Tag Archives: gay

Homophobia, Sally Morgan’s Husband and The Society We Must Ensure We Cultivate

12 Oct

A close family member of my partner Dawn’s recently told her there was no such thing anymore as homophobia.  He implied she was being paranoid and that it didn’t exist in modern Britain.  I was strangely comforted and actually shocked at the same time.

I found it bewilderingly comforting that if this was the opinion of a straight, white male from middle class, middle England then maybe it was something he didn’t witness anymore.  Sadly I knew then and I know now that homophobia unfortunately does continue to exist.  It has, in the main just morphed into a mostly hidden and barely uttered form.

Some people’s latent perceptions can actually manifest themselves in a charming way.  Dawn and I are widely referred to wherever we go as “the girls.”  Now far from being offended by this I actually find it quite sweet.  I very much doubt though, if a straight married couple of our age would be called the ‘boy and girl.’

We have as a nation travelled such a long way from those dark days in the sixties when male homosexuality was a criminal act and the eighties when I first acknowledged my own sexuality and witnessed prejudice and hatred on a very wide scale.

In those long gone days at the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties I would often feel intimidated in certain social situations.  Being perceived to be a lesbian, there were many places that you would not eat or drink for fear of garnering some form of  negative attention.  I have to say I certainly don’t feel like that anymore.  There are very few restaurants or pubs even in the most dubious of areas that I would think twice about entering.

I glory in the way life has changed for both me and my compatriots in such a short time.  I am also not stupid or naïve enough to think that some people’s hatreds and prejudices have not just gone underground.  The human race is nothing if not blessed with a tremendously strong sense of self-preservation.  People adapt to the environments they find themselves in.  Many people, who in days gone by would have openly displayed homophobia now don’t for their own self-preservation and social standing.  This does not unfortunately mean that it can’t and will not eventually find it’s way to the surface.

Television psychic and snake oil peddler Sally Morgan’s and her husbands’s vile homophobic outburst is a classic example of this.  Had this repulsive specimen known he was being filmed there was absolutely no way in hell he would have expressed such prejudiced bile to the gentlemen in the video.  It’s not good ‘business’ these days to be homophobic.  But, and here’s the rub, he IS homophobic and his homophobia is ingrained.   If the environment was more supportive of his views of course they would surface again.

So whenever people say to me throwaway comments along the lines of ‘oh nobody cares anymore’  which they often do, I just smile to myself.  No there are many that DO care and are innately prejudice but the society we have built will not accept or tolerate their behaviour|

So my thoughts;   We must Glory, embrace and then celebrate the freedoms we have won and continue to ensure hatred cannot exist.  But, and it’s a big ‘but’, we must never become complacent.  Whilst we cannot always change what is inside people’s hearts.  We can ensure it stays in their hearts and not on the streets.  Let’s keep building a world where the John Morgans are alienated and despised for their hatred

GAYFLAG

MY MEETING WITH FRED PHELPS, AND HIS GAY DOLLS WASHINGTON APRIL 2000

22 Mar

I have spent a great deal of time travelling and visiting America over the last twenty years.  During that time I have met and encountered a great deal of interesting, acclaimed and at time infamous folks.

So it happened that in late April 2000 I came to encounter Fred Phelps.  I was in Washington D.C. for the Equality Rocks concert which was part of the Millennium March on Washington when an estimated one million people marched on the capital for LGBT rights.  Also some friends of ours were going to get married in front of the Lincoln Memorial in a mass protest and celebration of their unions and demanding the right to legally marry.

I had of course heard about Mr Phelps.  Having visited some parts of America that were not particularly gay friendly.  I was aware that there was a religious right wing element that were extremely vocal in it’s opposing of gay rights.  It was something that did not seem so prevalent in the UK and that Phelps was at the forefront of this. Phelps was the chief clown in the circus if you like. His Westboro Baptist Church followers, though small in number received an incredible amount of press attention.

Phelps and his cronies would turn up at any event they felt they could garner press attention for their extreme and repugnant views.  They would rock up at the concerts of gay performers, prom nights with openly gay students, school reunions where a gay celebrity was invited.  Phelps did not miss an opportunity to take his vitriol to all corners of the States.

So it was that April in 2000 that Phelps and his odd band of followers had turned up in Washington in full voice to protest the mass gay marriage/commitment services outside the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.

