As well as learning about LGBTQ history throughout the month, we’ll also be enjoying LGBTQ art and culture. You might find a new favourite author, band or artist.
Today’s action is a perfect start to the weekend: watch an LGBTQ film, TV show or video. If you have 5 hours, enjoy a Netflix binge. If you only have five minutes you could watch a YouTube vlog.
on our big screens and small screens is invaluable.
A few years
ago when I realized I hadn’t watched any LGBTQ focused TV shows or films, I
started with the obvious (to me) choices: Queer as Folk, Pride, Milk, Beautiful
Thing and Brokeback Mountain.
For the first time I was seeing my identity as a (white, cis) gay man as the story not the sidekick.
where to watch LGBTQ content? Here’s four quick tips:
Netflix has an LGBTQ category, making it easy to search through feature films and documentaries, including The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson. Their teen comedy drama TV show Sex Education also gives a powerful voice to being young, gay and black in teenage Eric. And Season 5 of Queer Eye has just landed.
20 years since the groundbreaking drama of gay life in Manchester aired, you can watch Queer as Folk on All 4. There’s also last year’s comedy drama The Bisexual.
Queer Britain from BBC Three is available on iPlayer and YouTube. The youth-focused documentary is easy to watch and learn more about LGBTQ issues with YouTuber Riyadh Khalaf. You can also watch Pose on iPlayer.
Pixar’s new short Out on Disney+ packs a lot in for just 9 minutes as Greg and Manuel get ready to move house.
BFI’s LGBT Collection is a great portal for free documentaries and shorts looking back on LGBTQ culture in the UK. Watching Heaven from groundbreakng TV series Gay Life in 1980 let me know how little has changed on the London gay scene since then.
have become so ubiquitous with LGBTQ communities that it’s easy to forgot the
obvious. Every design, including the rainbow flag, comes from somewhere and
Artist Gilbert Baker designed the flag in 1970s San Francisco, where he met pioneering gay politician Harvey Milk. It first flew at San Francisco Pride 1978.
The flag originally had 8 stripes with each colour having a with a meaning. This was later reduced to 6 stripes, because two of the fabric colors were hard to find.
What did each colour mean? What does the rainbow flag mean to you?
Remember the human origins, design and redesign of the rainbow flag. This year Manchester Pride have adopted a new eight stripe version that originated at Philadelphia Pride 2017. It explicitly includes queer people of colour who constantly face racism and discrimination in LGBTQ venues and communities. Alex Leon’s vlog explains more.
This morning I broke away from the mundane routine of Good Morning Britain, Radio 2 and alternating between Steps and Carly Rae Jepsen on my morning playlist.
Digital radio stationGaydio is ‘the beat of gay UK’ and actually made me happy rather than watching another Pier’s Morgan manufactured outrage. Expect queer camp classics and today day’s pop hits that you’ll be dancing to Clapham’s Two Brewers as soon as it’s back open.
Then on my morning walk I listened to NYC based podcast Nancy, full of ‘queer stories and conversations’. I gasped by canal lock the as magazine editor Phillip Picardi told his coming out to his ultra-catholic parents.
insights on queer publishing, honesty in dreams for its survival and finding
the right connection with mainstream media was galvanizing.
queer stories, content just for you matters. LGBTQ radio and podcasts can bring
the queer colour to your daily life.
Homo Sapiensaccurately describes itself as ‘the Women’s Hour for an LGBTQ+ audience’ with chat and interviews from Christopher Sweeney and Alan Cummings, who’s just taken over from Will Young at the start of this fourth season.
Another big UK podcast is A Gay and a NonGay. As with Homo Sapiens, it’s accessible for allies and would-be allies.
comedy chat between gay James Barr and NonGay Dan Hudson, the special episode A Gay and a NonGay and a Trans gives their
wide fanbase a clear understanding on trans lives and transphobia with exceptionally
articulate author Juno Dawson.
side note: don’t ever call someone a gay or a trans yourself.)
I’ve also enjoyed the podcasts of my friends/Twitter crushes. On The Latchis a panel of gay men openly discussing the scene, sex and love.
The Stonewall riots aren’t the start of LGBTQ history, but it’s a great starting point for us. Last year was the 50th anniversary of the riots so now’s the perfect time to learn about this pivotal event.
