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Stonewall publishes its 2012 list of LGB-friendly employers | So So Gay magazine

Today, as So So Gay continues its month-long focus on careers, Stonewall has published its Top 100 Employers 2012 index. This annual list showcases Britain’s best employers for LGB staff, and there are 25 new entries who have made the cut this year.

While the full results won’t be announced until tonight’s official ceremony, Stonewall has revealed that global professional services firm Ernst & Young tops the list, with the Home Office and Barclays coming in second and third respectively.

Among the new entries this year is MI5, who secure a place within the top 100 for the first time. Such a high presence of new entries could be down to the fact that this year’s index was revised to ensure entrants met the most demanding criteria to date, including the introduction of a new weighting system for global employers that recognise worldwide LGB support.

The Index – which is based on a range of key indicators each year – included a confidential survey of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees this year, with over 7,500 participants responding. These criteria consistently confirmed that the satisfaction levels of gay staff were paramount at the Index’s highest-ranking organisations.

Other winners include global management consultancy firm Accenture, who claims the Employee Network Group of the Year award; while the Department of Energy and Climate Change has been recognised at the Most Improved Employer. The Individual Champion of the Year award goes to Bill Payne, the former Chief Executive of Metropolitan Housing Partnership.

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You Should Know About… Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan | So So Gay magazine

It might make me somewhat biased, but I am something of an ambassador for Young Persons’ Fiction. In the last year alone I have been enthralled by Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant, Suzanne Collins’ epic The Hunger Games, and – most recently – both of Patrick Ness’ glorious, award-winning offerings: the superb Chaos Walking trilogy, and the achingly beautiful A Monster Calls. But it was nine years ago when my love for YP fiction was first ignited, after I stumbled across a hardback copy of David Levithan’s (he who co-wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) debut novel, Boy Meets Boy.

YP Fiction works best when it transcends the genre. It shouldn’t matter that a book was published for seven to nine year olds, or the 14+ age bracket: the reality is, a truly great book is able to interest everyone who picks it up: the kids who grab a sneaky read of it before bed, the adults who read it to them (and get their own kick out of doing so), or even, in this case, the adult who finds it in Waterstone’s, quiet unexpectedly, and falls madly in love with it.

While all of the books I have mentioned above are capable of doing this, none have done it for me as much as Levithan’s. I now read Boy Meets Boy at least once every year.

In its simplest form, Boy Meets Boy is a love story. There are no vampires or werewolves (Twilight) or the presence of ghost, ghouls, demons, aliens or monsters: something that young person’s fiction so often relies on (as well as the powerful imaginations of its young readership). It is simply set in modern day America, in a town described by the narrator as ‘not really having a gay scene or straight scene’ because ‘they all got mixed up a while back’.

And, hey, if you can believe in Edward Cullen, why not suspend belief for long enough to allow that kind of place to exist in a Republican-ridden, Tea Party-crazed nation? I assure you, you’ll be very happy you did.

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My First Kiss – On The Buses | So So Gay magazine

I had waited until university to come out properly, so it’s fair to say I was something of a late bloomer. Furthermore, despite my university campus being awash with performing arts, dance and drama students, there was actually a complete lack of gays. In my graduating year alone there were only four gay guys (me included). As such, my love life at university relied heavily on social networking sites (some things never change); but in a pre-Grindr era, it was necessary to actually go for a coffee and a date before we ran the risk of seeing each other’s appendages.

Through my university paper I had managed to secure a couple of tickets to a gig of a quasi-cool band, circa 2003. I decided this was perfect First Date territory, and invited this one guy I had been talking to for a few weeks to join me. He was totally keen.

On the night he was waiting for me on a bench with a notebook, looking like Ryan Phillippe in Cruel Intentions. Suddenly, I was transformed. I was Reese Witherspoon.

The gig was amazing. We stood near the front, he – being taller – standing behind me, letting me lean against him as we danced and sang along to a set we both knew inside out. We even introduced ourselves as ‘boyfriends’ to one Superfan (with pink hair) who took a particular shine to us.

In the end we had to leave the gig early so that he could get the last bus home. In those days, the bus station of my university town was a run down shack. By 11:40pm, it was deserted. As we stood waiting for his bus, he dragged me around a corner, pulled me close and kissed me.

It was long, lingering kiss that meant something. It was a thank-you-for-a-good-night kiss. It was a see-you-soon kiss.

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Doctor Who Series Seven filming starts this week | So So Gay magazine

As geeks (yes, we admit it) and as gays (all hail Russell T.) we are big Doctor Who fans, so we are thrilled to report that filming for the new series of the Doctor’s adventures started in Cardiff this week.

We already know that this will be the last series to feature current companions  Amy Pond and Rory Williams (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill), so what do the creators have in mind for their final voyage with the Doctor?

Last week, the BBC confirmed that Being Human creator Toby Whithouse and Torchwood regular Chris Chibnall would be writing episodes for the new series, so it is safe to say that we can expect stories full of suspense, horror and humour throughout Rory and Amy’s last series.

