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Friday, 12 October 2007

Coming out Day

Today is apparently National Coming out Day somewhere in the world, America I suspect.

Naturally I don’t have much to come out to here. I’m gay, and it’s vaguely possible someone stumbling across my journal while extremely drunk and who doesn’t speak a word of English, or indeed any language that uses the Roman alphabet, wouldn’t realise I’m gay. The gayness runneth freely round here.

Instead I’m thinking about the closet itself, my time in it and just how horrible it was/is. The closet is toxic. The closet takes over your entire life, it has to. Your work, your family, your friends, your home - everything you do, everything you are, every second of every minute of every hour of every day you are in the shadow of the closet and it controls you. It is a lie, but it is a lie that makes the whole life you lead a lie. Fake and falsehood, it touches every part of you. You can’t live in the closet, you just exist. And some people have just existed in that vile place for a very very long time. It is the very definition of soul destroying.

I celebrate whenever I hear of anyone coming out. Anyone. Whether they’re a complete stranger, whether I hate them, absolutely anyone. I pity anyone who is closeted - ANYONE. Even the vilest of closeted homophobes who do their very best to make all of our lives hell (and there’s been a fair spate of revelations about them recently) I can’t help but pity them - because they have suffered so much for so long. Their hate is irrational? Gods, I’m amazed ANYTHING about them is rational after all those years mired in the closet.

I celebrate that someone is free, but I also celebrate because every single person coming out of the closet is a victory and a step forward. The tide of homophobia won’t be turned by words or politics or laws or demonstrations or parades - it will turn by millions of people looking around and seeing that the gays aren’t some alien other - they are their children and their siblings, their parents and their friends and their colleagues. I really do think this is where the battle will be won. I would NEVER push someone to come out (people have to be in a place in their own lives when they are ready for it) but I celebrate when they do.

But I also think of all the times I cling to the shreds of my own closet. The times I avoid a question, or assiduously use gender-neutral pronouns and labels, all the times I hide or avoid. Sometimes it’s out of genuine fear, but mainly it’s simple laziness. Not wanting to face the surprise, the possible agro, the shocked or the embarrassed. Just not wanting the issue to come up. I wonder if any gay person is truly out all the time, if any of us have managed to cast of the last clinging remains of the closet. I know I haven’t - and I’m ashamed that I haven’t. Oh, some of it is sensible, even if I look back righteously and think I should have shouted down the potentially violent homophobe, I realise that would have been stupid. But the rest? Hiding because of social awkwardness? Because it’s easier to let people assume I’m straight? Because I’m too tired to own my gayness? That’s shameful. I’m not ashamed of my sexuality - I’m gay, I’m out, I’m proud and I am repulsed that I let my words and actions imply for a second that I am not comfortable with who I am.

So, whether this day is special or not, I think that is what I am going to push back. I refuse to let the closet cast even the slightest shadow on my life, not any more. I’m not going to run around with linked mars symbols bringing up mansex in every casual conversation (but wouldn’t small talk be much more interesting if I did?) but no more hiding and no more compromising my identity because it’s EASIER to adhere to heterosexual assumption.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Time for a GREAT BIG STOINKING RANT

Prompted by the much belaboured news of the 2 lesbians in Australia who had IVF and are now suing because they only wanted one kid and are about to get 2.

I’m not going to rant about their foolishness. Their foolishness and general wrongness is evident to anyone with enough understanding to be able to read the English language. Ranting about their foolishness is redundant at this point.

What isn’t redundant is my anger at all those using this as an opportunity to lash out at lesbians and homosexuals in general.

These women are ridiculous wastes of skin because of ridiculous actions. The fact they are lesbians is IRRELEVANT. Trying to draw any larger conclusions about lesbians or lesbian parents from this is not only deeply ignorant on a stunning scale but is also ridiculously homophobic.

And it’s part of an ongoing rant for me. One of the subtler but more pervasive forms of prejudice that clings on is to judge every member of a minority group because of the bad actions of a few - or even on the bad actions of a single person.

