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Archive: Nov 2016

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 27th November)

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I found it hard to find any unequivocally good #LGBTQProgress stories this week. Yes, there was Ellen receiving her Presidential Medal of Freedom, but I already reported on that last week. So I’m going to start with these words from Vicky Beeching, talking about faith and sexuality in this month’s Gay Times: ‘You’re special, you’re loved and you are wanted as you are!’

UN-successful attempt to block LGBTI expert

On Monday, the delayed United Nations vote on the newly-established LGBTI expert role took place. African nations were unsuccessful in their attempt to suspend Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn’s job before he’d started. Of course this is a victory, but one that only 84 out of 195 nations voted for (77 voted against the role and 17 abstained). Looking at the voting list is a stark reminder that over a third of nations deny human rights and identity by criminalising homosexuality.

 

Stephen Port

The story of serial killer Stephen Port is horrendous. On Friday he was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of four men he lured through gay hook-up app Grindr. BBC News tells the whole story. It is devastating reading, including the Metropolitan Police admitting to ‘potential missed opportunities’ to solve the case and save at least two of the four lives. Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor were all young gay man, found dead in or near the same Eats London churchyard. These similarities were ignored and the four deaths over 15 months were treated as unsuspicious.

Dating and hook-up app users (myself included) need to think about their personal safety, and already do. But Grindr didn’t cause these murders. Four families and the LGBTQ community were betrayed by police incompetence. 17 officers are being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC).

 

Cheap jokes and cheaper chat

Last Saturday, both Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor found space in the dancing and dull singing for cheap jokes at the expense of Judge Rinder and Louis Walsh.  Then on Thursday, only a week after welcoming its first transgender panellist, Loose Women described gay men to a ‘must-have accessory’ throughout the show for its female audience. These aren’t jokes. They breed the idea that being gay isn’t normal and isn’t equal.

On Tuesday, Australian schoolboy Tyronne Unsworth took his own life. He was 13.

 

#RainbowLaces

Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign reached its biggest audience this week with its message to make sport more inclusive being heard at every Premier League game and rugby games across England. A quick look at some so-called fans tweets highlights the explicit homophobia that still surrounds the game. ‘The Rainbow Laces campaign complements the work clubs are doing to promote inclusion and diversity in their stadiums, and across all levels of the sport,’ said FA Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore. (You might remember the name from the sexist emails he sent back in 2014).

I also laced up for the campaign. Earlier today in Greenwich Park I completed my first ever 10k race, raising money for men’s health charity Movember. You can sponsor me and see just how good I look with a moustache on my MoSpace.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for more #LGBTQProgress news throughout the week.

My Gay Agenda: AIDS Quilt UK

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There’s 259 steps up to St Paul’s Whispering Gallery, where you look down from its iconic dome to the cathedral floor. On Wednesday, the view was a patchwork of colour, with around 30 panels from the UK Aids Memorial Quilt on public display for the first time in over 20 years. The UK pieces of this global project, perhaps the largest piece of folk art in the world, were made by the family and friends of some 384 people who died at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s.

As I looked around the quilt, there was a commonality of colour, love and longing for those lost. One highlighted piece that resonated with me was in memory of Rev Virgil Hall, made by his wife Susan on a leather panel. ‘I wanted it to symbolise the many aspects of Virgil’s life,’ she wrote. ‘Virgil was a Christian Minister so the Cross is the main focus. There is also a pink triangle to represent Vigil’s activism and the words ‘Dancing with Angels’ is something I found scribbled in a book in Virgil’s handwriting.’

As we head towards World AIDS Day this Thursday, seeing the quilt and realising altogether there’s more panels than those steps up to the Whispering Gallery was emotional. These are just some of activists, the brothers and sisters, the partners and lovers from our global community. Their lives need to be a living celebration and inspiration to work towards a world without HIV/Aids and the stigma that shockingly still comes with it.

Panels from the Aids Memorial Quilt will be on display at community venues across London next weekend, 3rd and 4th December. World AIDS Day takes places on 1st December so please wear a red ribbon this week.

 

 

Also this week I bought Gay Times, intrigued by the ‘Can you really be gay and Christian?’ front page plug (and yes, cover boy Chris Mears in his pants). The feature itself was more nuanced with Jeremy Pemberton, Vicky Beeching and Ruth Hunt all writing that it’s institutionalised religion and the human church that can be homophobic, not all all-loving God. All three are well informed voices to hear, but I would have compiled an article with diverse LGBT people of all faiths. The whitewashing of the gay press was touched upon again this week in Owen Jones’ Guardian column, though a casual look at Attitude and GT covers from this year shows how they’re actively amplifying more black and minority voices.

