Friday, 25 January 2013

Marriage Equality coming closer

I am keeping everything crossed

Don't screw this up!

Same-sex marriage bill in the UK: voting in February.

if you're British - contact your MP, even if they've said no publicly, even if they've said yes publicly - contact them, yell at them, throw pies at them - let them know this matters.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Yet More Appropriation around "Out"

In addition to being an extremely offensive book in its own right, there’s also some really offensive things that come with Out in addition to its homophobic content. And I’m not just talking the author and her “this is not how it’s intended!” excuse (Bingo! I got Bingo!)

See, it’s not only appropriative homophobic bigotry that would make the FRC salivate, but the way Preble is trying to sell this book just makes it worse

She cannot talk about this book without talking about GSAs and PFLAG. When she launches her sales pitch for this book, this straight woman grabs our fight for equality to piggy back attention for her book. She’s not just appropriating the victimisation of gay people in her book and casting us as villains, but she’s constantly using the reality of anti-gay oppression and the gay rights movement as a tool in her marketing; which is especially damaging when you consider both the homophobia of the book and that it’s presented as YA – Young Adult. Others have already said how terrible that can be (most certainly do read the comments).

In response to criticism from GBLTQ people about her homophobia she has not only waved PFLAG and GSA around like a banner, but also been quick to hide behind her gay friends and family.

She isn’t the first straight person to feel they can profit – through attention or money, or otherwise benefit – from the struggles of GBLTQ people, not even remotely, but it doesn’t make it even slightly palatable. Our rights and struggle for human decency are not marketing tools so you can increase your profile and/or your bank balance. Our battle for equality isn’t something you can just take and use to shill books; show a crumb of respect for the struggle you’re supposed to care so much about  rather than use it for a platform from which you can announce to the world how wonderful you are (and hopefully sell shit in the process).

I’ve already spoken about the whole “I have gay friends/relatives/etc etc” excuse which I’m sure we’ve all heard so often before.

And you’ve got to love the Goodreads’s ratings. Several brand new accounts are created to give Out 5 stars. That’s all they’ve read – not one other book on their profile, but Out? 5 stars. Oh then there’s 2 more that decide they’re going to read classics – maybe 2 or 3 like Animal Farm and the Great Gatsby – Then give Out a huge rating. Because y’know, I’m sure that describes many reading lists: Animal Farm, Great Gatsby, Out. Yes yes it does and totally is not fake or a random friend or family member.

Of course, extra bonus points for countering criticism of homophobia by having one of the brand-new-with-no-other-books-but-totally-real-accounts-honest have a NOH8 picture in their profile. Well, it’s not like appropriation bothers these people is it?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Review: Out by Laura Preble

I was extremely wary about picking up this book. I have yet to read a discrimiflip novel that worked and didn’t end up being really appropriative and offensive. I find it doubtful they can work due to the inherent nature of making minorities the evil perpetrators of the very crimes committed against them. Still, I’m told it is possible, people assured me it was possible, so I picked up this book when it was released to see if it actually managed it.

So we have the story of Chris. A straight boy living in a world where, it seems, just about everyone is gay. Being straight is considered sick and wrong, condemned by both the church and the state (which are closely entwined). He tries to navigate this discrimination, as the son of a minister, and try to find freedom with the woman he loves.

And no, this discrimiflip did not manage it. Not even close. In fact, I’m sorely tempted to put a trigger warning for homophobia simply for having to discuss the contents of this book.
The author has appropriated every aspect of homophobic oppression imaginable. We have child bullying, we have demeaning dehumanisation from the pulpit, we have a horrific description of conversion therapy, we have chemical castration; we even have concentration camps, actual concentration camps.

All of these are extreme examples of oppression that have constantly been used to persecute and destroy gay people and they’re all used in this book – often graphically – but flipped. The victims of this torture and even this genocide are now made the villains. Those who inflicted them are now the victims. It is unbelievably offensive and enraging to see these despicable crimes that were – and continue to be – inflicted on gay people depicted with gay people as the perpetrators and straight people as the innocent victims. Even some of the basic language of anti-gay oppression have been callously appropriated by this straight author: we even have straight people being called “queer”. The book's even called "Out"! There really is no limits to the appropriation in this book and the extent to which gay people are presented as inflicting exactly the same cruel persecutions that, in reality, gay people have endured and died from.

To take the history of gay persecution, to take all of these horrendous things that have been used to victimise gay people and then mangle them to make gay people the villains makes me choke with rage. I have no words to describe how offensive this is. I had to stop reading several times because the book was so painfully offensive to read I couldn't keep going

The actual depiction of someone living with a closeted sexuality is also ridiculously shallow, especially for a young person. Chris finds out he likes a girl (note: A girl. Not girls. Just the one twu luv that follows the endlessly dull love at first sight meme that I’d complain more about if it weren’t such a tiny problem compared to the gross offensiveness of this book), it’s a shocking discovery. Within the hour he seeks out his friend to tell her. No, really.