As soon as I saw him.  I saw a man that was on the verge of madness.  His face was there but his eyes weren’t.  I actually couldn’t stop laughing because despite the ugliness of the words on their placards and the vile bile their mouths spewed.  If this was the worst we had to contend with I knew at that moment that the day was won and that gay rights and the right to marry and live as equals was all but sealed.

I could see that one of my friends who naturally was angry had started to argue with him.  But Phelps loved to be shouted at.  It fed the ego, it fed the madness.  We took her to one side it was just raising her blood pressure and Phelps could eat up this sort of aggression all day and all night he lived on hate.

Then suddenly I saw my partner Dawn approach him.  Dawn is known both for having both a quick temper and always winning an argument by finding the most outlandish thing to say.

I watched with amusement and fascination.  Phelps had two Action Man dolls in his hand or GI Joe dolls as they are known in America.  They had their trousers down and he was trying to simulate gay male sex with the two dolls and yelling at the same time about how homosexuals were all going to hell.

“Why are your two dolls bumming?” Dawn asked him.

“Homosexuality is the curse of the Devil he shrieked”

“Yeah but your dolls are bumming they must be gay, so are you gay and are your dolls going to hell?” She persevered.

He started to look confused.  Probably both at her accent and that she had perceived him as being gay.

“You want to stop doing that, everyone is going to think you are gay if you keep that up and look you seem to know what to do.  You look ridiculous and gay”

Phelps actually stopped “bumming” the dolls.

“Thanks for the laughs, let the dolls get some rest they look shagged out” Dawn said chuckling actually in his face then we both walked off convulsing with mirth.

We have never forgotten that ridiculous man with his sexually active dolls.  Why the hell media paid this fool so much attention is a mystery to me.  Possibly the ratings, the secret pleasure people get in this country from watching something like Benefits Street or somebody morbidly obese getting a gastric band.  Phelps was nothing more than a sideshow clown.  The ugly and demented face of hate.  The very embodiment of intolerance and bigotry.

So share this reminiscence with me.  When, if ever you do think of Phelps, don’t think of him as anything other than a man who stood around on a happy, sunny day and got his Action Man dolls to bum each other.

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AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

17 Sep

It has taken me forty-six years of being on this spinning rock to finally accept that honesty is not always the best policy.

To most that would be an extremely obvious statement of fact, but it is a ‘truism’ I have always railed against, and I still do even though I know a good liar is often more popular than an ‘honest Joe’!

I seem to have been born with the compulsion to always tell the truth.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I have never been deliberately rude, insulting or hurtful to anybody, I loathe people that make entirely unsolicited comments on other people’s appearance; weight, height, clothing, hair, etcetera, that is just the peak of ill breeding and bad manners.   No the problem for me is when anybody actively seeks my honest opinion, then unfortunately I always seem to end up in big trouble.

I remember as a child of six, my father had spent the entire Saturday afternoon at a neighbour’s house, having a drinking competition with his friend who just happened to be a retired naval officer and who could quite possibly have drank Dylan Thomas under the table, it didn’t end at all well for dad!

My father returned home absolutely, totally, unreservedly, pissed!  He then, to the horror of my mother, lay down on the living room floor, beneath the coffee table with the dodgy leg and within seconds was in a comatose state.  My mother was absolutely horrified, and left him to sleep on the living room floor for the rest of the evening, not even putting a vestige of soft furnishings beneath his head.

A few minutes after I had realised, that dad wasn’t waking up and that mum was not coming down the stairs again either,  the doorbell rang, at the door was the elderly lady who lived a few doors down the street she also happened to be a member of the church we attended every Sunday.  “Is your dad in dear”?  She enquired sweetly.  So, without hesitation I gave her the truth. “He is lying on the floor in the lounge because he is drunk and mum can’t come to the door because she is really angry with him she has gone upstairs and I think she is crying too”!

I didn’t really think anything more about our caller until the next day with an apologetic father and a now forgiving mother, seated in the kitchen, I told them that ‘Mrs Jenkins had called and that it was okay because I had told her why you neither of you could come to the door’!  I just remember the look of abject horror on both their faces, then my normally placid mother erupting into what I can only describe as ‘a shrieked telling off’.

Well, you would think the ‘Mrs Jenkins’ incident would have given me pause for thought but, it really didn’t.  I continued with the unwavering belief that when consulted for an honest answer, I should always deliver it.

I am not really sure why I suffer from ‘honestitis’ but I do have my theories.    Most children go through a phase of telling whopping lies it is a common part of growing up.  But if you want me to be honest, and I know you do, I think the roots of my affliction may lie in my sexuality.

