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  • Traveller_23 1:32 pm on July 13, 2014 Permalink  

    Coming Out to…the Male Friend 

    My Thoughts


    First of all, apologies for the odd title. In no way do I want to suggest that this particular friend's defining quality is the fact that he is male. It's just that in the context of this post his gender becomes very relevant. If you look at the timeline of friends and family I've come out to, it quickly becomes evident that most of the voices on my blog are female. 

    There's a very specific reason for that: growing up I had this fear that male friends would reject me thinking that I wanted to have sex with them. Thus I shied away from discussing my sexuality with them and opted to speak to female friends instead. In my mind back then, even if my female friends did not react positively to my bisexuality, I thought that they wouldn't feel personally threatened by it. Of course, I've learned since then that many heterosexual women are quite insecure around bisexuality, and maybe I'll cover that in another post.

    Coming back to this particular friend, I have to say that thankfully none of my fears ever materialised. I do try to pick my battles carefully, and when I came out to this friend I presupposed that he wouldn't react too negatively. He's calm and logical, and frankly he's also far too nice for hostility. Still, I've been lucky, as sadly I've met many others who's friends haven't reacted quite so well.

    To do things a little differently this time, I leave you with our Facebook "coming out" conversation below.

    Me
    Anyway, lots has happened this year, I could tell you but you need to be really REALLY open minded 
    What have you been up to? Working/studying? Update me
    Him
    I am studying this semester; finals are next week, lol. In the summer I will be working so no chance of going back to BD. I am guessing you and The Best Friend are heading back to Bangladesh in the summer? 
    Tell me what happened to you this year. You got me curious  I like to think I have an open mind, so go ahead and tell me your story  
    Btw, Shuvo Nobooborsho
    Me
    Shubho Noboborsho to you too
    Finals next week eh? I feel for you, although mine start on the 30th of this month. It's too bad we don't get to see you this summer, but we knew this. The Best Friend and I are heading back for the summer, but I dunno if it'll be the same times. I have my work visa to sort out. 
    About what happened this year and keeping an open mind....I'm bisexual. Don't know how you'll react, but I kinda wanna see the look on your face  I've known about myself for quite a while (like before college) but was afraid to tell people. I only started telling people this year...and so far among our friends The Best Friend and The Sensible Friend know, and are fine with it.  
    So...questions, comments? Your thoughts mean a lot to me.
    Him
    You better not be pulling a prank on me like that fake relationship with The Best Friend, lol.
    I am kidding, I believe you. I am also fine with you being bisexual. I am glad you decided to be open about it. We are who we are and there's nothing wrong with that 
    Questions: 
    1) Are you still going out with the girlfriend? 
    2) Did something significant happen this year? 
    3) How do you see this changing your life?
    I support you. If you ever need to talk about anything, let me know. We should Skype sometime 
    Good luck with your dissertation tomorrow 
    Me
    No prank, although part of me wishes it was. I'm relieved at your positive reaction, but am a bit creeped out by aaall the smiley faces 
    Answers to your questions:
    a) Not dating the girlfriend any more, haven't been since Sept. last year. She knows I'm bi, she was the first person I told after we broke up. She was fine with it/found it funny at first, but we've become distant since then.
    b) The coming out was significant! Also, I was going to group LGB counselling sessions and such that really helped...um but getting the job was still the highlight of the recent past! 
    c) Short answer to a huge question. I'm worried about my parents reaction - I will tell them and I will force them to accept me lol, but I see that as a huge uphill battle. And Bangladesh. How am I gonna live there for any extended period of time if I'm open or what happens if I have a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend? Bleh
    Sorry about the late reply, I was knackered after being up 36 hours straight to do my dissertation (which went well btw). I want your girlfriend to know too. Do you think I should tell her directly, or do you want to tell her?
    Him
    Sorry abt the late reply, I had exams the last few days and didn't get to come online 
    My Girlfriend is totally cool with it and supports you. I told her about it yesterday. You can talk to her more about it 
    Don't be creeped out with the smiley faces, I like using them, haha.
    Are you sure you want to tell your parents about it now? 
    It's probably not a good idea to be open about being bi in Bangladesh. I fear the religious mollas might try to hurt you or what not. I had no idea you planned to live in Bangladesh after...
    Me
    Nah it's okay, I remember you said you had finals in one of your last messages. I'll message your Girlfriend tomorrow, right now my new phone just arrived and I'm playing with it. 
    I'll tell my parents after I'm completely independent, not before. I know it's not safe in Bangladesh, but it's something I feel I should be doing regardless. Also, never really planned to go back for good, but I did want to spend a few years there now and again. Anyway, new phone beckons, will write more soon
    Him
    lol, what new phone did u get? Galaxy Nexus?
    Have fun with it! We'll talk soon.

