Terry George: Full Interview
Interviewed by Ross Horsley
14th May 2019
ROSS: This is Ross Horsley recording for the West Yorkshire Queer Stories project on the 14th of May 2019 and I’m here with Terry George. Terry would you like to just introduce yourself quickly for us.
TERRY: Yeah. Hi, um my name’s, my name’s Terry George. I’m 54 years of age. Born the 14th of march 1965. Born in Leeds erm, on a rough council estate called The Withers. And um I’ve lived in Leeds all my life. Travelled quite a lot, but always lived in Leeds and love Leeds and very proud of it as my home city.
ROSS: Terry how do you identify in terms of your sexuality?
TERRY: I’m a gay man. Came out to my parents at the age of 17. Well, came out to my mum actually at the age of 17 and, and yeah um, yeah that’s my sexuality.
ROSS: And what was it like coming out?
TERRY: Coming out was very, very difficult at the age of 17. Somebody had outed me actually to my mum at BINGO and she came home. It was quite an emotional time and er,
ROSS: What kind of support was available for you at the time?
TERRY: Back then at the age of 17 there was no support, absolutely zero support. Erm, if anything it was a pretty much of a hindrance. I remember my mum being upset about me being gay at 17 because she felt that she want... She wanted a kid that could have a normal life... erm that wouldn't get bullied for being gay... Erm, you know wouldn't be ashamed to do what I wanted to do because I was gay. Erm, so you know there was all these things and, and concern about obviously embarrassment to the family, embarrassment to myself. She was worried about that, but she was very, very supportive, erm and as she got older I found out that she was happy that I was gay. And, you know she could have asked for about better outcome really because being gay for me and making me close to my mum as well was you know it was probably something that a heterosexual son wouldn't have. In fact I've got three brothers who didn't have the closeness to my mum and my sister: She didn't either. So, so being gay I think all those things. Were for a reason, a good reason. And it's worked in, in my good fortune throughout my life.
ROSS: What was it like coming out to your siblings?
TERRY: I never really came out to my, my brothers and sister. I'd never told them. Err, I didn't even tell my dad. But they somehow knew. I think obviously they talk or something's talked about but it wasn't I didn't sit down and have a coming out ceremony. It was very, very erm, like I said well I was forced to come out my mum and... Really to, to come out to my brothers and things just didn't happen. It was quite dysfunctional in terms of, err one of my brothers was in prison so, for car theft and stuff petty crimes like that.
He was so, so I never really saw much of him. An older, my eldest brother pretty much left home so I never really saw much of him so I didn’t have to spend time with him and another brother had left as well. So it was really just me, my mom, my dad and my sister at home. So my sister was much younger than me so I never really had to tell her. And I don’t think she would've understood. But she, she'd become to know along the years and although it was never a moment where I said oh I'm gay she's a she knew she'd worked out she just... never hid anything from her either.
ROSS: Did being gay sort of leads you down a particular career path or sort of guide you in terms of your career?
TERRY: Yeah it's quite interesting really at 54 because you can look back at the path and see that lots of things were for a reason, a good reason. And I don't think I would be as successful now if I hadn't have identified as being gay. And the reason I say that is because err... When my life started I started as a DJ at the age of, well let's go back further. When I was at the age of 13, err I used to collect autographs with famous people. Erm, then it was a very unusual hobby just going and door stepping people at the local hotels, the local TV studio. Erm, just getting autographs and then my mum and... my mom bought me a cassette recorder and then I started interviewing people. The worst interviews you probably ever heard. But you know I met some amazing incredible film stars, famous people. Omar Sharif, Billy Greco, Selena Jones, Chuck Wild, Marti Caine, Diana Dors, Harold Wilson, the Bee Gees, David Essex, Cliff Richard, Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson.
Just it goes on I mean, we're talking about over 200 known names of people I'd interviewed. It was crazy really when I look back and you know, a little 13 year old, 14 year old kid interviewing these people was just, you know, they didn't feel intimidated and they were quite open with it and no one was doing it. Well we lived in a totally different time where, you know, to do that was. It was, I was one of a kind. There wasn't other people doing it. Whereas you go now and you see autograph, autograph hunters, for example, you see a group of them and they all have a certain look about them you know.
And, you know, I was a little bit different at the age of 13, 14 doing that you know. And I think it just was a start of, of something that I've never seen happen before. Moving on from there, at the age of 17 err... So I just a little bit before that I'd started playing my interviews on a, a, a radio station in, in St James's Hospital err and then there was actually a gay guy there who took a shine to me and erm took me under his wing and err then he got me involved in a radio show and then I got my own radio show on hospital radio and then I was able to put my interviews to good use at that point. So that was quite good.
Then I learnt how to cue up records and spin records and that kind of thing you know: vinyl. Which a lot people won't know what vinyl is in this day and age but you know it was playing vinyl which you know there was little bit of a knack to it. And so from then I went on to be the local DJ at my youth club at the age of 17 or 16 actually. So I DJ'd err... at the youth club then my first commercial job came up working in a bar in Leeds called the Gemini which anybody who knows Leeds it doesn't exist anymore but they used to be a cinema called the ABC cinema .Or it was the Odeon cinema Sorry, the Odeon cinema which was at the top of Briggate erm. In fact it wasn’t Briggate sorry, it was the one that drops behind I think it is Boar Lane as you come back down. So I was, it was… it was around there. The ABC cinema was above and above below it was a bar called The Gemini. And I started DJing there at the age of 17 which again was a bit unusual because you had to be 18 to work in a licenced premises but they let me DJ. And I used to use a lot of my interviews or little clips from the interviews when I was DJing. I'd get people name-dropping me, celebrities. Saying Hi this is so-and-so and so-and-so and you’re listening to Terry George playing the best music. Now that little bit there. Now let me tell you what happened there. My name isn't Terry George. Well it is Terry George, but it's not just Terry George, it's Terence George Curnickham is my full name. Erm and it was at this point I realised I needed to change my name to something snappier from Terry Curnickham to Terry George because that's my middle name. Reason being is because when I get people like celebrities like let's say Radio One DJ Steve Wright and say Hi this is Steve Wright and you're listening to Terry c-c-c- can...how do you say it? Paul McCartney was the same. He could never pronounce the name Curnickham. And so then I started using the name George: which is the middle part of my name.
So it will be: Hi this is Steve Wright and you're listening to Terry George playing the best music. Hi this is Paul McCartney, and you're listening to Terry George. Has a better ring about it and that's, that's how that came about.
And I think this is, at this point I was able to start being myself. Coming out a little bit more... erm feeling comfortable. It gave me quite a confidence DJing. Not as confident as I am now but... looking back. But it did give me, you know, an element of confidence and it was it was something that I loved doing and I was getting paid for it. Very little, but I was getting paid for it. Erm, I'd had a couple of other jobs at this time working in a pickle factory along with DJing. So it'd be pickle factory in the daytime DJing at night. Erm, also worked in an antique shop as well doing stuff. So like my time was really... I was always working quite hard and long hours. Part of the reason why I was doing that as well is because when living at home with my mum, sister and dad we'd had our electric cut off.
