Thursday, 30 June 2011

Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher. Book 1 of the Harry Dresden series

Oh I like this one. And the ooooh means I mean it!

No, I really do. The main character is awkward enough, clumsy enough and generally human enough to appeal. And I like how he is both an awesomely powerful wizard capable of so much, while at the same time being several kinds of dorky and human.

I also love the little tricks of world building like electronics not working near wizards. Little things like that make a world :). Which is big and rich – but I haven't seen it all. Which is good – I'm on the first book and I shouldn't see the whole world in a several book series yet. This is how world building is done – in increments not info dumps, in lots of showing not long lecturous tellings

And I love the magic system, I love the system of imagery and symbolism that makes it up. I like it a loooot :)

But above all I like the story. And I didn't think I would. I'll be honest, the supernatural consultant to the police isn't something I dislike, but it is something that has been done a whooooole lot and it's beginning to feel just a tad tired to me. However Harry Dresden is a police advisor in a Masquerade world that is a little bit of a twist and it was done well enough that it didn't bother me :). I think it also got the right balance for a crime mystery – complicated enough that the detectives don't look like fools for not getting it right away without being so convoluted that the whole thing just didn't make any damn sense at all.

There's a wizard out there and he's killing people. Killing people in big, nasty messy ways. Harry has to find them. He also has to make rent, which is overdue, complete work for one of his few paying clients (being Chicago's only public wizard doesn't pay well – not with most people not believing in magic) and deal with saving himself from the attentions of the same murderous wizard. As an added bonus, the White Council, the wizard ruling body, thinks he's done it and is willing to execute him unless he proves otherwise. On the side he has to deal with a cynical police force that doesn't believe in magic and a curious journalist who very much does.

Read the rest at Fangs for the Fantasy

Bringing some thoughts together on It Gets Better

I've generally come to dislike the It Gets Better project. Which is sad because when it first started I cried. I cried and couldn't stand to watch a single video – because it was exactly what young Sparky would have needed.

When I was 8, 12, 14, 15, 16 – I needed this. Needed this beyond anything I could say

I know some people don't like it because we've got to do more than say it gets better. And that's true – but I also see where the project is coming from. The project is coming from GBLT adults to GBLT youth. And, for all we do, for all we fight, there's an extreme limit to what GBLT people can do to in this straight, cis dominated world. We can't stop the hate preachers speaking. We can't stop the vile law makers passing prejudiced laws. We can't stop the holy men spreading bile and hate from the pulpit. We can't stop the parents beating their children or throwing them out or cutting them off. We can't stop the violent thugs who hunt us. We can't stop the constant negative messages that scar minds.

We can try, we can fight it, we can make progress. But “make it better” is too simplistic, it ignores that if we ever fix all this shit it isn't going to be in our lifetime. It isn't going to be in that youth's lifetime. It's probably not going to be in the lifetime of that youth's grandchildren. We can make progress but we cannot make the world safe for them – we cannot even make the world safe for ourselves.

“Make it better” is a wonderful thing to aim for, but everything we do won't make that real tomorrow or next week or next month or next year. It Gets Better is hope to hold people on until then.

And I know some people don't like it because it's a lie. It often doesn't get better. I sigh, again, because I think of young Sparky and what I would say to him

What would I say to the boy who has been ostracised from his friends, alienated from his family, who has been beaten, who has been freaking burned, who has had bones broken, who stays up half the night with nightmares and wakes up with dread and has just emptied the medicine cabinet. What would I say to him?

Would I say “there's a lot more shit to go through. You're going to be beaten a lot more. Your low self-worth is going to leave you vulnerable to some real arseholes who are going to treat you like shit and worse. You're going to lose your first 2 jobs. You're going to have to tolerate a hostile work environment. You're never going to have a happy relationship with your family, the nightmares will never go away and you won't be able to look in the mirror at all for the next 12 years and probably never comfortably because of your scars and you're going to have to take pills every day to avert a mental break down that had rapidly reduced you to an unstable wreck. You will never be able to go out your door without being afraid. You will never be able to touch another man without fear, you will never look at a stranger without wondering 'are they safe?' You will never speak without wondering who can hear, you will never walk without wondering who is watching you. You will never feel secure, you will never feel that anything you have is ever remotely safe.”

Would I tell young Sparky that? It's the truth, after all?

Or would I tell him, “you're going to fall in love with a good man who never fails to make every day a little brighter. You will have a home, a haven. You will find the courage to be you, despite fear. You will get a job, and despite everything you'll be bloody amazing at it. You will help people, you will safe lives and families and protect rights and provide other people a safe haven. You will be loved, you will have friends who know you and value you. You will have fun. You will laugh. You will enjoy life. You will survive and be strong and do well.”

It's also truth. It's heavily edited truth, but it's still truth.

Because I know which I would tell young Sparky. I know what would have helped him not reach into that medicine cabinet. And it sure isn't the hard truths or painful realities. It's the hope – however weak and erased and glossed over that hope may be. Because it's hope that will keep them going to manage another day, it's hope that will tell them someone understand and is working with them. It's hope that would have helped me.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Erase me

I am an avid reader. I devour 2-3 books a week. Specifically Urban Fantasy more than anything (as can be seen by the Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast and Blog). Urban Fantasy, in television and books, is my preferred genre. I've always enjoyed the fantastical when I read. Fantasy and, to a lesser extent, sci-fi and super heroes. I don't apologise for my cheesey cheesey fiction preferences – I work long hours as a lawyer which is depressing and harsh reality. I work for GBLT charities which is depressing and harsh reality. I have to read lots of law books and journals which is extremely boring and occasionally connected to reality. In other words, when I sit down to kick back and relax I want me some wonderful tasty cheese, spells and sorcery, vampires and werewolves, elves and faeries

But that doesn't mean I turn off my awareness when I am reading or watching – I don't think I could anyway. Which is why my reviews tend to have a nod to social justice, as does the podcast. And increasingly there has been one issue that I – in fact all of us – have been wrestling with is it better to be erased?

And, while once I would have tried to argue the merits of a token, increasingly I'm really beginning to say “yes, fuck it. No more gay characters please.” How sad is that?

But my favourite Urban Fantasy series? Is Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles (and we fanpoodle in his name!). Zero GBLT characters (and part of that is because Kevin Hearne is more aware than most authors and doesn't want to write a marginalised person he doesn't know as discussed in our podcast interview).

My second favourite series? Kim Harrison's Hollows series. I love that series – DESPITE Ivy. And it's a despite. Rachel, the straight girl, living in constant fear of bisexual Ivy's aggressive sexuality (compare that with Kristen's male sexy vampireness) the way it's a constant threat for her, the way she constantly has to tip-toe round it and the way Ivy is never ever happy and her ex-lover is just a source of more pain? Ugh. I really could do without it. I'd rather Ivy be a man or Ivy be straight.

Another good favourite of mine is Tanya Huff's Vicki Nelson. Great series – but Henry's love and respect for women contrasted with his paternalistic contempt for his male snack toys gets on my last nerve. I'd rather Henry just looked to women.

I've just written a Black Dust Mambo by Adrian Phoenix review, and I don't think making Augustine straight would have made the book good or anywhere near one of my favourites (because it'd need a WHOOOLE lot more than that) but it would have made it a much easier read. Much the same with Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, I would still have disliked the books, but making Magnus and Alec straight would have made it less of an annoying read.

New Review: Black Dust Mambo by Adrian Phoenix

I liked this book. Yes yes I know, if I start like that you know I'm trying to lay the groundwork against a lot of fuckery to follow. But, no, really, I like this book.

The story follows Kellie Rivière, hoodoo practitioner who has gone to visit a magical carnival run by the Hecatean Alliance, kind of international magic police/UN. It's a time to party and play with your fellow magical practitioners and Kellie has a blast – until she wakes up and finds the guy she slept with last night is now dead in her bed. And worse, the magic seems to have been aimed for her.

She now has to deal with her dead lovers surviving friends and family, the Hecatean Alliance officials and the shadows of her own traumatic past while trying to find out who is trying to kill her, her friends and her family in the name of an ongoing vendetta.

The rest of the review is over at Fangs for the Fantasy

Monday, 27 June 2011

So, dinner tonight.

Ok. Let me try to get the chain of events fixed in my head.

So yesterday, since we had the death heat of doom, cooking was utter agony in our sweltering kitchen I sat down and saw that the weather forecast man (who I hate for making it this hot. Yes it's his fault) announced merrily that tomorrow (Monday, today) was going to be even HOTTER and even MORE HUMID oh yes, ha ha ha.

To which I announced that we would be having salad because no way am I cooking.

Beloved: Oooh fresh baked bread!
Sparky: I'm not cooking but you think I want to bake?
Beloved: But but we can't have salad without fresh bread *sad panda eyes*
Sparky: I'll set the bread maker going
Beloved: It's not as goooooood
Sparky: Y'know in any other house? You'd have plastic bread from the supermarket
Beloved: *sad panda eyes*
Sparky: Can you imagine kneading bread in this heat?
Beloved: *sad panda eyes*
Sparky: FINE. I'll knead it tonight at midnight when it's cool and leave it to rise over night. Happy?
Beloved: yaaaaay!

