Sunday, 4 July 2010

Forty Years On

Isn't it amazing when you stop and think that it is only forty years since it was a crime to be openly homosexual? The church condemned homosexuality as immoral, the medical profession spoke of it as a disorder - in fact it was a criminal offence. What a long way we have come in those forty years, when now there are practising homosexuals in the church, in government, in every day life - and nobody bats an eyelid. Or do they?

There is an interesting article in this weekend's Guardian about yesterday's Gay Pride march in London to celebrate those forty years. In it Peter Tatchell writes
of the terrible injustices of the past - he speaks of how Malcolm Muggeridge (remember him?) spoke at the Festival of Light and when asked about homosexuals, answered, 'I just don't like them.' And how Eyesenck advised shock-aversion therapy. In these enlightened times it all seems bizarre.

But I have always thought there is still one 'stumbling block' and Thatchell ends his piece with this. The real battle has only been won when we no longer need to us the word 'gay'. If we have a dinner party we may very well tell people that our gay friends are coming - but would we say our heterosexual friends were coming? No we would not and as Thatchell rightly says - and here I quote:-

"In a completely #queer-friendly society the differences between homo and hetero lose their significance. When no-one cares who is gay and who is straight there will be no point in maintaining the distinction." I wonder how long that will be. Sadly I don't think it will be in my life time. What do you think?

# 'queer' is not a word I would ever use - I think of it as a derogatary word - but I have quoted Tatchell - maybe if one is gay it is alright to use it - but it is a word I hate.

17 comments:

Gwei Mui said...

Hmm, yes sadly I agree with Tatchell. I think this state of affairs is indicative of a wider view when it comes to perceived "non-mainstream" elements of society. It is not just gay, but Black, Asian and Chinese - god help you if you are gay and of an ethnic minority.

Reader Wil said...

It's funny that words get other meanings in the course of time. When I was at the secondary school I was taught that "gay"meant happy or cheerful. Now I only know that it means "homosexual".
A few years ago it was quite normal that a lot of TV hosts or hostesses, comedians and actors are gay. But there is a group of immigrants who have become more and more aggressive against these homosexuals during the past decades. It's unbearable that this aggression is often expressed by young people in the age groups between 10 and 20. Windows of houses where gay couples live, will be smashed. Gay people have been beaten and spat on.What to do about these violent actions?

Heather said...

I think that it is no-one's business whether a person is 'gay' or not. The important thing is that others are not coerced into practises they wouldn't usually engage in, but that applies to heterosexuals too. I read in the Telegraph today that there is soon to be a gay Bishop. That he is a good Bishop should be the main issue and I find it offensive on his behalf that we should be told he is gay. I have just posted my offering for this week's Poetry Bus and am now going to settle down with Jan Messent's book.

Bonnie said...

It is ridiculous that some feel they must select out certain people and identify them as gay or whatever ... as if they were another species.

Mama Zen said...

I wonder if we'll ever get to a place where "gay" is not used as an insult.

Mairi said...

I've been listening to teenagers talking about the "non-issue" of homosexuality lately. According to them sexual preferences are an "Outdated social construct" and one should choose one's partners on a person to person basis. Who knows what personal choices they'll make as they get older, but it seems unlikely they'll grow up to be bigots. I grant that these are upper middle class white children, and that their views may not be commonplace but it's a start.

Pondside said...

We're almost there. We'll be completely there when people stop referring to themselves as queer, butch, queen etc, when Gay Pride parades are no longer necessary and when a person's sexuality is not considered to require comment.

Poet in Residence said...

The world would be a much worse place without the likes of Freddy Mercury, Elton John, Benjamin Britten ...

People are all different. That is why they are people.

Mallards are ducks.

Eryl Shields said...

I do think the distinction is diminishing, generally, in western culture, but as ever it's a slow process. The equal pay act came into force in 1975 but women are still, on the whole, paid less than men. And, only now, 35 years on, does that act apply to local government (if it's actually happened yet).

As Gwei says, too, non-europeans are also picked out for special attention by certain elements. Witness the big deal about Obama.

We do, as a species, seem to be very attuned to differences, even very slight ones – sage, pea, moss, grass, apple: all green but... – luckily we are capable of rational thought so we can talk ourselves out of discriminatory habits if we so wish. I've noticed that the older a person is the more likely they are to notice my foreignness, kids never ask me where I'm from.

mrsnesbitt said...

Prejudice is everywhere, colour creed sex - everywhere!

Jenn Jilks said...

Treat others as one would be treated: Ethic of reciprocity.

Crafty Green Poet said...

it seems to be part of human nature to pick on people because of their differences, so it may be that we'll never reach a place where being gay is entirely acceptable to everyone.

And yes, queer is a word that it's okay to use if you're gay (its about reclaiming words that have been used as insults).

The Weaver of Grass said...

These debates on the comments page really excite me - thanks for replying - it is well worth reading through every single one.
Interesting about the use of 'queer' (see Juliet's comment below). I am thinking about having one day a week for debate - trouble is that I can't always find a relevant subject!

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

We cling to the comfort of "belonging". Ethnic origin, faith groups, sexual orientation. I'm a Yorkshireman, English, British; each one a different degree of the same. And just as we find comfort in the familiar, others delight in pointing out the differences. And if you've fought for your difference to be recognised and accepted, there is a natural desire to celebrate the fact, which is why a gay bishop is identified as such. It shouldn't matter - indeed we've probably had gay bishops for years without knowing but they had to be secretive. And for all the "acceptance" there will still be a hue and cry when one is installed.

elizabethm said...

It is extraordinary in many ways how far we have come in my lifetime and how easy it is to forget. I listened to a programme about Alan Turing of Enigma machine fame and could have wept at how hard it was for him and his sexuality not that long ago.

Ganeida said...

Not in support of bigotry ~ or downright cruelty ~ but spare a thought for the straight people in industries often considered a haven for minorities. My musical daughter laments the derth of straight guys. She swears they're all gay & people outside the industry rarely understand her working conditions. She would prefer to find a mate within the industry but it looks like proving a little difficult...Maybe it's different in England?

Amanda said...

I could say a whole lot to this, but I will try to restrain myself lol. I come not to shoot anyone down with hell fire and brimstone, just want to share from a different perspective.

I know several people who were 'gay', and no longer are. I am a Christian, and one of our Pastors has an amazing testimony. He was gay.. then He met Christ. Sincerely sought Him with His whole heart... and was delivered of his 'gay' lifestyle. He is so thankful and desires a wife.

I know what many people will be thinking right about now. And really, I know we can all have varying opinions on homosexuality. Personally, the only opinion I value and accept, is God's. His views are absolutely clear in the Bible.

I have no doubt that before too long, 'gay' will not be a word needed. Tolerance will see to that. Such is the decline in the moral fibre of society. Society and it's values are so easily witnessed... one only has to pick up a newspaper for that ;)

I am not a prude or anything like it. I have a past. A past that creeps even me out, to remember back.

There is a peace that is far more precious and for more satisfying, than following the dictates of the flesh.

Gay Bishops? That is scary indeed. The Bible tells us about all such things, and really, it is not a 'tolerance' issue with God, Who is holy, righteous and pure. He is merciful and gracious and will open the way for those sincere in following Him and His ways. Gay Bishops are not His ambassadors/servants. God designed men to be with women, to pro-create. He has a pattern and divine order. He can't go against His own pattern. He never made men to be with men, women to be with women. It is not productive at all, and not natural. We, as a society, can be become desensitised to such things, and before long, we are all expected to think it is normal and right. I, for one, will resist such social bullying.

There, I said it. ;)