Cryos reject reds

Expect a LOT of Ginger Rage:

 

World’s biggest sperm bank, Cryos, tells redheads: We don’t want your semen

By Michael Sheridan
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Sunday, September 18th 2011, 11:56 AM

The world’s largest sperm bank is telling redheads to keep their semen.

Demand for ginger-haired donors is so low that Cryos International says they needn’t bother donating.

“There are too many redheads in relation to demand,” Ole Schou, the director of Cryos, told the Danish newspaper, Ekstrabladet, according to London’s Telegraph.

Men with scarlett manes sell “like hot cakes” in Ireland, Schou said, but that’s about it.

“I do not think you choose a redhead, unless the partner – for example, the sterile male – has red hair, or because the lone woman has a preference for redheads,” he said, the Telegraph reported. “And that’s perhaps not so many, especially in the latter case.”

Men with brown hair and brown eyes are very popular, Schou noted.

Cryos ships sperm to more than 65 countries around the world, and donors can score up to $500 for their semen.

msheridan@nydailynews.com; or follow him at Twitter.com/NYDNSheridan

 

Will this help ease the pain?

 

 

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unknown unknowns

A few weeks ago I went to my mum’s and we talked about the upcoming hospital appointment.  She brought up the fact that A would be having that baby and not me and asked whether I’d have the next one or if A can’t have it, would I instead?  I told her that although I desperately want a child I just don’t have any desire to actually carry it.

 

One thing she said is that I’d regret it if I didn’t.  That actually giving birth is an amazing experience and helps you to bond with the baby. That going through the pain of childbirth is rewarding and a positive experience.

 

Of course A and I have talked about this lots and I’ve worried about it.  Not that I wouldn’t bond with the baby, I just can’t imagine that, but that A would feel like it’s more her child than mine or that I’d feel like a ‘lesser mum’, if that makes sense.    I couldn’t help getting upset at what she said.  I know mums only have your best interests at heart and that she was being realistic and asking questions that we had already discussed but I think what hurt was the idea that someone else might think that I was less of a mum than Alison.  Truthfully, I don’t think my mum actually thinks that and I’m sure that when the baby is born I won’t either but it’s something that does worry me.

 

My mum also worries that the baby might be a boy and the absence of a father figure could cause problems.  That’s also something I’ve considered.  I have absolutely no clue when it comes to men and was raised with one sister  in a household which was full of strong women, with my Nan being a major influence on me.  I am sure there are manly things that I know nothing about.  I just don’t know what they are. As Donald Rumsfeld so succinctly put there are unknown unknowns.  They are probably related to foreskin or urinals.  Or wanking.

 

A has two brothers.  While my sister and I were learning every word to Hairspray off by heart and making rose-petal perfume, she was fighting in the backyard and playing with action figures so she isn’t fazed by it.  I also really like a lot of my friends boyfriends who are great role models and think that my dad has always secretly longed for a son.  Preferably one who drinks John Smiths, reads the Racing Post and will sit smoking in the armchair with him whilst watching cricket.   Hopefully it’ll be enough for them to have men we know actively involved in his life.  Failing that there’s always school and Nuts magazine.

 

Part of my mum’s reservations applies to single mums (those who’ve never known a father) but I totally disagree that their sons are more likely to go off the rails when they’re older.  I know TONS of women who have brought lads up alone and they are sensitive, well-behaved, lovely kids.  As my friend Steph says, they can do typically ‘male’ activities with women too.  Our friend Paula can’t wait to be ‘Uncle Paul’ and have someone (boy or girl) to go to Anfield with her and play footie in the park.  And they may be a boy who isn’t interested in football and prefers to play with Barbies and lip-synch to Hairspray, which will also be fine.

 

That night I phoned A, a little bit tearful, and told her all this.  She was lovely and said, ‘ Look.  If you’re really worried about all this then why don’t you have the baby?  Because I’m not worried in the slightest and I know that we will both be the mums and that child will love us both equally and I  am not in the slightest bit bothered who gives birth.’

