#OrlandoStrong #OrlandoUnited

Context: This blog is an amalgamation and update of two previous Facebook posts. I was in Orlando, Florida on the day of the Orlando Pulse nightclub terrorist attack, but not involved. I did not want the posts to be lost in the firehose of social media.

I’ve only ever once experienced direct homophobia

When I was at university I was walking along the seafront one evening, hand-in-hand with boyfriend-du-jour. We passed a group of three lads, who went stony silent as they passed us. They waited until we were about 30 metres away before one of them yelled “QUEER BOYS!” at us. How original.

I was furious. University was my fresh start with my sexuality and I had always been open about it since arriving, having hidden it at Sixth Form (where I experienced indirect homophobia, almost always through ignorance rather than anything else), and this cunt violated that.

I started to run towards the one who I knew yelled it, the one with the biggest grin on his face. He broke away from his two friends and I chased him into the town. I caught up with him and I threw him to the ground. He put his arms up and said he was sorry and begged me to leave him alone, having very clearly underestimated me (bear in mind I was nowhere near as physically strong then as I am now). Which I did, after telling him what I thought of him at the top of my voice and instructed him in rather frank terms never to do such a thing again.

Why did I do this? Because what he did, even though it did not cause me or boyfriend any physical harm, was NOT FUCKING ACCEPTABLE, and I was not going to let him get away with it. I hope he never did it again and always thought twice about such idiocy and ignorance after that night.

(In hindsight it was a pretty stupid idea to abandon the boyfriend with the other two, but nothing else happened, I just have to chalk that one up to seeing red.)

Since then, some 20 years on, I have never suffered any sort of homophobic abuse. There are a couple of advantageous factors which have contributed to this, the first being that I “don’t look gay” (whatever that means) and the second being that I have lived in major cities for the majority of my years since university, which are generally considered to be safer for gay people.

But I realise that I am very lucky, and I also realise that it could happen to me, someone close to me or just any other gay person, known or unknown to me at any time. It scares me, and it isn’t right, and I still DO NOT FUCKING ACCEPT IT.

The attack in Orlando on 12th June was deliberately targeted at gay people. Again, it did not affect me directly. The reality is because I’m 40 and don’t go to nightclubs any more it would have never had a chance of affecting me personally. But it did affect 103 people with whom I share community, nearly half of which are now dead. And that is not fucking acceptable.

This will happen again if we don’t start to stand up to the plague of hate that we are suffering at the hands of extremists. This has nothing to do with guns, this was a hate attack, plain and simple, and it could have happened anywhere. I am sick of reading in the news about the plight of gay people in Muslim countries, and now not even that is good enough; now gay people in western countries are being targeted for public massacre. That is not fucking acceptable, and we cannot ignore it or make excuses for it.

Nobody should be in the least bit comfortable about what happened on that day and nobody should ever forget it. Homophobia in any form and from any source is never justifiable. This direct attack on our community, solidarity, hard-earned freedoms, rights, culture and way of life is way over the line, and we need to stand up to it and say that we will not fucking accept this bullshit any longer, regardless of who we may upset in the process.

When I came out to my parents, I told them I was frightened about what might happen to me because I’m gay. That fear upset them, especially my Mum. She’s long gone now, but it turns out that her upset wasn’t without merit. I need to show her that I’m not frightened, and I won’t fucking accept this.

I’m tired, it’s been a stressful day and I’ve been through a wide range of negative emotions, from anger and rage to frustration, disbelief, disgust, shock and of course grief and sadness. Thank you to all those who reached out to me today, it’s been very touching and it meant a lot to me, especially those whose care I arguably do not deserve.

Here’s the Orlando Eye, photographed the day after the attack. Many other buildings around the world were lit up in the rainbow colours in its wake.


This could have happened to any of us

A man from Illinois makes white crosses for every victim after a mass shooting in the United States. Now it’s Orlando’s turn. He’s made 49 white crosses and drove 1,200 miles to Orlando Health Medical Centre, just a couple of blocks from Pulse nightclub. Most of the victims were taken to this hospital.

I went there one week after the atrocity against gay people in Orlando to see these beautiful crosses and to pay my respects to the victims. It’s the least I could do.

People were solemn, people were silent, people were private in their respect and grief. I watched an elderly Japanese man bow to every single one of the 49 crosses. All I could hear was the water from the waterfall and the wind in the trees. There was no traffic to speak of because of the road closures still in place.

I wrote on one of the crosses, that of Alejandro Martinez, who was only just born at the time I was coming out at university. The man from Illinois will, after a while, deliver each of the crosses to their respective families.

Rest in peace, my 49 brothers and sisters.






What’s your favorite city?

New York.

