Saturday, 12 February 2011

What a (gay) day that was!

I had a busy but most interesting day, yesterday. The Chorus had been asked to support two events marking LGBT History Month (which is this month, as you no doubt know).

Internal poster for the event at the DfEThe first event, organised by the Deptarment for Education's LGBT staff network, found us singing in the massive "cruise-line-like" atrium of the ministry, with people attracted by our sound looking down on us from the 7 stories of the building. The Lunchtime event was hosted by David Bell, the Permanent Secretary.

Following our performance, we had been invite to stay on and attend Q&A session with Jane Hill (BBC news reader) and Leslie Jordan (US comedian). Both speakers first talked about themselves and their experiences of being gay. Members of staff were then invited to ask questions.

Jane Hill and Leslie Jordan speaking at the Department for Education

While this was a very enjoyable event and Leslie Jordan was particularly funny, the event seemed to a lack a little in focus. The speakers were asked serious general questions which they, not being specialists, were not equipped to answer properly. When there is so much that needs to be addressed around homophobia and education, it may have been more productive to have less high-profile speakers but some who could actually engage with the DfE staff on matters that are relevant to their work.

On a side note, and on the back of yesterday's talk, I went to see Lesley's one-man show today at the Apollo Theatre. While this was also very funny, I was disappointed to discover that most of his talk at the DfE, which had seemed to genuine and impromptu, was in fact nothing but a word for word rendition of bits of the show, down to the gestures.

Internal poster for the event at GoogleAfter killing a spare hour in a local pub, we then moved up the road to the headquarters of Google UK. The performance was part of a re-launch of the local chapter of their own LGBT staff network, the Gayglers. It also involved a charity auction to raise money for an anti-cyberbullying initiative, Cyber Mentors. We've learned since that £3,700 were raised.

Having heard much about the going ons at the Google HQ, I quite curious to have a nose around and I wasn't disappointed. The reception area looked more like the waiting room of a trendy hairdresser salon or some posh gay bar than that of a multinational, complete with crystal chandelier and a bathtub (that used to belong to Douglas Adams, if one of the Foursquare tips for the location is to be believed) as coffee table.

We didn't get to see the working areas themselves but were ushered into the (free) canteen where our episode of the weekly "Thank Google, It's Friday" (TGIF) event was to take place. By 4:30 staff started to drift in and by 5 o'clock it seemed that most staff had stopped working to come and fill the large room, indulging in the free food and drinks on offer. Where do I sign?!

After the event, I noticed that someone in the audience had seen my tweets about being at the event and had followed me. I had noticed her red hair in the audience earlier and decided to go and say hello. We had a nice chat, which carried on Twitter. It turns out that the woman is rather Geek Royalty (of the type that gets mentioned in the same sentence as Sir Tim (Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web). *courtesies*

Isn't it just like me though to "pull" a lesbian...

After a little more hovering and face-stuffing, I bestrode one of my trusty BorisBikes/KennyFarthings and propelled myself to the other side of the West End for an event organised by GALHA, which purported to explore the degree of sexual subversion offered by Laurel and Hardy.

The event was rather disappointing. While the quality of GALHA's presentations is normally quite high, this consisted in little more than the playing of a DVD bringing together various extracts of some of Laurel and Hardy's 106 films (mostly shorts), showing how often they could be seen sharing the same bed or how much they enjoyed doing drag. There is was unfortunately no real analysis of what this could possibly mean or the possible repercussions of such footage.

At the end of the event, an acquaintance who was also there, pointed out a fellow member of the audience as being the lead of a 1980's pop band.

He also turned out to be the same person as the guy who had contacted me on Grindr as I was entertaining myself with my iPhone while waiting to for the event to start (I had arrived a good 40min early). Interestingly, but perhaps predictably in the gay world, the guy claims to be 34 on Grindr, while he Wikipedia profile says he is over 50...

I got home and to bed without further incident or encounter.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Tour of the Olympic Park

Basketball Arena

Last Thursday, I was given the chance to visit the Olympic Park in Est London. Perfect weather for it too.

I had had an opportunity back in November but stupidly had forgotten my passport. The Olympics Delivery Authority's idea of security being rather restrictive, my Tesco card didn't prove enough to let me and I had to be content with viewing the stadium from the viewing point outside the perimetre of the park, take a couple of pics and go home.

This time I got in and did a write up for Londonist (here). The tour took place is single-decker bus, so the quality of the pics is not what it could have been.

You can view said pics on flickr, here.