The L Wire

News, studies, political and social commentary brought to you by our community writers - this is an area for education and debate.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why are pride events important and necessary?

Preface by Sofia Antonia Milone: Here at The L Project we get a lot of email and messages. This one projecteer wrote to me this week saying she really wanted to speak out, but that sadly she could not do so openly. I suggested she use our blog a tool, and she had some very profound thoughts to share with us all. Let's call her Lucy, and here's what she had to say:

'We all stand here united as our rainbow flags fly' - We're All Human, The L Project

It's amazing that L Project's new LGBT fundraising single We're All Human has been chosen as the theme song for the 10th annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17th. Hopefully being associated with this globally recognised day will see it fill the airwaves and spread its message of love and diversity further.

Sadly, days like IDAHOT still invariably see some of the same questions and opinions come up from people who think that such days shouldn't exist.

We're All Human become the official theme tune for IDAHOT 2014

Commenting on Facebook and the like makes me nervous; which is odd for someone who works in web; but since this is something I feel strongly about, I thought I'd retreat to the relative safety of The L Project’s blog to explain why I believe days like IDAHOT are still so necessary...

"Why don't we have hetero Prides and days?""Why are LGBT people so special?"
"I'm so bored of hearing about gay issues"

Well, it's about cause and effect...

No-one is being discriminated against, oppressed or is suffering as a direct result of being heterosexual.
People don't get beaten up for being heterosexual; they don't lose their jobs for being heterosexual; they don't get 'correctively raped' for being heterosexual; they don't get hanged for being heterosexual; they don't get burned alive for being heterosexual.

So there's quite simply no need for heterosexuals to band together and build awareness about the heterosexual discrimination, oppression or suffering. Such a thing does not exist.

I'm not saying these things don't ever happen to heterosexual people, but their heterosexuality isn't the cause.

On the other hand, there are many people who are discriminated against, oppressed and caused to suffer as a very direct result of being LGB or T. And they want people to know about it because they want it to stop, now.

Who wouldn't?

The only way that things ever change is if people know that they need to change.  And for people to know that, they need to be made aware. And that's one of the main things that LGBT days like Pride and IDAHOT do, they raise awareness.

Criticising these days is an attempt to silence that message. It's like sticking your fingers in your ears and loudly saying 'lalalalalalala' until the other person shuts up.  It's childish.  And it's the very reason the LGBT community and their supporters band together—to achieve safety in numbers and ensure that they are actually heard, because this is a message that must not be silenced.

And the message is getting out there; things are changing.

So if you're one of the people who dismisses or mocks days like Pride and IDAHOT; if you think they don’t matter or aren’t necessary; help increase the rate of change and bring these days to an end. Add your support and do something to remove the reason these days exist in the first place.

Join in, raise your voice and do something to bring an end to the needless discrimination, oppression and suffering still experienced by too many people on the grounds of their sexuality.

Who wouldn't?

"There are lots of other causes
that are more worthy"

You're right, there are a lot of causes, and that's a good thing. It means that there are lots of people out there trying to make the world a better place.

These causes can and will always co-exist. The world is just too complex a place to get everyone working on one thing at a time.

In the same way that several million people worldwide share a birthday (365 days in a year, 7 billion people…), we can share the days of the year to raise awareness for problems that exist which we can and will fix.

Joining one cause doesn't mean you don't support the others. Stop waiting for the world to be a neat and orderly place, because the time you spend arguing and procrastinating only allows things to become more chaotic. Pick something you believe in, jump in and make a difference; don’t wait for someone else to do it!

And when considering where to make a difference, remember that the issues faced by LGBT people are often the root cause of other social problems; homelessness, suicide and depression rates are all much higher for LGBT people. If we can stop LGBT discrimination, it really will be a 'two for the price of one' or better solution.

World Bank Study

"With these LGBT awareness days,you're trying to make everyone gay"

If that’s what you really think, you've missed the point of these days completely. They are not about making people gay or even about celebrating homosexuality, per se. In the same way that you don’t have to be black or from an ethnic minority to support Black History Month or be disabled to appreciate the value of Disability History Month, LGBT days and events should be supported by anyone who values LGBT people and believes that they deserve equality in all aspects of life.

Days like Pride and IDAHOT are about celebrating progress, highlighting existing injustices and embracing the freedom to be who you are without fear. These days are not about converting heterosexual and cisgender people to a different sexuality or gender identity. They are about converting supporters of discrimination, oppression and fear to supporters of equality, diversity and love. And they are about giving those who already believe in those things the platform, the tools and the confidence they need to spread the message further.

That's not so bad is it?


If you're interested in contributing to the blog you can apply to join the group here.

