Monday, 23 August 2010

Does Manchester Pride make you Proud, asks Jennie O’Hara

In 2006 I attended my first ever Manchester Pride. During the ‘festival’, I parted with over £200 and did some permanent liver damage. I had missed the parade, and although the bands on the stage were recognisable names, I wasn’t wowed by any of them. I do distinctly remember very long toilet queues, and feeling a little bit like a sardine.

In 2008 I helped organise an entry into the parade, where we marched under the banner ‘Pride is a Protest’, chanted ‘we’re here, we’re queer, we can’t afford the beer’, and tried to take on the over-priced commericalisation of our sexualities. I had been radicalised.

Manchester Pride is one of the UK’s biggest Pride events, and consists of a week of fringe events leading up to the ‘Big Weekend’, where the whole of Canal Street and the ‘gay village’ is barriered off and turned into a giant party with bands and singers, alcohol, drugs, dancing, porta-loos and thousands of LGBT people from all over the country. It is a colourful, exciting, busy, big gay mess. And access to all this costs between £10 and £20 pounds (depending on when you buy your wristband).

But Manchester Pride has very little politics, it has almost nothing for children (and certainly nothing on the big weekend), and it excludes lots of LGBT people who simply cannot afford to go. In effect, it makes some people ‘too poor to be gay’.

Welcome Reclaim the Scene, a coalition of LGBT and queer activists (and their friends) who are sick of being excluded from Pride, sick of the lack of politics and sick of being too poor to be gay. The group have three main aims they are striving towards: making pride free, putting LGBT rights at the top of the agenda, and making the ‘village’ accessible, inclusive and welcoming.

LGBT people come from diverse backgrounds, and Manchester Pride should celebrate this, by including the whole rainbow of LGBT and queer people in its celebrations, whether they are homeless, students, parents, gay, bisexual, polyamorous, middle-class, working-class, unemployed or directors. Regardless of whether they are men, women, trans, un-identified, gender-queer, old, young, Muslims, atheists, anti/capitalists, or queer individuals.

Pride should be inclusive because it takes a whole movement to challenge oppression. We still live in a society that oppresses people based on their identities. When statistics show that ‘gay’ is the biggest insult used in schools, and that young trans people have a 50% attempted suicide rate, Pride should be doing something to tackle it. When young LGBT people are made homeless because of their un-accepting parents, or attacked by members of the British National Party or the English Defence League, Pride should be working to make life better for these people. And when the Christian right are stood on the side of the parade with anti-gay placards, condemning all the parade participants to Hell, Pride should not just tell you to “ignore” the homophobic protestors, but should fight back. Ignoring bigotry does not make it go away.

On the 28 August Reclaim the Scene will be hosting our annual post-parade picnic, the (Out of the) Village Fete, a community led afternoon of children’s entertainment, performers, political stalls, alcohol-fuelled spaces and alcohol-free spaces, films, dancing, music, poetry and free food sourced from local community allotments. The event is free, runs from 2-9pm at a location just outside of the village barriers, and inclusive to everyone. Our aim is to show Manchester Pride that it is possible to run a successful, free, inclusive and political Pride event.

My first experience of Manchester Pride didn’t make me proud; it made me disheartened and slightly poorer. Pride should be about empowering LGBT and queer individuals to celebrate our identities, and to fight for a world where we are not oppressed for being who we are. Reclaim the scene because Pride is a protest!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Scout @ Edinburgh highlights/lowlights - Part 4

Scout’s Diary

Friday 13th August 2010 and Saturday 14th August 2010

As sure as toc follows tic the weekend of Friday the 13th bought with it all kinds of bad luck, including lost flyers – essential for promoting the shows, broken musical equipment-- essential for performing the shows, the kind of stellar arguments that threaten to alter the course of friendships altogether, and a night spent drinking with an actor named Rob who, even if he never becomes famous, will remain in our hearts forever. How could we not love a boy who admits 8 hours into a 16 hour drinking binge that he didn’t want to sleep with anyone at all ‘til he was 19, didn’t ‘commit’ to sleeping with women for a couple years after that, and really what he misses the most about his previous relationship is not the sex but his two house bunnies?
Amazing. We actually found someone more mental than Visa Girl.

For those concerned about her welfare, the world’s crappest, and I dare say bitchiest, superhero is now out of the country (unaided, on this occasion by the services by the services of Her Majesty’s UK Border Agency, who fly you home for free if you stay in the country illegally!!) and will spend the next few days terrorising France before hauling her bi-polar, anorexic, possibly drug addicted arse back to New York. Miss you, bitch! Not really.

We also caught a couple of shows, some of which I’d like to recommend:

Lara A King, a guitar playing stand-up who we’ll put a mini-interview up with at some point, is playing at The Counting House, and she’s fab.

Tits Up! Which is playing at Café Renroc directly before Scout’s show Hi, How Can I Help You? The talented all-girl cast wrote and perform the play about work politics and dreadful bosses to hilarious, and very recognisable, effect.

Thunderer at the VooDoo Rooms is a piss-take of a soap opera set in Victorian England that had us howling. Go see it now before the Radio 4 production starts to be broadcast. You will not regret it.

Killy Dwyer’s anti-cabaret act GirlBallz at Jekyll and Hyde is all sorts of hilarious, offensive fun for last thing at night.

Bob Slayer’s Punk Rock Chat Show at The Hive is a welcome return to alternative comedy, which some of you may remember from the 80’s. We love Bob, a former manager of touring rock bands, and his sidekick Myles Powell, collector of truly dreadful tattoos. Love them.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Why we need Black Pride

When Stonewall publicised Black Gay Pride on their website, the last thing Campbell Ex expected to find was a slew of hostile comments from white gays and lesbians

