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I’m not one for boxed sets or binge watching. TV is in the background whilst I do other things, mainly. Like radio was as a kid. But this week I’ve watched the first episode of something new on TV and then gone on to watch the rest of the episodes on ITVhub and All4.

The Bay. Much better written than series 1 had glorious shots of my school town. Was worth it for all the stunning shots, despite the aggro of poor editing continuity meaning things were “ in the wrong place or order”

Then,  It’s a Sin. Don’t think I’ve cried at something on TV so much, ever. Had to take a break between episodes 3 and 4. It was too much.

The best HIV & AIDS tv drama yet. Beautifully written, acted and filmed. Something I lived through. Memories of friends no longer here, cooking for sick friends, visiting in hospital when it was locked infectious disease wards and patients didn’t tell family, or family disowned and denied, doing an emergency house sweep to remove “evidence” after someone had died.

Going to funerals, where the person eulogised was mythical. Ignoring 10, 20, more, years of life, love, companionship. Comforting lovers of the guy who had died and who had been excluded by the family of the deceased.

Another pandemic, from 35 years ago.

Today I thought of people I’ve not thought about for a long time. I thought of M. Who only spoke of how he got infected once. He’d gone to USA, had sex once, infected. Before the drug regimes. Resistant to AZT. Visited him at hospice regularly. On good days I’d take him out in the car. The virus had crossed his blood brain barrier, at 30 he had dementia like symptoms.

The last time he “escaped” for a day trip he came home with me. Needed to go to the loo. Then wasn’t strong enough to stand, wipe his bum, pull up his pants. He called. We managed most of it, then, pulling his trousers up past his knees, we got in a tangle. Fell over. Lay on the floor, howling with laughter and tears streaming down our faces for 20 minutes.

I miss M. I miss them all. I don’t think I realised quite how much, until today.

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I’m not one for boxed sets or binge watching. TV is in the background whilst I do other things, mainly. Like radio was as a kid. But this week I’ve watched the first episode of something new on TV and

Don’t imagine for one minute that Miles and CoMin stood tall and pushed anything through out of any sense of doing the right thing for the LGBTQ community. Apart from Hazel Hannan, Peter Karran and Al

John's post reminds us that this is the way we've always moved forward; not by our own evolving democracy, but being dragged by the heels like a donkey, and shamed into action by outside influence and

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I binged it last night, John.  I didn't intend to, but it hooked me.  Excellent writing, directing and acting by all the cast, bar none.

A terribly sad and unjust time,  you would like to think we have learnt.  The treatment of early cases by the health service and police was shocking, and it was only through the efforts of groups like the Terence Higgins Trust and the realisation that it was not confined to the gay community that attitudes began to change.  The gay community started to be recognised as much a part of the whole community as any other, not a bunch of people with avaricious sexual appetites who would 'have a go at anything'. 

I was living in the UK for most of the time shown in the series, did the IOM deal with it then any better or was it swept under the carpet because homosexuality was illegal at that time IIRC?

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It was between the time I returned from university and decriminalisation in 1992. So the two things were side by side for most of the decade.

It was a time of hate and discrimination, pretty boy cop agent provocateurs, covert video surveillance of the WC in Nobles park, lurid headlines, mass arrests and naming by the police and printing by the papers, before they’d even been charged or reached court,  suicides.

It was a time of inadequacy in our medical services. The GUM clinic chairs were in a communal waiting area, but had different coloured chairs, so you were told to take a purple chair, the rest were orange. Petty stuff in case someone was infectious.

There were awful things said in the Manx press by evangelicals, MHK’s, even the director of nursing. The Brewery and landlords putting signs in bar windows. “Health Warning - this is not a gay bar”. Edgar Quine was venomous.

Most people I knew went away to Liverpool or Manchester for testing and treatment. Many then moved to Manchester or Brighton for better treatment and support.

It was those things that led to a small group of us saying “ enough is enough “ and setting up Switchboard, that ran for 20 years. It was that that situation that led to Alan Shea and Stephen Moore start their law change campaign. They suffered for it, with hate mail and calls and turds through the post.

We had great support from THT, Gmfa and other groups.

Let me tell you a bit more about M. His situation was typical.

Marc, the M in my review, was camp, annoying, funny. Couldn’t hold a job. I ended up rescuing him twice. He didn’t fit in here. Or in USA. Broken family. Mum and dad,  who was American, divorced when M and his brother were very young. Dad returned to USA. Mum married a Manx guy. Step dad was a a difficult man.

M was very unhappy at home because of his stepdads rejection of him for his sexuality. At 19 he went to live in USA with his dad. Dad was a Louisiana red neck, so that didn’t go well. Came back here.

Me and a friend found him a job with accom. Didn’t last long. Then he found a boyfriend in Portsmouth. Really nice guy. I packed them into the car and drove M and all his stuff down to Portsmouth.

Lasted a week. I’d told him, before the move, he had to be honest about hiv. He wasn’t. But to his credit he did tell BF when he arrived. Bf threw him out. I drove back down to Portsmouth to bring him back.

