Tag Archives: diversity

A film that shows what the people can do

Today, I again saw a film that makes me inspired and alive. It is Belle, which shows us what can happen when people of conviction speak out for justice. It was an issue that felt so entrenched and widespread, with opposition so numerous and powerful, that a hope of quashing it must’ve felt extremely daring.

But this is the real story of how a major step was taken towards justice and the end of something that had caused so much suffering and been a disgraceful aberration of human rights.

It made me think about the essence of all injustice, and how it relates to continuing despicable problems.

A powerful group defines themselves as other to another and sees that other either as a threat or something less valuable than themselves. Therefore, that other is there for their profit, to be silenced and destroyed.

Once we start to care and give features to those we have commodified, once they cease to be expendable or wicked, we cannot continue treating them as we have. This is true of all earth life. It is true of those we call enemies, those and that which we would use for our own gain.

Not saying: it’s always been that way, it’s too big; it’s too costly to change or end, but: this is enough!

The more I read history, the more I see the themes of control by fear occurring, from armies to bailiffs – people carrying out the instructions of another without question. Rebels will be punished. Conformity is rewarded.

But I also read stories of people who did push for change, of balls of moss that gather in size and momentum.

Stories, actual and imagined, can give us the impetus to put faces on those we refuse to see, give voices to those who hadn’t been heard, and to empower us to take on that which pretended to be invincible.

I post this as the Tory party conference takes place in Manchester this weekend.

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Creative Maladjustment Week

This is based on a Martin Luther King speech who said “Here is a list of horrible things in our world which I’m glad to be maladjusted to, and I won’t be changing that”. He resisted being “normal” as officially defined (especially by psychiatry) and said we need a new group to improve our world, the creatively maladjusted. This international week celebrates that spirit, and here’s its website.

Here’s what I am proud to be maladjusted to:

– Benefits claimant hating, as incited by media and certain political parties; the belief that your worth comes from how much taxable income you generate

– Banks that can create theoretical money and make actual debts to chase you for, even or especially when you’re poor, and cause global crises that others both suffer and pay for

– a health system that’s as much about supply and demand and control as it really is about wellness, and which sees other forms of healing – often older and more universal – as a threat to be derided and blocked; a system that can make decisions on your behalf for ‘your good’ which affect your life and body and mind

– a world where governments and corporations try to own and control people and pry and don’t treat people as people and where other forms of life are only given value by what they profit other humans

– a world where we have judgment and fear, not acceptance, towards those who are different from us, whether that be due to nationhood, skin colour, beliefs, sexuality, gender, bodily ability

– a world where we are disseminated to and encouraged to ridicule or silence those who don’t agree with and expose and question the beliefs that those in control would like us to absorb

– a world of secrecy and control of the few, often masquerading as a people led open advanced society

– invasive customs control based on exaggerated threats; wars on terror justified through fear but which really have some hidden benefit for the few whilst causing more terror for those who we claim to protect

And campaigns to glorify and justify war, past and present

You know my flags by now – justice and liberty for all! And most important – Love.

Here is a big wave of them along with all those other CMs!

 

 

 

 

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Candid Friend of the Green Party

Church historian Diarmaid MacCulloch sat in his home parish church (mine too) and said to camera that he is a “candid friend of Christianity”. I am too, but I am also the candid friend of the Green Party.

I’ve often found their website an interesting slant on news and opinions, and I found their response to events like the Boston Bombings and the Woolwich attack balanced and sensitive. I was sorry that they’ve kept up the fracking and 20 mile an hour speed limits news over commenting on the PRISM revelations (the same is true of the Socialist worker, whose views cannot be called balanced, but I like to hear from a range of people). With two welcome trials in Britain this week about security overstepping on the public toe, I hopefully peeked on the Green website to see what Mses Bennett, Lucas and friends such as the newly titled Jenny Jones might have to say against the Big Brotherism I felt confident they’d oppose. Instead, I found an article that made my eyes bulge…

Am I reading the Mail?! I asked, or my local rag? No – Green Leader Natalie, who I admire, was worrying about obesity, saying it requires “Political Will” to tackle – as per her leader’s blog of 30 Aug 2013.

My understanding is that the worldwide Greens are concerned with having freedom and supporting diversity; in devolving laws to the lowest possible level and not having intrusive and unnecessary ones. Which makes me think that they are against nanny state…oh, but aren’t those slow car laws are a bit controlling?!

What size and shape we are is NOT an issue for the government. The Greens rightly value all colours of the rainbow on the gender/sexuality continuum; they want freedom of belief, they hate racism and any other discrimination.

But this about obesity is controlling, value judging, discrimination! (everything the Greens are against).

When this country, like so many others, is in the pits of austerity, when this country, like so many others, is waging unnecessary wars, when this country is in the midst of revelations that it is being routinely spied on and laws are being passed to make protest harder, then the Greens, as the most radical and critiquing of our parties, the one who claims to be different, ought to be busy with these matters.

