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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Achieving Equality: Difficult but Simple Victories and Long, Complex Wars



There are increasing movements forwards with legislative battles with our rights – a new trans bill in Canada, marriage equality in Britain, France and various parts of the US, municipal anti-discrimination laws in various cities and even a battle in the Ukraine which was rather surprising. Of course, it’s not all going forwards everywhere, far from it, but there’s a lot of excitement.

There’s also a sense that “zomg we’ve nearly won” primarily from straight allies, coupled with a sense of “the GBLT rights movement has moved so quickly!”

I have to burst the bubble on both. Starting, perversely with the second one.

The whole idea of “the GBLT rights movement has moved so quickly” is based on that pervasive myth that we only appeared in 1960 and that the first piece of GBLT activism was Stonewall. Both of which are wrong. GBLT people have existed as long as people have existed – and we have been fighting for centuries. The first attempted same-sex marriage in the UK happened in 1680 and Molly houses were a fixture of the 19th century. France decriminalised “sodomy” after the revolution, Germany had, in the 1920s a vast amount of pro-GBLT activism

And this is from a frankly extremely amateur view of history since I make no claims of being a historian. But even the most cursory search finds not only our existence the earliest times but a centuries old battle against persecution. To call the GBLT rights movement a young or a new movement is to spit in the face of these people who fought – and who died – and who straight history has long forgotten. We have not moved quickly, it has been a long slow fight that has been denied so long that it’s only recent victories for basic LEGAL PROTECTIONS that have finally accelerated.

Now addressing the first point. Winning these battles means we win the SIMPLE part – and not close to being done. The COMPLICATED is, in many ways, only just beginning.

Firstly, let’s be clear that SIMPLE doesn’t mean EASY, nor does it mean UNIMPORTANT. It means we know pretty much exactly what to do and, in many ways, how. I know how to walk to London. One foot in front of the other isn’t complex. Walking that distance in this weather would be arduous, painful and an incredible feat – Simple but difficult.

And achieving equality under law: Hate crimes protection, anti-discrimination protection, marriage equality – are extremely difficult, powerful achievements – and they’re simple. Simple because we know exactly what has to be done – the law has to change and we know how that is done. Difficult to do, but simple in terms of process

And important because these form not only essential tools, but also a foundation. It’s an impossibly powerful message of inequality when the laws treat us as lesser citizens; it’s a loud message. It’s hard to get people to listen to you demanding acceptance, respect and challenging hate when the law of the land is roaring “ACTUALLY! HATE THESE FOLKS! HATRED IS FINE! TOTALLY LESS THAN YOU! LESSER CITIZENS! ACCEPTABLE TARGETS, GET THEM HERE!” It’s a foundation and without it, building anything is going to be shaky

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Too Tired Too Cook, Too Afraid to Let Beloved Cook



Being under the weather I couldn’t face cooking – odd I’m not nauseous or not hungry, but I am hellaciously exhausted.

Which is a problem – because there’s WANTING to eat, yet not being able to cook and facing… Beloved’s offer to cook instead.

There follows the sudden moment when I desperately try to think of what is in the freezer – surely there must be something ready made? Something I’ve already cooked that Beloved just needs to defrost and warm up? Something he can’t ruin too much? Maybe…

It’s like a scene from a horror movie where the protagonist is desperately trying to remember if they’ve locked all the doors, or think of a way out or where there’s a weapon and in a panic they just can’t remember and the monster – the horrific ghastly monster – is just getting closer!

And I have to remember exactly what I’ve frozen – I mean, I know I HAVE frozen meals because I always do… but if I say “yes I fancy lasagne” and it turns out that I haven’t frozen a lasagne, Beloved will then attempt to make a lasagne. The very idea makes me want to cower in terror.

I could say “go see what I’ve frozen because you cannot cook and will kill us all if you try!” but then he will INSIST on cooking to prove that he CAN cook and then he will EAT whatever he cooks and declare it delicious even though it’s a complete and utter lie and the toxic slop can’t even be fed to the cat without us being arrested for animal cruelty. Then I go without food and have to put up with Beloved making himself ill.

