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Nigel Evans, MP, has been arrested for the alleged rape of 2 men.

 And, yes, he’s openly gay.

 And lo, the hot mess begins. And let there be a lot of “can you not…” right now.

 Can we not have the simplistic assumptions we so often see that completely ignore the history of gay men being accused of sexual assault

 At the same time, can we not have people who are usually so very sure that blaming the victim and assuming sexual assault victims are lying is deeply wrong suddenly deciding to throw that out the window when gay men may be the victims.

 Can we not have any attempts to try and make sweeping statements about all of us on the basis of this. Another vomit-worthy repeat of the “gay men have a culture and tradition of preying on young men and boys” is really not needed. Especially if you’re not actually a gay or bisexual man in which case you don’t know nearly as much about our “culture” as you think you do and can take your nose out before deciding to paint us as sex offenders. Or making being a sex predator a “tradition” for gay men, because that was some evil messed up shit.

 Can we not have people handwringing about how this is hurting all gay men. Because it isn’t – the thing hurting gay and bi men is the collective responsibility straight people – and others sometimes as was evident during the Clash scandal – like to dump on all of us. We are not responsible and only people who do not see us as fully people, as individuals or people who are looking for an excuse to attack us will attack all of us based on one man’s actions. That is what will hurt us. By saying this crime will hurt all of us is accepting that we hold collective responsibility rather than attacking the sweeping bigotries perpetuated against us.

Can we not have a full biography of how gay he is every time this is reported? Is it relevant when  he came out? Is there a reason to write articles that at least half about his sexuality? We don't do this with straight people.

I feel a headache coming on already.


And while we're at it - not he isn't a GBLT activist. The man was a closeted homophobe with a dire voting record against our rights who came out seconds before he was outed and then tried to spin it the other way.

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I sadly have some catching up on the news. As ever, quite a lot of depressing things that should not be forgotten – here we look at some media fails

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I have said before that perhaps the matter that concerns me most in the GBLTQ community is our kids. Our kids go through hell on a regular basis. None of my close friends have had easy or happy childhoods due to reactions to their sexuality or genderidentity.

We can see the repeated vileness imposed on our young. We see kids refused a place in schools because their parents are GBLTQ. We see kids suffer vicious bullying – to a degree so omnipresent that study after study points to nearly every GBLTQ kid suffering some form of harassment and attack in school for being who they are.

We know that often these kids cannot turn to their nearest and dearest for help. In the closet, they cannot reach out to family, to parents – even to teachers or counsellors or medical professionals. Indeed, these are often a part of the problem (and that includes the medical profession. That is why these cases of anti-gay counsellors being slapped are so important.  Can you imagine being at a vulnerable place in your life, reaching out to a medical professional to try and help you work through it or endure it, to even pull you back from the ledge and… ooops, you got yourself a bigot?) – and our children have a horrendous rate of homelessness, at least in part caused by rejection from their very homes.

Suicide rates among our young are horrendous, many times higher than their straight, cisgendered counterparts. And in so many cases this pain is completely ignored by school authorities. Children are being attacked and they are despairing and dying and little is done about it.

In fact, the hate orgs fight tooth and nail over any attempt to combat anti-GBLTQ bullying anywhere, even pushing a boycott of schools during the Day of Silence, even if inclined to help, school staff are hampered by the gagging of the outraged right that cares nothing of the lives lost.  This is not a story of one school or even one country – because this shit is happening over and over everywhere.

In light of this, I applaud Dan Savage’s new initiative “It Gets Better”

Dan Savage is certainly a problematic figure, but I don’t think this detracts from the worth of this, especially since it very much isn’t about him. This is a project open to all LGBTQ people to submit their stories – stories of surviving, stories of recovery – testimony that it DOES GET BETTER. A statement to all our young on the edge of despair that it does get better, that there is hope.

It’s not perfect, it’s not ideal. But perfect and ideal are not remotely attainable at this time. While we can and should fight tooth and nail to try and push back the harassment of our young, it’s an uphill battle and anti-GBLTQ bullying, homophobic and transphobic society, erasure and general pervasive heterosexism and cissexism everywhere means perfect is a long damn way off.

But this could be a lifeline. If it gives some kids just a little hope to hold on, it is worth every second people take and more.

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Yes, yes it has.

Yes really! Really really. Naturally there is a chance for appeal, but Judge Virginia Phillips has said she will issue an injunction stopping the govt from enforcing the policy.

Time for a happy dance, methinks.

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And lo we have had another discussion about m/m that has largely focused on people who are not gay men. And there’s a lot that’s wrong again, to say the least about how much yet again there is a complete brushing over of appropriation and exploitation issues and the dehumanising of gay men to objects that is rampant in the m/m genre.

Yet again these legitimate concerns are being dismissed by people who are not gay men and we’re again back to the same old posturing, the same old demands – and that same old line:


That’s it. No explanations. No justifications.”

No thinking, no respect. No analysis. Not giving a damn about the damage and harm they cause. Writers write whatever they feel like writing, no duty not to do harm, screw the rest of you. The same disrespect, the same callous indifference we find over and over again.

When writing the Other, it is not unreasonable or shocking to ask for some respect and consideration for that Other and the damage you may do. It is not unreasonable for that Other to expect some degree of acknowledgment. It is not unreasonable for that other to expect to be treated as more than poseable dolls for your enjoyment.

