Monday, 30 May 2011

Moscow Pride March

I'm sure many people have heard about the Moscow Pride March

Moscow Pride has been banned year after year and this year was no different – despite Moscow being happy with “kill the gays” rallies

This year the European Human Rights Court ruled against Moscow's ban. They were ignored – shall we see how toothless such discounting of GBLT people's human rights is?

The march went ahead because they are incredibly brave people who refuse to accept homophobia and are passionately dedicated to equality and combating hatred. I cannot express how brave these people are

UK gay news has a great summation of various events that took place

Many activists were beaten and arrested by police (though all have been finally released). Dan Choi and Louis-George Tin were among the beaten and arrested. Peter Tatchell was present but avoided arrest (probably a good thing considering he already has persistent recurring headaches from being hit in the head in Russia and elsewhere). Russian activists report that they were being threatened and intimidated to give information about gay rights groups to the police.

There is a suggestion that the police were complicit with the neo-nazi abuse of the marchers which would not surprise me, it's hardly the first time and the police are rarely GBLT people's friends.

There are no words to describe the courage of these activists, fighting against such institutional hatred and bigotry – and such unchallenged and unfettered bigotry. I can only hope that the greater attention and awareness continues and finally some decent changes are made and that at least some of this pervasive homophobic shit is pushed back.

If I wasn't already boycotting the world cup, I would be. It really is a kick in the teeth that homophobia like this is considered irrelevant.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

An ex-gay therapist faces sanction - a wider look

So, Christian therapist, Lesley Pilkington, the woman responsible for this mess has been found guilty of malpractice by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy

And this is important, oh yes yes it is.

Not just because she is an evil, dangerous woman who has the ability to hurt people when they are at their most vulnerable. Though we do have to stress just how dangerous she is and how much she can hurt people. People go to a therapist when they're hurting, people come to her when they're fragile, when they're hurt, when they're in pain, when they're afraid – and she exploits that. She adds to that, she furthers any damage, any hurting and perpetuates it and encourages it to last longer and go further. I don't exaggerate when I say this is a very evil woman doing an utterly evil thing.

But beyond stopping the actions of a horrendous woman before she does more harm, I think this is also vital because of what BACP has done. It has said that trying to change us, trying to “cure us” is wrong and unprofessional and forced one of their own for retraining for trying to do so.

Now, I dearly wish they had been stronger in their statements and make statements like this one much clearer. But still it is a firm rejection of “gay-cure therapy”. I am irritated that they didn't outright say “all 'gay cure therapy' is damaging and unprofessional” in their ruling and make it clear that any therapist who tries the same will face similar sanction. We need that, we need that unequivocally stated in the strongest terms backed by the ultimate sanctions. I think we got closer with this ruling but I still don't think we got there.

And that is important. GBLT people have somewhat... fraught history with the mental health profession. I know one of the barriers for me seeking help from profession-whine-listener man was my fear and distrust of the mental health profession (and too often I do think whine-listener man has an abundance of straight privilege and lack of understanding). One of the things I felt I had to say on the very first meeting was “you blame anything on my being gay, I walk.” Which is great, I started my professional-whining with a huge chunk of suspicion, distrust and expectation that I would be hurt. Is this helpful? I doubt it.

But this is a problem. The mental health profession – indeed the medical profession as a whole – has done a whole lot of bad things to GBLT people. Too many medical professionals as well as the medical profession as a whole have treated us as ill, diseased or criminal – and hurt us, punished us or even tortured us as a result. The Doctor has long been a figure of suspicion for many of us, another authority figure out to victimise us, rather than a friend, helper or healer. A lot of us are aware of that fact and are duly suspicious. And this most certainly isn't a thing of the distant past – or even the past at all People we should trust – we need to trust – are hurting us and hurting us badly. And we can't avoid the fact that, due to the omnipresence of societal bigotry and the general headaches straightness forces on us every day, that a lot of us need these services – and if we need them, we need to be able to trust them.

So, yes this is a step forward. But it's late. It's very very late. And it doesn't go far enough and it isn't strong enough. Still, it's moving forwards and hopefully working to build bridges we sorely need.

The Christian Legal Centre, of course, remains a centre of vileness and bigotry. But we expect no less from them.

Spoilers - Doctor Who Season 6 Episode 6

Ok Y'know what, I just don't like this trope. I just don't. This whole “hey let's make a metaphor for prejudice!” and then introduce some completely non-human creature that is discriminated against and wooo we're all supposed to learn a great big lesson about prejudice and bigotry and see that they're all REAL PEOPLE JUST LIKE US, ZOMG! And we all say awwwww and hug become shiny, better people.

Yes *cough* does it sound incredibly bitter if I make snarky noises about why people understand prejudice when it comes to a puddle of moulded alien flesh but can't seem to grasp it when it involves another human being? Yes, it probably does. I will give it props for covering not just the “big stick beating” prejudice but Amy's “I just can't treat you the same” prejudice, and by props I mean “hmmm, that's a whole lot of squirming discomfort I normally I don't expect to get from Doctor Who”.

But no, this is supposed to be a review, so I will try not to digress

Oh and the whole “who are the real monsters?” trope. Look we're being attacked by evil monsters. But look what we've done to them! Yeah, it's been DONE. It has been DONE AND DONE AND DONE AND DONE. Yes behold mankin's inhumanity – mankind is gloriously good at ignoring its actual inhumanity do you really expect people to learn from fictionalised inhumanity? Especially when it has been repeated so often? And you know the lesson, as said last time, would work better if the evil monster wasn't a great big scary genocide-obsessed gribbly thing. Because you know what the message here is? “Oh we've done terrible things, but now the people we've done terrible things to want revenge and, though it's sad and all, we need to do more terrible things to them for our own safety/best interest/whatever” which isn't a great message. Though it does rather sum up the west's foreign policy since, like, ever.

No no, no digression.

Well I won't cover the whole “flesh vs real human blah” because it was really just a continuation of exactly the same themes as last week and, frankly, added absolutely nothing to the plot. Yawn yawn.

I do have to have a moment of “ugh” when Rory fell for the “I'm a weak and feeble woman and can't turn this” line. Oh please, REALLY Rory? REALLY? You fell for that? Pathetic.

But the rest was all absorbed by... POND WAKING UP. Remember last week when I said (I swear if we get to the end of this series and it turns out Pond is actually in a small cell hallucinating/watching hollograms and that flap is someone looking in on her room and the whole series didn't actually happen so the Doctor's still alive... well... yeah I have no words to describe how pissed that would make me). ? Well SHE JUST WOKE UP IN A SMALL CELL WITH SOMEONE LOOKING IN HER ROOM!

And for that matter – the whole Doctor Who foreshadowing? Was AWESOME when done right! When “Bad Wolf” was subtly entered everywhere and you hardly noticed but it built up? That was awsome! I literally got goosebumps from it. But Big shiny bloody cracks and opening hatches? That isn't subtle foreshadowing! It's CLUMSY. It's HAMFISTED and it goes from “foreshadowing” to bloody annoying and “get on with it already”.

All in all – between not giving a damn about Amy and Rory, being disappointed in the Doctor and less than engaged in the plots? I am disappointed, yes yes I am.

Friday, 27 May 2011

invoke the Dread Lord of Fire and pass the corpses, I need a weekend

Gods preserve us, we're having a BBQ. E have so much meat that even the Dreaded Lord of Fire in our garden should tremble in fear. We shall banish all vegetables and gorge on the the tasty tasty meat.

Oh I suppose I should make a pretence at salad. You have to have some green things cowering, intimidated, outnumbered and afraid, on a corner of the BBQ table. It is known.

Also we will have booze enough to drown a horse. A big horse. A big horse with the liver of an elephant, yes yes we will.

And the television will contain nothing but cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. More cheese than a gourmet pizzaria (and it has to be a gourmet pizzaria because that pre-grated not!mozarella? Not cheese. It's plastic masquerading as cheese). So I can seal off the world and pretend it isn't there for a while, with my tasty corpses and my cheese and my cowering vegetables.

And as a bonus Beloved, fully cognisant of his egregious vacuum destroying sin, has to be in full redemption mode. Of course, I am too good a person to exploit and abuse him for this. Yes yes I am. Honestly.

I'm turning my phone on silent and taking the battery out of my mobile. Family and work are banned. I think work is beginning to recognise this as code for “Sparky be pissed, he be”. My weekend. I need to wind down, work is playing silly buggers with my hours again – and I've been saddled with a client in Sheffield. Sheffield?! Don't they have lawyers in Sheffield. And one south of the river – and I'm expected to go to them. It's tiresome, it is.

Partner who has arranged her nephew to join the firm as a trainee because he can't find a place elsewhere has told me that he has had a conservative religious upbringing and I need to be patient with him. Yeaaaah, no. This is not happening. I get shit from him then there will be hell to pay. Bad enough I've pulled night shifts and been on call every damn night this week and put up with great steaming barrows of crap from the powers that be in this firm, but I'm not taking it from a new trainee our firm neither needs nor wants. *draws line in sand and sits poutily on other side of it*

And so we invoke the Dreaded Lord of Fire, we char some corpses and we eat drink and be merry for on Monday we face great irritation!

Also, my coffee cup is empty. This is a sad sad state of affairs.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Our wounds are caused by oppression - not the reason for it

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

Marginalisation comes with many costs. Many personal costs, costs to life, costs to lifestyle, and certainly costs to health. Being marginalised can hurt you in a myriad of ways and I'm sure most people can see that and understand that.

Which is why it never fails to annoy me – or cause me grey hairs – when privileged people use the symptoms of our marginalisation to further attack us. They take our scars and try to bludgeon us with them.

