Attitude - - Contents - @ Clif­fJoan­nou

H “ow do you mea­sure a year? In day­lights, in sun­sets, in mid­nights, in cups of coff ee, in inches, in miles, in laugh­ter, in strife,” and so go the lyrics to the song Sea­sons of Love from the mu­si­cal Rent. It’s an up­lift­ing, if bit­ter- sweet, song about how we can quan­tify the lives of the peo­ple we have lost. The fi rst time I heard it live it was sung by the Lon­don Gay Men’s Cho­rus at a World Aids Day memo­rial ser­vice in Soho, and it’s one of those songs I fi nd my­self lis­ten­ing to as win­ter rolls in and the year comes to an end.

If you asked me how I mea­sure a year on this grey, gloomy Satur­day af­ter­noon that I am typ­ing the copy you’re read­ing right now, I’d re­ply that it was mea­sured by a seem­ingly un­end­ing cy­cle of wash­ing. My week is gen­uinely ( and, yes, pa­thet­i­cally) defi ned by what day I need to wash my whites, darks and colours. Sad, I know, but when you’re the kind of men­tally un­sta­ble per­son I am, who con­ceals his psy­choses be­neath a thin ve­neer of calm com­po­sure, then rou­tine is vi­tal to func­tion­ing in a so­cially ac­cept­able man­ner.

But aside from my sad re­la­tion­ship with Be­y­oncé ( the name I be­stowed on my wash­ing ma­chine… long story… all the ap­pli­ances in my house are named af­ter pop di­vas) there are, of course, many other ways to mea­sure a year, which don’t need an added scoop of Daz wash­ing pow­der.

Po­lit­i­cally, 2018 will be re­mem­bered as a stag­nant year, if not a some­what re­gres­sive one for the West. Two years of buff oon­ery has left the UK hang­ing in Brexit limbo. In the US, while the mid- term elec­tions de­liv­ered a blow to Trump, he strength­ened his hold on the Se­nate.

The US Supreme Court also tilted to the right, pre­sent­ing fu­ture con­cern for trans ( and pos­si­bly wider LGB+) rights. Else­where, a once- pro­gres­sive Brazil has voted in an ex­trem­ist pres­i­dent. Pop­ulism con­tin­ues to rise. The news agenda has largely for­got­ten the tragedies of Syria and Yemen.

The good LGBT+ news came from un­ex­pected places. In­dia and Trinidad and Tobago de­crim­i­nalised gay sex, while Taiwan and Thai­land are on the path to in­tro­duc­ing same- sex mar­riage.

So, is the world in a bet­ter or worse state to­day than 12 months ago? I guess it de­pends on your per­spec­tive.

Away from the un­savoury world of pol­i­tics, us reg­u­lar folks have lit­tle op­tion but to get on with our lives.

This year I’ve seen my nieces and neph­ews grow faster than ever as they look to start sec­ondary school. Two close friends are now sober hav­ing over­come a dark mo­ment in their lives, and I know of sev­eral oth­ers who have had the courage to change their life for the bet­ter in sim­i­lar ways. Other friends have wel­comed new chil­dren — adopted and bi­o­log­i­cal — into their lives. Me? I’ve been pro­moted at work, and seen At­ti­tude evolve into the ex­cit­ing new place it is to­day. As I look back on the year — laun­dry ex­empted — there re­ally is a lot to be joy­ful about.

When it feels as if we can’t rely on the politi­cians who were voted into power to im­prove our lives, we need to look else­where. De­spite all the protests and pe­ti­tions that we put our voice to in an eff ort to infl uence na­tional pol­icy, it is ap­par­ent that the most pos­i­tive changes we can aff ect be­gin at home.

In that re­gard, 12 months from now as we wrap 2019… how will you mea­sure a year?

“Pop­ulism con­tin­ues to rise but good LGBT+ news has come from un­ex­pected places”

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