Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Gay Friendly Adverts

A fair few companies at the moment are producing adverts with *gasp* actual GBLT content, whether it’s JC Penny’s and their gay families or Oreos and their rainbow cookies or some bank suggesting 2 men are buying a mortgage together – we’re starting to creep into this field.

And it is a big deal. That gasp alone says that. It is unusual. After all, including us at all instantly sets of a shit storm from the usual suspects who are outraged, OUTRAGED that you acknowledge we exist. Just ask this spokesperson from One Million Moms


So including us has been and still is risky – and since the very nature of advertising is to get as many people to open their wallets as possible, it’s not been a risk many people have taken. In fact, advertising is one of the most GBLT erased media forms out there unless it is specifically aimed at and appearing in GBLT media (only a little ahead of children’s media and, probably, computer games I think). Reduction of erasure is generally good (though not enough – and in some cases a bad portrayal is worse than no portrayal at all) simply because there is such a push to deny our existence and deny our place in society. So, yeah inclusion is a positive.

And it’s a positive that these companies are willing to risk the wroth of the haters, either because they genuinely want to do a good thing (*urk* oops, sorry, my cynicism just tried to strangle me) or because they think that GBLT people and people who like us have more buying power than the haters.

These are positive things.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Alan Turing's Birthday

Today is Alan Turing’s birthday, if he were alive he would be 100 years old

Alan Turing was one of those people who changed the world. His work, his genius was incredible. He is, deservedly, considered one of the fathers of computing and it’s not an exaggeration to say his work had a pivotal effect on the outcome of the Second World War, certainly in helping Britain survive the constant U-Boat attacks. He did work in Mathematics I won’t even pretend to understand.

In short, he is a man whose name should have a guaranteed place in the history books.

Yet it did not. I grew up not knowing his name, not once was it mentioned in the history books. A depressing number of people have never heard of him. Many of those who knew his name didn’t realise the sheer magnitude of what he’d achieved. A large number of those who had heard of him hadn’t learned that he was gay and fewer still had heard what had happened to him.

Because Alan Turing was gay. As a gay man he was convicted and branded a criminal, as a gay man he lost his security clearance that allowed him to provide us with his brilliant work, and as a gay man he was chemically castrated. He endured, but his writings showed a man who hated what had happened to him, until he finally committed suicide.

We killed one of our heroes.

We can’t change that. But now, today, he’s remembered again. I think it’s no lie to say more people know his name now than even 10 years ago. We’ve campaigned to have the government apologise, we’ve campaigned to have him recognised, we’ve campaigned to have the crimes against him noticed and we’ve campaigned to have him remembered. This has been an incredible victory.

This is why it’s desperately important we look back at history. There are GBLT heroes in the past, there are GBLT role models, there are GBLT people who changed the world and made our presents. But they are often hidden, or forced into the closet by their homophobic society or generations of homophobic historians – and we have to find them while we still can, if we still can.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Dan Savage and the f@ggot slur

Ok so Dan Savage and the colluders at GOProud are having a little imbroglio over the useage of the slur f@ggot.

I’ve made it clear before what my stance is on slurs – I find them completely and utterly unacceptable.  Slurs serve to dehumanise

I have also made it clear I do not think insulting uses of slurs are reclaiming. It’s reclaiming to take their weapons and use them to reinforce and strengthen yourself. It’s not reclaiming to take their weapons and then USE them against your fellows. Reclaiming is beating the swords into armour, it’s not taking those swords and doing the stabbing yourself.

That being said, this is also very very very much a community discussion. There are a gazillion and one reasons to be pissed off at Dan Savage – and by all means leap on them and have at it because he has said some really fucked up things. But he is a gay man and he has far more ownership of that word, as one of that slur’s victims, than straight critics.

If you are a victim of this slur, if you are a gay or bi man, if this is a weapon used against you and, like me, you vehemently disagree with Dan – or any gay or bi man – using this slur in this method, then critique, speak out and object to this. Because, like me, you think this is wrong and some words should never ever be used – and certainly never as an insult.

If you are NOT a gay or bi man, if you are not a victim of this slur then this is not your place to criticise (or defend) this word use. It is not appropriate for people who are not a target of this slur to lecture someone who is on how he may or may not use that word. Even if you find one of those targets to quote who agrees with you (and do NOT use me that way)

It is also extremely inappropriate for straight people to judge whether or not a gay man has internalised homophobia. That is not your judgement call.

There are some discussions where one does not have the standing to speak without being presumptuous in the extreme. And the in-community discussions – and certainly arguments – of marginalised communities are definitely some of those times.

I want to take a chainsaw to my family tree

Ok this is complex. But in the not too distant past, Disapproving Homophobic Aunt (one of the many members of Disapproving Homophobic Family) had and *ahem* moment with the law.  And, like anyone in my family with legal issues, she called me and I done Sorted it Out for Her, Discreetly. And even implied to inquiring family that it was providing a valuable and generous service to one of the various self-involved alleged-charities she likes to flutter around.

