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Joseph, born 1972


Joseph is an Afro-Caribbean gay male. He talks about coming out to his mother and having no adverse reaction from his family, his brother is also gay. He recollects attending a gay youth group, which helped him accept his sexuality. Later he discusses the government AIDS awareness campaign of 1987. He later talks about being a gay schoolteacher.


Coming out - 10
Role models (Larry Grayson) - 20
Gay youth group (Nechells Green) - 30
AIDS awareness - 50
Socialising - 30 60
Gay scene today - 80
Being a gay teacher - 70
Gay Switchboard - 30
Redditch gay venue - 60
Terminology - 70
Tolerance - 70
Black people's attitudes to gays - 70 90
Mixed straight and gay - 80

10 Mother recognises he is gay

Born in 1975, now aged 32. Growing up during the 1980s Joseph had no feelings for girls at all. His mother sat him down one afternoon and told him that she thought he was gay. Given that he comes from an Afro-Caribbean family this was an extraordinary turn of events.

20 Lack of role models
Joseph had no concept of what being gay meant, and the only role models that he had seen in the 80s were people like Larry Grayson on TV. He thought that being bi-sexual might be easier, but at 15 years old Joseph came out to himself as gay in 1990.

30 Gay Youth group at Nechells Green (c. 1990)

Thoroughly confused Joseph eventually phoned the Gay Switchboard. "The person who took my call advised me to go to a youth club in Nechells, Birmingham, where he felt sure I would receive advice." This he did. He says that no one made a big deal about his sexuality and that the youth club was pretty much like any other club. The kids played pool and football and hung out together. The youth club taught Joseph that it was alright to be gay and encouraged him to discuss his sexuality. At 17 he went to his first gay venue, a gay pub, but Joseph didn't tell his mother about the youth club or about going to a gay pub.

50 AIDS awareness

Joseph had his first sexual encounter, aged about 18. At about this time, the early 1990s, the first AIDS awareness adverts started appearing on TV. Joseph found this very frightening and the effect it had on him was that he started to have sexual encounters only when fuelled by drink. At this time Joseph was working for the DHSS and advice handed out to staff was often lurid and incorrect leading to a state of paranoia.

60 Socialising in Redditch

When Joseph reached the age of about 20 he started socialising with a large group of people also from his home town of Redditch. This was a mixed group of young men and girls and straight and gay people. A gay venue opened in Redditch and although it was only one night a week it was a great release for gay people who could at last meet and have a good time in their own town. Most of the people who went to the Redditch venue were older people. Joseph went on what he describes as a steep learning curve.

70 Being a gay teacher

Joseph now teaches ICT and Business Studies in Birmingham's inner city. The pupils he teaches are of mainly Afro-Caribbean or Asian background. Likewise the staff at his school are a mix of Asian, Afro-Caribbean or white extraction. When asked about homophobic incidents in the school from either staff or students, Joseph insists that he has never experienced problems of that nature. Although he is not 'out' in any official capacity, Joseph thinks that both staff and pupils know that he is gay. His partner attends all staff functions. Joseph feels that his sexuality is his own business and thinks that his strong personal stance as a teacher protects him from homophobic taunts. He has recollections of one incident when Afro-Caribbean pupils were using slang, "Chichi boy" to describe him, but this stopped when the students were tackled. Joseph thinks that the climate has changed considerably for gay people and that gay life styles are more readily acceptable now. It is interesting that Joseph has actually met gay pupils out on the scene.

80 Gay scene and Pride

Joseph felt that the gay scene has changed considerably since the early 90s and that gay people no longer felt in need of their own space. The ethos has changed to such an extent that gay and straight people share venues, i.e. Mail Box eateries, Broad Street clubs and Brindleyplace pubs etc. He felt that Pride therefore, is just a way of making money for the bars. It doesn't celebrate anything.

90 Family

Finally Joseph discussed his family. He also has a gay brother, who lives with a partner, and gay cousins. He states that his Afro-Caribbean father has no issues or problems with his sons' homosexuality.

Joseph concluded his interview by saying 'To me being gay is just another facet of life. It's just a part of me'.