Watch and Share We're All Human
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Recording “We’re All Human”: A Projecteer’s Journey…

When L Project Coordinator Georgey Payne asked me to write about the weekend I spent in London recording the campaign’s second charity single, “We’re All Human”, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. That’s partly because when Georgey asks you to do something, you want to say yes. But it was mostly because I was excited by the prospect of taking fellow L Project supporters, or Projecteers, along with me on an adventure I knew would be special.

I wanted to do that because I still consider myself, first and foremost, to be an L Project fan. I fell in love with their first song as soon as I heard it and I absolutely share the campaign’s values and vision of a world that is free from bullying and discrimination.

When I first heard “It Does Get Better” in early 2012, I could never have imagined the journey that being a Projecteer would take me on. It’s the kind of experience I used to think only happened to other people.

There’s just something about The L Project; the way they deliver their message and interact with the community they have built; that sets them apart from other campaigns I follow. They have created an environment that makes people comfortable reaching out to them and this has helped me reach for my dreams. Through their blog they gave me the opportunity to use my passion for writing to speak up for myself and, subsequently, for others who feel the same. And now, by choosing me to sing on “We’re All Human”, they have given me the chance to use my voice and my love of music to help deliver a message I truly believe in to a global audience.

Unlike most of the singers on “We’re All Human”, my weekend in Dean St. Studios was the first time I’d ever stepped behind a microphone in a professional recording studio. A self-proclaimed “bedroom musician”, the closest I’ve come to playing a gig is singing few songs at an open-mic night in sleepy John o’ Groats. But what was apparent very quickly was that I was the only person concerned with my lack of experience. Sitting in the green room, surrounded by faces I knew from the first L Project video and people I’d paid to see perform at L Fest, I was immediately accepted and treated as an equal.

Nikki Lamborn and I taking a selfie in the green room

I’m not sure what I expected of the other artists before I arrived in London, but as someone more accustomed to singing to an audience comprising of a single pet tortoise than a crowd of admirers, I guess I was worried that there might be one or two stereotypical rock stars in the mix. The reality is I was surrounded by rock stars; the diversity of talent still blows my mind; but they turned out to be some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Not only that, but it was clear that every single person really got why it was so important to give up their weekend—their time, their talent—to be in that basement in Soho. Everyone was proud to be a part of something that would help others that really need it; like the young people struggling with their gender identity that are supported by one of the Project’s chosen charities, Mermaids.

The second charity to receive proceeds from “We’re All Human” will be the Russian LGBT Network. Russia has been on a lot of people’s minds recently and, by coincidence, the green room TV was showing the Sochi Winter Olympics when we arrived both days. It was interesting to hear why some people had decided to boycott the Games, whilst others thought it was better to watch and support LGBT athletes and visitors. What was most apparent, though, was that every single person was really concerned about the current situation overseas and was glad to be helping.

Having watched some “behind the scenes” footage from the first single I expected that, at some point during the weekend, I would shed a few tears. What I didn’t anticipate was that the majority of them would be from laughing so much.

When we weren’t required for recording, most of the artists and crew hung out together in the green room. It was great to see old friends reuniting and new friendships forming all around. The usual introductory handshakes were replaced by warm hugs and the immediate connection of a group of people coming together to do something for a common cause. Laughter filled the air almost the whole time. We laughed as we realised that most of us had missed our true calling as professional ice-skating judges, we laughed as Nikki and Been from Never the Bride recounted rock and roll tales from the road and we laughed as videographer Nicola Prestage encouraged us all to join her circus of fabulous (if not a little useless) talents. I was especially pleased to learn that the group felt my unique skill merited inclusion in Nicola’s esteemed troupe. 

But, amongst all the fun, the serious business of recording a song was also going on and, on the Saturday, that was all about the instrumentalists. This began with Georgey laying down a guide vocal and guitar track for the musicians to follow. It didn’t take long for drummer Ben Lambert to do his thing and he was followed into the studio by bassist Lorna Thomas. Lorna arrived at Dean St. after a long train journey and only a couple of hours sleep; having played a gig in Scotland the night before; and she immediately went into the studio and put down the bass like a true pro. It was then the turn of Catherine “Been” Feeney, whose beautiful piano section is one of my personal highlights of the track. After waiting patiently, Mandy Burton from Eeek grabbed her guitar and headed into the studio to record the rhythm section. Finally, it was the turn of lead guitarist Charley Stone and I was delighted to be asked into the control room to watch her at work. I felt a bit like David Attenborough, sitting and watching in awe as Charley, whose bands have included Gay Dad and Joanne Joanne, stepped into the studio and did what she was clearly born to do. A true rock star, she warmed up with some pretty impressive shadow boxing and then had us all in stitches as she writhed around on the control room floor playing the most epic air guitar to the track she’d just laid down.

