How to Fight Hate with Humor: JAMIE ANDREWS
An in-depth interview with Croydon’s Jamie Andrews
Andrews on facing adversity, rejecting labels and what it’s like being a part of the LGBTQA community in the UK
After we finished sizing up each other’s accents—and I listened to Andrews put on his best Scottish accent, I soon discovered that what Andrews had initially referred to as leading a very “obscure life” has been anything but. The way he spoke so casually about the violence he’s encountered throughout his life was initially jarring; but also intriguing. When I would gasp and say something like, “That’s awful!” Andrews would reply with a simple, “That’s life.”
Jamie Andrews, 33, currently studying for his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing at Falmouth University, has led quite a colorful life. He even said at one point that he used to co-host a radio show with a legend named Rod. He’s also just finished designing his own web site, where he can display art, writing, poetry, etc, which was 90% worked on by his friend Worayud from Laimy.
We began our interview talking about adversity.
“The National Front is a group who are essentially Nazis. They’re a UK political group. They would stand by the bus stops by the school and hand out badges when I went there.”
As a child?
Preparing to go into this interview just to talk about adversity that Andrews may have faced over his sexuality, I was instead unpleasantly surprised to hear about the violence he’s encountered his entire life over his race. He has been the victim of a number of hate crimes over being mix-raced.
“I was one of five kids of mixed race in a school of 1200,” says Andrews. “I remember I was 13 and I asked out this girl because she’d been nice to me once or something like that and she spat in my face. I wasn’t even a human being to her. I remember she ended up becoming really popular because of this one incident.”
This stopped me in my tracks. But it gets worse.
“I would get swastikas drawn on my locker and ‘Fuck off, Paki,’ which is ironic because I’m mix-raced, which is nowhere near Pakistani. I used to get just as annoyed with their inaccuracies!” Andrews says with a laugh.
Well, I had to ask, what mixed-race are you?
“South American…East Indian…Guyana—but my dad’s from London,” he says.
So, are you half and half, or…?
“No—I’ve no idea what percentage I am. Pretty sure it’s way down the line somewhere.”
That sounds like most of us Americans—I’m Irish, German, English and Scottish, I think. So from my point of view, where America is full of mixed races and blurred lines of heritage and people who might be an eighth Cherokee, it was so difficult for me to comprehend this hatred he’s had to face his entire life for his heritage.
He’s been stabbed twice (these incidents were not race related), jumped and beaten up his entire life—because his skin wasn’t the “right shade” for people.
It trumps the bisexuality issue, which Andrews has really faced little to no grief over.
In England it’s fairly commonplace to refer to someone or yourself who isn’t “white” as “colored.” In the US, this is a highly offensive term. And this is one of the many differences between US and UK culture struggles I pick up on while we’re talking.
“In Arizona, people just thought I was English, which was the first time in my life I wasn’t identified by my race,” says Andrews. “I had to go out of the country to experience that.”
“In England if I get in a cab and the driver is Afghan, he’ll think I’m Afghan. I’ve had every race thrown at me and try to claim me. ”
“I’ve been stabbed. I’m deaf in my left ear because I was attacked walking home one night by a group of skinheads,” says Andrews. “They perforated my ear drum.”
It’s difficult for me to pick up and try and switch topics after hearing this. But he doesn’t seem to carry any sort of hard feelings or harbor any anger over these issues, which just dumbfounds me. I harbor anger about nearly everything, whereas he’s seen the worst in people and is able to find his happiness every day.
So, when did you come out?
“I don’t think I ever have. In fact, I never really had a second thought about it until you asked me the question of if I identified as bisexual.”
He’s a bit opposed to labels. “As strange as this sounds, I don’t really identify with any sort of sexual label. I’ve never bothered to give it a thought until you asked. I don’t go around introducing myself like, ‘Hi, I’m Jamie, I’m mixed-race, I’m creative and I’m bisexual. I’ve never thought about labeling myself.”
This is not to say that Andrews doesn’t consider himself a part of the LGBTQA community at large. In fact, he jumped to answer that question. “I’m thrilled to be a part of the community. I mean, in any sort of group of people who have been bullied or misunderstood and still can continue to be who we are…I mean, it’s great.”
What misconceptions that are out there about bisexuality irritate you?
“When people say that we’re being ‘greedy.’ It’s no different than someone who’s gay or straight. If I like someone, I like someone. If it’s someone I want to fuck, then it’s someone I want to fuck, do you know what I mean?”
What’s your personal take on homophobia?
“I’ve always thought that homophobia is the fear that a gay guy will treat you the way that he treats women. The people I’ve known that are the most homophobic are quite misogynistic as well.”
When asked if he’s aware of the political scene and the equal rights battle for the LGBTQA community in the states, he balks at the question and says, “Of course. It’s everywhere; it’s all over my Facebook newsfeed. How can you NOT know what’s going on in the states?” I then went on to make a comment about how our two-party system is much like a three-ring circus. “Ours is terrible! Have you seen any of ours lately? My God.”
That, I did not expect to hear. It’s so interesting; there’s always so much more going on from another person’s perspective than we could ever dare to dream. The way that I feel about our political system is the same way Andrews feels about the UK’s political system.
Basically, as I said to my husband sweetly over dinner tonight, “Shit’s bad everywhere, man.”
But people like Andrews give me hope. “Gay rights are the same as women’s rights, race rights, etc. Everyone should be entitled to the same things.”
And I think that’s a damn good quote to end on if I do say so myself.