Matt Smith, who returns for his third series as the Eleventh Doctor, has said that it’s ‘thrilling and exciting to be back and working with two of my closest friends.’ Karen Gillan, meanwhile, who recently wowed critics with her performance as Jean Shrimpton in last month’s BBC Four drama We’ll Take Manhattan, has said, ‘it’s just brilliant to be back in the TARDIS with Matt and Arthur for our craziest adventures yet.’

Guest stars already confirmed for series include Harry Potter stars Mark Williams and David Bradley and Sherlock’s Rupert Graves.

The series is also set to take a dramatic turn when the Doctor meets a new friend and we are being warned to expect thrills, adventures and dramatic surprises as the show builds towards its enormous, climactic 50th anniversary year. The series will consist of ‘fourteen big, blockbuster-movie episodes’, although it’s not clear whether these will be blockbuster in style or in length (we hope the latter!) We can also expect some new monsters and familiar foes as we’ve never seen them before.

In the end, of course, there’ll be just one question left to answer: what will the Doctor do after his heartbreaking departure from Amy and Rory?

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You Should Know About… Jonathan Harvey | So So Gay magazine

Falling in love with Jonathan Harvey is easy. In 1993 he premiered the iconic play Beautiful Thing, his gay love story set on a Thamesmead estate, which featured such memorable characters as the chain-smoking Sandra, hippy-dippy Tony, Mama Cass obsessive Leah and, of course, Jamie and Ste. The play won the prestigious John Whiting Award the year after it premiered, became a runaway mainstream success (it notably had a successful revival last year), and was finally turned into a movie by Channel 4 Films in 1996. The rest, they say, is history.

These days Harvey is most recognised for writing for Coronation Street, having been responsible for the creation of Corrie’s first-ever gay character, Todd Grimshaw, although he has gone on to write hundreds of episodes since. But it’s not all been fun-on-the-cobbles since Beautiful Thing: Harvey is also the man behind the Kathy Burke/James Dreyfuss cult sitcom Gimme Gimme Gimme, the book to the Pet Shop Boys musical Closer to Heaven, the hilarious TV adaptation of Simon Doonan’s Beautiful People and countless theatrical outings and award-winning plays.

Subsequently, as a writer, Harvey has been responsible for some of the most recognisable gay characters in modern pop culture. From Corrie’s struggling Grimshaw, to flamboyant factory worker/barman Sean Tully (Anthony Cotton) and his live-in boyfriend Marcus (Charlie Condou); from the camp-tastic slag Tom (Dreyfuss) in Gimme Gimme Gimme, to the unforgettably romantic and uncertain lovebirds in Beautiful Thing, Harvey’s characters have repeatedly helped to shape how we define ourselves as young people growing up gay.

I myself remember secretly owning a copy of Beautiful Thing on VHS when I was still unsure about my own sexuality. I would watch it with the sound turned down,

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My Favourite LGBT Actor: Zachary Quinto | So So Gay magazine

Let’s get something off the bat from the start. My choice for favourite LGBT actor is mainly based on aesthetics. While Zachary Quinto might not have made significant waves in either gay cinema, or in helping to fight the good fight for gay rights, he is gorgeous. There, I’ve said it.

Even as creepy, archetypal villain Sylar in the epic TV series Heroes, he had fans all a-twitter (calling themselves ‘Sylar’s Army’), and in J.J. Abram’s 2009 re-imagining of the Star Trek series, he – alongside the equally drool-inducing Chris Pine – successfully made tight-fitting lycra look acceptable when saving the world.

Then, last year, Quinto came out. At the time he was starring in an off-Broadway revival of Angels In America, the Pulitzer Prize winning play about living with Aids during the epidemic in New York. In an interview, Quinto said how, as a gay man, the story of the play resonated with him, and how he was thankful he hadn’t had to endure this period of our history first-hand. Despite constant speculation, this was the first time Qunito had acknowledged his sexuality.

His outing was largely praised by Hollywood, suggesting something of a turning of the tide when it comes to gay actors being taken seriously in leading man roles. For years, stars such as Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Johnny Depp have been plagued by gay and bisexual gossip, with insiders warning that openly gay actors can’t star in blockbuster hits. Just one look at the likes of Rupert Everett, one of Hollywood’s only openly gay mainstream stars, highlights such an issue. Everett’s resume is largely made up of roles playing the gay best friend, the comedic sidekick, or voice work in animated features like Shrek 2.

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Episode Review: Hit & Miss – Episode 3 | So So Gay magazine

Positives:

Gave us a glimpse into Mia’s life as a transexual and the things she has to deal with.

 

Negatives:

Yet another appearance from the unnecessary prosthetic.

 

Rating:

4.5 / 5 – Excellent

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Episode Review: Game of Thrones Season 2 – Valar Morghulis | So So Gay magazine

The second season of Game of Thrones has finally come to its end and after delivering a solid episode with plenty of twists and turns, we can honestly say that we will be waiting for season three with bated breath.

