Sunday, 28 October 2012

I've drunk all the booze again

Friday evening I had to pick Beloved up (his car is dead, again. I honestly have no idea what he does to his car – beats the engine with hammers I think) where he had decamped to a pub (Beloved doesn’t do waiting – which inevitably means if he’s ever waiting for you he will go do something or go to a pub and then you end up waiting for him). If there’s one thing I dislike more than straight pubs, it’s being in a straight pub when I’m driving so can’t drink. And if there’s one thing I hate more than that it’s being in a crowded straight pub when I’m driving so can’t drink.

So I was sat there, drinking something caffeinated and dropping not-so-subtle hints that Beloved and his friend J need to finish their drinks so we can leave when one of the loud and not entirely sober group of older men next to us makes a comment about a paedophile who has been in the news lately – his comment including several anti-gay slurs, accompanied with general nodding. The group of not-entirely-sober younger men not far away agreed rather loudly and made many disparaging comments – about gay men not paedophiles (thank you homophobic media for constantly conflating the two).

Then group number three made jokes and more jokes and jokes tinged with violence and then…. Jokes which weren’t even jokes at all but were rather menacing.

It’s at this point Beloved and I decide we did not want to be there. It was also at this point that J decided she wanted to speak up.

There followed a brief whispered argument in which we said if we wanted to commit suicide we’d make the choice ourselves, thanks; and we didn’t appreciate her nominating us for Gay Martyr to Hate Crime #7889675764746 and #7889675764747. Counter of needing to speak, to reject this crap while we pointed out we also would like to remain in once piece and I already have enough scars and a trick knee, I don’t really need to add to the collection – and if a pub full of violent homophobes realised we were gay, we were the ones spending the nights in the hospital. And we left, refusing to argue any more, leaving her the choice of speaking up without us in the room, following us, or arguing with our rapidly retreating backs. She followed.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Furious, Semi-Coherent Rant about Subtext

This is something I’ve talked about before with reference to the Bromance in Teen Wolf. But that was through moderate, restrained and I’m done with that. My temper has snapped and it’s time for a rant.

I am bloody sick over the fawning over shows because of their pathetic subtext. Call it slashwink. Call it “queerbait.” Call it homo-bromance. Call it what you will, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of it being used as a complete replacement for actual GBLTQ content or characters. I’m sick of the massive praise and joy of the latest hint of homoerotic subtext with barely a breath of criticism of the complete and utter erasure those show actually have.

And enough with the fucking “fanon” wish-fulfilment. Slash fans over and over again pretending that the characters are being presented as bisexual really so it’s INCLUSIVE honest – of course because it makes their thrice damned ONE TRUE PAIRING canonically possible. Stop, your desperate attempt to morph the show to fit your fantasy doesn’t make it inclusive or real. Desperately trying to cast Dean as bisexual? Really? And there is no damn indication on the show that Stiles is bisexual (no, Word of Gay doesn't count, especially when it's "could maybe, sorta, possibly" slashbait). “How did he get the numbers of all those drag queens?” because the writers wanted to make a recurring homophobic joke you clueless fetishists! So they could drag up the drag queens whenever they thought they could get a cheap freaking laugh out of it. The same damn reason they had Stiles fake!come out to his father so he could hit back with a gay joke. It’s not like they didn’t do it before – Scott and Danny dancing, appropriating the hundreds of gay teens who have been evicted from proms for daring not to be closeted – remember that? Yes, mere mention of TEH GAY is considered funny – it’s a homophobic convention that’s been going on since the 60s if not earlier. Yes it’s old and yes it should have died but it keeps on going – not least of which because of slashers grabbing them and jumping up and down with glee over a tired, homophobic, trope.

And don’t tell me that the people who are uncritically squeeing and fawning and praising are the exception. They’re not, they’re really not and, just like with the m/m genre, there’s a distinct lack of criticism of this bullshit and a lot of hostility towards those – especially gay and bi men – who presume to do so. Challenging this subtext is not even slightly the norm.

And yes, the use of subtext instead of inclusion IS BECAUSE OF YOU! Slash is part of the cause! Stop wringing your hands and pretending that slash fandom bears no responsibility for this! That it’s unknown and hidden and why would anyone ever try to direct things at you, the great big secret?! It’s ridiculous to pretend that slash isn’t part of this and then turn round in the same damn breath and be so damn happy that ZOMG the slashers being TWEETED by the writers of a show and isn’t it amazing! Or how this actor acknowledged an OTP! Or how you all mobbed a show creator on Twitter and now he’s talking about your pairing! ZOMG!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Beloved and instruments

So the instruments where items he was holding for a feriend who... does instrumenty-type stuff (I don't know, I don't like them so, consequently, don't pay much attention to their stuff).

