Episode 14 - Life as a gay black man
Voice Over: Welcome to Sex Talk. In this episode expect to hear some colourful language and conversations of a sexual nature. You may want to pop on a pair of headphones for some privacy during this podcast.
Adele : Hello and welcome to sex talk, this is a podcast all about sex.
Hilary: Indeed. You're joined by obviously myself Hilary Ineomo-Marcus.
Hilary: Absolutely and make sure you subscribe to the podcast as well. If you have a listen to any episodes then you can listen back now, here's your opportunity to catch up.
Adele : So our last episode was all about sexual problems.
Hilary: Indeed and today we're talking about being a black, gay or bisexual man in 2018. There has been a significant year-on-year increase in new HIV diagnoses among Asian and black African gay and bisexual men for over a decade.
Adele : Yeah that's right. So a large survey of people living with HIV found that BAME people are twice as unlikely to disclose their HIV status compared to white people living with HIV.
Hilary: Why do you say BAME?
Adele : Marc who's here that we're going to chat to in a minute, I feel like he says it slightly differently to me.
Marc : BAME stands for black Asian minority and ethnic and it's the phrase that's used to talk about all people who are non-white, but I prefer the term people of colour.
Adele : Ah so I heard you say the other day BME.
Marc : Yeah or black minority and ethnic and this is why I think it's confusing because it's like an alphabet soup.
Adele : So we've already chatted to him a little bit but please let me introduce properly Marc Thompson, one of the founders of Black Out, a digital platform for black gay men and we also have Phil Samba in the studio as well. He's told me that he's just getting in the zone, he's done a couple of press ups and he's going to wow us with his knowledge shortly.
Hilary: He's been popping sweets actually.
Adele : And not sharing them, did you notice that?
Hilary: He didn't share.
Phil : I don't share…
Adele : Oh ok, we're going to find out why shortly. But Phil is a health improvement specialist for BAME or people of colour men or people who have sex with men for the HIV charity the Terrance Higgins Trust. Hello boys.
Hilary: Right I'm really interested to hear both your stories because on this show we have the best guests ever, so you have quite a target to hit this week.
Adele : Marc's like I'm here for this.
Adele : So Marc, you are part of the team behind Blackout UK, a digital platform for gay black men. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and why you set the site up please?
Marc : Yeah sure so I've been involved in HIV social justice activism for about 25 years as a black gay man it was really important that we were able to be in charge of our own narrative and our own stories so I've been involved in lots of organisations. We set up Black Out coming up to two years ago and it started out as a digital platform because we recognised that we wanted to provide evidence of our existence as a black queer community in the UK and it's grown from that into a digital social platform, we're mentoring supporting younger black gay men to provide a range of different interventions across the community.
Hilary: Now over to you Phil. Many people in London would recognise your face, as you appeared on a series of posters for the Me, Him, Us campaign by the GMFA which stands for the The Gay Men's Health Charity. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what the campaign was and why you got involved in the first place?
Phil : I actually got involved in the sector by meeting Marc. I met Marc.
Hilary: The oracle.
Phil: My mentor. So I met Marc coming out of black pride because I was on my way to go see the Weeknd and basically Marc was doing outreach, he was giving out condoms and we got to talking because I recognised him from Black Out actually. So that's actually how I got into Me Him Us so I didn't just star in it but I co-developed it as well.
Hilary: Why did you get involved in the first place? Did you see that there was a misrepresentation of gay black men in society or was there some sort of lack of knowledge or ignorance about the subject matter?
Phil: Initially I did it for fun actually. And then as I kept going to the meetings and everything I noticed that I was in a unique position and I feel like I'm very comfortable with myself, I'm very open so I talk openly about sex, and I'll even tweet about it and stuff…
Hilary: You're on the right podcast for that. You're in the right place.
Phil : But being someone who is able to talk about their experiences and that is pretty open to talking about sex and sexual health who is also gay black and African, I realised basically I was in a unique position to help other people that might be in similar situations I guess.
