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.)

A revisit to the reporting by Sinn Fein on A SAVILE INQUIRY and Kincora!

FOLK DEVILS IN THE 1980s… & TODAY

Sinn Féín likes to present itself as ‘modern’ and au fait with ‘modernity’, including in sexual matters.  So it has a, not-too-loudly proclaimed, policy on LGBT rights.  Admittedly, SF consulted the LGBT community including NIGRA (the NI Gay Rights Association), and upstart magazine, in the framing of the policy.  But the temptation to make an anti-Unionist point is difficult to resist.  One such temptation appears in the Nollaig / December 2012 edition of Party journal An Phoblacht  (The Republic).  On page 13 is Cover-up and lies at heart of the British Establishment – Peadar Whelan, who may not be responsible for the lurid headline.    A box at the top of the page shows Jimmy Savile hobnobbing with various British Establishment figures.  The legend is: The revelations around Jimmy Savile and the suspicions that people in authority knew about and covered up his abuse have clear echoes of the scandal surrounding the Kincora Boys’ Home in Belfast in the 1980s.

‘Kincora’, (the name of an Edwardian villa in a ‘leafy’ part of east Belfast), was not in any real sense a “Boys’ Home”.  It was a hostel for employed adolescents.  It opened its doors as such in 1958, when the school-leaving age was 15, raised to 16 some years after that.  (The youngest person to stay in the hostel was 13 year’s old – and that was overnight.)  Such matters are important this article is decorated, if that is the mot juste with the famous image of William McGrath in Orange regalia.  There is a palimpsest of Kincora House, a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) cap badge, bits of heraldry, a Top Secret stamp, and images of two pre-adolescent boys.  One is of Brian McDermott whose disappearance and death the  Irish Times journalists made strenuous efforts to pin on McGrath and other staff.  His brother was later accused of the murder although never charged – see the following The Irish Independent

Peadar Whelan’s article is a tissue of – not outright ‘honest’ lies – so much as hint and innuendo.  There are four short paragraphs about Savile and the BBC that are “…clear echoes of the scandal surrounding the Kincora Boys’ Home in Belfast in the 1970s and 1980s.”  ‘Kincora Boys’ Home’ is written as if it were the official title of the place.  It didn’t really have an ‘official title’ and, as stated, was for employed teenagers, who needed particular care or a halfway house to ‘family life’.  Some inmates had been institutionalised for most of their young lives (Belfast Corporation’s Welfare Committee did its very best with hostels, attempting to make than as ‘home-like’ as possible within its budget, despite the flaring up of ‘The Troubles’.)

“[T]he systematic abuse of young boys in the home…” is not merely improbable – it was impossible.  There were no “young boys'” to abuse.  There is the assertion that McGrath was “head of the loyalist paramilitary group Tara”.  As early as 1972, the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force – an actual loyalist paramilitary group) decided that Tara was essentially a figment of McGrath’s imagination. He wasn’t “central to the formation of the… Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in 1971…” he circulated flyers calling for an Ulster Protestant army, but various Defence Associations were already in operation, their coming together was pretty inevitable.  The UDA, and to an extent the UVF, (despite its aspiration to be IRA-like), are ‘franchise’ operations and not centralised and disciplined conspiratorial organisations.

We get McGrath’s “links” with “both major unionist parties” (Peadar Whelan is probably too young to realise how ironic that phrase is.  There used to be one Unionist party, it perceived itself as a ‘movement’.  The Ulster Unionist Council, ran it, with heavy input from the Orange Order – the Order’s relationship to the Party was something like the Trades Unions to the Labour Party  – only much stronger.  “Indeed… the Grand Master of the Orange Order…” UUP MP Martin Smyth “presided over the dedication of McGrath’s Irish Heritage Orange Lodge”.  How big does An Phoblacht or Peadar Whelan think the Orange Order or ‘Northern Ireland’ are?  Martin Smyth may have driven – or walked – to such dedications in a matter of minutes.

