Stereotypes within sexuality

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As a homosexual male I’m victimised to some horrible outdated stereotypes on a daily basis. You are supposed to play into the different gender roles in society. The way you should act, dress, should talk and how you present yourself. Your whole demeanour is a target for abuse just because of who you are.

For men especially, gender roles are highly conflated with sexuality stereotypes (Lehavot & Lambert, 2007). These set of ideas and judgements can really damage somebody’s mental health. Homosexual males judged to possess hyperfeminity qualities because of their sexual identity. Nobody should have the fear of being judged because of your identity and your beliefs. Judging somebody because of their sexuality is discrimination and sadly it is still common amongst bigoted individuals.

This isn’t acceptable and here are a few ways to take notice and make a stand. Firstly you need to point it out, speak up and be an example. You cannot sit in silence, if you spot somebody who is being discriminative by making sexist comments please challenge their beliefs and try and educate them. Some people might make Ill judged comments unnoticeably and have no intention of harm playing it off as a joke but they also need to be put on alert that in todays culture it is unacceptable.

We should be comfortable in our own skin and have the freedom to express ourselves without the fear off being judged. Sadly that isn’t the reality we live in and people still are homophobic based off their exaggerated perceptions of these stereotypes. This is why Famous protests like Stonewall had to fight against discrimination back in 1969 which lead to the beginning of gay pride. In todays culture LGBT+ pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people as a social group’ (Gay Pride wikipedia 2020).

You should never be judged based on perceptions or stereotypes because of your sexuality and this is why I wanted to finally address this and talk about how it has affected my life. So here we go.

My experiences battling stereotypes

Football

Growing up I was raised to play and love sports where my keen interests were mostly in football. Even in todays culture it is very rare to see an open homosexual male make it professionally because they fear it can damage their reputation and make them an easy target for abuse.

This began in 22nd October 1990 when Justin Fashanu became the first professional footballer to come out as gay. This was a huge shocking the footballing world and even his brother fellow professional footballer described Justin as an ‘outcast’ and even Justin’s manager footballing legend Brian Clough described Justin as “bloodypoof”. Justin was the cover story for the July 1991 editor of Gay Times where he revealed that no club offered him a contract since coming out as gay.

This is astonishing considering just ten years earlier he was the first black footballer to have been bought for £1,000,000 when he moved to Nottingham Forest. Sadly after his career plummeted due to being gay Justin moved to America where he was accused of sexual assault and he feared due to his homosexuality he would be unfairly sentenced so instead decide to move back to England and hang himself. Justin was found hanged in a deserted lock-up garage he had broken into, in Shoreditch, London. In his suicide note, he stated: “I realised that I had already been presumed guilty. I do not want to give any more embarrassment to my friends and family.” Justin was wrongly accused saying in the suicide note the sex was consensual and today we honour the first homosexual male footballer who had to suffer to help others openly be who they are. Finally in 2020, Fashanu was honoured with being inducted into National Football Museum Hall of Fame, a truly deserving recipient.

Justin Fashanu

I thankfully have grown up in a different time where people in our community from all walks of life can openly express themselves and be who they are. Although we are by no means equal, we still get insulted, tormented and threatened on a daily basis just because of who we fancy. In football even on the 1st February 2020, two West Ham United fans were arrested in London Stadium by the police for directing homophobic chants towards Brighton & Hove Albion fans during a Premier League Match.

This is why people struggle to come out in the public eye or even to their friendships group. I was judged in school for the way I acted so badly I spent hours at home trying to walk straight and how I should talk to people making sure I lowered the tone in my voice not to sound too ‘camp’. I was judged for being who I am first and my ability second, which reminds me of when a guy I played football with told my friend ‘he is a gayboy but he is a class goalkeeper’. My sexuality has no affect on my performances or who I am as an individual so Ill mannered comments like that really can be hurtful to somebody. Especially as I was only 13 years of age, I was still discovering things and certainly was not aware of what I liked, what my sexuality was or who I was.

