I Hope Their Kid Is Gay

Have you seen the latest hoax this week? Several articles- all copying and pasting the same thing, of course- claiming that Robert Mugabe‘s son has come out as gay. In case you’ve been under a rock for the last few decades, Mugabe has been either Prime Minister or President of Zimbabwe for longer than I’ve been alive. And I’ve got more than five or six grey hairs. As with most people who’ve been executive heads of states for thirty-odd years, his career hasn’t exactly been a wonderful golden age of prosperity and safeguarding of human rights. I’m no expert in Zimbabwean politics, though, so let’s just stick with one point: Mugabe is a virulent homophobe whose government has brought in laws making it illegal for two people of the same sex to as much as hold hands, and who has described LGBT people as “worse than dogs and pigs”.

He’s probably not volunteering to set up a local chapter of PFLAG, y’know?

Of course, the story isn’t real- Robert Mugabe doesn’t have a son called Chipape, never mind a gay one. But it did spread quickly before (and, it seems, even after) the inevitable 5-minute debunking. That’s not a surprise- it’s exactly the kind of story that people like to hear. Because LGBT people show up in all kinds of families, it’s never too much to hope that well-known homophobes will have to face up to people they love dearly coming out. And we all know that nothing crumbles homophobia to dust quite like knowing, loving and understanding someone who’s queer. Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone like Mugabe was forced to come to terms with having a queer son or daughter? Couldn’t it change everything? Wouldn’t it be the perfect combination of redemption narrative and schadenfreude?

Not really. No.

Where is your empathy?

Seriously. If that narrative sounded glorious to you, where is your empathy? I ask this in a very literal sense. Who have you empathy with?

It seems to me like the people being noticed here are you and the homophobic parent. The homophobic parent gets their comeuppance. With any luck, they learn a valuable lesson about acceptance and (eventually) come to love and accept their gay son or daughter, after getting the shock of their lives. You get to sit back and enjoy watching your enemy squirm, before putting on your most benevolent smile and welcoming them over to our side. Everyone has a great time.

Except for the kid.

You see, in this story you forget about that kid. The one who had to grow up knowing that their parents- the people who are supposed to love you most unconditionally- despise a basic part of who they are.

In the best-case scenario, it turns out okay in the end. Before that, though? The best case scenario involves that child growing up learning that anything other than cisgender heterosexuality is an abomination. It involves the dawning realisation on the part of that kid that they are the abomination everyone hates so much. Years of trying desperately to change themselves. Years of trying to hide. Years of fear of losing everyone that they love. Of knowing deep down, every single moment, that they have to pretend to be someone they’re not.

In the best-case scenario, this child- who has been unknowingly brutalised their entire life- finds support and love somewhere. They find a place to stay and a community to accept them when their family rejects them. Over months or years, their family comes around and, eventually, things are okay. Mostly.

Okay, except for the pain inflicted on that innocent kid in ways that never truly goes away.

That’s the best-case scenario. I don’t think I can stomach the worst.

We are not your punchline. We are not your punishment.

I’m going to say that again. Queer people? We do not exist to provide punchlines in straight people’s stories. We do not exist to punish straight people for the error of their ways. Life is not a fairy tale, and we are not supporting characters in someone else’s morality play.

I don’t hope that Mugabe has a queer kid. I don’t hope that the WBCers do- although it’s highly unlikely that all of their kids will grow up cis and het. For their sakes, I hope that they do.

I don’t want queer kids to be born into families that hate them, so that they can do the work of converting their families to our cause. I want queer kids to be born and raised by families who love and cherish them for exactly who they are. I want the to grow up knowing that whatever the rest of the world will throw at them for being queer- and it will- they always have somewhere safe to come home to.

And if you don’t agree? Put yourself in that kid’s shoes. Then get back to me.

I Hope Their Kid Is Gay

Who’s for trans rights?