So I declare I will cook. A creative lie helps allay suspicion – cooking helps me relax, cooking will take my mind off things, cooking will be good for me! Ha - better for me than poisoning at any rate

Except exhaustion means I don’t do the sensible thing and go rooting in the freezer early enough to defrost and I eventually roll into the kitchen only when too hungry to do anything else (and Beloved was making threatening moves in that direction).

I could have ordered take away, but Beloved lived on it while we were away and looked faintly green at the suggestion.

So… cheese. Screw it, cheese, crackers, fruit and bread (that which is still fresh). We always have immense amounts of cheese lurking in the bottom of the fridge, in the salad crisper to make sure anything green and leafy and healthy is aware that this is a calorie loving household and not to get too comfortable.

Ok not the most involved of meals but we love cheese and eating up some of the vast stock isn’t a bad thing. Except... the brie

I don’t know where this brie comes from but we always have this massive wheel of brie. Now I’m not against brie, we both quite like brie. A little brie now and then is a good thing. A little – so why do we always have this huge great wheel of cheese that could feed half of France? I would accuse Beloved but I can’t see him getting enthusiastic enough about brie to buy this – if it were cheddar or wensleydale, yes – but not brie. Maybe we have a crafty cheesemonger who can manipulate him into inundating us with unwanted French cheese? Beloved swears it’s not him and I know it’s not me – so if no-one is buying brie where does it keep coming from? Do we have a secret brie mine? The brie elves visit? Or maybe it’s breeding….

Then there’s the eternal stilton. Now this, I do know where the Eternal Stilton comes from. My uncle – who has given us out own bodyweight in stilton every damn Christmas ever. He does the same with everyone, I don’t think he has ever given anyone a gift that wasn’t a metric fuckton of stilton. His kids first birthday? Stilton. Wife’s anniversary? Stilton. Daughter’s wedding? Stilton! I think he must have shares in the dairy.

Sure it’s nice in a few recipes – but how much strong blue cheese can you just eat? It’s not like you can put it in sandwiches!

Even if we liked stilton, this package is too much. No-one likes stilton this much. It’s not actually possible to like stilton this much. Eating this much stilton would actually kill someone. It doesn’t help that it’s in a ceramic container so doesn’t rot and reach a point where it can be thrown away – especially since, as it’s blue cheese, it doesn’t really go off anyway

But it does get more… pungent. It is now locked in its little ceramic box and… we dare not open it. And if we dare not open it, we cannot check it to see if it is time to throw it away. But the ceramic lid fits really tightly. It’s sealed, I think.

So it remains, in the cheese drawer. Tightly sealed. Watching. Waiting. One day it plans to escape.

And then may the gods have mercy on us all.


Friday, 22 March 2013

Expect Lots of Whining!

Been away several days and lo not slept for one of them. It seems I can't sleep alone any more.

Now that? That sounds all romantic and twee. Awww cannot sleep without the man I love, awwwww, how lovely, hearts and flowers and rainbows sweet sacchirine crap.

It is not! It means I am dependent on another person to have a good night's sleep (always an unlikely event anyway). Another person who persists in sleeping deeply whenever I have insomnia (regularly. And, yes he does it on purpose). Another person who MOVES during the night. Seriously, how can anyone sleep so deeply yet still explore every damn corner of the bed with flailing limbs at the same time?

Y'know, I should have been looking forward to several days of deep, restful sleep without the elbow-jabbing, blocked-drain-snoring, Everest-climbing, selfishly-having-good-sleep-while-I'm-wide-awake sleep monster next to me! But noooooo I am cursed to NOT be able to sleep in peaceful, blessed solitude; I'm now dependent on the sleep demon and his annoying "oh you're wide awake at 4:00am? Let me sleep like a blissfully, well rested saint next to you and mock you with my perfect circadian rhythms! AHA!"

Beloved accuses me of stealing the romance from things at times. The well rested are not allowed an opinion. Also, I can too blame him for his perfect circadian rhythms.

