-->

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Things Straight, Cis People Shouldn't Say: I Wouldn't Hide

Time to add another line to the very very long list of things cis, straight people need to stop saying. These are generally not things said by the homophobes or even the completely clueless who refuse to analyse their prejudice – these are things said by people who probably mean well and probably try – but may not see the full implications of what they say.

“I’m not gay, but if I were I wouldn’t be ashamed/wouldn’t hide/I’d be out”.

Or words to that effect. Generally a straight person asserts they are straight and goes on to “prove” it by assuring us that if they weren’t straight they would tell us, because they’re totally cool with people being gay.

In some ways this is a better form of the panicked “zomg you called me gay, how very dare you!”. And in many ways it is better – people who treat the suggestion of being gay as an insult or an accusation are being homophobic and need to be hit repeatedly with a tuna. Denying the information while making it clear you don’t consider it an insult (even if it does sometimes feel like a belated “not that there’s anything wrong with that” seems better).

But…

Yes there’s a but…

“If I were gay I would be open”. No.

I call shenanigans. The vast majority (if not all) of everyone who is GBLT out there has spent some time in the closet. We are pressured into it since birth in an extreme manner cis, straight people can’t even begin to imagine. It takes extraordinary courage to come out. It is risky to come out. It is usually pretty hard to come out, to say the least.

If you were LGBT, dear cis, straight folks, I can nearly guarantee you would have been closeted at some point in your life and you’d probably still be closeted now. And that applies double if you’re in a big public situation where cameras follow you.

You’re not special. The chances are you wouldn’t dodge the bullet that hits 90% of us. You are not better than those of us who have been closeted, are still closeted or will continue to be closeted. If you were GBLT, you would hide. If you were LGBT and out at some point you would have hidden – at some points you probably still would. That’s not a judgement on you – that’s reality, the reality of a deeply hostile, bigoted society, the reality of what the vast majority of us have had to do or continues to do to survive. If you were like us, you would have to walk that same road


By saying you wouldn’t, you just show how little you actually understand the closet, what drives us to closet and the risks involved in being out of the closet. 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Food, Foresight, Marriage and the Doctor

Beloved: What's for dinner?

Me: beef wellington, wine sauce, sauteed spinach, sauteed potatoes and cauliflower puree. Also pate, crisp bread and cake.

Beloved:.... Marry me.

Me: I already did

Beloved: That's because I'm awesome and have super power of foresight.

Me: And saw this meal?

Beloved: Exactly.

Me: But you haven't eaten yet, it could be awful?

Beloved: if it is then I would have foreseen it and wouldn't have married you so you wouldn't have cooked it.

Me: So... if this meal is bad we have a paradox?

Beloved: Yes, the whole timeline will collapse and the world ends.

Me:... I better check the seasoning then.

Beloved: uh-huh. OR the Doctor will come and put things right and we can them ambush him and become Companions

Me: Do you think he'd take us?

Beloved: he took Pond.

Me: Gods no - I'm not getting all excited hear the Tardis arriving, running out and seeing the 11th doctor. That'd be cosmically unfair.

Beloved: then you better check the seasoning - end of the world or being stuck on the Tardis with Pond and Not!Tenant.



Thankfully for the world (and our not becoming the first companions to murder the other companions, imprison the doctor and repeatedly kill him until he regenerated into Tenant again) the seasoning was perfect.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

I am not looking for allies

There appears to have been a misconception about why I blog about what I blog about and why I co-run Fangs for the Fantasy. I suppose I can see why, I mean, I can’t even tell you ALL the reasons why I do both because there’s a lot there.

There’s some venting. There’s the need to expose tropes and problematic representations and erasure in the hope that awareness will bring change. There’s an equal need to expose these simply because we consume them without questioning all the time and unless we do start questioning they will shape us. There’s the need to demand representation and inclusion everywhere – not decide that certain genres don’t matter or we can be confined to a niche. Oh there’s a bazillion reasons, I’ve written whole posts on the reasons.

But I do NOT do this to “find allies.” Never have. Finding allies is not on my to-do list. I don’t even particularly like the word “ally” because it’s so loaded with so many unpleasant connotations and experiences that I avoid it – the actions of too many self-appointed “allies” have rendered the word fairly irredeemably negative.

When it comes to people’s position in reference to a battle for equality I see two broad categories:

1)      Arseholes
2)      People Who Are Not Arseholes

An Arsehole is one who doesn’t believe a marginalised group deserves the same level of respect/rights/whatever as non-marginalised people. There are obviously different degrees of Arseholes. Some like to go out killing marginalised people, some want to campaign against our rights, some just think there’s far too many of Those People on TV and wish we’d keep it indoors. Some Arseholes will tell you how much they absolutely love us – until we don’t follow their own internal script on who/how we should be.

