Vintage Love

I was browsing Tumblr the other day when I cam across a bunch of gorgeous old photos of these lovely couples. The description underneath details how apparently, from 1700-1920 there was an social assumption that women did not have a sex drive at all. The description then goes on to say that for all intent as purposes, women were essentially asexual in the eyes of their male partners and had sex to fulfil a list of “wife duties”. Because of this lesbian relationships were able to flourish, enabling them to share houses and finances (called a Boston Marriage) without raising an eyelid as it was believed these relationship were nothing more than close friendships. How little they knew!

I just think these images are so gorgeous. You can see their adoration for each other in their embraces. I feel that sometimes when we think about Queer* people we only really think of it as being a modern phenomenon. It’s pretty great that we have such widespread visibility and awareness now and we’re now investing time to dig up these old gems. It’s worth it.

I’ve done a little bit of research on these images. It’s turned up some interesting stuff and I’ll put a caption below when I can.

Affectionate Ladies c. 1900s-1980s.

Affectionate Ladies c. 1900s-1980s.


Lovers at the LGBT Castro Street Fair in San Francisco 1983. The fair was founded by Harvey Milk.

Lovers at the LGBT Castro Street Fair in San Francisco 1983. The fair was founded by Harvey Milk.

Women’s football. The team captains greet each other with a kiss. England, Preston, 1920. Nationaal Archief, The Netherlands

Women’s football. The team captains greet each other with a kiss. England, Preston, 1920.
Nationaal Archief, The Netherlands.


A portrait of a two young woman embracing on a boat by “Victorian hack” society photographer Fritz W. Guerin, c. 1902.

A portrait of a two young woman embracing on a boat by “Victorian hack” society photographer Fritz W. Guerin, c. 1902.


If you’re interested in vintage photos of queer couples here’s website with more: 


Being Asexual – Jess’s LGBTQ* Interview

I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely and awesome Jess on her experiences for the first interview this year. She has some super accurate and interesting ideas on the four types of attraction and the different kinds of asexuality that exist that I’ll admit, I have never considered before. The thing I loved most about this interview was the way in which Jess was able to explain her experiences prompting me to consider my own sexuality in relation, questioning the attraction I feel towards certain people, while others fall flat. She accentuates the intensity that a relationship can have without the often presumed assumption that it must involve sexual relations. I really recommend watching this interview and sharing it. I’m really quite proud of Jess.


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“As Nature Made Him” – Boy Raised as a Girl

man_into_woman_1953_470It’s been maybe three or four months since I first heard of the famous David-Brenda case. A boy who was raised as a girl. I was talking through Skype to a lady who had significant experience with LGBTQ Youth and she mentioned that I would find this particular case fascinating.

Canadian David Reimer was born “Bruce” a healthy male on August 22nd 1965. At the age of 7 months, he underwent a circumcision. However, the surgery didn’t go as planned and instead he left the operating room with a penis burnt beyond repair. His mother, desperate for her son to live a normal life, sought the advice of psychologist John Money who suggested David undergo sexual reassignment surgery and have his gender changed. The theory was that gender is learnt and since David was so young, with careful upbringing he can be taught to live as a girl.

David Reimer as "Brenda"

David Reimer as “Brenda”

So Brenda was created. She received lesson on how to be feminine, how to like the kind of things girls liked, even how to have sex as a girl. And all the while she refused. I think it’s fascinating that Brenda, having never known that she was in fact born male until much later in life, refused to be a female in every sense of the word. Every lesson they taught her was met with resistance and she kept telling them, “I want to be a boy.”

When she grew up, Brenda made the decision to become David, a man again. But needless to say the damage was done. David committed suicide on May 4th 2004, just 38 years old.

David as a boy

David as a boy

If you read the wikipedia page on David Reimer (I’ll link it below) it’s really horrific what kind of educational “lessons” were taught to her. Quite traumatic I would say. And while it one of saddest stories I’ve come across I think it’s an incredible example of how a person’s gender can’t be nesesarility be conditioned. That nurture over nature may not be possible. That you are born the gender you feel, regardless of upbringing and genitalia.