Sparky: (At 1:00am) here I am, the middle of the night making BREAD. My husband needs all the shiny technological devices while I make food for him as if it were the 16th century!
Beloved: And you're a saint!
Sparky: A saint! I demand canonising right...
Beloved: Don't saints take a vow of silence? It's late...
Sparky: Oh, oh, you better stay awake, I'm murdering you in your sleep!

So the next day I look and realise that I have enough bread to start a religious rally if we can get some fish so I say to Beloved that since he's meeting A and T today, he could ask them to come round and eat salad stuff.

Now there are 2 versions of events to what happened next.

What I think happened:

Beloved: *using a large megaphone* Come one, come all! Come to Sparky's all you can eat buffet! ROLL UP YE CROWDS! PLENTY OF FOOD FOR EVERYONE!

What Beloved insists happened

Beloved: Hey, A, do you and T want to come round for dinner? We're having salad
A: *naturally confused since, like all right thinking people, she thinks Salad is a garnish* Salad?
F: *overhearing* wait, you have to see these guys' salads. They have like a table load of food with some green stuff in one corner
R: *joining* Oh yeah, you've got to see it. I'm in!
F: Yeah me and G too, so there.
A: Ok, I'll tell T, we'll be there.
Beloved: Great.

Beloved: *on phone* Sparky! Did I tell you how much I loved you?
Sparky: What did you do?
Beloved: Well...

So thankfully salad was a success. There were some lettuce leaves and cucumber in one corner of the table (garnish). But then there was tuna and smoked salmon and mackerel and loafs of bread and squid and humus (I always have jars of it. I could live on it) and prawns and shrimp and boiled eggs and pickled cabbage and pickled onions and pickled beetroot and piccalilli and pickles and chutney and 6 kinds of cheese

The fact there was enough for everyone tells you that either I am a miracle worker or I always make too much food. I prefer the former.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Review: Witchling by Yasmine Galenorn

Our reading list is long and legendary, and one series that has been on our to read list for a long time is the “Sisters of the Moon “ series by Yasmine Galenorn. So I have finally got round to reading “Witchling”

Witchling introduces us to 3 sisters, Camille a faerie witch, Delilah, a werecat and Menolly, a vampire. Agents for the OIC (a kind of faerie combo police/diplomat/secret agent corps) they are on Earth (Seattle to be exact) doing their job to the best of their slightly clumsy, half-human abilities. They work closely with the local police to help solve supernatural crime and navigate the world as alien, magical beings.

There job becomes several times harder when the Demons of the Subterranean world are stirred up, a threat to both the Otherworld (from where the fae come from) and Earth. And worse, the forces of Otherworld seem to be descending into chaos, just when they need to be at their strongest – leaving the sisters very much alone to face the threat.

Let’s start with some good points

The rest is at a review site, enjoy :)

Stepping back, reassessing, reviewing

So the week before last was not a good week. Ups and downs, yes? Well, this was a down. Part of it was the general badness being generally bad, part of it was because it was, frankly, a bad news week and that, in turn was exacerbated by the behaviour of several of those writing about it and generally made me rethink my involvement in many places, my interactions and what I was reading and where

Then last week was one of my worst run of insomnias for a long time, which always makes me edgy, grumpy and generally wanting to curl up in a corner somewhere with a book and for the whole damn world to get on with it and leave me alone. But above and beyond that I was very inactive simply because I just didn't want to come online. I just didn't want to face the battles, the fights, the usual suspects and the supposedly not-usual suspects yet they still seem to push the same buttons all the time so maybe I should update that usual suspect list. In short, beyond commitments I had already made, I stayed off the net because every time I turned on the computer my thought was “I don't want to do this.”

This is not a good thing.

So it's time for a reassess of the spaces I'm in and the company I keep, at very least reassessing how 'safe' some of these spaces are and further to realise that, in far too many spaces 'intersectional' means the same damn thing as 'traditional values' or 'family' – it's another code word for so out and out homophobia. Which is a shame, because intersectionality is too important to be stained so.

I've realised that some link spams I've been following haven't actually thrown up a pro-GBLT link since the beginning of May. Plenty of posts on how bad/wrong/evil GBLT people are (since that is so fashionable) and a vast variety of other issues are covered – but GBLTs are there for being attacked only.

I've been asked to contribute to another blog, which is always flattering. Except looking back through their archives I find nary a post on GBLT issues and, not only that, but the vast majority of the posts are grossly heteronormative to a level that is offensive – often claiming wonderful diversity or considering all aspects of prejudice while completely ignoring us. I don't particularly want to be the token gay contributor to throw in a couple of posts so they can claim an “intersectional” label before pretending we don't exist.

I've realised too many of the spaces I follow are not just “focuses on different issues” but are grossly heteronormative and homophobic, and I follow too many of these spaces and don't treat them as the dangerous places they are. I've realised that too many of the “intersectional” spaces I follow only mention GBLT people if they have something negative to say about us.

And I realise I've spent far too much time arguing with straight social justice folks about what is and what isn't homophobia, about what gay people should or should not care about and how they think the “gay community” should or should not change. And I've had too many people repeatedly coming to me saying “you know me, you know my record” to deflect from something dubious they've said and I'm coming to see that, yes, I do know them – they're the person who is relying on historical record to try and give them a cover for repeated fuckery.

In general I've spent far too much time realising that vast sections of the “social justice” sphere just don't see homophobia as a real “ism” or straight privilege as a “real” privilege. I'm tired of the huge number of bloggers who seem convinced that me and mine must have had it “sooo easy” compared to those with 'real' oppressions. Me and my scars and my therapy and my hostile work environment disagree, but that disrupts the narrative, doesn't it? I've seen no less than 4 places in the last 2 weeks where straight women drooling over pictures of men kissing men is supposed to be freaking “progressive” and hailed as such. I've seen a lot more grossly heterosexist spaces and I am almost amazed – as someone who is beyond cynical – at the way the VAST majority of commentators on the whole straight men pretending to be lesbians drama and didn't see ANY STRAIGHT PRIVILEGE at all. Not one bit. Never even occurred to them. And this wasn't one or two – it was the vast majority of comment.

And basically all the dots have been joined and far too much of it spells out “what am I doing here? Why do I go there? Why do I deal with this person?”

And, y'know what? I don't have a freaking clue.

So I'm moving things around. I've dropped some twitter feeds and moved some of the worst sites from my RSS. Some have been moved into my “this place is a freaking swamp” (I keep my RSS split based on the contents likelihood of giving me grey hairs) category, but most I've just dropped. My “trusted spaces” RSS field is now... small. Extremely small. In fact, even my “We don't exist!” group has got awfully small. And the benefit of the doubt is being freaking revoked. Just being in the social justice sphere, just having “intersectionality” painted up somewhere and just because you once wrote a post in 2008 on why you think hitting gay people with sticks is bad doesn't mean I'm going to ignore fuckery or try to see it in a more positive light because at the moment I'm feeling almost masochistic in my activities.

It's past time to stop swimming in the piranha pool. At least not without smacking a few of the fishies that are nibbling away. And I'm bad at it and no doubt I'll leave far too many piranhas swimming around my feet, but at least removing a few would help.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Let's have some good news - marriage equality in New York and how important it is

New York has voted in favour of marriage equality.

Another step forward and some more families that will not be ignored. Families will get the legal protections and rights that are are so commonly enjoyed by so many striaght people. Many families will be spared untold irritations, annoyances and grief that come from lack of these essential protections. And it's another step forward to greater societal recognition that our loves, our unions, our families have value and are due respect.

And more. One of the things I always say about any right that is granted is it is far more than the right itself. Yes marriage rights are important in and of themselves, yes this will be wonderful for so many families and yes, on that grounds alone it's worth dancing for joy

But it's more, far more than the right itself. With the law as it stood, the law was saying that gay couples are less. It was saying that gay relationships are of less worth, that gay people's love was less important, that our famuiies are lesser and, above all, that gay people are less, gay people are due less and gay people deserve less than straight people

That is what discrimination in the law says. Similar to religious bigotry, it is a bigotry that has the power of authority behind it. How can you say gay people are as good as straight people when the law of the land declares that that isn't so? How can you say gay people deserve respect when the law of the land shows none? How can you say it's wrong to treat people badly because they are gay, when the law does just that? How can you say that hurting gay people is wrong when you have enshrined in law the very ideal that it is right?

Changing laws does not make bigotry go away, not even close. But prejudiced laws add to the fuel of bigotry. Prejudiced laws add legitimacy to bigotry, give bigotry authority and reinforcement and constantly undermine any attempt to counter that bigotry. Every prejudiced law on the books is a strone around the necks of GBLT people and their allies.

So yes, celebrate for those families and celebrate for everyone, it's a good day :)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Womanist Musings being down

Renee's site www.womanist-musings.com to which I am a contributor went down because of various technological shenanigans, surprisingly not involving moose at all (I know, I asked).

Her site should be back up in the next couple of days. The content is still safe and all should be back up and back to normal again, albeit with an irritated and stressed blogmistress who should seek sanctuary in Timmy's until the shenanigans have sorted themselves.

I'm spreading the word because I know she's got a lot of people sending panicky emails to her and she's currently hip-deep in shenanigans.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Yes I be grumbling

Do you know what's worse than insomnia? I mean the really bad kind where you don't think you've slept for days. Where you stay up all night staring at the ceiling. When you get up not only tired from lack of sleep but tired from stressing over not being able to sleep. When you just give up and don't even bother to go to bed because you know you can't sleep anyway.