And rarely is this so clear than in the right wing cluckings about the “gay lifestyle.” Because that's a meme isn't it? That' we're unhealthy? That we're diseased? Even that *gasp* being GBLT will lower your life expectancy! Yes, GBLT people are doomed to die young! They have to protect the kiddies from the dreaded gay because it will kill them! BEWARE THE GAYDEATH! GAYDEATH stalks us!

And it only takes a little analysis to expose not only the ridiculousness of this (aside from the fact that whether being GBLT meant a lower life expectancy than not it still wouldn't change whether people were gay or not) – but also just have revoltingly offensive it is.

Because usually the causes of all this dread GAYDEATH is actually bigotry-death.

Is there a high level of drug use and alcohol consumption among many GBLT people? Probably. There's even an elevated level of smoking. In fact, gay men are more prone to be anorexic than our straight counterparts as well. We're also prone to higher levels of depression and other conditions and, as is tragically becoming more and more apparent now the straight, cis world is (occasionally) paying attention, we have an extremely elevated suicide rate.

And yes, we probably die younger than our cis, straight counterparts.

And guess what? This is not because we GBLT. It's because we are victimised. Because if you're in a world that interminably declares “you don't belong here”, if you're surrounded by people that you fear, if you have to hide and act and lie to survive and get by, if you're job, your home aren't safe and if your very family can turn against you all to the background chorus of homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism and cissexism that will not stop... well, that's not very healthy. No, no it is not.

So, to see the bigots who created the bigoted atmosphere that causes these health problems, this pain, this loss of life – and see them actually then using the wounds they cause as an extra weapon to beat us with?

Well, that vexes me a little. Yes, yes it does.

And so we come to a new study that apparently shows that gay men have a higher rate of cancer than straight men. I can already hear the right wingers wringing hands, clutching pearls and generally flapping around all ready. The GAYDEATH! THE GAYDEATH! Won't someone think about the terrible GAYDEATH?!

Do we have higher cancer rates? Probably. Yes probably.

After all, we have higher substance abuse rates. We smoke more, we drink more. We have high stress levels. Gods, for that matter, out GBLT people (and surveys like these are always among out people) are probably more likely to be urban (with elevated air pollution) than rural. And that's before we consider prejudice and lack anti-discrimination laws reducing employment opportunities and access to health care. And before we add in that

I don't worry about GAYDEATH. But Bigotdeath concerns me and it's past time to treat the cause than vilify us for the symptoms

And it's hardly unique to GBLT people – how many other marginalised people face the same thing? How many black people are castigated for high incarceration levels, without any acknowledge of the racist system and society that causes it? How many native people are shamed for alcoholism without the slightest acknowledgement of the cause and broken society?

We blame people for the wounds of their victimisation. Over and over – and there are few things more distasteful to see.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


I have been pondering about my hair lately. And no, this isn't going to be a post about hair care products or fashion :P

I have long hair, I've pretty much always had long hair since university when long hair on men goes largely without comment and the student pony tail was nearly a uniform among my friends. I would say I've always had long hair but there have been some dramatic cuts over the years that I'll come to. I like men with long hair, I like having long hair. When I don't have long hair I feel like I'm missing something and generally don't like how I look or feel until it's grown out again. I like it, simple as.

Of course, nothing's ever that simple. Because my hair is also my BIG EXCUSE.

See, if someone realises I'm gay, my thinking? “Yeah I'm a guy with long hair – silly straight people and their stereotypes.” Why, I have even described myself as “stereotypically straight”. It's just the HAIR that gives it away.


One moment while I go slap Beloved who just collapsed into howling laughter


Ah I'm back. Of course, I'm also short, slight, not particularly hairy, favour tight clothes and lack “masculine features” like square jaw, cleft chin etc.

Or, as Beloved says, “you're a total twink! Since when is that stereotypically straight?” He has a way with words, my husband does. And a masochistic streak, clearly.

But yes, hair is my excuse. Oh don't get me wrong, I don't go around and everyone around me goes “it's a gay, it's a gay!” but most of my “closeting” behaviours are more about reducing “provocation” (Bah, I need to clean out my mouth) than reducing “identifiers” (I mean, not everyone twigs, that's for certain, but it's very hit and miss and never really certain) because I'm not realistically confident of my ability to do the latter (though it still irritates me when people realise I'm gay before I've done anything overt to let them know. But it's the HAIR!). If that makes any sense at all. It does to me, anyway.

So, anyway, the hair. Yes, the hair was always my excuse to myself – all I had to do was cut it and then I would blend in with straightness like some kind of epic gay ninja. Yes yes, I know, self-delusion is a speciality of mine. Of course, after a moment of badness I have been known to dramatically curse the hair that displays my gayness for all to see (yes, it's all the hair! ALL THE HAIR!) and have a big angsty moment where I have it cut so I can avoid some of the shit... and then feel guilty for hiding (ha) and giving way and being a coward and generally hating myself for folding (as well as not liking the way I look any more).

And of course I get supremely tetchy with family/colleagues/friends/whatever who suggest I cut my hair. Because the long hair is all that stops me from blending in the straight world as the epic gay ninja (ha!) and they're asking me to remove that. And it feels like a demand to hide and closet myself (even when it isn't).

So, I have a fraught relationship with my hair.

So, what does this say? This says that Sparky can angst over ANYTHING. Yes yes it does.

Did I mention I'm still adjusting the pills? Still not sure I likes 'em.

We need a new Vacuum cleaner

So on Monday I realise our vacuum cleaner is not working. It has decided to become therapy vacuum. It doesn't actually clean but it does make a reassuring noise to convince you that it is cleaning. After several days of running it over bits on the carpet, letting it buzz at them before pausing to pick them up myself I am resigned – the vacuum cleaner is broken.

No Beloved cries and he runs into action – changing filters, poking cyclones, checking tubes and doing all the things one is supposed to, scattering bits and dust everywhere in the process. Vacuum still does not work.

Having exhausted all logical pathways we naturally took our vacuum back to the shop because it's still under warranty.

HAH! No. Because that would be SENSIBLE

Sparky: it's broken

Beloved: Try it again

Sparky: *moves noisy vacuum over bit on carpet. Bit remains* Broken

Beloved: Try on that bit

Sparky: *tries on different bit on carpet. Nothing happens* BROKEN

Beloved: Ok try on...

Sparky: No, if it picks up that then that means it has a 2/3 failure rate. I'm not cleaning the house with something that only selectively cleans. It doesn't matter if it picks that bit up, IT IS BROKEN

Beloved: Just try

Sparky: *tries. Does nothing* Oh, look. It's BROKEN.

Beloved: Ok, I'll take it apart and check...

Sparky: It's under warranty. Take it back, get a new one.

Beloved: I can fix it.

Sparky: *doubtful look* You couldn't fix the last one, or the heater, or that electric bladey thing in the kitchen. Let's face it, it's 50/50 whether you can successfully change a plug

Beloved: I can change a plug!

Sparky: *doubtful look* Uh-huh so that plug in the..

Beloved: Hallway plug DOESN'T COUNT, the wires were the wrong colour.

Sparky: Oh, that's reassuring.

Beloved: Anyway, you can't fix anything

Sparky: Of course not, I'm a lawyer. I'm not allowed to have practical skills. It's in the rule book. Neither of us can fix this – and even if we could, we shouldn't have to – it's UNDER WARRANTY!

Beloved: Ok, I'll just check...

Sparky: Put that screwdriver down! Drop it! DROP!

Beloved: Fine I'll take it back tomorrow while you're at work.

So, yesterday I come home come into the living room and find... a vacuum cleaner. Technically. Scattered across the whole room in little little bits.

Well, it's definitely not working now. And I dare say our warranty is void.

Remind me again why I haven't murdered him?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Doctor Who - Series 6 Episode 5

Ok, y'know what's been steadily bothering me about Matt Smith's Doctor?

He isn't brilliant. Oh he has moments of Brilliant (like “kill us on sight” which was Epic and Awesome) but he also have moments of, well, stunning non-brilliance. I mean Tennant and even Eccleston were very good at portraying that the Doctor isn't just intelligent – he's brilliant. He has an intellect that goes so far beyond human capability that if it's put in a human's head they would literally burn up and melt down.

Matt Smith? Less so. He comes off as smart, certainly, and knowing more than people, yes. But Brilliant? I don't know. There's something a lot more human about him.

He uses his screwdriver to tell that there is corrosive stuff in the pipe marked corrosive. What is this the limit of the screwdriver now? It lets him read?

Premise annoyance – a high grade military facility in the 22nd century and an unannounced person just has to show ID when they appear in the middle of it? What no phoning and checking at least?

I'm getting a little irritated by the amount of “we lost the tardis” bits. A few times it's fine but you can only do it so many times before the Doctor starts to look as incompetent as the guy who parks his car in the no-parking+clamping area for the 8th time in a row. I'm kind of tired of the Tardis being offline or unavailable.

Interesting episode – what makes life, what makes a person a person. What makes a human a human. And the ethical horror of what they've been doing – creating intelligent life, living, thinking, feeling life, and treating it as a disposable factory part. And the hostility to finding a life that has copied your life – the violation, the invasion – yet you are the wrongdoer – it was given not stolen. And the realisation of humanity that these “copies” do feel and think and know all that we did.

And the “oh great, that is so typically me” line did have me giggling

Or, it could have been. I don't know – we had this amazing premise and so many implications and it all felt like... we didn't go there? Or we stood at the beginning of the path but didn't bother to reach the end. Instead we had to have a war, and Us vs Them for yet another tired metaphor about prejudice (hey even literally here – people who are JUST LIKE US but we still kill them for their perceived otherness).

Heh maybe I should be praising it for its realism – after all, that's probably exactly what humanity would do.