What’s also a little weird is that I found a book on David’s life titled “As Nature Made Him” in a second hand book shop while I was visiting Sydney. Coincidence? I think not. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but I’ll give it a try soon and let you know what I think. There’s a documentary on David which I’ll also link below.


Here’s the link to the amazon page for the book if you’d like to give it a read:

“As Nature Made Him” Interview with author:

David Reimer Documentary:

David Reimer’s Wikipedia Page:

Discussing Sexuality and Gender Identity – LGBTQ World Cafe Discussions

IMG_2112So this is the first post of the year and I have a little bit of catching up to do.

A little while ago, I posted about an event I hosted titled “LGBTQ World Cafe” where I invited young LGBTQ people, a few of their straight counter parts and a PFLAG mum to come and discuss their experiences, ideas and opinions on gender and sexuality. I promised to post the results of the discussion here and while it took a little longer than I admittedly thought, I’ve now complied it below. I’ve also included some footage of the discussions to give you a taste of the atmosphere. We were a little awkward at first, but by the end of the night we were high with laughter and truly trusting and respecting each other’s opinions. The participants were just that incredible! Hope you enjoy reading and I hope there are plenty of points below that really encourage you to reflect and consider your own ideas on gender identity and sexuality.

There were three major topic areas we discussed (Sex & Gender, Labels & Identifiers, Homophobia). We began by recording several questions to do with each topic area (recorded on a whiteboard) and then separated into smaller groups to discuss these questions. The majority of the ideas were recorded on butcher’s paper covering the tables and some discussions were recorded on video. This is what came up:

The White Board of questions

The Whiteboard of questions


Our first topic was the subject of Sex and Gender.  The main underlining question was – “How do we define our gender?” “What is a man?” “What is a woman?” In our modern society, where our views on gender and sexuality are changing rapidly and gender roles are beginning to be done away with, how much has sexism and stereotyping contributed to our definitions of gender? As one participant asked, “Is a woman someone who is feminine, looks after the kids, stays at home and is a man masculine…?”

So then is gender based on physicality? We decided the answer was no, as transgendered individuals have a gender identity independent of their physical sex. But then it was asked, “Why does it even matter?” “Why do we care if someone’s gender identity is different from how we expect it?” “Why do we find it difficult to comprehend when people bend the lines of gender or sit in the middle of a gender spectrum?” When in actual fact gender is an identity and it doesn’t necessarily have to correlate to your physical sex, and if it does consider yourself lucky. What we found was that western society has difficulty separating the two. Some Asian cultures have up to five genders, two of which correlate to our definitions, one that correlates to Intersex, and two that we just have no equivalent of. And there are many other cultures that have many other pronouns to use to communicate their gender identity. So why do we only have two?

Snapshot of some ideas recorded on butcher's paper

Snapshot of some of the ideas recorded on butcher’s paper

Another interesting concept that surfaced during the course of the discussion was the double standards of gender, specifically when it came to the acceptance of LGBTQ individuals. During the discussion it was suggested that a small section of homophobic behavior could be attributed to the uncomfortable attitude many heterosexual men feel when asked to consider being sexuality attracted to a member of the same-sex. However, the attitude is changed dramatically when a lesbian couple is presented to them, with most men finding it sexuality arousing. Even heterosexual women find the idea exciting, whereas many are severely uncomfortable with a gay couple. Why is there such an intense separation of the two interactions? Perhaps females, being stereotyped as the more nurturing and tender gender, display physical affection towards each other much more frequently and more easily making the leap into lesbianism not as socially unacceptable as male homosexual behaviour (as men are often taught against the sharing of tender physical contact).

