“I love my Straights! I am like the Kathy Griffin of lesbians, except I don’t do stand-up, make a lot of money, piss off celebrities, my mother isn’t an alcoholic and I look way better when I’m not wearing make-up”.
We were lucky enough to catch everyones favourite Drop Dead Diva Margaret Cho in Edinburgh two years ago with her brilliant show Cho Dependent. The show has been turned into a live album and not surprisingly (to us at least) it’s been nominated for a Grammy. To celebrate, she’s giving it away as a free download until the Grammys.
Just go to this link, click download or buy now and enter 0. Isn’t she a doll?
Margaret is currently on tour with her show MOTHER. Buy tickets here.
“Personally, I can’t think of anything more unchristian than taking it upon oneself to pass sweeping judgment on others, choosing exclusion and disrespect over understanding and kindness…talk of false prophets.”
A few weeks ago, we posted an opinion piece on here titled ‘Silence of the Gays’ by Joe Church-Woods, about famous, gay people and the fact that, sadly, they often choose to keep their public persona in the closet. The column referenced Jodie Foster, as it was her ‘coming out speech’ at the Golden Globe Awards that inspired it.
The blog entry earned us a lot of feedback – mostly good, although some readers questioned the premise of the column, offering alternative views on the complex issue of coming out and privacy. We’ve really enjoyed reading people’s responses, and as always, we welcome debate and constructive criticism.
However, as LGBT icons was set up by and for LGBT people, as well as supporters with an interest in LGBT issues, we feel strongly that this blog is not a suitable forum for those who are of the opinion that being (and living as) gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is wrong or sinful.
One reader’s contributions in the comment section of the blog stood out in particular. WordPress user ‘Administrator’ posted a couple of remarks, expressing a whole host of unfounded and homophobic views, some of which were dressed up (rather scantily) as facts.
We are very well aware that the world if full of fundamental Christians and other (religious as well as non-religious) people who are firmly planted in the anti-gay, anti-equality camp. We’re just not sure what their purpose would be in choosing to interact with us on LGBT icons, telling us we are abominations, other than to harass.
Subsequently, Joe has drafted an open letter to ‘Administrator’, in response to their offensive comments. You can read Joe’s letter below if you are interested, and we have also pasted in Administrator’s original comment and the subsequent exchange at the bottom, for context.
Open letter to ‘Administrator’:
The sentiment and attitudes expressed in your comments on the ‘Silence of the Gays’ opinion piece, published on this blog earlier this month, are exactly the kind of arrogant, irrational, narrow-minded and mean-spirited views that make it so difficult for many (gay and straight) people to take anti-gay, religious arguments seriously.
Firstly, being gay is not a choice.
I’m not saying that it’s impossible to feel gay, or have ‘homosexual urges’ and experiences, but then ‘grown out of it’, or manage to find happiness and fulfillment in a straight relationship.
What I am saying is that any person going through that kind of sexual journey was never gay, in the purest meaning of the word, in first place. By definition, the ability to find both men and women sexually attractive would make them bisexual, or at least bi-curious. But perhaps you have some contradictory, personal experience in this matter that you can enlighten me with?
Really though, the question of whether or not some people can ‘choose to be straight’ is a sidebar and irrelevant, as far as I am concerned. Because I know for a fact that being gay was not something I chose, and I also know from first hand experience that not everyone can ‘pray the gay away’.
I tried for many years to ‘overcome’ my homosexuality and I spent a considerable amount of time begging God for help. Help which never came, by the way. At least not until I eventually, in my late teens and early 20′s, started to see that there was nothing wrong with me. If God does exists, I can only assume that this insight of mine must have been his will.
You and those like you call yourselves Christians, picking and choosing the bits of the bible that fit in with your subjective, hurtful views, while ignoring all the ones that don’t, including some of the most important and powerful messages to come out of that particular book – namely live and let live; love your fellow humans; and the importance of compassion and generosity of spirit.
Personally, I can’t think of anything more unchristian than taking it upon oneself to pass sweeping judgment on others, choosing exclusion and disrespect over understanding and kindness…talk of false prophets.
Because of people like you, and the ill-informed opinions and preconceptions that you bandy about, growing up as a young, gay person was pretty hellish for me. Why would anyone facing all that bullying, hate and discrimination choose to be gay?
As an adult, I figured out that the problem is not my attraction to other men, it’s the attitudes of homophobic people – even if I could force myself to be straight, I shouldn’t have to. As a scared, lonely teenager though, I wanted nothing more than to be ‘like everyone else’. But I couldn’t help who I was and I couldn’t change it – with or without God. My only choice, I eventually realised, was to accept my situation and try to overcome the fear of being myself.
Every single LGBT person I can think of, who I have every spoken to (a very substantial number over the years), has reported similar experiences growing up, so I know that my struggle is the norm, rather than an exception to the rule.