I knew from the first time I picked up a Ladybird book, I was a little bit different, and by the age of five I had absolutely no doubts.  When I grew up, I was going to be just like George in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, and when I got bored of solving mysteries, I would find a nice woman, settle down and get marry the nice woman!  There was never any doubt in my mind about all of this, and I certainly didn’t know that nice ladies didn’t marry other nice ladies in drab, dull seventies Britain.

I learnt to read at the age of three, books were always my best friend, one day, I was sneaking a read of mum’s Woman’s Realm magazine.  I had read it the month before, a woman had left work with a splitting headache and died the next day of a brain haemorrhage I had spent the ensuing weeks totally traumatised, and the merest twinge lead me to believe I was about to expire.  But I was drawn back to the magazine with ghoulish fascination.  Little did I know that what I was about to read would profoundly change my outlook on life.

I found the problem page, and started perusing, there it was in black and white, a married woman had fallen in love with her best friend and wanted to leave her husband and live with her friend, was there any way she could divorce the husband  and legally marry this woman?   Now I just remember the tone of horror in the magazine’s reply.  It was curt and disapproving, the woman was told this was probably just a ‘silly phase’ and that she should make more time for her husband, things would soon sort themselves out between them  and  she must stop seeing  the friend and that “THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY TWO WOMAN COULD EVER BE LEGALLY MARRIED”.  It was made plain the poor woman should categorically get the silly idea that two woman could ever be in any legal relationship out of her head!

The words kept shouting out from the page at me, I was dumbstruck, why was it so wrong?  Would the people at Woman’s Realm be equally appalled at me?   I liked this edition of the magazine even less than the ”brain haemorrhage week’.

It was there and then that I realised that my future plans were pretty damn impossible and seemingly something to be deeply ashamed of.   I didn’t feel any shame, I knew the person who had composed the reply in the magazine was wrong and obviously a fool who had never read the Famous Five.  But I also, at that young age knew that my future plans for marital bliss, were not something I could ever verbalise to my parents or anybody else, until I was at an age where I couldn’t be chastised or even worse persuaded otherwise.

So at the age of five I promised myself I would never be in the situation the poor lady who wrote into Woman’s Realm for their guidance had found herself in.  I would never marry a man then regret it, that was dishonest and making a complicated situation even more complicated.  No, I would still marry a woman, I couldn’t be the only woman in the world who had same feelings as me, could I? Maybe it was only boring stuffy old England that had this stupid law, I bet women could marry other women in America, if I had to, I would move to America, well away from the Woman’s Realm

I always hated keeping my sexuality a secret until the age of twenty-three, but my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was just twelve years old and again, I knew this was not a truth that she would want to hear.  The way I dealt with the deceit was by viewing it as delayed honesty.

So have I always over-compensated because it took me until the age of twenty-three to be honest about my sexuality, quite possibly!   I take great delight in correcting people if they call my partner “your friend”, or “your sister” “ OH YOU MEAN MY WIFE” I boom out across the counter!  People usually look mortified and apologise, being honest about your sexuality in the Britain of 2012 often puts people on the back foot, they are actually worried about causing any offence, which is actually rather sweet.

My real problems with honesty have never really been about sexuality, that was just the catalyst that has brought me to where I find myself today, imprisoned by the truth!

A friend, who was looking for a new partner once asked me, no pleaded with me how I thought she could improve her looks.  She seemed desperate, so wanting to help, I told her she should dye her hair, get a more modern hairstyle, wear branded jeans not the Walmart variety and try, if she could to give up smoking.  We are not friends anymore!  I would never have volunteered that advice, if she hadn’t asked and I was only trying to help.

Having secured a good deal from a gentlemen to buy his record collection, the ‘said gentleman’,  (who had no idea I owned a music store) made the joking aside “ I bet you will now sell those records you have just bought from me for a huge profit”.  “Yes I will, I replied, as soon as I can”!   He wasn’t remotely amused, but I was only telling the truth!

The world caught up with me, I was true to my word and I did marry a lovely lady who my father adored and nobody was remotely mortified.  I would like to bet even the person who replied to that long forgotten problem in the Woman’s Realm wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.

My wife blames my honesty on being the product of northern parents and being a total freak!  But she knows only too well if she asks me how her bum looks in her new jeans, I will tell her………….well she asked, did she want me to lie?