Camping this bank holiday weekend might have been slightly optimistic as five of us huddled close around the open camp fire trying to stay warm once the sun went down, leaving frosty sub zero temperatures. Conversation turns to what we’ve been up to, plans ahead; next Sunday is the Stonewall Equality Walk which takes place annually in Brighton. We discuss who’s planning on taking part.
“The thing is, I just don’t like ramming it down people’s throats; raising money for gay things” says one of the women, there are nods of agreement from the others.
As someone who has been active in the Brighton LGBT community, both working and volunteering for its’ many charities and groups, as well as my current employment being with the Institute of Fundraising, I find this viewpoint disappointing, but not unfamiliar.
As I pointed out in a previous blog, Raising Funds for LGBT Charities, just ask any of your friends who they are running, abseiling, swimming for, or some other fundraising challenge and you’re unlikely to hear it’s for an LGBT organisation, with the view expressed around the campfire shared by many of the LGBT community.
Yet this leaves our LGBT organisations vulnerable. MindOut, Switchboard and Sussex Beacon nearly closed in 2012, and Pride changed from being a charity to a business in the same year in order to remain operational. The small charity sector which includes nearly all of Brighton’s LGBT organisations, is still heavily reliant on statutory and grant funders; but this has increasingly become a smaller pot of money available and the competition for it, ever higher.
For sustainability, small charities need to diversify their income through fundraising, but this seems to be an even bigger challenge for LGBT charities. As I questioned in Is apathy killing our LGBT Communities? it’s a sad fact that as LGBT individuals the majority of us do not seem to be as loyal to LGBT services, don’t seem to care in fact if they exist at all and general apathy prevails. May be, because we fail to see the value of these services if we are not using them ourselves and do not know those who are or how we, are benefiting from them?
It’s ironic, that on the same day we are discussing who is taking part in the Stonewall Equality Walk next Sunday, the press are full of stories about the UK culture secretary Sajid Javid blocking the Lib Dem equalities minister Jenny Willott from attending the EU summit in Malta to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. This means the declaration against homophobia to be signed by 11 EU countries at that summit, will not be signed by the UK.
LGBT organisations need to get better at engaging with their LGBT communities, so they see the value of their services and understand who and how they are helping, but LGBT individuals also need to recognise that we should all be more pro-active in raising awareness of ‘gay things’ and being a voice for LGBT rights and equality, the organisations enabling this and the fundraising money that is needed by them.
Last week Zhoosh popped along to the Metropole Hotel, to hear more about this years hugely successful Rainbow fund presentation.
The Rainbow Fund was initially set up to raise funds for Brighton’s AIDS Memorial. Since then the Rainbow Fund has been working in partnership with a host of fundraising organisations including Brighton Pride who ring-fenced £1.00 from every ticket sold which this year helped raise over £41.000. Additional supporters to the project who helped raise funds include: Bear-Patrol’s, ‘Bear Weekender’, Legends, Tony Chapman, Queens Arms, A-Bar, Charle’s Street, David Raven, James Ledward, The Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus and many more, helping raise funds for the Rainbow Fund Project to over £46.000 pounds.
Over the last 12 months, volunteer groups and projects from the LGBT/HIV community have been encouraged to put their proposals forward, with The Rainbow Fund putting these requests through a stringent process to ensure that the money raised truly help the groups progress and help develop the individual organisations further.
This years groups that benefited from the funds raised were:
- Allsorts - £5000 For a youth engagement worker to support the Transformer Group for young Trans* people.
- Clare Project – £4640 to extend their psychotherapy and speech therapy sessions Trans* people.
- Brighton Gems – £4000 towards support cost for befriending & support work for older gay men.
- LGBT community Safety Forum - £7000 towards hate crime advocacy.
- LGBT Switchboard – £2500 towards clinical supervision for counsellors.
- Lunch Positive – £7000 towards food, venue hire and lunch club running cost for people with HIV.
- MindOut – £7000 towards peer support groups and housing advice for people with mental health issues.
- Peer Action – £5000 for health and wellbeing activities for those living with HIV.
- Sussex Beacon – £4000 towards a new occupational therapy project.
The remaining funds were earmarked for a feasibility study to develop a funding needs assessment of all LGBT organisations, the service they provide and their future grant needs.
The amazing Lola Lasagne was on presentation duties, along with a host of well known faces from Brighton to present the grants to the groups. Individuals from each of the groups took to the stage to talk a little about how the grants awarded to their group is so important and what a difference it will make in the coming year.
All in all, it was a fantastic evening which helped celebrate how amazingly generous the Brighton and Hove’s LGBT community and LGBT/HIV voluntary sector is. For more information on how to donate to the Rainbow Fund or to apply for LGBT/HIV groups to apply for a grant more information can be found at www.rainbow-fund.org
1960’s Gay men, criminals, sailors and carnival folk; no that’s not the guest list to a Brighton gay bar, but those most likely to have a tattoo from that era. These days it seems the word and the Prime Minister’s wife now sport a tattoo of some description.
While trolling around Preston Park during Brighton’s fantastic Pride, it became evident that the LGBT community, continue to embrace skin ink art and then some; me included.
When I moved to Brighton, my mates, Dave, Rob and I all agreed we would get a sun, tattoo. I duly went off and got one while my mates never did; but I didn’t care, I was hooked.
Now, the first thing people ask about tattoos is, does it hurt? Put it this way, you have a single needle punching your skin, nineteen to the dozen, or a bunch of needles when the tattooist is filling the piece in with colour, so that is going to cause some pain. Some areas are more painful than others, tattoos on the bone or where there are lots of nerve endings (stomach, inner thigh) is going to be more painful than say your upper arm where there is more flesh.
The second question people ask is, aren’t you afraid your tattoo is going to look odd when you get old. The simple answer is your skin is going to look a bit odd when your older; in my opinion a tattoo helps remind you of your past key events.
After my sun, tattoo I balanced it off with a crescent moon. Some weeks later I decided on whim to get a Buddha tattoo. This is the third lesson about getting a tattoo. Never rush into getting a tattoo. I didn’t check the guy’s other work, I just picked a design and assumed he would do a good job; he didn’t!
