Mar 282011
 

Why am I gay? Why, oh why, oh why? Gnashing of gums, wailing and crying … etc.

You may as well ask why am I white? Or male? Or a pompous prick? None of these questions really admits of an answer deeper than “because” … and neither does the question of the cause, or root, or why and wherefore of my homosexuality.

Do I believe our sexuality is an innate trait, laid down for us in the genetic makeup of our very beings? Yes, I’d have to accept that as the most likely reason. Can I rule out environmental factors; upbringing, pollution, pregnant women with a 40-a-day Mayfair habit? Of course I can’t. I’m not a biologist, and even if I were, those questions haven’t been answered definitively!

Perhaps of more interest would be to ask why this question is still being asked? Why does it matter why I’m (or anybody else is) gay? The answer to those questions may be more valuable than a final determination that a certain combination of amino acids led inexorably to my preference for chaps!

Obviously, the reason that the questions are asked is that it is still not seen as “normal” to be gay. Even those who are “tolerant” or “accepting” of homosexuality – words which in and of themselves indicate the basic discomfort of the people who use them – don’t actually feel on a visceral level that we are normal. That doesn’t mean their judgment extends to considering us wrong, immoral or evil – necessarily. But it reflects an “us and them” attitude which, even if not operating on a conscious level, influences a huge range of behaviours and beliefs.

This outlook is on a par with “I’m not racist, but …” or “some of my best friends are black”. The very act of distinguishing denotes the separation in the mind of the person speaking. “There’s nothing wrong with being gay … but why do they have to shove it down our throats?” or “I don’t mind homosexuals … but marriage is between a man and a woman”. It’s all the same shit, different shovel!

I’m not arguing for some undifferentiated pablum world in which we are all the same and Benetton ads are far more monochromatic. I’m not saying that we should live without acknowledging that we are different; among other things, it would be awful to hit on a straight guy and be unable to understand his reticence!

I am, however, arguing that the question “why” – beloved of two year olds the world over – is in this context probably a bad thing. Asking why someone is gay, or black, or female … implies a judgment. Or possibly even disapproval. Until we can move past that, asking why can cause nothing but harm.

So if anyone asks me why I am gay, I can only have one response.

Why not?

Full magazine here.

Sep 202010
 

Please, do visit this site, and do what you can to support the cause – everyone can hold someone’s hand, and moment by moment, we can move to change the way society sees same sex couples!

A Day In Hand announces 1st anniversary of (Same-sex hand holding) Sshh! Saturdays
Saturday 25th September 2010

“If you want to live in a world where you can hold your partner’s hand in the street….
hold your partner’s hand in the street.”

David Watkins, Founder, A Day In Hand

Same Sex Hand Holding

Live your love

Please celebrate the anniversary with us!

Where?
The World. Wherever you are.
When?
Saturday September 25th. Anytime you like.
What?
Hold hands with someone of the same gender. Whoever they may be.
Step outside. Take a picture. Email toyourstories@adayinhand.com.
Go for a walk. Don’t let go. Live your love. Note your surprise… when nothing happens.
Don’t ignore your survival instincts, but don’t be oppressed by them either.

SSHH

The site is at: http://www.adayinhand.com/news/1stanniversaryofsshhsat

Oh …. and something that makes me very pleased personally ….

David Miliband


Aug 012010
 

This month’s theme – whether or not the gay print media still have a role – seems an odd one to be set by a gay print magazine. It’s a little like Shell asking whether or not we really still need petrol! Still, a little self-contemplation can be a good thing, as long as we avoid navel-gazing.

Gay magazines and papers are no longer needed, so runs the argument, because the so-called mainstream press now reports gay issues regularly. While this is true, as far as it goes, I don’t think I wish to rely on the Daily Mail to bring me news so important to me! Of course, that particular bile-spewing rag is not representative of the whole of Fleet Street, but it does serve as a reminder of an important consideration; for the most part, the “mainstream” media are reporting ABOUT us, not for or to us. This distinction is important.

After all, the mainstream press is precisely that – mainstream. Its audience encompasses a wide range of views, admittedly, but all generally fairly close to one another on the continuum. For example, people who read the dailies may disagree over gay marriage, but it’s likely that few, if any, would propound the burning of faggots at the stake!