I wish she hadn’t, she certainly has money enough to hire a lawyer rather than expect familial freebies. I’m particularly annoyed because I am not going near that branch of the family because they are homophobic arseholes who treat me like shit – but come crawling when they want something. I’m also annoyed with myself for not telling her to take a long walk off a short pier.  Damn overdeveloped sense of family duty.

I also think that, sometimes, you need a lawyer that you aren’t related to – and there’s some secrets that your kin really does not want to know. Really does not want to know. Really really really.

Anyway, that was then.

Since then it has become apparent that said Aunt (who, as you may recall, I want nothing to do with) has, for whatever reason, decided that the gap between me and vast amounts of our very close family is too wide and I need to “return to the family fold” (perhaps she’s been reminded how useful having a lawyer in the family is. Maybe it’s some kind of misguided sense of gratitude, who knows?). This involves lots of people who I have taken pains to remove from my life now going out of their way to insert themselves back into it and drag me back into theirs.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Want to Learn about gay people? Pose as one of us! (Beats listening, right?)




When, thankfully, the anchor challenges his ridiculous claim (I believe the anchor is both gay and not impressed) he backtracks and claims he doesn’t know what it’s like to be gay – but how the “label” of gay impacted him. Seriously. Do I even have to say how clueless this is? How a straight person deciding to use the label gay is appropriative and disgusting – and how there is no way he gets even a SHRED of our experience just because he hangs around in our spaces.

What the hell was the point of this?

Do you want to know what it is like to be gay? Do you know what would be another good way to learn empathy? Let me show you a really handy tool:

It’s called Google.

Because there are innumerable GBLT blogs, news sites, personal sites, youtube videos and countless other sources for first hand GBLT experiences. You could just listen to us and WE can tell you what it’s like to be us. Not pretend to be us and perform your daft social experiment as an undercover freaking anthropologist. Why would ANYONE think we need a straight guy to not only tell our stories but to decide what our stories are based on where he want clubbing?! Why do we need a book on who being “labelled” gay affects the life of the poor straight person?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

More annoyance on my front door.

It seems that, yesterday, someone (I’m assuming annoying, homophobic note-leaving freak who is sorely in need of a hobby) left a paper-back Bible by our front doorstep.

Unfortunately, yesterday and this morning we were busy with things other than checking if this fool had left more nonsense on our door.

It has rained a lot since then. It has been windy. It is also possible paper shredding cats have had fun.  So now the front of our house is liberally decorated with mushed up soggy paper, with the odd legible Bible verse.

I am not pleased by the extremely-religious-soggy-confetti look. And it’s frankly miserable to clear up all this wet, muddy gloopy gunk and we’re probably going to be fining scraps for weeks.

If you’re going to leave your passive-aggressive little holy book on my doorstep at least spring for a water-proof cover, damn it.

On Beloved and Kitties

When it comes to actual snail mail, I tend to leave it for a while. No-one sends me letters – that isn’t a pitiful Gabriel Garcia Marquez title (I hated that book, we had to read it in Spanish at school) , no I just do everything online. So a fair amount of my post is junk mail (or, recently, religious pamphlets) or things that aren’t urgent. So I collect them, dump them on the coffee table and have a look through them when I have the time or inclination.

This is a habit which, for some reason, vexes Beloved even more than my ruining Star Trek for him.

So, with the cat being unusually active, he decided to encourage her to play with one of the junk letters. She was very much amused for almost an hour – which amused Beloved a great deal despite the shredded paper

Of course the cat thinks this is great fun and has taken to hooking any post off the coffee table and proceed to shred them across the living room floor. And, of course, she doesn’t know what post is junk mail and what isn’t. She also has great fun scattering the itty bitty pieces of paper

He is proud of his ability to teach an old cat new tricks

I am proud of my restraint in not murdering the pair of them

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

GBLT isn't the Cool Kids' Club

This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where I write every Tuesday

After much deliberation, I have come to an important conclusion that I feel I must confront my fellow GBLT people over. I’m sorry, but the jig is up guys, it’s time to come clean. Which of you is hiding the good booze from me?

Don’t tell me you don’t have it –  because there must be some reason why all these straight, cis people are clamoring to be GBLT, so I figure we’ve actually got the best booze stashed somewhere. I can’t think of any other reason why these straight, cis people are desperate, desperate to elbow their way in under the GBLT umbrella.

I’ve had completely cis people declare they’re a gay man in a woman’s body – due to gender issues? No, they just loooove Liza Minnelli. Or that they like Judy Garland or Barbara Streisand. Because they can make a quiche or like finger skating. We’re not talking throwaway lines here, we’re talking people genuinely expressing they’re part of the community because they conform to some ridiculous and rather dated gay stereotypes. (For the record, while I make an awesome quiche, I don’t care for Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand or Liza Minnelli. And KI have no idea why anyone wants to skid around on ice with knives strapped to their feet. In fact, I don’t know why anyone would want to go anywhere where there’s ice at all – unless you’re Canadian and have no choice of course).

