Thursday, 28 October 2010

Mohammeds everywhere!

Ok, the ONS has released statistics on most popular baby names in the UK. They do it every year, presumably because they’re so damned bored they have nothing better to do.

And they found that one of the most common names for boys was, apparently, Mohammed. *Shrug* Frankly I’m rather more disturbed by how “Oliver” and variations are becoming popular. Oliver? Really people, really?

Predictably the usual suspects are having the screaming meemies. The Daily Mail paused in their eternal quest to divide all the world’s substances into “things that cause cancer” and “things that cure cancer” to thoroughly lose their shit (I’m always amazed that the Daily Mail can completely lose their shit on a weekly basis, yet you open the paper and behold, there’s still a monumental amount of shit left) followed by the Torygraph running around with their hair on fire because ZOMG TEH MUSLIMS ARE TAKING OVER!

Right, some things to address here:

Firstly, as said extremely well here the methodology the usual suspects are basing their panic on is flawed in the extreme

But also, as touched on, let’s consider the name. It is an extremely popular name in the Muslim community, people have said that it’s traditional to name your first son that – I don’t know how true that is, but it’s certainly true that it is an extremely popular cultural name

Right, now try to think of an extremely popular traditional “British” name (ugh, as if Mohammed were somehow less British). I’m guessing most people instantly thought of something laughably outdated like “Henry” or “Albert.” There are some names that survive the test of time like James and Paul and Peter and Jack and Michael and Richard and – apparently, George and Oliver (really. Oliver. Oliver, people? George was bad enough – but Oliver?) but those names also have the rider of being considered “dull.”

In fact, dull seems to be something desperately avoided by many a new parent. Indeed, I sometimes wonder if we’re playing name-scrabble and seeing who can manage the most points with a treble word score if you manage to squeeze a “y” and a “k” into the name. Occasionally we’ll also get odd fashions that burn for a year or 2 then fall out quickly (there was a celtic name one recently – you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a Rhys – or Reese, Reece, Rhyes, evena Rice at one time)

And I’m not saying this out of contempt or disapproval for these names (well, except Oliver. Really? Oliver? What were you thinking?) and I have nothing against little Ember Starsurge Mykynzie (vowels are so last century) Sparkletoes – but what I am saying is we’re dealing with 2 different trends with names.

One of which highlights and emphasises a traditional and highly respected name and uses it repeatedly – causing it to appear often (and this is by no means limited to Muslims, when visiting Portugal I was surprised to find whole villages that seemed to have 6 names repeated over and over and made heavy use of nicknames to differentiate)

And the other of which seeks “unique” names and will, inherently, avoid repetition of common, cultural or trend names.

Or, to put it another way – the number of kids named “Mohammed” in the country means sweet bugger all.

And really – this whole panic? Very unseemly to say the least. The desperate terror of the Muslims taking over is sickening to watch and, frankly, embarrassing. Yes, there are Muslims in the country. Deal with it – because this hair-on-fire Islamaphobia (and, let’s face it, racism – because you know they’re not picturing white people when they think of Muslims) is nauseating.

Monday, 25 October 2010

It Gets Better

I have said before that perhaps the matter that concerns me most in the GBLTQ community is our kids. Our kids go through hell on a regular basis. None of my close friends have had easy or happy childhoods due to reactions to their sexuality or genderidentity.

We can see the repeated vileness imposed on our young. We see kids refused a place in schools because their parents are GBLTQ. We see kids suffer vicious bullying – to a degree so omnipresent that study after study points to nearly every GBLTQ kid suffering some form of harassment and attack in school for being who they are.

We know that often these kids cannot turn to their nearest and dearest for help. In the closet, they cannot reach out to family, to parents – even to teachers or counsellors or medical professionals. Indeed, these are often a part of the problem (and that includes the medical profession. That is why these cases of anti-gay counsellors being slapped are so important. Can you imagine being at a vulnerable place in your life, reaching out to a medical professional to try and help you work through it or endure it, to even pull you back from the ledge and… ooops, you got yourself a bigot?) – and our children have a horrendous rate of homelessness, at least in part caused by rejection from their very homes.

Suicide rates among our young are horrendous, many times higher than their straight, cisgendered counterparts. And in so many cases this pain is completely ignored by school authorities. Children are being attacked and they are despairing and dying and little is done about it.

In fact, the hate orgs fight tooth and nail over any attempt to combat anti-GBLTQ bullying anywhere, even pushing a boycott of schools during the Day of Silence, even if inclined to help, school staff are hampered by the gagging of the outraged right that cares nothing of the lives lost. This is not a story of one school or even one country – because this shit is happening over and over everywhere.

In light of this, I applaud Dan Savage’s new initiative “It Gets Better”

Dan Savage is certainly a problematic figure, but I don’t think this detracts from the worth of this, especially since it very much isn’t about him. This is a project open to all LGBTQ people to submit their stories – stories of surviving, stories of recovery – testimony that it DOES GET BETTER. A statement to all our young on the edge of despair that it does get better, that there is hope.

It’s not perfect, it’s not ideal. But perfect and ideal are not remotely attainable at this time. While we can and should fight tooth and nail to try and push back the harassment of our young, it’s an uphill battle and anti-GBLTQ bullying, homophobic and transphobic society, erasure and general pervasive heterosexism and cissexism everywhere means perfect is a long damn way off.

But this could be a lifeline. If it gives some kids just a little hope to hold on, it is worth every second people take and more.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Why why why did I turn on the television?

And spend a guilty lazy day reading tacky urban fantasy and watching the huge backlog recorded on Sky Plus

Got through an hour of laughing at Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall, Giggled and gasped in disbelief at the Supersizers, drooled all over Tim Roth in Lie to Me, got through a full episode of Dalziel and Pascoe (Pascoe was extra yummy in the early ones), moved on to second episode…

Investigating a kid with drugs and alcohol in his system found drowned, he may have committed suicide

Uhhh warning bells, warning bells, not ideal, not ideal… having serious second thoughts, this is not going to help…

Did anyone know about these?” they hold up a file box of Gay Times magazines “I think he was gay…”

And bing, television turned off, episode deleted. Queue the next 30 minutes storming round the house screaming that I can’t even turn on the television any more.

And then I went into the kitchen and made a cake. It was chocolate and cream and fudge and strawberries and I am eating it. Beloved can have some. But that cake is not going to be in the fridge tomorrow. SO there.

Not my most dignified moment, it has to be said.

And, no, Beloved cannot start looking up TV shows with head breaky scenes to guarantee cake. Bad Beloved, no cookycake

Screw this, I’m going to watch ancient X-Men cartoons and perv on Nightcrawler. Yeah, I’m weird, we’ve already established this

Social stuff, AGAIN – my pooor hermiting!

For obvious reasons I kind of wanted to hunker down and not go out the door but Beloved’s work was having a Fancy Do. I’m not quite sure what this was in aid of – it was either a retirement or a celebration of a new contract/merger/new flying unicorn (yes this is how much attention I pay. Computer people do not speak the same language as the rest of us, it is known).

I was begged to go otherwise he would have to go alone and all the people he hadn’t met would assume he was Making Me Up (what does it say that those who hear of me suspect I am fictional? It says I’m fantastic, that’s what, so there) and it could be very very boring so he needed someone there to be snarky with.

I was terrified of falling apart messily in public, but, thankfully, I was rather distracted and needed only to escape a couple of times for air and privacy….

Sparky: What is THAT?

Beloved: It’s the location, by the address..

Sparky: It’s a TENT.

Beloved: A pavilion, yes, maybe they couldn’t fit us all?.

Sparky: It’s a tent

Beloved: Yesss… we covered that

Sparky: It’s late October, night time in rural Yorkshire. We’re going to die of exposure.

Beloved: It’s probably a modern insulated pavilion thing with those global warming space heaters.

…A little later

Sparky: I must commend them on their environmental considerations

Beloved: What?

Sparky: Well, look at the power they’ve saved! No heating at ALL. Not a single one in the whole tent. A couple of insipid lamps for lighting, why the carbon footprint for this event must be minuscule!

Beloved: Remind me again why we didn’t bring coats?

Sparky: Because we assumed that this meal would be indoors. I think it’s a ploy, by subjecting us to subzero temperatures we go numb and can’t feel how grossly uncomfortable these chairs are.

Beloved: They failed, my arse is half falling off AND I’m freezing my bollocks off.

Sparky: Well that ruins my plans for this evening…

Beloved: I don’t think they’ve invested too munch energy into heating the food either.

Sparky: The food was probably boiling before they put on their hiking gear, reached for their compasses and navigated from the kitchen.

