Wednesday, 30 March 2011

My labels and identity

I've had a few people poke me for and about my personal label choices, what I accept and reject

It kind of irritates me because I'm never fond of being pushed as to who and what I identify with (people who know me will testify I get ratty if people foist too many stereotypes on me). The long battle of accepting my identity, clarifying it, setting it down and establishing what it means to me and being both happy and proud of that was a long, difficult and very painful battle for me that has left scars that last to this day (hence the nice man paid to listen to me grumble). I dislike having to fight that battle again, revisit that battle or relive it. But I am dragged over it far too often – I don't like it I don't and usually just give very curt answers – this is my identity, these are the words I use, accept and be done with it, you don't need to know why.

But that answer is rarely accepted, especially by people trying to change or push my word choice. So I'm going to put my identity down in text so at least I have a link there – this is me, it does not change and then I don't have to revisit the battle so.

I identify as a gay man. I am sexually and emotionally attracted to other men. I am not now, never have been and never will be attracted to a woman. I am not romantically compatible with women.

I am a man. I am not less male because I am gay, I don't have a female spirit or a feminised brain or super female not-man-ness whatever else people want to say to deny the maleness of gay men (or the femaleness of lesbians for that matter).

Being gay is what I am – not what I do. I was gay long before I had sex, long before I touched a penis that was not my own, long before I ever had an orgasm. It's an inherent part of my being. It's as much a part of me as my arms or legs or eye colour. It's natural, innate and immutable – not something I chose nor something I can (or would) change. And it's a major part of me, not a minor, dismissable element of my being – it's a fundamental part of my identity.

In terms of word use:

I use the word “gay.” It's my go-to word.

I don't like the word “homosexual” it's clinical, it's impersonal. I'm not fond of it – but it doesn't upset me or annoy me or offend me. But I prefer gay.

I do not like the word “queer” at all. I've had it used as a slur against me far too often to ever be comfortable to me. It is a word that has strong violence triggers for me and is closely related to too many of my more unpleasant scars. I do not identify as it and I strongly dislike people calling me it. It's a word I endure, not welcome.

I use the word to refer to people who claim it out of respect for their own labelling, I do not think my own problems with the word would justify me ignoring someone else's preferred reference. I added “Q” to my tag “LGBTQ issues” because people contacted me saying they felt hurt and excluded by it's absence, so again, I stamp down my problems with the word for that sake (though, it has to be said, they seem more than happy to use it as a generic for all LGBTQ people without a thought for the exclusion of people like me, so it seems their comments to me called for respect but stopped short of offering it).

Overt and largely incontrovertible and unreclaimed slurs (fag, cocksucker, batty-boy and the many many more) I have no time or patience for and will not tolerate them. I don't want to see them in any context and you will have an extremely hard time convincing me a useage is harmless or ok

If they are self-reference then I won't judge people on their use or choice of identification. But that remains the only time that the words won't be greeted by anything but disgust from me.

Most of the time slurs are dis-emvowlled here (though not for this post for clarity's sake) not because I think it robs them of their pain but I think starring vowels in a slur makes it clear that you recognise how wrong they are and how uncomfortable writing them makes you. I don't demand dis-emvowelling though, just conscious knowledge of the word's impact to many.

I loathe the term “sexual preference”. I think it's demeaning. I think it reduces sexuality to a vague inclination or taste rather than being an integral part of my being.

I hate the term “lifestyle.” Because it, again, reduces sexuality to a hobby or experiment. I also dislike the way it implies all of us live the same kind of lives – that there is one “gay” way to live.

I dislike any reference to my sexuality to be couched in terms like “who you sleep with” or “who you have sex with” or “what goes on in your bedroom.” No, my sexuality is more than just my sex life. I am not just a gay man when shagging. My love life and relationship are not all about the hawt sex. I find it demeaning to have my love and being reduced that way.

I'm a married man. I know legally this isn't so and that annoys me a great deal. Personally and religiously I am married, denial of that tends to annoy me.

You do not know what music I like, clothes I wear, celebs I like, shows I follow etc etc etc based on my sexuality. No, no you do not. Making such assumptions about me will annoy me.

Ok I think it covers it. Perhaps I am spared re-visiting this battle in the future. Though it's inevitable I have forgot something

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

On the Gandhi drama - and famous GBLT people in history

Ok, there's a drama llama flying around because an author has declared that they believe Gandhi to have been bisexual or gay. Cue massive explosions and meltdowns. So I thought I'd put my thinking hat on – I put this hat on without expressing an opinion on whether Gandhi was gay/bi or not. I don't know and don't have enough information to make a decision.

So, first of all I'm going to maybe surprise people and say, yes this actually matters. I know, I know, it's very tempting to say, especially to the people having screaming meemies, that “gay, bi, or straight, the man was a great man and did great things – why does it matter?”

But it does matter – to GBLT people methinks. The closet has existed for the vast majority of history – and even times where the closet was not quite so stifling have been edited in our history books by subsequent silencing closets – for example, I am still amazed at the number of people who are bewilderingly ignorant of the fact that same-sex loving wasn't uncommon in Greece and Rome (witness the utter meltdown from certain Greek circles over the idea that Alexander may have had sex with a man). Good gods, I've even met people who fight tooth and nail against the idea that Oscar Wilde and a double handful of Renaissance painters were GBLT.

We are erased from much of history. Many of our greatest individuals are presented as straight because they either were forced to hide during life or the great wave of homophobic historic editing has erased the fact or them entirely. Our people and our people's accomplishments, are stolen from us, hidden from us and pulled away from us. And that matters.

More, people who were openly GBLT and maintained that through history have been thrown to the winds of obscurity by homophobia. Before the GBLT community in Britain screamed blue murder about the complete omission of Alan Turing from the history books hardly anyone knew who he was. He was an obscure figure at best – one of the fathers of modern computing and a great war hero and brilliant scientist was relegated to a footnote because he was gay. In the US civil rights movement it's still amazing how many people do not know who Bayard Rustin was or what he did or how vital and important he was. For that matter I've seen no small numbers of feminists quoting Audre Lorde who are completely and utterly unaware that she was a lesbian (and had one straight woman angrily criticise GBLT people for “co-opting” her).

Is it any wonder, with this systematic erasure of us from history, that so many ignorant fools claim homosexuality pinged into being maybe 40 years ago?

So, no, I'm not now or ever going to say that it's “not important” whether a famous person or great person – present or past – is GBLT or not. It matters, in a world that erases us and makes us hide, the dismissing of our presence is wrong and indefensible.

But I will say to those who are having the rabid shitfits about the suggestion that Gandhi may be gay or bi – does it make him one bit less great? I can see why it matters to GBLT people – because of our constant erasure – but why does it matter to straight people? Do Gandhi's accomplishments become less great, less laudable, less powerful if he were gay or bi? Does his life become less remarkable? Do his words become less wise? Is this man reduced in any way by being gay or bi?

(Oh, and can I have an extra “fuck you and the heteronormative horse you rode in on” to all those people who are outraged that a book claims Gandhi was gay or bi and how much that demeans Gandhi and is utter blasphemy – but are apparently ok with the idea that Gandhi was a racist? So, him being a racist? Totally ok. Him being GBLT? OH HELL NO!)

