by Thomas Ling
by Thomas Ling
Chief exec Bryan Kirkwood has hinted that Ste and John Paul’s relationship could start up again as the two are due are due to meet up on Christmas day.
“Ste and Harry’s relationship may not mean the end for [Ste and John Paul]. Ste is just unravelling in a different direction, as he often does,” Kirkwood told The Sun‘s TV supplement magazine.
“He desperately wants security and a family around him – but as long as he does, he’s going to continue to make mistakes. Whether John Paul is there to win him over again on Christmas Day, we’ll have to wait and see.”
If only there was some way to see some of our favourite Hollyoaks hunks getting steamy before then. Well, it just so happens that our latest issue is full of just that.
Download your copy today at gaytimesmagazine.com
Reviewer: Tim Isaac
Fulboy is a sports documentary that I’d be willing to bet is unlike any other you’ve ever seen. For a start it’s about a group of professional soccer players but you never actually see them on the pitch, and there’s also the fact that nearly every write-up of the movie mentions the word ‘voyeurism’.
Director Martín Farina goes on the road with an Argentinian football team, getting access because his brother, Tomas, plays for them. Initially the players are suspicious of him and how he’s going to show them – afraid that the film will play into the image of players being lazy, spending more time smoking and playing poker than honing their sport skills.
However, he slowly gains more access to their lives, such as their fascination with how they look (which it’s suggested is a response to the fact they’re playing on TV), how much time they spend talking about their career and contracts – with a hierarchy amongst the players that acts almost like a union – and their worries about what will happen when they can’t play any longer.
None of that is particularly unique in the world of sports documentaries, but what separates Fulboy is the view of Farina’s camera. The director’s slightly pretentious narration talks about how he decided to stay off camera, but that you’ll learn about him through the gaze of his camera lens. If that’s true, it suggests a fascination with the men’s bodies and their casual nudity around one another. Farina films them extensively in the shower and locker room, with the camera often following their groin area around, so you’re not even sure which one of them it is, as their face isn’t in the shot. Indeed, you have to wonder whether the men knew this was going to be a strong aspect of the film, and also whether they noticed that Farina was following their genitals (both covered and uncovered) around with his camera.
That sort of question is a deliberate part of the film, with Farina inviting the audience to view the film in a self-reflexive way. For example, you’re aware that on the men’s side it’s both about how they are in private, as well as how they want to be seen (as they know the camera is there). Farina also wants you to question how you’re being shown it, so that you wonder whether the fact the camera is often placed at the bottom of a hotel bed looking up the body of one of the players, was merely the most convenient place to shoot from, or whether there’s a sexual, almost lustful aspect to it.
It gets to the point where you even question Farina’s motives, and whether the chance to be around sexy guys who spend a lot of time naked was more interesting to him than the supposed mission to tell us more about their lives.
It’s a film where objectively there is no gay content – beyond the homoerotic edge to the camaraderie between the players – but yet it is an incredibly gay movie, purely due to the way it’s filmed. The ‘voyeuristic’ aspect is prevalent enough that there are moments where you wonder whether you should be watching. While Farina’s narration is a little pretentious, it’s also effective at getting you thinking about what you’re seeing, as well as bringing you inside his point of view, to the point where when the camera is viewing his brother naked in the same way it’s slightly leered at some of the other men, you almost feel like you should look away.
It’s sexy, but in a way where you’re not sure whether it ought to be sexy or not, and whether the director’s view is exploitative of the participants. For example, how aware are the players of how they’re being viewed, and if they aren’t, is that unfair to them? They know they’re being filmed, but do they know ‘how’ they’re being filmed. While the players talk of their worries about how they’ll be seen in the documentary, none of them even seem to consider a level of sexual objectification/desire. It certainly adds a level of interest to Fulboy that it would otherwise lack, to the point where sport almost becomes a subplot to the film’s self-reflexive questioning of what this documentary actually is.
Overall Verdict: Most documentaries are as much about how they’re filmed and what they decide to show you as they are about its subject, but they try to hide that. Fulboy faces it head on, taking a look at the lives of a football team, while questioning how we’re seeing it due to its voyeuristic edge.
By Aisha Farooq • September 27, 2015
Lesbian, Gay, Straight, Bisexual, Transsexual, Asexual or Pansexual, it’s pretty safe to say that understandings of sexuality have considerably broadened over the years.
A YouGov survey taken in August 2015 revealed some surprising results.
When asked to mark their sexual preferences on a scale of 0 to 6, 49 per cent of British 18-24 year olds identified themselves as being something other than heterosexual.
