Monologues charting the UK gay experience. In 1994, as the government votes on lowering the age of male homosexual consent, 17-year-old Andrew comes to London.
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This programme contains some strong language.
There's a vegetarian restaurant round the corner.
You know, just round...
A couple of streets from here. Does completely veggie.
I had a falafel. It was nice.
It was OK.
Did you see the news on telly last night?
No, just wondered.
There were some bits in the papers, I checked in WH Smiths.
Tiny, you know, but that's not what I'm...
So, you didn't see News at Ten, no?
Two fellas over there.
Can you believe they voted no?
Can you believe it? I couldn't believe it.
Yeah, well, not... No, I know, but 18.
You know, it's almost worse than if they'd kept it at 21.
There would be some honesty in that.
We hate you and, you know, piss off.
At least that would have been consistent but, yeah,
we'll make you slightly more equal.
Yeah, well, big wow!
Of course it's better, I know that, of course it is.
But, well, it's just...
You know, Jesus!
That's what this fella said last night.
He said it was good and that things were changing
but it just makes you...
I don't want to be tolerated, you know?
I've got a bit of falafel in me teeth.
It's impressive when you see it.
The House of Commons. Have you been?
It's bigger than it looks on telly.
I just come down on my own.
I wasn't planning to.
I hadn't thought of it, really. I mean, I knew the vote was coming up,
the reading of the bill. I've been following it, but...
Then it was on the front page that morning that Derek Jarman had died
You know, not like it was a sign or anything,
I don't believe in all that, but I just thought...
"Sod it. I should go."
You know, show them that we count.
You know, we do exist.
It does matter, the things they're talking about, so...
I mean, I'm not a big fan or anything.
I just knew he was important, Jarman.
I've seen his version of The Tempest.
It was the first thing I saw at the arthouse cinema back home.
I never even knew they were a thing.
And I taped Blue off Channel 4 a couple of months back.
I haven't watched it yet.
That's been the best thing about sixth form,
is discovering things like that.
No-one at my old school would ever have gone to something like that.
There was this lad in my year, Darren Hardcastle.
All he'd talk about was wanking.
You know, he was obsessed. It's all he went on about.
And if he wasn't banging on about wanking, he was punching people.
Wanking or punching.
And I used to think, "This is what prison must be like.
"This is like...1984."
I couldn't wait to leave.
I ran from that place.
They arranged a scrap with the comp across the field.
I hated it.
We were outside for hours last night, shifting around,
trying to keep warm.
Most people were in groups, actually.
I don't know if they were friends or from, you know, Stonewall,
that kind of thing.
There were some banners and signs and people had candles.
You needed candles because of how bloody cold it was,
I'm telling you. Flipping heck!
And there was a weird mix of excitement because of what it was
and boredom because it took ages.
And this lad looked at me a few times while I was there.
I saw him looking.
Caught his eye.
You know, he was lovely.
I can be a bit shy.
And then finally someone come out, must have said it had been done,
whatever time it was, late, come out of the House of Commons.
I couldn't see who they were
and then you heard everyone starting to boo
and you think, "Oh..."
You know, because we'd been there for so long because...
Well, I don't know how many people there were, but enough.
You know, 200.
Enough for it to feel like...
You know, because I'm used to being on my own.
I don't know anyone else who's...
And last night, there were loads of us, and we're nice, you know,
I was looking round and I was thinking, "These are nice people."
And so you start to think, well, of course they'll vote the right way.
Why wouldn't they? What would be the point in not?
You start getting carried away with reason.
And I know...
you shouldn't do that.
And so this bloke come out and he must have said they voted 18 and
everyone started to boo cos I think we had all convinced ourselves
it was going to be 16, you know, it was going to be equal,
so it was like a... It was like a kick in the teeth.
And then we all sort of surged towards the Commons,
towards the doors he had come out of.
It just happened and police were there, a couple on horses,
that kind of thing and...
And people are chanting and shouting
and just sort of, you know, pissed off,
you know, and there is a bit of a scuffle and I did think,
just for a moment, "Is this...?"
Because a policeman's helmet landed at my feet.
Yeah, but it was nothing really, and then someone shouted,
"Let's go to Downing Street,"
and so we all marched up there and there was some shouting outside
the gates for a bit
and then we all went up to Trafalgar Square and a group of
people started sitting in the road to block the traffic and...