Time passed and a new tattoo shop opened on North Road, called Angelic Hell. The one room premises was ruled by a fierce Hells Angel tattooist, called Natasha who gave me my Devil’s head on my back. I loved her work, but she hit the road and so I shopped around. This is the fourth lesson; ask mates who have had a tattoo, where they went and what the person was like, what kind of designs do they love doing; after all it makes sense that if your thing is Celtic Crosses, you’d want someone who adores tattooing that style of design. Also, visit tattoo parlours for yourselves, and have a chat with them, tell them the sort of thing you would like and ask to see their work. The most important thing is that you like their style of work and you get on with them. Just as important is to ask about their hygiene practice. A professional tattooist will be proud to show you his Health Department registered Certificates and awards, along with their sterilisation and needle/equipment disposal system; if they don’t, go somewhere else.
I eventually found a guy called Wurz, from Tattooing at Gunpoint on Victoria Terrace, Hove. Wurz I found out loved skulls and roses, we were a perfect customer/tattooist match. Together we have recreated our own version of Dante’s inferno, tapping into my love of symmetric design, playing with opposites, light and dark, water and fire, death and life, (skull & heart chakra below)
At present I’m saving up to have my sleeve finished, I love my Vision-On (1970′s kids programme) style tattoo that reads, Carpe Diem (it really does mean, “Grab the Frisbee”).
I have been seeing Wurz off and on for the last couple of decades and gradually filling up the spaces on my skin. Be warned, tattooing can become very addictive.
With Kate and Wills naming their new baby, George, we here at Zhoosh thought it only fitting that we should celebrate our own family Georges. so without further ado, here’s are top five iconic Georges.
5. George Passmore (half of Gilbert and George)
George Passmore first met his long term collaborator, lover Gilbert Proesch, back in 1967 at Martin’s School of Art in London (Central Saint Martins) where they both studied sculpture. Put off by what they considered the confines of elitism of sculpture taught at St. Martins, the duo decided to create a piece of art to challenge the conceptions of, “What is art?”
Their first piece of living art which they titled, The Singing Sculpture consisted of them standing on a table, dressed in their now iconic conservative suites shirt and ties while dancing and singing along to Flanagan and Allen’s, Underneath the Arches. From that day on Gilbert and George decided to present themselves as ‘living art’, 24/7, 265 days of the year. Their style of art has been scoffed at and parodied ever since; particular by French and Saunders in their brilliant sketch, “Muriel and Maddie”.
However, Gilbert and George’s The Singing Sculpture, should be seen in the context of its time. What Gilbert and George done was to break from the restraints imposed by convention and made people question art rather then have it preached to them what the establishment considered art to be.
They would then follow up this performance with a collection of arresting black and white images, framed within their distinctive black lines. The majority of Gilbert and George’s images are taken around the East End of London, which has been their home most of their lives together. A mainstay of their art has been to provoke a reaction, be it using images of skinheads, or that if an Asian man with the word, ‘paki’ scrawled below it.
As they progressed with this form, they began to add colour to their work, along with images of themselves sometimes acting quite eccentrically, naked and even having six foot images of their own turds as part of their ‘naked, shit’ collection. Of course, this once again caused much controversy, particularly to readers of the Daily Mail.
To dismiss the works of Gilbert and George without seeing their art work in the flesh, so to speak, is to give their work a disservice. Their exhibition at the Tate modern in 2007 was a stimulant to all the senses and something that should be experienced before rejecting their art as nothing more than, well… a load of shit.
4. George Takei
For his legion of fans, George Takei will be forever known as Hikaru Sulu, from the iconic sc-fi television program, Star Trek as well as starring in six Star Trek movies. George Takei has also appeared in numerous cult television programs, including: Supah Ninjas, Heroes and the controversial episode of the Twilight Zone: The Encounter, in which George Takei plays a young Japanese-American named Arthur Takamori who encounters a racists American WWII veteran named Fenton who together locked in an attic. With no escape, both men begin to make confessions. On Fenton’s part he confesses to the murder of a Japanese soldier, even though the the soldier had surrendered and disarmed. Takamori in turn confessors that his father’s actions helped kill a group of American soldiers.
In 2012, George Takei starred in : Allegiance – A New American Musical. The story centres around a World War II Japanese American internment. The project was of particular significant to George Takei, as he and his family had endured much suffering while captured inside one of America’s internment camps during the Second World War.
It is without doubt that the experience of the internment camps, led to his lifelong commitment to speak out for equality, particularly when it comes to issues around the LGBT community. Over the years George Takei has taken to the airwaves on The Howard Stern Show (which he makes regular guest appearances) to speak out on issues of Homophobia via his involvement with groups, Frontrunners and The Coming Out Project.
George has also appeared alongside his long term partner, Brad Altman (whom he married in September 2008) as the first same sex couple in USA television program, The Newlywed Game, in which he won the prize of$10,000 for their charity, the Japanese American National Museum.
There will be those who will scoff at his appearance on such a show. But in a time where homophobia and racism is still a huge issues in the USA, the fact that George and Brad appeared as a committed gay couple, on a prime time family program would have had a positive impact to many of his fans and viewers of that program.
Finally, George has embraced the power of the social media, particularly Facebook, using the platform to not only bring a smile to his legions of fans, but to spread the word on race and LGBT equality.
3. George Michael
Back in 1981, a fresh faced George Michael (dressed as if ready for a night at the Coleheme in a studded leather biker jacket, tight jeans, biker boosts) with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley and backing singers, Pepsi Demacque and Shirlie Holliman took the charts by storm with their song; Young Guns (go for it), Wham Rap and Bad Boys. From here, Wham would go on to dominate the charts, both in the UK and across the world with hit after hit including; Club Tropicana, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Freedom (the video famously filmed in Beijing, to coincide with Wham’s historical tour as the first Western band to play in China.)
Wham would continue their success with ever popular songs such as the Christmas mainstay, Last Christmas, I’m Your Man and Where Did Your Heart Go? By now the rumour mill was rife that George was planning to leave the success of Wham behind and give his all to his solo career, after having huge hits previously with, Carless Whisper and A Different Corner.
