At the very start of the year I was in hospital, being treated for throat cancer; at its very end I was in a rehab, sober but emotionally rather burnt out. The in-between wasn’t all that magnificent either, what with the long recovery after the chemoradiotherapy, the flat I was staying at before the rehab, the (no doubt related) alcoholic relapse within, the deaths of Ray Collier, Tormod MacGill-Eain and Tom Petty (and others), the way the Brexit talks were developing, and so on and so forth.

All the same, I shouldn’t complain. For one thing, the cancer was apparently cured. Otherwise I possibly might not be here to write this any longer. Also, during the relapse the idea of leaving the town I had learned to hate for good occurred to me, and the rehab stay helped me contrive that. I even fell in love yet again after years . . .

And of course there were all the interesting books I read and iPlayer programmes I watched, meetings with my friends from the college, not to mention minor affairs like making porridge a staple of my diet, or beginning a circle beard.

Ay, as Skipinnish have it, I’m alive, and the stars are on my side. (Notwithstanding, as Jake Bugg has it, I hold two fingers out to yesterday.)




I’ve been postponing this post for weeks and weeks, because I don’t really know how to write it. I’d like to note down everything, from first noticing him while he was still in the detox to our final goodbye some four months later in front of the nurses’ room; every occupational and walking therapy we were both involved in, every smoking-area repartee and every short-but-serious conversation we ever had, every time I simply enjoyed surreptitiously watching him, everything . . . . but of course that would take ages. I’d never be able to finish it.

Suffice it to say that he was the thirteenth guy I fell in love with since the end of my National Service days, and amongst these thirteen affections, this one was probably the strangest. Because despite the fact that unlike me he was straight, young and gorgeous to look at, we seemed to be, intellectually, more or less on the same wavelength. To the extent that there was definitely a sort of rapport between us.

And yet during the almost four months we spent at the same ward we rarely talked, or at least not as much as I would have wished us to. Partly no doubt due to my typical aloofness deriving from the usual fear of becoming “that embarrassing interloping old queer”. So I never even dared to ask for his email or phone number: when he left, even such communication as we’d had came to an instant end. The chances I’ll ever hear some news about him, let alone meet him again, are infinitesimal.

Do I still miss him? Definitely; sometimes sorely. But I don’t think that a couple of years from now I’ll still miss him as much as I still miss Tommy almost three years after we parted. I’ll get along.


BBC II!: Queer Britain

Apparently people like me weren’t exactly amongst the target audience. I didn’t grow up in a religious environment; never cared about my ‘body image’ enough to seriously try and improve it; never actually ended up on the streets (so far anyway); I’m white, and never was knowingly a victim of racism; I found the fact the ‘porn’ episode was about 10 minutes longer than the rest … droll; and I’m perfectly cisgender.

That being said, I knew people got kicked out by their orthodoxly religious parents; I knew people ended up on the streets because there was no helping hand for them; and I knew there was more racism in our minds (yes, yours and mine as well) than an average middle-class Guardian reader is able to admit. In other words there was some boredom and no ‘revelations’.

And yet I don’t consider watching the whole series a waste of time. It probably gave me some idea what today’s young LGBTQIAPCDEFHJKMNORSUVWXYZ+++* are concerned with; and if the truth be told, there was one revelation after all: that these days, a masculine male cisgender gay probably shouldn’t call himself ‘queer’, as I’d used to do, because the meaning of the word has shifted again.

* You say the initialism doesn’t use all the letters of the alphabet? Just you wait …


Leo Varadkar

Feumaidh mi aideachadh nach urrainn dhomh tuigsinn ciamar a thionndaidh Èirinn bho dhùthaich anns an robh feisen gèidhe toirmisgte gus 1993 gu tè far an do thachair ann an 2015 reifreann soirbheachail às leth phòsaidhean ghèidh, agus a-nis eadhon tè le prìomh mhinisteir gèidh. Ach chan eil sin gu diofar. ’S e an rud cudromach gun do dh’atharraich i ann. Agus an rud nas fheàrr gu bheil coltach nach robh ùidh mhòr aig daoine gun robh e gèidh no gun robh athair air tighinn bho na h-Innseachan, ach dè a dhèanas e le eaconomaidh na dùthcha. Sin mar am bu chòir cùisean a bhith.


Scottish Episcopal Church votes to allow gay marriages

The results of the general election have only begun to trickle in, but another vote took place yesterday, one whose result was known while the polling stations were still open: the Scottish Episcopal Church voted to allow those of its priests who opt in to conduct gay marriages in its churches. Given that this approval “required the backing of at least two thirds of each house of Bishops, Clergy and Laity”, I’m pleasantly surprised it really did go through and Scotland’s Anglicans thus joined American ones.


Mariages homosexuels en Finlande

Du 1er mars, les mariages entre personnes de même sexe se produisent au 22e pays: Finlande. Ça signifie qu’ils se produisent dans tout les pays nordiques (y compris le Groenland mais sauf les Îles Féroé).