Which means, “As long as everyone is getting off, what’s the big deal?” It IS a big deal. And lines like this don’t do anything to reassure me for even a second that so many m/m writers have even an ounce of respect for gay men. Also, can you really flail angrily around at those nasty people who call your work ‘porn’ then turn round and decide that so long as people are getting off, it’s all good? That‘s your goal. Never mind any other shit – are people getting off? Yeah, then we‘re good. This is even less respectful and even more dripping in contempt than the “it’s only fiction” debacle

It IS a big deal because me and mine are not a fetish. Because we’re not objects. Because we’re not sex toys. It is a big deal because we are people in a world that so often refuses to acknowledge that. It is a big deal because our sex lives and sexualities are being appropriated and used and disrespected and fetishised in a world that ALREADY disrespects and fetishises our sexualities. It matters because decent, non-problematic portrayals of gay youth are nearly non-existent in the media and in literature. It matters that if a young gay man out there is trying to connect and find something like himself he’s far more likely these days to find a book by a non-gay man (though not necessarily making that clear, with careful use of pseudonyms and fake biographies), with “mandatory” sex scenes that is all bloody fine with anything so long as “everyone is getting off.”

And I am beyond tired of all these people who are not gay men telling me that it doesn’t bloody matter. Which is, of course, code for “shut the fuck up and go away” because gods’ forbid we ruin your moment of “getting off”. I am tired of all these non-gay men deciding this is a non-issue. Tired of them deciding this isn’t something even worth thinking of and generally tired of a genre that is more than happy to use us as objects but seems to have little time or respect for us as people.

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Unfortunately the violence is still very much present. Always depressing to read, but also important to remember.

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The media has remained full of mines this week.

Being rendered rather sedentary at the moment with multiple injuries, I have burrowed through all my saved programmes for self-indulgent enjoyment. I love my crop of cheesey programmes – Lie to Me (Tim Roth? I totally would. Yes yes I would), Dalziel & Pascoe (and yes, Pascoe I would), Waking the Dead, Silent Witness (more nom nom), Inspector George Gently.

Yes I like my cheesey goodness

Cut for Spoilers for Inspector George Gently and True Blood

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I am casting my beady eye over the recent Target kafuffle. Now, most people have seen it now, while I’ve been dying horribly – but a brief summation. Target gave lots of money to a group that supported a particularly nasty homophobic candidate. In the face of boycotts, uproars and general Not Amusedness, Target apologised

This has largely been covered well, but I have my 2 cents to add on one aspect of this.

Part of the drama llama surrounding this has been that numerous GBLT people and allies announced a boycott of Target

And some in Target or speaking for Target quickly spoke up with “but look at Target’s record, they’re not homophobic!” And they’re right in that, as far as large corporations go, Target’s record on GBLT issues isn’t awful.

And my response to that is – and?

See, this is part of my point when I earlier spoke about Rainbow-washing.  It is often easy to line up gestures without any true dedication – to give a few tokens to keep us onside and smiling without really caring or acting.

Is that what Target’s intentions were with their past record? I don’t know, I’m not going to speculate and, in  truth, I don’t think it matters.

What I do think matters is this idea that past niceness justifies present day shitness. I reject the notion – you cannot store up brownie points and then play them as a Get Out of Bigotry free Card.

And part of the reason I reject the notion is because I feel it feeds into the annoyingly pervasive idea that we should be grateful when someone isn’t a homophobe. That we somehow owe someone for not being a homophobe. Not being a homophobe should not be a praiseworthy state, it should be a standard state. not being an arsehole isn’t something that should be hailed – it is something that should be expected (and I’ll probably explore this later in another post).

Having a general good record cannot be used as some kind of bank to excuse something inexcusable. They can’t give us cookies and expect us to ignore it when they then slap our faces. We cannot – or should not – be bought or brought to a point of unquestioning loyalty by simple gestures – nor do I feel we should be placated by any amount of gestures – or even substantive actions – that would

Target, in my mind, does not have an excuse good enough for what they did. They funded and supported a virulent homophobe who actively works against GBLT rights. They have no claim of ignorance or honest mistake – and saying that they supported the candidate’s business policies doesn’t excuse the support they end up giving to the homophobia – in fact, it shows an incredibly dismissive attitude towards it, since it’s something they can not only casually overlooked but did not even consider.

No, i cannot see any amount of gestures or even concrete actions that would make this ok, would make this acceptable or protect Target from criticism or boycott. To say it does is risky, methinks. Risky because it says we can be bought, because it says we can be distracted and because it says that homophobic can be justified, paid for or excused. It cannot.

A brief disclaimer: None of this is to say that I think we should completely ignore a good record. Far from it – if someone has shown themselves time and again to be friendly and an ally then, in my opinion, they are due some benefit of the doubt and is due some investment in time and energy and tolerance if and when they say or do something that causes accidental sporking.

Of course the key there is “accidental” – and further clarified by needing to be understandable as well – an understandable mistake, an honest ignorance in an ignorant, privileged world.

Please note the “due” here – that doesn’t mean I think that such tolerance of sporking is OWED (beyond the fact we owe our friends a degree of tolerance and understanding we do not accord to strangers – because I think everyone owes their friends that much regard) but because it is practical and sensible. I think a friend and/or genuine ally is worth the investment in time, energy and spork endurance to be gently corrected when they accidentally flail around with the lemon-soaked sporks of privilege near our unprotected eyes.

But such a regard, in my view, is usually going to take either an epicly well known record or PERSONAL interaction (which also means that while one person may endure the sporking and engage in gentle correction, other’s may not feel the need to do so and may be far more concerned with the damn spork in their eye).  And, yes, this is another topic I’ll expand upon another time.

