Wednesday, 19 November 2014

To Hate or Not to Hate

A debate was recently started when I was arranging a Transgender Day of Remembrance service in my home town.  It was planned as the culmination of Transgender Awareness Week where transgender people reach out into the wider community to make all people more aware of the issues which transgender people face every day of our lives and to this end our TDoR event was planned to be open to everybody in the hope that by being inclusive we could show people the tragic and horrific end results of unbridled transphobia.

Invitations were sent out to various groups like Samaritans, Torbay Healthwatch, Torbay Community Development Trust, Torbay and South Devon Healthcare Trust, Devon and Cornwall Police and local politicians of all parties - for these are the people who can make a difference to the lives of transgender people in a positive way.  All have responded and willingly accepted our invitations. The Devon and Cornwall Police even offered to help support our event by donating some funding to allow us to provide food and refreshments for everybody attending and the local Healthcare Trust kindly donated their conference facilities for the evening at no charge.

One local politician, who incidentally is fully supportive of LGB and, in this case, perhaps more importantly, T rights (and who also walked out of a council meeting because he was refused leave by the Chair of the Council, to ask questions about violence against women and children in the Torbay area) accepted the invitation. 

A furore of condemnation from certain people erupted because of this. 
Purely because he represents UKIP as a local councillor.  Many of the remarks said that he should be excluded (despite his previous support for LGBT rights).  That he had no right to even be in the room.  One person remarked that she could not even sit in the same room as somebody who represented UKIP.

Don’t these remarks sound very similar to those from TERF activists or to the many people who would exclude us  from any public space - the politics of hatred, the politics of denying us our right to be who we are?  Surely we as a community are better than that?  We decry people who refuse to listen to our voices and reject our arguments for inclusion for being bigots - if we start doing the same and excluding people (in spite of them being supportive of our demand for equality) does this not make us just as bigoted as they are?

To enable positive change we have to engage with people outside our community and this includes politicians (of all parties) and if people want to learn and then act to help us achieve better healthcare, better housing, safe and secure employment then I, personally, welcome this - as I would hope that most fair minded people would.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014

Transfigurations will be holding an event to memorialise those people who have lost their lives to transphobic rage and bigotry.  The event will be held in the Horizon Centre - the Education and Development Centre of Torbay Hospital in Torquay, South Devon UK.
You can find it here on Google maps.
If you wish to attend, could you please put you name down for the event here or email me at this temporary email address here

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Telephone Support Line Now OPEN

 Tel: 07476 15 17 17

I am really pleased to announce that some funding has been kindly donated to Transfigurations by Devon and Cornwall Police, with this funding it is now possible to open our confidential helpline. This will initially be staffed on a Wednesday and Sunday evening (except the first Wednesday of every month) from 6:00pm until midnight. Please note that at this moment it not a freephone number, it is a standard mobile number and any calls you make will be credited to your account (although if you have free minutes available on your phone plan, it will be included in your monthly allowance). We will announce extensions to these opening times once we have looked at call pattern usage.
Hopefully it will be possible for us to attract sufficient funding for this to be a freephone number at some point in the future.

Please Note: On days that the helpline is not available, you can send me a text message and I will try and get in contact with you as quickly as possible.  
All information which you might reveal about yourself (such as your name, address, telephone number) will be kept absolutely confidential and will only be accessible to the Management Team of Transfigurations and held securely.
The only time that confidentiality will be breached is if a child or a vulnerable adult (please see our Policy Documents for details) is believed to be at risk of harm. This will only be done after consultation with the Management team and is something that would not be done lightly.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Survey on psychological harm done by shortfalls in funding for surgery

Announcements have been made by several GIC's that NHS England is running out of funding this year - for example, the Laurel's GIC in Exeter has recently announced that they will be unable to fund any surgeries for patients from some time in November through to next April when NHS England's next fiscal year commences.

This has been caused in part by the large increase in the number of people who have come forward over the last few years and presented as being transgender, this in turn has put considerable pressure on the budget that NHS England has for all the speciality commissioned services, gender reassignment surgery being one of those services.

