Archive for June, 2012

I chose to be gay

Ok, no I didn’t. It was a stroke. A stroke turned me gay.

(I know this is a bit late, but I was too busy to write this when the various stories I wanted to discuss were popular.)

Where to begin, where to begin…

After a stroke in 2011, 27 year old Chris Birch woke up gay. A documentary about him was aired on BBC3 in April this year, and the reaction was… mixed. Once reasonable homos were stirred into a fit of pique by this rugby-player-turned-hairdresser’s story.

“He was always gay!” they cried, “He was just in the closet! In denial! Sexuality is rigid and immutable!”

Which is complete and utter bullshit. A few people made the claim that this guy’s story, and any story that implies that sexuality isn’t as black and white as Lady Gaga tells us*, leaves us open to attacks by religious “gay-cure” therapy types. They have a point, albeit a weak one. Any story that shows people transitioning between orientations could potentially fuel the claims of those who believe that gay people can be “converted” into breeders through prayer or electroshock therapy or whateverthefuck it is they do.

The fact of the matter, however, is that sexuality is not that simple – and of all communities, the LGBT community should be supportive of that fact. Many of us have been asked (by parents and friends) if what we’re experiencing could be “just a phase”. Normally it’s not. We are who we are, and all that. But sometimes it is. People experiment. Teenage girls get girlcrushes. Their existence doesn’t threaten ours, but our insistence on denying theirs is both ignorant and disrespectful.

The situation was complicated, of course, by another story that gained publicity around the same time. In early April, the “Core Issues Trust” booked advertising space on London buses for their “reparative therapy” for gay people. Fortunately the ads were considered to be too controversial, and were pulled. People were angered by these adverts, and rightly so. To quote my favourite line from the X-Men films: “They can’t cure us. You want to know why? Because there’s nothin’ to cure. Nothing’s wrong with you. Or any of us, for that matter.”

But why complicate things by saying that change is impossible? Yes, there are heaps of evidence showing that “reparative therapy” doesn’t work. But still, surely, what we should be aiming for is not a denial that people can change but an acceptance of who they are. Saddeningly, the only place I’ve seen this opinion voiced is in (of all places) the Daily Mail. Really, guys? When the Daily Heil’s opinion is more tolerant than yours, you might be doing something wrong.

It’s not a one way street. Sure, we have the “ex-gay” jerks recruiting our most vulnerable members, but there are straighties making the transition to our side too.

Much earlier this year, around the end of January, actor Cynthia Nixon caused controversy when she said in an interview that she’d chosen to be gay. She was widely criticised (by people that I think should know better – read: gay people) for encouraging the bigots who believe that homosexuality is (always?) a choice. This blog post by John Aravosis is a perfect example of how people got it wrong. It’s titled “Actress Cynthia Nixon says it’s a choice to be gay. And she’s wrong.”, and that title itself is so wilfully ignorant it makes me want to cry. NO, Mr Aravosis, she did NOT say that being gay is a choice. She said that SHE CHOSE to be gay. Can you see how those are different?

In an incredibly patronising first paragraph, he explains that “What she means is that she’s bisexual”. And that makes me so fucking angry. If she was bisexual, why wouldn’t she just say “I’m bisexual”? Hey, maybe she’d never heard the word bisexual before. Maybe she just didn’t know what bisexual meant. Or maybe (just maybe) IF SHE WAS BISEXUAL SHE WOULD HAVE SAID THAT SHE WAS FUCKING BISEXUAL.

Here’s my crazy idea. Maybe, juuust maybe, some people do choose to be gay. Or straight, for that matter. Think about it. You know how those right-wingers keep telling us that homosexuality is a choice? Maybe, juuuuuuust maaaaaaybe, for some of them it WAS a choice. Wouldn’t that help to explain why they’re so sure it is? What about political lesbianism? Sure, a lot of people badmouth it, but it must have worked for some people at some point.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would like it if we could start respecting the way other people identify their orientation.

Chris Birch, you were a straighty and now you’re a gayer. I believe you. I’m sorry that so many homos have demeaned your past relationships by telling you that you were just closeted (because they knew how? I don’t even), but welcome to the winning team.

If a girl tells me she chose to be a lesbian, I’m not going to tell her that ACTUALLY she’s “just bisexual” (because that would be patronising and rude and… factually incorrect!), I’m going to give her a cheer, a beer, and all the support she needs.

Whateverrr… leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

*no offence meant. Little Monster and proud.


