Righteous Fuckboi

It doesn’t matter if you think what I do is wrong, because I’m great at it
There’s a man in my bed with his leg wrapped around my waist
An affection you don’t need to understand
I get to keep their hearts under my pillow and their dicks in my back pocket
You get to love with your conscience, your principles, your insecurity
But me, I get to love with my eyes,
My body, my tongue

I wonder what it feels like
The unconditional superiority you’ve burdened yourself with
As you wrench and spit over Grindr
Don’t you dare turn your fucking nose up at my Grindr
My micro-universe of great romantics and even better cocksuckers
I hope you enjoyed that feeling
Because now you get to watch me fuck my way out of the corner you put me in

It’s strange actually, how well the unnatural and perverse fits me
My body has shifted and morphed something fierce
But damn I still look good in my batty riders
And I see you, in your over sized coat
That your ‘way it’s meant to be’ bought for you
It must be your first day of school, but don’t mistake me for a mentor
I no longer care if you learn your lesson

Maybe you should be praying for me as I welcome sin
I know sin from fag bars and dirty texts,
Sometimes a heretic jock or if I’m lucky a flaming Mary
I don’t fight it when I see it coming,
I arch my back and slide all over it
I let it fill me up only to just as easily let it go, boundless and momentary
A divine departure untouched by grief


Little Acts of Kindness

Could you do me a favour and crack open my skull
Scoop out the dead weight and replace it with a wreath of roses
Don’t worry I don’t want to die I just need to be reborn

If it isn’t too much to ask could you tear me limb from limb
Rebuild me with spare parts and stitch me up with rope
Don’t worry I don’t hate my body I just need to be unrecognisable

If I lend you some matches will you burn all my work
It turns out neither words nor actions are the cure I seek
Don’t worry I’ll make a return when I’m more than a bad critic

When you’ve got some spare time help my family and friends forget me
Take all the photos and memories and bury them under frozen ground
Don’t worry I still love them but they deserve something else

Finally could you call all my former lovers
Tell them they won’t be hearing from me but they shouldn’t worry
Don’t worry I’m not ashamed of what I did but I won’t be doing it again

These aren’t cries for help but the declarations of a shrinking man
I can be the magicians assistant if you help me disappear
And then you can convince the audience that I was never there

None Night Stand: When the Hook-Up Doesn’t Catch

I don’t know at what point I was supposed to realise I’d gone too far, was it when I shouted my pin number at him across the bar, was it when I undid his shirt in front of his mates or was it when I put my hands down his trousers on the dance floor. Trick question it was when I stuck my tongue out at myself in the mirror of the public toilets and winked. It was at that point I should’ve scheduled myself a taxi and a kebab, but I soldiered on into regrettable territory.

I don’t know what it is about being intoxicated that transforms me into a three-time divorcee searching for my last love to take care of me in my palliative years but never the less that’s what happens to me. One minute a functioning member of society the next a person waiting outside the toilets while their potential beau does a party shit. There’s something about a club that turns sex into a finite resource. I’m no longer a human that constitutes a sink shower as getting ready, I am the elegant humpback whale travelling thousands of miles in hope of finding a desirable (suitable) mate. But that’s not really who I am, I’ve never been the humpback whale, I’m the one that has to google animals that migrate. I’m messy and rough around the edges. And yet the moment I step into a venue where the music is bad and the floor is basically velcro I become a proud, put-together whore. Back with a vengeance.

In hindsight there are very few disadvantages to going home on your own after a night out. You get to return to a double bed to yourself, you don’t have to pretend to know how to host and you can finally pass the wind you’ve been polite enough to hold in all night. It’s a dream. However it somehow never feels that way. Coming home after a night out on your own usually just seems sad. You’re a stumbling 6’2 heap of evidence that you couldn’t pull in a room of people as wankered as you. I can only speak for myself but this feels especially true in a gay club. In a space that was built so queer folks could safely explore their sexuality not being able to find a single soul to exploit this privilege feels like a crushing defeat. And beyond the superficial embarrassment felt there is the much more insidious loneliness that lies underneath. To stand in a room filled with your kin and to have none of them make eye contact feels like a fierce and deliberate rejection. However in reality it’s just people who aren’t your friends enjoying their night as they should. You’re insecurity is not their concern.

I can speak of these emotions so clearly because they are based on real events that happened very recently. I was on a night out with a man that I was gunning after. He had all the personality traits I looked for in a potential partner. He regularly cancelled plans with me and discussed other fuckboys he was seeing in my company. Perfection. As I referred to in the first paragraph things had gotten a little hot and heavy in the club but as the night wore on it was getting increasingly obvious we weren’t going to sleep together. I was surprisingly able to read between the lines when he said ‘I can’t wait to go to sleep alone tonight’ and ‘I’m not one to share a bed’, but then again my Mum’s a clairvoyant so it makes sense. However despite knowing beyond all reasonable doubt that he wasn’t going to shag me I was not deterred from leaning over while getting into my uber and softly slurring ‘Do fancy coming back with me?’ into his ear. His response was a solid and well argued no. It was Atticus Finch who once said that courage is knowing you’re going to get licked before you begin and seeing it through to the end anyway, which is kinda what I did. However I pursued my desires knowing I wasn’t going to get licked at all. Just to be clear I did just take a quote from the great literary works of Harper Lee and applied it to a metaphor about me getting blown.

