I am not looking for allies
Sparky
sparkindarkness
 There appears to have been a misconception about why I blog about what I blog about and why I co-run Fangs for the Fantasy. I suppose I can see why, I mean, I can’t even tell you ALL the reasons why I do both because there’s a lot there.

 There’s some venting. There’s the need to expose tropes and problematic representations and erasure in the hope that awareness will bring change. There’s an equal need to expose these simply because we consume them without questioning all the time and unless we do start questioning they will shape us. There’s the need to demand representation and inclusion everywhere – not decide that certain genres don’t matter or we can be confined to a niche. Oh there’s a bazillion reasons, I’ve written whole posts on the reasons.

 But I do NOT do this to “find allies.” Never have. Finding allies is not on my to-do list. I don’t even particularly like the word “ally” because it’s so loaded with so many unpleasant connotations and experiences that I avoid it – the actions of too many self-appointed “allies” have rendered the word fairly irredeemably negative.

 When it comes to people’s position in reference to a battle for equality I see two broad categories:

1)      Arseholes
2)      People Who Are Not Arseholes

An Arsehole is one who doesn’t believe a marginalised group deserves the same level of respect/rights/whatever as non-marginalised people. There are obviously different degrees of Arseholes. Some like to go out killing marginalised people, some want to campaign against our rights, some just think there’s far too many of Those People on TV and wish we’d keep it indoors. Some Arseholes will tell you how much they absolutely love us – until we don’t follow their own internal script on who/how we should be.

Regardless of the varying degrees of stink clinging to them – they’re all Arseholes.

People who are not Arseholes are just that – they think LGBT people (and all marginalised people) are people worthy of as much respect as privileged people. Despite them being relatively rare people, this is not an achievement worthy of much praise. This is the bare minimum standard for decent humanity – and should be your default setting. If it isn’t, you’re an Arsehole and should be treated as such

Is it possible that, with much work and explanation, I could convince an Arshole to not be an Arsehole? Yes – but not only is that work and painful and difficult, it’s also deeply dehumanising. I find it soul-deep offensive to have to convince someone I am an actual person worthy of respect. Having to defend, explain or justify my humanity is demeaning, it’s belittling and I loathe doing it. Almost as much I hate people telling me how much they’re struggling not to be an Arsehole.

So no, I’m not trying to “find allies.” And even if I were, it’d be impossible to do so by being nice. Someone who respects my rights and humanity and my personhood only so long as I play nicely is not my ally. LGBT people (and all marginalised people) should not have to buy respect and equality by jumping through your hoops and fawning at your feet. I am a person, no matter what – whether I’m mean, cruel, surly, caffeine deprived, sarcastic, plain nasty or whether I’m nice, patient, kind, gentle and saintly. My personhood is not dependent on my conduct – and all marginalised people do not need to show impeccable behaviour to be found worthy of equality

So don’t ever tell me that I’m failing to find allies or I’m driving allies away. The first is not actually something I’m trying to do or want to do. The second is impossible with a genuine ally – because a genuine ally would support our rights as a full human being no matter how much of an ornery, surly git I am.



Yes, I'm ranting again - can we stop cheering non-inclusion?
Sparky
sparkindarkness
 I have people wondering at me why I am so annoyed about reviews of How To Train Your Dragon 2, specifically Gobber.

 

Who is apparently gay. Or so say the writers of the film. The actual film? Apparently we have the line:

 

“That’s why I never married. Well, that and one other reason.”

 

Well that’s a totally unambiguous statement right? It’s not like “one other reason” could possibly mean anything else other than being gay, right? Uh-huh

 

But we have bloody swarms of people crawling out of the woodwork to say how wonderfully inclusive it is! ZOMG A GAY CHARACTER! YAY!

 

And people wonder why I drink.

