Homo and transphobic hate crimes in Soho

Soho used to be a fun filled den of iniquity where gays, prostitutes and drunk legends convened to play side by sideThe law may have become more favorable for LGBTQI people in the UK but there has been a recent increase of homo and transphobic hates crimes in the area.

I used to think Old Compton Street in Soho was Disneyland and found it one of the most exciting places in the world, where anything seemed possible. It didn't matter what you wore or who you chose to sleep with, it was all part of the joyous cocktail of humanity.
In the late 90s, I was sat outside Old Compton Cafe one sunny mid-week afternoon (a 24 hour cafe that was utterly brilliant at any hour to eat, drink, smoke and hang out in various states. It's now Balans Cafe). Three noisy lads came stomping down the street, rowdy, swigging beer cans and started shouting aggressive homophobia once they worked out they were in Gay Town. A man nearby stood up and shouted “no boys, go away, you're on our patch now”. Another stood up supporting him, then another until all of us who were sat outside various establishments joined in. They soon awkwardly shuffled off towards Shaftesbury 
Avenue looking well and truly embarrassed to have been told off by a bunch of poofs. We all nodded and smiled at each other. Justice had been done.
It felt like a bold act of 
comradery that while the world might not tolerate queers just yet, Old Compton Street is sacred gay ground. Gay area, gay rules. Fast forward to summer 2014 and it's not the same place.
Within the past few months alone, there have been numerous homophobic attacks in Soho. Not merely verbal, many physical. Several queer friends have been attacked in an area that used to be our safe zone.

A friend who has done a huge service to London's queer community was told he wa
s a disease and needed to be cleansed before being beaten. Another was pulled around by their hair for intercepting a young queen being abused. Numerous other have been told they're disgusting freaks, called every name under the sun and threatened with violence for being so abhorrent. Simply for being different to the heteronormative norm. What the fuck is happening?

Where are the police and what are they doing about this? Every time an incident happens, people are actively encouraged to report the incident in the hope that there will be some kind of justice. However, the punch on the nose I received for intercepting a transphobic attack 
on New Years Day 2013 has remained in the vaults. We had the guys phone and it happened on Piccadilly, but were told they can't trace the phone and there is no CCTV evidence. One, it was a phone that you'd need a contract for. Secondly, no CCTV on Piccadilly? Really?
The police couldn't be bothered. Some queers get bashed, ah well, too much paper work to be arsed. Yeah, thanks for that.
Despite my own crap experience, we should still report attacks.
I've always been of the belief that the law will act if there are statistics. Well I'd like to think so.

It's not just physical attacks that are the problem. There are numerous hustlers and shady dealers who hang around certain spots in Soho who are openly hostile and verbally homo and transphobic. As are some of the rickshaw drivers who loiter for punters. Same goes for the door staff of various clubs.
I moaned about the lack of police presence in Soho recently on Facebook and was told that they are very helpful regarding gay owned and run businesses. Quite possibly when it comes to box ticking and doing their 'community bit' but where is the on-the-street action? Where the hell are they when these attacks are happening so regularly in such a small area? 
Why hasn't the press picked up on this? If this kind of abuse was regularly happening to any other minority group, there'd be an outcry. 

So what can we do? Rally a queer lynch mob? That sounds fabulous and as much as I'd personally like to spend time in a locked room with a baseball bat with these bigoted arseholes, if you fight fire with fire, you just get more fire.
Look, I'm nobody. Just someone angry with an opinion who thinks innocent people deserve to be and feel safe. 
We need proper action. Do you know somebody who knows someone who can actually do something? Contacts in the mainstream media? A pushy MP? Someone with power and influence?
If there is something in the national press about this, surely the police would have to act or have a visible presence on the streets?
Ultimately homo and transphobia needs to be eradicated but until that happens, we need the law and Westminster to get off their arses and support us.
We need to support each other too. Less apathy, more action.


Note. There are numerous homo and transphobic attacks happening regularly all over the UK and this needs to be addressed as a whole.
I've written about Soho as it's an isolated area where many incidents are happening.

P.S.  It's all good and well preaching to the converted but this needs to be more than a gay media issue but a national one for any change.
Many people believe since queers can now marry, all the problems have just magically disappeared when out here on the ground, it seems to be getting worse.

My First Fringe

For many a year, I doubted myself good enough to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It seemed like some far away place where performers were made or broken. Without financial backing or a producer, I never thought it possible.
But I took the risk and turns out to have been one of the best things I've ever done. 

This being my first, I thought I'd ease myself in with an eleven show run of my biographical show 'Sorry I'm A Lady'. 

Edinburgh is stunning, like a chocolate box Danish fairy-tale and the people, absolutely lovely.  My venue, The Street were fantastic to work with. Owners Wendy and Louise are fabulous and always felt like they were on our side. Great food, good drinks deals, pop in if you're in the city.
The audiences were incredible. Besides one quiet night, I had a packed house most evenings. There was one night where a group came in clearly expecting sing-a-long campy drag and the occasional blip but I learned something from every show.

There are numerous tales of people losing vast amounts of money hiring a venue and selling tickets at the Fringe so chose to be part of the PBH Free Fringe where all performances get a free venue and do a bucket collection at the end of the show. As incentives, I auctioned a limited edition 'Holestar Coaster' every night and offered signed posters and CDs. My hope was to break even and I well surpassed that. Some audience members wanted selfies, others hugs, one girl said she loved the show but had no money but would I accept a bag of chocolates? Yes, yes I would.
The show is now exactly how I want it to be. After previously performing it for two, week long runs at Vogue Fabrics, The Cube in Bristol and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, it's been snatched and tightened into a well oiled machine. (Massive thanks to Myra Dubois and Jonny Woo for helping shape shifting it). Hey, it even got a four star review in The Scotsman newspaper.
I love performing it. Yes it's a self indulgent biographical show but I like it. It's got highs, lows, cabaret, performance art, silliness, politics, campness, a lot of singing and a poo story. The basis of the show being if someone like me can go through a bizarre history of leaving school with no education, mental and physical health problems, being in British army, a brothel receptionist, artist, dominatrix, drag starlet and can learn to love themselves and live their dreams of showing off in-front of people, well anyone can. Performing at the Fringe has made me realise I am capable of this kind of thing and can carry a solo show. But writing, directing, promoting and performing the show myself is exhausting so I need to apply for funding, find a producer and take the show on tour, spread the love and concentrate on being fabulous.

During two weeks in Edinburgh, my only regret was not seeing enough shows. So much of the day revolved around painting my face, endless PR, getting into town (from the lovely Alan and Fiona's house) and prepping myself that going to see other work was tricky. Though I did manage to pop into Christeene, The Lipsinkers, Mz Kimberly, Dandy Darkly and Illicit Thrill, all of which were fabulous. Props also to Cabaret Roulette whose show was on at The Street before mine and managed to see some incredible performers.Besides my eleven shows, I managed to squeeze in additional performances at Dive, Church of High Kicks, Musical Bingo, a quick show at Menergy, Glasgow and a four hour DJ set. Tried a deep fried Mars bar (which was hideous, not the crispy, gooey mess I'd hoped for), flyered in the pouring rain, laughed about the predictable abundance of 'straight blokes in a t-shirt' doing observational comedy, drank Pussy Bombs and left the city knackered but sated.

I adored my first Fringe, it surpassed all expectations.
Humbled, grateful. I'll be back.