SolidariTy is a joint initiative by LGBT Noise and Transgender Equality Network Ireland. It’s all about getting cis people- in particular LGBs, but straight cis people should get their butts on board too- to stand up and be counted and support trans people’s rights. They’ve just released a video (yep, that’s me in the blue). Check it out:

I love that something like SolidariTy is happening. It’s not enough for cis people to give quiet thumbs-up to our trans friends and then go on about our lives. Trans people in Ireland don’t have the same rights as cis people do. Trans people are at terrifyingly high risk of being  fired from their jobs, having an even harder time than the rest of us actually getting work in the first place, ostracised from families and communities, denied necessary healthcare, and of suffering from mental health difficulties, self-harm and suicide. Trans people are denied legal gender recognition in this country, and the government’s proposed legislation to remedy this is outdated and damaging. That legislation would force people to divorce, it would force trans kids and teenagers to spend years with documents that don’t match their identities, and it would enshrine the idea that to be trans is to be mentally ill.

That’s no way for our country to treat its citizens, and no way for our society to treat its members. If you’re here in Ireland, keep an eye on SolidariTy to see how you can help change things.


Who’s for trans rights?

Why You Need To Quit Calling Homophobes Closet Cases.

A comment over at The Journal:

Homophobia is often a symptom of latent homosexuality. Homophobes need to be encouraged to accept their orientation.

I quote it because it’s so common. We hear this all the time. Someone expresses wildly homophobic views, and the response is that they must be closeted themselves. They’ve got some issues to deal with, amirite? Some personal stuff they need to work out. Wink. Nudge. Know what I mean?

Yeah. I know what you mean.

Sometimes you’re right. Lots of people do respond to internal conflicts by acting out. Loads of vehemently homophobic people are closeted. But I’ve got a few issues with ‘homophobes are all queers’ being our go-to explanation.

It’s homophobic.

You’re a straight ally or a happy out queer. You don’t go around using homophobic slurs- except maybe with your BFFs in private, because that’s different. Until, that is, someone starts loudly proclaiming that queers are evil sodomites who’re bound to hell and should be kept far, far away from children. Against them, all bets are off, and you just know that the best way to get under their skin is to call them the thing that they hate the most. And y’know what?  I’ll bet you also do it because it’s fun. We don’t get many chances to make gleeful insinuations about someone’s orientation. That’s normally considered impolite, isn’t it? But when it comes to loud homophobes, we can gleefully let out our gossipy sides and speculate to our heart’s content.

It’s a pity that by doing that, we’re throwing queers under the bus. We’re perpetuating the idea that there’s something salacious about queerness. That it’s okay- even in very particular circumstances- to mock someone’s internal struggles with a homophobic society.

Closet cases’ orientations shouldn’t matter. You advocate homophobia? I’ll come down like a ton of bricks on your views. What goes on inside your head is irrelevant to me, in all but one instance.

You see, to be honest, homophobic closet cases are one of the few kinds of homophobes I’d have genuine sympathy for. I get that coming out is terrifying. I get that internalised homophobia can mess you up. Those things damage us all, and closeted homophobes have been damaged even more than most of them. I oppose their views utterly- and at the same time I wish them the best and hope that they’ll learn to accept and love who they are. But I know that’s one hell of a tough road.

Which brings me to straight people.

Straight people are off the hook.

A hell of a lot of the speculation about loud homophobes’ orientations seems to come, not from queers, but from straight people. The straight people who we know and love, who call themselves allies and love us right back. Lots of the time, it comes from straight folks who walk the ally walk as well as talking the talk- the people who march beside us, defend us even when we’re not around, listen when we tell t hem how it is, support us. I love you guys to pieces, by the way!

But when you say that the loudest homophobes are closeted LGBT folks, you erase the fact that the vast, vast majority of homophobia doesn’t come from closeted people. It comes from straight people. Casual, everyday homophobia overwhelmingly comes from straight people (and yes, by the way, I know that all of you aren’t like that). The vast majority of people who vote against marriage equality are straight. The vast majority of the people who draft gender recognition legislation that enshrines gatekeeping, divorce, diagnoses and compulsory surgery are cis. The people who think that knowing we even exist should be kept from kids, because we’re too ‘confusing’? Mostly straight and cis. The people who treat us ever-so-slightly differently, who tokenise us, who judge us by how closely we conform to stereotypes? Mostly straight and cis. And, yeah, most of the people who brainwash, reject and demonise us are straight and cis too.

But if we joke that homophobes are all homos, we let straight people rest easy. Homophobia becomes something that isn’t just targeted at LGBTQ people. It’s something perpetuated by us too. Homophobia stops being straight people’s problem.

It erases the structures that make closet cases into homophobes.

