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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

In which I continue to despair of Humanity

So, in the last bad news round up, we had the Texas GOP honing their homophobia to a razor sharpness by speaking in favour of those sodomy laws and punishing pro-gay straight people with prison sentences.

Well, the Montana GOP has looked over at their Texas counterparts and said “gosh darnit, y’all can’t be hatin’ more than us!” and decided to follow in ther footsteps of virulent homophobia and topping it off with no small amount of pure ridiculous foolishness. See they also want to “keep homosexual acts illegal” yup, more sodomy law loving. (I’m a little bewildered by the “keep” since Lawrence V Texas already legalised “homosexual acts” across the remaining bigoted states in 2003 – 2003 people, what’s wrong with this picture?!).

2 state GOPs adopting completely fringe homophobic arseholery – this is becoming a disturbing trend. Though it is faintly amusing watching the Log Cabin Republicans twist and wring their hands and try to talk round it (guys, if you’re into masochism, remember “safe, sane, consensual,” yes? This isn’t sane and it isn’t safe.)

And let’s finish off with a look at Dallas journalist Steve Blow, who is today collecting a prize for “most offensive thing said in the fewest words.” Yes, I am in awe that someone can pack so much revolting wrongness into such a short setence. But here it is, referring to a priest who has been sexually assaulting young women:

“it’s almost refreshing to read about a priest accused of good, old-fashioned heterosexual perviness.

The dreadful stuff between priests and boys has been going on for so long that I almost forgot that some priests have more mainstream sexual hangups.”

Let us count the ways!

Sexual molestation of women is refreshing and good. It’s also old-fashioned which suggests some level of ol’ “traditional values” here as well. Also, it avoids the “dreadful” label applied to the paedophilia. Because, you know the sexual assault of women is totally fine and fun and good.

Despite most child abusers being heterosexuals, it’s clearly NOT heterosexual naughtiness here, oh no. And to be sure, it’s not “priest and children” iot’s “priests and boys” just in case you were in doubt about the naughty gayness.

Naughty gayness and/or paedophilia are not old-fashioned, so are apparently new fangled things

Oh and sexual assault of women is a “hang up”. Yeaaaaaaaaaaah. No. Really. No.

And now we come to Dr. – no, I refuse to accord her that title, instead she will be BF – Bloody Fool. So we come to BF. Maria New of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Florida. She is using hormone treatment on pregnant women to ensure that their unborn daughters are born… straight.

Yep, she is messing witht he hormone levels of pregnant women to prevent the dreaded scourage of LESBIANISM! (Insert maniacle laugh please). Oh, and she also wants her treatment to “cure” girls of: “‘abnormal’ disinterest in babies, playing with girls’ toys, becoming mothers, and whose ‘career preferences’ are deemed too ‘masculine.’” It may also cause girls to be born unable to wear shoes and shackled to a cooker.

So, ladies, it would appear that unless barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, married to a MAN is the future for you then you are considered by BF. New thinks you have a birth defect.

Humanity, you make me despair.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

And, of course, the violence…

In Iran, the persecution and, let’s be frank, genocide against GBLT peopel continues. A bisexual man in prison has been tortured and died of his injuries. At the same time, another bissexual man has been sentenced to 74 lashes – and still faces the death penalty. I despair to read of these cases, where our existence is punishable by death.

In Ghana a march of 3,000 people protested against GBLTs, encouraged by the muslim community, spreading gross disinformation and slurs – and calling for homosexuality to be criminalised (male homosexuality is actually criminalised in Ghana).

In Syria there is a crackdown going on against gay men – with gay parties and cruising areas being hit and the most recent swoop alone arrested 25 men. Again, our existence is illegal in Syria and carries a prison term. Even if these men are released without charge, they will be labelled and known and at the mercy of those around them.

In Mongolia, LGBTs face attack, violence, rape and death by an ultrantionalist group that enjoys the tolerance of the powers that be. Orgs to help them are seriously under-resourced and in danger, particularly at protecting the trans women who suffer the brunt of the attacks.

The GOP in Texas has clearly looked at events like this and wants a piece of the action – they want to bring back sodomy laws and they want to imprison straight people who help gays get married. There’s… really nothing to say to that, just despair.

In Slovenia, a gay friendly cafe has been firebombed and covered in anti-gay graffiti> This wasn’t even the first time this cafe has been attacked – or even the first time homophobes tried to burn it down

In St. Petersburg, Russia gay and lesbian activists were arrested for protesting and trying to hold a pride parade. Pride Parades in Russia are very hard to hold legally since the authorities continually refuse permits. St. Petersburg turned down the pride parade in 5 different locations before this went ahead.

In London, Lesbian trainee police officer Laura Goldie committed suicide and refers to the homophobia of her colleagues in her suicide note

In Houston a gay, trans man was beaten, held at knife point and robbed in a bathroom

In West Virginia a gay man has been beaten by police who used gay slurs. And people wonder why we don’t trust the police.

In Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 2 gay men were attacked and beaten by a gang of 3.

Discrimination, hate and prejudice

In the US Rep Ike Skelton is one of those who has allowed his homophobia to overcome all reason and human decency, it’s sad that he wields such power. He wishes to fight to keep DADT – and ruin the lives of so many soldiers – because it may mean ZOMG TALKING TO KIDS ABOUT GAY PEOPLE EXISTING! And how are kids supposed to deal with the fact their country is defended by gay people?

Not only is this some truly boggling hatred, it’s frightening when you extrapolate this. Kids – and he mentions 7 year olds – most be protected from even seeing or hearing about GBLTs lest they ask their parents awkward questions. The complete black out and closeting of us this would require is boggling and frightening.

In Alabama a pair of homophobic DJs responded to Obama’s pride declaration with… well expected class and decorum. You see there we don’t have adulterers or fornicators month do we? Because that’s totally equivalent./ Oh and we can’t biblically justify our “lifestyle.”

Well I don’t really give a damn about the Bible, nor do I live any kind of lifestyle and I sure as hell don’t need to justify who and what I am.

