My name is Joe, I’m 23 and I live in Bosherston, near Pembroke. I’m currently working as an apprentice for a boat building company in Pembroke Dock. As part of my apprenticeship, I also attend Pembrokeshire College to do a HNC in Mechanical Engineering. I’m also the chair of Pembrokeshire College’s LGBT+ group.
I think one of the biggest challenges for the LGB community in Wales, is tackling the word ‘gay’ being used as a derogatory term, that is thrown about so much and so liberally in schools, colleges, universities and now extending to the workplace. We need to stamp this out by expanding peoples vocabulary. To think that people are missing out on an education for fear of being bullied is an absolute tragedy.
As far as to how I feel as an out gay person in my local community, I’m not overtly camp and don’t define myself as just being gay, therefore many people I meet in work or at badminton, or out and about assume I’m straight. This of course leads to many little ‘outings’ that are always ever so slightly awkward. Whether it be the question about the girlfriend that won’t ever exist or what I’m doing in London when I visit next (when I’m going to Pride). Pembrokeshire is quite a small place and I often find people don’t necessarily understand why we are who we are. Generally though I have only ever experienced a positive reaction from friends, family and colleagues, which is great.
My favourite book has to be one I have read recently, as I have lots of favourites. It may sound a bit clichéd, but it has to be Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh, a fascinating true story about a boy from a Romany gypsy family who runs away from an abusive father, to be with a man he loved. It made me think that, if I thought I had it bad, then Mikey and I’m sure many others have had it a lot worse. When he tells the story of how saw his mum after having left the gypsy community, it had me crying my eyes out!
My favourite TV show has to be Spooks, not just for Richard Armitage, but I love espionage and thriller series. It’s also fascinating insight into how close we possibly have come to armageddon (supposedly). Apart from Spooks, I loved Beautiful People, which was about two boys coming to terms with their sexuality in suburban Reading, I think the defining moment for me would be the end of series 2 when he comes out to his mum in a letter. Absolutely beautiful!
If I were the First Minister for Wales, I would also make sexual health a greater priority on the health agenda in Wales. Sexually transmitted diseases are steadily becoming a pandemic across Wales, not just in the LGB community. By providing greater access to GUM clinics for young people in Wales and better education of the risks, we could stop this from happening.