All well and good; let’s be thankful we’ve achieved so much, close down the GScene offices, cancel the subscription to Attitude and spend the last of OutRage!’s funds on a retirement shindig for Peter Tatchell. Aren’t our laurels a lovely place to rest?

Suppose, however, that public opinion changes; the centre shifts, mainstream mood moves and our hard –fought –for –and –won rights become abominations. Who, then, will champion our cause? To have to start from scratch could be as damaging as appointing Jan Moir head of the Human Rights Commission! We are, and should be, happy with and proud of all that has been achieved, and the progressive and liberal reality of modern day Britain. But we should not become complacent, and forget that we are where we are because people fought for our rights.

It is said that a population is never truly free, without a free press. Neither, I contend, is a gay population free without a free gay press.

 

 

May 162010
 

Hmmm …. was somewhat relieved in the aftermath of the election, and the cobbled together coalition, that there was no sign of Chris Grayling MP or Phillipa Stroud in the cabinet. Perhaps the Lib Dems really were exerting a moderating influence on the “same old nasty party”.

Not, apparently, so. Without fanfare, announcement or acknowledgement of what utter shits the two of them are, he is appointed a Minister of State and she becomes a “special advisor”, both reporting to Iain Duncan Smith.

These sickening homophobes don’t deserve even to be heard by government, let alone to be active at its heart. Please, visit my petition to remove them and sign it!

May 012010
 
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”
Doubtless many of us were told to recite this to ward of the nefarious attentions of attentions of taunting classmates. If only the mantra were true! Sadly, as all of us now know, often it’s words that cut the deepest and leave the nastiest scars.
Personally, I have been gay bashed in the past – a fairly horrific, painful and upsetting experience. But, an experience with which I’ve been able to deal, and move on. A physical assault is direct, up front and – in its own way – honest. To me, bullying is something different, nastier … more insipid and hidden. Its effects less immediately obvious perhaps, but painful nonetheless, and a pain which is cumulative. Rather than dealing with the pain and then moving on, the victim of a bully often relives the misery over and over, each time adding to the suffering.
As a nation, we seem finally to be waking up to the fact that it’s not “just” bullying, something which “everyone goes through” and that a stiff upper lip and Anglo-Saxon stoicism aren’t the answer to it all. This is a good thing, but it’s not enough.
It’s not overkill to repeat some familiar statistics – 51% of gay men and 30% of lesbians were bullied physically at school, compared with 47% and 20% of straights. Add to that the fact that 50% of LGB adults who have been bullied a school contemplated self-harm or suicide and 40% have made at least one attempt. The list could go on, but it’s not really necessary; they should be shocking enough. The distressing thing is that we’re not shocked by these facts any more. The familiar statistics are all too familiar. And familiarity can breed contempt, or at least, disinterest.
Why do we carry on this way? We should be in absolute uproar at the horrific conditions in which LGBT youth are still growing up – instead, we seem to laugh it off. After all, many of us lived through it … perhaps we don’t see why the next generations shouldn’t? But in that outlook, we’re overlooking both the impact that bullying has on the individuals involved, and the reinforcement of the implicit acceptability of homophobia to the general public.
Surely we ought to want to continue the trend of the world getting better for our community – our goal should really be to leave behind a world where the possibility of homophobic bullying simply doesn’t exist, as no-one could conveive of a reason for such bigotry. Dismiss it as a utopian, pie in the sky, dream if you wish – but as you do, remember that many of the rights we now hold and cherish, were equally unimaginable not so long ago. Many people still remember dreaming a dream not dissimilar to today, so why not dream?
Apr 092010
 

Yes, I’m worried about the outcome – cards on the table time, I’m staunchly pro-Labour, and think Gordon Brown has been treated despicably by the media at large. I’m not blind to the problems that have occurred, and I’m certainly not going to attempt to justify the Iraq Invasion as some sort of legal war – however, major cock up though that may have been, it’s one glitch. Overall, both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have led a government whose focus has always been fairness, improving the lot of everyone and – crucially from my point of view – a serious commitment to LGBT / gay rights.

