November 4, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a film festival. It can be a small-town indie fest or the Festival de Cannes or anything in between. Who is in the story? An audience-goer, filmmaker, actress, or something unexpected? Through in some popcorn for fun. Go where the prompt leads!
Theatre Of Memories – by Hugh W. Roberts
“What’s the matter? Why are you crying?” whispered Adrian to his husband.
“I can’t help it,” sobbed Richard. “This LGBT film festival brings us lots to smile about, and when you see what we’re viewing on the screen right now, I can’t help but think about the times when, as a young boy, I cried myself to sleep because I thought I was all alone in this world.”
Looking around the theatre, Adrian witnessed evidence of tears and popcorn. Looking up at the screen, he squeezed Richard’s hand tight and watched the story unfold in front of the world.
When I woke up that Saturday morning, little did I know that something I was hiding from view from others was about to have the key put in the ignition and set me off on a journey that was to become the life I was born with.
It was a Saturday morning like any other Saturday morning. I always got up first because I’m an early bird.
The fact that I was 17-years-old didn’t put me off from watching it. I loved watching it. It got my weekend off to a perfect start.
Just after midday, I always made my way into town to buy an array of snacks for myself for the evening. Like Saturday mornings, I still preferred to spend Saturday evenings indoors watching television.
My parents thought it unusual for a boy of my age to want to stay in on a Saturday evening. At the time, I thought they knew nothing about the reason for me not wanting to go out. Years later, I discovered my mother had already suspected I was gay.
Whereas boys my age were going out to drink alcohol and date girls, my Saturday evening treat was the snacks (including a small trifle from Marks & Spencer) and Saturday evening television.
I always visited the same shops, either to browse or to buy something. On this particular Saturday, though, something I’d seen on TV that morning made me go into a shop I hardly ever visited.
Scanning the shelves full of newspapers and magazines for the music newspaper I wanted, it soon caught my eye.
On the front was a picture of the singing duo Chasand Dave. I didn’t particularly like their music, but I found both men sexually attractive.
Picking up the newspaper, I flicked through it, pretending not to notice the picture and taking little if any notice of who was around me.
Towards the back of the newspaper, I stumbled upon the advertisement section, and one of the adverts immediately got my attention.
It was a significant point in my life which opened up a door and invited me to step through.
I didn’t personally know any other gay people, yet here was an advert in a music newspaper about a world I belonged to yet knew little of.
Gay? Then you should read Gay News. Once fortnightly. For a copy, send a postal order for (I can’t remember how much) to –
At that moment, a member of staff entered the shop and shouted over to the cashier –
“I see the library is open again, Karen.”
She was referring to me and a few other customers who were all flicking through various newspapers and magazines. I quickly closed the paper and checked around to see if anybody had noticed me reading the advert.
At that point, I wanted to put down the paper and rush out of the shop, but the chance of being in touch with other gay people stopped me from doing so.
I told myself to be brave and quickly walked over to Karen, and nervously placed the newspaper by the cash register. “Got everything you need today?” she asked me as she pushed the keys on the cash register.
Nodding my head, I could feel myself blushing. I thought she knew which advert I’d been reading and was about to stand up and announce ‘This one’s queer!” Of course, that never happened.
As I walked home, my heartbeat raced. I kept looking behind to check if anyone was following me. After all, unlike my straight friends, it was still illegal for me (as a gay man) to have sex with a same-sex partner until I was 21.
Precisely one week later, I waited patiently for the postman to arrive. As soon as my first copy of Gay News came through the letterbox, I rushed downstairs before anybody else got to the post.
I was relieved that the people at Gay News did as they had promised to do in their advertisement. My copy of the paper arrived in a plain brown envelope.
My hands shook as I took the envelope up to my bedroom. Carefully tearing it open, I allowed the life I’d been hiding to start coming out of the closet.
Have you ever had a life-changing moment? Get in touch with me if you’d like to share the details in a guest post.
Did you enjoy reading this post? Then you may also enjoy…
This is no joke. Sorry if you thought I was going to double you up with laughter. No, today I’m talking stereotyping! I thought it a thing of the past, but it seems it’s as evident today as it has always been.
Take, for example, television. Have you ever noticed that during a pub scene on a TV show, the men seem to be constantly drinking pints or bottles of beer while women are drinking glasses of wine or a gin/vodka tonic?
How often have you seen a man in a pub scene drinking a glass of wine and a woman drinking a beer? Some may say it’s down to taste, but surely not all the men in Coronation Street only drink beer while the women always order a glass of wine?
I’ll give it to Emmerdale (another UK soap opera), as I have seen at least one female character (the vicar!) drinking a pint of beer. It’s refreshing to see, but I’ve yet to see any of the men walk in and ask for a gin and tonic! It’s always “pint please, Chas.”
Let’s turn our attention to the news. I know many people don’t watch the news on TV because it’s always depressing, but take ‘Breakfast’, the BBC early morning news programme.
Why does the man always sit on the left of the screen and his co-presenter, a woman, always sit on the right? Is it some kind of power struggle? Why can’t they occasionally swap positions?
Which leads me to why it always has to be a man and a woman when two people read the news on TV? ‘Breakfast’ occasionally has two women presenting the show, but I’ve never seen them have two men present the show. Why? Is it not acceptable to have two men present the news together?
It’s precisely the same over on ITV. The man sits on the left of the screen while the woman always sits on the right.
Have you noticed that the male presenter seems to be a lot older (not you, Charlie) than the woman presenter? Very rarely is it the other way around? Is there a reason for that?
Let’s move on to driving. Yesterday, while waiting to cross the road, I counted the number of cars that drove past where a man and woman sat in the front of the vehicle. Would you be surprised if I told you that it was the man who was driving in just about all of the cars?
I’ve seen it when on holiday as well. Most of the time, it’s the man who drives a hire vehicle while the woman sits in the front passenger seat.
It happens in our family all of the time. We go and collect my sister-in-law, and her husband and I can guarantee that my sister-in-law will sit in the back of the car while her husband will sit in the front passenger seat.
The same goes for my niece and her boyfriend. When they come down to visit us, he always does the driving regardless of whose car they are using.
Take two couples going off on a car journey together. Why do the men always sit together in the front while the two women sit in the back of the car?
Sport also suffers from stereotyping. Today, I was delighted to hear that Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow won an Olympic bronze medal in the synchronised 10m platform diving.
On TV, ‘Breakfast’ mentioned it all morning, and the interview with Daley and Goodfellow was aired far too many times. They even interviewed a friend of Daley and Goodfellow who talked the audience through the last dive more times than I care to remember.
However, where were Clare Balding and Co when Ed Ling won an Olympic bronze medal in the men’s trap shooting for Great Britain? Was he not worthy of an interview, Ms Balding? And why, unlike Daley and Goodfellow, did he only get a few seconds of a mention on ‘Breakfast’? Ed, if you’re reading this then, unlike the BBC, I’d be delighted to interview you and celebrate the fact that you won an Olympic bronze medal.
Finally, let’s turn back to drink. How many of you ladies enjoy drinking whisky? Does anybody out there consider whisky is only a man’s drink? Why am I asking these questions? It’s something that recently came up in conversation.
It seems I’m as guilty as most others at stereotyping. Reading through this post, why did I put an exclamation mark after the word vicar? Do vicars not drink alcohol?
Do you have any examples of stereotyping in today’s world? Does it bother you, or is it something we just take for granted?
28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.