It was only a temporary occurrence.

But he says he may be able to borrow them and more whenever he wants.

He apparently thinks this is a good thing.

I disagree.

Words will be exchanged.

*Beloved IS actually very musically talented but he has the attention span of a concussed mosquito. So he'll get an instrument, learn to be borderline competent and then he'll lose interest. Which means I'm treated always to the "horrible screeching" part of the learning process.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

I am not even going to ask

So it’s Saturday morning and I follow my usual routine, stagger out of bed around 10:00 (not a morning person, will not be a morning person, will stay up until 5:00am quite happily. Night time is good) and stagger down stairs. With much zombie groaning I fill my lovely pint mug with coffee (it has a warning on it, ordering people to a minimum safe distance. I love my mugs), I stagger into the living room, collapse on the sofa and fumble my kindle out of my dressing gown pocket.

One mug down and several chapters, it finally registers that there’s something poking me in the side. I look over and see a bassoon.

This is not an innuendo. For some reason there is a bassoon on my sofa. It could be an oboe I guess. What is the difference between an oboe and a bassoon anyway?

And a French horn on my coffee table. And a trombone on the floor. I think there’s a cased flute on the armchair

I reflected on this for a moment. Got up, refilled my coffee mug. After a few judicious sips I found the little writing pad on the fridge, took a sheet of paper and wrote a large “NO” on it and magnetised it to the fridge door. I took a sheet of paper from by the phone, pinned it on the phone board with another “No” written clearly and lastly, took a note bad from the drawer, wrote a very clear “HELL NO!” on it and left it on the coffee table. I then went back upstairs with my kindle and a third cup of coffee.

I don’t know how I’d deal with Beloved’s shenanigans without coffee.

Friday, 12 October 2012

National Coming Out Day part 2

It is now National Coming Out Day UK (one day later, don’t ask me why) and after much umming and ahhing, I’m deciding to share my own coming Out story.

It’s not that it’s a big secret, I’ve alluded to it in passing before, after all. My reluctance stems from the tone of the day – everyone is so happy and so celebratory and bouncing and sharing happy stories and tales of how much they are loved. I am reluctant to play the Debbie-downer since my story isn’t a very positive one.

But, after thinking and talking about this, I think it’s necessary to be the Downer because we need to remember that Coming out is serious, it can and does have a cost, it is risky and it isn’t all love and acceptance. In particular, we need to address this message of duty we’re seeing. That all GBLT people SHOULD come out, have a duty to come out, that they’re betraying us by not coming out etc etc. This has spread to such a degree that we have inordinate straight people in various fields encouraging, demanding and even shaming GBLT people into coming out. We have an idea now that being closeted is cowardly or failing. This is a terrible burden to put on people and we need to remember the cost and the risk of this. We also have a lot of people dismissing GBLT people’s coming out as casual or unimportant – or even ascribing an ulterior motive, like the homophobe who thought Anderson Cooper came out “for ratings”.

And the importance of the moment. It is becoming rather nastily common for straight, cis people to announce they are “coming out” about things which have nothing to do with being GBLT. I have seen people coming out as allies (ugh, no), coming out as Tories (ye gods) coming out as Geeks – and any number of other gross appropriations. I think recognising the risk and the fear may be part of countering this disrespect and casual dismissal and usage of such a powerful moment.

So, my story. I came out at age 14. I knew many many years before hand but I also knew from the constant contempt, shaming and homophobic language that my family was not going to be a welcoming place. I kept my mouth shut. I couldn’t risk alienating my family, not just because I was a financially dependent teenager. I come from a culture of intense family ties. I grew up with people I called cousins whose only relation to me was the same great-grandfather or even great-great-grandfather. Our family reunions have attendance in the hundreds. And everyone is in everyone’s pocket, knows everyone’s news, everyone’s business, is in and out of everyone’s houses, constantly doing each other favours, sharing property, sharing insights, sharing opportunities, sharing gossip, sharing lives. I grew up with a list of dozens of phone numbers to aunt this and uncle that who, should anything ever ever happen, I knew I could call and they would be there within the hour. And the expectation that I would do the same for them. We didn’t have Christmas Card lists, we had Christmas card books. Family Was Important. All important.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

National Coming Out Day

I’ve said a lot about the closet and coming out on previous years – there’s a lot to say and it all still applies. Coming out of the closet is one of the more powerful, freeing and affirming things imaginable.  I say this because this has been a year of numerous celebrity coming outs and I think a lot of people are being extremely blasé – and even insulting – about how powerful, how meaningful, how difficult and how personal coming out can be. We’ve even had some homophobic arseholes accuse these GBLT people of seeking to boost ratings which just shows how incredibly privileged and clueless these people are.
So this year I’m going to repost something I wrote about the closet. What the closet is. What the closet means. What the closet does to you. This is a wake up call to all the homophobes who say “you can hide”, all the homophobes who say “why did they bother coming out”, all the homophobes who present the closet as an asset to us, all the homophobes who think we can and should disguise ourselves and all the homophobes who don’t understand why coming out matters.

