Thursday, 24 November 2016

Gay Male Sexuality Is Under Attack From Without AND Within

There are racist gay men. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, given racism is pretty entrenched across the human species. I once had to call an ex-boyfriend to come "rescue" me from a date with a man ranting on about how awful black people are. They are out there.

Owen Jones has written a comment piece on racism among gay men. Needless to say it has conflated some actual racism with some personal sexual preferences. When you are on a "dating" app (or back in the days of Gaydar for oldsters like me) you are presenting what you are and what you want out into the world in the hopes of finding others who share, or mirror, your desires. Perhaps you only want intelligent men for a long term relationship. Maybe you desire men with big arms for a fling. It could be you find only white men attractive. These are not necessarily stating you hate stupid people, people with smaller arms or non-white people. But it is saying that for the purposes of a relationship (or just sex) you have certain desires in mind.

Sexuality is a beautifully complex thing. I'm very much broad-minded about what I find attractive. I find a lot of looks, attitudes and minds attractive for many different reasons. But I also have a couple of "types" of men that I find EXTREMELY attractive. And a few (leather wearers beware) I find extremely unattractive. I couldn't change those desires even if I wanted to. So demanding that people become open to finding things attractive that they don't is a bit much. Should gay men starting trying to find women attractive as to not do so would be misogynistic? I think not!!!!

Unfortunately this sort of ludicrous suggestion helps others pretend racism doesn't exist. Focus on the real stigmas and racism going on out there and stop policing sexuality.

He also finds objectifying certain races problematic. I objectify men with big arms. I can thus quite understand someone objectifying men for another facet of their personality or appearance. The idea it is racist to find a certain skin tone attractive but okay to find only a certain gender attractive is messy at best.

Owen Jones is wandering extremely close to "conversion therapy" territory and towards suggesting male homosexuality itself is problematic. Must we all be pansexuals? Is that where we are heading? Is there no value in individuality?

People with similar mindsets also oppose the "culture" of muscle worship among gay men. This culture is much overblown, and is mainly limited to "the scene". Unfortunately many gay men in prominent positions are part of that scene and forget that out here in the real world male homosexuality is a lot more diverse. Considering muscle worship to be unhealthy due to the body image problems it may cause is a bit much when we encourage bear/cub culture at the same time.

The real issue is this sort of criticism has been internalised by many gay men who nod along in shame when some progressive comes along to browbeat them back into line. It is long past time we stop cow-towing to these puritanical busy-bodies who not only want to get into our bedrooms but want to get into our fantasises.

I would say "we didn't beat conservative busy-bodies only to allow progressive ones to control our sexuality" but can't as we haven't beat the conservative busy-bodies. Oh we thought we had but they've been quietly beavering away... Our Government has many plans to block porn, from adults as well as children, of which this is just the latest example.

If you don't want Christians telling you who to fuck, you'd better start stopping everyone else making similar demands. Otherwise we'll be back to the 1980s in no time at all.

Don't just nod ashamedly in the corner. Fight for the right to love and fuck however you damn well want to. Resist the puritans at every turn!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

With Friends Like These... The End Of Western Civilization Moves Ever Closer

Nigel Farage, a man unable to win a seat in Parliament after 7 attempts nor able to win Brexit without the help of Boris Johnson, got to spend an hour with Donald Trump this weekend. It is hard to imagine much more of a diplomatic slap in the face to Britain's Government (and to the United Kingdom itself) than this from the man soon to lead the US. Farage actively participated in hurting his own country's reputation, and took time to take holiday snaps.

But the supposed defenders of British values, Brexit supporters chief among them, will see this only as a victory for their fight against the status quo. They do not value Britain's history, institutions or ways of doing things. They don't value our power or reputation. They're revolutionaries intent on disrupting our constitutional arrangements.

The United Kingdom has come to a crossroads. On the left is Corbyn and his Labour party. They are quiet and meek in the face of opposition (see reserved support for Brexit and an attempt to paint Trump's victory as indicative of an up turn in Labour's own fortunes!) and far too friendly with Vladimir Putin (the dodgy leader of Russia who, if you haven't been paying attention, has been engaging in a war of aggression with Ukraine for the last couple of years). Corbyn's attempt to cheer up his troops this morning was to point out that they managed to HOLD a couple of council seats recently.

