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In The Closet

first_imgI will leave Oxford unsure, regretting never having experienced an emotionally honest relationship. In my mind it was a sacrifice which had to be made in order to maintain the façade and friendship groups which I had established. I’ll go along with the cliche and say that my time at univesity was the best time of mylife. But I will always regret not being able to be truly happy.  OUT AND ABOUT Harry CooperOnce, whilst attempting to get through a sixth pint of lager (not a cocktail with one of those umbrellas languishing in it), I was pounced upon by a rather brash girl. “Oh my god, are you actually gay?” she asked. “Erm, yes,” I replied.“That is SO cool, we MUST go shopping,” she squealed enthusiastically. Aside from feeling rather bewildered at being accosted in such an aggressive manner bya complete stranger, it got me thinking about what exactly I’m meant to be, as a gay individual.When asked to write this article, I was initially hesitant. I loathe to be labelled as a ‘gay’, in the same way, no doubt, that a girl who happened to be lucky enough (or not) to be born blonde would feel annoyed at being the butt of countless jokes. Conjure up the image of a gay. Do the same for someone straight. While the gay stereotype springs to mind immediately, the latter seems harder to define. On what grounds does this stereotyping of gays rest? Why has a sexual preference for men become inextricably tied up with the ‘gay stereotype’?Of course, straight stereotypes do exist. The emotionally unstable blond bimbo or the aggressive loudmouth lager lout are just two examples. But who actually assigns straight people these stereotypes on meeting them? Almost nobody. I decided that writing this article would, in fact, be the ideal chance to make the point that being sexually attracted to men does not reflect on an individual’s personality. Anyone who does not want to be identified as gay, but is attracted to the same sex, is immediately locked away in the proverbial closet. Many fear that their group of friends might decide that that their sexual preference clearly has some fundamental influence on who they are. Stereotypes are destructive and misleading. They only encourage prejudice. To my mind, there are three main stereotypes that have come to dominate mainstream society’s perception of gay men. The first is the so-called gay best friend. The lovely lady I mentioned above clearly expected me to respond with, “That would be so amazingly cool, I would be like the perfect accessory.” The idea lies in the belief that girls don’t feel threatened by gays, and that, as a gay, you are still privy to the mysterious world of men. It’s an unfortunate misconception that every gay guy will, by definition, love shopping and gossiping. Of course, some men do, and that’s absolutely fine. But this generalisation shouldn’t be accepted as the norm. The second relates to the supposed promiscuity of gay men, who are, apparently, notorious for being promiscuous and overtly sexual. Of course this completely ignores the fact that there are many gay men who are monogamous. And ironically sexual activeness is something many straight men would probably envy. The promiscuity of a straight man is often lauded as an achievement, whilst gay men are regarded as in some way sexually predatory. A room mate at school once told me he had thought, for about two years, that I was going to try to rape him during the night. This type of irrational fear was responsible for much of the isolation I felt for much of the time before I came to Oxford.The last stereotype equates being gay with being camp. Let me emphasise that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being camp. Still, it is inaccurate to classify such a diverse group of people as all sharing the same personality traits. It would probably surprise a significant number of people that an individual is just as likely to be gay if they play on a rugby team as they would be if they worked in a flower shop. It’s no wonder these stereotypes exist, given their media reinforcement. Think Daffyd, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy or, closer to home, the Wadham Queer Bop. Having said all this, it must be said that our generation no longer suffers from the appalling discrimination still in existence around the world. We are reaping the benefits of the work activists did in the 60s, 70s and 80s and it seems that homophobia is thankfully at last receding. I feel incredibly lucky to live in Britain, and especially Oxford, rather than Iran, where only a few months ago two 19 year olds were stoned to death for the ‘abomination’ they had committed. Put into context, being stereotyped pales into insignificance. But this doesn’t make life any easier for those still struggling to come out for fear of being identified in a particular way. The gay scene, whilst allowing individuals to feel comfortable and free from harassment, can encourage the entrenchment of stereotypes and segregation