Do you know what's even worse than that?

Do you know what's actually WORSE than this?

What's worse is being married to someone who can lay down in bed and before their head even touches the pillows they are snoring. He hasn't even laid down and he's snoring. Like the DEAD. And that's it, coma sleep, deep, peaceful, undisturbed heavenly sleep all night. He doesn't wake up once. Ever. Not a peep.

And then it becomes a work of self-control not to smother him with a pillow. Or poke him enough so he wakes up so you can say “I can't sleep!”

And yes, after the third night you do tend to get a little irrational. Like "How DARE you sleep when I'm awake?!" "You're sleeping AT ME! How dare you!" "You mock me with your sleep! YOUR SLEEP MOCKS ME!"

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Enough. Homophobic hate speech isn't funny, isn't entertaining and you need to STOP

I am getting sick of this

So we have some very well publicised gross bigotry fails and their little apology PR stunts. And it just keeps on coming

Cee Lo Green then decides to let his own bigotry shine through on twitter. Then adds a bonus non-pology that is, if anything, even more offensive than his original shit.

Comedian Jo Koy has joined in throwing anti-gay slurs for laughs

We have rapper Soulja Boy claiming his facebook wass hacked when it was covered in more anti-gay hate speech, but I have my doubts especially considering the bigoted crap he puts in his lyrics

Speaking of, rapper Tyler the Creator has decided that gay people don't mind him using anti-gay slurs fuck you and the heteronormative horse you rode in on.

Enough. I am a gazzilion times sick of this. Wake up and join the rest of us in the 21st century and grow the fuck up. Act your ages not your shoe sizes and get over the idea that saying the bad works makes you so damn EDGY and hilarious. We deserve more respect from this, you homophobic arseholes.

And everyone else stop defending this shit already. It's not right, it's not ok, it's not funny and if it were funny it'd still be not ok. Dehumanising GBLT people for your own amusement is twisted, it's grossly privileged, it's arrogant and it hurts. So stop with your jumping up and down telling us what a nice person they are. Stop with your defending their bigotry. Stop with your excusing anti-gay hate. Joan Rivers and Louis CK have joined the crowd of straight people defending this bigotry. Shut it you over-privileged prejudiced fools, stop enabling this, stop tolerating it and grab yourselves a shred of humanity already

Review: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

I am going to do something I never ever do. I am submitting a DNF review. Yes, a Did Not Finish.

I normally refuse to review a book I haven't finished. I think it's wrong and unfair to write a review unless you have read it. I've always held on this – but this book broke me.

In my defence, this is me here. Seriously, I read 3 LA Banks Vampire Huntress novels and intend to read the rest. I even read LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries. I got through Cassadra Clare's over written mess and Yasmine Galenorn's florid florid prose, I even read through Anya Bast's interminable sex scenes. I read Vampire Academy that gets a special award for slow start (the story starts at 80% in). I read Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series – ALL of it, every last minute of the drek and that should have been banned by international law. I'm even STILL reading Anita Blake when everyone else has declared themselves done with the fuckery 10 books ago

In short, I have a high high high tolerance for crap books. But this broke me. The very idea of reading another word makes me cringe.

It began from the very beginning of the book. The protag is a baker. She bakes bread and buns and rolls in a coffee shop. We know this because she describes herself, her daily routine. She describes her co-workers, she describes her regular customers. She describes all of these not just at length but also repeatedly. I actually stopped and double checked to make sure I was actually reading a book that was supposed to have vampires in it.

It's a problem when you're less than 10% into a book and you already want to gnaw off your own wrist and run away from it. Normally I have to be at least 20% in before cleaning the bathroom sounds like a much more fun way of spending my time, but no, with this book I hit the “why am I doing this to myself?!” level waaay faster.

So having dredged through interminable pages about baking, her relationship with her mother, her step father, her boyfriend, more on baking Her *yawwwwwn* oh, where was I? Ah yes, vampires! Hellelujah!

Except, no. Because we then hit 2 more major problems this book likes to shoot your eyes with. Problem 1 – random world building monologue. The flow of the story, even the flow of the action, will suddenly be derailed as we're treated to several pages of internal musings on the history of the world. It's like someone pauses the vampire attack to have a history lecture. While we have these long lecture we also have random irrelevant asides. Like there are a hundred types of demons. So every now and then she'll say something like “I'm breathing like a Puffer demon. Let me tell you something about Puffers.” “I'm tired, I wish I were an X demon. They don't have to sleep. Let me tell you some trivia about them” AAAAAAAAAARGH! PLEASE WE DO NOT CARE!

The second annoying problem is description. Now I've read books with annoying unnecessary description (yes Cassandra Clare, Yamine Galenorn, that would be you) but this book has a record. It's not just the excess description – it's the repeated description.

A vampire says something, we get a description of vampire voices. Then he says something else. We get a description of vampire voices. Then he says something else, we get a THIRD description of vampire voices. He says something else- for the love of all that is holy please stop describing what vampires sound like! We know. And then as a bonus we get a description of how the voice makes the protag feel. Over and over and over and over and over.

And then in between the action we come back for more descriptions of the bakery, the staff of the bakery the neighbourhood the bakery is in (seriously, I kid ye not, we get a multi-page essay on the bakery's neighbourhood) and the residents of the neighbourhood...

And as an irritant, the swear word of choice in this world is “Carthaginian”. No, really. As in “Carthaginian hells” and “oh the Carthaginian thing!” A worse swear word has never been used. It's too long, it doesn't roll of the tongue – there's no way you could consistently say it right while having an enraged rant. It breaks all the rules of swearing. Add in that I keep sitting here frowning “Carthage? Whut? Is this another history ramble?”

I got to the point where they were gently moseying their way back to the vampire lair (with more description) I'm about 40% in and I just couldn't do it. I caved, I cried uncle. I was literally staring into space because it was more interesting than reading one more page. I don't know if it were mood, distraction, other factors or because I'd just read Hexed and it's painful to go from a book that is toweringly awesome back down to drek but I could not do it.

So I gave up, this is my DNF review. It's possible that the book leaped from the awful to the sublime in the last 60%, it could have happened. But I just couldn't get there. I could lie to myself and say I'll return in the future, but really, I'd rather read some of my old law books.

On middle ground, compromise and neutrality

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

In addition to various buzzing about tolerating intolerance I've also been intensely irritated by the thread of “middle ground” and “compromise” that raises its ugly head on a regular basis.

There seems to be an instinct for some people, and I imagine they're usually well meaning, when they see people arguing to instantly try to create some kind of middle ground

But where is the middle ground? Where is the compromise?

It marginalised people want to be treated with all the same respect and regard with all the same rights, protections, opportunities and privileges as everyone else... where's the middle ground? “You can have some rights?” “Here, we'll treat you as ALMOST human?” “How about a little more respect? Oh, not as much as privileged people, that would be silly!”

Sound good? No? C'mon guys! Compromise! Middle ground! Can't we meet the bigots halfway?

It sounds ridiculous – and it is.

And for that matter, isn't it equally ridiculous to say “hey, you're not good enough for marriage. But here's an almost-marriage with some rights”?

Isn't it ridiculous to say “Ok, we'll have some gay representation in the media – but if they touch each other we're going to treat it like hardcore porn”?

Isn't it ridiculous to say “Ok, we'll stop some people discriminating against you – but these folks get an exception because their bigotry's ok.”?

We're asked to “compromise” but this is our humanity we're compromising here, our right to be treated as full people. And we're expected to compromise on that?

I'm told I'm unfair if I won't concede a legitimate reason for people to hate me. I apparently need to accept that treating me as a lesser human being is somehow justified or a moral stance and I need to find a middle ground with them. A compromise position. Maybe accept some contempt, some insults, some dehumanisation – just some! Sounds fair, right? How can I call someone prejudiced – a bigot even! - for that! Totally unreasonable. Can't I just compromise?

Yeaaaah. That would be no. Absolutely not. I don't think there is – or can be or should be – a middle ground on whether or not someone is equal.

Related to this, and championed by the Target CEO in his latest failed attempt to try and make GBLT people shut up, being “neutral” is also prejudiced arseholery. Yes, not having an opinion one way or the other about whether a marginalised group should have full rights respect and dignity does not endear them to you. Who saw THAT coming.

Really, does anyone really think that being “neutral” over equality is not a prejudiced position? Apart from anything else, it's a gross act of privilege. Privilege means that you can decide not to care about the rights of the marginalised. Privilege, in many ways, makes activism and rights a matter of abstract thought, or conscious choice – even a hobby. Marginalised people don't have that luxury and are rarely in a position where they can afford not to care.

And, really, do you expect anyone to be impressed by “y'know, you're right to be accorded the same respect as everyone else? I kinda don't care about that. Your humanity is a total non-issue.” Because nitpicky me isn't all that impressed by that. I'm curious why anyone would view “your being treated as a second class citizen is something I have no opinion” as anything less than grossly prejudiced.

Compromise is often a rarely used and often effective tool. And sometimes, yeah, it's nice to stand in the middle and see what both sides are saying. The world would, in many ways, likely be a more admirable place if there was more compromise and neutral examination. But some things you can't compromise on, some things are not open to debate and some things you most certainly should not be neutral about – and compromising or being “neutral” is just another form of prejudice – another form of privilege running amok.

