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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Hatred on the Buses



Now, it’s possible in the UK you have seen various adverts by Stonewall and other groups saying “Some People Are Gay, Get over it.”

Well, Christian group has tried to put its own homophobic adverts up advocating conversion therapy, especially on London buses. And they’ve been told “no no, ye gods hell no” basically.

And, of course, they’re spitting their dummies out and are now suing to try and force bigotry on display. Because of Christian love and stuff

Ugh, let’s address this bullshit, shall we?

First of all – “freedom of speech” does not mean anyone has to repeat or broadcast the shit you have to say. I could have a long, furious rant about why Cardinal Keith O‘Brien needs feeding feet first into a woodchipper and why Benedict, when he dies, needs to be burned and his ashes scattered over water to make sure he stays down – that doesn’t mean the BBC has to let me say that to the nation or billboards have to accept my adverts for Cardinal Wood Chipping. Similarly, these Christians can have their bigoted beliefs and say bigoted things (within reason – and outside of reason as well - as we’ve seen time and again, anti-gay hate speech is not treated very seriously) but that doesn’t mean the City of London needs to broadcast them.

Secondly, it’s hate speech. The Stonewall ad it copies is encouraging acceptance and denying hate. This is pushing junk science that is used to spread hatred and bigotry. “Ex-gay” therapy and the myth that we can “change” is constantly used as a lying excuse for denying us human rights – up to and including the right to exist. This is the ultimate coded language and it’s blatant hate speech and blatantly wrong. This isn’t a message of reassurance – this is an attack. This is an assault. This is trying to coerce people into hurting us.

Thirdly, it’s bullshit. It’s harmful bullshit that every capable and competent medical body has denied. “Conversion” therapy is harmful, it’s dangerous, it hurts people and it simply doesn’t work. Simple as. Ultimately, advertising “conversion” therapy is as malicious and dangerous as telling people that the cure for diabetes is to eat lots and lots of Mars bars. This isn’t a good analogy  - because being gay isn’t a disease and doesn’t need medical intervention in the first place, but it is a point that their proposed “cure” will only hurt people. This is like trying to sell poison as a vitamin

Which, even if you have the morals of a Tory and the ethics of a banker, should be more than enough reason to ban these adverts. They’re WRONG, pure and simple.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Straight Washed Media

Well, there are certain genres of media that automatically assume that GBLT people couldn’t possibly have existed, especially if it’s set in the future (especially in dystopians. I tell you guys, us GBLT folks are super freaking tasty – the zombies and aliens go right for us!) and especially if it’s set in the past. Because we all arrived in 1960, don’tchaknow.

It annoys me, but then, erasure is extremely common in most genres, so the even-more-likely erasure that happens here only gets a little bit more of an annoyance. But some shows, films and books really stick in the craw.

Like Enigma which is not-very-subtly based on Alan Turing.

Or Shakespeare in Love with a very straight Shakespeare.

Even Troy, though based on fictional figures, crosses the line with a very straight retelling of the Illiad. Do I even need to talk about 300?

Uh-huh, and it’s not like these examples are one offs, straightening history has been a major habit of the media’s for a very long time. In fact, straightening us in general seems to be a massive requirement and reason #866 why I don’t watch these dancing reality shows is I’m sick of seeing gay celebrities shoved automatically into opposite sex pairs for dancing.

For that matter, straightening history has been a major part of society and academia for a long time. References to GBLT people throughout history have long been buried by academia and that’s on top of the forces of homophobia and transphobia that forced our predecessors to hide and closet themselves when they were alive.


Our past is often hidden from us. Those who come before have been removed from history or been forced into a closet that has lasted decades or centuries after death – perhaps even forever. Our heroes, our past, our foreparents have been lost, taken from us, and that is a terrible loss. It becomes hard to almost impossible to find those who came before us as not only has the closet forced individuals to hide their sexuality, but for much of history denied the existence of the identity itself and denied us a coherent language with which to define that identity and personhood (which is why I really really have no patience with anyone saying “but they wouldn’t have called themselves gay” excuse people love to trot out. For so much of history the only mainstream words for people like us were insults or euphemisms).

