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CHRISTANIA: Hey, I’m Christania the girl with the big hair.

ALEXIS: And hello from me, Alexis, the result of no strong father figure

CHRISTANIA: Welcome back, to the third episode of Qmmunity!

ALEXIS: In this episode we’ll be discussing what it means to find your community.

CHRISTANIA:  Although we read, and hear about the LGBTQ community - those of us inside, know that it’s not one huge group chat, where everyone talks and wants the same thing.

ALEXIS: We can’t even agree how high up “outlawing crocs” comes on the fabled Gay Agenda. So what we’re going to look at now, is how people find their place in our community. So - Chrissy - what did it mean to you, when you first found your community?

CHRISTANIA:  So I was about 18 when I found my community online which probably wasn’t very smart because you know, stranger danger. I made all of my old school lesbian friends on a website called Downelink. I met one of my new friends in real life, some bar in Soho and went to Heaven after. Retelling this story is hilarious to me because that night was an absolute mess!! That same night I met a girl who I’d been talking to and then we started seeing each other which led to me meeting her friends and then we went to all the clubs and parties and as time went on our friendship group grew. Unfortunately I’m not friends with any of those people now because, life. But yeah that was a great time and I got my introduction to LGBTQ life in the clubs but via the internet.

ALEXIS: to me, it was a big breath out, like I had been holding my breath for years and hadn’t even realised. In my teens, I was very goth, we’re talking full on black eyeliner, and badly dyed black hair - and I’d been to places that played the music that I liked, but I still felt out of place and like I had to monitor myself because it was a straight space. Then, I went to my first gay bar...but they didn’t play the music that I liked, and I stuck out like a saw thumb...then I found it. I can remember, vividly, going to Popstarz and they played Garbage, and Placebo, and Manson, and people moshed and really excitingly, other boys with eyeliner and black nail polish were there and kissed each other, and girls with mohawks kissed and we all danced. My first night there, was the first time I felt like I could breath. For the next two years, I went there religiously, every Friday night - suddenly, it didn’t matter to me ask much that I held my breath all week during school because I would breath so deeply on Friday. That was where I met my first ever boyfriend, and my lezzie bezzie - important people who are still in my life today, over a decade later.

CHRISTANIA:  Finding your community is not always easy for everyone. For example, if you live in the middle of nowhere with little or no access to social spaces where you can find like minded people, it can feel isolating. I think those of us who live in a large city for granted because, we have access to so many different spaces. You can venture to different events until you find the right space for you. I think that the internet has become such a powerful tool so people can find their community with one click from the comfort of their own home. Not everyone is going to feel confident enough to put themselves out there and make friends without speaking to them online first. Some people are introverts, have social anxiety or just don’t like speaking to strangers in real life so the internet helps elevate some of the awkwardness.

I moderated my first ever panel at our second live recording and although I was completely and utterly scared it did not go as badly as I anticipated and I’m very proud of myself for doing it. This panel consisted of Marc Thompson, Strategic lead for health improvement at Terrence Higgins Trust, co-founder of Blackout and Prepster. Asad Dhunna, director of communications at Pride in London, co-founder of the Big Gay Iftaar and The Unmistakables and motivational speaker Char Bailey. Respectively they identify as a cisgender gay black man, a cisgender Indian British gay man and a black and asian lesbian.

ALEXIS: We kicked off the conversation by asking the panel why they have created their own spaces…First you’re going to hear Marc talk about why he started Blackout

MARC: We started BlackOut in 2015, it was myself Rob Barkley and Antwan Rogers and we set up BlackOut specifically to respond to the need for black gay men because we looked around, we recognised that there was stuff happening, but there was very little which was specifically targeting us. And at the time there were lots of websites which are popping up from the US; Son of Baldwin,  Native Son, which were meeting the needs of black gay men but we saw that there was very little happening from a UK perspective. our principal was by us and for us, and we had a notion that if we build it, they will come.  

We've done a number of community events. Social spaces our kind of tagline is Join the Conversation and that's what we're constantly trying to do. We're really aspirational. We understand there are lots of issues and problems which impacts on us as black gay men in the UK and around the world, but we want to come from a position of how can we work together to fix this?  Way too often we are pathologised, were problematised and we wanted to accept that, but come from a space which was loving, caring, but was moving us forward.

CHRISTANIA:  Next you’ll hear Asad talk about why he started Big Gay Iftaar

ASAD: I don't know if people will remember the shootings in Orlando a couple of years ago.