Beloved: *pokes beef* If we start succumbing to hypothermia we can go to the kitchens. I think they may be on fire.

Sparky: This cow clearly specified cremation in her will. I’m sure she will be happy knowing her last wishes were carried out. At least they gave us weapons with which to express our disapproval

Beloved: They’re Yorkshire puddings

Sparky: *taps with knife, watches it shatter* so, not fragmentation grenades?

Beloved: Maybe they’re special Yorkshire puddings to go with the jelly

Sparky: I think that’s supposed to be gravy

Beloved: Wow, it’s congealed AND frozen at the same time.

Sparky: That has to be breaking some laws of physics.

Beloved: hey, speaking of laws, does it break any health and safety regs to serve compost with out food.

Sparky: They… they may be vegeatables

Beloved: What kind?

Sparky: Uh… green ones?

Sparky: *closes eyes* oh gods the pudding is here… how bad is it

Beloved: Oh… what have they done to this chocolate moose

Sparky: It’s… dry. They actually made your moose DRY. How the hell do you make DRY MOOSE?

Beloved: The same way they made this ice cream melt. The gravy was freezing over, but they can get ice cream to melt

Sparky: Their food is so bad they have re-written the laws of thermodynamics.

Beloved: check your crème brulee

Sparky: *stirs with a spoon, no crack at all* It’s… milk. It doesn’t even have the consistency of single cream. Milk with sugar sprinkled on top – like someone just opened a sachet of brown sugar and poured it in. I could drink it.

By which point it was gone 11:00 and we were bloody nithered it was that damn cold.

It was not good. No no it does not. For once I was inspired to write a letter of complaint – but when beloved saw my first draft began:

“Dear Sir/Madam.

In the past I have gone to restaurants and thought “I could cook a better meal than this” however you have the dubious honour of being the first establishment that made me think my cat could do a better job. I would criticise your chef, but I feel that even implying the drunken baboon you have chained in the kitchen is in any way a chef would be the worst possible insult to the culinary profession. You must have been grossly disappointed that, despite your best efforts, none of your guests succumbed to hypothermia in your amateur wind-tunnel that you optimistically referred to as a “pavilion” as I’m sure harvesting their bodies for meat would have provided a much cheaper option and would likely be far tastier than the charcoal briquettes and shoe leather you are currently using. I would criticise the wait staff, but really they did a miraclulous job and given the low light levels, the temperature and the distance from the kitchen the only way they could have competently served us would be if you replaced your entire work force with Inuit long distance runners wearing night vision goggles.”

at which point he felt compelled to tell me that, since we didn’t organise (or pay for) the function it wasn’t our place to complain. Which is no fun AT ALL.

I disappeared for a few days again

Rather completely from twitter, email and LJ et al. Put this down to Point 6 on the Sparky self-destruction cycle. Not exactly surprisingly, Spirit Day, while wonderful and heartening, wasn’t something I could deal with and after turning my twit-pic purple and taking one look at my twitter feed my brain went *schlup* and I stepped away from the computer. I stepped back, schlupped again and crawled away and into a big friendly bottle (mental note: Alcohol response to Triggers? BAD bad bad habit, must be stopping that. That’s certainly borrowing problems for the future)

But yes, I kept my space and my distance which means *gasp* I may have finally learned my lesson. Maybe? I don’t know. Things are still all kinds of fugly and if you see me disappear suddenly for a few days, weeks, whatever then it’s probably because I’m protecting myself and will be back when I feel I can.

I did wear a purple tie, but it was somewhat coincidental. I wore it because it happened to be left out the night before and in the morning you’re lucky if I can figure out how to put one foot in front og the other, let alone make choices about clothing colour. Left work as soon as humanly possible and crawled into bed. The world can be screwed up, I have a big warm bed and I’m not leaving it, you cannot make me.

In the squickness – my… stuff.. I don’t know what do you even call this? Mood swings, massive raging, breaking things, insomnia and crippling nightmares, collapsing into near or actual tears for no noticeable reason and this constant dread spiced with random panic attacks and the odd spells of disturbing staring into space… I don’t know, this Do-not-want-ness continues and isn’t going away though it is coming and going in waves. Something has broken and it isn’t fixed, and this is annoying.

A good and sensible friend has suggested that I need to seek help – as in real help of a professional nature. And friend with Magnificent Breast, while extremely helpful (well, I’m told it’s helpful but dragging all the blah into the open like that isn’t great for me in many ways) has insisted time and again that she isn’t a professional therapist with a strong hint that maybe I should seek one. Which is… blaargle? Not something I’m especially comfortable for, doubtless, many silly silly silly silly reasons not least of which an arrogant and prejudiced idea that “oh, no, not ME. Never ME. That’s for other people!”

Good and Sensible friend has also reminded me that it has been freaking ages since I had any kind of holiday. I think I need one. But don’t know whether I want to book and arrange a holiday while I’m still full of Do-Not-Want-Ness and, anyway, winter holidays are so not my thing. I don’t know, I need a thunking.

In terms of actual reality outside the Bad Brain of Badness. Beloved is still a saint, managing to to be a source of infinite comfort, a pillar to lean on and a stern policeman to step in an intervene when I am doing the silly, self-destructive things. Hmmm I need to get him a uniform.

Work is actually getting better. Though SPs are as clueless as ever about so much, one thing they DO understand, and seem to understand very very well, are the words “hey, I’m on the edge of a breakdown”. Perhaps a trifle dramatic but I’m not entirely sure how much of an exageration it is or, indeed, if “on the edge of” should be better said as “in the middle of.” In general ingrained professionalism gets me through work… I take a moment in an empty office or in the bathrooms to have minor emotional moments, then can build it all back up again and return to business as normal. I am double checking my work and asking SPs to check some of my cases at random – but my work remains exemplary, if I do say so myself.

But yes, the pressure on me has dropped a lot at work, in fact, it hasn’t relaxed like this for as along as I can remember, especially with the lack of travelling and much reduced call outs. Kudos to the SPs, they’ve got a lot wrong on the past – but they are being very careful and respectful here.

Family is… family. I’m feeling a little adrift because I’ve gone from our standard state of speaking to 101 vaguely related people a week to heavily screening my calls (excessively really, I doubt most of them are calling about anything related to Uncle Fail. But also because I’m not 100% comfortable with the idea of any of my family learning just how much trouble I’m having at the moment, because it so will not help). It’s been more peaceful but in a way it’s like knowing there’s a poisonous spider in the room you can’t see – just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not crawling around waiting to bite you.

Had a standard awkward and “why are we even bothering to discuss this” discussion with mother. She feels torn because she feels she’s being asked to choose between me and her brother…

which, well, firstly I would have thought that if it were a choice between the homophobic brother you don’6t like anyway and the gay son who has put up with his shit for years, well, yeah. Hard choice?

But still, I’m not asking anyone to make the choice, I’m not announcing anyone in the family must shun him in order to stay close to me, I’m not asking anyone to defend me and I’m certainly not asking anyone to apologise for me (and cut that shit out right now!)

And I realise mum gets a lot of flack for having raised a son who is ZOMG gay and there are no few people who view this as a great big failing on her part, but I really really really need her not to make that my issue or require me to handhold her through it again or be treated to a litany of the ways my sexuality has complicated her life. Nor do I need to know what steps she’s taking to reduce her embarrassment/awkwardness/whatever other thing she’s feeling that will make my head ache if I’m told about it. Honestly, now is not the time to revisit the whole “do you have to be out to everyone?!” and the “why shouldn’t we make up fake straight biographies for you?” because I so beyond do not need it.

Oh and the game/tool of exploring all my scars with Beloved is… interesting and sorta kinky fun, since it involves stripping naked and lots of close body examination which leads to much fun and kinkiness… but at the same time involves telling the story of each one, remembering each one and seeing how damn many there are, I forgot half of these things. I’m kind of dodging between freaking at them all on the one hand and shrugging and saying “y’know what, all these scars and my sexy husband loves it anyway” on the other.

So, yeah. Are things good? No. Are things better? Maybe? I’m not sure, the badness continues but I think we’re navigating it better than we were. I have a feeling I’m being slightly paranoid now which isn’t helping matters, but I think I’m still going to hide under the bed a little and prepare for the worst until I’m sure that I can deal a bit better than I am doing

Which means a little more hermitting, a lot more cooking and a lot lot lot of being very very damn careful

-Oh, it also means I’m slooow with comments and flist and email and Twitter. I know I’m never exactly SPEEDY with these things, but I promise I’m not ignoring anything, I’m just taking it as and when I can. I will get back to everything (well, obviously not my general twitter feed for obvious reasons) but it may take me a while

Oh the second – yeah I have notifications turned on in email and LJ so when I saw I had like a squillion LJ messages I deleted them assuming they were all comment notifications and only a second later realised that I had a lot of PMs to get back to – mea maxima culpa. I’m not ignoring you, I’m just fool enough to delete messages without reading them *headdesk*

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Some of the wrongness related to DADT

There has been all kinds of stuff around DOMA and especially DADT lately that I think needs an examine

First of all, DADT has joined DOMA in being hit by the courts – only it has been hit much harder with judge Virginia Phillips declaring it unconstitutional

And it, and I quote “orders the government and Defense Department to immediately “suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Act.””

Which is of the shiny. Oh yes it is.

Unfortunately, the Obama admin has asked for a stay on it – because they’re going to appeal. Just as they’re going to appeal the Massachusetts ruling against DOMA

There is so much wrong here that I’m going to have to break it down to cover all the wrong especially since the wrong applies in so many other areas as well which has really lead me to comment:

Separate Barracks

Yeah that spectre is actually being raised. Yes, even after previous denials. Really, separate barracks? Because ZOMG THE GAY MAY SEE ME NEKKED? As I have said before – the chances are that the gays have already seen your straight backside all nekked. Since DADT does not make the gays disappear that means they’re already there, the stealth gays are in your showers!

And separate barracks? All gays in one barracks? Do we mix gay men and lesbians? What about bisexuals and pansexuals? Do we really think that’s even remotely productive to have seperate barracks everywhere the American military is for the OPENLY gay? (Remembering that there’ll still be STEALTH GAYS! In with the straight people).


Second big fail – they need to train the troops and the officers! If the repeal comes too quickly how can they possibly teach the American army how to react to a DADT-less reality?! And it’s a not uncommon trope – the idea that people need to be taught how not to be homophobes. People need to be trained how to “deal with” GBLTQ people.

Uh. yeah. What are the training requirements here? Don’t kick out people who come out as GBL. Simples! This is not an advanced concept that should prove difficult to grasp.

Don’t treat GBL service members like shit. If people do give them shit then slap them down. I just… boggle. What kind of advanced training do they really think is necessary here. You used to investigate and kick people out if you thought they were GBL, if they revealed they were, you kicked them out. Now… don’t. Behold, you are trained.

Now, if by traing, we’re talking “we need to stop people being homophobia arseholes” well, guess what? Not going to happen. Not in our lifetime. Homophobic arseholes exist everywhere and continue to exist everywhere and will exist everywhere for the foreseeable future. You’re not going to be able to train people – let alone an entire military – not to be homophobic arseholes. What you can do is make it clear that said arseholery is not acceptable – and if you need trained on that then, seriously, I despair because that’s pathetic.

We need to keep DADT to protect GBL troops.

Yeah, this one can die right now because it’s all kinds of fugly. This is another argument I’ve seen raised on more than one occasion in multiple circumstances – the idea that straight people are pushing us into the closet or need to push us into the closet for our own safety (related to this is the wonderful argument of straight people delaying our rights because they fear ‘backlash’)

Do you know what? I’ve faced homophobia and violent homophobia and have spent no small amount of time in doctor’s offices and hospitals because of it. And sometimes, to protect myself, I will hide and closet myself and lie and pretend. Do you know what I do not need – and no GBL person needs? We don’t need straight people in authority ORDERING us into the closet to “protect” us.

Because removing DADT won’t force all those GBL soldiers out of the closet. It will give them the OPTION of coming out without facing repercussions. The idea that, to protect GBL soldiers from homophobia, that straight people need to deny GBL people that choice is beyond ridiculous.

Do you want to know what would be more “protection”?

Removing DADT so that when a soldier is being tormented because of their sexuality they can actually talk to the powers that be and get help. Do we need to talk about the lesbian who was raped and blackmailed with having her sexuality revealed to her CO if she didn’t co-operate? Do we need to talk about the gay soldier who was sexually abused and had to sleep in kennels in dog shit under threat of having his sexuality disclosed. Do we have to talk about the gay sailor who died and his partner had to learn of it on the freaking NEWS because he was forced in the closet?

How about protecting against that?

Or how about the millions of GBLTQ kids out there hearing over and over that the very thought of having people like them in the military is such an epicly horrendous thing that Department of Defence, Justice and the President are having conniption fits about the whole thing? How about protecting against that?

Disrespecting American soldiers

I also want to know whether American troops are inferior. Or is it just the American government that thinks so?

Because Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealands – hells, a couple of dozen more – all have openly gay troops serving in the military. We also didn’t have epic conniption fits over it. Are our soldiers better? Are our soldiers more decent, more honourable, more professional, less bigoted? Is the American government saying that American soldiers just don’t have the same standards and respectability as those form other lands?

So, are American troops worse? Or do the powers that be

Sad thing is, most of these issues are not even remotely unique to DADT, which is what has had my head a-whirl. Because from the idea of protecting us by closeting us, to the utter terror of ZOMG TEH GAYS SEE ME NEKKED to the idea that you need special knowledge and training to handle us through to the ide athat something that has gone without a hitch so many other places will be ZOMG IMPOSSIBLE here – well it’s the same old same old

The Sparky self-destruct cycle

So Sparky continues to quest of putting the Sparky brain back into vaguely useful functioning

Part of this involves, for the first time ever, of me breaking the Sparky Trigger Cycle.

It’s a special fail cycle I have trod so often when I am triggered:

  1. Triggering begins. Sparky ignores triggering. Keeps pushing, pretending nothing’s wrong
  2. Triggering is rising up. Sparky goes from “ignoring” to “deliberately poking to prove he can handle it”
  3. Sparky cannot handle it. Has the screaming meemies, a burn out and general badness.
  4. Sparky retreats into shell of the meemies. Shoves all the badness into a big dark hole while avoiding the whole world
  5. Self-anger kicks in – how weak, how pathetic, you’re just giving in! Seriously embarrassing
  6. On the back of anger dives back into the fray. Only now it’s like jumping into a firefight after stripping naked and painting big targets over vulnerable areas.
  7. The Meemies come back with a vengeance
  9. Keeps coming back early despite boom – rinse repeat until enough is hammered down and (usually) the particular trigger has gone.

This is a cycle of failness. Because it is foolish. It doesn’t cure anything, it’s self-destructive. It repeatedly involves jumping into the water with lead boots on, getting out, breaking your legs, then jumping in again with heavier boots.

It’s amazing it’s lasted as long as it has and the reason it hasn’t lasted now is because I had multiple badnesses from multiple sources which were already prolonged, was already exhausted and worn out from work (physically and emotionally), was hurting and exhausted from the marble stairs plummet, and then had one of my most major of major triggers leap out at me and keep coming back – and its still ongoing. Things have not been going smoothly since August.

So my constant, “collapse, back off, and dive back in” didn’t work because it relies on the piranhas having died/turned into a new threat like crocodiles or at least backed off a little. Not that it ever really “worked” per se.

Which is why I have been such a mess lately and it hasn’t bounced back. But there is a plus side – I have actually been forced to acknowledge that, yes, there is an issue here.

And I’ve said that repeatedly and I know it seems like pretty empty “progress” but it really is. As from the self-anger mentioned above and how I have mentioned in the pass – I do not accept the idea that the Sparky brain could have the mentla issues (oooh distancing language, switched to the third person. Don’t think I can’t spot my tricks!). Which is, of course, a whole great big lump of of stinking ableist prejudice. Sure I’d accept anyone else could have triggers, issues, mental fragility? Sure I’ll stand and roar at the very idea that they’re wrong to be hurt and to need help. But let the idea that I may have issues and we’re in “how very dare you? Of course not! Not me! I’m too strong for that!” Yeah, no. Badness there. Definite badness

So yeah, having an “I am Sparky, and I have some problems” is a step. What is a bigger step is “I am Sparky, I have some problems and I need to fix them and I need help to do it.” Isn’t a step – it’s a huge great human canon ball of a leap over pits filled with fire and acid and rabid lemurs.

As to how I’m going to sort all this… well. Yeah, not sure. Admitting there’s a problem is the first step, but there are like more steps after that? Apparently? Damn. Can I do the first step again please? I think I can handle that one.

Bah, I have a friend who probably knows more about all this than me and she’s coming down and we’re having a long talk of things that aren’t issues honest but may touch on them in a lets-not-freak-out-Sparky fashion.

And I’m having lots of talking and hugs with Beloved. He generally thinks I just need to drag it all out in a great big gloopy mess, which I think yeah but also, well, then what? Because being dragged out isn’t a guarantee that the ugly will then go away, it’ll just not be pushed out of the way.

Still that is the Not!plan. Primarily it revolves around Not Making Things Worse and Not Ignoring Things and Hoping They Go Away. And lots of talking and poking and schmoopy comforty stuff. Or less schmoopy comforty stuff and more kinky fun stuff, which is also good.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

It has been 12 years since the death of Matthew Shepard

It has been 12 years since Matthew Shepard died from being brutally attacked and tortured by homophobes What was done to him was horrific – so horrendous that it finally served as something of a wake up call. There was outrage, there was fury – and there was a great deal of grief.

People shouldn’t have to suffer like this just because they are GBLTQ. A 21 year old shouldn’t be tortured and killed because he was gay. Lives shouldn’t be cut so horrifically short because the person living them is not straight and cisgendered. It shouldn’t have to be said – but it CANNOT be said enough times.

And the reason why it cannot be repeated enough is because the lesson is not being learned. Because people are not listening to us.

In New York a gang of 9-10 men (originally it was reported as 9 but a further seems to have been implicated) kidnapped and tortured 3 men for being gay.

And that “tortured” was not hyperbole. They were burned, they were beaten. For hours. They asked their 17 year old victim to choose what he would be beaten with. They were anally raped with objects.

Within a week of the anniversary of the brutal attack and torture of Matthew Shephard, 3 more gay men were being tortured horrifically – for being gay.


We like to talk about progress. We like to talk about how far we’ve come, how much things have changed.

Well, how far have we come? How much has changed? Because if there’s one thing keeping my eyes open for this bad news has taught me is that we haven’t come very far at all – and we still have a hellaciously long way to go. It has taught me that the hate is still there – as bad and as violent and as prevalent as it was 12 years ago. That people -kids! – are still dying and still suffering, as they were 12 years ago. And the straight lead governments and straight lead society will trot out the same platitudes and mouth the same words of shock – and then go RIGHT back to spreading constant heteronormativity at best – and utter, virulent hate at worst


And we will be told “be patient.”


And we will be told “there are more important issues.”


And we will be told “you’re focusing on the wrong thing.”


And we will be told “we can’t do that right now.”


And we will be told “it’s not hate, it’s religion/culture/generation”


And we will be told “think of the children!”


And we will be told “we need to look at both sides of the issue.”


And it will continue. The loss will continue, the deaths will continue, the lives lost and the lives ruins and the lives that have to constantly struggle and fight to just be seen as human will continue.


And we will be told “you’re whining”


And we will be told “they’re not civil rights”


And we will be told “don’t be so selfish”


And we will be told “don’t be so melodramatic”


And it will continue, for another 12 years, 20 years, 50 years. It will continue.


Politicians will continue to peddle hate for votes – with New York candidate for governor Paladino talking about gays “brainwashing children” Yes, during the American history month, yes right next to National Coming out day, yes right next to the anniversary of Matthew Shephard’s death – yes, in the same week as these brutal and horrific attacks in New York – he still brings out the anti-gay hate.

With Senator DeMint declaring that gays and single women shouldn’t be teachers

With N.C Rep Larry Brown referring to gays as “queers” and “fruitloops”


When any expression of our being is seen as a threat that needs to be suppressed. With pride parades attacked – in Serbia petrol bombs and rocks were thrown at police to try and over 100 people injured.  Lesbians at a sporting event in Baltimore forced to leave because they kissed. A teacher fired for being openly gay


With bigoted attacks constantly happening – a trans woman in New Jersey murdered, a trans woman sexually attacked in prison by a prison guard. A gay man being attacked in the Stonewall Inn and another attacked in Chelsea New York.  A gay man in Edinburgh being beaten to unconsciousness with even straight people being attacked because their attackers thought they were gay


With religion being used to demonise us, with an Islamic group in indonesia raiding cultural centres to remove any mention of a gay film festival The Church of Latter Day Saints Apostle Boyd K. Packer letting loose with an anti-gay screed WalMart selling a homophobic book – aimed at children -but the LDS group Standard of Liberty


Our children repeatedly driven to the edge of despair, with yet another gay teen driven to suicide and the family of a trans student who was also driven to suicide speak out


Where the media continues to bow to prejudice and pander to hate: The New Jersey Jewish Standard APOLOGISING for publishing an announcement of a same-sex marriage The Washington Times posts a disgusting homophobic attack against out families. While the Washington Post publishes a hate filled speech by the Family Research Council, who the Southern Poverty Law Centre calls a hate group


It will continue – and every death, every loss, every moment of pain will be on the heads of those who do not listen. The ones who spread hate, the ones who try to silence us, the ones who tell us to sit down and shut up and play nice. They will be the ones responsible. I wonder, in another 12 years time, if any of them will stop and think of what they’ve done.

And I wonder if they’ll care?

Monday, 11 October 2010

On a lighter note – did I mention that Sword of Truth is baaaaad?

Because it’s really really really bad.
Now, one “benefit” of being all hermit-like for the past week or so is that I’ve had time to catch up on my reading for some useful escapism from the general badness that is squirreling around my brain

And one has been finally finishing the Sword of Truth series. Yes, what masochism is this? But it was surprisingly useful – see, dwelling on issues is difficult when you’re giving a book your best “what the fuck?!” look and occasionally throwing it against a wall.
I have no words for how bad this series was. It actually pulled me in to keep reading this dire tripe just because it was so very bad that I wanted to see how much worse it could get. It was COMIC it was that bad. I had to keep turning the page just to see if he would keep steering the plot further into the lands of the ludicrous.
I can’t write all the many way these books fail – but I have to write about some.
(Cut for spoilers and possible rape triggers)

Y’know one of the main reasons I hate this series? I hate it because it could have been more. It has some characters that are extremely engaging and interesting, (though most of them became highly annoying) there is actually a storyline there that is kinda/sorta worth following and draws you in to keep reading… but that is then smeared in so much stinking mess that it makes reading them an endurance battle. Aaaaand some of the worst habits are:
Characters are made to look wise or insightful by making everyone else around them complete fools
Zedd: Ah, but see, I know the ancient wisdom of the Wizard’s Rules! Also known, in ancient times, as Basic Common Sense.
Cast: We are in awe of your arcane knowledge of Common Sense.
Richard: I am the Seeker! I have even MORE of this special power, Common Sense. Further, I have the power of Actually Thinking Occasionally!
Cast: Wow, the way you point out the Bleeding Obvious leaves us even more in awe! And we have never known of this Thinking thing before, please tell us more.
Kahlan: Oh how I wish I had Richard’s Common Sense when making any decision at all. After all, I’ve only run the entire Midlands, a coalition of dozens of diverse nations many of which hate each other, for several years, I’d never had to do this Actually Thinking Occasionally.

Zedd: I am a brilliant wizard, for I have chosen a Seeker who can Think, see the Bleeding Obvious and have Basic Common Sense.
Reader: Doesn’t that apply to most people?
Cast: Huh?
Reader: Ah, carry on.
Bad Guy characterisation
Zedd: Remember, the most terrifying thing about our enemies is they think they’re good. They are convinced of the righteousness of their cause!
Villains: *murder* *rape* *massacre* *torture* *enslave* What was that? Oh yeah, GO GOOD! Now where are those kiddies? We need more child torture!
Reader: And this guys think they’re good? Why… oh because of
If the Good Guys do it must be Good!
Zedd: Wizards must use people! And kill people. And use nuclear weapons – TWICE! BOOOOOOM!
Kahlan: Well I’m going to kill unarmed soldiers who won’t work with me, make a man eat his own genitals oh and torture an enemy soldier to death all night so we can hear him scream.
Verna: Yay, sweet torture screams. And I make a habit of kidnapping and torturing young boys!
Sisters of Light: Yeah, we’re really good at it, been doing it for thousands of years!
Richard: These unarmed old men don’t agree with me! *choppy choppy* No! There are some chanting, unarmed pacifists! *choppy choppy* MORE DEATH MOOOOOORE!
Reader: That’s ok, it’s not evil.. See, you have a GAZILLION pages of mental ramblings to justify each one
Rape all the damn time
Reader: How do we tell the good guys from the bad guys?
Villains: RAPE!
Yeah, it’s very very tired and overdone in the book. I shudder to think how triggery this series could be to some people. I have literally lost count of the number of times Kahlan has faced the threat of rape. And yes, while I’m sure rape was and is extremely common in war, the Imperial Order has taken it beyond standard operating procedures to an almost religion. And the author dwells on it faaaar too much.
Imperial Order: We’re raping things again
Reader: Yeah, we get it… do you really have to rape everything?
Imperial Order: Sure, it’s shorthand so you know we’re the bad guys.
Reader: Do you really need to be that heavy handed to prove you’re evil?
Imperial Order: *looks at the good guy’s actions*
Reader: Ah…
Richard’s Mind Control Charisma.
It is said that when Hitler spoke, even people who hated everything he stood for cheered and shouted. It’s said that even people who didn’t understand what he said cheered, because his charisma and oratory had that much power. Well he was an amateur compared to Richard
D’Harans: We have spent generations of being evil dominators!
Mord-Sith: We are brainwashed and warped as children to become avatars of torture, pain, cruelty, sadism and masochism!
D’Harans & Mord-Sith: We love you!!! Centuries of tradition, culture and brainwashing have been washed away. You are the best Rahl ever!
Kahlan: The Midlands have been held together by the Confessors for 3,000 years and now you want us to surrender?
Kahlan: Oh that’s ok. Midlanders surrender!
Midlanders: Sure! Surrendering to the enemy we just fought a brutal war against right now!
Old Worlders: We don’t like the Order, but our idea of Resistance involves petitions and being tortured
Old Worlders: ooooooh All hail Richard, down with the Order, let’s kill soldiers with our bare hands!
Bandakaran: We follow the Way of the Leaf Oops, I mean we’re pacifists and won’t even fight to defend ourselves!
Bandakaran: RAWR we will kill unarmed peace protestors with axes! *CHOPPY CHOPPY*
Kahlan’s constant peril (and not even good, Monty Python Peril)
Kahlan: I was trained with the sword by Wyborn Wynn, my skill honed by Richard, the Bringer of Death. I have the power to destroy and enslave people with a touch of my hand. I have rode naked into battle and left a trail of death and destruction in my wake!
Bad guy: Kidnapped you/beaten/nearly killed you, AGAIN! HAAH HAAA!
Kahlan: Saaaave me!!!! AGAIN!
Richard: Let me get my Rescue Club Card. Hey, 2 more rescues and I’ve hit 20 – do I get a prize?
Kahlan is a constant damsel in distress, despite being the Queen of Badassary. Whole books deviate from whatever plotline they had running to have yet another “Kahlan needs rescuing AGAIN” plot. She was rescued from the Quads, from the Slide, used by Nicci to control Richard, she was thrown into a (rape) cell in Aydindril, captured by the Blood of the Fold. Even Nadine has saved Kahlan’s life! This woman needs rescuing more than all the Disney Princesses put together. She has even needed rescuing from a chicken. A damn chicken. It CACKLED at her and she lost her shit.
Richard: That’s curious
Kahlan: why, yes it is. Let me spend the next entire chapter explaining this to you
Zedd: Then I shall spend the entire chapter explaining something else
Annalina: Is it my turn yet? I’ve got my notes ready.
Richard: First I need to spend at least 20 pages explaining why you’re wrong!
Nathan: I’m going to need a chair, my explanation is kind of long.
Richard: then we can all sit round the fire and discuss the info-dumping
Cast: Yay! Info-dumping symposium where Richard explains everything to us!
Reader: *flicks pages* I had university lectures that contained less blatant info-dumping. Put it in a damn appendix or something.
Politics and propaganda. Oh dear gods the Ayn Rand agenda!
Richard: All hail the mighty power of Objectivism and praise it’s supreme mistress Ayn Rand. All Hail!
Straw-Socialists: Look, we have created a society based on complete and utter blithering stupidity. It is meant to be communism, but if Soviet Russia ever looked like this the cold war would have been much much much shorter. We are now going to let food rot and iron rust rather than use it, for that is socialism.
Richard: I will now give a speech on the evils of socialism and why objectivism is good and Ayn Rand is your Queen…
Reader: Oh gods no… *skip skip skip pages*
Richard: And enlightened self interest is the greatest good, and…
Richard: To help others is to make you a slave…
Reader: Ye gods *SKIP YET MORE PAGES*
Richard: And socialism can only be maintained through BRUTALITY!
Straw-Socialists: Oh we have seen the light! We will now follow your light, that emanates from Ayn Rand’s Arse. All HAIL! And behold we lived happily ever after and smile now that we never did before and there is no hunger and all is wonderful!
Reader: *headdesk*
Straw-Pacifists: No, we must be peaceful at all cost and we will BLAME OURSELVES for being attacked and tortured and raped and we will punish those of us who say it’s WRONG to rape us. Oh and we’re so in woowoo land we believe that nothing is real (because peaceniks obviously can’t face reality, duh) and their ruler and arbiter is a freaking 8 year old child (because peaceniks are so naive and silly)
Reader: Wow, that’s reallllly subtle there.
Kaja-Ran: I, an ancient and powerful wizard found these pacifists so evil and dangerous I had to lock them away for 3000 years and KILL any of them who escaped – such is the danger of pacifism!
Richard: Thank you Kaja-Ran for imprisoning these terrible and dangerous pacifists! Who knows what damage the scourge of pacifism could have caused!
Straw-Pacifist: but we are peaceful and must poison you to kill people for us. Because that’s all peaceful and stuff
Richard: This calls for another SPEEEEEEEEEECH!
Reader: *cries* oh please please, no,
Richard: By refusing to kill people you make murder MORAL!
Reader: yeah, even in Ayn Randworld, that didn‘t make any sense *skip skip skip*
Richard: Pacifism is slavery…
Richard: You do not see evil! Freedom can only be maintained through BRUTALITY!
Straw-Pacifist: Of course! We have seen the light that emanates from the sacred butt cheeks of Ayn Rand! We will now kill unarmed peace protestors in your name!
Honestly, I literally threw Faith of the Fallen and Naked Empire at the wall several times because they were so blatantly repellent. I’m pretty certain the statue of Spirit in Liberty Square is a giant statue of Ayn Rand
Bloody long windedness
Kahlan: Oh no, I am under attack! I must use my confessor’s power!
In an instant, I released my power, in an instant, he was mine, i reached deep within blah blah blah, heart and soul, blah blah blah
Enemy: Excuse me, is this going to take long?
Kahlan: blah blah power from deep within, confessors power from the beginning of timre blah blah blah, between the heart beats, he has no time to blah blah
Enemy: Can I sit down at least? Y’know, my legs are getting tired.
Kahlan: blah power blah time, blah heart blah blah
Enemy: Look, I’m going to poke Richard instead, he can kill me.
Richard: Swords rage, blah blah, power from anger, blah, rage building, blah
Enemy: *sigh* Can someone please kill me?
Richard: Anger, blah,. already visualised him dead, blah blah blah avalanching need, blah blah seeker’s tool.
Reader: *skipping pages in a frenzy*
Cara: For Rahl’s sake! *kills man*
Reader: Oh, no that was just wishful thinking
Richard: Blah blah SPEECH!
Reader: NOOOOOOOO! *cries*
Nicci: You have kidnapped me Jagang and dragged me back to your bed, but I have learned well from Richard
Jagang: And what have you learned, darlin’
Nicci: I have learned the art of long winded objectivist speeches! Now all stand still while I lecture my captors for pages!
Reader: *sob* *twitch*
This is one of those books that makes me reconsider trying to be a published author, because even though I lack the time energy and dedication to make any of my drabbles remotely printable – if steaming drek like this info-dumping, politically larded drivel can be published and become famous… well there’s hope for anyone.
Logic Boggles
I’m all behind the suspension of disbelief, but there are limits even in fantasy.
I can’t get past the damn SIZE of the Imperial Order’s Army. I keep trying to shrink it, but the Imperial Order forces in the New World alone were over 1,000,000 (after Kahlan estimated she’d killed 100,000 and they had 10 times that left). And as she continues to kill hundreds of thousands of troops, they are reinforced still further – in reinforcement columns of 250,000 men, even after Zedd’s nuke they still get reinforced to the million mark over and over. Onwards through Chainfire they’re talking of the army is continually growing. And that’s not including the soldiers left in the Old World.
It looks like Jagang’s total army is about 3 million men and likely more.
(Per Wikipedia but I imagine it’s accurate since they’re public documents) The US in 2009 had 1,421,668 people are on active duty. The Fiscal Year 2011 Department of Defense budget request plan calls for an active military end strength of 1,406,000.
The People’s Liberation Army of China is said to have a total manpower of 2.3 million people
Are we getting this? Jagang’s Imperial Order has more men under arms on ACTIVE DUTY campaigning in foreign territory than modern USA. It is larger than the army of modern China. And despite this it has been on active duty for, what, 5 years? Ok, neither China nor the US puts a particular vast proportion of their population into the army – but this is a medieval setting. Magical people are not so common (or so liked, trusted and used) in the Old World to significantly change that.
So we have a medieval society maintaining an army that is unbelievably huge. A medieval society that is even worse because it’s run by the Strawsocialists who couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. How the hell are they maintaining an army of 3 million+ people?
Not only that – but it’s a medieval society that has this huge, poorly sanitised (Kahlan describes overflowing latrines, smelling latrines and cooking fires at the same time, stepping over dung), poorly dieted (as travel rations of the time inevitably were) camp of over 1,000,000 fighting men ALONE (not including support staff and camp followers) disease and general blargle should be scything through them. Even in World War 1illness was a greater threat than enemy guns
Then to add to the fun, there’s logistics. We’re continually told that the Old World is HUGE, many times huger than the New World (and it would have to be to have the population to produce this army). and the New World takes several months to travel from where Richard was born in the Westlands to Aydindril (by Kahlan’s expectation of how long it would take Nadine to travel) and that’s half way at best.
So to get supplies from the Old World to the New World is a journey of many many many MANY months. On carts and wagons. Oh and by people who have NEVER SEEN SNOW in a climate that has HUGE GREAT DRIFTS of them.
The entire army should have reached Aydindril and then said “oh shit…” and fallen apart
Yet this miraculous feet of logistics is managed by the Straw-socialists?
And this is aside from the fact that until Richard Actually Though Occasionally, none of the D’Haran generals, Midlander generals or Kahlan thought to attack the damn supply lines. Logistics people! It’s the key in war!
As you may have imagined, I was Not Impressed

More rambly whining – on the family front

Currently I have family drama which, as said, pretty much has added to my general angsting state to create Sparky the emotional basket case on the edge of losing it and Beloved the Extremely Worried.

My mother’s eldest brother and I have never had a good relationship. He’s a Tory through and through, I’m not. He is contemptuous of anything remotely smacking of social justice, largely turning victim blaming to a high art, he loathes welfare, the NHS and progressive taxation, venerates the church and charity despite being involved in neither and generally believes that I will come to my senses and see how very right he is one day *eye roll.* He also hates the fact that his oh-so-Tory son is, in his eyes, failing compared to me (i.e. I earn more. Yes, in his eyes this is what a person is worth) and has repeatedly expressed his vehement disagreement with my legal specialties, believing I should have gone it the more lucrative (and infinitely more boring) business law. And my pro-bono work is “unbelievable” a comment that, frankly defies explanation.

As can be guessed, we cannot have any kind of conversation without a strained argument at best.

He never really makes an effort to hide his distaste for me, which, heh fine, because I’m not expending the same effort back. But he also makes zero effort to hide his distaste for my sexuality either – which is considerably less fine.

And another cut to avoid reams of my endless angst

This is usually displayed with numerous comments I am urged to “just ignore” by the rest of the family. He doesn’t acknowledge Beloved, ever. Refuses to accept he exists and if pressed will act like he “forgot” him and will, when polite, refer to him as my “friend” and when not polite “that fool you’re wasting your life with.” Which pretty much sums up his opinion – I am being “childish” by being gay, am wasting my life “playing” with another man and should “grow up” and find a woman already

As I said, we don’t get on.

I’ve wasted no small amount of time playing nice with him for far too damn long, but after my grandmother’s big birthday party (the first and last family party he ever organised) I wrote him off and decided to be polite if forced into his company (because the family will settle for no less) but would do everything in my power never to have his company inflicted on me (which is harder than it seems given his habit of hunting me down).

There’s still a lot of debate in the family as to why he even organised that party in the first place – it wasn’t a milestone birthday for grandma and he has shown zero interest in organising the obligatory family gathers before (though he loves to lord over them). Personally I think it’s because he and mum had had a huge bust up about him dishing out orders about people looking after grandma but he visited her so seldom that she probably couldn’t remember what he looked like.

So they were organising a party. Now parties are not unusual in our family. Any excuse for a booze up and we gather and snipe and bicker and drink and bicker and dance and bicker and eat ’til we’re stuffed and then bicker some more. Followed by more bickering. If there isn’t some kind of gathering at least once every 2 months of at least 2 dozen family members, it’s a weird one

But my uncle? No, not really a party organiser, though he attends his share. So we watched with curiosity to see how utterly, badly wrong it would be.

And many things did go wrong, but that’s a tale for another time. But his first main mistake was he sent out invitations

Invitations, to a family party. He even sent his siblings formal invites – invites to their own mother’s birthday party! Now, for this the whole family kind of goes “whut?” I mean You don’t invite our family. You open up a keg, yell FREE BOOOZE then try to fend them off with sticks. Throw in free food and you may need to get those high pressure hoses they use to quel rioters. If you’re organising a party you don’t have to invite – we assume we’re invited. It’s a family party, we’re family ergo we’re invited. To invite suggests there’s a possible circumstance when we’re not welcome. And we’re family, therefore always welcome. It is known.

And if you do feel the need to invite us, you pick up the damn phone. I mean, sending letters? Through the post? On paper? Collectively we boggle at the waste of money

Of course, part of this is my dear aunt’s incredible snobbiness. Because apparently the invitations were on super-duper-embossed-linen paper. Which is apparently expensive and impressive (oh dear auntie, the clan is from Yorkshire. If you spend obscene amounts of money on fancy paper all you’ll get is a lot of contempt and people letting you know where you can get perfectly serviceable paper much cheaper, you silly fool). People were not impressed. In fact, many relatives had them framed and will put them on display when they know she’s visiting to the backdrop of much snickering.

So having received this ridiculously expensive linen paper invitation (and how do we know it’s ridiculously expensive embossed linen paper pressed together between the thighs of buddhist monks who live entirely on a diet of honey and HP printer ink? Why because she told us, frequently. And at length) I examined it and see it was an invitation for me. Me and only me.

So I called him ready to have an argument, but got the dear aunty instead. Aunty is as much a homophobe as uncle, but knows that One does not be a bigot to the face of the person one is hating, one should wait until their back is turned like a proper lady or gentleman. One should probably stick one’s little finger out as well. She claimed it wasn’t an oversight but it was necessary for them to cut down the guest list by asking people to leave their partners at home – blood relatives only.

And, y’know, it was faintly plausible albeit unprecedented in the family. Our family IS bloody huge, previous generations clearly needed to find a hobby rather than rutting like rabbits on aphrodisiacs. There are hundreds of us, all ready to eat ourselves greasy and drink ourselves paralytic (and bicker, don’t forget bicker) at the slightest excuse. And, y’know it’s so THEM. Wanting to impress everyone by splashing their money around to show they’re richer (and, therefore in their eyes, better) than everyone else, while at the same time being so tight that if he ever did get that rod removed from his arse, industrial pliers would probably be necessary.

And, of course, she was lying. At the party I saw all the people who should not have been invited. I even checked their invites using the excuse of mocking the Sainted Paper of Snobbery and discussing framing options (after all, it’s possible that everyone had just ignored the invites and brought whoever the hell they wanted because we’re like that :) ) And yes, they were invited and some even had a “+1” when aunty was unaware of the names.

And that was my “stick a fork in me, I’m done” moment. I’ve frozen him out as much as possible, I don’t need to have such a person in my life, blood relative or not. I started doing the same with all the relatives who repeatedly made me grit my teeth and wish for sharp objects for some fun stabbing.

Unfortunately, people do Not Take The Hint. Because it was my birthday he had a familial duty to contact me (in my family? Answer machines are essential for the week around a birthday. Though call screening is ONLY practised by EVIL SATANISTS YOU WICKED WICKED CHILD!) To wish me well… and get a dig in. Namely enquiring whether, being nearly 30, was I ready to grow up and find a girl or was I going to waste another decade of my life.

… yessss. Didn’t need that, not last week, oh no I did not. I told him to STFU. I told him that if he insisted on acting like a pig he could stay in his sty and keep his stink away from me. I told him that grandma was a lovely woman who raised 3 wonderful children so clearly she learned from her mistakes with her eldest. Then I stopped being polite.

It was… not my most diplomatic of moments. And though I took great pleasure in it (oh yes I did) I have to admit some regret – because of what is happening now.

For what is happening now is no small number of outraged relatives who are Shocked and Appalled and demanding I apologise, grovel and genuflect to the old toad (though his daughter did ring me and ask whether she could be my cheerleader and lament that we don’t have a recording). This is not going to happen. No way. I quite simply could not live with myself if I apologised to the toxic troll. I have to draw the line somewhere, family or no family.

So, now I am on the outs with a lot of kin and even those who claim to understand are tutting at me. I really do not need this, no I do not.

And this post? Yes more whining. I dunno, putting things down in writing always helps me think through it – in this case it’s an especial strengthening of resolve – because it would shut everyone up and give me some much needed peace if I did mouth some empty apology. But ye gods, no I am not. I do not owe an apology here and I’m not giving him – or his fellow trolls – a pass on their constant attacks by claiming the fault here.

And part of it is some kind of perverse need to justify myself. I post saying that I’m basically falling apart messily so I need to point out as many of the reasons for it as possible to excuse myself, to feel less weak and foolish and pathetic.

Still ashamed of being mentally fragile at times? Sadly, so it seems… ugh, I know better than that.

Tip-toeing on very very thin ice

That pretty much sums up my mental state at the moment

Have you ever walked on a frozen lake? Well, if you have you’ve done something I haven’t (it’s WATER guys, unless you have a messianic complex it’s not for walking on. BAD idea. BAD!). Anyway, pretend for a second I have and know exactly what it feels like.

Well, I feel like that ice as just cracked and there are lots and lots and lots of little cracks under my feet. And not so little cracks. And more cracks keep coming.

I don’t know what’ll happen if that ice shatters. Maybe I’ll come up screaming in rage that I got my feet wet. Maybe I’ll sink under the ice and have a whole load of badness.

In short, I feel… fragile.

It’s kind of built up. The triggeriness that is the news and net right now re GBLTQ suicide is hitting me horrendously hard in a way that not much has for a very long time, I keep getting ambushed by recollections and generally freaking out Beloved.

And part of that is that it’s coming on top of badness that’s already had my defences low. I’ve spent too much energy and patience sorting out work – and continuing to fight that as it is something that STILL has to be fought and each of the SPs are playing their own damn form of cluelessness. The badness has frayed my temper and lead to a couple of truly epic confrontations with Uncle-That-I-Hate and I’ve gone from agonisingly explaining why his shit annoys me (to him and all the relatives who defend/endorse/encourage his shit) to just telling him to shut it and stay the hell away from me because I’m DONE with his vile self. And then the family flocks around squawking about disrespect and rudeness – this man lost every last shred of respect I had for him when I was 19 and he has done NOTHING but dig himself deeper in the 10 years since then. I don’t care how close knit our huge and ridiculous family is, I’m sick to the back teeth of nursing burns as I rebuild the bridges he keeps setting fire to. And that’s on a good day – I cannot do this now.

Which is something of a mantra now with me. I’ve been waking up with those words coming to mind first thing. I wake up and think “I can’t do this.” Because there’s so many cracks in that ice and more are coming than I can fill them.

And slap bang among it was my birthday that brought up it’s accompanying feeling of pathetic weakness – because it’s all so weak. 29 now, 29 – nearly 30 and all grown up, right? So I’m supposed to be past this, I’m supposed to have dealt with this and – gah, it’s the same old same old I’ve said before. I’m irrationally ashamed of not being “over” my past. Of not being strong enough, mature enough, adult enough to not just say “pish posh, I’m not going to let a few bad memories bother me. And of course silly people say silly things – but I am Adult Sparky and Rise Above such Nonsense”.

Which all comes together to make all the nasty triggers hit like trains with no defence at all – and reminds me that my coping mechanisms are really shitty – if you can call “suppress it and pretend it never happened” a coping mechanism? I’m beginning to think it’s more like ignoring a bill until it’s sent in red ink, or until the bailiffs come round. You get by for a while but eventually you’ll pay for it.

And then we have the social thing. Because it was my bday and I’ve been living in hermitland because of work and Beloved kept reminding me that I do have a social life and I do actually have clothes beyond “lounging robe” and “suit for work” and he’d like to see me in them occasionally.

And I went through a complete conniption fit because it was another “could not do this” moment. After the week before with the usual badnesses I just didn’t want to risk it – didn’t want to risk leaving the house,. Didn’t want to risk the tourists in the gay bars, didn’t want to risk the gang if thugs who like to prowl around, shouting things when they’re sober, throwing things when they’re not. I feared another crack something chronic.

Thankfully Beloved and my friends organised as some kind of giant cushion. I don’t think I saw anyone else all night, I was allowed to hunker down, I’m sure they even had scouts out checking my route before I went anywhere. I don’t think I even got to use the bathroom alone. Which is kinda creepy and touching and hermit brain’s a bit freaked but it meant that I actually went out the door without having a single spork all night. Not one!

On the one hand I’m really really touched that my friends are attentive, understanding and generally wonderful in this way that they’re willing to spend all night handling me with kids gloves, making sure the night is good for me and spending all night, even while drinking, drunk and riotous, making sure I had a buffer zone between me and any potetnail shitness

On the other hand, I’m kind of freaked that EITHER my mental fragility is so damned obvious that everyone could see it and realise their intervention was necessary OR that Beloved has told everyone that I am 3 steps away from having the screaming meemies in a corner. I understand that he’s concerned – gods I know he’s concerned and even worried in a very over the top way given the way he’s been very very very carefully watching me and managing me, but I’m not 100% happy with the idea of him telling friends “come to Sparky’s birthday bash, but be careful, Sparky’s cracked”.

But then, I trust his judgement (well, in some cases) and he’s had years of unfortunate experience in handling my crashes, my damage and my general messed up mind with skill, delicacy and infinite patience. He likely knows my damage better than I know myself by this point (though I can’t seem to find even a damn aspirin in the house any more. The medicine cabinet is empty – damn, either I’m being waaay flakier than I imagined or Beloved has overreacting perfected to an art form) – especially in terms of what I need since my normal “coping strategy” is to ignore it and hope it goes away. So if he is deciding that I need to be managed like a delicate porcelain figure in an earthquake zone surrounded by rampaging rhinoceros on crack then perhaps I should

So… epic whine is epic, y/y? I’m all kinds of fugly and trying to put the headspace back together again all the while hating myself for the fugly. It’s fugly all round. And Beloved is a saint for navigating the stormy waters of the fugly and helping me put the pieces together rather than just throwing up his hands and yelling “it’s broken, I cannae do it cap’n!” which I’d probably have done years ago in his shoes.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Being sucked into the trenches against my better judgment

I have been trying to keep my head down, as I said, to try to avoid the host of triggeriness. My own experiences with youth bullying, harassment and suicide risk/attempts make it damn hard for me to come near this topic without hurting for it. Some of them I’ve related here – and doing so was damn hard. Most of them I have not. Most of them I will not or, probably more accurately, cannot.

Alas, short of completely ignoring my RSS and the internet in general for a week or so, there’s also no way I can avoid it. My RSS is already heavily sub-divided into sites that I consider safe spaces and sites that are prone to spork me or outright trigger me – but even the safest of safe spaces have triggered me to hell and back.

So it hasn’t been a great few days, not even close. It certainly didn’t make the bday more fun. I’m edgy and poked and sporked and being ambushed by nasty!bad!wrong! memories I have spent no small amount of time and effort pushing back into the “leave the fuck alone” recesses of my mind in a very non-=healthy but functional manner.

And now here I am again. And rational brain is yelling at me to stop. Don’t do this. Don’t climb back into this, close my eyes, hum a tune, wait until it goes away. Become a hermit, stop reading the RSS, ignore what I’ve read – do not go there. Write some fluff, rant about the computer virus, angst about the bday and getting older. Something, anything but don’t jump into this pit there are spikes at the bottom. BIG SHARP spikes with like, barbs and shit on them.

But common sense brain that probably knows me better than rational brain (and knows I don’t listen to rational brain as much as I should) and knows that if I have a Thought it will worry around in my brain over and over, replaying itself and all its lovely triggers until I get it the hell out of my head – hells, that’s part of the reason I do LJ, to get stuff out of my head and on the page, as it were.

There should really be a word for “doing shit you know you’ll regret doing and you know it’s going to hurt and leave you a bit of a mess but you’re going to do it anyway”. It’d be really useful when voting. And for describing what I am doing here. So if I post today and again disappear into the ether it’s because I’ve gone to bad places again.

One topic I am seeing come up time and again – and so far I’ve seen this said predominantly by, if not exclusively by straight people – in reference to the current attention of the anti-GBLTQ bullying leading to suicide issue is complaining about all this focus on LGBTQ people and we should be talking about bullying in general – and chiding and tutting at GBLTQ people for focusing on our community.