I honestly have lost count to the number of times – perhaps especially in progressive circles – where I have seen homophobia and transphobia dismissed or diminished because of the closet. The idea that GBLTs can hide (and, let‘s be clear straight off, not all of us can. And all it takes is us being PERCEIVED to be GBLT to face hatred) – so prejudice against GBLTs isn’t all that bad, right? It’s not as bad as “real” oppressions – because all we have to do is hide, right?

It is used to diminish homophobia and transphobia – and it actually makes the closet, which to so many of us is an utterly toxic place that brought us no small amount of misery – seem like some kind of ASSET.

The closet has its cost. Being able to hide (in as much as we can) comes with a terrible price.
The closet, being able to hide, comes with the demand TO hide. If we actually presume to be us then we are “flaunting ourselves” or “ramming it down people’s throats.” We can hide, they say, so why don’t we? Why don’t we wear the mask to spare the straight people the sight of us? Why do we parade ourselves, our vileness so? It is seen as being RUDE to simply be.

The closet comes with a denial of our existence, a doubt that we‘re even what we say we are. Hiding what we are comes with a disbelief that what we are even exists. Being trans is still considered and listed a mental illness far too often. Being gay was considered as mental illness by the WHO as recently as 20 years ago.

How many times do people talk about the “gay lifestyle?” How many times do bigots prate about “homosexual behaviour” that it’s not about people, it’s about actions? How many times do they doubt our identity? how many times do they treat what and who we are as a kink or a fetish? An inclination? A hobby? A vague preference?

How many times is our very being diminished and demeaned as some kind of act of rebellion? Our identity reduced to the actions of a teenager acting out? How often is it presented as deliberate sin? As a deliberate attempt to shock, appal or insult the world? Because it’s all our actions and it’s all about them and how it upsets the straight world – never about us and who and what we are. Our identities, our beings are lost in the closet and they only see deeds not people.

How many times has the closet lead to GBLTness being treated as learned behaviour?

How many times do we treat GBLT people as being almost diseased? Don’t stand near them, you’ll catch it. Don’t talk to them. Don’t mix with them. You can’t be associated with them.
How many times are we portrayed as preying on children? As recruiting children? How many people see us as a threat to kids? As paedophiles? As abusers?

How many times has viewing being GBLT as a behaviour lead to horrific and horrendous laws that continue today? It is through an ignorant view of the closet, of a diminishment of being GBLT to actions rather than identity, that allows respected media outlets to ask “should gays be executed?” as some kind of reasonable question. It is an ignorant idea of the closet that makes it still acceptable, in law, in so many supposedly modern places to discriminate against someone, deny their rights, fire them, evict them – just because they are GBLT. And this is LEGAL and acceptable.

It is this ignorant view of the closet confusing people with actions that allows laws that criminalised – and criminalise - being GBLT, to imprison GBLT people and even execute us – and raise no more than vague disapproval at best – let alone being decried as the acts of genocide they are.

The closet has lead to ex-gay therapy, to exorcisms and aversion treatment (the latter of which involves inflicting pain repeatedly whenever the patient succumbs to their “deviance“). Even the least violent of these are grossly destructive to us – and the worst of them are the stuff of nightmares. To “cure” us, the authorities have subjected GBLTs to being injected with powerful emetics, have suffered electroshock treatment, to horrendous abuse and deprivation.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chritsmas Cake - it's baking time

I have finally made my Winter Feast cake!

But Sparky, I hear you cry, it’s October!

I know, I know, I’m running late this year. I normally have all Yule, Christmas and Winter Feast cakes made in September. But it’s still a good time to get them baking.

I always make these every year partly because of Beloved. He used to hate Christmas cake because his family never baked them – they bought them. Nasty, dry things that they were. And then he ate, in order, my great-aunt’s Christmas cake and then my Christmas cake – he is now hooked and a huge cake

And partly because of said Great Aunt, master baker for near a century, who finally broke and asked how I made my cake. Victory parade, if you please.