The L Project musicians, L-R: Mandy, Been, Ben, Lorna and Charley

Thanks to some expert coordination from Georgey and Sofia, Saturday’s recording went like a dream. That left them and a few others some time to record extra percussion, in the form of shaky eggs and tambourines; which isn’t, apparently, as easy as it looks! There was even time for Been to head back into the studio and record on a special old instrument that many of the musicians had been admiring all day. One take was all she needed and everyone agreed that her last-minute contribution really added an unexpected and beautiful new element to the song. 

At the end of the first day, we all piled into the control room to hear a playback of the completed instrumental track. I loved the song from the moment Georgey sent me the demo, but I honestly couldn’t believe what a handful of incredible musicians; with the help of a very talented and patient studio engineer, Austen Jux-Chandler, and his assistant Johnny; had pulled together in a single day.

Our engineer for the weekend, Austen

Hearing how great everything sounded by the end of day one made me even more excited to get back to Dean St. and get behind the mic for myself the next day.

When those of us staying at the hotel arrived back on Saturday evening, we met up with vocalists Beth Prior and Andy Fawcett for a drink. Once again, the common bond between us and what we were doing that weekend made it feel far more like a reunion with old friends than spending time with people I’d only just met. Although most of us were tired from travelling or being in the studio, we chatted well into the early hours before heading to bed to rest up for another big day.

On Sunday morning, there was more meeting, greeting and reunions as the lead vocalists arrived at the studio. We were also joined by Natalie Adams, who lent her hairdressing skills for the day, and her wife Sam, who assisted head runner, Cookie Arnone, in looking after all of the artists.  

It’s quite an unusual experience, meeting people for the first time when you already know exactly who they are. It wasn’t so long ago I was watching Amber Taylor-Groves of Heads Hearts owning the stage at L Fest and now I was in a studio with her, making her laugh with my silly circus skill. It was great to find that, again, every single person was genuine and lovely and it really did feel like another day of being surrounded by good friends.

Sunday was all about the singing and the lead vocalists were split into three groups; giving us a rough idea of when we’d be needed. I was quite happy that I was in the final group; I thought that would give me the opportunity to see how the others got on and to put any nerves I had at bay; but that wasn’t entirely the case.  

I’m a bit of a worrier; that’s just what I do. And I suppose, in this case, it was only natural considering that I was in such a new environment and about to do something that really meant a lot to me. It was important to me that I thanked Georgey and Sofia for believing in me and I knew the best way to do that would be to sing as well as I could. I guess I was worried that I might not do that.

Thankfully, I was surrounded by an amazing group of people who kept me distracted with good conversation and generally by being hilarious. We all had a laugh as Emma Kavanagh, who sings alongside Georgey in Greymatter, listed her various sporting (and non-sporting) injuries and I had a good chat with Natalie as she took pity on my messy hair and made me look presentable for the first time in a long time. Mandy kept me smiling too as we chatted in depth about what it might be like to be a mermaid and, along with Skylar, we embarked on a lengthy debate about one of life’s more serious questions: who really is the best character in “The L Word”? 

What exactly were they looking at?!

But at around 2pm, still a few hours before I was due in the studio, I began to get a bit twitchy. I suddenly had the terrible thought that I might have forgotten how to sing. Mandy came to my rescue, though, by grabbing her guitar and taking Andy and me into a quiet room to have a run-through of the song. This was just what I needed as it helped to release some pent up energy and also reassured me that my voice hadn’t, as I'd feared, suddenly gone.

After a bit of a wander through Soho with Beth and Annelen Starefoss and a final run-through of the song with the last group of singers, I didn’t have much longer to wait until it was my turn to record.

When Georgey called me through to the studio, I felt ready. I still had butterflies in my stomach, but they were more from excitement than anything else and any final nerves I had disappeared when I found Kate Green and Nicola Prestage waiting for me in the recording booth. I would have thought that having lots of big cameras pointing at me whilst I was singing would be the most awkward and off-putting thing in the world, but the fact that those two were behind them made it feel like I was just singing to a couple of good friends. They helped keep me relaxed with words of reassurance and the odd inappropriate comment thrown in for good measure. What was most important, though, was that I totally trusted Georgey and Sofia to tell me exactly what they needed me to do and I knew that they wouldn’t let me out of the studio until they felt I’d done that. Georgey made me really visualise the meaning behind my lines, which meant that I was able to deliver them with the emotion they deserved. I’m not sure how long I was in the studio for; that part is a bit of a blur; but, before I knew it, they said I was done. Kate, who was also the official photographer, took a few headshots of me and then I headed into the control room to have a listen.

I always thought people were just posing when they held onto their headphones!

