My occasional series charting moments in the life of Robbie and Jack continues. Both young men are now twenty-two, living in different cities but their friendship closes that gap as Jack needs his best friend when he breaks up with his girlfriend.
Chris is a 35-year-old health care assistant from Cheshire. Next to go because he seemed shier than the others. Well I wouldn’t call someone he strips naked and shows off his tackle on national television shy. I certainly don’t have the balls for it.
I have been reluctant to watch ‘It’s a Sin’, the new series by Russell T. Davies, who brought us the brilliant ‘Queer as Folk’.
Well, because it deals with the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. And I knew it would have a profound effect on me and drag up my feelings from that decade.
I grew up during that time and slowly coming to terms with my homosexuality, and AIDS had a massive effect on me. It all came flooding back as I watched. The blame, the disgust, the abuse that was directed at the gay male community was destructive and further vilified gay men. Worse still, it gave people an excuse to discriminate and be abusive. I have to say that at my young age, it scared the shit out of me. Although I was still at school and not sexually active, it made me scared of gay sex and of being gay. It made me feel that if I had sex, I could die.
I’m not ashamed to say that I cried when Colin died. His character was the one that I identified with, shy, awkward and Welsh. Here was a man that wasn’t sexually promiscuous, but it still caught up with him. All it took was sex with one effected partner, and you were passed a death sentence.
The last episode had the same effect on me; my eyes were stinging by the end. The last speech by Jill really hit home and took me back to the time when I felt guilty and ashamed at being gay. Thankfully I have moved on; I’m happy being my version of gay. But it makes me so upset and angry that I had to experience those times and being made to feel that way.
Where I grew up, being gay meant catching AIDS, which meant dying. This message was sent out through the media and government messages. It made me scared of my sexuality and caused me to stay in the closet longer than I should have. I grew up in a very homophobic environment, not at home, though; there, I just experienced the casual ‘homophobia’ that was acceptable at the time, calling people pufters and such. But school and the greater society was different. No one dared come out at school. No one wanted to be thought of as gay.
What really surprised me about the series was the battle that Russell T. Davies had in getting it made. He has a successful track record with television series, Queer as Folk, Year and Years, and not to mention the enormous debt of gratitude I have to him for making the return of Doctor Who the massive success it deserved to be.
So with a great writer behind the project, why the reluctance? And why did he have to fight for that fifth episode when Channel Four only wanted four episodes.
It could only be the subject matter.
That saddens me and makes me realise that we still have so far to go. AIDS is no longer the death sentence it used to be, but this programme shows how deep-rooted homophobia was in society, all society. To use a contemporary phrase, there was ‘institutionalised homophobia’. And I think some in the medical profession have a lot to be ashamed of in the way they approached the AIDS pandemic. Politicians also need to question their actions as there decisions filtered down society to make being gay and AIDS effectively interchangeable.
Watching this series, I wonder if we have learnt anything. Sections of our society are still being persecuted for being different. Gay may now be accepted (?), but there is so many other sexualities, so many other genders.
This is a very emotional post for me but something I wanted to say. When something affects you as deeply as this series, I just needed to express my thoughts and let you know my experience of living through that hell of a decade, not just AIDS-wise, but in so many other ways.
On the positive side, 80s music is fucking awesome. I’ve done nothing but listen to it while working from home in lockdown.
This is my last vignette to date. I suppose I have stopped writing them because they have tended to be very serious and delve into my emotions and fears.
This vignette feeds into my fears of coming out. In this case the young man was caught kissing his boyfriend and so was outed to his parents by the school. Coupled with a violent and homophobic father, this young man sees no other option than to run away from home.
My biggest fear of coming out was being rejected by my family and being kicked out of the house, that is partly why I didn’t come out until I was financially independant and living on my own.
I needn’t have worried, but I know a lot of young men are worried, and rightly so. I never had an abusive father but some people do.
I wish this scenario was total fiction, although it did come from my imagination, I’m sure some young men experience something similar when coming out, or being outed.
I wish scenes like this weren’t being regularly being played out across the world.
We are nearly a week into the third national UK lockdown. This means that I have had to work from home again.
Some people seem to be getting on well with working from home, but I find it difficult to motivate myself and get much less done. I also get no, or little, writing done.
I find it difficult to separate home and work, mainly because I don’t have a dedicated workspace at home, but even if I did I’m not sure I would have the discipline to go to the workspace. It is also very lonely, working in a small room on your own.
Having experienced the lockdowns, I have come to realise that I need the human interaction I get at work.
My problems are small compared to what is happening in the world. My respect goes to those key workers that have supported us all in life and death.
None of the authors gets paid when their stories appear on Screeve, they only allow their writing to appear in the hope that it will bring enjoyment to the readers.
At the end of every story, I say that feedback is the only payment our authors get, and we all appreciate that feedback, it can spur us on the continue a series or write new stories. Constructive feedback can also make those stories better.
So if you have any New Year’s Resolutions to make, then make one, a point of giving feedback. Let us know what you want more of and less of. Please make your comments and suggestions constructive, let the authors know what you enjoyed and what you didn’t, what worked and what didn’t. Recognise good writing when you read it, but just because a story isn’t to your taste doesn’t make it bad. I’m not into scat, but I can recognise a good story that contains it should I read one.
I added a rating system last year, so please continue to rate the stories. Also, consider leaving comments, they can be totally anonymous, no email is required. If you are more confident, then email the author; we all like to hear from our readers.
Happy new year and keep reading.
I’m sure many of us will be glad to see the back of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on many of us in our many countries. I wish you all well next year.
It looks like 2021 will start pretty much as 2020 ended, with many of us in some type of lockdown. But we have some hope, with two vaccines approved for emergency use in the UK and a mass roll out this year.
On the Screeve front, we will see more Cockaigne Chronicles; I’m hoping a new family will move to the town, a suggestion from one of my readers. I also hope to get my Cockaigne novel on Amazon kindle in the first quarter, but don’t worry, Screeve readers will get a free copy (I’m not sure how to do this yet, perhaps those signed up for updates, I’ll let you all know once I’ve thought of something.)
I also want to add my previous stories back on Screeve, when I changed hosts and decided to move onto WordPress I concentrated on adding all the contributing authors to the site first and having left mine until last.
As I am creating new story cards to highlight when I add a previous story, I also want to highlight other stories on the site. Give you a chance to revisit an old classic.
Let’s make 2021 a great year with more stories and even more Cockaigne.
Simon is a 36-year-old skate room host from Southampton. Eliminated for not being as cheeky as the other two.
This year’s Remembrance Sunday is going to be different. Just because we cannot commemorate in our usual way, we should still take some time to remember all those men, women and children who have died in all the wars and conflicts both past and present. We should also take a moment to remember those that survived. We may not agree with the reasons for war, but those who served, deserve our respect – and sometimes our help.
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