Saturday 14th August I attended a garden party, it was multi-generational, multi-national and included friends of different sexual orientations all having a great time together.
Last weekend I attended Brighton Pride where heterosexual teenage boys and girls danced and mingled easily in the carnivalesque atmosphere with drag queens, lesbian tomboys and muscle marys.
Yes 21st Century UK is a very tolerant place right? Well my rainbow balloon exploded with a bang when I read the Stonewall thread on Facebook when the organisation put up a post about UK Black Pride. This fairly innocuous announcement received vitriolic and derisory comments about the need for an event celebrating Black LGBTI culture and sexuality. So much so that the moderator had to ask for calm and restraint on the wall.
UK Black Pride is a celebration of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American LGBT people from Britain, Europe and internationally. However the very idea that people of colour could experience identities that are complex and layered and not based solely on sexual orientation was enraging enough to generate responses like:
“What next? Gay UK Nationals Pride? Gay Legal Immigrant Pride? Gay Illegal Immigrant Pride? Gay professional person's Pride? Gay non-professionals Pride? Gay German car owner's Pride....??! ...Since when has skin colour been relevant to sexuality??”
“when's white pride?”
Sadly even though contemporary urban UK is more at ease with it’s multicultural vibe, identities which are complex continue to be contentious. To emphasize one’s Black culture when one identifies as LGBTI disrupts the melting pot ideal of white liberal LGBTI imagination as well as racial minority/religious fundamentalist ideologies.
Many people of colour attend pride events all over the UK regularly and experience a sense of unity and celebration with all LGBTI people and those that support our quest for equality. People do not experience exclusion or racial hostility on the marches or any of the club events later. However this does not change the fact that the power structures and people who organise Pride are overwhelmingly white. 21st century LGBTI people on the whole are open and inclusive in their personal lives, yet the lesbian and gay institutions are still stuck in the 1950’s in terms of racial diversity. This contributes to perpetuating the notion that gay=white and consolidates the myth in the eyes of the straight world and mainstream gay society that to be Black and gay is an oxymoron.
UK Black Pride is important as a high profile public event creating an alternative view of homosexuality. It allows people of colour to be in an environment where they are in the majority. The Black Pride programmers can set the agenda, they decide what acts appear in the line up. The Black performers many of whom are not themselves LGBT by appearing publicly on the stage declare their support and solidarity with show their solidarity with Black LGBTI people.
People of colour who attend know that they will have visible evidence that they are not alone and that the values of their cultures of origin need not be left at the door when they step into Regents College. They also know that that the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the music they enjoy, will not be “ticking some diversity box” but will be an integral part of the whole day. It was a telling moment when Janet Kay, queen of Lovers Rock sang Silly Games, everyone irrespective of age, gender or ethnic origin sang and skanked along with her.
White people who enjoy cultures of a Black origin and celebrate the history of lesbian and gay people of colour, or who are in interracial relationships attend UK Black Pride. This is important as UK Black pride does not have a separatist agenda, but one that is truly inclusive and where the ethos is “we run tings, tings nuh run we”

Europride Warsaw

Hello, haven’t seen much on europride which was in Warsaw this year. Our local gay press said that they didn’t know it was happening! It happened every year and this year it was being run by an inexperienced team with no funding from their government we have just returned and it was amazing! A Brighton resident, Claire ‘Bat’ Denyon received an award at the gala evening that featured Stockholm’s gay men’s choir and the London gay men’s choir. She has recently been featured in the Observers list of influential lesbians in the UK.

The march itself set off in temperatures of 35 and was eventually rerouted and shortened, partly because of the heat but also because of the counter demonstrations – 5 of them. These were a mixture of fundamentalist Catholics and right wing fascists. There was a smoke bomb in front of us and some stone throwing – one of the gay men’s choir of London was hurt. The police, although grim faced and reluctant to be snapped, were very protective and were numerous and visually on full alert for any trouble.

That evening we explored what the delights of our silver club card would bring us and found an amazing collection of bars, each one the size of a small living room and all in shacks just off one of the main shopping streets. There was no big central evening do that we could find and the lack of air con put us off the drag act on ‘Pride House’ one of the main gathering areas but we had a great time.

Having a Polish speaker in our gang of 3 was invaluable and we were able to go to a lot of places that tourists would have shied away from. We also met lots of Polish lesbians and my partner; Maria Jastrzebska did a poetry reading in a library in Warsaw on the Monday after pride. It was well supported and a very interesting gathering who asked searching questions in the Q and A session after the reading.

It was a shame that the event was not better attended, maybe people were worried about the dubious track record of Poland with LGBT issues and it cannot be denied that it is not the easiest place to be gay. However we had am amazing time and really felt like it was important to be there and to have a presence. Hopefully future prides will be enlivened by this year and the Warsaw businesses will see the benefits of the pink pound even if they are not completely championing diversity.

I would urge you to include this report in your magazine along with the numerous pictures and account of Manchester and Brighton prides etc. I live in Brighton and I love the fiesta that is Brighton Pride with its emphasis on families and inclusion. However I really felt that I was making a difference this year by being at Warsaw europride as they are beginning the long journey towards any kind of social or political acceptance and they really need the support of the established gay communities and Prides in the UK.

Deborah Price

Friday, 13 August 2010

Scout Durwood and the Packed houses - Part 3

Scout Durwood at the Edinburgh Festival

Thursday 12th August 2010

Words: Alisande Orme

It turns out that putting 6 ‘theatre artists’ into a confined space (the wee Edinburgh house) and letting them stew in their own performance anxiety is not a recipe for preserving friendships, so much as an instruction manual for how to prepare explosive material. Killy, Scout’s other housemate who I’ve yet to mention by name because, well, she has her own room and thus gets to stay out of the more dramatic incidents, yesterday spent time instructing us all to nurture our ‘inner children’ after a couple of incidents over the last few days led to, respectively, tears before bedtime, tears before show time, and tears in front of a pub full of people that led to one member of the crew having to be comforted by five stand-up comedians after she was ‘abandoned’ by everyone else (there’s a joke in that scenario somewhere, I’m sure, that doesn’t involve me becoming hysterical again). But we’re better now, we promise.

Following a much needed day off, Thursday went a little something like this:

Scout filled in as a stand-up in a variety show at the very beautiful Voodoo Rooms. She’s always thrilled during her stand-up sets at how well her self-penned paean to the travails of womanhood, ‘The Period Song’ goes down, particularly amongst men, who seem to especially enjoy belting out lines such as “I just got my period/ I want to eat nachos and criticise your life choices.” It’s a singalong, obviously.

After teaching mankind about the social impact of menstruation w then moved along to see Delilah Dix and Her Bag of Tricks at Fingers’ Piano Bar. Delilah, a seasoned show biz professional (read: slutty alcoholic who dresses like a drag queen and once dated Queen Latifah), sings the audience through her career in the style of a lounge act and, honestly, I don’t think we’ve laughed so hard since we got here.

