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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

BBC.... what is this shit?

The BBC has a nice Have Your Say section where they can pose a question for reasoned and considered debate. Currently they have several running - the BA strike, airbrushing in adverts, when self-defence goes to far, should homosexuals face execution.

Wait.

What?

"Should homosexuals face execution?"

Why is this even a matter for debate? Why is it even considered an acceptable question to ask? Regardless of world politics, is this EVER a question that should be presented as something to be considered, reasoned, balanced? Is this ever a question where, by golly, we want to hear your opinion - kill the homos or not?

No matter what was happening in the world, there is no bloody way the BBC would have the question "Should black people face execution?"

No matter what laws were proposed in any country, the BBC wouldn't even consider asking "Should Jews face execution?"

Even at its most bigoted, the BBC would never ask readers to send in their opinions on whether we should kill muslims. They'd never ask us to send opinions on persecuting to death Asian people.


This is beyond outrageous. This is giving a level of legitimacy to the most toxic form of hate. This is presenting arguing whether we have the right to exist as a reasoned question - as a question for debate!


I have a right to LIVE damn it! I have a right NOT to be killed. We do not deserve being imprisoned and executed for daring to love, for existing! This is NOT a legitimate position. This is NOT a position for reasoned argument. This is WRONG and can you PLEASE stop sending the bloody message that our lives are worth shit, already!?


The complain form is here https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/ please use it. Because this is beyond unacceptable

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Why we can't always have a 'productive' conversation

This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog



Why we can’t always have a ‘productive’ conversation

Today I had the oh-so-wonderful chance to have a long, detailed conversation with a clueless straight person about sexuality in general and male homosexuality in particular. Not malicious - but certainly ignorant, wallowing in privilege and approaching the conversation as mildly interesting gossip.

It started with a joke: “Age of consent is weird. At 16 now you can have a fag up the arse but not a fag in your mouth.” Yes. Amazingly enough I didn’t laugh. And the sad thing is this is actually not only about the 6th time I’ve heard this joke, it’s the 6th time someone has told me this joke, knowing I was gay, AND EXPECTING ME TO BE AMUSED.

It wasn’t a fun discussion. It was long, full of stereotypes, lots of ignorance and enough cringe worthy moments to make me feel down, tired and generally not a happy person. We had “gay” used as a negative descriptor (and a good 10 minutes of totally not getting why that bothered me), we had gay sex referred to as sickening, we had the oh-so-fun ‘you’ve never slept with a woman so you can’t KNOW you don’t like it,’ a couple of more “jokes” (“it’s funny so it’s not offensive.” Really? Because I’m not laughing and I am offended, so I guess you failed twice. Oh yes, do try again, I‘m sure all gay people love your attempts to find a homophobic joke that makes them laugh) and many of the standard fodder that makes me want to stab someone.

Yes, all very awkward and unpleasant and I’m not sure any of the conversation made any difference because there’s a difference between hearing and caring. But that’s not really the point here

The point is, I knew where this conversation was going within the first 10 minutes - gods, the first 5 minutes. The opening lines, even. I knew that I was heading into a long, unpleasant and awkward conversation that was likely going to throw a lot of straight privilege at me, push a lot of painful buttons and generally leave me frustrated, tired and feeling like shit. In short, within 5 minutes of the conversation starting I wanted it to end.

How do I know this? Because I’ve had exactly the same conversation and variations of this about a squillion times before. All completely unoriginal, all tiring, all painful and all immensely frustrating. And I’m quite sure over half have been utterly, completely pointless wastes of my energy and mental health.

My point?

My point is sometimes I can’t do it. And that’s a shame because, even if most failed, I know some of these conversations HAVE worked. I know some ignorant people who bought a clue, listened and did their best not to do it again. Yes, it can be productive. Yes it has worked. Yes calmly and reasonably answering all the ignorant questions you’ve answered a thousand times or politely objecting and explaining why something was offensive can and does work. It’s half the reason I ramble so much about sexuality on this LJ.