One thing I’d never really considered about the filming and recording process was how tirelessly the people you don’t often see in the finished product have to work. Nicola and Kate, from production company Tiger Features, didn’t stop for two whole days as they filmed the official music video. The same can be said for Victoria Pratt, who filmed constantly to bring you all a “behind the scenes” insight to the weekend and also interviewed all of the artists with the help of Eeek’s Lucy Burton. They all worked flat out and did so with big smiles on their faces. And whilst most of the artists got to go home and relax afterwards, the videographers’ job of editing had only just begun.  I can’t wait for the final edits to go online and look forward to seeing some gems that I missed (which I hope include Hartley’s “Whitney” moment!).  

Victoria ended up on both sides of the camera! 

As I sat in front of Dean St Studios’ massive mixing desk with Sofia on my left, Georgey on my right and Helen (the studio cat) behind me, I couldn’t do anything but stare straight ahead. I knew that if I looked at any of them I was probably going to lose it. When we listened back to my lines and they asked if I was happy, I wasn’t really sure. It was the first time I’d ever heard my voice recorded properly and the whole thing was a bit overwhelming. But the more we listened, the happier I became and I knew that Georgey and Sofia must have been happy too or else I would have still been behind the microphone. I was the last person to sing before dinner and I waited for the studio to clear so I could have a minute alone to compose myself. In the blur of it all, I didn’t realise that Lucy and Emma were still in there with me. When I looked up, Lucy was standing in front of me with tears in her eyes and, as soon as I saw that, I had tears in mine too. They both gave me hugs and said lovely things, which was amazing, but that made me cry even more!

By the time I was finished recording and had pulled myself together a bit, some of the choral singers had arrived at the studio. Seeing another bunch of new faces reminded me that we still had the group chorus to record and, now that my solo lines were done, I began to get excited for that. Whilst the last of the lead singers recorded, I chilled out in the green room and got chatting to Louise Herbert; who L Fest fans will know better as Sherbs. She was there to support her fiancée, Stacey Donohoe, who joined us for the choral section.

Listening to Louise talk about their engagement and seeing first-hand the love they share really epitomised for me the reason we were all there. It’s the same thing I saw as I watched other couples interact over the weekend, or that I felt when I overheard Tom Guest talking about his engagement. It was all love and it’s the kind of thing that everyone deserves the right to experience. Regardless of where people are born or who they choose to be with, they deserve the right to have a family; the right to establish a home; the right to live an authentic life without discrimination or judgement. 

There we all were, around forty of us across two days, gathered together to do something good for people we’ll probably never meet and yet we’re exactly the people that almost 80 countries still criminalise because of the way we were born. The fact that we were even able to gather together to try and make a difference means that we’re the lucky ones. I hesitate from saying “we’re all normal”; I’m not convinced that exists; but what I will say is that the message of our song is true—“We’re All Human”—and we deserve to be treated as such. The same goes for the people we’re raising money for.

Once the last of the choral artists arrived, we all squeezed into the control room to let them hear what we’d been working on for the past 48 hours. This was also the first time I’d heard my vocal as part of the whole track, which was both exciting and nerve-racking. Everyone agreed that the song was sounding incredible; better than any of us could have anticipated. The way the range of voices—from Alex Reizos’ hauntingly beautiful first line, to the passionate delivery of West End performer Peter Caulfield and the raw rock edge of Nikki Lamborn—blended with the diversity of the instrumentalists took the track somewhere I didn’t know it was possible to go. I also felt really honoured that Georgey had chosen me to sing a particularly special line and was happy that it went down well with the others.

After the playback, the choir headed into the studio and tried to work out a logical place for us all to stand. This, at one point, involved six-foot tall Beth standing (much to her disapproval) on a box behind Emma and I; two of the shortest people in the whole group. But we soon got it sorted and the singing could begin. The studio became extremely hot with so many bodies in such close proximity; to the point where I began to regret donning my uber-fashionable and patriotic tartan blazer; but thankfully we all made it through without incident.

Georgey had the tough task of ensuring that we were all singing the same thing at the same time, but she’s a complete pro and after a few takes—in which she encouraged us to dig deeper and sing louder each time—we nailed it. There were many more laughs and memorable moments during the group recording and the limits of my comfort zone were tested yet again as we shot the end of the video. One of the main things I took away from that weekend is how even the most impossible of things can seem easy when you’re surrounded by a group of people that you know support you completely.

The L Project choir

It’s difficult to be objective about something when you’ve been so immersed in its creation and when you believe in it so deeply, but, after a final playback with the chorus included, I left the studio in no doubt that we had produced something really special. If the love and effort we put into the song translates across to the listener, as I believe it does, you really are in for a treat.

As most of us headed our separate ways, I had to say goodbye to many people that, over the course of a day or two, I had come to consider as friends. It’s amazing what a special bond can be created in such a short time when people come together with a common goal and I really hope that most of those goodbyes were actually just see you laters.