Me in my teams kit age 11

Judged for being ‘different’

Nobody should live in fear of being a target of abuse and bullying just because of their sexuality. I can guarantee that if the people who have judged me, if given the chance got to have an open conversation with me they would realise their ideologies they have of what a typical gay man is like is completely wrong.

Every person on this earth has their own individuality, their own talents, own passions and own personality all of which makes them who they are. It is extremely unfair to put somebody into a category based on stereotypes of what perception you may have towards a certain race, gender, beliefs or sexuality.

My favourite hobby is gaming and football, my favourite music artist is Jon Bellion, my favourite drink is a Budweiser and not all my friends are girls. I shouldn’t have to list facts about my life to warrant a reason for you not to judge me, but I just want to make it clear. Stereotyping somebody because of their sexuality is completely unfair and will only reflect badly on the type of person you are.

‘I always knew’

The last stereotype I would like to address is the passive comments that people may make but play it off as a joke. I just wanted to let people know before making this comments have a think about your delivery and if this comment may be taken in the wrong way. We know you mean no harm and just want to ‘lighten the mood’ but there are some situations in which you may just need to listen and be supportive rather than trying to prove a point.

One statement that sticks out to me is ‘I always knew’. I can assure you majority of people reading this can relate to the annoyance of this comment. To clarify I’m talking about if one of your friends have ever reacted to your coming out story with ‘don’t worry I always knew’.

Despite not meaning any menace from it, these sort of comments really gets to me because what they are tying to actually say is judging from my personality they think I match the stereotypes. The standard ‘my gaydar was going off’ can come off judgmental too. This is a mechanism called “stereotype threat” which refers to a fear of doing something that would confirm negative perceptions of a stigmatised group that we are members of.

We are currently living in 2020 where masculinity isn’t judged by social roles anymore. This is why we need to move past these sort of stereotypes because they should no longer exist. We live in a world where you should be able to be what you want and who you want without the fear of being judged.

Please for anybody reading this if your friend decides to finally confined with you and open up about his sexuality please just listen. Please deal with the situation carefully and just support them as they are incredible vulnerable and looking to you to seek encouragement.

Please do not make comments that can knock them down, as when I got told ‘I always knew’ it made me overthink about occasions they may have spoke about this behind my back for the whole time and what else they may be saying. It may sound stupid and over exaggerated indeed but trust me speaking from experience your mind is already overthinking about how others who might not take kindly to the news may react, they don’t need added worries.

The daily struggles of stereotyping somebody

Stereotypes are something of the past as we try and step away from being stigmatised. All I ask if you are reading this is just think before you speak because a remark you think nothing off can seriously harm somebody and stick with them.

I just wanted to be a normal teenager and restated equally like the other boys playing sports but I was always judged from the off. I was always the outcast and it really knocked my social skills which still affects me today suffering from high anxiety when I meet somebody new.

Please just be aware of these situations because people like me endure these sorts of abuse on the daily basis. When we confide in you please just be supportive, it isn’t the time to pass judgment all you have to do is listen.

Stereotypes within sexuality is a very sensitive subject for many people and I hope I have addressed it correctly. This was just my experiences, everybody else is different so please bear that in mind. Talk to your friends, support them and please don’t stereotype.

Thank you x

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My birthday blog (Part two)

Birthday 2020 brief

Hello everybody and welcome to part two of my birthday blog. If you missed part one of my story you can read it here.

Sadly due to all the fun surprises and activities that took place on my birthday yesterday (19th May) I was unable to write this blog, so that is why it is two days late. My apologies. Although I want to let everybody know that I was spoilt rotten and despite being in lockdown I was still given the best birthday I could have wished for. I’m really thankful for everybody who wished me a happy birthday and joined in (virtually of course) to my murder mystery party.

Introduction

Now back to the article at hand. Todays blog post will be all about the big moments in my life dating from October 2019 to the modern day (May 21st 2020).

These last six months have been the most monumental period of my life and it has shaped me into the man I am today. Over the last few months I have faced the biggest obstacles in my life but have also shared the most incredible moments too.