ALEXIS: In 2016, an armed gunman attacked a gay bar named Pulse, in Orlando Florida. At the time, It was the deadliest mass shooting on American soil, 49 people were killed with a further 53 injured. The attack sent shock waves throughout the LGBTQ community - people like us, had been attacked and killed in a place that they felt safe. We will never know the full story, but it is believed that the killer was a closeted man and had been struggling with his sexuality, and internalised homophobia  and self hatred were amongst his motivations.

ASAD:  I was in Calais and I was at the refugee camp, the jungle at the time. It was a really peculiar time because I found myself with some time of work and I remember on the Sunday morning just seeing the alerts and it's purported Muslim killed 49 people who were LGBT and I just thought I am so tired of reading the words gay Muslim with the word suicide with the words killer with the words potential terrorists and I was just quite mute on that Sunday. And then we came back on the Monday and just I've got to do something about this and I've got to try and change the headline because if I don't then people are going to assume that if they're struggling with their sexuality then that would be the kind of life they might have.  So I called someone and said, look, I'm looking for a space. I'm having some friends around this weekend and we're going to have a little Iftaar. And an Iftaar is a fast opening meal during Ramadan, which is when people come and they break bread together and it was Ramadan at the time, which is the 30 days of fasting for Muslims and was having some friends around. I thought, well maybe we could just go with bigger and I'll extend that invite to a few other people. So on Monday I called a friend and he said, have you spoken to this person who's a priest? By Tuesday we had a church. And I thought, Oh God, we've now got a church we’ve got to fill this with people so you know that rhyme here's the steeple, here are the people all of that I don’t know, so Tuesday, we had a steeple and we needed some people.  So I just put it on Eventbrite. And um, I think I put it up as free or like five pounds, something like, so non so if you don't care, you don't care. And all of a sudden we had people in their dozens signing up. I called a friend of mine who organised a supper club called asthma, so she gave the food and then on the fourth day like it's almost like God's making it. On Day four. She called me and said, look, I really want to do it, but I need a bit of money to cover people.  I was like, well, what do we do when someone from pride in London called and said, look, we could donate a bit of money to this. That was amazing. So we got to Friday. I thought, oh gosh, maybe we should invite some press. So we invited some press and then channel four and UniLad. They came down and covered it on the Saturday we had a church full of about 100 people who all opened fast, LGBT and the Muslim community and that was just amazing like that. That on day six, God created the Big Gay Iftaar.

CHRISTANIA:  I’m a firm believer of, if you build it, they will come and both men created spaces where people can feel safe and interact with people like them. Next we’ll hear Char talk about how she got involved with UK Black Pride and Gaysians.

CHAR: I think it just got to the point in my life at  like 27 or 8 or let's not put a number on it years old, that I hadn't explored my identity in terms of being a black woman or being an Indian woman. I was very sort of white privileged if you like and I was very blind to what it means to be black, what it means to be Indian. And so I wanted to be able to utilise who I am, what I've created as a woman, not as a gay woman or a black woman or an Indian woman, just who I am. And I wanted to be able to say, look, this is who I am, this is what you can be. Because there weren't really any role models. There was the mother Lady Phyll and there was Reeta Loi and when I put into Google, where were the black women and where were the Indian women, those are the ones who came up. And so for me it was about how do I get to be part of this platform because I want to be able to add value to the people who like me are just searching on google, looking for themselves.

ALEXIS: We then spoke about what people experience when they come along to the different events and spaces that have been created

MARC:  They experience the most amazing black, gay male love? I mean they do. I mean, in a nutshell, people come along and as I said we do a range of events, you know, in some of them are, are online and some are  in the real world, you know, sometimes we piggyback, we engaged with, with other communities and we try to influence other people's work to make sure that the work and the needs of black gay men runs through that thread. So we become advocates for, for the men in our community. For those that may not have a voice, but I think what people come along is that they can find a space which is caring and loving. I think that's the most important thing, which is as far as possible nonjudgmental and we were having a conversation earlier about the kind of notion of a safe space and I sometimes find a little bit problematic because I'm kind of just call it a space, but they can find a space where they can be themselves and be around other people that look like they may not think act, but kind of welcomed them like that. We try to make sure that what we're doing provides education for men. So we have a line that we are here for the brothers that have survived without reading Baldwin because those brothers exist in. That's really, really important as well. So people come along, they can have fun events, secondary enjoyment, connection learning.