Let’s take a moment to look at what that has involved:

Since Labour became Government, it has:

  • achieved an equal age of consent;
  • ended the ban on LGBT people serving in our armed forces;
  • ended discrimination against Lesbian & Gay partners for immigration purposes;
  • given LGBT individuals and couples the right to adopt children;
  • scrapped the homophobic Section 28 (Clause 2a in Scotland);
  • become a signatory of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which gave the EU powers to end discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation;
  • banned discrimination in the workplace and in vocational training with the introduction of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations;
  • created the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which gives LGBT people statutory body protection;
  • included homophobia in the definition of hate crimes;
  • increased sentencing for homophobic hate crimes;
  • removed outdated offences such as gross indecency and buggery;
  • produced and implemented the Gender Recognition Act, allowing Trans people to have their true gender recognised in law;
  • created the Civil Partnerships, allowing LGB people to have their loving relationships recognised by law and have most of the same benefits as married couples;
  • outlawed discrimination in good and services (with no exceptions);
  • launched a campaign in the UN for the Decriminalisation of Homosexuality focusing on the nine countries where it is still punishable by death;
  • awarded statutory rights for fertility treatment for Lesbians on the NHS.

A quick visit to mygayvote will show the difference between the Tories’ voting record and that of the Lib Dems and Labour. How any person in the LGBT community could vote for the Tories remains an utter mystery to me – a veneer of presentability, Cameron’s chameleonic adapting of whatever “position” or “belief” seems best to increase his chances of attaining power, and the great swathes of dark, evil, bigoted, hate filled, selfish and closed-minded members of the same old nasty party … is there no gratitude for what has been done by this Government? No recognition that in some cases past performance MAY be an indicator of future performance in this case? The Tories, the party of discrimination, of special interests, of greed-is-good politics, versus the Labour party which has consistently championed and supported us.

So, please vote – and as a preference, please vote LABOUR!

(With thanks to Trevor Love)
Apr 072010
 
“How MUCH”!?
That’s the unfortunate reaction to a quote I received recently from a “green” moving company. Offset this, reduce that, blah blah blah … the bottom line was we couldn’t really afford to assuage our carbon footprint guilt when we considered all the other costs involved in moving.
But this led me to think, why do we care about our impact on the environment? After all, most of us don’t have kids, so there isn’t really a future generation for us to worry about directly. The “children’s children” argument is only ever going to be at least one degree of separation away from us.
So what do we have left? Selfless concern for others? Possibly, but more likely we do it to salve our collective consciences and make us feel slightly better about our rapacious greed. And as a result of being such good, and green, boys and girls, we are able to feel slightly smug and self-satisfied.
That on its own isn’t really incentive enough to make major decisions, though, is it? When my partner and I moved to Brighton originally from London almost two years ago, we were well aware that commuting by train for work was going to have an effect on our carbon footprint. For us to offset our annual 3.07 tonnes of carbon released as a result of this travel would cost £49 through “Certified Emissions Reduction”; not an earth-shattering sum, but it has to come from somewhere. So, having thought about offsetting, and meaning to get around to it some time, we … haven’t. Yet more good intentions with no impetus to follow through.
Of course, trains aren’t the bogeymen of public transport; in fact, they’re considered relatively green. The real moustache-twirling villain of the piece is the aeroplane or, more accurately, incredibly low airfares. Stupendously low. Ridiculously low!
When it costs more to travel to the airport than it does subsequently to fly off to sunnier climes, something must be a little skew-iff!
However, after over a half a century of easier and cheaper flights, there has developed a sense of entitlement to such opportunities for travel. A presumption, the denial of which would cause people to feel aggrieved, regardless of the fact that such possibilities are a relatively recent development, undreamt of in earlier generations. The vast majority of people feel they could no more do without their fortnight of fun in the sun than they could water, oxygen, food or, say, a double soya no foam decaf lattè.
So, how do we move forward, past indolence and indignation?
The only method certain to achieve its goals is to take away the responsibility from the individual, much as it may sit ill with the British psyche. A universal carbon tax, which reflects the true cost, is the answer. Hitting people’s wallets, and showing separately how much the carbon which their activities generate costs them in cold, hard cash, would be guaranteed to reduce emissions. After all, you’re less likely to make those unnecessary trips if you look at the price and think:
“How MUCH”!?