between gay men and mainstream society. That a gay man was beaten up by a group of homophobic drag queens at a bop meant to celebrate the tolerance of ‘queer’ society is testament to the hypocrisy and paradox of modern prejudice and acceptance. It has become increasingly apparent to me that the ignorance and prejudices concerning gay men will not be dispelled until both gay and straight realise that such stereotypes are unfounded and extremely dangerous. Picture this. You’re out with the lads on a typical night out at Park End. A beautiful girl (give or take a few pints) is looking your way and you’re reciprocating. She struts over and makes it very clear that she’s very interested. That same stunning girl who walked into the club, getting stared at by every guy there is now grinding against you and states explicitly that she wants you tonight. You should be ecstatic! You’ve pulled the hottest girl there, gaining you instant kudos among your mates. However, as she’s grinding harder you realise that she has noticed you aren’t quite as turned on as she  apparently is. She tries to ‘help you out’ but still the blood isn’t flowing. So you make your excuses and leave; heart pounding, head dropped in shame and the samedaunting questions going round and round your head.I used to think I was the only confused guy, but I’ve come to realise that I’m actually one of many. People in Oxford think too much and expect too much. There is constant pressure from tutors, friends, team mates and even family who are never satisfied with how far you’ve come. If you haven’t come out as gay or bisexual before university, it seems you have missed the boat. Anywhere other than Oxford, people can go out, get drunk, wake up the next morning with their best mate naked in their bed and just laugh it off. After all, university is meant to be the time to experiment and enjoy yourself, to discover who exactly you are. Two guys could have a short fling, secret or not, and if they like it, could continue batting for the other team. And if they don’t, they could just be happy that they did experiment, knowing their friends won’t have changed their opinions of them.In Oxford, shagging your best mate at the end of a drunken evening just cannot happen. The atmosphere here isn’t conducive to experimentation. The Oxford bubble feeds off the newest and dirtiest pieces of gossip. So for me – someone who enjoys sport and being one of the lads – being exposed as bisexual or gay would undermine the social life I’ve built up. Not only would the ridicule in scrums be unbearable, but the elitism that pervades Oxford would become even more pronounced.center_img It’s not just the team mates, it’s everyone. I was friends with a guy in first year who came out towards the start of this year. My friends in college were merciless, directing their ‘banter’ directly at him. This is clearly completelywrong. But the underlying fear of losing my friends or being excluded as he has been means that I haven’t felt comfortable coming out. He has been ostracised  by the straight/cool college circle. But why? He hasn’t changed as a person. He doesn’t act any differently now. The stereotypes still hold true and that’s why I will leave Oxford undoubtedly feeling regret and uncertainty, probably more confused than I was when I arrived.The image of success and achievement that you manage to pull off is central to how popular you are in Oxford. Maintaining this image is hard enough, let alone if you happen to gay or bisexual and therefore permanently paranoid and insecure. I may be straight, bi or a “straight-acting” gay, but I do not want to be labelled until I have worked it out in my head first. But I know that if I just kissed a guy, my peer group’s perceptions of me would be fundamentally altered. So I keep quiet, feel like I’m keeping some deep dark secret from my friends and remain horribly confused. I understand why my friends would react this way. They’ve been brought up to believe that gay men are unnatural. To deviate from the norm is something incomprehensible to them. I am happy that I’ve formed the friendships I have. Perhaps they’re stronger as I’ve not been distracted by relationships. My peersaren’t bad people, just ignorant. Unfortunately, whilst I realise the sporty lad stereotype doesn’t fit them entirely, I have no doubt that they would struggle to separate the gay stereotype from me. Whilst I understand the difficulties the gay guys face in Oxford, I myself am afraid of being identified as part of that culture. I have come to accept the stereotype that gay men are promiscuous or camp myself even though I realisethat this is not always the case. For me, it’s just easier to not come out. I don’t have to incessantly prove myself to the lads that I am actually good at sport and that shopping isn’t that big a fixation of mine. If I knew for sure that I was gay or bisexual, I would be more inclined to come out and enjoy being me. I don’t know what I am and for that reason I haven’t explored my sexuality. last_img read more