Many people are blaming the NHS, but in fairness to them, it really isn't their fault - this government keeps cutting the amount of funding to the NHS and specialised services are one area where the axe falls hardest - especially the funding for transgender services as the general public tends not to rate money spent in this area very high on their list of priorities, which isn't helped by negative press from such "newspapers" such as the Daily Mail.

However, these funding shortfalls are having a devastating affect on the lives of transgender people - they go by the book and complete what is mandated of them by the GIC's by completing their RLE's, fully expecting their referral at the end of that period - and then they are told "Sorry, the money has run out now, you will have to wait until next year for your referral".

Has this affected you?  Will it affect you in the next few months?

This is what this survey is about.  If your life, your mental health, your physical health has been affected on hearing about these funding shortfalls, please tell us about it - hopefully if enough people are being affected, then we can pressure NHS England to look again and try to get extra funding.

Please tell us about how the news of these shortfalls in funding and the delays due to shortage of qualified surgeons has affected you.  Your voice can make a difference.

Take the survey here

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Transgender surgery vs bariatric surgery

Today it was being announced that people with a BMI of 30+ would be offered bariatric surgery soon - at a much higher cost than the majority of gender reassignment surgery.
Being overweight, for many people, is a lifestyle choice - being transgender isn't.

I wonder when the Daily Mail will be running with screaming headlines condemning the NHS for wasting billions of pounds more on these people, will they be calling them scum and a waste of taxpayers money - as they so often like to do with the relatively very small numbers of people who need gender reallignment surgery.  I sincerely doubt it because I should imagine quite a substantial proportion of their readership will fall into this category and they cannot afford to alienate them.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

UK Register of trans friendly doctors and GP's

The following is a plea for those who are under the care of an understanding and compassionate doctor/GP.  I am running a survey on doctors in the UK who are transgender friendly and I need you to take part in a small survey.

Coming out and leading up to transition can arguably be the most stressful thing than any person ever does (the surgery itself was, for me at least, one of the least stressful) and so it is important to have the details of a good GP who you know will be sympathetic to the stresses that you will experience.

Having a national database of trans friendly GP's can save lives. The survey will take around 3-5 minutes of your time and could save somebody's life - now that is 3 to 5 mins well spent, wouldn't you agree?

The suvey can be found here.

If you have had a terrible experience at the hands of a GP, then you can also report it on the survey - but please be sure to only state any facts and not conjecture or supposition.

If you are needing to find a good GP then the results of the survey are updated daily (at the moment) and you can download the PDF from here.  This register is searchable (so you can search on a postcode - for example TQ1 or PO4).  You have to download the PDF, save it to your hard drive and then open it up in Adobe Acrobat Reader to be able to access the search function though).

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Mother of Trans Child takes on Paul Dacre and the Mail on Sunday

Following on from the Mail on Sunday's demonisation last week of the medical team that treats transgender children at the Tavistock and Portman Institude (see my blog about this here), a mother of a transgender child was so incensed by the article that she wrote a rejoinder which was published this week in the Sunday Observer which you can read here.

The article was published under the title "Transgender children know their identity. Bigots in the media don't" and told the story of her daughter's struggle to be who she really is - and the consequences of what happens when people seek to deny them this right.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA Test) for Transgender Women

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of the main blood vessel in the abdomen and if left untreated it can be fatal. Men aged 65+ are most at risk. A simple scan can tell you if you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The Exeter and South Devon AAA Screening Programme sends screening invitations to men during the year they turn 65. Any men over 65 who have not already been screened can arrange an appointment by calling 01803 655441.
In addition if your gender is different now from that recorded at birth, you may still need to be screened.  Please contact 01803 655441 to self-refer. If you are a M2F transgender person living in the South Devon area and would like some further information about this, then read on.

I was fortunate to meet and talk at length to two members of the AAA screening team at the NHS Annual Equality Engagement Event symposium held in Torquay where they had a display stand.

