May 10, 2021



What it means to be visibly queer when you're surrounded by boring people

What it means to be visibly queer when you're surrounded by boring people: Creating a Queer Nation, having fun at the Olympics and a potted history of The X-Men. Sort of.

Probably True: Stories of queer life and even queer-er sex. Created to remind all of our queer siblings that we are none of us alone.

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This is Probably True - stories of queer life and even queer-er sex. Please be aware that this podcast contains strong language and adult themes. It would be boring without them.


 I don't watch a lot of news. I can't see the point in staying up to date on what various flavors of idiots are up to. So I tend to just not bother.

But there were a few things that stuck with me this week. One of them was a particularly toxic American idiot. He thought he was being clever saying something about, "give the gays their own island. They'll all be gone in 40 years." He was a 1920s gangster, obviously, but he meant it as a smug, sort of "gays can't have babies, so that all die out soon enough," sort of a thing. 

But now I can't get the idea out of my head. Even putting aside the vague feeling that this particular individual doesn't know where gay babies come from. I'll give you a hint: it's the same place as the boring ones. The idea that offering us queers an island and expecting the response to be anything but "Yes. Fuck Jesus. Fuck. Yes. Take me there now, please and thank you." It's an odd one. It's almost as if the straights don't get that getting away from their toxic shit for a bit is exactly what gay bars and clubs and all the stuff like that is about. It's literally all we want. 

Well, that and big bags of money, but basically a bit of space away from the straight world that continually hammers home the message that we are not like them.

I read a thing recently by an activist called Deshawn Harrison, and it's been sticking with me since. It was this: To be visibly queer is to choose your happiness over your safety. And I think it stuck with me because it's constantly true. We are Not Like Them. And then whenever we let that Not Like Them-ness show, we become a potential target for abuse or attacks or just general othering.

And it's the decision we all make all the time. "Do I allow my queerness to show through in the millions of ways I express myself and move through the world, or! Do I choose to do my best to hide those things in order to remain safe?" For most of us, that's why we moved to bigger cities and places with more people who are Like Us, because then there's a greater chance that we will find our tribe, our people, our family, so that there's more chance that we will be accepted and perhaps even celebrated for our queerness.

Not always, of course it doesn't always happen. And sometimes even that doesn't help, but, still. This is something that I think a lot of the breeders don't get: we live in straight society because we have to, not because we want to. So the idea that putting us all on an island somewhere would be a punishment and not some kind of enormous relief could only come from someone who does not really understand the people he is talking about.

Anyway. Island, please! We'll fucking take it. I love the idea of creating the world's first queer nation. It's fantastic. I am very here for it. 

As long as it was a nice warm island, not just some oil rig off the coast of Grimsby or whatever. I suppose I'm thinking about building some lovely queer utopia. I was going to call it a Queertopia, but that sounds like something they'd have at Glastonbury festival.

Let's go with The Queer Republic of Fucktopia, and base it on a nice big island or two somewhere warm and sunny. Sounds perfect to me. 

I talked about this recently and someone said there's already an island like that: Fire Island. Oh no, no, no, no, no. My little sugar plum, my little sweetheart, my little anal wart. Fire Island and Mykonos and places like that aren't queer, they're gay. I will happily get into the differences between queer and gay another time. But for now, let's just say that Fire Island, or Mykonos, or wherever, is where the white CIS gays with the six packs and the drug habits all go. And I don't want this to be that. There's a lot more to being queer than being skinny and white and dancing around in your pants.

Speaking of we'd have to set up some ground rules pretty early on. No homophobia, no racism, no transphobia, no body shaming, sex positivity, all of that kind of thing. And if any of those LGB Alliance dickheads show up, we can put them into a cannon and fire them into the sea. Lovely. 

And in the queer Republic of Fucktopia, we'd have like a milkman, but instead of milk, he'd bring lube and leave it in the bottles on your doorstep and PrEP, and any hormone treatments that you're on, all delivered directly to your door.

And it's not even about the shagging. At least, it's not just about the shagging, just a nice place away from the people who aren't like us so that we can do our thing without fear or judgment or anything like that. That's all anyone wants really. Well, I mean, we'd also implement some island wide 'clothing optional' policies. It's lovely and warm. The sun shining. Let's all get some skin out. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this and building this idea in my head and stupidly, this probably says a lot about me actually, when I start thinking about creating a queer utopia, I don't start off by thinking about all the fun stuff or how great it will be just to be in that kind of space. I go straight for the boring bits. Like how would we organize taxes? Where would we get the raw materials for building houses? Would that be enough parking? And shit like that. But then I am the kind of person who at a party will go and do the washing up or something, even if it's not my house. OnceI de-scaled a guy's kettle at a party, because my social battery had run out and I didn't feel like going home just yet. Anyway. Fucktopia. 

Oh the Olympics though. Imagine the Olympics. Just the opening ceremony on its own. It would be fantastic. You've got all those kinds of people coming out, forced smiles and in the tracksuits waving, while their national anthem's going on in the background, like, nah, nah, nah, nah.

And then after them lady Gaga comes on and we all start trotting out, they had flags, we've got confetti cannons and glitter bombs and shit like that. And the commentary would be fantastic cause yeah, it would be like, and now entering the arena, we see the queer Republic of Fucktopia. This is of course their first Olympic games. And we see they've chosen to attend the ceremony in their traditional national dress, a jockstrap and nipple. You might notice, there are quite a lot of delegates from the QRF. We're told that when word got around of the amount of shagging that happens in the athletes village, the entire nation registered to either be an athlete, a coach, or support staff, according to their spokesperson, the island nation has little interest in winning medals, but is quite keen to see how many hotties they can bone. 