According to most accepted definitions, sexuality refers to a person’s capacity for sexual feelings, through either their sexual orientation, preference, or activity.
For many of us growing up, sexuality was largely understood in one of two ways: ‘straight’ and ‘not straight’.
In the British Asian camp, being straight was (and sadly, mostly still is) the only acceptable sexuality to be.
While attitudes have progressed in recent times, stigmas related to sexual preference are dying at an excruciatingly slow rate.
How many of us have come across at least one tragic ‘coming out’ story that has ended in family abandonment and community ostracism?
The idea of ‘sexual choice’ often eludes us. How can a man or a woman have any other sexual ‘identity’ than the one that society deems to be appropriately suitable for them?
But even as British Asians continually struggle to catch up with one ‘new’ type of sexual identity every generation, we now find ourselves bombarded with other sexual ‘choices’ like bisexual, pansexual and even asexual.
Do we even understand what some of these sexual variances refer to? Here are some definitions:
So, what does it actually mean to be British Asian and any one of these defined labels?
Watch our exclusive Desi Chats about Sexuality and British Asians here:
It is no secret that sex is still a taboo among older generations of Asians, but are attitudes among the younger crowd progressing?
Sheetal, a British Asian mother believes so: “It’s a subject that people used to avoid but now I think they’re a little bit more open and transparent because generations are changing.”
Councillor Preet Kaur Gill adds: “I think it’s also about how you respect your elders. Any young person wouldn’t dream of talking to their parents from a particular generation about those sort of things.”
While some believe that times are changing, it is staggering to see how many misconceptions related to sexuality still exist among many British Asians, young and old.
Asking a variety of Asians to define ‘transgender’ uncovered some brutal judgements.
18-year-old Samuel tells us: “Basically [a transgender is] an abnormal human, but at the end of the day we treat them as normal.
“Like they may be different to us, but they are all human and we treat them the same.”
What emerges among debates over sexuality is the tendency for heterosexual Asians to ostracise non-heterosexual Asians. To be ‘not straight’ or ‘not of the morn’ means essentially to be unequal in the eyes of your peers.
This deeply embedded mind-set is not limited to Asians however, and is one of the reasons why gay marriage was only legalised in the UK in 2014 and in the US in 2015.
It seems only recently that the opportunity to be more open with one’s sexuality has suddenly come in vogue.
In 2015 alone, we’ve seen a magnitude of Western celebrities ‘coming out’ of the sexual closet, revealing a whole new side to their personal lives.
Take the most famous transgender on the planet, Caitlyn Jenner, who publicly announced herself as a transgender woman in April 2015 on a TV talk show.
Since then, we’ve seen the likes of Miley Cyrus brandish terms like ‘pansexuality’ at the VMA’s and Twilight heroine, Kristen Stewart, refusing to be pigeonholed by only one type of sexual preference.
But with so much to do with sexuality dominating the headlines, are British Asians also open to a more fluid sexuality?
Abdul says: “No, not really. If I was to say to my mum that I was transgender, I’d probably get shot in the head.”
18-year-old Gagan believes:
“I think it depends what age group you are looking at. The younger generation like me, I think we’re accepting it a bit more because we have friends that are gay.”
In the British Asian sphere, Asifa Lahore is the most prominent gay Asian.
At 23, Lahore narrowly avoided an arranged marriage that was set up by his parents to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality. Since then he has been a vocal advocate for other Asians.
Profiled in Channel 4’s Muslim Drag Queens, Lahore reveals the wide ‘gaysian’ community that secretly exists in the UK:
“The word ‘gaysian’ is almost like a password. If you’re gaysian then you’ll know another gaysian and you’ll become part of the clique.”
Another British Asian, Farhana Khan, proudly admitted to her own fluid sexuality for The Independent, writing:
“Being pansexual is something I have always known to be true about myself. From a young age I was always aware that my attraction to people is not limited by their gender or sex.”
On the other side of the spectrum however, some young British Asians still remain rigid in their views:
“The background that we’re from, we shouldn’t be engaging in these thoughts. It should be more focused on other stuff, for example, education,” Abdul tells us.
Sexuality has become a hugely loaded term these days. Our awareness of what it means to be either heterosexual or homosexual is no longer as black and white as we initially thought.
As Farhana writes: “Being pansexual doesn’t mean that I’m yet to make a choice about whether I am gay or straight, but instead it means that I’m not restricted in choice of partner because of a person’s gender or sex.
“This isn’t something that I’ve committed myself to – it’s just who I am.”
But experimentation with sexuality, or engaging in a relationship with a non-heterosexual, still remains a delicate topic among young generations of British Asians:
“Never in my life, ever, ever, ever, ever … There’s too many beautiful girls out there. So why would you want to give your attention to a guy?” Abdul insists.
