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Mark, born 1969


Mark is a 38 year old gay man. In this interview he talks about the pressures on gay men to look young and the problems this can cause such as drug and alcohol dependency. He also discusses HIV and complacency about it on today's gay scene. He also discusses changes to Birmingham and the gay scene and talks about working as a male escort.


Early experiences and coming out - 10
Pressures on gay men - 20
Drugs - 30 70
Changing attitudes - 85 120
HIV awareness 1987 - 40
Safer Sex - 30 50
Male Sexuality - 80
Working as an escort - 130 140 155 160
Changing gay scene - 90
Pink Pound and entrepreneurship 85
Eating disorders 70
Straight and gay mix - 90
Married and straight men 140

10 Early experience and coming out

Mark describes early experiences of discovering his sexuality including sexual experience with a teacher at age of 14 (1983). No problems in family background regarding his sexuality. Describes himself as having "come out" at around the age of 18 (1987). Moved to Oxford soon afterwards, but traversed to and from Birmingham throughout his residence in Oxford.

20 Pressures for a gay man

Mark described the average gay man's perspective - i.e fewer responsibilities, more disposable income, fear of getting older, living more for the moment, more pressure to stay looking youthful; fear that when older his life as a gay man would be less fulsome (believed the feeling was widespread) and thus a higher premium on looking young.

30 Drugs on the gay scene

"I don't do the drug side of it, although I know they have been around a long time and play a big part on the (commercial) gay scene. A lot of this was around dancing and partying but I know now there is GHB and Ketamine, which are sex drugs. To me those drugs are bad drugs, a lot of guys take them and then pass out and having multiple sex partners and don't know if guys are wearing condoms. To me this will not help with stopping the spread of HIV."

40 HIV awareness campaign 1987

"I vividly remember the government advertising, it was always in the back of my mind. I did not have anal sex until I realised condoms would protect you from AIDS."

50 HIV and safer sex

"I believe there is a complacency about HIV, this is related to increasing drugs use, alcohol, etc, which undermined safe sex initiatives because people intoxicated are less likely to care. Also, gay men live more for the moment and are less sure of their futures, so safe sex is not deemed important to some".

70 Eating disorders

Mark believes they are more common and related to drugs/alcohol, again related to preoccupation with appearance and lifestyle.

80 Male sexuality

Mark believes gay men are more promiscuous because most men have high sexual desire, but heterosexual men cannot find gratification from women as accessibly as they would often wish; women do not, as a generalisation, have the same level of desire. For gay men, there are more outlets to find sex, and thus the average gay man has had more sexual partners/encounters than his heterosexual equivalent.

85 Moves towards tolerance of gays

From his own recollection, Mark believed that progress was made in the 1980s towards greater acceptance and understanding of sexuality in so far as, despite the introduction of Section 28 and homosexuality still being a taboo, widely perceived as deviant and wayward, young gay men often became a great deal wealthier, with more disposable income. Thus, gay venues were able to thrive on a level which they had not previously. He believed, therefore, that a paradox of Thatcherism was that on one level the government saw homosexuality as a threat to the moral fabric of society, while at the same time the ethos galvanised facilitated some gay men to flourish through entrepreneurship.

90 Changing gay scene in the 1990s

"The gay scene has changed and is changing all the time, shutters came down off the windows, straight people could look into a gay pub or club and women felt comfortable mixing in that environment." (1990s). "Birmingham became more cosmopolitan, places like the Mailbox and Summer Row opened and gay men found it easy to mix in these places with straight people."

120 Queer as Folk Feb 1999

Mark recalled changes in attitudes to homosexuality in 1999, when 'Queer as Folk' TV series came out on Channel 4. Heterosexuals, both male and female, took more of an interest in gay men, gay lifestyles and gay culture. Mark believes there is currently a ground shift in respect of heterosexuals opening their minds to homosexuality.

130 Male Escort

Mark discusses why he became an escort. "I was always looking for sex as I have a very high sex drive, I would go cruising. Some of my friends turned round and said you could be earning money for this, so one day I was on a sex chat line and this guy messaged me and said if you come and have sex with me I will pay you to do it. I thought 'Why not?' I got sexual gratification and also earned money. Instead of going cruising all the time I could be earning money. I eventually advertised as an escort on Gaydar, I was probably getting five to six guys a week and earning more than I was in my day job, so I quit that and decided to be an escort full time."

140 Married and straight men

"I would say 80% of my regular clients are married with children, and I also get a lot of young guys who are 'straight' and turn up drunk but would not go on the gay scene."

155 Stigma

"There is a stigma attached (to being an escort), but it is changing. Most people turn round and say 'good on you, as long as you're enjoying it'. I also have no problem telling people what I do. What I found shocking is trying to explain to a partner, I was going out with a lad, who I had not told I was an escort yet and someone in Loft Lounge went up to him and said 'you know that guy you're going out with, he is an escort'. Later on he brought it up but I could not believe someone thought they had the right to intrude into my life in that way".

160 The Internet

Mark discussed growing use of the Internet, and how it aids his job as an escort, as well as the type of clients who pay him for sex.