 

I’m a huge advocate of buying and supporting quality journalism. My regular reading focuses on The Observer, Attitude and New Internationalist, who recently published a global perspective on PrEP. Your local library might have print or digital copies of LGBT magazines to access, and you can read free weekly scene magazines like QX online (just be warned there are explicit ads towards the back pages).

Attitude, Gay Times and Diva all have digital subscription offers for Black Friday weekend around £15 for a year.

 

And I’ve just come back from Sister Act at my local theatre. This tour choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood adds a bit more fun to the original production that had a criminally short run in the West End. Alan Menken’s songs and the book are tweaked slightly while the cast double up as the orchestra to give a bigger live sound than you’d get from any other touring musical. It felt slow to get going, and could have been trimmed at parts but the show just got more joyful as it went on and the ensemble numbers kept coming. You leave blessed by the story of faith and sisterhood. Even if you’ve seen it on screen or stage before (and I’m losing count of how many times I have), this production gives it a fresh feel-good feeling.

Sister Act is playing at the New Wimbledon Theatre from this Monday and continues touring into 2017.

Next week I’ll be reviewing North Morgan’s book Love Notes To Men Who Don’t Read and proving I’m one who does.

I’m running

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On Sunday, I’ll be running my first 10k race to raise money for Movember, the men’s health charity. It’s taken my a year from buying the fancy trainers to actually running regularly, and the thought of an early rise for a crisp run round Greenwich Park hasn’t always filled me with joy. But I know exactly who I’m heading to the start line for.

I’m running for my Dad. Eight years ago he died from an aggressive form of prostate cancer, just 18 months after being diagnosed. Since then, too many of his fellow Rotary Club members, ones who supported my fundraising in his memory before, have also died. 35 men die from prostate cancer everyday in the UK.

Mum-and-Dad

Mum and Dad, always my moustache hero

I’m running for George. Two years ago I returned to my school hall with his classmates. They had travelled from universities across the county to come to the memorial service. The collective grief and speechlessness was clear. We can’t normalise young men dying from suicide. It has become the biggest cause of death for men under 45.

I’m running for Matt. Last year he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The treatment has impacted him; having a testicle removed, challenging his masculinity, intersecting with his depression. Matt is in remission. He’s part of the high 95% survival rate. The 5% represents 60 men who die each year from testicular cancer.

matt-t

Matt

I’m running for my friends. Kate, Matt and James who I’ve been to ParkRun with. Olivia who runs round the park I’m racing in. Danny who I follow on Twitter and trained for the Manchester Half Marathon. Matt Haig (who I met once, so of course he’s my friend) who writes about running helping his mental health. Jo Pavey, European 10km gold medallist who I sat next to once (so of course she’s also my friend) My brother Will who ran the London Marathon in 2013. These are all people who’ve inspired me to keep stepping out the front door.

I’m running for me. Moving back home, again, earlier this year has been tough. Running along the seafront and training for this 10k helps me leave behind my resentment, insecurities and darkness. It’s helped me realise I can, and I will achieve something. Yes, achieve it for myself but also for the friends and family who’ve been there beside, and for the men who desperately need the supportive voices, research and treatment to be beside them.

I’m running and I’m ready.

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Running along Chalkwell seafront

This year I want to raise £500 for Movember to keep men’s health conversations going. Reaching this target would mean I’ve raised over £1000 in the seven years I’ve supported the charity. You can sponsor me on my MoSpace, or you can donate by text. Text JKMO90 £1, £2, £2, £4 or £5 or to 70070. Thank you.  

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 20th November)

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This week I’ve mainly been drinking with a different gay guy each night, only one of which I’m dating and one or two of which I want to be dating. But you’re not here to read about #findjoeyaboyfriend. Here’s some of the bigger LGBTQ news stories from the week.

Medals and musicals

Let’s start with the good that North America’s politicians have done. Canadian Prime Minister, and globally adored Justin Trudeau appointed gay MP Randy Boissonnault as his LGBTQ2 Special Advisor (LGBTQ2 is an acronym mainly used in Canada, with 2 standing for two-spirited). And south of the border President Obama announced Ellen DeGeneres will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s equivalent to a knighthood or damehood. They’re basically each other’s super proud best friend, as confirmed when Obama appeared on Ellen’s chat show back in February.

