May 242011

This is an obscene transgression of the established constitutional settlement of the UK – and no-one notices!?!?!

The “UK Parliamentary Sovereignty Bill”, currently before Parliament, purports to be able to bind this Parliament’s successors, specifically in Sections 2 and 4:

2 Legal instruments

No Minister of the Crown shall make or implement any legal instrument which—

(a)is inconsistent with this Act; or

(b)increases the functions of the European Union affecting the United

without requiring it to be approved in a referendum of the electorate in the United Kingdom

4 Royal Assent

No Bill shall be presented to Her Majesty the Queen for her Royal Assent which contravenes this Act or amends this Act or which purports so to do except and until the Bill, having been approved by both Houses of Parliament, has also been approved in a referendum of the electorate in the United Kingdom pursuant to an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament.

How?! How can this Parliament modify the method by which a future Parliament can pass a bill into law?

Simple answer; it can’t! If it could, then the entire basis of the rule of law in our system would fall apart! It sickens me that nothing is being done to stop this farrago proceeding, and more so, that there is next-to-no publicity surrounding this bill. Pandering of the worst sort to the most moronic factions of the Daily Mail & Telegraph brigades.


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.

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 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 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”!?
Mar 062010

Canada Dry, by Adam Highway

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Even the framers of that oft-quoted document didn’t really believe what they had written, or at least, not in the way that we today would. So what DOES equality actually mean? Is it a fluid, evolving, abstract thing, whose nature changes over time? Or is it an absolute, an ideal towards which we grope, blindly and optimistically? Are we destined always to live in some Orwellian dystopia, in which all are equal, but some are more equal than others?
Probably not, but it’s a thought!
Do we even want equality? After all, to be equal to is to be the same as something; perhaps we ought to strive rather for parity, or even more prosaically, fairness? Equity rather than equality? Or do we instead accept that equality has come to mean something other than its etymology would suggest, and that this is a commonly agreed and understood meaning? Probably the latter – after all, equality is also the goal between the sexes, though nobody is likely to consider men and women to be the same. (Unless very drunk!)
For my part, I know what I mean by equality. It means a world in which there is no country where it is illegal for my partner and me to share a bed. It means a world in which religious tolerance no longer means sexual intolerance. It means a world in which no person ever has to stop to think whether it is safe, before holding the hand of, or kissing, the person they love. It means a world in which, when Stephen Gately died, Jan Moir’s article, if even written, would have been regarded as, at best, the peddling of prurient and salacious gossip, and at worst as unacceptably insensitive, rude, inappropriate and utterly beyond the pale.
It means, I suppose, a world in which such well-intentioned documents as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the United States’ Bill of Rights, the United Kingdom’s Equality Act and the European Convention on Human Rights are considered outdated.
Equality will finally come when we no longer need anti-discrimination legislation, because the attitudes which they exist to combat have become archaic, and utterly unimaginable.
Equality isn’t being told that you can’t think, say or do something “wrong”. Equality is when nobody would even want to think, say or do that something in the first place.


From – March 2010

Canada Dry March 2010