Archive for the LGBT Category

Cardiff Pride “Big Weekend”

Posted in Biographical, LGBT on August 26, 2017 by telescoper

Today I took part in the annual Cardiff Pride Parade – which was much bigger than I expected! – followed by the ‘Big Weekend’ festival in Cathays Park. I walked in the Parade with LGBT Labour Wales. Here’s the group photo taken at the end of the march:

The start, in Windsor Place, was quite congested and we were rather late setting off because of the crowds in front of us, as we were quite near the back.

Here’s the view from the bottom of St Mary Street:

It was a lovely day, marred only by poorly organised access to Cathays Park. I had to queue for 90 minutes..

Once inside, though, there was plenty to do: funfair, music, food and drink, and of course stalls run by various organisations. I had a chat with the good folk of Time To Change Wales, who campaign on mental health issues, and spent some time with Enfys, the Cardiff University Staff LGBT+ network.

And, of course, no Cardiff Pride event would be complete without a Shirley Bassey impersonator!

The ‘Big Weekend’ continues tomorrow, but I’m busy elsewhere so I’ll wish everyone a happy time for the rest of the festival!


Remembering Joe Orton

Posted in History, LGBT with tags , , , on August 9, 2017 by telescoper

Joe Orton, photographed on 1st March 1967.

The playwright and author Joe Orton died on August 9th 1967, which is exactly 50 years ago today. I couldn’t resist a short post in his memory.

Joe Orton’s career was very brief – he was only 34 when he died – but reached brilliant heights with a series of anarchic black comedies that both scandalised and entertained Sixties audiences. Such was his success that he is one of the few playwrights to have  his name remembered  in the English language,  in the form of the adjective `Ortonesque’:

Relating to or characteristic of the English playwright Joe Orton or his works, especially in being unconventional and darkly comic.

My first experience of Orton’s plays was seeing an amateur dramatic society production of Loot when I was a student. I have to say it was a dreadful experience, but that was because of the performance not because of the script. Loot is basically a farce, and I think that must be the most difficult form of comedy to do successfully. The timing has to be perfect, the pace has to be relentless and everyone has to act as if all the absurd things going on make perfect sense. Those are tough requirements for amateurs, and even for professionals. The first, provincial, run of Loot was a flop even with an experienced cast. It was only when it was revived a couple of years later that it became a hit.

The circumstances of Joe Orton’s death were terrible: he was battered to death by his partner Kenneth Halliwell  (with whom he lived in a small bedsit) who then committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping tablets. Orton and Halliwell had been in a relationship since 1951.  Joe had never made any secret about his enjoyment of casual sexual encounters – his diaries are full of descriptions of his adventures – but  I think it was the thought of living alone rather than sexual jealousy that Halliwell couldn’t handle.

I never met Joe Orton (I was only 4 when was murdered) but I have over the years met a number of older gay men who knew him (and Halliwell) in various ways (if you get my drift). They all described him in the same way: cute, funny and extremely flirtatious. Watch this clip of him on TV and I think you’ll see why so many people were attracted to his cheekily boyish manner:

Those who knew Halliwell also say that the usual cliché about him as a failure embittered by Joe’s success is not fair. They were an odd couple (for the time) but what they had seemed to work for them, both romantically and creatively. It makes the horrible end of their lives even more difficult to contemplate. Here’s an interview with Kenneth Williams (who was very repressed about his sexuality) talking about Orton (who was quite the opposite), that gives some insight into the relationship between the two:

Rest in peace, Joe Orton (1933-1967), author and gay icon.

The 1967 Sexual Offences Act

Posted in History, LGBT with tags , , on July 27, 2017 by telescoper

1967 act

Just a short post to note that today is the 50th anniversary of the day that the Sexual Offences Act (1967) received the Royal Assent (27th July 1967). This Act partially decriminalised sex between two male adults provided both were over the age of 21 at the time. I’ve emphasised `partially’ because the number of prosecutions of men for consensual sexual acts actually went up in the years following this law. It was not until 2000 that the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 equalised that age of consent at 16 for both homosexual and heterosexual behaviours throughout the United Kingdom. The 1967 Act was problematic in many ways, but it was a start…

Tainted Love

Posted in LGBT, Music with tags , , on July 7, 2017 by telescoper

And now for something completely different…

A little bird told me that it was exactly 36 years ago today, on 7th July 1981, that the single Tainted Love was released in the UK by Soft Cell. The record climbed rapidly to Number 1 and was the biggest-selling record of the year. Here it is being performed on Top of the Pops..