And once we’ve found those of us who were rendered invisible it becomes extra impossible to reclaim them from under the tide of heterosexism, cissexism, homophobia and transphobia. So much of the world resists any indication that GBLT people existed in the past (or exists today for that matter). Society also continues to consider being GBLT to be some kind of terrible, shameful thing meaning any attempt to try and find our forbearers is regarded as an attack or attempt to corrupt previous figures. Just look at the Greek lawyers threatening lawsuits on anyone who dared to suggest that Alexander the Great may have loved men.

Most tellingly, they will often say “this person is dead, they can’t defend themselves” because, y’know, being GBLT is an accusation you need to defend yourself against. Or it’s considered “demeaning” because whatever the figure did is suddenly rendered moot by us spilling the icky gay on them! Whatever achievements or brilliant reputation they managed to maintain can only possibly be preserved if they are straight.

It’s hard enough to try and dig up historical GBLT people in the first place with our prejudiced society, harder still to hold them out of the closet and present them as they were with the constant forces deciding to bury us or hold that we’re too obscene and need to be hidden from, well, everyone.

So this is my context. And then I turn on the television and find another representation of one of the few people where we’ve found powerful to outright irrefutable evidence that they were part of our community aaaaand – straightness again. It just throws salt in the wounds to continue the closeting.

Now here’s hoping that Da Vinci’s Demons isn’t yet another example. I notice Da Vinci’s female lover has been cast… Hmmm maybe “hoping” is too strong a word.

This post originally appeared at Womanist Musings

Friday, 22 February 2013

This. Means. WAR!



So Beloved has, after a pause to try and lull me into a false sense of security, launched his counter strike.

Oh it was subtly done I will give him that.

I’m there working away on Vital Worky Type Stuff when Beloved saunters in

Beloved: Dragon Age 3’s supposed to be released this year
Sparky: I know, already looking forward to it
Beloved: Do you think it’ll continue the other games?
Sparky: Maybe – but even if it doesn’t I bet you can import game files that will have an effect like Origins to DA2
Beloved: Do you have game files ready? It’s been a while
Sparky: Should do.
Beloved: Ha, so long as you remember what you did and don’t have to do the whole thing again
Sparky: I think I do.
Beloved: At least there isn’t a Mass Effect 4, you won’t be disappearing for a month again.

{conversation goes of in a tangent in which chickens are mentioned, repeatedly. Because he’s never allowed to forget the chickens. Ever).  He wanders off and I’m left alone

Sparky: *working on the Vital Worky Type Stuff*
Sparky Brain: Draaaaagon Age
Sparky: I’m working
SB: Are you working on Dragon Age?
Sparky: No, work. Concentrate brain
SB: I am concentrating. On the best mage build – is it just me or is an all primal mage pointless? Sure you get the achievement bu-
Sparky: Stop! Stop! Stop! Work!
SB: Fine I’ll work
Sparky: Good. *focus focus focus*
SB: Alistair…
Sparky: Stop it.
SB: Alllllistair…
Sparky: Stop it, stop it right now. WORK damn it. *focus focus focus*
SB: I can’t believe you’re doing this when Thedas is being consumed by a Blight. How heartless are you?
Sparky: I am NOT doing a Dragon Age marathon!
SB: Bets?

Later:
Beloved: oh, Dragon Age. How long after I left did you start playing?
Sparky: You did that on purpose.
Beloved: *smug look*


I must now spend time plotting revenge again. He cannot cannot cannot be allowed to win. And yes, this will escalate. And no, I do not care if the entire world is consumed in nuclear fire, I WILL HAVE THE LAST LAUGH!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Supernatural, fandom and more grey hairs



So, on Supernatural recently, there was a scene where Dean was being followed by another man. The man was stalking him for information, Dean approached him and demanded to know why the man, Aaron, was following him.

Aaron (lying) responds that he thought they had a moment (eyes crossed across a crowded room moment) and was hoping to, basically, hook up. Dean chokes, stutters, splutters, fumbles around and desperately extricates himself from the situation.

Yeah, I’ve seen that joke before. We’ve actually seen it on Supernatural before – Dean comes into contact with gay or bisexual men and is supremely uncomfortable and weirded out. It’s old, it’s depressing and it’s annoying on a show that in 8 seasons has only managed one decent portrayal of a Lesbian, Charlie for a massive 2 episodes (that’s 2 episodes out of 163, let’s be clear here), and repeatedly used gay men as a butt of jokes.