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Random fragileness

I think I'm having a bit of a fragile moment again. It's hard for me to diagnose because Denial Brain is strong and my usual habit is to ignore ignore ignore BOOOM oh look I am broken.

But now there's a man who is paid to listen to me whine (which took a long time because I was very very very picky about the people who would hear me whine which is strange really considering how willing I am to whine) and said man Disapproves of this coping strategy. In fact he Disapproves of me calling it a coping strategy since it's pretty much the opposite of a coping strategy. It's a not!coping strategy.

He also keeps pointing to the little pills he thinks may help which meant we had to sit down and analyse my reluctance to take any kind of meds (including apparently my medical notes having nice annotations from my GP saying I need coercing into taking meds) which he has been kind of listing down as common prejudice against the brain drugs. Which is a reasonable assumption, but in my case it's because I, in the silly broken days of my youth, tried to empty a medicine cabinet. Which he then started to really over-dramatise but backed off when I poked the melodrama. I think I could like this man.

Anyway, the pills are in the bottle but the nice Booze has been opened which always smooths the edges.

I'm not sure why I'm a bit edgy. Family has, bar one or two exceptions. Been largely non-existent. The news is nasty but it's always nasty. I'm a little displeased by how prevalent a certain slur seems to be rising in both my LJ flist and my twitter feed and have stepped back from both a little until I am more robust.

Oh and weekly television watchage relaxing on the sofa has been one long spork-fest. Gods above, can we not have this homophobia all the damn time?! There has to be a gay episode. And even aside from that there's constant little references that are so damned unnecessary. And I just flick the channel automatically when I see a stand up comedian. I love stand up, but I'm so tired of the gay jokes.

So, yeah. Bit of a whine moment while I check what needs rebuilding mentally. And drink the good booze.

(And they kicked Alice out of Masterchef? Really? She was the best chef by far!)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Homophobia in advertising - Christian bigotry ok, gay existence offensive

So, a judge has overturned the ASA's decision to ban an advert by the Sandown Free Presbyterian Church in the Belfast News Letter The advert rails against gay people, screams about sodomy and calls gay people perverts. I wonder what sweeping insults you could make about other minorities and the advert wouldn't be banned? Rev David McIlveen and Rev Ian Paisley are both bigots of the highest order.

Why has it been overturned? Because though these Christians are offending and attacking gay people, the mere existence of homosexuality causes the same offences and attack on Christians. No, seriously.

Looking at the code of the ASA:
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.

Marketing communications must contain nothing that is likely to condone or encourage violence or anti-social behaviour.

So, why don't we just remove sexual orientation from there right now? We may as well, its just been gutted.

We must note that THIS advert, showing 2 men dressed as priests looking at each other in a possibly romantic way has been banned and this ban HASN'T been overturned. Because it “mocks” the Catholic church. Apparently the existence of possibly gay men is a mockery now.

So, let's get this straight (hah, I think they'd prefer us to get everything straight).

Homosexuality offends religious beliefs. So we have to allow grossly homophobic adverts because our very existence is offensive to these religious people. We have to endure hatred and vile bigotry and every attempt to hurt us because our presuming to EXIST is so damn hard on the poor oppressed Christian church.

At the same time, even suggesting that there are gay people and ZOMG putting that in a religious context is so vile and wrong. How dare we keep oppressing them with our terrible existence! HOW MEAAAAAN!

So you know all those times I've railed that our existence isn't offence? Well ignore me, it's just been ruled that actually it is! Our existence is officially offensive! And because we offend Christians by daring to exist, they have every right to attack us, villify us and denigrate us in the most vehement and hateful of terms.

So, to review: Christian hate and bigotry is good and justified.

Gay existence is evil and oppressive.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Bad news continued - the violence

The result of all this. The inevitable – the violence, the pain and the deaths.

In New York, a teenager has been brutally stomped to death after leaving a party run by gay men by 4 attackers yelling anti-gay slurs

A gay bar in Jamaica has been raided by police screaming anti-gay slurs. As they fled, the patrons were pelted by bottles and attacks from local straight patrons of other bars. Several of the victims had to seek medical treatment for injuries sustained

Also In Jamaica, a man has attacked a woman because he suspected she was a lesbian

In Detroit, a gay man was attacked for being gay and his pleas for help were ignored

In St. Lucia 3 gay men has been attacked and threatened with death by 5 men who broke into the house they were staying in using anti-gay slurs. They were beaten and held at gunpoint St Lucia is one of those bigoted nations that has laws against homosexuality.

In Brooklyn, a gay man was beaten by 6 teens. They broke his jaw, nose and eye sockets

In Arkansas a trans woman was brutally murdered in a horrific crime she was shot and dragged to death behind a car Reporting of the crime has been the usual failtastic trainwreck of misgendering

In Pennsylvania, a gay man was freaking STONED TO DEATH Ugh, you think you've read it all.

In Scotland a gay man has died in what friends suspect was a homophobic attack

In Dublin TV Star Brendan Courtney was punched in the street in what he believes was a homophobic attack

In Indianna, a 16 year old has been arressted for attacking his gay class-mate. He left with with multiple facial fractures

In Staten Island, Ronald Jones choked a man to death. His excuse? why that would be the gay panic excuse! He had to strangle him because he came on to him

In Phillipsburg, another gay man was beaten to death

Bad news Round up

First we begin with one of the greatest sources of anti-gay hatred – Organised Religion

Rowan Williams the archbishop of Canterbury is still an anti-gay bigot. And this is my not-surprised face. It'd be nice if the country's biggest religious forces weren't enemies to my existence but that's not likely to happen in my lifetime. He doesn't want that icky gay marriage anywhere near his churches and is grumbling about the potential of real marriage for us gays After all, we may get above ourselves and think our loves and lives have meaning. Can't have that, can we Rowan?

Minister Louis Farrakhan, in addition to lashing out at Rhianna and her sexual performances, labelled Gays and Lesbians “swine”. Yet another religious leader, yet more hateful, disgusting bigotry.

Pastors on the island of St Maarten want a special code of conduct for gay tourists. They want the law changing to prevent the “corrupting influence” of gay tourists. Ah Christian love on display again.

Bishop Harry Martin is gleeful over the defeat of marriage equality in Maryland Joyous that his Christian love hurt so many families

In California, the Crystal Cathedral mega-church is forcing its choir to sign an anti-gay pact More love and blessings it seems

In Iowa, NAACP chapter heard, Rev Keith Ratliff attacks gay rights in an anti-gay speech fighting against equality

In the UK, the Christian couple who admitted they could not support GBLT kids and were prevented from fostering because of it want our equality laws to be overturned to accommodate more anti-gay bigotry

The Mormon church excommunicates a gay man for being gay – then forces himself to out himself to his parents

Which, in turn, often goes hand in hand with politics and politicians. Where our rights always have to be fought for and are always opposed

Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister of Italy and already proven homophobe has hurried to ensure the equally bigoted Catholic Church that gays will never be allowed to marry or adopt. Worry not Catholics, you will never be forced to deal with us gays being treated like real people!

The president of Belarus decided it was appropriate to tell openly gay German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, to stop being gay. Sadly it probably wouldn't be appropriate for Mr. Westerwelle to tell Alexander Lukashenko to stop being a complete arsehole and learn some respect and basic common decency. I feel sorry for him, because of his job and position I doubt very much he felt he could drop kick Lukashenko in the balls as he so rickly deserved.

