Morning all – this morning, someone broke into the beloved Joyce Layland LGBT Centre in Manchester where they hold vital youth groups and services (as well as that incredible cafe) and broke both of their doors.

The cost of buying and installing new doors will cost up to £1000, and will also need to stretch to pay for new sets of keys for all the life-saving groups who use the LGBT Centre.

The LGBT Centre is ‘a space where people can feel safe to be their true selves and have a break from an outside world where they may be subject to homophobia, biphobic and transphobic bullying. We are volunteer led and the interests and needs of the LGBT community are at the heart of everything we do.’

Please Please Please donate anything you can to enable the centre to resume its services, so that user groups can use the space safely and without fear.




Please please please READ THIS (courtesy of Jess Lishak – UoM’s Women’s Officer) and SIGN THE PETITION.
I feel honoured to have briefly met Aderonke last month and to have sat on the panel with her; she truly was an inspirational lesbian woman and I find it beyond disgusting that this country is, in effect, sentencing her to death.

‘Aderonke Apata is an incredible LGBT rights activist who has been cruelly denied asylum by a high court judge on the basis that she has ‘fabricated an asylum claim’ based on her sexuality and her poor mental health. After being put through a horrendous ordeal of trying to ‘prove’ her sexuality by providing photographic and video evidence of her sex life, judge John Bowers QC concluded that HE didn’t believe she was ‘genuinely lesbian’ and so would not be perceived as much in Nigeria. Even though googling her name will come up with her calling herself a lesbian in many different court cases and in the UK media, the judge thinks that people in Nigeria will ignore that and just not persecute and kill Aderonke because HE didn’t believe her.
As well as this, good old John concludes that her diagnosis of PTSD and depression in 2005, as well as a suicide attempt whilst in her cell in Yarl’s Wood detention centre when her earlier asylum claim was turned down is ‘NOT sufficient to reach’ Article 3 whereby deportation would breach her rights because it was circumstantial.
There is literally a legal report from the high court (which will be used as precedence to deny other people asylum) that says because some guy called John doesn’t believe that Aderonke is gay and so won’t persecuted and killed for her sexual orientation or that her mental health problems will infringe on her human rights if she is deported even though the last time she was told she would be deported she attempted suicide.
The report ends like this- “People have to be returned to situations which we would find appalling. The United Kingdom is not required to keep people here who have no right to be here unless to expel them would be a breach of its international obligations. It does the cause of human rights no favours to stretch those obligations further than they can properly go. In the circumstances I dismiss the application”.
UKIP or no UKIP, if this is the view that our official high court takes, we are officially fucked.’

Please share Aderonke’s story with your family, friends and on your blogosphere. I know this is just one example of the many LGBTQ asylum seekers who are refused asylum in the UK every year and are potentially being sent to their deaths or at least persecution, and for me, this definitely highlights the fact that we should be doing more to help these people. Right now though, please sign and share this petition for Aderonke and in turn help bring LGBTQ asylum seekers into the forefront of our perspectives.

Info and Advice: We ❤ Sex

I’m not sure how useful these will be to any of you, but below are links to short informative articles, most of which I wrote a year or so ago for the ‘We ❤ Sex’ section of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation’s (LGF) website (soon to be the LGBT Foundation).

They were written in the hope of bridging the gap between a complete lack of Sex and Relationship Education in schools for women who have sex or romantic relationships with women, and the fact that women do have (lots of) sex and romantic relationships with women.

If anyone has any ideas of topics they’d like more info on, I can suggest them to the LGF and hopefully get some more articles up on the website. Similarly, any feedback would be appreciated.

These are also some links to the Terrance Higgins Trust’s, ‘Sexual Health, HIV and wellbeing’ guide for Trans women, and Early To Bed’s practical guide to sex for Trans women.


So I guess I’ve never written about mental illness.

It’s a topic that, for me and many others, comes with a burden of embarrassment, potentially some shame and a lot of discomfort. It also seems to be the case that I’m only prepared to talk about it when [I feel I’m] not knee-deep in it, like now for instance. I’ve had a really great, positive and productive week, so I’ve chosen now to capitalise on the fact that we need to talk about mental illness.

Rather than talk specifically about the nature of the mental illness I have experienced, I am going to focus on how it impacts on my life, and the lives of the people around me.

When I’m in a bad place I retreat to my bedroom. I refuse to go out, I don’t see my friends, I avoid all social situations that require me to “improve” on my appearance, (wash my hair, put on make up, change out of sweats/PJ’s) I cry – a lot-, I feel frustrated, angry, uncomfortable, I feel “disgusting”, and “vile”, I spent hours on the internet searching for a “cure”, I am extremely irritable, and most of all, I feel like it’s too much to endure.

As a consequence, those that are closest to me suffer through the experience with me, and those that are less close are shut out of my life for the duration. Without wanting to speak for the people who have been closest, I know one person described the situation as “exhausting” and “heartbreaking to watch”.