Meanwhile on the right we have a Tory party determined to take us out of the EU. They are no longer engaging with EU institutions, despite previous promises to keep working as part of the EU until the end. They've got no support in the US from the next administration, have sullied our relationships with our neighbours and aren't even that friendly with Putin. They've isolated us for no good reason.

And then on the far right we have Farage who has placed himself as Britain's unofficial ambassador to Trump alongside Marion Le Pen (of the French FN). Putin and Trump are fluttering their eyelashes at each other. A dark alliance is forming and the characters involved couldn't spell statesmanly, let alone act it.

I've always been a proud Brit. I've none of the usual liberal hang-ups about our imperial history. I fully support our actions in the Second World War and the Falklands War, warts and all. Dresden and the Belgrano were terrible, awful events but we didn't start those conflicts. I like Churchill, respect Thatcher and worship Her Majesty, the Queen. It takes a LOT to make me feel ashamed of our country.

But as we begin to align ourselves against our European friends and neighbours, and send out feelers towards Putin and Trump, I fear that rather than finding ourselves in peril (as I thought we would be after Brexit) we may well BE the peril.

For the first time in my life my loyalties lie outside this country, with the people of continental Europe. The Tories and Labour are weak and morally suspect. UKIP has lost the battle for votes but is winning the battle for hearts. The Lib Dems can mount a small resistance but aren't going to turn the tide. And the nationalists await to help kick us while we're down.

We're probably done for as a serious contender for a leader on the world's stage now. We're at risk of becoming a satellite state of the new Trump/Putin axis. For all their talk of defending Western civilization, the right have happily overseen it's decline. The left would only be too happy to see the back of it too.

I've got no answers. No solutions. This re-alignment seems to be inevitable. Europe has a great many issues to overcome (the rise of the right, the idiocy of the social justice obsessed far-left, uncontrolled immigration, democratic deficit). I'm unsure if it'll be able to survive. But now I'm rooting for it to thrive as the liberal centre of the world. The continuation of our culture may well depend on it.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Nothing Good Will Come Of Any Of This Brexit Nonsense

The referendum on whether to leave the EU is now over 4 months behind us. In its wake we had a Prime Minister resign, an opposition busy having a civil war, a Tory leadership "battle" that brought Theresa May to Number 10 and a seemingly endless division within our country.

Let's not look with rose-tinted glasses upon our nation's past. There has always been division and, as long as humans continue to inhabit these islands, there will always be division. We're hardly unique as a country. But we have usually succeeded in having reasonable people in positions of power (or at least in positions behind those with the power!) who have defended the basics of our Westminster system and appealed for calm rather than chaos (Thatcher, for example, was hardly blameless in the chaos of the Miners Strike but you can't say she wasn't looking for orderly obedience). At the same time we had sober voices in our press who'd grumble at any change to that system or perceived abuse of it. Tony Blair's use of the Parliament Act, for example, was hardly greeted with mass support from the majority of papers.

Now, however, the division that has followed in the wake of David Cameron's ill-conceived referendum has been allowed to fester with no real attempts at calming the increasing vitriol (from either "side") by those who should be leading us. Jeremy Corbyn, the man foolishly tasked with keeping those in power in check by the Labour party, hasn't got a clue about how to handle the responsibility he has. We're adrift and our country's moral compass appears to be left in the hands of the nastier members of the Tory party (and I mean that quite strongly in terms of their our personal morals being nasty, not just some vague dislike of the Tories there).

There have been those making some feeble calls for unity but those calls seem based on some idea that just calling for it will make it happen. Unity happens through absolute victory or through compromise. A 51/49 split at the referendum wasn't an absolute victory and "Brexit means Brexit" isn't exactly a compromise (nor is it very clear about what's up for negotiation).

When certain elements of the press call judges "Enemies of the People", the response from those who should be trying to unite and govern the country has been so abysmal as to suggest they probably agree. The Government doesn't even respect the supremacy of Parliament, preferring to deal completely behind the scenes and away from the scrutiny of even Leave backing Tory MPs.

