Wednesday, 1 July 2009

OMG! The White House is Gay!

I understand that the previous eight years of Bush set the bar for even a slightly left-of-centre White House very, very low indeed.

Basically the bar is flat on the ground, perhaps even slightly submerged in the soil...it's a gimmie.

In my links you'll see the official White House blog, I visit every day and check in on what the Obama administration is up to, reading policy and watching videos.

The brief time that Obama has been in charge has already shown sweeping changes, this is a very different administration to the last one but I think that the sheer weight of change is being underestimated. Three things have happened of late that have rejuvenated and re-reminded me of what a changed White House this is; with attitudes that have the power to pervade deep into American society; perhaps even repairing the damage of the last eight years.

27th June: Obama and his wife had an AIDS test in order to encourage all to do so, bearing in mind that one in five Americans with AIDS don't know they have it and to see their leader doing so (not for the first time, he did something similar in 2006 in Kenya) may help to remove some of the stigma and sends a global message. Can you see any previous President doing this?

29th June: the anniversary of Stonewall is celebrated on the White House website, what sea change is this? From an administration that was openly hostile towards the LGBT community to one that marks the anniversary of a seminal event in their civil rights movement.

30th June: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host the White House's first LGBT event, with remarks that acknowledge how far America has come but outlines the vast array of work that still needs to be done. Clearly under Obama's watch, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender people will not be burning in hell...

What a welcome change this is to the hate and horror of Bush.

Then, this morning, my very good friend Wendy turned me on to this great piece of journalism by Johann Hari.

Johann Hari provides context to Stonewall, and how it stands as a pivotal moment in the LGBT movement. He also reminds us that homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon and part of the great tapestry of nature:
...about 2 to 5 per cent of human beings prefer to have sex with their own gender. It occurs at the heart of nature: only last week, Professors Nathan Bailey and Marlene Zuk, of the University of California, concluded in a study: "The variety and ubiquity of same-sex sexual behaviour in animals is impressive – many thousands of instances of same-sex courtship, pair bonding and copulation have been observed in a wide range of species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, molluscs and nematodes."
His piece reminds us of how far we have come in the West, although acknowledges that gay teenagers are still six times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts. In other parts of the world he flags that India are on the brink of de-criminalising homosexuality and that China had it's first Gay Pride march.

Johann Hari then outs those parts of the globe that are still in the dark ages when it comes to the human rights of LGBT people: the Muslim world and the Caribbean.

The fact that the Muslim world is a bastion of vile homophobia is of little surprise, the book that guides that faith is twisted and turned (sometimes with plenty of assistance from the book itself) so that homosexuality is punished by jailing, torture and death sentences. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even denies there are any gay people in Iran, but is happy to have them executed in public squares when some crop up.

The fact that the Caribbean is also a hunting ground for LGBT slaughter is perhaps not so surprising, it is a culture infested with the macho and phallocentric and thus is actually quite flimsy and weak, paper thin ideas of strength and masculinity that run rampant in many parts of Africa also (see my piece here on the raping and killing of lesbians in South Africa); so that 'men' (and I use the word very loosely) feel threatened and challenged by lesbians who are not enthralled by the penis and by gay men who are equated as women and thus lesser than man.

Irony is perhaps not the best word for the sexual violence that these gay men have to endure at the hands of the 'straight' men. Is is clear that these 'straight' men, emasculated and impotent due to unemployment, life style choices and a lack of purpose; can only confirm their own stupid existence through sexual terrorism.

It is clear, as Johann Hari points out, that these communities need our support in defining their human rights as LGBT people; just show me where to sign to beat back these vulgar bigots...

8 comments:

  1. I am not a homophobe and I am sure that if I was locked in a prison for any longer than a month, I'd soon turn into a backstreet boy (remember, it's always better to give than receive, especially if you've got a bad case of the Farmer Giles). However, I always find it hilarious when the Rainbow NationTM uses the natural world to vindicate their own existence. It is a flawed logic.

    If we look at nature and took our social mores and laws from the animal kingdom paedophilia would be commonplace, filicide, cannibalism and taking a poop in the street would be perfectly fine.

    Heck sign me up for some of that. :-)

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  2. That's a big and impressive posting.

    Obama could make some almighty cock-ups (no pun intended) and would still govern several thousand times better than Bush.

    The anti-gay approach by some regimes is a tough thing to solve and perhaps we never will. Sometimes I don't fully appreciate how lucky I am.

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  3. This will be long, not longer than your post though :)

    I never subscribed to the animal argument because it is very weak. If you are a believer than it is a flawed argument because your religious book is here to tell you not to act like Animals (the Quran says it explicitly). And if you are not religious, its existence in animals should not mean much considering that some animals also eat their offspring! You can argue that eating off spring and homosexuality are two different things! In which case all of us, believers and non believers, would invoke this mysterious sense of right and wrong we humans have to say that both are not equal, that one is wrong while the other is not wrong or both are not at all equivalent. Now, have you ever asked where does this innate sense of right and wrong come from?

    There are premature darwinian explanations, but the fact of the matter is we do not know where it comes from. Now add a religious text to the mix, and you get, additionally, moral judgements that have nothing to do with this innate sense of right and wrong, but are coming from the text and could not be rationally justified. It then becomes clear why it is very difficult to discuss an issue such as homosexuality. It is difficult to refute religious texts for many people that is for one. And the other is that for those who do not care about religious texts, they simply take a live and let live approach but are, in most cases, unable to make value judgements about homosexuality. They are mostly just indifferent.

    Of mention in this context, is that when I was a young boy, I had what amounts to a couple of homosexual experiences with similar aged boys. At the time it seemed just as normal as video games were, and I never stopped to think about it until much later in my life, i.e. it seemed so natural! and I admit I'm still unable to say what exactly was that about.

    All I can say is that the last thing that concerns me about a person is what he/she does in bed. That is a very small part of who a person is, and to judge a person on that is no different than judging her on the color of her skin! I know that I will not be a gay advocate someday, but I do my part. I ridicule those who make gay jokes at work, and I give them short lectures about proper manners! I did it several times here at my work place, and I will continue to do it in the future. The pain I go through on a daily basis thought me that if you can stop someone's pain (if he is lucky to have a stoppable pain) then fucking do it!

    And yes, Obama is very different and I just hope America's self-haters will not win the battle against him!

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  4. Darren:

    Yours and Mohamed's reading of the nature thing is not the same as mine, I merely read it that many homophobes bang on about it not being natural, not a 'born into' sexuality but a mental health issue or something unnatural, that is all I took by it. Not the idea that if animals do it, its all good for humans.

    Stephen:

    Indeed.

    Mohamed:

    I like long intelligent comments like yours and I think my take on the natural thing for Darren should hopefully clear up where I stand on it in relation to this article.

    Peace.

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  5. Some are born, some choose, some experiment...human sexuality is fluid. Why can't we have human pride marches???

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  6. Darren:

    I'm not sure human sexuality is fluid, I think it is mostly in our DNA.

    Ellie:

    No, I am ashamed to say I have not but it is on my to do list.

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  7. No hurry. It's not going anywhere. Sean Penn is just the fucking best. He does such a great job.

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