ALEXIS: Mark then talks about the ripple effect - how BlackOut has inspired other people to continue the momentum

MARC: I might be in Brixton or Peckham, or wherever I am, and a young brother will come up to me and I don't got a clue who he is. I don't know him. I know he's really cute. Um, and then you'll will say to me, I know you from a BlackOut event or I met my boyfriend and BlackOut event. I'm doing this piece of work because of a BlackOut event. That is what people get when they come to us. And that's what I think we continue to do and continue to build. But ultimately if you come to BlackOut event, you have a great time.

ALEXIS: Hearing mark describe how other people have been inspired by his events to go off and create themselves, is a brilliant reminder to all of us that we can all play a part in building community spaces and projects that will bring people together. It can start as small as getting some like-minded people together to read and discuss a book, or go and visit an exhibition, but just find ways to expand your community. Asad then spoke about the experience of Big Gay Iftaar and what it’s like

ASAD:  Food. Really good food. That's like the driving force. So we've done three now. The first, the first two were sort of similar. I think in the second one we said, can we make it a little bit bigger and can we not do it in four days, but could we do it in four months and just take a time around it and I think there's a real difference and I think having a marketing background, I start, you can segment your audiences and you start to think, okay, who's going to come and what sorts of things do they get from it? So as a second generational British Indian who's Muslim, that's quite a lonely place because you've got lots of second generational British Pakistanis, they think differently.  You've got lots of first generations of Pakistanis and Muslims. So I started to think, well, for people like me, it was actually to meet other people who may have been working in similar industries, had similar backgrounds. Few friends came to the first one and it just felt very comfortable. We all sat on the floor that was really important people to their shoes off is, it's all about kind of disempowering and taking away that and that's part of what it means when you go on pilgrimage, which is everyone's dressed in the same robes and so it was all about taking that kind of crap away that sometimes you get in LGBT spaces where people are wearing masks and, and a lot of them. And then that kind of carried into the second year and then in the third year. This year we did it in partnership with Imaan and full disclosure, I was a trustee of Imaan so you can see how it happened. And that was different because Imaan caters a lot to the first generation who have moved over and have very different issues. Issues around asylum issues around being a refugee, um, issues around being in the closet. And I think there's a fine line between where the first gen and the second gen are and I count myself as very lucky to be where I am now. To be able to talk out, be at something like this, talk on a podcast. But I think that's what we've learned this year and there were a lot of people who would be there and kind of never be exposed to other people and the other way round because sometimes there are spaces where you go into when you think, Gosh, how am I going to survive in here or how are they going to be other people like me in here, so it's changed as time has gone on.

ALEXIS:  I’ve been along to Big Gay Iftaar and had a great time - and the food is amazing. Won’t lie, as someone who isn’t muslim and is awkward around religion I didn’t know what to expect or whether I would feel welcomed - but I can hole heartedly back everything Asad has said. The food was amazing, and the easy conversation as people from different backgrounds literally broke bread together, sat with on the floor of a church, with a giant pride flag as our carpet, and found a shared kinship through sexuality was really something very special. The event was obviously primarily for Muslim LGBTQ people - but there were a fair number of us there who weren’t, who just came along to learn and I felt just as welcome. One thing I did notice, is that there was a number of people who quietly came and went through a discreet side door, because they weren’t out, I can only imagine the sort of relief and lifeline that events like this must offer to them.

CHRISTANIA: I loved Asad’s emphasis that the Big Gay Iftaar is all about the food, because who’s doesn’t love eating a tasty meal with friends?! Char goes on to describe how attending UK Black Pride makes her feel as someone that is on a journey of exploring her identity.

CHAR:  It makes me feel full.  so, so many times where you hide yourself and try and be less black or not wear a bindi because it makes you more Indian. When you go to somewhere like UK, black pride, it's almost like Charlie and the chocolate factory rarely comes through those gates and he opened and it's like, *gasp* Look at all of this, all of this beautiful blackness has just been waiting for me to uncover and it's not just about the day. For me, it's about the relationships. It's about the sisterhood, the Brotherhood, the protection, the real love. I felt so unloved by black people for such a long time and being part of UK black pride it's like a hug. It's like an embrace. The same with Gaysians. Having an Indian woman come and pinch your cheeks is something that like you see on east is east all the time, but if you're not exposed to that environment, you don't get to have that. So it's like feeling full. It's like for me it's about filling myself up with that love that I felt had been missing for so long.

