Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’

UPDATE: apparently The Spectator got it wrong and Nero has NOT been nominated for what they call ‘bigot of the year’. I am leaving this up though as others have called him a homophobe (and me). And as I don’t trust Stonewall!

According to The Spectator, Stonewall have nominated Milo Yiannopoulus, who tweets as  @Nero, as ‘homophobe of the year 2012’. Apart from the questionable ethics and purpose of holding such a competition in the first place, I think their nomination is stupid and actually pretty cruel.

Sharp witted readers will remember that I have criticised Nero in the past, for his slag-off of Johann Hari‘s adventures as a porn writer. 50 Shades of Gay might not have been the bonkbuster of the year, but I support people’s right to express their sexualities and opinions. Even Johann the Librarian.

And that is why I am defending Milos now. He is openly homosexual, and openly opinionated for example against the principles and practicalities of gay marriage. Stonewall’s conformist gay politics mean that to challenge the sanctity of gay marriage is to be homophobic, even if, as Milos is, you are gay yourself.

This is just replacing one fault, one wrong, with another! Picking on individuals who disagree with you, who live their lives in a way you don’t endorse, in a way you don’t understand, is what ‘anti gay’ ‘bigots’ do!

As gay academic Mark Mccormack has written, now that LGBT sexualities are more normalised in our society, the stigma has shifted. Being labelled ‘homophobic’ is actually as socially unacceptable as being homosexual was only decades ago. And adding to that stigma with ‘homophobe of the year’ competitions may not be such a cool move.

There are also issues here around  freedom of expression. Writing in the Guardian recently Suzanne Moore pointed out:

‘The terms “misogyny”, “anti-semitism” and “homophobia” may be useful but too often are used to shut down rather than open up online debate. This is why free speech is so difficult. ‘

So Stonewall’s nomination of a gay man who has spoken out against gay marriage as ‘homophobe of the year’ could be seen as an attempt to devalue that position, and to shut up people who hold it. Gay, straight whatever.

But the fact Milos identifies as gay/homosexual himself makes this a particularly sour tale. To start making examples of ‘your own’ and attempting to shame them in public seems pretty low.

Some gays oppose gay marriage, Stonewall. Get Over It.

‘Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband.’
-The Taming of the Shrew, 5. 2

There’s small choice in rotten apples.
The Taming of the Shrew, 1. 1

The last time I wrote about the royal family was in 1997. I had an article published in a Birmingham radical Afro-Carribean community magazine, about the death of Princess Diana. I commented, not a little pretentiously, on the way Diana’s body was brought back to British shores, draped in the flag featuring the Prince of Wales’ coat of arms. She escaped, all too briefly, the tyranny of the Windsor clan, only to be engulfed and wrapped up by them, by the Crown, by the Empire, finally, in her death.

Now Diana’s first born son and heir to the thrown is about to be married. And once again, I am struck by how the royal family marries its subjects to it, traps us in a bond we seem unable to escape. Kate Middleton appears on the face of it to be a willing ‘victim’. Unlike Charles and Diana’s, William and Kate’s relationship seems to be one based not on duty, but on love. They met at university. They lived together. They are the same age. Just as Diana and Charles seemed awkward, out of step, uncomfortable, so these two seem compatible, in tune, happy. But I think their union represents, as Diana and Charles’ did, a symbolic reinforcement of, not only the monarchy, but also of the institution of heterosexual marriage itself.

Kate Middleton  couldn’t be more different from the ‘shrewish’ Kate in Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew. She may have the dark hair and strong figure, and Diana may have been more like Kate’s sister in the play, Bianca: blonde, demure, ‘angelic’ and dutiful. But as we now know, Diana actually demonstrated she was the fiery rebel, and  the Windsors treated her as the ‘shrew’ that brought shame and trouble on their family. Kate Middleton it seems, has arrived at The House of Windsor ready-tamed. She has already placed her hand under Prince William’s  foot, and will probably serve and honour him for the rest of her days.

There has been a lot of hoo-ha in the press (from the little coverage I have read) about the class differences between the two. How shocking that a ‘middle class’ woman would dare to marry the  prince. I don’t have a window on The Queen’s mind, but I think that actually she may be quite relieved at her grandson’s choice of bride.  Elizabeth has not had an ‘annus horribilis’ since ‘that woman’ shifted off this mortal coil. But she knows that the monarchy is never entirely safe from the republican threat. The culture of empire, inheritance and entitlement is being challenged in the UK, as symbolised by devolution, the peace process in Ireland, the reform of the House of Lords, and, in a small way, that paint-splattered car carrying Charles and Camilla amidst the student riots.  Having a middle class woman marry into the monarchy is probably a good PR move for the Windsors. It shows them to be less ‘stuffy’ and ‘old-money’ and ‘aristocratic’ than they in fact are. It suggests ‘modernity’ and even ‘inclusivity’. And it means the people, though they may have been totally in love with the original ‘people’s princess’, have a chance to identify once more with the heir (to the heir) to the throne and his bride.