Ok. Is bullying and youth suicide a major and universal problem? Yes.

But here’;s the thing – there are a lot of major and universal problems that either hit marginalised groups harder and/or have specific issues related to them for those marginalised groups that aren’t applicable to all/most people who don’t share that marginalisation.

This is true of a plethora of issues. When we talk about poverty, healthcare, immigration, education, unemployment, working hours, housing – hells just about ANYTHING – there are going to be specific issues within that or related to that that raise problems that are unique or different for a marginalised group – be that race, gender, religion, disabled, non-neuro-typical, or any other marginalisation. There are issues that affect every group and the mainstream but to cover for the marginalised need a different or expanded awareness and insight to adequately cover them

And with LGBTQ people there are certainly issues with bullying and youth suicide that are either specific to or more common to our marginalisation than there is in the mainstream. Just as other marginalised groups will have their own specific issues within this and other topics.

There are states, counties, councils, LEAs and schools that have laws/rules/policies that make it impossible for teachers or other youth workers to combat anti-GBLTQ bullying or even mention being GBLTQ in a way that even remotely promotes a positive view. Even if inclined to help, these people are banned from helping.

Trying to change these rules always brings a wave of protest form the usual suspects. Trying to raise awareness brings a similar wave of fist shaking and rage-throthing and Helen Lovejoy-esque “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!” The stereotype of us being child predators makes it incredibly hard for us to reach out to or support our youth.

The fact that our young rarely share the same marginalisation as their parents limits what limited support net or understanding they can have access to. Parents are, in fact, sometimes part of the problem

Many people have called for more counsellors in schools – and I approve. But the LGBTQ community also has had a lot of problem with messed up mental-health professionals. Even now, mainstream news channels will interview Ex-gay “therapists” as experts, not as fringe extremists.

The closet puts its own added pressure on preventing a bullied LGBTQ kid from being able to seek help or accept help when offered – or to go to places or find information that could help them.

These are just some of the many issues relating to bullying and suicide for GBLTQ youth. They’re not all exclusive to our communities, certainly not, nor are they the only issues or perhaps even the largest issues – but the point is there are issues in relation to bullying and youth suicide that have, at least, a greater emphasis for anti-GBLTQ bullying than they do elsewhere

Now, if you’re saying “we should expand the conversation, I’m going to talk about bullying in general” and someone else says “I’m going to talk about how bullying affects other marginalised groups” and more call for more awareness and more reporting and more attention to these as well, then more power to you! Write and speak and shout and add to it and call for more attention – we need it and then some.

But if you’re saying “all this focus on GBLTQs is wrong, they SHOULD be talking about this” or scolding GBLTQ people for not looking at the “bigger picture” or insisting that homophobia, transphobia or GBLTQness isn’t the issue, or trying to deny or silence or push down all the GBLTQ people who are telling their stories and drawing attention to these issues and this major problem – then I’m far less than impressed.

This issue has been ignored for so long. Stats from the UK, from Canada, from the US (and these are just the ones I’ve seen) show the vast majority – VAST majority, we’re talking 70-90% of GBLTQ youth – are harassed because they are GBLTQ when they are young. Our suicide rate is over 4 times the suicide rate of straight, cis youth. The much reported loss of 5 young people in one month is actually under-reporting – others doing some cursory research up that number to 9. 9 that are known about

It isn’t a new issue, it’s just a long ignored issue. And seeing lots of people saying “you shouldn’t be talking about that!” well, it impresses me not.

Now I’m going to get a big drink and I don’t give a damn how early in the day it is. I may spend the next few days plugged into Civ 5

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Stepping out of the trenches

I’m just going to step back for a few days. In so many ways I am beyond happy that the issue of the persecution, bullying and harrassment of our young is finally becoming an actual issue rather than being repeatedly brushed off under the rug and ignored – though I am beyond frustrated at the amount of straight people out there deflecting, denying and distracting every step they can from the homophobia, asw well as tut-tutting over insulting, disrespecting and stigmatising these youths by daring to think they may be gay.

I am very glad these issues are now being raised – and I dearly dearly hope that maybe, just maybe some of the underlying problems of heterornoamtive society can at least be acknowledged even if not addressed. At very least I hope something will be done to provide some help and some awareness in schools and at least counter the ridiculous opposition of the hate mongers preventing us offering any kind of life lines

To add here, some very good links I think a worth reading to remember this isn’t just isolated bullying or even personal homophobia – this is a societal problem and these losses are society’s fault. Linky 1 and Linky 2

But it’s also hitting hellaciously close to home for me. There’s a hell of a lot of “been there” coming up for me and a lot of memories are rearing their ugly head. Heh, going into the bathroom past the medicine cabinet is giving me the heebie jeebies so that’s a bad sign.

I’m glad I reported and have been part of spreading the word. But reading it all is running roughshod over my mind and engaging has been like shoving spikes in my brain. I have, in classic Sparky fashion, largely been ignoring this and pushing on. My usual habit is to “suck it up”, repress like hell until the triggers throw me into full blown mopey, depressive hermit mode. For once, I’m going to try and pull out before I drive myself to this point, yes, for once I’m going to be sensible and not pretend that everything’s hunky dory in the Sparky mind. Maybe I’m growing up? Yes, my mind is fragile, cracked in a few places and maybe inclined to shatter – and there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s acceptable to treat the Spakry mind with kid’s gloves from time to time.

Damn, that almost seemed mature and sensible. I must be ill. I got 10:1 odds says I’ll be poking my sore spots and leaving the safe spaces before 2 days have passed.

I say again, I am happy this discussion, this awareness, this reporting is happening. Please, by all that is holy, do NOT take my words and use them to poke people talking and reporting on this issue to say they are triggering people. Don’t run around feeling you have to lock posts, screen posts, hide posts or blog entires or whatever on my account. I can work round my triggers, I’ve been doing it a long long time.

I am glad there are projects to help fight this and awareness raising. I hope it continues and develops and is pressed forward as much as we possibly can. I think this is one of the few ways this horrendous scourge can be addressed.

But I can’t be part of it, not right now. I can’t even watch the “It Gets Better” vids. I hate it, I really hate not being able to leap in here, but I can’t do it, not yet. I think I’ve already dived in deeper than I should have and more than I’m comfortable with.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Why are you downplaying the homophobia?

After Tyler Clementi tragically committed suicide there have been a lot of media reports and blogging about his death and the events that lead up to it.

And there has been a great huge rush of straight people moving mountains to say that the fact this was 2 men kissing that was webcammed, or the fact that this could have outed Tyler had zero impact on this whole thing. I’ve seen reports that didn’t mention it, reports that downplayed it as much as possible and reports that outright denied and chance of homophobia and CHIDED the sensitive gays about it and obsessing about making him a “gay icon.” No, he wasn’t an icon – he was a victim and we do acknowledge that rather than trying to brush it under the rug.

The tweet from his room mate who did this to him expressly mentioned he was with another man. Not “he wants the room for the night, I’ll set up the webcam and stream whatever sex he‘s having.” No, it expressly referenced him “making out” with another guy.

Gay sexuality is often played as something freakish display, something to point and stare at or be disgusted by. He even referenced the webcam by “daring” people to watch. Yes, so daring to assault your eyes with the two men kissing.

In fact, on a gay website where it is believed Tyler sought advice about the whole incident he may have said (it’s still not 100% sure that the user on the website was Tyler, but it was a Rutgers IP and the events he described seem very similar)

“so the other night i had a guy over. I had talked to my roommate that afternoon and he had said it would be fine w/him. I checked his twitter today. he tweeted that I was using the room (which is obnoxious enough), AND that he went into somebody else’s room and remotely turned on his webcam and saw me making out with a guy.

“I guess what he was doing was…he was in another person’s room, with other people… and so I feel like it was ‘look at what a fag my roommate is’ … and the fact that the people he was with saw my making out with a guy as the scandal whereas i mean come on…he was SPYING ON ME….do they see nothing wrong with this?”

But homophobia had zero part in all this?

Was Tyler gay? I don’t know. However, whether he was or wasn’t doesn’t change that this was a homophobic act that lead to this young man’s death.

And frankly I boggle at the people who look at this tragedy and their response is “You’re calling him gay?! HOW DARE YOU?!” because that is totally the issue, right? You see this and one of your first thoughts – hells, your tenth thought – is “how dare they call him gay?” then there’s something wrong with you.

And double points if you think calling him gay somehow denigrates, insults, stigmatises or disrespects him. Being gay is not an insult, seriously.