 

… not the property of the Minister… 

McGrath “preached regularly… Ian Paisley’ s Free Presbyterian churches.”  Not if ‘regularly’ has any real meaning.  He hired or was allowed to use one or two different church-venues at the discretion of their Ministers and Elders. Presbyterian churches, Free, Reformed, Non-Subscribing, or mainstream are not the property of the Minister but of the congregation by way of elected Elders.  This is not arcane information, difficult to get at.  Flicking through a book on the subject, or making a phone call to anyone involved in these groups would have done the trick.

Private Eye magazine alleged that “senior military and judicial figures engaged in sex with the boys”.  What ‘senior military and judicial figures’?  This ‘scandal’ was made public over thirty years ago.  In the UK’s wonderful legal system it is impossible to libel the dead.  (Meaning: they don’t have to have actually done anything.)  So why not throw out a few names just for show?  Can it be that this is a matter of ‘smoke and mirrors’?  There is no actual substance to it?  Are we expected to believe that Kincora’s clientele are particularly long-lived?

 

Bibles Behind The Curtain

“A British army officer was… told… to drop any contact or investigation into Tara…”  When?  Who was the ‘British officer’?  An Phoblacht must know quite well that this is not journalism – it certainly is not ‘investigative journalism’ – it is gossip and hearsay.  The officer in question was probably told McGrath was a fantasist with no real insight into what was happening in Ulster, he wasn’t even useful for tittle-tattle about the real paramilitaries who didn’t trust him, especially when it became obvious that he had no source of weapons supply.

He had smuggled Bibles into countries behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ but that was hardly relevant to Belfast in the 1970s.  And such activity would have necessitated some sort of Secret Service sanction; something else that would have made the Loyalist paramilitaries dubious about his bona fides.  The UVF and UDA eventually got their weapons from the USA and Canada viâ, (in particular), Glasgow.  The explosives mostly came from quarries in Scotland.

There is some more trivia about this busybody having contact with all sorts of VIPs, moderately important people, and persons of no consequence whatsoever.  Some of the latter ended up in the armed forces of ‘Rhodesia’ and Apartheid South Africa (neatly puncturing the notion that Apartheid was all the doing of the ‘goddamned Dutch’.)

This is not a defence of William McGrath.  He had deeply unpleasant views on nearly everything.  A ‘British Israelite’ he was thereby essentially a racist (and probably ‘anti-Semitic’. In that he would have denied that Jews are actually Jewish).  He was a deeply closeted homosexual, forcing himself onto young men he met on the fundamentalist Protestant Christian circuit.  He forced himself onto one of his charges in Kincora, (a psychologically fragile young man), who reacted very badly to the experience.

One, now well-known Gay man in Belfast *, was in McGrath’s charge at this period.  He was astounded to discover what he had been up to.  Which is a tribute to McGrath’s cunning and deceitful nature – he probably went to his grave safe in the knowledge that he was not a pervert like those ‘homosexuals’ – he almost certainly deceived himself.

An Phoblact‘s pious wish that the Savile scandal may “reawaken investigations into Kincora and the role of the British military and intelligence services” will not be granted – and it knows it.  As Peadar Whelan writes: “Despite his [McGrath’s – upstart] trial and five separate inquiries into the Kincora scandal, the real story has yet to emerge.”   Well, actually, it has emerged: three Kincora staff members – clearly acting separately – took advantage of the fact that their charges were young men in their teens.  Most of the “sex” seems to have been pretty low-level groping.  Any psychological damage (rarely mentioned in all the material printed since 1981 – thirty-two years ago!) was practically speaking non-existent. Except in the one case mentioned about in relation to McGrath in particular.  upstart suggests to the Republican Movement and its journals that this folk-tale be spiked, if not thrown on the back of the fire.

Seán McGouran

 

* Information with author – approach upstart – if you want specifics.

