Incivility…and worse June 4, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Feminism, LGBT Rights.
Well here’s a display of incivility, misogyny and anti-lesbianism, as related by Julie Bindel. What’s amazing to me are two aspects of this, firstly that a Radio 5 ‘satirical’ panel debate thought that it was appropriate to discuss – even, perhaps particularly, in a ‘humorous’ way – the proposition “Give me 20 minutes with her and I’m pretty sure I could turn around Clare Balding”, and then some of the incidents Bindel recounted of male antagonism to her as a lesbian.
I like Balding’s response in the following, even if it is descending into a ‘fight fire with fire’ dynamic:
Last year she reopened a feud with the Sunday Times television critic AA Gill, who described her as “a dyke on a bike” in his column in 2010. Balding described Gill as a “great twat” and claimed he hates clever women as she spoke in defence of Mary Beard, the on-screen historian who Gill suggested was too ugly for cameras.
Bindel argues that:
Lesbianism is a significant threat to men [just to be clear she modifies all other instances of the term ‘men’ to ‘a lot of’ or ‘men of the sexist variety’, so no she doesn’t mean all men - wbs]. After all, we are rejecting them sexually and, more importantly, making it clear we do not need to be desired by or betrothed to a man in order to have an identity. Clare Balding needs to be put in her place, according to the sexists, because she has no right to be a successful professional, a well-loved public figure and an out-and-proud lezzer.
This concept of threat is very important and deeply disturbing because of the potential for it to take very dangerous forms. I think she’s also exactly right when she argues that this is essentially a part and parcel with other forms of misogyny.
But you know, I think her conclusion is where it’s at.
What they need is a bloody good lesson in keeping their opinions to themselves.
Constitutional Convention this weekend April 12, 2013Posted by doctorfive in Irish Politics, LGBT Rights, Same-sex marriage.
Spoilt for pictures of empty halls today.
Meeting is to report recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas on making a constitutional provision for same-sex marriage begins tomorrow. Likely to be one of the more robust sessions.
Representatives from GLEN, ICCL, Marriage Equality, Bishops Conference, Evangelical Alliance and Order of the Knights of St.Columbanus all make presentations. With Carol Coulter, David Quinn, Colm O’Gorman and others making up a panel later in the afternoon.
Video of previous sessions available here
Same-sex marriage – the problem is heterosexuals April 3, 2013Posted by Tomboktu in LGBT Rights.
Over in Washington the US Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in two cases concerning same-sex marriage. Unlike the Irish Supreme Court (indeed, any Irish court), the documents in cases are routinely made available.
Among the parties making arguments is a group of members of the US House of Representatives. Their lawyer is Paul Clement, a former Solicitor General (under George W Bush). The written Brief he filed before the Court has some argument that is, well, novel.
On page 21:
There is a unique relationship between marriage and procreation that stems from marriage’s origins as a means to address the tendency of opposite-sex relationships to produce unintended and unplanned offspring. There is nothing irrational about declining to extend marriage to same-sex relationships that, whatever their other similarities to opposite-sex relationships, simply do not share that same tendency.
On page 44:
The link between procreation and marriage itself reflects a unique social difficulty with opposite-sex couples that is not present with same-sex couples — namely, the undeniable and distinct tendency of opposite-sex relationships to produce unplanned and unintended pregnancies.
On pages 45 and 46:
It is no exaggeration to say that the institution of marriage was a direct response to the unique tendency of opposite-sex relationships to produce unplanned and unintended offspring.
Although much has changed over the years, the biological fact that opposite-sex relationships have a unique tendency to produce unplanned and unintended offspring has not. While medical advances, and the amendment of adoption laws through the democratic process, have made it possible for same-sex couples to raise children, substantial advance planning is required. Only opposite-sex relationships have the tendency to produce children without such advance planning (indeed, especially without advance planning). Thus, the traditional definition of marriage remains society’s rational response to this unique tendency of opposite-sex relationships. And in light of that understanding of marriage, it is perfectly rational not to define as marriage, or extend the benefits of marriage to, other relationships that, whatever their other similarities, simply do not have the same tendency to produce unplanned and potentially unwanted children.
