Archive for June, 2011

Results and performances

hey all! Just a quickie life-update for those of you who care :p x

On Friday I found out that I’d passed my second year! It wasn’t a spectacular pass, but it was a solid 2:2. I’m happy with that. I could have done better IF I’d worked harder, but I think a 2:2 is an accurate reflection of the amount of work I did.

Of course, second year only counts towards 25% of my overall degree. Our first year counted for nothing, and third year is 75%. This means that if I want to finish with a 2:1 or higher I’ll REALLY have to step up my game next year. In all honesty I’m not sure I can reach that level, especially since I’ll have multiple other commitments, but there’s no harm in trying eh?

Last Saturday evening was also my first concert with Sing Out Bristol, an LGBT community choir. We sang in St George’s Bristol, with a well known gay & lesbian choir from London called The Pink Singers. Both choirs were phenomenal (if I do say so myself). I’m pretty much the most modest person you’ll ever meet, but seriously we were awesome.

And the afterparty was fantastic. It was at the Queenshilling. It was like a million degrees in there and I was dressed up in my shirt and tie and I was dehydrated from the concert so naturally I had a few drinks, but because it was so hot I got drunk without getting hydrated. By 1.30ish I’d moved onto the water, but by then I’d apparently drunk enough alkyhol to keep me sociable throughout the rest of the night.

As to whether or not there was anyone there I fancied I shall say nothing. I was, however, given various signs from people I didn’t fancy. Don’t worry though, I was a good boy. No random hook ups for me. I’ve tagged this post “Romance”, although I suppose it’s more like “No-mance”.

Now that the Sing Out concert is out of the way I’m all done for the year! … almost.

Tomorrow (Friday) I have a music exam. I’m taking my Grade 6 singing. I took my Grade 5 back in sixth form and honestly I’d hoped I would have been further by now. In school I had friends who were Grade 8. However, if I pass my Grade 6 this Friday I stand a reasonable chance of reaching Grade 8 by the end of my degree. Which would be nice :p

That’s all for now, folks! Hope y’all have a nice day : ) x

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The Agnostic Calvinist

The term “agnostic Calvinist” could be considered a fairly accurate description of my philosophical leanings. Yes, Calvinism is a Christian theology and therefore the term “agnostic Calvinist” is clearly an oxymoron, but bear with me and I’ll try to explain what I mean.

Firstly, a brief summary of Calvinism –

Calvinism is a really interesting approach to Christianity, based around five fantastic central points. These five central points can be summarised with the acronym “TULIP”, which stands for (respectively):

  • Total depravity – Calvinists believe that all humans are born into sin. Humans are inherently selfish rather than selfless, and are therefore unable to freely choose god.
  • Unconditional election – God has chosen a select few, and only they will receive salvation (and only through Christ).
  • Limited atonement – Although Jesus’ sacrifice could have redeemed all of mankind, it only atoned for the sins of god’s chosen.
  • Irresistible grace – Basically this means that if god wants to save you, you will be saved. Doesn’t matter whether you want it or not.
  • Perseverance of the saints – The chosen stay chosen, and if they stray then they were never really chosen in the first place.

How I interpret this as an agnostic –

  • If there is a god and he wants me to be saved, I will be saved.
  • If there is a god and he doesn’t want me to be saved, there’s nothing I can do about it.
  • If there is no god, there’s nothing to be gained by worrying.

I find this incredibly relaxing. The fate of my immortal soul (should such a thing exist) is entirely out of my hands.

I’ve tried to explain this to street preachers before, but unfortunately street preachers (and Christians generally, for that matter) don’t like being told that human beings are inherently  incapable of choosing god of their own volition.

If you’re at all interested (and have time on your hands), I thoroughly recommend reading up on Calvinism. When you get to Lapsarianism… ooh, that is some tasty stuff ; )

That’s all I’ve got, folks. Thank you for your time. This post was a bit rushed, so I’m sorry if things don’t make sense. Feel free to leave a comment if I’ve made a mistake or if you want anything clarified x

My Gay Agenda

Some of my favourite anti-gay claims are those that reference a “gay agenda”. Even though they are often amongst the most unpleasant claims, they have an unintentional humour that goes a certain way towards redeeming them.

In December last year, for example, an American politician claimed that airport security pat downs are part of a “wide-scale homosexual agenda”, saying that “the next TSA official who gives you an ‘enhanced pat down’ could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission.”

See what I mean? Unpleasant, but strangely amusing. Moving straight past the fact that this guy clearly has issues (I’m guessing closeted homo with some kind of BDSM fetish?), have you seen him? Eugene Delgaudio. I’m not saying anything.

  • Sidenote: I’ve never been a fan of the term “practicing homosexual”. Yes, yes, yes, I know it means “one who engages in the practice of homosexuality” rather than “one who is attempting to improve their homosexuality through repetition”, but it still makes me feel like some kind of beginner. Can we not be “practiced homosexuals”?

Unfortunately, the “gay agenda” rhetoric is fairly common amongst right wing politicians and campaigners. You can read a fairly unpleasant example here, although I’ve seen worse.