In Wisconsin, tragically a court has denied parenthood to a woman who raised 2 children in a same-sex relationship for years. By every remotely sensible definition of parenthood this woman is mother to those children, she has been mother to them for 7 years, she has been their primary caregiver, a stay-at-home mum for 7 years – but she is not a parent and cannot be a parent.

A church in Tennessee throws us some Christian love. See it is direly sinful to play softball if your coach is a lesbian. Upon finding out her sexuality (by directly asking and forcing her to tell the truth or lie) they fired her and threw in some hate speech to boot.

Remember, thou shalt not play sports with lesbians. Special edition of the Bible for bigots methinks.

In Las Vegas a gay temp worker was humiliated and ostracised by his manager and co-workers after the manager demanded to know whether he was gay or not.

In Dundonald, Belfast, a lesbian teacher has accepted a settlement from the school she worked in. She was subjected to a campaign of harassment from her superiors that eventually lead to constructive dismissal. In addition, her civil partnership was ignored in the school newsletter “in the name of decency” while colleagues straight weddings were celebrated. And these people are teaching children.

Mike Huckabee thinks gays are icky. I think he’s an arsehole. But then I expect no better from him.

In France, following the McDonald’s advert we have another gay friendly ad from orangina. Except this one was banned. I have looked it over several times and I don’t see why it would be – and don’t tell me an ad this damn tame would have been banned if the person stroking the freshly shaved chin was female not male. Especially in France where the adverts can be explicit enough to cause that entire Tennessee church to have the vapours.

In a further display of Christian love, a woman is suing her church. See, this church had the temerity to decide that gay people were people too – worthy of respect and decency with their love to be honoured like any other love. Of course that was unacceptable to these good people – and half of the church left over night in disgust that gay people wer ebeing respected. But Yvonne Moore is taking it an extra step in order to punish this church for daring to put aside homophobic hate.

In China gays and lesbians are faced with an almost insurmountable pressure to get married – to the opposite sex. Gays and lesbians make the most of the few years they have before they’re expected to settle down into a heterosexual marriage – pressured by culture and especially by family.

Oh, and close to home, Stonewall has found that gay lawyers don’t believe we can be judges. Well yeah – there’s what, one gay judge on the court of appeal? And let’s not forget that it wasn’t that long ago that judges had to be MARRIED – a rule that was brought in expressly to keep us nasty gays out of the judiciary. When talking about my career with my university professors and at law school I spoke about the judiciary – and I was told that it wouldn’t happen because I was openly gay.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

What are you trampling on in your desire to see the hawt m/m action?

In general I have been looking at m/m and slash circles from a distance, mainly because outside of a view careful places, I don’t consider either to be a particular safe space for gay men – and the contempt I’ve felt for gay men from so many m/m writers has left a considerable bad taste in my mouth. I’ve written about it before and, frankly, the defences, derails and general refusal to see any problematic elements from so many just further increased my reservations and avoidance.

But we have new drama llamas on the horizon. There has been the appalling plan of the Haiti fanfic (which has been covered expertly elsewhere) and now I see a “what if Tarzan was an m/m story.” Both of which gloss over a whole lot of problematic issues (as well as dubious history research)

And, as usual, we have the usual crop of defenders, excusers, distracters and derailers on full time duty.

And it just makes me wonder – what won’t be tolerated?

What won’t be tolerated in the stampede to have the hawt male sexing?

What won’t be stomped all over in the drive to see the hot guys get it on?

Fetishisation and appropriation we’ve seen in spades. Taking a gross tragedy like Haiti and using it as a backdrop? Stomping over the severe problems of colonialism? Breezing merrily past the rigid and often brutal facts of history, often without a semblance of research? The quest for the hawt mansex is happy to leave anything broken in its wake.

And it’s the same attitude I see that breeds so many of the problems from this. I see gay spaces being treated as tourist spots, gay men asked to perform. I see (and have experienced) gay men being treated as resources, as oracles and freaking goggle over and over for more information for the hawt mansex (and let’s not forget the often grossly personal questions). We see appropriation of allydom. We see it in the massive race fail dramas that wrack m/m as much as they do any part of the fiction genres. We see gross fanpoodling, of people defending the indefensible and ignoring even the grosses and most offensive statements.

Frankly, it is the kind of behaviour I’d expect from porn movies. Not because I think any of these particular stories are porn (they may or may not be) but because it’s the same attitude you see in porn. To get the sexing going, anything can be appropriated. They’ll dress people up in costumes, set it just about anywhere – and it’s all about the sex, everything else is glossed over no matter how offensive that glossing over is. And time and again, in the guise of it only being fiction, we seem to see the same attitude.

Ultimately it shows a lack of respect that is stunning – and an attitude that is more self centred than a narcissistic gyroscope.

Friday, 25 June 2010

In Iraq persecution of GBLTs continues in a terrifying manner.

Iraqi police and the Iraqi government seem involved in continued persecution of GBLT people – including abduction, torture and murder.

Police officers have raided and Iraqi GBLT safehouse (and it says all you need to know really that there is a need for such safehouses) and took the 6 people who were inside. One of the people inside turned up at a hospital – with a throat wound. He had been tortured. The safehouse was burned down – computers in the safe house have been confiscated. They have had to evacuate other safe houses.

5 more are missing. There’s not a lot of optimism of them returning safely. Religious leaders in Iraq have called for the death of LGBT people – and they command militias more than willing to carry out those

738 LGBTs have disappeared and being murdered – often tortured to death – in Iraq. And those are just the ones that are known.

The occupation forces – and the nations behind them, largely maintain their indifference. Whatever laughable “freedom” they have brought to Iraq, it means little for LGBT people and it is clear that these forces of democracy and liberation are content to look the other way while GBLT bodies pile high.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

A lost opportunity

From the European Court of Human rights has recently ruled on a case.

The case of Schalk and Kopf v Austria that challenged the ban on same sex marriage.

