What Does the Northern Ireland Assembly Know on Homosexuality?

A reflection of our times:

 

The City Hall in its coat of many colours

The City Hall in its coat of many colours

 

Stormont Northern Ireland

Stormont remains in its ‘vanilla’ coat

The following two motions were put forward to the Assembly in December 2012, both motions highlight just how the assembly still is failing the LGBT part of the community, because both motions have still be acted upon.

 

  • Lifting the Ban on Homosexual Men Donating Blood

That this Assembly notes that Northern Ireland is now the only region in the United Kingdom where homosexual men are banned from donating blood; further notes the findings of the report on Blood Donor Selection Criteria Review in April 2011; considers it to be unreasonable and intolerant to continue to turn away suitable donors; and calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to lift the ban and to adopt the same safeguards as those that have been implemented across the rest of the United Kingdom.

[Mr J McCallister]
[Mr S Gardiner]

 

  • Bullying in Schools

That this Assembly acknowledges the negative impacts of bullying in schools; recognises the increase in cyber bullying and the endemic nature of homophobic bullying in schools in Northern Ireland; notes that bullying is linked to an increased risk of isolation, depression, self harm and suicidal ideation among young people; calls on the Minister of Education to acknowledge the particular issue of homophobic bullying; and further calls on the Minister to develop immediately a comprehensive and wide ranging anti-bullying action plan and to begin a programme of work, with schools, to make them safe and welcoming environments for all our young people.

[Mr S Rogers]
[Mrs D Kelly]
[04 September 2012]

Notes from the Northern Ireland Assembly

An article by Eamonn McCann ‘Stormon in Dark Ages over homosexuality’, published  in the Belfast Telegraph 18 July 2013,  would seem to give further evidence towards this in a small way, but what was more enlightening was the off-the-cuff comment by the young woman at the desk of the British Museum on being told that there was little represenation of the Celts or the Ulsters Scots in the British Museum’s sumptuous collection of gay artifacts from civilisations across the globe and down the ages – “Well, they’ve always been a bit odd over there, haven’t they?”

In July 2011, Dolores Kelly said ‘…members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community must “push” to make their voice heard.

“I think they need to push hard and hold to account their political representatives,” Ms Kelly said.

“Particularly the leader of the biggest party here in the north which is of course the DUP and I think they have to be challenged on all fronts.”

Politics in Northern Ireland is not just about religion, it is about bias and ignorance on many fronts,  The LGBT community needs to organise itself and to communicate with and pursue its local and national representatives into supporting the needs of our community.  (UTV Report)

 

Just after I wrote this piece, I was forwarded an notification on the

UN Human Rights Office Launches Unprecedented Global Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality

I am attaching a copy of the document for information and look forward to our community being actively involved in delivering ‘Equality for the LGBT Community’

UN Human Rights Office Launches Unprecedented Global Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality

human rights defenderUnited Nations HUman Rights - Office of the High Commissioner

 

human-rights-not-an-option

An participant's report on Belfast Pride 2013

Belfast Telegraph - Picture of Belfast Pride 2013Last weekend Belfast LGBT pride march was very successful, and as a Gay man i was proud to march with a poster calling for the  ‘freedom of Bradley Manning’,  a Gay man jailed in the Untied States for exposing war crimes against humanity.

Belfast pride is now the biggest LGBT pride in Ireland , while this is a victory we must remember why we are marching .  Homophobia has died down but it is not yet fully dead and until it is dead we must march with pride and stand in solidarity with the LGBT movement to kill it.

Here in the North of Ireland Gay and Bi sexual men are refused the right to give blood and blood is a much need thing to save lives , yet Gay and Bisexual men can not give blood that would save peoples lives  –  this is being seen as outright Homophobia by Health Minster Edwin Poots., and illogical in the light of measures taken in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Both the Orange order and the Catholic church stand united in their opposition to LGBT marriage.  The right of LGBT Northern Irish Citizens to marriage is a right that Stormont has blocked.

Queer bashing is still something that many LGBT people in the North of Ireland encounter, and they suffer mental heath issues which results in them taking their own lives.

Many LGBT people in the North still have a fear about coming out.  In state schools many young LGBT students face homophobic bullying which the schools do not proactively handle.  Until and unless the school system in the North Of Ireland is separated from the church , this abomination of abuse of power by the church will continue to impact on LGBT youth.

The word GAY means Good as You and we are.  Some day we shall have our liberation and no more shall Gay people live in fear  We shall over come some day.

 

Seán óg Garland
 

 

Queers in Exile: the Unforgotten Legacies of LGBTQ Homeless Youth

LGBT Homeless Youth Documented In ‘Queers in Exile’ At The Leslie Lohman Museum (PHOTOS)

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted: 07/16/2013 8:09 am EDT  |  Updated: 07/17/2013 10:01 am EDT

An exhibition entitled “Queers in Exile: the Unforgotten Legacies of LGBTQ Homeless Youth” will provide a historical narrative and abundance of images to the long-silenced tale of homeless queer youth.

lgbtq homeless youth

The exhibition, curated by Alexis Heller, will illuminate the untold street stories from 1969’s Stonewall riots to present day, revealing years of persecution, determination and hope. From pop master Andy Warhol to LGBTQ documentary photographer Samantha Box, the selected artists capture the all too invisible generations of survivors, creators and revolutionaries who call the streets their home.