 

This annoys the hell out of me. There are still huge genres – like SF/F and children’s shows/films/books of any kind – where LGBT people in major roles is damn rare (you can find us in comedies – because gay as comic relief is still a thing – dramas, usually about the big gay issue – and soapy-shows where we have big ensemble casts so you don’t have to deal with an LGBT main character without lots of diluting cishet people to wash it down with) and it’s not going to get any better because we have a swarm of people ready to throw a damn parade for NOTHING like this.

 

Like Frozen – hey did you see the millisecond hint that some random shop keeper may be gay because his family seemed to contain another adult man? Yeah, I watched that film and missed it as well – but the fanpoodles were on the net squeeing about Disney with gay characters – because blink-and-you-miss-it hints are totally awesome guys! (And update on that – they may have been cousins. Ooooh joyous inclusion)

 

Or the media that doesn’t even bother with hints, just has show creators or authors claim there are LGBT characters there we don’t know about – Battlestar Galatica, J K Rowling, Julie Kagawa, to name but a few – and we’re supposed to celebrate this? We’re supposed to be glad of inclusion that you have to freaking GOOGLE after you finish the book/show/film!?

 

And that’s aside from the number of shows indulging in fucktons of slashbaiting which has had Supernatural, Hawaii 5-0, Sherlock, Merlin and Teen Wolf hailed as inclusive or even outright gay shows by far too many. Tyler Posey even said in an interview that they focused on a gay storyline in Teen Wolf. WHEN?! What gay storyline?! I’ve watched 3 seasons and counting of Teen Wolf and there has never been anything that can be called a “gay storyline” and none of the teeny-tiny gay tokens on that show have ever been “focused on”.

This is why people like the writers on Once Upon a Time think that Mulan's kinda, sorta, almost coming out before FALLING OFF THE PLANET is progressive and inclusive.

 

Even when they manage to scrape up LGBT characters, there’s repeatedly an urge to back off from them – to make sure they don’t identify as LGBT, to downplay being LGBTness. Whether it’s the grossly homophobic Da Vinci’s Demons deciding Leonardo Da Vinci was just “curious” or Reeve Carney talking about Dorian Grey on Penny Dreadful and denying his bisexuality – comparing his sex with men as akin to self-harming.

 

But we still have the fanpoodles flocking to tell us how pro-gay these shows are! We still hold this shows up as wonderful examples of inclusion!


THIS IS NOT INCLUSION. This is bloody insulting and it’s actively harming our press for actual portrayals of LGBT characters because this is the standard we set. This is what is praised. This is considered acceptable. This is the low bar we expect media creators to tip-toe over. This is what the fans are demanding and this is what we’re getting – and then we wonder at the paucity of portrayals?

 

This shit is so prevalent that it’s created a whole double standard of inclusion even on sites which specialise in social justice and social justice analysis of media. They will praise erased or tokenised shows for their non-existent or grossly inadequate portrayal of LGBT people while rightly criticising that same show for its flawed representation of other marginalised people even though that representation is actually more extensive than that of the LGBT inclusion they just praised! But we’ve set such a double standard for LGBT inclusion that an ad-libbed retconned ambiguous statement is somehow a milestone of inclusion!

 

So yes, I’m pissed, yes, I’m ranting about this, yes, I’m annoyed. There’s this whole damn vast movement of fans out there, fans who claim to be supporters of LGBT inclusion – who are actively sabotaging us.

 

 


Random Beloved Update
Sparky
sparkindarkness
 So, returning to Beloved’s familial bullshit that began in the New Year, now I think we can safely say we’ve come out the other side.

 

Things are… not good with his family now, but maybe better because everyone is accepting that things are bad. That makes lots of sense, right?

 

Beloved has not connected to any great degree with his parents and there is a lesser, but still painfully present, distance between him and his sisters. Parents and sisters have encouraged him to close the gap and Beloved isn’t refusing all contact – but nor is he encouraging fluffy closeness, comfort or particularly frequent or extensive time spent together either.

