Tag Archives: LGBT

Out at work?

Are you out at work?

One of our readers is looking for help with her dissertation. Share your experiences (positive or negative) using the twitter hashtag #bemeatwork or on the facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/bemeatwork.

If you would like to help, but wish to do so more privately or have any questions please contact aslavinsky@gmail.com.

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Are you a rubbish lesbian?

I am the definition of a rubbish lesbian.

When I say this what I really mean is an invisible lesbian, entirely undetectable to the rest of my fellow queers. I somehow donned this annoying invisibility cloak around the age of 18 when I got rid of my skate trainers, baggy jeans and hoodies and opted for some high heels and lipstick.

My newfound confidence in dressing as I wanted to dress had the inconvenient by-product of making me vanish into the wallpaper in queer spaces. I’ve been told that a club “didn’t do hen parties” when heading out with a group of fellow femme gays, I’ve been asked if I was lost on nights out, I even had a stand-up row with a nurse who insisted that even though I’d only slept with women there was a chance I might still be pregnant (back to Anatomy 101 for her!).

Annoying to say the least! So when I saw this title pop up in a sidebar on a particular website (see those ads are good for something!) I immediately wondered where it had been all my life…

rubbish lesbian

This is what a happy Sunday looks like!

This book is a compilation of Sarah Westwood’s ‘Rubbish Lesbian’ columns in Diva magazine with some exclusive new material (all together now: ooooo!). As someone who hasn’t read Diva in a while, it was all new material to me and I was intrigued!


Now to be honest, I was expecting a slightly more… well… finished article! The book was literally a collection of her columns –  which don’t get me wrong, was exactly what it said on the tin! It was just that I had expected that the columns might have been reworked into slightly longer prose or perhaps even into a series of short-but-longer-than-columns articles…I expected slightly smoother transitions from story to story, but instead they felt as if they had been lifted directly from the pages of Diva and transplanted directly into this book, meaning that for me it was a rather jolty read. The columns are so short (on average two pages give or take) which gives a rather superficial introductory feel to all her writing not really getting to the heart of the issue, or resolving anything.


I think that this is particularly disappointing because the topics Westwood covers are interesting, familiar even. They feel like a conversation that I could have had with any of my friends, but with nothing much added by the fact I had to part with some of my hard-earned-cash for the privilege. From the lesbocism (a process of desexualising your lesbian life for the benefit of family, or particularly delicate friends) to negotiating the relationship with your girlfriend’s parents. From answering questions from idiots like “who’s the man”; to the embarrassment of first entering a sex shop (although I think her suggestion of ‘smash and grab’ has a one in a million probability of you leaving with something you actually want and instead you will inevitably leave with a penis extender or something equally unhelpful – either embrace the awkwardness, or shop online!).

For a fun, light laugh or a quick read when you’re not up for thinking, or feeling too much it’s great! But if you’re looking for something that might develop or challenge your thinking then this is not for you! Thank you Sarah Westwood for a quick distraction on a long plane ride!

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When is a political action not political…

The last few weeks have seen Russia viewed with a magnifying glass. A new law passed in June 2013 banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors (under 18s), combined with various violent acts committed against young queer men in Russia and compounded by the country hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and naturally everyone is getting a little bit anxsty. This has lead to various public figures wading in to have their say on the Olympics, British celebrities suggesting the Olympics be moved, whilst politicians reject the proposal of a boycott. Most importantly slowly but surely athletes have  begun to take action to oppose this homophobia in what is essentially their event.

First the Swedish high-jumper Emma Green Tregaro painted her nails like a rainbow to mark out her support for LGBT athletes. She was reportedly then reminded of the International Association of Athletics Federations that she could be violating their code of conduct and instead changed them to red “for love”. American athlete Nick Symmonds has also spoken out against the homophobic laws. So it was no surprise that when this week Russian relay athletes Ksenia Ryzhova and Yulia Guschina kissed on the podium after winning Gold at the Women’s 400 meter relay that the world took this as an act of overt political resistance.