It's a 2 parter so I'm curious to see where it's going but I expect we're going to travel the trite and rather well worn path then develop the deep philosophy here

Also Amy keeps seeing these little windows open with the woman looking in (I swear if we get to the end of this series and it turns out Pond is actually in a small cell hallucinating/watching hollograms and that flap is someone looking in on her room and the whole series didn't actually happen so the Doctor's still alive... well... yeah I have no words to describe how pissed that would make me). Which yes is the meta-plot but WHY ISN'T SHE TELLING THE DOCTOR?!

(I am going to generously ignore the northern accent attempt).

Sunday, 22 May 2011

On the rapture and people who followed it

As will come to no surprise to, well, the vast majority of people in the world, the rapture didn't happen yesterday. Which meant I didn't get to score some sweet looted shinies - nor did traffic congestion get reduced in any significant way. Sadness

And I'm sort of tempted to join in the whole giggling and mocking at the silly. Because, after all, silly on this level is due a little giggling and gods know turning up a reason to laugh is a bad idea.

Except... some people quit their jobs over this. Some people spent staggering sums of money over this. Some people ran up vast amounts of debt over this (and I don't understand any of this. If the rapture was going to happen - why would you need to travel cross-country or buy lots of stuff or spend lots of money on advertising?)

And while I'm severely inclined to say "a fool and his money are soon parted" I can't help but be uncomfortable because of this. Because of the ravings of a fool, a whole huge bunch of people threw away so much of what they had and their lives are now very very very much poorer. And yes, it was their own choice and they knowingly and willingly decided to do this to themselves... but then, we often describe cult members as victimised and while this doesn't have the narrow, insular nature of a cult, it's still enough to make me uncomfortable with just saying "ha-ha, more fool you!"

...but doesn't the guy in charge of this whole mess, Harold Camping, have some responsibility? His careless words and manipulation of belief have hurt a whole lot of people. But then, by all accounts, he legitimately believes the nonsense he spouts? And there's no reason to believe he won't continue to, since it's not his first failed prediction

Did he at least have a duty to say "I could be wrong. Yes I could, be ready for the rapture, but don't do anything drastic! Be ready for life to start again on Sunday in case I've got my numbers wrong. My calculator could be out of batteries - or it's one of those solar powered ones, y'know? A shadow at the wrong time and we could all be off!" at least some qualifiers to his certainty?

I mean, again, he has to be aware of the consequences here. He has to be aware of the foolish self-sabotaing ridiculous things people do in these situations. He's done it before. And even if he hadn't - we all know the severe and hoprrendous things people have done to themselves and others in the name of apocalyptic, end-times religious belief. If anything, we should be happy that people didn't do worse things

I'm torn. I look at these people who have thrown so much away and say to them "you bloody fools" and have no sympathy for the fool who didn't bother to turn on their brains for 5 minutes. But at the same time, I pity them and am uncomfortable absolving Harold Camping of responsibility here

But I'm still going to ring in on Monday calling sick because I've been raptured :P

Friday, 20 May 2011

Well meaning support - covered in sting straight privilege

So we have an article with lots of well meaning but very very clueless straight people

First of all we have Philipp Lahm warning gay football players that if they come out, they will face difficulties and abuse – it is phrased as a warning. And no, I don't think it's a homophobic thing to say per se, because it's very true – people who are openly gay anywhere tend to face homophobic abuse, let alone in the oh-so-manly world of sport. But it's also not that simple.

Now I never would presume to speak on behalf of the gay community, far from it. In fact when I see “spokespeople” who do presume to do so I am generally left with an urge to hit them with a very large fish.

However, in this instance, I think I am reasonably confident in saying that “well DUH!” is going to be a pretty common response here.

I mean, being openly gay may subject you to homophobia? Really? SHOCK HORROR, thank you Mr. Straight Man, I'd never ever have guessed! We don't need straight people to tell us this and we don't need

Moving on to Manuel Neuer who said “Yes, those who are gay should say so. It relieves a burden.” Ok, Mr. Neuer – if you're gay you're a hypocrite by telling other gay players what they “should” do when you have not. If you are not gay then button it, clueless straight man. Do not tell gay people whether we should or should not be closeted. And do not talk about the “burden” because you have ZERO idea what that burden is or what it means or the risk of coming out.

Further “And the fans will get over it quickly. What matters is the performance delivered by the player, not his sexual preference.” Ok I'll let “sexual preference” go as a translation problem, much as I loathe the term. But “the fans will get over it quickly.” Really? Are football fans radically different from the rest of society? Because, guess what, everyone else hasn't “got over it quickly.”

But it continues, Mario Gomez adds “They would play as if they had been liberated. Being gay should no longer be a taboo topic.” “Should not” doesn't mean “isn't”. There should be no consequences of coming out but there is. And again what is with these straight people telling us how gays would or would not feel about coming out?

How about this? How about straight people say they would welcome openly gay people, would give us the same respect they would straight people, would stand with us for equality and would defend us against they bigots? That, that would be of the good. This is a good thing to say and do

And shelve the rest. We don't need “warnings” about homophobia. We know – we know waaaay better than straight people do. We don't need to be told to come out, we don't need straight people to tell us we what we should or should not do. Straight people have no idea what the closet and coming out means or costs and are not in a position to tell us about either. And most certainly we don't need straight people to tell us what we would or would not feel.

It's always difficult to call out well meaning cluelessness. Because I think there is a lot of well intentioned, sincerely positive motivation here. But, it has been said before, intent isn't magic. And it'd be nice if the sincerely meant support didn't come wrapped in a big bunch of stinging straight privilege. Like cakes wrapped in thistles. Now isn't that a depressing thought?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Sex between men!

*ahem* this post isn't going to be nearly as interesting as the title suggests :P

So Ted Nugent is repulsed by gay sex But he loves us and isn't homophobic and has gay friends! (gay friends excuse, really?) but he thinks man on man sex is unnatural and icky.

I often wonder when people say things like sex involving 2 men is icky. What is it that's icky? Are they going straight to anal sex? In which case, does he find man-woman anal sex or woman-woman anal sex or woman-man anal sex icky?

Or for that matter what about oral sex? There are an immense number of gay men out there who don't have anal sex. Does he find a penis in someone's mouth icky – anyone's mouth man or woman?

I doubt it. I doubt it in both cases. Because we've seen it before – gods, a brief glance at the porn industry will tell you neither anal sex nor oral sex send straight men running covering their eyes and whimpering “it's just too awful!” – it's men having sex that is inherently icky – because it's 2 men.

I just don't get the idea of sex just because of the gender of the participants being automatically “icky” I don't get it at all. Take woman- woman sex. Now, as a gay man, watching two women have sex doesn't push a single sexy button for me. In fact, my buttons are in the opposite room, getting dusty. For that matter, watching a man and a woman together doesn't really push any buttons. Oh if he's hot it may brush against a few buttons – but really, it's not for me, it's not me and they're both a kind of sex that my libido is completely uninterested in.

However, despite not a single sexual nerve being pinged, not a single sexual instinct being buzzed – I don't think it's icky. I may get bored watching but I'm not going to get nauseous or *gasp* repulsed. It's sex – it's a kind of sex that doesn't really appeal to me, but it's hardly disgusting. And I can't imagine being disgusted and repulsed by sex just because the gender of the participants doesn't match your sexual orientation.

Now Ted Nugent is a homophobe. He's just a bigoted arsehole through and through.

But this isn't unique to him. This whole “man-man sex, EWWWWWW!” is pervasive in society. Of course this is a classic in homophobic trope that is stuck in our society (and I don't think it's heterosexist – this is pure homophobia) that a straight man must do backflips to make it clear that ZOMG I AM NOT GAY! Because the very idea, the slightest suggestion, that you may be gay is so shameful and horrifying. And it has very much reached a degree that in order for a straight man to establish his “straight credentials” (actual quote used in an Irish court lately to excuse a straight man assaulting a gay man, I kid you not) he has to express his utter revulsion and hatred of gay men, And this is a Problem. I'm not even going to say why it's a problem – it's obviously and horrifyingly a problem.

But y'know what, Ted Nugent, I don't care what you think about any kind of sex. In fact, while man-woman sex doesn't nauseate me, I've a feeling Ted Nugent sex with just about anyone or anything is not something I want to see. But my opinion on whether Ted Nugent should get all hot and sweaty or not is irrelevant. I don't get a say, my opinion is irrelevant. Voicing my opinion would not only be irrelevant – but also out of line. Similarly, Ted Nugent's opinion on 2 men having sex is not only irrelevant but so totally not his business.

So, I have to ask, why does ANY straight person feel they have even the slightest right to express their opinions over GBLT people having sex? Since when is that any straight person's business? Where do straight people get off talking about our sex lives like this? Why do straight people think their opinion is even remotely relevant? Why does ANYONE think their opinion on 2 people having consensual sex is remotely their business?

So, really, if you have an opinion on 2 men having sex or 2 women having sex? Save it. Thinking we're nauseating is homophobic and offensive. Expressing an opinion on something that is so completely and utterly not your business is insulting and contemptible. All you do is establish your credentials – as a homophobe.

(On terminology – I use man-man sex and woman-woman sex and man-woman sex for 2 reasons.
1)because not everyone taking part in these are gay so gay sex isn't accurate; and
2)we tend to think of “sex” and “gay sex”. We don't normally have to specify “straight sex” we just say sex and straightness is assumed. And that bugs me – man-woman sex isn't “normal” sex and man-man/woman-woman sex isn't different sex that needs a qualifier. It's sex. Neither is more purely sex or truly sex.

So Beloved cooked!