It is evident that for the most part, Asians are behind the times when it comes to sexuality. While some are open to change and progress, many still sit on the fence of conformity.
Will it take future generations of British Asians to come before the stigma of sexuality can finally be lifted?
World | Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:00am BST
NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Homophobic mobs have repeatedly attacked lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Kenya but police are unwilling to even attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice, rights groups said on Monday.
Homosexuality is taboo in almost all African countries and is punishable by up to 14 years in jail in Kenya.
Violence against LGBT people is common in the east African nation, but victims fear reporting hate crimes to the police who, in turn, often refuse to pursue their cases.
There have been at least six incidents since 2008 of mob violence against LGBT minorities on the coast, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and PEMA Kenya, a community organisation in the coastal city of Mombasa, said in a report.
“Religious leaders have often been at the forefront of inciting violence against LGBT people,” Neela Ghoshal, a researcher with HRW, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, referring to both Christians and Muslims.
“The government needs to do more to prevent and respond to violence against LGBT people.”
The police rescued LGBT people in most of the incidents but they have not arrested anyone for the attacks, the report said.
It also documented several cases where the police humiliated, dismissed or refused to take statements from LGBT people who tried to report crimes, such as gang rape.
“Police are meant to protect everybody, and that is what we do,” Francis Wanjohi, coast regional police commander, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“When we receive any report, we must investigate. That is our job… But again, you do not expect to be protected when you engage in criminal and unacceptable behaviour.”
In February, residents of the coastal tourist towns of Diani and Ukunda led vigilante-style hunts for gay men after images of men engaged in sexual conduct were circulated on social media.
Two gay men were attacked by mobs. One was admitted to hospital after his chest was slashed by a broken bottle.
Days later, he was arrested by the police, along with another man. Both were charged with “unnatural offences”.
Doctors conducted forced anal examinations on them to check for ‘evidence’ of homosexual conduct, the report said.
The case is ongoing.
About 50 men living in the area fled following the arrests.
“This particular case has really scared the community and has made them fear there could be a growing wave of arrests, particularly following what’s happening in Uganda and Nigeria,” Ghoshal said.
“Almost everywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, there is some degree of backlash right now against the… growing and increasingly vocal LGBTI rights movement.”
Uganda and Nigeria passed tough anti-gay legislation in 2014 although Uganda’s law was later overturned.
(Additional reporting by Joseph Akwiri in Mombasa; Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)
In the past I have written on various areas in which our civil liberties have been encroached on or battered down by various government departments; so it will not surprise you that when I read the article about GCHQ ‘spying’ on Amnesty International that I had to comment on it.
As I have indicated before, I respect the rights of government to protect us, and in deed in times of war to implement measures that in open times would seem draconian. However, government needs to be monitored;indeed I would say they need to be under continuoys scrutiny, the fact that Amnesty was monitored, and now according to the courts illegally, only seeks to highlight why we need to scrutinise government more closely.
Here is the link to the article, I hope that you read it, and find it both interesting and also alarming that GCHQ did this, but that we still don’t know why, and who authorised it!
On August 24, Subhi Nahas made history, testifying before the United Nations Security Council’sfirst summit on violence perpetrated against LGBT people by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). A Systems Administrator and Designer for the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration(ORAM), Nahas has lived in San Francsico for four months, a situation made possible after he was granted refugee status by the United States government.
Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, half of the country’s population has been displaced, many internally. As ISIS has grown in strength and territory, however, more and more are fleeing the country, with hundreds of thousands now risking the perilous journey to Europe. While Nahas was not a part of the wave of refugees Europe is currently struggling—or, in some cases, resisting—to accomodate, he nonetheless remains a part of the wider Syrian exodus, one of the many millions who have been forced to leave their homes in the hope of finding safety.
From the city of Idlib in northern Syria, Nahas was the firstborn son in his family, a position that carries with it heavy societal expectations. He was different however, in a way that he wasn’t able to understand or articulate until he met with a psychologist at the age of 15—a man who would betray his young trust, inform his family, and recommend strict measures to curb his sexuality. Life for gay men in Syria has become unendurable with the rise of ISIS, but as Nahas attests to, things were bad long before the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate took power.
Out: What was it like for gay people before the Arab Spring revolution in 2011?
