sparkindarkness: (STD)

Some statistics have come out from the US saying that  only 43% of people think being gay is wrong.  There is also this nifty little table showing that over a quarter of Americans wouldn‘t want gay neighbours (sadly, most of the people looking at that seem to be utterly indifferent to the fact that having gay neighbours is considered the worse thing EVAH! but that’s another point).

They join statistics from the UK that say only 36% of people now say that homosexuality is wrong.

And, y’know what? I’m really having a hard time dancing with glee over all of these.

Sure, things are getting better. The number of people willing to openly wear their bigotry is going down. But 43%/36% still thinking being gay is immoral? And 27% of people not wanting gay neighbours?  That’s a hell of a lot of bigotry out there.

And I said “wear their bigotry openly” for a reason. Because at least part (and my cynical mind says that it’s a large part) of those people saying they’re not anti-gay have woken up to the fact that saying “ewww homos!” is no longer particularly well thought of and edit their words accordingly.

Yes it’s getting better. Yes opinions are very different to what they were 30 years ago – this is progress, don’t get me wrong..

But, I‘m sorry, but it’s not good. It’s better, certainly, but it’s not good. Almost Half or a third of people running around  still thinking “ewww gays icky” and being willing to own that is still damn frightening. Over a quarter of people huffing because gay people have moved in next door is not a good thing.

I don’t know what I‘m trying to say here, it’s nice to celebrate progress – but I do have a feeling that we, as GBLTs, tend to take crumbs and act like we have a cake. We tend to jump up and down and let off fireworks at the most partial, looks-like-a-victory-if-you-squint-and-sorta-turn-your-head-a-bit victory, tend to celebrate any portrayal of ourselves no matter how grossly stereotyped and problematic and tend to fawn over anyone who is willing to say some kinda-nice words about us.

And we do need the positive to keep us from either crawling in a corner and crying, or reaching for an axe and hacking (hmmmm hacky goodness), but I fear the low expectations and SETTLING that comes from leaping for joy when someone throws us a crust . And I do think, occasionally, we need to look at that crust and say “uh, yeah – where’s the damn loaf?!” And that’s not selfish and ungrateful. Equality is not a freaking gift. Equality isn’t a present someone gives us. It’s OURS it SHOULD be ours, it belongs to us and it is being wrongly denied. If a thief steals your car and gives you back a wheel, you do not say thank you and run around rolling it like it’s the best thing ever. You demand the rest of the car (and find a mechanic who can put the wheel back on, but here the metaphor endeth).

(Also, the next person who says “Zomg gay rights are so new and you want it all at once, how selfish” is going to get a slap. GBLTs have not just been persecuted in the last 50 freaking years. We have been universally persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and killed for freaking centuries across many parts of the world. Do not try to paint it as a new thing just because we have been so damned persecuted for so damned long that merely admitting our existence was damn near a high bloody crime. Stop belittling us like that, stop dismissing us like that. It’s homophobic, it’s blinkered and it’s wrong).

Now good news? Good news is that Iceland has not only passed a gay marriage law – but has done so Unanimously! That is good news :) Gooooo Iceland :) We totally forgive you for the volcano :P

On Pride

May. 25th, 2010 06:31 pm
sparkindarkness: (STD)

One of the cornerstones of the GBLT movement has been the concept of Pride. And I applaud it with all my heart, because it is exactly what I feel was and is so needed.

The world denies GBLT Pride. The world suppresses it. And for such a long time – and still today – GBLT Shame has been the standard, not pride. We should be ashamed for what we are. We should change. Whole organisations have been built and funded around forcing us to change our shameful beings. Vast international churches fiercely press that our presence, our existence is shameful and should be repressed and changed and repented of.  We should feel guilty, we should be ashamed.

We are told we should hide. We should pretend. We should act lest our terrible weirdness infect, upset or hurt other people. Being GBLT is outrageous, shameful. We cannot speak of it openly. We must not speak of it in front of the children, because it will damage them. We cannot speak of it in front of other people, that’s forcing our nastiness on them, forcing them to endure it, forcing it down their throats, making a display of it. Isn’t it inappropriate? Can’t we just keep it to ourselves? Don’t we have any decency, don’t we have any shame? We should feel guilty, we should be ashamed.

We are attacked and punished for being who we are, beaten down, driven into hiding and killed. We are kicked out of houses, even our parents’ homes, because of the shame and vileness of our presence under their roof. We are turned away from businesses and employers. Laws are enacted to keep us out, to silence any mention of us, to protect vaunted professions from us, to protect children from us, to deny us and push us back. Laws that exist to enforce our shame. We should feel guilty. We should be ashamed.

I grew up with Gay Shame. I grew up with the idea that my sexuality was a bad thing, that I was a flawed and broken, that I had some terrible affliction that I should spare other people. I grew up knowing I deserved less, that I was less, that I was embarrassing, shameful, something to hide. I was taught to be guilty. I was taught to be ashamed.

I was taught that, society taught me that, family taught me that, certain “friends” definitely taught me that.

This is what GBLT Pride means. In a world that tells us we should change, we say we’re good as we are. In a world that tells us we should hide, we say we’re here and open. In a world that tells us we’re sick and broken, we say we’re whole and well. In a world that tells us children should be protected from us, we say we have kids and are kids and that’s pure and good and right. In a world that attacks us, beats us and kills us for daring to exist, we say that’s wrong and we fight back. In a world where laws are expressly created to repress us, we scream that we are equal. In a world that tells us we should not be, we yell that this is who we are and this is fine and wonderful.

In a world that tells us we should be ashamed, we declare that we are Proud.

And this is not a message that is easily announced. So far this year a Pride Parade in Lithuania was met with violence,  a Pride Parade in Minsk broken up by riot police, the first Pride Parade in Slovakia was cancelled after being attacked by skinheads, and Moscow Pride Parade has been cancelled (Moscow has a bad history with Pride Parades, to say the least especially as Mayor Yuri Luzhkov refers to gay and lesbians as “satanic“).

So looking at that, at the power and meaning and declaration of Pride, as well as the violent and virulent opposition to it, we get this and this and this and this Straight Pride. Hey you can google it, there’s no shortage of links, alas.

Has the world ever been about anything BUT straight pride? Has there ever been an institution of straight shame? Have your families, your love, your children, your life ever been demeaned and attacked and criminalised because you are straight?

Have straight people ever had to declare their sexuality? No, because the world will always assume it and honour it and raise it up and pure and proper and right. There has never been a need for straight pride because the world is steeped in it, saturated with it and pumps it out every second of every day. They flaunt their privilege like a flag and think it’s oh-so-witty to do so.

They have taken the symbolism of Pride and are using it to attack us and demean what they know so little about.

And today on Twitter, “Geek Pride” was trending. It is, apparently, Geek Pride day.

And I saw people celebrating. Including words like “Hiding in the locker is over.”  And “I’m coming out as a Geek!“ and “it’s geek pride day! I can go out in geek drag.” “Is there a colourful flag we should be waving?”

Why, I think I see some subtle comparisons there. Yes yes I do.

I am a Geek. I play WoW, I am a fantasy and sci-fi lover, most of my TV and book choices either have lazers or fireballs or at least vampire fangs. I’ve played D&D, I’ve played GURPS and I have a shelf full of White Wolf books. I had a childhood crush on Nightcrawler for gods’ sake (don’t ask. Really) I am as geeky and nerdy as they come and merrily happy with it.

But this? This is appropriating something vital and powerful. Celebrate geekiness, revel in it, dance with it, wave those towels! It’s a wonderful wonderful thing, but Geek Pride? No, really, no.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

It would seem that Australian Jason Akermanis has opened his mouth and let a whole load of foolishness fall out
Basically, he is concerned about gay men outing themselves in sport. That the media attention and hype would be bad for the sport, the player and the team. And particularly that teams aren’t ready for it – certainly not since teams have to change and shower together – think how uncomfortable the straight people will be being naked around the gays?


I need to break something to you – the chances are a gay person has seen you nekked

If you ever changed for PE at school, if you’ve ever been to the swimming baths, if you’ve ever been to a sport’s centre, health spa, joined a sport’s team, if you‘ve been in a communal barracks or tent etc. In short, if you have ever been in any situation where you are naked around members of your own gender, chances are that you have been seen nekked by a gay person.

We r hiding and looking at your nekked bodies! ZOMG AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! RUN straight people, RUN!!!!

And you know what? There are several things we need to address here.

