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Straight Talking
About Me

From::Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
I'm an avid dreamer. I have big ideas, and I'll probably take them somewhere. Watch this space. I want to present what I think - and not with words minced up into an acceptable platter. Some things need to be told straight - particularly gay rights. Particularly life in the closet, it's very nature means no one hears it. If they do it's usually tinted with nostalgia. I'm confident, I know what I like and what I don't. Please don't confuse this for arrogance. I'm probably more insecure then you imagine.
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Straight Talker is a poor student now.

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Recent Posts

Coming Out of the Woodwork
Clean Air Prevails
You Big Pansy
Pink Pounds… Lots of Them
Gordon Doesn't Like Us
On The Move
Beware Gay Music
Safe Sex For Dummies
London Baby Yeah
Closet Case


August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007

Post Script

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Time is Money

We live in a busy world. Businesses often run on the mantra ‘time is money’, for it seems, ‘if you snooze you lose’.

Aside from these clichés, you might expect that when you pay or contribute to something, you might expect something back. Maybe not if it’s a charity, but no matter how sad some of the programs may seem, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is no charity case.

I like the BBC, I like their news coverage, and find some of their programs enjoyable. They did adapt Sarah Water’s “Fingersmith” and “Tipping the Velvet” to please lesbians everywhere. Yet despite this, it seems the BBC are still far behind most of civilised society in their attitudes.

As many of you may be aware, last year Stonewall monitored 168 hours of peak time TV on BBC One and BBC Two. During that time lesbian and gay people and their lives were realistically and positively portrayed for just six minutes. To put this into perspective, gay people were contributing almost £190 million every year towards BBC programming. It seems money is not necessarily time. Especially if you’re a BBC boss.

I can’t be too hard on the BBC – they did air “Boys Don’t Cry”, a shocking film about a confused transgender teen who is raped and murdered, this month. Although the cynical side of me is saying that 11.35pm isn’t exactly prime time.

And even more frustrating, is their continued defence of both Chris Moyles and Jeremy Clarkson who have both recently been broadcast describing a ringtone and a car (respectively) as ‘gay’. Surely two personalities with such big heads should have a larger vocabularly? Or at least a little more sense? Or maybe not.

But the most frustrating bit of it all? They have removed Natasha Kaplinsky from Breakfast News. (Not that I’m up for Breakfast much anymore).


Thursday, July 20, 2006

In Good Faith

It’s easy for the gay community to sometimes shrug off religion – it seems to have little to offer young LGBT people. Yet, religion plays a large part of life in Northern Ireland. Regardless of your side of the religious divide, or your family background, religion permeates life here, and has done for many generations. However, while we have grown up around these religious influences, as a young lesbian, I feel the church offers little in the way of support to young gay Christians like myself.

Religious fundamentalists who bash Pride events make it rather uncomfortable for us all, but for those in a church background, they make it even more difficult. On Sunday August 6th, I feel confident that I will not be the only guilty feeling churchgoer. Fundamentalists are a constant reminder that my fellow Christians do not and perhaps can not understand my identity – put simply, they make me feel I am in the wrong.

The concept of ‘gay Christians’ is a controversial one. A mish mash of organisations queue up to offer their translations of bible verses, each seeming to discredit the other. In all the noise it is difficult for a young Christian to decipher what the bible really does say. Is God love if he cannot love me because of who I am and what he made me?

Against this confusing backdrop churches here offer little practical guidance. Reminiscent of military establishments, the policy appears to be ‘Don’t say, don’t tell’. At the age of 18 I have come through Sunday School and youth groups in the Anglican church and have found no one willing to discuss homosexuality in any shape or form. This policy creates an unsettling and confusing environment, and I feel church workers in the youth sector do not encourage young gay people to speak to them about their sexuality. Like many schools here, because there is such repression of the subject of sexuality, homophobia goes unchecked. I know that I simply could not broach the subject with any of the many people I have come across in my church.

Indeed, even if the subject was broached, the view offered by most Northern Irish churches is one of ignorance. The many stereotypical replies include ‘It’s only a phase’, ‘Burn in hell, Sodomite’ and ‘Gay? I’m glad you’re feeling happy.’ They simply do not understand the many issues surrounding coming out – letting themselves be led by faith before sense.

The expectation of the Church seems to be that the young people in their care could not possibly be homosexual. Many of you present will know this view is absurd – gays come from all walks of life and all religions across the world. This view also causes the young person, like me, who was struggling with their sexuality another problem – how could you be gay, when gay is a sin?

Church is often seen as a family activity. Three generations or more of a family often sit in the same pew. It is therefore no wonder that in such a closed community, young people feel unable to express themselves. The culture of church gossips also makes it difficult to be open about being gay in the church setting.