Wow. Just: wow.
GCN is 25 years old March 3, 2013Posted by Tomboktu in media, Media and Journalism, Gender Issues, History, Human Rights, Community, Inequality, LGBT Rights, Gay Community News.
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“I do not have to prove that I am ‘trans enough’ for anyone” December 7, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Crazed nonsense..., Human Rights, Inequality, Irish Politics, Justice, LGBT Rights.
While the country was getting ready for the budget on Wednesday, elsewhere in the Leinster House complex, an Oireachtas committee took evidence on the experience and legal situation of trans people in Ireland.
All of it is worth watching, but I was particularly moved by the evidence of Darrn matthews, from 8:30 into the film:
Hi. My name is Darrin Matthews. I am a board member of TENI and also run he Cork Peer Trans Support Group.
I am a transgender man.
I had a woman from the Disability Allowance Office ring me and she wanted to know why my name had changed from a female name to a male name, and when I told her it was because I was transgender, she laughed at me and hung up the phone.
When I go out and I get asked for my passport as identification to get in, I sometimes get turned away because my gender marker still says “F” and I have both my birth certificate name and my current name Darrin printed.
Everybody has a right to a private life. I would just like that my right would be recognized. Issuing new birth certificates and can easily do this and prevent embarrassment and harassment and potentially dangerous situations.
My experience of being transgender doesn’t just affect me, it also affects my family. I have an amazingly supportive and loving family. My mother put herself into almost €12,000 worth of debt so she could send me to a private school because I was bullied for 2 years in my state school. My mother took out a loan to send me to a school where I could be called Darrin, not wear a girl’s uniform and be happy and every member of staff and every student called me Darrin instead of derogatory and cruel names.
I have many friends who are straight, gay and transgender. In this day and age if a gay friend of mine come to me and told me they had gotten their official diagnosis of “homosexual”, I would be shocked and appalled. Nineteen years ago homosexuality was decriminalized and people now cannot imagine a time when homosexuality was illegal. Most people don’t know that transgender people must be diagnosed with a psychiatric illness to access treatment in this country because this is such an inconceivable and ridiculous notion and is discriminatory in its nature.
I do not feel that because I was born in the wrong body that that automatically means I have a mental illness. There is still stigmatization attached to having a mental health issue in this country and to force a psychiatric condition onto another human being can have detrimental effects on a person’s self-image and self-esteem.
When a couple applies for a civil partnership, they are not asked for their gay diagnosis to prove their homosexuality. I had to prove to many people I was happier as the man I should have always been, to my mother, my siblings, to my friends. And I had to prove that I had a psychiatric illness. But I should not have to prove anything to a complete stranger and seek their acceptance. I do not have to prove that I am ‘trans enough’ for anyone.
My mother once asked if I was sure, and if I was really sure that being Darrin was what I wanted. When I told her I couldn’t go go back and be happy, she just said to me ‘Well then we can only go forward, my son’.
I always knew transitioning would never be easy but please don’t make it any harder than it already is. All I want is to be treated as an equal. To be treated with respect and dignity as much as a non-transgender person would be. Nothing more and nothing less. Thank you.
Declaration of the 4th European Transgender Council September 9, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Gender Issues, Human Rights, Inequality, Ireland, LGBT Rights.
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I received this in an email today.
Declaration of the 4th European Transgender Council on transphobic and racist violence and harassment, targeted at three Council participants
We the participants and organizers of this 4th European Transgender Council condemn the transphobic attack directed towards three participants of our Council in Dublin – two of the newly elected steering committee members and a Council of Europe official. Two years ago delegates were attacked during the 3rd European Transgender Council in Malmö (Sweden). We are shocked and deeply concerned that this type of violence has been repeated in Ireland. Once again it has been proven that no space is a safe space for trans people.
On Saturday night, 8th September 2012, a group of ten delegates were on their way to the Council’s social events in the Temple Bar District. Two persons, unknown to them, targeted our Turkish Steering Committee member, Kemal Ördek, and physically and verbally attacked hir and hirs colleague Laura LePrince from France. Lauri Sivonen, Advisor to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, intervened to protect the delegates and the attackers spat in his face before leaving the scene. Due to the fact that their first target was one of our Turkish delegates, we assume that the attack was not only based on trans- and homophobia, but as well on racism and xenophobia.
