Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin

29 September 2015 / Comments Off on So So Gay archive

So So Gay archive

So So Gay screen shot

Unfortunately, the So So Gay online magazine stopped being published at the end of 2015, you can find an archive of all my posts (without photos) on this site.

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20 August 2015 / Comments Off on Fresh new website for Stonewall

Fresh new website for Stonewall

LGBT rights charity Stonewall’s new website launches today, emphasising its new tagline: Acceptance without exception.

The fresh new look for the 26-year-old charity includes clearer designs and easier search functions, a new information structure to enable better more intuitive navigation and a responsive design. All of Stonewall’s websites – Stonewall Scotland, Stonewall Cymru and Young Stonewall – have also been integrated to sit across one site.

Additionally, Stonewall has recently added the tagline ‘Acceptance without exception’ to its famous star logo, demonstrating its commitment to making real change to ensure everyone, everywhere is free to be themselves.

Content has also been refreshed to make the information engaging and clear, with new film and photo content to be developed to ensure the site is fully accessible. The website now also hosts Stonewall’s expansive library of research and publications in a new format so they’re easier to browse and download.

A new section – Stonewall Says – communicates the charity’s view on news, recent trends and issues affecting LGBT people; and there is a spotlight on Stonewall volunteers to celebrate their achievements and demonstrate the benefits of volunteering as well as encouraging others to get involved.

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20 August 2015 / Comments Off on Take Pride in Glasgow this weekend

Take Pride in Glasgow this weekend

Pride Glasgow is set to take place this weekend (22-23 August) at Glasgow Green, with performances from Texas, Union J, Heather Peace, Katrina (ex the Waves), Rozalla, GBX and many more.

The parade, which focuses on raising awareness of transgender rights, will see the first ever Scottish trans equality float. The transgender rights being called for include equal recognition of non-binary trans people, support for young trans people and access to healthcare.

Participants for the official Glasgow Pride parade will assemble at Glasgow Green from 12.15pm, with the parade starting at 1pm. Prior to the start of the parade, a rally will be hosted by the Equality Network, Scotland’s leading LGBTI equality and human rights charity.

Pride Glasgow’s main stage will see speeches from TIE Campaign, who are seeking to make LGBTI education a statutory right in the curriculum of Scottish schools; Steve Retson Project, discussing the new approach to Sexual Health Services in Glasgow; and The Equality Network/Scottish Transgender Alliance.

Opening at 12pm, the main festival site will host over 100 community, charity and trading stalls offering advice, freebies and selling a range of merchandise; there will also be a community stage with circus performances throughout the day with live music and performances from 4pm alongside the popular funfair.

There will also be a free Youth Space for Young LGBT People aged 13-25 run in partnership with Pride Glasgow, LGBT Youth, Glasgow Life and Castlemilk Youth Complex, with a live performance from Lloyd Daniels.

Alastair Smith, Chief Executive of Pride Glasgow, said: ‘This year marks 20 years of Pride events in Scotland and we have come along way since the first; Pride is a chance for the LGBTI community and their friends, family and supporters to come together and celebrate the achievements of the community and to stand together as one and raise awareness of the issues that we still face.’

Tickets for the Pride Glasgow main event are on sale from £8 and are available online or from the on-site box office over the weekend.

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12 August 2015 / Comments Off on In pictures: Tom Daley and boyfriend Dustin Black get high at a Florida theme park

In pictures: Tom Daley and boyfriend Dustin Black get high at a Florida theme park

Diver Tom Daley and his boyfriend Dustin Black have been spotted getting high at an American theme park for Daley’s 21st birthday. Not only did they ride in the front row of roller coasters like the SheiKra and the Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa Theme Park in Florida, they also toured the safari where they got up close and personal with giraffe – snapping selfies and hand feeding the giant animal.

One photo shows his friends comically sporting masks with his face on them, while he fearlessly rides with both hands in the air!

‘I’m in Florida on holiday for some down time with my friends, after the World Championships and to properly celebrate my birthday,’ Tom said. ‘It’s been a pretty hectic year for me so it’s nice to be able to spend some time having fun with my friends.