Since I think Christmas cake – and fruit cake – is sorely undervalued I’m going to throw the recipe I use out there in the hope more people will make this unctuous, rich, boozy, heavy and EASY cake (sans icing since we won’t be doing that until December)

Note: this cake is very rich, very heavy, very boozy and has been known to pin people to their chairs, caught in the eternal torture of wanting to eat more of the lovely but possibly exploding if they do. If you want a lighter version of this cake, please go look up the meaning of the winter feast, put away the diet books and invest in some elasticated waist trousers. Lighter Christmas cakes indeed! *harrumph*

The night before, prepare the fruit:
Your ingredients (in metric despite my imperial scales):
420g of Currants
250g Sultana
250g Raisins
160g glace cherries
150g dried apricots
75g Candied peel
9 tbsp of Brandy (or more! I go more, often a lot lot more) Do not stint on the booze!)
3 tbsp of red sherry or ruby port (if you prefer a smoky – NOT peaty – whisky)

Put it all in a BIIIIG bowl, mix well so the booze can soak that fruit through and through – leave it over night to percolate. I’ve left it a couple of days before to really SOAK.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Random Relaxation

Been a bit of an inactive week. partly because I've been low on energy and willingness to care about things and equally low on inclination to do stuff. I have a Bad News Round up lurking but I keep putting it off - so it keeps getting longer as more Bad News pours in. I may split it or tackle it in one marathon when I have the energy, strength, time and will to do so.

Partly due to the epic Supernatural re-watch I did for Fangs so I could review the latest season. torn between loving the show and hating the inclusion.  Still love Castiel though

Birthday week meant a nice restaurant Friday - I love this restaurant, it's just damn good food, michelin quality with minimum chefy damn nonesense and without the ludicrous prices (don't get me wrong, it's not cheap by any stretch, but it's not £25-for-sausage-and-mash-you-must-be-on-drugs expensive. You pay for the quality you get). Kind of like Michelin quality if Michaelin were run by Yorkshiremen instead of the French (you wouldn't get stars you'd get roses and an argument over the colour. And the highest praise would be "eee, that's grand." Or "champion").

I was a little bemused by my meal (cajun cod followed by cajun surf and turf) which was absolutely gorgeous but... not very cajun. Or maybe I'm just over-associating cajun with spice. Still, was nice.

We may go again next week out of some sense of obligation and vague worries that the restaurant was empty. Could be because it's the first day of fair though. Still, this area just has no close local restaurants, not decent ones, this is the only one and I'd hate to see it close.

And yesterday there was much booze because it Was Needed...

Beloved was going to make a cake but it was decided this would be a Bad Idea.

Didn't have many friends round but then, I kind of didn't want to - I needed some Us time, more people is always more stress.

On the subject of Us time, the family, in the ongoing push from Disapproving Homophobic Aunt to bring me back into the fold in some kind of perverse gesture of reconciliation, flocked around expecting to be part of some kind of celebrations. Didn't answer the phone, didn't open the door, left it locked with the key in the lock. No doubt there will be much ructions from this, I intend to ignore it. The hermit is not to be disturbed.

*returns to hermitting*

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

GBLT characters in The Parasol Protectorate Series

One of the saddest things we can come across with any media is something we love - but has a massive problematic issue in the middle of it that slowly poisons it for us. The Parasol Protectorate is a series of books we love and adore for so many reasons. We love Lady Alexia Macon, she’s funny and powerful, we love her relationship, the setting and the plot. Who wouldn't want to read more about Ivy's antics? This could be one of those series that racks up nothing but 5 fang reviews all through - but there was a problem that started in the first book and just grew with each extra novel to intolerable degrees.

Lord Akeldama. And, from that, all of the gay characters in this series.

From the onset of this story, Madame Lefoux wears masculine clothing. She is strong, and highly intelligent.  In and of itself, this character isn’t problematic, until one realises that she is juxtaposed to Lord Akeldama.  The fact that she is so masculine, underscores Akeldama’s femininity and that makes them both read as highly stereotypical.  Again, there are certainly lesbians who are exactly like Madame Lefoux but this is predominantly the image of lesbians in media, unless they are being used as sexual eye candy.

In the first book, Soulless,  Lord Akeldama starts off as very stereotypical gay male. He is extremely effeminate and while there are gay men who are like this, the problem with this type of representation, is that it has come to define gay male sexuality in the media.  To make matters worse, though he is resourceful, he functions as nothing more than the typical gay best friend to Alexia.  Akeldama put the dandies to work for Alexia as well and though we are told they are capable and devious, they, like their leader, are also effeminate.  Biffy for instance, is more than familiar with women’s toilette and is up to date on the latest hairstyles and fashions. All of this is bad enough, but the fact that Carriger then had the dandies working as wedding planners moves their representation from stereotypical, to downright mockery. 

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