1) Nudity =/= sex. And y’know what? Chances are GBLT people know this better than most people. Why? Because we’ve been here before! Every time we go to the gym or a join a sports team and most certainly at school – gay men have been around naked straight guys, lesbians have been around naked straight women. We‘ve been there, we know and we know it‘s not sexual. We know the difference between sexual nudity and non-sexual nudity

2) Get over yourselves already. Seriously, to all the straight folks out there – gay people do not spend our lives lusting after your hetness. No, really. Enough with this silly idea that because we’re attracted to our own gender, we’re attracted to ALL of our own gender.

3) Y’know what? Maybe you are hot. Maybe you’re drool-worthy hot. Maybe you are so damn sexy that your mere presence in the changing room will make all of our days. Maybe you are sex on legs. Congratulations, have a cookie. Guess what? You’re being a pure avatar of solid sex does not mean the we’re going to leap on you and have our wicked way with you. It doesn’t even mean we’re going to stare at you and make you uncomfortable (and, hey, if someone DOES the skeevy leering thing then say something because that’s rude regardless), our libidos aren’t going to overrule our good sense of the appropriate. Which brings me to…

4) The gay panic defence. Y’know, it has been raised in court over here yet again not that long ago. There are a substantial number of straight people who feel it’s ok to attack gay people because they are seen to be making a come on. A touch, a glance, even how we are dressed can be seen as a reason for a violent attack. You think we’re going to stare at your naked straight arse? You think getting an eyeful is worth that kind of risk?

But, of course, the actual argument presented is NOT that gay people are going to rush at the irresistible straight folks and have our wicked wicked way. No, it’s that our open presence will make the straight folks… uncomfortable.

Ok, seriously? So GBLT people are supposed to closet themselves for their entire lives – because this is what that means – for the sake of straight people’s comfort in the dressing room? So straight people can keep the delusion that there are no gays around? Keep their partners undercover, never mention their families, make sure their families are never noticed? Maybe make up a few lies, a fake girlfriend, a fake history? Edit their entire lives for the sake of straight people’s DISCOMFORT? I would gape at the entitlement in this if it weren’t so damn common.

GBLT people don’t have a duty to censor themselves so straight people can pretend we don’t exist. To say that “coming out is unnecessary” is so beyond grossly privileged I can’t even begin to address it

Now is it going to be hard on a personal level to be the first gay man in the AFL? Yes – but if they choose to take that step then they should – and part of the reasons it will be so damn hard is because of people like

It’s not being gay that is the problem. It’s homophobia. Gay people shouldn’t have to change, adapt or accommodate that. It’s not our fault, it’s not our duty to make allowances. The fact that straight people are discomforted by our presence does not mean we should pretend not to exist.

And, to add, it’s not ‘more acceptable’ to be a lesbian in woman’s sports. Stereotyping just tends to assume sportswomen are lesbians – that’s a WHOLE different thing altogether and certainly isn’t a sign of ACCEPTANCE. It’s a sign that any woman seen doing the “manly” pursuits of sports is instantly stereotyped as a lesbian – especially if she doesn’t conform to our narrow definitions of what constitutes femininity and what a woman should look like or aspire to look like.

And if it WERE the case that women were more accepting of lesbian sportswomen, isn’t that an indictment on sportsmen?

Y’know what? You could have made a point with this article, Mr. Akermanis. You could have criticised – and rightly in my opinion – people trying to bribe, persuade or bullying people into outing themselves for the sake of publicity or to be the first gay man in the AFL. I’d agree with that sentiment, it’s not fair and it’s not right to press people into outing themselves. But instead you decided to throw in a whole lot of straight privilege that shows exactly why so many GBLT people live in the closet.

You even mentioned the appallingly high suicide rate among our youth – but perpetuate the othering, the hiding, the need to hide and the idea that heterosexuals are not only uncomfortable around gays – but that it is a gay person’s duty to accommodate that. These are the ideas – that gay people are icky and it’s right for straight people to be squicked by us, that gay people shouldn’t inflict or nastiness on the straights – that lead to that suicide rate.

I don’t know Mr. Akermanis’ intent. I hope it was much much better than what he wrote – but his delivery failed on a truly epic level, and no amount of good intent changes the harmful message.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

This is something I have been debating ever since the Uganda genocide law was proposed (and, to the people trying to distract from the evils of that law – yes it IS genocide. Just because GBLT people are the target or because it’s being justified by the religion you share doesn’t make it any less genocidal) and is only strengthened by the horrendous sentence of 14 years hard labour for Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga who tried to marry. 14 years of hard labour because they loved each other.

In response the world’s nations have… tutted under their breath, declared how disappointed they are. And then continued as normal. Most nations reacted much the same to Uganda, I think only Sweden actually threatened any kind of consequences.

And I have to wonder, how much commitment to LGBT rights we actually have, as nations, as charities, as people? When LGBTs can be executed just for being, when we can be thrown in prison for over a decade for loving, when our existence is a crime punishable by death or the next thing to it – and we just carry on business as normal? Maybe spend a second to give a rueful shake of our head and say how so terrible it is. Then… move on? Is that it? I mean, really? Is that our stance on these crimes? Is this the extent of how angry, how outraged, how disgusted we are?

Because it seems pretty weak. It seems pretty empty. It seems pretty indifferent, seems like just a damn token gesture. It doesn’t matter, but we have to say the words. It’s not important, but we have to cover ourselves.

And that’s not a good feeling at all. Not only does it make me despair of the international community, nations et al actually giving a damn or doing something about the suffering, death and even massacres of GBLT people (and my expectations of these are pretty low already, especially given how quick people are to minimise GBLT persecution around the world) and it also angers and concerns me thinking about just how much the powers that be in our countries and international bodies actually give a damn about the persecution of GBLT people.

It worries me and it worries me more that I don’t know what the answer is. After all, international aid prevents millions from starving in these nations – even if their governments, churches and even themselves are bigots who would be happy to see me and other GBLT people imprisoned or killed – I can’t condone withdrawing what already minimal help the third world receives. But at the same time it galls greatly to think that my tax and charity money is going to help people who don’t see me as a full human being.

I wonder how bad things need to be for GBLT people before the international community brings up any consequences at all? And since we have countries where GBLTs can be openly tortured and killed for simply existing… well, the only answer I can think is that it CANNOT get bad enough to force the world’s nations to care – to force just about ANY of the world’s nations to care, let alone for them to care collectively. The utter worst treatment of GBLT people imaginable is tolerable, acceptable, not worth getting upset about and most certainly not worth acting on. Our existence can be seen as criminal, as sinful, as reason for torture and execution – and we get a disapproving head shake, the tutting under the breath, the rote recitations of disapproval and then, their cover well established, it’s back to business as usual.

We do not see sanctions for the abuse of GBLTs. There’s never any talk of UN intervention. There is no withdrawal of aid. There are no trade consequences. There are no diplomatic consequences. Nations who threaten to withdraw their ambassadors for the slightist little tiff, will not even consider it in response to genocide against GBLT people. Charities and NGOs do not withdraw from a grossly homophobic and transphobic nation. Supra-national unions like the Commonwealth will do no more than express disapproval over homophobic and transphobia. No matter how severe, no matter how brutal – no matter if the persecution amounts to outright genocide, nothing is done and, usually, nothing is even said.

And that is a chilling indication of how much our lives are worth.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

I’ve said before that asylum is very much an LGBT issue. The case of  Kiana Firouz makes this very sadly clear

Kiana Firouz is an Iranian lesbian. She is also an incredibly courageous woman and GBLT activist.

She has acted in a video documentary that highlighted the persecution of GBLTs in Iran. She also has a starring role in the film Cul de Sac produced in the UK that portrays the persecutions lesbians face in Iran.

In Iran lesbians can facer a sentence of 100 lashes. Repeated “offenders” face the death penalty. The Iranian government is aware of her work, she has been harassed in Iran and has fled to Britain for safety

She has been refused refugee status.

It is a travesty that such a clear case be denied – and truly evil to deny the persecution she would face in Iran if she was denied this protection.

Because of politics been the way they are at the moment, it can be hard to call for action to stop this – but we have to try, for Kiana Firouz and for her work and her fellows.

The emaill address of the Home Office is:

Home Office
Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

There is a petition for her here

There are easy ways to contact your MP here as well as their contact details here

Other useful modes of contact are:

Minister of State (Borders and Immigration) -
Home Office, 2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
Fax: +44 870 336 9034

Secretary of State for the Home Department -
Home Office, 2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
Fax: +44 20 7035 0900

Our new Home Secretary, Theresa May, can be contacted on her website And below:

Rt Hon Theresa May MP
House of Commons
Tel: 020 7219 5206
Fax: 020 7219 1145

I have a lot of contact information here because, while the government is changing, I am not sure what is still working or being followed. The more, the better

sparkindarkness: (STD)

With several coffees and a morning’s work under my belt, I look with trepidation at the new government – and already I’m very very worried.