Adele: It's wonderful for me to hear Phil talk like this as a young black man and I think Marc that is in part because of you and people like you and Black Out and UK Pride which is where you guys both met. Do you think it has become easier for people of colour to come out?
Marc : I think it's always getting easier, it's always evolving for all of us and I think that as a black community there are always going to be challenges, there are challenges absolutely everywhere if you're a queer person regardless of your ethnicity. I think that's what's amazing for black queer folk and young black gay men now is that they are seeing so many other role models like Phil, like some of the guys doing amazing work in the community so it makes it easier for them. I think there are still issues in our community, conversations we need to have around sexuality and homosexuality but I think for my younger brothers it certainly is easier, there are more allies available to them, there are more spaces, they can go onto Twitter, social media, anywhere they want to and connect with other people but we still have to change our conversation at home, in the barber shop, in churches and in the hair dressers, that's where it needs to change.
Adele: You're right it's not just digitally it's in real life as well.
Hilary: Going to the next question, Phil do you think there are a disproportionate amount of black gay and bisexual men not out with their sexuality?
Phil: I think there's a mixture. I think some people are out to some extent. I have a friend, he's Nigerian but both of his parents are pastors so he's out to his friends and he's out to some degree but to some extent he'll never be out to his family, or maybe not never but it's difficult for him. So it's different, it varies. With my mum it was always about what are people going to think, that sort of stuff so there's a lot of I guess reputation when it comes to families and you need to uphold my reputation and that sort of stuff.
Adele: I can see Marc nodding along and resonating with a lot of what you're saying Phil.
Marc : Absolutely. There's a whole conversation around coming out and what does it mean and the notion of coming out is a really Western, white gay thing. You make this big statement, the whole world knows etc. etc.. For black queer folk it takes on a different stance. So many of us may come out to family members and that family member's okay with it and you keep it quiet because you don't want the church to know and I remember my mum – I came out in 1985 – and my mum was incredibly supportive but I found out years later that it was really difficult for her to tell aunts and uncles etc. so I think it's about how authentic we can be with our coming out. So if I'm a black gay man and I come out to a handful of my family friends and they're cool maybe sometimes that's enough. There are lots of people who don't necessarily identify as gay because gay is presented in a particular way. It's usually white, usually healthy, middle class etc. and if you're a young youth off a council estate off of Hackney then you're not going to say you're gay. You might be, you just mess around and all that and that also needs to be acceptable and we have to find a way to reach those folk who don't live under the rainbow banner.
Adele: I think that's another reason why Pride is so important because it shows us that there's people of all different backgrounds, sizes, shapes, and definitely not stereotypical as well. You see all different people and you don't necessarily know who's an ally, who's LGBTQI, and I think that's a good thing because we shouldn't make assumptions about people.
Phil: I do agree with what Marc was saying and I think a lot of people see being gay as a white thing and when they're younger gay black guys that come out to their families their family will see it as you've chosen to do this or you've decided to be like white people so there's that as well.
Adele: That choice thing… Going back to that…
Marc : I made a choice to be unhappy and have homophobia and all that, why not?
Phil: A choice to make the rest of my life difficult…
Hilary: Let's talk about stereotypes for a second, especially for of black men- masculinity- now Phil how this impacted you?
Phil: How long do I have?
Hilary: As long as you want.
Phil: I wrote about this, but before I came out there was all stereotypes about how I was supposed to be this hyper masculine, angry, aggressive thug but then once I came out people were expecting me to be extremely feminine, and I'm just touching the surface of that but that was always really confusing, it was like people wanted me to be one way before I came out and another way after I came out and it's like why can't I just be me? What's wrong with me? But I think that goes back to what I said about people thinking being gay as a white thing. You don't see a lot of masculine black young men, you don't see them in posters or in campaigns or things like that so I think there's a lot of that. There needs to be a lot more visibility and representation so that other people who are struggling with their sexuality will come out and feel more comfortable. I had the same problems when I was younger. I used to see a lot of gay men but none of them were anything like me so I never related to them so I never felt like they represented me and that's why a lot of the work that I do is to change that.
Hilary: Marc you're from a completely different generation to Phil, how was that for you at Phil's age?