And sometimes I can’t do it. Sometimes I’m tired, I’m in a bad mood or I’m just sick to the back teeth of the whole damn hetero-normative world, it’s ignorance, it’s insensitivity and it’s endless reminders that I don’t belong. Sometimes I’m annoyed because it should be damned OBVIOUS why I don’t find that joke funny, or why I get angry at being called “fag.”

These conversations are painful and tiring and frustrating. They’re very personal (they can’t help but be), they force me to confront homophobia and homophobic ignorance head on. They force me to endure it and slog through it. They force me to be vulnerable. They force me to expose that vulnerability to someone who, at best, may clumsily trample all over me and at worst may deliberately do some stomping.


So my point again?

My point is I know I shouldn’t snap. I know I shouldn’t lose my temper. I know that I should have a productive conversation. Because it can be productive. It can be useful. I KNOW I do myself and all GBLT people out there a lot more good by calmly and patiently having the conversation.

And I think that applies to every marginalised person - regardless of their marginalisation.

We know that being clam, polite and gently correcting and explaining is the best

But we can’t always do that.

Because it hurts

Because we’re tired

Because we’ve spent countless hours doing exactly the same damn thing before.

Because we don’t have the time, energy or inclination to do so.

Because moving in a world that devalues you is hard enough without having to give a running commentary to clueless privileged people.

Because sometimes we’re angry or upset or hurt or offended or scared.


So my point again?

It’s not necessary to lecture me - or any minority for that matter - on the tone of our arguments, on our anger, on our snapped reply and furious rebuttal. You don’t have to tell us that a calmer response would be better. That we should answer those questions. That we should be more moderate, more calm, more reasoned and cold and logical and sensible.

You don’t have to tell us this. We know. But we can’t do it all the time and you can’t expect that of us. And if you do expect it - well, perhaps you don’t know how much it costs

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

World AIDS Day - a time for rage

Another world AIDS day and I am left again with an overwhelming sense of rage about the whole thing.

I am grief stricken and furious that AIDS has become the scourge it has.

The grief goes without saying - because so many dead is just heart breaking. So many dead and suffering in such numbers - there are not enough tears in the world.

But all of this is coloured by rage. Rage, because AIDS is, in my view, one of the greatest failings of humanity. The sheer size and scale of the epidemic now has been created by masses of human indifference, prejudice and ignorance to such a degree that I want to scream - and it's still continuing.


When AIDS was first becoming an issue it was ignored. It was ignored because it was a gay disease. It was ignored because it was an African disease. It was ignored because, to the powers that be, these people, these deaths DID NOT MATTER. These lives didn't fucking count. These deaths were seen as unimportant - even a good thing!

Can you imagine how less severe it would be, how many fewer would have died if the powers that be had actually given a damn then?

But, eventually, the privileged people started dying. Eventually people started to take notice. But the ignorance was already winning.

We had more ignorance coming from religious groups who LEAPED on the epidemic as an opportunity to pursue their own agenda. "Abstinence!" they screamed! No more sex! SEX IS BAD! EVIL! And every step of the way they pushed that and tried to hijack the fight to stop a devastatingly huge pandemic into a way to push their own moral values. Their dogma was more important than untold millions of deaths! And they knew no shame - to this day the Catholic Church is spreading LIES about condoms in Africa.

Let me repeat that. The Catholic church is spreading LIES about condoms. WILLFUL LIES. Condoms, a vital tool in preventing the spread of AIDS, are being labelled as ineffective. How many are dying here because dogma is valued over truth?! That is evil. That is tantamount to genocide.


But the ignorance continued. Governments, confronted with the sudden horror of rising AIDS levels, some facing huge segments of their population being infected started fleeing in denial. HIV didn't cause AIDS they said. They bought into the most dubious AIDS denial research, backed the most quackiest of quack medicine to escape the reality of it.


