- This year I learnt… to not feel ashamed of being working class | What 2017 taught meFrom Grenfell to universal credit, 2017 exposed how working class Brits continue to be treated with contempt. For Tom Rasmussen, this was the year of defiantly taking pride in having working class roots. There are countless ways to demarcate social class — economic capital, cultural capital, educational capital, ancestry, how many holidays you take a year. It’s complicated, and it’s changing all the time. Once upon a time not going to work was the signifier of they gentry, of those who simply didn’t need to work because of their financial and familial status. Now, those who don’t go to work are demonised as the lowest of the low — the benefits scroungers, the kind of people morning TV shows likes to host on their sofas and then brutally shame for spending their money on plastic surgery, a pony, or Christmas presents for their kids. And while discussing class remains one of the most middle class things you can do, it’s been important for me to learn how to discuss my class, and the experience of it, in 2017. I’m working class. Not the most working class, not the least working class, just comfortably working class. A contradiction in terms, perhaps, but my family and I were nestled somewhere in the middle of ‘benefits scroungers’ and ‘my mum’s broke, but she’s an artist’. This year has been the first year I’ve become proud of my being working class. I’ve spent years openly and actively talking about, writing and campaigning about my homosexuality and my gender non-conformism, but something which has drawn more lines across me than my sexuality or gender identity is my class. It’s silenced, it’s shamed, it’s discussed for me by middle class friends, it’s met with a patronising look or an apology when people accidentally use the word ‘YOB’ or ‘hoodie’ or ‘prole’ as a joke, or do a sort of slurry lumbering accent while describing someone stupid or uncultured. It’s treated as an affliction, or as a statistic. It’s treated as a useless part of me — a part of me that has nothing to contribute, no culture to discuss. And it’s treated this way by most people, including the most politically engaged, privilege-aware friends, acquaintances and colleagues. But until 2017, I used to treat this part of myself that way too. I would tell lies upon lies to cover up the fact I’d never read Harry Potter — the first and last time I ever told someone I hadn’t they told me they weren’t sure how to talk to me. I lied about things I’d eaten, places I’d seen, books and articles I’d read, theories and political stances I didn’t and don’t understand. And perhaps it’s because I’ve decided to engage more this year, or perhaps it’s because 2017 has brought with it countless appalling examples of how this country treats and thinks of the working classes that I’m starting to push-back by recognising, respecting and being grateful for my working classness and the culture that comes with it. Because, as is the case for so many marginalised people, 2017 has been a galling example of lost lives and appropriated culture. This year reports went public that since the arrival of the Tory party, 120,000 deaths have been caused by their extreme austerity measures. These “economic murders” are class warfare, a government that’s so out of touch launching missiles on the poorest and the most economically unstable. The tragedy of Grenfell Tower was the most stark reminder in recent history that if you’re working class, a person of colour, or both, your life won’t be taken seriously until it’s lost, and even then the Government will be inactive — with over 200 surviving residents still residing in B&Bs, hotels and temporary accommodation displaced from their communities and their homes. A changing Universal Credit scheme leaves whole families without a penny, seeing food bank usage soaring by 30%, in comparison to last year, in areas of full Universal Credit rollout. I don’t even want to think about what the wealthiest will be doing this Christmas. And across culture our aesthetics and language are appropriated with no credit. From fashion brands like Vetements who practically steal designs from market stalls and workmen uniforms and charge extortionate amounts for them, to Burberry who — until this year — had distanced themselves from the Burberry check because it was gaining the ‘wrong associations’, that of ‘football hooligans and hooded gangs’. The thing that binds everyone is society, and what casts your place in that system is your class. The way someone interprets their own place, or others interpret it for them, affects their self-esteem, ambition and achievement, in turn statistically affecting the universities working class people might go to, whether we’ll go at all, the jobs we’ll seek, the places we’ll visit, the lives and opportunities we’ll have. At home we don’t talk about the tough stuff. We push on, we smile and busy ourselves with chores, work, and activities, finding joy in the daily. But for 2018 I want to talk about the tough stuff. While people — who are most certainly posh — claim that class isn’t what it used to be, that it doesn’t really exist, I suggest you just Google it. It exists, you just don’t see it. It’s time to stand in it, to start thinking your perspective is smart enough to speak up. It’s time to let go of shame and contribute our culture and perspective to a conversation that is being had for us, by people who will never understand.