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Proposition 8 – it has been overturned.  And Judge  Walker’s ruling, from what I’ve read of it, is a thing of beauty. Yes yes it is.

The singing, dancing and general leaping for joy in my RSS is a thing of joy to behold.

Naturally it will be appealed – but in that lies some hope itself. A beautiful step forwards – keep on hoping.

Let the partying commence!

And review again why the trial was almost comedic Such a wonderful summation

In fact, let’s have more of that :)

Hmmm sweet sweet schaudenfreude. Where’s that pie recipe? Nom nom schadenfreude pie.

In Mexico, Mexico City’s gay marriage law was also being challenged in court – and it reached all the way to Mexico’s Supreme Court.

Which upheld the law Oh I love the smell of justice in the morning.

Justicia has been smacking ‘em down lately :)

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This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard it or versions of the same thing said. “Do you have to flaunt your sexuality?” It’s amazing how many times I go around ramming my sexuality down people’s throats (insert innuendo here).

And I’ve always been a little surprised by this, because I always thought heterosexuals were champion flaunters. Indeed, for every time I’ve been accused of flaunting my sexuality, straight people have been doing exactly the same thing and more. As far as I can see, heterosexuals are the masters at flaunting their sexuality.

Do heterosexuals really have to flaunt their sexuality with pictures of their loved ones on their desk? In  their wallets? In lockets round their neck? Oh gods that man has his wife and kid’s names tattooed – he just has to wave his sexuality around for everyone to see!

Do they have to talk about their partners? Do they have to talk about their kids? We’re talking about our weekend plans, did they really have to bring up their family? It’s like we can hardly have a conversation without some part of their heterosexuality coming up!

Her husband has a new job and she just has to tell everyone about it. His wife is having a baby and we all have to hear about it. His wife’s ill and her husband took her out for her birthday. They just take any excuse to insert their sexuality into every conversation don’t they?

There’s a woman down the hall, she’s getting married in a few weeks and she won’t shut up about it. It’s like every topic is about her heterosexuality – you think she’d stop ramming it down our throats, right?

And him! He’s all about plans for his anniversary. Man, not everyone wants to hear about your straightness. And he wants special allowances, time off because his wife is ill, time off for his kids – why do they always want special considerations?

There were literally dozens of couples walking down the street today – standing so close together, touching each other, even holding hands. Those 2 even have their arms round each other! Right there in front of everyone! Kids could see! Do they have to do that in the street? Can’t they keep it to themselves?

And in the park, a lovely place to relax and eat lunch (hah, lunch breaks, I remember them) but it’s completely ruined by all these heterosexual couples messing with each other, even kissing! Do they have to do that in public? Get a room guys, stop ramming it down my throat.

It’s all over the place. I don’t mind straight people – but can’t they keep it to themselves, right?

What? Is this not flaunting? It’s not unreasonable? It’s not out of line?

Then is it when I do it?

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NOM, the National Organisation for Marriage that is totally NOT HATEFUL you guys (remember, don’t call them bigots, it upsets them. Poor lickle bigots) has finally found a way to stop us nasty gays destroying precious straight marriages. Lynching.

Yes, lynching.

But they’re totally not bigots, ‘kay? Shouldn’t come as a surprise though

And do you know what Argentina’s gay marriage law has done?! It’s KILLED THE PENGUINS! See, gay marriage in Argentina causes the death of penguins in Brazil. Isn’t it OBVIOUS? It’s because we’re spreading homosexuality and… uh, what? *re-reads* really? Paganism apparently.

And in San Diego, allowing a gay event leads to SWARMS OF BEEEEEEEEEEEES! But no paganism, alas. If you want paganism (and dead sea birds) California, you need to get that gay marriage sorted.

President Mugabe, after a series of disgustingly bigoted remarks comparing gays to dogs and pigs has apologised. To the dogs and pigs.  And no, I’m not making that up. I didn’t believe it either. Needless to say gay rights are not going to be included in Zimbabwe’s constitution

Gay Florida congressional candidate has signs up advertising his candidacy. Guess what word homophobic vandals have sprayed across them?

Phil Donahue has compared homosexuality and paedophilia, again. Phil, seriously, get some new material already. It’s getting old.

The Lighthouse Church in Michigan is outing, publicly shaming, shunning and excommunicating a gay man who was one of their congregants. Feel that Christian love. Do we even have to say how many ways this is utterly wrong?

And the Dove World Outreach Centre – a church in Floriday is deciding to protest their new mayor. Because he’s gay. And you can’t possibly have a gay mayor! Oh no! And they seem to have gone through the dictionary and underlined every negative adjective to describe those nasty gay people. So, remember a dove is the symbol of.. uh… bigotry it seems.

Kai Hahner a German Politician from the CDU has had a right old homophobic rant at the organisers of Leipzig’s Christopher Street festival (an event similar to Pride it seems).  Apparently they’re leading children from the ‘right path’. Again with the corruption of children – always the same old slurs, always the same hatred, always the same demand to hide and die and disappear.

And then we have The View, which doesn’t exactly have a good track record. The View had Elizabeth Hasselbank explaining to us why more women are coming out as esbians later in life. It’s because they can’t find a MAN of course! Don’t you see? All the men are after young women so when a woman becomes too old for the menfolk, she becomes a lesbian! SIMPLES!

Yeah, at this point the View just really needs to stay the hell away from GBLT issues. Or at least someone nearby with a big stick to advise them. A very big stick.