Marc : I mean very similar. I think the thing to remember is we are black men and that's what it seen by the world, so when we step out into the world all of the stuff that's thrown onto black men regardless of our sexuality, of being masculine, of being aggressive, being angry, we still get stopped by the police. Women still cross the road from us. All of these things happen and when we step into the wider gay world there's all the notions put on top of us sexually. And then on top of it what Phil said, that expectation that if you come out you're going to be feminine or you need to be feminine but in our community it's really rich and diverse. So when I came out there was a notion to be one or the other. And I think that's why going back to the campaign Me Him Us was so important that it showed black men with black men because very often the imagery that we see is interracial couples which reinforces the narrative that if you come out that's the only choice that you have as a black man. Secondly it showed men who were loving, I'm going to use the word masculine really loosely, but just looked like regular guys that you would see once again at your barbers and that was really important for us because we want to make sure that my young brothers who 15, 16, 18, even 25, look at that and go okay that's me. Or it's potentially me. Just a really quick anecdote if I can, I was in Brixton the other week on Acre Lane and I saw a young man with his family, couple of kids walking past a Me Him Us campaign and it flashed up and I stood back to see what happened and home boy grabbed his son and spun him around to hide his eyes from the horror of homosexuality. But these are just regular guys, so there's still a lot to do but I think what Phil has also alluded to is it's inside the community and outside the community so there's a lot of pressure on young black gay men when they come out and before they come out.
Adele: Speaking of that, tell us about UK Black Pride which is where you guys first met, how important is that?
Marc : UK Black Pride is essential. It's absolutely. There's lots of conversation, why do we need it, well we need it because Pride didn't represent up as much, but also even if Pride did represent us, even if it was full of black people, even if they had Beyoncé performing on the main stage I would still want black pride. Because it's important to say we are black queer folk and we are here, and it's a great day out.
Hilary: At the beginning of the show you guys said you'd be up for playing a game with us, now who wants to go first?
Marc : Phil.
Adele: Alright so Phil you're first, Hilary if you could be my glamorous assistant please and pass me the apparatus.
Hilary: It's a book Adele
Phil: You just reminded me of my science teacher who sued to be extra. Like he'd say apparatus when it's a book…
Adele : I'm just trying to learn new words you see
Marc : Well you've got the right book for that!
Adele: So in my hand Phil can you just talk everyone through what I've got?
Phil : It's the Wordsmith dictionary of sex.
Adele: So what we're going to do is we're going to open it and ask you to pick a letter and find a word beginning with that letter and you have to guess what that word means.
Adele: So have a little think of a letter.
Phil : I want it to be a good letter.
Adele: Explain what a good letter is.
Phil : Well X or V or Y or something…
Adele: Hang on you're guessing mate so don't make it too hard.
Phil : Yeah that's what I was thinking, not too hard. Can I have a T please?
Adele: Yeah no problem okay T. Right, how would you rate your chances before we get started?
Phil: I'm 50/50.
Adele: Okay tenting effect. What's the tenting effect.
Hilary: The what?
Adele: TENTING effect.
Phil: Does it have something to do with having an erection in tight trousers?
Hilary: That's exactly what I thought. It's amazing how your brain works.
A: A tent pole…
Phil: That's what it's called, when you pitch a tent, when you get a boner in tight trousers.
Hilary: Yeah I understand your logic.
Phil: Plus it's the tenting effect…
Hilary: No no I understand your logic.
Adele: This is along the right lines but I've kind of put you in it here because it's actually about the other gender, so if you can think of it in terms of women have another guess.
Phil: I'm clueless. Nipples?
Hilary: I'm demonstrating like you guys can actually see us.
Adele: Like a row of tents? A pair of nipples.
Hilary: So go on Phil describe what you think that is.
Phil: I have no idea if it's not the nipple thing.
Adele: No it's not the nipple thing, maybe during the rest of this week you can get this into normal conversations, see how you get on. So the tenting effect is a term applied to the dilation of the inner end of the vagina during the plateau phase. It is during the phase that the full vaginal expansion occurs. So we can't get erect, we have to obviously dilate. So it's kind of being aroused but the opposite.