Meanwhile, President-Elect Trump’s nomination of homophobic Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General received a frosty reception, but of course not as frosty as the one received by the Vice President-Elect. Seeing the game-changing Broadway musical Hamilton on Friday night, Pence was booed as he took his seat. At the end of the show (one which celebrates America’s history and founding father Alexander Hamilton), its gay black star Brandon Victor Dixon directly addressed Pence to stand up for minorities and America’s great diversity. Watch or read the speech for yourself and see if, like President-Elect Trump, you can spot where the cast were being ‘very rude to a very good man’.

Royally good allies

Back at home, both Prince William and Prince Harry’s support for Britain’s LGBTQ community were reaffirmed this week. Congratulations to Matthew Todd and Attitude Magazine who won Scoop of the Year at the British Society of Magazine Editors awards for June’s front cover feature with the future King William. Meanwhile, Prince Harry met people living with HIV at London’s Naz Project. The visit follows his HIV test being livestreamed on Facebook earlier this year and marks the start of National HIV Testing Week.

Celebrating #TransWeek

There were everyday breakthroughs to celebrate during Transgender Awareness Week. Dating app Tinder broke down the binary with it’s latest update, allowing users to self-define their gender away from ‘male’ or ‘female’. Loose Women welcomed its first transgender panellist, TV reporter India Willoughby. And TfL flew the Transgender flag above their St James’ Park HQ.

Transender Day of Remembrance

#TransWeek ends today, Sunday 20th November, with #TDOR, Transgender Day of Remembrance. 295 people have been killed this year because they are transgender. Public and private acts of remembrance are taking place all over the world. I’m really grateful to some of my Christian friends across the country who are holding dedicated inclusive services in their churches.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for #LGBTQProgress stories throughout the week.

My Gay Agenda: Queer: A Graphic History

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Icon Books have been publishing their flagship Introducing series in the UK for forty years, using cartoons to illustrate key thinking in politics, sociology, science and more. Queer: A Graphic History is the latest addition. Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele provide the words and cartoons respectively.

The book weaves over 100 years of queer studies and thinking together, so don’t be misled by ‘history’ in the title and expect a neat timeline story from Stonewall to same-sex marriage. I studied Politics and Sociology at university and lapped up getting my head round academic writing away from over-referenced journal articles.

Icon Books

Icon Books

Queer shines a spotlight on key thinkers including Foucault and Butler (names I’d heard before, but not their ideas) to try and summarise where academic queer thinking has come so far in recognising, defining and deconstructing queer experiences in a heteronormative world.

Barker and Scheele have done an incredible job in reducing down a whole sociological discipline into 175 accessible pages. As they state throughout, what’s the point of all this thinking if ordinary people can’t read it and use it? Yet there is almost too much to take in, with some sections introducing another new academic and new big idea at every page turn. Barker’s words clearly signpost and summarise what you’ve read so far, but breaking the book up into chapters would have helped too.

Scheele’s cartoons add the needed context, diversity and popular culture references to put Barker’s summaries of ideas into the real world. I want to return to some of my favourite pages with my pencils to colour the book in and reflect more on what’s been said and what I think.

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Icon Books/Meg-John Barker/Julia Scheele

So what did I learn and think? We live in a heteronormative world (shorthand for also being white, cis gendered and male dominated). Queer studies tries to break down normativity and binaries, while also recognising the role both can play in identity politics and getting voices heard. Binaries are always troublesome and often used as good vs bad, to seek power over those deemed not ‘normal’. I was especially struck by the good/bad binaries we’ve built up for sex (gay, kink and solo being some of the bads) and how gay men risk creating their own troublesome  homonormativity (for more on that, read Matthew Todd).

Recently I was chatting to one of my heterosexual, white, male, cis-gendered colleagues. He’d never heard the term ‘heteronormativity’, but immediately understood it. 175 pages dissecting that might be a bit much for him (and anyone else not automatically interested in queer studies). But I’ll go to the photocopier and share some of the key ideas with him, because I feel better equipped in my growing queer activism, and why I’m doing it. Perhaps we’ll even colour in the pages together.

