Sunday, 16 July 2017

Drinking, drugs, and double-dipping - what's the point of PRIDE?

Sure, it’s easy to look at pictures of PRIDE when they’re laid out in a trash-infested tabloid, and say to your loyal(ish) wife of 55 years, “Fucking hell, Barbara - have you seen the state of ‘em? It’s disgusting. This one guy’s passed out, and his arse is right out!!! Flamin’ Nora!! One of ‘em is even being sick in the street. Turns my stomach it does. Turns it right over.”

But you could say any of those things after any city-wide celebration involving alcohol. People can’t handle their drink (or drugs), and England’s press thrives off other people’s debauchery. But PRIDE isn’t just one big piss up. Nor is it a one-way ticket to M-Kat Kingdom. PRIDE is a way of celebrating who you are, and whoever you love. It gives hundreds of thousands of oppressed people the opportunity to party without judgement, or fear. And it’s one massive Fuck You to anyone who’s incapable of seeing beyond their biblical blinkers.

‘But being Gay has been legal for 50 years in England, so why do we still need PRIDE?’

Okay, I’m hearing what you’re saying, but I’m not enjoying it. Not one bit. It might be legal here, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t still some people who only approve of being predictably heterosexual. And there are others who (as liberal as they might think they are) struggle to understand someone’s sexuality unless it perfectly fits into a dictionary’s definition. In fact, it’s astonishing how, for a country that ranks pretty highly in the ‘
do whatever the fuck you want’ chart, a lot of people still feel the need to pigeonhole sexuality. Watched gay porn once? Gay.  Sucked off your mate once? Gay. Like Coldplay? Gay.

Personally, I believe in Dr. Kinsey’s theory that sexuality is on a sliding scale (soz, Mr Gay-Is-A-Cardinal-Sin), and some people just flux more than others. Back in 2007, I dipped a finger (or two) in the Gay Way. Then in 2013, I slid all the way up to Casa del Lesbiana. But now I’m truly back in Penis Paradise (even if it is a bit light on the penis rn). So I’ve had my fair share of dabbling, and I probably will again in the future. But SO many people have struggled to understand my pleasure-seeking roller coaster.

To demonstrate how limited people can be, here are a few examples of the kind of questions people have asked when they’re trying to ‘understand’:

Exhibit 1: A conversation with a Naive Idiot:

Naive Idiot: So, you had a girlfriend once?

Me: Yes.

Naive Idiot: But you’re not gay?

Me: No.

Naive Idiot: But you must be gay?

Me: I’m not.

Naive Idiot: So you’re Bi then?

Me: No.

Naive Idiot: Come on. You must be.

Me: Why?

Naive Idiot: Just because that’s how it goes.

Me: Oh….well, in that case - you must be right. Thanks for clarifying my emotions for me. Don’t know what I’d have done without you.

Exhibit 2: A conversation with a Total Douchebag:

Total Douchebag: So, are you going stay with the cock now?

Me: I guess you never know what’s going to happen in the future...

Total Douchebag: Yeah you do - you either like cock or fanny, so what’s it going to be?

Me: That’s not really how it works.

Total Douchebag: Ohhhh, I get it - are you the kind of greedy bastard who likes ‘em all? Tits and dicks? Whatever you can put in your mouth?

Me (in my head): I’d much rather put cyanide in my mouth than continue to talk to you.

Although these conversations seem like fleeting moments of judgmental idiocy, they left an impression. And they affected my relationship - I never felt comfortable in public, because I cared about what other people thought. I was never fully-invested because I valued the opinion of strangers more than I valued how I felt, or how my girlfriend felt. In fact, if I’m being completely honest, I felt ashamed. And that’s a feeling I’m not really used to, even if my parents did try and instil the Catholic Guilt in me at a young age.

But imagine how terrifying that ‘shame’ must feel if you realise you’re not straight, and your family are homophobes, or if the leader of your country is a homophobic, deluded arsehole. Or how dirty the ‘shame’ must feel if your family say they understand, and that they still love you, but then they only refer to your same-sex lover as your ‘friend’, and refuse to give you a plus-one for any family events. Imagine having to love in secret, or having to lie for your love, just because other people can’t accept something that goes against the traditional grain.

That’s why we still need PRIDE. It’s to show all of the oppressed people that there is a place where their love will feel valued, and that it’s more than okay to be a little bit ‘different’.
And as one of the most liberal countries in the world, it’s our social responsibility to lead the way for change. To make a stand for freedom. Because at this very moment in time, there are gay men being beaten and murdered, purely for being gay. There are women who have had their sexual freedom violently taken from them. And there are transsexuals who are shunned from society, just for being different.

So even though PRIDE might seem like one big party - it’s more than that. It’s a protest against sexual dictatorship and social segregation. And it’s a beacon of hope to anyone that’s still living in oppression.

Sure, PRIDE isn’t without its flaws - it’s disgusting how it’s become a playground for companies who are looking to piggyback onto social issues, just so they can plug whatever they’re selling with less of a conscience. And it’s concerning how straight people use it as an excuse to get drunk in the streets of London, despite making no effort to stand up for gay rights any other time of the year.  

