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Posts Tagged ‘gay’

– Odd how there’s always an argument from somewhere that we should be taking less money away from rich people, on the grounds that they’ll end up giving more back to us that way somehow anyway.

Pro-life love, from another angle.

– Oh look, something I can agree with Obama on. Assuming Santorum’s not just talking gibberish again.

– Burzynski still hasn’t provided any data that his treatments can actually do anything to fight cancer. But thanks to his overly trusting patients’ continued generosity, the guy’s doing alright for himself.

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– If, like I was, you’ve been wondering what Herman Cain’s been doing with his time since his presidential campaign was abandoned, well, here’s your answer. Avant-garde performance art. Inspiring. (h/t Ed Brayton)

Minimalist poster designs representing mental disorders. Nifty.

Science is broken. It’s still the best we have, but our current practice of peer review and replicating blinded studies leaves a lot to be desired, in terms of its capacity to filter out biases and errors. More at Heterodoxology.

– Conservatives have often complained about being put in the incredibly awkward and uncomfortable situation of having to explain homosexuality to their children, because of how those gays keep adamantly existing with no regard for anyone else’s feelings. Truly, this is a nightmare scenario.

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There’s been an ongoing petition for some time to have an official pardon granted to Alan Turing.

Turing was a mathematical genius who basically won World War II (I’m abridging the full story a tad), and was then convicted on a charge of gross indecency due to being in a gay relationship. He agreed to undergo a process of chemical castration, the only alternative being prison, and committed suicide a couple of years later.

As much as an official pardon would be nice, and well overdue, there has been a question of whether it’s really worth pushing for it now. It’s far late for it to do him any good, after all, and he did receive a formal apology in 2009 from then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Still, some people considered the formal pardon worth pressing for, and gathered 23,000 signatures in an online petition, which the House of Lords finally responded to on Monday.

By turning it down.

Which is a bit weird. I mean, I wasn’t entirely sure whether the campaign was really worth it myself, or whether there weren’t better ways by now for us to make progress toward LGBT equality and whatnot. But to have the thing in front of you and turn it down? To have reached the point where you’re obliged to make a decision, do we pardon Alan Turing or not, and your answer is no?

What the hell, Justice Minister Lord McNally?

A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence.

Right…

You do know that the criminal offence he was “properly” convicted of was, basically having a boyfriend? I mean, yes it may have been a criminal offence at the time, but… that was back when we were a bit rubbish about gay people. We’ve got better since then. Can we not all agree that forcing chemical castration on someone because of their same-sex attraction was, y’know, wrong, even back then when we thought it was a good idea?

No? Fair enough.

Way to stay relevant, Lords.

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– A new proposal in the States suggests that health services will be expected to do their job, regardless of the religious affiliation of the people working there. Outrageous. They’ll be telling us we can’t let a bunch of strangers rape our daughters, next.

– Do Christians really love Jesus?

– “My pain is not caused because I am gay. My pain was caused by how I was treated because I am gay.” – a teenager who recently committed suicide, after his parents tried to exorcise the gay out of him, then threw him out of the house.

– Julianne Moore is completely awesome, but if she ends up making me like Sarah Palin, I will never forgive her.

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So it was National Gay-Straight Alliance Day recently, and as has started to feel like an increasingly regular occurrence lately, I had to go and find some way to oppose this perfectly sensible effort to foster acceptance and compassion.

I haven’t followed the campaign and its associated activities much, so I don’t really know how people spent the day who were noting it. It’s not like there isn’t work for LGBT equality that needs to be done, and I’ve no doubt that a lot of people in “gay-straight alliances” are doing it well.

But the way it’s framed seems misjudged to me. It makes it sound like Gay and Straight are the only two camps available, and that they’re momentarily putting aside their grievances and forming a truce, despite the unavoidable distinction that will always exist between them.

Which I’m sure isn’t what they’re really trying to imply; the actual details on the site do talk about other groups beyond “Gay”, and suggest that their principles should apply “regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity”. It just doesn’t seem like reinforcing the illusion of a strictly binary system of sexuality is something you’d want to do right in the name of your organisation, if all sexualities deserve equality.

Am I being too picky? Obviously I applaud the fundamental intent behind what I suspect most people involved in a GSA are trying to do – promulgate love and compassion, put an end to bigotry based on superficial differences – just like I support the basic sentiment behind liberal drives for higher taxes on the rich – greater rewards and social support for the less well-off labourers and the disadvantaged. But I find myself being rubbed the wrong way by the particular method of marketing tolerance in these “alliances”.

And I can’t stand it when gay people rub me the wrong way.

(I’m so sorry.)

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If you weren’t following the big Obscenity Trial at the start of the year, it’s worth catching up on, either through the defense lawyer‘s own account or that of David Allen Green for the New Statesman.

It concerns the sale of some particular styles of hardcore pornography (described more explicitly at the above links than I’ll go into here), which the Crown Prosecution Service apparently deemed obscene under a 1959 law.

The acts depicted in the DVDs being sold were not illegal. More to the point, they weren’t anything the law has any place passing such judgment on. What concerned the CPS was the potential of the content “to deprave and corrupt” the people who viewed it – referring, presumably, to those unsullied innocents who approached a former sex-worker and specifically requested “extreme BDSM and fisting material”.

The defendant was acquitted on all charges, but it’s dismaying that this law under which he was prosecuted is still in place, and that prosecutors still consider smut-peddlars useful and important targets of their time and resources.

