Having the rather common name of Thomas I look out for unusual names. The only people who call me Thomas these days are people pissed off with me or bureaucrats. My mother called me TommySon. Which was rather unusual. Then when I joined the army my best friend called me Tom. Although the `O’ was flattened and lengthened to come out more an ‘A’. He was American. Having lived there since he was three. He was born in Canada. Which is how he was able to join HM Armed Forces. His name was unusual. I’d only heard it as a girl’s name before meeting him. This was in the 1970s and according to the Babycentre user data enjoyed something of a boost, with 340 in a million then only 38 in a million today.
If I’d been a celebrity or journalist, I’d come across some unusual names. After all, until the huge success of ‘Neighbours’ in the 80’s there were precious few ‘Kylies’ in british classrooms. I can’t think of anyone called Dweezil (One of Frank Zappa’s children) nor Destry (Child of Stephen Spielberg and Kate Capshaw) for that matter.
The first unusual name I remember was from one of my mother’s Billy Connolly albums he mentions Bamber Gascoigne. Who was the first host of the long running television show “University Challenge” Coining the phrases “Your starter for ten” and “Fingers on buzzers”
On the album Billy pokes fun out of his name saying:
“Ah used tae think it was a disease.”
“Folk saying, he’s got a touch of’ the Bambers.”
“Aye and it’s right in the Gascoigne as well.”
I must admit it has been a while since I last heard an unusual name. Which could have something to do with being ‘locked down’ for the best part of two years I suppose. Then what do you know. This month I became acquainted with not one but two rare and unusual names. Which struck me. Of course as a writer unusual names stand out and may even become a character in one of my books one day. It was more the way that they came to my attention that struck me. Hence this blog.
The first came from a cold call of all things. Years ago I posted my CV on a jobsite and every now and then someone contacts me about a position. I was polite and listened to his spiel. Then I explained I was no longer looking for a post and was about to hang up but before I did I asked his name.
“It’s Dhaya,” he said.
“What an unusual name. Does it have a meaning?” I asked.
“I think it means courage or strength,” he said.
He then shared something personal with me.
“You’re the first person in a long time to ever ask me that.”
We then got into a conversation that lasted about half an hour. We talked about life, family, commitment, accountability and I casually dropped in the fact I was a writer and talked a little about that.
I was so struck with his name I did a little further research and discovered that it is a Hindu name and means Kindness / Compassion. In the a‘Babynology survey’ conducted on one million real people across various states in India only five had the name Dhaya.
Recent years has brought huge changes in how and with whom we choose to have sex with. An explosion of dating apps with names like Grindr, Tindr, (research names of dating apps)
Catering for whatever your thing might be whether that be a love of Cats or a fascination with Lizards. Or your love of a particular genre of film, music or writing. Whether Trekkies still rule the sci-fi convention world or have Middle Earthers bumped them off the top spot.
In the gay world we have Men into Leather/ Rubber/ Work Gear/ Sport Gear/ Skinheads able to coexist whilst Bears/ Cubs/ Otters/ Polar Bears find it challenging to rub along with the puppies and the furbies and those whose fetishes are considered taboo are left out in the cold. The halcyon days of the 90s to 00s when there was a real feeling that people of all sexualities, races, creeds, religious convictions, level of education were getting along really rather well. It wasn’t perfect and that was accepted but it was so much better than what had been before. Even on the gay scene except perhaps for young queens who would have older gay men (over 30) that that was the beginning off the end. The new bright young things living on their credit cards were consuming like crazy. Bars, Clubs, Cafes, Restaurants sprung up as the ‘Pink Pound’ was heralded as an economic saviour.
All my readers know that I am a new LGBTQ+ writer. What you haven’t known until now is that I am a fetishist. My fetish of choice is leather. The gay leather scene really came out of the shadows in the 50s and 60s. Mainly due to work of erotic artist Tom of Finland. In some sense you could say that it was his erotic artwork of big muscled men with facial hair and bulging crotches in tight leather trousers or jeans maybe with a skin tight vest and a leather jacket or harness. I first came across his work through my first boyfriend back in the dim and distant past. He was a skinhead. He had prints of Tom’s work in the bathroom of his one bedroom apartment just off Leith Walk in Edinburgh. Where we were to spend the next two weeks together. He was leaving Scotland to teach English in Spain and managed to complete all he needed to do before his deadline. In those two weeks he would give me a crash course in gay sex. Now in his early 40s he had come out when he was sixteen. His family were totally supportive and had been there and bought a whole shelf of t-shirts. To paraphrase an old saying. As he had a sense that it would help as I ventured onto the Edinburgh Gay Scene. As ‘new meat’ I was going to get noticed. Then word would get out that I was good at sex. I would stand out from the crowd. I’d be more likely to meet interesting and less damaged individuals. He had a pair of leather assless chaps that he was going to sell and had me try them on. They fit, and he gave them to me as a parting gift.
Years later I sat with my computer logged into a video chat site for gay leather men and got to chatting to a guy similar age to myself from San Fransico. Tom of Finland came up in the conversation and he told me that he had been friends with Tom and had visited Tom’s LA home known as TOM House and is now the headquarters of the Tom of Finland Foundation. Which is now a Historic-Cultural Monument. Solidifying its place in LGBTQ+ history.
His name is Race. Now I know Race Davies, she is a bangladeshi actress who appeared in Eastenders. I’d not come across a male Race before. Race and I hit it off and shared a moment fizzing with sexual tension between. We started to bounce thoughts off one another of what we would do one another given a chance in the future. Then I started to think that it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that we could make it happen. I shared my thoughts with him and he became as excited as I was about it. We agreed to keep in touch from time to time. Sharing thoughts that may come to us about the details of our adventures. Saying at the end of our conversation that even if it didn’t actually happen due to life getting in the way we would have spent hours over the years in thinking about something a bit more interesting and uplifting instead of binge watching some Netflix series or getting sucked into the toxic environments on Social Media sites.