Love is Strange, 2014 – ★★★★★

Every aspect of this film is on point. The overall effect being that you may be unsure whether you’re even watching a film – this is life unfolding before you.

The emotion feels real and raw. The relationships (all of them) are both simple and complex. At the centre, the characters of George and Ben are wonderfully written and masterfully brought to life by Alfred Molina and John Lithgow.

What’s been stuck in my head since seeing it is this: love isn’t strange, love is beautiful.

Vía Letterboxd – ekcragg

What does it mean to come out of the closet?

This week we’ve seen a number of people in the public eye declare their love for members of the same sex. Neither Mario Bello nor Tom Daley explicitly said they were gay, lesbian or bisexual and I’ve read a lot of opinion pieces about this rejection of labels that seem to question what it means to ‘come out’.

I watched this TED talk from Ash Beckham a couple of weeks ago and have been waiting for the right moment to post it. It’s now:

I think Ash perfectly sums up what coming out is… any difficult conversation.

In the past few months I have had plenty of difficult conversations involving telling people about the break-up of my marriage. All along when I’ve talked to others about how these conversations make me feel I have likened it to the experience of coming out as a lesbian. For some reason watching this talk, knowing that everyone has their own closet to come out from and that we will come out of many throughout our lives, makes it all seem a lot easier.

Role models, take 2

In the Family section of the Guardian on Saturday there was a great article by Alice Arnold: Clare Balding, my very own national treasure.

I found it a joy to read, and wanted to share one of the last sentences with you because it speaks to what I was trying to get across in my previous post about role models:

If just one gay person or parent of a gay child sees us and thinks that maybe it’s not so bad, that you don’t have to live your life in fear, that sexuality does not define everything and it doesn’t always need to be a struggle, then we have achieved something.

Here, here!

Role models

As I read an article in the Independent recently on women in sport, I began thinking about my role models growing up. All of my female role models (that I can remember) came from the world of sport.

First and foremost there was Helen Rollason, who I first knew as the presenter of Newsround. She later became the first woman to present Grandstand. As a young hockey player I remember idolising Jane Sixsmith, who won bronze with Britain at the 1992 Olympics. There were other Olympians too; Sally Gunnell, Denise Lewis and Tanni Grey-Thompson. They are all strong and successful women who I am sure were the heroes of many more young girls.

Watching the Olympics this year I saw a new generation of role models. Not only female role models, but importantly for me, lesbian role models too. I was prompted to post these thoughts today after watching the following video of Megan Rapinoe accepting the LA Gay & Lesbian Center’s Board of Director’s Award. I wish that as a teenager I had lesbian role models like Megan. Like the national treasure, Clare Balding. Like the leader, Hope Powell. In addition to being strong and successful women like the role models I had, they are out, and proud, they are respected and loved.

Really, I just wrote this post so I could share the video. Watch it, and I hope it inspires something in you:

Out with Dad

The other day I stumbled across this excellent web series, Out with Dad. It tells the story of Rose, a 15 year old girl who is exploring her sexuality. She lives with her Dad, Nathan, who is doing some exploration of his own, into how he can best support a gay teen.

I just finished watching season 1 (it’s now in it’s second season) and it’s really really good. I especially like how it shows the story from both sides, the teen and the parent. All I can think is that I wish there had been something like this around when I was a teenager and trying to put words to what I as feeling.

LGBT History Month: Alan Turing

Earlier this week I went to a lecture for LGBT History Month organised by the University of Oxford LGBT Staff Network Steering Group. The topic was Alan Turing, the lecturer Andrew Hodges, Tutorial Fellow in Maths at Wadham College and author of the biography Alan Turing: the enigma.

Following a brief introduction on Turing’s work Hodges introduced the concept of hidden histories. In Turing’s life there were three:

  1. the history of code breaking at Bletchley Park during WW2 and Turing’s leading role in cracking the enigma code
  2. Turing’s involvement in the birth of Computer Science and the creation of the first computer
  3. Turing’s life as a gay man

The main focus of this talk, as you might expect for LGBT History Month, was on the third hidden history. We heard how, although discreet, Turing was by no means completely closeted choosing to live openly as a gay man within the relatively protected environments of the universities of Cambridge and Manchester.

This moving subject was made even more so by the revelation that the speaker was personally involved in revealing elements of each of these hidden histories through his work as a mathematician, biographer and member of the Gay Liberation Front in the 1970s.

I was really impressed with what a well attended event this was. Even more so that it was opened by Oxford’s Vice Chancellor, Andrew Hamilton who, rather than leave once his duty had been fulfilled stayed to hear the talk and participate in the event.