They were very keen to reassure me of the total respect that they have for trans women and the problems that we might have in approaching them to book a screening. They reassured me that they will do their utmost best to help any trans person who approaches them to have their screening done without causing any embarrassment or fear of outing them.
To this end they have supplied me with a personal email address of the the leader of the team so that anybody who wishes to have a screening done can have a conversation with her about your privacy. All the team are well versed in Equality and Diversity issues and you will be treated with absolute respect.

Please use the contact form on the Transfigurations website  to contact me for her email address.

Breaking News:
Lynda has emailed me with a very important announcement to say that they are hoping (in the very near future) to take their screening services to the Laurels Clinic in Exeter (our Gender Identity Clinic here in the South West) so that screenings can be carried out at that location where anybody who is reluctant to be screened at one of their other locations, can be screened where they might feel more safe and at ease. I will update this page when it has been confirmed and let you have the dates when they will be at the Laurels.

If you live outside the South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust's borders, then please contact the AAA screening unit for your area in order to have your screening carried out.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Why are Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail/Sunday Mail so Transphobic?

It is a question which really needs asking for the number of transgender people in the UK is actually quite small and the cost of effective treatments are miniscule if you consider the costs of non-intervention (depression and the cost of treatments for that, hospital costs for suicide attempts, ruined lives).  The Daily Mail and it's writers often sensationalise the cost of treatments yet always ignore the the much higher costs of failure to treat. Instead of educating their readers, they prefer to pander to their irrational phobias and dislikes which can have disastrous consequences as was witnessed when Richard Littlejohn decided to turn his own personal phobias onto Lucy Meadows.

Only a week after 6 major British newspapers were castigated for their "reporting" of another story about a transgender woman and their subsequent retractions of their "stories", the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday rolls out another epic piece of mis-information (which they actually published about a year ago - but, like a dog with a bone, they simply cannot leave alone and return to the same meme time and time again).

I did leave a comment in their comments section below the story that they ran which put the alternative viewpoint (very short due to the limited number of characters that you are allowed) but not surprisingly, they failed to publish this comment, prefering to publish the comments of their xenophobic/transphobic readers.

After a slight truce after their tragic hounding of Lucy Meadows and the subsequent castigation by the coroner who oversaw her inquest of the British press (and the Daily Mail in particular), the Daily Mail again shows its true colours as a paper consumed with transphobia.

Under an article whose headline screamed "NHS to give sex-change drugs to 9 year olds", the article proceeds to denounce the Tavistock and Portman Institute with a web of innuendos and lies.

Just the headline itself is pejorative with its use of the word "drugs"  and the complete phrase is wrong as puberty blockers on their own will never change a person's secondary sexual characteristics - even if they were to be taken all of their lives.  All they will do is prevent that person from entering puberty.  The compounds are not hormones, they are peptide molecules which bind to the normal hormone receptor sites in the pituitary gland and so block the hormones from binding there - this suppresses the release of luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary. In males, this reduction in LH subsequently leads to rapid suppression of testosterone release from the testes; in females it leads to suppression of oestrogen release from the ovaries).  These compound have been used since the early 1980's to suppress the puberty of young girls after they showed signs of entering puberty at a very young age.  Has the Mail ever campaigned against these GnRH agonists when used in these 7 to 9 year old children?  No they have not, presumeably because they are in favour of them being used in this way.

They go on to assert that these compounds can lead to permanent bone damage, but recent research by Dutch paediatricians has shown that after the introduction of cross-sex hormone therapy (or cessation of treatment with GnRH agonists), bone mass quickly reverts to normal values.  So this part of the story is a complete distortion of the truth.