Theresa May has been appointed as the new Home Secretary and Minister for Equality. A nice combination that means a lot of equality and justice in this country rests on her shoulders.

This is the woman in charge of protecting women and minorities. She is our champion, our shield, she is the one who ensures that equality laws and policies are applied – and how that application takes effect. She is, in short, a vital person for GBLT rights. In no small way, our rights and justice are very very dependent on this woman.

Shall we take a look at her voting record?

Voted against equalising the age of consent

Voted against the repeal of Section 28

Voted against gay couples adopting children. Twice.

Voted against IVF rights for lesbians

Stayed away from Parliament for all the Gender Recognition Acts

Was ABSENT when the Equality Act was voted on in relation to Sexual Orientation

She was absent for many of the Civil Partnership votes

I keep reading through her record and well… Well… damn. Well done Cameron you actually make Grayling look like the better bloody choice.

I suppose this is technically very clever. The Tories don’t actually have to pass homophobic legislation – they just make sure that the minister that is supposed to enforce, apply and otherwise implement anti-homophobia protections is a homophobe. And this way Clegg gets to keep on smiling and playing good guy while continuing to enable a government that screws us over.

This is not a good sign of things to come.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Because looking at your politics for a second let’s me ignore the trainwreck on my doorstep

Kagan looks to be the next Supreme Court judge and there’s considerable kafuffle about her around the place. Namely because there’s a lot of speculation about her being ZOMG A LESBIAN!

Is she a Lesbian? I’m not going to speculate. She hasn’t spoken about it and the White House has vehemently denied it (in rather an offensive manner, to be honest) I’m also leery about why everyone is assuming she is a lesbian. I’ve seen “rumours” cited (like that ever meant anything) and, frankly, a lot of speculation based on the fact she’s single and the way she looks (c’mon, we know that’s not right). Also I think we need to stop all this pressuring and poking her to come out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you do not know what pressures, demons and badness is happening in a person’s life and in their mind to demand that they come out. If you don’t know how much it will cost her – and if you aren’t her, you don’t know – then you have no right to demand she pay that cost (also, I am amused by the usual suspects on the right saying she has to come out or its proof of her dishonesty – while at the same time fighting to preserve DADT)

The idea that she should stay in the closet to avoid Republican hostility (especially since the hate groups are losing their shit about the idea of a lesbian Supreme Court Justice) doesn’t seem very sensible to me. I’m an outsider though, so maybe I’m missing something – but look at the Republicans at the moment it seems the Democrats could declare that water is wet and the Republicans would be screaming in a foaming fury about the evident dryness how outrageously awful it is for the Dems to suggest otherwise. In fact, given that I’d rather think it would be better for Obama to propose the most commie-pinko, far-left justice whose robe is tie-died emblazoned by rainbows, black panther symbols and a big picture of a Che Guevara across the front and has epaulettes of marijuana leaves. After all, if they’re going to object ANYWAY?

Should she be outed? We should know better than that too. I support the outing of closeted homophobes. That’s basic self-defence and I approve and applaud when it is done. But Kagan, while her record probably isn’t worth all the crowing its getting, certainly isn’t a homophobe. That makes outing her crossing the line. She’s not an enemy, she’s not an opponent, she doesn’t deserve that shit.

Now, would it matter if she was an out lesbian? Yes, let’s be honest, it would. In gesture politics if nothing else, having an openly GBLT person on the Supreme Court would be a powerful statement of acceptance and acceptability. It actually kind of boggles me to see people who are squeeing about another woman Supreme Court judge and another Jewish Supreme Court judge who are also saying it doesn’t matter if she is openly lesbian or not. Yes, it matters, it’s a strong message and a success if she were, the first ANYTHING matters (albeit, probably not nearly as much as it is generally treated). But that only applies if she is openly a lesbian – I don’t see any statement in having a closeted GBLT person in any position – in fact, there’s a damn good chance there already HAS been a closeted GBLT person in the Supreme Court. “You can take part in society so long as you hide” isn’t a revolutionary statement or a good statement. So, let’s be clear – yes it would matter if an OUT lesbian was a supreme court judge. A closeted Lesbian? Not so much. An outed Lesbian?  Definitely not.

That doesn’t mean that there’d be a super gay ally on the court – just as having a black judge on the court doesn’t mean there’s a super anti-racist ally on the court (names no names) or having openly gay party members means a political party isn’t homophobic (yeah Tories, I’m looking at you). No, for that you have to look at her policies – and while she’s hardly the most leftist of lefty judges that could have been chosen and there’s a few issues where I On gay rights indicators are to the positive, which is a good sign (though I’d stop short of dancing around and singing her praises). The bad side? She’s been involved in so much that she may have to recuse herself from all the current pending challenges – which means don’t expect any grand pro-gay justice from the Supremes any time soon.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Asylum seekers – or, as I much refer to say, refugees. I know it’s not strictly accurate, but the British press has so demonised “Asylum Seekers” that it has become a convenient avoidant term. We use asylum seekers to imply fakers and slackers coming here to steals our monies and our jobz while being too lazy to work. Yeah, whatever. Call them refugees – call them what they are – people desperately fleeing from persecution. People fleeing from oppression, persecution, torture and death. People who have lost everything and are running for their lives. At least be HONEST about the hell you want to throw these people to!

Refugees and their rights are very much something GBLT people need to be interested and involved in. Because they are often our brothers and sisters. We know that, in much of the world, persecution of GBLT people is extreme to the point of genocide. The only reason it isn’t named as such is because the powers that be are often rather content with our destruction and are afraid of offending the religious lobby by acknowledging our persecution to such a degree. In fact, the UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, asserting that GBLT people should have human rights and not be persecuted, had to be reduced to a “gesture” declaration with numerous voices speaking against it (including the Holy See, no surprises there, and considerable initial opposition from the US) and a 57 nation bloc supporting a counter-declaration declaring the opposite – that we don’t have and aren’t worthy of human rights.

Homosexuality is illegal in about 70 countries in the world. In 77 nations we can be prosecuted for having sex, for not being virgins, for not living a lie. Most of these prosecutions come with a prison sentence (and GBLT people in prison are amongst the most vulnerable there are). At least 27 of these can be sentences of 10 years or more. At least a further 8 nations will execute gay people. And that number is, shockingly, growing.

And this tells not even half the story. On paper, Iraq legalises homosexuality, yet it is one of the worst places in the world to be GBLT as a result of the occupation and rising religious control. South Africa not only legalises homosexuality but also outlaws all anti-gay discrimination AND recognises same-sex marriage. Yet persecution, including “corrective rape” is a horrendous problem and is rarely addressed by the authorities. On paper Egypt outlaws homosexuality with a prison sentence up to 3 years – but that doesn’t cover the repeated instances of torture inflicted on GBLT people.

In fact, one of the recurring problems of GBLT persecution is not only legal persecution by the state, but state indifference to persecution, state refusal to protect GBLT people from attacks, violence, rape, torture and killing. Often large organisations, communities and especially churches are ready and eager to encourage the persecution

This makes Asylum vital to these GBLT people. While we fight for the rights to be treated as full and equal citizens and to cling to what rights we have managed to obtain (vitally important) our GBLT siblings across the globe fight to exist, fight to live, fight just to be. They live in countries where even the most minimal tolerance is too much to ask and is fiercely denied. To these people the only sanctuary available is to flee and to be sheltered in a nation that will not see them dead or imprisoned for the audacious crime of existing.

But, very depressingly but unsurprisingly, we are not welcoming to GBLT people seeking safety. Amnesty international has decried the EU sending refugees back to countries where they will be tortured. Because accepting promises as a reasonable precaution would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic – to expect a torturer to play fair, especially since we hardly check up after wards, is ridiculous to the point of enraging – it is clear indifference on our part to allow this to continue. The torturer’s “promise” gives us sufficient excuse to turn a blind eye.

The UK has been deporting gay asylum seekers for years – under the hollow excuse that if they are “discreet” they will be safe… so long as they stay in hiding they may escape persecution. Never mind the societal pressures to marry and have a family that make such “discretion” impossible. Never mind the self-destruction that being closeted brings. Never mind that even when we are discreet, our sexualities can still be discovered, can still be exposed. Under the cover of “discretion” we have deported gay people to countries like Jamaica, Iraq and even Iran.