THE GUARDIAN ENCOUNTERS MUGABE'S REAL REPUTATION

mugabe in CopenhagenThe Guardian‘s G2 section (Monday 18.03.13) carried a very odd report (labelled Fashion), Why is ‘Mugabe chic’ so popular in Zimbabwe?  It is described as “”dictator chic””, by David Smith, or his sub editors, despite the fact that President Mugabe is a member of one party (ZANU-PF) and his PM Morgan Tsangvari, is the leader of another the Coalition for Change.  Smith writes that this is not “only a fashion statement but an act of rebellion in major cities where denigrating “Uncle Bob” or “the old man” has become almost de rigeur”.

The newest item is a cap with 1924 on it – Mugabe’s birth date.  Smith writes that possibly “far from being a liability, the 89-year-old’s status as Africa’s oldest leader is a point of pride.”  It may well be.  Africans don’t have the currently fashionable (‘Anglospheric’) attitude to age.  Being ancient of days is respected, and for a man in his ninth decade Mugabe seems remarkably vigorous and clued-up. And he is of the generation that made Zimbabwe independent. Other elements of this fashion trend include Mugabe’s signature on items of clothing.  A very attractive mixed double, ‘models’ presumably, model t-shirts and jerkins with the signature all over them (leading one to wonder how this dour, isolated, ‘Marxist dictatorship’ acquired a flourishing fashion industry?  ‘Clothes horses’ are the very end of the process).

The [fashion] House of Gushungo is behind all this – apparently the “signature appeals to a particular group, typically around 30 and running their own business, who feel they are doing just fine under his 33-year rule”.  David Smith, and the editors of the Guardian appear not to realise that this (apparently tangential) item has exploded decades of UK Government-inspired ‘gray propaganda’.  Zim was backward, dictatorial, and an economic basket case.  We’ve all experienced BBC television operatives standing in front of market stalls groaning under the weight of beautiful fresh food telling us, gravely, that the supermarket shelves are empty.

This short article rather fizzles out, partly because it is unable to explain where all these successful ‘thirtysomethings’ come from.  Where did they acquire their education?  Where did they get the skills to design, and to market, this shmeer?  Is it because Mugabe (an Irish Christian Brothers’ product) took education seriously and encouraged the development of any skills and talents pupils my have had, whether it was farming, fashion or physics?  We can only hope that ‘Mugabe chic’ comes to Britain.  Let’s encourage some entrepreneurial African (or other ex-CB pupil) to do so.

QUEER HUMANISM

In the article Queerish London I made a smart-alecky remark about Gay / Queer Humanism.  Then I found the notes I took on the occasion of the talk by the novelist Jonathan Kemp…  It was a substantial and interesting talk.  He felt that Humanism like ‘queer’ was questioning and critical.  ‘Queer’ questioned ‘normality’ and the ‘normative’.  Is homosexuality simply a variant sexuality – or is there more to it than that?  ‘Homosexual’ was coined in 1869; in 1878 came ‘heterosexual’.  This had to do with the (presumably national – upstart) ‘identity politics’ as practised in ‘Britain’, France, the US and Germany – a Gay Pride demonstration at any time between 1890 and 1970 is simply unimaginable.

‘Homosexual’ held fire for some decades, but between 1895 and 1905 over a thousand books were published on the matter.  They expressed every possible reaction to ‘the problem’.  Except what we today would regard as a liberationist one.  Even Edward Carpenter, (a very famous poet / advocate at the turn of the 19th / 20th century), was craving indulgence.  There is still debate about whether or not ‘homo / hetero’ is a dichotomy, Jonathan quoted Foucault’s rejection of the notion and his reassertion of Freud’s idea that everyone is born ‘polymorphous perverse’. Those who label themselves ‘Lesbian and Gay’, want (in the title of Bruce Bawer’s book, A Seat at the Table), ‘queers’ want to burn the table.