The truth is that early intervention saves lives - as one mother of a transgender child said "I would rather have a living transgender daughter than a dead son" and when you consider the effect of not giving these children these blockers (depression, self harm, suicide attempts, reduced academic attainments, poor self esteem etc) plus you are subjecting them to painful (and expensive) treatments later in life such as electrolysis/laser treatments to remove facial hair, facial feminsation surgery to reduce the effects of masculinisation of the bone structure of the face (never completely reversible) and possibly breast augmentation surgery, or mastectomies for f2m trans men, when they do ultimately transition - then the medical profession is abiding by their committment to "do no harm" - especially in light of the fact that the effects of the GnRH agonist blockers are completely reversible if the person subsequently decides that they do not wish to proceed with their transition.  All they are doing in effect is buying the young person time - time to really find out who they are so that if they do subsequently decide to continue with their transition, they will not have to try to undo the effects of a wrong puberty.  Trans children would not be given the option of cross-sex hormone therapy until they are 16 or older - and old enough to fully comprehend what taking cross-sex hormone therapy involves.  Conversely, if they do decide to not go ahead with their transition, the GnRH agonist (puberty blocking) treatment can be stopped and the person allowed to go through the puberty of their natal sex - without any damage being done.

In a Radio 5 Live program aired on the Sunday evening, Dr. Polly Carmichael (clinical lead at the Tavistock and Portman Institute) was quite clear on the benefits which these GnRH agonists can have on young transgender children and re-iterated that children normally have to enter into a certain stage of puberty before they are given (Tanner stage 2 or later).  She went on to explain that prior to puberty, many children who show signs of being transgender change their minds on entering puberty, very few who express themselves as being transgender when they reach puberty actually revert back to their natal sex - 80% transition.  To withhold treatment at this age would be to consign that child to an unwanted puberty and put their health at risk (and risk them self harming or attempting suicide).  Perhaps the following video might also help:-

By publishing scare stories such as this, the Mail newspaper empire is guilty of mis-information that could lead to young people self harming or tragically taking their own lives.

I have today submitted a complaint to Press Complaints Commission about this article on grounds of accuracy and discrimination.  Hopefully others will do likewise to tell the Mail newspaper empire that trans people will not stand idly by and let inaccurate and discriminatory reporting like this be published without challenge.

The mother of a transgender child has written a brilliant rejoinder to this article which has been published in the Observer newspaper today.  I have also included a short post about it in this blog here.

Transfigurations Brochure

Our new brochure for the Transfigurations group has just been created which you can download from the website, here's a sneak preview of the 3 fold double sided brochure:-
Click on image to download the brochure

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

We're All Human

The L Project has just released another fantastic song about LGBT people which they are urging everybody to share and, if means allow, to download and purchase from Amazon.  All proceeds will go to supporting LGBT charities (including Mermaids UK, which is a charity close to my heart).  I have shared the video below for you:-

Stand beside the one you love
Stand up for who you are and what you believe
I wish they knew the love I always feel ...... the feeling of you next to me
And if you hear those words of hate, just know
Love knows no colour or gender, love will be itself
Harvey once said
"Burst down those closet doors
Once and for all,
Stand up and start to fight"

We've stood strong together for the longest time
And we all stand here united as our Rainbow Flags fly
I can tell you "It Gets Better" - Everyday of our lives
So stand up Proud  - let's all be human
'Cause love can only be right

We all fight, side by side in life
At home and overseas for what we believe
So many sleep alone under the stars
Without their stories ever being told
The day will come  When no labels are required
We'll justify our love - and how we're born to live
And One by One We'll challenge every law
And find a way to all be truly free

We've stood strong together for the longest time
And we all stand here united as our Rainbow Flags fly
I can tell you "It Gets Better" - Everyday of our lives
So stand up Proud  - let's all be human
'Cause love can only be right

And we all stand here united as our Rainbow Flags fly
I can tell you "It Gets Better" - Everyday of our lives
So stand up Proud  - let's all be human
And love can only be right

And we all stand here united as our Rainbow Flags fly
I can tell you "It Gets Better" - Everyday of our lives
So stand up Proud  - let's all be human
'Cause love can only be right

''We're All Human' ©
Music written by Georgey Payne
Lyrics written by Georgey Payne and Sofia Antonia Milone

Vocal Arrangement by Georgey Payne
Musical Arrangement by The L Project Musicians and Georgey Payne

Monday, 14 April 2014

Transfigurations Forums

After a lot of work setting up the original forums I soon found that they were attracting a huge number of spammers - so in the end I took them down and after a lot of research I found some alternative software that was highly recommended.  I am pleased to say that this new software seems to have done the trick and no spammers have registered on the site since it was created.