Thankfully, things are slowly getting better for LGBT people. The general consensus is slowly but surely changing and most people these days (including many decision makers) know that being gay is not a ‘chosen lifestyle’, a perversion or an illness, just like we all now know that planet Earth isn’t flat, or the centre of the universe.
I would also like to point out that you are wrong when you say that “Homosexuality has always been historically seen as a symptom of the downgrading of any society.” There are lots of examples throughout history, and in communities all around the world, where homosexuality was – and is – considered a normal, functional part of society.
Homosexuality is a naturally occurring, normal variation of sexuality in a huge range of species, including humans. Homophobia, on the other hand, only exists among humans and, like the bible, it is a relatively recent invention in the context of human evolution as a whole.
Not only is homosexuality a natural variation in human beings; numerous scientific studies have also shown that it is not in itself a source of negative psychological effects. By contrast, prejudice and discrimination against gay and bisexual people have been shown to cause psychological harm.
Naturally, I can’t speak for all the gay and bisexual people in the world. However, I can assure you that personally, I am not looking for any ‘special privileges’, and neither are any of the LGBT people I have ever met and spoken to. I’m not sure which gay people and groups you have taken the time to meet and hear, but from your comments, I’m guessing not that many, if any.
We simply want the same rights, privileges and protections afforded everyone else in the society we live in. That, and the right to be who we are without fear of exclusion, discrimination, persecution and violence.
I don’t think that’s too much to ask of the mostly heterosexual and Christian (or otherwise religious) families that brought us into the world.
You may disagree, but if you seriously think that such a request could reasonably explain and justify sociopolitical upheaval, as well as the breakdown of the family unit, then you really need to rethink your world view, or at the very least try to understand someone else’s circumstances.
Please don’t bother visiting the LGBT icons blog again, or responding to this, unless you have something significantly more rational and less offensive to say.
Administrator’s comments on the Silence of the Gays blog post, with responses:
Administrator, January 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm
It used to be that people who ascribed to an alternate lifestyle wanted to have rights and be recognized. Now these same people want to take away the rights of everyone who disagrees with them. How much lower can we get before the bottom drops out?
Tapman, January 28, 2013 at 3:35 am
I think maybe you have been listening to some conspiracy theories? What rights do they actually want to take away from us?
Josef Church-Woods, January 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm
Administrator – your comment illustrates perfectly the position of many conservative, religious and ‘anti-equality’ individuals in the UK. As you can imagine, I have a huge problem with the notion that encouraging an inclusive and anti-discriminatory environment – and introducing measures to give everyone in our society equal rights, privileges and protections – would somehow be unfair and mean towards people who feel homosexuality is wrong. It’s the equivalent of a racist shop owner arguing it’s unfair that they have to serve black people, or a misogynist complaining that letting ladies vote is infringing on his right to male superiority. They can think that if they want, but in this day and age, I’d like to think they’ll understand and accept that that the law, the government and the majority of the rest of the population won’t back them up. Some people may feel affronted and upset that not everyone wants to adhere to their belief system, but the fact is that they are still very much free to stick with it themselves. Take the issue of same sex marriage for example; no one is proposing to force religious organisations to marry gay or bisexual couples if they don’t want to, and those who do not believe in this type of union are under no obligation to be part of one in any way. Yet the mere idea that same sex couples could have a faith, and want to acknowledge that in their commitment to each other, seems to offend huge numbers of religious and anti-gay people no end. Like it’s somehow ruining religion for them. It’s got nothing to do with anyone other than the couple, their family and their church, so why would anyone else think that letting same-sex couples get married in church might take something away from them, or denigrate their own relationship? If their faith, or their marriage, is so fragile that its well-being is threatened by the lives of people they don’t even know, perhaps it’s time for them to reconsider their spiritual and emotional priorities? Bottom line is, we’re all free to our personal beliefs and opinions, but we still have to accept that other people have different beliefs. And provided they are law abiding citizens, they should have the same legal protection and recognition as everyone else in our society. As Jesus might have said: If LGBT equality is slapping you in the face, turn the other cheek.
Administrator, January 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm
There is one thing that you fail to understand is that the homosexual choice cannot be put on the same level as gender or race. Placing choice of lifestyle on the same level those who did not choose their gender of race distracts from the real issue of what a homosexual is. The real issue is not that homosexuals should be a special class of persons who deserve to be protected, but that any society who truly seeks enlightenment and progress should learn from the past. Homosexuality has always been historically seen as a symptom of the downgrading of any society. The selfish nature and prideful position that the homosexual and homosexual groups have should serve to show us that our society, culture, and now the family unit is in deep deep trouble. Not only does the homosexual seek to gain special privileges, but they want to take away the common-sense and natural rights of those who ascribe to any universal absolute. Why do you think Isalm, Facism, and totalitarianism are growing trends in the west? People are frustrated that basic moral behavior is being lost and are will to turn to anything that would protect them… even if it’s been already proven to over-step other basic human freedoms. It’s time you re-thought impact of what you think you believe.