In this society where being straight is illegal and demonised universally from birth, he couldn’t even keep it a secret for an hour. In fact, he goes home and his sister – in this ultra gay-normative society – already knows he’s straight! She even has some subversive literature for him! Yes, within a day of realising he’s straight, he already has a support net in this overwhelmingly gay world where heterosexuality is constantly demonised from the highest echelons of government. As an extra bonus, he meets Carmen, his love interest and she tells him she is straight in their first ever conversation, in a public cafĂ© no less. They’re complete strangers, straight people are tortured and killed with the full blessing of the theocratic government but she’s going to spill her secret. I boggle how it can even be called a secret if 5 minutes acquaintance are sufficient for the big reveal.

To go with all these suddenly revealed straight people (including his sister, his sister’s boyfriend, his sister’s friends – seriously there seems to be more named straight people than gay people in this gay majority world!) Chris deals very quickly with any elements of self-loathing, low self-esteem etc he has from spending his entire life being told he’s diseased, wrong, mentally ill, a plague on society, bringing about the end of civilisation, hated by god and going to hell. Within the first three days we seem to be totally past such questioning and the focus quickly changes to the terrible forces that are keeping him and his beloved apart and the utter cruelty of living without her. There is a brief attempt to have him doubt himself in the very beginning but it takes less than a week for it to fade as a distant memory and him to be sure that the persecution of straight people is wrong. He's actually openly challenging and arguing against persecution of straight people on his first day realising he's straight- and it's used as an excuse to clumsily shoe-horn in many of the arguments the gay rights movement uses in the real world (and I have to say how unpleasant it is to see straight people taking our words and arguments for our survival and putting them in the mouth of a straight boy being attack by the evil evil gay folk).

In fact, it seems far more like a star-crossed lover’s story with extra offensive appropriation than an attempt to build any understanding of what it’s like to be gay in a straight society. If Carmen and Chris had been from foreign countries that were at war, or if she were a princess and he were a peasant, the story wouldn’t be vastly different – only the attacks and dehumanisation they faced would be a lot less offensive.

I find it unbelievable that this was even remotely supposed to try and convey any idea of what the closet is like. And it goes with the general sloppy and shallow way this book has built its "heterophobic" society. (The book's also sloppy in its convoluted info-dumps, but it pales next to the appropriation)

For a start, even in the pulpit the evil gay persecutors call themselves Parallels. Why? If you look at the homophobes in our world they don’t need to refer to themselves as heterosexual – in a world and a belief system where the minority sexuality is overwhelming defined as wrong, sick and deviant, you don’t use a word for “normal” people. They’re “normal.” Or there’s the fact that they refer to Romeo and Juliette. In a world of gay normality and straight suppression, why would this play even have been written, let alone be permitted reading in such a repressive anti-gay society? Especially for 17 year olds? In our world getting "Heather has Two Mommies" on the shelves requires actually going to war - let alone actual school-taught classics! In a world were gay marriage and relationships are the only ones allowed, why would “Mrs.” exist as a reference for married women?

But what about the gay people in the book which is supposed to be empowering? Well, firstly, there’s not actually that many for a society that’s supposed to be overwhelmingly gay, there seem to be a lot more straight characters unless you count faceless antagonists. And they’re unpleasant – whether it’s cowardly and weak like Warren and Andi, or outright evil like David and, well, just about everyone else. Gay people in this book are evil or pathetic, pretty much universally except for faceless and nameless possible supporters (who may or may not be more hidden straight folk).

And not just evil in the persecution of the poor straight folks suffering under the oppressive might of the terrible gay government – but to each other and especially their children as well: this gay society itself seems to be toxic

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Police Launch a Homophobic Witch Hunt - already covering and lying

That’s the rather innocuous title of a police initiative to harvest DNA for the national database from violent and sexual criminals who have since been released. They go visit said released criminals who are “convicted of the most serious offences” and demand their DNA or that person faces arrest.

While there are numerous wrangles that go with the dubious nature of the DNA database, we have an extra lump of homophobia on this one

Gay men who have criminal records for being gay are being targeted. Some of these are gay men who were arrested for being gay before it was repealed in the 60s, or arrested for being gay in the military which was only repealed in 1994. Or when we had sex under the then age of consent (the age of consent for gay men was only equalised in 2001. I remember vividly because I was breaking that law). Add in, of course, that police through the ages have pursued numerous, highly homophobic attacks at gay clubs, gay cruising spots and anywhere else where entrapment or manufactured evidence – or even just accusation (after all, if you accuse a closeted gay man of a crime, he can plead guilty and try to get it over with quickly, or fight it and be Outed). Gay men have long been the targets of now repealed “gross indecency” laws which became tools by the police to persecute us long after being gay was no longer a crime.