Do homophobic closeted queers exist? Hell yeah! Is it a disproportionate thing? I think it is! Do closeted homophobes come from nowhere? No.

Every closeted homophobe is themself a victim of decades of oppression. They’re not demons. They’re seriously, horribly damaged people who have been twisted into caricatures of the antithesis of what they should be. They’ve been so profoundly distorted by the communities they grew up and live in that  It’s gotta be horrible, and they didn’t start it. Our society is riddled with homophobic structures both overt and subtle. Homophobic queers are the crowning glory of a society that tells us that who we are is shameful and disgusting. If we want to fix that? We have to look a little deeper. We have to quit looking at the weeds and dig out the roots.

Isn’t that just letting closeted homophobes off the hook?

I hope not!

There’s a huge difference between the responses that we have to homophobes who’ve been outed, and the idea that every single homophobe gets tarred the the queer label. If we know that a particular person is a hypocritical, lying piece of shit who’s, say, using their massive public influence to turn people against LGBT folks while secretly messing around with people of a distinctly similar gender to their own? They’re fair game. Homophobes in general, though? Let’s remember that they’re far more likely to just be garden variety hetero bigots.

And just because I can, have some Roy Zimmerman:

Why You Need To Quit Calling Homophobes Closet Cases.

LGBT Community and Pride: Where have they been?

In the past week we heard a lot from people from all sides of our community regarding Dublin Pride’s decision not to allow speakers from community and activist groups after Saturday’s parade. Fortunately for everyone, Pride were able to come to an agreement with LGBTQ groups, allowing them a small amount of time to address the Pride crowds.

There’s one thing I kept on hearing last week from some people associated with Pride Committee members that I’d like to address, and that’s this: where were the community and activist groups all year? While Pride Committee members were volunteering their time to put on a festival.. where was everyone else?

Where were they? Here, of course. Everywhere.

I find it difficult to understand how members of the Pride committee could see that they gave long hours to their group, but not that everyone else is doing the same.

The vast majority of the work that goes into every LGBT community or activist group in the country is voluntary. Even organisations with paid staff rely heavily on volunteers. Throughout the country, every evening and weekend, people give long hours of their time and donate their incredible expertise to build our communities and campaign for inclusion and equality.

We all give our time.

Activist and community groups build and sustain the community that Pride celebrates. They give us a place to go for the other 50 weeks of the year. They run the support groups and helplines. They organise our regular meetups. They run the campaigns that will- oh, they will– build a society where LGBTQ people are not only equally respected under the law, but equally valued as members of our society.

Activist and community groups have been working their butts off on activism and community building. That’s what they do. They also gave Dublin Pride what they asked for- filled out their forms to be part of the parade- and no doubt assumed that in the absence of any further information, the day would continue to be organised in a similar way to how it had been for years. Dublin Pride are the people who had responsibility for letting everyone else know if something else was going on.

If they didn’t do that? They should own up. Complaining about having put in long hours to people who do the exact same thing with their own evenings and weekends? Not doing anyone any favours. Hopefully next year’s committee can learn from this year’s mistakes, take ownership of their jobs and make an event that is both a spectacular party and a call to action.

LGBT Community and Pride: Where have they been?

Equality, already!

There’s a lot of reasons to support marriage equality. Respect for human dignity. Excuses to wear fancy hats. Recognising and valuing love and commitment. Giving your assorted aunts a day out. Thousands of legal rights and responsibilities. Cake.

I’ve got one more.

Every time I watch a marriage equality video, I cry.

I’m not talking a single dignified tear. It starts a few seconds in with that tear. By the end of a 3-minute video, the tear has been joined by its sisters, brothers, cousins, friends, old babysitters, and everyone who’s ever worked at its favourite cafes. What I’m trying to say here is that marriage equality videos- every single damn one of them- make me bawl. I’m crying right now just thinking of ’em.

In fairness, I cry at straight couples getting married too, but I have to actually know the people involved. Show me an old queer couple that I’ve never met and tell me that they’ve been waiting longer than I’ve been alive to have their relationship recognised, though? You’d better have brought a stack of tissues with you, ’cause I’ll be sobbing before you can get the words out.

This is a problem. Sometimes I have to appear professional. Like a grown-up in control of herself who won’t turn into a teary mess in seconds. The only way that I can see to deal with this is for every country, everywhere, to get off their asses and legislate for equal marriage- preferably on an evening or weekend, so there’ll be no problem with me hiding under a blanket with a bucket of icecream. Let’s get this out of the way in a morning, have our happy cry, and then get on with things.