But regardless of its problems, the purpose of PRIDE is still something we need to hold onto - we need to encourage acceptance and diversity. Fundamentally, we’re all made of the same biological stuff anyway - it’s just the way we think and feel that’s different. And honestly, I wouldn’t give one single milligram of shit if my friend came to the pub riding a glitter-bombed horse, sporting an enormous dildo on his forehead, and had several men hanging out of his arse. Sure, I’d probably bring it up, but as long as he was happy, still appreciative of a questionable pun, and practising safe, consensual sex, I’d welcome him with semi-open arms (open arms are suspiciously false and sociably uncomfortable.)

At the end of the day, life can be truly terrible, and people can be beyond deplorable arseholes. So if you manage to find someone who you love, and who loves you in return, who gives a fuck if they’re a girl or a boy, or a girl who’s a boy on Wednesdays? It might sound like one of Instagram’s many clich├ęd hashtags, but Love really is Love. (As long as it’s consensual and not full-on Lolita, obvs.)

So big-up to PRIDE - keep on fighting the good fight, and partying the big party.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Hasta la vista, 2016.

If I'm being 102.3% accurate, 2016 was the worst, and best, year of my fairly short, yet utterly ridiculous life (yes, even worse than that time I lived in a shed). Finally, even though I might be 16 years too late, I can sing along to Ronan Keating's 'Life is a Rollercoaster' with genuine feeling.

It's why, unlike 2015, I won't be reviewing the various 'feedback' I've been given throughout the year. You might think I'm being a tad over-dramatic, and you're probably correct, but think about the moment when you're in 'da club', making out with a 'hot chick'; until suddenly, the lights go on and you immediately realise, to your boner-crippling dismay, that the 'hot chick' is a definite product of incest. Well, a work colleague (at best), dubbed that moment a 'Fell' moment (my surname is Fell, and that product of incest is me, apparently). 

Anyway, this 'classic banter' isn't even the tip of last year's ego-stabbing knife, so that's why I won't be sharing any more of 2016's 'feedback' with you. 

However, despite being emotionally crushed again, and again, and again, I learnt a lot throughout last year, and I thought I'd share my lessons* with you.

*I thought 'lessons' would be a much more pleasant way of saying 'devastating reality checks'. 

Lesson 1: If a pond is there in the daylight, it’ll still be there in the dark. 

Yes, I did fall in a pond.

I'd spent the day in my friend's garden, delighting in all things cheese and rum-based, and in this haze of delight, I'd forgotten all of my friend's eloquent 'mind the fucking pond' warnings. When I was saying my goodbyes, which I always drag out because of my desperate need for attention, I walked straight into the pond. 

The embarrassment of this 'impossible to style out' situation was heightened by the fact that I was wearing flares (again, because I'm desperate for attention). For those of you that have somehow managed to live your entire life without getting your jeans wet, water spreads up denim quicker than chlamydia spreads during freshers' week (which is extremely quickly). And with flares, there's a lot of denim. 

This fatal flare-water combo meant that I had to walk through an entire* suburb of Manchester, on my own, with jeans that were carrying more water than Shamu got to swim in (RIP Shamu). It was like I'd confused the band name 'Wet Wet Wet' for a life motto. 

*By entire, I mean approximately 3.45 streets. 

Lesson 2: People pleasing should be the eighth deadliest sin.

Even if you spend your life doing stuff you hate in a desperate bid to make other people happy, those same people are probably still going to sit there and slag you off when you're not around; apparently, bitching is much more socially acceptable than an uncomfortable silence. It's why you might as well be as ridiculous as legally* possible. 

In the immortal words of Taylor Swift, haters gonna hate. 

*I'm only saying ‘legally’ in case my father ever reads this**
**This is a joke***
***This is definitely not a joke. Or is it?

Lesson 3: Your body is the greatest weapon you have.

Other people might say an education is the greatest weapon, or some (here's looking at you, Rodrigo Duterte) might say the greatest weapon anyone can have is the ability to encourage vigilante murder. But I disagree (yes, I have a vagina and an opinion – it happens, sometimes). 

In the beginning of last year, I was the victim of many terror-inducing attacks. My EX-housemate would spend a lot of her spare time successfully scaring me. There was nowhere I could hide, not even the toilet was a safe space. 

Don't get me wrong, I did seek revenge by hiding the remains of a lobster I'd eaten amongst her pillows (#lad), but even that wasn't enough to quash her penchant for scaring me. The only real benefit that came from carting a dead lobster’s shell from London to Manchester was that her room maintained a distinct fishy smell for a fair while, but that could’ve been her general scent. 

Anyway, after a 'discussion' with a friend, I decided to get my own back by terrifying my EX-housemate with my naked body. 

Unsurprisingly, it was a great success: she never terrified me again. Plus, I now live somewhere else for my own safety, and hers. 

Lesson 4: Hang out with people who live without judgement.

