Joseph is a doctor for Homerton Hospital at its sexual health and HIV service at 80 Leadenhall Street. He’s a bit obsessed with anything crime related and would love to have seen what 1967 and decriminalisation was really like.
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Folkestone –a rundown seaside town in Kent that is now having a bit of a renaissance and is worth a visit.
And where do you live now?
I live in Stratford with my boyfriend, Craig. I am hoping that a dog will be joining the mix in the near future.
What do like about living London?
Everyone is here – rich and poor and from every corner of the world, living cheek by jowl.
Can you describe your role at Homerton?
I am a doctor in the sexual health and HIV service. I see people who are worried about something they have noticed wrong or have been at risk of an STI, as well as people who are having problems in their sex life. I also see people for HIV care and people taking PrEP. Any given day will involve talking about sex to up to 20 people, and just when I think I’ve heard it all something reminds me that I haven’t! However, nothing really shocks. I work with an incredible group of people who really care about the people we serve.
What was the first gay venue you visited?
I cannot remember the name but it was the small local gay bar in Canterbury. I wasn’t actually out at the time and the friends I went with weren’t gay, but we were underage and for some reason found we got served easier in there.
Favourite club/bar/venue and why?
I would say Heaven – it’s the first LGBT venue I went to in London and I had never seen anything like it before. I have many vivid memories from nights out there, and although I don’t go there so often now I think it is still a great night out.
What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?
I last saw Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre as a birthday present from my sister. It was a brilliant show and I love the story. Unfortunately we had overindulged on the pre-drinks and got hissed at for being too noisy.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I am obsessed with anything crime related. As well as spending a shameful number of hours watching crime dramas and documentaries, I sometimes take annual leave to sit and watch trials at the Old Bailey or the local magistrates’ court.
I spent an obscene amount on dinner at Pollen Street Social last month, but it was for the boyfriend’s birthday and he deserved it. The food, atmosphere and service were superb, and you definitely don’t leave there feeling hungry.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
There’s not really any big standout event but more a series of moments that remind me that I’m doing important work. Sex is both a joyous and a daunting thing, and sexual problems or infections can make people feel scared and hopeless. And HIV stigma still inflicts misery on people and communities. The “science part” of my job is easy. I think our work is really all about creating conversations that make people feel powerful. Everything else follows from that. The moments when people take back control are so satisfying. Seeing people on that journey then go on to help others makes me feel like I’m part of something massive.
Best gift you’ve ever received?
My boyfriend made an anniversary scrapbook of special photos and mementos from our first year together. It was so thoughtful and he must have spent hours making it. Needless to say, it melted my heart.
If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?
1967, at the dawning of decriminalisation. I think this must have been a bizarre and fascinating time to be a gay man in England: illegal one day, legal the next. My work has introduced me to several men who lived through this time and I am full of respect and awe for what they fought. That fight still goes on elsewhere of course, and it’s our generation’s job to not rest until it’s won.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Love many, trust a few, and always paddle your own canoe.
Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?
This is a difficult one to answer with so many deserving candidates, but I am going to pick two: I am a big admirer of Subhi Nahas. Having survived unimaginable oppression and persecution, he has harnessed these experiences to give power to others. I am also greatly admire Yusef Azad of the National AIDS Trust. His intelligence and articulate activism is inspiring.
Who are the most entertaining people you follow on social media?
I love Mo Gilligan. His comedy is so well observed and really makes me howl out loud.
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die?
I would love to visit Papua New Guinea. I don’t really know why but I have always been fascinated by it – it just seems so completely different to anywhere I’ve ever experienced before.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
I wish I’d had a better sense of how temporary everything in life is, and how so much of what we agonise and stress over is not real. I wasted a lot of energy worrying about potential catastrophes that never came to be.
Find out more about the sexual health and HIV services on offer at Homerton Hospital at homerton.nhs.uk/80leadenhall