But under Operation Nutmeg, apparently being gay counts as one of those “violent and sexual criminals” and police are going to see these gay men who were targeted in the past and demanding their DNA. Now, anyone with common sense would assume this meant those guilty of sexual assaults and rapes. But then, common sense has always taken a back seat to homophobia.

So far there are reports of the police doing this in Manchester, Northumberland, West Midlands and London, but it’s a national scheme and it seems unlikely

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Cat is plotting my doom

Yesterday brought the cat’s annual check up with the vet.

On the plus side, she was easy to load up (being a somewhat elderly kitty she spends 19 hours in every 24 asleep – the rest of her time being devoted to eating, randomly vomiting and sitting somewhere and yowling for no apparent reason), even if she did make her disapproval of the situation abundantly clear to everyone within ear shot.

She may be ancient, but she’s healthy – and even the vomiting is less to do with health reasons and more to do with hairballs/pure spite. And she got her claws trimmed – not declawed, but since she spends all her time asleep now she’s not wearing her claws down at all and they’re getting long. She also has trouble retracting her claws – the vet suggested some kind of arthritis in her pads. The bad side is that we no longer get to see her walk across beds/sofas/carpets and suddenly fall over because she’s accidentally nailed one foot to the floor. Then she does her “I totally meant to stick my claws in the carpet!” look. Which is followed, inevitably, by the “someone unhook me, damn it!” yowl. Then she sulks because we have Witnessed Her Shame.

Of course, she now hates everything. With the fiery passion a thousand hateful suns. When I left this morning she was practicing her “I will make the whole world burn” glare. And refusing to eat in a distinct “food?! You think I would take FOOD from YOU, you hateful betrayer of all things good and right in this world?!” fashion. Then she waits until you’re not looking to eat it all and suggest “me? I didn’t eat that! It was the fish!”. She also refused to be bribed with tuna (she ATE it, again, when no-one’s looking, but she refused to be bribed by it).

Thankfully, fiery, world destroying hatred is tiring to maintain and she needs frequent naps, so the world gets a reprieve. For now.

Monday, 7 January 2013

New Year's Resolution

Yes, I’m actually going to make some this year. I normally don’t bother because, well, why make promises you know you won’t keep so you can break them later and feel bad about it? What is this, emergency guilt reserves? “Hey, I don’t think I’m going to feel guilty enough in, about, mid-February, so I’m going make some promises I’ll break and ensure a bumper crop of guilty and feeling like a failure!”

 Besides, when I make ritual decisions to set my life on a new path, I do that at Imbolc.

 But this year I’m making some resolutions to CONTINUE. This fits my definition of Yule, celebrating life and self as it is in a defiant fire against the dark. That sounds like a cop-out, but these are things I need to continue that I know I will stumble on – because I already am doing.

So, I Resolve:
 To keep healing. I’ve made immense progress in putting my shattered mind back together this year, I want to keep going, no stopping, hiding or running.

 To keep the upper lip wobbly. No stiff-upper-lip enduring situations that are hurting my healing. No enduring what I can’t endure, no tolerating what I shouldn’t tolerate. I will ask for help when needed, not hope someone notices I’m drowning and throws a life line. I will remove myself from situations and places

To not use booze as a not!coping mechanism.

 To wear my hair more as I want it in non professional settings. And stop playing they “should I cut it?” game.

 To remind Beloved of his many many flaws. At length. It’s good for him.

 To not feel ashamed for withholding trust, friendship or my company. I have no problem being suspicious, but I view it as a character flaw, which I need to work on

 To stop doing things and going places I know are going to annoy me, it’s like a scab I can’t stop picking, it’s silly and ridiculous.

 To not use my hermit tendencies and lack of trust as an excuse to avoid people I do trust and to hunker down and hide. In fact, I resolve to go out more. No, really.

 To remind Beloved of his many many flaws. At length. It’s good for him.

To remember that the family tree has thorns as well as flowers - and it needs to be less spikey before I climb it

 To not argue with someone who isn’t listening, to not repeat what I’ve already said (they ignored me the first time, what makes me think they’ll listen the second time?)

 To have fun and not feel guilty for it – nor feel I need to be “productive.”

To scream at my damn ISP on a regular basis. In fact, let’s widen that so it sounds wiser: to stop ignoring things and hoping they will improve. Including the ISP. Which is still shit.

 To stop trying to multitask.

 To remind Beloved of his many many flaws. At length. It’s good for him.