‘The rollercoasters at Busch Gardens today were amazing, it was hilarious to see everyone’s reactions when they tried Falcon’s Fury for the first time!’

The group kept cool in the hot Florida sun by constantly applying sunscreen and riding the Stanley Falls Flume – a ride that ends with a drenching 12m (40ft) drop.

The diver won two medals at the Championships in Kazan last week – including his first individual World Championship medal since 2009.

Photography by fearless paparazzo Ruaridh Connellan / Barcroft Media.

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12 August 2015 / Comments Off on Activists welcome third-gender passports in Nepal

Activists welcome third-gender passports in Nepal

Monica Shahi made history yesterday, as Nepal’s first citizen to carry a passport bearing a third gender. This acknowledgement of her gender identity follows years of activism that pushed the legal system to recognise gender on the basis of self-identification.

Nepal moved toward recognising a third gender when the Supreme Court in 2007 ruled that individuals should have their gender legally recognised based on ‘self-feeling’ and that they should not have to limit themselves to female or male. Since then, activists have fought successfully to have a third category added to citizenship documents, public bathrooms, and even the federal census.

For Shahi, this means her passport is marked O for other rather than the traditional F or M.

Although Shahi was assigned male at birth, she now presents as a transgender female. However, the new law does not allow a gender to be changed on a passport; instead the person must be assigned O.

Why does it matter?

Experience has shown that carrying documents that list people’s gender identity, as opposed to sex assigned at birth, can help them avoid humiliating and harmful scrutiny while traveling, as well as helping them access health care, enrol in school, vote, and participate in other basic aspects of civic life.

The United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism argued that ‘measures that involve increased travel document security, such as stricter procedures for issuing, changing and verifying identity documents, risk unduly penalising transgender persons whose personal appearance and data are subject to change.’

At least seven countries – Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malta, New Zealand, and Australia – now legally recognise more than two genders in some way. Activists in the Netherlands have argued that eliminating the ubiquitous gender boxes on documents could be an effective and respectful step toward accommodating diversity.

And while it may not be common practice yet, it’s important to remember that international regulations on passports require holders to identify their gender, but even on these highly scrutinised documents, gender can be legally listed as X for unspecified.

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11 August 2015 / Comments Off on National award for local sexual health charity

National award for local sexual health charity

Leicestershire’s Trade Sexual Health charity has won a national award for their efforts to Champion Change, with sexual health screenings in gay men’s saunas, as well as setting up the country’s first South Asian LGBTQ support group.

Despite being quite a small charity, they have made significant headway in influencing LGBT services and policy across the country, which has been recognised with the Lloyds Bank Foundation award.

Using a grant from the Lloyds Bank Foundation, they created the first LGBT South Asian support service in the country, and were also the first agency to work in partnership with NHS sexual health services to deliver full screening clinics in gay men’s saunas. This has enabled them to tackle undiagnosed HIV infection and reduce health inequalities caused by late diagnosis.

Since 2000, Trade has presented regularly at the national CHAPS conference, leading to their sauna clinic collaborations being replicated across the country. Using the sauna work as a template, they have collaborated with GU services to provide the first full sexual health screening clinic, at a Pride event in 2010.

They have also been instrumental in the inclusion of LGBT needs to the local Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, ensuring community voices are heard.

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7 August 2015 / Comments Off on Another anti-gay rant from supermarket staff: now it’s Tesco

Another anti-gay rant from supermarket staff: now it’s Tesco

Supermarket giant Tesco is coming under fire after a gay couple were subjected to a vile anti gay rant by a member of staff.

Steve Luetchford and boyfriend Mattia Pieveni were shopping together in Brixton, when Pieveni held his hand, told him he loved him and kissed him on the cheek.

‘A woman went ballistic at us saying, “how dare you do that here, there are children here, you people are disgusting do that at home you have no right to do that in here”,’ said Luetchford on his Facebook page. He added that he was ‘mostly pissed that the other employees just laughed at us when the employee called us names.’

‘The only thing I want is to be able to hold my boyfriend’s hand and not have to think twice because I might get shamed in public,’ he said.

A Tesco spokesperson commented: ‘Everyone is welcome at Tesco so we take any allegations of discrimination extremely seriously. Our Brixton Store Manager is looking into the incident and our customer service team, who are in contact with Mr Luetchford, will update him as soon as they can.’