Australian PM, Julia Gillard, is a homophobe who believes that homophobia is an important tradition. And straight relationships are just more special than our gay relationships.

In East London, Tower Hamlets, supporters of mayor Lutfur Rahman are filling the public gallery and yelling anti-gay slurs and homophobic abuse at his opponents The mayor refuses to condemn the abuse – his politics is fine with bigotry. This follows stickers in the area not long ago declaring it to be a gay-free zone, though that has largely been forgotten and brushed under the rug.

Ex-Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone continues to defend a cleric's virulent homophobic hate speech Amazing how bigotry isn't bigotry if you have religion behind you – and politicians to defend you

The Ohio senate is balancing the budget! with anti-gay legislation! Stripping GBLT workers of all possible domestic partner benefits is the key to financial stability, it seems.

In Kansas, law makers Jan Pauls and Lance Kinzer struck language that would decriminalise homosexuality from a bill. Never mind Lawrence v Texas, they want to keep the sodomy law!

In Maryland, the Marriage Equality bill has failed. Democrats joined Republicans in shooting it down>

Dan Swecker, senator for Washington decides to
lie obscenely about gay parentage laws. Much easier than actually telling the truth and revealing your bigotry

Transparent Lesbian baiting is used in a Tampa election

A report has exposed New Orleans Police of, well being prejudiced in just about every damn way it is to be prejudiced

the media saturates all around us, shaping ideas and minds – and the Entertainment world is no stranger to pushing homophobia while doing it

The Ultimate Fighting Championship thinks slurs are still a-ok. after all, how else will you insult your opponent without anti-gay slurs? It's almost scripted now. And not only does these vilest of slurs get common useage but we have the same old trope that if you want to call someone weak or fragile or less macho then you call them gay.

At the Oscars Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem had a playful dance and a kiss on stage. The cameraman freaked and, desperate to protect viewers from the awful gayness, quickly shifted to a prolonged and awkard focus on Penelope Cruz instead Quick thinking there, nearly had GAY all over the television screens!

In Australia, news anchor Ron Wilson decided to label Mardi Gras “disgusting” while talking about gay diversity in the parade and in between questioning why gays and lesbians wanted to be married. Bonus points for “homosexual lifestyle”

Apple continues it's anti-gay arseholery by approving an app from Exodus International. It's not the first anti-gay App they've allowed, despite banning racist and anti-semitic apps. to make matters worse, as well as this life destroying vile thing they're promoting – they also rate it 4 stars. For being non-objectionable

Larry King things it's oh-so-funny to refer to openly gay Anderson Cooper as “she” Because, y'know, denying the masculinity of gay men or the femininity of lesbians is just SOOOO funny.

And Jay Leno again expresses his concern for 4 year old boys showing signs of the dreaded GAY!

Malyasian radio stations are censoring Lady Gaga's Born this Way because it has pro-gay lyrics *sigh* our existence is obscene again

Bigotry continues in business, goods and services – every damn walk of life

A Canadian florist wants to deny goods-and services to GBLT people People dismiss this and say “go somewhere else.” But how far does that go? The minute you accept that straights-only establishments are ok, how much more open discrimination are you willing to tolerate? And, really, it annoys me because this is an argument we've had concerning so many minorities and we have already said “NO this is wrong” there, so why are we arguing again?

In Alice Springs, Australia, openly gay author Armistead Maupin was barred from using the toilets because they're for “real men” only

Ikea releases a very mild gay positive advert in italy. And people freak including calling it “Swedish Imperialism” would you believe What? Gays are part of the Swedish empire? What?

And I'm always sad that this section is always so well populated – we have to look at the bigotry that seems expressly aimed out our most vulnerable – GBLTQ youth

The author of the other anti-gay Manhattan declaration App has had another bigot explosion railing against GSAs in schools – the ones that protect and support our most vulnerable? Yeah they teach teens to choose “disease, heartbreak and an early death” See I look at that and I think that these people WANT our kids to die. They're desperate to remove every last possible support net available. I think the hate groups are gleeful with every dead GBLT teen.

Want to wear a pro-gay tv shirt at school in Dallas? can't have that! It's TOO DISTRACTING Damn that distracting equality and acceptance!

Harding university in Arkansas is a Christian university – and doesn't like teh gay. No no it does not. In fact, when students published a magazine on the net on what it was like to be gay on such an anti-gay campus the site was blocked on campus because it was “objectionable” “offensive” and “degrading.” Well at least he doesn't mix words and wears his bigotry for all to see

Chuck Norris apparently thinks schools are “too gay” And reasonable people think Chuck Norris is a fool and a bigot.

In Utah, someone apparently agrees with him since openly gay candidate for student government at Southern University is being plagued by anti-gay graffiti

In California, a teacher drew “s” on a gay-supporting student's hand and referred to them as “sinner” This person is unfit to supervise children under any circumstances. But then the school doesn't seem much better – not treating the GSA in the same way it treats other minority organisations and punishing gay kids for objecting to anti-gay slurs, while ignoring the slurs themselves

In Ontario, Catholic headteacher decides not only to a gay-straight alliance – but also hands out homophobic pamphlets! Isn't that a great place for kids?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Tories and their sycophants make me see red.

I'm especially loathing their rainbow-washing, pretending they're so pro-gay while demeaning the advances of the past or trying to claim credit for things they are no part of.

Theresa May and your Igor, Lyn Featherstone, I am sick of your speeches. I am sick of your feel good, do nothing little homilies. I am sick of Theresa May asking us to judge her on her actions (oh but not the evil past actions to the non-existant current inaction) when what she means is “pretend the past didn't happen and listen to the pretty speeches.”

And I am sick of Igor Featherstone dismissing and splashing contempt all over the successes of the past. I am appalled that she dare try to demean the battles we have fought and desperately won in the face of fierce opposition from the party she now mindlessly supports.

I am outraged that she dared dismiss equality and rights legislation as “government diktats.” Screw you you privileged, prejudiced excuse for a human being.

Of course she has made a habit of handwaving away equal rights legislation in many speeches and seems proud of them the way she crows about them on her blog (in between whining about Labour councils cutting funds because of the cuts her government is part of). Because the Tories don't like them and largely voted against them , so Featherstone is there to dismiss them as unimportant!

I wouldn't have a job if it weren't for those laws. I lost jobs before them because of their lack. I've been treated like utter shit. I have seen friend and contact after friend and contact come to me and ask for help and those laws were what I used to protect them.

But this straight woman dismisses them – DIKTATS! Government meddling! Government pretending to know best!

And of course now they're leaping all over trying to claim these religious civil partnerships as theirs. Never mind that Lord Ali, the Labour peer, and first openly gay peer, was the one who proposed this but saw it back-burnered because of TORY opposition that caused complete caving. Thank you straight women, for stealing that credit from what one of our own did.

And now the “equality in sport” they're prating on about. Look at the pretty speech! Look at what they've done. What have they done? What they've done is leap onto an ongoing campaign run by Gareth Thomas and Steve Davies and suddenly decided “that's ours! Us! We did that!” Is this going to become a pattern? Wait until gay people work for gay rights then claim it as their initiative?

