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My London Week: From body painting to the Houses of Parliament

Posted at 12:00 pm, November 9, 2011 in Arts & Entertainment

We know you’re all curious about what other fun stuff Londoners are getting up to (we sure are) so we thought you would be interested to know where members of the Time Out team have been gallivanting about town. This week our Gay & Lesbian Editor gets his suit on and his kit off. Swoon.

Stonewall Awards

There were many worthy winners at last Thursday’s Stonewall Awards at the V&A. The awards honour those who have made a significant contribution to the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the UK. Among the winners were ‘Community Group of the Year’, UK Black Pride and ‘Hero of the Year’, Roger Crouch, who has worked tirelessly to tackle anti-gay bullying since his 15-year-old son Dominic committed suicide in 2010.

Another winner was Anton Hysén, the Swedish footballer who won Sports Award of the Year. Anton was stuck in traffic and arrived late, which is entirely forgivable. Harder to understand was his behaviour when he did finally arrive, standing in  full view of everyone, waiting impatiently and yawning dramatically during Roger Crouch’s acceptance speech. Anton, you may be a pretty footballer, but that man’s son died. A little respect wouldn’t have gone amiss. Among the many notables present at the awards were Coronation Street’s Charlie Condou, and Lance Corporal James Wharton (above, left), who has been busy tackling anti-gay gay bullying by speaking at schools about his life as Britain’s best known openly gay soldier.

Paul Burston

The champagne flowed freely before and after the ceremony, but I limited myself to a couple of glasses as I had a photo shoot the next day. And not just any photo shoot, but a naked photo shoot. The results will be seen in the next issue of gay monthly ‘Beige’ magazine. The photographer, Claire Lawrie, did a wonderful job – pictured here with artist Donald Urquart, who provided a spot of body painting.

Paul Burston

The photo shoot was at Panther House in Mount Pleasant, once the home of almost every gay charity and campaigning group in London. I worked there for years at the Gay London Policing Group, and wrote for the late, lamented London gay newspaper ‘Capital Gay’, which was located just down the corridor. On Saturday, the paper celebrated what would have been its thirtieth anniversary with a bonfire night party at Paramount. Founding editors Michael Mason (above, right) and Graham McKerrow (above, left) hosted, and many of the old guard were there, including journalist Gillian Rodgerson and Aids activist Simon Watney.

Paul Burston at the Houses of Parliament

From an old gay institution to a new one, as Tuesday saw the launch of Diversity Role Models in the Speaker’s House at the Houses of Parliament. This new charity is dedicated to tackling homophobia in schools. After an introduction by Mr Speaker himself, John Bercow MP, there were headline speeches from Home Secretary Theresa May and Roger Crouch, who spoke so movingly about anti-gay bullying and its impact on his family. 66% of LGBT students suffer bullying at school, 58% never report it. And as Crouch reminded us, it’s not only LGBT students who are affected, but anyone perceived to be ‘gay’. I pledged my support, as did Charlie Condou and the BBC’s Jane Hill. Sadly, Jane had left by the time we discovered the speaker’s bed chamber. She’d have made a great third female vampire in our homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Read more of Paul’s exploits at paulburston.com.

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