t ring a bell—FOMO should be setting in. The humorous Instagrammer has been followed, reposted, retweeted even from Megan Mullaly herself!

    Allister Dean: How did the boxed wine man of your life come to be? 
    Mike Schneider: Well, truth be told it was years ago that I had the idea, but then I went through a bad breakup and that gave me the incentive to start saving boxes when I “self-medicated” with cheap wine after the breakup. Through those boxes and others that friends donated, I eventually had enough to make a person-sized guy. Eventually, I came across a poseable, metal, human-sized frame at a Halloween store, and finished the project one week when I was bored. My friend Niscelle Ward and I took the first set of photos when on one weekend off work we were going to head to IKEA to do another shoot. I asked her, “Hey, remember that Box Wine Boyfriend idea I had? Could we take those photos this weekend instead?” We took them, then I posted them Monday morning on Twitter and my other socials and kind of forgot about it. I woke up Tuesday morning to press requests from Vice, Buzzfeed, Food and Wine, MetroUK, and others. It was a whirlwind but a welcome one, what artist doesn’t want a project of theirs to blow up?

    View this post on Instagram

    relationship status: still single

    A post shared by Michael James Schneider (@blcksmth) on

    AD:What message are looking to send to your followers? 
    MS: I think the people who it resonated with the most are people who find it funny but also identify with the kind of loneliness it implies. My favorite comment on Twitter was “LOL ur so lonely” and that sums up the project in a nutshell. I was kind of surprised that it went as viral as it has because I like to think my pain is unique and mine alone; everyone’s pain is like a fingerprint. But there’s joy in there too. The photo series follows the path of a typical relationship: meeting each others’ friends, moving in together, the proposal. In a way, this is the path that I saw that guy and me on together, the one from the breakup i mentioned. In a way, this is me going on that path as a form of performative grief. 

    AD: You’ve created posts that have messages in foil balloons, is the idea just a whim? 
    MS: Well those have provoked a lot of conversation for sure. Since most of my art and social media is me making fun of myself or in uncomfortable situations, I decided it would be interesting and funny and thought-provoking message spelled out in Mylar party balloons. I started with funny messages like “I just pooped at work” but quickly pivoted to more socially conscious messages that I believe in, like “Abolish ICE now” and “Reverse racism isn’t real”. They’ve served the purpose of getting socially progressive messages out there in a bright colorful way that contrasts with the serious nature of the message.  

    AD: Anything new you plan to introduce in the next few months? MS: Well I’m going to conclude the Box Wine Boyfriend project next month with one final post or burst of posts. It’ll be early March, which is the anniversary of the first post going viral. You know, I’m always surprised when a piece of art or writing really grabs people, and sometimes it’s the last project I expect to connect with people. I look forward to being surprised by what the next thing I make that grabs people’s attention is, AND THEN RUN THAT JOKE INTO THE GROUND.

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