International media speculated that this kiss was the athletes taking an opportunity to send a clear message to the world that Russian athletes did not support the country’s homophobic laws. It did not take long for the athletes to put us right. Both came out to reject the media’s claims, saying that the media were writing ‘dirt’ about them, and that they were both happily married (to other people, I was confused for a moment too). The basic jist being that the media was making a big fuss about nothing.

But were they?

The athletes seem to believe that because their action was not in their perception amorous in any way that they weren’t making a political statement. Because they did not apply meaning to the kiss that the world would not. Now I am not suggesting for a moment that the athletes are in a relationship of any sort, in fact I would go as far as to say that I could not care less whether they are or they aren’t. What I care about is that they, in front of the world, ‘committed’ a homosexual act. And whether they like it or not, given the context, that is a big deal.

I think that actions of resistance do not need to be marked out as such by those that enact them. In the the lead up to the Winter Olympics, given the context of Russia’s political climate, the watchful eye of the world is examining the everyday experiences of queers in Russia. With public figures in increasing numbers making statements both spoken and in small gestures against the state-endorsed homophobia, the athletes much appreciate that such an overt act of same-sex affection is part of the political struggle against the day-to-day oppression of Russia’s queer people whether or not they want it to be. Their action not only heightened the profile of Russia’s anti-gay laws, if it truly was an act of celebration between two team mates then it only serves to show how ridiculous the laws are. How blurred the lines are between the so-called categories of right and wrong. The hypocrissy that says the same action from two married athletes and two teenagers is viewed in such different lights by the same people. Whether or not they like it, Yulia and Ksenia you are part of our resistance.


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Sorry, no lesbians allowed here…

So at age twenty, after never having had experienced any personal homophobic attack in my life thus far, I always though ‘phew, I’ve passed the high school stage with no problems, what’s the worst that can happen now?!’… I held that thought until this morning. Never would I have thought that the first person ever to be homophobic towards me was a professional.

I recently reached that beautiful stage that I received a letter from my doctors and had all my male friends giggle and say ‘ahhh I bet it’s for a smear test!!’ So firstly that’s not very reassuring, in fact it’s terrifying. Do I really want a random woman sticking something up my vajayjay on first meeting, before noon on a weekday…not really, is the answer. However, I persevered and made an appointment as it’s my own health that’s in question after all. After days of thinking about how traumatic the experience was going to be (can you tell, I’m a bit of a drama queen), my male best friend said “don’t worry, she will have seen it all before”. Yeah thanks, I feel so much better after that. Really, I do.

As I walked into the room I was hit with so many questions I thought I was in a quick fire round of a game show:

“How old are you?” “Are you sexually active?” “Are you on the pill?!” “Have you had this test before?”

We certainly weren’t off to a good start on the ‘try not to freak out’ front. So after telling her I’m not on the pill, and watching her confused reaction when I told her I haven’t used contraception, I told her I don’t sleep with men. You’d have thought at this point that I’d told her I was sleeping with turtles as she looked so baffled. It could just be me, but it is normal to be a lesbian, yes?

I'm sorry, it's not you, it's me! Photo by: Phil's 1st Pix: http://bit.ly/19whbRe

I’m sorry, it’s not you, it’s me!

Photo by: Phil’s 1st Pix: http://bit.ly/19whbRe


Anyway, she let out a slight “ha!” and said that I wouldn’t need a test then as I hadn’t had sex with a man before….however, now comes the interesting part: she said that should the situation change within the next few years, that I should come back and get tested. Hold on a second…so she’s basically just told me that if soon enough I see the light, she’ll be happy to perform. I don’t think so, lady!

How does she think lesbians have sex, by kissing?! Surely she should have started with “Have you ever had penetrative sex before” then things would have been so much simpler.

So I left the surgery absolutely baffled, and also rather upset/frustrated. Why was I singled out as different? Why was I not entitled to this? All that working myself up for nothing. Although I have decided to go back and get a test, but not from that nurse again. I think I’d make a point of asking for a non-homophobic nurse to do the test on me this time, and see how they respond.