 

I love that I have the calmest, most reassuring girlfriend ever.  I thought seriously about it for, um, a minute and came to the conclusion that, no, I really don’t want to have the baby.  And I’m going to take the advice of my heavily pregnant friend Julie who said, ‘Either way, one of you’ve got to do so it get over it’.

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sperm donors in the unlikeliest places

I bought a copy of Diva magazine from News from Nowhere this month and found this card slipped between the pages.  You know, the type that comes with a funeral bouquet.

 

 

 

 

 

This was written on the back:

 

 

 

 

 

First of all, it’s hilarious that he has sneaked covertly into radical bookshops, slipping his calling card among the pages of lesbian magazines.  You have to give him credit for ingenuity. I also love how the ‘for lesbians’ is scribbled as an afterthought.  Finally, he hasn’t spelt ‘donor’ correctly.  A sperm donor is not the same as a donor kebab, Gary.

I am tempted to phone (or TEXT) out of sheer nosiness but I feel mean.  Poor Gary.  It’s the credit crunch.  Man’s gotta make a living.

In other news, A went for blood tests at the doctor’s, which were fine.  They did say she had a slightly higher than average level of testosterone, which apparently is common if you have PCO.  I can’t help but think of Max from the L Word though.

 

"I gotta get my 'T' down, man!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Btw -   I made a better beard out of Vaseline and tea leaves when I went as George Michael for a gay-themed party.]

 

We were told to phone the surgery before being referred to the hospital and planned to do this when we got back from out holidays but a week later A got a letter in the mail to say the G.P. had already referred us.  We have an appointment at the fertility clinic of the Women’s for September. Wish us luck!

 

 

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Choosing a Donor

 

Like I said before, the word sperm has never been uttered so much in one household.  What’s even more annoying is that A insists on saying it in the style of Clarice Starling.

 

 

 

Any excuse for bit of Jo Fo

 

The sperm bank we found, Cryos, has all their donor in-depth, online and free to view.

The clinic rigorously screen all donors and although their identities are concealed with fake names you get to see a huge questionnaire which includes questions like, ‘what is your favourite colour?’, ‘what celebrities do you look like?’ and, bizarrely, ‘do you have mechanical skills?’ and ‘do you ride a bicycle?’ There’s a huge section describing their personalities, family tree, medical background and really cute baby pictures of the donor.  If you want you can also listen to audio interviews, although I don’t really recommend this as they all sound like police interviews with serial killers broadcast on Crimewatch.

Only 1 in 10 donors are accepted at the clinic and staff impressions are highly valued.  The owner of the clinic implements a ‘daughter test’ – if the interviewing doctor would not want an applicant’s sperm to be used on his daughter, they are rejected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an example of a questionnaire:

 

Benno

(try to ignore the fact that he’s named after Ikea bookshelves)

Race: Caucasian

Ethnicity: Danish, Swiss

Eye colour: Blue

Height (cm): 180

Weight (kg): 65

Hair colour: Brown

Year of birth: 1974

List one or more international known person(s) (celebrities) you look alike: John Lennon (body type)

 

Really?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Hair texture (curly, wavy or straight): Straight hair

  Hair (thin, medium, thick or bald): Thin hair

  Colour of beard: Light brown

  Colour of eyebrow: Dark brown

  Skin tone (dark, fair, medium, olive, very fair): Light skin

 Build (slim, medium, large, athletic or heavy): Slim and tall, I have the shape for being a basketball player or a ballet dancer.

 

Again, really?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Do you wear glasses or lenses: I have reading glasses but I use them very seldom

  Left or right-handed: I am right handed

  Shoe size: 6.5 (UK)

 

[Tiny feet.  If we have a son he will hate us]

 

 General clothing size (S, M, L, XL, XXL): My general clothing size is Large.

 Education and occupation: World literature at the University – I studied some of the classic literature mainly from Europe and America. I stopped because I missed working with people especially children.

I went to England to work with mentally handicapped children in a Camphill Community for a year.