Because a royal wedding is not just a showcase for the royal family ( a family that needs some positive media coverage, as it still includes nefarious characters such as Prince Andrew and his dodgy dealings, and his hilariously dodgy dealing ex-wife). It is also a showcase for the institution of marriage itself. Marriage is on a steady decline in the UK. There is probably nothing anyone can do to stop this. And, if I were The Queen, or probably more significantly her heirs, I may be a little concerned. Because, as Shakespeare knew, the whole concept of being a ‘subject’, of serving your King or Queen and Country, is bound up with the concept of being a wife, or even a husband. If people can’t be bothered to show their allegiance to  each other in a formal declaration endorsed by the state, what hope that they will give a toss about serving an old lady in a crown and a big house?

Enter the Gays, sashaying and swishing in their wedding gowns and tiaras. ‘Gay Marriage’ ironic as it may sound (to those of us who remember when ‘gay’ meant something vaguely radical) could actually be the thing that boosts the marriage stats. And all those queens who will I am sure, before too long, get their chance to be princesses for the day, may also actually bolster our respect and loyalty to the actual Queen and princes and princesses of this land. Remember Diana? Remember how popular she was with the gays? Yes it was because she showed compassion to people suffering from HIV/AIDS, yes it was because she was a diva in the gay melodrama sense. But also I think some gay people like the idea of being truly embraced by the establishment. Of being ‘subjects’. And Diana held out her dainty princesses hand and they took it. Kate Middleton is no Diana. But if Gay Marriage becomes legal anytime soon, I expect her marriage to William will be up there in the gay diary of great gay moments in history, along with Diana’s funeral (because lets face it the gays loved that more than her wedding), with Cabaret, with oh you know all the big gay moments by now.

Peter Tatchell,  that well-known campaigner against the privileges of the few, and for the rights of many, has thrown his tiara into the ring. He has organised protests, not against the monarchy, or against the heteronormative oppressive institution of marriage, but to call for gays to be able to marry like Kate and William are. Tatchell’s statement, as part of the Equal Love campaign, demanding marriage and civil partnership rights for all couples (cross-sex and same sex) says:

“We wish William and Kate every happiness. May they have a joyful marriage and a wonderful married life together.

“The royal couple are lucky. They have the option to get married. Gay couples don’t have this option. They are barred by law from marriage.

“We urge Kate and William to support marriage equality: the right of same-sex couples to get married. Their support would mean a lot. They take for granted the right to marry. Marriage is something that many lesbian and gay couples want but cannot have.”

This is a clever move by Tatchell I think. If his goal is to achieve gay marriage rights, and the ‘heterosexualisation’ of homosexuality once and for all, how better to do it than to tie the rights of gay and queer people to the mast of the monarchy, the ultimate symbol of (heteronormative) power in Great Britain? Also it is a way of extending the ‘struggle’, so that, no matter how much ‘equality’ gay and LGBQT people achieve, if they can’t enjoy the same rights and privileges as the most privileged couple in the country, have they achieved true ‘equality’?

I write this when I am still feeling sickened by the news of a trans woman who was assaulted in McDonald’s in America, for entering the women’s WC. This assault was filmed by cheering onlookers and then uploaded onto youtube. I won’t link to the story as all the links include the video and I find that chilling in itself. Equally or even more chilling is the story of the Long Island sex workers who have been murdered recently, probably all by the same person. If Tatchell is looking for continued oppression of ‘sexual’ minorities, he might consider those women, rather than the wedding of Kate Middleton.

So I think Peter Tatchell has got his priorities all wrong. Foucault, a gay man who did not enjoy the ‘right’ to get married to the man he loved (if he had have wanted to – I do hope not) nor the ‘right’ to not die from complications arising from the HIV virus he contracted, said that it is the ‘fascist inside’ us that we need to be aware of and to fight, if we want to achieve some kind of liberated society. I think Kate Middleton represents quite well that fascist inside us. Mild-mannered, aspirational, insipid, respectable, that is how I imagine the fascist inside me.

And all I want to do with fascism is to kill it.

28 years old, female, 59, 263 lbs.
I will explain in my next post why I feel the need to come to the defence of Lindy West. It involves debates around gay marriage, and the comments and attitudes of my favourite ‘bete noir’ and gayist activist, Dan Savage, of  Dan Savage Is Annoying fame. But for now,  I will simply repost Lindy’s latest article from The Stranger, where she works as a journalist, alongside Dan, and significantly, as will become clear, in a less senior position than Mr Savage. This is her article. It is good.
Hello. I am fat.
This is my body (over there—see it?). I have lived in this body my whole life. I have wanted to change this body my whole life. I have never wanted anything as much as I have wanted a new body. I am aware every day that other people find my body disgusting. I always thought that some day—when I finally stop failing—I will become smaller, and when I become smaller literally everything will get better (I’ve heard It Gets Better)! My life can begin! I will get the clothes that I want, the job that I want, the love that I want. It will be great! Think how great it will be to buy some pants or whatever at J. Crew. Oh, man. Pants. Instead, my body stays the same.