So here we go, part two of my birthday blog. If you enjoy reading my content please leave a like, comment, share or give my page a follow. Your support really keeps me going and I can’t thank everybody enough.

My concrete angel (October 2019)

I begin todays blog with the most shocking and my most heartbreaking moment. On the 14th October I lost somebody truly special, my best friend Jessica who passed away in her sleep suddenly after a brief battle with meningitis. Nobody was aware of the disease that Jessica had as she only mentioned constant headaches and migraines but showed no signs of excessive harm or implications that would have made us aware of the severity of the illness.

Despite that, it is still one of them things where you will always still question yourself and think what if? What if we went to A+E when she was in pain, what if we noticed earlier, what could have been if Jessica survived. Our knowledge from the post-mortem is that if Jessica stayed alive the illness would have still made severe damages and she would have been brain dead and may have lost her arms and legs.

This was heartbreaking news to take as the week prior to Jessica’s death she spent it staying at my house in Birmingham before going on a night out with me in Sheffield 48 hours before passing away. I will never forget the memories we made that week and I will forever be grateful to have spent such valuable time with Jessica. We even shared a goodbye at the Sheffield train station before Jessica went home to Newcastle one final time.

I sadly didn’t know that would be the last time I would hug Jessica goodbye and in hindsight i’m thankful I didn’t know because if I did, I don’t think I would ever be able to let go. Below I will show pictures from mine and Jessica’s last few days together.

If you would like to read more about my friendship with Jessica and how much she will always mean to me, I created a blog post titled Dear best friend, where I wrote everything I wished i could say to Jessica right now.

When I found out of Jessica’s passing from a close friend, everything in my life became worthless and I completely broke. Nothing seemed important, my emotions just became numb and no matter how much times passed, I will never accept the fact Jessica is no longer here with us.

This was the start of the toughest period of my life, I feel like this was the moment when I truly hit rock bottom. I decided to quit my job as a teacher assistant, took a break from social media and vowed to make my life mean something. Jess was only beginning her next chapter of her transformation into a beautiful independent woman who finally achieved happiness and acceptance only for that to be cruelly taken away so suddenly.

For me this shown how valuable yet easily vanquishable your life truly is. It does not matter how famous you are or how special you may think you are, we all are going to face the same fate one day. We care too much about the attention we receive rather than the impact we make. What you do in your life is dictated by the choices you make, nothing in life is handed to you. Your future is unclear and tomorrow may never come, that is why you need to make sure you do everything in your power to make every moment count.

These are valuable life lessons that losing somebody so important to me made me realise. That is why October 14th marked the beginning of a better version of myself. I decided to restart everything. Once returning from my brief time off work I decided to quit. Despite being happy with my job role it wasn’t right for me at that time. My passion is writing and creating content quite like this. That is why I do this, not because I want to be published, not because I thrive off attention, it’s because I love what I do.

Everyday I have Jessica’s support, passion and drive spurring me through the most difficult times. My only hope is that she is looking down on me right now and she is proud of the man I have become.

I love you Jess and I will always remember the laughs we had, the guidance you shared and the joy you gave me everyday seeing your smile. I will never forget you always and forever.  Until we meet again. x

My saving grace (November – modern day)

The next part of my story is a lot more uplifting I promise. As one special person left my side another angel in disguise appeared. Since Jessica passed I was numb to any feeling other than grief, dating was the last thing on my mind. Although my new look on life was to make every opportunity count as you will never know what will come of it. Six months later and I am celebrating my half year anniversary with my boyfriend Owen. Hopefully after lockdown is over more people will follow suit and be open for new opportunities.

The beginning of the next chapter (November 2019)

It all began when we matched together and started talking on the well-renowned dating app Tinder. I felt something different in the way we spoke, it was unlike any other conversations I had, our personalities bounced off each other which kept the conversation flowing so perfectly. This is why it did not take long for us to decide to actually meet face to face to see if the chemistry was similar in person.

Owen travelled down to Birmingham after he finished work on the Friday and met me at New Street station in Birmingham city centre. I arrived late due to traffic and I instantly called Owen to navigate him to me as New Street can be tricky for newcomers. This is where I finally found him, I instantly took a second glance as I thought he was even cuter in person. This turned my anxiety of doubt into excitement I was looking forward to finally meet him. As I began to walk towards Owen there were a few things going through my head one of which was how to start the chat and not make it awkward (please say you do this too before you meet somebody new). Although safe to say the introduction part did not get off to the best start…

This is because I walked towards Owen as he was still trying to find me and I went ‘oh so you found yourself around here alright then’ but before I got onto alright he already walked past me. This even got more embarrassing as two ladies came over to me after to. inform me of the obvious ‘your friend just walked past you and didn’t notice you.’ Now my excitement went straight back into the anxiety territory, imagine having to call your date to tell him he just completely blanked you like you do not exist.

I urgently called him to say hi… so you walked past me you know that right? His face blushed as he noticed his mistake and said he did not pay attention to faces just the shop names I told him to go. From that the whole preparation for the chat went out the window and it was more of lets see how this goes. Growing up in Cornwall, Owen was new to the city life and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, so the only right thing to do was to take him to the gay village of course. We had drinks at missing and sidewalk where somebody came over to us asking if we were brothers (awkward first date thoughts). I still not see the resemblance but currently spending lockdown with him and his family it does seem more likely everyday haha.

Although awkwardness aside, I had an incredible first date and I got to know more about  somebody I grew to care about. The date brought a smile out of me during the toughest time and that sort of thing will never go unnoticed or unappreciated. Owen stayed the night and what turned out to be a first date lasted the whole weekend. I went to his house in Derby with his workmates and he took me to my happy place which is Matlock Bath. For me that is a very special place I have only took my closest friends and shared the most emotional times with them their, so even being there was a big step. Here is a few of them:

Overall it was the perfect. first date (even if it lasted three days hehe). By the end of the week we already planned our next date (a Harry Potter themed night) with my closest university mates and even arranged to go to our first concert. This concert was extra special as it was Owen’s first experience inside a gay nightclub and was to see the Frock Destroyers. We managed to even get into the meet and greet section with our normal entry ticket too so it was very ideal saving a solid £35. For myself it was an amazing experience to meet the Frock Destroyers as I began watching RuPaul for the first time with Jessica the week before she passed and these iconic queens gave me happy memories to remember her, so to say it to there faces meant a lot.

Although this was not the most iconic and remembered moment of the night. When Owen went to take the picture with Blu, Bags and Divina he was asked a question by Blu which was am I his boyfriend? Owen in a panic said yes which was not entirely false, he just didn’t know it yet. We decided to have a walk after the show away. from the hectic partying and sass adrenaline fuelling around the gay village that night. This is when I thought it was right time, I only wanted to be with him, around him and hopefully be in a couple with Owen. Thankfully he said yes and six months later we are just as happy when we wake up by each-others side everyday.

To my boyfriend

I will not write everything I want to because simply there is not enough space on this blog to list the incredible things Owen has done for me mentally and physically during this difficult time. When I met Owen I was borderline depressed, recently unemployed (which I was until February 2020) I was at true rock bottom.

Nobody else could have picked me up the way Owen had and continues to do so, this is the least I can do to repay everything he did for me, he really. saved my life. I wake up everyday counting myself lucky to be here whilst I’m by his side, he keeps me inspired, he manages my tempers and he keeps me smiling when it does not even seem possible.

The honest shoot (claim) I have to say is honestly speaking I would have never been able to do something like this blog if it wasn’t for Owen pushing me each day to keep going and never give up. So for everybody reading this no matter how large or how few, I hope my life journey has helped you because the worst thing possible is to go through something alone. I am always here for anybody who needs help, my contact information and social medias are displayed on my home page and footers for these exact reasons, you are never alone I simply won’t allow anybody to feel the way I did without knowing there is somebody to help.

If you would like to know more about my relationship and how much Owen has helped me I did write a blog styled letter similar to the one I did for Jessica titled: To my boyfriend. Any feedback on that article too will mean a lot, quite simply because he deserves so much more recognition than what I get, Owen truly was my saving grace.