1987 saw the release of the critically acclaimed album, Faith. No doubt George Michael’s people took a leaf from previous performers who knew the power of a controversial video (Duran Duran’s, Girls on Film, Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax) would not only get banned, but also then talked about with millions of people wanting to be part of the controversy. With this in mind, George and his publicity machine created the video, I Want Your Sex. The video had an extremely sexy, Kathy Jeung in little more than stocking, suspenders and a basque getting up close and personal with George. The video and great song would cement George’s reputation as one the decade’s hottest sex symbols.
Faith would go on to produce another five top 20 hit singles in the UK, including, Faith, Father Figure and the beautiful ballad, One More Try, (which was also covered by George’s mate, Hazel O Connor). Faith would go on to be critically acclaimed both the UK and the USA.
When George Michael released his next album, Listen Without Prejudice, he decided not use his image in any of the album art work or appear in any of his promotional videos. The video, Freedom 90, had George’s iconic Rockers Revenge embossed leather jacket and Juke box used in his previous video, Faith burning to a crisp and blown up. This gave a clear message that ‘Sex Symbol George’ would not be the driving force behind this album, but his ability as a first class lyricist should be the thing he should be known for.
At this same time George Michael had not come out publically about being a gay man, but revisiting his lyrics from the single, Freedom 90, there are perhaps some clues of George wishing to discard the image as a macho heterosexual he portrayed in the Video, Faith once and for all.
I think there’s something you should know
I think it’s time I told you so
There’s something deep inside of me
There’s someone else I’ve got to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Take back your singing in the rain
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man
Although Listen Without Prejudice started well, each subsequent single released entered at a lower entry in the chart, with the final UK single, Cowboys and Angels failing to enter the top 40. This would be the beginning of the end of George’s relationship with the record company Sony, with both parties blaming each other for the albums lacklustre success.
It would take another six years before George released his next studio album, Older. Within this time George had met and lost the love of his life, Anselmo Feleppa, who had died from a brain haemorrhage, complicated by his AIDS diagnoses. The song, Jesus to a Child, was written with the loss of Anselmo in mind. In contrast to Jesus to a Chid, the second single, Fasterlove, was all about instant sexual gratification from whomever. Both Jesus to a Child and Fasterlove both went to number one. album seeing George coming back to his iconic best, with a further five UK singles being released, including: Spinning The Wheel, Older and You Have Been Loved.
The years that followed would be a little chaotic for George to say the least. On the 7th April 1998 George was arrested by an undercover policeman after ‘engaging in a lewd act’ in a public toilet. With his sexuality as a gay man no longer a burden, George released the brilliant song/video, Outside. George was also able to speak openly about be his past relationship with, Anselmo Feleppa and his then present partner, Kenny Goss. Over the last fourteen years George has perhaps been in the headlines more for his private life then as his ability as a first class lyricist and singer.
But With George celebrating his 50th Birthday on June 25th 2013 we here at Zhoosh are celebrating George’s fantastic contribution to music and can’t wait for what this talented George will be brining to the music charts next.
2. Boy George
Thank goodness that Mr and Mrs O’Dowd decided to call their son George Alan, rather than the other way round. Somehow we think that Boy Alan, wouldn’t have had quite the same impact as Boy George has had over the last few decades.
It is also a great relieve that Malcolm McLaren rejected Boy George to be the lead singer in the group, Bow Wow Wow; leaving George to instead finding himself friends with Jon Moss (whom Boy George would have an extremely turbulent love life with), Roy Hay, and Mikey Craig. As a collective the group first called themselves the rather radio/TV unfriendly, Sex Gang Children. Somewhere along the line the group looked at themselves as a mixed collective of types, Boy George (Trans Gender, Jon (Jewish), Roy (Anglo Saxon) and Mikey (Black British); together they made up Culture Club.
The first time Boy George appeared on Top of the Pops, many viewers were unsure if the soul singer was male or female, leading to the tabloids to coin the phrase, Gender Bender. At the time the charts were dominated by the New Romantic Movement with the likes of Steve Strange and Annie Lennox pushing the boundaries of how gender could be presented and manipulated.
Literally over night Culture club were dominating the world with Boy George clones (mainly girls) screaming to see their idol. In the early days Boy George was very coy about his sexuality; knowing just as George Michel did that in those days, coming out as a gay man could seriously damage your music career. Boy George would famously say that he preferred a cup of tea to sex, but we can’t help thinking that such practice would have made his knob sore.
As Culture Club, Boy George would release four Albums: Kissing to be Clever, with singles, Kissing to be Clever (a song written about Boy George and John Moss’ relationship), Time (Clock of the Heart) and I’ll Tumble for Yah. Their second album, Colour by Numbers would eclipse the success of their first album and also include a string of hits, including, Church of the Poison Mind, Karma Chameleon, Miss me blind, Victims and Miracles.
The next two albums, Waking Up with the House on Fire (which had the dreadful single War Song, which in turn was parodied by Spitting image with the much more entertaining, War is Naughty) and From Luxury To Heartache (single release Move Away).
In those four short years Boy George had become a huge icon who fell from a great height when two of his close friends, Michael Rudetsky and Mark Vaultier both died of a drug overdose. Around this time Boy George was also rumoured to be addicted to drugs. The combination of these tragic events and the last two albums failing to ignite the same enthusiasm from the earlier albums, culture club disbanded.
After a well documented account of Boy George’s addiction to Heroin and subsequent battle to kick the drug, Boy George would go on to have a successful solo career; including the brilliant, Everything I Own, Crying Game and the political song, No Section 28 which although commendable, was as dreadful as the War Song.
Since then Boy George has gone on to have huge success as an international respected D.J., released two autobiographies, Take it Like a Man and Straight, as well as penning the semi-autobiographic musical: Taboo.
These days Boy George is off the drugs, lost a shed load of weight and is embracing his fifties with all the gusto and enthusiasm that saw him rise to successful acclaim when he first hit the underground scene of the Steve Stranger’s Blitz Club all those years ago.
1. George Montague aka the oldest gay in the village
In a list of top five iconic George’s, it was without a shadow of a doubt that George Montague would make Zhoosh’s number one spot. For the last few years George Montague has been an important visual presence at Brighton Pride’s in his mobility scooter with his placard proudly declaring that at the age of 90 this year he is in fact, “the oldest gay in the village.”