Amusingly their action plan includes pretty speeches but the part where any DETAILS or real action would be included is broken. Hah says all you need to know about May and Igor Featherstone. But hey, you can totally LIKE on a facebook page! Wow be in awe of the actions of the Equalities Office. Slacktivism has reached government levels. Tomorrow they'll totally produce a meme and ask your whole friend list to copy and paste it! Totally cool.

The bullying in schools initiative? Oh, fallen off the radar.

Actual gay marriage? Oh, they'll “consult.”

Accountability for homophobia? Oh no that's government meddling! See, May and Igor Featherstone want to do away with these wretched “tick boxes”. Of course, ignoring that those “tick boxes” were how diversity was tracked. No they want to encourage a culture of inclusion – without actually checking if it's inclusive or not. But it means for more pretty speeches!

What about the cuts to the gay police association? Oh crickets. Not a word. It's not as if the police are an extremely prejudiced force of oppression that has an appaling record with minority rights or anything, is it? Oh wait, it is. Oh wait, one of the few organisations that was trying to make inroads and reduce the spectre of the police being our enemies has been defunded completely. Oh wait actual concrete efforts to do something to protect GBLT people has just been utterly shafted. And the precious Equalities ministers? SILENT.

Well done you two. You must be really fucking proud of your slimy selves

I would never ever vote for the Tories, every passing day I loathe them more. I don't know what it would take for me to ever return to being a Lib Dem. Clegg would have to go – and I certainly won't vote for the party while Featherstone is still a member.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Disappointing Gay Best Friend

I've mentioned before that I'm not a lover of The Sassy Gay Friend, even though I do think the whole GBF thing is something that needs satirising

Well these? These do it much better methinks :)

Disappointing Gay Best Friend - Fashion from mikalabierma on Vimeo.

Disappointing Gay Best Friend - LADY GAGA from mikalabierma on Vimeo.

And yes, I am a very disappointing GBF

What about when something is offensive AND amusing?

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

I'm going to poke at something now that has had me thinking. In particular, a line a friend of mine said lately when she was confronted by a sexist joke

“Damn it, I can't be angry because I laughed.”

And I think I disagree with this sentiment. I question the idea that something that is funny – or amusing - cannot be offensive. I also think that it's not helpful to assume the two can't go together

It is commonplace to argue that “that's not funny” because it's offensive (now, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's just plain vile, or sometimes we're just so outraged and sickened by it that the very idea of it being funny is boggling to us). And it's awkward because sometimes we use it even when we don't believe it – even when we are tempted to crack a smile. Because we have an idea that somehow, if it is funny, it is not offensive. How many times do we hear “it's not offensive, it's just a joke! It's funny!” It's like if we concede the humour then suddenly all the problematic elements disappear by magic “aha, the marginalised person has SMILED! Their arguments are now invalid! Bring on more of the prejudiced jokes!”

In fact, we're seeing this excuse in regards to this by Fosters in the UK. Now I generally am quite amused by the “Good Call” Fosters adverts – but that doesn't excuse playing on the straight guy's terror of being thought of as gay and how any behaviour that may be interpreted as gay must be avoided at all cost. It's a severely damaging trope, it polices us horrendously and is another prod back into the closet – and it has ensured little bursts of rage every time I watch TV. But, the defenders rally, it's funny isn't it? As if that means it can't possibly be offensive.

I say that something can be funny AND offensive/problematic and even triggering. And that being funny is not a defence against being offensive, does not protect you from being criticised and does not excuse the insult caused. The giggles do not invalidate the hurt – or the damaging societal tropes that are being perpetuated just because it's wrapped in something we may smile at – or that many people will smile at.

One example for me, personally is the Sassy Gay Friend which I'm sure everyone has seen on Youtube. And every time I watch it, I am mildy amused (less so when Beloved feels the need to interject “what what WHAT are you doing?” and if he does it again I will not be responsible for my actions). It's funny, it makes me smile, it makes me laugh

And it makes me cringe. It makes me cringe because the “Gay Best Friend” or “GBF” trope is severely overdone. It makes me cringe because the idea of gay men being accessories, toys and tools of straight women is a pervasive one in the media and has been pushed in magazines from O Magazine to Teen Vogue It's an extremely demeaning, objectifying and belittling trope that is rapidly reaching saturation point.

Now, it may be satirising that trope – but I don't like it playing into it, I don't like this stereotype and assumption to be pushed and I don't like this damaging meme to be perpetuated. It's amusing, but it's still problematic. And I don't think we can sweep all that problematic-ness under the rug because we raise a smile.

And I think this is important to establish. Like my friend mentioned at the beginning, who feels she is now unable to complain or criticise a sexist joke. We have accepted this defence, this immunity that because something is funny or amusing then we cannot criticise it or find it objectionable.

We give a pass to -isms running rampant in society because they manage to drape the cover of humour over them. We feel we can't fight them or point out they are problematic – because people like them – because we even were amused by them or parts of them

Which brings us to another point. We tend to excuse the fails in media we like (not just media we find funny), in books, in shows, in actors, in personalities we like or are fans of. Again, our amusement or following of them makes us give a pass to the fail they bring. It is hard for us to recognise that a show or series or person we like so much is due criticism or is -ist in any way, so we overlook it. We give it a pass. In many ways because we desperately want a book/series/whatever to be great, beyond question and certainly not full of fail. We defend it, vehemently – because it can't be failtastic can it? I like it too much for it to be failtastic!

And in doing so we end up defending the fails. We end up defending the -isms, even -isms that hurt us, because we like that book/actor/film/series and don't want the failtastic to come from them.

The problem is that our media in all its many glorious fails (and Tami has a great discussion round up on exactly which fail we prefer to be exposed to) will often pull shit that is offensive, triggering and just plain wrong. We have, for the most part, being RAISED on many wrong tropes – including many highly offensive tropes that have been presented as humour for as long as we've been alive and likely much longer. In fact, I would go so far as to say there's very little media out there that doesn't have some problematic elements on some levels. And we are raised in a society that perpetuates them through a saturated media – a saturated and often unchallenged, uncriticised media – is it any surprise that we learn the same, accept the same, laugh at the same and even defend the same?

We need to learn that just because we laugh at something, just because we enjoy something, just because it makes us smile – and just because we're a fan doesn't mean that we must overlook, ignore or defend the -isms. We need to stop using “but I like it” as an excuse to perpetuate the damaging stereotypes, prejudices and just plain failness of society. And we need to learn that it IS possible to both like something and criticise it at the same time.

Anyone who listens to our Podcast, Fangs for the Fantasy, may be excused in thinking that Renee, Tami and I spend lost of time giving side-eye and savage glares to our e-readers and the television. Because we snark, criticise, mock and generally tear down the fail in the books we read and the series we watch. But that doesn't mean we don't like them (except Teagarden. I think we all loathe Teagarden) We aren't engaging in some elaborate, masochistic penance. We wouldn't read and critique the genre if we weren't actually fans.

But being fans doesn't make us were blinkers to the -isms, the tropes, the stereotypes, the tokenism, the erasure and the prejudice – it doesn't make us refrain from demanding more and better.

Because being a fan of something doesn't mean you have to accept every part of it without question (nor does criticising and condemning the fail make you any less of a fan).