I’m sure another allopathic medicine diatribe (sorry that should say discourse) is due soon on this blog, though my Diana and Hannah post gives a flavour of my thoughts on that subject which I can explain more fully another time. But I think, as regards to our weight and size, I can do no better than refer readers to

http://voices.yahoo.com/in-defence-obesity-2630233.html

Who called the fat police? And who recruited Natalie Bennett?! Please resign your badge and get back to your better battles!

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Are gay groups the voice of the gay population?

In a word, no. I’ve never liked the word lesbian or queer but I do include bi women. I can’t speak for trans or men but I suspect some of them will agree.

Much of the talking is done by community leaders, and it’s not the voice of many of us. Note I don’t call rainbow people a community – I think we are diverse and it’s like calling women a community. There are communities about being LGBT etc but not all of us answering to those letters are in them, or feel part of them. We feel in general that a few are speaking for the whole and that those who attend Pride and similar meetings are not reflective of the non-straight population, and so are not the best place to find out what our needs and views are.

I have heard it said publicly that gay people don’t like the gay section of the libraries, bookshops etc. I’d like to counteract that by saying – thank you to those who have one for making books about gay issues easily findable. However, the books and films are of a particularly ilk – often small press/indie film studios which are low quality and the women are quite often depicted as butch and in the gay scene. I’d like to see the much broader range of books about gay people double shelved so that they’re in the main section so everyone can discover and enjoy them, and they are displayed somewhere so gay people can browse easily (same with films). By putting gay books in a gay corner, it means they get a small circulation and so are not very viable. And isn’t (or shouldn’t) the point of many gay media materials be to integrate and be better understood with/by wider society?

I’d like to illustrate with an example from two film festivals, both in the same city over the same summer. The Lesbian and Gay one showed in a 30 seater screen in the arts cinema as one off showings at obscure times, all to ‘visible’ lesbians, and you’d probably feel uncomfortable trying to go to a movie if you didn’t match the sexuality/gender. Then I went to two films at the International festival, also about gay women. The multiplex large auditoria were packed with all kinds of people. As the female filmmakers said in their Q and A, it is a story about love for everyone – but they just happen to love each other. People had come to see a good story, not a ghetto special interest film. Things like Brokeback Mountain and Tipping the Velvet prove how well a gay storyline can do if shown to a wide audience.

I’ve also heard it said that the angst ridden storylines are not reflective of us. Again, I’d like to contradict by saying that sadly for many, it is real and this is ongoing due to the community itself as much as the (happily improving) outside world. I don’t think that all the storylines should be about suffering, but generally – stories are about conflict and tension – it’s what makes them. (I say this as a writer working on publishing a book soon on this kind of subject). First love, coming of age, personal epiphanies are the stuff of stories for everyone. It’s something we can all relate to, but like a religion, it’s true that the content needs to go beyond the initial stage and reflect the rest of lives (ie sermons about conversion don’t help you move forward spiritually once you have come to faith). But for many, it is a vital and ongoing stage that happens not just to teens but people at all ages (also to friends and families).

I don’t have a problem with being gay being classed in the issue section of books; it is one, sadly, for many. And even if all society accepted it, it’s still confusing and it is helpful to know you are not alone and where to go for support should things be hard for you. And that as sexuality is fluid, it’s not a case of come out and that’s it – I say it’s pin not nail the tail on the donkey, and it’s nice to have books and films which reflect those changes too.

What has been hardest for me (and others I know) is the sense of otherness from the rainbow community. Instead of coming home, it feels like another group to have to conform to or be other there too. Despite the talk of diversity, I’ve found the gay communities I’ve met to tacitly expect conformity and to be as didactic as any religious group I’ve been part of. And many have also had prejudices, eg “real lesbians not bis”!!

I feel strongly that being gay (or trans etc) is not an identity, it is not who we are, but just one aspect of our personalities. I have found so many of the rainbow gang want it to be the distinguishing defining factor, the thing we most put forward about ourselves.

And I sense a lot of anger and prickliness from LGB etc people during this transition to greater societal acceptance, and I think that is counterproductive.

It’s also more complex than being simply an existential statement – sexuality and friendship and their changing boundaries are fascinating and not always compatible with the definition of “fact”.

I too would like to see positive resolution to any stressful story, but I also think expecting to be embraced in the short timespace of a teen novel is unlikely, sadly, for some. I know people who’ve been waiting decades for their families to come round, and I’d rather equip people to handle that not everyone is supportive from the start than to expect it and be surprised when it doesn’t happen; but to obviously encourage wider society to offer that support from the outset.

I think we are in a transitional time and there’s often clunkiness and imbalance while things change, just as equal opportunities and political correctness goes too far, they are trying to address important matters. I think some gay people are expecting too much of a change too soon, and if they came out long ago, or benefitted from more supportive modern attitudes, it might be that they cannot understand the need for some of these story lines. I’d ask them to be patient as society continues its vast shift towards acceptance.
I’d also like to ask that communities don’t dish out otherness and judgement to their own. Rainbow colours really are about the whole spectrum, so we should move on from simply shades of pink to embracing and listening to all the shades, instead of creating a double bind that causes marginalisation and confusion to continue, even in countries where diversity is openly celebrated and protected.

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