And ignorance fed ignorance. Ignorance and agenda and denial combined to a ridiculous degree. People scapegoated the disease - it was a gay disease, a drug users disease, a promiscuous disease. 101 ridiculous and foolish "cures" were imagined by fearful, superstitious and ignorant people (the most pernicious of which, I think, was the idea that AIDS could be cured by having sex - unprotected sex! - with a virgin!). Predatory greed lead some evil people to sell their dubious "cures" to ignorant and fearful people (some of these AIDS cures are little more than vitamin C tablets!) Drugs companies with vital, life saving retroviral drugs set the prices prohibitively high - and fought viciously against cheaper alternatives.

And rising from this is an ongoing prejudice against people living with HIV and AIDS. People who can live long, productive, fulfilled lives - are treated with the kind of stigma associated with medieval lepers. Ignorance, fear and prejudice again - and again at the cost of people's lives.


AIDS is a story of human failure. It's a story of ignorance and arrogance and fear and prejudice and greed and pure, evil indifference to our fellow man.

AIDS will not go away until we change that story, fight the evil and redeem ourselves. And that is going to take a lot of work

World AIDS Day - a time for rage

Another world AIDS day and I am left again with an overwhelming sense of rage about the whole thing.

I am grief stricken and furious that AIDS has become the scourge it has.

The grief goes without saying - because so many dead is just heart breaking. So many dead and suffering in such numbers - there are not enough tears in the world.

But all of this is coloured by rage. Rage, because AIDS is, in my view, one of the greatest failings of humanity. The sheer size and scale of the epidemic now has been created by masses of human indifference, prejudice and ignorance to such a degree that I want to scream - and it's still continuing.


When AIDS was first becoming an issue it was ignored. It was ignored because it was a gay disease. It was ignored because it was an African disease. It was ignored because, to the powers that be, these people, these deaths DID NOT MATTER. These lives didn't fucking count. These deaths were seen as unimportant - even a good thing!

Can you imagine how less severe it would be, how many fewer would have died if the powers that be had actually given a damn then?

But, eventually, the privileged people started dying. Eventually people started to take notice. But the ignorance was already winning.

We had more ignorance coming from religious groups who LEAPED on the epidemic as an opportunity to pursue their own agenda. "Abstinence!" they screamed! No more sex! SEX IS BAD! EVIL! And every step of the way they pushed that and tried to hijack the fight to stop a devastatingly huge pandemic into a way to push their own moral values. Their dogma was more important than untold millions of deaths! And they knew no shame - to this day the Catholic Church is spreading LIES about condoms in Africa.

Let me repeat that. The Catholic church is spreading LIES about condoms. WILLFUL LIES. Condoms, a vital tool in preventing the spread of AIDS, are being labelled as ineffective. How many are dying here because dogma is valued over truth?! That is evil. That is tantamount to genocide.


But the ignorance continued. Governments, confronted with the sudden horror of rising AIDS levels, some facing huge segments of their population being infected started fleeing in denial. HIV didn't cause AIDS they said. They bought into the most dubious AIDS denial research, backed the most quackiest of quack medicine to escape the reality of it.


And ignorance fed ignorance. Ignorance and agenda and denial combined to a ridiculous degree. People scapegoated the disease - it was a gay disease, a drug users disease, a promiscuous disease. 101 ridiculous and foolish "cures" were imagined by fearful, superstitious and ignorant people (the most pernicious of which, I think, was the idea that AIDS could be cured by having sex - unprotected sex! - with a virgin!). Predatory greed lead some evil people to sell their dubious "cures" to ignorant and fearful people (some of these AIDS cures are little more than vitamin C tablets!) Drugs companies with vital, life saving retroviral drugs set the prices prohibitively high - and fought viciously against cheaper alternatives.

And rising from this is an ongoing prejudice against people living with HIV and AIDS. People who can live long, productive, fulfilled lives - are treated with the kind of stigma associated with medieval lepers. Ignorance, fear and prejudice again - and again at the cost of people's lives.


AIDS is a story of human failure. It's a story of ignorance and arrogance and fear and prejudice and greed and pure, evil indifference to our fellow man.

AIDS will not go away until we change that story, fight the evil and redeem ourselves. And that is going to take a lot of work