 

Also this week, I saw The Bodyguard at London’s Dominion Theatre, starring Queen of British Soul (and absolutely everything) Beverley Knight MBE. She is incomparable and owns the show, with all but two or three songs performed by her. There’s a bit of tension working out when the musical should be set: references to going viral and backstage livestreaming jar with the letters sent to popstar Rachel Marron by her stalker and a disconnect from today’s superstar security procedures. It would be best set firmly in 1992, the same year as the film it’s based on.

This isn’t a show with room for character development. The love between Rachel and her bodyguard Frank has less depth to it than any a Tinder first date. But The Bodyguard is a bit more than just a Whitney Houston jukebox musical, with underused chorus boys who were topless within a minute of curtain up.. By Act 2, as Houston’s biggest hits come out, Knight is at her best. That’s why I came to see the show, and why I’ll see whatever she’s in next. Beverley Knight is still one of our most genuine, generous and greatest female performers.

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 13 November)

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#LGBTQProgress was made this week in America. In Oregon, Kate Brown was America’s first openly LGBTQ person to be elected as a state governor. In North Carolina, Roy Cropper looks set to replace Governor Pat McCrory, who signed the state’s anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’ into law. In California, Proposition 60 sought to ban bareback porn being produced; that voters got to directly decide on a sexual health issue (ultimately voting against the ban) is incredible.

These small victories need celebrating as proof that progress does happen across America. Because the terrifying reality is that a homophobic and transphobic administration will try and wipe much of it away. We (yes we, the global LGBTQ community) need to be encouraged by these victories and believe we’ll continue to win.

 

If you’re in any doubt about why Trump and Pence are bad news, listen to America’s queer community. 78% of LGBT voters chose Clinton. 14% (mainly white gay men) chose Trump. Vitriolic hate crimes against LGBT people and minorities have dominated social media. The rhetoric of President-Elect Trump during his election campaign, and the government record of Vice President-Elect Pence hint at the rollback of rights they will push for.

We’re already pushing back. The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the nation’s biggest equal rights organisations, couldn’t cope with a 7000% increase in donation clicks to their website this week. All of us can start donating now, to resource organisations supporting America’s LGBTQ community and rights. Then we’ll continue listening in 2017 to do what we can and what we must, wherever we live.

 

Is the NHS PrEP-pared to prevent HIV?

Here in the UK, there was unquestionably good news on Thursday. The Court of Appeal ruled that NHS England does have the power to commission PrEP, a highly cost-effective drug that prevents HIV infection in at-risk groups, including men who have sex with men (MSM). HIV diagnoses continue to rise in the UK. We cannot waste more time and money over people’s lives. NHS England have the power and the duty, now they have to make PrEP available.

 

Keep a queer eye on the Ashers. The Christian bakers may take their guilty verdict of unlawful discrimination to the European Court of Human rights.  Also look out for a UN vote later this month seeking to abolish the LGBT rights expert post only created in June. The vote spearheaded by African nations was due to take place last Tuesday but has now been delayed.

 

Orlando remembers with Pride

This weekend was Orlando’s first Pride festival since the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Earlier this week, the city announced it was buying the nightclub to turn it into a permanent memorial. I was fortunate enough to be at Diversity Role Model’s Gala Dinner on Friday night, where host Clare Balding reflected on the fatal homophobia, biphobia and transphobia the world has seen this year and her despair this week. One question helps her cope: What Would Ellen Do? The talk-show host and absolute hero answered in her opening monologue on Thursday.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for #LGBTQProgress stories throughout the week.

My Gay Agenda: My Trans American Road Trip

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Catch up on your TV now. At the start of the month, Channel 4 aired My Trans American Road Trip. What was already a difficult watch became, like everything else, even more difficult this week. In the documentary, transgender reporter Abigail Austen travels around North Carolina to expose the ridiculousness of the state’s ‘bathroom bill’, restricting what toilets transgender people can use on publicly-owned property. Businesses and events have boycotted North Carolina and damaged the economy. Transgender women like Candice have left their jobs because they couldn’t use the right toilet. But money and trans lives don’t matter when this magical law protects children from sexual predators and maintains the ultra-conservative Christian grip on American life that secured Trump’s victory.

Austen’s resilience throughout, meeting bigot after bigot is incredible. Hiding her identity, she meets an evangelical pastor who tells her transgender people are a ‘charade’ and no trans women will ever use the ladies in his church. Moments later, she pisses over his words. These snippets of humour and victory provide the hope amidst the chats that take Austen to breaking point, including the psychoanalysis ‘expert’ who says trans people just need therapy and the home-schooled Texan child prepped to protect bathrooms because ‘you can kind of see who’s transgender and who’s not.’

