‘Heterophobia’: When Does Freedom Of Speech Become Hate Mongering?

17/05/2013 at 1:04 pm (Current Affairs, Gay) (, , , )


Following a brief, but in-depth, conversation with @joetele I was inspired to write this post. In fact, this is mostly my e-mailed response to him, but edited and embellished upon.

The discussion was about a homophobic twitter account. In fact, I had two such accounts in mind, one being something called ‘Straight Pride UK’. I’m still not sure if Straight Pride is a parody account or not. I was mulling over the arguments of free speech, and we were discussing when that becomes hatespeech, and the motives behind it.

Of course I believe in free speech. If someone has something to say about how they feel – whether in jest or just being true to their outlook – they should be able to voice it. Because of the same freedoms I can call it out as bollocks if I wish.

In this case, however, it raises the question of hate speech or free speech. This account in particular is so completely aggressive and anti-equal rights and anti-equal marriage, it might actually become incitement to more physical and aggressive attacks. But that would be for a court to decide, and I’m getting ahead of myself.
That said, what I find most frustrating about any person that devotes so much time and vehemence to one particular target does imply a desirability to that target.

Here’s an example.
I hate gameshows. My reaction to one is often as follows:

“Urgh, I don’t like this.”
*switches off TV or turns over*
Problem solved.

If, however, I said I didn’t like it and wanted it banned, while desperately watching every edition to find a reason to ban it, this is attraction and obsession.

While this is perhaps a glib comparison, it helps to highlight that I genuinely feel that most (if not all) men and women who take the time to rally against a perceived notion that homosexuality have a fascination with it. I think aggressive homophobia, which I tend to think of more as ‘persuasionist’, is built upon an inner self-loathing from building upon the notion that a person cannot be themselves. This in turn manifests itself outward, despising those living the lives that a homophobic person feels they cannot possible have.

For homophobic people, I wonder if there is the idea that all gay people do is party all the time and criticise straight people’s dress sense. It’s almost as if we are having too much fun and now we want our cake and eat it. Bigotry is often the result of a feeling that society is failing some quarters and it becomes necessary to find an identifiable enemy. It’s no accident that the growing popularity for UKIP and the BNP has risen in the wake of an economic crisis, mirroring exactly what happened in pre-war Germany.

I’m not sure how it should be handled. Vehement homophobia is nauseating. Should we ignore it? It would mean less exposure to the individual in a small way, but it’d be like allowing damaging roots to grow under your house. Or do we rail against it at every opportunity, running the risk of building on the controversy and adding to its publicity?

I’m not sure I have the smarts to solve that one.
However, I can see the difference between free speech and hatemongering. Look at the Westboro Baptist Church, if you can hold your food down. They have made it their business to blame equality for gay people for every terrible thing that has happened to America. That’s not free speech, that’s demonising a whole sector of people in a perplexing and ludicrous way. Unfortunatley, this ludicrousness tramples upon things like the very basic values – picketing funerals for example – that they claim to uphold.

Hate speech leads to violence. We know it does. It creates bloodlust based on misinformation, ignorance and fear that rolls around in the minds of those who feel so isolated and dejected there’s nowhere for these ideas to go. It’s a thunderstorm trapped in a valley.

How I see freedom of speech is to accept that there other perspectives. I may not agree with them. I may think they’re just plain wrong. I have the choice to engage to discuss and argue. I may choose to not even spend the time of day responding. I don’t necessarily think the other party is ‘out to get me’.

We all have our biases. There is a massive difference in trying to do things to improve the world around us and holding up a nebulous, all encompassing villain. In this case ‘the gays‘. It’s laughable to think that there should be a need for ‘Straight Pride’. My argument is that just don’t hear of gangs of gay men or women beating up straight people. Sadly the reverse is all too prevalent.

I can’t say there’s no such thing has heterophobia. Have seen or heard of an incidence when there’s been a violence with such a condition as the cause? I genuinely cannot say I have.

With all this supposition and waffle on my part I can say this, if there is a Gay Agenda, it’s simply to be seen as equal members of the society we contribute to. We are your educators, your healers, your armed servicemen and women, your firefighters, your police. Like you, we are the cogs that make the country’s machine work. We contribute. We pay in. We are not an inferior community.

