Friday, 11 October 2013

National Coming Out Day

The closet and coming out is something I have spoken about a lot and I’d like to take the opportunity in this day to bring many of these thoughts together.

Firstly, the closet itself. Too many ignorant straight, cis people consider the closet to be an asset to us – that the fact we can hide makes homophobia and transphobia a “lesser prejudice” compared to others. This is a highly privileged and dismissive view that  misses the damage and pain the closet causes – and the elements of homophobia and transphobia that arise because of the closet.

The closet itself leads to the unique experience of coming out which, in turn, leads to one of the fraught dangers that most afflicts GBLT people. We’re very rarely born among our own people. We rarely have families and mentors close to us to guide our way and tell us how the world is. This not only makes us vulnerable to negative influences from society and media since we lack personal counters – but it also means that we are often born among our worst enemies. That those who should love us the most are the ones who will reject us, hurt us and torture us so completely.  The closet is so toxic that it can warp us.

It’s a vulnerability that makes coming out important for both us personally – to counter the shame that society tries to force on us with the Pride of public affirmation – and as a community, because so many of us – most of us – are born alone and need to know we’re out there. For this and many reason, coming out matters. And, no, you’re not being super accepting by asking “who cares” or pretending you’re above it all. You may be – we can’t afford to be. It matters – and not just for us, but for GBLT people in history as well. The closet has consumed our heroes, our role models, are forbearers and left us with a broken history and damaged legacy – a process that is continuing today.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The "We're Not All Like That" project

So, Dan Savage (he of many problems) is helping start a new video campaign in the mould of “It Gets Better”. This one is called “we’re not all like that.”

It’s basically a place where religious people can make videos assuring GBLT people that they’re not raging bigots.

Uh-huh. My eyes are rolling so much they’re getting friction burns.

Firstly, I do not think we need to broadcast this message because we already hear it over and over and over again. You cannot criticise any element of bigotry from organised religion without veritable flocks of apologists zooming in to wring their hands about us being so mean to worldwide forces of bigotry singing, first and foremost, that “we’re not all like that.” (The only reason you won’t get it on this post is because I have so little patience for such arguments that I’ve slapped them down and hard). And then the conversation (if any) about how organised religion is supporting bigotry derails into flocking round hurt religious fee-fees because the organisations they are supporting and affiliating with continue to oppose human rights.

Because that is what “we’re not all like that” inevitably means – not supporting LGBT people who have to deal with worldwide religions that loathe our existence – but playing PR for those religions so they can dismiss their own bigotry. Or providing a sop for the conscience of people who are supporting bigoted religions but still want to think of themselves as one of the “good ones”.

It’s the same motivation as that behind the dishonest attempt to present GBLT people as unjustly attacking religions – rather than the reality of us fighting for survival against forces that quite literally want us removed from the planet. It’s all part of misrepresenting the religious bigotry LGBT people face and trying to downplay the hatred the religions support and spread.

I don’t want to hear “we’re not all like that” because we already spend more than enough time focusing on the exceptions to the RULE of religious homophobia rather than actually challenging religious homophobia or seeing it as acceptable.

And, frankly, I’m not sure I believe you. Ok, maybe you’re “not all like that”, but most of you? Yeah, I think most of you ARE like that or, at very least, quite happy to tolerate “that.” How many billions of you support bigoted churches with your presence and your resources? How many of you say “we’re not all like that” then attend a Catholic mass or put money in an Othodox collection plate or tithe to the LDS or tick “Anglican” on the census form? How many of you say “we’re not all like that” and attend a synagogue condemning marriage equality or a mosque participating in an event inviting speakers who think gay people should be thrown off a mountain?

How many of you declare “we’re not all like that” but are quite willing to support people and organisations that are? How many of you sit in the pews and ignore the policy of your churches? How many of you close your ears to the hatred? How many of you decide it’s not that important?

How many of you actually DO anything to show “you’re not all like that” other than make a crappy youtube video – if that?

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Don't try to socialise the hermit!

The last few weeks have been immensely busy, mainly with work but also with an annoying amount of socialness which has kind of left me wanting to hermit.

There are some people who see an introvert and decide it’s time to make me be all social which will then make me HAPPY and JOYFUL and SUNSHINEY WONDERFUL

This combines annoyingly with my mental illnesses to have lots of really helpful people pushing me to get out more because this will magically cure me. More sunlight! More company! More loud, noisy crowds doing loud, noisy crowd things! If I’d just get out more and have fun why I wouldn’t need therapy or my pills or to swing great big axes at people’s heads.

Of course, my social phobias and general dislike of people, anxiety and fear of people especially in large numbers combines to make this the very opposite of help. I think I actually prefer the “have you tried eating X” crowd who think all my problems will go away if I just eat enough vitamin c or goji berries or whatever miracle cure du jour they’ve scanned off the arse end of the internet to the “just socialise and have fun” crowd.

Of course, the badgering at me to get out more wears down my dealing-with-crap reserves until I agree to shut them up – and then go, deplete reserves further and find myself less up to a long fight about why I don’t want to go out YET AGAIN

“But you have fun when you go out!”

Yeah, often I do. Sometimes I do. Usually. But that doesn’t change the amount of effort and energy involved, nor does it mean that, at various points during the event, I’m going to have unfortunate brain melt downs (more on that later) or freaky mood swings or anxiety attacks or generally just be afraid ALL THE DAMN TIME and yes I can do that EVEN WHILE apparently having fun. And it’s DRAINING. Really tiring.

Which means my social life, especially public social life, has a cool down (yes I use computer game references for mental illness). If I’ve revved up to going out last night, I am now out of social manna for tonight. I am /oom! And forcing it is going to create some freaky kind of mana-debt that most computer games don’t let you have because it’s a BAD IDEA, especially since I need to reserve some social mana for work (my sustained spells. Yes I can maintain this metaphor forever).

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Osborne's latest unemployment plans

Osborne, being the nasty little Tory he is, has a new plan to help fight unemployment in this country – demonising the long term unemployed!

Did I say “new plan”? Because that kind of sounds like the Tory’s old plan. In fact, it sounds like the Tory’s only plan.

His plan is that long term unemployed will now have to do full time community service, attend a full time course or go to the job centre every single day.

So let us count the wrongness

This Demonises the Unemployed
The Tories are stuck on the idea that the unemployed are lazy leeches on society – it’s not just a matter of delusion, it’s a lie they have to tell themselves. The only way they can continue to reshape the country to make the rich even richer and screw the poor harder and harder is to chant the mantra that it is the poor’s fault.

The minute you accept that the economy is screwed up (caused by rich bankers who have had some wonderful welfare in response) and that even in this time of “recovery” we’re seeing the majority of wealth coalescing in the hands of the rich while the standard of living for everyone else drops along-side earnings and benefits then we have to start questioning our system – and whether all the Tory cronies really need things like a cut to the upper rate of tax.

The Tories need to demonise the unemployed to maintain their myth of society and justify their cruel, selfish actions. This proposal is just another extension of that.

It Doesn’t Create Jobs
It doesn’t matter what you do to the unemployed, if there are no jobs then they can’t work. It’s that simple, especially in places outside the south-east (yes, Londoners, there are places outside the south-east). It doesn’t matter what new plans Osborne conjures up to torment and attack them, the unemployed cannot get jobs if there are no jobs to get – or 1 job among 20 applicants.

It Actively Hinders Job Search
Job hunting takes time, it takes energy and it’s emotionally highly damaging. Forcing pointless, time consuming tasks with an added level of demonization on job seekers for extra morale destruction does not help. Leaving people tired, dispirited and too busy to find work is the very opposite of help