Born at a time when being gay was a criminal offense, George grew up knowing it was men that he was attracted to, but like so many other gay men of his generation, got married in the hope that it would literally, straighten him out. During his marriage he had a loving relationship with his wife and together they had three children. George now has three loving grandchildren too. During this time George knew that although he loved his wife, he was living a lie and so they chose to separate and live apart. Although both he and his wife found the separation difficult they both sorted out eventually their differences and remained friends.
For the past sixteen years, George has been with his life partner, Somchai Phukkhlai. Together they spend their time in Thailand away from the UK winter months and return to Brighton in the summer.
This year George will once again be an important part of Brighton’s LGBT Pride March, as an ambassador for the older LGBT community. So when you see George at this year’s march be sure to give him a huge cheer.
Carrying on from last week, LGBT Brighton Pride theme, Icons in the Park, Zhoosh present to you the top five iconic Susan’s’.
5. Susan “Sue” Storm Richards.
One quarter of the Fantastic Four, Susan Storm is well established as an icon among Marvel fans. Her back story is long and varied. Sue Storm, along with her brother Johnny Storm, Reed Richards and his his old collage pal, Ben Grimm all take a flight into space, only to be exposed to cosmic rays. On their return they all realise they now have superhuman powers; Susan gained Invisibility and a force field, Johnny, a force field of fire that also enables him to fly, Reed, has ability to stretch and bend into any shape, while Ben turns into harden rock.
Susan Storm would be made flesh by actress, Jessica Alba, who appeared in Fantastic Four and the sequel, Fantastic Four, Return of the Silver Surfer
4. Susan Boyle.
A list with the words, iconic and Susan in it, will give an automatic mention to Britain’s Got Talent runner up, Susan Boyle.
Dismissed as nothing more than fodder by Michael Barrymore in his show, My Kind of People, back in 1995, turned out to be good news for Susan. Back in 2009, Susan applied again for a talent show, this time trying her luck at, Britain’s Got Talent. Her quirky manner, was as important as the sterling power in her voice as she sang, I Dreamed a Dream to an audience that were as gobsmacked as the judges.
Although Susan Boyle had a great voice, it was the power of YouTube that helped catapult her knock out performance across the world, ensuring super stardom, literally over night. Susan’s debut album, I Dreamed a Dream, would go on to sell millions, becoming the fourth biggest selling album on Amazon of all time.
Since then Susan Boyle has gone on to do the thing she loves most, sing to live audiences, release a further three albums and a clutch of singles, including the inspired version of the Rolling Stone’s, Wild Horses.
3. Susan “Sue” Sylvester is a character played by Jane Lynch in the hit TV musical/drama, Glee. This Susan stamped her trainers down hard from episode one, making life hell for all those involved in the Glee Club, as they threatened to take away the limited funding from her own cheer leader project. Sue Sylvester is best known for her wise crack put downs, mainly directed at Glee Club leader, Will Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison). But as the seasons have gone on, Sue has opened up to show a more sensitive side to her character. In real life, Jane lynch is an active campaigner for LGBT rights, giving her voice to, ‘It Gets Better’ Project, as well as appearing in the 2012, American Play ‘8′, based on the American federal trial that would go on to overturn California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage.
2. Susan Sarandon.
Age, depends on which iconic character you know Susan Sarandon.
1975: Susan stars as Janet Weiss in the now hugely popular, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The film was a homage to B-movies, Rock and Roll and a celebration of all things transgender.
1983: In the modern day vampire film, The Hunger, Susan plays gerontologist, Dr Sarah Roberts. At the beginning of the film she meets a man called John (David Bowie) who has literally gone past his sell buy date. Later she goes looking for him and meets the stunningly beautiful Miriam Blaylock (Caherine Deneuve), a vampire looking for her next lover and decides that the equally gorgeous Dr. Sarah Roberts will make an ideal lesbian vampire lover. The film bucked the trend of other vampire films, instead focusing on ideas of love and loss.
1991: This was the year that gave us two iconic women called, Thelma and Louise. Working alongside Geena Davies, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen and Brad Pitt and directed by Tony Scott, the film was destined to be a winner. Davies and Sarandon wrenched every emotion from the audience as their road trip takes them down a route of escapism, terror, self discovery and ultimately freedom from everything.
1995: Never one to shy away from controversial roles, Dead Man Walking is a film based on real life accounts experienced by Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun. Susan Sarandon takes the role of Sister Helen as she helps in a spiritual capacity to guide convicted rapist and murderer Matthew Poncelet (played by Sean Penn), as he waits for his execution date while on death row in Louisiana.
2. Susan Brownell Anthony
Although less known in the UK, Susan Bromwell Anthony was a pivotal force into bringing the suffragette movement (The suffragette movement itself began in the UK, in 1847) to Thousands of American women from 1869, right up till her death forty years later. During her lifetime Susan Bromwell fought long and hard for equal rights for women, published the women’s rights journal, The Revolution; a weekly paper written by women, for women, whose motto was: “Men their rights and nothing more, women their rights and nothing less. She also travelled extensively across the United States, giving up to 100 speeches on women’s right to equality. As part of her fight, Susan Bromwell Anthony was prepared to break the law to get her voice heard. In 1872 she was arrested for voting. Her tactic paid off as her arrest gave her much publicity and a platform on which to give her rally cry. Although she would not see the vote for women passed in her life time, she helped create it with her own, Susan B. Anthony Amendment in 1878. This piece of legislation would go on to become the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
This year’s theme for Brighton’s LGBT Pride is, Icons in the Park. With this in mind, Zhoosh writer, Glenn Stevens has had a poke round the internet to bring you his top five, Great Iconic, Glenns.
5. Glenn Soukesian aka Colton Ford. This Glenn is handsome, muscular and extremely well proportioned; a combination that meant he was destined to become a legendary porn star. Glenn Soukesian or to use his stage name, Colton Ford has appeared in a number of classic porn flicks, including his role as a gladiator in Conquered, a jock in Head Games and a leather clad bear in Bearing Leather.
The multitalented Glenn would go on to have a stab as an actor in non porn films, including the brilliant, gay slasher/horror flick, Bent and a more substantial role in the horror series, The Lair, both of which are well worth a look for fans of horror.
More recently Glenn has gone back to his first passion of making music and has released three dance albums under his stage name of Colton Ford. Under the Covers is a selection of cover songs, ranging from, REM’s, losing my Religion, Robin’s, Every Heartbeat and Lithium by Nirvana, all of which have the desired effect of getting you on your feet and bopping around the living room floor.