And all this keeps on coming. Time and again, over and over and over. And it has a cost. You cannot divorce all this hideous, ignorant, foolish and ridiculous speech from the damage it does. You cannot have this echoing from every corner then turn round and say it isn’t connected to the discrimination or the hate crimes, the violence and the loss and the pain.

This speech has cost. And it’s a cost we have to pay. The constant chorus of haters dehumanise us, reduce us, belittle us. They encourage all the hatred against us. They cheerlead for the attacks – and they work to justify every wrong that is committed against us.

It cannot be said enough – these people’s hatred and ignorant foolishness hurts us – literally works to try and destroy us. It cannot be dismissed, it cannot be ignored.

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Argentina has signed and enacted their gay marriage law Another step forwards, another victory :) Nations that don’t recognise our marriages are looking increasingly more pathetic with every victory won. And another reason for me to do my happy dance.

Following up from the disgraceful way that Sonoma County, California, treated Clay Greene, the surviving partner of Harold Schull we finally see some degree of justice. The country will pay $600,000 in compensation, the home $53,000. There is no way that anyone could adequately compensate Clay Greene for what they did to him – but it’s something and some confirmation that what was done to him was wrong. Perhaps best of all, the county is retraining their workers – hopefully they’ll have a clue, an ounce of compassion and some basic human decency next time.

In Maine a gay man has won a discrimination suit against his employer, Express Jet Airlines that passed over him for promotion because he was gay. Congratulations to him, I know from experience these cases are damned hard to prove (at least if your employer tries to be at least a little subtle about it)

Similarly, in New Zealand a school has been forced to pay compensation to a gay sports coach they fired… for being gay. In addition the board members of the school will attend courses that will hopefully give them a clue.

In France, a gay man who was forced to pay inheritance tax on the home he inherited from his deceased partner has been reimbursed. This is the problem with half measures and patchwork laws about marriage – because people are so desperately concerned about us terrible gays sullying their precious precious hetero marriage.

Arizona, as I previously mentioned, decided to revoke the benefits it had given to same-sex partners working for the state – along with the protections and anti-discrimination provisions they had won as well. While it still remains bvery very wrong, a judge has ruled that deciding to address a budget shortfall by specifically targetting partners of gay employees but not straight ones is wrong (who’d have thought)

There’s a lot of bad out there – but there are victories. Victories we need to hold on to and remember – because we will win this, damn it.

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This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

I am a gay man.

Now, I have already commented or plan to comment on every part of that sentence. On the gay part, on the man part even on the ‘am’ part (because it’s ‘am’ not ‘do’, but that’s another topic). About the only thing I haven’t and don’t plan to comment on is the ‘a’ because there’s not a whole lot that can be said about ‘a’ even for someone as long winded as I.

Which is what I am talking about now – ‘I’.

I am a gay man. I am not all gay men. All gay men are not me. And yes, I don’t mind stating the bleeding obvious at times.

This means I am not responsible for the foolish actions or words of any gay man but myself (and possibly Beloved if I can find something sufficiently aerodynamic to throw).

It seems like an obvious concept – but it’s surprising how often people do not get it – and I think it applies to all marginalised people to a degree.

The number of times I’ve been asked (or even had it demanded) that I denounce, criticise or speak about some item of epic fail a gay man has pulled boggles me. I’ve actually been criticised for not denouncing a gay man’s actions and I’ve had to google the man because I’ve had no clue who he was or that he even existed, let alone what he had done. I’ve read  posts criticising or commenting on the gay community referencing a man I’ve never even heard of – yet this man apparently speaks for me, says something about me, indicates something about me or otherwise involves me because we are both gay men.

And when I see everything from foolish, ridiculous things said by some gay celebrity to vile crimes committed by a gay criminal – I always know because their sexuality is ALWAYS mentioned. No-one feels the need to identify a clueless columnist who let his mouth run ahead of his brain as straight, but you can guarantee that if he’s gay it will be mentioned somewhere in the report. When we have reports of a straight paedophile the media doesn’t fall over themselves to make their sexuality clear. But a gay paedophile? Oh that’s lapped up and repeated ad nauseum. And the usual suspects come out of the woodwork to make their oh-so-typical sweeping statements about us all (I was going to link to the Daily mail article – but it makes such a direct link between paedophilia and the campaign to allow gay adoption that I refuse to contribute one hit to that vile, bigoted site). When a young straight man dies young, we don’t make insidious, nauseating implications about all straight people and their relationships – but let it be a gay man and it can’t be natural, right? And it must speak volumes about all gay men, right?

One of the pervasive elements of prejudice is removing the personhood of marginalised people. On some level, they are no longer a person, they are a living breathing embodiment of their marginalisation. Every bad deed they do somehow reflects on their group as a whole – just as everything their group does reflects on them. Every one of us becomes just a part of a whole – to be blamed for whatever any other part does. We’re assumed to speak and think and act as one homogenous body – if one of us think something, we all think it. if one of us does something, the rest of us support it. If one of us says something, they’re speaking for all of us.

I literally cringe every time some of the fools in our community speak because I KNOW I will be judged on it. I am afraid when I read of gay criminals or abusers (and you know if they arer gay it will certainly be made clear) because I KNOW I will be found partially guilty of their crimes. I know someone is going to make a statement about all gay men based upon it. I know that, even though I’ve never met the men, don’t know the men, maybe even live in another country from them or even have never heard of them – that I am going to be judged by what they have said or done.