So a word of advice, if you’re going for a test, don’t let the nurse tell you you’re not eligible just because of your sexuality. Do try to tell them otherwise, and if that doesn’t work then I suggest putting in a complaint. It’s 2013, should a professional really be judging you on your sexuality?

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I went to Hamburg Pride 2013 and it was awesome!

Hello, rainbow friends!

As part of my summer holidays/travel shenanigans this year I went to Christopher Street Day Hamburg (or Pride for short) and I have lived to tell the tale! And show you lots of pictures, of course.

Let’s start with some stats: Hamburg is a city in Northern Germany and is known for having a big-ass harbour (one of the 20 biggest world-wide). Tourists tend to forget about Hamburg, because Berlin exists, even though it is Germany’s second biggest city as well as the biggest city in the EU that is not a capital. So yes, it does have a respectable gay scene. 😉

Another fun fact: Hamburg had a gay mayor from 2001 until 2010, Ole von Beust. He was outed in 2003 accidentally by his father, but he didn’t mind. And apparently it also didn’t harm his political career, as he was re-elected twice afterwards. He also participated in Hamburg Pride 2009!

But let’s move on to this year’s Pride, shall we?

This was actually the first proper Pride March I had ever been to! I have been to CSD Münster last year, buuut it was rather small affair, so I was pretty excited to see what a “real”, big Pride looks like. And what can I say… It was absolutely amazing! The weather was really nice (eventually), there were fantastic costumes, the music was great and people were dancing in the streets. I really don’t have much else to say, other than that I had a fantastic time and was really happy to see so many diverse, proud and politically active people.

So without further ado, why don’t you have a look at the pictures below to get a better impression? You could just scroll through them, but I also wrote some extra info in the captions and translated all the German signs and banners, so just click on the first photo to start a slideshow and learn a bit more about the event. Enjoy!

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Making our cake and eating it too!

Cake has feature heavily in the history of LGBT+ communities.

Firstly you have the idea that being bisexual is having your cake and eating it (with the implications sometimes being that bisexuals are indiscriminate, greedy or lazy) which while some bisexuals have embraced the cake idea, some, other have wanted to get the hell away from it.

The other group which has totally jumped on the cake wagon (nom…cake wagon…) is the online asexual community. AVEN welcomes new members with cake, even though no one is quite sure where it comes from it has become one of the symbols of asexuality.

well it does look a really good cake.

Also cake is just generally awesome. I don’t think I could love someone who didn’t love cake. So I pleaded to be allowed to post about baking on this blog, because it really should be part of our agenda if it is not already. And I have some recipes and ideas that may make it  more likely.


Why hello ladies...I am a tasty cake.

Why hello ladies…I am a tasty cake.

Yes. A cake which is a rainbow. This has also been called “pride cake” or “mystery cake” (when covered in plain icing.) It is super simple and super tasty. It could also be really easily adapted for whatever pride flag or colours you like.

You will need:

  • 2 x 20cm cake pans (or different sizes but you may need to adjust timings)
  • Food colourings (paste or liquid) red, yellow, blue, purple (hard to mix), green and orange if you like but they come out ok when mixed.
  • Plain icing (packet or be fancy and do a frosting)
  • 200g each of: self raising flour, caster sugar, soft butter,
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) baking powder
  • 4 eggs beaten

Make it:

  1. Turn oven to 190/gas mark 5 (slightly less for fan ovens)
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and eggs in a large bowl. Beat until it is soft and smooth.
  3. Divide the mixture into 6 smaller bowls and add food colourings. The colours will be stronger when it is cooked but don’t make them too weak, unless you really like your pastels.
  4. Go wild! Splodge the mixture into pre-greased tins or silicone pans. Don’t worry about prettiness here.
  5. Pop in the oven on the middle shelf for 20 mins (check the first time you make it as it may take a little more or less time. Check by using a clean skewer, if it comes out clean it is done.)
  6. Turn off the oven and leave the cake to cool on a cooking rack. Don’t eat it yet.
  7. If you are doing a double layer cake when it is cool, sandwich the two together with jam/buttercream/nutella/whatever you like.
  8. Otherwise, once it is cool cover it in your plain icing as a disguise and decorate as you wish.
  9. Serve it to your friends and allow your cake to “come out” and show its true colours!
  10. EAT.