 To avoid ALL online games, all gaming Apps, all MMOs, all browser games until I show I can handle them reasonably without becoming ludicrously hooked on them to the point when I’m playing without even enjoying them.

 To not have huge long absences on the blogs, twitter, or elsewhere.

To answer the damn emails, damn it. And no-one believes the whole “oh I didn’t get that email, that’s why I didn’t respond” excuse!

 Did I mention reminding Beloved of his flaws? Because I really need to do that.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

More Slurs, More Hate, More Defenders

Like many many many celebs before her, Azealia Banks has taken to twitter to express her hatred and contempt for gay men. I’m beginning to think it’s becoming an essential part of being a celebrity – become well know, start twitter account, start using f@ggot. I suppose it ensures the assault against our self-esteem and worth are truly unrelenting .

Unlike most, Azealia hasn’t gone to her PR people to tell us how out of context and mistaken it all is (that would be Fantasia’s Barrino’s tactic). She’s quite happy to stand by her bigotry and let that hate and contempt fly high. A proud bigot who holds so much contempt fopr gay men, how nice.

Don’t even try to give me that reclaiming bullshit. It isn’t “reclaiming” a word if you use it as a weapon. Reclaiming a slur means taking it, stripping it of its negative and wearing it as pride. Not using it as a weapon so you can express your contempt and loathing of all gay men.

And that word isn’t hers to reclaim! You can’t reclaim a word that isn’t used against you. And in case the f@ggot wasn’t already abundantly clear as an attack against gay men specifically, then how about:

“does your butthole whistle? Like is your butthole so stretched and raggedy the air whistles when you move?”

Are we clear enough yet that this vile bigot is specifically targeting gay men with her nasty attack?

These are words and phrases that attack all gay men. If you want to attack a specific arsehole then do so, by all means. But when you use slurs and attacks that target someone for being a gay man, then you are expressing your very clear hatred and contempt for all of us. You are dehumanising all of us.

The worst thing about this is not this horrible woman spilling her hatred and showing her homophobic arse for the world to see – the worst thing is the sheer legion of people twisting themselves backwards and into knots to justify and defend her. I honestly haven’t seen this many people storming out to defend homophobia since Tracy Morgan decided stabbing gay kids was funny.


Now that was surprisingly not awful.

It was bad, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t the long drawn out hell of relatives I want to kill with a flamethrower  but can’t because there’s so many of them and it’d cause a severe fire hazard.

Part of it is simply that our vast huge family is breaking up. As the oldest generation shuffles off their mortal coil, a lot of my parent’s generation, my generation and my nieces and nephew’s generation are less inclined to make the effort to stay in touch with 3rd cousins and the like. There are one or two lynchpins and the clan will generally keep in touch – but the endless visiting and HUGE DAMN PARTIES are probably a thing of the past. I think I’m, supposed to be sad about this but… I’m not. I’m generally of the opinion that if you lose touch with someone, there’s usually a reason.

Of course some of the awful was still there with the family gatherings I couldn’t duck, but I’ve found a nice counter tactic if just gasping “WHY DO YOU WANT TO RUIN CHRISTMAS?!” at them in an increasingly shrill and louder voice until they subside and leave me alone. Not the most mature response, but surprisingly effective. I’ve backed it up by assuming anyone mentioning anything about being gay is coming out to me, when they say they’re not, I ask them a) why they care and b) why I should care what they have to say. Also rather effective.

Thankfully, my own holiday celebrations happen on the solstice, so I can endure the annoying without it ruining my day. Beloved’s holiday celebrations happen around wherever bottles of booze are open

Dramas aside, we were faced with a terrible terrible scourge. Poultry.

See, the eternal chickens from Beloved’s ill-advised, unsupervised shopping are still kind of hanging around, despite numerous chicken meals. And then there was going to my parents for Xmas day where we have turkey and a vehement insistence that everyone take home left overs.

Then there’s our new sorta-27th tradition. See, for reasons that make no sense since we go to my parent’s house for Xmas every year and his parent’s house for New Year (we always do this, mainly because my family’s nastiness can spoil Xmas for me but not anyone else. Beloved’s parent’s “ZOMG IT’S A VISIT FROM THE QUEEN” awkwardness can stifle it for everyone), we still stock up for the holidays. Including getting a turkey. Because, damn it, it’s the holidays and we will shop for vast amounts of food!

So on the 27th… I cook Christmas dinner and we invite lots of friends who don’t give me grey hairs, friends who don’t mind a second Christmas dinner, friends who may not have had one, friends who have had one but it was awful and F, The Emergency Appetite (she has a mask now).

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year

Happy New Year - let's see what 2013 brings us.

What it brings me, first of all, is some booze and some alone time. Precious solitude! (Beloved is playing with fish and a... games console thingy. The game is winning, I think. Actually, I think the fish may be winning)