It hinged on 3 rights in the convention

Article 12 (Right to Marry) and Article 14 (Anti-Discrimination) combined with Article 8 (Right to Family life).

I desperately wanted this - if they had ruled in our favour it would have been huge. It would have been an uneqivocal ruling that, yes, we had a right to marriage, yes, our families are equal to straight families and no, discrimination against gay people is not ok. A ruling from the European Court of Human Rights

And while this ruling isn’t quite saying all those things are not true (well not quite… the decision on Article 12 pretty much says it isn‘t)… it’s also not saying they are. And that’s a depressing statement to come from the court. They had an opportunity to confirm that we the right to marriage included us, that the right not to be discriminated against truly included us (and that discrimination against us was not acceptable) and that our families truly had value.

And they didn’t take it. In fact, with all three they have undermined us pretty badly.

It would have been a powerful statement. Instead… we have another statement. And I hope this non-statement isn’t equally powerful.

And as to how powerful the statement would be? The rulings of the ECHR are binding (well for a given nature of binding – and by that I mean “when they feel like it“ but that may be cynical cynical me. Well, cynical and accurate me.) on it signatories. And it’s signatories? Well here’s a map It would have meant something. It would have been big. It would have been important.

Of course, it’s probably because it meant something that the judges were unwilling to make the ruling. But, on the bright side, it was 4 votes to 3. One judge, one judge leaning towards actual justice and who knows where we would be tomorrow.

The need to call out homophobia

One of the many many things about homophobia that make me rage is how readily tolerated it is – and how ready people are to excuse it, defend it and deny it.

It saddens me that I need to repeat this – but, if you think gay people are worth less than straight people, if you think we deserve less than straight people, if you think we don’t have the same value as humans, if you think we aren’t due the same rights, if you think it’s ok to discriminate against us for being gay, if you think hate speech against gays is ok, if you think pushing wide sweeping stereotypes about gays is ok and most certainly if you think there should be any kind of penalty or punishment for being gay then you are a homophobe.

Homophobia. Not just privilege, not just bias, not just ignorance, not just foolishness. It’s homophobia. It’s bigotry. And it’s not even slightly ok. Stop mincing words. Stop dancing for fear you may offend the bigots. Stop twisting in a desperate attempt to RESPECT those who have zero respect for us. Stop minimising hatred because it makes us look angry or extreme – extreme? Is it ‘EXTREME’ to expect to be treated like a person?

If you make excuses for any of this, if you enable any of this, if you try to justify it or distract from it then you are enabling, encouraging, justifying and distracting from homophobia.

This is homophobia. You cannot say “I’m not a homophobe, but gays don’t deserve X, Y, Z right” you can’t say “I’m not a homophobe, but {derogatory gay stereotype}” you cannot say “I’m not a homophobe but {sweeping statement about gay people}”. Saying “I’m not a homophobe” does not make it so.

Do you know what excuses, justifies or mitigates homophobia?

Nothing. Homophobia is treating people as less than a person. As wrong. As broken. As less. It is not justifiable. It is never acceptable. And that includes when you say “I don’t justify homophobia – BUT..” because we’ve seen that so many times, haven’t we? “I’m not a homophobe, BUT…” “what they did was wrong, BUT…” We all know what that means and how much credence we give it. No amount of saying “I don’t justify homophobia…” means a THING if you follow it with “but” and do just that.

Do you know what ‘reason’ or ‘explanation’ for homophobia makes it ok?

None. Not one. Ever.

Not religion, not culture, not the fact people have been the victim of oppression themselves, not the “realities” of politics, not ‘democracy’, not morality, not history – NOTHING makes homophobia ok or anything less than an utterly bad thing. It’s never a ‘difficult’ subject or ‘debateable’ or freaking ‘controversial’ because the hate comes from the pulpit or from a sincere moral code or a particular cultural context. Homophobia is wrong and inexcusable – ALWAYS.

And do you know when gays are to blame for homophobia?

Never. No matter what the gay leadership has done, no matter whether you disagree with priorities, no matter if you think campaigns were bungled, no matter how many personal bad experiences you’ve had, no matter whether you think Pride Parades are icky or you’ve never met a gay person. No matter if the gays haven’t ‘reached out’ to you enough, no matter if the gay folks didn’t talk to you enough – because gods forbid we not spend enough time trying to convince you we’re people due respect! No matter if you hate the stereotypes, no matter if you only dislike “those” gays (whatever ‘those’ means), gay people are never ever to blame for our oppression.

And these lessons need to be learned no matter how basic they should be. Because we haven’t absorbed them and even people who consider themselves progressive and allies are making them. It has got to a point where some forms of homophobia and vessels of homophobia simply CANNOT be discussed because there is such a storm of defending, distracting and desperate desperate attempts at denial that the homophobia can never ever be touched. And this is by people who consider themselves allies.

Even GBLT people are all too willing to accept that it’s our fault, that we should play nice and all too damn willing to accept tokens and gestures and smile because we’ve been conditioned to expect and deserve so little – accept blame that we’re only too willing and ready to take on our shoulders. How many times do we fawn over a statement, a gesture, the crumbs from the table? How many times do we make nice with people who think we’re only unworthy of “some” rights? How many times are we restrained because the bigotry came with a smile? How many times do we try to hold back our anger and our criticism, even to silence other GBLTs? – oh no, we can’t call them homophobes, it may annoy them! It may insult them! It’s so harsh! We’re damaging our cause by being angry at bigotry.

When we are treated as less because we are gay, it is homophobia, it is bigotry and it is wrong. Call it what it is. Homophobia is not our fault. It is not due to anything wrong with us, anything we’ve done, anything we‘ve said. Homophobia is only EVER the fault of the homophobe and nothing we do can change that.. Homophobia is never right, never acceptable and never defensible.

And not only does the world need to learn that – but we need to learn that, because too many of us are eager to make the rods for our own backs.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Budget.

Well… damn.

Ok I knew it was going to bad. We have the Tories in power and the Lib Dems rubber stamping – but damn Lib Dems, is this the best you can do? I curse my vote for you more and more with every passing day. Never again.