We lived without electricity for three years. So there's no electric, no gas. We had coal fire which we couldn't afford to put coal on. We were burning rags and bits of wood and stuff like that to cook on as well which this day and age you don't think would ever happen. You know, my sister was quite young at the time. She would have been, she'd have about three or four. So, you know, cutting the electricity off of a house for a child, you know, with a child with three or four years of ages is kind of unheard of now. But anyway, we managed to get through and I went negotiate with the electric board and managed get our electricity back on which is the reason why I had all these jobs and my why I was earning as much as I could so I could go and negotiate. But anyway, but your violins away now. That's the sad story over.
So then DJing at 17 at The Gemini. Then I went on to DJ along. So that was till 11:00 PM. From 11:00 PM till 3:00 in the morning I was then DJing at another venue called Scrumpy's: which was a nightclub in Leeds.
So I was doubling up and doing that and I was doing that for about two or three years I think it was. Till the age of err I think it was about 21. It was 1986 and 87. I then went to DJ in Benidorm and I did two seasons in Benidorm erm and I used to dress up in different costumes. It wasn't drag, I have to say, because I have a couple of friends who wind me up and say: Oh so you used to do drag! It was never drag. I used to put masks on and erm stupid costumes and run around miming. Kind of like drag. Miming to, to songs and you know Queen I want to Break Free and all that kind of stuff. And erm, what was the stuff, Living Doll, Cliff Richard and Devine. I'd put this big mask and have two big balloons inside this big thing and I'd jump off a stage. It was all crazy stuff but I did that in Benidorm and that was great fun. And was like, it was all entertaining the crowds and you know I was enjoying it. It was great. Some of the best times of my life. Then erm 86, 87, 1988. Yeah late 87, early 88. I came back to Leeds and I auditioned for a job in a new club that was opening, back then. It was called Confetti’s. Now just to put it in perspective. Anybody who knows this, it used to be called Tiffany's. That was in the Merrion centre. That had shut down, refurbished, and this brand new club called Confetti’s was opening; which is the club I applied to be the DJ. Anyway... I got the job erm and that was kind of a turning point in my career. The first turning point and what happened was I was DJing there Mondays for a student night. Thursday, Friday, Saturday erm for the mainstream nights. And I was quite open about my sexuality. The manager knew that I was gay and he asked me erm, you know, did I want to do a, a, gay night. On a, a night that was closed which was a Tuesday. And I thought right. Then I went and asked a few people if they fancied doing it. And they didn't want to do it. People who were a little bit more prominent on the gay scene at the time and then I spoke with my partner Michael at the time then. I was with Michael, another friend called Dean, and another friend called Sean and we said should we do it. So we, we decided we would do this gay night once a month. So we started to do a once a month gay night on the first Tuesday of the month.
So I was DJing that particular night and I was DJing on the other nights as well. So I was a DJ for the event... Went out promoting it. When I'd finished work for the weekend I'd... we'd go out to all the other clubs around Sheffield, Manchester and that's our thing and start flyering people and giving out leaflets and flyers to promote this once a month gay night.
So then this gay night had about 300 people on the first. The first event. Then it jumped about 600 people a second month and the third month was about 1200 people. Well that was amazing because what was happening; we would take the door money, keep the door money and the club would get the bar. And that, so this created the brand new night in Leeds called Confetti’s which was on the first Tuesday of a month. A night that would be totally dead. You know, nothing happening in the city at all.
And it was phenomenal. We were getting people come from all over the country. We would then put on coaches from Manchester, Nottingham Derby, Sheffield, erm Liverpool and we'd bring people over. Coach people over. So what we were doing were bringing new faces into the city so then local people would come out because obviously it was a, it was a chance to meet new people. Erm, there wasn't the likes of social media. You know the Grindrs and the Tindrs and whatever else is around at the moment. That didn't exist social media, in fact the internet didn't exist. Erm, so people would, would come from all over and meet people and it was fantastic.
I would DJ the night, would have some acts on. We'd get some PAs on. And that ran for a few years. We'd then start putting on some big names for like a Christmas special. We put Boy George on erm which I'll tell you another story about in a second. We put Boy George on one night er... and we had M People. Then we had D:Ream. We had Take That several times. Take That would come and play the venue many times because they were like some kind of building their career. Err and on top of that... By this time I've jumped forward a little bit. We were then doing this gay night once a month in other venues. We were taking it because the company that I worked for was called Rank leisure... a big leisure company that had clubs around the country.
So from there we then took this gay night to Nottingham. And then we took it to Derby and we took it to Sheffield. And we did different nights there gay nights on, on odd nights of the.... So like we'd have the first Tuesday in Leeds then the second Tuesday in Nottingham third Tuesday in Derby. So it was, it was coming like that. And so that was working extremely well also. Erm, so it was a formula that we had then we took it round. Then erm we started doing Mr Gay UK. And erm how that worked was we, we, well there was a guy called Brian Derbyshire who was the founder of Mr Gay UK who's now dead and Brian erm had done it a little bit.
Well did it quite low key and he offered us. Would you like to do a heat of Mr Gay UK. Well they really were only doing it in London, Leeds and Manchester and that was the extent of their Mr Gay UK. So we did it in Leeds and we managed to get celebrities on the panel, made it all professional. It looks amazing. Incredible the way we did it. A lot, It was like the final almost it was so spectacular. And we got some great contestants as well and we did Mr Gay UK in Leeds at Confetti’s around about 1986, 87. No sorry, ah 89, 88, 89 was the year we're doing it. Erm and then Brian Derbyshire didn't really want to carry on with Mr. Gay UK. He'd only just started it a couple years before and he didn't want to do it. So I approached him and said, you know, can I take it over and buy it from you and there's a guy in Leeds in Huddersfield con called John Hady who is well worth listening to as well. He's got a great story. He was the man who brought poppers to, to the UK. So anyway, John Hady brokered the deal with Brian Derbyshire who managed to get hold of Mr Gay UK.
So we took it on. So I had some big ideas for Mr Gay UK. And what we then did with that, we'd also do the heats at our venue. We'd do the heats at the other venues where we were erm having our gay nights but then took it further, took it out, and took it right around the country. Become a bit of a thing to take out and started going round many, many venues around the country doing Mr Gay UK with a search to find him nationally. To find the new Mr Gay UK. And so we ran that for quite a few years.
Now, another little piece to the jigsaw. When doing these gay nights we used to give our flyers like I mentioned leaflets and on the back of a leaflet was blank. So the front the leaflet had all the information on, on the back of a leaflet was blank. And then we got approached by somebody. A chap called Michael Sn**. Who used to do... he was from Newcastle used to do rock shots in lights and he said can I advertise on the back of your flyers. He says, because I see you everywhere giving them out, wherever I go. Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, wherever you're always there giving them out.