The show takes its name from Sylvia Rivera’s essay “Queens in Exile, The Forgotten Ones,” which demands respect and change for LGBTQ communities. In the spirit of Rivera’s essay, the Leslie Lohman Museum explains how their exhibition does not just seek to revisit the past but change the present and what is to come.

“It is a view of history told by those who live/lived it within a community often silenced and ignored, but the vision goes beyond visibility. It is about collective memory and conscience, and repositioning queer homeless young people from ‘other’ to ‘our own’… It offers homeless youth a place by grounding them within an empowered history and lineage, honors their struggle, and reflects that they matter.”

“Queers in Exile” runs from July 18 – July 28, 2013 at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York. See a preview of the exhibition in the slideshow below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

HPV vaccination should be extended to gay men

make-the-right-decisions.005

Campaigners are hoping that the jab given to protect against cervical cancer will be widened to include gay men

It is estimated that of the 77,917 gay men who visited a sexual health clinic in 2010, 16,962 of those under 26 would have been eligible to have the jab if it were available. Photograph: Alamy


Human papilloma virus (HPV) is best known for causing most cases of cervical cancer. But Pavol Krascenic became infected as a result of having sex with his then boyfriend. Unfortunately for Krascenic, as a result of contracting HPV, he was diagnosed with a precursor to anal cancer, which is hard to treat. Despite four operations to curb its spread, he is in terrible pain much of the time. “The steroid cream I got from a London hospital made no difference and the painkillers I take every day are so strong they make me feel like I’m on another planet, like I’m drunk, and even then I still have the pain and often have to lie down to relieve it,” says the 31-year-old who was a chef in London until 2009 when his condition left him unable to work and seriously depressed.
The pre-cancerous growths in the anus also weaken a sufferer’s immune system and, for gay men, leaves them more likely to get infected with HIV. In 2008, Krascenic was diagnosed with that too, which made the growths more painful. “A lot of gay men don’t know about HPV or think that it only affects girls, but HPV is dangerous,” he says. “Gay men are often shocked and surprised when they find out it’s something that can affect them too.”
Krascenic is supporting a new campaign by doctors, sexual health experts, politicians and charities, including the Terrence Higgins Trust, for gay men to be offered a vaccination against HPV in the same way that 12- and 13-year-old girls already are in order to protect them against cervical cancer – research suggests the vaccination is effective for those under 26. “If I’d known there was a vaccination against HPV I would have paid for it myself, given what I know about the virus,” says Krascenic.
The possibility of gay men becoming eligible for the HPV vaccination may move closer on Wednesday when the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – experts who advise the government on the use of vaccination to tackle any medical condition – discuss the issue. If they approve it, this would prevent gay men worried about HPV having to pay up to £450 to be immunised privately, which at the moment is their only option. Of the 77,917 gay men who visited a sexual health clinic in 2010, 16,962 of those under 26 would have been eligible to have the jab if it were available, sexual health experts estimate.
Lord Fowler, widely admired for his work as the Conservative government’s health secretary when Aids emerged in the 1980s, has written to Anne Milton, the public health minister, calling gay men’s exclusion from HPV jabs “clearly unequal and unfair”.
He wrote: “There is a clear inequity in the HPV vaccination programme offered to all 12- and 13-year-old girls. As the four strains of HPV vaccinated against are sexually transmitted, heterosexual males will eventually receive indirect protection against the related cancers and genital warts by a herd immunity effect. Men who have sex with men, meanwhile, receive no such protection, despite increasing rates of anal cancer in this group.”
The number of men in Britain diagnosed with anal cancer rose from 100 a year in 1975-77 to around 370 a year in 2007-2009. The number of deaths went from 20 to 120 a year over the same period, according to Cancer Research UK. HPV also causes penile, oral and throat cancers in gay men, with the virus again transmitted sexually. Extending HPV jabs to gay men would be cost-effective and save the NHS money, it is argued.
Peter Greenhouse, a gynaecologist specialising in sexual health and spokesman for the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), says the UK should learn from Australia where there has been a huge drop in genital warts in both young women and young men since it began giving girls the HPV jab in 2007. Young gay men, though, have not seen the same benefit. “That has prompted some sexual health clinics to start offering them the injections so that their future sexual behaviour does not harm their health, in the same way that gay men in both Australia and the UK are already immunised against Hepatitis B,” he says.
The Australian government’s pharmaceutical benefits advisory committee last year advised ministers that boys as well as girls aged 12 and 13 should receive the vaccine, though the federal health minister has yet to concur. Similarly, in the US the federal advisory committee on immunisation practices (ACIP) has recommended that the jab be offered to 11- and 12-year-old boys and males aged 13 to 21 who were not vaccinated previously, as well as men aged 22 to 26 who are gay, bisexual or who have a compromised immune system. The US government has yet to respond.
In the UK, Krascenic is in no doubt about what the JCVI’s decision should be: “It’s unfair that the vaccine is only for girls and that gay men can’t get it. This is a public health problem, so the vaccination should be free on the NHS.” He adds: “I’m costing the government much more now, in healthcare costs and welfare benefits, because I’m ill and out of work. But if the vaccine had been available, I might have avoided this.”

