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    This same-sex couple is establishing the world’s first LGBTQ cartoon channel

    Turn on Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel and the chances are you’ll be presented with some well-known friendly faces from all backgrounds and walks of life. Whether it’s cartoons or real-life stories, kids’ TV channels have come a long way in recent years, but one area of contention is sexuality, and whether or not to introduce children to LGBTQ+ issues at a young age.

    Canadian-American kids’ TV show Arthur, which began back in 1996 and has run for more than 246 episodes, hit the headlines earlier this year when it featured a gay wedding for the first time, a huge leap forward in kids’ programming. However, the episode received almighty backlash – and 18,000 moms signed a petition to “cancel this controversial content immediately” – although PBS Kids nor the shows’ creators are backing down.

    “I am outraged that PBS Kids would use their children’s network to promote same-sex marriage,” said one mom after watching the show. “It is offensive to me and my family that the network would glorify the homosexual lifestyle.”

    Another added: “Just because an issue may be legal or because some are choosing a lifestyle doesn’t make it morally correct. PBS Kids should stick to entertaining and providing family-friendly programming, instead of pushing an agenda.”

    We hate to highlight hatred here at Gay Boy Bible, but such comments demonstrate how far we have come as a society, yet how much further we have to go to normalize LGBTQ+ and make it an acceptable part of children’s’ programming in the United States and elsewhere.

    Let’s counterbalance that hatred by highlighting something a whole load more positive: the launch of a new cartoon channel focused on LGBTQ. The brainchild of same-sex parents of a two-year-old, Transparency TV is on a mission to represent LGBTQ families, with shows, nursery rhymes and stories depicting households of all backgrounds and makeups.

    Speaking of the launch, the Transparency TV team said: “We created Transparency TV to bring content that represents the LGBTQ community to the world, while building a platform that empowers those around us to share their truths, start a dialogue and feel supported on their path.

    “We are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of LGBTQ youth, and we strive to promote positive mental health in order to end the suicide epidemic plaguing our country.”

    The first of its kind, Transparency TV is hoping that parents will join them in a new era of TV – where children can see themselves and their families reflected in new stories, and indeed old stories adapted for today’s modern times.

    Their launch comes at a time when families are ‘cable cutting’ at unprecedented levels, turning to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube for their content instead.

    With the launch of platforms like YouTube Kids, there’s never been a better time for Transparency TV – and we can’t wait to see what Transparency TV gets up to this year.

    Also in the works are a number of children’s books, launching with the same purpose – to reflect our society and safeguard our youth. Find out more about this fantastic initiative on their official website, and check back to Gay Boy Bible soon for updates on their progress.

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    Pornography as Sex Education

    Growing up, sex was made to feel robotic, awkward and taboo. It was frowned upon to talk about sex, never mind the idea of pleasure, self-love, and especially not gay sex. So as curious little teenagers browsing the internet, we would eventually find our first porn video. If porn is going to continue to exist, it should have more realistic depictions of what sex is actually like as opposed to the exaggerated theatrics porn currently produces.

    Porn As It Is

    Through the years, and especially in more modern culture, porn has helped us explore deeper into our fantasies in the comfort of our own home. It’s been one of the few outlets gay people have been able to safely use to understand their bodies and what feels good to them, besides being with another person. There is an openness in each scene that lets the two (or more) people accept one another for their desires.

    In porn at least, there is no hiding oneself; everyone is unapologetically gay. But as many positive outcomes pornography has, there are just as many unintended negative ones.

    What Porn is Doing to Us

    Pornography isn’t meant to be used as legitimate sex education. www.FightTheNewDrug.org found that 60% of students in high school turn to porn for information about sex, “despite almost 75% even admitting that it creates unrealistic expectations”. Watching porn creates a subconscious “Fuck Like a Porn Star” expectation which in turn creates some level of anxiety and can interfere with performance. Don Shewey explains this further in his book “The Paradox of Porn: Notes on Gay Male Sexual Culture.”

    “It offers a distorted picture of what constitutes sex and what normal bodies look like, and it leaves out many of the social and emotional elements that make an erotic connection truly satisfying”

    Shewey, pg. 32

    Excessive watching of porn could lead to mild to severe performance anxiety or to the extreme, porn addiction.

    “Guys who are so accustomed to masturbating looking at porn, [they may] find it difficult or impossible to climax in someone else’s presence and/or to climax any other way than stroking themselves”

    Shewey, pg. 32

    It creates a distorted image of what actual sex looks like. Porn makes it seem like everyone can easily be easily seduced and everyone is DTF. The men usually have erections longer than 6 inches, hard or soft. There is no talk beforehand of likes and dislikes, what’s allowed and what isn’t, there is no build up into sex of trying to seduce the other person, and the actors seem to last forever. The actors also contort themselves to make sure that the camera can see every angle during each uncomfortable position.

    What We’re Doing About Porn

    If people are going to continue to use pornography as their sex education, there needs to be some kind of specialty porn that could be used in more realistic ways. Without taking away any of the eroticism that porn usually provides, it could also subtly teach its users to talk to each other about consent, pleasure, and stimulation. It should feature  real people with more realistic body types or at least show different scenes with different people of different bodies.