Our record with the protection of gay refugees is shameful – with a refusal rate that dwarfs even the shamefully high refusal rate we have with non-gay refugees. The ignorance, denial of GBLT people as being GBLT, the refusal to accept the state of GBLT persecution and the insistence that the closet solves all ills means we offer no sanctuary to even the most brutally oppressed GBLT people around the world. Frankly this whole report is enough to make me sick, despite having seen it up close, bringing it home like this -the ignorance, the homophobia, the privilege, the sheer indifference to the suffering is a matter for pure rage.

It should also come as no surprise that marginalised bodies – women, ethnic minorities and GBLT people are among those most likely to suffer under this negligence. Devalued both by the persecutor and by the country of supposed safety, the suffering of these bodies is too often ignored.  This is a true intersectionality moment – a moment when we should come together and recognise that those of us who society devalues are the most at risk here. These are the most at risk of persecution abroad and indifference at home and the most in need of help.

The least we can offer these people is safety. It is so little to ask – and we are failing them.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

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

It seems like a silly thing to say – it certainly seems even sillier to treat this as a guilty admission – but, yes, I confess, my relationship isn’t perfect. And it does feel like a confession.

Sometimes Beloved will do things that frustrate me to no end. The fact he thinks that running a vacuum cleaner over about 2 square inches of space in the centre of the room counts as hoovering – and THEN gets huffy if I decide that, y’know, I prefer my carpets NOT to be crusty drives me to distraction.

The fact that he has not only the gross temerity to be a MORNING PERSON (a morning person people! Sharing MY bed. On WEEKENDS no less.) who is incapable of being quiet and doesn’t realise that we don’t ALL sleep like Dracula at noon is enough to drive me to contemplate murder on many occasions. Oh, this sleeping like a sunbathing vampire (that does NOT sparkle) also means that when the cat is yowling at 3:00am guess who does not hear it? Not EVEN when you bludgeon him with a pillow.

The fact  he will make ridiculously detailed plans for the day/week/month/year/bloody century vexes me muchly – but not nearly as much as his dual ability to completely ignore them while at the same time pitching a fit if I forget the myriad plans he has made for me.

He will keep using my toothbrush no matter how many times I say how disgusting that is. And he laughs about it.

Every time he goes shopping I live in fear – be it the big jar of chillies, the 22lb turkey, the VAST BALL OF MINCE, buying more triyaki sauce than milk, or the mystery meat surprise – it’s a new disaster every week

We are sarcastic. We snark each other, a lot. Sometimes we have epicly childish confrontations. He has been known to sulk for DAYS. I have stormed out of the house in a blazing fury and stayed out, ignoring my phone, long enough to make him worry.

Our relationship is not perfect – which is not really surprising because he isn’t perfect (and I will concede off days, when I’m not trying very hard and when I’m tired when perhaps I may, just may, occasionally fall short of total perfection). Lack of perfection is pretty normal in any relationship – in fact, an utterly perfect harmonious relationships without a hint of discord would seem to be not only not normal – but probably not very healthy either.

And yet, whenever there is a hiccough in the otherwise smooth running of our life and I am vaguely considering how to effectively dispose of the body, I feel guilty if I let any cracks appear in the facade of perfection – even – ESPECIALLY – to my family.

There will be support. Lots and lots of support. The slightest tiff will result in my mother kindly and gently informing me that I always have a home with my parents. Which, y’know, is nice and kind and supportive. But rather overkill when I’m complaining that he’s ordered a ridiculously huge turkey.

There will be comments, “well that’s what you get when there’s no woman in the house” or “you guys need a woman to look after you.” And even “if one of you were a woman, it wouldn’t have happened.”  Which, apart from anything else, is grossly sexist as much as anything.

And there’s the sly hints, “well, relationships like yours are going to have difficulty.” “Well you know you have to work harder than most to make it work.” “Maybe you two just don’t gel properly.”

They’re rarely malicious (well, except for a few uncles who I have Issues With). They’re often meant to be jokes, they’re meant to be supportive or sympathetic or reinforcing. But they oh how they are strongly flavoured with a “it’s a shame he’s not straight” or “it would be easier if you were straight” sentiments. The regret is palpable.

Sadly, there’s always that idea – that idea that has been perpetuated in my family and me since birth – and in society for much much longer, that gay relationships aren’t real. Are flawed. Are lesser.

Which means I feel guilty admitting the flaws. It means I am ashamed of the cracks.

Because I’m afraid of offering any proof that these prejudices are right, I‘m afraid that being anything less than perfect will validate their assumptions that we‘re flawed.

Because every time we argue – it’s because we’re gay.

Because every time the household devolves into chaos – it’s because we’re gay

Because every time we annoy each other – it’s because we’re gay.

Because every time we haven’t understood each other, or have hurt each other – it’s because we’re gay.

Not because we’re human. Not because we’re not perfect. Not because we’re not infallible. Not because every couple is like this. No – it’s because we’re gay.

My relationship isn’t perfect – and that’s perfectly ok. But I am sorely tired of the effort and the acting of holding up the mask of perfection

sparkindarkness: (STD)

I’ve been debating this for a while and with both Ricky Martin and Sean Hayes coming out and reporting on both – perhaps especially from the GBLT community.

The Glass Closet

For whatever reason, sometimes there is a general consensus that someone is gay before they have come out. And generally I disapprove – it’s not our place to decide that someone should be out or not. It’s not our place to decide whether they are ready to be out – no matter how sure we are that they are gay, no matter how sure we are that their sexuality is obvious.  Even if they are gay. For that matter, too often our assumptions that someone is gay are based on ridiculous stereotyping which, frankly, is beneath us. We should know BETTER than to decide that someone’s demeanour/taste/hobbies/mannerisms make them gay or not. Seriously, guys, don’t we get enough of that from the damn homophobes without us doing it ourselves?!

But even if we do know they’re gay? Still – their choice when they decide to make that a formal, open statement.

I had a friend who came out to me about 18 months ago. He was gay. I  was surprised – at him coming out. He spent more time in gay bars than I did. He was grossly unsubtle at checking other guys out. Oh and before Beloved and I were together, we had had a couple of intense make out sessions. Yet, he felt the need to come out to the man he had reached second base with. Are we clear that rational thought and the closet do not necessarily go together?

He was scared. He was afraid of what his family would say. He was afraid of what his friends would say. He was terrified of his life ending if he admitted he was gay. It was vital to him for his own mental well being to be able pretend he could control who knew and who didn’t – he needed this.

And no matter how “obvious” it may seem, that doesn’t mean that they are ready to come out. It doesn’t mean that their parents, siblings, aged grandmother and father confessor aren’t all being held at bay only by their denials (and, believe me, to a homophobic parent desperately hoping their child isn’t gay, even the most hollow denial will maintain that fantasy).

They have a DUTY to come out

The idea being that the more out celebs are out there the more normal being gay seems and the more accepted we are. And this is very very true – I can’t argue with it. More prominent out gay people will further push that we are normal people, just like everyone else. It is powerful, it does help us – and every out gay person can’t help but be an activist by sheer virtue of existing. Not because they have to march or campaign – but simply because in a society that denies we exist and fights our right to exist and merely existing in those circumstances, let alone being prominent, is an activist action.

But we have no right to force people to sacrifice their lives for a gesture – no matter how important that gesture is. Let’s be honest here, as many actors and sportsmen have said, coming out can end a career. It’s sad, it’s wrong – but it’s true. This is likely (and I say likely because I have no right to speak for them) WHY many sportsmen like Gareth Thomas and Daniel Kowalski as well as musicians like Ricky Martin waited until after they retired or after their career peaked/was well established before coming out. And even aside from their careers, we don’t know what their personal life is like. We don’t know what personal daemons they wrestle with (and we know that no small number of us has to wrestle with self-loathing, low self-esteem and general internalised homophobic badness) we don’t know how their family and friends will react. We don’t know what the cost will be for them – and we have no right to ask that for them.

I love it when they come out. I’d love if they did it when still at the height of their careers. I celebrate every single person who comes out as a person who has achieved freedom. as someone who has transcended the closet – and yes, overly grandiose word fully intended. But we have no right – not now, not ever, to demand they come out, to criticise how long it took them to come out or, gods forbid, to out them****

Is coming out news?

The argument here is that being gay is so normal and acceptable now that some prominent celebrity coming out as gay shouldn’t really be treated as news – because it’s nothing special or amazing

But, frankly, we all live in the Straight Republic of Hetlandia. We turn on the television and there are straight people everywhere. We walk around and we’re surrounded by straight people. Open a book, play a computer game, watch and advert, straightness is everywhere. Part of that is simple demographics – straight folks outnumber us many times over, after all – and part of it is the fact that homophobia has driven us to hide while heterosexism has erased us (or stereotyped us etc etc, see earlier rants).