(Et aujourd’hui, 7e mars, c’est l’anniversaire de la perte de ma virginité. Intéressant: en ce temps-là, j’avais 22 ans. Et en juillet il sera 22 ans depuis mon dernier rapport sexuel. Je serai chaste plus longtemps qu’avant le premier …)


September ’16 news

The only really ‘new’ story was that of the first Church of England bishop’s publicly coming out.

The rest were either developments of old stories, mar an co-dhùnadh gun tèid an clàr-ola bho Leòdhas dhan Tuirc, the first charge in the Volswagen fraud, David Cameron’s resignation as an MP, and the approval of Hinkley Point C; or things which were expected, like the TV licences becoming necessary for legal watching of iPlayer programmes and the publication of Scotland’s legislative programme for the next parliamentary session.

Of course, as I said earlier, since the 15th of the month I’d been on a bender, so I have no idea what was happening during the second half of the month.


No pride flag in Abingdon … so what?

Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council decided not to fly the rainbow flag during next year’s pride parade in nearby Oxford. Oxford Pride chairman Robert Jordan is “shocked and appalled”. A Mark Holton from Swindon, Wiltshire claims that “by not flying the flag [the council] suggests it’s ok in Oxfordshire to be homophobic”. Some PinkNews commenters go even further.

I’m rarely shocked. And I think it quite possible that behind the 7 votes against the flying of the flag may be nothing more than homophobia. Yet I think it just as possible that behind the 6 votes in favour may be nothing more than political correctness. And I’m appalled by people who say “if you don’t shout out loud you love us when we tell you it means you hate us”.

This is one of the ways to ensure we remain outliers.


June ’16 news

Except for the EU referendum and its aftermath, which will probably remain not just the news of the month, but the news of the year, precious little happened, and none of it good. In Orlando, Florida, a religious maniac murdered 49 people in the Pulse gay bar; and a series of rail strikes began over disagreement between ScotRail and the RMT about more driver-only-operation trains. It seems obvious that at least one party is rather economical with the truth when describing the talks, but which one it is only the participants can know.


May ’16 news

Of course, the main news was the elections and the aftermath. Before that, Sir David Attenborough became the latest celebrity nonagerian, and the BBC White Paper was unveiled: mostly it seemed to be about money and encroaching on the broadcaster’s independence, with some specific proposals for Scotland agus moladh airson leantainn le craoladh sa Ghàidhlig.

After the elections, while in London the Queen’s Speech allegedly included fines for companies sending spam emails without first getting consent (could it still be called spam if they did?), the new Scottish government announced that for the next eight years the operation of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Network will remain with CalMac, rather than being handed over to Serco. Muirfield, however, lost its right to host another Open after a vote to remain a men-only club. (I’m not sure to which degree the following criticism is due to the unadmitted knowledge that if there was a women-only golf club, men simply wouldn’t give a damn about it.) Shortly after, the Kirk voted to allow ministers in civil gay marriages, although not gay weddings within the Kirk, and the Scottish Parliament obtained its first law-making powers under the 2016 Scotland Act.

Mostly good news, then. Not so across the Atlantic, where Donald Trump in the end won the Republican presidential primaries, and Alberta, Canada had to declare emergency in response to a wildfire which destroyed about a tenth of Fort McMurray and later threatened to come back to claim more. In retrospect this kind of puts the feminists’ (and my) obsession with the Muirfield vote into perspective.


April ’16 news

There were hardly any to speak of, to be honest. It felt as if everybody was just waiting for May’s elections and June’s referendum.

It began with a very important news indeed: on the first day of the month, the new national minimum wage of £7.20 an hour came into effect (although not for Tommy, who’s still under 25). After that . . .

The next day Kezia Dugdale came out as a lesbian, which, considering the already self-proclaimed homosexual Mundell and Davidson and bisexual Harvie and Coburn, makes one wonder when are Sturgeon and Rennie going to jump on the bandwagon. Then nothing for almost three weeks, until the Queen turned 90 (BBC News Scotland stopped short of calling her a Scots queen first and a British queen second, but only just). And after another week the news that the Birnam Oak and Sycamore were so damaged by last December’s storm Desmond that without human aid they probably will be lost. Which only merits a note here as I’d seen them with my own eyes within one of my Dunkeld trips.

Ah well, one mustn’t grumble. The good thing was that I was able to write this post in less than a hour before leaving for a night shift.


Gay marriage legal throughout the US

On 26 June 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in a case named Obergefell v. Hodges in favour of same-sex marriages, the decision being based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the constitution.
BBC: US Supreme Court rules gay marriage is legal nationwide
En-wiki: Obergefell v. Hodges1
Here it is at last, the finale of the story: twelve years after Massachusetts became the first US state to legalise gay marriages in 20032 (the first being held in 2004); six years after Vermont became the first to legalise it through legislature rather than jurisdiction3; two years after Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act were abolished4; the US only narrowly beaten by Great Britain5 (but not by the UK6).