When I first went to New York I wasn’t a city-type person and the place scared the living shit out of me. I didn’t like it at all. It was big and very fucking scary and I really wasn’t comfortable there. It then didn’t help matters that I left the day before 9/11.

But then a couple of years later, after having moved to Manchester, I ended up there again, quite randomly in fact, and this time I really loved the place and I’ve been going back there whenever I can ever since. It’s an absolutely amazing place. Its scale, diversity, history and what it has to offer is breathtaking. Nothing in Europe even come close.

Ideally I would like to live and work there for a few years sometime during my life. I don’t want to spend forever there, because I don’t want to die young from the stress that it would inevitably bring eventually, but to have that experience I think would be a really fantastic thing to tick off my bucket list.

Decided to give Formspring a go. I will answer most questions but if you want to insult me then please do it to my face.


Zurückgegangen VON Boston

Yeah, so I spent exactly four days and four hours traveling to Boston, being in Boston and travelling back from Boston this week. It’s kind of a surreal feeling; I feel as if I should be totally overwhelmed by such an intense trip but I’m not, I’m really chilled out about it and it feels like Boston is no further away than London rather than being five timezones away over the Atlantic. Each journey and each day went off without a hitch; never before have I had such a relaxed and straightforward trip abroad. Would that all our holidays were the same!

The conference itself, Fall VON, was very interesting and I truly immersed myself in the IP communications world for two whole days, meeting some very clever people and some notable industry names. I’ve gathered a wealth of information that will prove to be very useful for my current project at work and so the trip was well worth it from a commercial point of view. A couple of the talks were by people who had used the technology with which I specialise in specific applications and while these applications were reasonable clever they weren’t on the sort of scale that my current project is going to be, so I’m going to see if it’s reasonable and feasible for me to do a talk myself at next year’s event once my project is finished.

Boston is a marvellous place. My favourite city in the United States is of course New York, but Boston comes a very close second. Its relative age combined with its New England environs, cleanliness, friendly inhabitants and functional transportation systems make it a pleasure to be in. Manchester, Boston and New York are the three places in the world where I really feel at home, more-so even than my birthplace. The only thing it’s really lacking is the sort of gay scene that I’m used to in Manchester, but then I’m willing to admit that my standards have been set pretty high in that regard. Not even New York comes close to Manchester, mostly thanks to the Republican Party, but that’s a different story.

The local baseball team, the Red Sox, apparently won the “world” series last week, although unclear how much of the rest of the world beyond the United States were invited to participate in this tournament. There was a giant parade through Boston on Tuesday which lasted practically all day. I didn’t see it because I was at the convention centre, but it was apparently enourmous.


Actually a holiday

Having a great time in the US of A. Currently in the middle of our stay in Provincetown, Massachusettes (the discerning gay couple’s choice of holiday destination), known locally, and also for the purposes of this report, “Ptown”. We’re staying at the Crowne Point, which is very nice indeed, very private and very quiet, although the air conditioner in our suite keeps me awake at night.

Provincetown, as it was when we last visited, is a beautiful place. Right on the end of Cape Cod, it seems relatively untouched by globalisation and it’s very “anything goes”, everyone leaves their cars and houses unlocked and there isn’t a megacorp logo in sight, save perhaps for the odd Budweiser neon sign in the windows of various bars. We’re literally doing nothing, sitting around the pool all day, taking walks through the town, perhaps a drive along the cape. It’s great, our holidays are normally much more hectic than this.

This isn’t our first port of call of course. By contrast our first stop was Manhatten, where we spent four night at the W on 49th & Lexington, where we stay every time we come to New York, and will will return there for three further nights next week before returning home. New York is a big, busy and exciting place, yet despite that we find it relaxing there, it’s a place where you just “be” rather than “do”. Since moving to Manchester my tolerance of big cities has increased somewhat, and I would love to live there at some point, if only for a few years or so (my life has, at least for the past 10 years or so, followed a rough pattern of living for 3 years somewhere and then moving on).

Provincetown is a 1 hour 30 minute ferry ride away from Boston, the state capital of Massachusettes. We’ve been there before of course, two years ago, but we might visit again as it’s a really nice place – slower and more spacious than New York. But probably not, it’s not as if we’re short of the city element on this holiday.

Hired the normal Ford Explorer for the drive from Manhatten to Provincetown. Yesterday we found some corners for it to go round, which it didn’t like very much, making this clear by squealing its tyres. For all of the X5’s lumbering appearance, it goes round corners better than most cars, and certainly better than any American car.

Anyway, I’m just rambling now. Back to doing nothing. We’ve been blighted with a number of minor emergencies from the office since we came on holiday but nothing that couldn’t be solved (or at least, deferred) relatively quickly.