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Thursday, 24 April 2014

So very much agreed



Yes yes and yes. My home has completely lost gay bars because the number of straight tourists has driven gay people out or made the space unsafe by both numbers or by grossly obnoxious behaviour

There are almost no spaces in the world where LGBT people are not an inherent minority. That's not even a comment on homophobia, that's simple demographics. Even the most generous metrics put LGBT people at about 10% of the population. We are inherently a minority, we will always be, inherently, a minority. Which means 99.9% of everywhere we go all the time we are surrounded by people not like us. All the time (this was an amusing revelation to one of my colleagues lately). So yes, I - and many others - are very protective of the teeny tiny spaces we managed to carve out in this HUGE STRAIGHT WORLD where, for a few blissful moments, we can be us, surrounded by us, knowing everyone around us is... us.

And before anyone cries about it "not being fair". Cis, straight folks - you have the world. The entire freaking world. Every day is straight pride day. Every bar is a straight bar (where we're still evicted on a regular basis). You never have to be careful, being a cis straight person in an LGBT world. You never have to be afraid, being a cis straight person in an LGBT world. You are not the only one of your sexuality or gender identity in a room. You do not have that daily pressure not to be you because you are cis and straight. We need these guarded corners because you have filled the rest of the space with your overwhelming presence but also your overwhelming culture of superiority and hostility - and that's a culture that follows you EVEN IF you are fighting against that. No matter how much of an ally you are, your presence adds to the majority, a majority which, frankly, frightens me.

And, really, you've got the whole world. You object to our tiny corners?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Nigel Evans, Rape Charges and Complexities

Nigel Evans has been cleared of all charges – and I’m seeing some… simplistic responses.

One of which is the idea that he got off. I can understand the principle of always believing abuse victims because we have too much a culture of doubt, victim blaming and general arseholery.

That includes rape victims who are gay men who are (as I’ve found to bitter experience) generally considered unrapeable (even among people in the LGBT community) because we’re all sex-obsessed lust monsters. “No” is not supposed to exist in our vocabulary; at very least, if we did say “no” we didn’t mean it or it doesn’t matter because we’re so sex obsessed that more sex can never be a bad thing.

There is also an incredibly powerful stereotype and societal slur of gay men as sexual predators. The gay panic defence, that is continually raised over and over to justify attacking us and killing us, is based entirely on this idea that we’re all rabid sex predators. The idea we’re a threat to children is based on the idea we’re rabid sex predators. I know gay men who are not only not trusted to look after children even by their families (myself included) but some who wouldn’t even do so if asked because it’s too dangerous for them. The spectre of gay rape was raised when it came to equalising the age of consent, section 28 and marriage equality. It’s a subject of constant “humour” from straight men about the terrible fear of gay men raping them, avoiding being alone with a room with us and the ever-not-funny “don’t bend over/drop the soap/turn your back” jokes. Because we’re all just. Again, I know gay men who won’t use a public bathroom out of fear of the violent terror they inspire in straight men. Again, I’ve even seen people who are LGBT (but not gay men) talk about gay men’s “culture” of sexual predation and how much GBQ men love to be evil preying sugar daddies on vulnerable youth because it’s all part of our community culture. Which all adds to why I really really really feel unbelievably uncomfortable referring to my past experiences in anything but the closest of spaces because there are, optimistically, 6 people who are not gay men I feel even remotely safe talking about it with.

Gay men falsely accused of rape and sexual assault is an ingrained societal habit

I say this as someone who pretty much loathes Nigel Evans who gives his hateful party inclusion cookies when he only came out when pretty much forced and after a long record of throwing the rest of us under the bus (not saying he should have come out earlier or at all – but no-one gets cookies for including someone who later is revealed to be gay).