*glares at huge BBQ of doom*

For some reason every saturday has turned into BBQ day, but it's never planned as such. I'll be doing random stuff then I'll look out the window, see smoke and run panicking to supervise Beloved who is quite literally playing with fire

I'd stop him but I have the nagging feeling that if I let him charcoal meat every saturday until 2398 then maybe, just maybe, we'd justify the cost of this thing

Of course the problem is that since I don't know we're planning a BBQ I don't buy meat for it (though Beloved could buy anything on his shopping trips. Anything. An ostriche, a palm tree, a live bandicoot. I don't even know what a bandicoot is, but he'd buy one) so instead Beloved goes rummaging through the freezer in the morning (when all right thinking people are in bed) and throws random corpses to defrost.

End result:

1) We now have a lot of meat because we've bbqed enough to feed a lot more than 2 people

2) I have no idea what it is he's cooked until I actually bite into it, since he's hacked up various meaty-type things, messed with my marinades and thrown them on the BBQ of doom.

3) I have no idea what we actually have LEFT in the freezer. Which means I may have to clear it out... *ominous music*

At least there was booze

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution on GBLT rights

For the first time, The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution specifically aimed at affirming the rights of GBLT people

No, it's not an enforcement, and no it doesn't promise action. But it is starting a commission to look at anti-GBLT violence and discrimination. It is the first time when our persecution will actually be looked at – and looked at as persecution

And we finally have an unequivocal statement from the UN that we have right and we. Admittedly such statements rarely achieve a great deal, but it's important nevertheless. We live in a world where we can very easily die if discovered across much of the globe. Not only that, but we live in a world where persecution of us is not only regarded with indifference – but it is regarded as moral, good, laudable and even something to encourage.

One of the greatest impediments to our rights are the “values” and the “morals” that say attacking us is praiseworthy. One of the greatest impediments to our rights is the refusal to acknowledge us as people being persecuted rather than criminals committing crimes.

That's an important shift and one we desperately need to keep pushing. It's something that, hopefully, we can build upon and finally get some wider acknowledgement that persecuting GBLT people is not ok.

And yes, it's weak and lacks enforcement. And yes the idea that it starts a “dialogue” on whether we deserve rights or not is offensive. And yes, the very fact it's 2011 and the UN has only just managed to push this thing through is rather depressing. And yes, the fact that it only just passed and there are still many nations who are vehemently oppressed is a matter for no small number of grey hairs.

But it's a step forwards and it could be an important one.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Campaigning for GBLT asylum

LGBT Asylum News has some important information about a campaign to draw attention to the UK's appalling and homophobic asylum system and the gross “fast track” system (oh gods I loathe that system)

It's a good blog to follow as well, covering news that rarely reaches our attention

I've said before that Asylum is a GBLT issue. That hasn't changed – in fact, depressingly, it hasn't really changed at all. To be honest in many ways I am torn about just reposting my previous post because everything there is still as vital and current today as it was then.

There is an ongoing genocide against GBLT people across much of the globe. It is widespread. Between nations that outright kill us for being GBLT, to nations that would imprison us for existing, to nations that torture and flog GBLT people. Even beyond legal persecution, there are no small number of nations that tacitly approve of persecution or don't give a damn about it. A gang of bigots beating you to death in the street may not be the same as government police taking you to be executed – but you're no less dead in the end and no more safe while alive.

Some of these places are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Or, to put it another way, GBLT people in those places are unlikely to experience the level of safety many of us take for granted (yes I said “level of safety” because I don't think there is such a thing as safety for GBLT people in the world). For many here, their only real chance to survive, let alone survive and live openly and proudly, is to leave. Even the incredibly brave heroes who fight and protest and march and campaign in these places – people whose courage I can only marvel at and can't come close to imagining – are sometimes driven to leave their homes.

Sometimes becoming a refugee is the only choice literally to keep body and soul together.

Unfortunately claiming asylum as a GBLT person is fraught to say the least. Some governments demand phallometric testing – deeply questionable methods of testing whether someone is sexually aroused or not to test if someone is actually gay. Authorities have refused asylum because the refugee doesn't conform to ridiculously stereotypical behaviour even because the refugee doesn't read “GBLT literature”.

And then of course many are rejected because they ARE believed to be GBLT – but it's assumed they'll be safe if they stay closeted. Which is a horrendous way to live and, to say nothing of not always being ABLE to stay closeted. Many communities are suspicious if an adult remains unmarried for too long – so this often necessitates a whole faked life. The privilege required to believe this is acceptable would boggle me – if it weren't so damn common for people to think the closet is an asset.

And that's before we realise how many people don't take seriously non-state persecution seriously – even when the state is complicit or indifferent and unwilling to protect.

I cannot emphasise enough how important this issue is to GBLT people. In many cases, asylum is the only hope and the only chance – and they face not only gross persecution at home, but ridiculous and vile prejudice from those they seek refuge from. The world does precious little to address international homophobia and transphobia – in truth, we do virtually nothing – the least we can do is provide a safe haven for those who have nothing else.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles

I actually have a hard time reviewing books I like. There's so much more to say about a series you hate, a series that is deeply problematic or a series you can snark over. More, I feel far leerier about spoiling a book that is ZOMG awesome than I do about spoiling a book that defiles the very page it's printed on

So I approach a review of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne (and may I add, YUM for that cover art? Yes yes I cam. Nomnomnom) with some difficulty. Because I LOVE IT. Yes yes I do. Kevin Hearne has actually done the impossible and displaced Kim Harrison as my favourite Urban Fantasy writer. Sorry Kim, I love you and the Hollows, but you've been left in Kevin's wake because his books are awesome.

The plot follows Atticus O'Sullivan, a young Irish lad who is actually a 2,100 year old druid. Atticus lives in a world where all deities are real, he's been tricked by Coyote, is irritated by Mary because she calls him “child” even though he's older than her, has a rocky relationship with the Morrigan and is the mortal enemy of Aenghus Og. After millennia of fleeing his old enemy (with the sometimes help of the Morrigan) he now has to confront him and his machinations.

Oh and he dislikes Thor – but everyone hates Thor. Especially the local werewolf lawyers and his vampire attorney.

Atticus dances through this world with style, grace, accompanied by Oberon, an Irish Wolfhound he can talk to is awesome and funny, an old Irish widow with good whiskey and good humour who is also awesome and a full cast of witches, deities and bemused mortal police who all fence with the ancient, wily, witty and funny druid

I can't even give examples of the awesome, because every example just makes me think of more. This is the kind of book where, if you fold over pages to mark the good stuff, you'll end up marking half the book and more. I love every character, they all feel very real to me. Atticus in particular manages to carry off both young lad and 2,100 year old ancient. It is laugh out loud funny in so many places. The deities are strong and powerful and alien and human and take no shit. Oberon provides constant entertainment without ever being clownish and the Widow is feisty and strong without ever being ridiculous. I can't emphasise it enough, the characters are immense.

I literally could not put either book down. I resented anything that stopped me reading and I was sad when the book was over because the awesome had ended. I actually turned back to page 1 and started reading again – this is both Hounded and Hexed.

It is taking all my willpower not to travel to Arizona to camp outside Kevin Hearne's house until the next book becomes available...

I think the best way to sum up how awesome these books are is to document the behaviour Beloved has had to put up with:

Beloved: Um, aren't you at work today?
Sparky: Of course
Beloved: Shouldn't you be gone by now?
Sparky: I'm just reading for 5 minutes.
Beloved: You're half an hour late.
Sparky: What? Shit... I have an appointment in 10 minutes
Beloved: WAIT! You need to get dressed first!

Beloved: Are you coming to bed?
Sparky: In a minute
Beloved: You said that 20 minutes ago!
Sparky: Just let me finish this chapter!
Beloved: It's 3:15! COME TO BED!

Beloved: Ugh... Sparky... you're awake?
Sparky: Um... yes?
Beloved: What was that light?
Sparky: What light?
Beloved: That... it's your mobile phone! You're using your phone as a torch!
Sparky: I was just checking the time!
Beloved: You're reading! It's 5:00am! Go To Sleep!
Sparky: Fine. *sneaks out book*

Beloved is not looking forward to the release of the next book, it has to be said.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Not feeling very forgiving

Not only am I not a big fan of non-pologies, I'm also very much not a big fan of ridiculous and insulting gestures to prove “regret” (or, more likely, to repair their damaged PR). And I'm even less of a fan of the huge coverage this crap gets. My twitter feed at the moment is chock full of empty gestures. Honestly, I haven't seen someone promote this hard when they have books or albums out! All aboard the pointless apology tour!

I loathe the homophobic arseholes who turn round and decide to make an It Gets Better video. Yeah because that hasn't been appropriated and abused by straight people enough, we need them to use it as their personal “mea culpa” method. I guess it beats homophobia rehab. You can't make a PSA telling people not to do what you've just done! It completely undermines it “hey, don't do this – but I don't really mean it and don't really care and it's not really important.”

You know, personally I think the only way I'd extend forgiveness is if you know the Doctor and can some how go back in time and shut your own fool mouth (and then present Tennant to me gift wrapped). However, there are certainly methods that are more likely to thaw my grudgesome self – and that is to actually make an effort and make your “amends” meaningful

If you actually are sorry and want to make amends then you'd do something that actually mattered. Something that actually helps people you've hurt. Drop your money into the Trevor Project, for example. Volunteer for GBLT charities. Go find a law maker and giver them hell. Go find a homophobic preacher and give them hell. Ensure the rest of your life that you not only don't say/do such things again, but that you call out anyone who does. Gestures – like speeches, interviews and freaking Walking Tours – oh sorry, penitent pilgrimages are all about your own overblown ego. They do nothing for the people you hurt, not a damn thing. It's all about freaking ally cookies without actually being an ally!

Which is another thing – if you want me to think you're sincere, you wouldn't feel the need to broadcast your apology to all and sundry. Interviews and speeches with every media that will listen to you say what a nice guy you are not about how sorry you are or who you hurt they're about you and your ego! If you're apology is all about you and making people look at you and pat you on the head and say “aww bless he's trying” then it's not an apology. It's marketing, it's PR. When your dramatic act of repentence needs to have a blog following it, a twitter feed and you can follow on facebook followed by lots of interviews and guest spots and “endorsements” then your apology is ALL ABOUT YOU

This is why people like to do PSAs. Minimum effort, maximum exposure. Perfect PR. All in all, if you market it properly there's no reason you can't use your disgusting homophobia as a way to get yourself even more attention! Bigotry, for marketing you just can't buy!

And we have another straight man pretending to be a lesbian

apparently Paula Brooks, editor of Lex Get Real is a straight man




Y'know I don't have anything to say. It's redundant. This shit is so beyond not ok. Stop it. ye gods, STOP. IT

The Editor of Pink News? a straight woman. Apparently 2 of the last 3 editors have been straight and this is supposed to be a good sign for gay rights? Really? Ye gods I am so beyond angry with this. Straightness has to be absolutely freaking everywhere

Monday, 13 June 2011

And some more tolerating intolera – no, sod it – more tolerating bigotry

So I've said before that I refuse to tolerate intolerance – and further that tolerating intolerance is itself dangerous and damaging.

After all, if we don't call out or reject bigotry we say we're ok with it, we accept it, we encourage it. We present bigotry as an accepted position and the views they espouse – that people are less, less human, less deserving of rights and respect – are, at best, not worth worrying about and at worst, are perfectly reasonable maybe even moral. And that is damaging – because the reason why this crap keeps happening, the reason why we're denied rights, the reason why we lose jobs are denied housing even the reason why we're beaten and killed is simply because this bigoted shit is tolerated.

And from there we come to the knighthood of Brian Souter bus entrepreneur who poured vast sums of money into the cause of making gay childhoods as hellish and painful as possible. An abundantly clear message that the bullying, persecution and general evil that gay youth face is something to tolerate, not a big deal, not worth considering.

A lot of people are upset but this, but sadly I expected not less. Do we really expect this government to give a damn about GBLT people? After all, if we look at them we find the Tories and Lib Dems are fine to have many vile homophobes in office and in high positions. David Cameron, William Hague, Baroness Warsi, George Osbourne, Theresa May, Liam Fox, Ian Duncan Smith, – do we need to go on? Eric Pickles, Patrick McLoughlin, Dominic Grieve, Lord Strathclyde! Gross homophobes over and over and over again – all in high positions. In fact, the vast majority of high positions in this government are held by homophobes who not only tolerate bigotry – but openly embrace it!

Why wouldn't they honour someone who fought for Section 28? He's one of them. All this proves is again, how little GBLT people mean to them. All it provies is how dedicated they are to homophobia, how much they still wallow in homophobia and how happy they are for homophobia to still be a force today

But we already knew that.

My Only post on that Gay Girl in Damascus Blog shenanigan

It was run by an imposter. One who has no doubt done horrendous damage since there's already a huge amount of doubting the stories of WOC, GBLT people and muslims when it doesn't suit people to believe them.

Turns out he was a straight, white, married American living in Scotland. He's also an over-privileged arsehole and that's all I'll say on him - he's already getting more attention than he deserves and it was likely to reason he pulled this stunt in the first place.

If you want to follow some real and decent sources I advise:

LGBT Asylum News
Gay Middle East

Sunday, 12 June 2011

On denials in apologies and defence and why it fails

Ok, so I go round to someone's house and steal their money. I go through their drawers and remove all jewelry I can find. I load up any expensive, easy to move electronics like MP3 players, smartphones, laptops. I grab any loose cash and on the way out I find their keys and steal their car so I can move all the loot.

Days later I am arrested. The police find all the stolen goods with serial numbers proving they're form the victim's home, they find my finger prints everywhere, they've caught me on CCTV and I am now at a fence trying to sell the whole load. In short, I am caught red handed.

Faced with my outraged and upset victims I say “I'm sorry. I violated your home, I took your possessions, I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm not a thief...”


Because I very clearly AM a thief. I have been caught red handed. By denying I am a thief I am claiming either a) I didn't do it or b) that entering someone's home, stealing their stuff and trying to sell it is not thievery (or burglary to be exact).

And so we come to the various apologies for saying something hateful and bigoted – and not just the apologies, but the defenders as well. “I'm not a hateful person. I'm not a homophobe/racist/anti-semite/misogynist. I'm not a bigot”.

So what are you saying? Are you saying you didn't say those things? Or are you saying those things aren't hateful?

Was there an alien invasion? Were they cloned? Is it their evil twin? A doppleganger? Mind control? No? Well the first appears to be admitted. Which means we're left with the second, to which I take exception. People who are not hateful/prejudiced/bigoted don't say these things.

If they said it then yes they ARE a hateful person/homophobe/racist/misogynist/anti-semite/bigot. And this is necessary to establish because distracting from it, saying this isn't the case is to deny or justify bigotry. It's to take some of the vilest hate speech you could ever have the displeasure to come across and say “no, not hateful!” And sometimes you have to call a spade a spade – especially when this spade is being used to hit people. Pretending the spade isn't there or is actually some kind of cuddly toy won't heal the bruises or set the bones. And, of course, you're laying the groundwork for the next person to pick up that spade and start swinging.

And this comes up time and again. From Mel Gibson to Tracy Morgan and a gazillion more hateful people in between. They say something grossly unacceptable and the non-pology contains the words “I'm not a...” Your non-pology isn't helping – it's denying hate, it's ignoring hate, it's brushing off what hate is and I do not want the idea that these terrible things are just said by any random Tom Dick or Harry. They're not – unless Tom, Dick and Harry are hateful people.

(And yes even the best of us, through privilege blinkers, are going to say something prejudiced because we haven't adequately unpacked the invisible knapsacks. It's also why there is a distinction between -ist action and -ist personality. But this falls away when we're talking a long drawn out rant or the use of clear slurs – because ignorance or unexamined privilege do not cover outright hate)

I give up, sometimes I cannot understand my husband

Do you ever feel like you're speaking another language even when you're both clearly speaking English?

Beloved: *flicking through satellite channels while I try to read* We're missing channels! *gasp*

Sparky: *looks up thinking sky has screwed up* which ones?

Beloved: All the sports channels.

Sparky: The only sport you watched was football and you've resolved to boycott all things Fifa since the World Cup decision, right?

Beloved: Right

Sparky: So neither of us actually WATCH sport, right? I mean you actually rang up and cancelled the sports package because of this

Beloved: Right

Sparky: Sooooo... the problem is?

Beloved: I can't get these channels!

Sparky: But... you wouldn't watch those channels? Do you want to watch sports? Do you have a new hobby? Are you unboycotting?

Beloved: No, I'm not going near football again.

Sparky: So what's the problem?

Beloved: What do you mean? I can't get all the channels! That's the problem.

Sparky: You cancelled them! You don't want them! If you had them you'd skip past them!

Beloved: But we don't have them!

Sparky: WE DON'T WANT THEM. Why would you subscribe to channels you won't watch?!

Beloved: Because we don't have them!

Sparky: See? This is why you aren't allowed to buy anything, ever.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Tracy Morgan - and his defenders

Tracy Morgan, a comedian, said some well, truly grossly awful homophobic shit. It was actually a multi-layered homophobic and misogynist rant under the guise of humour and just layered sickening insult after sickening insult. I am especially sickened by how he would stab his son to death if he were gay.

Amazingly, I don't think this is even slightly funny. Which may surprise Tracy Morgan – after all, “if you can take a dick up the arse you can take a fucking joke”, right?

He's issued a half-arsed non-pology. It's in the link above, I'm not going to direct link it since I don't think his publicist spent any time or effort on it and it apologises because he “went too far.” Yeah, maybe “to death” was too far – maybe stabbing flesh wounds would be sufficient? I think not.

Tina Fey hopes GBLT people accept his apology for the sake of his career (I rather hope his career ends for the sake of GBLT people. Maybe I have different priorities) and joined Morgan's non-pology in claiming “he is not a hateful man.” I'm sorry, he just spoke about stabbing his child if he were gay. Either you're saying he didn't say that (and there's no denial) or you're claiming that's not hateful. It is Tina, he is a hateful man and claiming otherwise is offensive and diminishes what he said. A non-hateful man would have bitten his tongue before saying those words.