 

Further reading:

 

  1. Wikipedia on HPV
  2. NHS Choices on HPV

Here for Business – Equality and Human Rights Commission

ehrc_logo3The Commission is working in partnership with businesses to help them to meet their obligations under equality law and understand how they can identify human rights risks.

Here you will find a series of interviews with businesses and short and snappy guidance that will help you to do better business.

 

 

‘The Equality Act: Guidance for Small Business’ explains how the 2010 Equality Act relates to their operations and what they need to do to ensure they stay within the law. It includes practical advice in managing important business challenges such as recruitment, promotion and what to do to ensure as many customers as possible can access their services.

‘A guide to business and human rights’ helps businesses identify and manage human rights issues which may arise in their business operations. These could include supplier considerations and the impact on their customers. For example, businesses might think about the right to privacy and the confidential information they hold online about customers and staff.

Start reading now via the links shown below:

  1. Guidance for Business
  2. Human Rights matter for business
  3. Working better
  4. Partnership working
  5. Tools and Resources

 

HISTORICAL GAY CAMDEN…

camdenlgbtforumCamden LGBT Forum issued early in the year an A5 booklet Camden & Islington LGBT History Month 2013.  Which was just as well as History Month is, effectively a Camden phenomenon. There was an event in deepest Clapham, south London run by QuAC (Queers Against the Cuts) though the date might have been just happenstantial).  And not much elsewhere in what might vaguely be called inner London, though there were events in Croydon and other places.

 

Room 106… Room T 102… [?]

‘My’ first event was in SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), LGBTQ and Religion / Faith.  It was held in Room 106. The organisers, (“… [s]peakers from the Christian and Muslim communities, as well as SOAS lecturer and writer, Ben Murtagh”) did not turn up!)).  A ‘Room T 102’, on the same floor as the room we were on, is mentioned at the back of the booklet in connection with this discussion.  Most of us probably spent the evening wondering if we should be in another Room (even building; UL, and SOAS itself are enormous) we got on with it anyway.  There was one Irish, one Polish and one Italian Catholic, all male, in my case ‘collapsed’, two Jewish persons, one transgender, a ‘lapsed Anglican’, (a young heterosexual man who is doing a MA on religion and sexuality), and ‘Lee’ / ‘Leigh’ who’s background was Pentecostal.  There were two largely quiet young women of Anglo-Caribbean (and Pentecostal) origin.

In the nature of things very few conclusions were come to, we simply discussed our inherited faiths and our environments.  Catholic Irish don’t take a denunciatory attitude to Gay people, they never have; sex, sexuality, and orientation simply were not discussed.  ‘Sex education’ was handled very awkwardly, if at all.  (Currently sex education in the Republic is quite open, and – ‘liberal’ is the word, – probably due to a number of female, Fianna Fáil, Education ministers, Máire Geogeghan Quinn and Mary Burke.  LGBT matters are dealt with, though as ever, the B and T tend to be neglected).  The Pole and the Italian said that homosexuality was not discussed, except in terms of total rejection.  The M-to-F Trans woman was of quite rigidly Orthodox background, and said her own feeling was that anything other than heterosex was frowned upon. Sex variant people were simply perverts – end of story.   Or get lost – you were no longer of the Faith – or the family.  She had had a long and problematical journey out of this mind-set.

A problem with religion in our political context is that all the parties have similar policies.  They’ll do as little as possible to put them into effect, and we can always expect half a dozen Tory closets to do something stupid.  (The fact that there is – in context – a major homophobic party in Northern Ireland is more useful than not.  It means than nearly everyone else feels the need to be pro-LGBT, or at least, consider the matter.  The current leader of the UUP has attended Belfast LGBT Pride for a number of years now.  As have all the other (non-‘Paisleyite’) parties).

The churches can treat LGBT members any way they feel.

Vincent Nichol, immediately on becoming Archbishop of Westminster and RC Primate of England unilaterally closed down the Soho-based LGBT Apostolate and masses for LGBT people.  Quite what this has to do with Christian charity it is difficult to fathom.  And may create a problem of authority.  They’ll probably continue in disguised form.

So far as the ‘Room 106’ discussion was concerned, it is a pity nobody turned up with a notion of how to lead such.   (Michael Brown took the chair at – basically, -my request, but obviously could only facilitate the conversation; not lead it).  We, inevitably, gave our ‘testimonies’ and left, we didn’t even swap e-mail addresses.  Which was a bit of a lost opportunity.  I managed not to get to other events, partly because some were at awkward times, an interesting talk on Magnus Hirschfeld, The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee and the First Wave of the Queer Movement in Germany 1897 – 1933, was held in Islington Town Hall at six in the evening.  The time and venue were not problematical for me.  I didn’t remember the event until about 6.15 p. m. on the actual day.

I didn’t, but probably I ought to, have gone to Jonathan Kemp’s readings from his books in Islington Museum.  I felt it was somewhat redundant, and I should just read and review the books in the standard fashion.