 

I have to say, I have not encouraged him to close that gap. In fact, I am probably instrumental in keeping that distance there. I’m not ashamed of that; while I think Beloved needs to define the relationship between himself and his parents and siblings according to his needs, endurance and desire (and I will support his choice there, no matter how much I disagree), I’m not going to pretend it’s not my business.

 

Beloved’s family have tried to seek peace… by pretending nothing happened. No apologies, no “we’ve learned, we don’t think you’re a terrible threat to children any more”, no backtrack, no attempt to address why Beloved is hurt or why Beloved doesn’t trust them. Just an expectation for him to get over it and pretend everything is as it is before. Beloved, in turn, is guarded, wary, tense and, generally, incapable of relaxing around them because he can’t trust them not to bring out something awful.

 

They burned the bridges and have made no attempt to rebuild them – just expect him to swim across the shark infested water to be bitten again. It’s not a tempting offer.


 Beloved is less… angry and hostile, but I was right in that his ability to trust has taken a set back. It’s knocked on to a fair number of his friends and work colleagues and that’s hard to explain. I mean, how do you say to people “I’m treating you differently because I was reminded that people are arseholes and people are homophobic and trusting is a really really foolish thing for me to do. I kept doing it and kept getting burned and I’m sick of sticking my hand in the flames. Have a nice day.”? It’s not easy to work in conversation.

 

Clinging to the positive – he managed to maintain a level of trust and hope far beyond what I would have in his place and to a far greater age than I managed or anyone would manage through his life; it’s a credit to his general positivity (or an indictment of his iron hard naivety). Frankly, I’ve always been slightly in awe (and, I admit, savagely envious) of Beloved’s ability to recuperate, to let nothing touch him, to still be so light and shiny and golden no matter how much shit has been thrown at him. It has been kind of humbling to watch over the years and it makes it a little harder to see that sheen dull. But at the same time, I have a feeling of relief – because I always expected it to shatter and it was always nagging there – how bad would the crash be when it actually happened?

 

He has a new plateau. One which, while less friendly and upbeat than before, is certainly safer and probably more reasonable. There is good here. It’s a hard good, it’s not a fun good – but it’s a sensible good, it’s a realistic good. He's spent a lot of time in the garden which is really good and healing for him - which surprises me, I have to admit. I did kind of put his gardening down as another one of his silly hobbies he'd eventually get bored of and abandon for the next little fad - mea culpa.

 

 

Life moves on and we’ve got it. I think that’s the main thing – we’ve got it, we live, we thrive, we move on. 

. 
 

 

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BAD LIVEJOURNAL! BAD!
Sparky
sparkindarkness

What have you done?! WHYYYYY?

Bad Journal! Bad! No cookies!


So, if you're a straight person who feels the need to say "I hate all public displays of affection..
Sparky
sparkindarkness
 Don't.

 

Really don't, because I'm beyond sick of it

 

I know, I know, you want to make it clear you're totally not a homophobe and it's not about the same-sex couple you just don't like PDAs - of any kind!

 

But the ONLY time this gets trotted out, certainly in any large numbers, is when LGBT folk have shown the same public love for each other that cishet folks get to do repeatedly every single day.

 

I do not believe you decide to express your distaste for PDAs every time straight people kiss. I do not. Considering the saturation of straight affecting in the media you couldn't even read your toddler a fairy tale without having to tut "oh look at this PDA, how inappropriate" under your breath. If you turned on a television you would lose your voice having to repeat your disapproval so many times.

 

There is absolutely no way you express your disapproval of PDAs every time you're confronted by straight people kissing. You would be on permanent repeat, like a record that's skipping. 