The official national kit would be amazing as well as just be a Speedo and a harness and not just for diving and swimming, but for everything. Football. Hurdles. Relay races would be best watching the athletes, passing the Baton from one to another. I'm just going to leave that in your brain and let you think about it for a minute. 

Although again, it's not really about the shagging. That's just me being silly and trying to make you laugh. Well, I try and make myself laugh. So I'm hoping it worked on you, too. If not, that's a you problem, not a me problem. I'm hilarious.. 

So, yeah, it's not really about the shacking. It's more about the chance to have a space that's just for us, where we will be able to express ourselves however we wish and live free of all the shit that straight society pushes onto us. Obviously it's not as if all the queers are perfect. There's still a lot of un-learning of sexism and racism and internal homophobia and transphobia and all of that, that would need to happen. But you have to think that all those things would probably go a lot smoother and faster if we weren't surrounded by straight people insisting that there's only two genders and boys don't cry and all those other things that just make things a little bit worse.

Just think how relaxing, how freeing, how great it would be to go from a queer coffee shop to the LGBTQ workplace and afterwards to the gay supermarket and maybe to a homo bar for a drink before you go home and at all of those places, and everywhere in between, you didn't have to think about what you say or do, and you're not making sure that you're not drawing unwanted attention to yourself or keeping an eye out for some dickhead who might want to make your day harder than it has to be, and instead of all of that, just... Not having any of that.

Imagine how much lighter and freer you'd feel, how much of a relief it would be. Imagine if you didn't have to pass or even try to fit in and you could just do and be whatever you wanted, we'd have the best artists naturally and amazing fashion. Of course, although very few clothes in general and the tourist trade would be amazing because, you know, as soon as you tell the straights that they can't go there, they'll all be lining up to come and see why.

And imagine the queer refugees coming from all over the world, just hoping to find a space to be themselves and not have to worry or live in fear. In fact, more than just leaving our door open for people to pop in, like it's on the latch, we'd be out there swooping in like a less camp version of the Thunderbirds. Appearing in random homophobic and transphobic spaces like Attention! This is Rescue Team One: Get in, losers. We're going shopping.

 I didn't always think like this for the longest time. I was all for everyone learning to get along and living together in harmony and shit. I used to be a massive hippy. I had long hair and I read tarot cards and did Reiki and all that wank. But as time has gone on and life has ground me down into the cynical shell of a person that you see barely standing before you I've shifted my thinking a bit. I'm a lot less professor X and a lot more Magneto these days. Oh, actually, probably need to explain it. Um, that was the main thing about the X-Men comics and the movies and all that. These people mutants were born into boring, straight families, but they're actually different. And the boring people find them scary because they don't fit into their idea of what society should be. And the boring people would generally be hostile or afraid of these mutants. And they do horrible things to them in an attempt to try and cure their mutant powers so that they were just like everyone else. Can you see the similarities? It's not subtle.  Now I don't have any mutant superpowers, unless you count the thing I can do with my tongue. And I know several young men who do count that as a superpower, but anyway. The mutants themselves then fall into one of two camps: one side said, yes, mutants are different, but we should all work together and try to get along and live together in harmony. That was Charles Xavier. Professor X. Played by captain Picard.

Sorry, played by Sir Captain Picard. Whereas on the other side, his old mate, Eric who calls himself Magneto. Well, you would, if your name was Eric wouldn't, you he's played by Gandalf, by the way. He had a different approach. Magneto was all like, "we can't trust the normies to treat us with respect or dignity. So fuck them. We'll do what we want." And so all the mutants basically had to choose whose side they were on: try and live alongside people who actively hate and fear you in the hope that over time, things will slowly get better until your existence itself is considered tolerable, or go and live with people like you and tell all the boring people to fuck right off.

I've boiled it down a bit, but you got the gist. And the weirdest thing as I look at it now is that throughout this entire thing, we're supposed to see psychic Charlie and his guitar-playing hippy gang as the good guys, while Eric Bendyspoons and his Get Fucked Brigade are the bad guys. And I can see why it's easy to say it that way, if you'd subscribe to the straight worldview. If you can pass for straight, for cis for white, for male. 

But if you can't or you start to look a little bit closer, it all starts to fall apart. The fantasy of a queer island nation fades. And instead it's replaced with the truth: that to be visibly queer is to choose your happiness over your safety.

Because this isn't like the comic books. There's no stories of daring, last-minute rescues and everyone living happily ever after. Instead, the stories we have are about people like Natalia smut and Iris Santos and Tiffany Thomas and Kerry Washington, who were all murdered in one week in the United States, just for being trans.

Stories about people like Ali Reza  who just the other day was beheaded by his brother and cousins because his being gay brought shame to his relatives. I almost called him family. Then that's not what family is. He was 20 years old or people like Norman's cancellous, a gay guy who worked as a paramedic.

He was doused in Petrel and set on fire in his apartment building just for being gay. Took him five days to die from his injuries. All of those things have happened in the last couple of weeks. They're not the only ones. They're not isolated cases. They're just the ones that I've seen while I was writing this.

And that's what it means: to be visibly queer is to choose your happiness over your safety. 

And there is part of me that when I see these stories, I don't want to try and live happily side by side with the kind of people who would do these things or the society that would allow it to happen in the first place. I want to take my whole queer family, every sibling out there who is lost or alone or afraid or in danger. And I want to take them somewhere where we can be left alone and we can all die of old age, but that's just a dream, it's like the comic books. It's not real. There's no island. There's no queer nation. We don't have superpowers.

All we have is each other.


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