Subhi Nahas: There was never a true gay community, not even in Damascus. There was a very small group, and it was always under attack from the Secret Police. They would try to make you feel comfortable, feel like you had a safe place, and then they would raid those places, arrest people and imprison them. Homosexuality is criminalized in the penal code and punishable by up to three years in prison. Homophobia is deeply ingrained, and society takes it upon themselves to enforce the laws. If you’re caught, they blackmail you, extort you, and threaten to tell your family. It’s been like that for a long time. Older generations tell of being mistreated, being blocked from services, facilities, medical treatment, just for being gay.
What was your first experience with these attitudes and laws?
The first encounter I had was with regime [President Bashir al-Assad, before the revolution] forces. They were doing a routine sweep at a checkpoint while I was on my way to university, and they took all the young people, including me, out to a detention place. It was this house in the woods, and immediately you could see that there had been people there before, you could see their blood, their stains. It was really scary.
They noticed that I’m a little bit different in the way that I walk and talk, and they started to call me names. They asked me questions, about my family, about why I spoke the way I did. They started to say things that I’d rather not repeat. They released the others, but they kept me for at least 30 minutes more, and I really thought that they would rape and kill me, I had no idea what would happen. But then they just released me. I don’t know why, but they did.
What happened after that?
After that, I couldn’t risk going back to university, so I stayed home, and that meant things escalated with my family. Especially because, a few months later, Islamists came and things really deteriorated. My father stayed home then a lot too, which meant he was seeing me more. He didn’t like what he saw, and things got violent.
How did things change when Islamist groups took control after the revolution?
What happened was, an Islamist group, an al-Qaeda branch, took over the city of Idlib. And as they gained more power, they started to enforce Sharia law. They started to put checkpoints, and they started to target anyone who was different. One day, they arrested someone I knew and accused him of being homosexual, I think because of something they found on his phone. After that, they went into the mosques and announced that they would cleanse the city of anyone involved in sodomy, which took the insecurity to a whole new level. Now, even if you looked a little bit different, wore jeans that were a little bit tight, they would target you and interrogate you for five or six hours. And even if they believed that you weren’t, after being released you had to follow their strict rules for acting and dressing.
When did you realize you had to leave Syria?
Within two or three months of the Islamists taking control, I left Syria. I called some of my friends in Lebanon, explained the whole situation, and they were generous enough to welcome me to their houses. I arranged a taxi, and told the driver that he had to take care of all the procedures at the borders and checkpoints, because if I spoke, if I had any interaction with these people, they might have noticed how I am and not let me leave. It was a lot of work, a lot of planning, but it worked, and I’m very thankful for that.
What happened after you got to Lebanon?
There were not a lot of job opportunities, so I was very underemployed. After six months, I was able to get a job in Turkey for a magazine I was working for remotely. So I moved to Turkey, secured a senior position at a non-profit, Save the Children, and ended up staying there for about two years.
Why did you leave Turkey?
I was living in a city close to the Syrian border, and as ISIS gained more power and took more land, things became more dangerous. A friend of mine told me that someone we had known in high school had joined ISIS and said he wanted to kill me because I was gay, and because I was also working with an LGBT NGO in Turkey, and working on an Arabic gay magazine. And where I lived, there were ISIS operatives roaming free—it was an open border, and they passed through easily. If you were Syrian, you were never safe, they always knew who you were and what you were doing. So for a time, I was moving from safe house to safe house, until I finally ended up in Istanbul and registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR].
What has changed since ISIS took control?
Well, thankfully, I was not there to witness ISIS. But all they’ve done is publicize what everyone else was doing before. The killing of gays were not as brutal, but they were still happening. The Free Syrian Army, Jabhat al Nusra, I personally know at least two people they killed, but they never talked about it. They didn’t want that spotlight. But ISIS does. They say that they are protecting the community from these “perverts,” from people who will destroy society’s morality. They can’t offer water or services, but they can offer that. And it seems like it’s working. We’ve seen from videos that if a gay person doesn’t die from the fall off a building, the people watching stone him to death. ISIS is being this brutal, this public, to gain support.
What was the process of applying for refugee status like?
First, UNHCR processed my case, interviewed me, and accepted me. Then they went about looking for a country to accept me. So there were more interviews to build up my case. I was told that the United States had accepted my case, and then they set up an interview with an American legal team. Then I was referred to Homeland Security, who then sent a representative to do another interview to see if I met US standards. And I did. It all took about 12 months, and then I moved to San Francisco—I had a job set up already.
What was it like speaking in front of the United Nations Security Council?
It came about because I work with ORAM [Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration], and the CEO got a message asking for recommendations for people willing to speak about their experience at this UN meeting on LGBT abuses around the world. It was going to be the first time that a voice from Asia or the Middle East was heard like that, and I wanted to be a part of it.