And in the Straight Republic of Hetlandia, it is still heartening to see that real gay people exist – and they can be anything and anywhere. It is still heartening to see that we can be sportsmen (including hot beefy rugby players and Olympic gold medallists), it is heartening to see that gay people coming from all groups and all places (I am told that Ricky Martin is a great role model for hispanic gays, though can‘t comment, obviously). It is a reinforcement for all the gay kids that we exist and are successful and a part of society and this is a good thing.

Now the caveat to that. WHILE I think people coming out as gay IS newsworthy, that doesn’t mean the way the news reports it is necessarily ideal. I’ve spoken above about the problems of demanding people come out or saying “We all knew anyway” but there’s also a problem with being so terribly shocked by the news. Yes, it’s newsworthy – but it’s not shocking, surprising or horrifying. It’s not worthy of the kind of reporting that would normally be reserved for “David Cameron has grown another head and it eats BABIES!” or “Sarah Palin completed a coherent sentence!” It’s news worthy, but it’s not shocking. It’s not earth shattering. It’s the not biggest and most stunning thing in the history of mankind.

Reporting a celebrity coming out is a positive and reinforcing thing for us. Reporting it as earth-shattering and freaky really really isn’t.

****For many years I have wrestled over the idea of outing homophobes, and the full reasoning would take another post – but I have largely come down on the side of believing homophobic closet cases working against us are fair game.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

The Day of Silence is today, 16th April. It is an effort to draw attention to the extreme problem of ant-GBLT bullying.

I have said so often that our young are extremely vulnerable. Homophobia is so ingrained in our culture as to be unavoidable – in the media, in our families and definitely in the school ground.

Growing up, I knew what gay meant, I knew what queer meant. They were insults. They were bad things. They were horrible things to be. They were guaranteed to start a fight. They were among the worst things you could call someone.

And I knew this before I knew what “gay” even meant. I knew this long before I realised that gay was me. How healthy do you think that is?

And it’s not changed. According to a survey of teachers I posted a while back 7-8 of the top 11 insults heard in the playground are anti-gay attacks. 8 out of 11 are BLATANTLY homophobic and the insults used most commonly.

What do you think this does to a child? To be belittled and attacked and demeaned every day? What do you think it does to them to live in fear of violence every day?

A 2007 study of students in the US found that almost 9 out of 10 GBLT kids suffered homophobic bullying. 60% were afraid to go to school. Closer to home, a study involving teachers in Liverpool found homophobic bullying to be a daily occurrence and “endemic.” This is not a small problem.

And to make it worse, who do you go to for help? Teachers are poorly trained to deal with homophobia to say the least  – when they’re not carrying their own baggage of prejudice to boot. It wasn’t that long ago when teachers weren’t even legally ALLOWED to confront homophobia – and still aren’t in some places.

And even if you can approach a teacher or a parent or a friend – they’re probably straight. And you’re probably outing yourself seeking help. That in itself is dangerous and terrifying – so many don’t.

This is why the day is important. Literally, lives hang in the balance. Because this abuse of our young has to stop and it has to stop now.

Of course, there are objections – from our friendly religious haters all swarming together complaining that, damn it, them GBLT kids don’t get bullied enough.

Various groups out there seem to have come to a conclusion – gay kids just aren’t getting bullied enough. The religious right is outraged that the Day of Silence exists, furious that the pain and suffering of our children isn’t being ignored

They have actually organised a Day of Silence Walk Out. Where they encourage parents to keep their kids away from school during the Day of Silence – just in case they learn that their fellow human beings deserve respect and protection even when they are gay

Joe.My.God has a list of groups that are supporting the bullying of GBLT children unsurprisingly, those who support the abuse of GBLT children are all Christian groups, showing the love and respect we have long since come to expect from organised Christianit.

Our children have a right to live, to exist and to be accepted as who they are. This cruelty has to end – and the evil of these groups for opposing it cannot be emphasised enough

sparkindarkness: (STD)

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

Apparently, I am a virgin.
Now, this rather surprised me, all things considered. I rather thought all the sex I’d had disqualified me. It most certainly surprised Beloved when I told him (though it did paralyse him with uproarious laughter for some time)

But no, to some people I am a virgin – because I am a man who has never had sex with a woman. Specifically, I have never had penis-penetrating-a-vagina sex. And this is the only sex that counts. Yes, yes it is.  (Amusingly, some of these same people also believe that, as a gay man, I am also a promiscuous. This makes me a promiscuous virgin. It’s at this point that logic just said “Seriously?!” and left the room in a huff.)

I was surprised the first time and put it down to, well, extremist foolishness. After all, the homophobes have never been logical have they? And I’m sure that no belief or stance, no matter how silly or hateful, isn’t held by someone somewhere (and that he has internet access).

Except it wasn’t isolated. Several times I have come across people who decided I had never ever had sex, or never had “real” sex, because no woman was involved in the proceedings. Often they combined it the old foolishnesses of “how do you know you’re gay if you’ve never had sex with a woman?” (I was so tired of saying “and have you had sex with a man?“ that I had to mix it up a little “have you ever had sex with a lawn mower? No? Then how do you know you won’t like it!”) and “you only need to meet the right girl” (which is several kinds of annoying when I’ve already met the right guy) that I’m sure we’ve all heard and mocked before. But still, there was a surprising number of these “the only real sex is penis/vagina sex” out there.

And then I read  this little linky from the Kinsey institute. That pointed me to this study.  30% of people who took the study did not consider oral sex to be sex. 20% did not consider anal sex to be sex. That’s a pretty limited definition of sex there – and one that leaves me in the category of “not had sex.” In short, 20% of people who took this study think I’m a virgin.

And suddenly “quaint, silly, little eccentricity” becomes something rather more. It says rather a lot of our attitudes towards sex. It shows we have a very heteronormative view of sex – and a very restrictive view of sex. By privileging a sex act that is seen as quintessentially heterosexual as the only ‘real’ sex then we, in turn, lessen homosexual sex. We’re not capable of ‘real’ sex, it’s lesser sex, fake sex, not ‘proper’ sex. I can’t see this attitude as anything but harmful, just as any devaluing assumption is.

I don’t think considering only acts that try to expressly exclude gay people to count as real sex is motivated by homophobia in most cases (though the motivation doesn’t change that it is harmful), let me be clear. I rather think that it’s down to obsession with one particular act coupled with a whole lot of desperate self-justification (I’m not having sex, I’m just…) and just the general weirdness that comes with humanity’s collective horror and obsession with sex. I’m rather at a loss as to explain the full silliness of it, I confess.

I don’t know the motivations, but still, to 20% of these people, I am a virgin. And I’m not sure whether to be amused or insulted.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Today we can look across the Atlantic and see some beautiful examples of activism. Dan Choi, James Pietrangelo and Robin McGehee have been arrested for a DADT protest at the White House (Dan Choi and James Pietrangelo remain in prison without bail) and other brave people have staged a sit in over ENDA at Nancy Pelosi’s offices in DC and San Francisco

And, of course, there is some hand wringing and hyperventilating and even a clutching of pearls. This isn’t polite, this isn’t respectful, ZOMG he was in UNIFORM how terribly disrespectful to the military establishment (which, y‘know, is TOTALLY owed respect from GBLT people, right?

It seems we need to remember something – rights are not given, they‘re demanded. People shouldn‘t have to ask freaking politely to be treated as people. When pointing out that you are treated like a second class citizen it is done with a scream, not in a whisper following a polite cough if

They’re angry. Why aren’t you?  Because there’s damn good reason for it. GBLT rights in the US on a federal level have stalled rather badly and there seems to be little or no movement from the people in charge to get it moving again. Virginia is removing the GBLT protections it had, leaving people very much in the lurch. Putting gay rights on the ballot box nigh inevitably results in a whole bunch of straight people screaming “that’s for REAL people, silly homos” and receives zero support from the powers that be.

Guess what? While you’re being polite and quiet and calm and asking “please sir, can we have some rights?” the haters are still screaming.

The Catholic church has had so many child rape scandals now that it barely even counts as NEWS any more! But despite systematically protecting and covering up child rapists across the globe, they’re still presuming to MORALLY judge us and speak against US?! They present US as a threat to families while shuffling around child abusers to protect them from justice!

In the laughable DADT hearings (and the mere fact there are HEARINGS is repellent – seriously you need yet ANOTHER study to see if gays are as good as straights? How is this even remotely ok?) the arsehole ex-general Sheehan blames the presence of openly gay soldiers in the Dutch military for the massacre of Srebrenica. You get that? GAYS cause massacres. Why wasn’t this man just removed from the hearing?