The battle over Europe is, sadly, over. The referendum was lost by a whisker. No one was clever enough to put in any threshold better than 50%. But it was lost and the vote was to leave the EU. I'm strongly in favour of our membership of the EU but feel that the best place to express a desire to do so is at the next election. All we currently are is a barrier to the continued evolution of the EU and we should now leave to put an end to the confusion. I think that is the wrong thing to do, but the only reasonable thing to do at the same time.

The battle for Britain has now begun. I don't seek some silly unity based on everyone just pulling together for the public good. This isn't the same country that fought in the Second World War. We're a series of interwoven but extremely different communities. All of us pulling together isn't going to happen. But the reasonable people of all hues could do so, if a compromise of some sort can be agreed. Something needs to happen to protect this country from falling into some very dark times indeed.

 Unfortunately, I don't see there's much will within the current leadership of this country to make any sort of attempt to heal some of the wounds. In fact I don't see any real national leadership at all. Anti-intellectual, anti-liberal, anti-British elements seem to have infected our country from top to bottom. I know MANY people who are so angry, just as a general rule, that they'd welcome economic collapse or war rather than compromise on their ideological position. Death threats and calls for "Purges" aren't limited to the crazies either.

We're in the middle of a crisis. We've got no leader worth the title (with no offence meant to Her Majesty, who I'm sure would do a pretty good job. Just a shame she actually does value our constitutional arrangements and would never dream of interfering, God love her). We have a complete lack, across all stratas of society, of any urge to kept this country together or prosperous. We're up shit creek and no one is going to use the paddle because that might upset the direction of travel.

This United Kingdom has been one of the greatest countries ever to come into being on this Earth. Scoff at that if you wish but our influence remains great even in our old age. We are the country of Gladstone and Churchill. Of Victoria and Thatcher. Of Wellington and Montgomery. Of Shakespeare and Austen. And now, in what may become one of the darkest times of our history, we can't seem to step back from the abyss nor rediscover the better angels of our nature. Where is the leadership we need to get us through the storms ahead?

It is sad to see us turning into a disgraceful excuse of a nation and even sadder to see nationalism on the rise ready to destroy our Union. If you believe in a God, now is probably about the right time to start praying. If you don't, then hold tight and hope for salvation.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Islam Is A Harmful Ideology

Homeopathy is a harmful ideology. Sure, the majority of the time it is harmless. You take a homeopathic remedy for a common cold, some aches and pains or a phantom illness and nothing too bad is going to happen. But sometimes it has serious consequences and the general credulity of homeopathic believers has a negative effect on the advance of logic, reason and good sense in our society.

I hope no one can infer from the above that I wish ill upon those who believe in homeopathic remedies. I'd love for them to recognise the danger they put themselves and others in and embrace a more rigorous approach to making medical related life choices. If they don't... what am I going to do about it? It is a choice they make and I'm powerless to do anything about the choices of others beyond persuasion.

Yet criticising Islam seems to be a lot more difficult. Granted, there's a lot more evidence of real danger to Muslims from violent reaction against them than in the case of homeopaths. But that still doesn't mean Islam isn't a harmful ideology. Sure, the majority of the time most Muslims are just as nice/bad/flawed/generous etc. as the rest of us. You pray to Allah a few times a day then get on with your job and nothing too bad is going to happen. But sometimes Islamic teachings have serious consequences and the general credulity of believers has a negative effect on the advance of logic, reason and good sense in our society.

I hope no one infers from the above I wish ill upon those who believe Mohammed was a prophet of Allah. I'd love for them to recognise the danger they put themselves and others in and embrace a more rigorous approach to their study of ancient texts.  If they don't... what am I going to do about it? It is a choice they make and I'm powerless to do anything about the choices of others beyond persuasion.

But when a homeopath allows their child to die because of their beliefs or someone murders another human being because of the influence of Islam in their lives, I'm going to criticise those beliefs and the terrible effect they have on society.