 

QuACers

QUAC’s event was held in an architectural wonder – the Mary Seacole Centre – (the central (?) library in Peckham) it is spheroid.  The rooms and study pods do have corners.  I inserted myself into a corner furthest from the door – nearest the wine – but ought not to have.  I had a very heavy cold and a braying cough, as did a woman near the door.  We both had to leave the room and share Fisherperson’s Friends as the rest of the audience simply could not hear the speaker from Syriza.  I asked him if he could send upstart a version of his talk.  He said that he only had notes, but would try to do something

 

Links:

 

Camden and Islington LGBT Forum

S McGouran

ERNST ROEHM – STREET FIGHTIN' MAN

 

(Out-take from Gay Star No. 4 Summer 1981)

STAR GAYS NO. 4

By Peter Brooke

 

ERNST ROEHM Fan Club ERNST ROEHM Grave ERNST ROEHM Hitler and ERNST ROEHM

 

 

At the end of the First World War, there was a widespread passionately held belief in Germany that the soldiers at the Front had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by politicians at home.  When the General Staff realised that defeat was inevitable, they arranged for the transfer of power to the German Parliament (whose powers had previously been very limited).  They argued that the Parliament (‘Reichstag’) could make a better peace with the victorious allies than they could themselves, since the allies would be more sympathetic to a fledgling democracy in Germany than they would to the old Prussian military oligarchy.  At the same time, the allies would have an interest in negotiating a reasonable peace, sine the German army was till intact and able to mount substantial and costly opposition to any possibility of an invasion.

No sooner had power been transferred, however, than the army, its morale shattered began to break up, while large scale rioting broke out at home.  The new government tried at first to appease the rioting by getting rid of the monarchy and expressing revolutionary sentiments. Later they suppressed it viciously, using the ‘Freikorps’ – groups of soldiers who had informally banded together in opposition to the revolutionary movement.

But in t he meantime, Germany had suffered a military and political collapse which eventually resulted in the humiliating terms of the Treaty of Versailles.  It was in this period that the ‘German Workers Party’ (later National Socialist Germany Workers Party) was founded, in Munich, capital of Conservative and Catholic Bavaria, in 1919.

Ernst Roehm was one of the first members of the Nazi Party, and a highly influential one, owing to his position as Chief of Staff of the Reichwehr (German Army) in Bavaria.  Together with is commandant, Franz von Epp, he had been active in the Freikorps immediately after the war.  He illustrates the ambivalence that existed between the army, the local government in Bavaria, and the extreme right.  The Munich putsch of November 1923 was originally projected as a march on Berlin (in imitation of Mussolini’s march on Rome) headed by the Bavarian government. Roehm was closely involved in the negotiations to bring this about.  In the event, of course – though only at the last moment – the negotiations proved abortive and Hitler spent a year on Landsberg gaol, where he wrote Mein Kampf.

Paramilitary Strength

During that year, the movement split in a bewildering number of directions, but the main disputes were those between, on the one hand, a socialist wing in North Germany  (mainly led by the brothers Gregor and Otto Strasser, and by Goebbels) and the right wing in Bavaria.  And, on the other hand, those who wanted to pursue a parliamentary road, and those who wanted to build up the movement’s paramilitary strength.  Roehm was very much in favour of paramilitary activity and, after the failure of the putsch, had formed the ‘Frontbann’ – a private army independent of party discipline.

While in prison, Hitler kept aloof from these disputes, ensuring that all sides maintained their personal loyalty to him, but in 1925, after his release, he concentrated on building a unified party command to which all paramilitary activity would be subordinate.

With the defeat of his views on the need for an independent paramilitary force, Roehm left Germany and went to Bolivia as a Lieutenant Colonel on the General Staff of the Bolivian army.  He came back in 1928 and had an autobiography – The Story of a Traitor – published by the Nazi Party’s publishing house in the same year. Early in 1931, Hitler appointed him as Chief of Staff of the SA.

Stormtroopers

The SA (Sturmabteilung – stormtroopers, or ‘Brownshirts’) had been established in 192, dissolved after the putsch, and revived again after Hitler’s release from Landsberg in 1925.  Their leader since then had been Franz von Pfeffer who, however, fell out with Hitler in 1930, by which time a rival had emerged in the shape of the SS (Schutzstaffeln – protective squads).  This had been led, since January 1929, by Heinrich Himmler, who had originally been introduced to the Nazi Party by Roehm.

When Roehm was appointed, he was known as an early ‘hero’ of the Nazi movement, a close friend of Hitler’s (despite their differences on opinion) and also as a confidante of the Reichswehr leaders, notably the powerful General Schleicher.   Nonetheless, it was still, apparently an odd choice.  Hitler’s argument with Pfeffer had turned on the autonomy of the SA from the political structure of the Nazi party.  Roehm had in the past had much more extreme views on the need for such autonomy than ever Pfeffer had (and he delayed agreeing to take the job for nearly a year because of this issue.)

As an older NSDAP member than Hitler he was less likely to be absorbed in the Hitler-myth that almost any other Nazi leader. He had been out of the country when Hitler was most vigorously establishing his supreme control over the movement.  His main contribution to the Munich putsch had been to secure promises of help, which, in the event, were broken.  And he had not played a prominent part in the movement since his return from Bolivia.

In addition to which, of course, e was gay, and made few attempts to conceal the fact.

Genteel Young Ladies

Roehm’s homosexuality had made him enemies from the start – principally Rudolf Hess, Martin Bormann and Walter Buch (head of Uschla – the Nazi’s internal secret police).  But in February 1932, Hitler dismissed these attacks, saying:  ” …the SA is a body of men formed for a specific political purpose.  It is not an institute for the moral education of genteel young ladies, but a formation of seasoned fighters.”  The following month saw the publication of letters from Roehm complaining of the difficulty of obtaining boys in Bolivia. This led to an attempt from within the SA to assassinate him.  While he tried to prevent publication, he made no attempt to deny that he had written the letters.

Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, and set about wiping out all the opposition parties to establish a one party sate.  The SA and the SS had become by the middle of the year organs of the state.  The SA which, since Roehm took command, had increased from around 60,000 members to around two and a half million, even had its own prisons.  The only non-Nazi power centre left by 1934 was the (very heavily infiltrated) army.  The army was willing to be incorporated into the Nazi system (it adopted the eagle and swastika as its insignia in May 1934) but Roehm argued that it should be subjected to SA command and remoulded ideologically.

Throughout 1933, in fact, the SA, while given plenty of opportunities to brutalise opposition groups, was chafing under the political control which prevented it from overrunning the society completely.  In February 1933, Roehm proposed that the army shod be subjected to the SA and was denounced by Hitler, who pointed out that an army would be more effective in a European war than a uniformed mob.  Roehm denounced this his friends as a ‘new Versailles treaty’ and, over dinner with Himmler, accused the SS of supporting reaction.  In April he complained  ” … the Party isn’t a political force anymore; it’s turning into an old age home”.  At another meal with Himmler in that month, Himmler denounced his homosexuality; Roehm burst into tears but the next night he held an especially large and noisy gay party at the SA headquarters).

Anarchic Force

By June 1934, a clear alliance had formed against Roehm consisting of Hess, Bormann, Himmler and Goering (Goebbels until the last moment was attempting to promote reconciliation).  They could argue that the state was well on its way to becoming a monolithically Nazi state, yet the SA was an anarchic force operating independently of it.  The SA, on the other hand, took the view that it was itself the Nazi revolution, so the state should be subjected to it.  It was reluctant to become just another component part of the state under the direction of the political wing of the movement (which it had traditionally regarded – always excepting Hitler himself – with contempt).

In June 1934, Hitler, who had, in typical manner, delayed choosing between the two perspectives for as long as possible, threw in his lot with the anti-Roehm group and resolved the issue once and for all with a dramatic purge of the SA leadership.  This also entailed a speedy resolution of his previously ambivalent attitude to homosexuality.  On the day of the purge, he ordered Roehm’s successor as Chief of Staff of the SA, Victor Lutze (who had been proposed by Himmler, to enforce Paragraph 175 of the German legal code (the German anti-gay law).

Hitler On Homosexuality

That he had been thinking along these lines previously is suggested by a conversation he had with Rudolf Diels, the first commandant of the Gestapo (which had been established in Berlin by Goering partly as a counterbalance to the SA) in January 1934.  Paradoxically, Hitler’s argument against homosexuality may also a tribute to the high personal regard he undoubtedly had for Roehm:

“He [Hitlerl lectured me on the role of homosexuality in history and politics.  It had destroyed ancient Greece, he said.  Once rife, it extended its contagious effects like an ineluctable law of nature to the best and most manly of characters, solely eliminating for the reproductive process those very men on whose offspring a nation depended.”

Roehm would certainly have appeared to Hitler to be one of the ‘best and most manly characters’ and his aggressively masculine homosexuality had already been extensively theorised upon in German in a manner that would have been unthinkable in Britain.  (E. g. in Hans Bluher’s The German Wandervogel Movement as an Erotic Phenomenon and in Benedict Friedlander’s group – a breakaway from Magnus Hirschfled’s Scientific-Humanitarian Committee – the Community of the Special).

According to Hans Peter Bleul (in his Sex and Society in Nazi Germany), Hitler was also worried about the possibility of an Order of the Third Sex – a gay freemasonry organising in secret for its own purposes.   This notion may well have been encouraged by Roehm’s tendency to pick gay men for the leadership of the SA (though Karl Ernst, the SA leader in Berlin, who is represented in [the play, then film] Bent as gay, had a reputation for seducing high society heiresses).

Male Comradeship

I am unable at this point to reconstruct Roehm’s own politics.  He was of course fundamentally opposed to parliamentary democracy and had been a Royalist before becoming a Nazi.  Like many Nazis he was nostalgic for the war and the male comradeship of the army.  Tight army discipline, by relieving the individual of much of the responsibility for decision making, can allow for a high degree of individual anarchy, and this seems to have been how Roehm envisioned the Nazi state.

He was not particularly anti-Semitic and argued against the emphasis on anti-Semitism after the take-over of power (though, of course, the SA was the main vehicle for Nazi anti-Semitic activity prior to the war).  Despite his love for the army, he was not particularly interested in territorial expansion.  He doesn’t seem to have held any particular economic theories (though Hjalmar Schacht, the economist who fashioned the Nazi welfare state was one of his proteges).  In contrast to the elitist SS, the SA was designed to be a mass movement and, though opposed to parliamentary democracy, he probably had some vague notion that power should come from below.

He could perhaps be summed up as an anarchist, who was opposed to all moral conventions but who accepted that, without moral conventions, the strong will triumph over the weak and who was therefore determined to be one of the strong.  We may also suggest that he was encouraged in this point of view by his feelings as a gay man watching thousands of young men reduced to utter poverty and purposelessness in the early 1920s.  In a Germany that had been deliberately economically crippled in the aftermath of an (in his view) undeserved defeat.

