Solidarity with Orlando

First published on ProgressOnline

The LGBT community and its allies in Orlando, Florida were the victims of an appalling hate crime and terrorist attack in the early hours of Sunday morning. We stand with them and their partners, friends and families at this difficult time and know, in the end, that Love Wins. We wish the 50 plus injured victims a speedy recovery and mourn the 50 who have perished.

LGBT equality is hard fought and never won in perpetuity. While we express support for the victims we should remember two other things. First, those who have fought for the insufficient and fragile equality that we currently have. And second, the LGBT community in all its diversity, especially LGBT Muslims. Many will fear being rejected from both communities but should be welcome in gay bars and Mosques more than ever. Faith and friends are vital for many in times of grief and horror. (more…)

The Safety of a Gay Bar

First published on the Huffington Post

When I was 18 I worked in a village pub. One evening two customers did not really like my style behind the bar. I did not know what I had done to annoy them and carried on with my tasks, and the evening passed. The two in question were some of the last to leave, something I thought little of at the time. I left at the end of my shift and drove home. Within seconds of leaving the drive my clapped-out Micra was pelted with stones and some very unpleasant words about my sexuality followed in the same direction.

I was not hurt, nor was my little car (not that you would have been able to tell) but I was shaken. Instead of heading to bed I went on auto pilot to a place called Pink Punters. It is Fenny Stratford’s finest, just outside Bletchley/Milton Keynes off the A5. It’s a curious location for a gay bar but it was the scene of many a good night out in my teens. It was a place of joy. On this night, it was a place of safety. (more…)