At the end of the day, Hi! How Can I Help You? once again played to a packed house. It feels to some extent like stuff is still being worked out in terms of the show and audiences. No-one had anticipated, for example, how much audiences up here like to be included in a performance. But, one week in, it’s all coming together, and for that we are immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Is Scout Durwood Edinburgh's funniest lesbian? - Part 2

Scout Durwood at the Edinburgh Festival

Alisande Orme’s Diary

Monday 9th August

Ugh. Monday. It seems that whatever you do, wherever it is in the world, there’s no way to escape the start of week downturn. Monday night’s crowd-- undoubtedly influenced by the two for one ticket offers that were available to many shows—did not turn up in Café Renroc. Scout played to an audience of three, a fact that left her more than a little bit blue, something we addressed by getting very, very drunk.

Blue Monday was then compounded when we “realised” that Scout’s bike seat—just the seat, not the rest of it, mind—had been stolen. I say realised because when we got back to the venue on Tuesday it turned up in her dressing room… Thanks for all that free beer Mr. Bartender (whose name we’ve blacked out in order to stop ourselves from involuntarily cringing every time it’s mentioned for the next 100 years), thanks a lot.

Tuesday 10th August

At 10 o’clock on Tuesday morning we’re still thanking the bartender for all that beer, mostly because Visa Girl and Scout’s other housemate woke us up at that ungodly hour so we could chant in gratitude for all our blessings. Despite our initial cynicism (and hangovers that could hold back the tides) there may well be something in it: Scout played to a full house that included two reviewers, one of whom definitely liked the show!

What strikes me most as a non-performer is the sheer hustle that goes into appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe, particularly if you want to be succesful. Self-promotion, good online and print reviews and audience word of mouth are essential to gaining crowds, and so it is a case of non-stop talking to people in the street during the day, doling out flyers, and emailing potential reviewers in the name of marketing.

Initially, organising a venue and funding seemed as if it might be the most challenging part of Scout’s (ahem) journey. Once she got to Edinburgh there were more fiddly problems to sort out, such as adapting Hi, How Can I Help You? to suit a predominantly British audience and Café Renroc’s itsy-bitsiness. But before Scout performs she (along with Lucile and I) have to get audiences in to Renroc. To do that we have to hit the city’s streets where we then spend the day competing for the attention of passerby against a frightening number of all-singing all-dancing sixth form drama clubs who—ah, the energy of youth-- are forever clogging up the place with their renderings of Rent and Sweeney Todd.

Seriously, if teenagers approached you so aggressively in any other part of the world, you’d seriously consider changing your route home. Instead, we’ve begun adapting some of the musical numbers from Scout’s show so they’re more, um, appropriate for life before the watershed, while also adapting our wardrobes so we can go out dressed appropriately to promote a show that’s about sex workers.

Scout Durwood at the Edinburgh Festival - Part 1

Alisande Orme’s Diary

Friday, 6th August 2010: Opening Night

I’ve been friends with first time Edinburgh festival performer Scout Durwood for four years now. During the time I’ve known her she’s go-go danced in sleazy cocktail bars, interned at a feminist magazine captained by a frighteningly verbal alcoholic editor, campaigned for the rights of rape victims, and spent time in a dungeon to research her latest one-woman show Hi, How Can I Help You? but I’ve never known her to be quite as nervous as this.

Scout arrived in Edinburgh from New York two days before her opening with Lucile Scott, her director, and two other performers who’s she sharing a house that estate agents might politely describe as ‘bijou’ with. One housemate almost didn’t make it in to the country, having previously overstayed a tourist visa by over a year. When she did make it in, Visa Girl (as she’ll hence forward be know) immediately began celebrating with Scotland’s finest (whiskey and men) throwing her housemates aflutter by disappearing for two days. It’s never undramatic with actors.

Café Renroc, 91 Montgomery Street, where Hi, Can I Help You? will run until August 29th is the cutest little venue in Edinburgh, it even has a gallery space. However, it’s littleness mean that the hula hoop routine -an essential part of the show, where one sex worker really gets to strut her stuff- has had to be reworked at the last minute. We’ve spent two days publicising the show (read: flyering and flirting with American tourists), and are now keeping our fingers crossed that people will actually come along.

“It could be worse,” we tell each other after watching the news coverage of Charles Taylor’s trial for war crimes. “We could be Naomi Campbell’s wig.”

Saturday, 7th August 2010

With opening night- in a not empty venue!- over Scout, Lucile and I (having taken on the unofficial role of den mother, vodka pourer and force feeder in the wee Edinburgh house) have all calmed down immensely. Even Visa Girl stayed in last night.

Café Renroc, we have decided, is perfect for Scout’s show as a noisier bar, where people are dropping in and out all the time, might disrupt the flow of the performance in a piece like this, which comprises acting, singing and dancing. They, we feel, suit improv acts or stand-up comics better as they give them the chance to show off.

The afternoon is marked out by a ‘Meet The Press’ event which La Durwood assures us went really, really well. We hope so, because apart from the flyering and relying on people who’ve seen the show to spread the word, we’re kind of at a loss of what to do, bar accosting members of the TV production teams who trawl the festival for hot new talent outside their hotel rooms.

Diva’s own interview with her, in which she discusses how best to conduct research in a ‘House of Domination’ can be found here:

I’ll post any other links as I get them.

Sunday, 8th August 2010

Word of mouth and a calm demeanour, it seems, might be the key. Having had a fairly good turn out on Friday, Renroc surprised us with an almost totally packed audience on Saturday! And they liked the show! Exclamation marks and double whiskeys all round!!!

We celebrated this upturn in events with fish and chips and a trip around some of the city’s finer LGBTQ bars. I’m not naming names- can’t remember any- but I would ask lesbians of Edinburgh this, particularly on behalf of Scout and Lucile, who as New York lezzes aren’t used to being chatted up by straight men in gay bars: Where are all the girls, and bois, and dykes? Want some. Also- the eternal question- why doesn’t saying “No thanks, I’m a dyke?” make me these men reconsider their (ahem) affections, especially when you’re in a lesbian bar when you say it? Hate boys.

We’re also massively uplifted by the interview with Sarah Millican that appeared in The Guardian today. Millican we learn only sold five tickets to her Edinburgh show, but went onto win the award for Best Newcomer by the end of the month. With that in mind, we went out to do more flyering.

Follow Scout on Twitter


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Because according to The Mirror, Cross-Dresser = Killer

Has anyone read The Daily Mirror recently? No? Well, I don’t blame you, normally I wouldn’t either. But recently there was a rather interesting article on Raoul Moat, the gunman who killed himself and shot three others over a period of seven days. With a history of violence, steroid abuse and an eighteen week sentence for assaulting a relative, he was indisputably dangerous. Within three days of his release he had shot his ex-girlfriend’s new partner and a police constable. Clearly, the man was volatile and twisted – that cannot be contested.