You can easily find out about the Stonewall riots on Wikipedia, YouTube or in LGBTQ history books.
What three facts will you learn? Here’s some
questions to help you:
is The Stonewall Inn?
did the Stonewall riots happens?
prompted the riots?
were some of the people there? What was their identity?
happened the following year?
We know about the Stonewall riots from the people who were there, which means there’s always more voices and stories to hear about it. It was a watershed moment in global LGBTQ rights because different people took a stand.
What have you learnt about the Stonewall riots? Comment below and tweet using #PrideEveryDay.
I’m 9 years
old and I’m in my school hall on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s our very first sex
education lesson. We’ve just watched a video and now the guest speaker is
two men have sex?’ asks my friend Sean.
moment of silence and secret glances.
have to come back and ask me at the end of the school day,’ says the guest.
This is my
memory of Section 28 in action, a clause in the Local Government Act 1988 that
made it illegal for schools to ‘promote homosexuality’. I’m part of a generation
of students whose questions about their own identities were treated with stigma
and suspicion, as teachers feared they could lose their job.
was abolished in 2003, and two years later the first LGBT History Month took place in UK
schools. Now the silence has been replaced with celebration of LGBTQ people, in
our workplaces and communities as much as our schools.
year for LGBTQ History Month, I’ve made a daily calendar to help anyone discover
new-to-you people, new stories and new histories. LGBTQ people and culture has
always been there in history, we just haven’t heard about it in our schools or
LGBTQ knowledge goes no further than Ru
Paul’s Drag Race. Or perhaps like me it’s your identity and your job in
one. Whatever your starting point, I hope the simple daily actions give you a
chance to go further.
Don’t use it
as a daily reminder of what you already know. Use it as a daily opportunity to
learn more, so you can do more to support LGBTQ people.
blogging everyday with some ideas if you don’t know where to start, and to let you
know what I’m learning this month too. And I’ve answered some questions below
too. Just ask me if you have anymore.
Can I share this calendar?
Absolutely! There’s also a text list of the calendar below or I can email you a version which may be more accessible for you to share with your friends, family and colleagues. Please just credit me where appropriate.
How do I get involved?
As well as sharing the calendar, you can comment on the blog posts and tweet about what you’re learning or doing throughout the month. The hashtag to use and search is #LGBTQCalendar
I’ve missed a day! Do I need to do two actions the next day?
No! This isn’t
homework or a challenge you need to complete. It’s a resource you can use and
adapt. You can dip in and out of the calendar as you want. I created it because
I was inspired by the cute daily calendars from Action for Happiness.
Every time I’ve started one, I’ve missed days or stopped doing it halfway
through the month.
What does LGBTQ mean? I thought it was LGBT?
LGBT is an
acronym, short for lesbian, gay, bi and trans. Q is short for queer. This is
sadly still used by a minority as an offensive term to attack others. But it’s
also used a positive term of some people’s identity, and as a collective noun
to describe the LGBTQ community.
I use LGBTQ
here because I have friends who identify as queer. I also use it as a collective
noun that includes intersex people, asexual
people and other marginalized identities that LGBT doesn’t cover. It’s important
that these identities are represented and acknowledged.
use LGBTQIA or other acronyms, which more explicitly includes intersex or asexual
people than LGBTQ. There’s no one right or wrong acronym. I believe our language
has to include everyone and that’s a balance. I want to include everyone’s
identity while being accessible and understandable. The longer an acronym,
usually the harder it is for some people (for different reasons) to understand.
That’s why I use LGBTQ.
much more to learn around labels and language. Just make sure you’re respectful
of how people identify themselves, and you’re inclusive in the language you
use. This episode of
Queer Britain is a good starting point.