I want to do more, though, than just the usual lip service to the standard liberal argument – that what consenting adults get up to in their own lives is no concern of mine. So much of the discourse around this case, discussing these strange people and their bizarre sexual fetishes, who it’s agreed (perhaps reluctantly) should be tolerated because it’s really none of our business, seems reminiscent of how gay people were talked about until quite recently (and probably still are, in some parts of the world): Whatever unconventional things they want to get up to, it’s their own private business, and it’s not for us to pry into what goes on behind closed doors.

There’s often something about the way this argument is made which continues to pathologise any sexual interests that go beyond the hetero and vanilla. We’re past the point where any decent, right-minded human being has any business thinking homosexuality is an inherent evil, but a common expression of the competing idea – that it’s something different but still basically fine – isn’t exactly the culmination of successful humanist thinking.

Perhaps I should be surprised that, despite my increasing recent interest in cases such as this one, I’ve still never encountered the word “heteronormativity” as regularly as I did when living with several humanities students at University. It doesn’t seem to get so much play in the discussions about sexuality I follow online, and yet the implicit dichotomy between “standard” and “deviant” sexual behaviour is one of the more persistent out-dated ideas around.

I wonder whether the distinction that makes more of a difference isn’t between “my healthy sex life” and “other people’s weird kinky shit”, but between sexual and non-sexual parts of our lives.

A lot of what was on the DVDs that got Michael Peacock in trouble would probably be actively unappealing to me. As a (to within a margin of error) straight male, gay male sex also doesn’t generally match my own interests, and isn’t something I want to spend much time thinking about over breakfast.

But – with apologies to any parents or in-laws of mine who might be reading this – there are sexual things I am into which would still put me off my Corn Flakes if a graphic image poked my brain at the wrong time, and which would provide an undesirable mental image even to other people who don’t find them particularly unusual or surprising.

The important point is less about people being turned on by things that I’m not, and more about people’s capacity to keep their sexuality separate from the non-sexual aspects of their lives.

The old-fashioned fear of homosexuals depended on the perception that their sexuality was something central to their identity, which affected everything else they did, and infused them with an untrustworthy gayness which meant they might start unexpectedly gaying at you, at any moment. Similarly, it might take a special effort of will to divorce the knowledge that someone sells hardcore DVDs from the rest of their personality.

People with uncommonly expressed sexual kinks or fetishes aren’t often credited with being in command of a sexuality that doesn’t intrude on everything else that defines who they are. But given how rarely I hear about what they get up to, compared with the more mundane sex scandals that are rarely out of the news, I’d say straight people are in no place to criticise.

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Last year (or to be more precise, three days ago), I wrote a thing making fun of the Archbishop of Chicago’s concerns that the gay rights movement might be starting to resemble the KKK.

Elly commented:

i think some gay rights organisations/individuals are fascistic to be honest. Many of them tend to serve the interests of middle class white man. They are often prejudiced against less ‘powerful’ minorities and individuals, e.g. bisexual people and trans people.

The incidents around East London Pride and those anti gay stickers involved a lot of racism and Islamaphobia.

AND there are even one or two gay groups calling for a gay nation, a gay only state.

The “gay state” thing is a new one to me, at least outside the realm of obvious satire. It’s certainly not representative of the gay rights movement as a whole, but a book of that name does exist, and from a cursory inspection (which, frankly, is all I have the energy for) it doesn’t seem to be wholly metaphorical. The kind of segregation implied, if you take the title literally, is a terrible idea.

It’s not an opaque or unsympathetic thought process by which some gay people might tire of constantly being belittled and bullied, and eventually become frustrated to the point of abandoning any hope that non-revolutionary acceptance and integration can ever be achieved. There are problems with the gay rights movement that can’t so easily be shunted to the fringe, though.

When I typed “transphobia” into Google just now, the first suffix suggested by autocomplete was “in the gay community”. Do the search yourself, and it’s not hard to find many examples of people battling for rights and acceptance, while seemingly denying the same to other groups of people who you’d think were in a similar boat.

I can’t speak to the nature of the slogans people might have stuck to things during a Pride march, or of the experiences of any gay folk from a minority race, or bisexuals, or trans people, or anyone else who might not have found the gay community to be the refuge they were hoping for. It’s always worth being careful about whether any particular group or subgroup is being systematically edged out, othered, ignored, or discriminated against, even if the movement in question is primarily focused around fostering broader acceptance and tolerance. Perhaps especially then.

However, I didn’t quote the Archbishop in full in my last post, and I think letting him finish his sentence might help with the point I was making (emphasis mine):

You know, you don’t want the Gay Liberation Movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.

And another quote from the Illinois Family Institute:

Cardinal George’s analogy is fair and apt. Many homosexual activists harbor unconcealed hatred for not only the Catholic Church but also for all Protestant denominations that hold orthodox views of homosexuality.

The idea, not just that the Catholic Church as a whole are in danger of being oppressed by a sexual activist group campaigning for greater tolerance and liberty, but that the gay activists are the main problem with this scenario, is what I was aiming to ridicule, and I stand by that.

But, while I’m certainly not condemning or demeaning any movement or organisation based on these concerns at the moment, QRG has a point. The very notion of gay activism becoming oppressive, unwelcoming, or even “fascistic” is not a comically unrealistic one, and is worth watching out for and guarding against.

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