Legal highs

The front page of yesterday’s Kentish Gazette is a story about a new shop that’s just opened in Canterbury. The shop’s called UK Skunkworks, and apparently sells legal recreational drugs and related drug paraphernalia. The story made the front page because recently, tragically, two local young men died after taking methoxetamine; a drug that was at the time legal but has now been banned under new government powers. The tone of the article is generally negative, and features our dear MP Mr Julian Brazier explaining his objection to the shop’s existence.

I’m troubled by this for several reasons.

Firstly, although the drug has been implicated in several deaths, as of the 23rd of March 2012 no deaths have positively been linked to methoxetamine use. The government and the media consistently misrepresent drug harms, as we saw in 2009/2010 with mephedrone and the late 90s with Ecstasy and the death of Leah Betts. That being said, methoxetamine has a whole heap of nasty effects and people have been hospitalised as a direct result of the drug.

Secondly, when it comes to drug use I believe that people should be able to make their own decisions. Why should any action be illegal if it doesn’t cause anyone else any harm? I’m not saying that we should just wash our hands of those who, through desire or ignorance, are going to hurt themselves; I’m saying that if a person has made an informed decision about what they want then I would rather support than condemn them.

Condemning and punishing a person for drug use doesn’t do any good. Recreational drugs such as ketamine and cannabis are still produced and distributed in the UK, despite the fact that they’re illegal. If they were legal they could be subjected to regulations and quality control, increasing safety. Making something illegal doesn’t mean people will stop doing it, it just means that they’ll be less safe when they do. Not to mention, of course, the fact that money raised by the drug trade is a motivator for violent crime and encourages organised crime. Just like in America during the prohibition.

… which leads me to my next point – something that always winds me up. Alcohol and tobacco, two of the most harmful drugs, are not only legal (though subject to age restrictions) but people are legally encouraged to try them (through adverts/common use on television and in film). In my opinion, the restrictions on alcohol and tobacco should the same as the restrictions on any other drug. This would mean that either all drugs would be legal (with restrictions) or all drugs (including alcohol and tobacco) would be illegal, to varying degrees. Personally, I’d prefer either of those scenarios to our current situation.

Neither scenario is perfect, of course. I can imagine that problems would occur if big companies were allowed to push other drugs the way they push alcohol and tobacco.

Look, I’m not a drug taking person. I drink alcohol every so often, and I once took a few puffs of a mate’s cigarette. I just can’t understand why a personal decision that doesn’t harm anyone else should be illegal. The opinion of the moral majority shouldn’t be law. I guess if it was up to me, I’d legalise it all but place heavier restrictions on advertising. I’d like to see people having to earn a license to buy drugs, the same way people have to earn a license to drive a car, by taking lessons on drug safety and proving they know how to access help if they need it.

Maybe if this were the case, if drugs were subject to quality controls and if people who chose to use them had the knowledge to use them responsibly, fewer young people would die drug related deaths. Moreover, I don’t think it’s fair to use stories about people who’ve died after taking a drug to push for harsher drug laws. It doesn’t seem like it’s what they would have wanted.

Whatever, I don’t have all the answers. These have just been some ramblings that were too long and complicated for twitter, and too boring for facebook. Leave a comment to tell me whether you agree with me or not and why. I look forward to hearing your feedback 🙂

I have returned

Ok, so apparently I haven’t posted anything on here in over five months.

What can I say? The final term of my final year at university was very busy. But it’s all over now, and I have free time again. This means that, with any luck, I’ll be able to start posting here more regularly. I have a lot of opinions on a lot of recent events. But they can wait 🙂 right now, I want to talk about me!

University’s over! It was, like, super hard but also super good fun. At the moment I’m waiting to hear my results, which come out on Thursday the 28th of June (a week from today). Before exams, my predicted grade was around 63%. I’m hoping that my exams didn’t lower my grade below 60%, which would mean I’d graduate with a 2:1, which would be awesome.

What else… well, I’m single again, unemployed, and living at home. I will most likely continue being all of these things for the next year. I should really be looking for a job (to help fund the MSc I’d like to do next year), but it’s so hard to find the motivation 😦 this is the first break I’ve had from uni in like a year or something, and I’d really like to work on a few projects of my own before I sell my brain.

It’s getting late now and I’m watching TV, so I’m starting to lose coherence. I’ll post again soon, though. I wanna talk about my summer projects and choosing to be gay and all the reasons Prometheus was both a fantastic film and a tragic disappointment.

Peace out, y’all 🙂 x