So I said: Yeah, you can advertise on the back. Then we got somebody else wanting to advertise on the back, then somebody else wanted to advertise on the back. So we thought it's a bit of a fight going on for the back of this flyer because people knew the distribution of this was incredible. So then we thought why don't we launch like a little news sheet or something. So we produced like an A4 news sheet, like a little information booklet carrying adverts of other people's in there which covered all our costs. But on the main part of it was advertising our event; Confetti’s in Leeds.
And then from there the month after that, a couple months after that we met with a guy called James Sheppy who worked for the BBC. It was a journalist and stormed this idea about making a magazine. You know, because it had gone from a leaflet to being, I felt I could sell this advertising because you know lots of people were asking me for it and I felt I could go and fill it with advertising so I created a magazine. The magazine was then called All Points North, which was a gay magazine which ran right across the North. All points north basically.
And it went everywhere. So we, we distributed that all over the country giving it out in venues with our adverts, advertising for Confetti’s very prominent; normally on the back page. But yeah it carried lots of other advertisements from other people. So now we've got Mr Gay UK, All Points North magazine, Confetti’s in different venues. And before I knew it... and I was also DJing full time as well. And I, through the daytime. I would be selling the advertisements in the magazine. It's be sat in a cellar in my house in Bramley pretending that I was in a big office, you know, in my head I was in a big office but in just one telephone and like if somebody want to speak to editorial I'd press them on hold kind of thing, put a button on the phone and pass it across and that was transferring them to another department.
So it was only in a little cellar with a desk that was just the size of it you know two metres. And we made it sound like a big organisation and that ran for quite a lot of years. So then. Mr Gay UK became absolutely huge; lots of interest from all over the place and then along the way with a few years later with Mr Gay UK we'd managed to get it on national television. It was on Channel 5 for 2 years run by, hosted by Graham Norton and Sonya and then it was also on Channel 5 again, forget the channels now, but it was hosted by Jane McDonald and myself. Howard backstage was a presenter with it and then we had another... it was on television three times and I forget that. I'll have to dig out the information or somebody will have to come and research if you want to see the exact information.
This is another interesting thing as well, is because your mind becomes blank through all these things. You kind of forget a lot of the things that happened which are really important in actual fact, you know, these things play an important part into some people's lives.
And you know I can talk about the winners of Mr Gay UK over the years as well. Some of them have become very interesting, erm one not so interesting but got committed in prison for murder, eating part of the body of the person he murdered it was claimed. That was a guy called Anthony Morley.
He was our very first winner. Winner that we had. Then we have other ones that have gone... erm one called Carl Austin who then became onto the first gay mayor of, of Lord Mayor of Manchester. He's done very well. Then we have another one called Bruno Communder. I wanna say Gummunder [actually Gamecho]... Dino, a beg your pardon, Dino Gummunder. I think his name is.. who is now a very big actor. I saw him on a TV programme that I was watching on Netflix recently. He was, he's a very famous actor. And he had the main part acting as a policeman. And so he's done lots of good acting.
I think he changed his name a little bit along the way as well because there might have been a bit of stigma. I think from Mr Gay UK for him. Then has been... erm Mark Carter who was the first gay policeman to win and was an out gay policeman. He had lots of press. And then we got some other ones. There's a guy called Mark Ledsham who moved to Australia. And if you're familiar with the exchange currency people called XE. They do. If you look on any apps you probably, if you’re converting your currency you'll see that Mark Ledsham, or you'll see that the XE app. But Mark Ledsham is the CEO of that company now so he's gone on to do big things. So, you know there's been some interesting Mr Gay UK winners along the way.
One thing I want to jump back to is to Confetti’s... erm when we were doing this Gay night. Like I say it was run by... It was... the, the club was organised... the club was owned by Rank Leisure and I remember in the late 80s. I think it was 87, 88, 89. We were called in erm and we had a very interesting conversation, quite heated really. That AIDS had broken out and it was pretty prevalent advertising so on TV and of course we were the only... we had a big gay clientele in the club and they wanted to stop us using glass.
They didn't want us having glasses for the regular customers versus our gay customers. Which was extremely offensive because, you know, we were. Who knows whether gay people are going in on a weekend or not. We're all the same people, you know, we were we... there was a stigma then and it was a big, big debate that we had. And of course we were quite lucrative for them... to have these gay nights and they didn't want to lose us. But we were to the point. We, we stood my ground and went to the point where we said we will pull this gay night, we won't even do it, you know.
And I was even saying I would stop DJing as well on a regular basis if you have a problem gay people because you're saying that if I'm drinking out the same glass as our customers I can pass on HIV or AIDS. That's... you know, it's just not acceptable. It was very naive of them and they were, you know. This was a big organisation and they wanted it very low key. They didn't want it to hit the press. They were very, very keen on making sure it didn't go anywhere with this. You know, this bad erm... view that they had on people drinking out the same glasses. And of course as we know now many years later you know it wasn't a problem and you know you couldn't contract AIDS or HIV from, from drinking from the same glass as people. So that was a bit of a tough time as well.
Back to Mr Gay UK... strange interview this. You not got a chance to put in one word anyway. Sorry. So let me just recap for a second. So now we're, we're doing a, a gay magazine. All Points North. We're doing Mr Gay UK. I'm doing Confetti’s. And we're getting a little bit political fighting with the news about HIV and AIDS. And then what I wanted to recap on this is that none of this would've been possible had I not been gay. So what I felt at the age of 17 is a bit of a perhaps curse of being gay. And I didn't get quite down about it and wish that I was straight and would have done anything in my powers to be straight. Really turned out to be something amazing. You know being gay was probably the best thing that ever happened to me because I wouldn't have, I wouldn’t have done this. Then having the magazine gave lots of opportunities as well because there was space in the magazine that would only be, you know, if we weren't selling the space it would be our space to fill.
And we got approached by a company called Prowler who were very big up until recently for doing mail order products. And they offered us products to sell in the magazine; gave me a lot of products. And we could keep a percentage of a profit. So we did that. So we used the space in the magazine like a page. Did us a profit share on it. And that took off extremely well and then they then said to us: Well why don't you set up your own mail order company. You know you've got the space in your magazine you know you could do that and you could buy the products from us. And if you source them from elsewhere then you know, fair on, fair play to you. So that was good. So we did that and so then we are, we have now of a mail order market, we have a mail order catalogue that as a supplement inside the magazine which was doing extremely well also. Then we got approached by a chatline company called LSH which were based in Guildford, and in the magazine would have lots of chat lines.