Tapman, January 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm
Dear Administrator, since when has homosexuality been a choice of lifestyle? I think you may have missed thirty years of scientific discovery. You seem also to have received some history classes that none of the rest have. If your a Christian, please stop, your embarrassing the rest of us.
“I felt like an outsider, now I have a great support system and a great group of friends, which I’ve never had before. Life is great.”
Derek Jory for Canucks.nhl.com
Potty training, as all parents know, can be a tall task.
Convincing a child to own the throne takes a lot of persuasion, and the prospect of wearing big boy/big girl underwear often does the trick.
When Nicole Oskam took her two-year-old daughter Anneke shopping for big girl underwear 14 years ago, pink was out, as were unicorns and Strawberry Shortcake. Anneke wanted Superman underwear and wasn’t leaving the store without them.
Anneke, fantastic taste in superhero gitch and all, was a gender nonconforming child from a very young age, according to Nicole, who assumed her daughter was a tomboy.
Fast-forward from the beginning of Anneke’s journey to where she is today and, well, a lot has changed.
For starters, Anneke is now Cory, a 16-year-old male currently blissfully residing on cloud nine after sharing the ice at Rogers Arena with Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider.
“Transgender kids like me are not allowed to go to most schools because the teachers think we are different from everyone else. The schools get afraid of how they will talk with the other kids’ parents, and transgender kids are kept secret or told not to come there anymore. Kids are told not to be friends with transgender kids, which makes us very lonely and sad”.
We often feel like we don’t have enough blogs by, about or for trans people on LGBT icons, so when we spotted this awesome story on Pinknews.co.uk, we had to share.
On the day of Barak Obama’s inauguration, Sadie, an 11-year-old trans girl in western US, wrote a speech of her own, in a brilliant display of courage and maturity beyond her years.
According to her mother, Sadie was proud of Obama for using his inauguration speech to reaffirm his commitment to lesbian and gay equality, but felt the transgender community should have been included as well
Sadie expresses beautifully in her speech, called ‘Sadie’s Dream for the World’, the often challenging and painful reality facing transgender young people and adults in their everyday life.
A fifth grade student, Sadie transitioned socially from male to female in kindergarten, and is currently attending her first year in a public school, having been homeschooled previously.
We think Sadie did a remarkable job of capturing the very essence of what LGBT equality is all about; embracing and celebrating diversity; loving your fellow human beings; and the mainstream realisation that sexual orientation and gender identity does not have to define who you are as a person.
You can read Sadie’s full speech below (it originally appeared on the Transgriot blog).
If you are passionate about trans issues and would like to write a guest blog for us, please get in touch. That goes for anyone with an interest in, or experiences of, LGBT issues in general as well, of course.
Sadie’s Dream for the World
“The world would be a better place if everyone had the right to be themselves, including people who have a creative gender identity and expression. Transgender people are not allowed the freedom to do things everyone else does, like go to the doctor, go to school, get a job, and even make friends.
Transgender kids like me are not allowed to go to most schools because the teachers think we are different from everyone else. The schools get afraid of how they will talk with the other kids’ parents, and transgender kids are kept secret or told not to come there anymore. Kids are told not to be friends with transgender kids, which makes us very lonely and sad.
When they grow up, transgender adults have a hard time getting a job because the boss thinks the customers will be scared away. Doctors are afraid of treating transgender patients because they don’t know how to take care of them, and some doctors don’t really want to help them. Transgender patients like me travel to other states to see a good doctor.
It would be a better world if everyone knew that transgender people have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. We like to make friends and want to go to school. Transgender people want to get good jobs and go to doctors like they are exactly the same. It really isn’t that hard to like transgender people because we are like everyone else.”
“Money, money, money; always funny, in a rich man’s world! And who am I to contest such pearls of wisdom, offered by camp pop legends and fellow Swedes, ABBA? Naturally, they are right. As we all know, disco music can generally be relied on to tell it like it is. But in a not-so-rich gay man’s world, money is a pain in the arse…and I’m not talking the good kind”.
It’s a pain because – if you allow me to generalise for a moment – being a respectable queer on the mainstream gay scene requires a flourishing and exciting social life, a flat stacked with the latest trends, a hot gym membership and a penchant for expensive alcohol and, quite possibly, a plethora of other recreational substances. In other words, to be an A-list gay, you need to reflect a certain level of affluence and impress your fellow homos with glamour and dignity. And I can tell you from personal experience that it’s hard looking glamorous and dignified while desperately trying to muster enough cash for a cosmopolitan and ten Marlboros with three different bank cards at the cash point outside the local gay hot spot.
