Musings arguments and gig reports from your favourite Goth lesbian transsexual vegan recovering alcoholic and drug addict sceptic rationalist atheist comedian chameleon and caricature.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

It gets better

I've always been of the opinion that the world is incrementally, day by day, step by step getting better and better, there's little hiccups along the way but gradually we're getting more enlightened and getting closer and closer to figuring out the one simple rule of life.  "Don't be a fucking dick"  and if you are being a fucking dick "Stop being a fucking dick".  Which is the simplified version of what I believe Siddhartha, the Buddha said upon realising that suffering is an inherent part of human life and that the only way to end the suffering of the self is to not harm another living thing.  A less nihilistic version of Sartre's Existentialism, which was built on realising that life has no purpose, no overriding meaning, and that in discovering that we are truly free we first despair, and then realise that the only true choice open to us is to extend the freedom of others.  Fuck yeah, check out my basic level of general knowledge masquerading as intelligence!

The world is getting better though, in the 60's the civil rights movement led to a change in laws and started people standing up for their rights and day by day that gets better, same with feminism, this had been going on since a few women said:

"Hang on, this trial by ordeal's not fair!"
"How so?"
"So if I drown I'm not a witch?"
"And if I float then I am a witch, and I'll be hanged, only for in several centuries the story to spread that witches were burned at the stake in spite of the fact that relatively few of us ever were, the height of this misapprehention being in the book the DaVinci Code?"
"That's not the worst of that books errors, but yes."
"Well how's that fair?"
"Hmm, it's a tricky one, how about, if you drown, and you're not a witch you get into heaven?"
"I don't believe in an interventionist God with the ability to punish or reward moral choices, and see these teachings as an extention of patriachal authority, the absent father and the threat of his repercussions if we misbehave, I look at it in a more metaphorical way, that the only heaven is that which we create for ourselves here on earth, and no hell except that private torture we put ourselves through with the guilt when we realise that we've done something that's caused another misery."
"Right, so what's the solution?"
"Do you think you could stop killing midwives and telling everyone they're witches, it's oppressive to women."
"Bloody lesbian!"

I'm fairly sure that's how it went, but now here we are 400 years later with women trying to argue for the rights of women and then following it up with "I'm not a feminist in any way"  Really?  But you work for the police, if you're not a feminist then surely you think that's far to tough a job for someone like you to worry your pretty little head over, surely you should be at home taking care of the house for your man and shitting out children, never complaining when you get a smack in the chops for burning the dinner or getting a bit lippy.

If you say you're not a feminist, whilst having a job and thinking that it's a good idea that women shouldn't get attacked or raped, then you're a fucking idiot.

LGBT rights too, they've come a long way since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and it took a bloody long time too, the Stonewall riots kick started the gay rights movement, and it was the lesbians, drag kings and queens, and trans people who were at the forefront of that, though their part in it has been marginalised.  But in the 70's the gay civil rights movement started up.

And these days things have got a lot better, in my lifetime it's gone from A government banning schools from "promoting homosexuality" as an acceptable "Lifestyle choice", and a Tory councillor for Stafford suggesting publicly that concentration camps should be set up in the UK for gay people to stop the spread of HIV and Aids, though to equalisation of the age of consent, the right to civil partnerships, the passing of the hate crime laws meaning homophobic attacks and insults are or should be taken seriously, civil partnerships, and the right not to be fired from a job if the employers find out you're gay.

For trans people things have changed massively too, in 1998 if a trans woman was arrested and charged for a crime she'd be sent to a male prison, that's changed now, the gender recognition act allows trans people to be legally the gender that they really are rather than the one assigned at birth, allowing trans people to marry members of the opposite sex, or get a civil partnership with someone of the same sex.

There's gay people, lesbians, and occassionally trans people on television.  Some people think that there's some sort of gay agenda putting far too many gay people on the television.  roughly one in 10 people are Gay, and far far less than one in ten characters on TV and TV presenters are gay.