Lauri Sivonen, accompanied by a representative of TENI, reported the incident on Saturday night to An Garda Síochána. Kemal Ördek and Laura LePrince will give a report at the garda station as well. The gardai are expected to ensure that the delegates will have a chance to report in a safer space with respect to their gender identity and expression. TGEU has been assured that TENI will observe and follow up on the process.
In view of the above,
We require An Garda Síochána to
Investigate this case quickly, properly and without any trans-, homo- or xenophobic or racist prejudice. Implement a trans-inclusive monitoring system that will effectively record transphobic incidences. Have LGBT trained liaison officers on duty 24 hours. Collaborate with TENI to make Dublin and Ireland a safer space for trans people.
We demand that the State of Ireland
Ensure that gender identity and gender expression are explicitly covered by equality legislation and work to develop hate crime legislation that protects all trans people. Collaborate with Irish trans organizations and support their work to make Ireland a country that does not tolerate bigotry, discrimination or violence against trans people. Raise awareness that trans people’s equality and human rights must always be respected thus making sure that such incidents cease to happen. Protect trans people’s private life through gender recognition legislation that fully respect human rights according to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe’s Recommendations and the Yogyakarta Principles.
Dublin, 9th September 2012.
Donal Óg Cusack opening Foyle Pride Festival August 25, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in LGBT Rights, Northern Ireland.
“Coming Out, Being Seen, Making History” July 31, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in 1970s), Civil Rights, Film and Television, History, LGBT Rights.
Like last week’s contribution from irishelectionliterature to the TWIMBLT… series, today’s is a selection from various artists that have particular memories for the contributor rather than a selection from a single artist. And, in fact, the title is a lie: I’ll be so busy with the Dublin Pride parade during the day and the Pride party tonight that I won’t have time to listen to these songs, and I would be very surprised if they got an airing on any of the floats in the parade, at the Pride in the Park in its new, larger home at Merrion Square, or at the Kaleidoscope Pride Night. [And it is Dublin Pride parade , despite the temptation of some to call it simply "the Pride parade". Pride events are held in other places too: Cork, Belfast, Galway, Limerick, Drogheda, Derry, Waterford, Manorhamilton, Artane, and Easky to name a few.]
The common link with all but one of these is that I listened to or heard them when I was coming out not quite a quarter century ago. But these are not simply the sound track that places events at a time in my own personal history: they helped, hindered and shaped my coming out and … well, it is a phrase that can sound pompous… they helped, hindered and shaped my identity as it changed over that period. It is more a Desert Island Discs than a TWMIBLT… .
The other reason the title is a lie is that the songs are a hook on which I am hanging some ruminations on coming out.
These songs weren’t the only external source of influence I had when I was coming out. I had the luck of access to the Internet before the Web was invented, and the discussion group soc.motss (I would love to know if it continues outside the google connection/version) was the most important source of information and ideas that influenced me. Before I had access to soc.motss, I had come across information: ocassional articles in the mainstream newspapers and in USI magazines. A photo of Lance Pettit and others in the Irish Independent when UCD’s Gaysoc got recognition is one memory, although I cannot date it. And the fact that I read an article in a USI magazine by somebody from Northern Ireland about coming out also sticks in my memory from the period before I myself made any moves. To be clear: the fact that I read the article (and that the magazine was an A4, professionally printed affair) is what sticks, not the content of the article. And another source in the lead-in period was the sleeve notes to Bronski Beat’s The Age of Consent. Of the songs, Why was the one that affected me most. Looking back, that seems bizzare: it amounts to a warning that coming out would be a dangerous step. Even having the album was risky: when I realised the insert in the sleeve listed the ages of consent across European countries and was clearly pro-gay, I hid it in the bottom of the wardrobe in my bedroom to prevent my mother from seeing it.