For those who have suffered with mental illness, that list of symptoms (for want of a better word) will probably contain nothing new. But the difficult thing is also that, to go public about that experience, to say ‘I am depressed/anxious/self-harming/suicidal/psychotic’ or in any other state of mental illness, is not made easy by a public environment that is, on the whole, pretty hostile and ignorant towards mental illness.

Don’t get me wrong, things have definitely improved since the dominance of the “stiff upper lip” mantra, but many people, be it our parents/siblings/friends/teachers/bosses/colleagues etc. still don’t recognise the extent to which mental illness is not the result of an individual’s weakness, does not make them less of a human being, and does not imply the mentally ill individual is a danger to society! This is what we call stigma, and stigma is dangerous.

Stigma is dangerous because it can cause individuals who are suffering with mental illness to remain silent, to feel as if it is their fault somehow or that it makes them a lesser person, to not seek help, to feel (more) desperate and frustrated, and potentially encourage them further towards self-harm and suicide.

And alongside stigma, are the myths that uphold it, a central one being that a person with mental illness can just “man up”, (which is also an example of unhelpful gendered language!) “pull themselves together”, and “get over it”. Oh, and don’t forget the claim that people who speak out about mental illness are just “attention seekers”, or “drama queens”. For the person on the receiving end of these comments, these assumptions can lead to greater desperation and frustration, especially if they fail to acknowledge the speaker’s ignorance and believe that they should be able to just “get over it”.

In order to eradicate this though we need to start calling-out media sources such as TV programmes, Soaps, Films, Newspapers and Magazines, and the general public about their portrayal of mental illness each and every time it re-enforces stigma, myths and stereotypes. That includes derogatory language such as “crack-head”, “nut-job”, “basket case” and “crazy bitch”.

If you want to read more about myths and stigma, check out this incredible source.

The other issue is that support for mental illness is difficult to get. I speak from my own experience and the experience of those closest to me only, but, even from my limited sample I can say that waiting lists for High intensity CBT (a type of therapy used to “re-train” the brain out of negative behaviour) and Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis (SARC) counselling for victims suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be 6-8 months or more. And that’s not just a 6-8 month wait supported by other counselling methods – that’s 6-8 months a sufferer has to spend without any other professional counselling because, as they are already “on the system” for one service, they cannot be entered on to the system for another service in the mean-time. If a sufferer has the ability to go private in the search of support then the wait may be less, but the cost definitely won’t be. Additionally, if a sufferer is at a University with a free counselling service, that is also an option, however the wait for an assessment is often 2/3 weeks or more and regular sessions are few and far between.

My reason in outlining this difficulty is not to exaggerate the desperation of the situation, because I think the facts surrounding mental illness and the available support systems do that for themselves. I also, in saying all this, don’t want to discredit the charities such as Mind, 42nd Street (Manchester) and many other organisations that are doing their best with the resources they’ve been allocated. But instead, I hope to show the gap.The Government are not allocating enough resources to mental health services; in fact funding to SARC provisions has recently been cut. For many victims, this could feel like a death sentence. If we are committed to taking mental health seriously in the UK then we need to provide more support for sufferers.

Confronting mental illness also means accepting that addiction is a mental illness. Having lived extremely close to addiction for most of my life I can promise all those skeptics that addiction is not a choice. Regardless however, the affects of addiction in all its forms impacts further on an addict’s state of mental illness, be that plummeting low self-esteem – feeling unworthy of life, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, physical self-destruction, hopelessness, shame, isolation and loneliness, anxiety, depression, and/or anger.

This is such a difficult topic to round off because I have so much more to say, and so much more I will say when I have more time to write. I want to leave this post however, on a hopefully more positive note. A friend who is both aware of my struggles with mental illness and has experienced mental illness themsef told me about a mindfulness practise they do every day in an attempt to re-gain control over their mental state.

Now before I explain, I want to recognise that, if you’re rolling your eyes thinking “oh great, another self-help tool pretending mental illness is all about mind[over]matter”, I totally understand. I too, am fed up with people pretending it’s that simple, but I want to also recognise that nobody endorsing mindfulness said it was simple. Mindfulness is a meditation-like practise that aims to help one be in the moment, with awareness and acceptance, and ward off negative and destructive mind-wandering..eventually. And I say eventually because in order to actually achieve the benefits of mindfulness, it has to be practised every day.

A counsellor once told me it can take years for mindfulness techniques to come naturally to the person practising them, and that’s what initially put me off. My desperation and impatience meant I completely dismissed mindfulness as a method of coping with my mental illness. If I’m honest, I still haven’t got into a routine of practising every day, but I will do. In fact, the practise I’m about to re-tell to you which was advised by my friend, I haven’t even got round to doing yet, but I’m going to start today, so without further adieu, I invite you to start today too.

