Jamie Wake 2014 Independent Candidate for Whitley ward in the Reading Local Elections
  • Whistle while you work

    May 30th, 2011jamiewakerdglgbt

    Well I haven’t managed to put a blog entry together since the local election.  Not, as some have suggested, because I’ve given up on making a difference in Whitley but because work is extremely busy at the moment! 

    Unless you’ve been away with no connection to the outside world, you’ll know that there’s been a number of changes here in Reading with Labour winning a number of seats on the council and by using the mayor to their advantage have forming a minority administration.  I won’t go into details as a number of blogs already give an account of this and I made a promise when standing in the election that I wouldn’t waste my time attacking other people.  That said though, I would be doing a disservice to the gay community here in Reading if I didn’t comment on some of the dog-whistle tactics reported as being used in this years local election to promote homophobia.  For those like me who are new to politics, Dog-Whistle politics is a term used for a type of political campaigning or speech which uses coded language to mean one thing to most people but has a different or more specific meaning for a targeted group of people.

    Although it has been mentioned on a number of peoples blogs, I deliberately chose not to comment for one very simple reason – this practise was aimed at me.

    Now, I have never shied away from my sexuality – I have always been honest about who I am, my past and my future plans.  I was fortunate to be one of the founders of the Reading Pride Festival and used my cabaret persona, Sue Panover, as a vehicle to promote the event in order to eliminate discrimination within Reading and the Thames Valley.  Whilst I am no longer on the Pride Committee, I continue to support the festival and in fact my other half remains a Trustee of the Charity.

    I’m not going to point fingers but I can give one or two facts.

    1.  Someone knocked on the door of a person I know and whilst talking, they were asked if they realised that the Lib Dem Candidate was gay.  The person refuses to tell me which party knocked on their door.
    2.  Whilst delivering in Whitley, a resident informed me that she had something through the door and ‘knew all about me’ and showed me a limp wrist.  Rather meekly and embarrassed, I just turned away.
    3.  On two separate occasions, I have caught a taxi home and been told that the Lib Dem Candidate was gay.  On both occasions I found myself being unable to pass comment. 
    4.  There were also comments made about me on the Get Reading website which gave web links to one of my Drag websites.  The interesting fact is that the URL used was one that pointed from my personal facebook page which also has privacy settings.  Needless to say, I removed all political contacts from my friends to prevent further leakage.

    I really hope that the new Reading administration also consider giving money to a charity such as Reading Pride who continually fight for Equality – just like we have charities in Reading that fight for racial equality.  Whilst the Reading Council for Racial Equality had their funding changed by the last council administration, I am am certain that their assistance campaigning in the Redlands Ward would see that decision revoked.  I would love to see an organisation that represents equality for all and fights discrimination in all its forms in Reading.  That to me would be a far more sensible use of funding. 

    One thing that has not been clear to me though, is why someone or some people feel that an individuals sexuality should be used against them?  It’s not as if I’m the first gay person in Reading to be woken politically.  Let’s face it, I wouldn’t have been the only queen in the council chambers if I had been elected, would I? 

    I found a video of me yesterday that was taken a few weeks after I ‘came out’ (on youtube called ‘me first gay second’) and it reminded me of how I felt at the time in having to face up to a part of myself whilst living in a rough town where gay bashing was all the rage.  Watching it back, I realised how far society has come in it’s acceptance for anyone who maybe considered different, and I would hate to see us return to days like that here in Reading.  It was this fear that has given me the motivation and courage to first comment on the election antics and second, start putting a plan together where we can all fight discrimination here in Reading.

    So to those people out there who feel it’s acceptable to use sexuality as a way to put people down, I’m still proud to be gay and I’m still proud to be a member of the Lib Dems – an accepting party with an outstanding record on fighting discrimination – in Reading and throughout the UK.  They’ve always been there and always will.