A collection of stories inspired by the lives of gay men in Wales. Funny, poignant and ultimately revealing.
What I set out to do in writing these pieces was hold up a mirror . Gay mens lives are largely hidden from view in Welsh society and because of this hiddenness all sorts of myths and misconceptions are peddled about our lives about my life. I wanted to show, through brief glimpses, the very ordinariness but also the extraordinariness of the lives gay men lead today. I wanted to show the homophobia that pervades Welsh society and I wanted to suggest some of the ways that individuals overcome such prejudice. I didnt want to write about victims, but about men who are strong and who get on and make the best of their lives in hostile circumstances.
Two of the stories are about young men in their teens. Through a piece of work that I did in 1996/1997 with a group of gay and lesbian teenagers at the West Rhyl Young Peoples Project I came to the very painful realisation that despite many gay characters in soaps (including the soap opera at Westminster) that seem to have played a role in fostering greater understanding and tolerance, life as a gay or lesbian teenager in rural north Wales was as awful as it was when I had been a gay teenager in rural north Wales at the beginning of the 1970s. The politics of Section 28 and the governments unwillingness to define a sex education curriculum that is statutory leave gay and lesbian teenagers amongst the most vulnerable to sexual exploitation and leave teachers (even the most sympathetic) uncertain of what they can say to the gay or lesbian young person who seeks their counsel. Little is done to develop the self-esteem of gay and lesbian teenagers in school settings and little is done to address homophobic bullying in school settings.
I suppose I wanted this collection of stories to give insight, but also challenge us in Wales to think about what kind of life we would want for a gay son or a gay brother, a gay friend or a gay neighbour . I hoped that the gay men reading these stories would see aspects of their own lives reflected back to them, and perhaps go some way to helping them articulate their own experience of being gay in Wales . I hoped that the non-gay readers of this book would ask themselves how they might be (unwittingly) participating in the homophobia that is so pervasive, and how they might come out as gay friendly.
John Sam Jones