ALEXIS: That’s beautiful isn’t it? That feeling of acceptance and embrace is so important. It’s one of the things that I really love about being gay, about being LGBTQ.  Marc then expands upon the feeling that Char described -

MARC:  The way you described going to UK. Black Pride is amazing. I think we all have that experience when we go there, it's kind of like what you might go to your first pride - my challenge for us as a community is how do we make sure that happens 365 days of the year. How do we ensure that our young brothers and sisters who are in Wolverhampton or Leicester or Luton or wherever…How do we, how do we insure that we're now in September, how do we try to make sure that they don't have to wait until July the 7th, 2019 for that fullness to happen.

CHRISTANIA:  Marc is absolutely right and asked an important question - how do we  create that feeling of fullness and family throughout the year. As the panel progressed we moved on to discuss what it means for the LGBTQ community as it starts to become more mainstream….

MARC: gay culture has predominantly been mainstream, commercialised for a really, really long time. And I'm old enough  [inaudible] enough to know that it's always been like that and it very rarely has served the needs of diversity anyway. It's being white CIS male for donkey's years, so I'm not sure if it's becoming more mainstream I think it's becoming a little bit more television. It's a little bit more out there. We could pick up magazines, you can speak to your buddy and they're like, oh my God, you're my best friend. I really love you, dope. And all that kind of stuff. However, it's about what do those people do when the fighting really kicks off and it really starts. So what do we do is our subcultures. I think what does it mean for our culture of subcultures? I think that should embolden us to be stronger and to scream and shout even louder to make a stance, to stand out, to be even prouder and more bold in who we are. And I love the fact that a younger generation of Queer activists and not event activists just act as people are doing that stuff in their lives. I think what kind of worries me a little bit is that sometimes we, because we're particularly for black minority and ethnic non white cultures, we can very often put ourselves into even more silos.

ALEXIS: I think Marc’s point, and question, is a really valid one. Around Pride season, every large brand releases something with a rainbow on it, straight people are using our phrases, they come to our clubs and pride events. But all these people who are happy to engage in the surface level of our culture...do they embrace our community, or just the entertainment they can derive from it? Drag Race may no longer be a niche show, Queer Eye may be back and there may be some wonderfully diverse representations of gay men on that show from across the masculinity spectrum - but the truth is, gay is still used as a pejorative term, camp is still played for laughs by straight comedians, and it takes a lot of guts and courage to be a effeminate  guy or drag queen on the tube or high street.

CHAR: Oh well we can all just go to the straight places now can't we and all just fit in, let’s just all be one. That is the straight mentality, oh, you can sit with us now. It's fine. Why do you need your own space? And it's very diluting and for somebody like me who is searching for those spaces, the more mainstream it becomes, the more dilute it becomes. So that's why I think it's so important for organisations like Gaysians for UK black pride to stand in their truth, to say, to put their foot down and say it's great that you want us to sit next to you, but we need to have our own space too. We need to be there for the needs of our own communities and our own people because it's not the fact that one size fits all.  You can't solve all of everyone's problems with one magic pill with one place to go to. So it's about exploring cultural, understanding it and knowing that our community still need us, irrespective of all this going out there is great and it's great to be included. It's great to be accepted. It's great to feel like one-ness. It's very spiritual, but on the other hand, we still need to have that little part for ourselves, that little bit that still makes us us.

CHRISTANIA:  I couldn’t agree more with Char’s point. It’s great the LGBTQ people feel included in mainstream society but there’s nothing wrong with keeping something for ourselves. Navigating the world when you’re part of a marginalised group is tiring so sometimes you need a safe space to relax and be your authentic self.

MARC:  I think let's be careful when we talk, when we think about mainstream, because when you think about mainstream, that is about kind of giving something up. All right, so historically if you think about say 20 odd years ago, clause 28 was a very real thing in this country and clause 28 was pushed forward by the Thatcher government

ALEXIS: Let me jump in here - Section 28, was an infamous piece of homophobic legislation brought in by Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative party that banned, and I quote, “the promotion of homosexuality”. It meant that no government or public body was allowed to sympathise with the homosexual agenda. For a lot of us, myself included, that meant that when we were growing up - our teachers and schools were banned from talking about sexuality. There were many side effects of this piece of legislation - but one very real effect that while many schools had “anti racism charters” or “anti bullying programmes”, homophobia in schools was allowed to run rife because many teachers at the time felt they had their hands tied. It was eventually repealed in Scotland in 2000, and throughout the rest of the UK in 2003, but as with all things, the side effects linger for years longer.