The LGBTQ History Month Calendar
Tell someone why LGBTQ History Month matters to you
Learn three facts about the Stonewall riots
Watch an LGBTQ film, TV show or video
Find out what the colours in the rainbow flag represent
Listen to an LGBTQ podcast or radio show
Find out about important laws for LGBTQ people in the UK
Learn about a lesbian role model
Find out who designed the bi flag
Appreciate art by an LGBTQ artist
Learn about a bi role model
Listen to music by an LGBTQ music act
Find out about LGBTQ rights in a different country
Learn about an LGBTQ BAME/PoC role model
Find out how many stripes are in the trans flag
Learn about a trans role model
Visit an LGBTQ venue or history site
Talk or listen to an LGBTQ person from a different generation
Learn about a non-binary role model
Find out when the asexuality flag was designed
Learn about a disabled LGBTQ role model
Find an LGBTQ group in your area
Learn about an intersex role model
Read an LGBTQ book, poem or article
Thank an LGBTQ role model
Learn about a health or wellbeing issue affecting LGBTQ people
Support an LGBTQ charity or group
Be a visible LGBTQ role model or ally today
Commit to one action where you study, work or live
Tell someone what you’ve learnt and enjoyed this month
Nine years ago today on a sunny Friday in Southend I told my Mum I’m gay. No rainbow flags or unicorns or cute boys to kiss. Just us.
Perhaps you know that already. I’ve made a lot of narcissistic noise about my official Outiversary before. But that scene is just one episode in my coming out story arc. Like many other LGBTQ people, it’s a story that spans more seasons than any TV network would commission.
Because it won’t make it to screen any time ever, here’s an abridged version of nine queer moments that made me.
When I came out to myself, sometime in 2005
It was a Monday, I was 15, sat in the music corridor waiting for my saxophone lesson. And there I scribbled a letter to myself, to God, to both of us. Even though it was conditional and silent (‘I think I’m gay’), it was the first time I’d found the words.
Walking into Warwick Chaplaincy, October 2009
When I arrived at University, I knew I wanted to join the Christian Union and I thought I’d found them at the Freshers’ Fair. Turns out it was the LGBTQ inclusive Christian Focus instead. Thank God.
The friends I made round cuppas in the Chaplaincy and the choir showed me you can be an LGBTQ person of faith. They’re the first ones I came out to without any doubt. ‘I’m gay’. And then I went home to tell Mum.
My first time, September 2010
My first time having sex was awful with an even worse fall out. I hate how one bad early experience made me retreat. Now I can look back and see some positives in what happened.
My first kiss, February 2013
It was in Revenge, Brighton on a birthday weekend away with my friends. Mysterious, magical and drunken. I was hugging the hostel toilet afterwards.
That conversation with Rev Mel, March 2016
Rev Mel was a local church minister unconditional in her support for the oppressed. I didn’t know then the vulnerability that comes with being visibly queer in a heteronormative world. ‘Don’t ever forget you are a minority Joey.’
Soho vigil, June 2016
At least 7000 people gathered in London’s Soho the day after the Pulse Orlando shooting. This is what the LGBTQ community does. We remember, we protest, we party.
Mighty Hoopla, May 2017
I’d just started work at Stonewall, moved back to London and was utterly unsure in myself. Heading to a festival with my new colleagues sounded like a pleasant distraction. I honestly thought if I wasn’t having fun, I could make it home in time for Songs of Praise.
This was a bright day in the dark season of Spring 2017. It was an excuse to wear nail polish and a crop top for the first time. Now the only excuse I need is sunny spells or a night in Vauxhall.
Joining London Frontrunners, June 2018
When I’m at work or running, I don’t need to explain who I am. I just am.
Last summer, I joined LGBT running club London Frontrunners to make more friends and improve my running. My 10k time still hasn’t improved, but I felt instantly embraced by a crowd who accept my idiosyncrasies and go to karaoke every Thursday night.
When Oliver left, January 2019
We met at my favourite club night and only had a month until he was moving out of town. We didn’t have time to play it cool or hold back. He wasn’t my boyfriend but it was a relationship. And suddenly it was the end. I left him at the bus stop in the morning. He went to Australia, I went to Angel.
I still have those pinch me moments of euphoria when I’m dancing with queer friends in a queer club. ‘What feels normal also feels like an incredible privilege’* (and it really is, when discrimination and hate crime makes LGBT nightlife in the UK unsafe for many people).
The gay man I am now wasn’t made the day I came out. I’m excited for another queer year and seeing what moments come next complete with rainbow flags, unicorns and cute boys.
When you want to run away on a Sunday night as fast you can before Monday catches up with you, head to a drag show. The camp world of of glittery gold backdrops is the perfect school night escape.