Is there a single welfare benefit that hasn’t been hit? Disabled people having to endure further battles and doubting to prove their disability more than they do now (people being disabled is unacceptable to George Osbourne). Freezes on child benefit, cut in tax credits, cutting housing benefit, pregnany mothers? cut, single mothers? Cut. Older workers trying to get back into work? Cut. Reducing inflation adjustments for all benefits – from pensions to income support. Making it harder to get your benefits backdated when they system has failed to catch you.

A 2.5% raise in VAT. I do not believe this.

The MOST regressive tax in the country, a sales tax that will hit the poor harder than any other possible tax rise and won’t even make the rich blink. A tax that the Lib Dems were VEHEMENTLY against during their campaign

We have a token cut on lower rate of income tax that will be well and truly overwhelmed by the rises and cuts in services, since it‘s only a fraction of what has been expected. In the meantime the higher rate of tax AND the civil list have been frozen.

Corporation tax has been cut – because damn if those businesses don’t just have things sooooo hard. Only having one yatch is such a trial.

Public sector pay rises have been frozen, again. So low paid civil servants are going to be screwed, more so when any income supporting benefits are cut and the VAT rise that is going to make everything a hell of a lot more expensive. Oh and their pensions are going to get royally screwed over

Council tax will be frozen (more pork for the rich) and Councils encouraged to freeze their spending. More services cut. Don’t be poor or homeless or in need under this Tory government, because there’s no help for you.

Royal Mail, the Student Loan book and Air traffic control, all being sold off into private hands. Ye gods, you couldn’t make it up.

No more capital spending unless it brings money in. So n spending on things people need, on services people need, on anything that benefits people. Of course rich people don’t need those kind of things do they?

Harriet Harman summed up the budget well – the worst hit area by the cuts? Merseyside. The area least hit by them? Chelsea. Says all you need to know about the Tories – and their poodles the Lib Dems and their cruel, selfish, screw-the-poor budget.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A note on Silencing

Now, certain people in the big wide world that is livejournal have protested mightily about silencing.

Silencing is a problem. Silencing is a major power in this world. Silencing is the cause of many injustices. Silencing ensures that the privileged and powerful never get countered. It ensures that the privileged message, the status quo, is not challenged or overturned. It ensures that those speaking up against injustice are dismissed and demeaned. They are loud or noisy or angry or unfair or selfish whiners or impatient or unrealistic or playing a card or enjoying playing the victim or trying to claim an unfair advantage or any number of the billions of other silencing techniques we know and loathe.

But ultimately, it allows the dominant message to stand, the privileged viewpoint to stand, while the marginalised who are hurt by it swallow their pain and stay silent.

We live in a world where, sadly, prejudices and isms are pervasive elements of society. Our society is sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist and many other ists that I am sure I can’t even begin to comprehend from my place of privilege, let alone adequately surmise. This is simple reality. Our world elevates some bodies and marginalises others. Our world, our culture, our media, our politics attack, demean and marginalised some people every single day. They are disadvantages, they are neglected, they are rendered invisible, they are stereotyped, they are attacked and they are demeaned every day.

This is silencing. This is the legacy of silencing. This is the power of silencing, the context of it, the pain of it.

Nearly all of us have some kind of privilege. Yes, we do. Unless you are Dora the black, jewish, trans, poor, immigrant, disabled, elderly, lower class lesbian, then you have privilege. And I imagine Dora has privilege as well, since there’s no way I am aware of every marginalisation in the world.

And when you have privilege, you have a high chance of messing up. Privilege comes with ignorance, it is part of the nature of being privileged. And there is a good chance you will hurt someone or contribute to a situation that does hurt the marginalised.

Which is why I think we have a duty.

We have a duty to make sure our privileges hurt others as little as possible.

We have a duty to educate ourselves so that we can avoid ignorant, foolish actions and words that hurt people.

We have a duty to listen to marginalised people when we do hurt them, to apologise and make that hurt right insofar as we are able, and to learn from what they say. Their words are a gift – they do not owe you an education, they do not owe you an explanation. If you have just said a lot of privileged, painful crap, they don’t owe you anything except a slap upside the head.

When you, in privilege, in ignorance, in cluelessness, in foolishness and, frankly, out of out and out prejudice, say or do something that hurts or harms marginalised people and they protest, you are not being silenced.

When you hurt them and they turn and express their anger at that pain, they are not silencing you.

When you fear you can’t write a story that is racist because people of colour will protest angrily at the racism, you are not being silenced.

If you think that people who write racist items are shamed by protests and criticism, then that is also not silencing.

You cannot stand on someone’s foot then yell “stop silencing me!” when they demand you move.

There is certainly silencing happening there – but it’s not from the marginalised. The marginalised rarely have the power, the societal position, the privilege to silence anyone – certainly not when it is their marginalisation that is the focus.

To call marginalised people protesting against “isms” silencing shows a gross ignorance of context. Could they be nicer about it? Are they being mean and harsh? Are they dog piling? Probably because they have had this conversation before and are sick of it. Probably because you have HURT THEM Probably because you have hurt them in a way that has hurt them over and over again, countless times before. Probably because they’re sore and wounded and hurting already and you’ve come by to add yet more pain to the load. Probably because this whole society hurts them and demands they shut up and smile about it.

We live in a world that constantly tells marginalised people to shut up, in a world that constantly causes pain AND demands silence from those who are hurt. When you cause pain then complain about the protests from the marginalised, then YOU are not the one being silenced.

Let us be clear here. When you are promoting, espousing or furthering the privileged viewpoint of racism (or any other ism for that matter), a viewpoint and context that is already howled from the rooftops at deafening decibels, I might add, then you are NOT being silenced when you are criticised. Your message is the dominant one, all the power in the world seems unable to silence it, more’s the pity.

And to further note – yes there are many books and media that have moved society forwards by challenging societal and media norms. They have been transgressive, they have been heavily criticised by those seeking to support the status quo, they have cause apoplexy in the powers that be that protest in fury about challenges to the social order.