Now anybody who doesn't know what chat lines are... they're erm... the they're how people used to meet on a telephone line and people would ring in, call we'd call a number and on the telephone line you'd hear other like-minded people that also called in... like it was, what I would like to describe as a carousel. So, for example, you'd call in and you actually what you would hear these, this in a type of recording like this... you'd hear somebody say: Hi I'm Mark from Manchester, 23 years of age. Next call you'd here. And if you liked him you'd a press a button to say: Hi Mark I want to talk to you, and you get a message back. It was like delayed chat. The next call you'd hear: Hello it's Steve from Bradford. No I don’t like Steve. Hello this is Alan, from Sheffield. Hmm, Alan from Sheffield sounds alright, and he would press a button and you'd say: Hi Alan. I'm Terry from Leeds. Tell me a bit about yourself.
And he'd press a button back and he'd tell me a bit about himself and then if you got on well with each other on this relay chat... this chat that went back and forth really slowly... then you would then be you know you would maybe swap numbers and chat to them properly on the telephone or arrange to meet. So that was what chat lines were and we got a company called LSH who were very interested in talking to us. So, with this point 5 or 6 years down the line we'd sold the magazine All Points North to a London company. A company that have Boys and The Pink Newspaper.
So they bought, they bought All Points North and just at this point LSH asked me: would I go and have a meeting with them and it was only a little bit annoying because they wanted to buy the magazine and I didn't know. We'd already sold it to this London company. So then LSH asked me, a lady called Gina who's no longer with us; she passed away. She said: would I go and work for her company. Doing the marketing because she'd seen what I'd done with all the Mr Gay UK. She'd seen what I'd done with all the magazine and stuff and that I had a great opportunity and an ability to do marketing.
So I had never really worked for anybody before this and I didn't know what to charge them. So, I was with my partner Michael. Michael Rothwell at this time. And I said to Michael: What, you know what you think I should charge them? And I'm gonna be working with them one day a week. Just doing some marketing, ringing around different magazines and stuff and PR and things. And he said: oh, you could do about 40 grand. Charge them 40 grand a year, something ridiculous. 40 grand and I'm thinking something like about 10 or 16. He said no, no. Anyway, so then I chanced it. So this is my first chance. So I'm sat in this meeting with this lady and she says: So what would you want to come work for us then and what would it take? So I'm clenching my bum cheeks and looking at her trying to look cool and said I'm going to be looking at about 40 grand a year.
And she said that's fantastic! That's what we were thinking. So, 40 grand a year I was paid for doing one day a week going to Guildford. And they gave me a company credit card erm to go and fly down on it from Leeds which was ridiculous. I could never justify flying down. I just wanted to get the cheapest train ticket to go down and work with them. And the reason I tell you this is because it is extremely important. After working with them for two years they suggested that why didn't we do our own chat lines and run some of the services through them.
And that's what we did. So Michael and I erm bought some equipment from them and we then stayed on in our own chat lines with them and that was a turning point in our whole life, the whole career. And the reason why it was a turning point is because... it was a struggle at the beginning because we weren't able to get any callers and we had to sell the system ourselves and pretend we were callers and to keep the volume of people on line at any one time. But after erm negotiating, negotiating with a couple of, couple telecoms companies we would then reduce the pound a minute stuff, which people would call it but that's what you'd have to pay. One pound a minute to use these telephone chat lines.
We'd negotiated a deal where we could do it for free. It was an 0990 number instead of an 0898 number which 0898 was premium, 0990 numbers were what they called national rate numbers. Which meant you just paid a penny a minute to meet, make your phone calls. Just a standard call. And the way we were the first to do this which really shook up the whole chat line world. It was a massive shake up. And people would then start using our services. Then we were getting paid one p a minute or just point short of a penny a minute for these calls that we were getting coming in.
And we were getting millions of minutes of people using our services. That was all at night and we managed just such a deal through the day where a TV company would use the capacity of our machinery to be able to put in calls from ITV for like competitions. So if you rang a competition that you saw advertised on television it would potentially come through to our kit. That was in the daytime and at night time everybody would be on there chatting, you know, lots of people chatting to each other.
TERRY: Sorry, I took a drink.
ROSS: No, please do.
TERRY: So this was a turning point. So we were then getting huge cheques through. We were spending a lot on marketing, but we were then getting good money through from the revenue that was coming. It was coming straight from BT. So it was Kingston Communications back then which have changed a name. It was a Hull telecommunications I think. Anyway. So we were getting cheques from them which gave us cash money to spend; lots of revenue. And at this point I had stopped DJing, I wasn't DJing anymore at Confetti’s. I'd packed all that in for about two or three years whilst working with LSH.
And then... I was getting bored and missing the limelight that DJing brings. I was getting a little bit lonely. A bit sad and a little bit down in the dumps. And then Michael and I said: Well why don't we open a, try and open a bar. So this is where the first bar idea comes from.
Which now where we stand have, you know, 18 years later is a big, big change. So how the bar situation worked is... there is a venue in Leeds called Queen's Court; which was fairly newly opened this time and we're having queues of people coming down from the door right into the main street. Lots of people waiting to get in. And we thought if we could get the venue next door which was a restaurant at the time called Brick shops then we could turn that into a bar. So anyway, we went to see the lady who had the restaurant Brigg Shots. Her name was Jill. It was next door to Queen's Court and said: Would you be interested in selling the restaurant
? She said Well I would be but, you know, I'm not really desperate to sell. She said I'll be looking for about thirty thousand pound which is a lot of money back then. Might run about year nineteen, nineteen ninety nine. So we felt that's a lot. So anyway we, we said: OK we will give you thirty thousand. We didn't want restaurant, we didn’t want anything. We just want to take over her lease to have that particular location because it was next door to Queen's Court and she had a great courtyard. None of it which looked, it had... the potential of it didn't look anywhere like it was The toilets faced courtyard, it was on the back of it.
So anyway, she, she said you're going to sell to us and she didn't. She then changed her mind and said she wasn't selling anymore. So we were quite upset and we started looking for other premises. And the nearest thing we could find were some railway arches which were opposite Queen's Court, opposite lower Briggate at the back of a pub called The Viaduct round the back. And we looked at these railway arches, and we spoke with erm rail tracker who owned them and they said that we, you know, we put a proposal together and they said we could have them but it would take them a few years to get the tenants out that were already in there. They were like some old workshops, garage workshops, something else that was just a storage unit.
And it took them some years to get them out. So anyway, a couple... About a year or so had passed and then Rail Track, what we’re saying we're ready for you come and sign contracts and we reckon that we'll have you in within the next twelve months. So I went to our solicitors to sign some paperwork and got into a conversation with them and they said: oh I'm just doing another deal down the end of Leeds. And when I say down the end of Leeds this area around here which is Lower Briggate was quite rundown. Lots of prostitutes walking around very dark corners, a very rundown area. Erm, and he said and it's called Brick shots. The name of the people that I'm dealing with. So Michael and I looked at each other and said Brigg Shots is what we wanted. You know, how much, how much is the deal? He said well I shouldn't tell you this. It's ninety thousand pound. We were talking 30 thousand she's going to move out. No, she's letting some guys have it for 90. So I said would you do us a favour and just call and say we'll offer her a hundred. And we didn't have a hundred people in our hands at this time but we knew we could get hold of it straight away.
