My brother is gay and it took him a long time to come out of the closet. Raised by three strong women, he always knew he had support. However, having been teased at school and not getting the support he needed from his dad, he was reclusive into his early 20’s. It was heartbreaking to watch, often he told me he just didn’t want to be gay because our Manx society as a whole didn’t support it.
I am a burlesque performer, and during this hard time for my brother (2014) I was hired for a show at The Rainbow Ball, a long-running, yearly event. I asked my brother to be my stagehand, but he declined, still in fear. We women in his life told him the importance of meeting the people at this particular ball. He eventually came around and got spruced up to come and help his big sis. We had the most amazing evening, and the drag queens that came over from Blackpool to perform saw his vulnerability and charm and totally took him under their wing for the evening. He loved it and now calls that party his ‘coming out party’.
My little brother is an angel (most of the time!) and is now extremely proud of who is and his sexuality. He and my family owe a lot to the gay community for accepting him exactly the way he is. Obviously! He’s fabulous!
Conversations are still necessary with regards to the queer community. I call myself an ally, and I’ve never been 100% straight ー a lot of women I know had a first kiss with a girl in their youth. I experimented in my 20’s and I believe it’s totally normal to be fluid in sexuality and gender: we’re human, and it’s our personal right to do and call ourselves what we like.
One thing I hear from other people a lot is that all this commotion and activism is not necessary ー one or two queer people I know even agree with that. I understand that people just want everything to be ‘normal’ and for people to just get on with their lives, but I believe that that will only be possible when people aren’t shamed or abused because of their sexuality or gender.
My lovely Irish friend introduced me to drag queen and self-confessed ‘accidental activist’ Panti Bliss. I’d recommend you look her speech up at The Abbey Theatre (and if you’re interested, look up why she was compelled to make that speech in the first place). She also has a great TED talk called ‘The Necessity of Normalising Queer Love’. There is still a lot of work to do globally on the issue and she knows it more than most.
My opinion is that we have to stick up for our fellow humans who need support. Time’s Up, Black Lives Matter, Love Is Love, LGBTQ+ Rights… I’m with all my fellow humans in the fight to have their voice heard with regards to their struggle to just be seen as equal. I think my passion has come from my brother’s struggle; I’ll do anything to see awesome people thrive.
I’ve lived in countries all over the world and I love to dance and have fun. Gay clubbing is my favourite: the community dance hard and never judge a person on their idiosyncrasies, sexuality or gender. It’s always a happy time and I feel the safest in these environments. I can cry, laugh, get far too drunk, be the most extra on the dance floor and no one bats an eyelid. In fact, the more different I am, the more I’m celebrated.
My dream for the island is to have a thriving gay community. This is already happening with monthly rainbow nights at The Saddle, weekly Ru Paul’s Drag Race viewing party’s at The Bridge and now our first ever Pride festival. Other venues like 1886 and Peggy’s are also getting on board, starting their own rainbow events. It’s a celebration of love regardless of sexuality or gender, and I for one am all for that!