It wasn’t courage at all that made me ask the question though, it was fear. Fear that if I went out with a man to a place with other men and couldn’t get any of them to want me then I was a failure. The odds were stacked in my favour, all of the cards were on the table, how could I lose with the winning hand? But I did. I went home that night feeling hustled. Drunk, lonely and mortified I lay watching the room spin thinking about all of the mistakes I made. I was too forward, too timid, too clingy and too detached all at once. Then again it may have not been my at all actions it may have just been me. Perhaps if I was cuter or funnier there would’ve been a different outcome. I knew I wasn’t going to find the answer I sought in the state that I was in so I just lip synced Annie Lennox songs in bed until I could finally sleep.

When I woke in the morning I felt better. It was possible that I had made every single one of those mistakes I’d imagined but it was just as likely that I’d made none of them. I wasn’t upset that I hadn’t had sex. I was upset that not having sex had made me feel as shit as it did. I had let not being able to pull manifest into an extravagant poorly attended pity party. I’d like to pretend that it was the alcohol that created the monster but truthfully I know it only unleashed it. I can only hope that the next time I commit myself to a binge I can let the night bestow onto me what it pleases. Knowing that I can wake up happy, in company or otherwise.

A Little Life, A Whole Lotta Love: A Closer Look into the Story of Jude St. Francis, the Patron Saint of Pain

If I ever find myself in a relationship rut and begin to question my ability to commit I can now look back and remind myself that I managed to finish A Little Life. This blunt instrument of a book that was recommended to me by a friend is unquestionably the most challenging read of my life. However up until now I have exclusively read Enid Blyton novels and the Beano Annual. This book was not just a tough read because of it’s length but also due to it’s relentless abuse and portrayal of Jude’s ravaging self-hatred. Which as a reader you are only able to truly understand after 800 pages of being inside his broken body. Jude is not your typical protagonist where you cheer for them to achieve their wildest dreams, that level of optimism would be laughable, but instead you hope that he could maybe find peace. In at least one of the incarnations of his existence. However it turns out this is also laughably optimistic.

It may seem like the main theme of this book is unflinching pain, which is brutal to digest as the reader, but the thread that really stuck with me was control. Jude doesn’t at any point dream of euphoric love or a stable family unit, he just dreams of control. To be able to reign in his demons, to be able to regulate his suffering and most importantly to limit his exposure to those closest to him. When Jude enters into his relationship with Willem he does not let himself believe that Willem will be able help him overcome his trauma or that he could share some of the toxic baggage he has been carrying. He just bears down and attempts to be a version of himself that Willem can stand to be around. He conceals his cutting, fakes sexual prowess and unsuccessfully detaches himself from his past. This is just one example of Jude struggling to curate the sanitised life he so desperately seeks.

Jude can never achieve his only goal, because although he believes that enough life has happened to him it never stops. His present never ceases to clutter him with fresh and increasingly complex pain and in his brief moments of joy his past will convince him that he is undeserving of such emotions. Children are raised to believe life is what you make of it but reading A Little Life warped this belief for me. For the main characters their lives were propelled forward partially by decisions made of their own free will but more often by the hurt and separation that was inflicted on them. Jude’s torture made pushed him towards further torture, Willem’s childhood loss pushed him toward’s Jude, JB’s abandonment by his friends pushed him towards addiction and Malcolm’s inferiority complex made me forget about him a lot of the time. For these boys even learning from your mistakes was never enough.

Accepting that outside forces do have an effect on your trajectory can be very unsettling. Even the best intentions paired with perfect circumstances doesn’t grant you with the ability to map out your future. The benchmarks of a life well lived for previous generations was marriage, a mortgage and children. This is no longer the case, our pursuit is unconditional autonomy. We want to tailor our lives down to the finest detail because those of us that are lucky enough have the right to do this. We want to fit our full-time job around our side hustle while making sure we nurture our creative outlets and most importantly calving out time for socialising/networking/influencing. However when we transform our lives from a jigsaw into a fine tapestry it means that there are an infinite number of variables that can prevent us from achieving perfection. It becomes almost impossible to control every aspect of your ‘portfolio’ and it can feel like there are an endless opportunities for you to fail.

Control becomes an even trickier concept when dealing with relationships. Jude fought throughout the book for people to know him in the way he wanted to be known, which often meant they didn’t know him at all. When people began to breach his fortress he would burn the castle to the ground. It feels so much easier to do this now than it ever has been before. People are extremely mobile these days and it feels like life gives you countless opportunities to start again. You move to university hoping to establish a new identity but then you become a teary reprobate and by the end of it you want to leave yourself behind. To recycle all of those tins of Scrumpy Jacks and build something new and shiny and indestructible. Because your friends know exactly who you are and that’s not who you’re going to be. Then you leave university and pursue adulthood. You start to drink prosecco for no reason and date the cutest guys that you possibly can meaning that you have to be the cutest most put together person that you can be. Then you reach a point with these cute guys where you either have to let invite them into your secret bullshit or bolt and of course you choose the latter. Giving yourself ample time of two weeks to discover the real you that you can then neatly package to the cute next guy that comes along. The phychle continues.

For a short period in the book, the bit in between the constant tragedies, Jude was as happy as he could be. This didn’t happen because he was finally able to coerce his loved ones to join him in obliterating the first 16 years of his life and the wreckage it left behind. It happened because he finally relinquished the control he had always longed for. He let Willem love him, he surrendered his past, he let his life unfold in a way he had never imagined for himself and the result was glorious. Once his life stopped being a collection of rules, regulations, barriers and blockades he could finally thrive, because he could no longer fail.