I can’t thank you enough for everything you do for me Owen, paying for my essentials when I had no money, not complaining when I had unprovoked down days and being supportive for every decision I make even if it isn’t the smartest. What we have is really special and hopefully one day once this lockdown is all over I can finally treat you to a weekend getaway fit for every way you have treated me over the past six months.

I love you Owen, honestly can express it enough how incredible you are and how lucky I am everyday waking up next to you. Here’s to the future full of more smiles, happy memories and incredible moments. Love you ❤

Goodbye old friend (April 2020)

Sadly we are finishing on a sadder note but that is what life is about, your feelings can change in an instant. Prior to lockdown I visited Owen after he stayed at mine for the weekend. This where things got complicated as lockdown was. announced the day travelled to Owens. This meant I had a decision to make which was to stay at Owens or go home. To make things easier especially as my mom was showing symptoms at that time I decided it’s best I stay in Derby as the coronavirus could be deadly for me because I suffer from other illnesses.

Although shortly after lockdown was announced my mom started feeling better and was later confirmed from a test it was corona which she suffered, my nan was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We have expected the worst for a while after Maureen was diagnosed with dementia a few months prior, we wished that the day would never come that she would forget us, thankfully it did not.

After a short battle with cancer my nan passed away on Good Friday, a highly religious day for a devoted catholic from her first breath to her last. Not many catholics can say they gave birth to their first child on Christmas Day and passed away on Good Friday.

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This hit me just as hard as Jessica’s passing as my nan helped raise me from when I was a baby and lived with me my whole life, we even shared a bedroom for most of my teenage years. Just like with Jessica and Owen I have wrote an individual post about my special relationship I had with my nan titled To my oldest friend.

The worst feeling was not being there to say goodbye and hold her hand one final time. Having to say my goodbyes over FaceTime was incredibly difficult but nothing comes near to having to see her coffin get carried one final time to the grave on life stream. Here is the link: Funeral link.

At least I can remember my nan for the incredible person she was and keep all the special moments we shared in my memory forever. Nobody else has made a bigger impact in my life and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the valuable life lessons my nan taught me. Little things like the beginning of every month my nan used to always say ‘first of the month white rabbits’, to wish her luck for the month ahead. That or lighting a candle for every job interview and exam I had before her prayers wishing me luck, my nan was and always will be looking out for me.

There will never be a woman like my nan again, she was a true angel in disguise of a human who was loved by everybody she met. This will be shown on your birthday when everybody from Belfast to Birmingham come together for one special ceremony celebrating the life of a legend my nan Maureen Largey. You will be missed forever, love you nan ❤

Conclusion

The last 12 months have really been the most challenging yet rewarding year of my life. I have lost two people closest to me but I have met somebody who is truly everything I needed and more. Becoming unemployed, starting a mental health awareness blog and living through a worldwide health crisis, there is so much more topics that made me into the person I am today.

I am truly grateful for every opportunity, each joyous moment and most importantly i’m grateful to even be here everyday. Make every moment count and make a difference, even the littlest things can make a big impact.

So to finish my birthday blog I hope you have learned more about life over the last twelve months. I myself have learned a lot about life and how not to take stuff for granted but instead cherish every moment because you will never know how long it will last.

I’m now twenty-two years of age and I feel I have become a fully fledged adult who is older and wiser than I have ever felt before. Not only wiser, I am more determined than ever to make something of myself. Nobody knows what the future will hold but I believe each decision you make will help create a pathway to a better tomorrow. This is why I will do everything in my power to make something of this blog and improve my journalism portfolio to hopefully pursue a career with my passion.

This is only the beginning of my next chapter and hopefully everybody reading this will come along for the journey with me. All feedback is incredible and I appreciate each one either it be a like, comment, share or follow, the bigger following I have the bigger platform I can use to hopefully help others.

Thank you to everybody who has made the last 12 months so special, I can’t thank you enough. I love every one of you and here’s to next year full of more laughs, happier moments and special memories. ❤