I will be back again if people want be to be exploring my adventures making macarons in different flavours (more pictures next time!)

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Glasgow Pride: our top picks!

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Pride is always a fabulous day! Here are hots and nots from Glasgow Pride 2013

The top 5 hot topics of this Pride:

1. Equal Marriage: the discussion started almost two years ago now, yet it just hasn’t happened! Hurry up Mr. Salmond….

2. Russia: in light of new laws and various state endorsed (or at least ignored) atrocities Russia is featured on a number of placards to remind us that our queer struggle stretches across the world.

3. Independence: the all-round hot topic in Scotland. Both Yes Scotland and Better Together made their appearance, each presenting brighter futures for queers in Scotland.

4. Religion: whether it’s religions saying that they will accept queer members of the faith, or queers protesting religious intolerance: everyone has something to say about it!

5. Feminism: there were lots more placards displaying feminist messages this year – yay!

The top 5 ‘not for next years’:

1. Charity stalls:  I cannot see you for all the beer! In 2012 the charity stalls were right along the edge of the stage. There were dancing folk literally falling into charitable activities, and this is what I like. Next year, don’t hide them!

2. Parade: Pride is a protest. It’s here to remind everyone what we’re fighting for. Don’t call it a parade, because that makes people think of balloons and carnival queens… And makes others question the point. Which leads me onto another point…

3. Silence: or more accurately the sound of people chatting amongst themselves and I like to imagine wondering why they’re going on a really long, slow walk. The point of Pride is to be big, brave, loud: sending the clear message we’re here, we’re queer and we will not live in fear. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for poignant silences to remember those who have been victims of hate crime. But seriously the majority of the march was chitter chatter. Get your chant on!

4. Pervs: hi there I’m a person, I have thoughts and feelings and everything! You’re gawping. At my ass. No seriously, your mouth is open. Leave me alone. Now, my fellow queers, if you like a woman go up and chat to her, don’t just creep from a distance, it makes everyone really uncomfortable.

5. Queens of Pop in AXM: just gross.

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This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

My name is Caity, or Caitlyn if you met me online before in the real world. I’m 22 in 2013 and I was born and raised predominantly in Australia, but am not very good at sitting still.

Why did you get involved in The Gay Agenda?

I got involved as I’m an avid blogger and love communicating with people through this medium. I thought my sexuality would be a new angle for my blogging, as my primary blog is about law and politics over at Stateless Diplomat. Plus, I hope I can add these angles in here.

What do you write about?

Law, politics and bisexuality. All of these are central to me 🙂

What do you do in real life?

I’m studying a joint honours MA in Law and International Relations, drinking f**k loads of tea and travelling.

Why is Pride important to you?

Pride as in the idea, not the event, is important to me because as someone whose sexuality can be easily erased or halved it’s something that keeps me sane, and gives me a feeling of belonging with the whole proud community. My pride keeps me secure in who I am, and is something I can share with my LGBT+ friends in a kind of mutually-refueling sort of way. I also think Pride as a protest is still hugely important to our social development, and a great experience for those who love it.

I’ve never been to a Pride parade, as I’m not one for loud street events. They scare me a little.

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

Purple and Proud

What’s your Pride soundtrack?

Spice up your Life – The Spice Girls

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of the little toe I have out of the closet, and all the anxiety and fear I’ve overcome to get the support I have. I’m proud of the UK moving forward on equality, and of Scotland leading the way.

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Rhianna

This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride, we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

Hi Cilla, my name’s Rhianna, I’m 25 and I’m originally from Ely but I live in Glasgow

Why did you get involved in the Gay Agenda?

I am very opinionated. I think we need more outlets to discuss issues for queer women in the UK

What do you write about?

Queer issues, trans* issues and books!

Photo by John: http://bit.ly/17ByjOy

Photo by John: http://bit.ly/17ByjOy

What do you do in real life?

I’m about to start an MRes in Equality and Human Rights, I work in a museum and I read a lot of books.

Why is Pride important to you?