North Carolina’s bathroom bill might be overturned, following the election of a new State Governor on Tuesday. Yet that small hope is dwarfed by seven other states that are considering a similar bill and undoubtedly the forthcoming Trump presidency. ‘Whatever the outcome of the election’, says Austen in the final scene, ‘we [the transgender community] are not going back.’ And now they need us, all of us, to come along with them.

Also this week I went to Let’s Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs, a monthly forum hosted by Patrick Crash and sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street, mixing featured speakers with an open mic. This month’s theme was faith, so obviously a draw to me. Line of the night went to Rev Simon Buckley, Rector of St Anne’s Church in Soho: ‘I don’t understand ‘straight acting’. Is that when you pretend you don’t like it?’ Amongst those sharing and extract from Cabaret, poems, short stories and their stories, a Radical Faerie praised the queer ‘heart space’ the night creates that is the base of spirituality. In his recent book, Matthew Todd advocates for inclusive LGBTQ community centres in our cities where nights like this can happen. The evening is inclusive but only if you can get down the stairs (it’s hosted for free by Ku Bar in their basement), a problem of funding and accessibility that is a challenge Cash and the Let’s Talk community knows needs solving.

And last night I volunteered at Diversity Role Models‘ Gala Dinner at the Waldorf Hotel. Founder and departing Chief Executive Suran Dickson invited us all to make sure DRM’s anti-LGBT bullying work grows, so that Britain can be a leading role model to a world where misinformation and bigotry are putting LGBT rights at risk. Patron and host for the night Clare Balding was first on the dancefloor when the beautiful Alison Moyet performed. It was an absolute privilege to appreciate Moyet’s music for the first time amidst the fans who’ve been there since her 80s debut. Of course they knew and loved every single word.

Next week I’ll be reviewing Queer: A Graphic History

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 6th November)

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Do they play Bigot Bingo at the Mail? If so, it was a full house this week with prominent headlines spewing transphobia, biphobia and homophobia.

Transphobic Trash

Last weekend’s Mail on Sunday frontpage was outraged that Children’s BBC made Just A Girl, an informative online drama about a trans child. It’s a great resource for parents and children to talk about gender together and is not the first CBBC show to talk trans (my sixty-something Mum really enjoys their documentary series My Life). Earlier today on Sunday Morning Live the transphobia was unmistakeably worse as Kathy Gyngell from ConservativeWoman.co.uk instantly compared being transgender to a mental illness or disability. Follow fellow guests from the show Jack Monroe, Stephanie Hirst and India Willoughby, read Paris Lees on why this media attack has to end and put Transgender Awareness Week, 14th-20th November in your diary.

Openly Homophobic Trash

On Thursday, desperate to find an explanation for the Brexit court ruling, and glossing over a deep understanding of Britain’s constitution (also known as the truth), the Mail Online reasoned it was because one judge is an ‘openly gay ex-Olympic fencer’.

This slur is part of a steady stream of homophobia that charities including Diversity Role Models seek to end in schools, making sure ‘gay’ is never used as an insult or explanation for someone’s behaviour. But who can stop the p press playground bullies? Soho Bikes put out a sign, Stop Funding Hate asked advertisers to see who the real #EnemiesOfThePeople are and The Observer (always the best £3 I spend each week) called it out on their front page.

Completing the Mail’s hateful hat-trick this week was Wednesday’s article on bisexual teenagers.

Jacamo says #SorryNotSorry

Jacamo created their own homophobia controversy last Saturday (29th October), with a campaign saying ‘real men have balls, not man bags’. The retailer (who sells man bags, but not footballs) claimed on Monday they were ‘mortified by any offence caused’ by the tweet, but not mortified enough to delete it (it’s still there).

Two more news articles from the week underline the toxic masculinity fuelled by this kind of irresponsible advertising. Cal Strode’s research showed the extent of ‘femmephobia’ in ‘straight acting’ gay men and the Mental Health Foundation reported that men are far less likely to ask for mental health help than women.