Not too long ago Beloved, some friends and I were at a gay pub relaxing in a gay space when we got a tourist group coming through (why why why do large groups of straight people feel the need to descend on gay spaces? It’s not like there aren’t a gazillion pubs in the city!) being loud and irritating. There was much grumbling and finally an acquaintance (actually, she thinks I’m her bestest friend ever. I think she’s only marginally more tolerable than being water boarded in battery acid while listening to George Michael, sadly I think she’s a vague cousin of an actual friend so locking her in a tiger pit is, alas, frowned upon) announced that she thought all straight people should be banned from gay bars. She, the straight woman. Now, I did resist the urge to say “the door’s that way” (I know, aren’t I saintly?) but I did boggle. Of course, straight people doesn’t include her! She has gay friends (not nearly as many as she thinks she does)

And that’s before we get to things like cis, straight kinky people claiming that they’re totally part of the community. And one almost hilarious diagram about a straight demisexual woman describing the nerve wracking experience of how she Came Out to her parents about being demisexual. She only wants to have sex with men she has close emotional bonds with. Because, really, parents really disapprove of their heterosexual daughters not having sex with men they’re not emotionally attached to. Really. (Of course, it had the extra bonus of pointing to how non-demisexual heterosexual women have sex with any guy – those dirty dirty hussies)

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Jubilympics

I get an extra day’s holiday. This concludes how much this will affect me. Oh and I’ll have to turn off the TV to avoid the endless adverts and coverage.

I’ll be honest, most of that isn’t political statement, it’s simple indifference. I have never been even slightly interested in any sport. Least of all athletics. People run around in circles or throw things or swim back and forth – I just don’t get it. I don’t get why you’d want to do it, let alone watch other people do it.

And I also strongly dislike big international sport’s bodies because they tend to be indifferent too prejudice and bigotry – including when it comes to choosing host countries where marginalised people can get involved without, y’know, being institutionally murdered or flogged or arrested. That’s why beloved stopped following football after the world cup debacle – but the Olympics isn’t a shining counter-example

As for the Jubilee: I’m not a republican by any stretch, but nor do I feel the need to praise the monarchy. I especially don’t feel the need to praise the long reign of a monarch over a vaunted “kaleidoscope kingdom” who has never deigned to acknowledge me and mine exist. It was always vexing, but to continue to do so while presenting us as varied and diverse is insulting.

And I don’t big patriotic celebrations – because patriotism is a short hop from nationalism which is generally very ugly. Can you do patriotism without nationalism? Certainly – but “can” doesn’t mean “will”. Besides, all that silly flag waving is so American :P

Also, all in all, they’re big London celebrations, anyway – oh don’t start with the whole country crap, by my whippets and flat caps I know that’s not true. Up here, in Yorkshire, we will feel some of the ripples of these big national events, but only if we get out there and make a local community effort rather than being part of a national effort. Which, frankly, I’m also not keen on because I’ve never been a fan of “local community”, somewhere in my vaunted local community is someone writing nasty little notes and keying my car.

I am faintly irritated that World Pride is actually being held in London this year as well, and not only will it’s thunder be completely unheard against this background noise, but I probably won’t be attending because even going near the capital while this is going on is going to be a chore. Yes I’m pouting

Friday, 1 June 2012

*Glares at Inbox*

Judging by the emails I've been getting, I understand there has been some kind of drama llama on tumblr about fanboys losing their shit because people have been "slashing" the male Avengers characters

It would appear I am expected to roar in, sword raised and slap down their objections



Have you come to the right place?

I've had a brief look at this hot mess (oh look a few hundred comments of "boys kissing is hawt" and the like. Fun) and the complete ignoring/dissmissing of any possibility of fetishism or legitimate criticism of slash as well as all the old standard tropes, memes, excuses and, of course, complete failure to acknowledge actual gay men exist and I don't want to go anywhere near this.

Do I think the objecting straight fanboys are homophobic? Probably. But I also think the same of the huge ream of fetishists, their supporters and their excusers. The difference is, the fanboys won't claim to be my allies or working for social justice while pulling their homophobic bullshit.

You're all homophobes, why do you think I'm going to champion either of you? And you only show this by dragging your sorry self to a gay man who is complete stranger (and clearly without any real examination of what I've written or my opinions) and expect me to run and go to bat on command for your fetish. But then, this is the respect I've come to expect.

And this is why I avoid fandom. When the choice is heternormative erasure and "gay is icky" on one side or gay fucktoys, who need to be drooled over and not heard on the other

Also? I am not going anywhere NEAR tumblr. Every time I've even cast an eye other thyat place I have seen so much collective fail it makes Livejournal look like a shining font of reason and sensitivity.