The Daily Mirror reported as much. The article condemns him as ‘a living monster’ who, according to a previous partner, ‘made her life hell with a string of beatings that almost killed her, a vicious rape and mental torture during jealous rages fueled by a cocktail of steroid drugs.’ Fine. Dandy. I’m not going to argue with that. Why would I? I have no doubts that she’s telling the truth. The man sounds absolutely horrific; every inch the maniac that the article portrays him as.

What I am going to argue with is this: “Marissa Reid, 32, told of the killer’s kinky cross-dressing… he made her life hell with beatings, rape and mental torture.”

I’m sorry, but what? What, pray tell, does cross-dressing have to do with killing? The two don’t belong in the same sentence! Here was a sick, twisted and evil man who ruthlessly abused his partners before proceeding to shoot three people in cold blood. He was a demented, vile individual and I’m glad he’s gone. But the fact that he cross-dressed, that he “[dressed] up in [his ex-partner’s] clothes and make-up, even parading around in a mini-skirt… loved trying on [her] skirts, dresses and even [her] thongs” is utterly inconsequential. It is a tiny, insignificant fact about a malicious murderer and bears about as much relevance to his actions as the fact he has blue eyes.

What exactly are they trying to say? That cross-dressing has a direct correlation with homicidal tendencies? That his fondness for woman’s clothing was a sign of his mental instability? Because that’s what it seems like to me. And, of course, that’s absolute rubbish. It’s merely statistics: there’s a section of people that enjoy cross-dressing, and a section of people that enjoy killing. Despite the thankfully minute proportion of the latter, the two groups will, at some point, inevitably and tragically overlap, thus opening the floodgates for the bigots and zealots who declaim different as dangerous. Of course, it’s not true. I’m willing to bet a whole lot of money that there are more killers and madmen who write with their left hands than cross-dress. Are we then to assume that being left-handed is a mark of the liable killer? That all left-handers are prone to sudden and bloody murderous riots? No, of course not, because that would be stupid. We ditched the theory that the left hand was a sign of evil when we moved away from the repression of the Victorian era, and I think it’s high time that The Mirror did the same.

(The article in question can be found here).

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The New Black: There’s a new networking blog site and it’s a godsend for lesbians, says Beau Jackson

I first discovered Tumblr through a friend. On a Facebook status she had posted a link to an article on her Tumblr page and, liking the creativity and freedom of the posts I saw, I decided to create my own ‘tumblelog’.

Like any other blog or social networking site you first have to create a name for your page, and from there you can begin to post pictures, text, music and videos…but then, who’s going to see it?
As my friend did, you could always post links to your tumblelog on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, but Tumblr is not meant to be an extension of the network you have going with your friends. Instead it is an anonymous outlet for you, viewed by people with the same interests as you, who live in different places all over the world. These people are your followers.

Your followers are people who choose to receive a stream of your posts on what is called their ‘dashboard’, better known as a homepage. You in turn receive your own stream of posts from people you choose to get regular updates from, as with Facebook and Twitter. However, Tumblr avoids all those annoying updates from the clearly very fun party people who log in just to say “9iii’,m sdos drijmk!” on a night out.

Over my time on Tumblr I have gathered together a stream of people that seem largely of the lesbian persuasion.
Seeing the content they post and their popularity I asked a handful of them if the self professed “easiest way to blog” site lives up to it’s name and, more importantly, if they share my feeling that it is particularly ideal for the LGBT community to express themselves and receive support.

All of the users asked agreed that they post content without a fear of being judged or discriminated against – result! Still, that is not to say that prejudice doesn’t happen on Tumblr. We don’t live in a ‘perfect world’ and so we can’t expect any part of it to be without prejudice and discrimination. When such an instance of tunnel vision does occur on the site, there is, as pointed out by Claire of thenameofasong a ready-made community on hand to fight against it, probably much more so than the support you may receive from Facebook, as the people following your tumblelog generally share the same interests and opinions as you do.

The inevitability of this situation is then that users of Tumblr will strike up new friendships with each other, particularly useful for, for example, a 16- year-old lesbian living in a small town without a gay community. Allison of the blog itsbeendaysnow told me how she had met her current girlfriend through Tumblr, a relationship that probably wouldn’t have happened without the site, and others told me of their friendships with people across the globe. The same can be said in conjunction with other social networking sites, but with Tumblr there’s so much more freedom with the people you meet and it’s a lot easier to quickly find someone with the same interests.

It should go without saying that Tumblr provides a great support network particularly for younger people concerned about their sexuality. Again, the people asked unanimously agreed that they have witnessed or they themselves have helped teens with questions about sexuality. Candace of FYLL commented that her Tumblr famous blog had not only made young girls feel comfortable with their sexuality but that it also “made them LOVE being a part of this community”.

And so, it’s safe to say that the ‘Tumblr family’ is going to keep on growing. But here’s hoping that the site remains a relatively prejudice free and supportive unit, where people can share experiences, fears and ideas freely.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Teeth whitening - they're all at it!

Simon Cowell's had his done. Sarah Harding looks dashing with hers, and Cheryl Cole is definitely a new woman since she had her pearly whites doctored.

I was lucky enough to have my teeth whitened by Wyman Chan , the very chap responsible for Miss Cole's scrubbed teeth. After I'd gotten over the sad realisation that this is probably the closest to Cheryl I will ever get, I jumped at the opportunity to give DIVA readers a special promotion to keep you smiling beautifully.

For £250 rather than the RRP of £595, DIVA readers can get the full treatment from Wyman and his team, simply by quoting DIVA when booking at Smile Studios. The procedure took little over an hour, beginning with a relaxing few minutes in a massage chair. The staff are all extremely courteous and adhering to your every whim. During the main whitening session, you are provided with DVD goggles and a headset, and a choice of films to keep you occupied. I was asked on numerous occasions about my comfort, and by the end of the hour I had almost melted into the dentist's chair! Not a feeling normally associated with a trip to the tooth doc's.

Dr Wyman even showed me my before and after pictures, and I have to say my teeth are noticeably whiter. If I had a pound for every comment I've had about my teeth, I'd be a very rich woman, and now, like Cheryl and Simon, they really are my pearly whites!

Call to book your appointment now: 020 7439 0888

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Ever dreamed about appearing in Trueblood? check this out.