The Good and Bad of Slag: An Uneducated Guide to Casual Sex

Casual sex is no new phenomenon, ever since Darwin discovered that the human race has evolved from single-celled organisms into unstoppable hornbags it has slowly become a social norm. But casual sex has never before been as available or as accommodated as it is today. Due to the rise in popularity of dating and sex apps we no longer have to go to the tedious effort of getting ready, having a fun evening with our friends and then forming a connection with a person that we find attractive and interesting to achieve a brief but meaningful sexual encounter. That’s idiotic. Instead this exhausting checklist of cockblocking activities has been replaced with the elegant simplicity of using a sex app, that was probably developed by an indoorsy group of silicon valley virgins, to send a nude photo. An efficient method of flirting that only requires you to have access to complimentary lighting and the ability to maintain an erection for three seconds (lifehack: if like me you’re too much of a slob to be bothered to take a photo for every conversation then make sure you keep a daytime and nightime set of slag snaps. This will maintain the illusion that you give even the smallest of shits about the person you plan to sleep with.) Once you’ve managed to take a photo where your balls don’t look awful it’s time to treat it like a poolside snapchat that a white girl took of her legs and send it to everyone you’ve ever spoken to. Not everyone will reply but if you wait long enough eventually somebody will be desperate enough to send one back. Just like the bountys in a tub of Celebrations, there will be one freak that enjoys them.

Being a gay man in a big gay city these apps give you access to sex 24 hours a day. You can log on in the morning, in the evening or if you’re a real kinky bugger during the afternoon Come Dine With Me omnibus, and find yourself a local bang. This level of unrestricted access can lead to engaging in impulse sex for all the wrong reasons. Below I have compiled a condensed list of some of the poorest excuses that can be used justify ‘casual meets’.

Because you’re too drunk to possibly make it home.
Because Uber is charging you a scandelous 3.3x surge and you had that last tenner earmarked for a Nando’s tomorrow.
Because they live near a supermarket and you needed to do a big shop anyway.
Because they told you that you have a nice cock and you’ve always been a sucker for flattery.
Because they said please.
Because you’re lonely.
Because you’ve convinced yourself that loneliness is a good enough reason to sleep with somebody but the truth is you’re just sick of your company.
Because Game of Thrones doesn’t start for an hour and there’s nothing good on TV (you’ve got Netflix you dumb slut.)
Because being able to please a stranger sexually is proof that you truly do have it ‘going on’.
Because you’ve got an 8.00am rock on that could be easily taken care of at home but you instead decide to take two buses and a tram to share it with someone else. However this person gives you an hurrendous blowjob because a handful of ket has turned their jaw into makeshift bear trap so you have to go home and finish yourself off anyway. That one mainly.

The full list will be published in next month’s edition of Cosmopolitan, your local church newsletter and the autumn budget. This isn’t to say that these hookups are all traumatising affairs, quite the opposite, I have found that they often result in sexy, passionate and occasionally tender sex. However I have also been involved in encounters that have left me unable to look another person into eyes for fear that they will stare directly into my soul and expose the fact that I have been in and out of a man’s house in 17 minutes exactly.

I have not manage to crack the code on how to perfect these rendezvous but I have been in enough car crashes to understand the importance of wearing a seatbelt. Firstly I try to avoid to log onto these apps when I’m super horny, it always seems like the only option at the time but in the majority of cases you end up blowing your load before you’re able to make it out the door. Then you have to deal with the crushing realisation that you just sent somebody a picture of your bumhole for absolutely no reason at all. A devestating moment that can only be compared to how George Galloway must feel when he remembers that he is a politician who pretended to be a cat drinking imaginary milk from the hands of ginger legend Rula Lenska on national television. Even if you can make it to the meet up without spaffing in your pants you’ll be so worked up by the time you get there that only horrendous comments will come out of your mouth. Words will be said that are usually reserved for coked up stock traders addressing their escorts. This will turn what could have been a weekly standing appointment could be cut down to a hasty finish and an immediate blocking.

A drink first is also a good idea, never food, but a drink can be nice. It’s always easier to sleep with someone you like even just a little bit. If this isn’t achievable because of time/logistics/horniness you should at least try to have a little bit of natter before the tonguing commences. In the past I’ve found myself in situations where due to a lack of caring the first person to receiving their going over has a splendid time while the poor sod that goes second receives a half-hearted hand job. There’s also nothing worse than finding out too late that you’ve gone and slept with a massive twat, the sort of arsewipe that will start talking about his quarterly bonus without being prompted while simultaneously insisting that he hates drama. It’s of utmost importance that these turds never receive even a second of pleasure without changing their entire personality.

My last piece of advice would be not put too all your eggs into to one bang. Dan might be nice, Dan might be good looking, Dan might even have a flat with under floor heating and bring you a sausage butty afterwards but there’s a good chance it’s gonna be a one off. If you, like I do regularly, romanticise the men that so much as cough in your vicinity (if they’re willing to share their influenza with me that has to be a good sign, right?) then you know how easy it is to get ahead of yourself with the ones that choose to sleep with you. Don’t be fooled though, when a guy is kind enough to fetch you a glass of water and ask you what you’re up to for the rest of the day, this is not an invitation. He’s just being polite. As it turns out you can be a slag and still maintain a Mr Darcy aura of chivalry. Even if things do develop into a fuck buddy setup, to receive any sort of validation from a fortnightly scheduled shag is flat-out sad.