Since I found myself crashing yesterday (no idea why, I'm still kind of crashed today. Listless, bleak and all blah. I diagnose lack of booze. Or lack of decency) Beloved decided to cook since I just didn't have the motivation to do anything other than stare soulfully into a corner trying to at least look romantic and gothic when feeling down.

And it was not bad! No, really, he didn't poison me. Pasta Carbonara was served and it was delic... acceptable.

He has, however, spilled flour in the kitchen and messed up the pasta maker. I'm not sure if this is because he tried to make pasta, failed and used shop-bought or because he's trying to convince me that it was home made.

Same goes for the amount of ingredients missing... I think this pasta sauce may have been his third attempt OR his third attempt failed and he went out and bought some. I haven't found the jar yet. Suspect there may have been a long and convoluted plan to hide it from me

Still, I didn't have to cook and I didn't get poisoned. This is of the good

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Bad News Round up again - bigotry and violence

I compile these because often with this crap there's little to say beyond what has already been said. But I do think it sends a message to collect it. And I make no claim that i've collated even 1% of all the crap out there - I have not, not even close. But I feel seeing several of these items together, in groups is helpful to show patterns. This isn't isolated, they arne't oddities - these are trends, tropes and eternally reocurring badnesses

We have Hate Speech
Tony Perkins, one of the chief haters, has gone all out apparently gay people are terrorists now.

Linda Harvey from Mission America has discovered what caused the mortgage crisis... THE GAYS! DUM DUM DUM! I thought it odd that no-one had blamed us yet

So Roma Euro Pride has a cute little cartoon about Roman gladiators kissing and LO the right wingers do lose their shit. AGAIN. Seriously, over Roman gladiators kissing? History, go learn some for crying out loud!

A man has been arrested for the homophobic and deeply intimidating “gay free zone” stickers in London

Exodus head, Alan Chambers hates this “It Gets Better” thing. He'd rather have hatred, despair and repression – much better


Facebook is again censoring GBLT people – this time censoring a lesbian kiss

J Crew again shocks and appalls by having *GASP* a picture of a gay couple in their catalogue! And they're touching (just!) And this is SHOCKING! And why does ABC list that picture as explicit? EXPLICIT? Seriously?


So yet another celebrity is showing what a big man he is by spouting homophobia over twitter, this time Blake Shelton has gone for a homophobic tweet threatening violence. It comes with a non-pology. It's a really pathetic non-pology – it doesn't even try to be an apology until after lots of flailings and excuses he finally begs GLAAD to help him.

And more musicians continue to indulge in bigoted hatred in their lyurics., This time Tyler the Creator and Nicky Minaj are singing out slurs, homophobia and general dehumanisation and contempt 2 more people I won't be listening to. Tyler is OFFENDED that he is called a homophobe for using anti-gay slurs really, how dare we!


Blackburn Rovers fans are being charged for their hate filled chants. Makes it such a wonderful safe space when arseholes do crap like this

Coach for the Atlanta Braves, Roger McDowel, brings anti-gay slurs to the game

The US chief of the Olympic Mission, Peter Vidmar has stepped down after outrage at his homophobia. They could at least PRETEND it's for everyone.

So some hockey says something vaguely gay supporting (I'm not going to make a fuss of it because a pretty-ish speech is not due a cookie and a head-pat) but a major hockey agency Uptown Hockey is SHOCKED and APPALLED that anyone could acknowledge our humanity . Added bonus – they're shocked and appalled that their homophobia gets them called haters! Waaaaaah! Sport's Anchor Damian Goddard is quick to tweet his support of our second class citizen status


Rev Robert Chase of the Sojourners is a progressive Christian of a progressive church. well unless they're GBLT people of course

The Salvation army continues to do a good job of showing us why they shouldn't get a penny

Pat Robertson would have you know I don't know, something about lesbians and abortion I tend to tune out whenever the old bigot opens his mouth.

And we have yet another religious figure, Pastor James White from Arizona, saying we're preying on the kiddies again lies like these cost lives.

The Presbyterians attempt to gather equality cookies for accepting some of humanity turns out to be even weaker and more pathetic than expected Yeah and we're supposed to be happy about this?


A Trans woman has been banned from a Las Vega hotel for using the bathroom

So Kent State university LGBT group is trying to get it's magazine, Fusion, published – but 3 printers have refused to touch it. This is why I always side-eye the free marketers saying the market will bring us equality and justice.

In New York, a firefighter is suing for discrimination after a long litany of anti-gay actions on the part of his colleagues and bosses


In New Mexico a school is so terrified of the evil gey from a GSA that they banned all after school clubs entirely

A Christian school in California has expelled a 15 year old girl for being bisexual And as a bonus they rang her mother to tell her she was bi.

An English professor in Oklahoma has been denied tenure – because of her gender identity

A college student in a Pennsylvania Christian college has had to transfer to a different college after a barrage of homophobic harassment, a death threat and bigotry from a professor

A highschool in Alaska has banned the choir from singing Bohemian Rhapsody. Because Freddie Mercury was gay

In Florida, 2 lesbian students have been threatened with suspension for holding hands He will not be facing any consequences for his bigotry


So Ian Paisley the second would like to know that his opinions on homosexualuty have “evolved.” He's still a bigot but not as much, apparently. Why even bother with this shit? You're a bigot, I don't giove4 a damn if you're slightly less of a bigot, you're still a bigot, you're still an arsehole and no amount of “evolution” will change that unless you actually evolve into a decent human being who recognises my humanity – and even then you get no praise, you get a slap for taking so long to learn

The Michigan house just does not like the idea of couples having same-sex benefits In fact it's going to go so far as to punish colleges and universities who dare to treat gay couples equally.

Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy pulled the gays=paedophilia/incest trope again. Yawn. Get a new playbook already

So, the Tea Party is all about economics, right? And not bigotry? so when theior leader says they'll forgive support for raising the debt ceiling – so long as you're bigoted against gays, that's because of... what, then? Is there a magical homophobia stimulus?

In Moscow, Gay pride parades are still being banned. But death to gays parades? Totally ok


The European Court of Justice has slapped Hamburg for giving lower pension pay outs to same-sex couples. It's sad that things like this have to be fought – how much more blatant can discrimination be?

In Cameroon gay men continue to be arrested and persecuted – for being gay

Sadly we've all seen gay people being called paedophiles – and it never failed to be sickening. but when a JUDGE says it in a court of law? Ye gods no, this bigot needs sacking

A woman in Houstan lost custody of her son because she is a lesbian – and her son's life only got worse from there

The Obama Department of Justice keeps getting it wrong and spilling bigotry everywhere - now being a gay soldier has been compared with drug addicts, alcoholics and threats to national security See, this is a good reason to stop the DOJ defending these laws - apart from the bigotry of the law, the department keeps letting it's only bigotry spill all over.

And the Violence

A gay man in London has been beaten because of the shorts he was wearing

2 gay men have been attacked in Woking, by 3 people using anti-gay slurs

In Liverpool there have been 2 vicious attacks on drag queens

In Adelaid, Australia, there was a pro-gay rally in support of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. a Christian group couldn't stand that, descened with the usual “god hates...” signs, trying to disrupt things – and pulling one lesbian from her wheelchair The power of Christian love is felt again.

Anti-gay violence continues in Jamaica with gangs rushing and beating gay men

In South Carolina a gay man has been beaten by a gang of 5 men

Gangs of men are targeting gay men in New York City's west village 5 gay men have been beaten and mugged

In Charlotte, 5 men have been charged for attacking and beating a 19 year old gay man

In Texas, a man has been beaten by 6 other men outside a gay club

In South-east Washington a man has got 12 years for murdering a gay man, shooting him 5 times

In South Africa, Noxolo Nogwaza has been raped and killed for being a lesbian a horrendous series of crimes that doesn't stop – and now a 13 year old girl has become victim of this “corrective rape”

In Moscow, the May Day gay march wasn't just attacked – it was attacked several times

In Mexico, gay activist Leija Herrera has been murdered – possibly even stoned to death

Right, now I need a break

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

I can't enjoy anything *pouts*

So I play WoW, as you know, and we're doing fairly well I'd say. After many victories, we've just stomped our 7th heroic boss – Theralion And Valiona (as a healer I know this fight as “PLEASE GODS GET OUT OF THE FREAKING FIRE).

Now, I've joked before that as a healer all I see are green health bars – no matter what I'm fighting. So I didn't really notice that the black circles of death on the floor the purple dragon launched had names, you just got out of them (or didn't as the case may be). But apparently the ability is called “Fabulous Flames” which bemused me a little. He also does something called “Dazzling Destruction” and I remarked at how odd these names are.

Apparently it fits in with his old voice. I blinked because I never realised Blizzard had changed the voice, I assumed he always sounded like this

There's one of those pauses and I hear a distinct “uh-oh” and a distinct impression that I'm not going to like it and absolutely no-one wants to be the one to give me a link *suspicious* cowardly guildies :P

But I did find it. And no, I didn't like it

*sigh* I guess I should be happy someone hit them with a clue-by-four and they decided NOT to run with this?

I just can't have nice things

Doctor Who - Series 6 Episode 4

What is it with Doctor Who going from crap to awesome?

Seriously! Episode 1? Poor. Episode 2? Awesome. Episode 3, diabolical crap. Episode 4 toweringly awesome and rocking beyond all expectations!

It was rocking it was awesome in so many ways.

We had an extremely powerful scene with the Doctor realising the Time Lords he was hearing weren't actually there. I don't think we'd seen any proper grief from this Doctor over what he'd done and the loss of his race - certainly nothing like Tenannt. It was good to see him capture the pathos and grief that is inherent to being the Doctor. It also got some of the menace – because the Doctor has every damn reason to be pissed about this – and a pissed Doctor? Is a scary scary thing. I don't know why but I like the darkness in the Doctor. He's happy and fun and runs through the universe sightseeing with awesomeness... and then you see his grief, his pain and his anger and the arrogance of a race that can bend time and space on a whim...