You don't comment on straight PDAs but you hone in on the MUCH MUCH rarer same-sex PDAs to speak about? Yeah, that's some not-very-subtle shenanigans right there

 

And if you are genuinely unhappy with any PDA and this totally isn't isolated - then consider whether you need to express this NOW (because you DO let straight PDAs pass, don't even try to claim you don't). Even if you are super duper sure that you are totally not a homophobe in any way, shape or form, be aware that you do sound like one. Be aware that you are speaking in a context where a gazillion of your fellow straight folks constantly use such weasel ways to be homophobic in the hope they can wave the hate flag without backlash. Be aware that there's a whole bunch of straight people with unchallenged privilege and unquestioned prejudice who register, without even realising. same-sex PDA as obscene and needing reaction but don't even notice straight PDAs because they're background noise and you sounds a whole lot like them. Be aware of that "without even realising" and ask yourself how sure you are you AREN'T one of them.


Be aware that, to me and many other LGBT folks, you're part of a vast sea of straight people who've decided to express their disapproval over our relationships. Again. 

If you quack and waddle, how sure are you that you aren't a duck? Even if you aren't, you can't be surprised when we reach for the orange sauce


And does it suck that you're totally-well-meaning-and-not-homophobic-honest criticism is being lumped in with that sea of bigotry? Well, not nearly as much as it suck to drown in it.

 

 

This also applies to the "I think all marriage/adoption/surrogacy/IVF is wrong" but only say so when we're talking about same-sex couples engaging in them crowd as well.


On Conchita Wurst
Sparky
sparkindarkness
 First of all, banish the idea that whoever wins Eurovision has anything to do with the quality of the songs. Ok, no, that's harsh - let's say the quality of the music makes up, say, 20% of the decision on who wins.

 

The rest is politics. Which is why it was laughable that Eurovision Host Pilou Asbaek was banned from wearing rainbows as he wanted because it was deemed “political.” Which country votes for which is always based on relations and opinions between those countries (which is why you have a lot of bloc voting and part of the reason Britain both doesn’t take it very seriously and always does poorly – because we’ve annoyed and continue to annoy a lot of people).

 

Homophobia has been an issue in European politics lately – obviously with the looming bigotry of Russia. But not just Russia – it was rather bitter, for example, to see political leaders decide boycotts, sanctions and even not attending the Olympics et al against Russia for persecuting LGBT people was a no-no, but when straight people in Ukraine were the target, suddenly everything was on the table (including our “equality minister” telling us how much she couldn’t possibly boycott the Olympics – then running like hell from the Paralympics – showing homophobia and ableism). It’s also galling that one of the many steps towards integration with the EU required Ukraine to improve it’s anti-homophobia protection and this was dropped after the Russian invasion (and Ukraine dropped anti-gay discrimination from their workplace discrimination law) feeling a lot like the EU just shoved LGBT people under the bus.

 

Then there was Conchita’s boycott – Russia, Ukraine and Belarus all wanted Conchita disqualified and/or broadcasts of Eurovision to edit Conchita out. They were hardly alone, though the usual suspects were most vocal. There was a lot of pressure to remove Conchita entirely

 

And then Conchita won. That’s a message. Ok, the message could be “You want to de-gay Eurovision? Are you SERIOUS? Please, we’ve been claiming this since the 70s.” But it’s also a strong sense of rejection of the very overt bigotry that has dogged Eurovision and Europe this year.

 

Is the song good? Yes/no/maybe/I don’t really care – but I’m loving that the bigots stomped their feet and here, far more of us turned round and told them to back off.

 


So very much agreed
Sparky
sparkindarkness


Yes yes and yes. My home has completely lost gay bars because the number of straight tourists has driven gay people out or made the space unsafe by both numbers or by grossly obnoxious behaviour

 

There are almost no spaces in the world where LGBT people are not an inherent minority. That's not even a comment on homophobia, that's simple demographics. Even the most generous metrics put LGBT people at about 10% of the population. We are inherently a minority, we will always be, inherently, a minority. Which means 99.9% of everywhere we go all the time we are surrounded by people not like us. All the time (this was an amusing revelation to one of my colleagues lately). So yes, I - and many others - are very protective of the teeny tiny spaces we managed to carve out in this HUGE STRAIGHT WORLD where, for a few blissful moments, we can be us, surrounded by us, knowing everyone around us is... us.