 

 

More reading on ERNST ROEHM:

  1. Mein Kamp
  2. Wikipedia – Ernst Röhm
  3. Spartacus Educational – Ernst Rohm

 

 

 

BACK IN THE U. S. S. R. – an article from March 1991

([Edited] out-take from upstart Vol 3, No. 1., March ’91)

 

(Whether this demonstrated arrogance or naivety – or is just journalism of interest to our readership (all three of them) – in a sub-provincial publication is up to the reader…)

Over the years from Gorbachev’s taking office in the USSR the official policy of glasnost or ‘openness’ has led to a situation where Gay people have come out in a quite unprecedented way.  Even in the 1920s and ’30s Gay people were fairly cautious about proclaiming their sexuality in the Soviet Republic.

Today the situation is different, there are open groups in Leningrad [(now St. Petersburg – though the authorities hedged their bets by allowing the surrounding area, (it’s the size of Ireland), to remain ‘Leningrad’).  The citizens of ‘St Petersburg’ want it to return to the name Leningrad.  A demonstration by elders in the early 1990s, objecting to the name change, carried banners pointing out that they had defended ‘Leningrad’ during one of world-history’s greatest sieges.  Citizens of Tsaritsyn, (formerly the drearily named ‘Volgograd’), have taken much the same line – they fought, starved and died defending ‘Stalingrad’. – upstart 2013] and Moscow.  Moscow has a magazine called Tema.  There was conference on homosexuality in Tallin, Estonia during summer 1990.  There are probably other manifestations of “out” behaviour of which we are not aware.

Tema‘s editor Roman Kalinin who is also the founder of the Moscow Gay and Lesbian Union, and ten other people were summoned to a police barracks on December 17.  They were accused of engaging in anal sex, which means a five year sentence in a prison camp.  They were also accused of using — gasp — drugs.

The dear old RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary [now PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) – upstart 2013]) used this excuse to arrest Gay people in 1977.  The police-crater’s mind is a wonderful thing to behold.  These charges have been dropped because Kalinin demanded to know how the police were going to prove them.  Roman Kalinin was interviewed in a big circulation magazine about AIDS and HIV, apparently an “unbelievable” number of letters came in after this.  Ordinary Soviet citizens are very worried about The Plague.  Kalinin is now homeless because his landlord found out he was Gay and an activist – no doubt the KGB noised the latter fact abroad.

In Leningrad things are somewhat worse.  Olga Zhuk, founded the Tchaikovsky Foundation for Cultural Initiatives and Defence of Sexual Minorities.  Named after the composer, it thereby, in itself, exposes some myth making by the Russian Soviet Establishment.  The Foundation and Olga have been harassed over the past few months, the KGB have now arrested Olga.

She has been arrested under Article 121.1 of the criminal law Code.  This Article deals only with sexual acts between men.

Olga Zhuk was also accused of “gathering groups of criminals”.  This harass-ment and arrest were the result of a meeting with the City Council, which refused to recognise the Foundation.

 

Murder

A Moscovite activist, Alexander Lukeshev, editor of the independent journal New Life, has been murdered.  Possibly the KGB, but the racist group Pamyat, one of whose intellectuals Valentin Rasputin was seen on C4’s The Media Show last month (February 1991 – upstart 2013) describing Gays as “less that vermin”, would seem to be likely candidates too.  Anyone who has been a guest of Her Majesty, or of The Nation must realise that keeping contacts with the outside world is very important.  Isolated prisoners can be harassed and even killed in large prisons.  So far as Gay women and men are concerned the USSR is a giant prison.  That society appears to be falling apart means that isolated communities like the Gay community, which is only just emerging, are in danger of their liberties and even their lives.

[There followed a number of names and addresses of Soviet nomenclatura, which is no longer relevant.  No doubt many of them found cosy billets in the States which seceded from the Union – all 16 of them – the largest being Russia – the ‘Russian Federation’.  The RF is what was the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic).  The ‘Federation’ is due to the fact that a number of ‘ethnic’ Republics operate within the territory. Some Republics are more independent than others, the Buddhist Komi Republic, has embraced capitalism with eye-watering vigour, while Tataristan hasn’t given up on Soviet values.  Tataristan is Muslim in culture.  The most famous citizen of Tataristan (the erstwhile Tatar Autonomous Soviet Republic) is [was – upstart 2013] Rudolf (his Mam was a fan of Valentino) Nurey[ev].  He was a great ballet performer.  Whether he was as unambiguously a boon to ballet in ‘the West’ is despite excitable (non-dance) journalists’ scribblings a matter for debate.  (This is not to say that he wasn’t a great performer, who excited audiences, even ones anæsthetised by the effect of television in telly’s ‘goldfish bowl’ days).]

The National Union of Students (NUS), Lesbian and Gay Liberation Campaign Conference 1988

(Out-take Update Vol. 2, No, 2 (03.09.1988))

CAUCUSES

The National Union of Students (NUS), Lesbian and Gay Liberation Campaign held its conference in the QUB (the Queens’ University, Belfast) Students’ Union building this year.  That may seem an odd way of putting things, but that is what happened.  “In Belfast” is the wrong phrase.

Locals were not informed about the event until a few days prior to its happening.  Participants had to sleep, eat, and live in one of the city’s least amenable building for living, eating, and especially, sleeping.  Some escapees remarked on how peaceful and pleasant the town seemed.