I'm troubled that those who will tell you that toxic masculinity is a major problem in society and that we can't avoid being sexist/homophobic/ableist/transphobic etc. due to our socialisation (even if we are brought up by the most liberal of parents) will go out of their way to suggest that an Islam influenced upbringing has absolutely NO connection to the homophobic murders in Orlando. This is the sort of hypocrisy that makes people think a Trump victory would be a good thing for America.

I'm not one of them by the way, Trump is awful, but until we start actually calling out Islam in the way we do Christianity then we're no closer to a saner society.

Monday, 28 March 2016

I'm Just Not LGBT+ Enough

I'm politically adrift at the moment. My old home, despite my libertarianism, on the left appears to have changed the locks and put up a big "No cis white gay men" sign on the door. There's a house on the right with its door wide open but the house is made of gingerbread, there's a witch bearing an uncanny similarity to Milo Yiannopoulos beckoning at the door and I'm sure I saw a boy and a girl go in there earlier and not come out. I'm don't think that's the house for me.

Is there a rock to hold on to in order to stop the drift? This blog has been mainly devoted to my one stable obsession in life: LGBT liberty. I'm a "liberaltarian" at heart, a quick read through some of my teenage diaries shows clearly that no matter what I always end up returning to individual liberty as the overriding principle in my person morality, and I'm a gay man who grew up in Kent where lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans+ folk all had to share the same small collection of bars and clubs (and thus social groups). But I feel, yet again Dear Constant Reader, like I've been somewhat naive.

Obviously, growing up in deepest, darkest Kent, I had little exposure to queer theory, feminist writings or LGBT political theory when I was young. My only exposure to other sexual and gender related minorities was "in real life" at bars and clubs. This made me think we were "all in it together". A few years ago I discovered, to my great sadness, that this wasn't true. Not only had some gay and lesbian people been holding us all back (see Stonewall and some Labour MPs for example) but they had, in particular, been unsupportive or outright hostile to trans+ people. Now I'm discovering that, yet again, I still haven't been seeing the whole picture. Trans+ people also (unsurprising given they too are a diverse group of people with different individual aims and objectives) have not always been supportive of gay, lesbian and bisexual rights and freedoms (take Caitlin Jenner as a recent, if not academic, example).

The latest NUS decision to stop supporting a guaranteed space on student LGBT society boards for "white cis gay men" just underlines the fact that we're not all in this together. In fact it now seems like the different groups of minorities, the number of groups growing ever larger, falling under the LGBT umbrella are working against each other in order to further their own agendas (let's face it, the gay agenda was pretty fantastic so it is unsurprising everyone has got their own...).

I can't keep on supporting the "LGBT" label any longer. The only people who now seem to truly believe in it are the sort of people I have already separated from as they usually also believe in the "evils" of masculinity, the "evils" of sex work and the need to control the sexual freedoms of others through moralistic rhetoric and legislation. I opposed such things when the religious supported them and I oppose them now when "progressives" support them.

So I'm embracing gay separatism. No, not gay separation from society as that phrase often means. But I really feel like it is time men who find other men attractive (to keep this as broad a category as possible) should refocus on things that are important to us. And I don't just mean gay rights and sexual health, though they are important to us (and often uniquely so), but also on remembering that we aren't joined together in some "community" by a love of opera or progressive politics. We're joined together only as people who share a, rather beautiful, love of the male form and psyche.

I don't find women attractive (and am also not a woman) so I'm unsure what insight I have into the needs of lesbians. I don't feel like I'm the wrong physical gender so I can't speak for trans+ folk. I'm as far from asexual as it is possible to be so their requirements are alien to me. And the list goes on. The regressive left have demanded white cis gay men should give up our positions so that others can have a voice. I say we should give them exactly what they want. We can all be happy then.

That way we can get back to fighting moralistic attacks on sexual freedom, fighting for decent sexual health provision (whilst the NHS exists and is bliming treating sports injuries I'm happy to let my libertarianism stay at home on this subject for now) and fight for a renewal of love for everything male. There's way too much hatred towards masculinity put around by gay men on behalf of feminists and our "allies" among the LBT+ folk who seem to believe that homosexuality is somehow related to men embracing femininity. There's nothing wrong with men embracing femininity but if you think that it is somehow part of sexual attraction to other men on a large scale then I'm afraid you've fundamentally misunderstood most MSM!