I was still at school in July 1981, having finished my A-levels; I would return to school after the summer break to take the Cambridge entrance examination.

Here’s a scary fact for those of you who, like me, remember this record from the time of its release: July 7th 1981 is closer to the end of the Second World War (August 1945) than it is to the present day (July 7th 2017).

And on that note I wish you happy weekend!




Posted in LGBT, Music with tags , on July 3, 2017 by telescoper

I heard this, by the wonderful Ute Lemper, yesterday on Words and Music and thought it was a blast, so couldn’t resist sharing it here!

P.S. The song was written by Mischa Spoliansky.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

Posted in History, LGBT with tags , , , , on May 17, 2017 by telescoper

Today is May 17th, which means that it is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. If you’re wondering why May 17th was chosen, it’s to commemorate May 17th 1990, which is when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of “mental illnesses”.

Please remember at although attitudes in the UK are much more enlightened than they were only a few years ago, homophobic violence still happens with distressing frequency and in over 70 countries around the world being gay is still a criminal offence.

Even if you don’t identify yourself as LGBT+ then this should still be an important day for you. Here, for example, is a handy guide produced by Pride in STEM on how to be an ally:

Gay Sex, Politics, Religion and the Law

Posted in LGBT, Politics with tags , , on April 23, 2017 by telescoper

It seems that Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron is under fire again for refusing to say whether he thinks gay sex is a sin.

I’m not a particular fan of Mr Farron, and won’t be voting for his party, but I think the flak being directed at him on this issue is unjustified. Much of it is pure humbug, manufactured to cause political damage.

Mr Farron (who is heterosexual) describes himself as a ‘committed Christian’. He no doubt feels that if he spells out  in public what he believes in private then it will alienate many potential voters even though he has voted progressively on this issue in the past. He’s probably right. On the other hand, by not spelling it out, he appears weak and shifty. The media are out to exploit his difficulty.

As someone who is neither heterosexual nor Christian I can help him. It seems to me very clear that the Bible does teach  that homosexuality is a sin and that if you’re a Christian you have to believe this at some level.

I say ‘at some level’ because another thing that is clear is that the Bible does not consider homosexuality a very important issue. Had it been a hot topic then perhaps Jesus might have been prepared to go on record about it, but there’s no reference in the New Testament to him personally saying anything about gay sex. ‘Thou shalt not have sex with someone of the same gender’ isn’t among the Ten Commandments, either.

I do find it strange that so many people who described themselves as Christian obsess about same-sex relationships while clearly failing to observe some of the more important biblical instructions, notably the one about loving thy neighbour…

But I digress.

I don’t care at all what Tim Farron’s (or anyone else’s) religious beliefs say about homosexuality, as long as they accept that such beliefs give nobody the right to dictate what others should do.

If you believe gay sex is sinful, fine. Don’t do it. If you don’t approve of same-sex marriage, that’s fine too. Don’t marry someone of the same sex. Just don’t try to deny other people rights and freedoms on the basis of your own personal religious beliefs.

And no, refusing you the right to impose your beliefs on others is not a form of discrimination. That goes whether you a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist or merely confused. You are free to live by the rules you adopt. I don’t have to.

I’d go further actually. I don’t think religious beliefs should  have any place in the the laws of the land. It seems to me that’s the only way to guarantee freedom from religious prejudice. That’s why I’m a member of the National Secular Society. This does not exist to campaign against religion, but against religious privilege.

In fact the UK courts agree with me on this point. This is Lord Justice Laws, on behalf of the Court of Appeal relating to the case described here:

We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion, any belief system, cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic. The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.

To come back to Tim Farron, I say judge him and his party by what you see in the Liberal Democrat manifesto and on his track-record as a politician, not by what you think his interpretation might be of a few bits of scripture.