A year ago I fucked up an entire wall in my spare room, brainstorming what I could do to make the world a slightly better place. The only thing I could think of (that I might be any good at) was writing. So, I took a punt. I just figured that even if one person, out of the 7.5 billion people on this planet, could be positively impacted by something I wrote, then it’d be worth doing. So a year ago TODAY I posted my introduction and I set my stall out: About – Why am I even here?

I didn’t know what I was doing (I still don’t). I didn’t know if anyone would read what I wrote or even if I had anything worth saying. With the encouragement of two wonderful friends, Pia and Mark, I set about posting my thoughts for the world to see.

I’ve been reflecting on what’s happened over the last year and where that brainstorm has taken me and it’s pretty cool:

25th August 16

  • Introductory blog posted

September 16

December 16

  • Interview for Age UK Annual Review and Your Time magazine published about my experience volunteering

January 17

  • Contacted The Lewis Foundation about volunteering opportunities (I now regularly volunteer for them)
  • Contacted Macmillan about writing a guest blog (I’m now working on blog number 6)

February 17

March 17

  • Travelled to India for 3 weeks (I am now writing a book about my experience)

April 17

  • Nominated for a Spirit of Age Award for the volunteering I do for Age UK (I didn’t win but to be nominated was ridiculously amazing)

May 17

  • Contacted The Happy Newspaper about writing an article for them
  • Attended Eden Project’s Community Camp
  • Sent initial letters to neighbours about a street party
  • Helped create a Wonderwall of messages of support in Manchester with Emily Coxhead following the Manchester terrorist attacks

June 17

July 17

August 17

  • Street party takes place and is filmed by Eden Project
  • Facebook Live interview with Ife Thomas about coping with grief and depression

Aside from the above, in the past year, I’ve written 32 blog posts for my website, volunteered, built up an online community, travelled to 8 countries and countless cities across the UK and managed (somehow) to hold down a full time job and maintain friendships. When I look at it like that, it’s no wonder I’m tired all the time!

The things listed above might all seem very small in isolation but it’s really proven to me how every action, no matter how small, can have a ripple effect that spreads far and wide. For example, If I hadn’t contacted the Lewis Foundation, I wouldn’t have learnt about and attended Eden’s community camp, where I wouldn’t have been inspired to arrange a “Big Lunch” (which bought 60 of my neighbours together). I wouldn’t have met my neighbour, Ife, who then invited me to talk on her facebook live broadcast about grief (which 500 people have now seen). That one action, wanting to volunteer for The Lewis Foundation, has had a positive impact on my life and other people’s, and that’s just based on what I can quantify. There are loads of connections and threads that have linked everything I’ve done with It’s Character Building. Some of which, I can clearly see the impact of, some of which, I may never know about.

Now I’m not writing this as a “Look at me, aren’t I a fucking hero” post. It’s more just as proof that we CAN all make a difference to the world. So much has been happening lately that makes us feel like the world has gone crazy but I want you to know that you aren’t helpless. Everything you’re doing is important and is shaping your life and the lives of those around you. It’s having profound and far reaching ripple effect that you may never know about.

It’s also reminded me to step back and take stock every now and then. I can’t believe what I’ve achieved in the last year. My words have reached thousands of people across 32 countries. I would never have believed that was possible 12 months ago. Have a think about what you’ve achieved this last year. It will be extraordinary, I promise you.

I’m not sure where the next 12 months will take me but I’m glad I started this positivity journey and I want to thank everyone who has been involved. Thank you for the lovely messages, the support, the likes, the shares, the inspiration, the motivation, all of it. While it’s not always been easy, it’s definitely been worth it. Here’s to Year 2 🙂

Be Bothered

The first blog I ever posted was about being bisexual (or more accurately, pan sexual) and since then, I haven’t really addressed the subject of sexuality. Not because I don’t want to, more because it hasn’t been something I’ve been particularly compelled to speak about. Well, I’m compelled now.

Good old cunt flaps in America has decided you can’t be a transgender person and serve in the armed forces because of “medical costs and disruption”. This is despite the US military spending a reported $42m a year on erectile dysfunction medication (viagra) – several times more than the total estimated cost of transgender medical support, according to the Washington Post. Last time I checked, having a hard on didn’t win a war, so I’m not sure how certain costs can be justified and others not. It’s been difficult to find a definitive answer to the number of trans people currently serving in the US forces. I’ve read numbers between 1320 – 6630 right up to 15,000. Presumably if trans people are costly and disruptive, someone would be able to quantify the current numbers? #justsayin

Recently, I was asked by one of my friends why there isn’t straight pride. He didn’t ask in a nasty way, he’s not homophobic, it was a genuine question, I guess because he’d never thought about it before. I asked him what he thought Pride was, “It’s like carnival isn’t it?” Kinda. It started as a protest against oppression and that’s what it still is but it’s also a celebration of the progress that’s been made in Queer rights. You see, 50 years ago, sex between men was illegal in the UK. (Interestingly, sex between women has never been illegal. Presumably because it’s not real sex if it doesn’t involve a penis. Christ there it is again, that penis thing). 10 minutes on Google and you can find out a lot about the struggles that the Queer community has faced and still face. But I guess, why would you unless you really needed to? Unless Queerness actually affected your world? I know 14 year old me wouldn’t have given a fuck – see When did you know you were gay?

But the thing is, if you’re the President of the Free World, you kinda, sorta should know what the fuck you’re talking about. I genuinely believe that DT would introduce straight pride if he could, and white pride, and male pride because he has no idea what it’s all about. I went to London Pride a few weeks ago. It was my first ever Pride event and I went with a group of bad ass women. We had the best time, we watched the parade from Trafalgar Square, drank in the sunshine, partied in the streets and ended up in a Gay club in Soho. It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. People were having a good time, dressed how they want, being their authentic selves, not hurting anyone.

I wasn’t born homophobic but as I’ve discussed previously, there was definitely a time when I was. Maybe that was because I was scared of my own sexuality but I think it was more because that was what society taught me. I’ve been trying to understand how some sections of society still find people simply wanting to be true to themselves, so abhorrent. Queer people aren’t trying to turn anyone. There is no gay agenda. There is only a desire for equality.

So maybe you’re heterosexual and you don’t know any gay people, it’s just not a thing in your world. Well, I’m sorry but it’s 2017. It IS a thing in your world. If you’re a decent human being, you should try to understand others. For example, I don’t agree with capitalism but I understand why people do. I’m an atheist but I have a basic understanding of most religions and have respect for people with faith. I’m against right wing politics but I understand it and I know why people believe in it. I’ll admit I do try and keep these topics off the dinner party chat list but it’s not anything I would want to persecute anyone for. I don’t view Christians or Hindus or Tories or Company Directors as not deserving of human rights, why would I? It would make no sense.

We live in a time where we can access the answer to pretty much any question within 2 seconds flat. Educate yourselves. Don’t know why there isn’t straight Pride? Ask Google or Siri or Me! Not bothered about DT’s decision about trans people because you aren’t American or Trans? Bullshit. Be bothered. If you’re in America, and I know a lot of you reading this are, lobby your local politicians, support your Queer community, march, resist, be heard. Equality and human rights mean your daughter can vote and go to university. It means your son can choose if he serves in the army or not. It means you aren’t oppressed. We start letting things go because they don’t affect us and soon we will be affected, but by that point it’ll be too late.