Glenn’s other two albums are much of the same style with original tracks on both, Tug of War (2007) and, The Way I Am (2013).
4. Glenn Hughes was part of the gay iconic group Village People, who will be forever known for their classic songs, Y.M.C.A, Macho Man and Sex Over the Phone. When Village People first formed, each member took on gay cultural stereotypes, made popular throughout the 1970’s and beyond. These included: an indian, cowboy, construction worker, cop and a soldier. With a passion for leather, blanket of body hair, and a handlebar moustache which would easily withstand a grappling on the London to Brighton Bike Race; it was a given that Glenn Hughes would be the natural choice to join the line up as the groups macho leatherman. Hughes kept this iconic leatherman style throughout his life, 24/7; only straying away from the iconic image in a disastrous attempt to reinvent the band as New Romantics, full on make up and all.
Thankfully that image was quickly dropped and the band retuned to the macho image (always with a knowing wink) that made them famous. Glenn Hughes danced and sang with the band from its original line up, right up until 1996, when he pursued his own New York cabaret act, while continuing to manage the Village People with their ever changing line up.
Sadly, Glenn Hughes died at the premature age of 50 from lung cancer. At his request, he was buried dressed in full Leatherman gear. Glenn Hughes, we salute you.
3. Glenn Shadix began his acting career, first on stage in drag as the modernist painter and experimental writer, Gertrude Stein. This panache for eccentric characters would bode him well through his career which flourished on both the small and big screen. TV appearances included roles in such hit comedies as, The Golden Girls, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the hugely underrated series, Carnivàle.
Film roles included appearances in remakes of, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Planet of the Apes (remake) and the dark comedy, teen flick; Heathers. But it is his roles in Tim Burton’s films Bettlejuice as Otho, the flamboyant and pushy interior designer and as Mayor (voice) in The Nightmare Before Christmas that Glenn Shadix will be remembered for most.
2. Glenn Close’s role as Alex “bunny boiler” Forrest in the 1987 film, Fatal Attraction is perhaps the first image that come to most people’s minds. However, there many other fantastically memorable characters within Glenn Close’s acting repertoire to be celebrated.
Her debut role as radical feminist, Jenny Fields in, The Life According to Garp, (1982) gained her a best actress Oscar nomination. Glenn Close would go on to be be nominated (but surprisingly never win) another five times, in classic films: The Big Chill (1983), The Natural (1984), Fatal Attraction (1987), Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Albert Nobbs (2011).
Her ability to be so camp ensures Glenn Close’s position on this list, appearing as the devilish, Cruella de Vil, in 101/102 Dalmatians, or as the uptight president’s wife in, Mars Attack, or the up tight wife, Claire Wellington in the remake of the Stepford Wives. But is her embodiment as Albert Nobbs that clinched the number two spot.
Glenn Close revived her stage role of Albert Nobbs, which itself was taken from the short story of the same name by, Irish author George Moore, wowing critics and audiences alike.
The film is set in Ireland, during the early 19th Century; a time when living as an independent woman was near impossible. As such Glenn closes character takes on the persona of, Albert Nobbs, so that she can secure herself employment as a butler at a hotel. . It is difficult to see any other actress brining such humanity and understanding to this role other than Glenn Close. As such all memories of Alex Forrest should be kicked into the long grass and her role as Albert Nobbs should be celebrated as her classic role to date.
Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs
1. (Harris) Glenn Milstead aka Divine.
Divine, without doubt the most beautiful woman in the world and the filthiest person alive
As Harris Glenn Milstead, a quite polite man was presented to the world, but once he donned his towering wig and slapped on his make up, heels and dress; Divine was ready to cause havoc and all hell would break loose.
After getting things into gear with director, John Walters in experimental films: Roman Candles, Eat Your Make Up and Mondo Trasho, John Walters and Divine hit on a formula that both worked and ensured their notoriety for evermore.
First came, the whirlwind of madness that is, Multiple Maniacs, with the equally brilliant Mink Stoll. This was quickly followed by the equally notorious film, Pink Flamingos where Divine got crowned as the ‘The filthiest woman alive!” If you don’t know why she was crowned this title, its better you are left in the dark. Female Trouble, (which is playing at the Duke of York’s late show, alongside, I am Divine on the 19th July) is well worth catching on the big screen as we see Divine kill her mother for not buying her, cha-cha heels for Christmas which then sends her on a car crash career of sex, violence and liquid eyeliner!
This was followed by Polyester (the first scratch and sniff movie), Lust in the Dust and of course the career highlight for both Glenn and Divine in the massive original hit, Hairspray. As well as the movies, Divine rocked the charts with her classics, Jungle Jezebel, You Think you’re a Man and the reaction to complaints of her appearance on top of pops single, I’m so Beautiful.
There has never been anyone like Divine before or since, making both Harris Glenn Milstead and Divine, true iconic, gay icons and a true number one (or number two if you include that scene from Pink Flamingos!!)
Brighton and Hove is the gay capital of the United Kingdom, thousands flocking every year for the infamous Pride Festival. Not just a gay attraction, Brighton and Hove are steeped in history and culture, especially the creative kind. There is a veritable treasure chest of attractions to meet your date’s tastes, and here are just 12 of the hundreds of things you can do on that special date.
Ross Boat Tours
For a laid back date, take a stroll along the beach to West Jetty of the Marina and climb aboard the Ross Boat Tour. You will have three options for their boat rentals: a 90-minute mackerel fishing adventure, the 45-minute pleasure trip, and finally, the 25-minute speed boat ride, one that will speed up your already racing heart.
Brighton & Hove Seafront
Once you have returned to dry land, spend some time with your partner strolling along the Brighton and Hove Seafront. Take a lazy walk and soak up the sun during the day, or watch sky change colours as it sets over the Channel. If you are feeling puckish, you have many small cafés and restaurants to choose from, and at night the seafront really comes alive as the multitude of nightclubs open their doors – Brighton is renowned for some of the best clubs in the UK.