Because being amusing doesn't mean it gets a pass for the -ism

Because being funny doesn't mean it can't hurt or harm or offend or insult.

Because amusement, humour or fan-following doesn't justify or excuse perpetuating this badness.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Reclaiming slurs – and how Vanity Fair got it really wrong

Now, to begin I have to say I am not a fan of reclaiming. I dislike entering slurs into our regular discourse. I don't think it helps to give these words any sense of acceptability. I don't think it helps to perpetuate the ideas and stereotypes they represent and I don't think it helps to keep these words and the ideas

But some people do engage in reclaiming and, while I don't like it, that is their choice. But there are ways and means to do it – and ways to utterly fail. And sadly we have seen a lot of fail over this.

See, Vanity Fair decided it was appropriate to refer to gay characters on Glee as 'f@gs'. Not only are the characters gay but at least one of those actors referred to is openly gay as well.

Now, they avoided the first pitfall of reclaiming by being part of the group doing the reclaiming, but failed on many other issues.

This is not a gay publication. This is not an in-community reference, nor, for that matter, is it immediately apparent that the writer is not straight. The writer may consider it reclaiming – but there's no reason why a reader would assume so. This is a mainstream publication, this is a publication that straights write for straights buy and has a vast straight circulation. There is no way to see any “reclamation” here unless it is explained after the fact. This is a mainstream publication, a straight publication, calling gay characters and a gay man a “f@g”. And being a gay writer for that publication doesn't escape from that

He also did not self-reference using this slur. He wasn't referring to himself, his friends or, I doubt, anyone else who happily identifies with that slur. He decided to use this world to apply it to other people – as a label for any gay man or for gays generically. You don't get to do that and not get some heat. If you want to call yourself by that slur then more power to you – but you do not get to decide that everyone should be happy having that slur applied to them.

Let me say now – I don't care if you are GBLT or straight – you do not now or ever call me a f@g. Ever. Your being gay will not make me tolerate that. Not now, not ever. It's not acceptable, it's a slur, a vile slur that is soaked in violence and hatred and the constant dehumanising the straight world imposes on me. It is a word used to hate, to attack and to violate us. It is a word that I never ever want to see applied to me and I am hardly alone in this sentiment.

If you want to reclaim that word then reclaim it for yourself. You have no right to reclaim it for me and no right to declare that any and all in the entire community has to accept it as reclaimed or accept it as a label with no insult.

Slurs have power. Slurs come with connotations of hatred and violence and dehumanising. Every time this word is used that is the context it carries. It carries the message of us being lesser. It carries the message that we are something vile, unpleasant, contemptible.

And being snarky or sarcastic or whatever damned excuse you want to use for having it out there doesn't justify that. It's WORSE. Because even if “no malice is intended” you are putting out this idea – this idea of us being contemptible and vile – in daily casual discourse. It's not even a message of hatred! It's a message of NORMALITY. It's a message of normalised contempt.

And you know what? Maybe you are a GBLT person who has managed not to have that word connected to violence. Maybe you managed to escape the flashbacks and the fear and the pain. Maybe you don't face a great deal of homophobia, maybe it is just a word to you. Maybe you went through it but have managed to move past it and “get over it.” Maybe it just doesn't bother you for whatever reason.

Congrats to you. Not all of us have. Not all of us are that safe, that recovered, that healthy, that unharmed. And we're not being freaking “precious” because of that. And we're not being “precious” or “sensitive” because we refuse to go along with your reclaiming. We're not being “sensitive” because we won't accept slurs as labels. And we're not being “precious” and “sensitive” and “not getting the point” because we object to one of the vilest words ever used to describe us entering common usage – and doubly so when it is done in a magazine with such a wide and mainstream circulation.

This matters. So quit your handwaving and your dismissing – this was a screw up, it was wrong and people have every damn right to be outraged by it

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The BBC again indulges in gross homophobia

So the BBC decided to screw up again and ask another question about homosexuality on their “Have Your Say” website

In this case “is homosexuality un-African?”

Ok, deep breath. You'd think the BBC would have learned their lesson after the last stinking homophobic question they asked. Or the multiple homophobic incidents since then - really BBC, you're getting a reputation as the most homophobic channel and I really loathe that my license fee is paying for you to demean and dehumanise me.

On to the question

There are GBLT people everywhere there are people. Are there humans there? Yes? Then there are GBLT people there. In every nation, on every continent, of every race, of every religion of all peoples under the sun and moon – we are there.

There is no part of the world's population that is completely absent our presence. There is no place and no people to whom homosexuality is the other – we are not “un” anything. We are everyone, everywhere and everything – everything straight humanity is then so too are we.

This question again presents us as other. As a stranger, an alien influence, a damaging invader. This question again legitimises those who would claim that GBLT people are not African – including those born and living in the myriad African nations. Including those whose ancestors to the beginning of time have lived in Africa.

They are suddenly not of Africa, not of their nations, not of their homes not of their people because they are gay?

In this, it not only legitimises the idea of gay being the endless other – the alien even when it arises among us, but also legitimises the idea of rejecting and abandoning family, loved ones, community members because they are gay. Because it legitimises the idea that just being gay instantly makes you an outsider, a deviant, a threat – no matter how close your ties are. You are the deviant, you are the “un-” you are not right, other, not welcome here.

And to add insult to the injury of this question, it is asked in a time when there is a strong reputation for homophobia in many African nations. We've all heard of the Ugandan gay-genocide law. Homosexuality is illegal in 39 African nations – sometimes punishable by long prison sentences or the death penalty. These laws are already genocidal against gay people. And that is just the legal score, to say nothing of the discrimination and other abuses that only increase when illegality prevents gay people from seeking any redress or protection for fear of further persecution.

This question legitimises that. It encourages that. It presents this state of affairs as good and proper and authentic and natural and understandable.

This is not a question. It's not a subject for debate. The answer is so painfully obvious that even asking the question is as reasonable and sensible as debating whether water is wet, the sky is blue or koalas are cute. And worse, it is harmful – because it perpetuates the negative that very literally costs lives

Again BBC, I am sorely tired of gay people having to justify our rights to live to you.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Enough – homophobia is not a gay-on-gay problem

Look, I like me the schadenfreude pie, I really do. It's sweet, it's tasty and it's so sinfully good.

And yes, when an anti-gay politician/religious leader/arsehole is outed then I have me a happy dance. Not because he is outed and not because he is gay – but because that is an enemy disarmed. And these people do too much damage for me not to celebrate their downfalls, even while I pity them,

But – do you know what? All homophobes are not gay.

And when anyone says something homophobic and does something homophobic it is not the time to jump up and say “that guy must be gay.”

Because homophobia does not originate in the gay community. And straight folk do not get to pass the buck and decide that all this homophobic bullshit is coming from our own community.

Get this, those closeted self-hating and hating us all gay folks? They're a product of straight society, a product of the heteronormative, homophobic society that straight people created and enforce.

And y'know what? The vast majority of homophobes are straight. The vast majority of the law makers that oppress us, of the arseholes who rally against us, of the religions that screech hate at us, and of the brutal bastards who hunt us down, beat us and even kill us – THEY ARE STRAIGHT.

The existence of closeted gay homophobes does NOT show that homophobia comes from gay people – it shows how powerful and damaging homophobia can be to gay people.

