Must read: ‘You saw me covered in blood on a bus. But do you get outraged about all homophobia?’

If you’re on social media, I’m sure you saw the photograph of the two women who experienced a homophobic/misogynist hate crime in London being circulated last week. One of the women, Chris, has written a brilliant, deeply intersectional, piece in the Guardian, challenging the media discourse that centres white, cisgender “victims” and demanding that we care about all forms of homophobia and oppression. What a way to turn an awful experience, and an unwanted platform, into something powerful.

A refrain I’ve heard ad nauseum is “I can’t believe this happened – it’s 2019”. I disagree. This attack and the ensuing media circus are par for the course in 2019. In both my native United States and here in the United Kingdom, it always has been and still is open season on the bodies of (in no specific order) people of colour, indigenous people, transgender people, disabled people, queer people, poor people, women and migrants. I have evaded much of the violence and oppression imposed on so many others by our capitalist, white supremacist, patriarchal system because of the privileges I enjoy by dint of my race, health, education, and conventional gender presentation. That has nothing to do with the merit of my character.

You saw me covered in blood on a bus. But do you get outraged about all homophobia?

Lesbian Protest at the BBC (1988)

Nice piece from BBC Witness about the moment a group of lesbian activists stormed the Six O’Clock news to protest about Section 28.

protest

I was eleven years’ old when this happened and I remember it vividly. I wasn’t the kind of kid who always knew they were gay, but the protest really affected me and stuck in my mind. On some level, I seemed to know that it mattered and it had something to do with me.

I’m constantly amazed by just how different the world has been for LGBTQ people who grew up in the UK after the repeal of Section 28.

‘LGBT’ – Letters are not enough

Over the last few years I’ve gained the impression that a lot of ‘LGBT’ groups are still really L&G groups with the ‘B’ and the ‘T’ added for the sake of convention, rather than as indicators of any real support for bisexual or trans folk.

Adding the B and the T allows a group to avoid complaints about exclusion, but it is easy to exclude people through more subtle means. I’ve been to LGB and LGBT groups in which there are no bisexual or transgender members and the lesbian and gay members continue to express biphobic and transphobic views.

I mean, how many LGBT groups really know anything about bi issues, have bisexual representatives, hold bisexual literature, know how many bisexual groups there are in the UK (it’s 11 by the way)?

It’s just not enough to add letters to an acronym. There has to be more.

For a group to be considered inclusive I think there ought to be some minimum standards and expectations:

  • If the group has a lesbian rep and a rep for gay men, then there ought to be reps for bisexual and trans issues.
  • If the group holds literature that is specific to lesbians and gay men, it should also hold specific literature for bisexual and trans folk. There probably isn’t that much, which is why it’s even more important to have it.
  • The group should be aware of and have the contact details for the main bisexual and trans groups and campaigning organisations so that people can be signposted if necessary.
  • The group should also make efforts to ensure that transphobic and biphobic language is always challenged.

Otherwise it really shouldn’t be calling itself ‘LGBT’.

Honor your radical ancestors

Teh Portly Dyke has a great post up about honouring the radical feminists and radical queers who made our lives possible by living their lives on the line:

Honor your radical ancestors

And to those who think those radicals were nothing more than a flash in the pan — to those who think that such radicalism has nothing to do with them, I want to say:

There was a time when being “out” at all (much less considering legal marriage) was not really a choice for any queer — but some radicals made that choice anyway. They chose to be out, even when this might, and probably would, mean complete ostracization by society, severance from their families, and beatings on the street. Or worse.

There was a time when shaving your legs or not shaving your legs, wearing a bra or not wearing a bra, wearing pants or not wearing pants, leaving your abusive spouse or not leaving your abusive spouse — was not really a choice for any woman — but some radicals made that choice anyway. They chose to do things that they knew might, and probably would, mean they would be judged and criticized and fired and expelled and divorced and disowned and beaten. Or worse.

Perhaps those radicals weren’t thinking about you when they did these things — maybe they were only thinking about themselves and what they could stand in that moment — what they felt they must do for themselves in order to make life bearable (actually, in a way, I hope they were) — but I know — I absolutely know — that I walked into a future where I was more free to choose because of what they chose.

They were my bridge to a more liberated future. They stretched the boundaries so that I had a larger place to live in.

Because of them, I had choices that they could barely conceive of — without them, I would not live as I do.

So —

Honor your fucking radical ancestors, already.

 

Go read the rest.