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Interview: Paris Lees | So So Gay magazine

As the flagship issue of META – the UK’s first magazine written for and by the transgender community – has hit the electronic shelves, we wanted to catch up with its creator and Editor-In-Chief, Paris Lees.

Quite the chameleon, Paris Lees has made her name as an activist for transgender rights – a strong-mouthed member of Trans Media Watch and a freelance journalist for DIVA magazine, however this is the first time that she has been given the seat of power in any of her roles. So when we asked her if it was scary, we were astounded when she said, ‘It’s just exciting more than anything, and it’s not as if it happened overnight. We’ve been working the project for almost a year now, and the first issue only came out last week, so I’ve had time to get used to the idea. It’s also been a huge learning curve for me, and I couldn’t have done it without such a fantastic team around me’.

If you have read any of her blog you will know that she is quite the wordsmith, which is why she regularly gets asked to contribute to various publications, but did she have any advice for other trans writers trying to break out? ‘Just write, write and write’, she told So So Gay, before adding, ‘it’s not an easy industry to break into, so you have to be prepared to work hard to start off with’.

Getting into activism as a result of discovering the online trans community and discovering inspiring people like Christine Burns and Stephen Wittle, she remembers, ‘feeling this keen sense of injustice, and making a promise, to myself, to spend the rest of my life trying to make things better for people like me’, she never regrets her moves in the activist circles, telling us, ‘It was the best decision I’ve ever made’.

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Exhibition Review: Greens of Greenwich (Linear House, London)

Rating: ****

It’s not easy being green – and Greenwich is greener than most. But despite its fame for royal parks, regency extravagance and the home of longitude, Greenwich is still a town like many others in London; quiet and modest.

Photographer Tom Dingley had gone around photographing parts of Greenwich with a simple mission to capture the various shades of the colour green that lurk in niches or maraud scenes. The collection – consisting of 14 large prints and several collages of smaller photos – brings together an anthology of landscapes showcasing the silent lives of the great and the green.

Dingley’s style has a great eye for depth and angle. But what really marks this collection is a subversive playfulness, often daubed with a little melancholy. It’s this humour and observation across various degrees of greenness that keeps you coming back to each work. Every time you see a little bit more, and realise a deeper story and meaning to what would otherwise seem just like an ordinary arty photo. One with particular charm is the dented road sign of the road on which the gallery sits, with green mould gathering on the fence behind. Also there’s the boarded up ice cream shop in green, sitting dilapidated next to a stately green door to a town house.

Being a local makes it an even more interesting visit. As Dingley extrapolates and re-contextualises sites around Greenwich, it causes people to look at their familiarity in a different light, and sometimes make oddly obvious realisations that they had not done so before. We overheard one patron remark, ‘I’ve known that place for years. But I never really thought of it as being the colour green, despite the fact it always has been!’

However, the weakness of the works is that they work too well as an exhibition rather than individual photos. As alluring as each picture is, the charm is mostly in the  juxtapositions and comparisons across the entire body of work. It seems a shame that the works are being sold individually. But while it’s still there in its entirety, it’s well worth a detour for any visitors – and a surprising and eye-opening outing for seasoned Londoners.

Greens of Greenwich is on display at Linear House, London, SE10 8RS, until 25 March 2012. Entrance is free. Follow Tom Dingley on Twitter @TomDingleyPhoto.

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Music: The Ones to Watch 2012 | So So Gay magazine

January is traditionally the time for everyone to wet their knickers over new music acts who intend to ‘slay’ the year ahead. Creating a shortlist of 10 who we genuinely thought were any good turned out to be an impossible task, so you’ll have to make do with 5.

 

 

Lana Del Rey

All hail the Queen of Lips! Since officially making YouTube go ‘BANG’ loud enough to hear from space with the ‘Video Games’ video, she hasn’t really stopped. it would’ve been easy to write off (real name) Lizzy Grant as 2011’s biggest one-hit wonder except for the small matter of everything she’s done since being bloody brilliant. Spot-on faded Americana imagery aside, there’s something refreshingly simple about Lana of the low, low vocals. Her album might be out at the end of the month, but something tells us we’ll have Born to Die on repeat for most of the year.