Dr. Rowan Williams, the bigot in charge of the Anglican church finds it highly regrettable that a Lesbian has been made a bishop in the US. Of course, this is the same man who didn’t crack his damn TEETH about the Uganda kill-gays law. Yet, still, the man uis viewed as some kind of moral authority.

It has now come out that GBLT people matter so little that we can be excluded from clinical trials, especially about family, partnership or sex issues. No scientific reason, just keep the GBLTs out – of course, discrimination against GBLTs is perfectly legal in many places (and certainly not a priority to overturn – the straight powers that be have more important worries) and why treat us like people when you don’t have to?

The American healthcare bill looks like it’s going to be passed through reconciliation. And the GBLT provisions? Stripped. An easy sacrifice to make by straight legislators.

DADT is a sick, ridiculous game to force soldiers to play – and Jene Newsome played that game. She wasn’t asked. She never told. She quietly lived with her partner – and then the police found her marriage certificate and, in what could only be considered an act of spite, outed her to the military. She has now been discharged.

Who do you think is listened to? The GBLTs at the back waiting their turn to be considered people because the straight people have “more important” things to get on with – or the loud, frothing haters who are vehemently and furiously fighting and shouting against everything GBLT people have every step of the way? What do you thinks going to happen – more pandering to the loud haters, more discrimination which is the NORM – or them listening to you quietly asking to be treated as people?

If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. And maybe Dan Choi, James Pietrangelo, Robin  McGeehee and the brave people in the sit-ins are right are right. Maybe it’s past time for GBLT voices to be louder than the haters. Maybe it’s time to stop asking and start demanding. Maybe it’s time to display the anger – the real and justified anger – that the GBLT community seems to have lost along the way.

We have a right to our anger, we have bloody good reasons to be angry and maybe the powers that be need reminding of that.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Recently I’ve been seeing this video being passed around various parts of the gay blogosphere and it makes me highly uncomfortable. (And that’s beyond the fact that every legal bone in my body screams in outraged embarrassment watching these farcical parodies of a court room and the clownish ‘judges’ that seem determined to destroy any respect due to the law.

See, many people have been praising this. And I can see some many big reasons for praise. It is wonderful to see someone speaking out clearly and passionately in favour of gay people – it is wonderful to see a (presumably) straight man talk about how being gay is ok, that we have every right to be happy with who we are. I loved him countering the religious hate we see so often and it heartened me to hear such words of support and acceptance. It is wonderful to see someone try to be an ally and speak  in genuine kindness about gay people.

But there is some severe privilege fail in this video. And clinging to the good he’s said and completely ignoring that very questionable privilege fail is not helpful. We are past the point of handing over-the-top cookies of happiness to everyone who can mouth vague platitudes about us – or we should be. I sometimes feel that there is a habit in the GBLT community to be ridiculously grateful for even the slightest gesture of kindness towards us. I know the reason for it, I have the same instinct myself. Sometimes the feeling of “oh my gods, they don’t hate us!” surges strong that we’re willing to overlook some pretty nasty crap.

It’s why grossly stereotyped portrayals in TV or in books are not greeted with derision and rage – and criticism is often rather delicate and careful. It’s why clueless privilege is often given a free pass, even when someone has said something ignorant or painful. It’s why even passionate gay allies can often say things that make me cringe. Because so few of us will criticise anyone or anything that attempts to be even half-way positive no matter how harmful or painful or insulting or offensive that we are giving an ok to this behaviour.

No that doesn’t mean we need to leap onto an ally and beat them with great big sticks (unless they like that :P ), but ANY ally will occasionally make mistakes – because that’s what having privilege MEANS. And any ally should be able to take and learn from reasoned and careful criticism – and if they CAN’T then I question whether they’re an ally or just looking for patented ally cookies for being so nice to the gays. Moreover we OWE it to we allies to criticise them when they make mistakes – sure we don’t have a duty to teach – but how will our allies learn to be allies and support us if we won’t even criticise?

It can be awkward, certainly. It’s awkward when a great friend who once punched out a homophobe for you keeps repeatedly making “it’s such a shame/waste you’re gay” comments. It’s not easy criticising a passionate friend and ally because he keeps criticising you for being closeted at the Westboro Baptist Church Guns & Flamethrowers exhibition. It’s not easy to criticise the vehement activist and ally who can’t seem to write a story about a gay man who isn’t a fashion designer, hair dresser, florist or interior decorator (and you know skater is going to maker that list in the next few months, don’t you?)

But, if we can’t manage this, then we’re setting ourselves up for a fall. We’re setting ourselves up to be easily bought and easily placated – already the Tory Party is trying to win us over with pretty rhetoric and token gestures and they’re hardly the only ones. We also give support and credence to damaging behaviour, harmful stereotypes and destructive labels – because we’re too unwilling to call out wannabe-allies when they perpetuate them.

This video has some severe privilege in it. Even aside from the “Miss Thang” comment, we have here a (presumably) straight man trying to force a possible gay man out of the closet and CRITICISING him and an actual gay man for not coming out sooner. He calls being outed a “favour” AND he casually dismisses the pain and damage caused by family and friends rejecting a newly out GBLT person.

That is privilege – severe, ignorant privilege. And by ignoring it we are giving it a pass – we are saying that such a casual, dismissive attitude towards the pain of the closet and the dangers of coming out is acceptable – even laudable. It isn’t. It could, very literally, be a case of life and death

I love that he said such supportive things. I love that he accepts gay people as gay people. I love that he respects gay people as gay people and he rejects homophobia. But it is possible to love that and at the same time say that he has made some mistakes there

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Time to get back into the swing of things with a blast of good news.

We need this, we spend – and I certainly spend – far too much time seeing the bad. And we have to see the bad – we truly do have to see the bad so we can combat it, we can work against it and we can see how awful things still are and where the attacks are still coming from. It’s vital we do not turn our back on this suffering, it’s vital we don’t pretend this isn’t happening

But at the same time it’s soul destroying. It’s painful to see the bad stuff every day without reminding ourselves there are victories as well. Sometimes it’s necessary to remind ourselves we are winning this, slowly but surely we are winning.

Mayor of Turin, Italy symbolically marries a Lesbian couple. Yes it’s not legal, but this man is an ally and trying. Respect due.

While the Atlanta gay bar police raid is a complete trainwreck and justice seems to be the last thing on the police’s mind, at least the Atlanta City Council seems interested in pursuing justice.

Mexico City makes both gay marriage AND gay adoption legal. Our families have value and are due respect, it is always a joy to see them honoured as such. It is especially a joy to see this step forward in a country that is so religious. Congratulations to the new marriages that will follow.

There has been a second gay marriage in Argentina. Step by step, moving forwards :)

In a ruling that could have massive effect across Europe – the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that you cannot discriminate against gay couples ruling that Poland could not treat an unmarried homosexual couple any worse than an unmarried heterosexual couple. While it certainly doesn’t open the door to gay marriage – it does strike a strong blow against homophobia, homophobic discrimination and homophobic family discrimination across all the nations that have signed up to the ECHR. This could be big.

In Western Australia 2 trans men have won a major case forcing recognition of their true gender without having to have organs that allow them to bear children removed. A step forwards – not perfect but still a step forwards.

Gay Marriage and Gay adoption laws pass the first round of hearing in Slovenia’s Parliament *Hopes* let this be another step

After a long battle and much flouncing from the religious right, withdrawl of charity services and almost legendary flouncing by the oh-so-loving Catholic church and even a last minute run to the Supreme Court to try and stop it – gay marriage is legal in Washinton DC.  Congratulations all you loving new spouses.

Though Maryland will not perform same-sex marriages – they have moved a step in the right direction by recognising same-sex marriages that occur in other states. Another step forwards :) Every step counts.

And closer to home – the House of Lords has backed removing the prohibition against religious wording and religious buildings being used for gay ceremonies. Good – as I’ve said before, why should Christians dictate MY religious choices? Naturally the Anglican church is huffing at people daring not to submit to their religious dictates. Now if the parties involved and the religions involved WISH to include religion in their same-sex union, they may do so.

And in the relief section of the news – 2 desperate attempts to gut the Equality bill in the House of Lords have been stopped – both of which would have allowed religious based discrimination and bigotry to be allowed even outside of churches. This would have rendered all the homophobic elements of the Equality Act completely and utter unenforceable – anyone claiming a religious basis to their hatred could discriminate freely. I find myself in near complete agreement with Baroness Murphy when she said “I do not doubt that that is not the intention of my noble and learned friend Lady Butler-Sloss, but these amendments are deeply, offensively, homophobic.” I disagree in that I do not think Lady Butler-Sloss is noble and I don’t have any doubt at all that she is a homophobe.