 

And before anyone cries about it "not being fair". Cis, straight folks - you have the world. The entire freaking world. Every day is straight pride day. Every bar is a straight bar (where we're still evicted on a regular basis). You never have to be careful, being a cis straight person in an LGBT world. You never have to be afraid, being a cis straight person in an LGBT world. You are not the only one of your sexuality or gender identity in a room. You do not have that daily pressure not to be you because you are cis and straight. We need these guarded corners because you have filled the rest of the space with your overwhelming presence but also your overwhelming culture of superiority and hostility - and that's a culture that follows you EVEN IF you are fighting against that. No matter how much of an ally you are, your presence adds to the majority, a majority which, frankly, frightens me.

And, really, you've got the whole world. You object to our tiny corners?


Nigel Evans, Rape Charges and Complexities
Sparky
sparkindarkness
 Nigel Evans has been cleared of all charges – and I’m seeing some… simplistic responses.

 

One of which is the idea that he got off. I can understand the principle of always believing abuse victims because we have too much a culture of doubt, victim blaming and general arseholery.

 

That includes rape victims who are gay men who are (as I’ve found to bitter experience) generally considered unrapeable (even among people in the LGBT community) because we’re all sex-obsessed lust monsters. “No” is not supposed to exist in our vocabulary; at very least, if we did say “no” we didn’t mean it or it doesn’t matter because we’re so sex obsessed that more sex can never be a bad thing.

 

There is also an incredibly powerful stereotype and societal slur of gay men as sexual predators. The gay panic defence, that is continually raised over and over to justify attacking us and killing us, is based entirely on this idea that we’re all rabid sex predators. The idea we’re a threat to children is based on the idea we’re rabid sex predators. I know gay men who are not only not trusted to look after children even by their families (myself included) but some who wouldn’t even do so if asked because it’s too dangerous for them. The spectre of gay rape was raised when it came to equalising the age of consent, section 28 and marriage equality. It’s a subject of constant “humour” from straight men about the terrible fear of gay men raping them, avoiding being alone with a room with us and the ever-not-funny “don’t bend over/drop the soap/turn your back” jokes. Because we’re all just. Again, I know gay men who won’t use a public bathroom out of fear of the violent terror they inspire in straight men. Again, I’ve even seen people who are LGBT (but not gay men) talk about gay men’s “culture” of sexual predation and how much GBQ men love to be evil preying sugar daddies on vulnerable youth because it’s all part of our community culture. Which all adds to why I really really really feel unbelievably uncomfortable referring to my past experiences in anything but the closest of spaces because there are, optimistically, 6 people who are not gay men I feel even remotely safe talking about it with.


Gay men falsely accused of rape and sexual assault is an ingrained societal habit


I say this as someone who pretty much loathes Nigel Evans who gives his hateful party inclusion cookies when he only came out when pretty much forced and after a long record of throwing the rest of us under the bus (not saying he should have come out earlier or at all – but no-one gets cookies for including someone who later is revealed to be gay).

 

Does this mean I think all the accusations against him are baseless lies? No. Does this mean I think he’s a sex predator whose wealth and position got him off scot-free? Also no. Does this mean that, if you have followed the case, assessed the facts (something I haven’t done because that would neither be sensible nor healthy) and decided they are liars/he has got off scot-free you should not have that opinion? Not at all.

 

 

None of these things – but nor do I think we can apply even a very well intentioned and generally very good principle (believing the victims of sexual assault and rape who are so often ignored, doubted and villified) without recognising other factors apply.