As far as I'm concerned there was no point in an apology – because you can't apologise for this. There is no magical word in any language of the world that will make downplaying the damage homophobic bullying causes to our youth ok. And there isn't a word imaginable that would make the idea of stabbing children because they're gay remotely acceptable or forgiven. And my ability to “take a dick up the ass” won't ever make me be able to accept this “joke.”

And I really really REALLY do not want to see a sodding “It Gets Better” video from the man – because this seems to be the new thing. Say homophobic shit, make a PSA. Please gods DO NOT GO THERE

Usually when I say things like “an apology isn't enough” people ask me what would be. Personally, I don't know – I'm not even sure there is anything or there needs to be anything. GBLT people don't owe forgiveness no matter what empty gestures someone makes – sometimes you make your bed and you lie in it

Chris Rock has the prize for being the first person to try and silence the outraged homos, but I'm sure he's only one of many (many many, I actually left twitter and the net this morning in disgust at the swarming homophobes). He tweeted:

“I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in a world where Tracy Morgan can't say foul inappropriate shit”

Well isn't that a double dose of straight privilege for you right there? While I do know about you, Chris, I personally would much rather live in a world where people don't advocate the stabbing of kids – their OWN kids - because they're gay. Yeah that sounds like really sweet world actually. Especially since this shit actually happens, and kids are regularly rejected by parents, beaten, tortured, forced into evil “therapy” and killed for being gay. Yeah I'd love to live in a world where this isn't a fucking joke, I really would.

He has been followed by CNN's Roland Martin also rushing to defend the hilarity of stabbing gay kids. Don't you know other comedians are homophobic too (actually I'll be the first to say this, this is why I avoid most comedians. But I have to say STABBING GAY CHILDREN is actually a new one on me) which somehow makes it ok (since when is this an excuse? Homophobia is common so it's ok? We know it's common. Ye gods we know – that doesn't make it ok). But hey he made people LAUGH right?

But, sorry, am I getting in the way of your precious privileged “humour”? Damn guess that dick in the arse is doing a really bad job at getting me to see the funny side of murdered gay kids!

In some ways this is what I dread more than the actual vileness itself. He's a privileged bigot with all the humanity of a rabid hyena. Fine, some people are just hateful and vile. No, what I am really not looking forward to now are the haters, the diminishers, the deflecters and all the people coming out of the woodwork to tell defend him. One bigot is a bigot, a whole bunch of privileged arseholes tolerating said bigot is another thing altogether. I was just going to leave this event as yet another item of shit for the bad news round up posts, rife with hate speech, discrimination and murders.

But then I saw Chris Rock's tweet and felt there was something to add. There are always defenders when the haters spew bigoted filth – and it needs to stop.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Comments, moderation, email, notifications et al

As people may have noticed for the past couple of weeks I've been trying to mess with comment moderation. Suffice it to say things have not gone according to plan. Technology, it still hates me.

In theory, while some people are on perma moderation (and you know who you are, your comments get deleted before they show their ugly ugly heads. Yes, by all means comment whining about it, I'll delete them too) most comments shouldn't be moderated. Give me a heads up if you seem to be on moderation for no reason. It's probably not intentional, more likely to be a technology fail.

I, thankfully, rarely have to resort to major comment policing (for some reason people send me nasty emails instead. One claimed it was because LJ tracked IPs which... confuses me, because doesn't email? And what would I do with an IP anyway? Is it like some old school magic? Once you couldn't let a witch know your name, now one must guard one's IP from a techno-pagan? Of course maybe people email me their bile because they know what will happen to them if they make their comments on the blog) and compared to some of my fellow bloggers I am miraculously free from the bile they have to deal with on a regular basis. Still there is crap I have no intention of allowing to defile my space.

And to the tiresome quoting of the first amendment that has landed with some regularity in my inbox: 1) you're not applying it correctly. Learn your own law before you misquote it. 2) I'm English, live in England and feel not the slightest desire to be bound by your constitution. Gods preserve me from Americans who think their laws are universal.

Now if you wish to scream “censorship” I will suggest you read my Comment Policy. The link's right there at the top of the page.. Apart from anything else, again, you're using that word incorrectly. I am not censoring you, silencing your or suppressing you. I am refusing to give you a platform. I do not OWE you a platform. If you have something to say and the big mean Sparky is not letting you say it then go to Blogger or Wordpress and make your own space. Since when do I have to be your broadcaster?

Ok, let's cover a few other things!

Email – I will get to it. All of it. EVENTUALLY. Yes I am not exactly timely at answering it, but I try. If, however you send me an LJ mail I probably won't answer it. Every now and then I look up and see “oh shit, 500 messages, I should do something about that”. So I may answer it – but maybe in 2020.

If you see something that may interest me amuse me or otherwise I may appreciate seeing – by all means send me it! My inbox is always open and I love people sending me things from sources I don't always follow. This is of the goooood :) It is appreciated and cookies will be given. I may write on it, I may not (depending on time, interest, mental strength and energy)

If you see something and decide to come to me screaming “zomg how could you not post about this?!” please feel free to eat your keyboard. I'm not a journalist, a reporter, a ghost writer, author or even a professional blogger (I don't even had ads here. That's not a knock at adverts or a promise there never will be, it's noting my inability to figure them out. Technology is hard) and, frankly, none of these are obliged to write on command. I'm not a writing monkey. I have a full time job, a full time husband, charity work, a complex and involved family and an energy and time consuming mental illness(es) I do not have the time, energy, mental strength or, frankly, inclination to be on call to write on demand.

If you're coming screaming to me demanding I denounce someone, again, you can enjoy some keyboard chewing. If you've come demanding I apologise for what some complete stranger who happens to be gay has said/done then you can take your homophobic self and flounce out of here.

Ok, if you want to show me something grossly homophobic with a “can you believe this shit” slant, by all means do. I won't necessarily run over and comment because, really, seeking out homophobes in their lairs is one of the things I've crossed off my self-destruction list (it's a big list). I already dabble in more unsafe spaces than is wise.

If, however, you in general don't give a damn about gay rights but someone you REALLLY hate has said something homophobic and you think telling me will have me swarm in as some kind of grudge warrior for you – well, kindly sod off. Appropriating battles against homophobia for your gudgewank does not amuse.

Ok I think that deals with various things on my pending list. Go back to being awesome guys.

I refuse to tolerate intolerance

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

So last week I saw another round of that old old game - “you aren't tolerating the homophobes! You terrible intolerant person!”

Because we, as marginalised people looking for tolerance to survive, are hypocrites because we don't tolerate those who attack us.

Firstly I think I need to be clear that I'm not big on tolerance anyway. I've said this before. I'm not interested in being tolerated. I don't want to be tolerated. I'm not a blight or burden for you to endure.

I don't ask for tolerance. I demand acceptance.

Now, moving on from there. When someone is homophobic they are denying me as a person. No, not behaviour, not action and it's not all about sex. Being gay is who I am.

This is an attack on me. So when you ask me to tolerate homophobia, you are demanding I tolerate that attack. You are asking me to accept that attack. You are demanding I NOT DEFEND MYSELF when I am being attacked. They are attacking me, they are hurting me, they are trying to reduce my quality of life, they are trying to pull me down and they are encouraging others to do the same – they are encouraging a society that constantly tries to do the same.

And I'm supposed to tolerate that? Lay down and take it? “Thank you sir, may I have another”? Sorry, if I were that masochistic I could think of much much much more fun ways to express it than that.

I don't tolerate bigotry. I do not. In fact, I do not think tolerating bigotry is laudable – I think it's pretty reprehensible. A bigot – of any stripe – is denying someone's humanity, is reducing a person to less. it doesn't matter why they're doing it, it doesn't matter how nice they are, it doesn't matter where their bigotry comes from – they are attacking us, demeaning us and dehumanising us.

That is intolerable. It should not be tolerated. Tolerating that is wrong and further harms and disrespects the people who are the victims of bigotry. Tolerating bigotry means you accept and allow our humanity to be denied. It means you don't think that this bigotry is all that bad.

And this is why we still have bigotry. This is why I'm still afraid so much of the time, this is why I've suffered violence. This is why legal rights are denied, this is why people lose families, jobs, homes and even their lives. Not just because of the bigots – but because of the vast number of people who enable discrimination and hate by tolerating it. Your tolerance gives it consent, your tolerance demeans us, your tolerance supports hatred – and your tolerance encourages further victimisation

So no, I do not tolerate bigotry – and that doesn't make me a hypocrite. As someone who opposes the dehumanisation of marginalised people it would make me a hypocrite if I did tolerate bigotry. Some things are not tolerated

And yes, there are a lot of back links in this post. Mainly because I found myself saying what I've already said over and over – and it's always depressing to repeat oneself when confronted with another bingo-card worth of fails. Thankfully, while we do tend to be stuck arguing the same damn thing (and the same 101) over and over, internet linking makes the process much easier.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The tragic story of Kirk Murphy

I imagine many people have seen the story of the life George Rekers ruined, but its a story I think everyone should see – and see how damaging ex-gay therapy is, how poisonous homophobia and how homophobic bigotry can be used to justify horrendous child abuse.

Kirk Murphy was a 5 year old boy who was considered too “feminine” and it was worried he would become gay. In fear of this oh-so-dreadful state, his parents took him to government funded “therapy” where he was “treated” by, among others, the now infamous “Can I lift your luggage” George Rekers.

The therapy consisted of forcing Kirk to play only with “appropriate” toys and only to show “masculine” behaviour. When he dared to be himself, he was ignored by his mother. Over and over he was shunned by his mother until he only acted as “properly masculine”. Further into the therapy and at home he was given blue discs for “appropriate” behaviour and red discs for the “inappropriate, feminine” behaviour. When he had several red discs, he was beaten with a belt by his father.

It's, perhaps no surprise that Kirk learned to suppress his behaviour after being so abused. It is, sadly, equally unsurprising that Kirk eventually took his own life.

His bigoted “doctors” have no right to the label. And, frankly I side-eye the prejudiced, abusive parents that allowed and co-operated in this abuse. And no "today it would be abuse" is false. It was abuse.

His story can be seen in part in the video behind this link here. It is, obviously, extremely painful and triggering to watch

In depth accounts of the steps of this tragedy can be found at the Box Turtle Bulletin

Remember, the “research” from this is still being cited by bigots today. Remember that until Rekers was outed in the rentboy scandal, he was still being hired as an expert on GBLT people. Remember, ex-gay therapy, aversion therapy and all this vile abuse is still happening today.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

On the terribad "darkness" of YA literature

Ok. so someone has written a “won't you please think of the children” article about the terrible terrible darkness and drama of YA fiction And won't we allll please think of the children.

My side-eyes are epic. Actually first of all can we have a giggle at the idea that a YA novel with vampires in it is even remotely dark?

Life is dark.

Life for many teens is also dark.

Closing your eyes and pretending it's light really doesn't stop you running into things. It doesn't help guide you through the darkness. It doesn't give you a hand or a direction. It doesn't turn on a light or show you the way or help you hold on until it gets lighter.

You think teens don't know these things? You think teens don't live these things? Do you think teens live in fluffy little boxes where all is summery and light and shiny? Do you think teens don't live with drug addiction, with self-harm, with mental illness, with eating disorders with suicide, with pain, with suffering, with fear, with grief, with loss?

Do you think that anyone is this naïve and ignorant? Do you think it's GOOD for them to be this naïve and ignorant?

Do you think denying teens live with this helps them? Do you think teens living through this not being able to see anyone like them, going through what they go through and SURVIVING and being STRONG and POWERFUL and BRAVE and TOUGH and EPIC helps them?

Do you think raising another generation of kids to believe the bad shit doesn't happen is a good thing? Do you think those rosy tinted spectacles are really such a useful thing? Do you think it'll help them if they ever experience these horrors? Do you think it'll help them understand these horrors? Do you think they will understand and be able to help people around them who have lived through this? Or would it be better for them to keep those rose glasses on, to live in denial and doubt – and to confront those who hurt around them with shock and scepticism?

I'd much rather people see that the bad things happen, that the pain is there, I'd much rather they be raised on the knowledge it happens than the denial of it. I'd much rather people know the scale of it, then spend their lives downplaying it. I'd rather people be aware rather than shocked, sympathetic rather than sceptical. I'd rather us see that there is this darkness out there – and people who have faced it actually exist – then live in denial of it and them.

My main concern would be people who have lived these darknesses who cannot or do not wish to face it in a book – but that's a concern for trigger warnings, not for such content not to exist.

Oh and can we have bonus fails for her “recommended” reading list? Because it's gender segregated (don't you know, young ladies only read a certain kind of novel!) and it does not look like the most diverse group of literature

Doctor Who Season 6 Episiode 7 - When A Good Man Goes to War. AKA: ZOMG THE EPIC!


Ok, within the first few seconds of this episode I got the goosebumps. There was a foreshadow of epic to come – and for once Pond had a sense of the epic. And then Rory came and he brought the epic with him, in fact, he came in riding the epic, wearing the epic and waving the epic round his head in a truly epic fashion.

There is something I love when entire space stations, huge armies, legions all go into triple panic mode because they suspect the Doctor is pissed. It should be a new form of warning system “red alert?” “No, it's a Pissed Doctor alert” “gods have mercy on us all...” it really reveals the epic of the Doctor more than anything

There were so many epic moments of awesome I lost count

Destroying the Cyberman legion for a point! And the lizard woman eating serial killers in Victorian London? In fact the Doctor going around using his vast experience to gather his own force? Epic! In fact the whole build up part of this episode is epic. Rarely do you get the true sense of this – the Doctor about to throw everything into the fray

And the foreshadowing! All those past stories, past people, past events, all coming back!

This is the Doctor at his finest, brilliant, truly, amazingly brilliant, epic, funny, powerful – and terrifyingly dangerous. And amazingly well named episode – a Good Man Goes to War indeed.

And the “Colonel Runaway” speech... wow and scary and epic. And “good men don't need rules, today is not the day to find our why I have so many.” Ye gods, the epic. Seriously, epic line after epic speech after epic moment...

And the one liners?! Oh epic!

Damn it, there's just SO MUCH HERE in this episode. How did so much awesome end up in one place?

The embarrassed Doctor trying to figure out when Melody was conceived. And intrigued by Melody being human with some Time Lordiness – and the history of what MADE the Time Lords the Time Lords.

The Doctor's deep, powerful emotional hit at Time Lords being considered a weapon because they saw HIM. And the hit of how terrifying the Doctor is – how dangerous to his enemies, how much good he has done but how much he has scared people in the process.

And casual gayness! AT LAAAST! Oh Doctor Who, thank you for going back there. One of the best things I loved about the Whoniverse was that we were just there and it wasn't “zomg sparkly rainbow unicorns, we gots us a GAY!” it was just people who were gay and there and part of it (And see, THIS is how you do it. Casual mention during the time when the characters are there NOT retconned in in the closing seconds of the episode so you can get a cheap joke in there). Or done subtly but very clearly stated with the lizard woman and her Victorian companion (and don't tell me you didn't get the “I don't know why you put up with me” followed by the super-long tongue. You all got that, right?)

River Song? Is epic of course – from the very first word “I'm breaking in, not out!” And it explains a LOT about her – her epicness, with her being part Time Lord/

So, while this series and the last series and generally this whole Doctor has been kinda shaky? Yeah this episode earned a bucket load of brownie points. I can forgive a lot for this one. Please don't let the next episode suck

Monday, 6 June 2011

Random me update, while I get back from the weekend

So guy-who-is-paid-to-listen-to-me-whine (who, one day, I will be comfortable calling a psychiatrist. One day. Maybe) urges me to be patient with the mood-swingy pills of randomness. Though we are adjusting dosage thingies. My main problem remains the doubting of my own emotional responses. I can handle the mood swings, not knowing whether something is real or not just bothers me a lot. He's also very reluctant to discuss when I'll be finished with them *suspicious narrow eyes*

And I still keep second non-breakdowny pills on my for when I'm having a panic attack, meltdown or just deciding to fall to the floor sobbing for no damn good reason. Because, frankly, it's not a productive way to spend the day, it's rather irritating and wrinkles my clothes. And I don't like it. Not a lover of those pills either though. They tend to leave me dazed, listless and generally less sharp.

Breakdowny moments don't seem to be stopping, but do seem to be much much rarer. Which I think is realistic but my miracle cure mind wants it all to be done and finished already. Which is silly, I mean, over a decade of badness isn't going to just vanish because of the SUPER PILL. Still whiney-bloke says it may be because we're examining badnesses (and possibly going too fast and/or I need stronger pill. Booo to that).

I still have issues taking any kind of medication that is giving me a headache. I don't like taking pills. Any kinds of pills. It gives me the heebie jeebies. My jeebies are being heebied!

Work has become aware of my pill taking, largely because I've had a few too many meltdowns. On the plus they've been reasonable of my needing to take time outs now and then to try and get my shit together when I have lost it (though we need to address the creeping bloody hours “oh you don't need time for family,” thing AGAIN). So kudos on that front. Less kudos on the excessive questions – I'm not particularly inclined to tell my bosses, my colleagues et al what pills I take, how often, whether I'm in therapy, why I am etc. I'm not happy discussing this stuff with Whiney-guy I don't want it batted around the office. Especially since any mention of anything homophobia related inevitably gets lots of “noo surely not! It cannot be!” shock or “you're exaggerating, surely?” doubt. Which annoys me – especially since lawyers have no right to be this naïve. If and when my problems affect my work performance, my output or my capability (and despite my meltdowns, they have not been affected) – all of which, I might add, are way ahead of my colleagues on the same pay grade – then I'll discuss it. Until then – boundaries! Respect them!

Parents have become aware of pill taking because, well I took them in front of them. I considered lying but I'm not going down that path. My father takes pills for his high blood pressure and his cholesterol. My mother takes pills for blood pressure and diabetes. They're not ashamed of their pills, just because my pills try to keep my head running while theirs keep their bodies running, doesn't make my pills shameful, right? (And yes This is Good and Right Thinking, doesn't mean I've got emotional brain to follow logical brain down that path though. Still I'm beating the route and making myself go down it). Still, they are not impressed. Dad is in full on denial of what these pills are and what they do while Mum is, in classic sense, making this All About Her and how it reflects on her. I'm going with dad's downplaying just to shut them both up, and to generally reassure and support them, quell their fears etc etc. “I'm fine” always makes for a quieter life.