This is especially important to me because a) I'm ridiculous, and b) when I was a child, I was forced to march to God's drum every single Sunday morning, so I'll always suffer from Catholic Guilt. 

What's the big deal with Catholic Guilt? Well, whenever I somehow manage to convince myself that I'm actually an okay(ish) human being, Catholic Guilt will rear its ugly arse, and shit over any self-belief I may have.  

Luckily, I've managed to make friends that love me, despite my incessant stupidity. And even when I'm hella upset (because I've done something stupid, again) and it's gone 1am, my friends will still tell me to come to their place of work (a bar, not a brothel)*. And even though they'll have a literal job to do, they'll still try and mend my broken ego, and they'll even let me listen to as much Hall & Oates as I like (which is a lot). And even when they finally tell me off, which they always do, they'll do it with affection. And then, finally, they'll make me go home, and I love them for it.

*I've only had to do this once, or twice, or three times. I think. Maybe more, maybe less. The year is quite blurry. 

Lesson 5: Partake more in 'La Passeggiata'. 

That's Italian for 'evening stroll', I think. 

If I'm being honest, I don't actually have an anecdote about this; I just wanted to show off my (limited) knowledge of Italian. 

Lesson 6: Candles don't taste as good as they smell.

Long story short: I spent a good twenty minutes of my birthday flossing blue wax out of my teeth after my 'friends' offered me £15 to eat my own birthday candle. It was a definite low point for me, so I'm not really sure as to why I'm sharing it with the internet (mainly because no one really reads this). 

I've also just remembered that my 'friends' still owe me that £15...pricks. 

Lesson 7: Monogamy isn't dead, but it's really fucking rare.

My moral compass might be slightly warped, but even I know that if someone can only snog you in the shadows of a department store, then something's wrong.

This year, I’ve been exposed to more cheating than an episode of EastEnders. And, even if you’re trying to convince yourself (to soothe your Catholic Guilt) that it’s not a big deal, it is. It’s a really fucking big deal. And, if we're being brutally honest, you need to make like Michael Jackson, and moonwalk out of that situation. 


Lesson 8: Bras support torture, not your tits.

No, this isn't a 'burn your bra', neo-feminist statement (and if it was, that'd be cool too): I mean this literally. Last month, I stopped wearing 'proper' bras, and it was the best decision I've ever made (by best, I mean 'only good'). 

Seriously, I haven't felt this liberated since my friends and I ran through Cheltenham* naked. And honestly, who cares if now whenever I move, anyone in the surrounding area is at risk of being hit by my 'bags of sand' - that, my friend, is real freedom. That, my friend, is the real American Dream (and I should know – I’ve been to America more than once). 

*This is a slight exaggeration - we might've only ran to the end of my road, which was a quiet, residential cul-de-sac. In fact, we didn't even make it to the end of the road. When the fresh-air sniper came and shot us with a sober bullet, we panicked, ran home, and put all of our clothes back on, immediately.

Lesson 10: Not everyone likes Cyndi Lauper. 

This has taken me some time to get over (like a mouse trying to mount an elephant, if you will), but it's a harsh truth that I've learnt to accept. No matter how many times you force someone (my housemate) to listen to Cyndi's pop genius, some people (my housemate) are incapable of accepting that girls just wanna have fun. 

Lesson 11: Money will be alright in the end.

Yes, this is mainly a lie I tell myself as I apply for a(nother) credit card, but I genuinely believe it's true (as long as you're willing to put the extra graft in / you have a rich, long-lost relative that dies unexpectedly and leaves all of his/her inheritance to you, for some inexplicable reason). 

Lesson 12: Don't send your parents dark, nihilistic 'jokes'.

Seriously, don't do it. Your parents won't understand your 'jokes' and they will immediately set up a not-so-subtle suicide watch on your behalf, which is terrible when you're not actually suicidal. 

Lesson 13: Think before you 'all-staff'.

Sending an all-staff email, which begins with ‘ONLY FUCK COLD FOOD’ (yes, it was in capitals) isn't the best way to secure a job you're definitely lucky to have. But it does mean you're more than likely to get the best award at the Christmas party. 

Yep, I'm my work's 'HR Ticking Time Bomb', and I couldn't be prouder. 

Lesson 14: Love is cool. 

I grew up resenting the idea of love because I've seen how bitter it can make people, and how it has a terrible habit of ruining people's lives, but I've realised to be a true hedonist (which I obviously am), pleasure is the goal. And love is the biggest pleasure, even if it ruins your life.

Don't get me wrong, I will never EVER post anything on social media along the lines of 'bae did good', unless I'm being MASSIVELY ironic. But, I would much rather have a life of failed loves than a loveless life. #realtalk 

Lesson 15: I'm bored of lessons.

Here's to putting all of the terrible shit* that happened in 2016 behind me (#bebetternotbitter), and here's to a much better 2017.

*I'm mainly referring to the time I accidentally dyed my hair black, and I was forced to spend most of my summer looking like a terrible Ozzy Osbourne tribute act. 


(But not you, guy who took a literal shit outside of my front door - you can have an average new year, at best.)