The Tardis soul in a human body? “Tenses are difficult!” “Biting's excellent, it's like kissing only there's a winner!” And completely not getting time barriers and limits or this past present and stuff nonsense :) I'm a trifle irritated by how long it's taking the Doctor to figure out that where the TARDIS' soul ended up. And the Tardis stole him! MY DOCTOR! I love it :) And the Doctor and the Tardis bounce off each other in Time Lord fashion and it's all ignorant but quick and knows nothing but is oh-so-clever! And the “orangey girl” MUAHAHA :) And “sexy” “Only when we're alone” the bi-play rocks so much :) Bickering over not opening the doors by pulling! Bring home strays! I stole a Time Lord and ran away! Every new line just gets better and better

And then we had Rory and Amy stuck on the Tardis... and I thought episode 2 set a new record for creepiness. That's some severe mental torture right there.

And the Tardis telepathic passcodes! YET MORE AWESOME. And the old control room!

So... I think “awesome” is the proper summation here.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

On GBLT genocide

I touched on this in my previous post on the Ugandan Gay-genocide bill, but I think it needs expanding.

Now that bill has been shelved again, whether or not it will raise its ugly head again remains to be seen, it isn't dead, but it is dormant. Personally, being the cynic I am, I rather feel it will lurk in the long grass until everyone's looking the other way.

But we need to talk about genocide – not just in this bill, but in general.

Now, normally when I mention genocide when talking of this bill (or similar laws – or even the death of gay people in the damn holocaust which half the world seems clueless about and I have actually seen gay people chided for appropriating it, if you would believe) I usually get a bunch of cis, straight people jumping in to chide me on my over-dramatic or disrespectful language. My hyperbole. My ridiculously emotive and inaccurate word choice. Tut-tut, genocide, really, I'm going to go there? I'm going to use the big bad g word? How could I?

Well, y'know what, I want to ask why the hell the rest of the world ISN'T using this word?

Think about it. If we said a country was enacting a law where if you belonged to a certain religion/ethnicity/culture/people/nation/etc then you would be hanged – what would you call that? If they could prove your existence they killed you and the only way to avoid death is to hide the fact you belong to said group? Where people who sheltered you, or hid you or failed to report your presence would face death or imprisonment?

Because that sounds AWFULLY like genocide to me. I don't think we'd hesitate to call it that, not for one damn second. It's almost text book genocide, in fact.

And I'm not going to stop on Uganda. In fact one of the things that has vexed me about Uganda is that we're focusing on this extremely awful and bigoted law while not seeing that there are countries out there that ALREADY HAVE THIS LAW in place and are merrily enforcing it. Where are the petitions, the MPs making speeches et al? I mean William Hague, US state department, I love that you spoke out and applied pressure, I really do – but would you mind copying and pasting that and forwarding it on to Saudi Arabia as well?

Let's be completely clear here. There are countries that currently OFFICIALLY and legally (and I'm going to return to this) kill people for being gay.

Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Mauritania, Yemen, UAE parts of Nigeria and parts of Somalia all have the death penalty for homosexuality.

In these nations this genocide is happening, legally sanctioned, officially supported.

But let's not limit ourselves to a definition of genocide that is way more restricted than is internationally recognised. After all, if you said “no I'm not going to kill all of X religion/ethnicity/culture/nation/etc etc I'm just going to put them in prison for the rest of their lives” then that? That is also genocide.

In fact, let's lay out right now what is the universal definition of genocide here – the UN legal definition of this most heinous of crimes – is doing any of the following with the aim to destroy the group in question:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

So, long prison sentences, repeated prison sentences (after all, imprisoning someone for 3 years, letting them out and then re-arresting them because *gasp* THEY'RE STILL GBLT is not exactly different from throwing them in prison for 25 years or more. And even if change were an option, I'm sure if we said we were locking up all of X religion until they converted? Yeah, we'd also call that genocide).

This is all covered under b) and c) up there. To imprison a group for existing, to imprison that group until they “convert”(especially when such conversion is impossible), to imprison that group over and over because they won't/can't change is a method of destroying them. It is, again, genocide. By both legal definition and freaking common sense (seriously, if someone said to you “it's not genocide, because we're not killing every member of that group, just locking them up for life,” what would you say to them?)

So now we look at nations that make it illegal to BE GBLT people? Well, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association – that would be 79 Out of 242 countries in the world, 79 of them have laws on the books making my existence a crime, the vast majority of which punish being GBLT with imprisonment – or worse.

Or, in other words, that's 79 nations committing genocide against GBLT people.
But I'm not going to stop there either. Because you see there are also a lot of nations out there that DON'T make being GBLT a crime on the books. Officially. However, if you are raped, tortured, murdered for being GBLT, if a gang will mob you if your GBLT-ness is ever discovered and the authorities will not only not give a damn, but are also highly likely to be involved? Guess what? That's genocide too!

Yes, allowing a group within your borders to be persecuted to the point of destruction, in any of the methods mentioned above, and you do sod all to stop it – or worse, tacitly or overtly support said persecution – then yes, that is GENOCIDE. And again, this isn't just legally the case, common sense says this is the case (and I say this, as a lawyer, knowing that law and common sense aren't always on speaking terms). We KNOW that if a nation says “sure it's fine to be of X religion/ethnicity/culture/people/nation” but then lets raving mobs grab these people, kill them in the street and does absolutely nothing about it – or encourages it – we KNOW that's genocide. Common sense would laugh – if it weren't crying – if we claimed otherwise.

And how many nations and regions do this? Have no official laws against GBLT people but actually being openly GBLT is a thing of supreme courage due to the extreme risk and the complete lack of any kind of support or protection? I can't even begin to list the places. And yes, it's genocide.

So why isn't it legally listed as such? Well let me quote the bit that goes before that list above:

...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

Oh look, human rights rules with a great big GBLT shaped hole in them. Like we haven't seen THAT before. Basically it comes down to a whole lot of privileged cis, straight people not giving a damn whether we live or die and none of them caring enough to try and change it.

And, frankly, I'm not going to let that great big heterosexist, cisexist, privileged cluelessness deny that slaughtering us en mass is somehow NOT genocide. Because I value my life and I value GBLT people higher than that. To refuse to call this genocide when we would call it genocide if the victims were different is to devalue GBLT lives, to dismiss homophobic and transphobic persecution and generally earn a whole lot of side-eye. This is genocide. Genocide. Killing GBLT people, persecuting GBLT people to the point where their lives are unliveable, and generally trying to destroy GBLT people? That is genocide, and the fact that a load of straight, cis people are so dissmissive of GBLT people''s existence that we're excluded from one of the designated groups doesn't change that.

So, you know what? Screw this “hyperbole” crap. I am calling a spade a bloody shovel. When a nation is trying to outright destroy GBLT people, whether by literally killing us, forcing conditions on us that make our existence nigh impossible (and that includes imprisonment) or openly or tacitly supporting our destruction by forces within the country – THEN THAT IS GENOCIDE.

And I'm sick of tip-toeing around it. I'm sick of excusing it. I'm sick of enabling it. This is genocide – and while there is a big honking great hole in our human rights policies (written by lots of clueless, ignorant and prejudiced cis, straight people) – that doesn't change this. This is genocide. Call it what it is and stop excusing people who have blood on their hands up to the freaking elbow.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Blogger messed up

So Blogger was down and a couple of my posts ended up disappearing. They say they're all back but I'm still missing some. Thankfully I keep a lot of back ups, oh yes yes I do.

Still, if you think posts have been repeated, or misdated, or disappeared or came back or there are broken links or whatever, for once it's not my technical skills.

Though I am honestly confused about a lot of it, so if there are duplicated posts, it's me putting back up what was taken down. I'm especially confused by a post that disappeared, didn't come back, so I reposted it and then the comments that HAD been on the old post came back attached to the new post I put up. Nope, not getting that one at all.

And I seem to have picked up a new tab that's not attached to any post but I can't get rid of it. Vexing.

Hopefully it's back to normal now

So it seems Amazon be failing again.

Last Amazon fail, Amazon was de-listing GBLT books (except for Christian books about how to “cure” us of course) and generally treating us as obscene and sickening.

This time Amazon seems to be removing all yaoi listings for the kindle

I'll be honest, I'm not especially inclined to defend yaoi. The many issues I have with the m/m and slash genres seem to be exacerbated 1,000 times when we come to yaoi and I've yet to read yaoi that hasn't made me feel insulted, irritated and generally annoyed.

However, much as I may dislike yaoi, I doubt very much that Amazon is refusing to list it because it's appropriative, insulting, rife with gross stereotypes, fetishising and highly disrespectful. No, methinks Amazon is cutting it because we have the icky icky icky gayness, especially given their past record.

So, though I don't like yaoi, I dislike more the idea that male/female sex is somehow less obscene than male/male sex. If you're going to ban all sexual content, fine (though why you want to police your customer's reading habits I don't know and I really don't think it's Amazon's job to be morality police). But banning teh scary gay while leaving the het up? Yeah, not impressed. That would be homophobia that would.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Uganda "kill gays bill" keeps on going

The Uganda kill the gays bill is still very much on the cards and is now scheduled to be debated this Friday

I'm getting the feeling that this bill will keep sinking and rising until the world is looking the other way and then it'll be passed while we're all distracted.

There's a lot of random rumours – let's just confirm it HASN'T gone away and it HASN'T removed the death penalty. It can still pass, it's still being debated and it still kills gay people.

It's always sad when gay rights are debated, sadder and horrifying still when they are debated going backwards - and worst of all when our very lives are up for debate and questioning – with the lives of so many innocent people literally hanging in the balance.

