Beards and moustaches and clones, oh my! (Back to the 80’s in a bad way.)

Now first of all, for those of you who missed the meeting… I am a gay man. Sorry if that comes as a shock. Maybe you should get your gaydar retuned!

I originally emerged onto the gay scene in 1979/80, and spent the early 80’s being something of a trollop, so it is a scene and era with which I am quite familiar. The late 70’s had seen an upsurge in “gay pride”, and a move towards a certain “fashionability” for freedom of sexuality which saw many of the iconic stars of the age coming out as gay or bisexual. Many of those same icons would recant a few years later when HIV/AIDS reared its ugly head around 1982. It was a period I remember particularly for the deafening sound of closet doors, which had been opened to trumpeting fanfares, slamming back shut shortly afterwards followed by muted apologies from within. The soundtrack of the time went something like this: “Tadaaaa… I’m out! Bang! I’m in! Sorry!”…. Anyway, I digress…

One of the horrors of the age (at least to me) was the rise of the “clone” look; possibly a backlash against the move of the sexually ambiguous, somewhat effeminate costume of the gay scene into the heterosexual mainstream, with the post-punk New Romantic fashion. As the heterosexual masses donned frilly shirts and started raiding the cosmetics counters, the gay scene started down the path towards an ultra-masculine look. Bright colours, frills and, above all, clean shaves were out. In their place came leather, denim, and facial hair… Oh so much facial hair! Gay clubs started to look like Gillette, Wilkinson Sword and Bic had all decided to liquidate on the same day. It took twenty years to gradually restore the balance and for the facial “bush” to become the minor fetish that it deserves to be, rather than the mainstream “norm”. To get there, we had to suffer through countless aberrations from pencil-thin beards to stripey sideburns.

Recently, after some years away from the gay scene, I’ve been tempted back to a couple of my local gay clubs…. Sorry… mustn’t be “un-PC”… LGBTQi[Insert rest of alphabet here] clubs. (Another rant, incidentally, for another day!)…  I’ve started to work just around the corner from those clubs and one of my best friends performs the 2am cabaret spot… My excuse and I’m sticking to it! šŸ˜‰

Anyway, I’ve noticed, horror of horrors, that facial fuzz is back big-style! So many guys are once again showing off their masculine ability to produce facial hair, and we’re not talking about a little stubble here, but mounds of the stuff! Some are even proudly sporting the kind of unkempt shrubbery which wouldn’t look out of place on a Shwarmi or an Immam! Where the “clone” fashion from the 70’s and 80’s could be partially excused by the need for a distinctive “uniform”, however, the latest crop simply wreaks of laziness…. a whole generation of gay men who simply can’t be arsed to pick up a trimmer.

I’m imploring you, guys, stop it now! Invest in a razor, or at least a beard trimmer right this minute! You don’t look “masculine”, you just look “homeless”.

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Why I will be voting for the UK to stay in the EU: EU Referendum

First of all, I would like to say that I am extremely proud of my family. My grandfather fought in the trenches in WW1, my grandmother “kept the homefires burning” through both World Wars, and served in the “Land Army”. My father was a decorated combatant in WW2, in many of the most horrific theatres of war, including service with the 8th Army “Desert Rats” and on the beaches of Dunkirk. My mother served in what was then the WAAF as Stores Sergeant at RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire. All of them gave their youth to make the UK and Europe what it is today. Millions of others gave their lives.

Contrary to much of the xenophobic rhetoric in the tabloid press, they did not do this to “make Britain great”, they did it to counter a very real threat to democracy and to unite Europe against the very hatred which the “Out” campaign is now attempting to reignite in the UK. The emergence of the European community was the final culmination of a centuries-long fight for continental harmony which dates back at least as far as the marriage of Philip II of Spain to England’s Mary Tudor in 1554.

Secondly, I need to point out that I AM AN ECONOMIC MIGRANT! On May 16th 2003, I migrated here to the Canary Islands, an autonomous province of Spain, primarily due to the demise of the UK “club circuit” and the need to find employment. I certainly wasn’t the first or last person to do so, and migration out of the UK into the rest of Europe holds steady at some 2,000,000 per year, roughly equal to the numbers migrating into the UK from the EU. In fact, until the admission to the EU of some of the former Eastern Block countries, outward migration from the UK to the rest of Europe consistently outstripped inward migration. Any imbalance was, is (and probably always will be) migration to the UK from non-European Commonwealth states, and that is not the fault of the EU. It is a result of the UK’s own Empire-building past. Whilst EU in:out migration figures hold fast at 2,000,000 in vs 2,000,000 out per year, inward migration from the rest of the world is in excess of 5,000,000 per year. That is what is not sustainable, and will remain an issue whether the UK is in or out of the EU. The answer to that is not isolationism. It is a reworking of the welfare state, along the same lines as those here in Spain, where welfare and benefits are based on length of residency and the amount of contributions. So long as the UK insists on doleing out benefits and child support to all-comers, they can expect to receive more comers! That should be blatantly obvious to anyone with half a brain! Return to Bevan’s original plan for the welfare state where help is given according to means and contributions, and the whole “migration problem” goes away.

I am constantly amazed by the number of British people living here in Spain and its provinces who are, like me, themselves migrants, who blindly regurgitate the anti-European sentiments of the “Out” campaign and the right-wing press. Just remember that we ourselves are “European migrants”, and ask yourself if you would like Spain to treat us the way you are asking the UK to treat other Europeans. After all, there is really no difference between the British working here and the Romanians or Polish working in the UK. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to make a living, but we don’t see Spain threatening to leave the EU so they can refuse migrants from the UK!

That is why, on 23rd June, I will be voting to keep the UK in the EU, and I urge all other UK “migrants” here in Spain, and around Europe, to do likewise.

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