Well, you go along with it, but I did feel a bit...
You know, self-conscious, I suppose.
You know, but also, like...
You know, because I was pissed off, too,
and the police were getting a bit...
Well, not mardy but...
It was late.
I think we could all tell it had run out of steam but we were angry.
That's the point.
And so what do you do?
So we did that for, you know...
Then everyone went home.
And then you read this morning that there were scuffles
between police and a minority out to cause trouble.
And there was no minority
out to cause trouble, it was so...piddly.
There was a bit of shoving and a bit of shouting and that's all.
But to read the papers, the bit there is,
you'd think it was a kind of riot.
That's kind of interesting, the distortion.
I've never been a part of something that's been reported before.
We were all just fed up.
And so I'd missed my train by this point and this fella, Marcus,
that I'd been sitting in the road with,
he asked if I wanted to go back to his and I thought...
Well, you know, but what do you do?
I had nowhere to go, and so I did.
That's his name, Marcus.
Of course it is, sorry.
We went back to his, his flat, and it was...
You know, I mean, it was fine. It was a bit...
Not... It was OK.
I think I'd thought, and I mean, this is stupid, I know it is,
but I think I'd thought people in London...
London is just a place, isn't it?
Like any other.
I suppose you think, London...
You know, I don't mean to sound snobby.
It's not snobby. I'm not a snob.
My mate Sean is proper bourgeois,
though he'd have you believe he's working class because his dad,
I don't know, once drained a radiator or something,
but I remember his face when I told him we had our tea on our laps
on Sunday watching Bullseye, so I'm not...
..you know, posh.
Anyway, he was asking what I did, Marcus,
and I told him I was a student and he said he worked for the BBC
in accounts, so that's interesting, isn't it?
Kind of. And I'd said from the start that I just needed a place to stay
until I could get a train home in the morning and he said that was OK.
I was giving off the right vibes, I think, so...
Yeah, it was cool.
He's a lot older than me. He's 30, but he was...
You know, nice.
He made us some toast and put the heat on, so it was fine.
He had this jam that's made without any sugar.
And we talked a bit. He said he'd been on a few marches and things.
You know, not just gay, but other stuff.
Poll tax, and...
You know, so it was interesting.
We talked about last night and called them bastards and put the...
What is it? Put the world to rights.
And then he said, "Well, at least that means you're legal now."
You know, because I'm 18.
I mean, I'm actually 17 but I'd told him I was 18
because I thought 17 sounded a bit young.
That's stupid, isn't it?
And I think when he said that, I thought...
I just kind of laughed it off and then he said he should go to bed
and he went to get some bedding for me for the sofa
and I think he thought I was a virgin, which I'm not, but...
Well, I'm not not a virgin.
But when he came back in the living room with the bedding...
..he was starkers and I thought...
You know, but then I thought, maybe that's just what he does.
Sean, my mate, sleeps in the nude.
It never occurred to me that was a thing you could do
until I stopped round his.
Well, a lot hadn't occurred to me until I stopped round his.
But anyway, so I was sitting down on the sofa
and he dropped the duvet and pillows next to me.
The duvet didn't have a cover on it.
The things that go through your head!
You know, I thought, "Mum would never give someone a duvet
"without a cover on it."
he was there...
You know, "Hello, boys!"
So I'm kind of...
And then he reached his hand out and he stroked the back of my head,
just softly, and... that was actually quite nice.
That sounds pathetic, doesn't it?
I'm not an idiot, I knew what...
Well, you know, cards were on the table, but I thought,
he's letting me stay over and he's not...
Well, he's quite nice, you know, looking, I mean.
He's all right. He's not Kristian Schmidt, but...
So I put him in my mouth.
And that seemed to go down well.
And then a minute or two later he stood me up and he kissed me
and I thought, "Right, I've got to decide now,
"you know, if I'm not up for this,
"I've kind of got to say something now
"because you don't want to be rude."
But I didn't say anything and so he led me through into his bedroom
and he said, "Is this all right?"
And genuinely, for a split second,
I thought he was asking about his room, and I did think,
"Well, now we know what Athena does with its remaindered stock."
But he had my top off by that point and I felt kind of separate to it,
like I was watching myself, you know,
like Brecht - verfremdungseffekt.
And I was kind of talking to myself, saying,
"Is this all right? Is this OK?"
You know, keeping calm. In my head, not...
No, I think that might have put him off.
But it was just nice not to be rushed because...
I suppose everything I've done up till now
has been at parties with lads from college who...
Well, you've got to sort of take advantage of the moment.
I say lads, it makes it sound like there's hundreds of them,
there's not, believe me, really just me and...
Well, just me and Jamie Flynn, I suppose.
Not, not regularly, you know, not...
If he's drunk and in the right mood,
and I kind of know how to be in the right place at the right time,
but... Well, it's an art more than it is a science
and you've either got one eye on the door or worse,
you've got to kind of prep yourself in case he loses the mood or after
decides it didn't happen.
I don't mean nasty, but just...
So it was really the first time it felt legitimate doing anything -
you know, with an accountant!
I didn't have a clue what I was doing, I'll be honest, but...
Well, he didn't...
You know, he was nice, patient.
He kept talking to me and checking I was OK.
I almost wished he wouldn't.
I almost wanted him to just go for it.
And I think, weirdly,
and this feels weird now I come to think about it,
but I think because I didn't madly fancy him,
it meant I could relax a bit more.
It didn't seem as important as it might have done.
I could just do what he told me and weirdly that was kind of easier.
I mean, it wasn't easy really, but...
While we were doing it... I can't believe I'm telling you all this.
I had a real coffee earlier. I think it's kicking in.
There was a moment where I was thinking,
"Two hours ago I was outside Parliament
"and they were saying I wasn't allowed to do this,"
and that made me laugh, and that turned him on
because I think he thought it meant I was getting into it,
and I was getting into it, but not because of...
Not just because of him. I was thinking about all the tossers who'd
opposed it, opposed me,
and I was thinking, "If you could fucking see me now."
You know, fucking...
And that felt great.
Oh, I felt great.
You know, who'd have predicted I'd spent my first time
thinking about Lady Olga Maitland and Sir Nicholas fucking Fairburn.
I doubt anyone's ever thought about them while they're doing it before,
including the people they're doing it with, if they do ever do it,
the desiccated twats.
I wasn't dwelling on them. I'm not a pervert. But it did give it a...
HE CLEARS HIS THROAT
I've never said frisson before.
I've only ever seen it written down.
That's one of those words, you know, like...
after, he turned the light off and he held me
while he fell asleep and...
..all I could think was...
.."I hope Mum and Dad weren't watching the TV news," because...
At one point, when we surged towards the doors of the Commons,
that's when I'd seen the cameras.
They had these big lights on the top of them, the cameras.
You know, like spotlights, because it was dark, obviously.
I'd been trying to stay behind this big bloke in front of me
so I wouldn't be seen, but he moved out of the way
just at the same moment that one of them swung round
and I know it got me full in the face.
If that's been on the News at Ten, I'm dead.
So that's why I wondered if you'd seen it.
Well, I'll find out later today, you know, when I get back.
I mean, I was thinking about him as well, you know, Marcus.
I was thinking, "He could get in trouble for this," but...
But then I thought, "Yeah, but who's going to say anything?"
I mean, who is? Who really cares?
Quite dry, aren't they, falafels?
My friend Elisa, she's a vegetarian. I mean, not just a vegetarian,
she's quite fussy as well, you know, fries everything in water.
She's got this...
Futon? No, tofu, instead of chicken.
Have you tried it?
I had some once.
I wouldn't go mad.
It's not really a substitute.
He's got his hand on his leg now.
Those two blokes.
It's just nice to see.
You know, Nottingham, there's nothing.
Gatsby's, MGM the first Monday of every month.
Well, it's not lunchtime yet.
My two hopes are that there won't be much coverage of it
and that's a good bet, and that it won't be on at all,
or that they will only show one or two seconds
so I'll be really unlucky if I'm on it,
or that Mum and Dad weren't watching last night.
Or that they were watching and I was on it but they didn't see me because
they won't be looking for me.
They won't be expecting me to be on it.
They'll think I stayed around Sean's last night.
I'm kind of looking forward to telling him about it, Sean.
I think I'll feel a bit better around him now.
You know, it was good fun.
It's funny, isn't it? Because if they'd said yes,
if they had made it 16...
..then I'd have gone straight home.
In 1994, as the government votes on lowering the age of male homosexual consent, 17-year-old Andrew comes to London for the first time - with unexpected results.