I find it hard to say if any of that “input” helped or not. On balance, I think not. It was sparodic, and all one way, and impersonal: I didn’t know Lance Pettit or the USI writer. When I finished my degree, I moved to another city to do a masters. And it was there that I got access to soc.motss. I was going through the discussion groups the college had access to. They ranged widely: rec.humour, talk.politics, sci.physics and wading through the list I stumbled on the weirdly named soc.motss. The content was clearly gay, but I could not figure out why it had that name or what that name meant. But a daily dose of ongoing discussion of gay issues was mind-blowing. Initally the discussion of, say, “FGTATWSC” didn’t make much more sense when I discovered that it meant Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. But a few months later when the movie arrived in Ireland, light dawned. Actually, FGTATWSC was released after I had come out, but it was the kind of topic that was in the mix. Other topics were less opaque: Mormonism and homosexuality, berdaches [I didn't know -- if you don't look it up], new HIV treatments, HIV politics, gay politicians, gay politicians at state level, gay politicians at city level, lesbian invisibility, queer bashing, Elton John, and on and on and on. Two things strike me now as important: it was daily and although there were posts and replies about coming out, all that other stuff changed the question from one of coming out from secrecy to coming out into a gay community. The fact that soc.motss was mainly USA and UK based was a bit of problem, but at least I did have access to something about those of us attracted to member of the same sex (from which motss comes).
Two documents that came up in discussion were hugely enegergising: The Heterosexual Questionnaire [among others: What do you think caused your heterosexuality? Do your parents know you are straight?] and Queers Read This. It is a paradox that Queers Read This should be energising: it presented an even more distressful scenario than Bronski Beat had. It still shocks most of the younger gay people I meet these days when I direct them to it. But for me, it was polticial and demanded action.
And somewhere in that mix I came across Tom Robinson’s anthem for the gay community Sing If You’re Glad to be Gay. An irony today (specifically today, 30 June 2012) in Dublin is that the first line of the song refers to the British police, in a very different relation to gay men than we will see on the streets of Dublin this afternoon: some of the British lgbt police will be marching in the Dublin Pride Parade, and in their uniforms, alongside colleagues from police services in Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and 10 or so other countries, a privilege denied the lesbian, bisexual and gay members of An Garda Síochána.
My coming out became more of a political action than a personal one. I devoted more energy to lgb activism than I did to hunting romance. And so, after I did come out, anything that hit a note, provided it wasn’t dire, got added to the playlist. Among that category was Chumbawamba’s Homophobia.
The other key anthem of the time was Gloria Gaynor’s I am what I am — key because when I used to visit the gay disco at The Other Place in Cork, it was always the song used to close the night. I didn’t realise for years that the original came from the musical La Cage Aux Folles. The angry activist in me loves the transgression in that movie: a gay man pretends to be a woman and wife of his partner for the sake of their child — a gay couple with a child! — who has become engaged to the daughter of a snob. It was a nice piece of timing for my post that at the European Gay Police Association’s conference in Dublin yesterday, the Equality Authority’s Director of Legal Services, Brian Merriman, reminded the delegates — police officers, remember — that we celebrate pride at this time because when police in New York on 28 June 1969 raided the Stonewall bar, it was the drag queens and transvestites and cross-dressers — not the polite gay activists who set the strategies designed to achieve more tolerance — but the trannies, whom everybody held in contempt, who turned and fought New York’s finest and put them under siege and needing the Tactical Unit to come and rescue them.
There is no doubt that coming out has changed since the late 1980s and early 1990s when I was preparing for it, and making that move. Nobody in my classes at school or at college were out at those times. All in those groups who has come out moved from home before doing so, and all came out in their early 20s. I acknowledge that that was not a universal experience, and I have met lesbian and gay people over the years who are the same age as me who did come out while still at home and still at school. But I met a colleague of a friend on the bus home a few months ago, and the conversation turned to gay issues. (He is straight.) He told me that when he did his Leaving Certificate eight or nine years ago, the pattern in his year, and the years before and after, was that on the night the results were published, somebody would come out in the pub when they were celebrating, and safely away from school. Last year, the younger brother of one of his classmates reported that two had come out in transition year, still in school. And a youth worker with BeLonG To told the European Gay Police Conference yesterday that BeLonG To now faces a challenge because it gets calls from people between 10 and 13, all below the service’s lower age limit, who are coing out and want to join.