Gay people are not tearing about society. It is homophobia and transphobia, racism and xenophobia, misogyny and violence against the disabled that are our new Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

We must watch out for them.

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MP David Davies Is No Homophobe

10/12/2012 at 4:50 pm (Current Affairs, Gay, News) (, , , , , , )


MP David Davies knows what most people want and most people don’t want gay children. Nor do people want to see gay people having the same kinds of marriages as straight people. Well, there you have it. So there’s no real need to change it at all. It’s not as if David Davies is a bigot either.

He had a boxing match with a gay man once, so he’s all for equality.

I genuinely don’t think Davies is homophobic. His responses come gleaning information from a particular, ingrained belief. He knows his party. What I take exception to is the resignation of not allowing for change because bigots won’t like it.

People want to have children, and they want their children to be happy. Unfortunately, there are also many people that have an impression of what a gay lifestyle entails, and it’s often perceived as lonely. Perhaps it’s seen as exclusively abusive, ducking and weaving regular occurrences of violence day in, day out.

Parents want happy children, who grow into happy adults. The trouble with comments such as Davies’ is that it cements these well-worn beliefs. It’s not a fact set in stone, and the majority of violence against LGBT people is born of misinformation such as this.

The thing is, David Davies does have a point. Especially when he says that the Conservatives will lose the old Party Faithful if David Cameron presses for equal marriage. The purpose of the party does seem to be pull us backwards, constantly.

The core of the Tory party believes that gay people make their silver-haired mothers weep. What sort of monsters are we? It’s not actually the MP in question that annoys me, but what he highlights about the UK, specifically the Tories, Middle England, and its clamp-jaw hysteria. It’s not homophobia, it’s bull-headed, social retardation.

It’s time to grow up.

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The Importance of Coming Out and the Fears Behind It

04/01/2012 at 7:39 am (coming out, Gay) (, , , )


Last night, I received an e-mail from someone who wanted some advice regarding coming out, and some of the fears that it entailed. I replied, and realised that even though it wasn’t a particularly lengthy response, it was an honest one. It’s also important to point out that unfortunately, it’s not much easier for a man or woman to come out now than it was for me over 10 years ago.

I also came to the conclusion that some of it might help others, particularly teens:

“In regards to coming out, this is incredibly scary. I was terrified, and also thought I’d lose everyone that ever meant anything to me. I started with one close friend. Just one. Just someone I could trust. Parents can be very difficult, but also very surprising. Saying that, it’s not always easy, and everyone has different circumstances.

My mother was initially disappointed, but accepts me and my life, and welcomes my partner too. My family and friends love me whether I’m gay or straight. By coming out, even when it’s a scary, personal upheaval, the results are worth it. I found it made me feel more complete and balanced. I’m by no means Mr Wonderful, but it cleared up a lot of confusion and affected how I interacted with people for the better.

If you need further advice, have a look at the links below.

Avert

teenhelp.org

Also, it is worth talking to one of the helplines here: gaylifeuk

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The death of Stuart Walker – the shame of Great Britain

24/10/2011 at 9:59 am (Current Affairs, Gay, News)


Reports on the death of Stuart Walker on the streets of Cumnock, Ayreshire, imply that this was because he was gay. Although all avenues must be explored to find the reasons behind this horrific crime, the fact that this young man’s sexuality could be a reason says so much more.

There is still the general belief that, in the 21st Century, Gay Rights are at a never before seen plateau. In the broader scheme of things in the West, this might be true. But let’s not forget that we started 2011 with the sentencing of two young people for the death of Ian Baynham. This was shocking enough, that the casual killing of this man by Ruby Thomas and Joel Alexander ended his life based on his sexuality. The number of hate crimes in this country are disturbing, as reported by thisislondon.co.uk, who dug a little deeper following the Ian Baynham case.

And now, as we approach the winter months in the UK, we have another brutal killing. The attack and murder is staggering in its intent. With the description of “horrible injuries” ; being tied to a lamp post and burned being presented to reporters and news agencies, it is thoroughly heartbreaking. It is also terrifying. To think that I, or my friends, could face any kind of violence of that kind – hate crime or not – scares me.