And like with the civil rights movement in the US mainstream society is pushing back as if it can somehow stop people claiming equal rights, the number of assaults on gay people because they're gay is increasing, and people seem to think that using the word "Gay" as an insult is ok.

It's not, and people say "Yeah, well language evolves, I'm sure that there's plenty of people who are upset that  Gay no longer means colourful, happy and joyous."  But it still kind of does, and anyway it's a different issue, it's not an issue of evolution of language.

Gay meaning colourful and happy, is a homonym for Gay meaning has sex with people of the same sex (I find it funny that the technical word for gay and gay having different meanings is a homonym, but that doesn't make me homonymophobic)  They've nto got the same route and one didn't evolve from the other.

Gay meaning homosexual started as an acronym, not as the playground taunt of my childhood stated did gay stand for "Got Aids Yet"  It was written on the placards of the people who were marching at the first gay pride marches, protesting and fighting for their rights against a hostile and violent world, and gay was written on those placards, I'm gay, I'm as Good As You.

Whereas when teenagers and adults use gay as an insult to mean bad or weak or rubbish or any of the other negative connotations they associate with it, it's not an evolution of language, nor is it a new word that is a homonym, they're using it in that context because it relates to homosexuality.

And every time I hear someone use it like that, I question them on it for that very reason.  And it's not just heterosexual people who use it, and who I pick up on it, it's LGBT people too.

I've had that argument, "I find it really funny when people say I'm homophobic, how can I be, I'm gay!"  

That's just stupid, that's like saying "I can't be racist, I'm gay" just like it was ridiculous when Spike Lee was quoted as saying "black people can't be racist." Of course they can, they're the worst for it.

See! It's that simple to be a minority and still make a bigoted comment like the one above, which I didn't mean but which illustrates my point.

And racism seems to be on the rise at the moment, I've had to get rid of a few facebook "friends" for putting up EDL videos, or making racist comments ranging from the angry anti Muslim sentiments through to the plain bizarre expecting all the Dr's at a hospital to be indian and saying the Dr had better not offer her a poppadum.  (I did check she wasn't in India, or some sort of bizarre hospital/restaurant combination.)

But as I said, racism is fading, I think less people are openly racist today, but if you go back to my grandparents generation, I've got a friend who's got a racist Gran.

Now, lots of people have racist grandparents, mine are a wee bit racist from time to time themselves, my granddad's not with us any more but he was spectacularly racist, in fact if I believed in an afterlife I'm sure he'd be looking up at us now before going back for a few hands of cards with Hitler (who he'd get on with like a cross on fire). As a child I remember telling him off and causing a big row when he told me that I'd never be any good at playing brass instruments because "you don't have nigger's lips"  I went mad at him, I was only 7 but I knew that this was really out of order.  Apparently he once got arrested in South Africa.  I assumed based on experience it was for something nasty and racist, but apparently it was for breaking the apartheid laws by getting on a "coloureds only" bus.  They say he thought it was unfair, but I'm not 100% sure it wasn't because he was angry they were "using White man's petrol".

But my friend's racist Gran is a proper racist.  I know, it was a different time they grew up in, and the world's changed and they haven't.  People say this to me every time I tell them about this racist Gran.  And I understand that some Grans are like that. 

I say "yeah, but she's like a weapons grade racist."
"how so?"
"well she went to South Africa during apartheid, so that she could have a big house and lots of cheap servants and she votes for the BNP."

That's pretty fucking racist.

That's proactive racism right there.  Most racists, don't put the hours in like she has, even Nick Griffin himself doesn't put that amount of effort in.  And you have to get up pretty early in the morning, which she does, she's in bed by 10 so she can get up at 4am to get a bit of racism practice in. And because of all that effort, she's right at the peak of racism, most racists, would settle for sitting on their arse complaining, going "they come over here, they take our jobs!"  but my friend's Gran, at her peak, she went over there.  She gave them jobs, and massively underpaid them and probably beat them, I don't know.

These days she's retired, but she still puts a bit of effort in.  She claims she's the only white face on her street now, I think on the basis that there's a dual race family and an Asian family on her street.