Of course, my diva immune system being what it is - absolutely impenetrable if its every whim is catered to, but go a couple of days with irregular food and sleep habits and it strops off in a huffy - I now have the lurgy. of course, this could be due to whatever evil poisons Beloved has brewed in the kitchen while I've been gone (he claims he did all the cooking. The pizza boxes in the bin tell me he's a liar, a dirty, rotten lying liar who lies. But still, he probably made sandwiches in there and, yes, he can create a disaster with a sandwich).

I, of course, blame Beloved for the lurginess. He claims it's love withdrawal. I am threatening to spread the love - and am most eager to do so, if he stands still long enough for me to breath on him.

Of course, being ill, you can expect me to handle this with my usual stoicism and enduring fortitude. Let the whining commence!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

So there's a new Pope



 There are apparent differences about him in that this Pope seems to have been something of an ascetic as a cardinal – in as much as a cardinal tends to be. And he apparently has a record that isn’t awful when it comes to poverty issues.

This has lead an inordinate amount of people to praise his “social justice” dedication and “man with a conscience”

Yeah, let me side-eye you all for that.

As can be expected from that most bigoted of institutions, the Catholic church, the new Papa Nazi is just as nasty as the last one. He actually calls gay folks satanic and our families “discrimination against children”. He’s anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-GBLT. All of the standard bigoted bullshit. And I have no time for anyone beginning with “yes he’s a homophobic misogynist… but” my tolerance of papal apologists is exhausted. And don't tell me he's passionate for the poor and marginalised if you don't at least have the decency to add "well, so long as they're cis and straight"

Which means I also question the whole dedication to poverty and HIV activism apologists are touting. He wants to help HIV but is against contraception? Yeah sitting there and having REALLY GOOD INTENTIONS while scuppering the greatest tool we have against HIV is about as useful as a chocolate fire guard. And poverty? Maybe for straight, cis men – but homophobia and transphobia pushes an inordinate number of GBLT people into poverty. And being able to have control of her own reproductive choices is a not unimportant factor in tackling poverty among women as well. So let’s say what it is – he gives lip service to anti-poverty efforts for certain groups and makes some dramatic gestures like ZOMG TAKING THE BUS! OH THE HUMILITY! He cooks HE actually COOKS FOR HIMSELF! Heavens to Betsy, fetch me the smelling salts I feel quite faint from shock!

As an added bonus this particular Cardinal seems to have been up to his neck in Argentina’s dictatorship. But keep on praising this man’s “conscience”.

All in all, the new pope is going to be much the same as the old pope. A rather evil man, supporting a lot of painful cruelty and bigotry but given a vast amount of influence in the world because 1.2 billion Catholics are willing to empower him and the damage he causes.

ETA: And yes, I'm still calling him Papa Nazi. I never called Benedict Papa Nazi because of his Hitler youth membership - accusations I considered unfair - but because of the Catholic church's policies which are nothing short of genocidal. It is current policy I reference not teenage history

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A tragedy



Wilfried Knight is a gay man who committed suicide (link SFW, other parts of the site less so)

He committed suicide after the death of his husband, also by suicide. They had been together for 9 years.

But, because they’re a transnational couple, even being married, meant there were few counties they could actually live together without one of them deported. They had to fall back to a rather convoluted solution of his partner getting a job in Canada and then Wilfried joining him on a spousal visa. Ridiculous hoops to jump through, but the reality they faced.

And when that job became toxic then fell apart – with severance packages considerably less than a straight couple would have received, and was faced with trying to find a home where they could be together, he committed suicide.

Traumatic and devastating enough for anyone, Wilfriend’s partners family didn’t acknowledge Wilfried. It’s a homophobia that many GBLT people face from their deceased partner’s family, adding an extra kick to the gut in what is already a horrendous time.

Wilfried committed suicide.

This is a tragedy, an evil, cruel tragedy and shows the cost of homophobia destroying lives.

And the relevant issue in all of this? Is not that Wilfried was a porn star, for gods’ sake!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Queen is NOT mentioning GBLT rights. GBLT people NOT protected by Commonwealth Charter



Now to the news – specifically the grossly overhyped, badly reported and just damn deceptive variety.