I’m unsure if this advice will be of any use to anyone, I’ve never really followed it myslef. Give it a go though.

Girl Groups vs. Boy Bands: A Battle Between Wit and Wetness

Back when I was just an unassuming fruity little 8-year old a singing competition was shown on the telly, Popstars: The Rivals. I don’t remember this show very well but that’s probably just because Louis Walsh and Pete Waterman were judges. A TV pairing more redundant than a toast sandwich. But what was spawned from this show was a truly mesmerizing girl band. Hand-picked by the public from an indistinguishable crowd of chunky highlights and low rise jeans. They were called Girls Aloud.

Sound of the Underground was Girls Aloud’s debut single. It was actually the first single I ever purchased and it is by far the best. Starting with the breathy sex appeal of Sarah and Cheryl and climaxing with the powerhouse vocals of Nadine, the song is perfectly crafted. It’s release was genius trojan horse. Everyone expected that rival boy band One True Voice would win the race for number 1. Boy bands have traditionally fared much better than girl groups. Their wet blanket charm has a tendency to captivated teenage girls who do not yet have the insight to realise that they’re just five tossers in turtlenecks. The heartbreaking revelation that the one you fancy has sent a dickpic to a 17-year-old or turns up on the cover of Hello! with a hunky backing dancer above the caption ‘My Coming Out Story!’ One True Voice were a particularly soggy incarnation of the boy band. Their debut single was ‘Sacred Trust’ an indescribable turd of a song accompanied by a music video that tells the story of a bad 5-a-side football team, that appear to have been sponsored by Matalan, driving around an airport car park in a BMW that they can’t afford. The song was universally panned and inspired 14 million Dad’s of the prog rock era to say ‘What the fuck is this shite?’ One True Voice were trashed by the far superior Girls Aloud. The boys had graciously let the girls into their fortress of sickly emotion and were defeated by song about going out the lash. They were completely outmanoeuvred.

Girls Aloud’s debut single sounded like it may be a one off gem but this was not the case at all. In fact it was the first in a long line of lunatic songs that could only be sung by the girls. Their follow up single ‘No Good Advice’ was equally unpredictable in it’s structure and lyricism. The groups songs very rarely followed the formulaic structure of the average pop song (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-slightly different verse-chorus). Girls Aloud shunned this comfortable approach, favouring songs that were a patchwork of sounds, tempos and rhythms. The lyrics were equally as wild. Much of the time they actually made very little sense. It sometimes felt as if a notepad has been passed around along with a big ole’ fatty at an after party and everyone had written a line each. But this was a welcome change from the army of songs that skilfully rhymed ‘air’ with ‘care’. When Girls Aloud released ‘Love Machine’, from their sophomore album ‘What Will The Neighbours Say?’ it cemented their status as pop royalty. The classy tease of a song shimmies in your ears with ease. It’s release proved that the girls were no case of style over substance like so many pop groups, and yet they avoided the pretentiousness of acts that were trying so hard to put substance before style. Instead their style was their substance.

Although Girls Aloud are undoubtably my favourite girl group there is a long list of greats that made their way into my ‘pop classics’ playlist. All Saints, TLC, The Spice Girls and Sugababes are just a few others that have had not only great success but critical acclaim. The common link between them all is that they all had to find their niche to be successful. Unlike boy bands, who have the good fortune to be able to score a number one hit by sitting on bar stools and winging out a dreary version of a 1970’s ballad, girl groups have to have to possess an identity if they want to have any chance of a chart appearance.

All Saints were the anti-girl group, they weren’t there to be sexy, they weren’t there to dance for you, if you invited them to a party they would say that they’d come but they probably wouldn’t. They perspired a coolness that was unattainable by most and owned a sound that allowed teenage boys to openly admit that a girl group were actually alright. Their brand was much less fighting over the mirror and much more fighting over an old pair of Timberlands. The Sugababes (incarnations one and two) we’re the girls that lived in a different world than you. They didn’t spend their time begging strangers to buy them WKD’s outside of bargain booze. They were above that. They knew all of the best clubs to go to and were able to breeze in with their mates driving licence that looked nothing like them. They hung out with boys that were older than you and you were too immature to even get close to them. Look at you with your Hollister polo drenched in Lynx Africa, you need to take a long look in the mirror mate. You’re punching! The Sugababes deserve a special shout out for their talents. ‘Overload’ and ‘Freak Like Me’ are two of the best songs ever made. Not one of the best songs by a girl group or one of the best pop songs ever. Those sorts of qualifiers are patronising to their greatness, they’re just two of the best songs ever.

Finally there’s the most famous of them all, The Spice Girls. Five girls with five different looks who constantly dressed themselves as if they were attending a drag queens funeral. Which is pretty fantastic. They appeared from the darkness at a time when Britpop ruled. Music was dominated by a load of blokes with wank haircuts wearing oversized coats. There was some great music but a lot of it does feel like it was a contest to see who could sing in the most regional accept. Britpop music often sounded like spoken work poems paired with over the top backing tracks. But then the Spice Girls crashed onto the scene like the Hindenburg filled with glitter and taught people to have fun again. They were ridiculous, outrageous and they demanded attention. Yes ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ brought Oasis critical acclaim but ‘Spiceworld’ brought The Spice Girls to Nelson Mandela’s front door. So ask yourself who the real winners are. Their music was dismissed by some as immature and snubbed for being music primarily targeted a younger audience. An irritating criticism that I never understood. Why shouldn’t children be able to enjoy fun music. Were parents supposed to tie their children down and force them to listen to Richard Ashcroft inform them that life’s shit and they’ll probably end up being a smack addict. That’s why I loved Girls Aloud when I was a child. They loved life. I wanted to follow in their footsteps and have a blast. I did not want to walk on a beach with Chris Martin and talk about my feelings.