And the slashers?

“ZOMG DEAN IS CANONICALLY BISEXUAL!?”

What?

He was spluttering and virtually non-verbal and all but sprinted from the room but because he didn’t outright say “I’m straight, how very dare you?!” that makes him bi? The show is now magically inclusive?!

Really?

It's not like, in 163 episodes and counting, they didn't have ample time and repeated opportunity to establish Dean as bi, among all his hookups among all his heart to heart talks, among all the monster-of-the-week episodes - more than enough opportunities untaken. But why would the writers make one of the main characters GBLT on this show when they know fandom will give them inclusion kudos anyway?

Friday, 15 February 2013

I stand victorious on the field of combat



So Beloved and I are having a brief little tussle.

We have a doorstop in our kitchen. And I hate it.

Firstly, you have to understand I like my barriers. I hate open plan. I like my walls. I like closed doors. I like curtains drawn. I like a house to be made of lots of little boxes that can be nicely sealed away from the outside world. And a door’s default state should be CLOSED.

I also cook. I don’t want the door open when I’m cooking, smoke and grease and cooking smells permeate the house and sink into the soft furnishings. This is common sense.

Beloved leaves doors open. This annoys me, I’m constantly closing them after him and plotting revenge

But in the kitchen? He uses a doorstop. WHY?! Why would you want to prop the door open?! He claims it’s because he often has to leave the kitchen with hands full of plates and pots. This is not an excuse, the door is easily opened and he does that maybe once a day. But he uses the stop, which I have to fight with and kick across the floor several times a day. And the times I’ve stood on it in bare feet

I hate it, I hate it

And now I’ve thrown it away

An hour before the binmen came. Beloved couldn’t rescue it. We now don’t have a doorstop.

VICTORY!

I emerge victorious from the field of battle, battered and with sore feet, I did prevail and the doors are now closed.

Beloved is now amused. Beloved is plotting revenge. I will be ready for him.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Horses, Foxes and Shenanigans



 If you’ve been in Britain and not been living in a cave, you’ll be aware of the horsemeat scandal (and related – but horsemeat is the one that the media has been focused on). Lots of food, especially cheap, processed food that purports to be beef apparently contains horsemeat. In the case of a Findus beef lasagne, it contained 100% horsemeat and nary a cow in sight.

Needless to say, people aren’t happy.

Unfortunately, a significant part of the media reporting around this (and people’s reactions) has been “ZOMG THE POOR HORSEY!” because, unlike our continental neighbours, British people rarely eat horse and there’s something of a social taboo about it. This, in turn, has led to a silly backlash among those who enjoy smugness about how silly silly these silly people are who will eat a cow but not a horse. Oh how silly.

Personally, I’ll eat horse. I have eaten horse. It’s nice meat. But the issue here isn’t “silly English people who won’t eat horse, you sillies” but that our food is mislabelled.

I don’t care exactly how it’s being mislabelled, I object to the deception. If I get a beef lasagne that claims to contain beef, I don’t expect Dobin. Whatever reasons people have for not wanting to eat certain food – whether it’s religious, philosophical, medical, ethical, or fluffy-fuzzy-bunny-logic – that is their choice to make. Whether they want organic or GM free or vegetarian or gluten free or kosher or whatever – people get to choose what they put in their stomachs. People need to be able to trust food labels. And people deserve to get what they paid for – someone gives you money for a beef lasagne, they are paying for a beef lasagne, not a horse or donkey or scrag end of rat.

Because horse may be fairly benign, but what else passes through? Because this has, if nothing else, exposed a severe problem with the meat industry and the regulatory organisations. We’re being fed horse dressed as beef – what else are we being fed? What else is being passed off? I find it unlikely in the extreme that we can have a horsemeat scandal that is this broad and it be the only problem with our food supply.

Illicit meat sources – and unknown meat sources – also damage or destroy the provenance of the meat. This is important for far more than pretentious foodies who only ever eat carrots that have been nurtured on the sweat of French maidens in the Loire valley and wouldn’t dream of eating carrots from anywhere else. The provenance is what ensures that the meat comes from animals that have been reared in the borderline humane methods the weak law demands. Provenance ensures they were slaughtered not just humanely, but hygienically as well. Provenance ensures the meat isn’t full of the chemicals, hormones and radiation that we disapprove of this side of the Atlantic. In fact, a vast amount of our food safety (and simple food STANDARD procedures) precautions requires us to know where the food comes from and that that source is tested and monitored.

