Bugger Politics, let’s party.

Having witnessed the aftermath of London’s PRIDE event, rinsed of any LGBT suggestion in it’s title, many Stonewallers will echo Cameron’s mantra ‘We’re all in this together’ as a badge of progress. Str8 actings on gaydar, str8 acting marriages at the altar and straight men ( who have sex with men ) indicate that the gay sensibility is no longer in vogue. Thank God for drag queens I say, and twinks like Harry on The Only Way Is Essex, to carry the fierce flag of gay individuality. I fear waking up to find a gay scene styled by NEXT, but thanks to those fashionistas in the East End who certainly know how to cause a stir : geeks are  now in, muscle mary’s certainly are out. Thin is in. Before dress code clones in the 70’s, styled by America, London swinging sixties gayer’s had their own stylist hero. Not many realise as they do the cottage in Carnaby Street, that the street’s fame was started by outrageous John Stephen, a scottish queer who created the swinging sixties peacock revolution for men. He sold women’s knickers and created see-through lace and chiffon shirts for males to strut in, and high stacked collars to wear in clubs like La Duce, a gay mod club in ’67. How many of those ‘marchers’ blowing whistles down Regent Street were even aware there IS a gay history? Thanks to Thatcher’s Clause 28 & Minister Gove it’s not taught in schools so much.

However, current gay shame was alive and well in the streets of Soho over the weekend as vomit and pinned pupils were common markers of FREEDOM to be who you are. Many on Facebook updated, that PRIDE is now just an excuse for a piss-up and that Compton Street was beyond sanity by dusk. We have been soaked in shame for centuries, and each same-sexer is still tainted by this genetic lineage. Check the history boys. Sodomy became an English civil crime in 1533 and then became a criminal offence in in 1592, although it had been a capital crime under ecclesiastical law long before this. Cases could be tried through the Assize Courts or the Quarter Sessions and, if convicted, the accused was hanged. In order to prove sodomy, however, several elements had to be demonstrated and both penetration and ejaculation had to occur – one in itself was insufficient and there needed to be two witnesses who could attest to both factors being present. Legal jargon meant that if one man grassed on the other, both would be hung, (not what you think) so 16th Century gayers played the game of silence. However, courts usually passed a pillory sentence if intent had occurred, bummers were placed in stocks on public view (in London: on the Strand outside The Royal Courts of Justice) where the throwing of rotten fish, mouldy fruit, doggy doo and stale piss from piss pots were thrown our way. This became standard public humiliation for the likes of us, way before we were called homosexuals in the Victorian age. Blacks were treated as slaves and we were treated as shit, black history reclaimed the past with pride and we need to go back way before Stonewall to quell the shame.The genetic shame of these events remains tightly inside every English gay arse. So giving yourself the GIFT OF HISTORY can assist you in recognizing that you are a small knot in a trail of collective energy, but joined together the rope is strong enough to hang ourselves. The rope we can hang ourselves with today is internalized homophobia and apathy.

Not many are aware that Oscar Wilde went down ( to the cells ) because of shit on the sheets, evidence of sodomy provided by his housekeeper, soldiers during the wars were accused of “taking it up the Marmite” if emotional boundaries were crossed and fondness occurred. Now str8s have gone gay on the anal front, it’s all the rage apparently boy on girl. Twenty years ago in America ACT-UP speared homophobia by reclaiming the word QUEER within the shamed shadow of AIDS. In the UK the queer movement started just before LOVE MUSCLE hit the Fridge in ’92 and ended up dissolving itself with New Labour promises for equality. GAY PRIDE was everywhere so we started ‘parading, not complaining’. Now the new UK Queer Resistance Movement : Queers & Allies Against the Cuts and fighting hate stickers in East London has created our own ‘2011 Gay uprising” bringing politics and social network ‘complaining’ back to the community.

About time too.

We are in no doubt that London remains the queerest capital in the world with the broadest table of amusement but we might as well be back in 1533 when it comes to GAY SHAME. For centuries we were judged and now we need to judge ourselves, it’s time to take personal responsibility laying down, for if we don’t release the many forms of gay shame from our antics and our compulsive behaviors the party will end before time and we will not deserve to feel a pang of GAY PRIDE. As I have said many times before, freedom comes from inside – not from a flag. No one is suggesting you halt bum stuff or chem feasts, but your lifestyle could be a celebration of unity, history and PRIDE, a glorious tribute to those same-sexers hung at Tyburn Gate, Marble Arch in the 16th century for the sin of sodomy. In homage to these brave warriors,respect your body and those who invade it, respect your own personal history – it is as unique as DNA – and give yourself the GIFT OF HISTORY by checking out your defects of character that defend your actions, regular comedowns that increase in addictive cycles and lifestyles that stop you from feeling proud. Somewhere along the line you are still connected to the stocks, the public shame and suppressed secret desires. Next year is WORLD PRIDE in London, it’s a tough call to be a role model to those gayers struggling around the world, but for once we must bring politics back to the party and honour our gay sensibility, past and present.