If your dreams are filled with scenes that involve a starring role alongside sexy Anna Paquin in Trueblood? Well, hang on to that day job because that’s probably never going to happen, but hey, a girl can hope, right?

However, if you are willing to set your sights a little lower, for example appearing as an extra on the hit HBO show, I may just be able to help you out.

Charity Website, Charity Buzz, is auctioning off the chance to appear as an extra in the next season of Trueblood.

The role on offer is an non-speaking one, which is probably for the best as it takes away the need to say anything intelligent when all you can think about is ‘hmmmm Anna Paquin’ whilst gazing into the mid distance and dribbling like Homer Simpson.

If you are already busy transferring money, extending your overdraft and enjoying a private fantasy of replacing Stephen Moyer in those steamy sex scenes, yeah, you know the ones I mean, then go check out this site.

Sorry got distracted there for a minute… what was I saying? Oh yeah, here’s the website;

Monday, 24 May 2010

Courtney Love kissed and told but do any of us care?

Ok, so everyone’s heard the newest hot lesbian gossip by now. The slightly less than reliable Courtney Love apparently got it on with Kate Moss, somewhere in Paris, a long time ago. Really, who cares about the particulars?

Now I am all for a bit of salacious lesbian gossip but the fact that I read this, yawned, and then spent 5 minutes flipping through the pages of the Overground timetable before going back and reading a bit more really says quite a lot about how often stories like this appear in the media.

I am not going to claim, as a certain Daily Mail journalist did, that ‘It all started with Britney and Madonna’ whose kiss ‘made a particular type of lipstick lesbianism almost fashionable.’ Or that this ‘worrying trend’ is the beginning of a big slippery slope where the whole world is going to go out and experiment and find out that they might be a little bit gay after all.

The journalist in question seems to view the idea that women celebrities kissing in public is a negative thing, ‘[giving a] veneer of acceptance to what would previously have been considered unacceptably risque public behaviour’ now, it may just be me but maybe this should be seen as a positive thing. Shouldn’t it?

If celebrities want to kiss each other, whether for publicity, or because they really do love each other, like Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson (cough, cough) then maybe we should just let them get on with it, it’s exposure and support for the lesbian cause, isn’t it?

Well, I have to admit that I was a member of the; ‘it’s great, the more lesbian kisses there are in the media, the better’ group, but I have changed my opinion slightly, largely because having a ‘lesbian relationship’ doesn’t really mean you’re actually a lesbian anymore, and there is also the chance that the whole thing was made up anyway. There is, after all, more than a little suspicion over the validity of Courtney Love’s claims.

At the same time quite a few other suspected-to-be-lesbians refuse to come out of the closet at all. What is going on?

If one or two female singers, who have been setting off our gaydars for quite a few years (yeah, you know who I’m talking about), or a few famous sports stars officially came out, then that might actually do something for ‘the cause’ but Courtney Love romping in a Paris hotel with Kate Moss, is just one more media fiasco adding fuel to the argument that it’s all done for publicity.

Homophobia is still rife, there’s no denying that, and while girl on girl action in the news is becoming so common that it is almost a none-story, it’s still considered a bad Hollywood career move to call yourself a lesbian.

Lindsay Lohan’s bed hopping, Courtney Love’s questionability and the legendary kiss between Madonna and Brittney might be good for a bit of late night You Tubing but, and call me a cynic, a bit more Ellen and Portia and a few less, apparently drug fueled, lesbian flings that begin with Kate Moss chasing Courtney Love around a hotel room, and end in a media circus, and maybe things would progress a little bit faster, don’t you think?


Friday, 30 April 2010

Immigration policy is no joke

Heard the one about the migrant workers who stole our jobs? Thought not – it’s a lie, says Ceri Dingle

The belief that immigrants are taking our jobs, housing, services and resources, making UK citizens worse off is a very old idea dating back to the end of the 19th century and first enshrined in law with the 1905 aliens act which blamed Jewish migrants for shortages. This idea has informed punitive immigration laws ever since. Even the popular forms of this idea are not born of any direct experience: of a foreigner kicking you out of your home; forcing you into an NHS waiting room; sacking you from your job or cutting your pay. Our reduced living standards, lack of services, housing, jobs and decent pay have always been the direct responsibility of employers and government. They make the decisions. Immigrants have less say than anyone in fact, unless they are the tiny minority of very rich ones who are employers and own homes and who are not being moaned about. In fact how well off we are or how poor we are has never been determined by numbers of people anywhere. Some of the most crowded countries in the world, take Belgium, are some of the richest and some of the least densely populated take Namibia are extremely poor. How well off a country is, hinges on levels of investment and wealth creating industries not numbers. We can also be poor in a rich country if we are not prepared to fight for more and better. The real problem is politicians have consistently allowed immigrants to take the blame for what is their fault. They may not point the finger directly at immigrants today as they have in the past but they are not going to turn round and take the blame for people being badly off or ill provided for. They will not say sorry it’s our fault we haven’t built the homes you want, invested in infrastructure or industry to create jobs and new wealth. Employers who cut pay do not say I need to screw you more to increase my profit they’ll say its ‘market’ pressure, the ‘rate for the job’ or we need to ‘share the pain’. Their default position is to happily let the public blame immigrants and to jump on that band wagon openly when it suits them. Gordon Brown has done this by introducing a new visa points system, increasing deportations weekly and enforcing a draconian borders agency to do the government’s dirty work. The government are very effective bigots in fact but happily point the finger at the public as nasty xenophobes. Immigration controls of course make non UK citizens legally second class it is hardly any wonder then that they are seen as such, treated as such and blamed for everything. In fact even East Europeans who are legally here are predominantly in the poorest housing and lowest paid jobs. Of course at street level lots of people will say they know someone who got a flat when they didn’t and so on, which while it isn’t true, it is understandable, but the real point is where are the flats we need? We would all be better off lining up with migrants and demanding the pay, jobs and services we need and not letting the government off the hook. Opening the borders would make things very clear and allow a flow of people from across the globe to challenge the status quo with us and improve our lot. After all migrants are people who refuse to be the victims of circumstance. But that takes believing in our potential, our ability to create more and not fixating on where you came out of the womb or the blob of land you were born on.

Ceri Dingle is the Director of the charity, WORLDwrite

WORLDwrite regularly provides free film training for volunteers interested in supporting and promoting Open Borders and is now recruiting runners and walkers to take part in the women’s 5k mini-marathon which takes place in Hyde Park on September 5th under the banner “The More the Merrier – Freedom of movement for all”. For full details email

Monday, 26 April 2010

What will the new Equality Act will do for you?

The Equality Act and its aspirations for the LGBT Community

The Equality Bill was approved by the House of Commons on 6 April 2010 and is expected to receive Royal assent within the next week. The new Equality Act is expected to start to come into force from October 2010. Its development has been five years in the making and its progress through parliament something of a political ‘hot potato’, as Pope Benedict XVI’s comments earlier this year encouraging Catholic Bishops in England and Wales to fight the UK’s Equality Bill with “missionary zeal” emphasised. Whilst there have been different views on what the new law will achieve, it’s overarching purpose has been to simplify existing discrimination laws by putting them together in a single place, and having greater consistency between the protections. The new Equality Act will replace almost all existing discrimination laws, it also aims to strengthen the law further to protect the LGBT community.

Some of the changes include the following:

  • All public bodies will be required to consider equality issues when exercising their functions as a public body. In particular, public body policies should aim to:
    • Eliminate discrimination and harassment on the grounds of a person’s actual or perceived sexuality;
    • Advance equal opportunities between gay, bisexual and straight persons;
    • Foster good relations between gay, bisexual and straight persons.

For example, local authorities should consider creating and promoting services to benefit the LGBT community specifically in order to assist integration and foster good societal relations.

  • The prohibition on civil partnerships taking place in religious premises has been removed – this amendment was made recently to the Bill during the House of Lords report stage. The government has made it clear however that this will place no obligation on any faith or denomination to do so if it does not wish to
  • Employers will be allowed to take “positive action” in recruiting candidates where one candidate is from an under-represented group. For example, where an employer interviews A and B, and both are as qualified as each other and A is female, the employer might decide to recruit A instead of B because women are under-represented in that workplace. This is likely to be harder to implement in situations involving gay people given that sexuality is frequently an invisible issue.
  • At present, if an employee brings a claim for sexual orientation discrimination against an employer, a Tribunal can only make recommendations regarding improvements in the workplace in limited circumstances. In most cases, employees will only bring a claim against an employer once they have left employment and recommendations cannot be made in such cases. Extending the power of employment tribunals will mean that Tribunals can make recommendations that benefit the whole workforce and not just the individual who brought the claim, even if the successful claimant has left the organisation. For example, if a lesbian is bullied at work because of her sexual orientation, the tribunal could recommend that her employer conducts some focussed awareness training to ensure homophobic bullying is dealt with specifically. A failure to follow tribunal recommendations could form important evidence in future tribunal claims.
  • The Equality Act also protects against “dual discrimination”. This is where an individual considers that discrimination has occurred on a combination of grounds – an example might be a lesbian couple refused IVF treatment on the basis that they are not trying “naturally” to conceive. This is unlikely to affect gay men, and so it would be hard to show that the treatment was on grounds of sexual orientation alone, when in reality it is based on a combination of discrimination due to sexuality and gender. However, the new dual discrimination protection applies only to two (and no more than two characteristics).
  • The Equality Act will also eliminate homophobic discrimination based on a perception of someone’s sexuality (even if they are not of that sexual orientation) or if they are associated with someone of a particular sexuality. For example, a child who is teased at school for having gay parents might be able to challenge the way the school implements its anti-bullying policy if the policy does not tackle associative discrimination.
  • The Bill will make it unlawful for private members’ clubs, and other member associations, to discriminate against gay members or guests of members. This means that a gay person invited to a private club could not be refused a drink, for example. However, it does not mean that the private club would have to allow a gay person to become a member even if the reason for the refusal is on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Having said all of the above, the new law does still leave some holes in anti-discrimination legislation: one area that is specifically excluded from the Bill is protection against harassment on the grounds of sexuality by goods, facilities and service providers. In other words, a lesbian cannot be refused a room in a hotel because of her sexual orientation, but if she was subjected to harassment by an employee at the hotel, she could not claim for harassment. In this example, however, she might still be entitled to bring a claim for discrimination. Gay people are also not currently protected against harassment on grounds of sexual orientation in the context of education in schools. During the consultation period prior to the drafting of the new laws, good evidence was produced to justify extending protection to gay people outside of the employment sphere, in particular to tackle homophobic bullying in schools, but no such provision is actually contained in the Act.

Overall however, although in some aspects it represents missed opportunities, the Equality Act is welcomed and is a positive step towards a more integrative and equal society.

Kiran Daurka, Solicitor at Russell Jones & Walker

Friday, 16 April 2010

Clegg for PM?

Surely the unthinkable couldn’t happen…Liberal Democrats to lead the country? Last night Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib-Dems ‘won’ the first ever televised leader debate and is proving popular amongst the instant polls.

Our online results see over 50% of you swaying towards the Lib-Dems in what could see a shocking outcome in the General Election in May.

In our recent ‘sex’ edition, we interviewed each of the leaders on their LGBT policies and obviously Clegg hit all the right buttons.

Speaking about the issue of civil partnerships, Clegg said: “ I don’t quite understand why we don’t just all grow up and call civil partnerships marriage.”

Great news you might think. However, on 14 April, when the Lib-Dems released their manifesto this detail was left out, leaving the LGBT community out in the cold.

Clegg’s party did however promise lots of things to the community. Included in the manifesto were the assurances of more LGBT MPs in Parliament, broadening the rights of transgendered people, getting tough on hate crime and ending deportation of LGBT people to countries where they will face discrimination.

Bullying in schools is high on the agenda for Clegg who said to DIVA: “I think there needs to be a statutory obligation on all schools to have anti-homophobic bullying policies in place. That’s where I would place the biggest priority – by a long way.”

The potential leaders battled it out on issues including immigration, crime, national debt, the NHS and education on television last night.

It seems as though Clegg is promising good things to all as he consistently came out on top in instant polls by Channel 4, YouGov and ITV. Things are looking glum for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose results were decidedly lacklustre.

Speaking to DIVA magazine, Brown said: “I’ve always made absolutely clear my support for the repeal of section 28 and my support for civil partnership.”

Brown does sit fairly well the LGBT community, however our online results see him getting just 30% of the vote, just over half that of the Lib-Dems.

Conservative leader David Cameron, who asked to ‘stop for a second’ during his interview with DIVA, has a meagre 5% of the votes as his policies on LGBT issues are way behind those of his competition.