Of course, boundaries are also not respected in the family and neither of them had the good sense to keep their mouths shut. “Not ashamed” doesn't mean “hey everyone has a right to my medical condition”. The family is being screened again – I do NOT need their opinion on the badness. I really do not.

But apparently I have been forgiven. Yes, Uncle Fail and some of his supporters have given me the huuge benefit of the doubt and are totally ready to pretend my naughty naughty behaviour didn't happen – because, y'see, I'm on pills so Not Thinking Clearly. Yes, I wasn't cutting them off, smacking them down, ignoring them and avoiding them because they're homophobic arseholes or because they're enabling and defending homophobic arseholes – no I'm doing it because I'm crazy.

Because, clearly, I have to be completely irrational and out of my mind to disagree with them.

…unless whiney-man has some major league elephant tranquillisers, there's no pill I can take that will get me to swallow THAT. I think I have actually invented entirely new profanity to try and adequately cover this. And I can't even get mad at them, scream at them, hit them with axes or call them exactly what they are – because anything I say they don't agree with is because of the bloody crazy.

So the family is happy and content, those who may worry about me have been reassured and fobbed off in happy pink “fine” land, and all the homophobic arseholes and enablers are happy because they feel vindicated. And in the meantime I'm call screening, not attending any gatherings and basically letting the whole damn lot of them get on with it. My time, energy and patience is far better spent with my husband and my friends.

Oh for a quiet life.

Friday, 3 June 2011


So I stagger in from work yesterday after another ridiculously long shift and am greeted by...

Beloved: I have crabs!
Sparky: ….
Beloved: CRABS!
Sparky: Wait...
Beloved: Wonderful CRABS!
Sparky: Let me get coffee, then I will respond with appropriate innuendo.
Beloved: Ok I can wait
Sparky: *gets coffee* *ahem* you should go to the clinic about that
Beloved: That's it? Not your best snark.
Sparky: yeah, long day.
Beloved: I got 2 crabs at the market *brandishes whole crabs*
Sparky: Weren't you going to get a new vacuum cleaner?You went out for an electrical appliance and come back with crustaceans. Then you wonder why I don't like it when you shop?
Beloved: See, that was better snark.
Sparky: Thank you, I try.
Beloved: Of course, if you're complaining I could go and buy expensive electrical things without you tomorrow?
Sparky: No, no, you're still banned from shopping without me
Beloved: There's always mail-order
Sparky: Not without credit cards there isn't.
Beloved: *grumble*
Sparky: So I have crabs to clean?
Beloved: Don't worry, I'll do it
Sparky: *sceptical look*
Beloved: I can clean a crab! I know what dead man's fingers look like.
Sparky: Fine, I'll just relax here and watch.
Beloved: Fine *raises rolling pin over whole crab*
Sparky: What are you do-
Beloved: *brings down rolling pin. There is shrapnel*
Sparky: *ducks* You're doing it wrong...
Beloved: There will be no backseat crab cleaning, thank you! Quiet in the cheap seats
Sparky: I'm not drunk enough for this, where's the damn Baileys *wanders off looking for booze*
Beloved: *Sound of lots of hammering*

Let it be known that the correct way to clean a crab is NOT to beat it repeatedly then pick out the shards of shell from the mushed up crab meat. Or to pick the shards of shell of the counter top. And out of the walls. And off the floor. And on top of the cupboards. And in the sink. And off the ceiling. And out of the living room. How did it even get in the living room?! Ugh, he will scatter stuff on the floor, walk in it then go for a tour through the house.

Oh and there are dents in my wooden rolling pin. So I have a rolling pin that is not actually flat. This could also be because he left it in a bowl of water. So it is dented and warped. Alas, it can now only function as a blunt instrument... now what what what would I do with such a thing I wonder?

Bad News round up – Bigotry and violence abounds

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 reoccurring badnesses

The usual suspects begin with Religion, so often a source of bigotry

A Catholic charity in Leeds is appealing for a 4th time in a desperate attempt to keep being bigots and being unable to put hatred above the welfare of children

In Illinois Catholic charities have packed up their bat and their ball and are going him since they can't be bigots All those kids they provided services for? Don't matter – the hatred is more important

In Scotland, allowing (celibate – but still debating that) gay clergy in a kinda-sorta almost attempt to treat gay people as ALMOST real people is causing ructions, with 2 ministers quitting and a threat of a full fifth doing the same. Frankly, if a full fifth of your clergy are so bigoted that they'd give up their entire life's vocation over the presence of gay people then your organisation is rotten to the core and steeped in hatred.

The Christian anti-defamation Commission considers It Gets Better Videos to be an act of hating children because trying to save the lives of GBLT kids is, y'know, hatred. Ahhh Christian love, where would we be without it? Well, for many, the answer is “alive.”

Even non-religious, not full rights, not!marriages are just too much for bishop Thomas Tobin who doesn't want the slightest shred of respect showed to gay people

And set new records for sheer ignorance, German Catholic doctors are offering homoepathic curses for gayness. Yes, turn straight with homeopathy. I kid ye not.

The Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames has awarded a lucrative contract for counselling children in schools to a Catholic charity. Well, they may be able to counsel straight kids – screw the GBLT kids.

Followed by another depressing collection of laws, law makers and general badness in Politics

New York Senator and bigot, Ruben Diaz held a hate rally to promote homophobia. To ensure sufficient attendence he asked churches to close so enough haters could gather. During the hate rally, Diaz's wife, Leslie Diaz engaged in some very typical hate speech not surprising in a bigot gathering with NOM involved. She was beaten, however, by the presiding Pastor at the event, Rev. Ariel Torres Ortega showing his Christian love saying that gay people are worthy of death after a long diatribe of hatred.

Ever tireless in his hatred for gay people, Diaz has also called for a boycott against the spanish language paper 'El Diaro La Prensa' for daring to treat gay people as fully human.

Another bigot rally happened in North Carolina, this time lead by serial liar, hater and hate group member, Tony Perkins and state republicans including Phil Berger and Paul Stam It's always depressing to see so many bigots gathered together

In Georgia, the Sheriff's department is being sued by a lesbian employee because they forced her to attend Ex-gay therapy Bad enough this vile “therapy” exists, but to force it on people?

Louisiana thinks protecting gay kids from persecution is wrong and is happy for anti-gay bullying to continue

Minnesota has voted to keep gay people as second class citizens, after some of the vilest and most disgusting bigotry NOM could manage – from the “eating of shit” to bestiality to child rape they pulled every anti-gay move they could. anything to push their bigotry

In Tennessee, a law has been passed overturning all local laws protecting against anti-GBLT discrimination and preventing cities and counties from enacting their own non-discrimination law

The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff had an overflow of straight privilege and homophobia and decided to suspend the long fought for anti-homophobic campaign in schools Because it's inappropriate for children – yeaah so she decided to cut an anti-homophobia campaign and instead trump for more homophobia. But at least the churches will be happy.

In South Africa, the South African ambassador to Uganda has been arrested for anti-gay hate speech. I'm disgusted that a many with such bigotry was given such a post – but elated that there are some consequences for such hatred.

In London, HIV prevention groups are facing a 20% funding cut A cut that will, naturally, affect marginalised communities the most. But hey, Lyn Featherstone will probably be out with another pretty speech that will make up for it, right?

In Stockport, more GBLT services are being slashed – funding cut to zero in some cases. let's have Lyn Featherstone add yet another pretty speech to her agenda.

The leader of the Cardiff and Vale Race Equality First, Mohammed Tufail is a vile homophobe. He's all for racial equality but is happy to have gay people treated as second class citizens Race Equality first receives funds from 2 welsh county councils and from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. To date he is still the leader of Equality (for some) First.

In Grenada gay men have been arrested for... well being gay. There are no words for my hatred of these evil laws.

In France, MP Brigitte Barèges an ally of Sarkozy has compared gay marriage to bestiality for the sake of all that is holy get a new playbook, bigots. This is getting old.

In London, a gay Tanzanian has been denied asylum again, being gay is doubted by the straight authorities sending gay people back to their home countries where they face persecution, torture and death.

In Britain, despite facing vile death threats in a national newspaper and being beaten and tortured, gay Nigerian Uche Nanbuife still faces deportation

Also in Britain, Ugandan Lesbian Betty Tibikawa, who was branded for being a Lesbian, also faced deportation

In France, despite having a civil partnership, a Brazillian lesbian has been denied residency. But yay we don't need marriage right?

And the consequence of all this hate? The Violence

In Carlisle a man has been setenced to 6 years for beating a gay man and slashing his face with broken glass while yelling anti-gay abuse

A man who lured a gay men to be beaten by 3 men with baseball bats has been sentenced in Leicester to 7 years imprisonment His defence says he isn't homophobic – they just specifically target gay men to be beaten until their skulls fracture because... well, just because apparently

In Oregon 2 gay men have been attacked for holding hands

In Montenegro an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia concert was attacked by bigots using tear gas

In Salt Lake City 4 people have been sentenced for beating their gay neighbours bloody

3 men in Minnesota have been arrested for beating another man for being gay

In Virginia a mob has attacked and beaten a trans woman

In Ireland, an off-duty policeman beat a gay man unconscious.

In California, a straight couple attacked a gay couple while yelling slurs