We have special sections for:-
  1. The partners of transgender people (sometimes referred to as Significant Others - SO's) which is restricted to partners only, so it is a safe place for you to get support from other partners who have been through this.
  2. The parents of transgender children and transgender youth because we realise that it is an emotionally draining time for you too - and you deserve some help and support to get you through this.
  3. A forum which is restricted to transgender children and youth and their parents.  There are many safeguards in place in this forum to protect the children.
I hope that you will take a few seconds to have a look over the forums - but you can only see the top level forum as a guest, you will have to register if you wish to view all of the trans forums.

The forums can be accessed from the web site (Transfigurations) via the links buttons on every page - or you can go to the forums directly from here.

Saturday, 5 April 2014


The group that I have been running for transgender people in the South Devon area has now got its own web site and online forums.
Although the meeting place for face to face meetings with other trans individuals is really only appropriate for people living in the South Devon area, the website is open to everybody and the forums can be accessed by trans people from all over the UK and beyond.
Have a look and let me know what you think
To visit, just click on Transfigurations link

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Paddy Power and the abuse of women

Last year Paddy Power came up with the insulting and demeaning campaign for their betting syndicate of "The Cheltenham 'Spot the Filly' Week" for which they were rightly castigated and made to withdraw the campaign (not before a great deal of damage had been done).  They blamed the advertising company that devised the promotion and assured everybody that it wouldn't happen again .......................

..................... for at least for another year it would seem - for this year they have gone even 'better' and have a new advertising campaign - "It's Oscar Time. Money Back If He Walks." referring to the Oscar Pistorius trial for the murder of his partner Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.  To trivialise the murder of this young woman in this way is totally reprehensible - and to do it to boost your profits is absolutely unforgivable.

Many women all over the world suffer both physical and psychological abuse from their partners and in the  UK alone last year 138 women lost their lives from physical abuse by men.  That is 138 lives which were needlessly lost and the effect on those people who loved them,  their parents, brothers and sisters, their children and their friends and wider family were shattering - but to Patrick Kennedy, the  CEO Paddy Power, this means nothing but an opportunity to make money.  Shame, shame, shame on you Patrick Kennedy for authorising this advertising campaign to go ahead.

There is an online petition calling on Paddy Power to withdraw this vile campaign and to donate any profit already raised from it to charities supporting victims of abuse which can be found here.  I would call upon anybody who has a shred of decency in their body, to support this campaign and tell Patrick Kennedy - enough is enough.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

English Riviera Pride 2013

I was asked to put together a promotional video for Youtube and Vimeo of our Pride Weekend from last year to advertise what Pride is all about on the English Riviera - so here it is:-

Best viewed at 720HD setting

Set in one of the most beautiful resorts in the UK with stunning scenery and vistas, this just has to be THE Pride event that you should attend if at all possible.  We are planning the 2014 calendar of events for our 2014 Pride Weekend at the moment and have some sensational acts lined up for your pleasure and enjoyment.  Events will start on the Friday evening and will continue until the Sunday - so why not treat yourself to a long weekend and soak up all the fun.
Please keep an eye on the English Riviera Pride website, everything will be revealed shortly

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Trans Youth Matters

Graphic courtesy of Trans Student Equality Resources
I came across this very revealing graphic whilst I was browsing the internet tonight  and the statistics contained within it hit me extremely hard as I contemplated how my own mother had reacted to my own coming out to her back in the very early 1970's and how fortunate I had been.
I was so struck with the information within the graphic I shared to my own Facebook page with the following message:- 
"Why would any parent reject their child just because of this. I suppose, mainly they didn't really love them in the first place if they are more concerned of what their friends or relatives will say."
A friend responded with another comment which read:-