 

Willy Moon

After being given ubiquitous end-of-year ‘Look at this chap!’ pre-hype hype, New Zealand’s Willy Moon seems to have disappeared off many critics’ radars. But with his own distinctive brand of 1950′s rockabilly-meets-modern production, he can hardly be accused of lacking originality. Never seen without suit and brylcreemed hair, there’s something rarely exciting about him, a  new male pop act who seems neither bonkers or pretentious who in his own words ‘At the end of the day what I’m trying to do is entertain.’ We look forward to a full Moon.

‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ by Willy Moon

 

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Interview: Mommie Dearest | So So Gay magazine

If there’s one thing that gets on our tits about boybands it’s their constant dreary trickle of macho, especially as we all know, most boybands are at least 25%  homosexual (it’s the law). But what about a boyband where the party is more likely to end up in darkest Soho and you’re liable to wake the morning after with amnesia covered in glitter? Enter Mommie Dearest. Taking themselves about as seriously as the Flat Earth Society should, Sam, Lulu and Tom don’t appear to have much of a business plan asides from spreading chaos and camp wherever they go. Which suits us perfectly. So So Gay went to meet these crazy cray chaps.

 

SSG: So how was Mommie Dearest formed? Did you guys know each other from before?

Sam: Well me and Lulu had known each other for about 2 years and then we decided to hold auditions where we found Tom. We put out a lot of adverts on Facebook and asked around our friends.  It was lots of fun holding the auditions!

Lulu: We were  looking for someone who was a dancer as well as a singer. It’s also one of those things where when someone walks into the room you somehow clock who’s immediately right.

Tom: I was picked because I was the best!

 

As opposed to the more ‘rugged’ boybands out there like JLS and The Wanted, you’ve decided embrace a slightly more ‘glamorous’ side.

Sam: I think we wanted to be something different from the start.  We didn’t want to be the new conventional boyband.  The Wanted are good at what they do but it’s not what we’re about.  I don’t think any of us would be able to pull that of anyway, I mean look at us!

Lulu: We’re too…’out there’ for the straight boyband look.  I also think there are so many boybands already that are doing their thing. It was about doing what was ours.  We want to show how you can still be in a boyband without fitting the traditional mould.

 

What made you choose the name? Are you fans of the camp classic?

Sam: We decided on the name over our first dinner together.  Lots of names got jotted down over that eventful evening before we came up with the name based on things we’d watched and enjoyed.

Lulu: It’s a very camp, tongue-in-cheek movie and that suits us perfectly!

All three: No wire hangers!

 

If you had to sum up Mommie Dearest in one word, what would you pick?

Sam: (cackles) Just one word? I’d have to say…’wonderful’!  If I wasn’t being serious I’d say ‘awful’!

Lulu: I’d say…’different, yet indifferent’!

Tom: I don’t know it’s so hard! I’d say ‘In your face’ but that’s three words so I’d just have to say ‘face’!  Our tagline is probably ‘Run and hide while you still can!’

 

Apparently Louis Walsh is a fan of you chaps…

Lulu: He is? That’s great, especially if you think of all the acts that he’s worked with Westlife, Boyzone… Jedward…

Sam: Maybe with the gap in the market we can steal Westlife’s fans.

Tom: All of the screaming Mums and Nans!

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Be my Valentines | So So Gay magazine

‘Today, I had a nightmare in Tesco trying to buy Valentine Day cards. I had to face a pink and red wall screaming ‘Be Mine!’ at me. In the end, I went for blank cards, to be able to convey my own message and represent myself and my relationships on my own terms.’

This week, across the world, millions of people will have (willingly or grudgingly) trudged off to their nearest luxury gift store/service station and forked out the minimum or maximum that tradition dictates they should each February 14. This is costly and difficult enough to get right with one partner, but what about with several?

Alongside mainstream society, many people will have been showing their appreciation towards their several partners. And that’s not including clandestine two-timing. Once the preserve of hessian-wearing hippies, polyamory today is a growing movement of sexual liberty. Arguably one of the last remaining societal taboos, Western culture largely doesn’t seem to mind if two consenting adults of any gender hook up, but if outside of that relationship there are others? Unthinkable!

Greg*, a 24 year old working in retail has been with his two male partners for 2 years and 18 months retrospectively. The first of his partners, although not polyamorous is ‘Open-minded’ about the situation and they both feel ‘equally valued, but most importantly, separate.’