Brighton Museum And Art Gallery
Brighton is a Mecca for arts and culture, so how about a more sophisticated date at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. The museum boasts an abundance of modern art that will intrigue even the most discerning connoisseur. You’ll experience the permanent exhibits known at the gallery, and as this may be, there are pieces always rotating, so you’ll witness something different on every visit. The best aspect by far is the free admission!
The Brighton Sauna
During the 18th century, Brighton and Hove became a popular destination for bathing, and this status has remained for over a century. Take your date to Sauna and gift them a rejuvenation and intimacy only the Brighton Sauna can offer. The sauna only costs £15, with a student discount admission of £5. The Sauna can hold a maximum of 20 people, and as well as the relaxation facilities, it also provides a dining area, massage area, a wonderful 15-seat cinema. As you are on a date, you may want to hire one of their 20 private.
Blanch House – Brighton
I’m sorry, but there really isn’t another city quite like Brighton and Hove for a proper party atmosphere on a night out. After a heavy night partying, stay at Brighton’s sexiest hotels – Blanche House. Being Brighton’s first unique boutique style hotel, you’ll experience true class, as it has set the standards so many try to emulate today. Sip amazing cocktails surrounded by crimson draped and drown in complete decadence.
Helicopter Ride – Brighton
Brighton is a city packed with every kind of entertainment you could ever dream of. To make a massive impression on your date, whisk them skywards in a helicopter, where you can view this vast seaside city from a very unique angle. One you’ve both landed, find a bar, restaurant or art gallery, and talk about the breathtaking ride and what you fancy.
If the hectic club scene isn’t really your cup of tea, check out the A-Bar. Attached to the Amsterdam Hotel, this bar offers the best for a casual nightlife experience. 2011 saw it completed renovated and now provides a relaxed and elegant atmosphere. Spending an evening here will ensure you and your date have nice conversation with a beautiful backdrop of the English Channel.
The North Laines
The North Laines are known as “the heart and soul of Brighton”, a unique shopping experience tying all of Brighton’s culture together in one place. However, the North Laines are not actually lanes per se, but more of an area of connecting lanes – it’s easy to get lost. The square mile of land guiding you down to the southeast from Brighton’s train station is home to over 300 shops, 37 cafes, 22 pubs, 4 theatres, 2 museums and a library. Take your date for a wander around the North Laines to really get what Brighton is all about.
2013 is said to be the most exciting year for Brighton Pride, one of the most talked about and celebrated festivals in the UK. For the first time there’s a Brighton Pride Arts & Film Festival 19th July – 4th August – this includes special screenings of LGBT interest movies at the Duke Of York cinema, as well as art and photography exhibitions, encouraging even more involvement with our community. Another welcome addition to the 2013 line up is ‘Pride at the Fringe’, a season of spectacular Pride Gala shows taking place with the Brighton fringe festival at the amazing Ladyboy’s Sabai pavilion. This is the perfect place to take a date, with so much on offer and an ultra gay atmosphere.
The gay Brighton village Kemp Town’s main focus is around St. James Street and the gay seafront venues east of Brighton’s infamous pier. There’s a massive choice when it comes to shopping in Brighton, with some of the most unique shopping in the UK, from the North Laines to gay-friendly Kemp Town. From kitsch to cool, there’s something to satiate every gay and lesbian taste.
The sister cities of Brighton & Hove have established themselves as a mecca for queer people from near and far, and will be the perfect backdrop for whatever intimate scenario you have planned. Whether you are seeking to celebrate a new relationship or stoke the fire of an old one, you will find what you’re looking for here. If you want to have your dream date in Brighton & Hove but don’t have somebody to take with you, don’t fret as there are many options for you.
There are many local community groups and meet-ups you can check out, online dating websites and chat line options (Check out Gaynetwork dating) are rising in popularity for people to find each other in their quest for love and companionship.
If you let yourself be shot by the arrow of Eros and make your way to Brighton & Hove; it will be an experience you will not regret.
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James is a writer who lives in Hove, works in London and loves all the scenes in Brighton & Hove. Creative and also loves Eco living. If you would like to contact James here is his LinkedIn
Guest post by James Hubbard.
Starting a new job is quite stressful, or at least a little daunting. The average person is likely to question how well they might fit into their new company, how well they might perform in the role, how well they might cope with the challenges that a new job often brings. However, for LGBT people there can be even more complex questions that arise at the start of a new employment contract.
For those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, there may be fears about prejudice within the workplace, or there may be some difficulties in the process of “coming out” to colleagues. This might be particularly true in smaller businesses that have not yet developed their legislation and policies on dealing with minority groups.
As the founder of a brand new employment related business, JobsinBrightonandHove.co.uk, I am looking to investigate the current attitudes and experiences of people who identify as LGBT in the Brighton and Hove area. I would like to know if people who have worked for Brighton and Hove (or East Sussex) based businesses have ever experienced any forms of discrimination or bullying within the workplace because of their sexuality. I’d also like to know how people have found the process of coming out to colleagues. Was it a big deal for you, or did you not make an issue of it? How did you find the response from your colleagues when you did open up about who you are?
The survey is quite brief and will only take about 5 minutes or so of your time. Your answers will be treated in the strictest of confidence and taking part can be done so completely anonymously. If you can spare 5 minutes to take part, please follow the link below:
I plan to use the outcome of this survey to run some local media campaigns in the near future, highlighting any issues that arise from the votes cast and the comments left on my blog post. As someone who has worked for Brighton and Hove based businesses for the last 14 years, I am passionate about equal rights in the workplace and helping to raise awareness of key concerns that people may have when joining a new company. I hope to communicate this to employers that I may deal with as part of running my new jobs board.
I hope readers of Zhoosh can spare the time to take part. As a small gesture of thanks there is a chance to win a £40 gift voucher to spend at Marks & Spencer. Simply leave a comment on my blog for the chance to win.
James is the founder of JobsinBrightonandHove.co.uk, a new comprehensive job listing site for the Brighton and Hove area, offering job alerts and career advice for job seekers and tailored job packs for local employers.
With word of Thatcher’s death, news stories have flooded in about how this woman and her government dismantled the unions, privatised the UK’s utility servicers and sold of the council housing stock, which was great for many first time buyers, but neglected to reinvest in social housing.