Although girl groups have to work hard to be successful credible artist I think that’s what makes them so brilliant. Having to discover their identity and needing to make such a strong case for being allowed to exist in the music industry has resulted in a long line of memorable acts who have released a catalogue of songs that have truly stood the test of time. It’s too easy for boy bands. You may be able to make a quick buck by getting a group of pink faced teenage boys to sing a Bee Gee’s cover but those songs will be used to clear the dance floor at the end of the night in twenty years time.

The Orlando Shooting: A Year of Hurt and Denial

Vigil Orlando Shooting

It’s been a year since the tragic shootings in Orlando took place, it feels like it has been much longer though. So many acts of terror have been endured since Pulse was attacked that logic dictates a decade must have passed. There has been an incomprehensible level of violence on an a very regular schedule. However this post is not about the senseless terror that is plaguing communities accross globe, and the inevitable pain that follows, but specifically about the Orlando shootings carried out by Omar Marteen. The world grieved for the victims of the Orlando, however any member of the LGBT community will tell you the effects of the Orlando attack, and any other act of homophobia, reaches far beyond grief.

Following the attack there was a newspaper review broadcast on Sky News that went viral, the discussion was attended by Mark Longhurst, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Owen Jones. During the course of the newspaper review Mr Jones, a gay man, became increasingly angered by the comments being made by the rest of the panel. His jaw became clenched and his hands were balled tight. Mr Jones made several attempts to communicate to Mr Longhurst and Ms Hartley-Brewer that although this was a terrorist atrocity it was also a hate crime, and it needed to be treated as one. He called for media outlets to acknowledge that the attack was not just picked from a hat of western ‘sins’, but was a result of the homophobia that had been harboured by Omar Marteen. However instead of recognising that Mr Jones’ frustration was a result of the deeply hurtful effect homophobia has on LGBT people, Mr Longhurst and Ms Hartley-Brewer instead mistook Mr Jones’ raw emotion for hysteria.

The quote from the debate that has remained with me was Mr Jones stating in no uncertain terms that Mr Longhurst could not understand the pain felt by the LGBT community because ‘you’re not gay!’ Mr Longhurt’s rebuttal to the claim was that he was deeply saddened by the loss of life as he would be at the loss of any human life. I don’t doubt this. I’m sure that he discussed his sadness with his family and they agreed that it was a truly horrific massacre. However his sadness would eventually pass, and he will continue with his life uninterrupted. This is not the case if you are an LGBT person, the effects of a homophobic attack like this are far more tangible. It changes the way we talk, the way we walk, the way we hold ourselves and most importantly the manner in which we interact with our partners. It is not just sadness that we feel, it’s fear as well, an emotion that is much more permanent.

As a 23-year-old gay male I’ve never been with a partner in public where the experience of their company and the normality of a relationship hasn’t been undermined by fear. When we’re holding hands my palms will sweat, when we eat in restaurants there’s a safe distance between us and when we kiss my eyes are wide open, scanning the area for potential mobs. I was recently out for drinks with some friends and a guy I was dating, at some point in the night we were joined by two lads of a similar age to us. They asked how long me and my date had known each other, mistaking us for friends. This wasn’t a surprise as I purposely sat us on the opposite sides of the table. I responded by telling them that we were in fact dating, then made a joke that we were sat so far apart to avoid trouble from them. One of the lads bluntly responded with the question ‘Who do you think we are?’ It was a completely legitimate response. They were vegan students who didn’t like to use the word ‘munter’ because of it’s misogynistic connotations. A simple assessment of the facts should’ve alerted me that they were unlikely queer bashers.

After this chance meeting I felt fairly silly. What had possessed me to think that these shaggy millennials in head to toe vintage clothing were a threat. I was so angry at myself for letting my irrational insecurities taint a pleasant conversation. But when I think about the Orlando shooting and my personal confrontations with homophobia I realise that I’m not being irrational, I’m learning from expeirience. My efforts to protect myself with poor jokes is not a result of my insecurities, it’s a primal response to limit the chance of physical and emotional harm. A desperate hope that if I can summon a chuckle from a stranger they might be distracted from the repulsion they feel towards my life of sodomy.

During the newspaper review there were many attempts to deflect from the issue of homophobia, instead the panelists chalked the attack up to random terrorism and mental health issues. I do think that Omar Marteen must have mental health issues to carry out the attack, I’d be very unsettled if a compulsion to kill innocent people and a disregard for human life weren’t classed as symptoms of mental illness. But the cause of this was attack was homophobia, the homophobia that is present in the lives of everyone in the LGBT community. Homophobia is still much more common than we like to believe it is, and it’s learned, from our families, friends, political representatives, religious leaders, TV’s and magazines. This often non-violent homophobia is extremely damaging to the emotional wellbeing of LGBT people, and when it interacts with catalysts such as radicalisation and mental illness it can become atomic. To be able to tackle homophobia it’s essential that the LGBT people who are the victims of it are heard. Mr Jones eventually walked out of the newspaper review and he was right to do so. As a person who despises wasting time I would also be inclined to leave as well, what’s the point of talking if nobodies listening.

Generation M: The Unexplainable Love of True Crime.

Every day I learn about murders, all types of murders, serial murders, revenge murders, family murders, murders of passion and every now and then something a little more light hearted, like clown murders. When I attempt to talk about this obsession with others they may give a complementary nod and exclaim ‘that’s fascinating’ but they’re often mentally handing me a lifetime ban from their birthday celebrations. Fearing that I’ll show up and talk about the fact that on this day 20 years ago a mass shooting took place at a zoo. It’s completely understandable. However I have discovered through podcasts, reddit and social media that I am not the only person who spends their hours learning about all the reasons it’s a terrible idea to hitchhike (1. stranger danger, 2-87. you’ll get murdered). In fact there’s an entire community, that’s right community, of sleuths volunteering to solve the world’s most perplexing cases and unpacking the injustices that led to needless crimes.

People have always been interested in murders, it’s the worst thing can possibly happen to someone, so naturally it’s the most interesting. Since the concept of killing somebody being wrong was invented by Abraham and God shortly after the hunger games ended there have been wild and usually unfounded rumours about those that kill. In fact after the ten plagues of Egypt took place it was commonly thought that God was a peeping Tom who slept with discarded mannequins. Not my words. Rumours in murder cases are as common as murder in murder cases, it is a natural reaction to find a reason why the crime took place and why that reason means it can never happen to you. Take the Julia Wallace case, in 1931 Julia Wallace was murdered in her Liverpool home, the prime suspect in this case was her husband. Despite there being a dispute in the timeline of the murder, questions of whether it was possible that Mr Wallace was the murderer and a mystery call from a ‘R.M. Qualtrough’ arranging for Mr Wallace to attend a non-existent address for an enquiry about an endowment policy around the time the murder took place, rumours of Mr Wallace’s motive went viral over Liverpool’s garden fences. There were whispers that Mr Wallace had an opium habit, that he was having numerous affairs, that Julia Wallace was over insured and Mr Wallace was sleeping with her sister. If all or any of these rumours were true Mr Wallace should’ve been awarded the prestigious title of ‘Most Interesting Chess Playing Insurance Salesman Ever!’ Of course these rumours were completely fictitious, but the people Liverpool could sleep soundly knowing that as long as their partner wasn’t a nymphomaniac with an 18th century drug habit, they were safe.

These folklore theories aren’t just limited to a time before DNA, CCTV and other acronyms, they’re still a part of modern day murders. Especially when murders take place in small towns. I recently watched the superb documentary Casting JonBenét, available on Netflix, which tells the story of the beyond untimely murder of 6 year old child pageant darling JonBenét Ramsey through the eyes of the amateur actors hoping to be cast in a dramatisation of the tragedy. Many of the actors auditioning for the leading roles were citizens of Boulder, Colorado, the town in which the murder took place. In my humble, and correct, opinion these future stars deserve to be lauded with awards for their tour de force performance in the complex and layered role of ‘devastated community’. Although there are still definitely elements of being seduced by intrigue and scandal, such as the rumours of paedophile ring operating within Boulder, the participants do allow themselves to be vulnerable. Bravely detailing the ways in which the death of JonBenét impacted their lives and in some cases how it brushed away the dirt covering the personal hardships they had worked so hard to bury. The stories that were circulated by the locals in the JonBenét case contrasted to the rumours that dogged the murder of Julia Wallace. The people of Boulder didn’t appear to be want to separate themselves from JonBenét, instead many of the actors seemed to have created a narrative based on their experience of childhood or the fierce, unrivalled love they feel as a parent. In an honest revelation towards the end of the documentary one actor even attempted to empathise with the parents of JonBenét, drawing from their own guilt as a parent. Please watch trailer for the documentary if you don’t trust my truly biased review.

Due to advances in technology and the increasing availability of information we now no longer have to rely on the word-of-mouth accounts of individuals, we can do our own research. In fact for those who feel their detective skills aren’t being utilised properly in their current careers, there are reddit communities who are working together to help solve cold cases, alerting local authorities to crucial evidence and assisting in undoing mistakes made by the police in the initial investigation. This development in vigilantism is, to quote the almighty TLC, CrazySexyCool. These average Joe Agatha Christie’s disprove a common misconception about people who have an interested in true crime. We are not degenerates, feeding our twisted fantasies by fawning over the gory details of these horrific crimes, we want it to stop. We are not content with simply branding the criminals as being born evil, locking them up and then just hope that we’re never in the wrong place at the wrong time when the next psycho turns up. We are not willing to accept that these murder is an unfortunate inevitability, even if it is the case. Instead we work to try and make sense of why these things happen and try to locate all the points in the story where the perpetrator could’ve been stopped.

My final piece of advice to anybody with an interest in true crime would be to download a true crime podcast, right now, no questions asked. This is fantastic advice. If you fancy a straight, no nonsense, fact heavy podcast I would recommend They Walk Among Us. A well produced and informative podcast dedicated to British crime. The subject matter is mostly murder but then there is the odd tangent into the more bizarre crimes, such as the the disappearance of John Darwin. However if your looking for a lighter but equally sincere podcast I would point you in the direction of My Favourite Murder, a podcast where two friends, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, candidly discuss the murders that have both fascinated and infuriated them. A kind word of warning would be to try and temper you’re facial expressions while listening, the details of the crimes can often leave you looking like you’ve stood barefoot in a dog turd. The pair will reassure you that your you’re not alone in your obsession, and if you follow their pearls of wisdom you can hopefully murder yourself. Top Tip: DON’T HITCHHIKE!

Girls: A Voice of a Generation, and Generations to Come.

The finale of Girls ended exactly how I wanted it to, with the complex, abusive and deeply flawed relationship that was the nucleus of the show, Hannah and Marnie. A partnership almost completely based on ignoring what the other was sharing in order to tackle the much more pressing issue of ‘you’ll never guess what happened to me today’. Two people held together by sporadic moments of complete devotion. Even after 6 years of lectures, fights and long periods of continental drift Hannah and Marnie still seem to have almost no understanding of how to have healthy interactions with each other. During the episode Marnie is trying to enforce a blog-worthy, inspiration board version of what it is to be a parent/co-parent, becoming increasingly frustrated by Hannah’s unwillingness to comply. Meanwhile Hannah feels suffocated by Marnie’s standards while simultaneously shunning the positivity Marnie is trying to bring to motherhood. The expressions Hannah and Marnie’s paint on their faces affirms that they aware that this is a completely dysfunctional set-up. They endure this set-up though, because they both want to be there for each other during their time of need. Neither of them willing to give up the much sought after title of ‘good friend’.

It’s the focus on these friendships that have set Girls have set itself so far apart from any other comedy, in fact the show deserves to be given it’s own genre, my suggestion would be ‘fiction-nonfiction comedy porno’. Many compare Girls to Sex and the City based on the fact that they saw an advert for it that had four females on it, ‘Is it like Loose Women?’, but if those people had taken the time to watch the show they would’ve have instantly realised they were suffering from a severe case of vagina blindness. In Sex and the City (I’m a Stanford/Magda/brownstone hybrid in case you were wondering) the relationships are a frayed tightrope that the characters are attempting to straddle, and the friendships are the safety net, at the ready to comfort you with a cosmo and a perfectly timed penis quip. Girls however takes a much more unforgiving approach, creating a world where the relationships are once again the tightrope however in this universe the friends are stood at the other side of the canyon hacking away at the rope, brandishing a machete that has all of the ways your fucking up neatly engraved on the blade. In the final series Ray breaks off his semi-relationship with Marnie, when Marnie informs Hannah of this news she is met with the damning statement ‘I mean, you’re, like, a horrible cunt to him, so…’ True words, simply put.

Although the sexual partners do play second fiddle in the show they are still essential. Nothing made me feel safer than knowing that there are other poor souls in this world who are also having sex so bleak they may need professional assistance to reintegrate back into society. The actors have to be commended for their commitment to the bizarre sex scene’s, of course there are cups and socks and cloth and glue and probably some sort of paper mache to create a barrier for the flesh, but there is no way to reenact ass eating without having somebody’s face nesting neatly in between your bum cheeks.

When I felt like one of girls was entering an encounter that would whittle away at their self-worth I found that it evoked the same emotions that I experience watching the final scene of Silence of the Lambs, where Clarice shakily hunts down Buffalo Bill, but instead of shouting ‘don’t go in there, he has a gun!’ I’m shouting ‘don’t go in there, he’s a massive d-bag!’ However even these relationships were portrayed in a completely new way, this was the first show I had ever seen where the protagonist was at times somebody else’s poor choice. In almost all TV programmes that have come before Girls the central characters have more often than not been the victims of drive-by romances. Gunned down by men that are ‘too good to be true’ or strung along by a temptress, who despite being intelligent, beautiful and have the ability to choose any man she wants, has chosen to dedicate her life to destroying the marriages of middle-aged dentists. Contrary to this formula Girls dared to show the main characters using others to fulfil their own personal agenda. Whether that be a dark fantasy, an ideal of what their partner should be or to kindly remind an ex that they have 100%, absolutely, positively (not) moved on.

Girls does have it’s critics, which is perfectly understandable. Many complained that the characters were entitled, selfish and achieve a level of narcissism usually reserved for serial killers or politicians. That is actually a fairly spot on analysis. I believe that the world had been starved of these characters for far too long. There are an abundance of TV idols for the viewer that wants to see a character who may make mistakes, but will regularly remind the audience that deep down they have a heart of gold, there are six of them on Friends (I’m a Gunther/Janice/coffee mug hybrid in case you were wondering). This show is doesn’t portray that person though, this show is for the people in the world that are sometimes so self involved that they begin to believe that they are trapped in some sort of Truman Show type scenario. The people who will read a heartbreaking story about an individual coping with a terminal illness and almost instantly think about how they would bravely cope with that very same illness. How they would tell their partner that they would ‘find someone else’ and sometimes even imagine the secret tape they would film before they passed, letting their loved ones how they made it all worth it. Girls is the show for that person, it’s about time we had our idols.

When I first began watching Girls I thought it would be a lesson in how to avoid doing shitty things, this was not what I learnt. What I did learn is that I am going to do shitty things, both to myself and others, but I can choose to become a slightly better person when I do. It is because of Girls I discovered that over time I will learn that my personal grievances are not those of the world, that I should be caring and compassionate towards my partners and maybe most importantly I can learn to be a ‘good friend’.

The Whimpering 20’s: When the Best Years of Your Life Are Alright.

I’m doing everything I can today to distract myself from having casual sex. Being a young gay man with only a slightly doughy frame I have found that casual sex is a shockingly accessible pastime but I have managed to find a number of inane tasks to complete instead. I’ve rearranged furniture in my bedroom, I took a lengthy walk on a route that I know well and I’ve treated myself to 2 showers followed by a bath. Despite not having any plans that require me to be clean. Finally I have masturbated 3 times, which was partially the reason for the unusual spike in personal hygiene. I have done all these things to alleviate my boredom because once again I’ve arrogantly assumed that my social calendar would be flooded with invitations. With so many channels of communication available I’m not even allowed to pretend there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for why these invitations haven’t reached me, like a defective carrier pigeon. However I am determined not to allow this boredom to drive me to sleep with a stranger, because I believe boredom is probably the saddest excuse for sex.

This is not to say I haven’t had sex for questionable reasons, like loneliness or to finally achieve double figures, because that would be a royal stinker of a lie. However I refuse to let an unknown into my bed to commit the most intimate of acts because there was nothing better on the TV. I can’t justify that behaviour while were experiencing this golden age of programming. Luckily this time I had Don Draper to pry me out of the arms of a gentleman unfortunately named AssPissSlave27. Despite this determination I have to confess I have been cruising Grindr every 10 minutes, and if a man under the age of 43 had thought I was worthy of a hello the day might have gone in a different direction.

This unquenchable boredom is not a new experience, in fact it has littered my weekends frequently since I left university. Which like a number of other world events that have occurred in the last 15 months has left me mystified. For anyone wondering I am equating society’s harsh swing to the right with my lack of binge drinking, in my mind they carry equal weight. I had always thought that when I left home and got a job and left home there would be an easy to assemble support network ready for me when I got there. An instant posse of dreamers that would be waiting to help me unpack failings in my romantic endeavours and the monotony of being a young professional. We would all have the exact same of what constituted ‘blowing off steam’ when the much anticipated weekend finally arrived. The itinerary would be catchup with a bottle of pinot of Friday, dancing and coke on a Saturday, and an ‘ironic’ brunch on Sunday, because brunch is for middle-class fools, which obviously wouldn’t be us. However this has not been the case, I do not have a flat-pack friendship circle to ease the burden of an uncertain future. Instead I find myself awkwardly balancing on a structure made of loose wood and corrugated iron that can just about hold my weight but is at constant risk of collapsing, as most of the parts are looking for a graduate job in London.

That’s not to say that I don’t have good friends, in fact it’s quite the opposite, my friends are a fucking carnival of fun. Some of them are psyching each other out playing ‘splat the rat’ fun and some of them vomiting on the waltzers fun. They are very present and I love them endlessly. My issue is that we’re not all on the same street experiencing absolutely everything as a solid, intoxicated unit. They’re not all at my beckoning call for a hand-holding session when I’m suffering through any given twang of emotion. Instead the stories of foolishness are shared during scheduled monthly phone calls, usually lasting between 40 and 50 minutes. To avoid sounding too completely and utterly devoted to the divine purpose of me, dreaming of a world where my friends an infinite resource waiting patiently to feed me grapes of empathy, I would also like to highlight that in this fantasy the shoulders and ears lent to me would be reciprocated. There’s nothing I desire more than to be bestowed the honour of being the supplier of chocolate and blind support during a particularly brutal break up. This not the case as it turns out there’s nobody battering down my door demanding to be comforted by the grasp of my pasty, gangly arms. They remain vacant.

As I have discovered being in your twenties is not an extension of your time at university. I had previously thought it would be a period that would merge the camaraderie of living in student accommodation with the luxury of being able to being able to afford fresh herbs. At university everybody is enduring a shared life experience and therefore everybody has something in common. There isn’t one person who has attended university that doesn’t have a tale of waking up on the bedroom floor of an undisclosed location or finding a mystery poo that was found in a place that poo does not belong. Because of the uniform way that university students live it is easy to form support networks, the lifestyle forced upon you transcends personality and interests. The ray of sunshine Katy Perry fangirl will bond with the the brooding introverted new romantic if you pack them into a small enough space. However even if a tight bond is formed, when the captives are released they will instantly run in different directions.

I understand that it may just sound like I’m being a whiny brat because the world isn’t recognising the significance of my company, but thats only 85% of what’s going on here. The other problem I have is that because my friendships have dispersed over the country and overseas I have only allowed myself to be vulnerable maybe twice in the last year. These slip ups have been caused by a very specific combination of alcohol and somebody going first. Displays of icky feelings were frequent at university, when every interaction was a social one and your sobbing can be heard by the next 2 floors having to confess when things were going a bit shit was unnecessary. But not now, now if I’m feeling blue I find that the simplest remedy is a cocktail of Norah Jones and a dark room. Although I always enjoyed being left alone during these periods, it would be pleasant to be welcomed by a smile and a takeaway for two when the wallowing ends.

The reality of this new world are slowly beginning to burrow into my brain though and the positives are starting to appear. As I said before when you are at university an entire world is forced upon you and you have to assimilate. I think at this turning point it’s a positive, if I had not gone to university the only thing I would have assimilated to would have been my bedsheets. When you enter your twenties though the opposite occurs, you have to force yourself onto the world. You have to find a a job that supports the existence you desire and you have to fill your existence with the people and experiences that won’t cause you to go batshit crazy. I have managed to achieve elements of this, I can finance trips abroad when I save up and with a headlamp attached I have managed to find obscurest of niches hiding in the city. If university is an easily assembled piece of furniture then the only problem is that it is mostly assembled by other people, the friends that you have been assigned to you, the university that has allowed you to join them, and the government that determines what you can afford to do. Now I have my own furniture and although it’s barely fit for purpose at least I’ve built it, and I am beginning to have faith in my craftsmanship.