Monday, 18 July 2011

GBLT history and teaching

So, California has passed a most excellent law requiring schools to include the contributions of GBLT people in history. And this makes me happy dance so much - and not just because all the hate groups are having the screaming meemies (but I do so like those meemies)

See, when I went to school I didn't know of a single GBLT person from history. Not one. Oh we looked at some people who I later learned were GBLT – but it's telling that even when we discussed Oscar Wilde there was nary a mention of his being gay. All so very carefully erased. And it was beyond annoying, it was painful, because I was already half convinced that I was one of the few gays in the world, a freaky aberration that struck some poor fools (y'know, normally stories like that come with super powers. I was totally cheated). Even as I learned that I wasn't the only one, I assumed there were maybe, oh, 500? Maybe? And they were all migrating between Soho and Brighton. Yeah it was ignorant and foolish – but it's an ignorant and foolish world and an ignorant foolish and prejudiced education system. And how can anyone believe they're normal and natural when they think they're the only one?

And I never even heard Alan Turing's name. I left school before I learned about him and what happened to him. He was completely removed from history. A lot of people have still never heard of him and I think if it weren't for a well publicised petition and a ferocious campaign from the GBLT community he would still be a complete unknown. I have family – educated, informed family who spend an inordinate amount of time telling me about their massive reading around World War 2 who don't know who he was.

To this day I find people who do not know – will completely deny – that GBLT people were victims in the holocaust. I kid you not, and I'm not talking the out there make-me-want-to-hit-them-with-a-fish holocaust deniers. I'm talking apparently sensible people who didn't know – who were offended at the very suggestion and were quick to chide people for saying such naughty, appropriative things. This is how a hate group like NOM can claim there has been no historical oppression of GBLT people.

This ignorance not only brushes potential role models under the rug, but it also ignores and denies the past and present reality of bigotry – its victims and the cost of it. And aside from the vileness of pretending such crimes and atrocities never happened, the hate groups are using this ignorance against us. Gods, if you ask half of them, they'll tell you that GBLT people all rainbowed down (like being beamed down, but with extra colourful sparkles) from the great Sparkly Mothership in the 60s. And the sad thing is, there are no small number of people who would agree with them. I can't be the only person who has heard talk about how many more of us there are now than there used to be (I swear, I am going to get an Ikea flatpacked closet just so I can leave it in the box and have a closet I can can actually slap clueless people upside the head with).

And, on a sentimental level, erasure annoys me because these people deserved to be remembered. Alan Turing deserved to have his acts remembered, he deserved to have his vast contribution to the world honoured – and he even deserved to have the evil shit that was done to him remembered and mourned. He did not deserve to be swept under the rug until a concerted effort of our activists said that this shit was not ok – and he's still an unknown to most. And he is just one of many – definitely many more than I can name because they have been so thoroughly erased. And some of them have been so erased that we will never know their names, we don't have enough information left about them to remember them. Or there names have been hidden under a closeted blanket of straightness that the fact they were one of us will forever be hidden. And they deserved better than that. No, it's not rational or logical but they do deserve better.

So yeah, bring on the education inclusion, lets have more laws like this and lets have more schools realise this is freaking necessary.