    YouTube personality Davey Wavey actually started a program like that called “30 Days of Pleasure”. It was a series of videos, podcasts, and instructional guides, all filled with fully nude men, all about how to seek and find pleasure for yourself and your partner. The initial 30 Days of Pleasure was taken down, but expanded upon in the website www.Himeros.Tv.

    The title is a playoff of Himeros, the greek god of sexual desire. It features similar types of models you would see in regular pornography but it does diversify with models of different races.

    The intent of porn is to arouse you and make you cum. It’s a worthwhile pursuit and something we all love! However, the intent with Himeros.tv is to enhance your experience of sex and sexuality. Himeros.tv shows you new ways to experience pleasure, discover your desires and express yourself in ways that bring you joy and ecstasy.

    The ABOUT section of Himeros.TV

    In one video about finding your prostate, the video shows you how to help relax your sphincter before sticking anything in your ass, and how to gently massage your way in, and then the location of the prostate and how to stimulate it. It doesn’t take away any of the eroticism that is expected of porn while at the same time, teaching the user how to safely perform for yourself or your partner.

    Pornography isn’t going away anytime soon. By showing people that sex can be safe, pleasurable and nothing to fear, it’ll make for a much better and easier time for all of us. Although Himeros.tv doesn’t show diversity in body types quite yet, it is a step in the right direction away from the exaggerated porn we are normally used to seeing. Future pornography could potentially be used as sex education, if produced and used correctly.

    Want to add to the conversation? Let us know on twitter using @GayBoyBible and @Strangelyweirdd

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    Gay Boy Bible Review: Rocketman

    Music biopics are in – the long anticipated, much hyped’ Freddie Mercury story ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, was of course, a massive success.

    Hot on its heel’s, is ‘Rocketman’; a musical fantasy based on the life of Elton John – an equally flamboyant and notoriously excessive popstar, who like Freddie, also faced controversy and struggle over his sexuality during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    Unlike Freddie however, who sadly fell victim to the devastation of H.I.V and the AIDS crises; Elton manage to survive the hedonism and excess of his peak – famously going to rehab at the turn of the 90’s to deal with his numerous and gargantuan addictions. As well as the usual booze and drugs, it was also sex, food and shopping.

    And here is where the film begins, and cleverly hangs around – with Elton arriving in rehab dressed in one of his most famously ridiculous stage costumes (and he had a few).  

    Taron Egerton hams up Elton’s famously volatile and diva-ish’ behaviour, at first scowling and protesting about being in the group therapy session, before proceeding to tell the story of his life; from childhood, his journey to stardom, and subsequent descent into addiction at the peak of his career – via flashbacks which make up the film’s main action.

    ‘Rocketman’ is not a straight-ahead biopic, it is a musical that uses fantasy and surrealistic touches to give an entertaining and colourful-look at Elton’s life.

    Neither does the film strictly follow the timeline of events in Elton’s life, employing artistic license with the historical accuracy of some events, with his songs being brought to life in highly choreographed sequences – where they fit the story, not necessarily at the chronolgical point in which they were released.

    The arrangements are great, and the songs sound thrilling; reminding us that pre-the red glasses, artificial thatch, and Vegas residency – Elton really was a brilliant songwriter and performer. Tunes like ‘Your Song’, ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting; have a vibrancy and emotional resonance that are peerless.

    Taron sings the songs himself (with help from the other characters) and impressively makes them his own.

    Meanwhile, the two actors that play the young Reginald Dwight (Elton’s real name) – or Reggie as he was known, Kit Connor and Matthew Illesley;both have tons of presence, especially the later who as boy Elton is a real standout star of the film.

    Taron is superb, managing to give a beleivable mix of vulnerability and arrogance to the part of Elton.

    Bridget Jones’s mum aka actress Gemma Jones, is suitably warm as Elton’s grandmother Ivy – the one ray of love and support of his musical ambitions.

    Meanwhile, Bryce Dallas Howard gives a highly watchable portrayal as his apparently vain and self-serving mother.

    Taron is superb as Elton, managing to convey him with an appropriate mix of vulnerability and stroppy arrogance.

    He even manages to look uneeringly like the singer – particularly impressive considering how little he resembles Elton in real life (I mean Taron’s is a bit of a heartthrob isn’t – and well let’s be honest, without wanting to be cruel, Elton’s appeal was never based on his looks), right down to his piercing and darting eye movements.

    UK’ TV-favourite – Steven Mackintosh is his seemingly cold and remote father Stanley, who leaves when Shelia is discovered to be having an affair with a man named Fred (who subsequently becomes Elton’s stepfather).

    There is a particularly poignant scene, after Elton has become rich and famous, and goes to visit his father– now remarried with young sons – in his chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. Father and son are like strangers, and Stanley seems to view Elton only as some kind of trophy, asking him to autograph an album for a work colleague.