As the hotel crew headed back to Blackfriars, most of us were experiencing a heady mix of exhaustion and adrenaline. Putting our tiredness aside, we decided that we deserved a celebratory drink. I didn’t expect any of us to last long, but somehow (okay, it might have been the shots) we seemed to find a second wind. It didn’t take long for the singing, dancing and terrible puns to start and, before we knew it, it was 4am and we were being politely asked to leave the bar. Not because we were causing a disturbance, of course, but because the staff had to set up for the “early bird” breakfast!

On Monday morning, checking out meant saying goodbye to more people; including Georgey and Sofia; to whom I owe an awful lot. They’ve been a big part of what has become the most special time of my life and they have given me opportunities I never thought I’d get. I’m grateful to Sofia in particular for welcoming me into the blogging group from day one and guiding me through some of the most unexpected and overwhelming moments of my life. They both give up so much of their time, energy and talent to run The L Project; they do it with limited resources and they do it whilst holding down jobs. For this project alone, Georgey wrote the music and, along with Sofia, co-wrote the lyrics and brought together the most incredible group of artists and crew. Georgey also secured sponsorship and coordinated transport and accommodation for everyone involved. They both spent the whole recording weekend in the control room, directing and supporting every artist, as well as singing themselves. Their work didn’t stop when we left the studio either. Georgey will be heading back to London to finalise the mix at the end of this month, then they both have press-releases and promotion—perhaps even some live performances—to organise. Sofia has been busy creating all of the amazing “We’re All Human” artwork that you see online and was even working on that in any spare time she could grab in the studio.

The L Project uses a heart as their logo and Georgey Payne and Sofia Antonia Milone really are the beating heart of the whole thing. I’ve no doubt that they’ve touched more lives than they will ever realise. Mine is just one of them. I’m proud to be involved with The L Project and I’m proud to call them my friends.

Being a part of this project has been the best experience of my life and this is just the beginning…

Soon it will be your turn to become a part of the song’s journey too; by listening to it, downloading it and sharing it far and wide. Not only will you be sharing a fundamental truth that, really, we ARE all human, but every time you do, you’ll be helping The L Project raise money for other humans that really do need our support.

- Julie Price

The L Project's second charity single, "We're All Human", is scheduled for release on May 4th 2014. Keep up to date with all the latest news about the song on Facebook and Twitter.

You can follow Julie Price on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The L Wire's Review of 2013: December

Although ‘tis the season to be reading or watching A Christmas Carol, the opening line to another Dickens classic seems more appropriate.

In terms of LGBT+ rights and visibility, December really has been the best of times and the worst of times.

Have a look at our final review of 2013 to find out why…

Desperate times for LGBT+ rights in India and Uganda

There were protests in India as the country’s Supreme Court overturned a 2009 decision that decriminalised gay sex. This meant that consensual acts between two people of the same sex would once again be punishable by a period of imprisonment.

Campaigners and politicians alike aired their grievances with this step backwards and the India government has now filed a petition to have the decision overturned once again.

As we enter 2014, this story is one that I’m sure many LGBT+ campaigners in India and elsewhere will be keeping a close eye on.

Protester in India (

And going from bad to worse, the grave situation for LGBT+ in Uganda was compounded as the country’s anti-gay law was passed this month.

Not only does the Anti-Homosexuality Bill make being gay a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment, it also legislates that it is a crime to not report those known to be homosexual. That means that parents are expected to report their children, friends are to report their loved ones and doctors to report their patients.

In essence, the Bill calls for the complete isolation of LGBT+ people. It withdraws any legal way for them to look after their sexual health. It’s a violation of countless human rights and has been described by Barak Obama as “odious”.

As leading Uganda gay-rights activist Frank Mugisha put it: “I am officially illegal”.

Activist Frank Mugisha (

The Bill has yet to be signed into law by the President but is widely popular in the country and expected to be signed in the near future.

I’m certain that this will be another story that dominates LGBT+ news in 2014. In the meantime, I’d recommend everyone to watch “Call Me Kuchu”; a documentary that gives a heart-breaking insight into what it’s like to be a gay Ugandan.

A tale of two (more) coming out stories

Our review of January included two of 2013’s most noteworthy coming out stories and December saw two of its own.

The stories of Tom Daley and Maria Bello are not only significant because they are well known, but also because of how they chose to do it.

Tom Daley promoting his TV show, Splash! (

Each did it in their own words; Tom in a YouTube video and Maria in a New York Times column. What seemed to strike a chord with many in the LGBT+ community is that they did actually come out as anything other than two people in love with people of the same gender.

Whilst that didn’t stop a number of reports designating labels to them, it reignited the debate on whether such labels are always going to be necessary. I think that the experience of falling in love with someone quite unexpectedly or over an extended period of time—as Tom and Maria described—are closer to many people’s realities than the “waking up gay” epiphany that many people out-with the community expect us all to have had.

Maria Bello (

I’m sure that both Tom and Maria’s stories will have helped others to understand their own feelings a little better and to realise that it’s fine to choose labels for yourself, but that you shouldn’t let anyone else place them on you.

