Wednesday, August 12

AK Souffle: Nothing to fear?

- October 2, 2017


They say there’s nothing to fear but fear itself. Well maybe that is true in some cases, but fear is a far more complex thing than that and dismissing it in such a trite way offers little comfort to those who are frightened.

I’ve been frightened, not fear of flying or heights or water… no none of those although I can understand them and sympathise with those who hold those fears. No, my fears have always be created by bullies and homophobes. I’m 61 but I’m still haunted by the memories of being bullied as a teenager and I still shake remembering the times that I have been attacked and beaten up simply for being me. And being me includes being and living as an openly gay man.

I made the choice to come out fully when I was in my early 20s, I had been partially out off an on for years before that. I was bullied at school by one boy in particular and to this day I am convinced that he was himself a homosexual. One of the most terrifying things about homophobia is that much of it is internalised and comes from inside the gay world, there’s ageism, misogyny, sizeism and body fascism at almost every turn. They are damaging and cruel behaviours that we need to get rid of if we are to even hope that we can achieve equality with the world at large. Let’s face it, if we can’t play on an even field within the LGBT world then what hope do we have of convincing the rest.

I’m still haunted by being bullied

I can remember well being attacked in Brixton outside a gay pub that had surprisingly risen up in a place that we least expected it. I was beaten up on the seafront whilst walking my dog. I was attacked one new year in Western Road by a reveller who skipped around me as I tried to get home, prodding me and abusing me as he did. It was spotted by the police and I breathed hoping that they would help me, but instead they turned against me. I was horrified and I was distressed.

I think that in Brighton the gay community has a far better relationship with the police these days, I certainly hope so.

Here in Brighton there is an organisation that is chaired by a remarkable young man called Billie Lewis. Billie dedicates a huge amount of his life to the LGBT Safety Forum on a voluntary basis, and I mean huge, certainly in excess of 40 hours a week. He is a tireless campaigner for LGBT+ rights and a figure of respect.

Last week he came into the studio at Latest TV to appear on my media review show Queersay and whilst he was there I recorded and interview with him for AK Soufflé. In a period of 90 minutes I learned so much more about both him and his work and his status in my eyes soared. I urge you to take a look and learn from this remarkable young man. He is also running a fundraising dinner called Dine With The Stars on 12 October at the Jurys Inn Waterfront, three courses and a night of cabaret, all to raise money for the Safety Forum. I will be there for sure.

It’s £29 a ticket and they are available by calling 01273 725331

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