Huz-Czar for Amy Lamé

Giving us some much-needed news to celebrate, Amy Lamé was announced as London’s first ‘nightitme Czar’ on Friday. The lesbian comic has run club night Duckie for two decades at Royal Vauxhall Tavern, one of London’s many LGBTQ venues with a precarious future as rents and revoked licenses continue to kill clubs and music venues. Lamé was previously in political office as Mayor of Camden back in 2010 and 2011.

LGBTQ Love from America

And finally, here’s two inspiring lists from America. Tuesday’s vote isn’t just for a new President: there’s elections for governors, state congresses and the national Congress. NBCOut showcased 11 LGBTQ candidates, 55 years since the first out LGBTQ person sought public office. For more LGBTQ role models, scroll through the annual Out100 list.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for #LGBTQProgress stories throughout the week.

My Gay Agenda: Bright Light Bright Light

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Back in August, I bought a ticket for Bright Light Bright Light’s gig at Bush Hall. I was a new fan having read Patrick Cash’s interview with him in Attitude, and thought going along might be a good punt for my #findjoeyaboyfriend campaign. All in the Name of Love, the lead single from his third album Choreography had mainstream exposure this Summer on The Graham Norton Show and BBC Radio 2 playlist. But this was an intimate show sharing a love of pure and polished pop with 400 fans. And 97% of us were male.

Chad Valley proved an unassuming warm-up act that quickly left me wondering how that voice was coming out of an actual person’s body right in front of me, along with his one-man technical production with multiple synths, mics and other machines I don’t know the name of. I struggled to hear his lyrics at times (that might be my aging ears) but his soaring tenor and falsetto vocals wowed me. He was, and this is a compliment, an inverted Mikey from Recess.

As soon as Bright Light arrived on stage thirty minutes later, I wanted to pop to Primark for my own pink t-shirt and off white jeans to join his small gang on stage. As you’d expect given the album title, the dancing was planned and perfect throughout. It was the sharp choreography we all think we do as 1am Spice Girls. Except this was actually sharp, not drunkenly disorganised.

The Welsh performer (real name Rod) took the audience along with him into the night, with the catchiness and charisma that gets you singing along by the second chorus to a song you’ve never heard before. The set covered his three albums so far, with a Friday night crowd who didn’t need much excuse to dance. He controlled the stage and audience throughout, stilling them for acoustic piano performances of In Your Care and Arms of Another.

Choreography is Bright Light’s own 80s dance movie soundtrack, with Elton John, Alan Cumming and Scissor Sisters as the guest stars. It’s an infectious album I listen to as a screenplay of love, heartbreak and defiance. Bright Light treated us to visuals for my personal favourite Running Back To You: ‘And she parts her hair, to the left, her shoulder pads flatten as she’s running in the rain, wearing really good shoes’. I felt ready to dance my way through the Parkrun back in Southend the following morning (I was inspired, but I didn’t. I didn’t dance, or run a personal best but I did run).

The show was a continous thank you to fans, with genuine humility and gratitude. There was a nod to Christine and the Queens, who played Brixton the night before (‘She’s the fucking real deal and I’ve seen Elton John thirty-five and a half million times’), a special appreciation for Bush Hall, where he’d previously supported Goyte and The Hoosiers, a treat in performing some songs live for the first time, and a dedication: ‘The best thing I get to do in my life is play these shows because I get to meet you, the people who give a shit about what I do.’ And he proved it, single handedly selling and signing merchandise afterwards (no doubt an essentiality for an independent artist).

He loved it. We loved it. He was struck dumb towards the end: ‘Sorry, I got very lost in the moment I forgot my place! I’m so old I forgot my own song!’ So Symmetry of Two Hearts started again, with the crowd singing along even louder (always singing along, never singing back). It may not be groundbreaking pop, of course very little is. But it is crafted and genuine not the commercial chart cacophony that ‘sells’. The joy of listening to Bright Light Bright Light, and joining him especially on a Friday night is exactly that: joy.

Also this week I saw Tamsin Grieg at the Hampstead Theatre. The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures is a play title that should become a life manual just for me. Centred on an Italian-American family, there was plenty of humour and even more political theory. At one point in Act Two, four conversations were going on. It gave authenticity to the family and every character’s |dysfunctionality, but was inevitably too much shouting to follow. The humour, and much of my interest ran out by Act Three, but it had already given me enough to think about on socialism and ‘the struggle’.

Next week I’ll be reviewing My Trans American Road Trip and Queer: A Graphic History. And as for #findjoeyaboyfriend, you can follow that story on Twitter @JoeyKnock.