More Queer Ageing . . .

In her book “How to Grow Old Disgracefully”, the actress Hermione Gingold remarked: “There’s nothing so ageing as the past – especially when it catches up with you. I like to live in the present”. How gay was Hermione? Well for starters her sister Angela Baddeley played iconic Mrs Bridges in the 70’s TV drama Upstairs Downstairs (? ask yer mum), Hermoine sang Sondheim on Broadway in A Little Night Music and if that wasn’t camp enough, she also found herself a lover when she was age 84. He was 21.

She called him Little Big Boy and said it was the best relationship in all her life. She continued, “He moved into my apartment and we lived together for five happy years, which was longer than I lived with either of my husbands. In many ways, we were perfectly suited. In spite of the age difference, we enjoyed the same things, he was independently wealthy, and we made each other laugh. We had a marvelous sex life too. Although I must confess that after I turned 85, I found sex wasn’t as important to me as it had been when I was 80″. She wrote, “This confession surprises even me, because up till then, I had always been a sex maniac”. Gay man trapped in a female body?

LIVING IN THE PRESENT is the key to harmonious living, at any age, and a perfect antidote to fear based projection. Plan ahead but don’t live in it. Because what you focus on expands, it’s best if you focus only on the footwork, not the destination. In my view; goals trainings, resolutions are only visions if you are not interested in the journey and it’s the journey that provides the lessons, intrigue and growth. I found that my own solution to ageing resided with where I had come from, and where I was going and in order to look at one I needed to discover the other. Approaching 50 I began to travel extensively and found that I had nothing in common with the hetero ” Young At Heart ” Saga type packages overflowing with couples who didn’t speak to each other, other than when they were flashing pics of grandchildren before my eyes. I thought at the time – is that all they live for? So once again in my life I didn’t fit in, but then again this is my key to ageing – don’t fit in to ageist philosophy.

There is a validated heterosexual vision of growing older, although this is changing rapidly with divorce figures between 50 & 60 the highest in any age band. Gayers have an open field with hardly any child dependent responsibilities but no clear vision of what the alternative is, we are experimenting, not quite as boldly as Hermoine did but quite close. So in order to look forward, I looked back to gay history for the answer. I picked up Rictor Norton’s Mother Clapps Molly House in ‘93 at a time of chronic homophobia, a long term Conservative government still hell bent on Clause 28 and no solution for AIDS. No one thought we would reach old age but here we are living la vida loca.

By connecting to the past, the present became validated including political struggle and it’s solutions. My story will become someone else’s intrigue. In order to eradicate the fear of ageing I needed to connect with older gayers and their own personal history plus examining at close hand what being older meant. A few streets away from where I live is a senior gay of 84 and unlike Hermoine he has SEVERAL lovers, and all without using the internet, cruising grounds or cottages. He is like a man magnet. He has a vitality and sprint in his step that knocks out the vision of faded gayers living alone with the gas fire on. He is my hero. He knocks on my door sometimes with a bag of porn DVDs or VHS Tapes in case “I could use them” LOL.

I suggest that you find a gay dad/grandad to nurture, learn from, and eradicate the fear of ageing. When I have delivered lectures on Gay Ageing to Seniors I always say “drop the notion of sex with young guys within this context”. There are plenty of sites for young/mature, for those that seek it, sometimes we are our own worst enemy when it comes to uninvited attention – the old queen touch-up. With the rise of Daddies on-scene in Barcode or XXL, a valuable resource lies untapped in your own neighbourhood. Find out like I did about Gay History and where you play your role in it.

Last year upstairs at The Horse & Groom, Shoreditch I was invited by djhistory.com to contribute (as Marmite Madge) to a discussion panel on Gay Clubland 1960’s – 1980’s with Gareth Marshall, Patrick Lilley & Steve Swindells, compered by Bill Brewster. The room was jam packed with a majority of under 30 indie twinks transfixed by our memories for an hour and a quarter with hardly anyone moving to the bar. The olds were in command.

So there you have it, we are not all pissing ourselves waiting for meals on wheels, some of us are still connected to the creative energy of clubland, fashion and diversity. Can you imagine getting old? Well, find a role model and realise that one day the young will be asking you “at what age do you stop having sex?”. Print this out and hand it to them or better than that – share your own experience – I promise you there is a waiting hunger.