Name::straighttalker05 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. View my complete profile
Never one to be idle for too long, I write this from a table on the pavement outside my hotel in Srasbourg, France. I’m taking a quick long weekend before heading to university for some more serious study. I hope you are all suitably jealous.
I think as I get older I’m mellowing. When I was younger I never really saw the point of holidays – I got bored walking around hundreds of cold churches, I got bored sitting in the sun for too long, and I’ve never really been a shopping fan. However, I must admit I quite enjoy the whole ‘tourist’ thing nowadays.
I admit to be slightly ill prepared for this trip. I forgot to actually do any research on the city. It was a big shock for me to drive over the Germany – France border and find myself in Strasbourg – who knew it was so close to the German town of Kehl? I also didn’t know it had a beautiful river area known as ‘Petit-France’. It’s all so pitoresque it makes me a little sick.
Of course, I did google ‘gay Strasbourg’ to ensure I didn’t miss anything exciting.
Ma francais est tres out of practise. I’m sure I’m offending the locals merrily with my pigeon attempts, but at least I’m trying. I did get an A* at GCSE, it’s just amazing how quickly one forgets it all. Or perhaps, how irrelevant the French you learn in school really is in everyday life. (I have not once been asked about how to keep fit.)
So yes, I won’t make you think I’m sad enough to write loads when I’m meant to be relaxing.
PS. Don’t worry, I’ll be dropping the phoney French accent at the airport.
As I prepare for pastures new, I thought I should give a quick guide for those beginning their journey in the small, but perfectly formed gay scene in Belfast.
Kremlin: Belfast’s biggest and arguably best gay nightclub. Recently refurbished, it has a cocktail bar, upstairs sitting area, a small dance area and a larger area, and has another property attached to it which is opened on special occasions (‘The Shoe Factory’). Easily recognisable by the statue of Stalin. I’ve heard a number of horror stories about the door staff, but I’ve never had any problems. Drinks aren’t cheap, but they aren’t too bad. Website: http://www.kremlinbelfast.com/
Mynt: Formerly ‘The Parliament’ (Belfast’s first gay bar), also formerly Kube, now named ‘Mynt’ (not to be confused with ‘Mint’ in Bangor. Drinks a little cheaper than the Kremlin. Used to be a bigger rival to Kremlin, but now less so. Still attracts a good crowd and is worth a visit. During the day it operates as a pub and has good food. Website: www.myntbelfast.com/
The Nest: Formerly ‘The Custom House’ and ‘The Crow’s Nest’. Generally frequented by hairy old men. Quite nice for a quiet drink. The function room upstairs looks a bit like something directly from the ‘70s. Can’t really miss it seeing as it usually has a pride flag or seven flying outside. Tends to have an older crowd than the more clubby venues. Still not bad for a night out.
Union Street: Owned by the same people as the Kremlin. Serves food and the like during the day, but is quite the trendy bar by night. Has an awesome fire during the winter months. Tends to attract a mixed crowd, and many people go there before Kremlin opens. Website: http://www.unionstreetpub.com/
Forbidden Fruit at Milk: Every Monday night is gay night, which means it’s a bit of a change from all the usual weekend haunts.
Other places you often find gays are the John Hewitt, the Appartment and Thompsons. Limelight also tends to be full of emo gays and the like.
So yes, spoilt for choice, off you all pop to Belfast.
I’ve noticed a number of stories in the media recently about artists who are somewhere between breaking the law, being artistic, and being downright cheeky.
A German art student dressed as one of China’s ‘terracotta warriors’ jumped into a pit showcasing the ancient statues and stood still for several minutes, before being scooped up by security guards. He was released without charge because he didn’t damage any of the 2,200 year old pottery soldiers.
Elsewhere a Bristol based graffiti artist, Banksy, who has been creating witty and political statements on walls around the world, has opened an exhibition with an elephant painted pink as a metaphor for world poverty problems. He also captures headlines by adding his own interpretations to art exhibits, placing his own work among the displays. He's also been found replacing Paris Hilton CDs with his own remixes.
Is anti-establishment art the new black? When does it go too far? To what extent do these rebel artists actually need the establishment?
While I do think some of these paintings are rather clever, I’m still not entirely sure I would want one on the outside wall of my house. Even worse are the impersonators – one ‘grafitti artist’ spray-painted himself all over my town before being arrested. I tried to take a cultural view of his work, some of it wasn’t too bad – but some was poorly done and simply made a bit of a painty mess.
No matter whether you think it’s vandalism or art, it’s fair to say that this new breed of painters and artists has captured the imagination of a public for whom ‘oil on canvas’ don’t really appeal to anymore.
When I say I’m busy packing for University, I didn’t mean it in quite the same way as Creepy Lesbo. I’m not entirely sure what my parents would say, should they spot me ‘packing’ a silicone contraption and a harness. Of course – that’s one of the reasons for moving away for study.
My mother is despairing still – why can’t I just pack nice pick t-shirts like she wants me too? Must I bring my boxers? Surely she can’t expect me to survive for ten weeks of a term without my tie collection.