It’s a really good platform for campaigning on the current issues for queer and LGBT people and you feel part of a community out in the street. You know you can hold hands with your girlfriend and won’t get shouted at for it.

What is your best and worst part of pride?

The people are the best bit. Everyone’s so happy to be out regardless of the weather or whatever else might be going on. The worst bit is all the commercialisation. All the pubs, clubs and the like that turn up to promote their drink prices and don’t give a shit about the protest part. Pride isn’t about pubs.

What’s your must-have item for Pride?

Rainbow clothes! I don’t fit in for many reasons – one of those is my fashion sense or lack thereof – and it’s nice to not be judged for wearing rainbow flares. Well not too judged.

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

“Gender Extender”. Actually it would probably say “Fuck gender binaries”.

fuck gender norms and barriers

What’s you Pride soundtrack?

Androgyny – Garbage

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

The all merge into one actually. Probably Pride Glasgow a couple of years ago. I can’t remember what I was getting a petition signed for but I got a few hundred signatures and talked to loads of people. It was great.

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of us. I’m proud that we fight for our rights and how we fight for them. We are creative campaigners: we march, we blog, we have catchy chants, historically we’ve staged die ins and kiss ins. We are a movement changing the world one chant at a time.

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The Gay Agenda is Proud: Denise

This week, in the lead up to Glasgow Pride, we decided to interview some of our writers to find out what Pride means to them!

What’s your name, age and where do you come from?

Hi, I’m Denise *Waves* I’m almost 25 and I come from Glasgow.

Why did you get involved in The Gay Agenda?

I wanted to get involved as I feel that sometimes women in the Queer community have less of a voice than we should have (unfortunately), and I liked the idea to have a small chance to do something about that. Any opportunity to work with strong and inspirational women is fabulous in my opinion anyway.

What do you write about?

Anything that bothers me! I like having the opportunity to reflect on current affairs and how queer women are actually affected by certain issues. I’m also going to be writing some pieces for the music section of the website. There will be some reviews, fun articles and maybe even some interviews. If you have any thoughts or suggestions about what you’d like to see in this section, please comment and let me know!

Pride t-shirt

What do you do in real life?

In real life, I’m currently studying for a PhD in chemistry. I also run the LGBT society at Strathclyde university.

Why is Pride important to you?

Pride is important because it shows that the LGBT community is strong and united. Although things are becoming much better for LGBT people in our country, we can still face a lot of adversity in our daily lives. Pride shows that we aren’t afraid to celebrate who we are, and that we will stand together and never stop fighting for equal rights, no matter what is thrown at us. It’s also fantastic for newly out people to feel supported and part of a large community of people who are just like them. Coming out can be a scary and lonely experience, so it’s important for people to feel like they are not alone.


What is your best and worst part of pride?

The best part is the general atmosphere. Everyone is happy and proud, you have an awesome day with your friends no matter what the weather is doing and I love seeing the smiles on the faces of the people who stand on the streets and watch the parades! The worst part is probably the queues in bars afterwards – both to get a drink and to go to the toilet!

What is your must-have item for Pride?

I think my must-have item is probably a pride flag! I found 3 in my cupboard when I moved house recently.

If you had a placard for Pride what would it say?

Hmm I dunno, “Cover me in chocolate and feed me to the lesbians!” I don’t know if my girlfriend would approve of that one though! If I was going to make a serious one it would probably be something about the horrendous situation in Russia.

What’s your Pride soundtrack?

Good Question! There’s not any music that I’m particularly “into” that I associate with pride. Probably the sort of really cheesy music they tend to have in clubs; songs like “I am what I am” always remind me of Pride, but it’s not really what I’d choose to listen to.

Best ever Pride you’ve been to?

In 2010 I went to Brighton Pride and it was actually the first Pride I’d ever been to. It was amazing and I’d really love to go back there at some point.

Denise Brighton

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of the LGBT society and the things we have achieved since 2011. It can be hard at times but it does make me feel really proud when a student thanks you and tells you that you have made a difference to their university experience. I am also proud of having a really amazing and supportive network of friends and family.

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