Add to that the type of mentality that leads to this determination to not only end someone’s life, but to do it is such a horrific way, it reflects on the way we’re educating those around us. I don’t think we’re on a par with the living hell that gay people have to face in countries such as Uganda. Nor do we seem to have quite the seething anti-gay belligerence of the US, which has its own shame with the horrible murder of young Matthew Shepard.

While we’re a more “forward thinking” society on paper, it’s clearly too challenging for the ignorant, or those scared by their own sexuality. We say we embrace diversity, but when it comes down to it, we’re not that accepting, not when a human life is ended so tragically. Why did Stuart Walker die? If it is for his sexuality, then that means there is an individual or group that murdered him for something that didn’t even affect them.

That’s the point. Gay, bisexual and transgender people are not a threat to society. We’re not setting out to destroy your family unit. We’re not responsible for our nation’s ills. It’s not just telling people that “gay is bad”, it’s the repeating the idea that being gay is some sort of a threat to society. Think on that. For those parents and educators and leaders, we need you to communicate some facts and deconstruct the misinformation that leads to murder.

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Gay Kissing and the BBC

21/06/2011 at 11:58 am (Gay, TV)


It is believed that the very first gay kiss on television has surfaced.  Dusted off and exposed, there are some surprising facts about this inaugural lip lock in the drama Columbe. Despite the fact that this is between two brothers – which is massively controversial in itself – it’s the same-sex kissing that is grabbing the attention.

The first of these surprising facts is that appearing alongside actor Richard Pascoe was tough guy Sean Connery.  Connery was a Mr Universe contender, footballer and Bond-to-be.  Another remarkable fact is the year in which Columbe was made, and by who.  In 1960, homosexuality in the UK was still very much illegal.  That is to say, homosexual acts between men, over the age of 21, were decriminalised in England in 1967.  This would’ve been an incredibly edgy production for any drama, especially for the two channels in the UK at the time, BBC and ITV.  And it was the now-perceived “old guard” BBC who shot this piece.

1960 was an incredibly eventful time for the BBC, primarily for the opening of Television Centre.  This was a bold, exciting new era.  The austerity of the 1950’s in the UK were still very much evident.  Despite the Birth Of The Teenager in the previous decade, from my understanding it didn’t seem to reach British shores in quite the same way.  Of course, Great Britain was to get its chance to shine in the coming years, but by all accounts 1960 in the UK was a very conservative environment.

If this newly discovered “first male-to-male kiss on TV, film or on stage” (Derek Fiddy – TV Consultant, BFI) was indeed broadcast, it would have been an incredibly brave move.  Yes, the BBC has broadcasted pioneering dramas in the past.  In fact, I think we sometimes forget what the BBC is capable of.  But as no one seems to have any recollection of the broadcast of Columbe (again, from the snippets of information on this story so far), how do we know it was even shown?  I would like to believe it was, but it would undoubtedly have received complaints – “Dear Auntie Beeb, queers AND incest!?” – especially with only one other channel broadcasting at the time. With no reminiscences about this at all, I’m dubious that it reached any living rooms at all.

Saying that, the sheer fact it was made highlights brave decisions. Not only to dramatise a controversial French play, but to perform it and make it too. That in itself is a remarkable achievement.  Let’s not forget people are still complaining to the BBC about gay men kissing in EastEnders. I still remember the outrage between the show’s characters Colin and Barry having a rather chaste pecking in 1986, which actually led to physical and verbal abuse against the actors in real life.

You might think the British viewing public isn’t ready for the Gay Kiss on TV.  Seems it’s been 50 years overdue.

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The Daily Mail: Playground bigotry

27/01/2011 at 1:20 pm (Gay)


The Daily Mail is renowned for disturbing articles that champion the most appalling bigotry. From race to sexuality (and so much more in between), the newspaper provides half-arsed reactionary comment to reflect a narrow view. In doing so, generates a massive amount of traffic to its site, purely on the strength of bilious features from the likes of Jan Moir and more recently Melanie Phillips.