So let's have an amicable break-up, go our separate ways and start speaking honestly rather than mixing our messages together until they please no one.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

So I've Read Lynne Featherstone's "#EqualEverAfter"...

It has been a couple of years since the end of the same-sex marriage debates and it is about time we got some insider knowledge of how same-sex marriage went from fringe issue (fringe even within the LGBT community, trust me... I was there!) to actual legislation.

And Lynne Featherstone was a central figure within that, there is not denying it. Now there's been some unkind mocking, including from me, of the way the book has been portrayed as being all about how Featherstone was the one and only person behind same-sex marriage becoming law. But let's get this out of the way from the start: even without reading what is in this book we all know she played an immensely important part in getting same-sex marriage on to the agenda and through Parliament. She justly deserves respect and appreciation for that.

So... the book. There are no massive revelations in it for any of us who followed the news and social media updates at the time. I don't think there's any surprise in how Theresa May gave Featherstone's proposals her blessing, how David Cameron got in the way of opposite-sex civil partnerships or how the churches and fellow travellers reacted.

Nor should any of us be surprised that Chris Bryant, Labour MP, "battled ferociously" against the idea at first and "didn't see the point". Nor how Ben Summerskill was "very dismissive" until the hard part was over when he was "literally lording it and loving it".

Basically if you read Pink News, or even just this humble blog!, you'd probably be well aware of all this stuff and more.

This book is not really a book about same-sex marriage, it is a book about how Lynne Featherstone got us same-sex marriage. It is a memoir and, if anything, merely one source for the yet-to-be written full history of the fight for equal marriage (also yet to be finished!).

Is it worth buying? Probably not. It's written in a very easy to read conversational style, broken down into themes rather than strictly chronological and perfect for a commuting read. But... it just didn't tell me anything important than what I knew already.

The one interesting little detail I saw was mention of Ed Fordham attempting to turn Tim Farron on the issue... using scripture! Ugh. I'm glad I'm out of that party now.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Going Against The Grain On David Mundell's Coming Out

There's few moments in one's life as important as a gay man's "coming out". Maybe it is just to a friend, maybe to the whole world. But it will come with fear, relief and often celebration (especially where it happens voluntarily).

So I have a great deal of sympathy for David Mundell. In his fifties and now in the public eye, he has come out as gay.

But where I think I differ from a lot of people is that I have a variety of emotions about it which never seem to be reflected in the press coverage and social media applause.

  • This is a bittersweet moment for any gay man of Mundell's age, based on my personal experience. For although now the tension between private and public has been relieved, there is no turning back the clock. No chance to experience the life of the openly gay young man, an opportunity now forever missed. A tragedy for many men in Mundell's situation. 
  • Though I have no doubt it was difficult for Mundell to come and took personal courage, a man of Mundell's position is hardly at much risk of personal injury or insult in this day and age. Glib comments about his bravery must sting the young boy struggling in school, desperate to hide his true feelings from the savages that lurk within every school waiting for the first sniff of weakness or non-conformity. Now a boy coming out there... that takes real bravery!
  • Many often make out the story of a man of his age coming out will be inspirational to young gay guys facing a similar choice. This is hardly credible. How many young gay guys find themselves "inspired" by a politician in his 50s coming out? Most of them won't even know he did (or ever hear his name) for politics is not exactly the realm of the majority. And what is inspirational about a man who spent decades coming to terms with his sexuality? Is that something to aspire too? I'd hope not. 
  • Every time I see a news story about someone coming out, I just think "And?". Why is that even a news story nowadays? Man acknowledges he finds other men attractive. Wow. Mind-blowing. NEXT!
I know it is easy for someone like me who had a very gentle and easy coming out experience, with supportive friends and little trauma, to pontificate but these stories have started to grate with the glib comments and public self-congratulation from the great and good. Moments like are absolutely personally important to the person involved. But it is far gone time we just stopped caring about it. 

It'd all be a lot easier if our forebears had heeded Harvey Milk's advice 40 years ago. Alas. 

“Gay brothers and sisters,... You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene"