Sunday, 12 June 2016

News from Orlando

Waking up this morning to the news that there had been a shooting in a gay club in Florida was not a great deal of fun, particularly when, as the news began to unfold, we learned how horrifying the events had been. There was an awful interview with a woman in a desperate panic who knew her son had been in the club, but hadn't been able to get in touch with him. The likelihood, of course, has to be that he's dead. There will be fifty mothers grieving tonight. That impenetrable bond a gay man has with his mother torn apart fifty times by hatred and religion. We may have come a long way in the field of LGBT rights, but I suspect there will always be people who despise us.

Do me a favour. Don't pray. Don't pray for my community. We don't need prayers. If you want to help, just get out there in the big wide world and make sure homophobia and transphobia is eradicated from your personal circle of friends. If you have kids, explain to them that men can love men, women can love women and that sometimes people aren't born in the body of a gender which suits them, because they sure as hell won't hear this message in fairy tales and Disney films.

The quote which really stuck out today was on the BBC website: "Images show hundreds of Florida residents in long queues as they wait to donate blood and help in the worst mass shooting in recent US history. Gay people in the US are banned from giving blood if they have sex in the last year, but that ban has temporarily been lifted in the Orlando area."

And with that I felt both angry and moved. Angry that gay men aren't allowed to give blood. Moved that people are queuing around the block to do so. Furious that the ban can be lifted temporarily so that gay men can pump their filthy blood into other gay men...

Speaking of violence, the other big piece of news today concerns the dreadful behaviour of football fans in the European Football Championship. We're told UEFA is launching disciplinary charges against Russia for the behaviour of their fans, and that Russia expects to pay a fine. So the Russians have to pay a fine? So what? It's only money. Russia were sanctioned for the behaviour of their fans in all three games they played in Euro 2012. What good did that do? They're still behaving like animals.

Actually what UEFA needs to do is send a national team home for the behaviour of its fans. If that's England, so be it. It sends out a clear and decisive message: Misbehave and the party's over, lads.

We went to the gym this afternoon and Nathan dropped me off in Kentish Town afterwards, which involved passing those two iconic music venues, The Forum and The Bull and Gate, both of which have recently been done up. The Forum still looks suitably grotty, but the Bull and Gate seems to have gone a bit "gastro pub", which I'm not sure particularly fits its vibe as one of London's most important rock and roll haunts. I spent many a night there in the 1990s listening to mates playing in bands; the black walls dripping with sweat and little pieces of loo roll stuffed in my ears because it was all too loud. In those days you used to have to pass through the men's loos to get from the pub to the live room. There would always be this row of men weeing at urinals with everyone else passing through the little corridor behind them. Men, women, children... I'm not sure that would be justifiable in today's world of health and safety!

I went into town this afternoon to meet some of the Brass cast who are currently working very hard to invite agents to the show in the summer. Two of them are students at drama school, so now is a great time for them to be forging links with casting directors, agents and the movers and shakers within the business. They asked me if I would give them some advice. I'm not sure I helped that much, but I think the meeting focussed their minds, which is just as important. It absolutely blasted it down with rain as we sat in our little cafe on Old Compton Street, which made me very worried for the queen and her lovely birthday celebrations. She's rather rocking the neon colours at the moment isn't she?

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