I have said before
It annoys me that I feel the need to display nothing but impeccable behaviour at all times because if I mess up I will be “letting the side down.” Because if I snap tomorrow and go on a mad axe murdering spree of my clients you can just bet at least one of the hate groups is going to present my sexuality as the reason – and that’s assuming the major media itself doesn’t buy into it, or at least emphasise my sexuality unduly in the rampage.

No-one speaks for me but me. I control no-one’s actions but my own (most of the time). I will not be blamed for the actions of other gay men, you do not know me because you know other gay men, you do not know what I think, support or say based on what other gay men have thought, supported or said. My being gay does not reduce me to an avatar of gayness.

I am tired of being expected to be ashamed for the bad actions of every gay man on the planet, to have them reported as if they’re all of our faults. And, worse, I do not like feeling like I have to police my fellows. I do not like feeling that I need to make sure I control my fellow gay men – and all GBLTs – to ensure they conform to a standard straight society feels is acceptable. I do not like feeling like I must suppress my fellows to protect myself.

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Tell me, if your Gay Best Friend is blond but dark hair would suit your ensemble better, do you change the GBF or just make him dye his hair?

I mean it’s a compelling question. Teen Vogue has just announced that GBFs are the new MUST HAVE ACCESSORY. Forget hand bags. Forget shoes – GBFs are what you need ladies! And it’s nice to see we’re training teenagers to look at us as items and things used to complete the ensemeble.

But your accessory must match, right? I mean, not every woman has an entire stable of GBFs to pull out to match every outfit – so how much must you co-ordinate your GBF with the rest of your outfit? Maybe you could shave him and have a collection of wigs?

Of course, you COULD treat that GBF as a person rather than as a sidekick or accessory – but that would be quite novel. Would you get points for being original? After all, the GBF as accessory meme is hardly new and you’d think it’d be getting tired by now

(And no, the little editors note at the bottom saying don’t objectify GBFs means bugger all after a full damn article of objectification and treating us as accessories.)

You know what? There was a fashion not too long ago to have certain dogs as accessories - little lap dogs. And people got angry because you were treating animals the same way you treated your shoes or handbag. Can we have a little of that respect please? You wouldn't treat your damn Sharpe-chiouaoua-shitzu like this

I am sick to the back teeth of it – and it’s not just in the media and the magazines. It’s real life. Whether it’s objectifying us sexually (trolling pride parades and gay spaces to see gay men kiss) or descending en mass to the local gay bar to play tourist and try to make as many of the potential GBFs pay attention to your straight self as you can. One of my favourite pubs is a no go area now because it is so saturated by straight women trolling gay men that it’s not fun.

I’ve lost count of the number of straight women I have known for 5 minutes – or less – suddenly decide I am their pocket agony uncle. Or assume that I give a damn what they’re wearing. Or believe that a few minutes casual acquaintance means I am now they’re best friend ever

And have you ever been introduced to someone as “Hey this is Sparky, my gay friend” yes, I am a gay friend. Not just a friend, not just Sparky – no, gay Sparky, it has to be known. It is clear – my sexuality is an essential part of the damn introductions now. Kind of like dropping in that your bag is Gucci and your shoes are Prada – make sure they know your “friend” is gay. Maybe I should write it on my business cards “Sparky – Lawyer and Gay BFF!”

And that’s before we get to the personal questions (which is part of a choice – you alternate between deeply personal questions and conversations where everything said is all about her and we’re supposed to nod at the right moment – maybe occasionally inserting the odd “fabulous” or shocked expression or “gurlfriend!”)

I have friends. I have female friends. I even have female best friends. And they’re friends with me not because I’m fashionable or in or an accessory – they’re not even friends with me because I’m gay. They’re friends because they like me, the person. Not me the accessory. Not me the stereotype. Not me the fashion trope. Me, Sparky – a guy who happens to be gay. Not Sparky the GBF.

H/T [personal profile] speaks

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[personal profile] usullusa is going through several kinds of hell after coming out to the family. Parents have not taken it well and are making life quite intolerable. All kinds of chaos and terrible shitness abound – I am so deeply sorry for them, no-one should have to endure this rollercoaster.

As detailed here [personal profile] usullusa is looking for part time work, casual work or otherwise in the NYC area, help bring some order out of the chaos.

Too many families treat their children appallingly at a time like this, if you can help please drop a line.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

NOM, the National Organisation for Marriage, is an American hate group that runs on homophobia and denying of rights to gay people. Hate groups rarely amuse me and NOM is no exception (though NOM is slightly amusing because the ex-head of NOM can be relied upon to hyperventilate whenever she is accused of hating gay people).

But this is not something I can smile at. When we see this on their facebook page:

(Gays and lesbians) are not being repressed, discriminated against. There is no and never has ever been a homosexual man hunt for them. Jews, Christians, and Blacks were hunted down and murdered. Homosexuals have nothing in common with the three.

Now, the ignorance here abounds. And it’s not much more than I expect from an org like this who never let the truth get in the way of hatred.

But this is not only ridiculous, it’s also not unique. I have lost count of the amount of times people have said to me “gays haven’t faced X!” (where X is the bad thing) or that gay rights are so new and why are we so damned impatient, after “all-anti-gay oppression is such a new thing and it’s not like you’ve had hundreds of years of badness!”

Or, in short, GBLTs have never REALLY being oppressed and any oppression we have faced is all recent and not so bad.