One of the things that we loved about the previous episode was the show runners decision to focus on one small area of the series, the battle of the Blackwater. But here in this extended episode they have returned to an ensemble cast as we see all the various plot stands tie themselves up for another year. What’s more, there has been just enough adjustments to the story to create a rich and well written experience which will please lovers of the book and newcomers alike.

In the East, Daenerys has gone to the House of the Undying, the headquarters of the warlocks of Qarth, to claim back her dragon children.However while she seeks to reclaim them she finds herself contending with visions of the future, and even more portents of things that will come. The vanquished Stannis Baratheon tries to reject the counsel of the mysterious red priestess, but her faith and her own visions of the future convince him of his own eventual victory. Meanwhile Robb Stark is threatening to destroy his own war effort by giving in to his feelings for the exotic Lady Talisa over his intended wife, and threatening his pact with the powerful Frey family. In the now victorious capital city, Tyrion has recovered from his battle wounds in time for Joffrey to announce his engagement to Margaery Tyrell and Petyr and Sansa plan to preserve their future. It was the action in the North that caught our attention as we saw Theon try to raly his men, before he is himself betrayed and the city of Winterfell is put to the torch by the vengeful northmen. Then we saw Arya and her motely band of friends journey out of Harenhall thanks tot he assistance of Jaqen who reveals his nature and offers her a new path and destiny. Meanwhile the two Stark boys, Rickon and Bran, find themselves almost completely alone in the world and left to find their own way in a cold and lonely world at war. Finally in the lands beyond the Wall, Jon sacrifices his oath to defend the realm, completing his fall from honour and the rise of his new destiny to fight the wildling men from within.

With all of the action taking place you could be forgiven for thinking that the overall narrative suffers from being bloated. However, it is a testament to the show’s producers that they were able to give everyone plenty of time and story development which engendered a lot of well delivered and emotional performances. We also said goodbye to some of the characters we came to know and love this season, while also saying hello to some new ones which help to show the series continuing and evolving potential. It was however the sight of one familiar face which made our inner fan-boy come to the surface and the return of the enigmatic white walkers to prominence which really made us jump up and praise this shows brilliance. It was also gratifying to show that this is more than just a series, but part of a continuing and complex saga that goes from strength to strength.

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Episode Review: Game of Thrones Season 2 – Blackwater | So So Gay magazineSo So Gay

Now this is the episode that we have been waiting for all season. After a promising start followed by a slightly confused pace, Game of Thrones finally lives up to the our high expectations and delivers a truly brilliant episode that we will remember for many months to come. By taking the focus and honing in on a single storyline, we are treated to a truly dramatic piece centered around the final battle of the Blackwater.

It is a credit to the show that even in this late hour we find ourselves uncertain which side we want to support. The battle between the forces of Stannis and Joffrey has been a long time coming and even as the show gets underway we felt a palpable tension that was hard to shake. Watching the preparations of the attackers and defenders was a truly stomach churning half hour of drama, as each side prepares for what could be their last night on earth. Tyrion takes on his role as the leader of the city’s defenses behind his sadistic nephew, while his sister Cersei is forced behind the walls of the stronghold and wait the invasion out. It was spectacularly gratifying to see so much time spent on just their stories, as each reacted differently to the coming battle, and watching them crumble and rise up to the challenge will stand out the highlights of this season.

Once the battle finally comes underway, and Tyrion’s plans for the enemy fleet are revealed, we could not help but be impressed by its simplicity and its effectiveness. The use of Wildfire was hinted at earlier in the series, but to seeing its use against the enemy makes the viewer realise just how far each side will go to win. Cersei as well began to suffer and as the pressure began to build we witness her to consider unthinkable acts to preserve the safety of her family. Her slightly drunken talks with Sansa this week also made for a spectacularly tragi-comic interplay, as Sansa came to realise she was looking into her own future should she become queen. It was Tyrion’s own rise to the rank of chief defender which saw the ‘imp’ truly come into his own. Peter Dinklage proved in season one that he had the tenacity and talent to portray such a nuanced and detailed character as Tyrion. However, seeing him make speeches to the men of the city, and calling them out for their fear was a brilliant and explosive moment which we will not soon forget.

The show’s bosses really scaled back on the multiple storylines this week, with all the action taking place in Kings Landing and the nearby sea. Rather than feeing like we have lost touch with the other characters, however, we were treated to a much needed game-changer of an episode. It made the most of the tension which had been building up this season, and created a little gem which reminded us that the show has a few more surprises in store before the finale. This focus also benefitted the characters this week and really hammered home the sense of impending doom and despair which the show has thus far been lacking.

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Album Review: Scissor Sisters – Magic Hour | So So Gay magazine

Positives:

The experimentation with a more mature style works well and manages to give some of the tracks a new and improved edge.

 

Negatives:

Some fans who were expecting the signature style they came to know and love may be disappointed.

 

Bottom Line:

3 / 5 – Above Average