There were a lot of countries and organizations there, even two representatives from Syria. And the countries that spoke, they were very positive. Which was so weird. I was expecting hostility. Russia and China, for example, they were there, but they refused to speak, but of those that did speak, everyone wanted to do something, everyone wanted change. It’s a small step, but one that we needed.
How typical do you think your story is?
I think my story is typical, what I went through, but many others have had to endure far worse horrors, far more hardships trying to escape. I consider myself very lucky that I had all this help, and that’s what I’m trying to establish with my work: a system that allows people to get help faster, that will protect them where they are now—Syria, Lebanon, Turkey—and help them when they finally arrive in places like America. We need a system to protect these people when they are able to get out.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is scheduled to give a welcoming address when the antigay World Congress of Families convenes October 27 in Salt Lake City — an act the Human Rights Campaign says amounts to welcoming hate to the state.
“It’s astonishing that the governor of Utah would allow himself to be mentioned in the same sentence as the World Congress of Families — let alone be in the same room with them,” said astatement released by Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. “To be clear: This is a hate group that’s literally convening thousands of extremists from around the globe to strategize and share information about their nefarious activism. Hate is not an American value, and we call on Governor Herbert to cancel his appearance.”
The list of speakers and panelists for this year’s congress includes such well-known antigay figures as National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown; Family Research Councilfellow Peter Sprigg; columnist Robert Knight; publicist Frank Schubert, a leader of the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California; Mark Regnerus, author of a discredited study that disparaged the parenting skills of gays and lesbians; anti–marriage equality activists Janice Shaw Crouse and Jennifer Roback Morse; and minister Rick Scarborough.
Crouse, who is executive director of the conference, has in the past “urged the Ugandan government to take a ‘biblical and cultural stand against the radical homosexual agenda’ and traveled to Russia in support of the regime’s deeply anti-LGBT ‘propaganda’ law,” Cobb noted. WCF managing director Larry Jacobs has acknowledged, proudly, that the group has contributed to the anti-LGBT climate in Russia, Cobb added.
“WCF has praised Vladimir Putin as the standard-bearer for ‘morality’ and honored a Nigerian activist [Theresa Okafor] who claims LGBT advocates conspire with the terrorist group Boko Haram with a ‘Woman of the Year’ award,” said Cobb. “Their advocacy abroad harms LGBT people from Russia to Nigeria and beyond. Try as they may to mask their views, WCF’s positions and support for policies that target and marginalize LGBT people and incite animus around the world are undeniable.”
Speaking to The Salt Lake Tribune, Crouse replied that HRC and SPLC have mischaracterized the WCF. “She contends that the WCF gathers ‘scholars, government and religious leaders, health care professionals and advocates’ to share research and discuss issues that affect the family, including health, pornography, addiction and family stability,” the paper reports.
Jon Cox, a spokesman for Herbert, confirmed that the governor will speak at the conference, the Tribune reports. (His wife, Jeanette, is also scheduled to appear, both at the welcome and on a panel.) A statement from Cox defended Herbert’s record on LGBT issues, noting that hesigned into law a bill that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Gov. Herbert’s record is clear on the issue of nondiscrimination,” Cox said. “He is proud to have signed into law SB296, which provides unprecedented protections for religious groups and members of the LGBT community.”
However, under Herbert, the state defended its ban on same-sex marriage, and the governor, a Republican, accepted marriage equality — reluctantly — only after the U.S. Supreme Court last year declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling striking down the ban.
One of the most audacious and acclaimed debut films of recent years, Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy’s astounding drama – sensationally told in unsubtitled sign language – follows Sergey, a new arrival at a school for young deaf people. Light years away from the kinds of benevolent institutions we usually see on screen, this school is a nightmarish world of ruthless cliques, gangs and hard currencies, where authority is entirely absent and chaos and criminality reign. Despite his early savvy, Sergey oversteps the mark when he falls for a young prostitute he’s assigned to pimp.
Slaboshpytskiy’s daring eschewal of subtitles ensures we’re plunged completely into this unforgiving world from the outset. The use of long, unbroken and expertly staged long takes is also highly accomplished for a debut filmmaker. Although The Tribe is an uncompromising work, it is a highly rewarding one with unexpected moments of tenderness; a film which posits Slaboshpytskiy as a significant new voice in world cinema.
Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean (2012), is a gorgeous biopic which depicts the years before James Dean (played by James Preston, a former Abercrombie & Fitch model) became a cinema idol, imagining his affair with an unnamed male roommate and other men and women in his life.
It’s a very queer (in both content and gaze) and poetic portrait of young man willing to compromise to meet his ambitions (“if they want me, they’re gonna have to pay”).
Find it and watch it, you won’t regret it.