Friday, 29 June 2012

Is gay pride really a bad thing?

This post appeared in Pink News under the title "In defence of Pride".

In PinkNews today, Topher Gen writes to explain how he believes that modern Pride parades perpetuate an image of gay people as 'hedonistic, sex-crazed deviants', and that drunkenness and drag don't make the bold statement some might think.

I think Mr Gen is quite mistakenly focusing on the wrong elements of Pride. It even seems reading his words that his only experience of such event comes from mainstream media coverage which does seem to linger on the more colourful and exotic aspects of the parades.

Little, if at all, do we see the hundreds of "normal" people who do take part in the marches. The families, the pensioners, the volunteers with various charities. For them it's not an occasion to get pissed (that usually happens after the parades anyway) or drag up, it is a moment of affirmation and empowerement. For a few hours it's an opportunity to take the streets over, to be what they normally are not: the majority.

Mr Gen also seems to believe that Pride events are the only occasion that straight people find themselves in the presence of gay people. This may have been true thirty years ago but not any more. With so many people out and proud everywhere, straight people are bound to be confronted by the greyness and monotony of everyday gay lives, being shown how little they differ from theirs.

Following, Mr Gen's reasoning perhaps we should cancel all carnival. Surely St Patrick's Day, which does seem to be mostly about drinking, gives a very bad image of the Irish. The Notting Hill Carnival with all those arrest and that violence can be good for how Afro-carribean people are percieved.

As for the the rainbow flag, it is most certainly not a stereotype. it is a unifying symbol for the community. it speaks of its history and its stuggles. Just like the million Union flag hanging all over britain following the jubilee. Are these stereotypes to?

It is also interesting that Mr Gen only singles out what may be described as the gender bending aspect of Pride marches. Nothing about pumped up naked bodies or leather-clad buttocks, which could just as much been seen as gay stereotypes. They have however the “merit” of being “masculine” and this leads me to thing that Mr Gen may be evincing symptoms of that old friend of ours: Internalised homophobia. Mr Gen is embarrassed by that which is different, he wants to pass, and he is sadly not alone in this backlash against the camp and the effeminate, lately.

And he may not be the only one wanting to conform (after all the current quest for marriage equality is in some part at least linked to that) but many others in the community don’t want to live as straight people do. they want to remain individuals with their own way of doing things.

Trying to stifle those aspirations seem to me very similar to those of the homophobes, who can not abide something different to their view of the word. As persecuted minority (although thankfully not in the UK), the gay community generally is accepting of differences and it should remain that way.

Live and let live, I say. Only those who want to be shocked will be shocked by what happens at Pride.

Friday, 22 June 2012

One Night Stand

Like the gates of an earthly paradise, an Eden made flesh, ajar,
carelessly, he tempted me one night in a bewitching dance.

For a few undeserved hours the luscious fruits of his body
were mine to feast upon, our limbs writhing together, our breaths melded into one. Hopes awakened.

But soon the cruel dawn sundered and cast us apart.
The gates slammed shut.

Ever since, fallen, I lie bereft, more alone than before. An errant ghost, an empty shell. Hopes fatally awakened to be more thoroughly crushed.

Back to a new banality, I long and pine for what never was;
what could have been; will not be.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

F20-12

In a few day, the 3rd annual exhition organised by the Gay Photographers Network will open its doors at the Strand Gallery in London.

This will be the second exhibition I will be taking part in this year (and ever). This time I will only have one image on display but with the work of almost 60 other artists on display, everyone should fine something to look at.

So here are the details:

The Strand Gallery
32 John Adam Street
London
WC2N 6BP

26th June to 8th July Open hours: 11am to 7pm Mon to Sat / 11am to 6pm Sun. Early close on Sun 8th July.
(I will be manning the gallery on the 2 and 6 July - 11 to 3)

Website: www.f20-12.com
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/gayphotographersnetwork
Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/383529118364952

Monday, 18 June 2012

Fear and Loathing on a Monday Morning

This morning's Monday blues comes with added misery. The realisation that my social ineptitude is taking roots ever more deeply.

Since last night, Facebook has been awash with pictures, videos and comments about the Chorus's retreat which as taking place this week-end. This is awakening ugly feelings of envy and fear in me.

I didn't go the retreat partly because of the presence of The Young Man I mentioned in this post, but mostly because of my experience during the trip to Belfast with the Chorus (a lonely affair for me) and my general dismal track record with groups of people who know each other.

Judging by Facebook, everybody seemed to have a great time. Although I guess, only those who did have a great time would be posting.

Thinking a bit more about this and examining my feeling further, I am as I said envious. Envious that those people can actually find themselves into a group of other people they variously know, if at all, and look forward to it. Envious that they can even enjoy the experience and create new bonds. Envious that it should be so natural and easy to them.

Let's face it, I am also envious of The Young Man; of the adulation he has been getting there (though the term may be slightly hyperbolic, he is clearly liked by many); of the others, who were able to be and interact with him (nope, it seems I am not over that story yet!).

Something I don't envy, is the fact that they most probably all got drunk to various levels. But this is another barrier to my taking part in social occasion like a "normal" person, since I virtually don't drink.

And then comes the fear.

Imagining myself taking part, I am gripped by visions of awkwardness, of inadequacy and loneliness in the middle of a crowd, a happy crowd. This is a fairly new feeling but one that has been growing in strength in past couple of years perhaps as each (rare) invitations to joining a group of strangers in a pub for drinks or some such gathering. More often than not I have made excuses. The view times I haven't have not been the most positive of experiences. A reinforcement of the apprehension.

A vicious circle. I don't know how to break it.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Another photoshoot - Mark

Mark
Some months ago, I joined the Gay Photographers Network.

This has allowed me to look at photography and my practice of it a little more seriously. To the point in fact that in February I took part in my first exhibition (showing two pictures and selling one!). I will be taking part in a second exhibition, f20-12, later this month (only one image this time).

Last February, at one of the Network's monthly meetings, I had a taster of studio work with models and I was keen to further the experience. So when one of my Twitter contacts mentioned that he needed to pictures of himself, I offered my services and a date was set.

To help me with this, one of the members of the Network, Manel Ortega, who seems to have taken an interest in me both as a photographer and a model, had offered access to his studio in Brighton.

The results of my side of the shoot (Manel took pictures too) is now online on Flickr and can be viewed here.

Some of Manel's pictures of me which he allowed me to edit myself are available here.