I work in a Danish kindergarten. We have both Danish children and children from all over the world. I teach Danish children to respect and appreciate other cultures and prepare the foreign children on how to live in the Danish society. Mostly I try to give the children experiences and understanding of each other as human beings. I am also a teacher for students in work placement. And I am a safety representative for both my co-workers and the children.

I have dream to study further and to research better ways of pedagogy, teaching, education – especially ways to bring the best out in the children, to teach them how to be themselves and to contribute to society with their own unique.

 What jobs have you had (list all):  Newspaper delivery boy. Cleaner in a psychiatric hospital. Office clerk in a consultant company. Social worker for mentally handicapped children. Social Educator in a day nursery.

 Which words describe your personality: Honesty, Responsibility, Trust, Appreciation of other people, Compassion, Humour, Creativity.

 Describe some of your strong sides: When I start something, I continue until it is finished. I don’t stop half way. I am good at taking initiative and improvise.

 Describe some of your weak sides:  Laziness

 What is your relationship status:   Happily married

 Which sports do you like to participate in:  Running

  Which sports do you enjoy watching:  Non. I prefer a good movie with a great story.

 Describe any additional hobbies you have: Singing in the shower. Listening to all kind of music. Reading. Walking in nature. Cooking/baking recipes from all over the world.

 Do you play any musical instruments:  I only play on my wife’s nerves – from time to time.

  Are you a member of a church:  No

 Favourite colour:  Blue and green – especially together. Because the remind me at summertime in the Swiss Alps.

 Favourite animal:  Do not have any.

  Favourite food:  I like all kinds of food from all over the world – mostly vegetables. I do not like fat meat.

 Favourite type of music:  It depends very much on which mood I am in. I like almost all genres of music.

 How much sleep do you get on an average night: 7-8 hours

  Do you eat healthy:  Yes. Mostly vegetables and light meat.

 Are you a smoker?  No.

 Do you drink alcohol?  Yes occasionally

 Do you ride a bicycle?  Yes everyday to work and as often as possible.

 What is your native language?  Danish

 Which other languages do you speak?  Swiss-German, German, French, Russian, English.

  What is your most memorable childhood experience?  Whenever I had a chance to spend time with my grandmother. She was a very kind and warm hearted woman to everyone she met. It was very hard for her to stay mad on other people and very easy for her to forgive anyone. She loved me very much and through her example, she taught me what real love is. From her I inherited a strong sense of love and openness to my fellow human beings.

 Which countries have you visited? Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Ireland, England, Austria, Norway, Spain, Czech Republic, Russia and Hong Kong (before it became a part of China).

 Describe one of your favourite vacations to another country:  Once I went to visit my grandparents in Switzerland, with my parents. It was in the summer. Weather was hot and we went to Ticino (the Italian part of Switzerland). I played a lot with the local children. We often went for long walks up the mountain and back. I still remember driving up the mountain on a hot summer day. The air gradually became cooler as we came closer to the top. Suddenly we came to a patch of snow. We stopped the car and had a snowball fight in shorts and t-shirts. Afterwards we got back in the car and drove down into the hot summer temperatures in the valley.

 Describe a few things you like most about your own country:  Our traditional humanistic approach to education and childhood.

 Do you have mechanical skills:  Self learned engineering skills.

 

 

He’s a teacher, he works with the mentally ill, he loves reading, hates fatty meats, gets on his wife’s nerves and was really close to his Nan.  It’s me!  I too could look like John Lennon if you were really pissed and squinting.

Of course, there’s nothing to say that the men aren’t lying but who cares?  You get some picture of what kind of person they are and can at least try to match them to your own characteristics.

I desperately want to go through them with A but she is working late so I make my own list of people I like the look of and email her to tell her to do the same.  It’s hard to know what your requirements for potential donors should be.  Surely it’s ethically wrong to go all Hitler-like and start culling people based on height, looks and whether they read?  But then again, that’s how many people choose partners in real life so would it really be that bad?