In the meantime, check these out. You can try to tell me you’re not moved if you like, but I won’t believe you.

If you were to fancy throwing any links into the comments that’ll make me ugly-cry? I’d probably complain, but I’d also watch every sniffly one of them.


Equality, already!

Absolut’s new Pride video.

Where do I start? How about here: it is a very pretty video. The people in it were great. Sweet stories, real people. Lots of familiar faces- people who I know and admire from the LGBTQI community here in Dublin. It’s wonderfully human and engaging.

It’s just what’s missing that bothers me.

While the people and couples in it are lovely, the first thing I noticed was that it was all gay, gay, gay. No trans or bi representation, definitely no mention of the existence of any other diversity in the LGBTQI community. No POC, no people with disabilities, no people with non-Irish accents. No people with working-class or regional accents. In a video about Pride in our capital city- a place where so many people move to to find acceptance and community. And the only mention of an older person? Was someone talking about how he once saw an old lady waving a Pride flag from the sidelines, with the assumption that she must have been straight.

That’s not our community. I think.. there’s such a wonderful opportunity here to showcase that LGBTQI people are everyone. That we’re not just young urban white gays! To actually show more of a cross-section of Ireland and make it obvious that we’re so much more than that. There are far more interesting stories to be told. There are faces that should be shown and voices that should be heard. Those faces and those voices- from the working-class queers, queers with disabilities, queer POC and immigrants, from the bisexuals and asexuals and intersex people and trans people, from the kids of same-sex couples- are the stories you don’t get to hear. I want to hear those stories. I want those faces to be as visible, because I want those people to feel the same kind of belonging that we give to young, urban, middle-class, abled white gay people.

I like the video. It’s well-done. But in terms of representing what Pride is supposed to be about? It’s disappointing.

Absolut’s new Pride video.

Why Marriage Equality Should Matter To Straight People


Marriage equality. Same-sex marriage. Gay marriage. Whatever you call it, it’s kind of a big deal these days. We hear a lot about why it matters to LGBTQ folks- that pesky equality thing, being treated with the same dignity and rights as others, protecting our families, having nice days out with excellent hats. But, as every LGBTQer will tell you, most people aren’t queer. Most of you are raging heterosexualists. And those of you of a heterosexual persuasion might sometimes wonder what, precisely, is in it for you? Why should you leave your warm, comfortable sofa and take to the streets for the rights of a bunch of strangers?

As it turns out? A lot of reasons. Here’s a few of mine:

1. You Want To Marry People Who Love You Back, Right?

Have you ever met someone who started off LGBT, was oppressed for it, and genuinely turned straight? I haven’t. As a wise man once said, “there ain’t no cure for love“.

Discrimination against queer people has never stopped us from being queer. What it has done is force people into the closet and into relationships with people that they might love, but they can never really love. If you want to be sure that the person who you marry is someone who feels as much for you as you do for them? Make sure that people can marry the ones they love.

2. The Infertility Thing

A bunch of the arguments against marriage equality go something like this: While two people of any gender can share love and devotion, it’s only the physical union of one (cis, though they never mention it) man and one (cis, though they never mention it) woman that can physically create a child, and it is in the interests of society to support this.

Let’s leave aside the kinda-bizarre implication that we want, as a society, to support LGBT people getting into different-sex marriages. It shouldn’t be difficult to see what’s intrinsically wrong with that.

Not all straight people can have kids- biologically, at least- with each other. Not all straight people want to have kids. If marriage is only for people who can physically create a child with each other, then what about infertile people? Post-menopausal women should be banned from marrying anyone at all, and childfree people consigned to civil unions at best. Fertility tests would be mandatory before marriage licences, and marriages that don’t produce children within a couple of years would be annulled.

Sounds ridiculous, eh? It is ridiculous. And it’s not going to happen. But think about it: do you want your marriages to be defined by whether you have children or not? Do you want to be seen as less valuable if you choose not to have kids? Do you want infertile people to be shamed, do you think it’s okay if their relationships are seen as lesser?