Right. How much is wrong with this idea? Do we even have to mention that gay people were targeted in the Holocaust? It’s depressing how often – and repeatedly – that is completely forgotten. (Be warned, link does not make for safe reading) And after the Holocaust? After the gay survivors were rescued, what happened? No-one wanted to hear their story, they couldn’t speak of it, none of them received compensation – because they were still considered criminals by all the liberating powers. Some of them were thrown back into prison. The Allies rescued gays from the concentration camps to re-imprison them afterwards. Gays were being imprisoned in Germany until 1969.

In fact, for that matter, a current debate in the UK is striking the criminal records of men who were convicted of having sex with other men. Yes, people alive today – people who aren’t that old – have criminal records for being gay.

Historically the penalty for “buggery” was death – even for privileged clergy who couldn’t even be hanged for murder. We were executing gays right through to the 19th century. but we changed that to imprisonment with hard labour and later to mere custodial sentences – or, if you could take the choice of taking massive doses of female hormones to chemically castrate you as was forced on Alan Turing.

While we did use the electrode method of “curing” gays (showing gay people images of the same sex then electrocuting them) a more preferred method was the use of emetics. Restrain your victim to a bed, show them a picture of someone of the same sex then inject them with something that made them violently sick (it often caused explosive diarrhoea as well). Then leave them in their own vomit and come back in an hour – and repeat the process. Keep going for several days.

Being gay was illegal in the UK until 1969, along with Canada. The first Australian state to repeal their criminalisation of being gay was South Australia in 1976. Tasmania was the last Australian territory to do so – and was forced to in 1997. New Zealand repealed their buggery law in 1986. Being gay was illegal in parts of the US until 2003 – 2003! – and the only reason that was repealed was because Texas tried to keep enforcing this bigotry into the 21st century. India had their law challenged in 2009

70 nations today still criminalise being gay. Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, parts of Nigeria and Somalia will execute gay people. And this doesn’t include nations like Iraq, Uganda, Egypt, Zimbabwe and so many others where being gay faces extreme persecution, torture and murder with the state’s negligence, ignorance or active complicity.

But there has never been a manhunt for us. We’re not really oppressed. We have no history of oppression. Despite the fact that throughout most of the last 500 years our very existence was punishable by death. Despite it being illegal for us to exist in nearly every nation in the world WITHIN LIVING MEMORY. Despite the Holocaust, despite the state backed genocide of GBLTs in nations where our lives are worth nothing, despite the hate crimes. Apparently there has been no manhunt. Apparently we have no history of oppression. Apparently we’re just Johnny-come-lately selfish whiners.

H/T Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Despite considerable opposition from the Catholic church (that think equality for gay people is ‘satanic’) and even the American Mormons trying to intervene, Argentina has become the first country in Latin America to legalise same sex marriage! Congratulations and celebrations :) Another step forward, some more justice realised.

Congratulations to all the people in Argentina who can now get married – may you all be blissfully happy together.

In Atlanta, the police have set up  an LGBT advisory board

And in the UK we have a set of instructions of what language the police are supposed to use and not use when dealing with GBLT people

Words cannot express how important these are. I don’t like the police. Part of that is because I am a defence lawyer and have seen far too much shit come from the police to be comfortable.

And part of it is that my interactions with the police have been fraught. The first time I reported being attacked to the police was awful. I was asked if I’d flirted with my attacked, if I’d touched him, if I’d come on to him, I was even asked what I was wearing. I heard them make jokes. I heard the comments. I regretted, strongly, reporting to the police at all – the case quickly went nowhere, in no small part because I didn’t want anything to do with them any more.

It’s not an isolated case. Even when not actively homophobic, cluelessness abounds in heteronormative society in general and certainly in the police force. If we need the protection of law – and we so often do – then we need to law to have a clue. We need to be able to trust the law – we need the law not to make things worse for us and to hurt us more.

We’re a long way from that – but steps in the right direction matter

Facebook is planning on adding a button for UK teens on their site to allow reporting and help with cyberbullying. It’s not much but it’s something especially since bullying – and anti-gay bullying – is so toxic and destructive.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Well, unexpected and well worth celebrating. After celebrating what the UK Supreme Court did for gay asylum seekers, we see another court in the US give a wonderful surprise by declaring DOMA unconstitutional. Not once, but twice..

Both judges came to their decision through summary judgment (which is legal speak for the judge picking up the case and saying “this is such utter bullshit I don’t even have to listen to you to make my decision!”)

This judgments AREN’T saying that all states have to allow same sex marriage (sadly).

But they are saying that the Federal government can’t refuse to accept couples that have been married under state law. So, for example, if a gay couple has been married in Massachusetts, the federal government has no business turning round and saying “no, they’re not really married.” I understand this is a 10th Amendment issue (don’t ask me, American law is not my thing but I understand this is the Amendment that says “unless it‘s expressly states to be the Federal government‘s decision, it‘s the state‘s decision.”). So the federal government cannot treat a legal same-sex marriage from a state that legalises same-sex marriage as anything less than a marriage and cannot force the state itself to treat same-sex marriages as less than opposite-sex marriage. It cannot force the state to discriminate.

Of interest as well in the fuller details of the case is the many other things the judges didn’t accept such as refusing to accept that banning same-sex marriage benefits children, that allowing same-sex marriage serves as a disincentive to marry, etc.

‘Tis a step in the right direction, yes yes it is :)

In other legal victory news, the island of Sark (that is one of the semi-autonomous British dependent islands around the British Isles) has finally bought a clue and equalised the age of consent for gay and bisexual men to 16 to bring it in line with heterosexuals, lesbians and bisexual women.  This follows Guernsey doing the same in March and the Isle of Mann catching up in 2006 (but then, the Isle of Mann still had sodomy laws in place in 1992). Well, islands, welcome to the 21st century. Took you long enough.