And she harks back to simpler times.  "I remember the days when you could leave your doors open, when everyone talked to each other, but those days are gone.  Now that those people have moved here, they don't belong here.  It's bloody political correctness!  We've lost the Blitz Spirit!"

Which is a bullshit excuse, political correctness, is just being polite to people.  Not saying something that may hurt someone's feelings.  It's the sort of stuff that The Daily Mail actually calls for, respecting other people.  It's what my friend's Gran wants, really, but you never see the headline "It's politeness gone mad!"

But I checked it out, and it turns out that the people on her street do leave their doors open, they do talk to each other and like each other and are there for each other.  They just don't like her, because she's a nasty old racist.

Turns out that political correctness is essentially the Blitz Spirit with people of different colours religions races sexualities and gender identites.

The fundamentalist thinks things were always better in the past and are getting worse, the artist thinks that things will only be better in the future.

I fall in to the second camp.

The reason for doing this blog on this theme was simple.

We've reached the point where the mainstream is pushing back and not wanting to adapt to allow LGBT people into it, to deny us our rights.  And as we become more visible and less willing to hide those who are scared by us are fighting back.

And the one place where this is going unchecked is in our schools.

Across the US, the religious fight back to deny gay and trans people their rights is getting a death toll, and various celebrities and organisations have been putting up videos on Youtube, and it seems organised by  telling kids who don't fit in that it does get better, and it does.

I was born on Christmas Eve (yeah I know, check me out!  Nearly Jesus!) 1978, in Preston, Lancashire, less than 9 years since homosexuality was made legal, and a good few years before section 28  and some dark times and then massive progress in society's attitudes to gay people.

When I was born, being a Goth I'd been in massive distress and managed to nearly strangle myself with my umbilical cord, you don't get more Goth than being born dead.  but I was brought round and survived, and the Dr's took one look at me and decided I was male, that never really took though.

As I grew up I felt so alone, like I was the only person in the world that felt like that, that maybe I was mad, or bad, or just stupid.

I thought I must be gay, but I didn't fancy men, so that was doubly confusing, then I realised, I liked cats, computer games, pin stripes and back packs, and I couldn't dance for shit.  Oh my god, I was a lesbian!

So I was a lesbian the whole world thought was a boy, I could deal with this, surely.  Just never let anyone know...

And in my teen years it was awful, my body turned against me, looking down at it I thought, "I can't work with this!" and I didn't talk right, or walk right and my mannerisms gave me away.

I got beaten up at school for "being gay" which I was, but just not how they thought.  I drank, I took drugs, I hid, and hated myself.

I had girlfriends from time to time, and when one of these broke down when I was 21  having been with her since I was 17 I realised I couldn't go any further, and tried to kill myself.

Fortunately I'm shit at suicide, like really bad.  I ripped a ceiling down in one attempt and ended up having to walk 12 miles in another possibly lengthening my life expectancy.  Really bad.

And then I told someone, and I thought my life would be over, and that I'd be alone and have to go and hide and live somewhere where no one knew who I was and would have to leave my friends and family and never see them again.

But that didn't happen.  Something else did.

It got better.  It got so much better.

My life now is a million miles away from that suicidal wreck I was 10 years ago, from that terrified child I was 15-20 years ago.

I've got the best job in the world, I've got a girlfriend who I love and who loves me, to paraphrase Johnny Cash, for my life and nothing more.  And we've got a flat and in that flat we've got a cat, and I've got a selection of hats, stuffed bats and rats, and lots of other stuff that doesn't rhyme.

But it does get better.  It gets so so much better.  And the world is better for having better people in it.

1 comment:

peacockpete said...

Great post, and I especially love your point about "Political Correctness". That's exactly how I feel. It's like a shield of pigheaded intolerance masquerading as freedom of speech.

It is merely a case of being mannered and polite, and not putting someone down for not being a carbon copy of you. But then, people can still be dicks.

To close, yes, it really does get better. And in certain pockets of the world, the dicks are becoming fewer.