The Conference itself was not especially interesting to outsiders.  Some time ago a Lesbian Caucus was set up, with guaranteed places on the Campaign Committee.  This led, in the national ballot, to an over-all lesbian majority on the Committee.  This has disconcerted some men, (though they are probably somewhat embarrassed by the feeling), for sexist reasons.  They are uncomfortable with women being in charge.

Others appeared to have very vague ideas about what a caucus was.  They perceived it as a ghetto for women.  One (rather handsome Indian-looking) man let a scabby cat out of the bag.  He said something to the effect “Why isn’t there weighted representation for, say, members of the Revolutionary Communist Party?” (!)  In other words, some of the men did not like the largely businesslike, rhetoric-free politics of the present Committee.

Locals pointed out that the Caucus was quite legitimately viewed as a power-base.  If that view was not acceptable there were a number of alternatives.  One was a return to free-for-al elections.  Another was to split the Campaign along gender lines.  A third, the preferred option, was the status quo ante.

Another somewhat controversial point was the question of the Irish language.  It was suggested that Campaign (and all NUS) documents should be translated into Gaelic.  As few people in Northern Ireland speak Gaelic on a day to day basis locals felt it would be more trouble than it was worth.

A rational solution to this problem created by good Brit intentions was to donate any monies set aside to the promotion of the Irish language directly to Gaeilscoileanna (Irish language schools).  They were legitimate and pacific enterprises.

The 2nd All-Ireland Gay Conference 1982

(Out-take from Gay Star No. 9 (Nov. 1982))

… and still the niffy Liffey flows…

Pride FlagThe following impression of the Dublin conference is partial, pig-headed, probably egomaniacal and, I hope, accurate and entertaining.

I arrived at the Conference venue – the Junior Common Room of Trinity College, Dublin, at ten o’clock or thereabouts, on Saturday morning.  Having parted with my registration fee, I nipped into a biggish room and borrowed a corner of the Derry community bookshop Bookworm‘s table to lay out my wares. They were two editions of your favourite organ and some of the Ayatollah posters.

Almost immediately, two people swept down and said that the posters were racist.  “How do you mean?” sez I.  “It’s got slant eyes” sez they.  “Aye”, sez I, “but they slant downwards!”  This confused both parties, and my interlocutors went off muttering about the Steering Committee disapproving of the poster.  So did Ian Paisley — odd auld world isn’t it?

The first Workshop I sat-in on was Coming Out / Personal Liberation.  If you are interested, I was accused of being racist, again, by a person who persistently used the scientifically neutral term “Brit”.  We didn’t really get beyond the ‘Coming Out’ stage in this Workshop, due to the fact that most of us hadn’t, but mainly because of the small number of women in our group [making it unrepresentative – upstart 2013].  One man had had the odd experience of discovering his Gayness in the Curragh Prison Camp.  We broke for socialising and a snack – freebie tea / coffee and nibbles, and also very tasty veggie meals supplied by a pleasant couple and (one assumes) their child.  It is unusual to find Dublin whole-foody types with smiles on their faces.  They take the British Road – “I am sour, therefore, I am serious”.  Belfast is more American – people seem to like displaying their (very healthy) teeth.

The next Workshop was Gays in a Patriarchal Society.  This became largely a conversation between the Dublin Gay Collective and some Gays from Manchester, with sensible comments from some (largely independent) women. Some of the Dublin men were very sharp in their criticism of Gay male pornography, as part of capitalist, and therefore patriarchal, society – it was no different from pornography featuring women.  The Mancunians said that Gay (male) porn is not intrinsically oppressive of the Gay men on either side of the camera, one of them defended ‘cottaging’.

In opposition to this a DGC spokesperson said that he did not even accept the definition “man” anymore, and that he rejected phallic, capitalist society with its sexploitation and its emphasis that sex (in men) equals ejaculation.  Then he said that we should solidarise with the Republican Movement and the IRA.  Is it political axe-grinding to point out that guns could hardly be more phallic?

I tried to make the point, against the same person’s contempt for both ‘camp’ and ‘macho’ men that these stereotypes are at least an attempt to create a niche for Gay man.  I did, and still do, emphasise the creative element of the construction of these stereotypes.  And, no matter how unpalatable it is to some of us, capitalism is generally a progressive factor in the – short-term – liberation of Gays.  Gay USA may be appalling, but at least it is open, up-front and brazen.  Gay USSR or Gay PRC (People’s Republic of China) are unknown factors.

Sharon from Belfast made the point that women are, to a very great extent, entrenched in their mother / homemaker roles, and that a new consciousness has to be created before we can talk of drastic changes in society.  Most of the women in the Workshop rejected the idea of joining the standard political parties.  I detected a note of condescension towards people who were not “politically aware”.  Some men innocently made fairly crass remarks about women and their role in society.  But they were there, and appeared willing to learn.