You can read a blog I wrote about Tom Daley coming out here.

December: The month of equal marriage

The “month of equal marriage” award could pretty much have gone any way this year. Not a month went by without a significant piece on legislation being either introduced or passed somewhere in the world.

It seems that December crept in at the last minute to claim the crown.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news. It started off so well in Australia, with 27 same-sex couples marrying in the first few days that the Australian Capital Territory passed a law at local level. This was short-lived, however, as the High Court in Canberra ruled the law to be incompatible at a Federal level, and therefore invalid.

And with that, the rights gained by those 27 married couples became invalid too.

Thankfully, there was better news elsewhere. The UK Government announced that March 29th 2014 would be the first date for same-sex marriages in England and Wales. Some couples have already bookedceremonies at a minute past midnight in the hope of being the first couple with equal marriage rights in the UK. 

The UK Government's "save the date" announcement (

And in the last week, all eyes interested in marriage equality have been looking at the United States.

On December 19th, equal marriage was legalised State-wide in New Mexico. Although this was celebrated, it didn’t come as much of a surprise as some counties within the State were already conducting same-sex marriages.

A day later in Utah, things were quite different. When Judge Robert Shelby ruled on Friday 20th December that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional on the basis that it would have no adverse effect on heterosexual unions, he caught many couples off guard.

As the word began to spread, couples met at government buildings across the State in scenes that the New York Times described as “joyful chaos”.

Queues of couples circled floors of Government buildings (

Seth Anderson and his partner Adam Ferguson became the first same-sex couple legally wed in Utah. Using the power of social media, Seth invited the whole world to his wedding by live-tweeting the story as it unfolded.

Seth and Adam; the first same-sex couple married in Utah (

On Monday morning, Judge Shelby made a second ruling. This time he denied a stay which would have seen marriages halted until a full appeal could be heard by the court. This meant that, until that appeal happens, same-sex couples can continue to get married in Utah.

The question of what the legal status of these marriages would be if the appeal should be accepted has been raised. I am by no means an expert in American law, but I do know that when same-sex marriages were legal in California and then banned again, those who got married during that six-month window maintained their legal rights as a married couple in the State.

At least one bride got her "white wedding" (

Perhaps this is why so many couples are currently queuing outside official buildings across Utah as I write. For many people, the dream wedding involves tuxedos and puffy white dresses, five course meals and a fortnight in the sun.

But for many gay and lesbian couples, the idea of getting married is a dream in itself.

And that’s why seeing these couples getting married in their work clothes or in shorts and t-shirts is just as beautiful, if not more, than the fairy-tale weddings we see on TV.

The smiles say it all (

Check out Buzzfeed’s "45 Moving Moments From The First Days Of Marriage EqualityIn Utah" for more brilliant photos from the events unfolding in Utah.

Students stand up (and sit down) for equality in Seattle

Our review of the year ends with a bitter-sweet story from Seattle.

The bitter part is that Mark Zmuda, a gay high-school teacher, lost his job after the school’s management learned he had married his partner. In doing so, he had contravened his contractual obligation to “uphold church teachings”.

The sweet part is how the student at his school, Eastside Catholic High School, responded.

Hundreds of students staged a sit-in in the school’s cafeteria and assembly halls, refusing to go to class and calling for “Mr Z” to be reinstated.

Students stage a sit in (

Word soon spread and students from a neighbouring Catholic school began their own protest in support.

The school’s position on the matter was that their hands were tied as they are governed by the Archdiocese of Seattle. A spokesperson for both the Archdiocese and the school said, “This has nothing to do with gay people. The fact that he was gay has nothing to do with this issue. It’s the fact that he entered into a same-sex marriage.”

Statement from the school (

One of the schools pupils was quick to point out the contradiction of the Catholic Church not recognising same-sex marriages, but recognising them just enough to force a man from his job.

Clever kid.

Banners of support for Mr Z. (

This story epitomises one of my favourite things to emerge from so many of the LGBT+ stories that have happened this year, and that is the fact that young people are turning out to be some of our best and most outspoken allies.

Long may that continue in 2014 and beyond...

That's a wrap for our LGBT+ review of 2013! I hope that everyone who celebrates it has a very merry Christmas and and happy 2014! I wonder what it has in store for us all...

What were your favourite LGBT+ moments of 2013? And what were your personal highlights? Did you come out? Get married? Do something life-changing? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Julie Price on Twitter, @JuliePee

The L Wire's Review of 2013: November

November brought with it further progress in the equal marriage front as Hawaii and Illinois became the 15th and 16th American states to legalise same-sex marriage and Scotland’s Bill passed its first vote with a large majority.

It also saw campaigning organisation All Out launch a thought-provoking video ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics and Stonewall launch a campaign about homophobia happening closer to home.