And last weekend’s Bank Holiday meant London’s usual Sunday
night drag shows were bigger, busier and boozier than usual.
I headed to the Two Brewers in Clapham for the Power of Four.
That’s a marathon four drag acts over six hours, starting with the omnipresent
My second favourite Scottish Queen (after Queen of Daytime, Lorraine Kelly), you can see Mary most weekends at the Admiral Duncan, the Brewers and other venues around town.
She’s prolific because she’s damn good and gets the gays through the doors. The Brewers front bar was packed by 6pm before the cloakroom even opened.
In some ways it’s a by-the-songbook drag act: a dress made from the sticky shiny paper you used in primary school collages, musicals mixed with nineties pop hits (Streisand followed by Steps) and snarky comments, always with love, about other queens and the audience.
And yet put altogether, it’s more than that. My words can’t
tell you how awestruck and happy the familiarity of Mary’s show makes me.
The utter campness, love and laughter radiates form the stage to the crowd. I’ve felt that collective joy even on nights when I’ve been sober, by myself and awkwardly stood next to a bad hook up from the month before.
That love is easy for me to feel as a gay man in a venue that is 99% gay men. When I stand out among the grey or checked shirt dress code of Clapham Gays, and Mary tells me ‘it looks like Neil Buchanan puked on your shirt’, I’m in on the joke because I’m in the crowd.
But when acts make racist comments or sound like breakfast
TV hosts in their attempt to turn non-binary identities into a joke (as the
queen who followed Mary Mac did, in an otherwise entertaining show), they’re
attacking people who are already excluded.
The Two Brewers is one of London’s very few fully step-free
venues with an accessible toilet (but not gender neutral toilets) and it hosts
an implausible amount of fundraising nights for LGBTQ community groups.
That good work doesn’t stop me feeling let down when someone
on their stage is ridiculing a part of our community already under daily attack,
for the sake of their punchline.
On Sunday night, scouse queen The Vivienne and Brewers mainstay Sandra continued the show tunes, pop bops and gentle ribbing as crowd became boozier and busier.
It’s hard for me to accurately review their acts, given how
many doubles I’d had by then. They too have the wit, audience rapport and
Vivienne’s wig seemingly sheared from a sheep especially left me gasping, and her rendition of Defying Gravity brought back my young queer memories of trying to work out where I belong. Now I know it’s wathcing drag shows.
The Brewers’ front bar and stage turns into a dance floor
between acts giving time for more Steps, Kylie and both versions of Better the Devil You Know. On busier
nights the bigger backroom club is also open.
Unlike the front bar, you don’t need to use your elbows to
get to a drink. Huge thanks must go to Liz, my yoga instructor, for giving me
the core strength needed to stay standing amidst the bustling crowd pushing
But the compromise with more space is worse music. The
backroom club is usually playing a remix of a song that isn’t as good as what’s
playing in the front bar, even when that better song is Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley.
By this time Mary Mac had already left, performed another
show in Greenwich, changed out of her outfit and as promised returned to join
us and judge us on the dancefloor.
And so it was at 2.30am, propping myself up against a pillar
that that Mary spotted me and gave me that friendly smirk. Nine hours since I arrived
I knew then there was no going back, only going home on the night bus.
Mary’s genuine love for performing and for her fans is obvious,
bending over backwards to give the greatest show. It’s her signature encore
that makes her a stand out act on the drag circuit.
Looking around the crowd, you can spot the wide mouthed
first-timers taking the feat of performance endurance happening in front them.
And you see the fans knowing exactly when to raise their phones to get that
snap for Instragram.
You know they’re loving every second of it. They’ll be back to
hear Mary perform the same kind of jokes and same kind of songs next week. And
I want to be back there too.
The Cloakroom is
£2 cash. They give you a wristband so no need to worry about losing your
The club Is free
before 8pm and £5 afterwards on a normal Sunday, or £8 on a Bank Holiday
The venue is one of London’s only fully accessible LGBTQ
venues with step free entry and an accessible toilet downstairs.
Drinks are averagely priced around £5 for a pint. Doubles
are served as standard, so you quickly spend £7.50 on one drink. The early
evening Happy Hour on most days has £4.50 doubles.
It’s a venue dominated by gay man in their 20s, 30s and 40s. There’s no dress code, but the crowd tend to dress for going out out in a way I don’t.