Sadly other British dependencies – Bermuda, Alderney and Gibraltar – still seem to be maintaining separate age of consent for gay and bisexual men.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

In the good news the UK ‘Supreme Court’ (bah, I am going to have to get out of the habit of calling it the House of Lords) has decided that deporting gay people to countries where we face persecution is a bad idea

Thankfully it overturns the horrific Court of Appeals decisions that gay people can be deported to countries where torture and murder and execution of gays  is commonplace (the cases in question concerned men from Cameroon and Iran). And it’s more than a little horrific that gay people were still being deported back to countries that so obviously and openly persecuted homosexuality in the most horrific ways possible.

Remember, asylum is most certainly a gay issue and it has become shamefully apparent that our record on gay asylum is even more pathetic than our record on asylum in general. The vast majority of gay asylum seekers are sent back to their countries – countries that will torture them and kill them far too often. Yet we send them home. 98-99% of asylum claims by gay people are refused – compared to a general refusal rate of 73%

Why? Because of the closet. Because they can hide. Yes, we have adopted a policy that says gay people won’t face persecution so long as they are “discreet”.

Words cannot express how ridiculous and bigoted this is. It is absurd to think that gays aren’t persecuted if they manage to hide their homosexuality – if they remain celibate, if they enter into false marriages, if they watch themselves every second and dropping their guard for a moment would mean their death. We would not apply such a standard on religious persecution, we would not apply such a standard on political persecution – why do we apply it to someone’s inherent being?

This has been overturned. The court did the right thing. In particular I want to stand and cheer Lord Hope for this statement

“The group is defined by the immutable characteristic of the member’s sexual orientation or sexuality.”… “To compel a homosexual person to pretend that his sexuality does not exist or suppress the behaviour by which to manifest itself is to deny him the fundamental right to be who he is.”

Full judgment is here. It is worth a read, in particular it not only strikes down any argument of “discretion” and points out that if a gay person is concealing who we are out of fear of persecution then that concealment is a SIGN of persecution.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

The closet, one of the most enduring and unpleasant aspects of being GBLT and a source and consequence of so much GBLT oppression. It is also a subject of no shortage of privileged, clueless and purely homophobic commentary from straight people.

I honestly have lost count to the number of times – perhaps especially in progressive circles – where I have seen homophobia and transphobia dismissed or diminished because of the closet. The idea that GBLTs can hide (and, let‘s be clear straight off, not all of us can. And all it takes is us being PERCEIVED to be GBLT to face hatred) – so prejudice against GBLTs isn’t all that bad, right? It’s not as bad as “real” oppressions – because all we have to do is hide, right?

It is used to diminish homophobia and transphobia – and it actually makes the closet, which to so many of us is an utterly toxic place that brought us no small amount of misery – seem like some kind of ASSET.

The closet has it’s cost. Being able to hide (in as much as we can) comes with a terrible price.

The closet, being able to hide, comes with the demand TO hide. If we actually presume to be us then we are “flaunting ourselves” or “ramming it down people’s throats.” We can hide, they say, so why don’t we? Why don’t we wear the mask to spare the straight people the sight of us? Why do we parade ourselves, our vileness so? It is seen as being RUDE to simply be.

The closet comes with a denial of our existence, a doubt that we‘re even what we say we are. Hiding what we are comes with a disbelief that what we are even exists. Being trans is still considered and listed a mental illness far too often. Being gay was considered as mental illness by the WHO as recently as 20 years ago.

How many times do people talk about the “gay lifestyle?” How many times do bigots prate about “homosexual behaviour” that it’s not about people, it’s about actions? How many times do they doubt our identity? how many times do they treat what and who we are as a kink or a fetish? An inclination? A hobby? A vague preference?

How many times is our very being diminished and demeaned as some kind of act of rebellion? Our identity reduced to the actions of a teenager acting out? How often is it presented as deliberate sin? As a deliberate attempt to shock, appal or insult the world? Because it’s all our actions and it’s all about them and how it upsets the straight world – never about us and who and what we are. Our identities, our beings are lost in the closet and they only see deeds not people.

How many times has the closet lead to GBLTness being treated as learned behaviour?

How many times do we treat GBLT people as being almost diseased? Don’t stand near them, you’ll catch it. Don’t talk to them. Don’t mix with them. You can’t be associated with them.

How many times are we portrayed as preying on children? As recruiting children? How many people see us as a threat to kids? As paedophiles? As abusers?

How many times has viewing being GBLT as a behaviour lead to horrific and horrendous laws that continue today? It is through an ignorant view of the closet, of a diminishment of being GBLT to actions rather than identity, that allows respected media outlets to ask “should gays be executed?” as some kind of reasonable question. It is an ignorant idea of the closet that makes it still acceptable, in law, in so many supposedly modern places to discriminate against someone, deny their rights, fire them, evict them – just because they are GBLT. And this is LEGAL and acceptable.

It is this ignorant view of the closet confusing people with actions that allows laws that criminalised – and criminalise -  being GBLT, to imprison GBLT people and even execute us – and raise no more than vague disapproval at best – let alone being decried as the acts of genocide they are.

The closet has lead to ex-gay therapy, to exorcisms and aversion treatment (the latter of which involves inflicting pain repeatedly whenever the patient succumbs to their “deviance“). Even the least violent of these are grossly destructive to us – and the worst of them are the stuff of nightmares. To “cure” us, the authorities have subjected GBLTs to being injected with powerful emetics, have suffered electroshock treatment, to horrendous abuse and deprivation.