Hilary: And you have to use that…
Phil: I'm never going to use that in the future.
Marc : You can use it work in a team meeting
Hilary: I feel a tenting effect coming on right now.
Adele: I don't just so you know. Hilary. Over to you and maybe you can get Marc to play.
Hilary: Absolutely you know the rules by now, give me a letter sir, pick a good one.
Marc : A good letter? There are 26 they're all good. I'm going to go for M.
Hilary: Good letter. Mons pubis.
Phil : Oh I know this one! So annoying.
Adele: I reckon Phil does know this.
Marc : So… I don't know… 30 years in the business and I don't know this, this is embarrassing. I'm afraid I don't know I'm going to have to pass.
Adele: Ask a friend.
Marc : My friend Phil might know.
Phil: Okay it's like the flabby bit where your pubes are, that bit just there.
Hilary: Yeah absolutely it's a cushion of fat that covers the synthesis pubis of the genital area where the left and right pubic bones of the human female meet. A little bit of a science letter.
Phil: It was on a TV show. Someone was rubbing their munspubis on someone.
Hilary: Say no more.
Marc : That's why I didn't know it…
Hilary : Today we're talking about being a black gay or bisexual man in 2018.
Adele : Marc, you do a lot of work around HIV, can you tell us more about that?
Marc : Yeah I've done quite a bit of work around HIV. The work I've been doing with Phil in Black Out and Prepster has been around prevention, the other part of the work that I do is around support and advocacy for people who are living with HIV. HIV has changed a lot in the past 30 years and I've worked on trying to make sure people have access to care and treatment etc. but the projects I've been working on most recently have been around getting peer support for people with HIV because we believe the best person to provide support to somebody is someone who's walked in those shoes and the second part of that work is also around changing the narrative and the public around what HIV means in 2018 so if a person is diagnosed with HIV today they'll live a really long and healthy life which is fantastic news, and if they take their treatment and they get to undetectable they won't pass HIV on, so that changes everything around where we are so my work has really been around pushing those messages and making sure the voices of people with HIV are amplified and we try to really reduce stigma in the community.
Adele: It's been great for me and Hilary to do this podcast because we've learned so much especially about HIV, all aspects of sex but definitely HIV and also a lot of misinformation that has been passed on or even sometimes in the media it's misrepresented so thank you so much for the great work you do. Why do you feel like it's so important, what made you start in the first place, do you remember?
Marc : I started doing the work because I was diagnosed HIV positive myself 32 years ago so I just had a natural passion and wanted to make sure, particularly at the time, that other young gay black men didn't get into the situation I did and over time my career has evolved to do that work and I absolutely believe that it's important. I fight for social justice and HIV is a social justice issue. It disproportionately affects people of colour so why not right?
Hilary: We mentioned at the start of this episode that there has been a significant rise of black African gay men being diagnosed with HIV over the last decade. These men who are being diagnosed are more likely to be diagnosed late, meaning their immune system is already badly damaged. You were both involved with the Me Him Us campaign which addresses this, but why do you think this is happening now?
Phil: There's a range of reasons. I can start with stigma, discrimination, stereotypes that are involved like going back to what we were saying earlier and what is expected of you. There's a lot of cultural differences so it seems like that and there are a lot of men that like Marc said don't identify as gay or bisexual so they don't have access to medication or testing services and stuff like that.
Hilary: So you have to identify first?
Phil: No but if you're not comfortable enough to admit your sexuality to yourself then it might be difficult for you to go to a clinic where more gay men are tested because I'm not like them so I don't need to test sort of thing.
Marc : Within the black community we have high levels of late diagnosis in particular groups and those particular groups tend to be black African men, so Phil's absolutely right, issues around stigma, thinking you're not at risk because it's an issue that happens over there, but if we look at the other side of the coin the second largest group affected by HIV in this country are black African women. Where are they getting it from? They're not getting it from gay men. And those women are tested in pregnancy because all women in this country are offered an HIV test and they usually take it so the work that we have to do is, one enabling those women to have agency to protect themselves and understand treatment, and then speaking to men within our communities to take real good care of their sexual health regardless of their sexuality so we need to ensure that in our communities we're having that conversation. We need to be braver about talking about sex as people of colour and stop it being this taboo.