 

Only connect 

It is a vivid image, but ‘Gay’ people – as in the Gay Liberation Front – also wanted to burn it.  We did not merely grow old, crabby and ‘reformist’, and add an ‘L’ to our titles.  We realised that we did not have the social power to bring about a revolution.  The ‘Gay’ movement was a product of the feminist / Women’s movement, and similar trends in the 1960s and 1970s, including the African-American Civil Rights (and after, ‘Black Power’) movements.  A major strategist of the former was the ‘shamelessly’ Gay Bayard Rustin.  The Black Panthers, as a movement, supported GLF.  Most early members of the NI Gay Rights Association had been members, or at least supporters of, the NI Civil Rights Association.  (When EM Forster wrote “only connect’…” he articulated something substantial.)

What homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, queer (and ‘L&G’) people want to ‘integrate’ into today (2012 / 2013) is a society we have done a great deal to change. I’m not suggesting that Mr. Kemp is claiming that British / English society is an unchanging monolith – but the change in the UK since I was 13 (March 1, 1960) seems barely credible.  Abortion was illegal, as was suicide (incredible though that may seem). Trade unionists appeared on television justifying strikes against the employing of some people, because of their skin-tint. Reputable journals campaigned against homosexual men – simply for being.  Most never mentioned ‘the problem’ unless it became impossible to ignore. The Observer, the Times, and some enlightened provincial papers (CHE [Campaign for Homosexual Equality]-founder Allan Horsfall’s local Nelson Leader for example), took a rational attitude to homosexuality, and to law reform.

‘Queer theory’ is deconstructionist (a problem with this is that ‘queer’ and ‘deconstruction’ are nebulous concepts – SMcG).  It is, apparently, a political metaphor without any fixed reference.  In its critique of politics, arts and the rest ‘queer’ can never settle. Meaning it has, thereby, no points of contact with matters of substance?  Surely one can only ‘critique’ if one has some solid core values?  Our history is in law court transcripts and in ‘gay porn’.  This, surely, ignores much literature and art produced by cultures which were not homophobic, including our own, ‘western’, ‘Christian’ one at points in its history.

 

Hollywood values? 

The fact that Hollywood has dominated the culture of the ‘Anglosphere’ for a century ought not to blind us to the fact that it is a lop-sided culture.  Hollywood leans very heavily towards northern European, Protestant, norms and not those of southern (and Irish) Catholic Europe, the Jews, or the many other cultures on the planet – or even just in the USA.  Native American cultures largely found a role for people who were not prepared to accept the one their gender implied – one of the reasons why they were marked down for physical extermination.

 

The working class voice

The ‘working class voice’ is not heard in our (LGBT) history.  But working people were excluded from general being_gay_isnt_voluntary_but_hate_ishistory, except sometimes as ‘the mob’, until fairly recently (historically speaking).  And it could be argued that that ‘voice’ is still pretty muted, and it is being ‘cultivated’ by the enlightened element in the traditional ‘ruling class’ / bourgeoisie.  (This tends not to apply to Ireland, but the urban working class were not the majority class until recently.*  And the rise of DTP – ‘desk top publishing’ – is making history, even ‘literature’, genuinely democratic.)  We queers are not the authors of our own history mainly because we were, at best interesting oddities – like dancing bears.  Or at worst, human garbage who do not deserve to live alongside ‘normal’ people (the attitudes of the British Realm and the Nazi Realm were, as in many other cases, only matters of degree).

I am aware of the fact that the above reads like a rather ill tempered rejection of nearly everything Jonathan said.  It isn’t (and my notetaking is probably quite wayward, too), but his diversion into ‘queer theory’ was quite lengthy and needed to be dealt with.  I’m also aware that reportage and comment are rather intertwined above.  It is a pity this fascinating talk was not recorded.  Possibly Jonathan Kemp has a transcript or notes that can be written-up.

Seán McGouran

 

* ‘Ireland’ today means ‘the Republic’ / ’26 Counties’, excluding ‘Northern Ireland’.  But I mean (above) the whole island.  It’s true to say that the urban working class was large in ‘the North’.  Because of ethno-sectarian division it didn’t have the muscle it ought to have had.