Interestingly the mainstream press, so far, have ignored the devastation Thatcher and her government brought to the LGBT community, when in 1988 Thatcher introduced Clause 28; a piece of legislation that banned local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales from, “intentionally promoting homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”
The legacy of this piece of hateful legislation would cause much stress and anxiety to young Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who would be denied the opportunity to explore or speak up about their sexual orientation, and equally teachers and health professionals were wary of discussing these matters for fear of prosecution. Remember, this was the era before the internet, and any LGBT youth support groups were rare outside the bigger cities and became even more scarce with the introduction of this paper.
Around the same time AIDS was at its height of destruction, with the mainstream press and medical circles reporting that AIDS was associated with the sexual activities of gay and bisexual men only. Such misinformation only helped to intensify the negativity and in some cases, hatred and distrust towards the gay community with daily headlines referring to the gay plague.
Thatcher and her government could have done more to curb this hatred and invested in better sexual health campaigns, instead of scaring and confusing the general public with their ludicrous “Don’t Die of Ignorance” campaigns filled with tombstones and icebergs. Sure, those adverts are memorable, but to the general public it only helped to reinforce the idea that gay men were going to bring the world to its knees.
The attack on gay men’s lives, when many were at their most vulnerable, from those in high authority, government and the mainstream press was shocking then and just as shocking now. Many people will remember Sir James Anderton, then chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, with his comments that gay men living with HIV were, “Swirling around in a human cesspool of their own making”. Although these comments caused outrage, Thatcher refused to condemn Anderton’s comments by saying, “It would be outrageous if the Chief Constable were required to seek clearance for all his public speaking engagements.” Thankfully, Anderton’s reign of homophobia came to an abrupt end when his daughter came out as a lesbian.
Thankfully Thatcher was still in rude health to witness on 21 June 2000 in Scotland and on 18 November 2003 in the rest of Great Britain when the much hated Thatcher endorsed, Clause 28 was removed from the statuary law books. David Cameron also made a public apology for the fact that the Conservative Government drafted such a vile piece of legislation in the first place.
No doubt the press will brush over how Thatcher developed a way of getting more air into bread, so shoppers would be paying more for less, stopped children receiving free milk at school or bring up that small matter of ordering the British submarine HMS Conqueror to torpedo the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano 30 miles outside the war zone, killing 400 Argentinean crewmen.
The blue rinse brigade will sing her praises, but her legacy will always be tinged with the death, destruction and misery she infected on thousands of UK citizens. To reword a quote from Bette Davies, “You should never say bad things about the dead; you should only say good . . . Margaret Thatcher is dead. Good.”
Post by Dr Keith Sharpe
Dr Keith Sharpe is Chair of ‘Changing Attitude Sussex’, which is committed to telling the truth about Christian teaching on homosexuality, and works for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in every province of the Anglican Communion and more widely in all Christian churches.
Keith met with Rev’d Steve Chalke last month, the high profile evangelical leader who has changed his mind on homosexuality and is now advocating a pro-gay position.
“This is a landmark moment. The conservative evangelicals have been the most bitter opponents of LGBT equality and inclusion, and what Steve has now done represents a massive breach in their ranks. This is really good news.”
The Rev’d Steve Chalke is a high profile evangelical Christian leader. From his extremely successful and well attended church in central London he manages the Oasis organisation, a multi million pound charitable foundation which amongst other things runs many primary and secondary schools up and down the land. In evangelical circles they do not come much more prominent than Steve Chalke.
At the start of 2013 Steve wrote an article entitled ‘A Matter of Integrity’ saying that he no longer believed the evangelical claim that homosexuality is sinful. In fact he no longer believed that the Bible has anything to say about homosexuality as we know it, except to make clear that inclusion is at the heart of the Christian gospel. And as a consequence he is now fully affirming of gay people and faithful gay relationships. In the article he admitted that he had already conducted a dedication and blessing service following the civil partnership of two gay men in his congregation.
All this of course is complete anathema to conventional conservative evangelicals, many of whom are outraged and appalled by Steve’s actions. For them it is if Himmler had suddenly decided to welcome jews into the Third Reich. Steve has had thousands of letters, emails texts, blogs and publications in response to his courageous stance.
This is truly a watershed development in evangelical Christian attitudes to gay people. I had the good fortune recently to interview Steve and ask him about this astonishing stand against many of his fellow evangelicals. As you will see from his responses below, the humane and moving testimony of this brave man represents a tectonic shift in evangelical thinking about gay people.
More rejoicing in Heaven: An Interview with Rev’d Steve Chalke by Dr Keith Sharpe
Why did you write the article, ‘A Matter of Integrity’?
I felt compelled to write this article. I have come to understand that the principles of justice, reconciliation and inclusion sit at the very heart of Jesus’ message. At Oasis we employ 3000 people and next year we’ll have 20 000 students in our schools and colleges. A percentage of those young people will be struggling with sexuality issues. I do not want any of these youngsters to grow up feeling that they are ‘less than God’s best’. I don’t want anybody to have to feel at the very heart and core of their being, of who they are, there is something ‘wrong’. That is such an important issue.
Many people will say now that you are no longer an evangelical. How do you answer them?
I have continued to grapple with the Bible, as I have done all my life. I’ve reached these views through prayer, study and conversation with other Christians over many years. The Church extends a shield of care to heterosexual young people. My son, who is getting married next year, was automatically given books and resources, invited on pre-marriage counselling, and all sorts of things to support his future marriage.
But if you are gay you are on your own. You have a guilty secret. And often, if you have the courage to go to your Church about it all you are told is ‘don’t take communion any more’, ‘don’t work with children any more’, ‘don’t talk about this because we don’t want to know about it’. Often gay people have been made to feel totally unwelcome in evangelical churches. Most people do not have the gift of celibacy and when it is enforced it leads to terrible isolation and guilt. Some evangelical leaders condemn the promiscuity of gay people and even say that AIDS is a judgement from God. Actually I think it is a judgement on us and the way we and I have been.
The evangelical churches’ rejection of gay people is wrong. As an evangelical I believe that the heart of God is for faithfulness, for stability, for intimacy, for interdependence. We have a Christian responsibility to help nurture those virtues in every person, irrespective of sexual orientation.
But doesn’t the Bible condemn homosexuality?