Racism – or any prejudice for that matter – is not transgressive. That is the world we live in, now. Supporting a marginalisation is not transgressive, it’s not pushing society forwards, it’s not introducing ground breaking concepts. It’s supporting the same dark stains that already blight our society, it’s not moving forward, it’s decidedly standing STILL – or moving backwards. Do not insult these books that tried to push society forwards by presuming to compare them with retrograde, racist tales.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Hate speech has a cost

Let us be eternally clear that there is a link between hate speech and violence. Every time someone gives voice to their bile and hatred against us, every time they indulge in crass stereotyping, every time they let slurs pass their lips they cost us. And they cost us in blood. We can never “lighten up” over anti-gay rhetoric no matter what Quentin Jackson thinks.

We should not let grossly ridiculous hate pass, like Senator Orrin Hatch with his fool statements about gays not tithing and our religion being politics (we involve ourselves in politics for basic survival – mainly because of crusty bigots like himself).

Hate speech has a cost. Not just the verbal harassment. Not just in the slurs we have to face that make us so unsafe

But there is also a cost because it encourages violence and attacks, harassment, assault and pain, with entire areas being unsafe for us – and few places being truly safe.

We cannot deny this link – and sometimes it is made abundantly clear – like the Story of Ken Hutcherson and his campaign of hate that has been extremely well documented by Box Turtle Bulletin http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/ In addition of a horrific history of fighting gay rights at every turn, he has even opposed and encourage parents to keep their children home during the Day of Silence.

And a child has paid the price for that hate

Hate costs. Never forget that.

I blame myself

So while chipping the THING off every flat surface and trying to figure out how anyone makes dough that dries to becomes harder than pykrete I ask Beloved, who cleans with rather less skill than he cooks, to get some stewing meat and kidney out of the freezer to defrost over night so I can make stew – niice slooow cooked stew.

Wake up this morning. Open the little non-frozen baggies…

Kidney aaaand… haddock.

Haddock.

I have to say I’m impressed, he is excelling himself lately.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Spark of Wisdom: When studies and debates are insulting

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

When it comes to gays and lesbians, there are no shortages of debates and studies and research. Lots of questions to ask, lots of information for the boffins to process, lots of ethics and morals and cause and effect to analyse in detail.

People have researched whether we make good parents or whether our children are worse off than the children of heterosexuals. Repeatedly. Over and over. We have studies and investigations about us adopting, surrogacy and the terrible bad naughty things we do to vulnerable little kiddie brains.

People have suffered whether gay men should give blood or whether our gayness will pollute the precious straight bloodstream (yes, it bothers me, you may have guessed).

People have studied if we’re more prone to domestic violence

People have studied if we’re more prone to abuse children

People have studied over and over and over again whether we can be “cured.”

People have debated on whether gay families should count and are due the same respect as straight ones.

Even now there is a study (yet another study) in America looking at whether openly gay soldiers are a major dire badness (and there has been no shortage of those either) and scourge on the military despite the presence of openly gay soldiers in so many militaries that it’s laughable that it’s still debateable.

Then there are the debates. On the internet, on forums, on TV, in newspapers. In endless opinion pieces as lots and lots of (straight) people weigh in on these big gay issues

And we criticise many of these studies, debates etc. We criticise them because they use horrendous bigots as ‘experts’ (like CNN using Richard Cohen or just about anyone using George Rekers), we criticise them for their biased reporting and obviously prejudiced and clueless assumptions. We criticise them because they’re always used as an opportunity for the bigots to have a hate-fest.

But we rarely criticise the study itself. We never say how offensive the question being asked in the first place is.

It is offensive to ask, study and debate whether I would be a worse parent simply because I am gay.

It is offensive to ask, study and debate whether my being gay makes me more prone to abuse children.

It is offensive to ask, study and debate whether my relationship is as valid as a heterosexual relationship.

It is offensive to consider my sexuality an ailment in need of treatment.

It is offensive to ask, study and debate whether I am more evil, more flawed, more broken or simply wrong just because I am gay.

Why are these questions debateable? Why is my fitness as a person considered a topic for scholarly discourse? Why is whether I am evil considered something that needs analysing?

These questions are not just questions – they’re attacks. They paint us as not only less, but as evil. And they frame considering us as evil as a reasonable position to hold. Our humanity is not assumed – it’s something that is open to debate. The people who hate us aren’t presented as bigots – they’re held as having a differing opinion – a rational, sensible one even!

And I reject that. These questions don’t need answering, there’s no reason even to raise them. It’s like sitting around and considering whether torturing kittens is a valid pass-time. Why are we asking this? Why do we need to debate and study this? Why are we presenting bigotry as a reasoned, sensible position worthy of scholarly consideration?

The only time I’ve seen people finally driven to say “why are people even ASKING this question?!” is when the BBC asked “Should Homosexuals face Execution?

And that worries me. It worries me that the questions have to be this extreme, that the topics have to be this obviously offensive for us to realise that the debate is wrong. It worries me that our existence can even remotely be considered a subject for debate. And it worries me that this is still considered acceptable, mainstream discourse.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

I write this message in desperate hope that help will arrive in time

Or that some may yet be saved.

I cannot speak for long, I know the Thing has heard me and the door is a flimsy barrier at best. Already it’s tendrils surround me

It began when Beloved declared he didn‘t need my help in the kitchen. I should have known better, I should have known!

When Beloved opened the bread maker, the Thing was born in a giant overflowing mass of pure malevolence bent on absorbing all within it’s grasp. I should have tried to kill it then – but it wanted to live! It wanted to live and Beloved was sure it could be tamed… The last I saw of him he was covered in the Thing from head to toe, hopelessly unable to escape it’s sticky clutches.

It was probably too late the moment we opened the lid and it rushed out in one huge, sticky mass. It stick to the cabinets, it adhered to the walls, it desperately clung to the doors and the windows and even the ceiling. I tried to escape but it’s in the hallway, on the wallpaper, it leers at me from every carpet, cackles at me as it slowly covers every surface in the house. I can’t escape, it’s everywhere. I look outside, through the clear patches of glass that remain, and it’s even in the garden, clinging to the patio and wall with eerie malevolence.

I can only imagine that this vile force will continue to spread in a greasy wave of evil. Perhaps if you flee across the Humber – across the Channel maybe, maybe you will escape it’s sticky, pervasive clutches.

Pray for me.. for I am already lost…

Why, oh gods, why did I believe Beloved could make pizza dough?

LGBT Labour walk into a pub…

…and the landlord says “I would have refused your booking if I knew you were an LGBT group.”

That is what LGBT Labour says the manager of the Greencoat Boy in London said to them. And it is further said that he refused them service and evicted them from the pub (though I have to say I’d be unwilling to go into the pub after that and certainly unwilling to put my money into their pockets).

There are some wonderful sites, emails and phone calls we can make to make it very very clear that this is not acceptable

The incident has been reported to the police.

Does it need to be said how wrong this is? Does it need to be said that businesses refusing service to GBLTs is grossly wrong? Does it need to be said that laws that protect GBLTs from denial of goods and services are essential things? Does it need to be said that I or any GBLT person should be able to go into any business in this country and expect service and not be harrassed for doing so? Does it need to be said that we shouldn’t have to closet ourselves if we want to basically exist in society? (And don’t mince words – access to good and services are very much about existence in society).

Discrimination is wrong. Harrassing people for being GBLT is wrong. We shouldn’t have to say more than that – because there is no more to say. Already the defenders are crawling out of the woodwork – and we need to respond not only to the homophobes but their defenders and enablers who say this is ok. It’s wrong, it’s indefensible and it’s unacceptable

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Another bad news round up – because it still happens

Another unfortunate look at the forces of homophobia out there and the victims they leave behind. From politics to media to the church and the endless attacks on our children, our work places and our bodily integrity there seems to be no shortage of stories and I know I only scratch the shallowest surface

Around the world, politics continues to devalue, attack and destroy our lives.

In Georgia GBLT violence and discrimination is on the rise – fanned and encouraged by political parties using GBLTs as scapegoats and distractions and as a quick and easy way to garner support. You don’t need to focus on issues – just bash us and you’ll get the adulation of the masses it seems.

In Zimbabwe, two members of the gay rights group GALZ (courageous people to operate in such a virulently homophobic nation) were arrested. While both were later released – they say they were brutalised and tortured during their detention.

During the ongoing battles to stop the Uganda genocide law, many forces came out to distance themselves from it (oh no, rampant homophobia and religious hate can’t have been the cause! Certainly not!) Not the christian Family Research Council They actually paid $25,000 to lobby the US congress NOT to denounce Uganda’s kill-the-gays law. They spent this money to defend the execution of gay people.

How this group is not considered a hate group, I do not know.

But while we investigate why these aren’t a hate group, we could also investigate why Minnesota governor Time Pawlenty is considered human. He has vetoed a law that would allow gay people to have some say on the burial decisions of their deceased loved ones. Such a small thing to ask, such a desperate thing that is needed and he vetoed it.

The media is doing it’s normal sterling jobf ke oeping the flames of homophobia high.

CNN has again jumped into that wonderful media pit of Questions that should not be asked as it has before along with the BBC, the Sun and gods alone know how many others by asking (straight) people whether or not they agree with letting gay people visit our partners when they are hospitalised. Again, why is this debateable? Again, why are the whims of the public over such an essential need considered relevant? Again, why is disagreement with this presented as a legitimate, acceptable position?

Meanwhile McDonalds in France has produced a sweet advert about a gay kid eating at their ‘restaurant’. Now, I don’t find this unproblematic because I think the whole “come as you are” would work far better if it weren’t “come as you are… closeted.” Because I don’t think that is a great message – come as you are, in hiding, come as you are, but hide it, come as you are… but make sure straight people don‘t know, including your own father. Well, yeah, not an ideal advert. Still it is sweet and it is an actual gay person in mainstream advertising in a non-mockable manner which is pretty damn rare (now just waiting for a gay person in mainstream advertising without problematic elements).

Bill O’Reilly has also seen this advert. And he is not amused. He asks whether McDonalds is going to produce an advert including Al’Qaida members. Yes he just compared being gay to being a member of Al’Qaida. Yeah, I’d comment on that but I have to plant rainbow sparkly bombs somewhere according to the insidious gay agenda.

But hey, O’Reilly may be on some pretty strong reality altering drugs – afterall, he has just compared trans people to Ewoks. Ewoks. EWOKS? *boggles*

In Iowa, Rep Steve King in a great deal of frothing and raving about the legalisation of gay marriage – speaks of fathers marrying their sons and mothers marrying their daughters. Because, y’know, gay marriage is totally the same as incest, right? Oh and gay marriage will lead to more abortions… *thinks* *tilts head* *strains* nope, lost me there. I mean I’m generally able to run alongside wingnuttery but I can’t even begin to see how he’s coming up with that one.

Of course, our kids are still in the firing line.

China is worried about boys growing up without enough masculine stereotypes being shoved down their throats so has created a school for “sissies” To “toughen” the boys up and make them less “girly” with an extra side dollop of emotional repression. Well, I have to say, that’s an impressive amount of fail in one. What’s that? sexism, transphobia, homophobia, AND saddling kids with a big big big helping of issues and complexes for later life. Ok, anyone else competing in the “who can screw up kids the most?” game show?

Continuing the screwing over of gay teens that seems to be something of a habit lately, a Lesbian student does not appear in her high school year book she has been erased completely.

No look at the waves of homophobia out there can fail to take into account religious bigotry, alas.

And that includes when further harming GBLT children, a Christian group in Oakland is celebrating their victory – they have forced a school to withdraw it’s anti-GBLT bullying campaign. Because stopping kids being hurt is against their faith it seems.

The Catholic church, always to be relied upon for being an eternal source of hatred, of course gets a mention. See, the Catholic church has had to deal with the most horrific sex abuse scandal and is responding by asking questions of seminarians to weed out paedophiles (sounds about as useful as a chocolate fireguard to me since if paedophiles could be identified in a cripplingly awkward interview, paedophilia wouldn’t be much of a problem) Oh and the interview is also designed to find any gay candidates as well. An interview in response to the child abuse scandal that tries to weed out gay candidates. Gah, words cannot express how much the Catholic church is coming to disgust me.

Of course, one entry from the Catholic church would be an improvement over the normal amount of hate they bring, but no, there’s another. See, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is not happy about ENDA, not happy at all. So decided it was their Christian duty to appeal to congress to allow bigotry against GBLT people to continue. Be warned, the source is a Catholic news source.

And Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston has spoken on the recent exclusion of the children of lesbians from Catholic schools (personally, I don’t understand why any GBLT person would put their child into a situation that would indoctrinate such hatred in them). And he made an analogy to make his point – referencing a brothel owner who trafficked women in horrendous conditions that lead to some of their deaths. That’s right, he compared lesbian parents with human traffickers.

And while we’re on the subject of religious bigotry – the Traditional Families coalition makes it clear why they’re so opposed to discrimination laws as if it were in doubt – religious business owners should have the moral right to discriminate against GBLTs. Why Rand Paul, you have a following, you do! The minute you allow in “my religion says X” as an excuse to be a bigot then ALL discrimination laws go out the window – they all die because people can use (and have used) religion to justify any amount of bigotry.

Pastor Owens of West Virginia’s Shenandoah Bible Baptist church is taking some heat for his truly disgusting sermon, the audio tape of which was leaked onto the net Most providers take it down as soon as it appears because it is that disgusting. Dubbed the “hunt-a-homo” sermon, it says things like “we should burn fags not flags” and other such gems. Ye gods I wish I was making that up. The video is included in the link, it is EXTREMELY TRIGGERING!



Sadly, religious groups are a major source of bigotry world wide (though it’s rarely something we’re permitted to address given the large number of defenders and excusers organised religion’s homophobia has). In the UK, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey wants SPECIAL courts for cases when there is religious beliefs are used to promote and enforce bigotry against GBLT people he wants specially religiously trained judges to handle them – to protect the rights of poor poor Christians who want to oppress GBLTs.

In Dorset, UK a Lesbian couple has been forced out of the church one of them has attended for years. Told they may not ‘associate’ with each other. Callous and uncaring, though I expect little else

The leader of a Pentecostal church in Brixton, London has been comparing being gay top paedophilia and rape, fanning the flames of religious hatred against us. His “refutation” is that he is only upholds orthodox and traditional Christian beliefs. That is not a refutation. Not even close – an admission perhaps, but not a refutation

And all this comes with a further cost – the cost of violence and discrimination and fear and very real victims

In Paraguay, a young Lesbian on announcing she was going to move in with her girlfriend, was kidnapped and tortured – by her own family

In China, a lesbian tried to kill herself by swallowing pesticide because she was faced with a forced marriage to a man. This is the despair that homophobia drives people to

In Texas 2 gay men were attacked by homophobes yelling slurs and hitting them with freaking baseball bats as they left a gay bar.

In Minneaoplis 2 people were shot outside of a gay club.

In Ontario, a man who direcdted a play about homophobia was beaten in an anti-gay assault.

And in Seattle, a man has been arrested for hate crimes for harassing, assaulting and beating a trans woman in the street

Gay flight attendants working for the airline KLM have been refused in their requests to avoid trips to Iran. A country which, we must remember, imprisons, tortures and executes GBLT people. The company already allows some flight attendants to stay safe by avoiding the country and doesn’t want to extend it further. They can stay safe but gay flight attendants still have to go and put their very lives at risk.

But who do we rely on to protect GBLT rights? Well… sadly not a whole lot of anyone. Certainly not the UN which has finally blocked accreditation for The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission after 3 years of hemming and hawing. It seems too many nations are too vehemently against any idea of gay rights, there are just too many bigots and bigoted nations out there to allow us to be treated like people. of course, there never are and never will be any real action to try and push these nations to accept our humanity (indeed, no small amount of wailing and fury and defence at the very suggestion!) so our blood will continue to be spilled and generally ignored.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Mediation for fun an profit!

My specialties are criminal law and family law, and it’s odd, because the latter can make me despair far more of humanity than the former ever could. I mean, Criminal law will show you how vile, how evil and how truly ridiculously foolish humanity can be at times – but if you want to see pettiness, sheer spiteful, vindictive, self-destructive VENOM then family law is the show case every time.

I think in a more recent case my opposite number may be a trifle new. He was very very eager to follow the proper procedures and how things should be done and all the advisory things we should do.

Sparky: Mediation, ok, let’s take that as done, no amicable settlement, no..

OG: Wait, we didn’t mediate, shouldn’t we set something up?

Sparky: No, save costs and consider it impossible. The state and my sanity will thank you.

OG: But we haven’t even tried!!!

Sparky: Have you even spoken to your client about mediation yet?

OG: If we can agree to meet up…

Sparky: *sigh* ok let’s save time and start it now.

OG: But, I…

Sparky: My client would like his *ahem* “shrivelled, rotting testicles on a platter” I believe silver was specified but I am sure she will be open to negotiate on that. Oh and his, let me check the exact words, ah yes. “his still beating heart to be fed to that filthy whore who can’t keep her legs together” yes. Are you in a position to agree to either of these points?

OG: Um… so mediation is done then?

Sparky: Well, I don’t want to be in a small room with these 2, not without a full Kevlar bodysuit anyway.

It always amuses me that we’re pushed to encourage more mediation. It shows a complete cluelessness in the proceedings. In families where mediation is possible the participants are normally happy to do it and don’t especially need pushing. In families where mediation is not possible, pushing will only get your arm ripped off by a rabid hyena.