The Daily Mail is one of those papers that enjoys this controversy because of the traffic. It never thinks, it never questions. It’s a machine. A business. That’s all it is, and it will continue to spew its vile generalisations. That’s unlikely to change any time soon, and it’s so hard to ignore. The good thing about these articles is that it fires a discussion. It certainly makes people blink in disbelief that there are those who actually believe in these attitudes.

I have a rule – If The Daily Mail doesn’t like what you’re doing, you’re probably doing it right.

But this is Britain. I don’t really have much to complain about on a personal level to be perfectly frank. I’m very, very lucky.   Yes, hate crime does happen here  and things are far from perfect. There is a general feeling that although the tide is turning, there is still so much to do. The attitudes of rags such as The Daily Mail certainly do not help, but it is little more than a mosquito, puncturing the skin to irritate.

Globally, there’s a real fight going on.  The news of the death of David Kato, Ugandan gay rights activist, really brings the issue into sharp focus. It’s terrifying what’s happening in the world today. Heated debate and capital punishment still surround what is fundamentally about what people do consentingly in their private lives.

So to The Daily Mail, Melanie Phillips and all those bizarre creations of Middle England bigotry, you’re nothing. There are far bigger monsters out there than you could hope to be. I pay you no mind.

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Coming Out: The Receiving End

16/01/2011 at 3:10 am (Gay)


Out of the blue, I received a message on Facebook from a friend I’ve known for years. I hadn’t seen him for a while and was looking forward to a really good catch up.

I sat in the pub, idly tweeting, when a rather drunk chap came and sat opposite me. Extending the hand of friendship, I told him I didn’t mind a brief chat until my friend arrived. As I did so, he walked in.

Drunk Chap looked at my mate, and gave a grin, and kept asking him about working out and the like. At one point, he turned to my friend and started to come out with stuff like live and let live, and what people do behind closed doors is their own business. Being incredibly astute, I realised what he was getting at.

“Oh no,” I corrected, “I’m gay, but he’s not.”

Drunk Guy looked at me incredulously, and sort of went away.

We both had a laugh, and then my mate said, “I am though.”

“What?” said I.

“I am.”

I really wasn’t getting it. “What? You mean… Nah. What? No way!” or words to that effect, as my brain span out a bit.

Then I realised what it feels like when you’ve no idea a person’s gay, then they come out to you. Especially when you’ve known that person for so long. Suddenly they’re almost someone completely different.

Now that sounds as though by coming out you’re going to be perceived as an entirely different person. That’s not what I mean. I was shocked and surprised. This had come completely left field at me. I mean, my gaydar doesn’t work anyway, but this was a massive revelation.

I tend to assume people are straight, although I’ve met a few that really give me the impression they might not be. This was totally unexpected. I’ve always been very fond of him as a friend, and as I’ve said, I’ve known him a good number of years.

Never before have we had such a great evening talking. It was brilliant to catch up with an old friend in a new way. One thing I did notice is how much more confident, self deprecating and easy to talk to he was. My friends say the same about me after I came out (except perhaps the self deprecating part).

It’s been so long since I’ve been out, I’d forgotten about the little stories that are told. We talked about replacing the “he” in a sentence for “she”. A classic misdirection tactic. It had me fooled! I do wonder if it’s believed gay people say these things for some kind of sexual espionage (“sneaky gays”). We do these things through an inherent fear of not being accepted.

I suppose coming out does make for a different person after all: there’s nothing more liberating than not worrying about saying the wrong thing.

It’s almost as though he’d taken the wrapper off his personality. I came away with a new found respect for him. Even in these more ‘enlightened’ times, coming out is still a bloody scary thing to do.

If you want to read my Coming Out story, go here.

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The Blogs What I Wrote: 2010 in review

03/01/2011 at 1:20 pm (Gay, Gay Pride, Horror, Social Media)


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 43 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 48 posts. There were 106 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 10mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 5th with 443 views. The most popular post that day was London Pride – It’s here, it’s queer, it’s not named after the beer.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, towleroad.com, facebook.com, stumbleupon.com, and hootsuite.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for mood chart, colour mood chart, b&q colour chart, colour mood, and horror colours.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

London Pride – It’s here, it’s queer, it’s not named after the beer July 2010
19 comments

2

The Horror Colour Mood Chart January 2010
2 comments

3

Coming Out: Becoming The Man I Am October 2010
7 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

4

About peacockpete December 2009

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79 Reasons Why Gays Still Fight For Tolerance

19/11/2010 at 5:00 pm (Gay)


Okay, Earth, I have to ask, what HAVE you got against gays?

