Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Demonisation

We have a pair of cats in the house! Sebastian and Viola. No one panic! I've not become a lesbian and moved to Stoke Newington. Abbie is staying with us for a few days whilst her bathroom gets fixed. She comes with cats which need to run about. We like animals (although God knows I'm not sure about cats) so we were the obvious choice! I am expecting Nathan to instantly fall in love with them and immediately want pet rats again. On learning that the cats were coming to stay, he was heard to say, "it'll be nice to have a couple of furry heartbeats rattling around the house again. And I'm not just talking about you..." Viola is adventurous and has already sat on my lap. Briefly and skittishly. Sebastian is a scaredy cat and seems to be hiding behind the sofa. They both like the view from the sitting room window!

I woke up this morning to the almost breathtaking news that the nutty National Union of Students has passed a bill insisting that white gay men should no longer be represented by LGBT groups because they "don't face oppression" any more. Actually, at their conference, delegates proposed a motion that blames “cis gay men” for “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia." Brilliant.

The motion was passed, despite other resolutions at the same conference highlighting that men who have sex with men are disproportionately at risk of HIV, and disproportionately at risk of violence. But let's not let that stop us from marginalising them again.

I haven't heard anything as insulting since Jennifer Toksvig tried to argue that homophobia was actually misogyny in disguise, and that gay men were traditionally oppressed because, "men don't like women."

Being gay is still not a walk in the park in the UK and, regardless of the fact that the law is now on our side, young gay men from all races, backgrounds (and particularly) religions are still attacked in the street and bullied by religious leaders, parents and friends. University is often the time that young men find the strength to come out and they are often hugely reliant on LGBT societies, and the events they organise, to help them through the difficult process. I should point out that these societies were largely founded by the very people who are now being banned from them! The same thing happened with Pride this year. You can't simply tip up and march anymore. Pride is now a parade. A carnival. And to "show support," you have to be linked to a corporate body and pay through the nose for the privilege. The LGBT community is no longer one that I recognise.

If lesbians were banned from LGBT groups (they wouldn't be, but if they were) they could go off and join a women's group. If gay men of colour were banned (they wouldn't be, but if they were, they could join a BAME group. There are groups specifically for trans people but what is the alternative for a white gay man? You can rest assured that the NUS wouldn't support a club solely for white gay men. Why the hell did I bother to battle for equality?

The demonisation of white men is the very reason why scores of working class traditional Labour voters now feel utterly disenfranchised and are turning to the right. The perception in many of the communities I've worked with over the years is that white British people - particularly men - are being over-looked in favour of minority groups. It's a story I hear again and again and used to always take with a pinch of salt. The grass is always greener and all that. We always want to blame someone else, but for the first time in my life, I'm beginning to wonder if there's not a grain of truth in what's being said. It's certainly a growing perception which very much needs to be addressed if we're to avoid a catastrophic shift to the right at the next election.

In more positive news, hats off to the train guard of this morning's South West train from Portsmouth to Waterloo, who temporarily changed the name of his vehicle to "Trainy Mctrain Face." This is a gag which I'd be happy to see running for a fair few days to come!

I went to the local newsagent today who, as usual, engaged me in conversation about the weather. He does it every time I go in. There was nothing unusual about the weather today. White skies. Mild. No breeze. I walked in, and tried to chat to him about the sweeties I was buying: "in need of a sugar rush..." I said, pointing at the sweets. "Lovely weather" he said, "well it's warm at least. Not like yesterday. Yesterday was wonderful." Fabulous.

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