If you accept the idea that different-sex marriages are better because lots of people in them can have kids without any outside help (and even by accident), then you accept the idea that having kids somehow makes a relationship.. better. Do you want your relationships defined by whether or not you can physically make a kid with the person you love?

I figured not.

3. It’s about family and community.

LGBT people don’t live in a world separate from everyone else. Maybe your kid is LGBT. Maybe it’s your parent. Or your aunt or your uncle. Maybe your cousin or your sibling. Either way, chances are that there’s at least someone in your circles who’s not entirely straight & cis. We’re part of your families, we’re your friends, we live in your communities. Do you want some of the people you love to be treated as if they were less than others? Isn’t it a little… awkward?

4. It’s About Love

Anti-marriage equality advocates would have you believe that marriage is about anything- anything– other than two people who love each other making a lifelong commitment to each other. They say that it’s about babies- ignoring the many thousands of kids raised by loving same-sex couples. They say that it has nothing to do with love, and that marriage is by definition something between one man and one woman, without giving reasons why. Anti-equality advocates would say that your genitals (which they overwhelmingly feel are directly tied to your gender) are the most important defining feature of the love you share.

Don’t you think that your relationships and marriages are worth more than that? If you love someone, isn’t that love about far more than one of you being A Man and one of you being A Woman? Those of us who advocate for marriage equality say that love is something between you and the unique individual that you love. We say that love doesn’t need to keep anything else down to be special- it’s beautiful just as it is.

These were just what I came up with. Can you think of any more? What’ve I missed?

Why Marriage Equality Should Matter To Straight People

From Marriage Equality: Do us a favour?

Check out the video.

And then go here to send a message to any of your local TDs in the Constitutional Convention, to let them know that you support the right of all people in Ireland to marriage equality, regardless of gender or orientation.

And then share the video and get everyone you know to do the same. Because it’s about damn time all marriages were treated equally under the law here, don’t you think?


We Are Not Your Afterthought: responding to LGBT Soup

TW for cis gay privilege that could make your eyes bleed. Don’t read this at work unless you have office walls thick enough to withstand obscenities.

There are some phrases that, when you see them in an article, you know aren’t going to lead to anywhere good. “Political correctness gone mad”, for one. “Some of my best friends are…”, for another. “I’m not a ___, but..” is definitely one. One of the phrases that takes the proverbial biscuit (and a lot of other proverbials), though, is this one:

Now, before you run off to compose a face-meltingly indignant email to the editor..

When the writer already knows that they’ve written something to get their readers face-meltingly indignant, things can only go two ways. It could be that they’ve come up with something so new and wonderful that it’ll take the rest of us years to get our heads around. Far more often, though, you’re about to read something that will have you facepalming so hard you end up with permanent dents on your forehead. If you’re unlucky, you might not be able to stop yourself from muttering obscenities at the screen in the middle of your office.

Fortunately for me, I read this at lunchtime.

LGBT Soup, eh?

The article in question, LGBT Soup, is an argument- if you could call it that- that The Community needs to go back to basics, get rid of the alphabet soup acronyms and call ourselves something more simple. In itself, this isn’t terribly controversial. It’s accepted that the LGBTQQIA communities have one hell of an unwieldy acronym, and plenty of attempts have been made to change it to something that’s at least pronounceable. Some people use Queer as an umbrella term. Some go with GSM for Gender and Sexuality Minorities. QUILTBAG (Queer Unidentified Intersex Lesbian Trans* Bi Ace Gay, as far as I’m aware) has been around for years. We’re a diverse set of communities, though, so none of them have yet stuck. So far, so good.

What’s all the fuss about?

The problem is that the author, Ciara McGrattan- who works as an assistant editor for GCN- thinks that what we need to do is get rid of all those pesky Ls, Bs, Ts- and god forbid Qs, Is and As- and go back to basics. That what the LGBT community needs is to call itself the gay community and shed the rest. Check out her charming way of proposing this:

I propose it’s time to simplify and perhaps employ a modicum of moderation to the unwieldy beast of LGBTLMFAO initials. Do you sleep with people of the same sex? Welcome to Gay Club. In a relationship with someone of the same-sex? Welcome to Gay Club. Trans and exclusively attracted to people of your gender? Welcome to Gay Club. Attracted to both sexes? Good for you, but unless you’re withsomeone of the same-sex, you aren’t part of Gay Club.