So this isn’t negligible but it may serve to expose a lot of corruption and even organised crime. But while looking at that, we may also want to consider the very nature of meat production and sale. Particularly the idea that 6 or 7 companies across 4 or 5 countries play pass the parcel with the meat before it reaches our plate. It’s almost comic to imagine. We may also want to consider the very common complaint from food producers of the thumb screws the massive supermarkets are putting on them

And maybe, as a “where can we find cheaper food” option, we should consider expanding our palette legitimately.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Marriage Equality!

I was stuck in Liverpool (also why I’m going to be a while catching up with everything – my reader just hit 1,500 unread links) when this vote passed and my bosses another then nor now could understand why I wanted to be home, watching, waiting for this result and then celebrating with Beloved. Yes, I’m not happy about that.

But I am ecstatic about the result. Yes it was expected because of the support from the Lib Dems and Labour alone meant only a teeny tiny number of Tories needed to be on side to pass it, but it was still a fingernail biting moment. We’re getting closer – I cannot describe how much this means to me, how breathlessly excited I am and how outright terrified I am of this screwing up. This has to happen.

Needless to say, the minute this bill has finished its winding passage through Parliament and becomes law, I will be upgrading my Civil Partnership to an actual marriage; our legal status will reflect our hearts and my faith. The law will not continue to tell me what I am not, the law will not continue to demean my relationship for a second more, I will not, for one instantly longer than I must, wear a label that says my love is not real.

So where does it go from here? The main hurdle is going to be the House of Lords which looks like a much tougher prospect than the Commons. But it’s not insurmountable (especially not with the Parliament Act). I think a far more likely enemy is going to be delay delay and more delay followed by a shed load of bullshit amendments that are going to be used to a) delay the law, b) water down the law or c) push so much crap at the law it ends up collapsing. I think a and b are most likely. It’s similar to what happened during the Civil Partnership debate, when we had lots of junk amendments thrown in (like Brother/Sister Civil Partnership. And Business Partners Civil Partnerships). Hopefully we’ll get some good amendments as well. Still, keep your eyes sharp, lobby the lords and throw crap at the Bishops (or lions if you have them. We really need some lions. If they’re going to play the “waaaah not being able to be a bigot is persecuting me!” card so much we may need to remind them of the difference).


Labour: For: 218 Against: 22, Abstained/Absent: 18
Conservatives; For: 127, Against: 137, Abstained/Absent: 40
Lib Dems: For: 45, Against: 4, Abstained/Absent: 7

(I’m not going to look at the minor parties except a brief glare at Northern Ireland’s overwhelmingly negative response. And, yes, I do consider Absent and Abstained to be much the same since absent is too often a cowardly way of abstaining). And no, the numbers don’t always add up for complicated reasons, tellers etc.

A full list of which MPs voted aye, which bigots voted no and which were cowardly snakes who were trying to weasel round their bigotry can be found here. Name them, shame them and cast out the bigots and the bigoted weasels as the vile scum they are.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Marriage equality passed!

I am away from home for a few days and am struggling to type this on my tablet, but I had to celebrate  

Marriage equality has passed the first hurdle. The law passed in the commons! Yes it was expected but still I cheer and I was worried.  

When I am home I will do more analysis including who voted for, who against and who weaseled out of it like the cowardly snakes they are.

But already I can see a stink about the size of the Tory rebellion.  

Now we have to see what the lords have in store. This will be harder but we can win this!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

New Archbigot - same old story



The new Archbigot of Canterbury’s first act upon becoming Archbigot?

Denouncing equal marriage of course

Here’s the new boss, same as the old boss. Justin Welby is no better than the homophobic Rowan Williams was. Yet people who are part of and support the CofE constantly pretend they’re not supporting homophobic bigotry.

And you’ve got to be impressed by Archbigot Sentamu’s comments: “amid an age of seemingly unprecedented selfishness – in a society obsessed with individualism and rights.” Oh and people are “marginalising religion.”

Yeah, that’s not coded language at all. But then, this is the man who couldn’t bring himself to denounce violence against gay people.