JUST IN: EVANSVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT

first_imgEVANSVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER  Sgt. JASON CULLUM SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT CONCERNING COMMENTS MADE BY OFFICIALS OF THE LOCAL FOP(The following responses as part of a press conference held by Sgt. Jason Cullum of EPD earlier today)Chief Bolin talked about being made fun of for his motto ‘Be Nice”- The FOP said the vote had nothing to do with whether Chief Bolin is a nice guy. That response is out of context to what Chief Bolin said. The FOP has an issue with Chief Bolin demanding that his officers be nice. As recently as last week, retired officer Mike Sloat posted on Facebook “Be nice? I have no confidence in this advice. I wonder if a chief of police or a sheriff would advise his personnel of this?” In their press release, the FOP claimed that under Chief Bolin the homicide rate has risen to an average of 13 per year. They refer to the uniform crime reporting data in their post, so I will use it too. There have been 8, 5, 9, 4, 8, 20, and 10 murders in the first 7 years of Chief Bolin’s term.  If there has only been one year that had 13 or more homicides, how can the average be 13 per year? The true number is 9. This year, there have been 9 murders. Two of them were at the same incident. The FOP claimed that in 2011, there were 138 officers assigned to patrol. There were, but only 120 of them counted for manpower on the street. The other 18 were supervisors and were not counted as part of the operational staffing. They also claimed that at the start of 2018, there were only 110 officers assigned to patrol. There were actually 115 officers. And again, there were 18 supervisors. As part of their no-confidence campaign, they told their members that patrol staffing had gone from 138 to 110. That was a lie. It went from 120 to 115. If one of those 115 officers worked 2nd shift in July of 2018, they were busy on a run an average of 54% of the shift.  That left an average of 46% of their shift available for proactive patrol. Furthermore, if you worked 2nd shift in July of 2011, you had a minimum of 21 officers working. In July of 2019, you had a minimum of 25 officers working. That is 4 more than you had in 2011. The FOP claims that manpower issues have decreased safety due to slower response times. In the first 7 ½ years of the prior EPD administration, the average response time was 7:04. Over the same time frame for this administration, the average response time is 7:47. There are many factors that can impact a 31-second increase in response times. Does the FOP believe the manpower issues are important when their members receive FOP days off for conferences, fall festival food booth workers, softball tournaments, basketball tournaments, or golf outings? They claimed Chief Bolin used tax dollars for projects important to him. That claim can be perceived as financial misconduct. I challenge President DJ Thompson to elaborate on this comment. What projects? How much tax dollars? They claimed he was quick to pay overtime for officers to work his events, while not providing patrol cars.  Again, I challenge DJ Thomson to elaborate on this. What events? When? How often? How much was spent? How often are the officers being doubled up? You can walk down Sycamore St at just about any time of day or night and you will see multiple line cars not being used. The occasional time where a car is not available isn’t because of overtime being spent at an event. The line started with 19 cars and now has 14. The reduction is because 5 cars were involved in crashes and are not drivable. We ordered 12 new Ford SUV’s back in January. Due to high demand, the vehicles are on backorder and have not arrived yet. The FOP claimed Chief Bolin removed good officers who perform their jobs well. Yes. Good officers have been removed from specialty jobs. If the officer’s sergeants and lieutenants feel the officer needs to be removed, they make that decision. There are expectations beyond being good at your job. You can make great arrests, but if you violate department policies, you are not immune from being held accountable. The following notes are allegedly from an 8/1/19 meeting with DJ Thompson, Mike Sides, and Alan Yeager was provided to the CCO by EPD Public Information Officer, Sgt. Jason Cullum.“Administration sucks. This is nothing personal against Billy.”Manpower issues. Department is 18 officers short. Officers can’t get days off when they want them. – They get days off when planning ahead. No employer gives days off “whenever the employee wants”“People are just walking out…leaving here for lesser paying police jobs.” – Who left here to what department—what were the other circumstances? Did wife get a new job? Went back to their home area?Not enough officers to do police work. Not making car stops. Not getting guns proactively off the streets.—many officers not doing proactive because line-level supervisors do not make them—many hours of downtime—little to no arrests… We will always be at a minimum. If we increase the minimum, they will complain they can’t get a day off. If we leave it at the current minimum, then they will “always be too busy”. They argue both sides of the coinManning shortage causing psychological problems with some officers.—shifts are covered—all contractually promised days off are being givenKeep starting new units. CPOs were doing the work that the homeless liaison officer is now doing.—CPO’s cover a lot of different issues—Karges Sr can address thisPark liaison — Matt Karges — assigned to Mikey’s Kingdom (Billy’s project)and only answers to parks issues—Karges has 734  calls for service. Only 6 (of 33) day shift officers have  more than he doesOvertime — can’t imagine how much we spend. We will always be at a minimum because officers take their vac, fam, and comp days-  and officers will always take advantage of unlimited sick days…If we moved to eliminate unlimited sick days, they would fight itOT is mismanaged. 911 Gives Hope…the event at Larry Bennett’s place. ZERO OT for 911 Gives hope or the event at Bennett’s. They are being attacked because Billy is associated ..This claim is completely falseJeff Worthington issue…priority is to go to the media. —Media called and asked about an elected official getting suspended. Media was tipped off before agenda email went outInstances like JW’s creating lots of mistrust of Billy. 70%-80% of officers don’t trust him. Where did this number come from?A sense that he’s absent a lot. He gets his time off just like everyone else“to be on the department now sucks.” Common feeling. Emotion-based—can’t respond to itPeople are afraid to do their jobs…afraid the administration won’t back them up. The admin has backed up officers time and time again, The FOP has been silent on every shooting, social media attack…New operational guidelines on officer-involved shootings. Andy replyNew OG requires involved officer(s) to make full statement/interview immediately for the sake of media. Very basic info- “ I saw this and fired my” gun.Vegas based videoWhen new OG was rolled out, the administration stated that it had been approved by the FOP attorney, which was false.Rush to the media to release information. More worried about media than officer safety.Not sure what they are referring toVehicles…not enough of them. Officers are waiting an hour after roll call to get a car.—When did this happen and how oftenFewer and fewer cars are on the streets.—Testing process…they would like feedback on the oral portion of exams. In other words, identify areas for improvement.Deputy Chief Bush and Lt. Hahn have relatively little to do for their ranks.Body cams. Concerned about restroom breaks being recorded.—Then ensure you are not recording before you walk inConcerned about the fishing expeditions of supervisors.—Have they found an example?VIPER moved to report directly to the Chief. It’s “his private militia.”“Communication is lacking.” (from Chief)Chief avoids eye contact at roll call and when walking through roll call area.Doing the job is becoming miserable.The administration is setting officers up to fail.—In what way- specific examplesOfficers of the FOP are targeted for their union activity. Who? FOOTNOTE: THE ABOVE INFORMATION WAS POSTED BY THE CITY-COUNTY OBSERVER WITHOUT OPINION, BIAS OR EDITING.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Hoboken bar violations seem petty

first_imgDear Editor:Regarding the town’s recent crackdown on bars, maybe some bars are “overserving” and lack proper internal management of rowdy customers. Such establishments then perhaps deserve measures to encourage better business practices. However, it seems other establishments are receiving violations for much prettier infractions. Let’s not sweep the good up with the bad. These bars historically have been essential to the growth of Hoboken. In recent decades, this growth was spurred, to a large extent, by bars and the nightlife they foster. Young professionals were attracted to the city by inexpensive rentals in close proximity to places they could hang out. Bars helped create Hoboken’s cool factor and added to the sense of community. This made for a symbiotic relationship between all businesses in Hoboken and the newcomers that began building their lives here. As more people came to Hoboken, property values rose (you can argue for good or bad), and this brought better buildings with local jobs in real estate, which led to more customers for the Washington street shops.The real benefit, of course, is increased tax revenue, especially as more affluent families began to stay in Hoboken, even as their children got older. But again, it’s important to remember who contributed early on: the bars. These bars are struggling now and many of the long established, non-chains need the revenue. Their continued existence is not just a boon to the long-time locals who feel at home there, but also to maintain the character and sense of community of Hoboken, so it continues to be a place people want to live.For local business owners to now claim that the environments encouraged by bars adversely affects their businesses is like a person complaining about the smell after moving next door to a farm. It’s somewhat disingenuous. So I say crackdown on the serial offenders (although the issue could well be mainly down to out of town visitors), but respect the other pubs and bars, with long time owners, that are making a serious effort to manage a nightly changing environment while still providing the neighborhood with a friendly, welcoming place to relax, get a beer, and hang.last_img read more

OCHS Girls JV 8 – Wins US Nationals With Open Water

first_imgBreaking News – Ocean City High Schools Girls JV 8+ won the US  National Championship on Lake Dillon in Nashport, OH today with a time of 05:07.255, over 6 seconds faster then the second place Mount Saint Joseph’s boat (05:13.539) and Notre Dame took third (05:17.483).Also racing in today’s finals is OCHS Girls V8+ and Girls V2 8+. More to follow…last_img

BakeMark’s variety drive

first_imgQuality, variety and convenience are driving the growth in premium baked goods, argues Wirral-based BakeMark. This is forcing bakers to juggle already-stretched resources to meet demand.Using its range of cake mixes means bakers can spend less time weighing and measuring and more time devoting their efforts to creativity, argues the firm. BakeMark offers a broad range of ready-to-use cake mixes under the Craigmillar brand. The mixes include ginger cake, rich fudge brownies and Madeira Cake. For a US-style treat, says the firm, bakers can use its American muffin mix, which it claims produces light muffins every time.BakeMark says that bakers can put their personal stamp on the cakes made using its mixes by adding ingredients such as chocolate chips or sultanas to increase consumer appeal.last_img read more

Press release: Environment Agency supports water restrictions in the North West

first_imgThe Environment Agency continues to work with United Utilities to ensure that, at all times, we make the best use of the water available and minimise any potential impacts to people, the environment and tourism should the dry weather continue.Cumbria’s unique geography makes it sensitive to high and low rainfall and the Environment Agency works with communities throughout the year to manage this.During dry spells it’s not unusual for some rivers and lakes in the North West to deplete quickly, during even short periods of low rainfall, and they tend to recover quickly when the rain returns.If we have intense rainfall on dry or compacted ground it runs off rapidly making river levels rise rapidly. This can cause localised flooding so it is possible to have floods during prolonged dry periods. United Utilities plans for a temporary usage ban is a responsible measure to help preserve public water supplies and protect the environment given the impacts we are seeing from the dry weather. Household water restrictions such as those proposed by United Utilities can reduce the demand for water by up to 10% – which is significantly more than changes to abstraction permits, or using other sources. This will help us balance the need of people through public water supplies, whilst protecting the sensitive natural environment. Each week, our hydrology experts monitor river flows and groundwater to see how much water there is and plan accordingly. Just like in a flood scenario, we have put robust and well tested plans in place during this period of dry weather, ensuring our demand for water is managed in the best possible way. The Environment Agency supports United Utilities plans for water restrictions across the North West to help reduce demand for water during this period of prolonged dry weather and protect the environment as well as public water supplies.Although the region has seen some periods of rainfall in localised areas, over two very dry months, we have seen a rapid decline in reservoir levels in the North West and we have started to see significant impacts on the local environment.The Environment Agency uses regulatory powers to manage water availability to maintain essential supplies for people and the environment and have been responding to impacts on the environment due to the dry weather over the last few months. Environment Agency teams have stepped up incident response as well as regulation of those abstracting water to ensure the environment is protected.Environment Agency teams respond 24/7 to environmental incidents to protect people and the environment and have received a sharp increase in reports of environmental incidents in the North West, with 25 per cent of July’s estimated reports received in just the first three days.Incidents can either be caused or exacerbated by the hot, dry conditions – such as fish in distress, or fish caught in pools due to flow flows, reports of Blue-Green algae, or moorland fires. Teams have been carrying out fish rescues, including one in Borrowdale, Cumbria, on Saturday and attending fish kill incidents exacerbated by dry conditions, such as that at Pigs Lee Brook, Bury, Greater Manchester, on Friday.Environment Agency teams are meeting with affected groups including farmers to provide practical advice about conserving water and planning for prolonged dry weather. We have carried out abstraction licence checks, visited critical spray irrigators, carried out water abstraction visits, advised businesses and farmers on water usage, and inspected rivers where the flows are lowest.Hydropower turbines have been checked for compliance including fish-pass and weir flows, and we have been on site monitoring air quality in response to the Saddleworth moorland fires. Teams are monitoring for environmental impacts across the region, and taking action to protect the environment.Jim Ratcliffe, Environment Agency Drought Manager, said: As always, if people see any environmental impacts due to dry weather, such as fish in distress, please report it to the Environment Agency incident line on 0800 80 70 60 so we can investigate and take action. Water is a precious resource and we always advise that businesses, farmers and householders use water wisely – especially during a period of dry weather – and to follow the advice of their water company. We all need to increase the amount of water we save to protect our natural environment and drinking water supplies.last_img read more

Dead & Company, Tedeschi Trucks Band Auction Tickets And Posters For HeadCount Drive

first_imgWith the primaries nearing completion and the general election setting in, it’s becoming increasingly important for citizens to fill out their voter registrations. Fortunately, the non-profit group HeadCount will be on the scene at venues throughout the summer, touring with some of your favorite artists and encouraging people to update their voter registration.Today, the group has announced an exciting initiative to increase their volunteer efforts, by launching an eBay auction series selling tickets, signed concert posters and more from Dead & Company, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and The Dixie Chicks. The funds from these auctions will help HeadCount send volunteers to various venues to run registration drives. All Dead & Company auction will also benefit the Rex Foundation.Tickets were donated by bands from their “friends and family” allotments, so they’re all really great seats. Not only are tickets on the docket, but signed posters and a special meet and greet with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi can also be purchased for the cause. You can find this special auction here, as well as a special signed guitar and a Kings of Leon meet and greet.All of the other auctions can be found here. With the first-ever HeadCount-Dixie Chicks partnership, the first touring HeadCount drive for Tedeschi Trucks, and tours set up for bands like Phish, Dave Matthews Band and more, this is going to be a great summer for celebrating music and the right to vote!Come November, be sure to get out and vote!last_img read more

CUNA, Cornerstone get behind 2 Texas ballot measures

first_imgThe 85th regular session of the Texas State Legislature ended on May 29 with two significant outcomes that will be impacted largely by high-level coordination between the Cornerstone Credit Union League and CUNA.Seven constitutional amendments, out of 156 that were proposed, will be voted on as statewide ballot measures on Nov. 7, two of which are specific to credit unions.The amendments represent the first time two constitutional amendments directly relating to credit unions have been on the Texas ballot. In addition to celebrating defeating numerous pieces of legislation that would have proven harmful to credit unions during the 2017 legislative session, we will be celebrating significant legislative victories that provide positive impact for credit unions operating in Texas.Cornerstone and the CUNA will be working together to pursue passage of these ballot measures that are important to credit unions. On Aug. 17, CUNA’s National Advocacy Fund Steering Committee approved funds to support these ballot measures. continue reading » 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Japan ends state of emergency in 3 prefectures

first_imgThe measure will be kept in place in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures, as well as Hokkaido, where the infections have slowed but need further improvement. (AP) Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that experts at the meeting approved the plan to lift the measure in Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo. TOKYO – Japan’s economy minister says experts have approved a government plan to remove a coronavirus state of emergency in Osaka and two neighboring prefectures in the west where the infection is deemed slowing, while keeping the measure in place in the Tokyo region and Hokkaido.center_img A foreign reporter who was selected to cover the opening ceremony of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) walks by medical workers after receiving a coronavirus test, at a hotel in Beijing, Thursday, May 21, 2020. AP/ANDY WONGlast_img read more

Surprise Upset

first_imgThe topic of conversation yesterday was the upset basketball win of Ball State over Notre Dame.  Just recently I wrote a Huddle Up about Ball State’s preference to recruit Indiana high school basketball players over out of state athletes.  This is beginning to pay off for the Cardinals.  It also shows that the Indiana players can win since Notre Dame recruits few (if any) Indiana players.Way to go Cardinals!  Keep Indiana high school basketball alive!last_img