Does he keep his relationships secret? ‘At work, of course. I don’t think it would go down particularly well at staff parties if I were to bring alternate partners! But my friends and family are important to me because they’re accepting of the people I care about.’

The message of polyamory, contrary to misconceived greed mostly seems to be that while everyone is individual and able to make other people happy, but in their own way. The myth of there being ‘The One’ who is going to sweep you off your feet can be demoralising for people who feel fulfilled in some ways within a relationship, but not in others. For those who it works for, polyamory is simply a way of getting the most out of life with those who are right for you.

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My top charity: Diabetes UK | So So Gay magazine

After being discharged from hospital, we were pretty much on our own. There were six-monthly checks with the diabetes clinic, and our GP was always available at short notice (one of the benefits of rural living) but being the only person we knew who was diabetic was extremely isolating, both for myself living with the condition and my mother, caring for me.

Diabetes UK is a national charity, set up to provide information and fund research into Diabetes. As well as some extremely comprehensive information packs and regular members magazine full of advice, guidance and diabetes-friendly recipies, they have a network of local support groups. The nearest one to us was 30 miles away but was run by a dedicated, caring group of friends who made those first months and years much easier for me and my family. Meeting other families going through the same issues as us lifted a massive weight, and for that I’ll forever be grateful – and have continued to be a paying member into my adulthood.

Diabetes UK has recently launched a support group for gay and lesbian people living with diabetes in London. For details, contact the chairperson Paul Doyle on 07400 848 181.

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I Will Marry You – Super cute video from Italy | So So Gay magazine

few months ago the entire internet was moved to tears by Australian video ‘It’s time’, promoting equal marriage rights. Now, it’s the Italians doing it for us.

Arcigay is an organisation promoting equal rights in Italy, running local groups to disseminate information, advocacy and campaigning

Let us know what you think of this video in the comments, a perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

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Marcus Collins releases video for début single Seven Nations Army

Marcus Collins releases video for début single Seven Nations Army

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You should know about… Happy Endings | So So Gay magazine

‘The new Friends’ is a tagline that gets applied to several new shows every season, but very few ever live up to those dizzy heights. Following a group of six friends in Chicago, Happy Endings doesn’t quite do it, but it could be the closest we’re ever going to get.

The series opens with quirky blonde Alex leaving childhood sweetheart Dave at the altar. The rest of the wedding party consists of Alex’s sister, down to earth Jane, and her husband Brad; Dave and Brad’s mutual best friend and central gay character Max and Alex’s bff, the delightfully off-beat and totally a-mah-zing Penny.

Max is everyones favourite gay character on TV right now, more realistic than anyone we’ve seen in eight seasons of Will & Grace. He’s not camp, needy, or overly buff. He’s the kind of gay I wish all my friends were more like. When he falls for the perfect guy towards the end of the second season, you’ll be cringing at Max trying to find his flaws and end it with Grant, but this show is full of surprises.

And there’s Penny. She should be the most annoying character with her habit of shortnening words (a-mah-zing!) and falling for a new Mr Wrong every single episode, but she’s a firm favourite. As established in one of the first episodes, she IS the stereotypical gay-best-friend. And her mother is Megan Mullally! What’s not to love?

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Matthew Mitcham warns Tom Daley on managing expectations | So So Gay magazine

Team GB diver and gold hopeful Tom Daley enthralled the nation with his LMFAO parody video recently, but his trainer was less keen, warning Daley that he needed to train three times as hard to keep up with the Chinese. Daley hit back stating that he trains hard, says no to the majority of invites and expectations should be lowered. Now he’s getting advice from the only openly-gay gold winner Matthew Mitcham who tells tom he ‘can’t have his cake and eat it‘.

Mitcham says ‘He does have a lot of pressure on him and I do feel a little bit sorry for him. But that’s what we do and that’s what a mature, experienced athlete does – they compete with various different external factors – environmental factors, pressure from within and pressure from outside. It’s the mark of a really good athlete.’

We’re already torn over who to cheer on during diving this summer – home grown Tom who we’ve seen evolve from awkward teenager to tanned strapping hero or the out-and-proud Mitcham who hasn’t let comments about his sexuality stop him from attracting top sponsorships and endorsements (not least from everyone’s favourite underwear brand, Aussiebum).