“The Conservatives are on a journey,” said Cameron, who is continually um-ing and err-ing on all gay issues. Speaking about IVF treatment [his party voted for the requirement of a father figure], the Tory leader said: “It was not voting against IVF or lesbians…we haven’t got any plans to change it”

Cameron needs to do a lot more if he is to win the vote of the LGBT community.

Personally, I’m pleased that Clegg has made this more of a three horse race. It’s always good to see the underdog come through and perhaps, with a little luck on his way; we’ll see Prime Minister Nick Clegg come May.

By Rosie Blackwell-Sutton

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Prom: A Lesbian's Point of View

It’s Thursday evening, my friends and I are getting dolled-up; high heels, big dresses and excessive make-up. It’s prom night. There’s a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the room. Tonight will be remembered for the rest of our lives.

Sadly, American teenager Constance McMillen never got to experience prom. Why you ask? Because she wanted to dress in a tux and take her girlfriend as a date. On a similar note, Ceara Sturgis, a student from Mississippi had her yearbook picture removed after wearing a tuxedo in the photo.

This shouldn’t be happening in the 21st century where lesbians are ‘allowed’ to get married, have children and celebrate their rights at Pride festivals worldwide.

Although there hasn’t been a case like McMillen’s and Sturgis’s in the UK (hopefully there never will be!), It seems to me as though we’re going backwards.

I wasn’t out when I went to prom, however if I had dressed in a tux, a girl on my arm, I’m pretty sure I’d have got some funny looks from my classmates. Surely this shouldn’t be the case.

I know prom is an age-old tradition, treasured far more in the US than here, but so is marriage yet we’re ‘allowed’ to do that. So what steps can we take to ensure Constance’s situation isn’t repeated?

Channel 4 had a go with their programme ‘My Big Gay Prom’ highlighting the separation between straight and homosexual counterparts in the world of school dances. And in San Francisco there’s an annual ‘lesbian prom’ that Constance and Ceara have been invited to along with an expected 2,000 others.

However, unquestionably, there shouldn’t be a need for a ‘lesbian prom’ or a separation between gay and straight dances. I don’t mean to sound like a ‘why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along’ type but why can’t we?

Thinking ahead to a time when two girls going to an integrated school dance together would be normality, I have come up with some suggestions on how to enjoy your ‘gay’ prom.

1. Ask the right girl! Don’t get stuck with someone who doesn’t want to be seen with you.
2. Dress well. Dress it down with a tailored suit jacket and t-shirt or a classy LBD.
3. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry about holding hands or kissing your date, everyone’s seen it before.
4. Steady on the alcohol. Don’t make a fool of yourself before the dancing’s started!

Were we to try these things now I’m not sure what would happen, hopefully in the UK not much – stares and giggles, maybe. But in America, especially the South, who’s to say?

Constance’s case was a big step in changing things, putting pressure on all learning centres to accept the sexuality of their students and incorporate their beliefs in to plans for proms and other events.

And media wise, lesbians are becoming more mainstream with big TV shows like Greys Anatomy and Skins running popular gay storylines, perhaps having a lasting effect on how the gay community is perceived.

So hopefully, the powers that be will get a grip and realise there’s nothing to be worried about and, fingers-crossed, those of you who want to take your girlfriend to prom will be able to, and be proud when you do.

Oh, and by the way, we want the real deal: limousines, corsages and tuxes. Who knows maybe we’ll even get a Prom Queen and Queen!

By Rosie Blackwell-Sutton

I’m the Drag King of the Castle and you’re the Dirty Rascal

It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve never heard of the Drag King outbreak that is becoming hugely popular on the underground lesbian scene as, until a few days ago, nor had I.

Keeping a pretty low profile in comparison to their
more flamboyant friends (Drag Queens), Lenna Cumberbatch, founder of and organiser of King of the Castle, is making sure they’re on everyone’s radar.

Thanks to Lenna’s annual drag competition in London, Kings are now getting their chance to shine after a small revival in the 1990s that saw an influx of popularity, featuring in Sarah Waters’ novel Tipping the Velvet (‘Nan’ Astley) and of course Ivan on the L Word.

But that’s not where it all began. Way back in the early 1900s, British music hall performer Vesta Tilley said: “I felt that I could express myself better if I were d
ressed as a boy” and went on to impersonate men along with Ella Shields and Hetty King, to adoring crowds.

With a nod towards these popular music hall performers we spoke to Lenna (a.k.a Leon DaLuva and Uncle Lenny), about why she set up the King of the Castle event: “I was Dragging in the states where there’s quite a big Drag King community. When I came over to the UK, there wasn’t m
uch going on and I really missed the environment of it.”

Now in its third year, King of the Castle is making a name for itself. With three Kings in its first
year, and four in its second, popularity in the competition is always rising. Contestants must compete in three events; Evening/Club wear, Sleep/Swim wear and Performance, which are judged by the always welcoming, and consistently sell-out audience.

The audience also has the chance to win an award, the crown for ‘Dirty Rascal’, which, as Lenna fondly remembers, saw 20 people run on stage the first time round.

As the name would suggest, Elvis is a popular choice for Kings to impersonate, though past competitions have seen Otis Blue and Stevie Wonderful take to the stage. However, performers don’t just do impersonations. Singing, dancing, comedy routines and lip-synching are all common amongst the competitors.

Wonderful was a big hit having won the 2008 event and will be returning to host this year’s competition at the Oak Bar, London, in May (see our online listings). After winning the event Stevie, real name Fiona King, went on to perform at UK Black Pride and York Lesbian Arts Festival.

If you reach these levels of success, Ingo from has a warning for you: “you will get a lot of fans and groupies, so you might need help in keeping them at a distance…I recommend bodyguards.”

Fiona was a first time Drag King when she belted out ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’ to take the crown so who exactly can be a Drag King? Surely its not as simple as pulling on a suit and pencilling in some facial hair? “Really anyone can be a King, it’s simple” said Lenna: “It tends to be women and lesbians but some men who identify as women do it as well – it’s just something completely different.”

As well as Lenna’s ventures there’s Bar Wotever, that often has Kings on stage, and Transfabulous, two London-based social groups that are making a name for the ever-growing community.

So has there been a change in attitude towards Drag Kings over the past years? “There’s definitely been a lot more interest, especially since our article in the Metro. I’m just really enjoying the visibility we’re getting,” said Lenna.

With the scene growing bigger by the minute, we’ve asked Lenna and the people from Wotever and Transfabulous to give us their top tips for you budding Kings, and who knows, maybe some of you will even be crowned King of the Castle in future years.