I looked primarily for people who seem like they might be similar to me – you know, just in case I was wrong about the nature/nurture thing.  It’s also be nice to have someone who looks similar too.

I also study their family trees to check that everyone in their immediate family didn’t die from a horrific genetic disease aged 35.  I discount anyone under 5″7 (sorry!) and cull anyone who can’t be bothered to fill in the questionnaire properly but make allowances for poor spelling (come on, they’re Danish).

Only after an hour or two of browsing do I realise that at the end of the questionnaire is a space for the men to write a message to their potential donors, if they so wish.  Lots of them don’t bother and a few write generic notes like ‘good luck with your search!’ but some have taken the time to sit down and pen a message to their biological offspring and to the future parents.

I think I may have been hormonal and I know I do have a tendency to sob at any cliché-riddled films (the Bridges of Madison County!  Where she has her hand on the door knob at the end!) but really, some of the messages are just lovely.

 

Dear parents,

I wish you all the very best and congratulation with your new family.  Hope you will all enjoy a long, happy, loving and harmonious life together.

 

He’s even written in calligraphy and everything *sigh*

I think that ultimately the message is the most important part for me.  They might be lying about being an airline pilot with an IQ like Dolph Lundgren’s but you really can tell a lot from what’s been written at the end:

 

“I have chosen the extended profile because should my donating result in children I deem it only fair that they should have the possibility to explore their biological background.  I specifically write biological as I will consider myself only a donor and not a parent.  Parents are the ones you grow up with, who watch over you, take care of you and guide you through the various stages in life. Not a person far away who doesn’t even know you exist.

To anyone who reads this, I wish you the best in life.  And should our paths ever cross – don’t be a stranger.’

 

I am a bawling, weeping mess after reading this.  He sounds perfect.  Unfortunately on closer inspection of the childhood picture he has a massive head and is boss-eyed.  Still, he makes the long-list.

When A comes home I show her and she agrees that this way just feels right.  It’s nice to know something about where our child has come from and good to think that should he or she want to trace him when they’re 18,  they’re hopefully going to meet a somewhat decent bloke.

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Childbirth, pain and why I’d rather not have my fanny ripped apart, thanks.

My straight friend recently initiated the IVF process, only to end up pregnant a week before her first cycle was due. I very much doubt this will happen to us but she urged us to go to the doctors to be referred to the Women’s and get the process started. After all, it will take months and it’s best to check that A is actually fertile.

We made an appointment at the doctors. I made A practise what we were going to say and promise that she would do all the talking. I don’t know why I was nervous about it; as she pointed out they were hardly going to banish us from the office in horror at the thought of two women being in a relationship. As it turned out, the doctor was lovely and supportive and referred A to the nurse for blood tests and wished us ‘the best of luck’. I had to stop from hugging her as we left.

In the past A’s had polycystic ovaries and irregular periods, which can be a barrier to pregnancy. However, it doesn’t make it impossible and there are things you can do to improve your chances. We bought a book, which is pretty good at spelling out what you need to do clearly. After we’d read it (or rather I read it and Alison told me to ‘just sum up the main points’ while she was playing Angry Birds) we decided she needs to:

a) Do more exercise.

b) Take Folic Acid

c) Stop eating so much shite.

Trying to be a good girlfriend, I offered to do the same. Yoga is my only real exercise and I could do with toning up. I decided to walk to the shop for chocolate and leave the car at home.

I also vaguely remember reading somewhere that some PCTs might not do donor insemination on a gay woman in a relationship with fertility problems, preferring the partner to try first. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. If it turns out that A would have complications then I’ll just have to man up (so to speak) and have a go myself. I quite like the idea of people standing up for you on the bus and making my girlfriend run out at 3am when I have ‘cravings’ for the Closer magazine and beef Monster Munch but weighing it up against the PAIN and the idea of having your fanny ripped apart then I really would prefer to adopt.