My musings have focused on when I first came out. I have in fact had to do it again a few times since then. The most recent was last year when I was elected to the branch committee in my union, and came to attend meetings with people from other parts of my employer’s organisation I had not met or worked with before. A participant in the Rainbow Service’s research on the experiences of lgbt people in the workplace eloquently expressed my feelings on that experience
That type of coming out presents a challenge I have not seen or heard discussed much. It did come up at the European Gay Police Conference, in a workshop on Thursday, when a Swiss officer said that a the homophobia he now sees is not the traditionally understood direct bullying or prejudice by older managers. Those senior and older officers, he said, have changed, have accepted that the old ways were wrong. It is the younger, middle managers, a little older than him who are the source of problems. Their reasoning is that since discrmination in the workplace is now illegal and since civil partnership or same-sex marriage are available, and since bullying has (nearly) been eliminated, there is no need for gay officers to bring up their homosexuality in work.
I wonder will it ever be possible to end the concept of coming out — will asking somebody if they’ve told their parents they are gay will make as much nonesense as asking them if they’ve told their parents they are straight.
— * — * —
The gay music I come across when I was coming out wasn’t all political. One humorous song I came across and liked was written by Elton John but performed by Tom Robinson: Never Gonna Fall in Love (Again)
— * — * —
A while ago, I discovered an Irish contribution to the catalogue. Strictly speaking, it doesn’t belong in a post about the songs of my coming out because I did not hear or know about it then, although it was released as a single at the time I moved away from home to do that postgrad and discover soc.motss. And I like it because it brings out that pain of being gay in adifferent era without the overt, in-your-face politics of Tom Robinson or Chumbawamba. Here is The Radiators from Space with Under Clery’s Clock
Frank Kameny – gay rights movement pioneer… October 13, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in LGBT Rights, The Left.
There’s a good, but unfortunately all too short, piece in Slate on Frank Kameny, who died recently, one of those who can be seen as instrumental in initiating the US gay rights movement. Kameny had a love of astronomy and he recounts in the article how as a child he went to the New York Planetarium, ultimately became an astronomer but was dismissed from his job for his sexuality in 1957.
It’s an amazing piece, all the more so given its brevity, but very telling and in an odd way I think this links in with what was written here about how perhaps the left could emulate aspects of the liberal agenda, because Kameny was made of stern stuff and engaged directly with a system that was antithetical to his outlook he pursued justice, first through the Supreme Court and when that was not forthcoming then through civic activism and militant civic activism – The Mattachine Society [itself an organisation of some interest which initially due to the leftist inclinations of those involved adopted a structure similar to the Communist Party - Harry Hay,one of its founders was a member of the CP and the history of his involvement and ‘expulsion’ is remarkable], with Jack Nichols and later through the Gay Liberation Front [according to wiki he coined the slogan ‘Gay is Good’ influenced by Stokely Carmichael’s ‘Black is Beautiful’].
He, and they, also picked their battles wisely, perhaps one of the most important was to ultimately persuade the American Psychological Association to remove their ‘diagnosis’ of homosexuality as a mental illness from the DSM – a diagnosis which as Kameny and others argued was ‘unscientific, groundless, immoral and harmful’ and had caused untold harm to many many people. Without this supposedly empirical basis for homophobia a significant breach was made in the societal wall that supported it.
As the article notes Kameny lived long enough to see the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, something that it notes Kameny was particularly pleased given that ‘he had always resented having to lie about his sexuality in order to fight the Nazi’s in WWII’.
I appreciate that there are distinctions between the liberal agenda and the left agenda, but there are commonalities too and I find it hard to believe that his struggle [and expressions of that struggle such as Mattachine] isn’t part of our general struggle and that inspiration cannot be drawn from it too.
It ends with a useful precis:
But he did it. After all, they were wrong and he was right, and, if they didn’t change their behavior voluntarily, well, he was just going to have to make them.
A lesson there for all activists I think.