"Nell S:  Parents often profess that they want them to be happy ......having a trans child determines whether this is the case or if they really want the child to actually make the parent happy. My heart and admiration goes to all parents, including my own mum, who enable their children to be their true selves."
To which I added my own feelings on the matter:-
That is very true Nell - and I too echo your feelings about parents who want their children to be happy in their own bodies. I have often thought that we should have a special day of thanks for them - for they really are wonderful people and my heart goes out to them for their acceptance.
My Mum (bless her soul) was incredible in that she accepted me and this was back in the dark ages in the early 1970's when very little was known about the condition, even the medical profession was almost completely ignorant of it - yet my mother's reaction was to come over, put her arms round me and say "That's OK, we will see this (meaning my transition) through together" - and she did, I had the most wonderful support from her.
Yes, I was lucky to have such a mother, sadly, so many are are not.
  They are disowned, thrown into the streets, physically abused - as if a beating would change who we are.  This so often can lead to mental health problems later and many will have to resort to prostitution or worse in order to survive.
Just look and absorb those figures - if your parents accept you, you are almost five times more likely to avoid mental health problems - and then you get people like Mona Charen publishing that she thinks it is child abuse if parents love and support their trangender child.  Ms. Charen, I have news for you - surely it is child abuse to try and force your child to be something that they are not and subsequently statistically far more likely to suffer mental health problems - or to disown them and throw them out into the streets.  You are a disgrace to parenthood Ms. Charen.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Nominations open in February for the UK’s Largest Diversity Awards

Your annual opportunity to nominate your own diversity role models.
One of Britain’s most well-known diversity awards celebrations are opening its nominations next month and welcomes your community to nominate.
If your organisation is a strong representative of true diversity or you would wish to nominate then please do not hesitate to get involved with this initiative.
The National Diversity Awards in association with Microsoft is a celebration of the outstanding achievements of positive role models, entrepreneurs & community organisations across the UK.
A collection of some of the nation’s most inspirational and selfless people gather annually to recognise the country’s rich tapestry of talent. The prestigious black tie event showcases the extraordinary work of those who have demonstrated their devotion to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion in today’s society.
The UK has taken such an event to their hearts receiving thousands of nominations each year, and organisers are gearing up to receive an influx of names of people that have made a difference in their communities.
Support for the event has come from a growing list of top employers and celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Claire Harvey and Sol Campbell.
The 2014 ceremony will see Reality TV-star Brian Dowling and CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell return to host the awards.
Brian said ‘To witness the outstanding work of all the nominees and awards winners is extraordinary. The atmosphere is always incredible and I can’t wait for this year!’
Patron Claire Harvey was one of only two openly gay athletes in the Paralympic Games. Harvey said ‘I am proud to be both an elite athlete and openly gay woman. The National Diversity Awards is a great opportunity to celebrate achievement irrespective of difference. I feel honoured to part of such an exciting event, where those who are making a real difference to our society every day are recognised’.
Singing Sensation Misha B added, ’The National Diversity Awards was one of the most inspirational award ceremonies I have been to.
‘It was a pleasure to perform for such a diverse audience, and witnessing the amazing journeys of all the award winners made me proud to support this worthwhile cause. It’s my honour to continue celebrating diversity in all its glory during 2014!’
NDA founder Paul Sesay said, ‘It’s overwhelming to follow the inspiring stories of Britain’s unsung heroes. Let’s recognise true role models and continue to celebrate our nation’s diversity champions this year’.
There are several awards categories including positive role model, community organisation, entrepreneur of excellence, diverse company and lifetime achiever.
You can nominate a positive role model and community organisation under different strands including age, disability, gender, LGBT or race/faith/religion.
The National Diversity Awards will take place in the countries capital on September 26th, nominations open Monday 03rd February.
To nominate please visit
Or for a nomination form please email

Friday, 3 January 2014

All for one - or one for all

Last year, as a committee member of English Riviera Pride, we held events for the LGBT community throughout the Bay.  We successfully raised over £2,200 for charity which was distributed to 3 charities, our local hospice (Rowcroft Hospice), an LGBT charity Eddystone Trust who do a lot of educational work about safe sex and other issues, and Mermaids, a charity which helps transgender children and their families.