‘Make the day, then rate the day’

At the beginning of your day, write down three things you’re looking forward to – your lunch, seeing a friend, attending a certain class/lecture, leaving work, going to the gym, walking your dog, watching TV?

Then at the end of your day, rate the day based on the things you enjoyed. Make a list of the best bits, even if they’re tiny bits.

The trick is to reflect on past days, and look back at the moments you’ve enjoyed in order to help you look forward to future days, as well as focusing on what went well today. The whole process should make you more aware and improve your ability to recognise positive experiences as and when they happen.

I can’t promise it’ll change your life, although my friend claims it might, but I’d definitely advise heading to google and finding out what mindfulness practise might work for you.

Either way, I hope you have a great day.

For more information on how to portray mental illness appropriately, click here.

For ideas of how to support people experiencing mental illness and the campaign to end silence over mental illness in general, visit Time-To-Change, Mind.org, and Rethink.org.

To find out how to get support for your own mental illness, visit the above websites and/or your GP.  If you’re in the UK, the following helplines are also available.

Hozier ‘Take Me To Church’ – Meaning

So I finally got round to watching the video to Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’ and ended up in tears.

If you haven’t seen it, it depicts a young gay male couple going about their relationship until a group of men (who reminded me of the depictions I’d seen of the Klu Klux Klan) equipped with weapons, break into their home, or one of their family’s home, attack the father and drag the son (one half of the couple) into a near by woodland area where, it is suggested, he will be tortured/murdered/burnt to death upon a ready-waiting fire. The other half of the couple is seen running through the town towards the scene, and eventually watches their partner on the ground being kicked by the aforementioned group of men.

As a young gay female, this entire video was incredibly difficult to watch, partly because hate-crimes are a realistic threat to the entire LGBTQI+ community, and something many of us live subconsciously and consciously in fear of, and partly also because I am so bloody sensitive – I feel everyone’s pain (even when its fictional) as if it were my own.

Anyway, I decided to do some research into why Hozier put that song, and that video together and I found this. If you’re interested, it’s a quick video but really worth a watch. Hozier explains that the video is a comment on the current situation in Russia – the successful “campaign” to make homosexuality illegal- and the consequential rise in hate-crimes such as the ones depicted in the video.

Whilst I’m not a resident of Russia and am therefore not affected by this change, the reality that the way I live my life is classified as illegal in several countries across the world is terrifying, and a stark reminder that LGBTQI+ politics still has so far to go until we can truly claim we have achieved worldwide recognition, respect and equality.

I realise that sounds a tad emotive, and maybe at bit OTT to some, but people are being tortured and dying for doing what I do every day, and they will continue to unless we collectively keep pushing for change.

Rant over.

Happy Tuesday All.

Consent: Not actually that complicated

This is amazing and explains the issue of consent perfectively.
When I’m not longer campaigning my socks off, I’ll be back to discuss this further.

rockstar dinosaur pirate princess

http://kaffysmaffy.tumblr.com/post/780535517 http://kaffysmaffy.tumblr.com/post/780535517

A short one today as my life is currently very complicated and conspiring against my preference to spend all of my days working out what to blog. But do you know what isn’t complicated?


It’s been much discussed recently; what with college campuses bringing in Affirmative Consent rules, and with the film of the book that managed to make lack of consent look sexy raking it in at the box office. You may not know this, but in the UK we more or less have something similar to ‘affirmative consent’ already. It’s how Ched Evans was convicted while his co-defendant was not – and is along the lines of whether the defendant had a reasonable belief that the alleged victim consented. From the court documents it appears that while the jury felt that it was reasonable to believe that the victim had consented to intercourse with the co-defendant, it…

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A person with a disability, or a disabled person?

Ok, so whilst trudging through the Western feminist reading, I got distracted again, and here I am with more stuff for you to read.

The article I’ve just linked you to is Lisa Egan’s perspective on why she considers herself to be a disabled person rather than a person with a disability, and how that configures in relation to the argument that claims the label ‘disabled’ is essentialist and derogatory, in that it aims to define the entirety of that person.

As I am not disabled I have no opinion on which term is better, but I think its important that Egan’s perspective is considered, especially for the really interesting insight it gives into the sociological medical/individual models and how they contribute to naming, but also, how shit our society is at not disabling people. The example Egan gives: that most of the London tube stations lack ramps or lifts, in a society claiming to treat all its members equally, is really telling.

After speaking to one of he Disability Liberation Officers at the UoM, one of my priorities as Diversity Exec at the Uni (a role I’m currently campaigning for by the way), is to confront the Uni about the lack of touch pads for opening doors across campus, and even in assisted living flats! I was disgusted when I was told this was still a reality for disabled students/students with disabilities, and I really hope that even if its not me making the changes, that this issue is prioritised and seriously tackled by the elected Exec team.