    Dick James, the music publishing mogul ultimately signed Elton and guided his early career – is given a comic-touch by Stephen Graham; as a straight-talking, blustering, who, less amusingly (but unsurprising for the era) is a bit of a homophobe.

    Jamie Bell convinces as the affable, gentle straight-guy Bernie Taupin – the lyricist who has written the words to the majority of Elton’s back catalogue, and been an (almost) constant through his career.

    The chemistry between him and Taron makes the dynamic between Bernie and Elton highly believable. The scene where they first meet in a café and bond over their shared loved of music feels particularly real and touching.

    After initially being taken aback by the revelation of Elton’s preference for men, he sweetly takes it in his stride when Elton develops a crush for him and tries to make a move. A scenario that many a gay man has surely experienced at some point in his life.

    Elton’s landmark gig at the infamous Troubadour club in L.A, the point from which his career is said to have really begun to soar from – is one of the film’s (many) highlights.

    Tate Donovan is hilarious as the leering, camp club owner Doug Weston. Meanwhile, the fantasy element is upped to the max as a nervous Elton is suddenly propelled into the air, as if he really is a ‘rocket man’.

    This is also where – the not exactly uneasy on the eye – Richard Madden appears as John Reid, who goes on to be Elton’s first gay partner, as well as his long-term manager. Richard delivers a solid performance, playing Reid as an initially seductive, but ultimately hard-nosed and ruthlessly cruel character, who sees Elton as his cash-cow and flaunts his other conquests under the singer’s nose.  

    Unlike ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Rocketman’ doesn’t shy away from the gay aspect of its subject’s life. There is a fairly graphic sex scene between Taron and Richard, which has – understandably – has got some cinema goers more than a little excited.

     As his relationship with John unravels, and Elton feels controlled and exploited, we see him begin to unravel as he seeks solace in booze and drugs.

    Following a temporary split from working with Taupin, who was burnt out from being on the road with Elton; the singer has the obligatory late ‘70’s foray into the disco scene. Both musically, and ‘erm, socially.

    Here we see Taron/Elton in a particularly electric-fantasy sequence, being held aloft in a club by sea of topless gay men – apparently lost in a hedonistic haze.

    Elton finds temporary ‘redemption’ in the ‘80’s – when he tries to go ‘straight’ by marrying the poor Renate (such different times, thankfully) before, as the film concludes, finally coming to terms with his sexuality and going to rehab.

     ‘Rocketman’ has its flaws, but it does Elton and his music justice. It’s fantastic entertainment – making you want to dance, cry, leaving the cinema feeling like you’d quite like to watch it all over again.

    Have you seen ‘Rocketman’ yet – what are your thoughts? Let us know on Twitter @GayBoyBible

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    Its-All-Happening

    I bet you thought I was going to talk about sex right? Well guess again, the real question that I have is simple. In this world, there are different types of people. They accept you for who you are, try to change you, and there are those that are just shitty people. Let’s be honest here I’m a gay like many other, grew up in church, sang in the choir, and hell I was even leading worship. Regardless of what I was doing, I want to get to the “Raw” part of this story, because I think it might give you a little insight on who I am and my crazy life.

    Have you ever looked up a definition of a word, find out its meaning, and then go “Oh shit, this is totally me!” Yea? Well If you were wondering what the word “Raw” means let me explain it to you. Raw- is uncooked, not analyzed, evaluated, or processed for use and my favorite definition – it is bleak, cold, and damp.

    Throughout my teenage and college years I was every one of those definitions, but cold was what stuck out to me the most. As I stated before I was a “good ole Christian boy” who at one time was thriving. Enamored at the simple fact that I could be just like my older brother who was this terrific worship leader, he was the perfect example.

    As I stated before I was a “good ole Christian boy” who at one time was thriving again “It’s All Happening”. I was enamored at the simple fact that I could be just like my older brother who was this terrific writer of worship music, he was a nurse for the love of God he was the perfect example. Over the years I started to change I got a cool job at whole foods, made new friends, and it’s actually where I truly came out my shell, its also the place I got into my first relationship with A DUDE!!!! I know scary right?

    So I started swapping out my worship singing for drinking on a Sunday funday or really just being me even though it was a secret to many. People quote this saying a lot “What’s done in the dark will eventually come to the light” and trust me I started to feel the heat from that lamp that I couldn’t unplug that’s for sure.

    Any person would be upset for having to leave a place that was like your home away from home and it hurts even more because you know the outcome of what will happen when you reveal specific things. The decisions soon started to affect everyone who was remotely close to me, it started to raise questions with some old faces that I haven’t seen In a very long time and when I was faced with the truth I could not answer, so what do I do when these allocation come flying my way like a complete shit storm.

    Well, that is exactly what happened to me. After I left to live my life in “freedom” of the four walls that happen to be the church that we went to for years I was out in the open slaying with my gayness and IT WAS SO THRILLiNG! I went out, partied, and had no curfew to stop me who wouldn’t want this type of life? #livingmybestlife

    Coming out at any age is not easy, because we fear the unexpected results of what’s going to happen with the relationships that we have with our families. A few months, and the fears that I had were coming into reality friendships that were started began to deteriorate, messages become irrelevant and we just stopped checking on each other.

