John Dugdale is the Operations Manager at sexual health organisation Spectra. He’s a total convert to living in London, loves a BBC4 history documentary and his heart belongs to Los Angeles.
Where are you from originally?
I’m a Yorkshire boy, that’s all I’m saying.
And where do you live now?
East London, Victoria Park area. I came back from living abroad, for a friend’s wedding in 2010. Been here ever since.
How would you describe what Spectra do?
Spectra delivers inclusive sexual health, well-being and gender identity services such as counselling, outreach, health screening, groups and one to one support which are peer-delivered and designed. Our main service users are LGBTQ+, with specific and growing trans services. We support individuals by providing professional, non-judgemental services aimed at empowering choices.
What do you love about London and why?
After eight years I think I “get it”, admittedly it took a while, but I’m a complete convert now. I love the diversity, the people, the opportunities, all of which change constantly and are quite an assault on the senses.
What was the first gay venue you visited?
It would be back in the early 90s. At that time gay bars and clubs were basically back street pubs. Sheffield was no different, a venue called Bar Celona (get it?) which, at closing time would then see a mass migration across the street to a “club” called Rockies, where the host would basically take your entrance fee, and dole out change from a margarine tub!
Favourite club/bar/venue in London and why?
Refuel at the Soho Hotel is good for a martini, a hang up from my media days.
What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?
The most recent was Xposed during LGBT History Month at the Southwark Playhouse. A series of short LGBTQ plays revealing the naked and entertaining truths about queer life. I think most people could see themselves in one or more of the characters.
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
Any BBC4 history programme fronted by Lucy Worsley, Mary Beard or Professor Joann Fletcher! As someone who showed no interest in history at school, I find it fascinating now.
Travel. I love to get back to LA as often as I can.
Best gift you’ve ever received and why?
Not so much a gift, but the opportunity for a “career break” back in 2006. After 20 years in publishing, it was time for a change and I moved to the States for a completely fresh perspective and loved it there.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
Most of my career has been in media and advertising, until 2017 when I decided on a complete career change, joining Spectra as Operations Manager. Prior to that my experience in sexual health was as an outreach volunteer with Positive East and GMI, as well as Opening Doors. A highlight since joining Spectra would have to be presenting a series of LGBT+ anti-discrimination assemblies to young people in schools and looking down at the 200+ faces knowing I’ve made a difference. I would have appreciated that when I was at school.
If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?
It would have to be the Hollywood “Rat Pack” era, hanging out in Palm Springs with the likes of Monroe, Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall. The nearest I’ve got to it was staying in a bungalow hotel in Palm Springs called L’Horizon, which has pictures of the old Hollywood greats on the walls, who stayed there back in the day.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?
Possibly the leaving party my ex-bosses threw for me at a house with a deck overlooking Runyon Cannon and Hollywood. They were well connected with people in the entertainment industry (they lived next door to Ellen!), so attracted an interesting and diverse crowd.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Be nice to the people you meet on the way up, as you’ll undoubtedly need them on your way down!
Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?
Anyone who I’ve worked with since starting work at Spectra are my heroes. They inspire, educate and amaze me, especially Spectra CEO Karen, I’m fortunate to work with someone who gave me a chance and focus.
Who are the most entertaining people you follow on Twitter and why?
I’m more an Instagram fan, but everyone should follow @Spectra_London on Twitter!
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?
My heart will always belong in Los Angeles. I want my ashes scattered from the Griffith Observatory on Mount Hollywood. The view up there is just amazing, one of my favourite things to do when I’m there, is rent a convertible, take a drive up through the canyon, park up and just watch the world go by.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
That a time would come when no one cared about my sexuality or bullied me for it, but embraced me for me, and that I wasn’t the only one! I went to a really tough school, that was more interested in its inter-school rugby league tables and excelling Latin students.