Regardless of the varying degrees of stink clinging to them – they’re all Arseholes.

People who are not Arseholes are just that – they think LGBT people (and all marginalised people) are people worthy of as much respect as privileged people. Despite them being relatively rare people, this is not an achievement worthy of much praise. This is the bare minimum standard for decent humanity – and should be your default setting. If it isn’t, you’re an Arsehole and should be treated as such

Is it possible that, with much work and explanation, I could convince an Arshole to not be an Arsehole? Yes – but not only is that work and painful and difficult, it’s also deeply dehumanising. I find it soul-deep offensive to have to convince someone I am an actual person worthy of respect. Having to defend, explain or justify my humanity is demeaning, it’s belittling and I loathe doing it. Almost as much I hate people telling me how much they’re struggling not to be an Arsehole.

So no, I’m not trying to “win allies.” And even if I were, it’d be impossible to do so by being nice. Someone who respects my rights and humanity and my personhood only so long as I play nicely is not my ally. LGBT people (and all marginalised people) should not have to buy respect and equality by jumping through your hoops and fawning at your feet. I am a person, no matter what – whether I’m mean, cruel, surly, caffeine deprived, sarcastic, plain nasty or whether I’m nice, patient, kind, gentle and saintly. My personhood is not dependent on my conduct – and all marginalised people do not need to show impeccable behaviour to be found worthy of equality


Don’t ever tell me that I’m failing to win allies or I’m driving allies away and think it will convince me to, well, change anything.. The first is not actually something I’m trying to do or want to do. The second is impossible with a genuine ally – because a genuine ally would support our rights as a full human being no matter how much of an ornery, surly git I am.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Yes, I'm ranting again - can we stop cheering non-inclusion?

I have people wondering at me why I am so annoyed about reviews of How To Train Your Dragon 2, specifically Gobber.

Who is apparently gay. Or so say the writers of the film. The actual film? Apparently we have the line:

“That’s why I never married. Well, that and one other reason.”

Well that’s a totally unambiguous statement right? It’s not like “one other reason” could possibly mean anything else other than being gay, right? Uh-huh

But we have bloody swarms of people crawling out of the woodwork to say how wonderfully inclusive it is! ZOMG A GAY CHARACTER! YAY!

And people wonder why I drink.

This annoys the hell out of me. There are still huge genres – like SF/F and children’s shows/films/books of any kind – where LGBT people in major roles is damn rare (you can find us in comedies – because gay as comic relief is still a thing – dramas, usually about the big gay issue – and soapy-shows where we have big ensemble casts so you don’t have to deal with an LGBT main character without lots of diluting cishet people to wash it down with) and it’s not going to get any better because we have a swarm of people ready to throw a damn parade for NOTHING like this.

Like Frozen – hey did you see the millisecond hint that some random shop keeper may be gay because his family seemed to contain another adult man? Yeah, I watched that film and missed it as well – but the fanpoodles were on the net squeeing about Disney with gay characters – because blink-and-you-miss-it hints are totally awesome guys! (And update on that – they may have been cousins. Ooooh joyous inclusion)

Or the media that doesn’t even bother with hints, just has show creators or authors claim there are LGBT characters there we don’t know about – Battlestar Galatica, J K Rowling, Julie Kagawa, to name but a few – and we’re supposed to celebrate this? We’re supposed to be glad of inclusion that you have to freaking GOOGLE after you finish the book/show/film!?

And that’s aside from the number of shows indulging in fucktons of slashbaiting which has had Supernatural, Hawaii 5-0, Sherlock, Merlin and Teen Wolf hailed as inclusive or even outright gay shows by far too many. Tyler Posey even said in an interview that they focused on a gay storyline in Teen Wolf. WHEN?! What gay storyline?! I’ve watched 3 seasons and counting of Teen Wolf and there has never been anything that can be called a “gay storyline” and none of the teeny-tiny gay tokens on that show have ever been “focused on”.

This is why people like the writers on Once Upon a Time think that Mulan's kinda, sorta, almost coming out before FALLING OFF THE PLANET is progressive and inclusive.

Even when they manage to scrape up LGBT characters, there’s repeatedly an urge to back off from them – to make sure they don’t identify as LGBT, to downplay being LGBTness. Whether it’s the grossly homophobic Da Vinci’s Demons deciding Leonardo Da Vinci was just “curious” or Reeve Carney talking about Dorian Grey on Penny Dreadful and denying his bisexuality – comparing his sex with men as akin to self-harming.

But we still have the fanpoodles flocking to tell us how pro-gay these shows are! We still hold this shows up as wonderful examples of inclusion!

THIS IS NOT INCLUSION. This is bloody insulting and it’s actively harming our press for actual portrayals of LGBT characters because this is the standard we set. This is what is praised. This is considered acceptable. This is the low bar we expect media creators to tip-toe over. This is what the fans are demanding and this is what we’re getting – and then we wonder at the paucity of portrayals?

This shit is so prevalent that it’s created a whole double standard of inclusion even on sites which specialise in social justice and social justice analysis of media. They will praise erased or tokenised shows for their non-existent or grossly inadequate portrayal of LGBT people while rightly criticising that same show for its flawed representation of other marginalised people even though that representation is actually more extensive than that of the LGBT inclusion they just praised! But we’ve set such a double standard for LGBT inclusion that an ad-libbed retconned ambiguous statement is somehow a milestone of inclusion!

So yes, I’m pissed, yes, I’m ranting about this, yes, I’m annoyed. There’s this whole damn vast movement of fans out there, fans who claim to be supporters of LGBT inclusion – who are actively sabotaging us.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

So, if you're a straight person who feels the need to say "I hate all public displays of affection..."

Don't.

Really don't, because I'm beyond sick of it

I know, I know, you want to make it clear you're totally not a homophobe and it's not about the same-sex couple you just don't like PDAs - of any kind!

But the ONLY time this gets trotted out, certainly in any large numbers, is when LGBT folk have shown the same public love for each other that cishet folks get to do repeatedly every single day.

I do not believe you decide to express your distaste for PDAs every time straight people kiss. I do not. Considering the saturation of straight affecting in the media you couldn't even read your toddler a fairy tale without having to tut "oh look at this PDA, how inappropriate" under your breath. If you turned on a television you would lose your voice having to repeat your disapproval so many times.

There is absolutely no way you express your disapproval of PDAs every time you're confronted by straight people kissing. You would be on permanent repeat, like a record that's skipping.

You don't comment on straight PDAs but you hone in on the MUCH MUCH rarer same-sex PDAs to speak about? Yeah, that's some not-very-subtle shenanigans right there

And if you are genuinely unhappy with any PDA and this totally isn't isolated - then consider whether you need to express this NOW (because you DO let straight PDAs pass, don't even try to claim you don't). Even if you are super duper sure that you are totally not a homophobe in any way, shape or form, be aware that you do sound like one. Be aware that you are speaking in a context where a gazillion of your fellow straight folks constantly use such weasel ways to be homophobic in the hope they can wave the hate flag without backlash. Be aware that there's a whole bunch of straight people with unchallenged privilege and unquestioned prejudice who register, without even realising, same-sex PDA as obscene and needing reaction but don't even notice straight PDAs because they're background noise - and that you sound a whole lot like them. Be aware of that "without even realising" and ask yourself how sure you are you AREN'T one of them.

Be aware that, to me and many other LGBT folks, you're part of a vast sea of straight people who've decided to express their disapproval over our relationships. Again.

If you quack and waddle, how sure are you that you aren't a duck? Even if you aren't, you can't be surprised when we reach for the orange sauce

And does it suck that you're totally-well-meaning-and-not-homophobic-honest criticism is being lumped in with that sea of bigotry? Well, not nearly as much as it suck to drown in it.




This also applies to the "I think all marriage/adoption/surrogacy/IVF is wrong" but only say so when we're talking about same-sex couples engaging in them crowd as well.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

On Conchita Wurst

First of all, banish the idea that whoever wins Eurovision has anything to do with the quality of the songs. Ok, no, that's harsh - let's say the quality of the music makes up, say, 20% of the decision on who wins.

The rest is politics. Which is why it was laughable that Eurovision Host Pilou Asbaek was banned from wearing rainbows as he wanted because it was deemed “political.” Which country votes for which is always based on relations and opinions between those countries (which is why you have a lot of bloc voting and part of the reason Britain both doesn’t take it very seriously and always does poorly – because we’ve annoyed and continue to annoy a lot of people).

Homophobia has been an issue in European politics lately – obviously with the looming bigotry of Russia. But not just Russia – it was rather bitter, for example, to see political leaders decide boycotts, sanctions and even not attending the Olympics et al against Russia for persecuting LGBT people was a no-no, but when straight people in Ukraine were the target, suddenly everything was on the table (including our “equality minister” telling us how much she couldn’t possibly boycott the Olympics – then running like hell from the Paralympics – showing homophobia and ableism). It’s also galling that one of the many steps towards integration with the EU required Ukraine to improve it’s anti-homophobia protection and this was dropped after the Russian invasion (and Ukraine dropped anti-gay discrimination from their workplace discrimination law) feeling a lot like the EU just shoved LGBT people under the bus.

Then there was Conchita’s boycott – Russia, Ukraine and Belarus all wanted Conchita disqualified and/or broadcasts of Eurovision to edit Conchita out. They were hardly alone, though the usual suspects were most vocal. There was a lot of pressure to remove Conchita entirely

And then Conchita won. That’s a message. Ok, the message could be “You want to de-gay Eurovision? Are you SERIOUS? Please, we’ve been claiming this since the 70s.” But it’s also a strong sense of rejection of the very overt bigotry that has dogged Eurovision and Europe this year.

Is the song good? Yes/no/maybe/I don’t really care – but I’m loving that the bigots stomped their feet and here, far more of us turned round and told them to back off.



Thursday, 24 April 2014

So very much agreed



Yes yes and yes. My home has completely lost gay bars because the number of straight tourists has driven gay people out or made the space unsafe by both numbers or by grossly obnoxious behaviour

There are almost no spaces in the world where LGBT people are not an inherent minority. That's not even a comment on homophobia, that's simple demographics. Even the most generous metrics put LGBT people at about 10% of the population. We are inherently a minority, we will always be, inherently, a minority. Which means 99.9% of everywhere we go all the time we are surrounded by people not like us. All the time (this was an amusing revelation to one of my colleagues lately). So yes, I - and many others - are very protective of the teeny tiny spaces we managed to carve out in this HUGE STRAIGHT WORLD where, for a few blissful moments, we can be us, surrounded by us, knowing everyone around us is... us.

And before anyone cries about it "not being fair". Cis, straight folks - you have the world. The entire freaking world. Every day is straight pride day. Every bar is a straight bar (where we're still evicted on a regular basis). You never have to be careful, being a cis straight person in an LGBT world. You never have to be afraid, being a cis straight person in an LGBT world. You are not the only one of your sexuality or gender identity in a room. You do not have that daily pressure not to be you because you are cis and straight. We need these guarded corners because you have filled the rest of the space with your overwhelming presence but also your overwhelming culture of superiority and hostility - and that's a culture that follows you EVEN IF you are fighting against that. No matter how much of an ally you are, your presence adds to the majority, a majority which, frankly, frightens me.

And, really, you've got the whole world. You object to our tiny corners?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Nigel Evans, Rape Charges and Complexities

Nigel Evans has been cleared of all charges – and I’m seeing some… simplistic responses.

One of which is the idea that he got off. I can understand the principle of always believing abuse victims because we have too much a culture of doubt, victim blaming and general arseholery.

That includes rape victims who are gay men who are (as I’ve found to bitter experience) generally considered unrapeable (even among people in the LGBT community) because we’re all sex-obsessed lust monsters. “No” is not supposed to exist in our vocabulary; at very least, if we did say “no” we didn’t mean it or it doesn’t matter because we’re so sex obsessed that more sex can never be a bad thing.

There is also an incredibly powerful stereotype and societal slur of gay men as sexual predators. The gay panic defence, that is continually raised over and over to justify attacking us and killing us, is based entirely on this idea that we’re all rabid sex predators. The idea we’re a threat to children is based on the idea we’re rabid sex predators. I know gay men who are not only not trusted to look after children even by their families (myself included) but some who wouldn’t even do so if asked because it’s too dangerous for them. The spectre of gay rape was raised when it came to equalising the age of consent, section 28 and marriage equality. It’s a subject of constant “humour” from straight men about the terrible fear of gay men raping them, avoiding being alone with a room with us and the ever-not-funny “don’t bend over/drop the soap/turn your back” jokes. Because we’re all just. Again, I know gay men who won’t use a public bathroom out of fear of the violent terror they inspire in straight men. Again, I’ve even seen people who are LGBT (but not gay men) talk about gay men’s “culture” of sexual predation and how much GBQ men love to be evil preying sugar daddies on vulnerable youth because it’s all part of our community culture. Which all adds to why I really really really feel unbelievably uncomfortable referring to my past experiences in anything but the closest of spaces because there are, optimistically, 6 people who are not gay men I feel even remotely safe talking about it with.

Gay men falsely accused of rape and sexual assault is an ingrained societal habit

I say this as someone who pretty much loathes Nigel Evans who gives his hateful party inclusion cookies when he only came out when pretty much forced and after a long record of throwing the rest of us under the bus (not saying he should have come out earlier or at all – but no-one gets cookies for including someone who later is revealed to be gay).

Does this mean I think all the accusations against him are baseless lies? No. Does this mean I think he’s a sex predator whose wealth and position got him off scot-free? Also no. Does this mean that, if you have followed the case, assessed the facts (something I haven’t done because that would neither be sensible nor healthy) and decided they are liars/he has got off scot-free you should not have that opinion? Not at all.


None of these things – but nor do I think we can apply even a very well intentioned and generally very good principle (believing the victims of sexual assault and rape who are so often ignored, doubted and villified) without recognising other factors apply.