Of course, many are very, very unhappy about it; Adam Gopnik gives us two good reasons why:
“What the opponents of gay marriage really cannot stand […] is being criticised in the same spirit as they choose to criticise their opponents – not as holding a morality that might be too stringent to be obeyed, but holding a morality that was never really moral at all. […] The only alternatives they can recognise as real are either power or persecution. Either you are the magistrate making rules, or else you are the martyr being sacrificed to them.”

This mindset was recently exemplified by the words of the Kenyan president, who claimed it was “very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept”, happily ignoring the fact that that is exactly what his country’s laws impose on its GLBT people7.

1 – as of 26 June 2015, 2344 UTC
2 – wasn’t connected yet to read this but I’m positive I’ve heard about this on radio thanks to BBC World Service
3 – connected already, presumably must have read this both on the BBC and Pink News websites
4 – no longer following PN but still probably noticed as a BBC News
5 – England and Wales in 2013, Scotland in 2014
6 – Norther Ireland remains UK bigots’ last bastion
7 – en-wiki: LGBT rights in Kenya, as of 25 July 2015, 1922 UTC

Petition to pardon men convicted of homosexuality

Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, is among those who signed a petition to the effect that not only Turing should have been pardoned (which happened in 2013), but that all those convicted like him (over 49,000) should be pardoned.
BBC: Benedict Cumberbatch in call to pardon convicted gay men
And so did I, as it is estimated that about 15,000 of these victims of the dishonourable law are still alive. The petition had over 60,000 signatures when BBC published its article, over 77,000 when I read it and signed it, and as of now it is approaching 114,000. Thus, even if it does not reach the target of 150,000, it already has more than the 100,000 which according to HM Government’s website it needs in order that it “could be debated in the House of Commons”.


First Scottish couples married

While anti-gay attacks in Russia are gaining ground again, Scotland’s couples in civil partnerships can now convert them into official marriages, while the rest can give notice of their intention to wed, and thus be able to have their weddings starting Hogmanay.
BBC: Gay marriage law comes into effect in Scotland
Of course, those who would like to be ‘married’ in the eyes of most churches still can’t, but that’s a problem to be settled between themselves and their churches. The important thing is to have the law treat us as equals in the eyes of the state. (Incidentally, technically speaking this still hasn’t been achieved, as straight couples can’t enter into civil partnerships. But I’m told Peter Tatchell works on it…)



I’m not sure whether I watched it for the third or fourth time. What I am reasonably sure of is that I perceive the film somewhat differently each time. There is always a certain shift in how I interpret some scenes, how much (or how little) I enjoy some, how (un)important some seem, and so on.

I even appear to find attractive different characters each time. (Although I don’t think I’ve ever fancied Travis.)


5 (or rather, 10) more US states marrying gays

At the beginning of October, the US Supreme Court has effectively increased the number of US states where same-sex marriage is legal to 30 (not including Washington, D.C.) by rejecting appeals against it in Indiana, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin.
BBC: US rebuff to gay marriage opponents
I can still remember when New York became the 6th such state in June 2011, with California in the limbo of Proposition 8. Somehow I stopped following the topic later, so this news took me aback a bit – and according to Wikipedia, before I got around to blogging about it the number has risen yet again to 35, with Montana being the latest.


Babies with three parents in 2016?

A scientific review commissioned by the UK government reported that in about two years, scientists will be ready to create babies from two women and one man. Provided it is made legal, but the government is said to have, in principle, backed the idea.

The professed aim is to prevent deadly mitochondrial diseases. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be better for everybody if the parents-to-be prevented these by adopting a child instead of procreating one, but it doesn’t bother me; people do many things beyond my comprehension. I just suspect that these babies won’t have it easy in the playground. I can just hear their peers screaming “Mutant, mutant!”

On the other hand, I’m very curious whether the main Christian churches will lead so intense and vocal campaign against this as they did against gay marriages.


Lewis Grassic Gibbon: Sunset Song

After reading it once again it occurred to me to check my library and it’s true. It is the only book there with a female as the main character. Which isn’t so surprising, given that all the writers there are male. Which in turn isn’t so surprising either, given that I’m a male gay.

What is surprising is that if I were forced to discard three quarters of my books, this one will be very probably among those that I would keep.


Same-sex marriages commence in southern Great Britain

Since Saturday, same-sex marriages are taking place in England and Wales. Scotland, not for the first time, lags behind: although the relevant Act has already been granted the Royal Assent, first marriages are not expected before October. Ah well, mieux vaut tard que jamais.

This is not as important as was for instance levelling the age of consent, but it certainly is another step towards equality. There are many who disagree with this step, and not only those who believe that they should have language trademarked. Nevertheless, it seems improbable that they would be able to make these marriages void as it happened in Californa and elsewhere.

And it is a victory not only for the LGBT community, but also for religious tolerance. That is to say, religious tolerance for those denominations that refuse to toe the line of the big churches on this matter.