What I find the most interesting concept that arose during the discussion was this question: To what extent has sexism contributed to stereotypical views of gender and their roles in society? In a modern progressive society where it is finally becoming acceptable to change the historic expectations of the behaviors of men and women, especially in the light of women’s suffrage, perhaps much of the opposition to transgenderism and homosexuality is the stubborn attempt to stay in possession of what little residue is left of sexist ideals. This would certainly explain the intense homophobia many masculine women, feminine men and transgendered individuals encounter on a daily basis regardless of their sexuality. Ancient traditions such as marriage and sex are no longer solely dedicated to procreation and the survival of a bloodline. Therefore such strict homophobic ideals of heterosexual only relationships are almost irrelevant in today’s society. Yet such traditionalist views are slowly becoming a minority with education and exposure of the fluid and flexible nature of gender, sexuality and behaviour. As one participant said, “It is important to remember that we are on the cusp of a society in change, we’re at the point in history where the gender roles have finally been broken and different sexuality is finally being brought to light. In the future such ideals will be broken and everyone will accept that people love people, and all people are different and unique in their identities.”


Another link in the key chain of ideas was the treatment of labels and identifiers.

IMG_2102The question was asked, why is it necessary to “come out”? “Why is the default setting heterosexual?” Who initiates these assumptions? Is it parents? Do parents subconsciously project a vision of what they hope their child will one day be, unintentionally including the kind of person they will one day marry in the process? Could it be movies and TV? Children pick up on these signals. Is it books, is it music, is it games, is it their school, their teachers, their friends, their neighbors, strangers? But we already know, it’s all of these. And these subliminal messages form a restrictive mental formula on being heterosexual. Which is great if you are heterosexual, but if you’re not this formula programmed into us from a young age has to be changed. And for some, it’s not easy. As annoying as it is we don’t receive a rainbow manual in the mail.

On this topic of labels and identifiers the World Café panelists found that for some, labels provide a kind of stability, a definitive way of knowing where people belong. But labels can be restricting. They often come with assumptions about your beliefs, your ideas, your opinions, your experiences, your behavior, your lifestyle, your character, your personality…. That can create prejudices even within the LGBTQ community against certain labels. And most of the time these assumptions are incorrect.

Throughout the blog I’ve been using the term LGBTQ (which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer). This is to be inclusive to all the labels and identifiers in the community. And it is the correct acronym to use. But as was pointed out at the World Café, the acronym is constantly being added to, gaining more and more letters. And I think it’s great that we are trying to be inclusive and recognize these different identities. But you have to admit; it’s starting to become a bit of a mouthful. The question was, will we cover every possible nuance and combination there is, until eventually we are reciting the entire alphabet? Perhaps what we need is to redefine our definitions of sexuality and gender to recognize all the possibilities (including heterosexuality) and the spectrum that is it. And when you really think, the more we label ourselves the more we segregate ourselves from each other and the more the LGBTQ community continues to be “other”.

Labels often come with assumptions about your beliefs, your ideas, your opinions, your experiences, your behavior, your lifestyle, your character, your personality…. And sometimes it is the misuse and disrespect for labels that promotes “society backlash”. For example, many (including those inside the LGBTQ community and outside) consider bisexuality “invalid”, saying that it does not exist and those who identify as such are confused and need to “choose”. There are many other misconceptions and presumptions when it comes to this label and this concerning “society backlash” was suggested to be caused by the misuse of the label as many lesbian and gay individuals in the process of coming out reveal themselves to be bisexual first as a way to test the waters. Not only that, but also many young girls identify as bisexual to attract men, as many men find the idea of a lesbian couple arousing. Such misuse prompts disrespect and prejudice against those who are genuinely attracted to both genders; hence many who are bisexual choose not to label themselves as so.

This prompted another question for those at the World Café, to what extent are labels chosen for the purpose of communicating and are these labels chosen by society? Or what the individual choses to label themselves? As it was said during the discussion, “Labels…it works, and I’m happy using a label but it shouldn’t be me.”


The last idea that joins the chain is of course homophobia. Not content with just stating that it exists, the participants dived in without any prompting and proceeded to look the lion in the mouth and find out why his teeth were so sharp by uncovering the various reasons behind homophobic behaviour.

Poster advertising the LGBTQ World Cafe event

Original poster advertising the LGBTQ World Cafe event

The question that was the most perplexing to everyone during the event was why coming out changes anything? If the individual has always had the sexuality/gender identity they just came out as having, why do some people suddenly change their opinion or attitude towards the individual once they know? Why does sexuality/gender identity matter so much?

While the extent of homophobia is increasingly becoming less present, it’s very existence presents LGBTQ individuals with the potential for an unpleasant and even dangerous encounter. It is commonly agreed that a broader picture of the possibilities of sexuality and gender identity is required to educate society of the normality of LGBTQ individuals. This means that openness, visibility and discussion are the most effective forms of education. However, a fear of the possibility of rejection and homophobic behavior makes this task difficult to accomplish. Many LGBTQ individuals wish to be open and visible with their identity but don’t want to “shoot themselves in the foot” (as it was said by a participant) by outing themselves in an unaccepting environment. Yet more concerning, is the knowledge that this issue may continue for the rest of an individual’s lifetime (as LGBTQ individuals are constantly having to “out” themselves to individuals) unless homophobia is eradicated.

Below is some footage of the final discussions for the night. We started a little awkward but as you can see, we soon were laughing hysterically. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Thanks for reading! Please comment and add your opinion to the discussion. Let me know what you think!

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A thesis documenting the project’s findings is available for reading so email me at if you would like to give it a read!

Check out the interview with Bunny Bennett from Steam Powered Giraffe!

Read Joseph Harwood’s interview here!

Outing Alyce – LGBTQ Interview

The last of the interviews! This one took me a while to edit and finalize but I’m so glad it’s finally ready to be viewed. Alyce was unfortunately outed at her Catholic high school in her last year. As school captain, she was told to watch that her actions do not confirm any rumours, essentially asking her to pretend and stay closeted. As we talked more, she revealed that she encountered some severe ignorance and hatred once while shopping a couple years ago. As I’ve never had this particular experience, I admit, it’s made me a little nervous in public. I’m not sure what I would do if the same happened to me.

Check out my channel for more interviews:

A Chat With Joseph Harwood

Makeup Artist and Model, Joseph Harwood

Makeup Artist, Model and YouTuber: Joseph Harwood

Another interview! I talked with Joseph Harwood on his experiences with LGBTQ issues.

Joseph Harwood is an extraordinary makeup artist and former androgynous model based in the UK. His clever male to female makeup transformations have won him competitions including Simon Cowell’s You Generation competition to find the best makeup artist in the world! A successful YouTuber with plenty of tutorials and advice videos, he has a large following of over 35, 000 subscribers to his channel. This year Joseph relaunched the YouTube channel Perfect Androgyny, where androgynous personalities discuss their views and opinions. It has already reached over 10,000 subscribers.



How do you define yourself in gender, sexuality and appearance? (Could you please define androgyny for our audience here too.)

Well let’s start with gender. I really believe there are 3 components to this and a simple and erudite way of calculating it is by combining the identity of our mind, body and soul. I think humans are very spiritual beings, if it’s energy or something else, whatever your personal belief system is I think we have an energy core which is indefinite. As an adult I’ve been surrounded by trans people, drag queens, androgyny, gender benders… every non-cis being on the gender spectrum you can possibly attribute, yet for me, I don’t find much familiarity. There’s this concept that’s as old as dust that’s even present now within many indigenous cultures and that’s the idea that you can be ‘two spirited.’ The idea that your essence is actually two souls of both genders, or one soul which is a combination of the two, whatever it is. This is something that’s been around before gender reassignment, without any modern organized religions dictating gender norms or exposure to modern day trans ideas, these people have historically shown attributes or both genders either in their anatomy or their behavior within their culture. For me that’s the only thing I’ve been able to identify as, I grew up organically as someone who looked ambiguous, who displayed qualities of both genders, yet I wasn’t exposed to the idea that I was trans or let anyone dictate to me what gender I was or should be, I just accepted that my ‘soul’ or essence consisted of both male and female energy and I embrace it. If we look at the body we’re born as, I’m completely male, yet I have very ambiguous qualities. I don’t have an adams apple or brow ridging, my features aren’t naturally very masculine in proportion, yet I’m 6’2 and I’m quite well built. The last component for me is our minds and I genuinely believe this is the most malleable factor when it comes to gender, because we subconsciously decide what gender we are. If I was born in a different upbringing where I was surrounded by stringent transphobic culture, or even the opposite where someone in support would suggest that I could be trans, I know I would have a very different perspective. I honestly believe our minds are a product of what we’re taught. So taking all three attributes in to consideration I consider my gender to be male. My soul is two spirited, my body is male, my mind is neither, and for that reason I identify as a male. If my soul was female and my body was male, then I’d maybe consider adopting with gender reassignment but I’m simply not, I don’t see any benefit of changing physically.

Sexuality is easy, I’m very fluid and I’m attracted to all people. My appearance is just a reflection of my ideas at that moment, I spent my whole childhood sketching and painting cultures and now I just translate that into my image. It’s like an artform, I don’t take it that seriously.

Androgyny is just a word that means attributes of both genders, we’re all somewhere on that spectrum, we’re all androgynous.

Have you always known your sexuality or was it a later realisation?

I remember coming home from school when I was in reception, which is like kindergarten in England, and announcing that I’d found my husband. I was actually talking about a girl lol, but at the end of the day I was always open to either.

You seem quite sure of yourself in your videos, did you ever give yourself a hard time?

In the videos I’ve done I’m totally a characateur of myself, like Joseph Harwood is a fictional character Joe came up with, sketching concepts as a kid. Whether it was my work as a model, or building my business, I have a professional persona that I wear. I don’t think anyone should take themselves that seriously, I would never be so stupid as to put my entire self out there, it would be too invasive. I’ve dealt with control issues and eating disorders throughout my whole life and I’m very self critical, but I’m just a regular person, I have my insecurities. I think when we focus too much on the bad or the good we lose sight of what’s actually going on so I don’t take it that seriously, but I certainly think my perfectionist attitude fuels the nature of what I do. I wouldn’t be working in makeup had I not been insecure about my appearance.

How was coming out to your parents and friends? 

I honestly didn’t come out to anyone, I never saw why I should have to. My cis, heterosexual sister didn’t so why should I? We’re both on the paths we’re meant to walk and I’ve always been open about who I am. I posted a video recently about a drunk conversation I had with my mum, but there was no moment where I discovered myself and said wow guys, I’m into men and I look like a girl so I wanna wear more ambiguous clothing. I’ve always looked like this and I’ve always been the person I am. My parents are very strange creatures themselves so we all get on with it haha!
Joseph Harwood

Have there been any LGBT people you went to for advice on LGBT related matters, e.g. Other YouTubers/books/friends/family?

This is a difficult one because I’ve always been very outside of the umbrella until really, very recently. I was not brought up around anyone gay or had any gay friends through school, I never frequented the gay scene or had any experience with people of the trans community, I was very organic in my growth. Being a kid born in the 90s I grew up with MySpace and my first encounter with anyone remotely close to what I was, happened through a computer screen, and although I was greeted with a lot of positive support and my horizons opened, the people who I saw the most similarities with were hostile and very volatile towards me. It in truth struck the fear of god into me when it came to interacting with other people who looked androgynous or venture too far into the gay scene. I certainly became aware, and even in some cases in awe of many of the androgynous creatives I stumbled on but I had no direct interaction with them until I became around 19? I had a moment of realization and went through a slight metamorphosis when my family home fell down, my parents parted company and we had two years of tumultuous renovation that honestly felt like a battle field. But in that time I really researched and invested time into finding out all I could about LGBTQ issues, I plucked up the courage to reach out to many of the people that had inspired me and looked into the history. That introduced me to all the references I needed to know about, so I guess that was my late education. In regards to YouTube or other social media I think I’ve been incredibly lucky in the last two years, having many of the people I’ve looked up to show interest or support in my creativity.

How have your experiences been with hosting the channel? What type of feedback have you received from viewers and how have you influenced them?

I think the story of me on YouTube is quite well known by now, I was the ghost creative behind other YouTube projects all the way back til 2007 so I’ve always loved the interaction and the way an idea can be instantly seen all over the world. The negative for me was that moving from the beauty and fashion industry into the YouTube genre, you are immediately placed among 99% of bloggers who have never worked in that industry and unless you have an inordinate amount of online infamy you aren’t taken seriously. That for me was the main point of contention, I definitely felt that at the start I lost a lot of respect from people I had worked with either as a model or a makeup artist because I was on YouTube. I think since I won Simon Cowell and Pixiwoos search for the next makeup talent it really did affirm to people that my talent as an artist is in the highest tier and I’m very proud of where I’ve come to. Personal experiences aside, I have loved meeting all the amazing people I’ve worked with and alongside on Perfect Androgyny, I have certainly built life long friendships. I spoke recently in a blog about homosexuality and the laws across the world, we forget how difficult it is in other places. Not only last week an amazing guy from my audience ran into me at a club event and expressed emotionally how our channels had inspired him and helped him, even though in his country it was illegal to be homosexual. That really negates all the negative aspects I have to deal with, because we can reach people everywhere.

Do you like to be a role model for your viewers?

Absolutely not, I find this so bizarre. I just think it’s totally insane, I cook vegan food for my family and argue with my little sister about perfume. I drink too much rum and say too much. I still get insecure standing in front of a camera or preparing for a big makeup shoot. I’m just a regular person, I can be an idiot at times… like all I do is beat my mug every now and again and have fallen on my feet. I don’t feel like I’ve even started yet. I’m currently working on music and I’ve been working so hard to develop the ideas and what I wanna say that like I think, once that’s out in the open I might take the title a little more. Right now it’s just crazy to me.

As you have both energies of female and male, how have your experiences been with dating?

Wow haha, this is a tricky one. This has really changed for me in the last two years I think. I had my hair cut into a Bowie mullet when I was 16 for a shoot and it was really my signature look growing up. I was this skinny little androgynous punky looking vampire with shocking blue eyes and red hair. I dated a mixture of guys of girls and it was easy going and I was more interested. I think it changed slightly when I first started growing my hair out, I lost all the appeal to straight girls and gay guys because I looked female to them and the majority would settle for the stereotype. I definitely attract a lot of people, but I’m a bit of diva nowadays and when I date, I wanna be with people who offer what I can, I think I’m a lot more mature than my age group so it’s a little bit like sieving gold hahaha… The qualities I’m attracted to are height, confidence and intelligence, whatever the gender.
1900483035-Nose Contour (2)

Have you had any strong experiences with homophobia? (Here I’m referring to both discrimination based on sexuality and based on appearance.)

I think everyone in the world has experienced some kind of stupidity in their life, from a rude person on the bus or at work, or at school. everyone’s met an idiot. I’ve never put this down to homophobia or transphobia, however I guess the more distracting you appear to the mundane the more components there are to critique if you are said idiot. At school I had slight growing pains but more than less I’ve been pretty lucky.

How do you deal with it?

I think that the main reason I’ve flown over a lot of homophobia is because my mum said to me when I was starting to express myself in my image, if you’re going to stand out for the way you look make it look expensive. I think this is why drag queens or rock stars that typically look androgynous get away with a lot, people really get distracted with the glitter that they forget their fears. I also don’t take much seriously. I just think of the way we look as armor and warpaint, once you’ve created your confidence people will embrace you.

Where do you think homophobia stems from?

Fear of the unknown. It turns people feral.

Have you encountered any prejudice within the LGBTQ community?

I would say most of the negative backlash I’ve experienced has come from other LGBTQ people, especially those who are either androgynous or trans who are just catty. The first thing that I noticed integrating into any kind of gay scene is that people assume firstly that you are transsexual or that you are a drag queen, and won’t accept your male name. It’s incredibly tedious but I know a lot of gay people project their insecurities because we have far more to deal with than a straight counterpart, so I accept it and I try and know better haha. I do it sometimes myself, I have to catch myself being defensive and I try and grow to be a better person.

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