He did about 2 years here on benefits, with sporadic short spells of work, living in grotty bedsits. Then he decided that there wasn’t the right medical treatment here, or support network. That was true.

Countess of Chester hospital in Chester had a world renowned clinic and good community support networks. I helped find him a flat, helped  sort his benefits, took him over. Two years later he was too ill to survive on his own. Over I went to help pack up and get him home. Most stuff got tossed. Just like Gloria in the film. We managed to get him admitted to the hospice here so he could be near his mum, brother and sister. He was there a year before he died.

But hospice, with old people, and no HIV resources, wasn’t a good place for him to be.

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So sad, let down at every turn for just being himself.  Thank heavens you and your friends could give him a support network. 

If I remember rightly, the outspoken opponents to legalisation were the Duggans, immortalised in the Fast Show sketches?  If I am right, sister Duggan taught us RE at Ballakermeen.  She could not handle any probing questions about religion, even from 12 year olds - it was what was writ and that's that. 

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John, your posts here have really put things into perspective for me, with some of the history of the island.

Despite it being so recent, I wonder how much some may take today's world for granted, and how many sacrifices were made to get here. Though, being able to take it for granted is something I realise I should really be grateful for.

I think even in the last 10 years, attitudes have shifted dramatically. I'm glad to be able to remind myself that things are always getting better.

My heart just about melted when I heard that a friend's child can go to an LGBT club at their secondary school, surrounded by their peers who are also discovering themselves. It's acting a safe space that I know didn't exist before. As a kid/teenager who is going through a lot, and feeling like that's fundamentally wrong, having that support can be a night and day difference. Kids who have to hide that side of their life at home and from their friends still for fear of retribution.

I think anyone who had floated the idea of a gay club, as they affectionately call it, when I was in the same school, I would've probably gotten an extra kicking at least. It wasn't exactly friendly if you were 'outed' even as recently as then. I'm genuinely glad these kids aren't going through as much of the stigma and shame.

Though, the attitudes from the past still persist, just read the Manx Radio comments on pride events etc.

 

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25 minutes ago, Shake me up Judy said:

Dreadful times the '70s and '80s in the IOM. Dumb ignorance and prejudice, hypocrisy and corruption everywhere. Makes me really angry just thinking of it. Wish I had a time-machine and nothing to lose...

And into the 90s. Edgar Quine?

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43 minutes ago, AcousticallyChallenged said:

John, your posts here have really put things into perspective for me, with some of the history of the island.

Despite it being so recent, I wonder how much some may take today's world for granted, and how many sacrifices were made to get here. Though, being able to take it for granted is something I realise I should really be grateful for.

I think even in the last 10 years, attitudes have shifted dramatically. I'm glad to be able to remind myself that things are always getting better.

My heart just about melted when I heard that a friend's child can go to an LGBT club at their secondary school, surrounded by their peers who are also discovering themselves. It's acting a safe space that I know didn't exist before. As a kid/teenager who is going through a lot, and feeling like that's fundamentally wrong, having that support can be a night and day difference. Kids who have to hide that side of their life at home and from their friends still for fear of retribution.

I think anyone who had floated the idea of a gay club, as they affectionately call it, when I was in the same school, I would've probably gotten an extra kicking at least. It wasn't exactly friendly if you were 'outed' even as recently as then. I'm genuinely glad these kids aren't going through as much of the stigma and shame.

Though, the attitudes from the past still persist, just read the Manx Radio comments on pride events etc.

 

Thanks AC. The final thing the Switchboard charity did was an oral history. Interviewed willing members of the community. Digitally recorded, transcribed, and a précis for publication.

Several members on here helped. Especially @La_Dolce_Vita.

The recordings and full transcripts are deposited in the Manx Museum, under an access embargo. The précis I’ll dig out and link to.

It wasn’t all bad. Some great moments. The Met disco at the Villiers organised by NALGAY during the NALGO conference. First gay disco on island. Leaving the office at 5pm Friday, getting in the car and then Manx Line, driving to London and catching the last 3 or 4 hours at Heaven before sleeping on the floor at the homes of friends. Driving back late on Sunday and going straight from the boat into the office. Going to Razzles and gazing in awe at the ever so handsome @quilp as he played in a band. Wonder what he looks like now?

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17 minutes ago, Non-Believer said:

And into the 90s. Edgar Quine?

Between him and several others, Phil Kermode etc. Disgusting people! 

I only know of one person who died from HIV, nice guy who I went to school with, he didn't deserve that at all. He left the island to die, away from his friends and family, possibly as John says, to get better treatment? I often think of him and how he must have suffered.

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5 minutes ago, John Wright said:

Going to Razzles and gazing in awe at the ever so handsome @quilp as he played in a band. Wonder what he looks like now?

I never realised Quilp was a Gay Icon :D He probably didn't himself :) 

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46 minutes ago, John Wright said:

Several members on here helped. Especially @La_Dolce_Vitaing to Razzles and gazing in awe at the ever so handsome @quilp as he played in a band. Wonder what he looks like now?

Ah, the sound of a distant trumpet. And a bagpipe or three...

Great days...

 

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