Tag Archives: lesbian

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

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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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LESBIAN SUBTEXT IN SEVENTIES AND EIGHTIES MUSIC THE DIG DEEP YEARS

21 Feb

The trouble with growing up a lesbian in the seventies and eighties, was although the music was brilliant, non of it related to me in any way and my inner feelings or hidden feelings. 

We had songs about  boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl loses boy even boy meets boy.  So where did I feature in all of this.  Music was my lifeblood, during those decades the music we listened to defined our identity, punk, mod, new romantic, whatever music you most enjoyed became the image and lifestyle that you were often judged by.

Then if music became our identity, where did that leave my true identity?  The hidden me that wanted to escape and proclaim, this is who I am, I am not ashamed and actually if you don’t like it then that’s okay because there will be plenty of other people who will like me and accept me.

I yearned for some kind of hint that the people I thought were cool, might just think my innermost feelings were cool and give voice to some of that experience.

The situation was thankfully different for gay men, in those days it was much cooler to be a gay man and the charts were reflecting this.  From the androgynous glam of Bowie and Bolan to the out and proud acts that subsequently found acclaim.  The Communards, Boy George, Marc Almond, The Pet Shop Boys, Dead or Alive to name but a few.  The gay boys were visual and singing about their life experience.

Of course we had Annie Lennox who used the ‘gender bending’ image to sell her music which was wonderful but I never felt for one moment she was singing about anything other than the ‘straight experience’, albeit with subversive packaging.

So I had to find the subtext in music and I became an expert at spotting a hidden meaning in a lyric or a song and bit by bit pieced together music that actually meant something to the inner me.

Let’s take a look at some of the songs that tweaked with me and I think were written with a lesbians subtext.  Remember these are open to interpretation but they for me rang a bell.

Alison Moyet, great singer always a gay icon and Ordinary Girl reeks of lesbian drama.

Of course today Joan Armatrading is out and proud but in those days of Clause 28 the only gay woman you ever saw was your scary gym teacher Joan was not openly out.  But her songs immediately struck me as being written for and about women and this was always my favourite.

Hazel O’ Connor similarly to Annie Lennox played with gender roles and ‘butched’ herself up on occasions.  But with Hazel, unlike Annie you just felt that she may have walked the walk as well as talked the talk.  One of my favourite songs by our ‘Haze’ was Runaway, and just sit back and listen, it’s packed with teenage and potentially lesbian angst.

This brings me to my secret teenage anthem, the song that when I first heard it I knew was written for me and I knew Tracy understood everything.  The anthem that secretly spoke to a million closet cases like me who wanted to just break out and escape, Tracy Chapman and the majestic Fast Car.

Thankfully now you don’t have to look too deeply to find lyrics that relate to the female gay experience singers are falling over themselves to announce they are gay or bisexual.  Jessie J, Katy Perry announcing she kissed a girl and she liked it, Pink a Lesbian icon, even Beyonce ponders if she were a boy.  It’s cool and it is no longer a taboo.  But in those dark days of not too long ago we had to dig deep but we unearthed some jewels. 

 

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