You do not get to pass the responsibility for our oppression and persecution onto us. We should not tolerate the idea that it is the victims who are doing the victimising here.

Homophobia is a product of straightness. Homophobia was a creation of straightness. Homophobia is perpetuated, honoured and enforced by straightness.

So enough. Yes it started out as amusing and I've even done it myself in the past, but it's become too prevalent and too damaging. Enough. Enough of when a homophobic arsehole is outed saying “ah-ha I knew it.” Enough of saying “when's he going to be caught with a rent boy” when some bigot opens his mouth and lets the bigotry spill out. Enough of trying to blame gay people for homophobia. Enough trying to deny the responsibility of straightness for anti-gay bigotry.

Homophobia is not a gay-on-gay problem. Let us stop this idea now.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

BBC fails again - child sexual abuse is not why we are gay

Openly gay MEP Michael Cashman has revealed in an interview with BBC Radio 5 that he was sexually attacked as a child

I applaud his courage, it takes a lot of strength to reveal such a thing and hopefully it will give courage and strength to other people to examine their own pain and be able to confront it.

And this beautiful powerful moment then had his interviewer Kate Silverton ask whether it shaped his sexuality

Did we get that? Being molested when he was 8 may be why he is gay.

I cannot express enough how wrong this is. I applaud Michael Cashman for answering so graciously because, personally, I would have told that homophobe that the interview was over and when they can find someone with a modicum of respect and decency I would finish it.

If a straight person had said they had been molested or raped as a child would we declare “oh this is why you are straight?” No, we wouldn't – because straightness is assumed, it's the default. But if you're gay something must have happened to you. Something must have changed you from true, pure straightness. It must be due to trauma, it must be due to damage – because it can't be normal right? It can't be natural? It can't be who we are!

Is it hard to see how grossly, disgustingly insulting it is to declare that someone's love life, their love, their relationships are all based on trauma from sexual abuse? How can this be anything but demeaning and diminishing and insulting? Referring to their relationship of 27 years of love as being based on sexual abuse? How can this be anything but an insult?

We constantly have to justify who and what we are, because people like this ignorant fool continually refer to being gay as something that happened to you – some damage, some event, some break – because at best we're tolerated, true acceptance is so very rare.

We cannot let slip any indication of past trauma or grief or pain – because TADA! That's why you're gay! There are so many gay men who feel they cannot talk about any abuse they have faced – because the idea that sexual abuse is the foundation to who they are. It's unnecessary, it's clearly wrong and it's cruel – it adds yet another barrier, let another obstacle for gay abuse victims to overcome.

Oh and again it's the BBC. Why am I not surprised? Auntie, I am beyond disappointed.

When will gay people be happy?

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

"When will you be happy?"

I was recently asked this question by a friend, much to the nodding agreement of those around, in response to my complaining about various political/equality issues after my opinion was solicited. Because, y'know, I never am. Whenever they ask me about equality, gay rights, prejudice or anything like I'm always such a depressing complainer. They need a less depressing gay friend, they do.

They especially need gay friend who will not give them side eye and threaten to give them a ding round the ear 'ole for statements like that.

See, the whole statement "when will you be happy?!" (and it's unspoken translation "aren't you satisfied yet?") bugs me a lot, because it's easily answered.

I'll be happy when our humanity is universally acknowledged (or even majority acknowledged for that matter!) as being equal to that of straight people. Until then, I'm going to be a grumpy gus with my grumpy face and my grumpy activism.

And then I get the eye roll. Because I'm asking so much, because I'm being unreasonable.
And it's sad because it's not by any stretch the only time (or close to the only time) that I've heard the same thing expressed over and over.

Aren't you happy yet?

Aren't you satisfied?

Are you still complaining?

Can't you just be happy about this?

And do you know what the most powerful feeling I'm left with? It reminds me of a parent dealing with a spoiled child that hasn't said thank you for a birthday present.

Because that's it, isn't it?

It's ingratitude. When a right has been given. When a step has been taken - gods, even when a pretty speech is being made - there should be a thank you, right? We should express our appreciation for the equality granted, for the gesture made, for some of the rights being conceded. We should appreciate being considered almost as good as them.

We certainly shouldn't be saying "where's the rest?"

Gods forbid we say "this isn't enough!"

It's outrageous if we say "too little, too late."

It's not even okay to say "great - and now we want this, this and this."

I say again, equality isn't something given, it's something owed. And every step to progress is a lessening of injustice - not a grant of justice. Things will not be right until all this crap has gone -- until then, you're only making it less wrong.

And, y'know what, it isn't too much to ask. It isn't unreasonable or unacceptable or greedy to demand full equality, full respect, full regard in all matters. It isn't unreasonable to demand this or want this or expect this (though, depressingly, I believe it's going to be a long long long time before it's attainable, certainly not in my life time).

And it saddens me that we've even swallowed that idea ourselves to a degree. That we have actually accepted the idea of "asking too much" or "wanting too much at once." We have accepted the idea that people demanding equality are being "impatient." Are being greedy. Are being unreasonable. Are being presumptuous. Are being selfish even - selfish for demanding equality.

It saddens me that even amongst ourselves we have often accepted the idea of equality as a gift, as something granted, not something that we are owed and past due.

So no, I'm not happy. I'm glad about every step taken, I'm glad about every victory won, I'm glad about every inch forwards. But I'm not happy. I'm still not satisfied, I'm still moaning and yes, I'm still grumpy

*grumpy face*

Monday, 7 March 2011

On Gay actors

Now this drama has been dragging along for something of a while now, and it's beginning to stink like those left overs you keep putting off dong something with because you're incapable of cooking for less than16 people *ahem*

So it seems there is some debate about gay actors playing straight roles. Because it's just not realistic enough. Audiences just can't see gay actors in a romantic lead (and, as an aside, can I give a big side eye to the fact “romantic lead” always means man/woman sexing?) It completely breaks their suspension of disbelief and they cannot believe the role.

I hate to break this to you guys. But… Orlando Bloom is not an elf pirate (alas, for the sexy combination would be incredible). Johnny Depp is not a pirate who is also investigating the Jack the Ripper murders. Daniel Radcliff is not a wizard. Alexander Skarsgarde is not a Viking vampire (but, yes he is made of sexy).

That would be because they are what we call actors. This means they *gasp* ACT. I know, complicated advanced terms aren’t they? This means that they actually play parts of people who are NOT THEM.

Because, y’know what? I find it disturbing that you are quite happy and capable to suspend disbelief enough to see Orlando Bloom as an elf, or just about anyone with some rough face make up can be an alien or can even see Taylor Laughtner as a competent actor, yet cannot possibly suspend disbelief enough to forget that an actor is gay. I find it troublesome that the fact an actor is gay overwhelms all other considerations to a degree that an audience can merrily accept elves, wizards, big blue cat aliens and even sparkling vampires in purity rings – but a gay actor being anything but gay through and through? No, that is a leap too far.

Frankly? It’s homophobic, pure and simple.

And on that note – it is clear that, depressingly, being openly gay, especially for a leading-man style actor, is a career killer. And while it is wonderful and amazing when such a person does come out – we cannot demand that of them because the cost is too high so can we stop with the heckling, the hounding and the pointless speculation. If they come out, let us celebrate, but unless they are an arsehole attacking the rest of us, don’t drag them out of the closet before they are ready to come out.