    The sad part is I didn’t even notice until it was too late, life happened and I was not prepared for the challenges I would have to face It was like I was Dorthy in Oz except I couldn’t click my red pumps to return home which in better words sucked so why is this important?

    I say F**k that we were meant for so much more in this world, and for people who don’t believe it, that is your loss completely. In the end, it made me a stronger human being, who doesn’t take shit from anyone so your welcome!

    Now know my story and have experienced a little of me, just know sometimes you have to create your own family. It doesn’t have to be your immediate it can be a group of your friends, your partner’s family, or even your roommate. Know that you are not alone in this world, there are plenty of people who share the exact same story as you and me.

    Some say “Never let any person dull your sparkle,” “shoot for the moon,” but for meI never wanted the moon. Give me the stars, mars and the whole damn galaxy so that I can make a difference in the world today as it has made a difference in me.

    What are your thoughts on coming out in a very conservative christian home? Let me know on twitter, and instagram @Queer.Here.Thriving

    Love Always,

    Jon

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    I Was Called Homophobic In My Own Community

    I am not shaming those who live the scene life. I am glad you feel empowered to maintain that, keep being fabulous. For the people shaming the scene, I think it’s important for everyone to show some degree of presence in the gay community, whatever form that may come in for you. Whether it’s attending Pride events, getting involved with LGBT groups at work or school, or donating to the HRC/similar organizations. Even just getting messy in Mykonos counts for something. You do you.

    I need to get this off my chest, and I think some folks within our community could bear to hear this.

    The other day I was getting to know a new friend. He made a RPDR (RuPaul’s Drag Race) reference that went over my head and I told him I don’t watch the show. He called me a bad gay, we laughed, whatever. Later, we were talking about our interests and all of his revolved around the gay scene. Gay bars, gay clubs, gay sports teams, gay beaches, bathhouses, etc. I told him that’s great, not what I normally do but it sounds fun. He asked me why I don’t participate in the gay scene much and I explained that I’m not all that tapped into gay culture and my interests primarily revolve around music, outdoors, and travel. He told me I have internalized homophobia for “separating myself from the gay community.”

    I do not separate myself from the gay community, it’s just not my primary interest. I celebrate being gay and I’m very open about it, but my gayness is not my entire identity. There’s a lot more to who I am than my sexuality, and my world does not revolve around being gay. I go to gay bars. I go to not-gay bars. I go to music festivals. I go to drag shows. I hike and kayak and build campfires. I play tennis and volleyball. I paint my fucking nails.

    I will NOT feel shame for who I am. I will not apologize for doing what makes me happy. I am no less gay because I don’t keep up with the Kardashians or go to circuit parties. I love myself, I’m comfortable with my identity, and I’m confident in who I am. I don’t need to validate my gayness to anyone.

    What I’m asking gay bros is this: please stop dividing and ranking our community. Being gay is not a competition. Allow people to participate in whatever activities and communities they feel fulfilled by. Stop tearing down others in our community because they don’t like the same things as you. Literally, bathhouses the whole mission of the LGBT+ community has been to strive for inclusion and acceptance. It seems that some of us have lost sight of that. Bear that in mind the next time you want to criticize others within this community.

    Happy Pride month, look out for each other.

    Gay elitism is toxic. Stop calling everyone homophobic because they aren’t like you. Stop adhering everyone to your perception of what gay looks like. Support each other, celebrate each other, and love each other.

    *Source: Reddit.com from user u/twomoose.

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    Top Ten Show-Stealing Songs from Modern Musicals.

    It’s a scientific fact that as gays, we walk faster than our straight counterparts and we all love a good musical. If you don’t you’re just denying it. 

    There are many amazing musicals out there and some truly iconic songs but more often than not, there are certain songs that steal an entire show. It might be because of the talent involved in singing them or even just the story that the song tells and the journey that we experience with the character. In honour of these, here’s a top ten of show-stealing songs from modern musicals.

    10. “Six” from Six

    Six is a new historical musical about the wives of Henry the Eighth. It imagines the six wives competing for the “saddest story,” and gives each wife their own song and their own style and genre of music. Six is the finale where the six women join together and sing about their lives together. Each song is a show-stealer in its own way and it was impossible to single out a particular song because they are all so cleverly written and educational so of course, it made sense to go with the song that incorporated everybody.

    If you’re unfamiliar with Six, you won’t be for much longer. The show is beginning to gain a following and will take the world by storm. Welcome to your new obsession.

    9. “The Letter” from Made in Dagenham

    Made in Dagenham began as a film based on the true story of the women who walked out of work and went on strike at Ford’s factory in protest of sexual discrimination and demanded equal pay in 1968. While there are several outstanding songs in the show, “The Letter” is a song that comes part way through Act Two and belongs to Rita’s husband, Eddie.