While I am preparing to escape and burst out of a closet in Leicester in a scene reminiscent of ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’, from what I can see, other’s aren’t quite so sure of how to approach their new life.
Moving away to study ‘across the water’ (as so many N. Irish people put it), can be a daunting experience. Having to make new friends, keep up with academic work, and take advantage of cheap drink is enough to keep anyone busy. Perhaps coming out is another burden, but I believe a fresh and honest start is what I need. Yet, some gay friends of mine who are seemingly very secure in their sexuality; still don’t feel able to come out – even away from home.
I on the other hand, am not only packing, I’m preparing for my new beginning.
I was touched to find this website commemorating the many LGBT people who died in the 9/11 attacks.
While many have used the anniversary of 9/11 to reinforce political views, I feel that this is not the purpose of the occasion. Instead it should be one of reflection for the people, gay and straight, who died. It should also be an opportunity to remember the bravery shown by many, and to sympathise with those who lost so much.
Sadly, many of the gay partners who lost a loved one in the attacks are still fighting to gain some form of financial compensation. While their loved ones died helping and protecting others, the country they left behind seems unable to help their partners, purely because of their sexuality.
Taken from the website I linked to above:
"Dedicated to: The Lovers Who Awaken Each Morning without Their Gay Patriot & Hero beside Them."
I’ve always been aware that the arts appear to attract those ‘non conventional’ types, and by that I don’t just mean intellectuals, I mean dykes. A poet friend once reassured me that all poetry workshops and courses were full of ‘lesbians and vegetarians’, before feeling she had to justify herself by saying, ‘But I mean, I’m not gay.’
A recent trip to see Carol Ann Duffy read at Bristol Poetry Festival reinforced my view of the arts as a gathering ground for those who don’t find dancing to the Scissor Sisters the be all and end all.
I was mildly aware before the start of the reading that there were really far too many pairs of middle aged women for it to be an entirely lesbian-free zone. Sure enough, the lure of the lesbian-poet prevailed, and by the end of the evening, many women were cooing over Britain’s best-known poet – ‘Can you make it to Helen? It’s a Christmas present for my girlfriend.’
Even one person who seemed to have got the wrong end of the stick (she thought Carol Ann Duffy was a comedienne), was found trotting up eagerly with a fresh copy of “Rapture”.
Cynics may believe Mr. Blair didn’t want a lesbian poet laureate, but she is certainly the people’s-poet.
For those of you who are interested in lesbian-literature, Sarah Water’s latest novel – “The Night Watch” has been nominated for the Booker Prize. If you are sceptical of books, I recommend a recent article by the fabulous Jeanette Winterson.
As if you need anymore proof that the arts dabble in androgynous sexuality, just take a look at the front cover for the "Belfast Festival at Queen's guide" - in my opinion it looks rather like a promotional shot for "The L Word"
I’ve been busy lately. I’ve had several letters regarding student finance, ‘fresher’s week’ and other such student related mayhem. I’ve also sent many letters of my own – it feels a little like I’ve spent my student loan on stamps.
I could go on and on in this post about how I feel top up fees are a betrayal by the government, but to be brutally honest I’m only back from the pub. It’s clear about what Labour did on top up fees. They said they’d never introduce them, and they did.
Tony Blair said government isn’t easy, and I presume it isn’t. However, he’s made student life not too easy either.
I’m still apprehensive about university. All the usual questions; will I make friends, will I fit in etc. I also think gay young people experience a number of other concerns – will I be ‘out’, will I make friends who understand, and will others hate me for being what I am.
I’m planning on being out – and forging a new life for myself away from my home and the concerns that come with it.
I may be leaving with several thousand pounds of debt, but maybe by being true to myself, this will be easier? The figures are still the same.
It’s great to have a choice – but what exactly does your choice say about you?
I’ve been filling in a great many forms in preparation for my departure for University. As you might expect, one of the first questions asked on the majority of forms is my name. I usually fill in my full name, including my embarrassing middle name. I’m a stickler for tradition like that. But, before I even get to enter my name, I am asked my title.
Now, men don’t often get much choice, it’s ‘Mr.’ all the way. But women have a great choice when it comes to titles. Each form requests either ‘Miss’, ‘Mrs.’, ‘Ms.’, and one even asked me if I was a ‘Lady’ (although, Baroness was not on this particular list).
I’m not married, so that rules out ‘Mrs.’, but what if I was in a Civil Partnership. I have seen no guidance on this, are you a ‘Mrs’ is you are Civil Partnershipped? Perhaps someone can advise?
I think ‘Miss’ makes me sound a bit like an old spinster, so I tend to choose ‘Ms.’ Does this suggest I’m a bra-free feminist? Am I suggesting I’m divorced/independent/man hater/lonely? I am aware that the term ‘Ms’ is quite handy when officially addressing someone whose marital status you don’t know, but I know my own marital status. Which term then, am I expected to use? Also – if I chose ‘Lady’, would the Queen write to me and complain?