Relatedly, however, I have to say that the fact we should not heckle actors to come out, doesn’t mean the presence of out actors – or an actor’s sexuality – is irrelevant – especially when it comes to actors who play gay characters.

Many people have said that the sexuality of the actors doesn’t matter. And I raise my eyebrow and become most sarcastic I do.

Because gay actors have repeatedly said that coming out is often a career killer.

Because when John Barrowman applied for the position of Will in Will & Grace he was turned down for a straight guy because he “wasn’t gay enough.” Gay actors not only have trouble securing straight roles, but they even face barriers securing gay roles

Because far too many portrayals of us rely eternally on gross stereotyping.

Because the same people telling us that the sexuality of the actors playing gay characters doesn’t matter are also turning round and being (rightly) outraged at the white cast of Avatar: the Last Airbender film and don’t seem to see any conflict in this.

Because I think under-represented minorities really should have the chance to tell their own stories and represent themselves rather than have straight people fill the role. And I think that’s doubly, trebly the case when we’re considered unsuitable to represent most roles

So yes, it does matter. Yes an actor’s sexuality is relevant and I dislike the amount of straight handwaving we’re having over the issue. Yes you don’t have a right to Out an actor or demand an actor outs themselves – but that does not make the existence of out actors irrelevant.

And finally – if an actor identifies as straight or declines to answer that question but plays the roles of gay characters - that does not make them gay. And it’s homophobic to assume a straight actor playing gay roles is closeted. Because to say that you are saying that only gay people would ever want to play our role.

You are saying that playing a GBLT person is just too abhorrent for straight people. You are saying there’s nothing in a gay role that would appeal to straight people. Because gay characters can’t be deep and interesting and worthy of straight people’s attentions and be a professional challenge to portray? It’s insulting and, again, homophobic

Just as Orlando Bloom doesn’t have to be an elf to play Legolas, nor does him playing Legolas mean he is secretly an elf. Just because an actor plays a gay role doesn’t make them gay. It’s called acting.

There, did I miss anything? Probably, but it was a good ramble. And there’s such a trainwreck of fail to address here

Stop Sheltering kids from LGBT people

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

The holiday season has come and, generally, left now (though in our family it tends to linger on for a few weeks until you feel a vague need to strangle people with tinsel and doing some truly unpleasant things with mistletoe)

I can honestly say that, once I reached the age of about 13, Christmas was never really a holiday I enjoyed per se. To me the first word that appears in my mind when thinking of this season is "duty" owed to the family to be there, grit my teeth and play nice.

On the plus side there was no annual Christmas disaster this year. The oven didn't die Christmas morning. The fridge didn't explode, the freezer didn't defrost and absolutely nothing was set on fire (no! Really! Nothing. This is perhaps the first time in the history of Christmas that we haven't considered calling the fire brigade. We should mark it on the calender we should).

Unfortunately, there were clueless relatives apace. One in particular was my cousin and her children. I have an instinct here to say "well meaning" but I'm going to squash it, for I am sorely tired of the automatic attempt to lessen or mitigate homophobia (and that's a post for another time)

See, she made it clear that she'd be referring to my Beloved as my "friend" and would like everyone else to do so too because she thought her 7 and 5 year old children were just "too young to understand."

Now, I was polite and didn't say "damn, your kids don't understand love? That's awful!" which I think was wonderfully restrained of me, but I also absolutely refused to edit my marriage or accept other people doing so. This didn't go down well, as you can imagine. I am tired of being treated as an obscenity, and it's not something I tolerate. If we were shagging on the coffee table, then by all means cover the kiddies eyes and reach for the furniture polish. But the mere fact of a gay man in the room shouldn't be a reason for you to cover their ears and wail at their lost innocence. Gay people exist, the minds of your kiddies will not break upon discovering this fact.

I am not, even for one second, going to aid the destructive idea that I am a danger to kids just because of my sexuality. I have more self-respect than that.

Of course, people ask me "They're her kids, shouldn't she decide?" And I have to ask - does she have a receipt? Property deed? Something? Because these kids are people in their own right and I think a more pertinent question would be "does she have a right to keep them potentially dangerously ignorant?" as opposed to "she has the right to control her property."

Let's be clear - either of these kids could be GBLTQ. And at the moment they're being taught one of three things (or all of them):

1) Gay people don't exist

2) Being gay is shameful and should be hidden

3) Gay people are dangerous.

I grew up learning the same lessons. I adamantly refuse to do that to another child, absolutely not. I can't stop a parent wounding their child this way, I can't stop them cutting them to the bone with this cruelty, but I will not be part of it. And, on a personal note, I won't hide who I am for anyone's sake.

When it comes to kids learning about GBLTQ people, I personally want to see GBLTQ muppets. I want to a see a trans character on Sesame Street. I want Dora the Explorer to come out as a lesbian. I want Barney to have a boyfriend (hear that sound? That's the sound of the religious right having screaming meemies). I think these will do wonders to help GBLTQ kids growing in ignorance and confusion and fear to realise who and what they are - and that there's nothing wrong with that.

Because at the moment we're supposed to be telling kids that there's nothing wrong with being GBLTQ - while at the same time presenting it as something obscene, something to hide, something to fear and something to be ashamed of. These aren't mixed messages - they're colliding messages. And the kids are the ones who will be crushed between them.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Bigotry on Parade, a bad news round up - Violence edition

 An inevitable effect from the badness of the last post - discrimination eventually manifests as hate and violence. Never forget while people cheerlead against us, demean us and dismiss us, they are responsible for this
There is, naturally, a Trigger warning on this for the violence within

Friday, 4 March 2011

A bad news round up - bigotry on parade again

As ever, various authorities around the world have been opening their mouths and allowing a great deal of hatred, foolishness and just plain nasty fall out.

A bishop in Peru doesn't like the word “gay.” He much prefers slurs

In East London, stickers have been plastered around declaring the area a “gay free zone” with Muslim religious messages sadly this isn't the first time or the first British city with such a sticker campaign. Bigotry on every wall is headache making, it is.

In England, the Catholic Archbishop Southwark has had a little bigoted tantrum over the idea of religious civil-partnerships because all religions should be bound by his religion's rules

And in publishing, we have a new book available that claims all us gays need is a bit f Jesus to “cure” us. Good old Christian love, where would we be without it?

In the New Forest, following the series of hoteliers who tried to make their establishment straights only, one hotel owner decided to put up a sign declaring “poofters welcome” *sigh* really man, really?

Palm Springs police chief David Dominguez is a homophobic bigot,  always worrisome with a man in his position - and sadly not uncommon

In Colorado a policeman has been forced to resign after being exposed as beyond racist and homophobic hate speech on various online sites Many of them on police computers. Which is not only hateful but is just plain ridiculous in its foolishness.

A Rabbi for the York regional police in Canada has spilled the usual bigotry on GBLTQ people but don't worry, the police say, he's not homophobic because the bigotry's supported by scripture! So religious bigotry apparently isn't bigotry. I wonder if he decides to kill someone while yelling relighious verses, it'll be similarly accepted?