MARC: It was a way of kind of shutting us up right if you kind of look at the history and the math of it all and so that dies down. Then they give us gay marriage,...we get civil partnerships, they get gay marriage. So it's this heteronormative idea of normalness. So what do you see in the gay media and the press, lovely, nice couples go into and I'm not dissing marriage, anybody out there. I'm single, really happy to get married and I've got a dog at home, I’m down  for that Shit. But in all seriousness, right? So, and again I'll talk for the gay male community has cisgender gay male community. What that said to us was it those of you that don't get married, that don't go out and do these things are dirty, your promiscuous, you're all of these sorts of things. So when we think about mainstream of who we are, it kind of quietens down. Our queerness are radicalness, so this is why we get so much pushback on our trans brothers and sisters. This is one mark aims or xxl can come out with the diatribe that he did last week and banning people wearing heels because that's meant to be normalised and mainstream. So let's be mindful and careful of that. So I'm here to say let's shout on subcultures. Let's push that proudly out there. And as a black gay man, I'm never going to be mainstream. Hun Never. They don't want me.

ALEXIS: Nail on the head. And I think Marc’s point about never being wanted by the straight community can apply to us all - is it really equality, if the condition of entry is a long list of rules to follow? That you’ve got to be a “good gay”, hold a sensible job, don’t dress too flamboyantly, have a monogamous marriage, spend your pink pound, don’t talk about sex - that’s fine for people who want that, but when you don’t want that, when you don’t want to adhere to these norms...you can be made to feel like a “bad gay”, and still unwelcome in heterosexual society. That’s why I think the LGBTQ community is always going to be important - so that everybody will always be able to find some place that they fit in, and belong.

CHRISTANIA:  I didn’t want the panel to end but we had to. Again, we handed over the microphone to the audience and allowed them to ask some questions.

The first question, was about protecting our Pride parades and events from becoming too mainstream, too commercialised and still retaining their queerness.

ASAD: I wish I knew the answer. Um, pride as a concept is so charged. so when we say, well, what does pride mean to you? And we ran that piece of research;  I was overwhelmed that 2000 people within 10 days filled out a 10 minute questionnaire, like when we released that, people like, I'm going to fill in a questionnaire, but people want to tell you, and I think we as organisers want to listen. It's how do we listen as a group of volunteers? How do we give it the depth that it needs and what I learned from that research, having written the report around what does it mean to you was it does not mean one thing to more than two people. So how do you therefore create an event that can cater for that?  And you start to think, how do you do that under one event and how do you make that in such way that it can self sustain and be free because it has to be free and serve all of those different functions and purposes that it needs to. And then you get something like Britney at Brighton and people say, oh my god, that's amazing. They've got Britney. Isn't that amazing? And you have to go through the hype of people as volunteers feeling bad that we haven't got something as Britney. And then seeing it come out in the wash at the way it is.

ALEXIS: What Asad is referencing there - is that this year, many people from the LGBTQ community felt that Brighton Pride had entirely lost its gayness, that it had been over-run by straight people treating it as a rainbow festival who were there just to see Britney and not embrace our community at all.

ASAD: You have to make your voice known in the things like the surveys in the open meetings that we do, we know there's so much, so much further we need to go, especially after the seeing the protests. We know that. So we can't do that as people who give up their time to do it on the sides. We need the community in here, like you say, so all come together and say we're gonna do this because this is our effing event.

ALEXIS: The answer there is important - yes, it is the Pride event organisers responsibility to be as inclusive and representative as possible - but they can only do that if people turn up and get involved. I have friends who say “oh, I don’t go to pride, because it doesn’t reflect me” - but you are the only person who can go and represent yourself, so show up and show what being gay, or queer, or LGBTQ means to you.

CHRISTANIA: Although I agree with you about the commercialisation of Pride Events - I don’t think that people should go to pride if they don’t want to. It’s a long day, there’s big crowds, and because mainstream Pride events have lost a lot of their political roots it can feel like it’s not important, it’s  vital to remember that pride is a protest.

ALEXIS: Absolutely.  No one should go if they don’t want to - but, then the argument is can you complain it doesn’t represent you, if you’re given the opportunity to get involved - and then don’t, can you complain?

CHRISTANIA:  Personally, I wouldn’t go to Brighton Pride because it feels very white, and it’s not free. I don’t want to have to pay, to celebrate being a lesbian, that’s not cool. I genuinely don’t feel like if I went to one of their open planning meetings my suggestions would be heard.