So, for the purposes of accuracy and economy of expression, LGBTetc should be replaced with ‘gay’. Just gay. That’s all. Simple. Elegant. Accurate.

Offended yet? To start with, there are the wildly biphobic inconsistencies within that very paragraph- if you sleep with people of the same sex, but are attracted to people of other sexes, then you can only be in Gay Club during the time you are actively with someone of the same sex. Gay Club works by negative marking, it seems- one stray glance at a particularly fine differently-sexed specimen of humanity and your Gay Club membership is revoked unless you are, at that very moment, actively involved with someone of the same sex. FSM forbid you be single.

And this, my friends, is McGrattan’s concept of ‘accuracy’. Hold on to your large glasses of gin, though (you don’t have one? If you’re ever inclined towards gin, I’d recommend one)- this gets far, far worse.

A little history

McGrattan has an interesting view of history. Here’s her impression of a half-century of queer activism:

By the mid-20th century the word [gay] began appearing as a synonym for homosexuality and, after briefly being hijacked Enid Blyton as the perfect noun to describe a spiffing day picnicking in Cornwall, was adopted by pre-Stonewall friends of Dorothy.

And so the ‘gay’ community, in name at least, began.

In time, the homosexual ladies felt unrepresented by ‘gay’ and so the word ‘lesbian’ (first coined in 1925) was included to refer to all those women suffering from the sexy, but burdensome, pain of same-sex attraction.

So, the gay community became the ‘gay and lesbian’ (GL) community. Then in the ’80s, perhaps because L and G were feeling lonesome, ‘bisexual’ (B) was added. GLB became the initials of choice for political correct citizens in describing the gay community.

By the 1990s ‘T’ (for transgender) was tacked on – despite the obvious difference between sexual orientation and gender identity – and the LGBT initials now familiar to all was born.

McGrattan seems to be going for a cheery, light-hearted tone here. However, let’s take a look at her language and what it implies. Gay is a synonym for homosexuality- yep, that’s true. Lesbians felt unrepresented by ‘gay’- also the case. We’re okay so far. Bisexuality, on the other hand, was added “because L and G were feeling lonesome”. And as for Trans? Well, that was “tacked on”.

Let’s talk about subjectivity and objectivity. To be a ‘subject’ in this case is to be an agent- a person who feels, thinks and acts. To be a subject is to be an individual worthy of consideration in your own right. To be an ‘object’ is what it sounds like. It’s to be treated as a thing which is only relevant where it affects others.

Do you see what McGrattan did there? Gays and lesbians have feelings and perspectives. Lesbians get to be underrepresented. Bisexual and trans people, though? What people? They’re just labels.

McGrattan, in a couple of paragraphs, blithely erases decades of struggle and activism by everyone but cisgender monosexual gay people. In an article that mentions Stonewall. Stonewall. The event that sparked off the modern queer liberation movement when people rioted because they were being arrested for wearing non gender-normative clothing. Let’s remember for a second that it wasn’t the respectable gender-normative gays who rioted at Stonewall. It was queers and queens.

McGrattan needs to give herself a history lesson, because she feels that the first the LGBT movement heard of trans people was in the 1990s:

By including an identity not specifically referring to same-sex attraction (T), the flood gates were opened. Now, before you run off to compose a face-meltingly indignant email to the editor about the unseemly transphobia of GCN, consider the fact that gay and trans are not synonyms. ‘Gay’ refers to same-sex attraction only, ‘transgender’ to the state of one’s gender identity.

But enough of history. Let’s talk homophobia and transphobia.

Homophobia, transphobia and gender policing

As we saw above, McGrattan feels that gender and sexuality are two entirely separate things and that there is no good reason for trans and LGB gay people to ally with each other. I guess McGrattan must be lucky enough to be one of the rare LGBT people who has never been the victim of homophobia. She’s lucky. Me, I’m not so lucky. Let me tell you a story, k?

I don’t generally get much homophobic abuse these days. Hardly ever, in fact. If I do, it’s when I’m with my partner being obviously queer in public. It sucks and it hurts, but we are lucky have a couple of intersections going for us that keep us under people’s radar a lot of the time.

I wasn’t always so lucky. I used to get a hell of a lot more homophobic abuse than I do now. It used to be a regular thing that happened most times that I left the house. The difference?