Last year, Sainsbury’s were forced to apologise after a lesbian couple were ordered to stop kissing by a security guard, citing ‘the safety of her child.’

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7 August 2015 / Comments Off on Belfast bus company sorry after driver complains of ‘bum busters’ blocking the road

Belfast bus company sorry after driver complains of ‘bum busters’ blocking the road

A Belfast bus company has been forced to apologise after a driver was heard complaining there were ‘too many bum-busters’ on the road.

The man, who has not been named, made the slur in a conversation with his supervisor over an open radio network last Saturday, during the city’s Pride parade, and repeated it when challenged by other drivers.

His remarks were heard by passengers, other drivers and Translink bosses.

A whistleblower contacted BBC Radio Ulster’s Stephen Nolan Show, and added that the driver has merely received a ‘slap on the wrist’.

A Translink spokesperson later apologised on Thursday, saying: ‘We would like to apologise to our passengers and staff, following an incident on Saturday 1 August where a Metro driver used offensive language over Translink’s open radio network.

‘We take incidents of this nature very seriously and we expect all our staff to deal with their passengers and colleagues in a friendly, helpful and professional manner at all times.

‘A full investigation has been carried out and appropriate action is being taken.’

An e-petition has been started to ask David Strahan, Group Chief Executive of Translink NI, and John Trethowan, The Chairman of the Board of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company, to sack the driver.

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4 August 2015 / Comments Off on HIV prevention drugs ‘must be made available to all’ – but we need your support

HIV prevention drugs ‘must be made available to all’ – but we need your support

A consortium of HIV charities is calling on the public to support an initiative to get PrEP available to everyone who needs it.

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a daily dose of the HIV drug Truvada, and has been proved to be effective in stopping HIV. However, the NHS is still considering whether and how to make it available.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT, said: ‘HIV and sexual health are too easily side-lined or ignored by politicians and decision-makers. This community statement on PrEP is our chance to get our voices heard – to say that PrEP works, is urgently needed and that the NHS must make it available without delay.’

Casper Thomson, Executive Director of NAM, said: ‘The evidence shows that, when taken as recommended, PrEP prevents the transmission of HIV. This is an important new addition to the range of prevention options. If we are to see significant reductions in HIV rates, we must make PrEP available within the NHS. It cannot be acceptable for people to get HIV who would have been protected had they had access to PrEP.’

Research suggests that PrEP is as effective as condoms in preventing HIV transmission, as long as it is taken as prescribed, without missing doses. Results from studies in the UK and France showed that PrEP reduced infections among gay men by 86 per cent. In these studies, there have been no instances of someone who was actually taking PrEP acquiring HIV.

Greg Mitchell, a participant on the UK PrEP study, said about his experience taking PrEP: ‘It was the removal of anxiety and that is something I cannot quantify and which I cannot get across to people enough. We have to create a demand. If there’s no demand, we won’t get it. We have to be vocal about it.’

You can sign the statement in support of PrEP at prepaccess.org.uk.

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30 July 2015 / Comments Off on 6 stabbed at Jerusalem Pride

6 stabbed at Jerusalem Pride

Up to six people have been stabbed at Pride in Jerusalem by a religious fanatic. The assailant, an ultra Orthodox Jew, was immediately arrested.

‘I saw an ultra-Orthodox youth stabbing everyone in his way,’ said Shai Aviyor, a witness interviewed on Israel’s Channel 2 television. ‘We heard people screaming, everyone ran for cover, and there were bloodied people on the ground.’

Far-right Jewish group Lehava had previously released a statement, saying that it would not allow the event ‘to pass quietly.’ The anti-assimilation group had equated homosexuality with bank robbery in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Jerusalem Police said: ‘The stabber is known to us, an investigation is underway, and we will study the incident.’

The attacker has been identified as Ishay Shliser, who stabbed three people at the parade 10 years ago, and had only recently been released after spending years in prison.

Though it attracts much smaller crowds than in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem’s yearly Pride parade had thousands in attendance, including tourists and even members of East Jerusalem’s Arab gay community.

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