ALEXIS: That’s why I like that London Pride’s free - I still feel a power in taking to the street of my home, and marching down the centre of the city, waving my pride flag. It’s my city, and it’s my way of reclaiming it. Not just for me - but also for those tourists who see us, and maybe come from countries where being out isn’t acceptable and our community is in the shadows - I like being visible, that still feels powerful, and political.

CHRISTANIA:  The next question was about how people can find places for themselves.

CHAR: Google helped me loads and I don't think there's an excuse now to not get out there. Go on Google, go onto Gaysians dot org, have a look at it, plugged it Go to UK Black Pride dot co dot UK, plugged it, but we are so visible now I've just finished helping the incredible Campbell X and Kayza Rose with their tour screening visible. When you watch that film, you learn about the history, you learn about our invisibility, you learn about the battle that we've been on, but we're not there anymore. We're visible in the media, we're getting more visible online. There are spaces for us, so unless you are like in your bedroom crying, you should be out there looking for it. There's no excuse to sit and not get on your phone. Everyone has a phone underneath thumb, tap in the names, tap in the websites, have a look and go and find yourself. Go out and explore.

CHRISTANIA:  Although Char made a great point about Google being a great resource to find your tribe as it were, I thought that might not be so easy for someone living in a small town or village or if they are under 18 and do not have the freedom to go out and meet people. Asad touches on this and also interacting with people in real life.

ASAD: I think everyone is struggling. I don't think you wake up and you're like boom. Got The community  off I go. Like I'm ready to go. A member of BLKOUT a member of Gaysians dot org fo uk, I don't think that ever happens. I think the beautiful thing about people is that we change and we adapt and we mould, so it could be that one day you're like, right Imaan is the group and I'm there and that can last for a little bit. Then you go, right, I'm going to go somewhere else and I don't think you should just sit and wait for that day to come. I think it's be open to the fact that you are on a journey and to your point about if you're 17 in the closet, trapped in a yes, Google, but maybe shut the browser, like if you're a bit scared because that's okay as well and I think the people who are in this room or at this this phase where we're able to be in this room and so there's someone if there's someone sat that just. I think this realise that this is ongoing. I think everyone in this room is still struggling and finding that's what we're talking about it so don't expect an answer and maybe because we've got google, we're expecting answers from our thumbs and actually we're not going to get them.

MARC:  I do think we have to be mindful that there are particularly younger and again, cisgender or trans men who may be using dating apps to think that that's where they're going to find their community and they are wrapped up in the community of drugs and alcohol and sex and dangerous or risky behaviour and they have no idea that another community exists. So I think that we who are privileged and a smart or who have come out of that have a responsibility to those younger people. I think you're absolutely right Asad as Well is that we are on a spectrum. So the community that I wanted at 22 is very different to the community I want it 50. Okay, so where do I find all of that? So community is always moving. It's always mould in this always shaping if you are that 17 year old is in their bedroom and his shit scared and is frightened of google and can't look how they're never going to do that. They're not going to do that at all. so again, we who are privileged to be here tonight. I'm a great believer in this. We have a responsibility to make ourselves available. So be that on social media, be that on twitter. You might be that guy that’s on Grindr and that 18 year old hits you up. Don't lay with him. Take him out for coffee. You know somebody wants to know about uk black pride. you know you don't want to be a volunteer. I mean, that's a great thing to do, but I think it's about us looking within ourselves and saying, what can I offer back to the community? What can I help to build? I think that finally what I'd say to that individual, if they were sitting in front of me right now, be patient, have time, enjoy building the community. It's not all about sitting down and going, oh my god, you know, HIV and racism and blah blah. It's about having a drink and having fun and going down the pub and doing all those things and all those sorts of things. That's community as well and we underplay that. Just get out and do it.

CHRISTANIA:  I thoroughly enjoyed moderating the panel but I would like to know your thoughts on the conversation

ALEXIS: the protection of our community, relies on more people to be involved and be active - and starting their own movements. My hopes with that though, is that once you’ve found the people like you...you’ll then reach out to other people, and start to build wider connections. So that we can start to build.

CHRISTANIA:  hearing Marc talk about Section 28 was very interesting. It something I only learnt about in the most recent years, LGBTQ History has not been at the top of my agenda. I think that we need to actively do more to engage with older LGBTQ people. They would have been through experiences that we wouldn’t be able to fathom. lastly we need to to know where we’re from to know where we’re going.