There are good things – we could all do to remember it when faced with all the bad

sparkindarkness: (STD)

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

This is probably going to be less reasoned than my average post. Largely because it comes from a whole lot of anger that has roiled in me.

I am so very tired of being told how to be me. I am tired of being told how to be a man. I am tired of being told how to be gay. I am tired of being afraid of “doing it wrong” and I deeply regret the foolish things I’ve done in the past in an attempt to “conform” to some standard.

I am a man. All I need is what is in my head that tells me I am male. I am not any less of a man because I am gay. Yes I’m short and yes I’m slight. I’m not going to bulk up in the gym because it would look awful on me. My slight stature doesn’t make me less manly. I’m not going to cut my long hair to fit some narrow definition of what a man is supposed to be, because men don‘t have long hair.

I like to look good, though I eschew fashion labels, I’m not going to wear stained rags because it’s somehow more “manly” to look like a tramp. I’m not going to pretend interest in sport (well, any sport that doesn’t involve speedos anyway) because that’s what “real men” do. I’m not going to be fascinated by DIY or sports cars or power tools and I still think BBQs are a damned inefficient way of cooking. I will not feign interest in “manly” things to conform to how a man “should“ be.

I look back and regret the times I avoided cooking – because a man didn’t cook and if I cooked it would be proof of how gay men weren‘t real men. I regret the tedious hours I spent trying to garner the slightest interest in sports – because I feared failing as a man. I remember the endless doubt and shame about my clothes, about my appearance about my hobbies. I wouldn’t discuss my taste in music, even with close friends, for fear that my taste would reveal me to be less than a true man, that it would show that I was the homo, the poof, the queer, the fag.

I reject a ridiculously narrow standard of what it means to be a man. I reject that a man must meet these foolish, harmful standards. And when I don’t meet that standard, it’s not because I’m gay. It’s not because a gay man is less of a man. My “effeminate” or “less manly” behaviour or tastes most certainly does not somehow prove some trait about gay men everywhere. I am my own person and it is an absurdity to infer anything about other gay men by my actions.

I am a gay man. The fact I am a man solely attracted to other men, and that I identify as gay is enough to make me a gay man.  I am not any less gay because I am not flamboyant enough. I am not closeting myself because I don’t wear glitter or rainbows or pink (pink? I look AWFUL in pink). I am not refusing to embrace my gayness by not wanting to wear drag. My monogamous life and preference for monogamy is not some kind of betrayal of what it means to be GBLT. It doesn’t make me a wanna-be heterosexual. My domestic partnership (gah I hate that ridiculous term – my MARRIAGE as it should be) doesn’t make me somehow not truly gay.

I am gay by all pertinent definition. Trying to force us into a horrendously narrow box of a series of connected stereotypes is damaging and insulting to all of us. We are more than this, we are greater than this – we run the full range of all things human. You can’t squeeze us into a tiny box – we don’t fit and you’ll hide so much of us – that which you don’t cut away to force us in.

I am a gay man. By definition I am doing it right – both being gay and being male. Because that is WHO I am. You can’t tell me someone else does it better, knows it better or that I am somehow doing it wrong. I can’t get being me wrong.

I don’t need instructions for being me.

And all being me tells you about… is me. No-one else. Just me.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

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

There are many things I could say about privilege – but most have them have already been said and in far more eloquent manner than I ever could. I sometimes think the “Invisible Knap Sack” series and “Privilege 101″ checklists should be required reading for the populace.

One of the things all these posts have in common is that they try to teach people how to understand privilege – understand and acknowledge it’s existence, which is vital.

But I’m going to address a different element of privilege:

Being privileged makes you ignorant. Not only does it make you ignorant – it makes you IRREVERSIBLY ignorant. When you are privileged, there are some things you simply cannot understand – no matter how much research, how much effort and how much work you put into this. The mere presence of privilege makes it impossible to understand some of the aspects of marginalisation. No matter how much of an ally you are – it doesn’t mean you are not privileged and it certainly doesn’t mean you are immune to privileged ignorance.

Recently there was a statistic (isn’t there always?) saying that 36% of people in the UK think homosexuality is wrong (which you then have to factor in to “36% of people in the UK are willing to ADMIT they think homosexuality is wrong.”) It was another depressing statistic in a long line of depressing (and likely meaningless, skewed and inaccurate) statistics, but it came back to me while I was in town doing some emergency lunch break shopping (because, y’know writing milk down on the shopping list when you empty the bottle is apparently such a challenging and taxing task – but I digress) and it hit me that I was surrounded by scores of people, nearly all of which would be straight. And I thought “a third of the people around you think your love, you life, your very being is wrong.”

And I was scared. I had a moment of panic. I checked my reflection in a nearby shop window to see if I had somehow sprouted rainbows or some other clear sign of gayness, tucked my hair into my jacket and hurried back to the office to come to my senses – and to wallow in shame at succumbing to the instinct to hide yet again.

I discussed this with my friend, a straight ally. And he told me how foolish I was and how silly gay people were to hide. He told me at great length how he thought homophobia would end tomorrow if all closeted gay people were to come out and reminded me repeatedly that I had sworn not to hide anymore and how stupid it was to be scared all the time.

Basically, a classic case of privilege blinkers, even from someone who tries to be an ally. He knows that gay people are attacked and abused, but he’s never lived it, he’s never been attacked, he’s never known the fear. He doesn’t understand the need to be on guard or what it’s like to be so very careful all the damn time. He has heard of, but doesn’t understand the risks and personal costs of coming out.

In another incident, I was discussing various marginalisations and was told, “you’re ok, gay people can hide.” In one simple sentence, the whole destructive and toxic element of the closet was glossed over and ignored – even lauded as a good thing. The endless lies and acting, the repression and self-hate, the legacy of trying to “change” gays were all happily brushed away.

And, going back to my university days, where our local GBLT society was overrun by well meaning but almost comically clueless straight “allies.” They spent an unbelievable amount of time lobbying the university to move our discreet, relatively out of the way office, to a larger more prominent location – all the while the actual GBLT people were saying “some of us are closeted. Some of us need the privacy, some of us appreciate the discretion.” but they didn’t listen – they were too busy telling us what we wanted. They were all allies, people I’d call allies (well, maybe not the university gang. But they tried to be) they all spent a lot of time trying to reach out to GBLT people; however, they still didn’t understand

So what does this mean?

Aye I actually have a point – not just rambling away (though I do so like a ramble). My point is that this ignorance is important and no matter how much of a friend you are, how intense an ally or how hard you try – that ignorance will remain. And that’s not a bad thing, but it means that you will always be an outsider and never truly get it

This means that you don’t know better than we do about what does and does not offend us – or what should or should not offend us. Sure, marginalised people can make mistakes – but they’re more likely to be right than privileged people.

That means that if a marginalised person is hurt or angry or sad by prejudice – and even if you don’t know why – they probably have a reason. Belittling, questioning or demeaning or minimising their hurt is not ok – and certainly unworthy of an ally. Questioning their reaction is unfair, demanding they act or react a different way is grossly wrong. You do not know the cost. You do not understand how difficult it is, the courage it takes.

That means that you have to tread hellaciously carefully if you have a criticism of the marginalised community as a whole (and, y’know, probably better not to. Because you’re in severe danger of sweeping statements there) or their fight for rights in particular. No-one needs to hear what a white person thinks all black people need to do. No-one is particularly eager to hear what a straight person thinks gays are doing wrong. That doesn’t mean there can’t be legitimate criticism – but there’s a very very good chance that you are stomping big ignorant boots all over someone’s sore spots.

That means don’t tell them what they need or want (or should need or want). They know.

Hmmm, this is longer than I expected (and didn’t include nearly as many digs about Beloved not putting milk on the shopping list as I intended. Which he didn’t. And ruined my coffee) but ultimately it comes back to the first rule of allydom:

Listen more than you talk and follow, do not lead.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

This video dropped upon in my to do pile from several sources.

It’s a CBS ‘documentary’ from 1967 on the “HOMOSEXUALS” naturally, it’s triggery and down right unpleasant.

For once Beloved actually looked over my shoulder to see what I was watching, cringed and said “don’t we have enough shit today without looking at past shit?” (I didn’t marry him for his eloquence. Or his fish. Or him not putting milk on the shopping list). Why did I want to look at a video showing how bad things were?