I know this is silly and millions of women for millions of years have given birth across continents and civilisations and managed perfectly capably – often crouching in mud huts with no medication (like at the beginning of ‘Roots’) but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about how TERRIFYING it all sounds. The idea of a bikini wax makes my eyes water and it really hurts when other people brush my hair. Seriously, what’s up with adoption?I’m sure that if men gave birth they’d have found a more humane way of doing it.

I have whole-hearted admiration for women who give birth.  Just like I have whole-hearted admiration for Jillian Michaels and Tina Turner in Mad Max and those women of the telly who run down mountains in slingbacks made of tyres, waving sticks:

 

 

I just don’t particularly feel the need to join them. Y’know?

Saying that if Jillian Michaels was my birthing partner, I could be persuaded to change my mind.

 

 

We recently read Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to be a Woman’ for book group. It’s brilliantly funny and erudite and there’s a whole chapter devoted to her experience of childbirth entitled ‘Why You Should Have Children’. I read out the following extract to A expected her eyes to pop out of her head in horror:

“The pain was transformative – like going from agnosticism to evangelism in a single hour. The sky was suddenly full of God, and he had biblical pain for me. The breaks in between contractions were like licking a dripping tap in a burning house – a second of relief, but, when you turned back, it was so hot that the moisture burned from your lips; the walls had gone up, and there had never been a door or window in the first place. The only way to get out was to somehow turn inside out, like an octopus, and fly out through the magic doorway in your bones”

 

She shrugged and said, ‘I expect you get over it’.

 

 

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Denmark, more sperm and busting the turkey baster myth

Back to the sperm *eyeroll*.

After deciding on Denmark, I read as many articles as possible on it and it seemed like the right thing to do.  Yes, it’s expensive but nothing like the prices you’d pay in the UK.  We’ve just sold our house and are currently renting so have a bit of money we could use.

I like the look of this one.    A agrees ( I suspect because they have pictures of the midwives who do the insemination on the website and she thinks one of them is ‘quite fit.’)

One thing neither of us want to do though is to get sucked into the cycle of obsession over fertility treatment.  You hear so many stories about how it ruins relationships and wholly consumes people for years and is heartbreaking and intrusive and horrible and so we both make a pact to try a limited number of times and then go down the adoption route.  I wonder if it’s more important to heterosexual couples to have their own biological baby; a child that will look like each of them and carry on their genes?  Ultimately I’m not going to be biologically  related to the baby but I’m pretty hopeful that nurture is just as effective as nature.  I work as a teacher and see so many children who, with a bit of love and patience would be just fine.  And when you can see what an impact 6 hours a day with people who really care and are really trying makes – even if they go home every night to smackhead parents who don’t even feed them – it makes you realise that love and positive attention are really the main things that a kid needs to turn out okay.

A says that my job in this is to do all the research and she’ll just show up and get inseminated.   This is good!  This is what I do best!  As a historian I can read up on everything and present her with key points every night.[1]  I get on the internet and bookmark everything that seems relevant.  I pour over Amazon and order a load of books about lesbians and childbirth and polycystic ovaries (more of that later!)

It soon becomes clear that the most important thing to read about is the legalities of donor insemination.  It’s confusing and complicated and there doesn’t seem to be one website that explains it all.  Thankfully, Stonewall have published a really great handbook for prospective gay parents which I would highly recommend.  It’s called ‘Pregnant Pause’ and is brilliant.  You can download it straight from their website or request a hard copy.

These are the main points I find out that apply to our situation:

1. In the UK, all children born from donor sperm have the right to information on their donor when they turn 18. 

 This seems reasonable to me.  By that age you’ve hopefully spent 18 years showing them that biology isn’t that important and they’re not going to ‘divorce’ you American-style and go off to live with their REAL DAD.  Hopefully.

 2. If you get inseminated at home or in a clinic abroad AND YOU’RE IN A CIVIL PARTNERSHIP, the non-biological mum automatically gets named on the birth certificate as the 2nd parent.  If you’re not in a civil partnership she has to adopt the child. 

A and I aren’t married.  Mainly because neither of us really like weddings and would rather spend the money on holidays, takeaways and alcohol.  Also because  I don’t feel like having a ceremony would make any difference to our relationship and we’re pretty much married now.  I like the idea I’m with her because I want to be and not because I’ve made a commitment and feel like I should stick with it.  I’m already as committed as anyone could be.  And finally, as my friend Layla said, ‘I just don’t want to do anything that David Cameron wants me to do’. We probably will get married at some point in the future- you know, for the party and the gifts etc – but it’s not something that I’m desperate to do.

After reading this we toy with the idea of just running off and getting married, just to make things easier.  And don’t married people get tax breaks too?  Hmmm.  A doesn’t know why I would be bothered about adopting the child after it’s born.  ‘It’s just a piece of paper’, as she points out and it wouldn’t make any difference.  I know it sounds stupid but to me it would.  I resent the idea of someone else coming round to see if I’m suitable to write my name on my own child’s birth certificate.  I briefly toy with the idea of marriage.  It might be nice.  And ooh, you can go to New York and get married now!  New York is my favourite city in the world. We could go to City Hall like Carrie in Sex and the City and have the reception in Henrietta Hudson’s!  I am tempted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is until another friend, who’s a nurse, points out that we live in Liverpool where the Women’s Hospital is the IVF capital of Europe.  And apparently they are really good and don’t care if you’re lezzers and – this is the best bit – you can ship the sperm over from Denmark and get inseminated right here.  And according to my Stonewall bible:

 3. If you go to a clinic in the UK you can buy sperm from another clinic in Europe as long as it fits UK standards.  That basically means that the clinic is licensed and the donor has not had their sperm used more than 10 times. 

Brilliant.  I am a little worried about the idea of shipping sperm though.  Where would you keep it?  In the freezer?  What do they deliver it in?  If that bloke turns up on his sperm bike he’d be terrorised round our way and would never make it up the main road.  Also, I am never at home when the postman knocks and I don’t like the idea of queuing up at the post office with your red card and being handed over a large vat of sperm on ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My nurse friend assures me that they’ll deliver it straight to the hospital, which seems like a much more sensible idea.

One more important thing to point out from the Stonewall handbook:

4. Some lesbians can encounter barriers when trying to access fertility treatment.  In some Primary Care Trusts (basically you’re local NHS area) you have to be infertile to receive treatment and being a lesbian doesn’t automatically entitle you to fertility treatment.

Again, I am thankful for living here.  You may not think that Liverpool is a liberal utopia like San Fran in the 60s but really I work in a rough, inner city area and can pretty much confirm that being a lesbian isn’t the torturous stigma that it once was and most people aren’t that arsed.  (Most.  It’s no Lesbos). Apparently they don’t discriminate against lesbian couples and the waiting list is not that long.

Really, I can’t recommend the Stonewall book enough.  It has everything you’ll need to know in it.  Like, did you know lesbians and turkey-basters is a MYTH!  Because apparently it’s ‘like using a pint glass to drink a teaspoon of liquid’.  EYE-OPENING.   Also, it’s FREE.  Please consider donating to them though if you’ve got a bit of spare cash lying around.  They do amazing work.

Donate to Stonewall


[1] I once said the words ‘as an historian’ in front of my work colleagues who pissed themselves laughing and then said, ‘never, ever utter that phrase again.  Dickhead.’

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Lesbos. No, really.

This week I’ve been lounging around a pool in Lesbos.  Stop laughing. I spent the best part of 4 years telling everyone I was holidaying on ‘a Greek island, I forget which one’ and quickly changing the subject. Last time we came I managed to get away with it until a friend blew me up in front of work colleagues and shouted ‘it’s LESBOS! And she’s getting picked up in a taxi by Sappho Travel hahahahaha!’

I mentioned this to a German girl I met here after she tried to persuade me to buy a ‘I heart Lesvos’ baseball cap for only 4 Euros. She asked if I was ashamed of my sexuality. I said no but I’m ashamed of being such a big fucking walking cliché and having my friends rip the piss out of me forever.  If you can get past the social stigma though I highly recommend a trip to Lesvos, more specifically the tiny, western part of the island called Skala Eressos which is pretty much the closest you’ll get to a lesbian utopia these days.

My friend Alex remarked, ‘isn’t it dead funny that it’s called Lesbos and it’s full of lesbians. Did they all just go because they liked the name?’

If you didSappho of Eressosn’t already know, Lesbos is the birthplace of Greek poet Sappho. She spent most of her adult life in Mytilene where she ran an academy for unmarried girls, hung around with a big gang of women and wrote stuff like:

Come back to me, Gongyla, here tonight,
You, my rose, with your Lydian lyre.
There hovers forever around you delight:
A beauty desired.

So for many years, dykes from all over the world have visited Lesbos to pay homage to the original Sapphic sister.  And to get pissed in the companies of hundreds of other lezzies.

Really though, I hate going to a place more than once on holiday. There are so many countries I want to see that it seems like a waste of time. Skala is different though and people see it as a home from home; a lovely little corner of the world where being gay is not just accepted but is the norm.  The whole village is tiny and you can literally walk from one end  to the other in less than 15 mins but it still boasts 5 lesbian bars (that’s lesbian owned; pretty much all the bars and restaurants are frequented by gay women) and nowhere else will you see old Greek men, huge gangs of children, teenagers on mopeds and  gay women side by side and getting by harmoniously.  There’s no homophobia and noone bats an eyelid at the sight of two women holding hands or kissing.

If you’re still not convinced, here are my top ten reasons to visit Eressos:

1. The sea.  Gorgeous beaches, crystal clear water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  The scenery. If you like walking there’s plenty of hills to climb around Skala, if you can bear the heat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  The Greek cats.  Every women we met seemed to carry around dogs with them (think Paris Hilton in Birkenstocks). Turns out there’s an animal sanctuary run by some of the local women who re-home all the strays and organise fundraising events to help them.  There are hundreds of cute stray cats on the island who hang round the restaurants on the beach looking to share your food.  This one didn’t move from that planter box all holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The sunsets.  Doesn’t get more beautiful than this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. The rock.  Skala Women’s Rock Group meet every morning at 10am in Zorba the Buddha bar to swim to the rock and back.  I’ve yet to pluck up the courage to swim out there myself (even though they are the loveliest, friendliest bunch of women and take a canoe with them lest you panic and can’t make it all the way)  but it’s fun to go and watch and have breakfast with them all the same. You can even jump off the top if you’re a bit nuts and have a death wish.  At the end of the week they have an awards ceremony and present everyone who swam with them with a certificate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Gyros.  £2.50 for chicken in pitta with tzatziki that are just amazing.

 

8. The people.  It sounds schmaltzy but Skala really is the friendliest village in the world and the only place I would consider holidaying to on my own.  If you go to one of the bars in the evening (particularly Sappho’s Garden) you’ll have made friends with pretty much everyone in there by the end of the night.  That’s the reason women go back year after year.  There’s a real sense of community and belonging.

 

9. The food.  The fishermen bring in fresh hauls every day and there is a long row of gorgeous restaurants along the beach where you can sit for hours and watch the sun go down.  I managed to put on half a stone in a week. Mainly from eating pan au chocolate from my favourite bakery every morning and drinking lots of Mythos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.  The Tuesday lesbian cabaret night at Sappho’s Garden.  Has to be seen to be believed.  If you like your entertainment of Phoenix Nights/3-2-1/1980s variety then this is the place for you.  An open mic cabaret night where anything goes and no matter how bad you are lots of appreciative women will cheer raucously and you’ll feel like a star.  In the past I’ve seen amazing singers, plenty of Joan Armatrading covers, a woman in platform trainers, stonewashed denim and a mullet performing a lap dance, drag acts, a lady from Yorkshire doing the Laughing Policeman (which really didn’t translate well with the non-English guests) and a German yodeling lesbian called Hilda Gunt, who was genuinely AMAZING. Best. Night. Out. Ever.

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