The Commonwealth is producing a new Charter on human rights, in particular rejecting discrimination. The Daily Fail reported on it and (shockingly, I know) got it completely wrong. Then a whole load of blogs grabbed it and ran with it – which is ridiculous because their own headlines don’t match the content.

So, let’s parse this down.

Yes, the Queen will sign this charter, she is the head of the Commonwealth after all.

No, she isn’t speaking out on behalf of GBLT rights. The Queen and her handlers are going to continue her 61 year tradition of pretending we don’t exist. This is not changing. She may speak out in favour of the charter, but that doesn’t include us.

Because the charter doesn’t include us. In fact all these reports that this is an amazing step forwards for GBLT rights and the queen is finally, after 61 years of silence, going to address GBLT people are laughably wrong. Well, it would be laughable if it weren’t so annoying and if so many people weren’t so desperate for any kind of affirmation they’d cling to anything.

The charter does address discrimination. Notably:

“We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.”

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity are not included. More, the fact they have drawn up a laundry list of gender, race, colour, creed and political belief tells me they’ve consciously and knowingly excluded GBLT people from these protections.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Good Faith

I’m faintly, academically curious about how the same arguments used by privileged people to dismiss nasty complaining marginalised folks keep getting used -and even rebranded. One glorious example is:

INTENT!

You know how this goes? Someone spouts a whole load of bigoted crap as they do so many times over – maybe they’re ignorant, maybe they don’t give a crap, maybe they’re just that overloaded on their own superiority and privilege, maybe they’re malicious – ultimately they’re called out on it and they turn round and say “I didn’t intend that!”

And magically everything’s fixed. Except, not. Unintended bigotry is still bigotry. Something that dehumanises or others marginalised people still does so even if the person producing it is thinking of fluffy kittens and happy unicorns. It doesn’t make a slur any less triggering, a piece any less erasing, a portrayal any less stereotyped or their actions any less dismissive, offensive and othering. Intent as an excuse puts the privileged person’s feelings above the actual harm caused to marginalised people. This is why the watchword for so long has been “Intent isn’t magic.”

Ah, but the forces of privilege aren’t going to give up just because someone has hit them with some common sense (alas, for if they did we’d be in a much better world by now). And even as we continue to fight magical intent, it’s mutated child has crawled onto the scene…

GOOD FAITH!

The Good Faith argument basically says that the person meant well – they had good faith. In other words, it’s the Intent argument for those who know they’re not going to impress anyone by waving the intent banner. But it has the bonus points of being aggressive, not defensive. See, the “Intent” argument is a defence “I didn’t mean that!” while this is an attack “I’m acting in good faith!” with the nasty little implication that the marginalised person challenging them has BAD FAITH. Tuttut.

And you can see that in how it’s used. I’ve seen it used most often as an accusation: “you assumed I was acting in bad faith!” As if whether they’re acting in bad faith or not changes what they did! Just like with intent, your good faith isn’t magical. If you do/say/write something demeaning, dehumanising, stereotyping, othering or erasing marginalised people then that is what you have done/said/write. Your magical Good Faith Fairy won’t buzz around your words and deeds like some kind of Microsoft Paperclip and edit you actions.

And you know what? Damn right I assumed they were acting in bad faith! Why should I assume differently? Why should I ASSUME that any straight person is going to deal with me in good faith? Why should any trans person assume a cis person is acting in good faith? Why should POC assume white people are acting in good faith?

The world has taught us time and again that privileged folks rarely engage with marginalised people in anything like Good Faith. Even when those privileged people think they’re engaging in good faith, so much of it is built on assumptions and societal conditioning and sheer ignorance that they’ve made no effort to challenge – or even realised they had to challenge it – that they don’t even have good faith. Good faith in even addressing issued of prejudice with a marginalised person would have to begin internal challenge and self-education.

*pokes inbox*



I’m not sure why, but I’m getting more pokes, links and hits on my m/m fiction and slash tag again; I think I’ve been linked somewhere again, I don’t know. Either way, my inbox is getting a definite uptick on stuff related (including an inordinate number of book recommendations, many of which are… questionable to say the least).