The Bible has a lot to say about the role of women, none of it very positive. In Oasis churches we have women in a wide variety of roles and leadership positions. But the New Testament is very clear: women should keep silent. St Paul says women should not speak because Adam was created before Eve and Eve deceived him. Paul thought women should be subordinate to men because this is built into the order of creation. How come then that so many evangelical churches have now moved to a different view of women and yet still claim that this is biblical?
Or how about slavery? In the Old Testament we are even told in Leviticus how to trade slaves. In the New Testament St Paul tells slaves to serve their masters well. Even the most conservative Christian is in a different place from the New Testament on slavery and yet we still claim that we are biblical!
Of course we say that in the Bible the teaching on women or slavery, it’s just cultural. But that leads to a terrible slippery slope of relativism. Our ethics shouldn’t be anchored to what’s cultural but to what is Christ-like. Conformity to Him is what should underpin our attitudes relentlessly and unchangingly. The Bible does not claim to be the Word of God; it says Jesus is the Word of God. A Christian should read both the Old and New Testaments through the lens of Jesus. What is a Christ-like response to homosexuality? Jesus includes those who the religious leaders thought were excluded on the basis of their reading of the Old Testament. Jesus was perceived as a heretic because he would insist on including people who in the Old Testament were beyond the pale. It would be inconsistent not to see the issue of homosexuality through the same lens. God’s nature is love, is faithfulness, is other-centredness. It is wrong for the Church to leave gay people in an isolated place and to refuse to admit them to the community place where they can be encouraged to have lifelong faithful loving relationships.
What about the specific biblical passages that evangelicals usually quote?
The question is how do we understand and interpret them properly? Take for example, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). Does this mean all sexual unions should be exclusively heterosexual? Or is it simply a normative illustration? Is it like the norm of being right-handed, which never implies any failing in those who are born left-handed? Similarly, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is now understood to be about God’s judgement on self-indulgence, inhospitality and social injustice, it is not about homosexuality. As for Leviticus, it also condemns physically disabled people and the wearing of mixed fabrics. Are we going to take that seriously? And the New Testament texts refer to wild exploitative extra-marital promiscuity which was common in Roman culture, not to loving and stable same-sex unions.
Can we just ignore these texts then?
The whole Bible matters – both Old and New Testaments – in its entirety. We all know that some minority interpretations of Scripture have struggled for decades before eventually becoming accepted by the majority. For 1500 years the Church believed the earth was flat. When Nicholas Copernicus discovered that the sun, not the earth, was the centre of the solar system Scripture was used to condemn him. Luther quoted Joshua 10:13 and called Copernicus a fool. Other protestants recommended that ‘severe measures be taken to silence’ all those who dared to agree with him. A hundred years later the Catholic Church found Galileo guilty of heresy for ‘following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture’. The Church was wrong for all those years.
In the current day and age with the internet and social media the Church cannot treat the Bible as its private book. It can’t say that these Greek words in Romans or Corinthians mean that God condemns lifelong faithful same-sex relations when everyone knows that scholars have proved they don’t. You’re wrong, you’re just wrong. I am an evangelical, I take the Bible very seriously and I believe rather than focussing on the exegesis of handful of texts we have to wrestle constantly with what it means to recognise our neighbour and to love them as ourselves. The parable of the Good Samaritan was shocking to Jesus’ jewish audience. Jesus’ point is that there is nobody who is not our neighbour. I’m challenged by the thought that today Jesus might have told the story in terms of evangelicals and gay people.
What should the churches now do?
We have created a situation in which if you are lesbian or gay you are much more likely to suffer from mental health issues, much more likely to feel alienated, much more likely to end up lying. Gay people feel they cannot say who they really are. We have stigmatised homosexuality and that is not like Christ. We need to welcome people in and find a role for them serving and leading in the church as they faithfully follow Christ. We need to find ways of acknowledging and endorsing faithful loving commitments.
Are you in favour now of gay marriage?
In the article and in statements I have made I am not talking about gay marriage either in support of it or against it. It’s an important issue and I am pleased that the debate is now happening. I want to be part of the discussion but I don’t want to pre-empt it. It’s complex around such issues as what is consummation, what is adultery, and the constitutional questions.
What I was writing about was something much more important: inclusion. Some people have said my intervention on inclusion was badly timed because of the gay marriage debate. My response is that if only the Church had worked out its attitude towards homosexuality then at this juncture we could say we’re wonderfully inclusive of gay people and we could find ways of their having self-respect and belonging and their relationships celebrated and supported, but we’ve got some questions about gay marriage. It’s only because of our failure to address biblical issues that now this is all jumbled up together and whatever the Church says people will say ‘they are the ones who were always against homosexuals and against civil partnerships’. The pressing challenge for the church now is ‘how can we properly include people who are gay?’
Do you fear negative consequences for yourself now that you have spoken out?
I was scared of saying this to tell you the truth. I don’t want to lose friends or relationships. That’s why I have kept silent. But all church leaders keep silent for the same reason: we’re scared of losing our salaries, scared of losing our house, scared for our families of losing our livelihood. There has been a conspiracy of silence around this. I’m sorry for that. And all I ask is for an honest conversation and debate about this without demonising one another or anybody claiming that we have abandoned the Bible.
Many people have responded to me on blogs and in articles, some agreeing others disagreeing. Steve Holmes, theological advisor to the Evangelical Alliance, says our attitude to gays has been a scandal, and the track record of evangelical churches has been appalling, we have swept it under the carpet and people’s lives have been ruined. A huge number of people have said how pleased they are that we can talk about this openly now.
Why does this issue matter so much to you?
Negative definitions of Scripture have caused a great deal of unnecessary pain and, sometimes, terrible tragedy. Are people gay by nature or by nurture? I don’t know and I don’t trust the advice of other church leaders. But what I do know is that nobody chooses to be gay. When Hitler drove six million jews into the death camps what we too often forget is that he also sent hundreds of thousands of gay people too. Why didn’t any of them put up their hand and say, ‘well it’s only a choice, I could live differently’. They faced death because they were gay in their very being.
We have got to be far more biblical and thoroughly think through what the New Testament says about the acceptance of people who are gay. What being a Christian is about, what the Church is about, what the Bible is about, is life, embracing life, and living life well. We’re for wellbeing, for holistic living. The good News of the Kingdom of God is about life and wholeness right here right now, for every individual, for every single person.