Both of those, and more, will be examined in our review of…

“All Out” release a sad imagining of Sochi Games

All Out released a video this November that re-imagined a familiar scene from many previous Olympic Games. An athlete wins gold and wishes for nothing more than to celebrate with their partner who's watching in the crowd.

But what happens when that person is of the same sex and the games are taking place in a country with homophobia written into its laws? This:

The video me goose-bumps the first time I watched it and I’ve got them again now.

At the end it asks “What if living your dream meant living a lie?” and that’s a question that’s familiar to a lot of LGBT+ people; athletes in particular, I'd imagine. We saw back in February that Robbie Rogers felt unable to unite his identities as a footballer and a gay man and that led to him taking a break from the sport.

Perhaps the situation that is expected in Sochi is even worse though. Some people choose not to disclose their sexuality for whatever reason, and that's their choice. But in Sochi, athletes who have accepted their sexuality, who are out and who have brought their partner along for support are being forced, by law, to publicly deny their own identity and to deny who it is that they love. 

No one should have to pretend to be someone they’re not and love is not something that should be hidden. It’s sad and frightening to think that, were that video to be a glimpse into the future; a glimpse at the Sochi Games; that single moment of love between those women could see them both sent to prison.

Stonewall sets the meaning straight

Lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, Stonewall, have become increasingly well known for their slogan “Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!”. It’s been seen on t-shirts, posters and even on the side of buses.

November saw the charity launch a new campaign: “Gay. Let’s Get Over It!”. The campaign aims to tackle the increasing use of homophobic language in schools. The terms “That’s so gay” and “You’re so gay” are now commonplace is British schools; according to Stonewall 99% of young people have heard such phrases and only 10% said that teachers intervened every time it happened. Whilst it might be the case that there is not always malicious intent behind the homophobic words, 84% of the young gay people questioned said that hearing such phrases caused them distress. 

One of the new campaign's posters (

And that's why this kind of campaign is so needed. 

Stonewall have been reaching out to 2,500 schools across the country and providing them with toolkits on how to challenge the use of such language. These include a series of posters challenging the use of the word gay as an insult. With the campaign in its earlier stages, it's a bit early to gauge any success, but the campaign is both necessarily and timely and will hopefully have as big an impact as their eye-catching posters.

Grammar lesson + anti-homophobia ad. = dream come true (

And, as the next story shows, casual use of homophobic language doesn't end in the classroom…

James Arthur criticised for using homophobic slur

Musician James Arthur was criticised in November for using homophobic language in a track he posted online following a Twitter spat with a rapper.

James Arthur (

Many Twitter users, including some famous names, were quick to criticise Arthur and his derogatory use of the word “queer”. Arthur apologised, categorically denied any homophobic intentions and took the track down soon after. But the thing with the internet is that what happens on it tends to stay on it.

Just when things seemed like they had started to settle down, fellow X-Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan posted screenshots of text messages sent from Arthur asking why she’d publicly criticised him. He said that it was a bit “over the top” to claim that people kill themselves on a daily basis due to homophobic language and asked whether she’s spoken out because she was a “gay rights activist”.  

Lucy Spraggan (

Following this, Spraggan posted a statement that clarified that she didn’t consider Arthur to be homophobic and never had, and I’m inclined to agree. People pull the "I can't be homophobic, I've got gay friends" card all the time, but, having seen Arthur interact with a number of gay contestants on X-Factor, it never crossed my mind, even during this incident, that he might actually have an issue with homosexuality.

I don't think that everyone who uses homophobic language and phrases such as "that's so gay" is actually homophobic in the true sense of the word. I think they can be ignorant and in need of a vocabulary lesson or two, but they don't necessarily bear ill-feelings towards LGBT+ people.

The thing that straight, non-homophobic people need to realise, though, is that if you choose to use the language of our bullies, then you may as well be one yourself. If you're not fighting with us, you're fighting against us. And allies don't keep quiet; they treat the fight as though it's their own.

I hope this incident has helped James Arthur, and those who've made similar comments, realise how powerful, and hurtful, their words can be. Every single LGBT+ person I know is thankful to our straight allies. Our numbers are relatively small and that makes it difficult for us to gain equality on our own. We need our allies to set a good example and to challenge those who don't make the grade; whether that’s in the classroom, the workplace, the pub or even at home.

And, trust me, we really appreciate it every single time you do.

Viral video show kids reaction to same-sex marriage proposals

In our reviews of September and October we saw two same-sex couples getting engaged in style.

In November, Fine Brothers Productions gathered together a few kids, let them watch both videos, filmed their reactions and then asked them a few more questions on the subject. The results, which have been viewed over 10 million times, are definitely worth a watch:

I was amazed at how articulate and clued up these young people, aged between five and 13, were and thought that some of the analogies they come up with were just gold.