A new committee was formed this year after several members left and it soon became apparent that forces were at work to undermine out efforts to raise money for charity, duplicating our events - they have even set themselves up as an alternative Pride event.  Whereas we hold our events spread out across the Bay supporting gay/trans friendly venues, the alternative Pride is based solely around one business and will therefore benefit just that one business to the detriment of the others.

We therefore ask them to reconsider what they are doing and to meet with us to try and work something out for the good of the whole community - and not just one small part of it.

One of the local businesses has just published an open letter - which I have reproduced verbatim below:-


 In support of the official English Riviera Pride I am writing this note with some concern and confusion, as no doubt soon you will have the same dilemma and thoughts as me.

As many of you may or may not be aware my company Greenway Ferry and Pleasure Cruises has provided support to both the Rainbow Ball and English Riviera Pride for many years donating in excess of £20,000 during this time to both causes in way of donations or monitory support. Being a company, which is gay, owned and operated and with a high percentage of gay staff we ‘pride’ ourselves in supporting a group that then supports the gay community and other charities including Eddystone Trust and Rowcroft. Most recently we took over Soho Bar and Lounge, which is catering to a mixed community of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and straight people. We felt that the need for a sole Gay Bar in Torquay was obsolete even though homophobia still exists; straights and gays mix much more freely in bars and clubs.

I felt the best way to deal with this head on was to create a bar in the center of town which was not only unique in its style, premium quality drinks and ambience but one which did not hide from the fact that we had to be just gay but where people could mix in a safe trouble free environment. Our door person is gay, three of our bar staff are gay and we employ straights too. We are doing everything possible to make mixing a regular occurrence and increase the visibility of the bays gay community. How are we going to be excepted if we are hidden away, we are as normal as anyone else, so lets make ourselves be seen and heard and show that we are just like them…. Human!

Today it has come to the attention of English Rivera Pride that another Pride Group has just been set up and is advertising on Facebook as Bay Pride. This seems to be advertising our friends at the Meadfoot Inn and seems to be in complete competition to the English Rivera Pride which is set up and has been running for many years, raising money for charity and working alongside the Rainbow Ball Committee at some points with dual board members. Why? Why duplicate? Why not support the committee?

Why can’t our gay community of businesses work together and not against each other? Why can’t we all sit together and increase the events and charitable works? If it can be done in London, Manchester and other cities, what is wrong with our Riviera? It absolutely astounds me why businesses and groups can not work together in our bay (not just in this instance but others too).

So, my support shall remain with the Official English Riviera Pride and the Rainbow Ball Committee which has raised over £100,000. Not groups set up to forward one business or with an ulterior motive.

I challenge our Gay Businesses to come together, talk to each other and work together for the better of the bay and the better of the community we serve. I can be contacted below and as the previous Chairman of the Over the Rainbow Ball Committee and sure they, Riviera Pride, others and myself are at the table already waiting to talk.

So stop duplicating and lets make a difference. Why when English Rivera Pride are trying to raise money does a business serving the gay community decide to put on a rival event which is just serving their own pocket? Why is there so much backstabbing and bad feeling? We are a community which should work together!

Yours faithfully,
Will Ford

Greenway Ferry & Pleasure Cruises

SOHO Bar and Lounge"

The Facebook pages for the
alternative Pride organisation for Torbay were removed shortly after the people that set them up saw the open letter which I reproduced above.
More condemnation for these shady practices were being forthrightly stated on various individuals Facebook pages all of today.  More will no doubt come of this over the coming months and I will post updates about what is happening here for all the world to see.