    Throughout, Eddie has been a useless husband; he even forgets his tenth wedding anniversary. This song comes during the height of the strike when the women have gained media attention and are a subject of shame among the sexist men. Eddie, however, defends his wife and it’s a beautiful turning point where Eddie realises how much he needs the woman he took for granted. 

    8. “Monster” from Frozen

    Frozen is known for being Disney’s most popular film of recent years, if not ever. Like The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback of Notre Dame and the other Disney Broadway shows, Frozen expands on the original film version and introduces new songs like “What Do You Know About Love?” and “Dangerous to Dream,” all of them are wonderful songs and feel perfectly at home in the show – they work so well, it’s hard to believe they weren’t actually in the film – but none are as strong as “Monster.”

    Terrified of what she has done and how she can’t control her powers, Elsa counts herself as a monster and even contemplates suicide as a desperate attempt to put an end to the winter she has triggered. It’s a crazy journey for Elsa as she panics and toys with the idea of ending her life before deciding that she needs to be strong and find a way to regain control. It’s a dark turn for a Disney musical but it is a powerful one.

    7. “Full Moon Lullaby” from King Kong

    King Kong is a curious show. It follows the classic plot of actress, Ann Darrow chasing a career, determined to make it big in Hollywood. While on location on the mysterious Kong island, she is captured and rescued by King Kong himself. The two of them form a bond and Ann wants to protect the “monster,” that everyone else wants to harm. Admittedly the writing was a little off in parts and the story feels rushed but the songs are gorgeous. The staging is ridiculously clever (boats rock on waves, Kong runs through the streets of New York and climbs the Empire State) and the Kong puppet is something that has to be seen to be believed.

    Up against the giant puppet which is stunningly brought to life by a team of puppeteers, Christiani Pitts holds the show together as Ann. “Full Moon Lullaby,” shows off just how beautiful her voice is and the skill with which she works with the puppet.

    6. “World Burn” from Mean Girls

    With an amazing cast who bring to life a modern retelling of the cult classic film, it was impossible to pick a standout moment – how can you chose between Karen singing about sexy corn and sex cancer, Cady on her past romantic failings, Gretchen on not fitting in, Janis on revenge or Damien on social media? You can’t. So I had to pick “World Burn.”

    “World Burn” from Mean Girls is the ultimate power song. It feels like a Bond theme and comes at the point where Regina George decides to fight back and destroy everything in revenge for Cady ruining her life. The level of sass Regina gives is something we can all only ever aspire to. It’s also fun to hear some of our favourite iconic lines from the film turned into a song.

    5. “Michael in the Bathroom” from Be More Chill

    Be More Chill has taken the world by storm. It has gained a massive following and it’s easy to see why. In a story about teenagers taking pills that install supercomputers in their brains to make them cooler, it proves that it’ll always be a timeless metaphor for drug use. The song, “Michael in the Bathroom,” is about Michael who has been thrown aside by his friend, Jeremy.

    In the song Michael is alone in a bathroom at a party where he doesn’t know anyone except Jeremy. He faces his anxiety without Jeremy who has taken the pill has started ignoring Michael because he isn’t cool enough. It’s a fun, relatable character song about social anxiety and falling out with friends. 

    4. “Words Fail” from Dear Evan Hansen

    “Words Fail” is the emotional climax of Dear Evan Hansen and is probably one of the most heartbreaking songs in any musical. If you’re not familiar with the story of the show, it’s a sad one. Evan suddenly finds himself the centre of attention after a tragic mixup following the death of a school peer. In order to gain some popularity and to chase the girl he has a crush on (who happens to be the deceased’s sister) Evan plays on this mixup and becomes a second son to the family who have just lost theirs.

    It’s hard to explain without giving too much away (#KeepTheSecrets) but “Words Fail” comes when Evan’s web of lies has become too much and he breaks down and confesses. If you’re a fan of the show, or if you just want to know the story, I highly recommend the novel based on the musical. The songs are enough to reduce anyone to tears. The book has the same effect and with a film reportedly coming soon, it looks like Dear Evan Hansen will be emotionally scarring us for quite some time. Let’s just hope that Ben Platt repises the role for the film.

    3. “Just Breathe” from The Prom

    The Prom is a modern story for a modern world. It’s a musical comedy which deals with Emma who wants to invite her girlfriend to Prom but faces backlash and bullying from her classmates after her wanting to bring her girlfriend gets the prom cancelled. Thankfully, Emma has the school’s principal on her side and he has even consulted the State Attorney on the subject to be told they have a case.

    Meanwhile a group of has-been Broadway actors who are desperate to become relevant and loved again find Emma’s story and travel to Indiana to help fight for her cause.

    “Just Breathe” is our introduction to our loveable protagonist, Emma. Caitlin Kinnunen slays the song and takes us on a beautiful journey with the character as she stumbles through her anxiety and keeps it light and fun at the same time.

    2. “He’s My Boy” from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

    Following on with the prom theme, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a new musical based on the story of Jamie, a teenager from the North East of England, who wanted to go to his prom in full drag. Back in 2011 there was a BBC documentary about Jamie and now, his inspiring story has become a musical with a film version on the way!

    Even though everybody’s talking about Jamie, it’s his mum who steals the show with “He’s My Boy.” It’s a gorgeous song about a mother’s unconditional love and determination to protect her son who is growing up too fast. In a musical full of uplifting, fun songs this one hits emotionally. If you can get through it without shedding a tear, you’ve got no heart.

    1. “Dead Mom” from Beetlejuice

    Beetlejuice is one of Broadway’s newest additions. I was lucky enough to see it during previews when I was in New York and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Tim Burton’s original…if not just anyone in general. The show is a spin on the source material but all the iconic moments like Day-O, Miss Argentina and the sandworm, are still there. Almost every single song is a show-stealer in Beetlejuice but one of the strongest is “Dead Mom.” Without giving away too much, the song is about Lydia’s feelings since her mum passed away (yes, this part is new) and her struggles with her father who has moved on with a new woman. It’s a great song that beautifully portrays Lydia’s grief. 

    Alex Brightman slays as Beetlejuice while Kerry Butler and Rob McClure are hilarious as Barbara and Adam, the newly adjusting ghosts. Leslie Kritzer plays a scene-stealing Delia and Miss Argentina. Sophia Anne Caruso (Lydia) is a relative newcomer having starred in a few shows before, most notably David Bowie’s Lazarus alongside Michael C Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Dexter) and she is set to go far. With one of the best and most unique voices on Broadway I can’t wait to see where she goes from here. You can also check out the rest of the Beetlejuice soundtrack when it releases on Friday 7th June.

    Are there any songs or Musicals that haven’t been mentioned that you absolutely love? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter and Facebook and help us all discover new musicals to get excited over!

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    The Man From Port Launay Beach

    1987. The year my swimming career began as I represented my country at various International swim meets—impressive for a nine-year-old wouldn’t you say? I spent most of my childhood in and out of the water leading up to my last appearance (my retirement) at the Indian Ocean Games in La Reunion of 2015. But, this story isn’t about my competitive aquatic venture as that’s just the subtext—rather my disinterested attraction I had for the girls while living in a predominantly Christian country of Seychelles.

    My sexual curiosity ignited while in the pools with other boys and in the locker room showering off the chlorine. Transitioning from kid to teen, it all started to become inevitable to disregard and challenging as I would secretly check them out consistently fantasizing while trying to hide my hard-on under my towel hoping they would never find out in fear they would see and become either offended or flattered. To make matters worse, I had a huge crush on one of my male teammates though nothing came of it. So, I lived in my little fantasy world instead. Desperately though, I truly wanted the guys on my team to know who I was craving the humiliation up to having them punish me by taking turns using me.

    You don’t know how many times I wanted any of my male teammates in our shared room (during overseas competition) to just crawl into my bed at night and make out. It wasn’t easy for me to deal with all of that—torture really. I tried to be interested in girls by going on dates thinking that my guy crush was just a phase—it didn’t. In denial, I figured going on those dates would be good for keeping appearances. It didn’t last long as my attraction to men was fueled at 15 when I lost my virginity—my fantasy became my reality.

    At the end of the 1993 Indian Ocean games, this was the time that any or all of the athletes partied…hard. After a few drinks myself becoming tipsy, my attention was on a much older guy (twice my age) who I had been eyeing throughout the competition. He wasn’t the best looking guy, but after giving me reciprocated stares and gulping large amounts of liquid courage, I felt a connection making move by asking him to join me for a walk along Port Launay Beach as I hoped this would provide the privacy I needed should anything happen.

    The waves crashed on the moonlit shore as we talked about the competition until we came upon a rock that he decided to sit on dangling his feet. I was feeling utterly wonderful with him—it felt right, felt normal, and not sinful. A part of me loved the romantic side of this and yet severe arousing sexual thoughts flooded everything else and I could no longer think “straight.” This became a do or die situation unraveling my sexuality.

    Not thinking about rejection, I bent down to kiss him…

    He moved away leaving me embarrassed, thinking I read him wrong this entire time. Maybe he wasn’t into guys. Apologizing, I turned walking away until I felt his hand grab mine. Pulling me in, his lips deeply connected with mine. Acting out my deepest fantasies (him looking determined to have a good time), I became possessed—consumed by the desirable pain I was experiencing for the first time. Never in my adolescent life did I ever think this would bring such vulnerable pleasure—helplessness really as he had full control over me, and I loved that feeling.

    When it was over, I wondered if the man I just had sex with was as satisified or disappointed. Walking back to the party and letting my mind ponder on what just happened, I was still on cloud nine. If this is what sex with a guy is like, definitely wanted more. My first disappeared into the night, along with my virginity, never seeing him again. But I was thankful for it.

    Reality took over and my fantasy world crumbled after the games. Although my first time was simply amazing, and I, a now changed person, Seychelles stayed the same—unaccepting and treated homosexuality as a capital crime, a sin. So, I kept quiet. Not confiding in anyone, including close friends (that’s how scared I was.)

    University was a life changer for me and I needed that freedom. It provided me with the opportunity to explore and embrace my sexuality. Although, it was short-lived, for the first time I felt free to express myself with any fear to be different, normal, gay, and actually be me. But I had to tame it back into the closet under lock and key after graduation when I was back home in Seychelles—which didn’t last long as I found the strength in a close girlfriend to share my secret with. To my amazement, she was not as surprised as I thought which opened the door to share my feelings and fantasies without it making feel disgusted and sinful. One by one, everyone who close to me just knew, somehow. My brother, being one of them, acted as normal and my mother (a sweetheart as all mothers are) came over and gave me a big hug when I told her.

    The weight I carried lightened. I am very grateful for their presence in my life as they never passed judgment and without them, I would certainly never be as happy as I am now. But the judgment from others varies quite a lot. You will get people still calling names as they pass by in the supermarkets or simply walking down the street. “There goes cucumber man!”, some would say. To be honest, I can’t help but like that comment as it echoed interesting times.

    I am who I am; I have dealt with it and accepted it. Being gay is not a disease or something I should be ashamed of. I have sacrificed so much hiding that it still hurts to even think about it. I am not the first or the last. Changes will happen gradually and naturally. There is no point to force anything. I mean people from all over are mingling and interacting more frequently and humankind is evolving to a more accepting society—I have hope for this and remember to be yourself.

    Coming out story was provided by Anonymous

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    Bears, Otters, & Hunter…OH MY!

    Hunter has taken the internet by storm becoming a total sex icon among the rainbow community! We’ve had a chance to catch up with Hunter and see what the social media sensation has been up to.

    You’ve become a social media sensation, how does it feel that people know you by name?

    It’s surreal. I’m still getting use to it and I’m so flattered that people even remember me! I try to talk to anyone who takes the time to say hi to me so please come say hi if you see me out! 

    What are some lesson or obstacles you’ve come across in your modeling career?

    Loving myself and feeling like I am worth something.  I grew up never being good at anything. I always put myself down and never felt I was good enough. When you start to believe in yourself and be who you are, people with the same interests or personality will gravitate towards you. You will find out that others believe in you too.

    You recently did a photo shoot with Venfield8 where you went public with full frontal nudity, were you scared to release the uncensored photo?

    I was so excited and nervous to do something full frontal and have it on the Internet. I trusted Venfield8 that he would make it tasteful and respect my privacy. He did an amazing job not only creating some amazing pieces with me, he also made me feel very comfortable in my own skin. So I wasn’t very scared. It was a new experience for me and for my fans. I never want to get into the habit of showing myself full frontal. I don’t want to be known for my crotch. I am more than just a sex symbol and I hope I’m able to express that more in future work.

    Your beard is part of your trademark, how did your followers handle you shaving it off for a photo shoot? 

    I think my fans had mixed emotions about it just like I did. It was for an amazing project, Femme The Man project by Thomas Evans. Not only did I shave my face, I also got in full drag.  It was just another of the many sides of me. I was scared I would look like a turtle and everyone would hate the way I looked. I got great responses from it but in the end, everyone including myself wanted my beard back. I’m working on the confidence to rock any look thrown at me.

    What are some things your followers can look forward to from you?

    I am working on a calendar called “Dad Next Door” that will hopefully be ready for 2020. I’m also planning a video podcast reviewing events and products, interviewing gay icons, and so much more! I have always aspired to be an actor, and could even be in a reality show sooner than you think! I will be flying to EVERY event I possibly can in 2020 so I can meet more of my fans in person and showcase my talents. I have a lot of aspirations and goals. I’m excited for these next two years! 

    In some of your posts, you’ve mentioned an illness. How are you now? 

    I suffer from Cluster migraines since I was a child. The past 5 years have been extremely challenging with having a migraine 5-7 days a week.  I lost everything I worked for: jobs, savings, career, my life in general. I lost all hope and it scared me.  I was being turned away by doctors and neurologists cause they didn’t know how to help me after I tried every FDA regulated treatment over the past 28+ years. 

    Last year a new treatment came out that I’m starting to see results with. I am getting healthier every day and it’s the first time in my life that I see a future for myself. I can’t thank my friends and family enough for their support both financially and emotionally. I felt so alone with migraines. This experience helped me see how much people care about me and love me. 

    HOTTIE QUIZ

    THE ANIMAL I FEEL MOST CONNECTED TO:

    Cats have a very special place in my heart. But my personality is definitely like a husky 

    PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I’M FRIENDLY WITH: 

    Snakes, the literal reptile; not the person. 

    THE MOMENT IN MY LIFE I’M PROUDEST OF: 

    Getting the courage to see my Dad after 18 years. Also, being in an international selling Photography book, Larrikin Digs by Paul Freeman. 

    MY MOST OVERUSED WORD/PHRASE: 

    “Ew!”

    THE LAST PHOTO I TOOK ON MY PHONE WAS OF: 

    My friend’s dog laying on my lap

    THE MOST UNEXPECTED THING IN MY BAG RIGHT NOW: 

    I am traveling right now! My carry on bag has a push pin. Not sure how it got in there but I just left it. 

    A SONG THAT MAKES ME WANT TO DANCE: 

    Ok, I’m naming 3: 
    YOU DON’T KNOW ME by Jax Jones
    WAITING by Breathe Carolina
    THATS MY GIRL by Fifth Harmony

    SOMETHING PEOPLE GET WRONG ABOUT ME: 

    That I’m conceited or over-confident.  I got into modeling to help me with my social anxiety and depression.  I’m still learning to love myself and have more confidence in myself. I never think I’m better than someone else and I will always give someone the time of day and chat with them. 

    IF I WASN’T A MODEL, THIS IS A JOB I MIGHT TRY: 

    Therapist

    BECAUSE:  

    I have been through a lot in my life. I learned from it and try to help others with my experiences. I feel fulfilled when I help others.  It’s my favorite thing. 

    *Header and Hottie photos by Venfield8 for Loverboy magazine.

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    Summer, I’m Coming For You!

    —So, it’s been a hot second since I’ve done a Letter from the Editor post and all I can tell you is that from February up till now, a lot has happened causing a cease in my involvement with Gay Boy Bible. Won’t get into details as I’m leaving it all in the past. But, I’m back and glad to be and figured what better way to forget get it all other than a good old fashion Wine Walk and Food Truck gathering! Not only am I donating my twenty dollars to an amazing cause, but I’m welcoming SUMMER with open arms accepting everything that comes my way without expectation!

    This is the time of year where minimal clothing is required regardless if you’re not beach bod ready (#bodypositivity) as GBB has put together an entry of cute beachwear finds and accessories must-haves making you stand out. Let’s not forget it’s #PRIDE month in which guest writer, Sean Savoy, has graciously provided GBB with an amazing insightful article on popping your pride cherry for first timers.

    I’m also introducing a bi-weekly column about life after death…I mean thirty. It may not be a big deal to some—yet, it’s a whole new chapter of misadventures.

    Speaking of…

    Recently, I was a guest on a fabulous podcast ever created as the girls of THE HATE JOURNALS assisted me in crossing an item off my Glitter list. I may have gotten a bit much during the episode as you’ll pick up on that while listening. Nonetheless, it was such an experience and absolute hoot talking about craziness that happens in each others lives over a fabulous bottle of cab in which AP and I bonded over.

    Keep your eyes open for more slaying fun, bold (I have to try this) sex, monthly goodies, and unforgettable activities heading your way!

    xoxo,

    Allister Dean


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    This week on the podcast we had the pleasure of sitting down with the talented Allister Dean, author of:  Brutally Bitter, Deliciously Wicked and coming soon… Never Have I Ever. We talk about horrible dates, accidentally seeing a porno, musicals, booty, penis size, open relationships, porn, and Black Mamba attempts to give advice to Allister.

    Follow The Hate Journals:
    Website: thehatejournals.com
    Instagram: @thehatejournals
    Twitter: @hatejournals


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    High-Energy LGBT Rap Artist XOXOSPENCER Drops new EP “LIFEOFXOXO”

    Musical, especially rap musical is universal.  Proof of this is the rising star XOXOSPENCER a unique skilled urban lyricist, MC and songwriter on the rise, who not only represents himself and his city, but is also proudly an LGBT artist.  In exciting news XOXOSPENCER recently announced his new EP “LIFEOFXOXO” just dropped on XOXOGANG.  The energy surrounding the project is skyrocketing not just in the LGBT-world but also with all people who simply appreciate next-level rap music that is sincere and from the heart.

    “As a LGBT artist I feel the world needs to hear this music to help give  give listeners the courage and confidence to be the best person they can be regardless of their sexual preferences,” commented the passionate artist.  “I am an overseas artists who have aspirations of traveling to the states to perform for thousands of unspoken teens and children who may have experienced the same in life as myself.”

    So far XOXOSPENCER’s most popular song has been the single “Live & Let Die”, a song many fans have commented they can relate to lyrically and that has a beat that sets dance floors on fire and make car stereos rock – just in time for the good weather that’s also making an appearance in the U.S. where XOXOSPENCER is most popular.

    “LIFEOFXOXO” is available across all streaming/download platforms, like Apple Music and Spotify.

    The Feedback from fans continues to be more positive every day.

    Steph S., from Boston, recently said in a five-star review, “Lie & Let Die is the best song I have heard in a very long time.  I can’t wait to hear the new EP from XOXOSPENCER.”

    For more information be sure to visit him on Instagram and be sure to follow him on YouTube.

    Who is XOXOSPENCER?

    “Spencer Goodwin, aka ‘YungT’, now emerging in his newest incarnation as ‘Xoxo Spencer’, started his already vibrant carreer at age 16.  Goodwin, 21, an inspirational urban rap artist, has endured much of the inner-city life that many young, African-American youth experience, and much, much more.

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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

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.

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    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

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