If I wanted to discuss my sexual orientation with someone from my church, there is no one I feel I could speak to in confidence. There is no one there to support my choice or offer me advice – there is always the fear of rejection and the frustration of repression.

When young people face crises of faith – ironically, churches make themselves the last port of call for young gay Christians. It is only with discussion and acceptance that their ignorance can be removed, and more young people like me feel comfortable in the fold.

Photo from flickr.com/photos/a11sus.
Article to be read anonymously at the GLYNI Pride event 2006.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dates for your Diary

For anyone reading this in Northern Ireland (or indeed anyone willing to travel), I thought I should plug one or two events. First and foremost is the Belfast Pride festival, a week of events to cater for pretty much every taste, ending in the parade and party on 5th August. No doubt there will be some nice protestors to shout nasty things at the marchers, so all support is welcome. Indeed – even if you aren’t gay, come and watch a parade that has more colours than orange.

The little humanitarian in me is also urging you to visit the “Sex, Love and Homophobia” event in the Waterfront Hall from 17th July to 18th August. Organised by Amnesty International it’s advertised as an “A-Z exhibition showing the discrimination and abuses faced by members of the LGBT community around the world as well as a brief hidden history of lesbian and gay people over the last couple of millennia.”

Also interesting is the Gay and Lesbian Youth Northern Ireland event on Monday 31st July, “In Good Faith”, an evening debating issues of religion and sexuality. If you aren’t in Northern Ireland, then either come visit or do a Google search and find out what’s on in your area. You won’t regret it.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Being Blogged Down

The power of blogging for political means has been recognised by the blogging community for a long time, and yet it seems that the media are finally picking up on the power of the people.

In Northern Ireland blogs have been a popular means of political discussion in a tense political climate. The popular Slugger O’Toole blog receives in excess of 3000 hits a day. There is also a blog for just about every belief or political ideology, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

The media is now beginning to pick up on blogging, particularly over the recent Labour government scandals in Britain. John Prescott’s actions in particular have been picked up by blogs, providing the first career-threatening British political story, powered by us – the bloggers.

The gay bloggers are using this anonymous and open medium to press their agenda too. Prescott’s dealing with the homophobic US Republican millionaire, Philip Anshutz appears to be just the beginning of discussions.

Elsewhere, bloggers from the US black gay community are protesting against scheduled performances by Beenie Man and TOK. They are campaigning against a concert organiser's decision to allow reggae artists whose songs include homophobic lyrics to perform at an upcoming HIV/AIDs awareness concert.

Of course, not all blogs are campaigning, discussing politics or trying to change the world. This guy just wanted a house.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hasbian Phobia

For an open-minded community, the homosexual community can really be quite phobic. Bi-phobia is, in my experience, accepted. Some gay people openly declare that they’d never date a bisexual person and others claim bisexuals don’t take sexuality ‘seriously’ enough.

But by using such labels and prejudices, are we not just making it more difficult for ourselves. When a gay person decides that they want to be with someone of the opposite sex, they all of a sudden become a ‘hasbian’. They risk losing face in the community and losing their circle of friends. I know – because I’ve experienced.

Of course it largely depends on the group of friends you have. Some of my friends don’t care who I date, whereas another friend just stopped inviting me to social gatherings, claiming I’d ‘turned’.

I find it strange that the community that pleads acceptance can be just as prejudiced. Of course I feel here that I should say that is not true of everyone.

Even, as a former ‘hasbian’ myself, I find myself being swept among these prejudices. Despite reading oodles of Jeanette Winterson books, and having, in my opinion, a very open mind about sexuality and labels, I was still very surprised to hear of a popular lad who has recently started dating a camp fellow. The popular lad sings in a band and has a list of attractive female ex girlfriends from here to Figi. Is that why I was surprised to hear he is dating a guy?

Or am I just jealous because I find such fluid ideals challenging?


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

'Twelfth Night' is a Shakespeare Play...

Tonight is the eleventh night – I’m sure many of you from foreign lands won’t understand the significance of this, but perhaps when I say ‘the 12th of July’ you might understand more of my meaning.

For those of you who don’t – every year on July 12th, the Orange Order commemorate the victory of King William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne by marching with bands and full regalia. Sounds harmless enough, but it creates major agro between the Republican and Loyalist communities, not just over the routes of the parade, but also the noise they make, and the general offence they are believed to cause.

Almost more interesting than the unashamed (and mainly drunken) revelry of the twelfth, is the eleventh night. Loyalists gather old sofas, wooden palettes and other general waste, pile them up sky high, and set them alight in confined housing estates. They sometimes burn effigies of the Pope or other anti-Catholic sentiments, and they will happily stay awake all night prancing around the giant fire. There is something wholly tribal about the whole affair.

As I type this I can hear the pipe bands playing some 2 miles away, and in the morning I will find the ash of a nights revelry on my window pane.

I hope that, regardless of your religion or side of the Northern Irish political divide, that your eleventh night, and July 12th are as trouble-free as possible.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Congrats Italy / Profile Problems

Alas, for the world cup is over, and no doubt the attractive potential lesbians shall withdraw from local pubs until Euro 2008. Congratulations to Italy, winning on some nail-biting penalties. I also preferred their blue strip.

I realise this is about the first time I’ve been on time with a blog for some time. With no study to avoid, or timetabled days, it all blurs into one to be honest. I am only really sure this is Sunday because I’m back from church. Sad – isn’t it?

I have just received an invitation in my little inbox from a friend I haven’t spoken to in at least a year, inviting me to join yet another profile site. As if Faceparty, Myspace, Hi5 and Bebo weren’t enough to be getting on with, Bingbox has now appeared as the ‘if you don’t sign up I may never contact you again’ websites.

I can’t really help but wonder what the purpose of these sites is. I admit I have pages on nearly all, just more proof that a bored straighttalker is a dangerous one.

Now in principle these sites are harmless. But they are so nosey it’s ridiculous. Myspace asks your sexuality but doesn’t display it if you don’t want to, Bebo doesn’t ask, but Bingbox just goes ahead and tells the whole world. I’ve just had to claim I’m a hetero. I’m being locked in a closet on the online world! Oh, and Bingbox won’t let me chose not to enter that field, AND it just emailed my whole msn list to tell them all.

Does your CV get posted around everyone you’ve ever met?


Thursday, July 06, 2006


The very astute of you will have noticed my spangly new ‘Irrepressible’ button on left hand side bar. This was a campaign which has caught me eye recently, and I’m glad to wear it’s badge on my blog.

The campaign aims to show up the censorship and repression present online. Chat rooms, blogs and search engines are all apparently monitored by government and the big IT companies.

It does all sound rather conspiracy theorist, but when presented with real excerpts of censored material from credible sources, Amnesty International and The Observer, it makes for a chilling reality.

Too often human rights abuses are too distant to really engage our interest. Yet the internet makes the world a much smaller place. We can instantly chat with acquaintances in far off countries, meaning their concerns should be ours.

Check out Irrepressible.info, or have a read at my badge. Get one for your own blog.

Spread the word that someone doesn’t want you to hear.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Baby Bootees in Size Baby Please...

My cynical and non-maternal mind has convinced itself that it doesn’t want any children. Some readers may remember my previous rants about children as a puking expense. I’m really not the mothering type.

However, some positive news on Northern Ireland for a change. Junior Health Minister at the Northern Ireland Office in Westminster, Paul Goggins, unveiled a new approach to adoption in Northern Ireland which (rightly so) will put children's needs at the heart of the process. This means that same sex couples may get adoption rights.

Despite not being the paternal type, I do think that regardless of sexual orientation, if a child can be made happier by living in a loving home, then everything should be done for that child. Discrimination to potential adopters on grounds of sexual orientation is just that, discrimination.

In November 2002, the Adoption and Children Act passed into law and allowed unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, in England and Wales to apply for joint adoption. As usual Northern Ireland are a few years behind with such progressive measures.

I’ll get knitting my baby bootees and hope for the best.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fun in the Sun

I am a very sunburnt blogger. It would appear that the giant orb in the sky doesn’t like my pale skin much. Every time I burn I insist the pain would be worth it if I turned a slight shade of brown. I never do.

Yes I know it was very silly of me not to wear sun cream, but to be honest you don’t expect the Northern Irish sun to actually burn you. Although from the tops of my arms and my new fried bingo wings, it would appear even the most rare of sunshine can leave it’s mark. Something to remember it by during the rainy days?

Something that always bewildered me was people calling sun cream ‘sun tan lotion’. This is clearly a clever ploy to get those who seem intent on bronzing to put on some protection. I however need no encouragement – with such pale skin it’s factor 30+ all the way.

Like most things in the 21st century you don’t actually need to go outside for them. Not only can you simulate the smell of summer flowers in your washing, the stench of pine trees in the wind in your living room, but you can also orangify yourself with vast amount of nasty orange bottles. Or why not buy yourself a machine that looks like an alien testing facility and emits UVA and UVB rays which speed up skin aging among other harmful effects? There’s one on eBay for only £100!

Perhaps the obsession with ‘bronzing’ ourselves is best shown in any cosmetic store, where bottles of orange gloop outnumber their sun protection counterparts.

We all know the dangers, yet still we choose fake tan over Soltan.
Photo from flickr.com/photos/a11sus