The toilets are male toilets (with urinals and cubicles) and female toilets. On busier and weekend nights there are attendants offering you perfume or aftershave. There is an accessible toilet downstairs.
The songs you’ll always hear are Scared of the Dark by Steps, This is Me from The Greatest Showman and inspirational song of the millennium, Reach by S Club 7.
Joey’s kiss count:
Two. I was genuinely surprised this was my first visit to the Brewers without
someone I’d already kissed being there. There was however an Instagram crush
I’d asked out before.
The Power of Four is on every Sunday at Two Brewers, Clapham High Street. You can find out where Mary Mac is performing on her website.
There’s the soundtrack dominated by pure pop songs that only seemed cool once before, at the Year Four Half Term School Disco.
my recent dating history: those I’ve dated, kissed or tried to kiss all on the
same dancefloor as me
Push The Button (not ‘Pull The Plug’ as my Mum called it before I gave her some Sugababes homework) has been playing the hits for eight years.
focuses on a different artist with Janet Jackson and Carly Rae Jepsen featured
so far this year, as well as a special live performance by Nadine Coyle.
played album tracks and B-sides you didn’t think anyone else knew existed,
there’s the best pop bangerz from the nineties, noughties and now.
Yes, The Saturdays counts in this category as well as schlager, scandi pop and Eurovision favourites.
I feel at home whenever I walk through the RVT doors to PTB, usually in a crop top. It’s my outfit of choice for feeling cute and cool. Whatever time of year it is, the RVT is hotter than the Chariots over the road.
The club reaches peak ridiculousness after midnight, with a drag show followed by a mass singalong complete with song sheets. Last month’s choice was I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys.
The joy in singing and sharing music you adore like you would at a gig doesn’t just happen when everyone has the words in front of them.
Even when I
don’t know the song that’s playing, seeing someone else on the dancefloor
living their absolute best life makes me happy.
other nights can you go and dance to X My Heart with people who already know it
was Azerbaijan’s criminally underperforming 2018 Eurovision entry? (The answer
is obviously Eurofest and Douze Points, which we’ll review on this
blog in time).
With a mix
of regulars and newcomers there just for one themed night, PTB always has an
attitude-free crowd where everyone is respectful (most of the time, I’ve met
some smiley guys who turned out to be dicks there)
night full of familiar faces I know from Twitter and London’s LGBTQ scene who
won’t leave me standing by myself all night long. My friendship with Carlo
started last summer when he screamed FUEGO! at me.
downfall is its popularity, making it heavily crowded and hot. But the the
slight inadequacies of cramming into an iconic venue makes it more magical for
me. And I’m always happy for another reason to get my top off.
Even on the
nights I’ve been sober at PTB, I haven’t thought about leaving before 2am.
Nowhere else mixes mainstream chart hits everyone knows with the niche tracks
just for fans quite like it.
I keep coming back every last Friday of the month to do it all again.
The cloakroom is £2 cash
The club entry
costs £8+booking in advance, or £10 cash on the door. There’s step free entry
but no accessible toilet.
It gets very busy from 11pm and stays crowded until the
stage is open after the drag show.
Drinks are averagely priced around £5 for a pint, single or
glass of wine.
It’s a mixed crowd of LGBTQ people and allies where gay men
are the majority. There’s no dress code.
The toilets are
three gender neutral cubicles by the bar. On the other side of the stage is urinals
and one cubicle.
The songs you’ll always hear are Cut To The Feeling and Fuego.
Joey’s kiss count (the number of people I kissed): Two.
One was quite bitey.
Push The Button takes place at Royal Vauxhall Tavern on the
last Friday of the month. Their Britney
themed night is on Friday 26th April.
Along the way I’ll also talk too much about my love life,
making friends on the scene and the ups and downs of going out alone.
So I’m starting this new blog series, called The Cloakroom, The Club and The Toilet.
It’ll be a review of the gay bars and LGBTQ nights I go to across London, telling
you how much cash you need for the cloakroom and other details they don’t put
on the promo poster.
Come out, come out and dance with me this Friday, or on the metaphorical dancefloor of this blog with my first review next week. I’m starting at home, at Push The Button. Pre-drinks in Peckham.