- Famous Last Words: Lewis Hamilton's Nephew & The Missing Kardashians'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except Lewis Hamilton’s fragile masculinity. “Boys don’t wear princess dresses,” the ex-boyfriend of the radiant Nicole Scherzinger broadcast to his 5.7 million-strong Insta fanbase, deriding his princess-dress-wearing nephew. “I’m so sad right now,” he added. Well so are we all, Lewis. So are we all. While the star, who has worn a ton of hideous clothes that nobody ever called him out for, quickly apologised, what must be stressed here is how severely even one comment of this nature can imprint itself on a child’s future behaviour, thought patterns and self-esteem. As a child dress-wearer (who grew up to be an adult dress-wearer), I still struggle to release myself from comments about the clash between my masculine body and my feminine everything else. It’s time for adults to rethink their gendered expectations and recognise that if you can learn to use an iPhone, you can learn to get over a boy wearing a dress. It’s exhausting. Perhaps Lewis could turn that "apology" into a donation to one of the amazing charities that support gender questioning and transgender children. Actions speak louder than words, after all. A better Christmas present was the arrival of Doctor Who’s first female Doctor in the show’s five-decade history. Jodie Whittaker, who now plays the 13th Doctor, met our screens at the end of this year’s Christmas special and the internet squawked with glee. It’s testament to the power of representation that even in 2017, seeing someone like you play a character you always wished you could be can be incredibly moving, and important to how you see your potential. Speaking of representation, the LA Times landed itself in hot water this week as it revealed its cover for its entertainment magazine The Envelope. Applauding the female actors “shifting the focus” this 2017, we were presented with a role-call of upstanding diversity: Jessica Chastain, Kate Winslet, Annette Bening, Diane Kruger, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan. Spot a theme? That’s right — a roster of all white women credited with changing the game, and shifting the focus. Fans were confused and outraged that both the cover stars themselves and those who had cast them had been so colour-blind that they couldn’t find even one woman of colour shifting said focus. Much like Hamilton’s tone-deaf comments, it’s a weird mix of boring and upsetting that we still have to have these conversations. In Kardashian-Jenner news, everyone is still on the hunt for Kylie. She wasn’t in Kim’s 25-day Khristmas Kard, she was barely spotted at Kris’ Khristmas (K)Eve party, and fans are losing it after one of the world’s most traceable celebs has seemingly gone off the radar. But following suit is sister Kendall, who has announced that in 2018 she won’t be updating her apps or her website, via an update on her website (lol). Searching for more authenticity in 2018, the supermodel is pulling back from the public eye in order to hopefully find it. Fans (well, me) are tentative, however — when you’ve made your entire fortune out of asking people to follow you, what does it mean to reject the followers who put you where you are? Only time, and her follower count, will tell. And from old obsessions to new. Meghan Markle stepped out in another beige coat this week, alongside a far more excitingly Miu Miu-clad sister-in-law-to-be Kate Middleton, for the royals' Christmas service at Sandringham on the 25th. In a truly radical queer protest, this is the first time a prince’s partner has ever attended the service out of wedlock. Finally some tradition-bucking from the family at the helm of the racist British Empire, a stance which demonic Princess Michael of Kent and her racist brooch have still not left behind. Here’s hoping Meghan will keep on bucking the bleak traditions of yesteryear.
- I'm HIV Positive And My Partner Is NotHow many times have you decided to quit dating? How many times have you squawked “I’m done with looking!”? How many times have you come out of yet another break-up and questioned whether you’ll be single forever? It’s true: the seemingly futile search for love has populated the minds of many for generations, and it doesn’t feel any easier in the swipe-it-and-see dating culture of today. The struggle is, indeed, real. But now imagine you are HIV positive. In a world that ensnares the mind in
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- Meet 100 LGBT+ Trailblazers Redefining the Creative IndustryWe asked influential LGBT+ icons to nominate trailblazers who they believe are redefining the creator landscape. The result? A unique and incredible list of 100 trailblazing LGBT+ folk breaking barriers and inspiring change! We’re on a mission to explore and tackle inequalities in the creative industry - this is why we run diversity initiatives, dedicating our curated projects and people sections on The Dots to undersung groups. This brings together an abundance of dazzling work from diverse cr93