The most annoying thing about it is that, as far as I’m aware, there is no universal “gay agenda” (or, if there is, no one’s told me about it). I’ve scoured teh interwebs and found one pretty funny article, annoy.com’s “The Gay Agenda“. However, I can’t help but feel that it’s not entirely serious…

So if there’s no “gay agenda”, what are all though homophobes getting riled up about? It pains me to think that they might be wasting their time, so as a favour to homophobia I have decided to craft my own “gay agenda”. And I fully intend to preach it to all those who’ll listen, and act on it at every opportunity.

Without further ado, here is my five point Gay Agenda:

  1. Find a cure for homophobia (ideally non-lethal). Homophobia is infinitely more detrimental (both to the individual and to society) than homosexuality is. But even if you are inflicted with this sickness, please don’t fret: there’s still hope.
  2. Free education. If rational, intelligent, arguments against homosexuality exist then they should be addressed. However, I’d be prepared to wager that the majority of arguments against homosexuality are neither rational nor intelligent. It would follow that rational, intelligent people are at a lower risk of contracting homophobia. As such, I believe a supportive education system is the gay community’s best friend.
  3. Oppose heterosexual proselytisation in all its forms. Make no mistake, they are recruiting. Suggestible LGBT youth are being subjected to a two-pronged attack (and not in the good way): homophobic abuse from their peers and the more insidious “Gay = Not OK” teachings of homophobic elders in positions of power. Whether they are teachers, priests, or politicians, we cannot allow these people to paint their hate on the most vulnerable in our community.
  4. Open more gyms… because a healthy heart is a happy heart?
  5. More funding for the arts! Gays have a reputation for excellence in artistic fields, both as critics and creators. Why not play to our strengths?
What do y’all reckon? And what would be on your Gay Agenda?

What I want from a gender neutral pronoun

Well, first things first: I would like a gender neutral pronoun. There are perhaps only two or three people I’ve ever spoken about this with, so it could well be new information for most of you.

I have nothing against the masculine pronouns usually used to describe/refer to me, but I feel no strong attachment to them. I would assume that this is because I do not strongly identify as “male”. Don’t get me wrong, I love my y-chromosomey body. I’m just confident that I wouldn’t be any happier or less happy with two x-chromosomes.

For all I know, the majority of people feel this way. However, few people explicitly state it (and people who act or present themselves in ways that are contrary to their perceived gender often face ridicule and harassment from their peers). I must, therefore, assume that the majority of people are comfortable both with their biological sex and the corresponding gender role they are assigned based on it.

There are multiple arguments in favour of gender neutral pronouns. There is the issue that since some people do not identify as male or female (and some people are not biologically male or female) referring to them as male or female is inaccurate and/or inappropriate.

There are feminist concerns as well. It is unarguable that women have been treated as second class citizens for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, and it is theorised that this is reflected in our language. In addition to this, it is proposed that unnecessarily revealing a third party’s gender in conversation may influence the participant’s opinion of that person (see the old joke “How to tell a businessman from a businesswoman“).

The more I think about it, the less necessary gendered pronouns seem. We don’t have separate pronouns for people based on any other characteristic – can you imagine if we did? Imagine, for example, that we had separate pronouns for people of different hair colours. The entire concept is actually fairly ridiculous.

And in my opinion any argument against the use of gender neutral pronouns can easily be countered by the simple fact that there are dozens of languages that exclusively use GNPs.

Sadly, English is not one of them. It is occasionally argued that the masculine pronouns “he/him/his” can be used to refer to any party whose gender is not known, but there are a million problems with this. It can easily cause confusion amongst those who only know “he” as a masculine pronoun, and is often (unsurprisingly, and perhaps justly) claimed to be sexist. Another solution is to use the third person plural pronoun “they”. “They” is ungendered, and already often used as an gender neutral third person singular pronoun. For example:

“What time does the plumber get here? Will there be anyone at home to let them in?”

I think this works quite well, and it’s widely accepted, but it is very impersonal.

I think that if I am to find a gender neutral pronoun I must look to those that have recently been created or found favour on the internet. However, some are more well crafted than others. The three main things I want from a gender neutral pronoun are:

  1. A rational, logical construction (rather than being a new, arbitrarily constructed word set).
  2. Elegance, and ease of use. No one will want to use a clumsy preposition. This is my main problem with the whole “hir” thing. Like, seriously, what is that? Hear? Her? Hrrr?
  3. Common acceptance and acknowledgement. This could be a problem… I’m prepared to go out on a limb and say that the majority of people don’t spend time considering alternative pronouns. Those that do have a variety of GNPs to choose from, and once someone has chosen pronouns that they feel comfortable with they may be reluctant to convert to a more “popular” alternative.

The most pleasing set I have found are the Spivak pronouns (ey, em, eir, eirs). It is constructed from the third person plural (they, them, their, theirs) by the removal of the “th”. It doesn’t stand out too much in regular speech, and isn’t difficult to say. I may well start using these both o/l and irl :p

Don’t worry, I’m not expecting people to start using these pronouns when referring to me. Call me cynical, but I can’t help feeling that it might cause more problems than it’s worth. However, if you feel you are in open-minded company then go for it.

If you want to do any more research there are a lot of amazing sites out there. There’s an amazing FAQ here, and a very clear video done by TheMetallicSharpie (http://www.youtube.com/user/TheMetallicSharpie) here.

Thanks for reading : ) x