GBLTs have been attacked to “cure” them, they have been beaten, they have been tortured and they have been raped. To change us. To “cure” us.

The closet has lead to vast numbers of therapists, doctors, counsellors and any number of people who are supposed to help us instead blaming all of our problems on being gay or trans. When we’re at our most vulnerable, at our greatest need for help, those who are supposed to help us can turn on us and kick us down still further. The closet has lead to endless misguided, cruel and downright evil attempts to change us, to “cure us” to “fix us”.

The closet means even our own families doubt and revile us. It makes one of the hardest moments of many GBLT’s lives the moment when they turn to their parents to tell them who and what we are. It makes speaking to our parents – our parents! – a moment of pure dread and terror for so many. And so many of those parents respond with shame and guilt and pain and abuse. The closet means our own families can be our most unsafe spaces. Our own flesh and blood can be our fiercest enemies.

How many times do parents feel shame? How many parents ask themselves what they did wrong? How did they make their kids GBLT? How did they fail? How many parents worry – did they mother him too much? Should they have let her play with that GI-Jo? Should they have made her wear dresses? Did they breast feed too much/not enough? Did he hug him too much/not enough? I’ve heard all these and so many more – the laments of parents who think they damaged their children – who view GBLT children as damaged – because the closet will not let them see us as people.

The closet causes us to hate ourselves. It causes us to grow up in shame and hate and self-loathing, wanting to be other than we are, wanting to be free from an “affliction.” Wanting to be “fixed” wanting not to be a “deviant” or “sick” or “sinful.” It drivers us from our homes, it drives us to self-harm, to substance abuse – and to suicide.

The closet causes us to live fake lives. To wear a mask so long and so tightly that we cannot take it off. It leads us to create false families, to constantly wear a disguise to never ever be ourselves. It makes us create fake marriages, fake families and entire life built on a faced. An entire life where you have to spend every waking moment being something you‘re not and pretending and acting to everyone around you. An entire life where for some the truest they can ever be to your own being is seeking hook ups in a public toilet!

They can’t confide in their nearest and dearest, they can’t even stop the act in their own homes. And they have to maintain this every waking moment for decades – decades of never ever being yourself. I’ve said it before, but it is honestly something that horrifies me beyond description. But this is the hell the closet forces them into, the hell they then feel they have no choice but to live until it breaks them, they fall out of it (or are found out) or they die.

And the closet is used to blame us for being a victim.

It is our fault when we’re attacked. Because we should have hidden. We shouldn’t have been there. We shouldn’t have been wearing that. We shouldn’t have touched each other. We shouldn’t have kissed each other. We shouldn’t have walked like that. We shouldn’t have talked about that. We should have realised who was hearing us. We should have realised being outside a gay bar was dangerous. We shouldn’t have made eye contact. We shouldn’t have done anything that may be seen as flirty. Did we wink? Did we smile at them? Did we look a little too long? Did we brush past them? Did we touch them?

It’s our fault when we’re discriminated against. If you hadn’t told the boss you were gay you wouldn’t be fired. The office wouldn’t be bullying you, excluding you, making your life a living hell if you’d kept your gayness to yourself. The landlord wouldn’t have refused you if you’d just said you were friends or room-mates. The hotel or shop or pub wouldn’t have closed it’s doors to you if you had just hidden better. Why did you have to put that photograph out? Why did you let your partner pick you up from work? Why didn’t you keep your mouth shut when they made that joke? Why didn’t you make up a fictional partner? Why didn’t you lie? Why didn’t you avoid that discussion? Why didn’t you just keep your whole life secret?

LGBTs seeking asylum in the UK, coming from countries like Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and so many others are being SENT HOME because, as far as the Home Office is concerned – all they have to do to avoid being tortured to death is HIDE.

Because people think we can hide, it is our fault when we don’t and we get grief because of it. Or when the act slips and we are revealed – and attacked in that new scrutiny. We are blamed for our own oppression because we don’t hide who we are. Even alleged progressives reveal a shocking amount of straight privilege and outright homophobia over and over “anti-gay attacks aren’t as bad as “X” because GAYS CAN HIDE!”

Do you know how HARD it is to hide?

To go through every minute of every second of every damn day constantly checking everything you do, everything you say. To judge every action in case it conforms to a stereotype? To check every word to see who may overhear?

To stand near your partner but be afraid to kiss them, to touch them, to stand too close, to make too much eye contact, to make sure you watch your body language. Make sure you don’t give any indication, make sure you don’t give yourselves away.

To never be part of a community or workplace or social event or ANYTHING because you have to conceal such a major part of your life? To check every conversation to make sure you don’t mention your loved one, your family, your home. To make sure your cover story is tight, to even make up some kind of straight fantasy life and hope like hell it passes muster and isn’t found out – because if it cracks it’s YOUR FAULT for not hiding enough.

To wear clothes, arrange your hair, dress your body, present yourself in a way that feels like a disguise. To make sure you don’t do anything that could be perceived as GBLT. To not be you ever. To constantly suppress who you are. To constantly deny it. To constantly pretend this isn’t you.

And you have to do this all the time. All the damn time

The closet is not an assert. The closet is not a bonus. The closet does not diminish or reduce prejudice, oppression or persecution. The closet is the reason for so much of the crap we face. The closet is a toxic blight on so much of our lives. It is not to be treasured – it is to be mourned


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April 2015

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