I urge everyone to contact their elected representative to protest this bill. I'm not sure what power internet petitions have, but heckling, poking and generally being a nuisance to your representative who at least has to pretend to listen to you, is usually pretty effective. At least as effective as we can manage

If this bill passes, Uganda will be another state with legally sanctioned genocide against gay people. And let us make it clear that this is genocide. If any other group that was singled out for death for existing we would not hesitate to call it what it is – in fact in international law the definition of genocide means doing any of the following with intent to destroy

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Which, frankly, means there are freaking dozens of states in the world that actively pursue genocide of GBLT people or allow such genocide to take place within their borders. Except, of course, when these crimes are committed against GBLT people, it is not recognised as genocide.

We don't need another country ratcheting up its efforts to destroy us. We don't need the not!genocide to be pushed further, we really do not.

Rowan Williams has finally spoken again but his words just seem to be reinforcing his insulting “condemnation” he made last time. He completely fails to acknowledge that his church is one of the forces behind this bill and supporters of this bill (strongly implying there's no Anglican hands on it, actually, which is a gross deception) and protests the “severity” of the bill. Again, sickening wording – it suggests he's happy with the bill's contents so long as the bill didn't contain the death penalty. Criminalising gay people is fine so long as he doesn't have to think of the Death Penalty. I'm past expecting better from him and the Anglican church (or organised religion in general, to be honest).

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Identity policing, stereotype fences and good friends

I've been having a ponder about things I value in many of my good friends – both online and in RL. And one of the main things is my not having to navigate the Stereotype Fences.

I often feel pressurised to be someone I'm not, to act a way I am not, to conform either to what straightness tells me I should be or to conform to what I'm supposed to be to be a “real” gay man.

And it's tiresome and tiring. I hate editing myself in case something I said/did was just “too gay.” And I hate checking myself because something I said/did comes off as “straight emulation.”

I hate that there are so many rules to just being.

Which is where I come to my friends.

I value the friends where I can snark and cruelly rip into someone and not have someone think “he's such a catty queen”. I like that I can flirt outrageously and that not be a comment on my being gay. I like that I can flounce, wear my hair long, dress in outrageous fancy dress, listen to my cheesey or oogle hot guys and not have people roll their eyes at how utterly gay I am.

I also value friends where I can say “I don't actually carry a condom in my wallet because I'm happily monogamous” and not be accused of “wanting to be straight.” I like being able to discuss my conflicted and painful considerations about having kids without being told that wanting to have kids is such a “straight” thing. I like being able to say that I've never done drag and don't want to and not have it declared that I am rejecting being gay. I like whining about Beloved, a joint household, even utilities and bank balances without being told I'm “trying to be straight.”

My friends let me be me, no boxes, no stereotyped fences, no identity policing. And I don't think I can underestimate the value of that.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Being gay is not all about sex

“I don't know why people care what people do in the bedroom?”

“Why do people care who people are shagging?”

“If it's between consensual adults, why do you care who is fucking how?”

etc etc etc

Stop. Please Stop.

Because though very well intentioned I'm getting really really tired of the constant reduction of my love, my relationships and my life to sex.

My marriage to Beloved is not based on sex. Sex is great, but it's not all there is.

My being gay isn't about who I am currently shagging. My being gay is an inherent part of my being, my personality, the very essence of Sparky.

If I become celibate for the rest of my life, I'd still be gay. I'd also still be a victim of homophobia

When I was a virgin – I was still gay.

When I was a virgin – I was still attacked for being gay.

And, let's be clear here, let's not give the haters the slightest excuse.

Because when they object to us marrying, object to us being protected from being sacked or evicted for being gay or when they object to hate crimes or when they push hate speech or when they want us arrested or beaten or executed – they are not objecting to who we have sex with. They are objecting to who we are.

It is not about who we sleep with. It's not even about who we love. It's about who we are – and they don't like that, they don't like that at all.

Monday, 9 May 2011

So Budweiser has done an advert

Here it is. Behold beer advert (well, it is American, so I think “beer” may be stretching it a bit. Beer-like water then. Sorta-beer.)

And people have been apparently jumping up and down yelling “look it's gay! It's gay! It's an advert with gay people in it!” And after the last litany of adverts I put up I can certainly agree that that would be a wonderful wonderful thing to have an advert with gay people in it that DIDN'T revolve around “ooh isn't it horrifying” or “haha lookit the gays!”

Except *watches again* gay? Really?

What, a phone call and a hug? One hug among many I might add – and hardly an intimate one at that. I mean, I come from a strong non-touchy culture (I'm a British man, my personal space is measured in miles and my ability to express emotion is only slightly ahead of my ability to fly a jumbo jet) and even I'd stretch to read anything beyond platonic in this.

Is it ambiguous? Well... in that it doesn't expressly say “look, straight!” but, then, in our straight dominated culture since when has anything had to expressly stamp straightness all over it in order to have that straightness assumed? Yes it shouldn't be – but let's face it. In our society where straightness permeates everything you're going to need more than these not!hints to counteract the eternal heteronormativity

Or are we at a stage where a man touching a man in anything approaching an affectionate manner simply MUST be proof of the gay? Because I'm sooo not happy with that – it's that kind of thinking that has every word and gesture from gay men seen as some kind of threat to straight masculinity. Because any contact must be sexual and from a gay man it's uber-super-mega sexual and therefore DAAAANGEROUS. And that's before we get to the whole toxic stew of how it's societally disapproved of for men to express any kind of emotion or emotional connection that doesn't revolve around lust or anger.

And if it is? If this is actually an attempt of diversity and inclusion... then, really? Really, we're supposed to be happy with this? The most subtly implied delicate possible maybe hints is supposed to be inclusion? “Ambiguity” that requires 8 inch thick slash goggles? That's inclusion? And we're supposed to be excited about that?

No, I'm not buying that. No, not even where straight advertising is omnipresent. Not even when adverts with the tamest of same-sex kisses are pulled because of protest. Not even if media is so homophobic and advertisers so damn craven that even this tiny hint is somehow “courageous.” Because I am beyond tired of being expected to do joyous jumping-jacks for things that don't even add up to a pat on the head.

Do I dislike this advert? No, not really. It's quite a nice little ad, and a welcome change from so many beer (and beer-ish) adverts. No, I have no problem with the advert.

But the hype? Yeah, not seeing it.

Doctor Who season 6 episode 3 - oh dear oh dear oh dear.

I would say review, but, really, there's not much to review. After a great recovery last episode this one dived back down to the depths, it actually made the first episode look good.

It was pretty sad making from start to finish – it reminded me of all those gimmick episodes when Pirates of the Caribbean came out – you know, every show had to some how squeeze in pirates somewhere.

It didn't advance the meta-plot at all. And the Doctor actually felt out of character (since when is Earth “our planet” Doctor?) flailing around with random guesses like someone on a game show

And the whole damn concept of the show was ridiculous!

Let me add a spoiler warning in here - though, frankly, there's not a lot to spoil

An automated sick bay that decides it's necessary to kidnap and COMATOSE people because they have a scratch? I don't know maybe it's a species that's made up of desperate fragility and the slightest wound is fatal?

And becomes a bright red, scary menacing monster if it has to sterilise something. Maybe the NHS should adopt that, activate Axe Murderer mode – “PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS! RAWWWWR!”

Or how about an automated doctor that is advanced enough (possibly with Tardis help) to understand what they're saying sufficiently to produce and accept consent forms – yet it has ZERO method of communication beyond “pretty song” or “red face of menacing death”.

(And Doctor – show her your ring? Really? A wedding ring is recognised throughout time and space? Because it's not even recognised on all of Earth. And that's all proof this doc needs for guardianship – a ring?)

All that technology, yet they remove a tissue sample and they still can't figure out that “oh it's a minor cut that will heal itself”? In fact, despite taking numerous tissue samples this state of the art oh-so-special med bay just didn't have a clue what to do with humans?

And for that matter, all that technology but their solution for “sterilisation” is to throw FIREBALLS at it? Let's hope they have a different method for sterilising surgical tools. NHS, please do not adopt this technique. Matrons with flamethrowers sounds awesome but is probably a bad idea

Oh and the Tardis, with all its rooms and vastness, it's swimming pool and wardrobe and everything else – doesn't have a med bay? The Doctor with all his intelligence, the Tardis with all its shinies, doesn't have anything better than mouth-to-mouth to resuscitate someone?

I know poking holes in Who is generally a bad idea, and there have been some serious plot holes in the past (Tennant and the flesh with all the diseases in history and the contagious intravenous cures) but this episode was start to finish pointless plot hole and not nearly fun enough to suspend disbelief that far. Who is supposed to be awesome enough that you don't poke the gaps too much – this lacked the awesome.

Oh and Pond grabbed a sword and, yeah, the pirates are afraid of the slightest cut, but she's still parrying and fencing a good-un. Where'd she learn that? Does "strip-o-gram" school come with fencing lessons now?

As for the rest... what rest? The dialogue (especially the kid's) was comic – but not comic enough (c'mon you could have really played it up lots of pirate cliches and can't I at least get a “matey” or an “aaaar” there?) suggesting instead that it was unintentionally comic. The whole “I turned to a pirate through greed” could have been angst-tastic and developed – but wasn't. Instead it was all "you became a pirate through greeeeeed!" no shit, sherlock. Pirates are motivated by gold, who'd've thought it?! And here was me thinking they were in it for the wardrobe and sea-shanties

All in all? Not impressed

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Lib Dems playing the blame game

SO I have seen several angry angry Lib Dems throwing their toys out of the pram at Labour over the AV debacle.

Labour's support of the No to AV campaign is to blame! It's all Labour's fault!

Ummm... not convinced. Really not.

Did Labour support No to AV? Yes of course they did – it's in the big party's best interest to keep FPTP rather than go to almost-FPTP-but-slightly-tweaked-because-real-election-reform-is-out-of-the-question. It's highly unlikely that AV would benefit Labour so why would they campaign for it (and several Labour did though).

And even then it's a complete and utter deflection. We all know – everyone who had even the slightest awareness during this farce – that the principle “No” campaign was from the Tories, the Lib Dem coalition partners. The Tory papers also did a bang up job of manipulating, lying, and scaremongering – the Daily Mail was very firm on the matter.

The Tories were the ones leaping for Cleggy's throat, the Tories were the ones who lead the charge here, the Tories and their supporters were the loudest, most aggressive and the most underhand tactics.

So want someone to blame? Blame the Tories – who have zero respect for you, their vaunted coalition partners. Blame the Tories who treat you like convenient servants, useful toold.

Or, even better, blame the Lib Dems

How about blaming them for entering a coalition deal that threw their principles under the bus for the sake of AV – and didn't even secure a modicum of support or respect on that matter

How about blaming them for making themselves so damn unpopular – in fact, making so many of their old supporters outright hate them - that a substantial number of people voted no just to spite them?

How about blaming them for not even trying to strong arm the Tories into at least lessening the vitriol of their attacks? Cable and Huhne have been losing his shit at the Tory tactics yet not once did the Lib Dems declare “this is such a breach of good faith and respect and we may reconsider our position in the coalition”

Or how about blaming the whole “Yes” campaign for the most piss-poor campaign I have ever seen? I had 5 leaflets through my door for No – 5. Not one for yes – not one convincing me that it's not expensive or complicated or anything else. I was stopped in the street by no advocates, I can see posters by no advocates, I saw entire newspaper frontpages pushing the No position. Was there even a yes campaign at all?! Because I didn't see a bloody thing.

This farce means that REAL election reform is going to be a long time coming. Too many enemies made and, of course, a failed referendum. If we try to raise the banner for PR now (or any system that is a change rather than a tweak) the naysayers will be able to say “we had a referendum and the people said 'no'.”

All in all, it's an utter balls up.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Horror of Gay intimacy!

So let's have a look at some adverts

This one from Klondike

Here's one from Maltesers

Here's one from Fosters

And from Pepsi

And this one for a drink from Argentina

And from Virgin Atlantic (this one banned)

Or Snickers

Hey, are we seeing a pattern yet?

Yes, same-sex intimacy, guys getting it on – it's it shocking? Isn't it frightening? Zomg straight guys put into a situation where people may think they're gay! Yikes! Someone thinks we're gay! AIEEE I did something that may be seen as gay! The horror! The fear! This is twilight zone stuff – we need the scary music! More scary music – there is GAY HERE!

And of course there's the related HUMOUR. Because, as Maltesers and Klondike up there tells us, it's just screamingly funny to put to straight guys in an intimate/gay-seeming situation. And then they realise and have to desperately assert their heterosexuality! The gay! THE GAY! WE GOT GAY ON US!

And how often have we seen this in TV programmes? The skit where a straight man realises someone thinks he's gay or he and another friend have done something that could be interpreted as gay? Is there a sitcom or soap out there that HASN'T resorted to this at some point? Y'know I was actually working up a list but it not only got so damn long but so many were such utter repeat offenders that I just deleted the whole thing and got a drink.

It's been done so often that even if it ever were funny, its sheer lack of originality would make it as funny as a knock-knock joke. And don't even get me started on the extremely not-funny “no homo” obsession that gets on my very last nerve.

And of course, Hetlandia cries, it's just humour, just some adverts. What does it matter? Heh, I've been told that I “think too much” about these things when I first cursed that Malteser advert

Well first of all, the fact it is in the adverts – in so many adverts – means it's a media staple now. It's a trope that everyone can recognise for a cheap, easy laugh because it's so damn common as to be both instantly understood and unavoidable. It's a message no-one can fail to understand because just about all of us have seen it – often repeatedly in media, in music, everywhere. This fear of being seen as gay is a universal trope that is not only in society, but saturates society.

And, this matters because this message? This message is toxic. Like the eternal trope of calling anything we don't like “gay” this straight horror of the anything that could be remotely interpreted as gay tells us one important thing – being gay is bad and wrong. Being gay or being thought to be gay is something apparently should inspire horror and terror in all men everywhere. I really think it's probably easier for many straight men to be thought of as a violent criminal than it is for them to be thought of as *gasp* GAAAAAAY *DUH DUH DUUUUUH!*

And what does that say to those of us who are gay? That our love, our existence, our being is something so hateful, so shameful? That being like us is, at best, something to be snickered at and found soooo freaky and hilarious? At worst we are seen as something so horrendous that even being THOUGHT to be gay for a few short seconds causes instant panic. Being thought to be gay is something so horrible that even the slightest stereotypical suggestion needs a vehement disclaimer, a hurried “no homo” or a dramatic display of stereotypical heterosexuality – because gods forbid anyone ever think you are that most vile of things – gaaaaaay (dramatic music again)

This is not really a healthy or happy idea for us to absorb.

But it's not just the self-hating message being drummed into our heads – it's a message that is being perpetuated, echoed and encouraged by straightness in our homophobic society. We are objects of revulsion and horror – something so bad that the merest suggestion of being gay needs desperately rejecting. It is a message that again and again adds to our rejection, our exclusion – and violence against us. It is a part of the culture that sees us beaten and killed – and part of a culture that still sees the damn “gay panic defence” raised again and again in court.

It is a part of straight culture that continues to say that not only are we less, but we are vile, disgusting, horrific to be rejected and vilified.

So, no, I don't think I think too much – but I do think straightness thinks – and cares – too little but it won't be straight folk paying the cost of this eternally repeated trope.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

I voted

I voted yes for AV.

I'm not a fan of AV, not really. It's better than FPTP, certainly. But a kick in the stomach is better than a knee to the groin. Being better isn't the highest of praise. Sadly, everyone I know seems to be voting no for it – and solely to spite the Lib Dems who they loathe with a fiery passion. I share their loathing but not their methods.

On the Council I voted for whoever would keep the Tories and the Lib Dems out – which isn't especially hopeful here, but I have to try. I don't want or trust either of them but will likely be saddled with both.

I had a snarly argument out the front of the polling place since it was nearly blocked with elderly Tories trying to force election literature on people. I don't need the bigots blocking the way to vote and I don't to have their pamphlets with their tripe pressed on me when I try to vote it pisses me off it does.

I had a second anger moment because I had to REMOVE said Tory pamphlet tripe from out of my voting cubicle before I could vote. Not even remotely amused.

Pills and Sparky drama

So I have these SSRI pill thingies which are supposed to be good at combating the badness. The problem is I am 100 times second guessing myself and giving myself grey hairs

I'm second guessing every emotion. Am I feeling this? Am I really feeling this? I don't know whether what I'm feeling is me or my pills. Do I really feel this way? Would I feel differently but I'm not being able to feel it? Would I feel more/less strongly? Should I be angry? Should I be upset? Am I not? Why am I not? Is that a good thing?

Yes, it's a full on Sparky neurotic fit. Which of course then asks “is it a full on Sparky neurotic fit because Sparky does that a lot. Or is it a full on neurotic fit because of pills?” I mean, it's not like working myself up into a complete state is out of character or anything.

But there have been a couple of moments that have... annoyed me. And justifiably. And yet... the level of anger I feel isn't really on par with the level I have felt before – or the level I would expect or consider proportionate. Is it just that I'm tired and jaded and worn and just can't get as worked up about yet more crap, or is it the pills? And if it is the pills how do I feel about that? The idea doesn't please me to be honest, it feels vaguely like being cheated or quieted down.

And what to do about it? Accept that this is long term goodness to sort out the badness. Work UP an anger that is more appropriate and fight against perceived suppression of emotion. Just stop questioning and feel what is being felt even if it may not be authentic to me? And how do I know it isn't anyway

More mental running in circles until I give myself a headache. Yeah I'm good at this.

And yesterday, I drove to a Hole-in-the-wall and realised it was market day. No parking ever since it was bumper to bumper and market stall in half the spaces. Damn... and then someone pulled out not a yard in front of me, insta-parking space snaffle!

Emotion Brain: A Parking space! A gift from the gods! Oh yeah someone up there likes me, look at this space, does it rock, it looks like it rocks, this is a rocking parking space! I LOVE THIS SPACE!

Rational Brain: Uh... yes, it's convenient. Um...

Emotion Brain: We must now have the PARKING SPACE DANCE!

Rational Brain: No... no, we don't be doing that.

And then getting petrol, you know how you never ever ever get the amount right? You always end up putting in £29.97 pence then getting copper back or, worse worse, worse, that 1p over and you have NO coins on you, so you have to split a fiver (or a tenner) for the sake of 1 bloody pence? So I was mildly pleased when I managed to hit £30.00 exactly at the pump – or should have been

Emotion Brain: LOOK Look, everyone bear witness to how awesome we are! How awesome is this?

Rational Brain: Yes, very lucky

Emotion Brain: This day is just so perfect! We need a victory lap! VICTORY LAAAAAP!”

Rational Brain: Are we even safe to drive like this?!

Now, I'm PRETTY certain neither emotional responses are in character for me. Concussed bunny glee is not normally in my emotional palette. Is it the pills? Could it be the pills? I just don't know any more.

Either way, it's bugging me. I'd probably feel 1,000% better if I could just say “this emotional reaction is usual to me, this one has been pill effected” but not being able to tell the difference leaves me questioning everything and it's really unsettling – I mean, if I can't trust how I think and feel then where am I?

Also, less concussed-bunny-glee moments would be a good thing. They're very very very disturbing. Beloved thinks they're amusing.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

In what circumstances is this not rude?

I tell you I'm gay. I tell you this isn't going to change. I tell you I don't want to change. I tell you I'm in love. I tell you I'm married.

And then you say you'll pray for me to change my mind

You're praying for me to be divorced? You're praying for my love to end? You're praying to try and break up my family? You're praying to destroy the happiness I have and the life I've built? You're praying to destroy the person I am?

Well fuck you and the heteronormative horse you rode in on. I can't change and I don't want to change and I don't need to change. If you and your god dislike that then believe me that sentiment is returned with interest.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Mortal Instruments Review

Ok as I’ve said before that I’m an Urban Fantasy addict. And that Renee, Tami, Dan and I all get together every Monday over at Talkshoe to ramble about what we’ve watched/read (Renee is always wrong and Dan and Tami need to get more Vampire Diaries in their lives). All our past episodes are over there as well.
In fact on my blog you can see the widget sound thing on the right there *points* where you can click play and hear the latest episode and choose past episodes as well.

Anyway, I am plunging through books at a rapid rate, and advised by Renee (who is blamed) we picked up the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

And I have now finished City of Fallen Angels, which means I've read all 4 of the current books in the series. I'm told more are coming... Portents of doom indeed. Yes, I've set the tone. I was not a happy dappy fan of this series, I have to say

I'm going to try and keep this largely unspoiled but I don't guarantee it. So if you're utterly terrified of minor spoilers look away now

Now I'm going to start positive. Yes, I am going to try.

First of all the story is a truly great story. It's involved, it drew me in. the villain was villainous, the plot believable and I genuinely wanted to see what happened. The Shadowhunters, mortals enhanced with the blood of Angels who gain mighty power by drawing runes on their bodies. They train in combat to fulfil their epic duty to protect the world from daemons while at the same time negotiate their delicate and often condescending and fraught relationships with the other creatures of the world – the fae, the warlocks, the werewolves and the vampires. All the more complicated when one of their own has gone rogue – and is willing to take down everyone and everything to get his way – the genocidal destruction of the other races and any Shadowhunter who consorts with them.

It is a great story, it's even an epic story. And the world is deep and rich, the world building, the use of the Marks for powers is relatively new, there's a distinctive sense of unique cultures and a very large varied world. I am curious about all of the “Downworlder” races and want to learn more about them. It really does have some great elements that could have been developed wonderfully and would definitely make the books a great read.

But, unfortunately, there are also some barriers.

To start with, I had a really hard time getting into this book because I think it was written by a drunken monkey. No, really. On a scale of 1-10 of writing, where 10 is Shakespeare and 1 is Twilight, this is a 1. Yes, this is another Twilight. It is so full of redundancies, gross over-writing and just excessive verbiage that it can be not only a drag to read, but painful to read.

This is the kind of writing we have – Clary is sat with her friend eating at a Mexican cafe having a conversation and every single line of speech is accompanied by ' she said, eating a hot pepper.' 'he said, taking a bite of burrito.' 'she said, chasing a nacho round the plate.' WE DON'T NEED A BLOW BY BLOW ACCOUNT OF THE DAMN MEAL! Irrelevant! Pointless!

In fact, the only way to adequately display this writing is with excepts:

“Clary pulled her heaphones out – cutting off Stepping Razor in mid-song – and rubbed her aching temples. It was only then that she became aware that the loud, piercing sound of a ringing telephone was echoing through the apartment. Tossing the sketchpad onto the bed, she jumped to her feet and ran into the living room, where the retro-red phone sat on a table near the front door.”

Here, let me fix that for you: “Clary took off her headphones and heard the phone ringing. She quickly ran over and answered it.”

“The door opened with a thump. It was Luke, his arms full of what looked like biog square pieces of pasteboard. When he set them down, Clary saw that they were cardboard boxes, folded flat. He straightened up and turned to her with a smile. 'Hey, Un-hey, Luke,' she said. He'd asked her to stop calling him uncle Luke about a year ago, claiming that it made him feel old, and anyway reminded him of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Besides, he'd reminded her gently, he wsn;'t really her uncle, just a close friend of her mother's who'd known her all her life. 'where's mom?'

Let me fix that!: “The door opened and her mother's oldest friend, Luke, came in carrying an armload of boxes.” TA-DA!

This is common throughout the books. It is actually a comment on how GOOD the story is that I dredging through the writing wasn't torture because the story kept me hooked. If the story had been any poorer I'd probably have put it down and avoided it like Tami avoiding LA Banks. But yes, the story really is good enough for me to endure this writing and STILL call it a good book.

But there's another problem.

Her name is Clary. She's the main character, and in every book she has made me cheer – for the enemies in the hope that one would kill her. I was disappointed. I have literally never come across a main character in any book I have disliked more – and I've read the Vampire Diaries.

She takes self-centredness to an incredible degree – and in this genre most of protagonists are as self-centred as gyroscopes. Every character exists to serve her, their lives revolve completely around her. Worse, she compounds this by having an incredible entitlement complex – near strangers invite her into their homes, feed and clothe her, help introduce her to a whole new world – and she's not only happy to just take it as her due – but equally happy to ignore, disrespect, insult attack or otherwise be complete snowflake to them.

And finally she epitomises the trope of “spunky agency,” a trope we've spoken about before. Clary has never had a good idea. I have literally lost count of the times she has said or done something that has left me gaping – to say nothing of her flailing randomly in a country, culture and among SPECIES she knows nothing about! Between portal leaping, insisting on going places everyone says she shouldn't, going into dangerous situations without back up etc etc etc (there's not enough etceteras). There are prison cells in so many buildings in this series – someone please lock her in one of them.

In fact, I have declared a new Award when discussing Urban Fantasy. The “Clary Award” for sheer, self-destructive foolishness. Because she is now the avatar of this concept.

And because of Clary, I ended up disliking these books. Most of the other characters are pretty much one dimensional, but Clary irritates me beyond all measure, she's a huge barrier to me enjoying these books because she sometimes makes me root for the enemy – or at least for some damn consequences for her endless ridiculous actions.

I have to cover 3 more irritants before I sign off on this rant:

Irritant 1: So far this series feels like a Trilogy – with an add-on. I don't know where the 4th book is going. It had a big-bad that in their canon should have been UBER BAD, but was very anti-climatic. It was dominate by teenaged angst, often quite unnecessarily. It dragged, there was no real plot until past half-way in the books. It feels like the series ended and then the corpse was raised from the dead by a deluded Frankenstein and it's now shambling around desperately seeking a plot or purpose.

Irritant 2: related to the above – there's a lot of unnecessary teenaged angst all over the place that feels grossly unnecessary. Aside from Clary & Jace's angst-ridden relationship, there's Alec and Magnus and Simon & Clary and Simon & Izzy and Simon & Maia and Maia & Jordan. Honestly, they spend pages and pages whittering about this while big things like a family member dying or being in a coma is passed over with precious little hand wringing.

Irritant 3: Many moments where homosexuality is mentioned and makes me cringe. The use of a “coming out to your parents” pamphlet to suggest Simon tell his mother he's a vampire (gods, no. They're actually sat there reading aloud passages and exchanging “gay” for “vampire”).

There is a gay couple in the books, Alec (an 18 year old Shadowhunter) and Magnus, an 800 year old Warlock. And many things annoy me greatly. Alec pines after the straight Jace (because us gays are always drooling after the straighties, y'know) and as such is Jace's devoted toy. As an added bonus, despite being older than both Jace and Izzy, he's killed less demons – he's too busy “protecting” his precious ones. Magnus and Alec have a relationship (despite Alec's ongoing Jace pining) and, despite being the no. 1 warlock and very important person in the area, he ends up becoming the gang's go-to magical fix it guy (something he's normally paid copious amounts for. A magical GBF who can save you money! Bonus!)

Clary magically identifies the closeted Alec as gay within... 3 hours? Yeah about 3 hours of meeting him. She then decides to attack him using his closeted status and infatuation with Jace as a weapon in one of the most heterosexist diatribes I've seen for a looong time. And, Shadowhunter society is apparently grossly homophobic. Ish. See Alec is terrified of coming out because of it – and his sister, Izzy says to Clary that no-one can ever know because it's soo soo bad. Until the third book, at the end of which everyone thinks they're going to die so Alec grabbed Magnus and kisses him. *gasp* And all that homophobia disappears no longer useful for 3 books worth Alec-loving-Jace-and-competing-with-precious-Clary angst, it's just dropped. It's one thing to build a homophobic society, but to drop it when it's not longer useful for gay-closet-angst plot device? Yes, this is not my impressed face.

Adding in Jace taunting Alec to kiss him and drawing parallels with him hiding his relationship and Alec being closeted (no, you clueless straight person, not the same!) and we have to end at Magnus and Alec's relationship. While it's nice to some acknowledgement of the huge age gap in the genre, Alec being pouty, whiny, passive aggressive, temper-tantrumy and childlike next to Magnus' paternal, parental, scolding blah blah has been so DONE in so many portrayals of same-sex relationship that I an so very sick of it.

Ok, now I have to say again, after my looong rant – these books are worth a read. The story IS good. And I know I've ranted a lot but I have to return to that – the story is fascinating – I may have hated so much in these books but I never considered stopping reading them. I was irritated by them, but never bored and I never reached a point (except maybe the 4th book) were I didn't want to turn the page or pick up the next book. Nor, did the plot or world-setting every feel unbelievable (except in a “how can Clary be that stupid?” way). It held together well and it was original in a way that very little is in this genre.

It's a shame you have to tolerate some things to get to that gold.