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Mike Llewin

July 1997

Hi guys and gals!

It's been a busy month for me in the UK. Guess I'll start at the beginning.

Saturday July 5th: 300,000 people from all over the UK, and from other countries, will march in London to celebrate Gay Pride. The biggest gay event of the year will see astonishing festivities, with major pop bands giving an appearance, and spectacular fireworks marking the end of the day.

Guess what? I'd like to go. Guess what? My parents don't want me to go. Guess what? There's been an argument.

I'd mentioned to my mum that I wanted to go to Gay Pride and she seemed pretty much OK about it. Of course she was concerned about my safety (who wouldn't be?) but she didn't have any strong objections. I had assumed my father would be OK about the whole business too, but I was wrong, because I came back from school a few days later to a fuming, raging father.

"You'll be expelled! You'll end up on television and your career will be ruined!" About the best arguments against me going my dad could muster. Of course both are totally futile arguments: any school that expels a student for attending a pride march is looking for national headlines. If I did end up on TV (about 1 in 1000 chance) few would recognise me and hey who'd be bothered except my dad anyway? It was obvious that his objections surpassed these: he was plain homophobic.

I tried to explain that there would be no problem going to the march. I'd be with some friends from the local youth group and I wouldn't be staying the night in London. "I command you not to go!" Oh golly, I'm supposedly seventeen and that means I have to obey my dad. There's nothing he can do to stop me going down to the station and just vanishing to London for the day; I have my own money, about the worse he could do would be to throw me out of the house, and he wouldn't have the guts to do that.

"You are not going! You must not go!" It was obvious that arguing further with him would get nowhere so I stopped, and went out. To the local gay youth group meeting as it happens!

Well within a week my mum had worked on him and persuaded him that going to a pride march was no big deal. My dad didn't talk to me about it at all, until the next week, when he apologetically said on the phone from work that I could go to "this thing" and that there wasn't any problem. Complete turnabout. Thanks mum!

The question I ask myself is what does this say about how my parents are coping with my coming out? The whole incident has made it clear that even though they have no complaints from day to day and they never talk about it, they are still very homophobic. Even my mum, who is happy to talk about my sexuality in an open manner with me, retains an element of doubt. She still believes somewhere in the depths of her heart that I'm really completely straight (admittedly I am bisexual rather than gay) and that as soon as I get away from home everything will resolve itself. Nor does she agree with the open way I treat my sexuality at school: she's constantly afraid of my expulsion (completely irrationally) and doesn't wholly agree with the idea of me directing a gay play in December, as came out in a discussion between me, my tutor and my parents at a University Entrance evening.

Of course it takes time for anyone to get used to the idea of a gay son, but what really bugs me is that they don't acknowledge that they're homophobes and so they don't want to try and remedy the situation. I've made available to them books and leaflets covering common myths about all sorts of aspects of society, but they won't read them because they've convinced themselves they know everything there is to know, or that they don't want to know any more.

Sad, but true.

Anyway on to lighter topics! Another Country is coming on well, for those regulars amongst you. I have completed the audition process and chosen nine out of the ten parts, leaving one last little part. Wharton. He's a young choirboy-ish servant to the head of house, a very difficult part to cast successfully, especially since I have so little contact with the lower school. I need to make haste on this one, there are only three weeks left to term.

Remember I was soundman for a production of Lord of the Flies? The production was a huge success and quite a visual fest too -- loin cloths -- well anyway without wanting to say too much (never know who reads these columns) let's just say that I've developed quite a crush on a 15-year old who was a member of the production team. He was, err, (voice wobbles here) very gorgeous, good in the eye contact department, good in the physical contact department, but if gay, not out. Very interested in how my coming out had proceeded which leads me to suspect. As you all know I've made mistakes about who I think is gay in the past, so I'm being very careful not to get myself hurt on this one. I don't have much contact with the guy any more since our paths rarely cross, which is a shame, but I'll have to try very hard to make the most of the contact we do have in the future. Hey if you're out there -- well I don't know what to say. What do you say?

1000 words coming up. Still there's nobody else in the school who's come out. I've been reading Simon LeVay's excellent book 'Queer Science' and discovering that the percentage of gay people in the school may be as little as 2% by some estimations, a depressing statistic since it leads to just 16 gay people in the school. Come on you guys I need your help here! Seriously, my web page will soon be updated with some information on how easy it is to come out at Lancaster School, which I hope will persuade a few of you closeters that coming out really is the way to go. To be quite honest, the more people that come out, the easier it will be for everyone else (and me), if you want to talk to me then do come and see me, just stop me at school sometime and I'll be as discrete as possible.

And it's a sad state of affairs that there isn't greater awareness of gay issues. There isn't much real homophobia around, but people aren't as well informed as they could be.

Oh and by the way all you straight guys out there, come out too, no point in staying in the closet. Bet you never thought of it that way, huh?

As usual, until next month, love, life, lube,

Mike


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