So erm he rang and she said: OK yeah I'll let them have it for 100. So right that moment within the space of an hour the deal was done and we signed the paperwork and we now owned what was a restaurant on Lower Briggate called Brigg Shots. Above the restaurant was a brothel. Two floors of a brothel called Dallas, Dallas Sauna. So we, we had this idea. We wanted to open downstairs and turn it into a bar. We did. We ripped it all out, we erm converted it all and made it into Fibre. Bar Fibre in Leeds. In the year 2000 we opened. So we opened Bar Fibre, our first bar and only bar and it was a huge success.
We were getting people coming in from Queens Court. And people coming in from new areas. We were able to market it and it did extremely well. We were quite naive really. We didn't make any money. We were spending more than we were putting into it but it was great fun. That's what it was about. You know, a playground for myself and Michael my partner and we were able to open it. So then we'd run for about a year, year and a half and Rail Track who had the railway arches were on our back saying: Guys if you don't open these arches. If you don’t come and complete your commitment of saying... taking, taking them on then we're going to remarket it somebody else.
And by this time Fibre was booming. It was doing amazing. One floor only downstairs on the ground floor. With the brothel above and two floors up. And we thought. We can't do anything, but we're gonna have to open it. We're gonna have to go try and go and do a club there because if somebody else goes and opens that they might kill us. It might wipe us out in business. So we then, we went and negotiated with them and we took on the railway arches erm two years after opening Fibre and called it Mission. We opened Club Mission.
And it didn't work very well at the beginning. It took a lot of hard work and we changed it around and we were in the advice of some architect who knew how to do stuff and probably looking back didn't get it right. And it was a tough slog. And it was quickly eating into our resources as well. Then, but Fibre is still doing extremely well. Fibre was amazing. And then we we, wanted the brothel above us were moving out and we want to try and get the rest of the floors of Fibre, so if we could go higher.
So we got in touch with the company in London who owned our building, who was the landlords and asked them could we buy the building. Because we thought the money that were paid in rent we could get a mortgage and erm take over the whole building. Whoever is listening to this probably gonna fall asleep. Sorry if I'm boring you so death on this.
ROSS: No, not at all.
TERRY: So then we, we erm we then were able to buy the building from the landlords. And we were surprised because we didn't think it would sell. It was a key, key part of Leeds.
They could obviously probably just remember it has been a really rough end of Leeds. And we'd kind of turned it around a little bit with ourselves of Fibre and then Queen's Court next door. It was starting to change a little bit. So anyway they, we bought the building and after three years we opened the first floor. So we now had two floors of Fibre and a third floor which hadn't been opened. It was it was actually an apartment that we turned into an apartment. So that was amazing. And those two floors were doing fantastic. Mission was running. It was still struggling, doing okay. But we were then having problems from the Viaduct pub, which was a football supporters’ pub. Which had a landlord in there who was complaining about the noise and couldn't sleep at night with his family.
And we were causing him distress and he wanted to close Mission down. So we had lots about battles with the council about sound problems and we tried to keep the sound down. And we really just couldn't function with a volume of sound that it had to be. And anyway so we eventually did a deal with the landlord of the pub. To buy him out of his lease. And for us to go in and run the pub. But it was a football supporters’ club, pub by Leeds United supporters which only got busy on football days and we didn't want to have it but we thought if we didn't run this for the brewery then we wouldn't be able to continue erm running Mission because it was a noise nuisance to the next door neighbour. So we now have Fibre, Mission and The Viaduct at this point and we didn't know what we're going to do with The Viaduct.
It was a... like it was a football supporters’ club. It had a plaque on the outside erm from a couple of football supporters that had been killed in Turkey and it was almost a bit of a shrine. People would come here on football day, but for the rest of it was absolutely dead. No one would go in at all through the, through the week. So we, we brought a couple of girls in to run it for us. Two lesbians of, friends of ours Hayley and Jo and they ran the pub.
And we then got a bit of gay support. People coming in. Because we thought that, you know, of course if two girls run it, it will probably get a lot more girls coming in and if it was lesbians it probably, less probably, less problematic to these football hooligans as we saw them. Erm because, you know, obviously they're not going to have a go at girls as they may do to gay men. That was the kind of thinking of it. And the girls ran it for a while and they had other ideas they wanted to move on. And then thought, it's time for us to move in.
By which time a year and a half two years later... they did... the football hooligans as we'll call them were seeing this place been taken over by gays. There was lots of stuff being talked about and a few slurs being said and a little bit of violence in the place in the early days. But we managed to then change all that. So we managed to get the plaques moved off the outside for the two people that died in the football fight in Turkey and we then started bringing a few more gay staff in. And then we started putting a drag DJ on and having a bit of cabaret on a weekend.
Footballers still came in the Saturday and it was quite interesting really because you'd have these football supporters that hadn't been coming in for years that all were just coming in thinking what the hell was going on with the place. Looks really weird. It looks like the same place but this drag queen D.J. and there's drag queens working behind the bar and they thought it was like bizarre and it was a really interesting mix but they actually handled it quite well. You know there were some sarcy comments and people, you know, being boisterous like there would be and like you know all the lads taking the mickey out of some of them. But the drag queens that we had working with were thick skinned and they, you know, they loved it. They put up with it. It was fantastic. And then as slowly time has gone on we've been able to turn that more and more around, so. And then beyond that, we then put our offices above The Viaduct, which was in a granny flat, which the, the previous landlord had lived in. And then we had lots of our own staff living above The Viaduct in some rooms. We started building some rooms for them and it worked very, very well. And then we were done with, so then we had our offices and staff in there. So the building which we didn't want and we hated and was derelict upstairs became quite an important, integral part of our business because we used have other offices which were based in Beeston outside Leeds which would we then brought them into the centre and put them inside The Viaduct.
So this building in The Viaduct has now played an important part. So for recap, we've now got Fibre. We've got erm Mission. We've got The Viaduct. And erm still own Mr. Gay UK, which has run quite a few years down the line. We don't have the chat lines anymore. They've like become defunct. Well in fact we do have the chat lines, actually. They do exist, but on a very, very low scale because in 2019, where we are now, they erm, some people do still use the telephone. But we're only talking a very small amount of people compared to what it was.
Everybody now uses the Internet and stuff. We've tried the Internet dating to try and put it on the Internet. We've tried doing stuff online but nothing has ever been as lucrative as what the telephone chat lines were. Anyway sorry what was your question?
ROSS: Actually I'm interested in taking you back to when you were opening up Fibre. Were... did you want to create something with a different character to Queen's Court that already existed. And if so, what?