It is more than a little tiresome to be judged on the actions of a complete stranger, sometimes in an entirely different country. One lesbian couple turn out to have all the parenting skills of a stunned goldfish and suddenly it's reason to comment on the parenting skill of all lesbians? If we judged all heterosexuals by such standards we would recognise how utterly ridiculous it is. Any heterosexuals want assumptions made of THEIR parenting based on some of the many vile things heterosexual parents have done in the past? No, it’s not only unjust and unfair but it’s patently ludicrous!

It annoys me that I feel the need to display nothing but impeccable behaviour at all times because if I mess up I will be “letting the side down.” Because if I snap tomorrow and go on a mad axe murdering spree of my clients you can just bet at least one of the hate groups is going to present my sexuality as the reason - and that’s assuming the major media itself doesn’t buy into it, or at least emphasise my sexuality unduly in the rampage. Even more annoying is the mindset encourages me to judge my fellow homosexuals and be angry at them if they are too flamboyant or extroverted etc. I look at some of the wilder gay pride parades or drag reviews and am irritated - NOT because I disapprove of what is happening (pride parades alone are wonderful for us in so many ways) but because there are no small number of straight people out there who will make judgements and assumptions about me based on what they’ve seen complete strangers do.

All lesbians, in fact, all homosexuals, are not responsible for or represented by these two ignorant muppets. We do not control them. We are not controlled by them. Their actions do not speak for us, do not represent us and are not indicative of our attitudes, beliefs or abilities. There are fools everywhere, in every group and from every segment of every society.

We are homosexual. We are people, like anyone else. We aren’t perfect. We do make mistakes. Some of us do foolish, even criminal and evil things. That doesn’t mean we all do. That doesn’t mean they should be used as a weapon against us or considered a spokesperson or general representation of us. It is sad and insulting that I feel the need to express this, but I feel it nevertheless. We should not all have to be angels to avoid being cast as devils.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

More wedding events: The prize for the most drama-tastic event goes to.... the wedding cakes!

When planning the wedding my cousins received numerous offers from the extremely talented women of our family to make them a wedding cake (any one of these women could have produced a most stunning cake, they are extremely good).

Now, someone uninitiated in the ways of our family would probably have accepted the first generous offer and had that wonderful cake at their wedding.

And we would display the corpses of these people as a warning against such innocent naiveté.

My cousins are wilier than that. They knew that accepting any one cake would be construed as a dire and mortal insult to every other half-way competent cook in the family, one that could only ever be matched by something equally severe, like murdering their first born and eating the corpse in front of them. But even that might not offend them so much as them asking another relative to make them a wedding cake.

To avoid offending any of them my cousins decided to get a caterer to bake a cake (now, on hearing this I instantly headed for the nearest nuclear shelter and set the timer for 10 years when I would emerge to pick up the pieces and set up a small monument on my cousin’s graves... but apparently this worked. I can only assume they sold their souls to a daemonic entity of choice to pull that one off).

Of course, the worthy ladies and their cakes are not so easily put off. The wedding comes round and it turns out that several of these good women have decided to surprise the happy couple with perfect, multi-tiered wedding cakes... Have you ever seen 2 women enter the same room, each burdened with a large wedding cake? *cue high noon music*

Now begins the dance of the cake and a whole new school of etiquette arises.

The Bride and Groom will avoid ALL cakes as much as possible. Any photographs will include ALL cakes or none (though pictures of them before a table of 6 wedding cakes looks quite stunning really). They will not cut ANY cake. They must eat all cakes in equal quantities. The bakers of said cakes WILL measure pieces to the micrometer. Efforts must be taken to hide the order in which cakes were eaten.

A guest eating any cake conveys 2 messages: 1, this cake is the best cake ever and all the rest taste like sawdust marinated in manure and 2, the baker of this cake is a saint before whom all good men should bow while the baker of all the other cakes are vile daemons in human form upon whom with vomit our derision and scorn. Bakers of cake will treat you accordingly.

A guest eating 2 different cakes will get all of the criticism and none of the comment.

Any guest may be ambushed at any time to give a full and complete appraisal of any cake. Failing to criticise an opponent’s cake with sufficient venom or praise her cake with sufficient glowing benedictions will result in you being cast into the nether hells. NOTE: the fact you haven’t eaten any cake is NO defence and no excuse.

Carefully manoeuvre through the crowd as at any moment you can be ambushed by a woman holding a platter full of cake who will demand you eat a piece (cue Jaws theme). There is no excuse to not eating. Being full/having already had a piece/being diabetic/being DEAD are not sufficient excuses. Once consumption is complete please refer to the above point.

The catered cake should be avoided at ALL cost. No-one will cut it, eat it or otherwise have any contact with it. You should not stand too close to the cake, should most certainly not mention it, should not take photographs of it and should avoid even thinking about this cake. Even heaping derision on this cake cannot expunge the sin of having even considered it for a second. I suspect my cousins will surreptitiously call guests to their home during the dead of night and furtively distribute pieces of cake that have been carefully wrapped in brown manilla envelopes.


On the bonus side, we’ll all be eating wedding cake for years to come

Thursday, 23 August 2007

First wedding report: The BAD.

Much craziness was witnessed, participated in and ran from at the wedding, as was expected. Unfortunately more than any amusement snark, one particular incident kind of outweighs them all for me and lowers my faith in humanity again.

I met up with (surprise to surprise - you have to do the round of cousins) one my cousins. I’m quite close to Rache. I grew up with her, when one of us wasn’t travelling we saw each other daily almost. She was one of the first people I came out to and the first to slap me upside the head for not telling more people. When her daughter was born she wanted me to be her godfather (for 2 reasons: 1) she wanted to see if I could enter a church without turning to ash and 2) godparents are obliged to give free, no-notice babysitting. Apparently. So she says).

Having circled the buffet 3 times, talked to 4 elderly relatives and even petted cats I could no longer avoid her and that gleam in her eye that all parents get now and then - y’know the one, the one that says “Argh! I’m going to carve out my womb so I never produce these noise machines again!” so I am ambushed by her and her New (ish) mother-in-law, who I have not yet had the pleasure to meet.

So we talk, inevitably a request for imminent babysitting next week raises its head, to which I acquiesce graciously and carefully remove the shrimp fork from her white-knuckle grip, we remind MiL that I’m little bratleigh’s godfather and that I have babysitted her dozens of time (I mutter “hundreds” and get a jugular piercing glare). All is happy and we move the conversation on, discover MiL is largely non-objectionable despite being death as a post and inclined to leap topics without warning.

Then I realised that Beloved had scarpered to some island of sanity and asked if Rache had seen him so I could slap him upside the head request his return, and new MiL speaks up.

MiL: Who IS Beloved?
R: Sparky’s other half.
Me: *nods*
MiL: *pause* You’re gay?
Me: yes.
MiL: *to Rache in a not-quite-but-meant-to-be-whisper-of-the-hard-of-hearing* Is that safe?
Me: *confused* No, you need to stand back. I may explode and shower the room with rainbows at any moment
Rache: I think we’re all safe here *also confused. Clearly questioning MiL’s sanity and worrying about daughter‘s genetics*
MiL: I mean Bratleigh...
Me: *Confused, bratleigh is at home* You receiving psychic warnings now? I thought we segregated all the elderly women who thought they were psychic near the gin.
MiL: I mean, you know *sickly grin* Babysitting.
Rache: *is lost* no...
Me: *clinging to confusion* Oh, she did not. Tell me you did not just imply what I thought you did?
MiL: *turns to me, a little red faced, attempt at smile* No offence.
Rache: *penny drops. Turns bright red. Clearly planning on extracting spouse’s genetics from child as soon as she can find a big enough plunger*
Me: Oh my gods, you did! *walks away*

Rache chased me down later to apologise (and, sadly, confirm that YES, she was worried about leaving her granddaughter in the evil, pernicious clutches of homosexuals). Which is awkward because I really don’t want Rache to feel awkward or apologetic because her MiL is a bigoted troglodyte. OK, what I REALLY don’t want is to people assume I’m a child predator because I’m gay (and “no offence“? C’mon, woman, you just implied I’m some kind of child abuser or paedophile. In what alternate dimension can this NOT be offensive?) but my cousin not feeling like shit will do for now.

Thankfully it was near the end of the night so only Beloved had to endure my arsey mood. Which is kind of stupid because, I should soooo be above this. I seen worse, I’ve heard worse, I thought I was immune to this kind of rubbish, but every now and then one gets through. Why do I still let this crap get to me?