Does this mean I think all the accusations against him are baseless lies? No. Does this mean I think he’s a sex predator whose wealth and position got him off scot-free? Also no. Does this mean that, if you have followed the case, assessed the facts (something I haven’t done because that would neither be sensible nor healthy) and decided they are liars/he has got off scot-free you should not have that opinion? Not at all.


None of these things – but nor do I think we can apply even a very well intentioned and generally very good principle (believing the victims of sexual assault and rape who are so often ignored, doubted and villified) without recognising other factors apply.

Friday, 4 April 2014

On Mozillagate, Brandon Eich and Freedom of Speech

Looks like we need another refresher on Freedom of Speech and what that means

Brendan Eich, the now-former CEO of Mozilla has donated a considerable sum of money to a campaign to deny LGBT people equality. He is a homophobic bigot. Mozilla decided being a homophobic bigot is the perfect person to head their company when they appointed him CEO – it was a bigoted decision that proved Mozilla did not value LGBT people.

LGBT people and people who aren’t raging bigots and apologists for bigots responded with fierce criticism, blog posts, social media campaigns and, yes, OKCupid joined the campaign (they did not block firefox – they DID have a page that said, basically, “hey we’d prefer you use a browser that doesn’t support raging bigotry” which did have a clickthrough if you really did want to continue with firefox.

Brendan Eich stepped down.

Would people have been happy with less? Honestly, I wouldn’t have been – and I still look leerily at some of the man’s apologists in Mozilla as well. But Eich didn’t even try. Mozilla threw around policy statements – which addressed nothing. They were so poor that they released several to try and patch the gaping holes – but never addressed the fact they’d chosen a bigot to lead them

Eich himself made vague statements – but adamantly refused to address his donation to a hate campaign. More, he wouldn’t rule out doing the same again, even when expressly asked. Eich is a homophobic bigot who has campaigned against the equality of LGBT people – and plans to continue to do so. Yet he expected LGBT people to have faith in him for the future.

This wasn’t even LGBT people refusing to accept an apology (which we wouldn’tbeen obliged to do) or trusting him to learn and do better – because he didn’t make an apology, made no indication that he had learned and adamantly ruled out not doing the same thing all over again.

And let us be clear here – LGBT people did not sack Brandon Eich. We do not have that power. We did not ban him under law – we do not have that power. We did not destroy his code or his company or have his website banned – none of these we can do. No-one physically attacked him. No-one put a gun to his head.

We spoke.

We spoke against a man who would spend money to deny our humanity. We spoke against a man who wished to deny us equality and treat us as lesser citizens. We spoke against a man who refused to even rule out doing the same thing again. We spoke against a company – a company that even prides itself on its principles - that decided such a man was ideal to be their leader and figurehead. We chose not to use the products of that company. We chose not to associate with a man or a company

Why is his “freedom of speech” which, by the American interpretation, also includes copious amounts of money to fund denial of our rights – so damn precious that OUR freedom of speech must be silence – or be considered “out of line” or “going too far.”

Why is his speech perfectly reasonable but ours is a “lynch mob”?

What do you expect us to do? Do you think we have some kind of duty to shop at Chick-fil-a, use Firefox or read Orson Scott Card? Lest our refusal to associate with a bigot somehow “oppress” you? At what point are we ALLOWED to speak up against bigotry? When do we get to defend outselves, oh straight people, do tell?

Why are LGBT people – all marginalised people – presented as being vicious, angry and oppressive because we won’t lay down silently and let privileged people oppress us?

Brendan Eich is not a victim. Brendan Eich was the man trying to victimise LGBT people – and clearly planning to do so again in the future. LGBT people chose not to lay down and take it, LGBT people fought against being victimised, LGBT people refused to smile in the face of yet another straight, cis person hitting us.


All you people squealing about how so-very-mean we’ve been to this bigot? You are like the men who hold some poor guys arms so someone else can punch him. Eich is the one who attacked us – we’re defending ourselves. It’s your choice whether you stand aside, help protect us – or try to hold our arms so we’re defenceless.