Okay, okay; so I’m pandering completely to the Big Spender Bender stereotype here, which portrays gay men as irresponsible, luxury addicts, who worship weekly in the Church of Consumerism and treat credit cards as a hard earned work bonus. To save my editors from hate mail and readers from having to puff their chests up in unattractive self-righteousness, I should acknowledge that of course such stereotypes are usually exaggerated caricatures and obviously do not apply to all gay men.
But boring political correctness aside, it is in my opinion still the case that a large proportion of gay men are more aspirational than their straight counterparts in terms of material goods and image; and more often than not, the prevailing gay perception of ‘the successful homo’ complies with these ambitions. As someone who isn’t hugely materialistic or trendy, yet has spent practically all my adult life living well beyond my means and had to resort to everything bar prostitution to get my finances straight (pardon the pun), I feel I can afford to indulge in a bit of stereotyping for the sake of making a point.
And if you don’t believe me, a recent, extensive survey on gay/straight spending habits revealed that, on average, gay men and women have 15% more credit card dept than straight people, a figure that experts say point partially to ‘aspirational spending patterns’ and a hunger for ‘stylish goods’ among the gay population.
When faced with these findings and asked to comment, most of my gay mates proved poignantly unwilling to disclose their financial dispositions, even for the sake of my altruistic quest for enlightenment, but the range of reactions to the subject matter was interesting to observe. It spanned from embarrassed murmurs about dept consolidation, credit card transfer and parental donations, to defiant justification and downright refusal to even talk about it. I was left, not with an idea of my friends’ collective debt, but with the impression that this was apparently a rather touchy subject.
And I know how my friends feel; without going into too much vulgar detail, it’s safe to say that my own money situation is hardly peachy. I regularly spend more than I can afford, especially when it comes to eating and drinking out, and I’m a sucker for ending up with a whole new wardrobe when I only really went out to get a much needed new pair of work trousers.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with socialising in the pub in the weekend, or treating yourself to a nice pair of designer jeans for that matter. Lord no! But if you wake up every Monday morning with a lingering hangover and realise you blew your entire allocated weekly budget in two days and did nothing even vaguely cultural or intellectual – although you pretended to be sophisticated by buying the Sunday paper, when really you just wanted the free ‘Best of Judy Garland’ CD – it’s maybe time to stop and take stock.
So why the excessive spending, be it on pints, pants or partying, and what are the implications? Aside from keeping up with the trendy ‘gay lifestyle’ (there’s that nasty, un-PC, generalising concept again!), could it be that gay men, more so that straight people, are scared of missing out on Mr Right or becoming dried up old spinsters in silk robes with only plants and shitzus for company if we’re not always out and about, looking good and having fun? Most gay people after all, have to rely on the scene for regular access to other gays.
Maybe we should take a brief break from the fervent shopping and consider our circumstances…I don’t want to go all doom and gloom on you, but maybe the proportionally higher level of credit card debt among gay men and women is not just a sign of exclusive tastes and aspirational lifestyles – it’s a well known fact that a higher percentage of gay men and women suffer from the likes of depression and alcoholism compared to the straight population. Some might say excessive spending is simply another symptom of the extra stress gay people are inevitably subjected to as a minority outside the boundaries of the heterosexual, nuclear family norm, that though less imposing, still exists.
Or maybe that’s just a load of amateur pop psychology; maybe some of us just like the good things in life a bit too much? Most of the gay scene is a virtual shrine to camp glamour and cutthroat style, wrapped in a bubble of cheesy pop, dusted with a layer of pink glitter, and fastened with a silky bow of extravagance, so who can blame us for getting carried away with the plastic at times?
Whichever way you choose to look at it, the point is; it’s okay to be extravagant if that’s your inclination. Hell, it’s virtually impossible to be financially sound these days and as long as you can afford to pay at least some of your debt off every now and then, you should be fine. Just remember that the most stylish or drunk people at a party are not always the happiest, most enviable or fun lot in the crowd and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of moderation. At least not in small doses.
Individuality, humour and imagination goes further than plastic and, as a very wise and admirably well-dressed friend of mine said recently: you can have fun and look hot without breaking the bank; there’s no need for anyone to know that you occasionally shop in Primark!
After Obama's rousing speech, Richard Blanco became the first Hispanic and openly gay man to read the inaugural poem. Blanco wrote "One Today" just for the inauguration, and contains sweeping imagery of the United States that everyone can relate to in some way. For more background on Blanco, listen to his interview on NPR's Morning Edition.
A little history, the first inaugural poet was Robert Frost was the first inaugural poet in 1961 for the inauguration of John F.