Adele: What can we do? How can we encourage people to look after their sexual health because I think ultimately that will then help their mental health as well because it must be such a burden to carry around with you, not only not wanting to come out but also worried if you're ill, not being able to speak to a doctor, we've got to do something and I don't know what the answer is but do you have any ideas, is there anything that could be done?
Marc : One of my starting points is to flip it on its head. We're always problematizing, we're talking about HIV sexual health it's really bad it's really terrible and you must get fixed and what we want to say is don't you want to have sex without worrying about it? Don't you want to have it freely and be happy? There's a way to do that and that means being in control. I believe, Marc Thompson believes, that we need to be mature. We need to start growing up and having adult conversations in our communities and amongst our communities about sex and that means parents getting off your kid's necks. They're doing it, so let's give them the right tools to do it safely so they're not coming back home at 16, 17 with kids that you can't handle. They're not coming back home with chlamydia or worse yet HIV.
Phil: I think there needs to be a lot more visibility and representation. I think if a lot more young gay black men saw themselves then they'd find it easier to take care of themselves because they'd realise who they are or what they are.
Adele: That's one of the reasons why I think it's very important that we do this podcast and also me working for a national broadcaster that I am visible as well and I talk about things that me and my girlfriend go through because I didn't really have that when I was younger and like you say until you hear those people speaking you feel like you're weird or there's something wrong with you or it's just me. Thank you very much for mentioning about the HIV testing Marc. We actually spoke to Leasuwannain episode 8 so if anyone wants to go back and listen to that you can hear her going through the process and all the stigma that she had to face and what she's doing to help change it.
Hilary: According to research: Black and Asian gay and bisexual men are more likely to have symptoms of depression, black men are more likely to report suicidal thoughts.
Adele : Shocking statistics, it makes me so sad.
Hilary: Is this I'm wondering because of the pressure from the external community or this is because they're fighting within themselves?
Adele : Well I think Phil and Marc have spoken beautifully about it so far in the podcast and Phil I can see you getting ready to drop some thoughts on us.
Phil: I think it's a combination of both. I think from your peers and from people outside so from your family and stuff you're told that you have to behave this way or you have to act this way and that is a lot of pressure in itself. I think that can have an effect on someone's mental health for sure.
Adele : I always get asked if it's different for men and women, and I think it is. I feel like it would be harder for me if I was a guy, I'm just being honest, that's just my opinion. What do you guys think?
Marc : I think as black people we have a lot to contend with period. And so that thing of am I a black woman or a black man I think it equates, but I think around sexuality there might be slight differences. I'm not a black woman I don't know and I know some of my sisters report stuff which is horrific to me as well so I think wherever we are we suffer that oppression but I think what we sometimes fail to understand and I think this is why sometimes there's a lack of empathy for us black queer folk from the wider community is people think we stop being black and we stop having those black experiences so all of a sudden the racism and stuff that I might have experienced at school suddenly vanishes away because I've become a homosexual, and what happens on the other side is some of my black queer brothers think that by coming out I will be protected from the racism and the reality is you come out into the world and I'm operating in a white gay world.
Phil: Going slightly off topic I think in general there's a lot of inequalities when it comes to mental health in this country. The whole one size fits all method doesn't work. We have different experiences so we have different outcomes when it comes to treatment.
Hilary: Would you say there's a lack of experts that understand those on the lines things you've just raised within our community?
Marc : I think there is a lack of experts but I think, when I say there are a lack of experts, those experts exist, because they're us. They're just not being used and utilised, we don't necessarily have a seat around the table to ensure that there are culturally appropriate and specific services needed and that crosses wherever we are in society so if we're in prison if we're out if we're in mental health services, very often our ethnicity or our cultural needs are not taken into true account.
Adele: That's why I thought it was great that Marc mentioned that Black Out is peer to peer as well which is really important. Would you guys mind us going back a little bit and talking about racism because this is something I would like to shed a light on, I think it's really important that we talk about it. Would you mind sharing any instances that you've been through – it doesn't have to be personally but maybe that your friends have been through to give examples of racism that can be experienced within the LGBTQI community?
Phil: There's so many. I'm trying to think of one of the worst ones.
Adele: If I can prompt you here actually, because I've not been on dating apps because they've only been made since I've been in a relationship, so I've been in a relationship for 14 years and then dating apps come out and I'm kind of like… I wish I could have had a little go on that to see what it's like, but apparently there's problems within dating apps for starters.
Phil: From my experiences and the experiences of my friends what I see is that there's a lot of racism on apps but in person people wouldn't say those things. So people will call you a nigger, or things like that. They will fetishize you on those apps. There's so many different times or so many different situations where it's happened.
Adele: I've heard some people on their dating profile will say I don't want any black people.
Marc : The old 'no blacks no Irish no dogs', but it's no 'blacks no fats no femmes'.
Adele: You're joking?
Phil: Dead serious. It's the same thing but just on the app. These are the types of things where people will say this to your face.
Hilary: Sorry could you explain those terminologies?
Marc : So someone would have a profile and it would say no blacks, black people, no feminine guys, no fat people, and the conversation blew up 2, 3 years ago?
Marc : 2015 and it blew up across the world where people were challenging this notion of sexual choice and lots of people who were putting it on their profile were saying it's just a preference and other people pushing back saying no it's racism, so you've got this to and fro conversation where people who put that stuff out there and it's a fascinating one because is it preference? Is it racism? What's your preference based on? When I'm on apps I'm very clear, black for black. I don't see that as being…
Adele: But that's a positive thing. Preference for me is a choice and a positive thing, it's like you don't have to say it. If you're not necessarily attracted to black people you don't need to verbalise that, you can say what you are attracted to, you don't have to make people feel…
Marc : What worries me, and Phil and I have spoken about this quite a bit, is what happens to my brothers when they go to a club and like we've seen in clubs across London and I can tell you nearly every black gay man that you will ever speak to will tell you the story of. I went to a club and the first thing they said to me was do you know this is a gay club? Imagine you've built up all that courage, you've left your home, you've travelled there, and you're challenged. And when you get in the club the next question that's asked of you is are you selling drugs? From your white gay brothers. Facts. I dare you to find a black gay man that's not happened to in this country, in the US, in Europe.
Phil: I've been turned down from clubs because I appear to be straight.
Marc : So when we talk about racism on the gay scene very often we put the focus on sexual racism and for many, many black gay men, they're like yeah okay stuff happens I don't want to sleep with you anyway, move on bruv. No big deal. But when you're going out and you've set up your social life and you're hanging out with your mates, or if you challenge somebody in a club, the bouncers aren't coming for that girl that's tried to dance up on you in the club because we're all gay in here together, they're throwing you out of the club. So these are all of the factors that black gay men face in our social lives outside of the dating apps.
Adele: It's baffling to me because we as a marginalised community already have discrimination so then to do it to our own doesn't make sense to me.
Phil: That's always really confused me. It's confused me when gay men don't necessarily like trans people it's like we're all supposed to be supporting each other and uplifting each other rather than bringing each other down.
Adele: There's a stat here which makes me really sad to read out. In a survey for the gay charity GMFA magazine FS, 80 percent of black men said they had experienced racism in the gay community. More than two thirds of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic gay men have endured discrimination on the gay scene. What can we do to change this? I keep asking you guys for the answers and I'm so sorry but… I feel like you have the answers.
Phil: I think stuff needs to be undone structurally. There's a lot of structural racism that's in place and that needs to be undone. That's the route of the problem.
Adele: Do you mean like institutional racism? Like it's in the fabric of society.
Phil: I read 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race' recently and she uses structural. You need to read it.
Marc : I think that we as black people have been talking about this for years. As black queer folk we are getting even more and more… There's more and more young people like Phil, younger than Phil, who come out, and they're watching Black Lives Matter, they're seeing all that stuff. So they're challenging, they're having those conversations. Phil and I were talking about this the other night and how do we change it? White folk need to start having those conversations so whenever there is a panel around racism on the gay scene I don't want to see four black people talking about their experiences. Why are there not three white people in that room talking about how they're challenging racism, how they're making it better for me, because for us four sitting in a room we're talking in an echo chamber and then white folk get to look at it online and go oh look there they go, moaning again, it's just a preference. I don't even like the word allies. I want white folk to do their business. I'm not racist. Racism comes from white people, I can't end that. In the same way that women aren't sexist, so I have to stop my sexism and my misogyny as a man. That's how it changes. Women aren't going to end sexism alone, men have to end it. So racism isn't going to end by black people.
Adele: It's like what Phil just said about transgender, and I think it was actually something you said the other day Marc you made me think about LGBTQI+ and I know you don't like the word ally but it made me realise, when I think of allies I think of straight people, and I hopefully am an ally to trans people, to questioning people, to bi people, to gay men, to queer folk, so we all need to take responsibility don't we?
Marc : And when you say that I agree with you on an ally. I'm turning around there.
Hilary: Marc and Phil I just wanted to go back, just one question, what would you say to somebody who's listening to this and feeling this way?
Adele: All of the things you've been listing.
Marc : Live your authentic life bro. That's it. You are you. We are we. When we look in the mirror you have to see that reflection, you are beautiful, you are black you are a gay man, you are everything and anything, any stereotype, and you take from those stereotypes and you make the best out of them, or you challenge them, you create your own authentic self, that's it.
Phil: I can't say anything but that.
Adele: I think I'm going to cry that was gorgeous that was lovely. It makes me so happy to see you guys in here being so comfortable with who you are and we just need more of that. And especially Phil, he's so young he brought sweets today to get him through.
Phil: I'm not that young…
Adele: You were born in the 90s weren't you?
Phil: Am I the only person in the room that was?
Adele: Yes. And it gives me hope for the future.
Marc : Guys like Phil there's a whole army of younger men who are coming up and younger men now which I find really fascinating who are shouting out Phil as their role model and their icon, so when I see that I'm incredibly proud because I know that the future is really safe and it's in safe hands and we can pass the baton and I can sit back and relax.
Adele: And retire.
Hilary: Showing your age there Marc.
Marc : I was born in the 60s…
Adele: So Marc if anyone's listening and would like to find out more about Black Out where can we find you and can we get involved in any way?
Marc : Yeah absolutely we always welcome more contributors to the work that we're doing so you can follow us on Twitter, visit our website which is BLKout…
Adele: You must have visited.
Phil: I just run the site…
Marc : The website is around providing a space for our existence, so it people want to contribute, write, be interviewed, do videos, even if you want to make what we do better let us know because it's by us and for us, that's where we stand. And also secondly and if people just want to get involved we run events we're looking for volunteers if you say actually guys this would be a really cool way to reach black gay men get in touch and we'll consider it.
Adele : Well thank you to Phil & Marc.
Adele : Unfortunately that's all we've got time for on this edition of Sex Talk. If you have been effected by any of the issues discussed in this programme, you can visit the Blackout website, blkoutuk.com You can also find support from Stonewall (stonewall.org.uk) and the GMFA (gmfa.org.uk)
Hilary: And if you're concerned about HIV - Positively UK - can offer advice. Their helpline is open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm on 020 7713 0444 and you can visit their website positivelyuk.org
Adele : You can also find your nearest sexual health clinic by visiting www.fpa.org.uk/find-a-clinic
Hilary: A huge amount of information about HIV is also available online from the Terrence Higgins Trust, their website is THT.org.uk. If you are in an 'at risk' group, you can currently order a free self-testing HIV kit from them, the same as the one I took in series 1. If you do not qualify for a free test, you can order them online from https://HIVselftest.co.uk
Adele : Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast to keep up to date with the latest episodes, and to follow us on Twitter, we're @sextalkradiouk
Hilary: You can join in the conversation using #SexTalkPod
Adele : Until next time stay safe
Hilary : And keep talking.