1. Have a reason for going up on stage and performing.

2. Think about the way gender is represented. Really study men, all the little details are important.

3. For being a King, facial hair is good, but swagger is better!

4. Attitude - you can do it!

5. A sense of humour always helps. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
thanks to Cleo Lang and AbsolutQueer for the photos

In order to compete in or watch King of the Castle, visit:

Other trans-friendly websites:

By Rosie Blackwell-Sutton

Monday, 12 April 2010


With Drew Barrymoore’s first feature film Whip It recently released, it’s high time the roller derby revolution got itself noticed, writes Rosie Blackwell-Sutton.

Many of you are probably unaware of this relatively new sport, in the UK anyway, until today that is. Roller derby is an all-girl, heavy-contact sport played on roller skates. Two teams of five go round in bouts with the aim to skate past the other team as fast as they can, knocking them over as they go.

Unless you’ve had your eyes closed for the past few months, you’ve probably seen Ellen Page and Drew Barrymore, padded up to the high heavens and covered in bruises, not because they’ve been in a scuffle but because, in new film Whip It (out now), they play Babe Ruthless and Smashley Simpson two roller derby girls in Austin, Texas.

The film sees the rise of Bliss Cavendar (Ellen ‘Juno’ Page) as a roller derby hero as she fights to gain respect from her pageant-loving mother and football-obsessed father.

This coming-of-age film is cliché-ridden yet still thoroughly enjoyable, with great characters. Juliette Lewis and Drew Barrymore are hilarious throughout, immersing themselves in their snarky, take-no-prisoners roller-girl roles whilst Marcia Gay Harden is fantastic as Bliss’s uptight mother.

What we learn from the film is that roller derby is a long-standing tradition in the US. Having started in the 1920s and reaching its peak of popularity in the 70s, it underwent a reincarnation in the early 2000s, when young women began to set up DIY clubs all over America. The sport grew and before long, a club launched in the UK, the London Roller Girls (LRG) (

Since 2006 the LRG have grown and grown as the sport has become more popular. There are several teams in London – the Suffra Jets, Steam Rollers, Ultraviolent Femmes – along with many new leagues and squads all over the country, such as Cambridge’s Romsey Town Rollerbillies (, Edinburgh’s Auld Reekie Roller Girls ( and the Tri County Rollers (, based in Staffordshire.

Anyone can be a roller girl as 36-year-old Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis in Whip It) proves. So what exactly is so attractive about derby? Surely the beaten-up look isn’t exactly a good one? Shaolynn Scarlett of the LRG told us exactly why she began skating: ‘It’s a uniquely exhilarating sport, you have to challenge yourself mentally and physically to get to the top of your game, and do it all on eight wheels. It's unlike anything else, although you have to push yourself it's incredibly fun.’

Fun it may be, but those injuries look a killer. Having read about one girl who broke her leg whilst training, I’m not sure how I’d fair in a real bout. However, according to Shaolynn, the injuries aren’t THAT bad: ‘Injuries are part and parcel of the game, but they're not as frequent as many people assume. As long as you play by the rules and keep fit and strong, you can avoid a lot of injuries that would normally come out of contact on skates.’

Hmm… I’m still not convinced. However, I do like the names the skaters take on, be it as an alias, or alter-ego. Some favourites are Missyle Elliott, Misha Naccomplished and Rose Misconduct. But what impact do these witty names have? ‘It's a way to prepare yourself for an aggressive bout, and something you can leave on the track when you go for drinks with the other team afterwards. Your skate name is really just a by-product of the sport – it shows the personality of the sport,’ says Shaolynn.

There’s a big social side to the roller derby. Drinks with teammates and other teams are common and food fights also are also featured, if Whip It is anything to go by. It seems like an excellent way to make friends and be part of a well-established community. At the end of the day, however, it’s all about skating as Shaolynn puts it: 'We're all there to play dery, and play hard.'

If after reading all the gory details, you want to play hard then get involved. Roller derby is getting bigger by the minute and teams are always recruiting so find your local team and get in touch.

Alternatively you can take the easy option and watch roller derby instead. The Suffra Jets play the Steam Rollers on Sat 22 May, Tottenham Green Leisure Centre, Phillip Lane, London, £10. Book in advance at Admission includes free after-party for ticket-holders!

Or take the even easier option and watch Whip It at cinemas everywhere… at least there’s no chance of getting a bloody nose there!

Thanks to Lustmaikamra and Steve Newton for the photos.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Lesbian sets up new political party

The Commons party is about connecting with those people who don’t vote says Tamsin Omond, PPC for Hampstead and Kilburn

The King William is the only gay pub in Hampstead. I’ve been hanging out there since I was 14. I used to be coy, quiet and underage. More recently I’m pretty loud. I come in off the streets with my sandwich board and brass megaphone as leader of the The Commons - a new political party shaking things up in Hampstead and Kilburn.

The team and I grab a couple of tables and start talking to the locals. People are never quite sure how to react. Why are this merry band asking for their opinions on crime, health and transport? I guess the questions we’re asking seem a little out of place from the image we present. After all politics isn’t supposed to be engaging is it? Surely it’s about projecting and telling, not asking and listening.

Not with us. The Commons is a completely new kind of political party. We’re going to make democracy relevant to all of our lives.

It’s strange but since becoming a politician it’s difficult to sound genuine. And that’s because most (not all) politicians just aren’t. We want to take the focus off of suits in Whitehall and turn it onto our communities, the real people out in the streets. Only then do you have democracy. If nearly 50% of people aren’t motivated to go out and vote, then whoever it is, Cameron or Brown, they won’t represent the people.

The Commons is about connecting with those people who don’t vote. We’re not interested in telling people what we think they want to hear. I’m going to be out on the streets, looking at community issues, finding out what would make people the people of Hampstead and Kilburn tick come Election Day.

Gay people know how it feels to be misrepresented. We know how it feels to have power taken from us all in the name of policy. I grew up under Section 28. I remember. If we’re going to sort out society then we’re going to have to start a conversation that involves everyone. If I’m elected I will be the youngest woman and first lesbian inside Parliament and that’s long overdue.

Politics isn’t working. We’re all left out of decisions that affect our lives. Gay people know how to make their voices heard. I’m inviting all of society to have the pride to do the same. Get in touch and join the conversation.

Check us out at or follow us on Twitter @tamsinomond @tothecommons. Look forward to hearing from you...