I used to look like this:


Now I look more like this:


These days, you can’t always tell that I’m queer when I walk down the street. Why? Because the way that I present myself is more gender-normative. Because, inaccurate as stereotypes about gender and sexuality may be, they inform the snap judgements that every person I walk past makes about me without even knowing they’re doing it.

Gender and sexuality may be entirely separate- that’s a complicated conversation for another day. Homophobia and transphobia, though? Are and always have been inextricably intertwined. I get less homophobic abuse walking down the street with my arm around my partner now, than I did ten years ago walking alone. Homophobes don’t give a rat’s ass about the intricacies of our identities. They hate us the same either way.

Which leads me to McGrattan’s next point.

Intersex? Ace? Poly? What are they doing in MY movement?

When exactly did LGBT become the dumping ground for every non-heterosexual orientation?

Remember how homophobes and transphobes don’t tend to be too concerned with the precise nature of your personal identification before starting the hate party? It turns out that the people who oppress and marginalise cis mono gay people tend to be only to happy to include the rest of us. It’s funny, isn’t it? In a way, the homophobes have a better understanding of why the LGBT movement is the umbrella it is than McGrattan does. They know that what unites us all is that we are outside heteronormativity. McGrattan doesn’t seem to get it.

What McGrattan needs to understand is that this is not her movement. It’s not her community. It’s ours.

The LGBT movement was never meant to be one person’s identity. Every relationship form and desire other than monogamous heterosexuality is, to one extent or another, marginalised in our society. And we are all minorities- individually, at least. We are an umbrella. We join with each other to provide solidarity, safety and community. To create a space where the norm is to be, yes, something other than cis, straight and mono.

The LGBT movement is not and never was for cis gay people only. If you think it was, go and read Sylvia Rivera‘s stories of how drag culture was forcibly erased by assimilationist cis gay people after Stonewall.  Those of us on the other side of the acronym- the Bs, the Ts, the As and Qs and Is and all of the rest of us- have always been here. If McGrattan doesn’t know that, then it is because we have been ignored and erased by assimilationist cis gay people who found our existence inconvenient.

But you know something? I am not an afterthought. Trans, intersex, asexual and intersex people are not afterthoughts either. We are not something to be tacked on after the big-G of the gay community. We are here, we have always been here, and we are not going away.

Not Good Enough

In the day since this article was published, our LGBT community and wonderful allies have expressed appropriately massive outrage. GCN have responded in two ways.

They published an astoundingly insulting editor’s response. This response included the phrase “we apologise to anyone who feels offended”. This kind of apology is one we’ve all used. You know when you think someone is massively overreacting to something you’ve done? And you say something like “I’m sorry you feel that way”? You’re not really sorry. If you genuinely regret something, you’ll say that you’re sorry for the thing that you’ve done. Not for someone’s emotional response to it.

As for the rest of the response? It doesn’t get any better.

It is important to point out that the opinions expressed by our columnists, both in the magazine and on-line, are their own and not the opinions of the NLGF or GCN. … Ciara is the Deputy Editor of GCN, but her column is personal opinion.

GCN are unwilling to take any responsibility for this column, despite the fact that it was written by their Deputy Editor. Presumably another editor was also involved in deciding to print this piece. They continue with this:

 Her opinion may not be popular, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a right to express it. Anyone who responds to her column has a right to express their opinion too. This is the basis of free speech.

The alternative is not to publish opinions because everyone might not agree with them.

No, GCN. That is not the alternative. The alternative is to be a publication that takes its responsibility to the queer community seriously. One which does not publish degrading speech about the community it claims to serve. On this matter, I have a question for GCN. Would you ever publish a piece stating that gay people have no place in the LGBT community? Would you say that publishing homophobic vitriol in GCN is necessary if we are to ensure freedom of speech?

If not, then remember: you are treating everyone other than cis gay people as second-class members of the LGBT community.

The other thing that GCN have done is invite anyone to write an opposing article to be reviewed for publication– in GCN. If anything could show that this is nothing more than a cynical attempt to drum up controversy, it’s this. But more than that- this shows clearly that GCN have no trouble bulldozing over entire communities within the LGBTQIA umbrella if it suits them. Transphobia, biphobia, erasure of ace, intersex and poly identities? Not a problem. To GCN, it’s nothing more than ratings.

We Are Not Your Afterthought: responding to LGBT Soup