TERRY: So when we opened Fibre we knew that we wanted to make it a gay bar. There weren't many gay bars in Leeds. There was The New Penny, The Bridge, Blades. But erm not not many. Other than that there were no other bars and we felt that we could do something more music led with... Because I was DJing and I was... I never DJ’d in Fibre ever but because I was into music and I had just stop my DJing career after 20 odd years. We felt we should be more music led so erm more of a dance bar. So we were, we were looking to offer something different but still aim for the same kind of clientele in fact. Everybody being gay. That was our idea.
ROSS: Yeah. And Mission. How has that played out over the years? Has that found its niche in Leeds?
TERRY: Erm, Missions has had lots of different identities over the years. We struggled with it in the early days. Struggled a lot because, you know, it was our very first club we didn't really know what to do. And every so... every day is a learning day. You know every time we do something it's always a learning curve with everything that we do. I think we've got better with over the 18 years. Certainly with, certainly with Fibre we've now made it a profitable business which for the first five years we didn't we didn't even realize how the profits worked to be honest. We just mingled it in with everything else.
But we then broke everything to its own companies and conceived well the profit and losses. And we got a few more people in to help us specialize in different managers and different areas and. And erm it works a lot better now. So Mission has an identity. We've erm in 2019 we've now split Mission into two venues. We now have Tunnel which is one side and then we have Mission which is the other side. Tunnel is predominantly gay and erm Mission. It's the main club is erm gay mixed but I think what we have done over the years with both Fibre and Mission is... we've been heavily, heavily responsible for a mix of people.
Because Fibre has been so popular with people, people want to bring their straight friends in. And we started out being I would say 20 percent straight 80 percent gay when we originally started. I think that's reversed now. I think it would be I would say 20 percent gay and 80 percent straight but a nice mix. People know when they come through those doors that they're coming into a gay venue. And I often stand on the door and say: Why do you come into a gay venue? To see people's reactions, to see how they are. And I think 18 years on their reaction is so different from what it was. People are so so different. People say: Yeah I know it's a great venue, erm you know I know it's a gay venue sorry. It's great I love it. The music is good. I've got a lot of gay friends. And I never used to hear that in the early days. And I've seen a massive change over 18 years. I think that we've slowly slowly slowly slowly chipped away at that over the 18 years and I know I feel it. I know we have. I know that people who would never once come in: Oh no I'm not coming in, that's a gay bar. It's full of queers and have kind of attitude just doesn't exist anymore.
It probably does exist actually because I've seen it a little bit from people from out of town. And I see it from people who come from different cities. Mainly northern cities i.e. the Newcastle’s and, and Middlesbrough's and that kind of thing. When they come on Hen dos or they come on big stag dos or guys that are not used to it. You can get that reaction from them. But Leeds people seem to be so integrated now and I feel really, really proud of that.
ROSS: So where will the scene sort of be heading over the next few years you think in Leeds.
TEERY: I think since 2000 when we launched Fibre to 2019 where we are now. Erm, that's a full lifetime in terms of people who, if we think about it. People just been born and are now legal and allowed to come out and drink alcohol at the age of 18. There's been massive changes. Good changes. Changes where people at one point were quite homophobic and lots of stigmas around. Now in Leeds we're fortunate enough to see a lot of that just gone. Certainly in the centres. I don’t know about the proverbs and the, you know, the out of town areas. But certainly in the centre people know they are in the gay area and whether they're straight or gay they don't care.
It's just great. And what I've also seen and I'm very proud of as well is we have a Leeds First Friday which is erm LFF it's called. And that's where lots of transsexual transgender people come out on a first Friday and they come. And they start off a hotel on the bottom end of Briggate which is a cosmopolitan hotel right now and then they come to Fibre. They come to Viaduct and beyond that they go to other venues and they're feeling comfortable. Whereas these people would have been frowned upon and looked upon and even spat upon a once upon a time. Erm and maybe punched if you look back in history it's scary how people were tret. People are mingling all around the lower end of Leeds. So what was just Call lane or Lower Briggate is now moving out to Call lane and it's moving around the areas and I think what we're going to see is... What we're pretty much seeing already. That less, in Leeds for sure, less and less people are frowned upon less and less people are discriminated against.
And they're integrated and that's what makes me proud of Leeds really. It really is a city that does integrate very, very well. Erm and I think that Fibre and we have had a big part to play in that. Not consciously, but it has happened and I'm proud to be looking back and thinking wow 18 years of doing what we're doing has you know broken down some barriers. And it just goes to show really that when you're not even trying to break down barriers it still can be happening. And I, you know, not forcing it upon people but giving a great product. I.e. the music's fantastic, the entertainment's amazing. People want to come and be part of that and then they accept the fact that this has been run by gay people. They accept the fact that it's been populated by gay people and they realise more and more and more over the years that, you know, being gay is just like any, anybody. You know, we're not any different, you know, we are all... I hate to use the phrase, but we're equal, you know. And people are seeing that more and more when coming out and I've heard lots of people over the years... Over the 18 years of Fibre, you know, people saying I love gay venues, you know, I love gay people and I've made so many gay friends and they're not what I expected them to be. And I said to them well what did you expect them to be? Well when I was younger growing up they'd say to me that when I was younger growing up they were, you know, they were people that we had to stay away from. But, you know, there was a stigma when you'd expect to come into a gay venue and see, you know, pound coins stuck to the floor. Fifty pence pieces stuck to the floor, you know. People talk about things like that and, and it just feels like an everyday erm venue, Fibre. In terms of, you know. Although it's full of gay people or lots of gay people in here and The Viaduct. Straight people love coming in here as well and integrating. So I am pleased and I think that where we're going in the future is going to get even better than that.
ROSS: Do you think there's anything missing from the scene... anything that it could be doing better or that it's just not doing.
TERRY: That's a very interesting question actually. As much as I love integration. I don't like it as well. Daft as it sounds. I won’t say I don't like it. I feel kind of that we've come a little bit too far. And can you say that about integration? It's like having your cake and eating it isn't it really? It once was good having a gay venue. It once was good going to a gay venue because everybody was gay. Now when you go to a gay venue it's so mixed and I suppose that has its disadvantages as well. And you've got to weigh up what's the, you know, what's the advantages and disadvantages. And I suppose highlight the fact that we can all be pretty much ourselves in front of whoever's in those venues and whoever's about. But yeah at the same time I do miss the old kind of we all knew we were gay in this venue and everyone was gay so. I split with that in my head really. I sort of like fight with it. Thinking you know: do I, do I like it or don't like it? But I think I prefer it this way than than than being, you know, that we all had to be a little bit secretive.
ROSS: Do you ever work with any sort of community groups or groups that aren't so much focused on say going out but do things to support people, like older people or anything like that?
So now we have the Friends, Friends of Dorothy in Leeds which was, were pioneered by Craig Burton. And we've been great supporters of as well and we know we sit and talk to him about erm when he was setting it up how we can support and things we can do together. And Craig heads that up and I think that's so important that somebody does that erm. Bars and clubs tend to be not the places that older gay people want to go to. Not on a regular basis, not to make a business out of it. They will come in and we, we have a section of Fibre which is the penthouse where a lot of the older gay people do come, but they don't come every week, They'll come every 6 months or every, you know, 12 months even; special occasions.
But there is a need for older gay people of which I'm getting to that age myself already and to be honest at the age of 54 I do for the first time feel quite old in my own venues. I never used to feel like this. It's only in the last two years really I've started noticing it. And I like to go upstairs to the penthouse of Fibre where it's quieter. And I like to be with people my own, you know, some people my own age... and but they don't come out often enough. There is a need I think for more stuff for old older gay people but how do you get them out. I mean how do I get me out? Would I, would I want to go to an old people’s thing, a bingo thing? Suppose we do a little bit of that at The Viaduct. We do a bingo day through the day which attracts more older gay people, but not all older gay people are into drinking and going out. You know, there are more social things that you can do. A lot of time than just doing that but I think community is important. Extremely important because I think community brings us together. Whether that be in a bar which is what we're offering. Whether it be, you know some kind of clubs and things I mean. Another community that I get involved in is fitness.
I go to the gym and it's not necessarily, it's not a gay group but you know one or two people are gay. But it's mainly, you know, it's a mixed group. But I think you know sort of the way people mixing. I don't know how older gay people are gonna mix really and what, what, what gets them there because it's so easy as you get older to just sit and watch TV at home and be isolated. And even to the fact that when we used to our telephone chat lines old people, older people, every age people would pick up the telephone and call into a chat line.
And a lot of older people are scared of embrace, embracing technology. And that's, you know, young people today will become old people of the future and of course technology will be there and they'll be... they'll have hands and able to use it. But, erm yeah I don't know what's missing really. So the question I suppose you ask me is what was missing for the community and society. Erm LFF which we talked about which was the trans gender organization that people come out on the first Friday of the month... That's good because that's every age group.
Big wide age groups and it's nice to see that, you know, that's people getting involved in a community. Erm, the sad thing about, I suppose not having a strictly gay venue is it becomes less of a community. I feel. Because for me a community is likeminded people in a place all associated with the same thing. And I say that because I think back in the days of when I used to go to let's say Rock Shots or Bananas. It would be the same people every week, week in week out. And you would have your gossip and you would have people talking about people. You know, things going on and if people had a problem and they would share it and everyone would be... So that was a community. It had more of a community feel. So I suppose... Talking to you now and and and having this conversation is making me realise that... As we integrate more, we become a little bit more diluted and a little bit less community. I feel and I want to just say it's... I've started thinking about that now.
ROSS: OK, I've probably got two final questions for you, if that's alright?
WORKERS: Sorry guys.
ROSS: It's currently Mental Health Week. I wondered if you had...
TERRY: Don’t, close that and try to keep it quiet till this is finished.
WORKERS: Okay. Sorry.
ROSS: So. It's currently Mental Health Week and I wondered if you had any thoughts on the links between sexuality and mental health which seems to be you know... more LGBT people do struggle with issues of mental health.
TERRY: So I'm trying to think of an answer about this and be politically correct as well at the same time. Erm okay. Because I come from a because I'm gay and I've been in the gay community since the age of 17. And I know a lot of gay people. I know lots of mental health issues exist. And it would be easy to say oh well us gay people are all mental, you know, in a in a flippant kind of comment. But, I think we all have issues in our own heads, myself included. I think that we all suffer with our own mental health in some way. I also think that sometimes we erm... We describe... mood swings as mental health and I think you have to have mood swings in your life because erm, you know, people are up and down and, you know, you have good days you have bad days and you have some days where you very very low; which I have. So I think perhaps I don't know if I'm not qualified to say whether as gay people we have bigger mental health issues but I certainly know a lot of gay people that do have mental health issues. A hell of a lot of gay people have mental issues, health, mental health issues. So erm I don't know. I'd like to know... Do we have more than that, than the average person really... than, than straight people.
ROSS: You also mentioned earlier on a story involving Boy George?
TERRY: Oh yeah, oh well remembered. You should be a journalist. So very interesting erm. What. So it's going back to the day when we had Boy George on at Confettis. He erm had been, he'd been a recluse at this point. He got lots of problems with his life and didn't go out anymore. His career had stopped from Culture Club and he wasn't even going out. He'd gone on as Boy George and stopped as well. So I was able to talk him into coming to Leeds and doing a one off gig. Which was a very first one in a sense. After his, after his stop of doing everything to come and do Confetti’s. And he said he was gonna come. He would come onstage and sing his songs. He wouldn't talk to the crowd but he would just sing and... I managed to get him to come to Leeds and I got him to stay at my house. In a little back-to-back house in Bramley erm because I couldn't even afford a hotel really. Looking back then we tried to cut every cost we could. And I remember coming and he came in and he had this real big mood swing and said: Right. Well where are you staying? And I said well I'm going to stayon the settee. I'm not staying here if you're staying here. So it was kicking up. So ok well yeah well I'll go and stay at my mum's then. So I stormed out the door and I locked the door and left him in and he's never forgiven me for locking him inside the house. He's saying what if there'd been a fire, what would I have done. He went crazy the following morning when I went to unlock the door and thinking about it, really it wasn't probably a good idea anyway because only way he could escape was out of the window. But yeah I locked him, so Boy George actually got locked in a house back to back house in Bramley.
ROSS: Brilliant. Thank you very much for your time today. Thank you.
TERRY: Thank you.
ROSS: This is Ross Horsley for West Yorkshire Queer Stories and I'm back with Terry George on the 14th May 2019. We're just going to talk a little bit about your civil partnership, Terry.
TERRY: Yeah. So I met my partner Michael Rothwell in about 1989. Think it was. Yeah. And then we've lived together and we've, we've had our ups and downs, but we've always been together all those years. For 30 years now and erm... The law changed in 2005, I think it was. When they introduced that we'll be having civil partnerships. And Michael had asked me would I be his civil partner. This was a bit strange really because, you know, gay marriage and all that sort of thing wasn't something we, we really thought about. And I was almost quite flattered really, not flattered, but happy that he'd asked me and I thought you know. Yeah. Great idea. So then we thought... we had Fibre and we talked to a lot of people they said: oh when all this thing changes, when gays can get, you know, partnered together... civil partnerships we're not going to go to registry offices. We're not going to go to hotels, you know, because there was still a bit the stigma. Back in 2005. You know, there's still back then... there was... there was a stigma. You couldn't believe it. So anyway, we thought that we would... it would be a good idea for us to license Bar Fibre for civil partnerships and for us to have ours at Bar Fibre and be the first.
So we worked with the local registry office, the registrar to try and... she spoke to all the registrars around the country and she made it happen. Jean Lee her name was. She's a registered, main registrar at Leeds and she made it happen that we would do the performance... The civil partner performance before 8 o'clock on the dot; which was a legal time when anyone could sign it. And we would sign bang on the dot at 8 o'clock in the morning. And we would be the very first in Leeds on that day. So we had Sky News here, we had BBC news here. We had Victoria Derbyshire from BBC Radio doing it live on the radio. We had Capital Radio Jo-jo here live. We had Look North, we had Calendar. It was crazy. So it was a bit of a circus really and we got all very excited about it erm. And we were... we signed that register bang on the... As the pips went on the news at 8 o'clock and we were like news of the day. It was incredible.
That very same day Elton John had his civil partnership and many other people had done it up and down the country as well. What we didn't realise at that point. And, what we realise now is that we only ever had two other civil partnerships happen at Bar Fibre. And the reason is, is because overnight society changed. Overnight attitudes changed. Where people were saying: oh no we wouldn't go to registry office or we weren't gonna do it in a in a hotel where all straight people get married and have civil partnerships kind of thing.
It changed. People's attitudes change. There was a great acceptance of this civil partnership law that had changed and people's attitudes were incredible. And the response that people were having from people having civil partnerships was, was positive and happy. And we then had friends who were planning to get the civil partnerships done in Fibre saying: you know what we're going to change our minds we're not gonna do it at the registry office because, you know, we just didn't expect that people would accept it in the way that they have. And I think that has been incredible that's been one of the most exciting times of my life.
And on that particular day when we had our civil partnership, Michael's dad was here and Michael's dad gave him away. And I remember when I met Michael and went to meet his parents for a very first time... when we first met. A couple of years after we'd met. His dad sat there and said: You'll never sit in my house, you'll both never be in my house together. You'll never be... you'll never sleep here in my house. You know, he had such a homophobic attitude and... The turnaround in his attitude and you know him being involved in the civil partnership was incredible.
And my mum's now dead. Michael's dad's now died. His mom's still alive. But we were able to share that moment with them and and that made it very very special and poignant really and the fact that, you know, attitudes changed. Even his dad's attitude had changed at this point was something that in my lifetime has been a very very... exciting, positive thing. Looking back at the wedding. It was... call it a wedding... looking back at civil partnership. It was a little bit tacky. It was a little bit embarrassing, but it was great fun.
You know we had a Moulin Rouge theme. We were... we had a horse and cart take us from a hotel just round the corner, the Mal Maison, and drive us around the block and you know for the cameras and everything. It was a bit of a spectacle, but we did it for the right reasons. We did it because we thought that we could capitalize on it to, to bring people to Fibre and have civil partnerships. But we couldn't have been further from the truth, you know, people now proudly and rightfully so are able to have a civil partnership or a civil marriage in their local community; which is fantastic.
ROSS: Did you have a civil marriage or was it a partnership?
TERRY: Just a civil partnership. We were never even bothered for a civil partnership really. We were just, you know, we would... think we'd grown up in a time when we felt that we didn't have to have it. You know, you were there. But of course the legal rights that it changes and the things that it brings, you know, in terms of if one of us is ill that we have the right over, you know, turning off that life support machine if it's needed and... and certain other rights in terms of financial when we've built our businesses together from day one right to now. Of being able to pass on the inheritance rights of that as well. You know, it's great. We're happy that we have been able to do that.
ROSS: Do you think that erm... gay couples who've had a ceremony of either kind face any different challenges in the personal lives towards the relationships than say traditional straight couples and families?
Erm, I'm seeing now that people seem to accept whether it's a civil partnership or a marriage and, you know, gay couples these days seem to be accepted. I don't think there's any difference and I've been lots... to lots of gay weddings erm and I think that it's something that we would never have dreamt of when we were younger. And it's a great position to be in now that. But I think people need to realise that there was once upon a time and I'm sure they do realise. But I'll remind you there was once upon a time that, you know, that even the thought of it would never ever happen.
ROSS: What do you think it was that, you know, allowed your father-in- law as it were to kind of change his attitudes over time?
TERRY: I know exactly what it was. The reason why John, Michael's dad, changed his attitude was... Well first of all when we went round to his house and told him this. He said: What's people at work gonna think about me? You know, what People... if anyone finds out what's going... How's my life going to be? And that is it. That's the pinnacle of it.
Thus, it's what people's perception is. And that's the thing where... people are worried about what people are going to think about them and what they're gonna think about them if they have gay kids and does it make them a different person. But now as we, we're getting an understanding... as, as, as it's becoming more and more open and more accepting. People. If it's accepted by society, people accepted it. I can remember this, at the age of 17 and younger: if you were gay...this... just, just think about this for a minute cause this is so important. You can't grasp, if your... Kids are born today. Oh kids today don't know what they're like! Nah sorry. If you're of today's generation and you, and you think, you can't grasp what it was like being gay when I was young and when people before me were young. And let me just put into perspective. If you think of what it's like for families who have a paedophile relative. That's what it was like. That was how people judged you. How people if you know, if you know some today who, or if you see anything in the press that somebody is a paedophile... The shame that they brought upon their family or that they bring upon their family is how gay people were tret when we were young and it is very, very hard to get your head round that. But that's what it was like. Scary isn't it.
ROSS: Do you think if you were younger now and you were just growing up now in this time, would it be easier?
TERRY: If I was, if I was young now and growing up in these days... it it's so much easier and... You know, it almost seems a bit cool or can be cool to be gay these days, you know. And I'm not saying that people choose to be gay because I don't believe that. I believe you are who you are and, you know, you’re born in the way you are. In fact I know you're born the way you are because I am that person and I went through times in my life when I want to change myself and what... I thought it was a curse and was wishing, why was I gay? You know, why can I not be straight? I would've done anything to be straight at one point erm but I think young people or people born today and if I was born today... I think you need to look back and you need to start researching the fight that we had. The fights that were taking place. And it sounds a bit clichéd but please look at the fights that've happened. There is a little bit that scares me slightly as well when you get political figures in like Donald Trump, Putin in Russia and how they have changed societies. And how Political leaders or political persuasion and a mindset can twist people's... I think we've got to be careful not to get too complacent that we're here to stay as much as we'd like to be. I think that there could be... there could with the wrong political situation be a twist on people of you know and it could go backwards. I mean I remember when AIDS broke out and HIV. I remember there was a clear distinction of people moving backwards at that point. People who, when it felt like we were just starting to get accepted, straight people would say oh I don't know him he's gay or not my friend... like you had a plague or something you were disease and you know disown you. And that was through HIV and AIDS that caused that. And it sets back lots of years. God help us that we don't ever get anything like that in the future but I do actually think you need to be aware and mindful of history and how we've come along because there's nothing to say that, you know, things can turn back a little bit and I think that's scary. That scares me a little bit.
ROSS: As a last thing. What advice would you give to your younger self if you could?
TERRY: The advice I'll give to my younger self would be... Don't worry about other people's opinions. Just do what you want to do more, be more open and worry less about what people think. You know, because that's what people... that's what stops people doing what they want to do. Caring about what other people think about them or what, you know what, what the view is about them. So just be yourself and and try to be carefree about what others think of you.
ROSS: Thank you Terry.