Being realistic for a second (which I sometimes do), this was filmed in California and was obviously done with parental consent. It’s unlikely that any parent with strong anti-gay views would let their children be involved in such a project in the first place. Even still, the majority of these kids seem to get it and, not only that, they were, on the whole, able to justify why they felt the way they did.

Even if there is still that one kid saying “it’s bad to be gay” (although he doesn’t seem to know why), I think we can take hope from the fact that these children are our future adults and, some of them at least, will be future parents. These are the people who are going to make an individual's LGBT+ status as much of a non-issue as their eye colour.

Take the statement, “Even though that’s not my problem, I’ll still fight for it if I can.” 

You'd expected it to be attributed to a great civil rights hero, but it came from a polka-dot wearing pre-teen girl with a red ribbon in her hair.

Isn't it amazing to think that those two might actually end up being the same thing?

Can you believe that tomorrow is our final review (and also Christmas Day!)? With so much happening this December, I’m going have to cram it all in like I’m stuffing a turkey! Happy Christmas Eve, y'all!

What were your favourite LGBT+ moments of 2013? And what were your personal highlights? Did you come out? Get married? Do something life-changing? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Julie Price on Twitter, @JuliePee

Monday, December 23, 2013

The L Wire's Review of 2013: October

October saw The Independent newspaper publish it's annual "Pink List"; comprised of 101 noteworthy LGBT figures from the worlds of broadcasting, sport, politics, entertainment and beyond.

To find out who topped the list and for more LGBT+ stories from the month, read on...

Paris Lees breaks new ground

October was all about Paris Lees.

If you haven’t heard of Paris yet, she’s a magazine editor, columnist, TV/radio presenter and equality campaigner. She's written for Diva, Gay Times and The Guardian amongst others and has presented programmes for the BBC and Channel 4.

In many instances, she was the first openly transgender woman to do so.

And October saw her continued to break down barriers by topping the Independent’s annual “Pink List”.


The award, which was decided by public nominations and a panel of judges, was given to Lees for her role in fighting for transgender rights and, in particular, for her work in challenging the media to improve the way in which they report on trans issues. Rather than just calling out individual columnists or publications when they get things wrong (whether deliberately or not), Paris works with organisations such as All About Trans to liaise directly with them to improve their understanding and, hopefully as a result, their future reporting.

She also made history in the same month by becoming the first openly transgender panellist to appear on the BBC’s flagship debate show, Question Time, since it began broadcasting in 1979 (before Lees was even born). Reaction to her contributions, both from the studio audience and those at home, were widely positive, but what was even more significant was the fact that an openly transgender person was finally given a platform on such a high-profile show.

I hope that the ground that Paris Lees has broken this year paves the way for more trans people to make their voices heard in 2014.

(Grand)parenting: You’re doing it right (part three)

Parts one and two saw parents getting it right when it came to their kids coming out. Part three sees a parent getting it totally wrong and an awesome grandparent stepping up to the plate.

The letter, first shared by FCKH8, is written from a father to his daughter, Christine, who has apparently kicked her son out for being gay.


In the response to the mother’s assertion that she didn’t raise her son to be gay, the grandfather wrote:

 “Of course you didn’t. He was born this way and didn’t choose it any more than he being left-handed. You however, have made a choice of being hurtful, narrow-minded and backward. So, while we are in the business of disowning our children, I think I’ll take this moment to say goodbye to you.”

Once again, the authenticity of the letter has been questioned as the family haven’t come forward. But as with the similar letter posted in March, the hope that such an amazing response from a grandparent can exist, even when a parent reacts badly, would have undoubtedly helped people.

I guess it also goes to show that not everyone who’s homophobic learns it from their parents.

"Unromantic" girlfriend's bus-top proposal

Our review of September saw a gay couple getting engaged during a family flash-mob at Home Depot.

Not wanting to be outdone by the boys, October saw a video of a women proposing to her partner in equally original style go viral (although the event itself took place back in July).

When Alissa Haslam was called out of a meeting at work due to a "disturbance" outside her office window, the last thing she expected to find was her partner, Jeanne, standing on top of a bus across the street. But there she was, accompanied by many of their friends and even a brass band, and she had a very important question to ask.

The video of Alissa getting the surprise of her life has since been viewed well over a million times on YouTube:

Perhaps the best thing about Jeanne's proposal is that, just the night before, the couple had been discussing romance and Alissa "told her she wasn't romantic". I guess that would have made the surprise all the sweeter!

Did you watch both proposal videos? Did you have a favourite? Drop us a comment! Check back tomorrow for a look at November (the year's almost over!) and in the meantime you can catch up on the first nine months here.

What were your favourite LGBT+ moments of 2013? And what were your personal highlights? Did you come out? Get married? Do something life-changing? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Julie Price on Twitter, @JuliePee