Belfast was the fer de lance of the great 1919 strike, involving dock and railway workers, coal miners, encompassing London and ‘Red Clydeside’.  The lance was blunted.  There was no ‘Red Laganside’ due to sectarianism, sharpened by anti-Sinn Féin / ‘Bolshevik’ rhetoric from Orange platforms.

"Human Rights and Human Wrongs" lecture by Right Honourable John Bercow MP

The annual Amnesty International Pride Lecture was held in the Europa Hotel on Thursday 14th July, 2013 at 7.30pm.

As Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow has taken on the external roles of being an ambassador for Parliament and an advocate for democratic politics. A frequent speaker around the world , last night’s delivery of the annual Amnesty international  lecture at Belfast Pride was his third visit to the city. On his previous trip to the PSA 2012 conference he asked what a 21st century parliament should look like?

John Bercow William Crawley Grainne TeggartIn his  speech entitled Human Rights and Human Wrongs the 157th Commons Speaker explained why he felt the Speaker should also be a champion of equality and human rights.

Verbose, fond of word play and a little reminiscent of a loquacious Russell Brand, John Bercow was entertaining as well as informative as he delivered  his lecture  to an audience of over a hundred and answered  their questions  in the Europa Hotel exhibition hall. He was glad to be back in Belfast, though admitted “visiting politicians are scarcely a novelty in Northern Ireland this year”.

 

(Article taken from Slugger O’Toole Blog )

McCarthy: Health Minister must stop using public money to fight his own campaigns

Alliance Health spokesperson Kieran McCarthy has called on the Health Minister to stop his campaign against the right of same sex couples to adopt, after it was revealed his department has spent approximately £40k fighting the issue.

Mr McCarthy received the confirmation from the Minister after questioning him in a written letter on the cost of legal action to date. Mr Poots also indicated he would not accept the recent ruling by the Court of Appeal, admitting he is currently considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Kieran McCarthy said: “This campaign led by the Health Minister on behalf of the DUP has been a blatant waste of taxpayers’ money.
“The Health Minister has also said he is considering appealing the recent decision by the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court. He cannot be allowed to continue spending public money in this way and must be stopped.
“I am again appealing to the Minister to accept the court’s decision and cease any future legal action. This law not only affects same sex couples, but also unmarried heterosexual couples and it is unacceptable that both these groups are prevented from providing a stable and loving home to the many children in our social care system in need of one.”

 

Further reading:

  1. Alliance Party
  2. Belfast Telegraph – Northern Ireland’s health minister Edwin Poots uses £40k of public funds to fight same-sex adoption

Gay Country Singer Comes Out About Ex-Gay Therapy Past

All American Boy

All American Boy

New country sensation Steve Grand says his past wasn’t as picturesque as the scenes in “All American Boy”.

Grand told ABC that he has endured ex-gay or reparative therapy after coming out to his family. He said the program was designed to turn him straight.

“I felt like I really was a shame to my parents,” Grand said. “I felt like there was no way I could ever make them proud and I felt like I was a constant disappointment.”

Grand says song “American Boy” is testament to how the feelings about his sexuality have grown. He needed to tell his story and went into debt to do so. The effort payed off. Grand’s video went viral on YouTube racking up 650,000 views in just six days.

[framed_video column=”two-thirds”]http://youtu.be/pjiyjYCwNyY[/framed_video]

(Published in About.com July 10, 2013)

I Doubt His Parents Thought Sending Their Gay Kid To A Christian School Would Have These Results

Why do we allow this type of abuse to happen in any country – we need to put the spotlight on these abusive groups and ensure that they get taken to court and sentenced for abuse.

 

Kidnapped for Christ Video [framed_video column=”one-fourth”]http://youtu.be/Xippb73h31Q[/framed_video]

 

Kidnapped for Christ - Mud Pit