There is not a fat person on earth who hasn’t lived this way. Clearly this is a TERRIBLE WAY TO EXIST. Also, strangely enough, it did not cause me to become thin. So I do not believe any of it anymore, because fuck it very much.

This is my body. It is MINE. I am not ashamed of it in any way. In fact, I love everything about it. Men find it attractive. Clothes look awesome on it. My brain rides around in it all day and comes up with funny jokes. Also, I don’t have to justify its awesomeness/attractiveness/healthiness/usefulness to anyone, because it is MINE. Not yours.

I’m not going to spend a bunch of time blogging about fat acceptance here (but please read this), because other writers have already done it much more eloquently, thoroughly, and radically than I ever could. But I do feel obligated to try to explain what this all means.

You asked me for links, Dan, so here are some links for you. There are plenty more, but if you want me to go through each one and explain to you how these words and implications hurt and shame people, you’re going to have to pay me overtime (in Doritos!!!!!). I get that you think you’re actually helping people and society by contributing to the fucking Alp of shame that crushes every fat person every day of their lives—the same shame that makes it a radical act for me to post a picture of my body and tell you how much it weighs. But you’re not helping. Shame doesn’t work. Diets don’t work. Shame is a tool of oppression, not change.

Fat people already are ashamed. It’s taken care of. No further manpower needed on the shame front, thx. I am not concerned with whether or not fat people can change their bodies through self-discipline and “choices.” Pretty much all of them have tried already. A couple of them have succeeded. Whatever. My question is, what if they try and try and try and still fail? What if they are still fat? What if they are fat forever? What do you do with them then? Do you really want millions of teenage girls to feel like they’re trapped in unsightly lard prisons that are ruining their lives, and on top of that it’s because of their own moral failure, and on top of that they are ruining America with the terribly expensive diabetes that they don’t even have yet? You know what’s shameful? A complete lack of empathy.

And if you really claim to still be confused—”Nu uh! I never said anything u guyz srsly!”—there can be no misunderstanding shit like this:

I am thoroughly annoyed at having my tame statements of fact—being heavy is a health risk; rolls of exposed flesh are unsightly—characterized as “hate speech.”


1. “Rolls of exposed flesh are unsightly” is in no way a “tame statement of fact.” It is not a fact at all—it is an incredibly cruel, subjective opinion that reinforces destructive, paternalistic, oppressive beauty ideals. I am not unsightly. No one deserves to be told that they’re unsightly. But this is what’s behind this entire thing—it’s not about “health,” it’s about “eeeewwwww.” You think fat people are icky. Eeeewww, a fat person might touch you on a plane. With their fat! Eeeeewww! Coincidentally, that’s the same feeling that drives anti-gay bigots, no matter what excuses they drum up about “family values” and, yes, “health.” It’s all “eeeewwwww.” And sorry, I reject your eeeeeewwww.

2. You are not concerned about my health. Because if you were concerned about my health, you would also be concerned about my mental health, which has spent the past 28 years being slowly eroded by statements like the above. Also, you don’t know anything about my health. You do happen to be the boss of me, but you are not the doctor of me. You have no idea what I eat, how much I exercise, what my blood pressure is, or whether or not I’m going to get diabetes. Not that any of that matters, because it is entirely none of your business.

3. “But but but my insurance premiums!!!” Bullshit. You live in a society with other people. I don’t have kids, but I pay taxes that fund schools. The idea that we can somehow escape affecting each other is deeply conservative. Barbarous, even. Is that really what you’re going for? Good old-fashioned American individualism? Please.

4. But most importantly: I reject this entire framework. I don’t give a shit what causes anyone’s fatness. It’s irrelevant and it’s none of my business. I am not making excuses, because I have nothing to excuse. I reject the notion that thinness is the goal, that thin = better—that I am an unfinished thing and that my life can really start when I lose weight. That then I will be a real person and have finally succeeded as a woman. I am not going to waste another second of my life thinking about this. I don’t want to have another fucking conversation with another fucking woman about what she’s eating or not eating or regrets eating or pretends to not regret eating to mask the regret. OOPS I JUST YAWNED TO DEATH.

If you really want change to happen, if you really want to “help” fat people, you need to understand that shaming an already-shamed population is, well, shameful. Do you know what happened as soon as I rejected all this shit and fell in unconditional luuuuurve with my entire body? I started losing weight. Immediately. WELL LA DEE FUCKING DA.

Lindy West