Despite this, it doesn’t top the couple that had to be physically restrained by their lawyers. Or the couple who spent gods alone know how many hours arguing over the freaking KETTLE. Or the couples (note plural!) that started DESTROYING their things rather than let the other person have them. Or the couples who have tried to hide assets, up to and including houses, to pretend they didn’t have them. OR the bigamist-with-mistresses-and-multiple-children which was more of a scrum than a divorce (I didn’t work on that one. Thank ye gods).

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Cumbria shooting

I have no words to adequately describe the shooting rampage in Cumbria in which 12 people have died and 11 have been injured.

There’s always a wish and a hope to believe such things happen so far away and oh-so-rarely here. I hope the latter remains true at least.

I grieve for the victims and wonder what the political fall out will be from this. I’m already hearing some rumblings about guns.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Spark of Wisdom: Context cannot be ignored

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

There is a habit when dealing with marginalisation for certain privileged people to ignore context.

There is a constant desire to pretend that X incident happened in isolation, to consider it on its own without looking at wider society. We examine homophobic acts while ignoring a homophobic society, look at examples of sexism while pretending the patriarchy doesn’t exist, consider racism while denying is power and prevalence and look at ableism while pretending the whole world isn’t structured to making living extremely difficult for the disabled.

How many times is this wilful ignorance of context used to silence the marginalised? When they react with anger or hurt our outrage – how often do the words “oversensitive” or “hypersensitive” get trotted out? How many times do people complain about “thin skin” or being “too angry?” Never mind the context that makes the latest hurt but the tip of a mountain of hurt. That the anger comes from months, years of repression and the same pain repeated over and over. Never mind that there is a constant bombardment of demeaning, insulting, hurtful and grossly offensive commentary that pummels marginalised people every single day.

Never mind the context that that hurt and offence exists in. Never mind the pain

How often do we see a stereotype justified as being minor or no big deal? Why should we protest about one portrayal on one television programme? It’s one character, how can we be so upset about a TV programme? Never mind that those same stereotypes are trotted out every single day. Never mind that these stereotypes are all we see. Never mind that these constant stereotypes affect how people are treated in real life, never mind how our individuality is ignored and dismissed.

Never mind the context that stereotype exists in. Never mind how pervasive it is. Never mind how narrow they are.

How often do we see gross insults against the marginalised diminished and ignored by people who refuse to see context? How often is frankly blatant bigotry ignored through this? People who can’t see why comparing Obama to a monkey and Bush to a chimp are not even remotely equivalent. People who argue that “straight pride” is just like “gay pride.” People who will argue that “breeder” and “cracker” are slurs with just as much impact as those used against the marginalised. How often do we here ‘misandry’ raised as equivalent to misogyny?

Never mind the context that marginalised people have been reduced and dehumanised for centuries. Never mind the power difference. Never mind the culture of slurs and attacks that exist all around us.

How often do we use context ignorance as an excuse to ignore bigotry? When we see people claiming that Arizona’s disgusting anti-immigration law isn’t racist because it applies to all undocumented immigrants. Never mind that we all know that this law targets brown people, that a European immigrant is really not going to be harassed under this law. Only by ignoring context can we claim not to see the racism in this. Or in the UK, when the Tories set forth a proposal to reward married couples which, on examination, virtually requires one member of the couple to not work, only ignorance of context would allow us to believe this isn’t sexist.

How often do we see cluelessness upheld by privileged people drawing comparisons between their lives and those of the marginalised? When someone in an interracial or same-sex relationship talks about familial hostility, they speak up about how much their in-laws don’t like them. When a black woman speaks about how her hair is regarded as something of alien curiosity, they speak up about how everyone comments on their child’s blond locks. When a disabled person talks about how hard it is to negotiate a shop in a wheelchair or a scooter, an able bodied person talks about their struggles with a pram or even a shopping trolley. When a woman complains about sexist ‘humour,’ how often do we hear someone trot out some jokes that make men the target as something that bugs them as well?

None of these things exist in isolation. And we cannot pretend they do. To try and view them as discrete incidents is an act not just of privilege – but of wilful ignorance. Every prejudice thing that is done or said, is built upon a foundation of centuries of prejudice that has gone before, and is part of a massive structure of prejudice that is very much around us. You cannot focus on the brick and ignore the entire wall.

And is that annoying as privileged people? Is it irritating to feel that everything said or done has this weight of prejudice ready to be hooked to it? Can it be hard sometimes to think about this, especially since, as privileged people, it doesn’t always come naturally to us? Yes yes and yes. Yes it can be hard, yes it can be irritating and yes it takes work and thought and consideration to see and navigate round that huge mass of context.

But it’s not NEARLY as hard as having to live as a marginalised person constantly pummelled by that context, attacked by it, beaten down by it and blocked by it. So if considering context is really that hard – just be thankful you’re in a position for it to be a conscious effort – rather than something you couldn’t ignore even if you tried.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The media is debating whether we’re as good as straight people again

The Sun has commissioned a YouGov poll to ask a vital question we all simply must know:

“Should gay people be cabinet ministers”

Somewhat ironic since I just submitted a post to Womanist Musings about homophobic debates and questions that various organisations and the media are so fond of.

This is not an acceptable question. Frankly, it’s grossly offensive. I can only imagine the fury if the poll asked “should Christians be cabinet ministers?” or Jews or Muslims. Discrimination is not an option, treating us as less or unfit simply because of our sexauality is offensive, it is bigoted and it is not reasonable discourse.

And even a vile rag like the Sun should know this and NOT be presenting discrimination against gay people as a reasonable, sensible option.

As the Guardian points out, there is some backlash on Twitter (and what a surprise, the Daily Mail is getting some homophobia in as well – what do we expect from the newspaper of Jan Moir) but we’ve already seen how effective the PCC is at combating homophobia. It’s also heartening to see that the vast majority of the respondents to the poll have replied saying it doesn’t matter if cabinet ministers are gay.

Enough already. Enough of all these polls and enquiries asking whether we’re as good as straight people. This is not a matter for debate and the media has to STOP pushing the idea that it is.