In Connecticut there's a coffee shop whose owner thinks its acceptable to call 18 year old gay customers “F@ggot 

No doubt we are all aware about the tragic and horrendous earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. Guess whose fault it is? 

Sadly, no small amount of all this vile hatred is aimed at our most vulnerable - our youth.

In Alamaba, a 13 year old gay boy was bullied by his homophobic teacher The school shrugged it off – not important enough to them

A picture of Elton John, his husband David Furnish and their baby on the front of a magazine was deemed so offensive by a supermarket in Arkansas they they put a “family shield” on it, to protect the eyes of the kiddies from the gayness

In Minnesota, a school has changed the rules about dance partners walking into the dance after it became clear 2 lesbians would walk in together 

Repeated fool, Dr. Phil, thinks kids should be kept to gender segregated toys stifling gender roles are one of the main whips used against us - and worse for those who are trans or gender non-binary. And really - your son's playing with Barbie? Then object to the grossly sexist standards represented by the toy - not the fact he's playing with *gasp* a girl's doll! 

In Tennesee, State Sen. Stacey Campfield and Rep. Bill Dunn are trying to ban schools from mentioning any sexuality other than straight sexuality. That's really going to help fight anti-gay bullying, isn't it? We tried that once over here, it was called Section 28 – and it is literally an evil thing to do to kids.

In Kansas, a school newspaper editorial decided it would be great to quote leviticus implying GBLTQ people should be put to death now that's really going to help those vulnerable GBLTQ youth, isn't it? Want to make your school inclusive? Let's have some DEATH THREATS

In Canada, a Catholic school doesn't want people to discriminate – oh except against gays. Teachers should lead gay children towards a “more moral sexuality” like self-denial and repression! That's much healthier, right?

And, of course, daily life wouldn't be daily life without some major hurdles under the feet of GBLTQ people.

A Gym in Dallas offers family membership to couples. Well straight couples anyway.  same-sex couples aren't families after all *ugh*

A trans woman in Georgia was fired from her job as a Legislative Editor – because her boss objected to her plan to transition  her case is being fought by Lambda Legal

A Christian podiatrist in the UK doesn't want to treat gay men. And has worked hard to make the lives of the gay men under his care as difficult as possible. I didn't realise the Hippocratic oath included the “but not the icky homos” clause. Thankfully he has been found guilty of misconduct – how this man could be a doctor is beyond me

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams wishes it to be known that while everyone's talking about gay marriage – he's still a bigot, his church is still a bigot and he and the faith he leads won't be treating gay people as people at all  I suppose it's useful that major religions keep putting these “your kind aren't welcome” sign over the door – reminds me to treat them with the wariness they deserve.

Perhaps most damaging of all is bigotry written into the law itself. When legislatures write laws or fight for laws that enshrine prejudice, not only do they restrict those rights - but they send a message. To those arseholes out there who don't view GBLTQ people as people as not true or real citizens - and the law itself agrees.

Homophobic congressman John Ragan believes that the military can still discharge gay soldiers because there is still a ban on “sodomy” in the army. While highly dubious and of questionable legal grounds, it does emphasise that despite throwing out DADT (eventually, in theory, but not yet in practice) the US military still lacks explicit anti-discrimination policies to protect GBLTQ people. Without this, is there any real DADT repeal? Sure they don't automatically discharge you for being gay, but they can discriminate against you, target you etc for being gay and it's all good

In Utah, there is a truly horrendous bill being introduced by Rep LaVar Christensen His “family policy bill” that both enshrines marriage as a religious institution and denies any consideration of family to same-sex couples. So extreme is this law, that it may even prevent same-sex couples from making wills 

The Iowa house has passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.  Thankfully the bigots don't control the senate so it's unlikely to pass

In Montana, a bill has passed the house that will prevent towns from enacting their own anti-GBLTQ discrimination provisions – they are trying to force discrimination onto these cities which have already fought for equality

In France, the highest constitutional court has backed a gay marriage ban. Yet more legal lesser status enshrined in law, enshrined in the nation's highest authority

India is finally moving to protect vulnerable women from predatory surrogacy agreements. This is past time for regulation and monitoring and vital for the safety and well being of these women. But, alas, they have to dump bigotry in the law and includes a blanket ban on gay couples from seeking children by surrogacy not a ban on surrogacy – just gay couples. What a shame to ruin such a good law with hatred.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Dragon Age Origins - playing and musing

Other than WoW (my eternal obsession and addiction) I don't blame a lot of computer games. But the brief forrays I have had into gaming have convinced me that there are few things in the world as heteronormative as computer games (I think advertising and children's programmes come close).

I admit that this is the only reason I bought and played this game. It's a genre of games I like a lot, but I don't normally have time (other games mean less WoW time! Uh, I mean less time with Beloved. Of course. *ahem*) to play computer games. But a computer game with a same-sex relationship? It was so rare and special that I went out and bought it (which should tell you a) how rare and special that is and b) should tell the computer games industry something. Yes, gay gamers – ugh, do I have to use the term gaymers? It's so cutsie – do want to see games with us in them).

So in the most part I am squeeing. Squeeing because it's an excellent game (even aside from the bisexual characters, it is a really great game and worth it on that alone) and because it has actual same-sex relationships!

And because it is trailblazing (in the 21
st century. Really, that's depressing) I have to give it a lot of free passes and jump up and down for joy and glee and happy happy fun fun :) So yes I have to say this is a wonderful thing, it's positive and amazing and excellent

Not only is it GBLT inclusion but it's *gasp* more than implied, more than stated – it's KISSING and actual sex (of course not explicitly shown, but still). This is an omg squee moment!

Yes, there's a “but” coming

But before we get to the “but” can we please emphasise that this is a wonderful and good thing. I don't want the “but” to counter that – because it is a wonderful and good thing and a great game.

Got that? Wonderful and positive and Sparky is HAPPY, yes yes he is. And so far I've only played as a male character in a male relationship so I wish to test the other possibilities as well and see how it compares.

But let me emphasise, Sparky is dancing the happy dance.

Now, the “but”...

But – did the bisexual male character have to be an Elf? Y'know usually stereotyped as “feminine” “lithe” “pretty” and when he strikes poses in the camp and loading screen there's a lot of stereotype there

But – did he have the be what seems to be the only character who lays out the welcome mat for all and sundry? Seriously, the guy tried to kill me, I decided to spare his life and we're rocking the tent come nightfall. I walk on constant egg-shells to get Morrigan not to rip my skin off, and despite being with me waaay longer, it was much much harder to creep into Leilana's affections. But Zevran? “Hello there stranger. Let us now have sex.”

But – did the bisexual man have to be the character that makes constant sexually suggestive innuendo and comments and double entendre (and not even double-entendre – they're single entendre and proud of it)

But – did the bisexual man have to be the “amoral” one, the assassin, the seducer, the murderer? Wynn, Alistair and Leilana are goody goody. Sten and Morrigan, while not goody-goody, their disapproval of our “goodness” seems to be more based on not being goal orientated (look, do we have time to solve a village argument when there's an evil army massing?!).

But – did the bisexual man have to be the one with the tortured, abusive childhood?

Also – petty niggle – did he also have to be one of the more useless characters? Leilana, Wrynne and Alistair would make a much more balanced party *grumble*

Oh and I totally wanted Alistair *pout*.