Anyway, people are asking opinions (read the tag, I’ve pretty much said everything and don’t see why repeating it will matter) and trying to push me to various discussions. I’m not sure why, maybe because they want my take, maybe because they and their friends want to play ambush or maybe because they want to use me as a weapon in their own personal little grudgematches,.

Look, I really don’t want to join any discussion, debate or musing on slash and/or m/m fiction on any forum or blog or whatever because too much of this whole debate, genre, fandom, category are places I don’t consider safe spaces for gay men. Sure there are some safe spaces out there, but they are the minority and I don’t want to dip my fingers into various pools to figure out which ones have piranhas in them

But if you really think there is a debate, discussion or musing on slash (involving men, rather than femslash or slash involving women) and m/m fiction that you really want to tell me about then please check it against these 2 questions first (these aren’t the only questions I have before I consider a place safe, but these are the first hurdle).

1) Is anyone saying “these are not aimed at gay men” or “these aren’t for gay men” or “these don’t involve gay men” or something similar without being dogpiled with giant ant-eaters?

If so then uckies – that’s objectification right there. Gay and bi men are objects, tools, things to this place, not people in our own right. Objectification is one of dehumanising elements of fetishisation. I’d rather stay away

2) If this is a discussion/debate/busy comment thread, etc  does it contain a significant number of gay or bisexual men? If there are a number of people involved discussing this, how many of them are gay or bi men?

If the answer is “none” or “a teeny minority” or “a very small proportion” then I’m going to stay away as well. The idea of genre entirely based around a marginalised identity constantly being analysed by groups of people that exclude (or include a few small tokens) the people being written about is always something I’m deeply uncomfortable about and usually means I don’t want to be anywhere near the place. I generally have the same opinion of any context – if I went to a convention (unlikely but still) and there was a panel on “Writing about X minorities” and the 6 person panel were all from people who aren’t X and the room was overflowing with people who aren’t X, I’d be dubious.

Frankly, I’m unlikely to appreciate any attempts to drag me into any forum or group on the subject because it causes me no shortage of grey hairs – but if a group/discussion/forum/etc fails either of these tests, then I’m doubly unwilling. Not only that, but if you’re pointing me towards such a group without at least a disclaimer then I probably don’t want to discuss m/m fiction and slash with you either.




Monday, 4 March 2013

So Cardinal O'Brien is a raging hypocrite



So Cardinal O’Brien, while viciously and nastily attacking GBLT people and gay rights turns out to have been industriously having it away with any priest he could get his hands on – and several have complained about his sexual harassment and molestation. After trying the Catholic church’s usual tactic in these situations (cover up and intimidation), O’Brien has confessed and stepped down (uh-huh, because that’s the end of the matter? I suppose when it comes to the Catholic church this is harsh treatment of a sex offender).

Much as I pity his victims, I also have to acknowledge that this can only help reduce the power and the influence of the Catholic church and help curb the effect of its constant bigotry against us. Having the viper’s fangs blunted, even a little, is something I am always going to be happy about.

But, and I know I’ve said this before, please can we not play the whole “look, homophobes are gay!” game? It’s tiresome, it’s not helpful, it’s ignorant and it’s migraine-inducing.

Homophobia is, I say again, a product of a straight world, a straight ruled world, a straight dominated world and a world where straight people have repeatedly tried to destroy us and have succeeded in driving most of us into hiding until hiding became the norm and the act of NOT hiding became a major life event. Think about that for a second and let the enormity of it sink in.

So even with this Cardinal being gay or bisexual – just as any other homophobe so revealed – they are not representative of all homophobes or even anything more than a tiny minority of the bigots. It is not closeted gay people who have created this heterosexist and homophobic society. And, ultimately, it is straight people and straight society that forced these people not just into the closet but into the depths of self-loathing as well.

We are not responsible for our own oppression – don’t play that game and don’t let other people play it, it’s only going to come back and bite us on the arse.

And, besides, some of the commentary is outright homophobic  - and positively relishing in calling someone they hate “gay”. Frankly, it’s never comfortable seeing people jumping up and down on the opportunity to use gay as an insult – and worse when you take the excuse to use slurs. No, really, no.