On Mozillagate, Brandon Eich and Freedom of Speech
Sparky
sparkindarkness
 Looks like we need another refresher on Freedom of Speech and what that means

 

Brendan Eich, the now-former CEO of Mozilla has donated a considerable sum of money to a campaign to deny LGBT people equality. He is a homophobic bigot. Mozilla decided being a homophobic bigot is the perfect person to head their company when they appointed him CEO – it was a bigoted decision that proved Mozilla did not value LGBT people.

 

LGBT people and people who aren’t raging bigots and apologists for bigots responded with fierce criticism, blog posts, social media campaigns and, yes, OKCupid joined the campaign (they did not block firefox – they DID have a page that said, basically, “hey we’d prefer you use a browser that doesn’t support raging bigotry” which did have a clickthrough if you really did want to continue with firefox.

 

Brendan Eich stepped down.

 

Would people have been happy with less? Honestly, I wouldn’t have been – and I still look leerily at some of the man’s apologists in Mozilla as well. But Eich didn’t even try. Mozilla threw around policy statements – which addressed nothing. They were so poor that they released several to try and patch the gaping holes – but never addressed the fact they’d chosen a bigot to lead them

 

Eich himself made vague statements – but adamantly refused to address his donation to a hate campaign. More, he wouldn’t rule out doing the same again, even when expressly asked. Eich is a homophobic bigot who has campaigned against the equality of LGBT people – and plans to continue to do so. Yet he expected LGBT people to have faith in him for the future.


This wasn’t even LGBT people refusing to accept an apology (which we wouldn’tbeen obliged to do) or trusting him to learn and do better – because he didn’t make an apology, made no indication that he had learned and adamantly ruled out not doing the same thing all over again.

 

And let us be clear here – LGBT people did not sack Brandon Eich. We do not have that power. We did not ban him under law – we do not have that power. We did not destroy his code or his company or have his website banned – none of these we can do. No-one physically attacked him. No-one put a gun to his head.

 

We spoke.

 

We spoke against a man who would spend money to deny our humanity. We spoke against a man who wished to deny us equality and treat us as lesser citizens. We spoke against a man who refused to even rule out doing the same thing again. We spoke against a company – a company that even prides itself on its principles - that decided such a man was ideal to be their leader and figurehead. We chose not to use the products of that company. We chose not to associate with a man or a company

 

Why is his “freedom of speech” which, by the American interpretation, also includes copious amounts of money to fund denial of our rights – so damn precious that OUR freedom of speech must be silence – or be considered “out of line” or “going too far.”

 

Why is his speech perfectly reasonable but ours is a “lynch mob”?

 

What do you expect us to do? Do you think we have some kind of duty to shop at Chick-fil-a, use Firefox or read Orson Scott Card? Lest our refusal to associate with a bigot somehow “oppress” you? At what point are we ALLOWED to speak up against bigotry? When do we get to defend outselves, oh straight people, do tell?

 

Why are LGBT people – all marginalised people – presented as being vicious, angry and oppressive because we won’t lay down silently and let privileged people oppress us?

 

Brendan Eich is not a victim. Brendan Eich was the man trying to victimise LGBT people – and clearly planning to do so again in the future. LGBT people chose not to lay down and take it, LGBT people fought against being victimised, LGBT people refused to smile in the face of yet another straight, cis person hitting us.

 


All you people squealing about how so-very-mean we’ve been to this bigot? You are like the men who hold some poor guys arms so someone else can punch him. Eich is the one who attacked us – we’re defending ourselves. It’s your choice whether you stand aside, help protect us – or try to hold our arms so we’re defenceless. 


The First Same-sex Couples in the UK married today
Sparky
sparkindarkness
 Today, the first same sex couples in the UK got married.

 

We can't yet because of pointless delays for no good reason - but the first of us got married today.

 

I never realised quite how much I was holding my breath waiting for this to be sabotaged - there was so much endless delay and so much utter viciousness from the usual suspects I didn't dare hope we'd actually make it to the end.

 

It's not perfect, there are still some more aspects of it to change...

 

...but it's here. It's finally actually here.


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