Hi and welcome to the OK 2B GAY campaign website.
The OK 2B GAY campaign was launched at Reading Pride 2011 by LGBT campaigner, Jamie Wake, who is based in Reading, Berkshire.
Inspired by the ‘it gets better’ internet campaign, Jamie admits that he was one of the lucky ones growing up.
In Jamie’s own words:
“…I didn’t realise that I was gay until I was 16/17 and being at Drama School, I didn’t really notice the discrimination that the outside world seemed to inflict on the gay community. Yes, I’d had names called at me since secondary school but I’d always managed to create a persona that was stronger, braver and wittier than those people throwing the names at me.
With hindsight, it was probably one of the reasons why I started performing in Drag. It was like a mask and I had a legitimate excuse to give back just as good as I got!
In 2003 I moved to Reading where I moved in with my partner and settled down. we didn’t have children but got the next best thing – a King Charles Cavalier called Blenham. It was then I found a small group of people wanting to put on a Pride Festival. Being shy and retiring(!) I dragged my partner and his best friend down to the first meeting and in 2004 Reading’s first Gay Pride Festival took place and continues to grow from strength to strength. I wrote many of Reading Pride’s original documents such as its management plan, its articals and memorandum of association and later finalised it’s application for Charity Status – which it obtained. I was the face of Reading Pride as Sue Panover for it’s first two years and then started to move away from it 2 years ago, but my partner continues to be a trustee. It’s quite funny when you realise just how much input you have had in a growing event like Reading Pride.
It was my involvement in Reading Pride and chairing the local residents association that led me to the Lib Dems. I joined because of their history of fighting for Gay Equality; Something I couldn’t see within other political parties. I stood as a candidate in the local elections and experienced some homophobia and this spurred me on to fight against discrimination within Reading. I have since left the Lib Dems so I could be politically unbiased when fighting got LGBT equality.
My message to all people who find their way to this website is that it’s ‘OK 2B Gay’. I know that I have had it lucky but sadly over the last year we have heard far too many stories about young people who haven’t had an easy time and have taken their own lives. This has to stop and we, as gay adults, need to show that it does get better – in Reading and throughout the world…”
The OK 2B GAY campaign is fighting discrimination in Reading and beyond – please support our campaigns and help make Reading, and beyond, a safer and more tolerant place to live.