Except, this isn’t just history. This isn’t the Norman Conquest or the Civil War. We’re not talking an event that happened over 3 centuries ago.  This video was made in 1967 – that’s hardly a long time ago. In fact, it was only in 1967 that gay sex became legal in England. That cannot be said enough – sodomy laws in the UK were still on the books in 1967. Gay sex was illegal in 1967. This was within living memory – and I don’t mean in a World-War-1-some-extremely-old-people-with-the-Queen’s-Telegram-can-remember-it, living memory (though, certainly historical events that are centuries old can have major present effects). I mean in the lifetime of my parents.  Scotland didn’t legalise gay sex until 1980. Northern Ireland not until 1982 – I was born in 1981, this happened in my relatively short lifetime. It wasn’t until 2000 that the age consent was equalised (and the bizarre restriction on gay threesomes was removed) I remember that. I remember the SCREAMING MEEMIES the haters had over it. I remember mainstream newspapers printing stories about gay predators seeking out children.

There are people alive today who were arrested and convicted under this law. These people were persecuted by this law, their lives derailed and damaged by this law. How different would their lives have been – lives of people still living. There are literally people today with “buggery” on their criminal records – who have to declare that. Consensual gay sex is STILL appearing on criminal records. That’s not ancient history. That’s not something we can brush over. That’s not something we can pretend happened in a different time to different people.

You can’t pretend it’s a long time ago. It wasn’t – and not only does it leave stains of vileness like that faced by Mr. Crawford, not only does it cause heroes like Alan Turing to be largely removed from the pages of history – but it is still very much a part of our daily lives.

Major, virulent and legal homophobia was not a thing of the past – its vilest forms were common within our lifetimes. This isn’t a historical context – this is today’s context.

We’re not so far away from these times of acceptable hatred to be safe. We’re not so far away from them that we can be so sure we’d never go back to them. We’re not living in a new age or a new era. We’re not looking at the quaint vagaries of a more backward age. We’re looking at our lifetimes, our parent’s lifetimes, the lifetimes of the people in power and the people who are trying to destroy us. This isn’t a distant THEN, this is still very much a relevant NOW.

When the haters spout off their vile rhetoric, they are speaking in this context – because such hatred was the norm such a short time ago – and this is what they wish to return to. Because this is what they remember. And pushing us back to it wouldn’t involve going back all that far.

And that is frightening. We’ve come a long way in a short time – but the time is short and we haven’t left the hatred behind. This isn’t yesterday’s hatred. This isn’t yesterday’s bigotry

sparkindarkness: (STD)

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

Children are too young to learn about ANY kind of sexuality. It’s a common refrain, when you discuss teaching children about homosexuality or homophobia. Children are too young for that. Too vulnerable. Too young to understand. They’re not homophobic, they hasten to add, oh no, they don’t want to teach kids about ANY sexuality! And that includes heterosexuality!

And I really want to know where the idea came from that you DIDN’T teach sexuality (and gender identity) to your 5, 8, 10, 14 (or however old you think is too frail to hear about the GBLT folk) year old?

Do they have a mother and father? A grandmother and grandfather? Aunts and uncles? How many couples do they know, how many husbands and wives in nicely matched pairs? How many boyfriends and girlfriends?

How many times have you spoken about “when they grow up?” How many times does that involve a partner of the opposite gender? Ever spoken about future wives/husbands?

Do you tease them and make little jokes? When you see him with a female friend do you tease him “is that your girlfriend?” Do you ask the same about his male friends?

Do they watch television? Do they see an endless stream of heterosexuals and heterosexual couples? From animated movies to those dreadfully dull child-friendly fluff – how many of them have heterosexuality craftily inserted in there? Even Peanuts had (straight, naturally) love interests!

Do they read books? How many princes rescue princesses? How many children have a mummy and a daddy? How many boy friends and girl friends are there? Even Goldilocks had a mummy bear and a daddy bear. Beauty met the Beast – but Beast was always a guy and Beauty was always a girl. The kiss that woke Sleeping Beauty was never from another woman, Prince Charming never rode to Prince Even-More-Charming’s rescue.

Do they go to school? Do they learn about history – with kings married to queens? With great men – and their wives? Lots of heterosexual partners presented week after week? Do they study English and literature – and again see man and woman, eternally linked and assumed again and again and again? Have they studied religion? Do they go to church?

Have you told them there are clothes for boys and clothes for girls? Does you son wear a dress? Does he wear pink? Does your daughter play with dolls that need burping and putting to sleep, or dolls with guns? Does she get an easy bake oven or a transformer?

Were his baby blankets blue? Were hers pink?

Does mummy do the housework? Does daddy fix the car?

See, I was taught about heterosexuality and “proper” gender presentation from a very very young age. It was taught by my family, by my friends, by my teachers, by my books and by the TV. It glared out from every corner. The lessons were impossible to miss. It was impossible NOT to learn about sexuality. Only it was never my sexuality – never me. Only “appropriate” sexuality.

And do you even begin to realise how long and how hard it was to unlearn all that?

We teach sexuality from the cradle, from the very second they open their eyes we force these lessons on our children. But so some of our kids those lessons are just plain wrong, and for the rest they just teach them that we don’t exist.

You already teach kids sexuality – but you don’t tell them the whole story and that ignorance can hurt all of them – and it certainly hurts us.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

There has been a poll recently that is most curious.

It seems 59% of responders on this CBS poll support homosexuals into the military.
However, 70% of the SAME PEOPLE support gays and lesbians in the military.

Ok, let’s take a moment to despair of humanity. Yes yes, people really are that stupid.

I remind myself that the fools in this poll may represent Palin supporters and we can’t expect reality based thinking.

I think it’s a great lesson about how dubious statistics are and how easily they can be manipulated and twisted (another good example is on that poll about gay men and open relationship examined by the ever excellent Box Turtle Bulletin) and how even the language of a question can make all the difference in the oddest of ways.

There has been a debate in some GBLT circles about the use of the word “homosexual.” They point out – rightly – that it is clinical, that it was originally used as a word to diagnose a mental illness that,  and that, like the term “same sex attraction/SSA” (a phrase I don’t like) and “men who have sex with men/msm” (another phrase I’m not mad keen on) it overly emphasises our sex lives.

Still, I’ve always used the word. Partially because I haven’t yet found a good synonym I like for “homosexuality” (gayness? Um, no.) also because I use the word “heterosexual” because I’ve done a lot of mental running around with the term “straight.” Which is a good word – except the opposite of straight is “bent” which is, of course, an anti-gay slur. Still, I think straight has divorced itself from that and now stands well on its own.

So the point of all this musing? Well, I’ve used homosexual and generally not given much time or thought on the matter – I’ve known people had objections, even conceded them as valid, but at the same time considered it to be an issue of general indifference and rather supreme unimportance. Gods, it’s still nigh impossible to convince people not to drop “fag” left right and centre – let alone using “gay” as a generic negative descriptor (if 2 days can go by without me hearing that, it’d be a first. Actually 1 day would be kind of nice) and you want to start on “homosexual“?

And now it’s been raised again, and I’ve been thinking, especially thinking about the fact I don’t actually DISAGREE with anything they have said about the word ‘homosexual’ but I don’t agree with their vehemence on the issue.

Am I going to get offended by the word? No. That’s foolish. It doesn’t offend me and never has. To suddenly start pretending it does offend me will dilute my stance on slurs that do truly annoy, hurt, insult and offend me. And I going to push others to stop using “homosexual“? Also no. I think the word is adequate – it has problems but it’s in no way in the “ZOMG NEVER SAY THAT EVAH!” category.

Am I going to stop using it? Probably. Though, in truth, I read one blog comment on it that asked me to put it in a sentence – and I realised in a SPOKEN sentence, I couldn’t. I just don’t say it. I have never said “I am a homosexual” I’ve always said “I am gay.” It’s an idiosyncrasy of  writing, not speech. But yes I’ll probably stop using the word. Not, it has to be said, due to this poll directly (because polls and statistics are so very very very messy and because, well, a bunch of fools who are in dire need of a thesaurus and a good slapping are not going to change my word use) but because the poll has raised the old debate and the people who DON’T like the word “homosexual” have very good points I agree with – albeit I’m not nearly as vehement as they are.

I don’t think it’s a BAD word (though it has a bad history – but which gay descriptor DOESN’T? – and is overly clinical and/or sexual) just that “gay” and “lesbian” are better words.

Still habit is habit and, as I said, I’m not so bothered by the word to make a huge conscious effort not to use it but, in general?

So yes I’ll probably be using more “gay” and “lesbian” and less “homosexual.”


sparkindarkness: (Default)

April 2015

262728 2930  


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags