‘Gay’ is a term which can refer to any same-gender identity attraction or relationship, however it is commonly used to refer to male-male sexual (MSM) and non-sexual relationships. Male homosexuality dates back just as far as any other sexual identity. It’s not a recent invention, despite what some groups would lead people to believe! The earliest known depictions of male homosexuality come from Mesopotamia (circa 3000 BC) and tolerance in civilizations throughout the ages varied greatly. The modern gay liberation movement ‘began’ in 19th century France with the decriminalisation of ‘sodomy’ and the emergence of more liberal attitudes towards sex. The gay rights movement really took off following the 1969 riots, sparked by a raid of the Stonewall Inn, a prominent gay bar in New York City. In more recent years, governments have started to listen, but the Pride movement doesn’t hesitate to call them out when they don’t. Examples of this would be the formation of Stonewall and Outrage! in 1989 and 1990, following the infamous ‘Section 28’ legislation, banning the “Promotion of Homosexuality” in schools. While there is still much inequality, gay men are significantly less stigmatised in Britain than they were in times gone by. Same sex couples have the right to marriage or civilpartnership and adoption rights, and can exercise both through many (but not all) religious institutions. MSM blood donation is severely restricted. Same-sex marriage is currently allowed by many countries worldwide, however, elsewhere severe persecution and even calls for execution are inflicted on gay people, demonstrating the uneven state of affairs of gay rights internationally. We do not have a ‘gay’ representative as this group is usually well represented without extra effort, however any of our exec would be glad to answer any queries/help out with anything which cannot be better answered by one of our Rep’s. If you wish to speak to a gay man specifically, just email firstname.lastname@example.org or ask and we will point you in the right direction.
Aren’t all gay men camp?
Nope. You can’t really generalise about any group of people and while some gay guys are indeed as camp as a row of pink tents, there’s also loads of blokey blokes. Some gay guys worry about stereotype threat – that they’re behaving too camp – and there’s a very simple message here: don’t worry about it. Whether you like Ru Paul’s Drag Race or mucking around with a car engine, there’s no value judgement on your tastes.
How big a risk is HIV?
Condoms are very effective at reducing HIV transmission and HIV+ people on anti-retroviral therapy often have very low viral loads, reducing transmission rates. Provided you take precautions with safer sex, you will almost certainly be fine. Even so, just because someone is clear (or says they’re clear) of HIV, unsafe sex can still pass on other STIs which are bad news and in turn can increase the risk of contracting HIV. HIV is more common amongst gay men than other portions of the population, but it is by no means a “gay disease” – in fact the fastest growing risk category is heterosexual women. Pride has a standing campaign to encourage people to get tested, and we campaign for better testing facilities on campus.
What is the gay scene like?
If you’ve never been gay clubbing before, you might have a lot of preconceived ideas about what a gay bar is like. While certain stereotypes might apply to the bigger clubs in London (especially the dodgy ones around Vauxhall), Pride generally spends its time in Coventry and Birmingham. Rainbows is not too dissimilar to a pub on the ground floor (it even has pool tables!) but has a dancefloor upstairs; it plays mainly pop music. Nightingales is a larger club with various music spread over several floors. We also collaborate with other groups on LGBT+-specific nights out like PINK!, or queer-positive ones like Can’t Touch This, run by WASS. The main difference is it’s a unique atmosphere – nearly everyone’s gay, bi or lesbian so it’s a fun night out! Just don’t drink too much tequila.