Come on, seriously, what did we do?

I’ve read a report by The Pink Paper today – brought to my attention by @spawnofthediva – that was equally disappointing and infuriating. The United Nations, an organisation that I generally believe to be doing some good work for human rights, put to a vote the right to life of homosexuals and bisexuals.

A vote.

And you know what the outcome was? 79 countries voted to remove the right to life for gay men, lesbians, and other alternative sexualities. The UN is a massive body of people that is supposed to be mindful of the ethical treatment of people and their environment. Globally. So why put up to a vote to cut the rights of a whole section of people based solely on sexuality?

Instead of actually doing something about the brutal murder of people based on sexual orientation, the UN has in fact decided to take the problem out of the equation. This means that instead of addressing the growing call for executions of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people of these 79 countries, it effectively sends the message that it is not important.

Now, in my heart of hearts, I am sure I must have my facts wrong. I still have enough faith in my fellow human to think that this must be inaccurate. If it is, please tell me. I can’t believe that I feel like saying, “well done” to the mere 70 countries (my own is fortunately one of that number) that voted against the removal of this condition.

This is getting ridiculous, quite frankly. I’m not for the collapse of family life – I love my family! I love being a part of it. I don’t want to see society collapse – I work, I pay my taxes and I contribute to the society I live among. If the people that know me, and know how I live my life don’t care that my lifestyle is different, what the hell is the rest of the world’s problem?

Earth, get a grip. Can you just stop with the stupid? Stop trying to use something as deeply personal as sexuality as a childish leverage for power.

And, I repeat, please tell me I have my facts wrong.

Details of how countries voted can be found here.

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What’s the point of purple? Spirit Day explained

20/10/2010 at 8:30 pm (Gay)


I feel that this is a companion piece to my post about coming out, as LGBT issues seem to be becoming even more prevalent in my life.

As much as I’m not personally keen on the term “Spirit Day”, I am totally behind the reason for it. This is a single day to wear something purple, or change the colour of your TwitBookSpace profile pictures, and to raise awareness. Awareness of homophobic bullying, and to remember that people end their lives because of it. So what is the point of just wearing purple, or changing the colour of your profile avatar? It’s a fair question, and it’s one that’s worth asking.

“Wearing a purple t-shirt won’t stop all the bullying against people because of their sexuality, will it?” Logically, probably not.

“Just changing the colour of your profile’s avatar doesn’t fund any charity or support group.” Again, no. There’s no money changing hands at this level at all.

So why do it? It seems there is a perception that it’s an absolving of conscience. Almost as though by the very act of me wearing a purple t-shirt I have done my bit, and that’s the end of it. Or even thinking it pointless, as many believe there’s no need for gay rights movements any more because everyone is so progressive these days.

I have news that might shock you. That world is a long way off.

There are gay men and women who are marrying people of the opposite sex because they feel that is what they should be doing, not what they want to do. People are ending their lives because they are made to feel shameful and inadequate. I’m not talking about parts of the world that are known for intolerance, but this country too. It’s happening everywhere.

“So how does this relate to wearing purple? What good does it serve?”

The main purpose is that people are asking questions about it. It is being discussed, recognised. It’s a promotion of communication and awareness. As I have said, no money is changing hands by doing this. That’s the beauty of it. It’s a few moments that work as a reminder that this is still happening, and makes others ask about it.

Of course, it’s a personal choice to do it.  I don’t for one moment believe that anyone that hasn’t done this supports anti-gay bullying.  That’s just unrealistic and unfair.  And to those that are frustrated that changing an avatar’s hue is not enough to change the world, I applaud you. It’s impatience and anger that moves the world.

But don’t scoff at the attempts that others are making to do something… anything to make a difference, no matter how small. Even if one person knows there is support out there, and derives an extra modicum of strength to keep going, then it has been a success.

And my personal choice is to thoroughly support it. Although I don’t feel I’ve done my bit at all. Not nearly.

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