    And that was that. We've talked about my sexuality since, from serious conversations on how I'm handling it to him telling me that even though it doesn't dare use the word bisexual, I should still watch Orange is the New Black. I've never really quizzed him about LGBTQ rights or his religious beliefs etc., so I can't offer anyone more commentary here. But what I can say is that I don't feel I need to given our friendship. I just hope that more LGBTQ people out there have friends like mine, including him.

    His Thoughts

    Coming soon - I've been nagging him!

     
  • Blogging in Shadows 7:37 am on July 1, 2014 Permalink  

    London LGBT Pride 2014 was the biggest one ever! There was a… 


    Today is a good day to Bi


    Imaan the LGBT Muslim group


    Show your real self to the world


    Happy under the bisexual banner!


    A giant Jesus


    Happy queer and Muslim


    This guy was dancing for his life!


    Wonderful.


    Biphobia kills.

    London LGBT Pride 2014 was the biggest one ever! There was a huge visible bi presence, with over sixty in the bisexual marching group. The wet weather didn’t dampen our spirits too much, and even the biphobic remarks shouted by fellow marcher didn’t bring us down. It was great to see so much diversity amongst the marchers. I remember my first Pride in 1993, when I felt like one of the few black people in the parade. But now there were so many people of colour, including LGBT religious groups, and an LGBT immigration group which was huge. There were also plenty of older folks, disabled people, asexuals and much more. You may only see sparkly young lesbians, gays and drag queens portrayed in the media for Pride, but this event belonged to all of us who are LGBT!

    For more Pics, have a look http://bisofcolour.tumblr.com

     
  • jen 10:18 pm on June 30, 2014 Permalink  

    Bi Volunteering Diary 

    This post may seem a bit self-indulgent or congratulatory, but every so often people badger me to get this or that done on queer activism and seem to find it hard to imagine why I don't deal with that particular thing. So an incomplete diary of last week's bi activist shenanigans: it wasn't an especially busy week, I just decided to make some notes as I went along. Done around having a low-paid day job that is nothing to do with lgBt, partners, important radio listening, slouching on a sofa and so forth. So, if I didn't do the thing you were hoping for, I was probably taking care of stuff like this instead...


    Monday. From midnight to 2am, try to work out why a PDF isn't generating properly of the otherwise finished artwork for the new issue of BCN. Get to bed when it finally does what it should do. Over breakfast, upload the PDF to the print house's servers. And go off to the day-job for a rather taxing day.

    Monday evening, book a last-minute stall at small local Pride festival a few miles away. I wasn't going to do this, but the stall we did recently at a Pride some 50 miles away reached a lot of people who were clearly really happy to find something specific for bis at last, so I'm on a bit of a high. I suspect this weekend's event won't have such a sunny day and such luxurious icecream, but I'm on a high from last time so let's give up another Saturday eh?

    Jot down a few ideas for a piece for a book on bi life someone's writing. I usually get these at the wrong time, like when I'm in the bath or on a bus somewhere and my thoughts will have flown by the time I get anything onto paper.

    --

    Tuesday. After work, spin up the database to generate mailing labels and get the envelopes stickered up for a magazine mailing. Over the years I have developed very fine labelling skills for getting envelopes labelled up in the most efficient way possible! Talk with Katie who is our finance person about when we can arrange for me to get back a load of expenses owed. Some tweeting and facebooking about Pride London and about Tameside Pride. A researcher who we helped last year gets back in touch, so I thank them for being one of the rare breed of researchers who are conscientious about feeding back to the community after - a practice I try hard to encourage! Jot down first thoughts about what's going in the August edition of BCN. Line up a story on BiMedia about same-sex partnership recognition on the Isle of Man.

    --

    Wednesday. Early in the morning BCN arrives from the print house; this means it's time for a BCN stuffing party! Call in enough pairs of hands and ensure tea and cake to keep up the stuffing momentum. Lug the first two bags to the post office and get them out into the post.

    Around all this, find out that the organisers of the bi entry for Pride London have realised the banner they were going to use has gone awol. Contact people nearby who I think are going to London this weekend to see if anyone can take our banners down - no joy. Run up some designs for banners, get feedback from some people in London, run up some further designs, get more feedback and do more artwork tweakery. Find a print company and order the pair of them to be made as a rush job and off it all goes. Not used this print house before, fingers tightly crossed that they will do a good job.

    Post this week's edition of my "what I'm doing at the moment" bi activism blog, which is not on blogspot.

    --

    Thursday. Before work, line up some news items about today's announcements re Civil Partnership and Marriage reform in Wales & England. Bill in the post goes onto the BCN "stuff to sort out" pile for the next time we have a finance meeting. Notice a news release about the TUC's LGBT conference which has decided it is against homophobia, with nary a mention of transphobia & biphobia, which I could blog about...

    Instead go for dinner with one of my partners. Generally, take an evening "off the grid". Someone else can grump at the TUC for us, I'm sure.

    --

    Friday. Run round a quick circular about Tameside Pride on email lists. Talk to people in the USA about some problems they've picked up on. Tweet a bit about Bi Visibility Day and try to engage some other organisations in thinking about what they are doing in three months' time, so we get information in before September rather than all in a rush in the final week.

    Find a soundcloud podcast of a meeting recently hosted by the council - feel glad I didn't attend as the whole thing is achingly LGbT and I'd only have been disenchanted. The good thing about podcasts is you can do the housework while they play...

    --

    Saturday. Get up early, take three trains and a bus ride to run the bi stall at a small local Pride. Awesomely [thanks to the power of the internet on my phone] get to see photos of the new bi banners being unveiled at Pride London 200 miles away. Run stall for four or five hours, chatter with a wide range of stall visitors, give out different leaflets and resources according to their needs. It's a small event but there are a couple of stall visitors for whom I think us being there has been really important. Feel loved as a stallholder when the event organisers bring us fruit and cake.

    Public transport wends me slowly home and there I find an email waiting. Someone wants to reference a particular item in an old issue of BCN but it is not yet on the website. Get it up on the web for them as a rush job and settle down for dinner before catching up with two of my partners and generally going floomp on a sofa.

    --

    Sunday. Fried breakfast, shopping, an afternoon of watching episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s, and a game of Civ.  Eager volunteers need time away from activism too :)
     
  • EsmeT 10:40 pm on June 29, 2014 Permalink  

    Pride in London 2014 

    Yes, this is the obligatory post about my day at Pride in London. Didn't do one last year, so I'm going to do one this year. Yes, every LGBT blog does one, but hey, Pride's important, and every year I have a different experience.

    I go with my church, who join in with Christians Together at Pride, which also has Catholics, Quakers, Baptists, and Methodists, among others. I see the same people each year in the purple "Christian & Proud" t-shirts, and sometimes new faces. The Christian group is usually about 60 people I'd say, and we're normally in the same region as the Muslim group (see this blog post about an incident that happened while we were all lined up waiting), the Humanist group, and the Jewish group.

    We had 8 people turn up at the church, and we made our way to the meeting point. The most exciting thing for me was I got to see Big Jesus, who I had heard would be joining us. A church in Blackpool have made this massive Jesus wearing a traditional robe and a not so traditional rainbow sash, that stands on a scaffold on someone's shoulders  and joins the parade, with independent arms that two other people control. During the parade, he was waving, blowing kisses, giving hi-fives, it was awesome! Who doesn't love a massive, home-made Jesus?! There were also badges being handed out that said "Justice for Jeremy" which refers to this historic incident which was followed by this one.

    We headed to Baker St, and eventually found our spot. Our church rolled out our banner, and I wore our rainbow flag as a sarong. It went well with my rainbow nails, and my make-up; I didn't have face paint, but using lipstick, eyeshadow, and eye-liner, I draw on and coloured in a stars and swirls design encircling my face and going down onto my neck. I had big earrings as well, but it wasn't all girly - I also wore my Timberlands, because I wanted to, and no one gave a damn about gender expression. Obviously.

    It started to rain, and very rarely stopped for the rest of the day. Plus we were stuck. We arrived at 12, the front set off at 1, we moved at 2.15. But we're British, so essentially queuing in the rain was no problemo. I felt sorry for they guy wearing Big Jesus, that thing must have gained serious weight from water-logging. I had a brolly (I am a stage manager, always be prepared) so it was fine, and we did eventually move off.

    There weren't quite as many crowds, because we were near the back and it was raining, but it was a lot of fun. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. But by gum was it tiring. By the time we got to tea and cake at the Quakers meeting house, I was cream crackered. I went home, took off the face, and did my grocery shopping.

    The most inspiring thing for me was seeing the joy of my friend who was part of my church group. It was his first time in a Pride parade, and he was almost gleeful. "I want as much tat as possible!" It was heart warming, and shows just how important pride events are even on a personal level. There was also a friend of a friend who came, who balked as we lined up, and went to disappear into the crowds rather than marching with everyone watching. Because for every man, woman and those in between in that parade, there were thousands like him who cannot feel comfortable being so open about who they are. For him, it was an acute suffering, as he is from a country that culturally and legally is very hostile towards LGBT.

    Today, my church also had a combined feast day - St Peter and LGBT Pride. The rainbow flag was on the altar, the banner was hung up where our ten commandments are supposed to go, and I wore my rainbow pin on my alb (white robe) whilst serving. Our 'sermon' was one of the LGBT group interviewing a member of the Open and Proud Diamonds group, a UK charity that give support to LGBT refugees and asylum seekers from Africa. And my enthusiastic friend wrote the prayers, but he was unwell this morning, so I read them. It was agreed by all to have been a wonderful service, with extra cake and sweets donated by members of the group to accompany the tea afterwards.

    I love being part of LGBT stuff. I have had a great weekend. And I feel Proud to be a bisexual.
     
  • Traveller_23 6:25 pm on June 29, 2014 Permalink  

    Opinion: Notes on Pride 2014 

    Pride in London



    Visibility is important

    I marched at London Pride again this year, with Imaan as usual. Rather than repeating least year's post, I wanted to write about a few things that were new this year.

    We started the day with a heavy dose of rain and Islamophobia, the latter of the two courtesy of an official Pride In London steward. Said steward had decided to move Imaan away from behind a gay Catholic group called The Quest - our original marching position - in case there were problems. One of the Imaan committee members had to speak to the steward before we were allowed to march from our planned spot. I don't know if any apology was given, but I believe the committee will try to contact Pride In London themselves so I hope to find out more in the future. The Islamophobic insinuation was appalling, and generally a poor way to start the day.


    However, we decided to make the most of the day and put the incident out of our heads. Our contingent numbered at maybe 20, with handmade signs, improvised costumes and some masks. Most of the Imaan signs were of the LGBTQ variety, ensuring we didn't exclude any of the sexualities including bisexuality. A lot of the signs were naturally Islamic themed. One I remember in particular quoted Sura Al Hujurat (verse 13) which talks about the diversity of God's creations - a good reminder to everyone that LGBTQ people too are creatures of God. Given none of us were naked or dressed in exotically flashy costumes, we also had a few chants lined up this year to engage the crowd. Simple but quite effective in my opinion: 

    "We're here, we're queer, we don't drink beer."

    "2, 4, 6, 8, is that imam really straight?"

    "3, 5, 7, 9, Mohammed is a friend of mine."

    "We shout, we talk, we don't eat pork."

    Gauging the crowds' reactions to the words made the chanting all the more interesting. The first was probably the most controversial given the community's (and indeed Britain's) alcohol-imbued culture. It did get some laughs and encouragement, but I remember a segment of the march where the crowd just went dead quiet when we chanted that, and not in a nice way! The second chant got quite a few laughs as well, but I feel more people would have laughed if they knew what imam meant. 

    As a footnote, I'd also like to mention that I met quite a few Bengalis/Bangladeshis at Pride this year, including some marching with Imaan itself!

    Transpose

    After the Pride march, I spent a much more chilled out and friendly evening at Transpose, and I wanted to wrap up with a few words about this. Transpose is an event centred around trans activism organised by CN Lester and it was my second time attending since last year's Pride. It was one of the events last year that made me feel that part of Pride was still political, and still about activism. I'm glad that the event is still going, because a lot of the other events I praised last time haven't repeated themselves this year.

    I wanted to give a quick shout out to Kat Gupta, who's work on racism and what some non-white people in the LGBTQ community in Britain face I could relate to. Kat spoke about white people who talk about how they've dated someone from so and so race, or such and such a country. They speak about these dalliances to qualify their open-mindedness - but experience has taught me that the more pertinent question to ask these people is why they aren't still dating that person of a different race or nationality. Chances are, these people only open minded enough not be an out and out racist, but still miss the micro-aggressions, sweeping assumptions and power dynamics they exercise in their relationships. 

    Finally, Transpose was fundraising for the Born This Way documentary, following LGBTQ activists from Cameroon, the threats they face and the struggles that come with seeking asylum to flee persecution. 

     
  • This Is Marcus 2:37 pm on June 24, 2014 Permalink  

    For bisexual activists, what is most tiring? 

    This weekend I was invited to take part in the 2x panel discussions about bisexuality at EuroPride in Oslo.

    Of seven panellists, three were bisexual people.

    The remainder included representatives of LGBT organisations with the usual generalised remit to support bisexual people as part of LGBT. One of these admitted that they didn't do enough to engage with bisexuals and said they would commit to actively seeking out bisexual engagement in the future.

    The rest were rather non-plussed as to why they didn't meet bi people, the stand-out star being the university professor who presented a slideshow entitled "The Invisible Bisexuals" based on the fact that in 30+ years of being an LGBT counsellor she had never (as far as she knew) met an out bisexual person.

    Not that after 30 years she decided she was doing something wrong and went out and educated herself or sought out the bisexual community. No. If we're not wearing bisexual pride t-shirts it's our own fault if no-one thinks we might be here.

    I am unbelievably tired of this crap.

    I am tired of LG(T) organisations adding the B and then sitting back and thinking it's the bi community's duty to engage them, rather than seeking us out and asking us our priorities.

    I am tired of LGBT charities that fight homophobia and transphobia and that's the whole list isn't it?

    I am tired of "but when we say gay we mean gay and bisexual, so other than this sentence we'll never say bisexual".

    I am tired of "gay and bisexual means we cover bisexuals. We'd never need to say 'bisexual' or 'straight and bisexual' because we're only interested in the gay issues facing bi people"

    I am tired of hearing that biphobia (if it's acknowledged at all) is an entity entirely contained within homophobia.

    I am tired of institutional biphobia.

    And I wish I was more surprised that this is still going on.

    Bisexuals are not invisible. We are erased. Invisibility is an active effort - making oneself hide or taking on a disguise. We aren't doing that. We're being deleted.

    But what can be done about it? I'm not sure the solution is just to encourage more and more people to be visible - as this just reinforces the idea that the visible bisexuals are the only bisexuals, and that bisexuals are a tiny minority that exists within the LGBT community. There's a role for visibility increases, sure, but it reminds me of the way that sharing photos of starving children on Facebook may well raise awareness, but doesn't cook anyone a tasty and life-saving dinner.

    It's not enough to be seen in the crowd. We have to be on the platform, in the boardroom, among the patrons.

    And although I wish it wasn't up to us to shoulder our way in, history shows us that these structures will generally not suddenly realise their oversight. We shouldn't have to, but I've realised if we don't they won't.
     
  • jen 6:37 pm on June 22, 2014 Permalink  

    September 23rd and hashtags 

    A debate has opened up amongst some bi activists and groups online about how best to hashtag September 23rd this year on the twitternets.

    This may seem a bit navel-gazing a question, but how we hashtag it has an important impact on how the 'official' name branding is perceived. In turn, what happens on the date, and who engages with it and how will be affected. And a combined, shared hashtag will get more momentum and attention - it is "good for SEO" I'm told.

    Some of the suggestions bouncing around are:

    #biprideday
    #bivisibilityday
    #celebratebisexualityday
    #internationalcelebratebisexualityday

    The last one - #internationalcelebratebisexualityday - is the historically accurate name. It sums up what we want to do well, for all that it was I believe originally meant to focus inwardly on celebrating the (organised) bi community and has changed over time to be more outward looking. 

    Unfortunately, it's about a third of a tweet in itself - as well as being a bugger to type on a small phone and an unwieldy name for dropping into conversation. Go do a radio interview where you need to mention what the date is called ten times and you will soon learn to hate such a bold selection of multisyllabic words.

    As a consequence, #celebratebisexualityday developed some traction as a name. The trouble is that online there is a strong tendency for things to slip into the idea that "America is the world", and just losing the "international" I worry sends a signal that it's OK to talk of a September 23 that goes just as far as the Canadian and Mexican borders and not a step further. 

    This ties in to a conversation among some UK bi activists a few years ago about better, friendlier branding for the date.  I have to say I was in the "sticky" camp of continuing to try and get traction on our existing branding, but was persuaded otherwise.

    There seem to be two main contenders for alternative directions to go in.

    #BiPrideDay (and related, #BiPride) takes the existing common notion of gay / LGBT+ Pride, which is nice and clear. The downsides are first that for people who want to organise and bring bis together, it suggests quite a specific set of things to do - Pride being associated with a moderately narrow range of festival models these days. For me there is also an implication that we have abandoned LGBT Prides (the ones 'we' invented!) and so the LGBT prides that significantly fail on bisexual engagement or representation have a get-out clause. #BiPride feels good for bi visibility over general LGBT Pride season, but lacks a focus on September 23rd. It's a bit like tagging IDAHO(BIT) as #lgbtPride.

    #BiVisibilityDay names one of our biggest challenges as people and as a community and its solution in the name. By not being 'Pride' it opens up more space around ways people - bi or ally - might mark the date and seek to advance bisexual visibility, of people or of community. Only bis can have bi pride, but allies of bis can help raise the bi profile. On the downside it lack the familiarity of a "Pride" branding - but then IDAHO(BIT) and TDOR have that same issue and have still achieved decent levels of momentum and 'brand recognition' over time.

    The blurring between those two is #BiDay. That's a lot shorter than #BiVisibilityDay so you can fit more content into your tweets.

    It's about bisexuals and it's on a specific day. In the spirit of Bisexual Index's work to define bisexuality in as few words as possible so that there aren't stray words in there excluding people, #BiDay probably does the job of summarising September 23rd best.
     
  • jen 7:37 pm on May 30, 2014 Permalink  

    Bisexual or bi-sexual? 

    One question that's cropped up many times in my 20-something years of bi activism and bi volunteering is this:

    Should bisexual and bisexuality be spelled with hyphens, as bi-sexual and bi-sexuality?

    I say, down with the hyphen! Two reasons:

    1) We don't hyphenate homo-sexuality or hetero-sexuality.


    2) Generally when words get hyphenated like that it's because they aren't real words or are just getting accepted into English as a single word (think of old films where to indicate the passage of time they have a flipping calendar with "TO-DAY IS" on it -- or how early on people tended to write email as e-mail). As bisexuality is real and definitely not something invented earlier this week, I think the hyphen sends out all the wrong signals on that front too.



    I wrote this in a thread somewhere else but thought it was worth copying over here :)
     
  • The Nightmare World of Cake. And pie. And tarts. And buns. 1:11 pm on May 27, 2014 Permalink  

    Birthday Boys: the icons of horror who shaped my childhood 

    I'm all electionned out, so I'm going to indulge myself today by talking about something else dear to my heart.

    Those of you who have known me for some time, and know my proclivities when it comes to men, might have noticed that I have something of a type. Tall, geeky boys with deep voices and good legs. Men who can cook. Well-dressed, curly-haired men who look good in a beard and can pull off an outrageous hat. Men with a wicked, dry sense of humour; who look great in shiny boots but will wear slippers when nobody is looking. Men who lean bi, or at least are not bothered by being accused of such. Men who can wear a cravat. Men who can do a quizzical eyebrow.

    This springs from a LOT of places, but not least of which is the fact that at the possibly somewhat precocious age of six I got REALLY into old horror movies. And the stalwarts of old horror movies* were three men, one of whom had his birthday yesterday, and the other two have it today.

    Peter Cushing would have been 101 yesterday. At a mere dead-on-six-foot he's the shortest of the three, and he was certainly the slightest. He was an extraordinarily talented actor, and if you don't believe that you haven't seen his Winston Smith, which knocks old raddled-face Hurt into a cocked hat.

    Peter Cushing always looked stunning in whatever he was wearing**, partly due to poise, and partly due to cheekbones you could slice steel with. I believe he is a large part of my fondness for men in suits, especially a good three piece.

    The thing that I admire most about The Cush, though, is that everybody seems to have had a very deep and genuine affection for him - even that grumpy old Tory Sir Lee (of whom more later), who was his best friend and co-Sylvester the Cat impersonator from 1957 till the day that he died. He was a Proper Gentleman, always unfailingly polite to everybody from the tea lady to the Queen. This is something I could probably learn from.

    Vincent Price was the most impish of the three, and also by far the most political. He would have been 103 today. He was huge friends with Kenny Everett***, campaigned against racism and sectarianism, and built and endowed the Vincent And Mary Price Art Museum at East LA college because of his firm belief in public access to great art. He adored his doggies, especially Joe, whom he loved so much he wrote a book about him****.

    He was also a fabulous cook. I know this because (thanks to [personal profile] karohemd) I have one of his cookbooks. Because of the era it was written in, it has the same approach to healthy eating that I was brought up with - i.e. everything contains lots of butter, cream, and alcohol. Now that I am reasonably close to my target weight I look forward to trying more recipes from it.

    Christopher Lee is the baby of the three, at a mere 92 today. What can I say about the grumpy old sod that I haven't said a thousand times before? Although in social terms I probably would have got on better with Cushing, and certainly in political terms I would have got on better with Price, Lee is the one whose voice goes directly to the forelock-tugging peasant genes in me and makes me sag at the knees and wish to serve, and I mean that in a deeply sexual way.

    I have a spotify playlist called "Christopher Lee Reads Stuff". When [personal profile] magister is playing Lego The Hobbit on his playstation he calls me into the room for the cut scenes because Sir Lee narrates them. Christopher Lee's voice has had a very profound effect on me from the first moment I heard, at the tender age of six, they have destroyed my servant; they shall be destroyed. For all the stuff I talk about above, this is the biggie. Men with deep, commanding voices are my kryptonite, and Sir Lee is their king.

    So yeah. In terms of genuine admiration that comes from judgment in my brain, Price probably just beats Cushing but they are both up there. In terms of instinctive reaction that I have no control over whatsoever? Yet to meet a man that can do with his entire soul and being what Christopher Lee can do with a single whispered syllable*****.

    Here is Sir Lee talking about his two best mates. Enjoy:



    I shall certainly be raising a glass to the three of them later.



    * or at least the ones that I obsessively recorded on our Video2000 video recorder that they showed late night on the BBC.
    ** seriously, even as a tramp in fingerless gloves for Doctor Terror's House of Horrors the man radiates style.
    *** yes, this almost certainly does mean what you think it means.
    **** if you ever have an afternoon to spare and feel like one of those feel-good books that makes you laugh and cry in equal measure, I fully recommend The Book of Joe by Vincent Price, by the way.
    ***** although I can think of a couple who come close. You know who you are.


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  • Traveller_23 11:12 pm on May 26, 2014 Permalink  

    Coming Out to…the Colleagues, Part 3 

    Challenges at a Multinational


    I consider myself to be relatively safe within the UK. My sexuality (as perceived since I am bisexual) has only ever resulted in mild homophobic abuse from strangers in public when out with male partners. No case has been anything that I've not been able to brush off or glare away.

    At work I've felt even safer - my immediate colleagues are all very accepting. However, they are all from the UK or have been based in the UK for quite some time, a country where LGBTQ acceptance levels are generally high. I often find myself wondering about the tolerance and acceptance I would encounter at my company's offices around the world, especially in countries where levels of LGBTQ acceptance are low. I often travel to these countries and these offices, and I wonder what kind of balance I should strike between my personal safety versus being open and giving people the benefit of doubt.


    To date I've made my personal safety paramount when travelling and have never disclosed my sexuality. But when the context has been appropriate, I have nudged discussion towards LGBTQ themes in order to determine people's feelings and attitudes. What I've encountered so far is ignorance rather than hostility, although the first can and does morph into the latter under the right conditions. I've heard people express fears of the "gays increasing", at which I've laughed outright and explained that it was rather a question of people being more open about their sexuality.

    Colleagues from these very same countries often make trips to our offices in the UK. When they do, I am in a safer environment, and so recently I decided to give a few of them the benefit of doubt with regards to anti-LGBTQ views. I casually mentioned the boyfriend in conversation within a mixed group, with no discernible reaction from anyone. I think it is worth mentioning that this included colleagues from the Middle East and Africa. Later, I explicitly mentioned the boyfriend in direct conversation with the male Muslim colleague from the Middle East. He was already aware that I am a Muslim myself: we'd had a discussion on halal food and how to avoid alcohol based dishes. Again, there was no discernible reaction, and neither did his attitude towards me change subsequently. 

    Now, I don't want to read too deeply into this. It is quite likely that he is aware of the norms in the UK and our company, and is acting accordingly. Or that even if he disagrees with my "lifestyle", he does not see me as someone he should bring it up with as I am merely a colleague. However, considering that his treatment of me has remained as friendly as ever, I would like to think that he honestly has no issues with my sexuality. 


       
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