 

Through the fireplace

The next event after a wee break (incidentally, to get from the JCR to the dining / socialising area, one had to duck through what had been a fireplace – it was a bizarre, Lewis Carrollian sensation) was billed as Gays and the Media.  Again, this was pitched high, as the Dublin radicals said that all bourgeois media were anti-Gay.  The Mancunians again took up the issue, and pointed out that they had used local radio to good effect.  So, also, I thought, had IGRM (the Irish Gay Rights Move-ment), but apparently this wasn’t Kosher, so to speak.  The question of [London] Gay News was raised, and a broad front to oppose its banning [in ‘Éire’] was mooted – this appears not to have got off the ground.  An Irish Gay News journal was discussed, and no conclusion was come to; it will inevitably be the organ of the Dublin Gay Collective, which is the biggest of the various Collectives.

This Workshop struck me as being largely a matter of craw thumping on the part of the radicals, against the “big two” (southern Gay groups – NGF and IGRM) and against the media in general.

At the end we all adjourned for tea / coffee, then EVERYONE rushed out to watch videos of Bette Midler doing her wonderfully, off-colour, ideologically unsound stuff.  This left two people in the dining area – both “bureaucrats” one from NIGRA and one from NGF.  The NGF apparatchik had a brush in his hand, and busied himself sweeping up.  Your own NIGRA Orgman offered to help, and being politely refused, wondered off feeling pretty redundant.

At four o’clock the next morning I found my host.  I doubt if any other city should show such “cool” in the face of an appalling guest. Just think what you would do in Belfast or Derry if a loony rang your doorbell at that time.

The first session on Sunday was Gays at Work / In the Trade Unions.  I sneaked off to Roy Holmes’s piano recital at the Hugh Lane Gallery (Parnell Square North).  It was a demonstration of how capitalism enforces its basic ideas.  There is no entry fee for these recitals (this was Roy Holmes’s first – in Dublin) and so you had children and tourists milling about making noise.  The audience were without a doubt the worst behaved I have ever sat among, his playing was wonderfully apt in Fauré and Mozart, but he isn’t heavy-handed or humourless enough for Liszt.  He may as well have been telling dirty jokes to banjo accompaniment, for all the interest it evoked at the back of the hall.  It had not been paid for – therefore it could not be good.

 

Historical cottages

Back at the talk-in we were told that a picnic was to be held “on College Green”.  As nobody bothered to tell me where this place was I wandered off to St. Stephen’s Green.  And, of course, feeling silly wandered back almost immediately.  Then we got down to something called Structures for Development.  This displayed an alarming gap between the radicals and ordinary Gays.  There was anger, to the point of shrillness, with NGF (the National Gay Federation) and IGRM over the Charles Self affair.  NIGRA was quite sharply criticised for the handling of the Kincora affair — but nobody actually suggested anything concrete.

I was shaken by the lack of historical perspective shown by some people here.  Ten years ago Gay Ireland lived in the shadows and conducted its affairs in a very few grotty pubs and grottier public conveniences.  The Dublin and Cork Gay Collectives struck me as incubating yet another ‘Bureaucratic Org’.

This developed into a Closing Session, which I had to leave early, and at which, mysteriously, NIGRA was accused of excluding women from the Carpenter Centre.

Seán McGouran

 

The last few lines should be explained.  It was a trap that should have been sprung earlier.  At which point I could have explained as follows: NIGRA put all its money (£2000) into the Carpenter Club as an investment.  We hoped the (purely commercial) venture would devolve into a Gay Centre – it did, as a matter of fact.  But the main investor decided he was opposed to ‘politics’.  He bought out Jeff Dudgeon, and made life problematical for NIGRA – claiming that a further £2000 investment (the four grand was given to NIGRA by Thatcher’s government as a consequence of the Dudgeon Strasbourg case) – had been ‘a loan’.  NIGRA did not ‘own’ a brick of the building that probably cost at a minimum hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The people making these accusations were not kids from the Falls or Shankill Roads but members of the property-owning class.  It all grew out of a refusal by Jeff to allow the venue to be used at no rental for a women-only disco.  That was because it was leaching money – and a disco was opened in a plush hotel doing his enterprise down.  Some things then happened simultaneously – the major investor vanished.  The staff then purged the low-life he had allowed in.  And the rival establishment’s defects became more apparent.  A main one being their greed.  They had no overhead costs and the hotel made a mint from the bar – on a night when it would otherwise have been bolted and barred.  But they charged more than the Carpenter did.  And punters had to use taxis to get there, and back home.

So far as the women’s disco is concerned, Jeff probably made the wrong decision – but bad luck begets bad luck.  A short-term loss might have encouraged more customers over time.  It meant that some women – but hardly the regular disco-going ones – avoided the place.  It meant that when the place closed they were, to an extent, embarrassed when it became obvious who was the owner.  It is not a sensation that endears most people to an organisation.  NIGRA remained in the doghouse.

Some years after the above Conference (of three – the grisly truth about the 3rd will be recounted another time) the ‘radicals’ involved themselves in AIDS-work.  That was very worthy and useful.  It also opened their eyes to reality.  The first things anyone ‘on the scene’ asks is along the lines of ‘Who the fuck are you?’, whether it is begging for money for good causes, selling a paper, or simply asking for information.

(That is not entirely accurate, in Belfast we had established our credentials and could take some risks, in carrying out surveys, issuing questionnaires – though as the commercial ‘scene’ developed it got more problematical.  One proprietor jibbed at condoms and safe-sex information being handed out at his disco.  Though he didn’t argue with the notion that the punters were there to find sex-partners.  We had to stand well away from one of the pubs to do the same, or to distribute a free-sheet, upstart mostly.)