What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
11 views
11 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
50 views
50 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
94 views
94 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
80 views
80 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
111 views
111 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
147 views
147 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
112 views
112 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
248 views
248 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
191 views
191 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
203 views
203 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
233 views
233 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
2 views

What the Fawkes: Lewes Bonfire Night Approaches

kenyon55 - October 16, 2018
227 Views
1 Comments

Moving on the movement

As LGBT History Month begins, offering an opportunity to reflect on the LGBT movement, one student gives his perspective and questions the reality of “gay equality” in modern Britain.

Weeks before he was brutally murdered, a Ugandan tabloid identified David Kato as a homosexual and called for his execution. Photo: www.boxturtlebulletin.com

 

As 2011 rolls out and February rolls in, along comes another LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans) History Month – “claiming our history, celebrating our present and creating our future”. Going on for six years, it means something different to each of us. To me, it’s an opportunity to refine the form of the struggle of the LGBT movement and take a fresh look at the problems facing LGBT people today. I’m writing this to describe what I perceive them to be. 

Naturally, LGBT History Month is to be heralded by various clubnights in Brighton, just like every other major occasion on the LGBT calendar, be it Gay Pride, World Aids Day, or this. The lure of the ‘Pink Pound’ is seemingly too hard to resist, as if the best way to remember the history of LGBT people is to wipe out an evening of our own individual memories.  

Thankfully, a great deal of History Month seems to be concerned with commemorating the long and arduous road to equality; celebrating where we are now. And you only have to look at Uganda to see just how fortunate we are to be here. 

Less than a week before History Month started, Ugandan human rights activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death in his home after a Ugandan tabloid newspaper called for his execution as a homosexual, publishing his name, address and photograph along with those of 99 other individuals.  

Kato was a founding member of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a human rights campaign group pushing for the protection of Ugandans falling under the LGBT umbrella. Much of SMUG’s activism has been sparked by the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, setting to introduce the death penalty for “repeat offenders”, people who are HIV-positive and those that engage in same-sex acts with people aged under 18. It also includes provisions to punish individuals, non-governmental organisations, companies and media groups supportive of LGBT rights. 
Although homosexuality in Uganda is already illegal and punishable by imprisonment, moves to broaden its criminalisation is thought to have been inspired by a group of American evangelical Christians who asserted that homosexuality is a direct threat to the cohesion of African families during a conference in March 2009 in Kampala, the country’s capital. While the bill was initially set to be railroaded through Uganda’s Parliament, intense international criticism has seemingly stalled the plans and as of January, amid proposals to withdraw the bill, the matter remained under discussion.  

Yet here in the UK, LGBT people are more equally regarded than ever. We can marry, adopt and join the army if we like. In 2005, we saw the back of Section 28, which prevented schools and local authorities from “promoting homosexuality”. Not only that, with equality being high on the political agenda nowadays and Parties of all persuasions asserting their commitment to tackling homophobia within schools particularly, Government-backed initiatives to raise awareness of LGBT issues within the classrooms were set to launch at the beginning of February to coincide with History Month. Just five years ago, this would have been unthinkable.  

Aside from legislative recognition, society itself is far more tolerant than ever before. Homophobic attacks, physical or verbal, provide scope for a national outcry – look at the reaction to Jan Moir’s homophobic rant over Stephen Gateley’s untimely death – and nowadays, bigotry is very much on the fringes. And survey after survey cites progressive attitudes: this many people think gay people should be allowed to marry; this proportion of the population says gay people make as good a parent as heterosexual ones; this percentage believes that homophobia is wrong. I could go on.  

So you could be forgiven for thinking that this is what equality looks like. Yet, while everyone was preoccupied with harping about “equality”, reducing it to little more than the latest buzz-word, nobody really explained what it is – or why it’s so important anyway. 

Is equality any more valuable than a society tolerating its deviants or outcasts, and allowing them to have the same rights as everybody else – the ‘normal’ majority?  

This is why I’ve never been convinced that tolerance quite cuts deep enough. To suggest that society ought to tolerate LGBT people implies that it has the right to evaluate whether we are acceptable and decide whether to tolerate us or otherwise. Tolerance implies a power relationship. While that power relationship exists, gay people can never be equal. A capitalist society needs an underdog; under capitalism, LGBT people will always be oppressed and marginalised, even if for the time being they are ‘tolerated’. 

I think a problem with any perceived state of equality is the complacency that invariably accompanies it. Honestly, how many people will be sparing a thought for David Kato between mouthfuls of cider during this summer’s Gay Pride festivities? Will anyone raise a glass-of-double-vodka-and-coke to his memory? Or consider LGBT people and activists who risk their safety and sometimes even their lives to partake in Gay Pride marches in places like Lithuania, where a ban on a Gay Pride event was lifted just hours before it was scheduled to take place last year? I doubt it.  

Gay Pride in this country is so far detached from its original purpose that it is completely redundant. With middle-aged men prancing around in glittery stilettos and donning spangled thongs, it’s little more than a big, gay-themed party. But what’s worse than this is that nowadays, only a minority of Gay Pride events are free. This year, Brighton and Hove is set to charge for entry for the first time. So, it seems, you have to pay to be proud in the UK today. And many people are more than happy to go along with that notion, their biggest source of loss stemming from the hole burnt in their pocket. This time, it definitely is the money and not the principle. 

But what is more alarming than  the widespread apathy, is the advent of self-appointed critics of the ‘gay community’, the most renowned of these being Simon Fanshawe, one of the founding members of Stonewall.  In his 2006 BBC documentary, “The Trouble with… Gay Men”, Fanshawe espoused the view that despite legal and social equality in contemporary Britain, gay men of all ages behave like hedonistic teenagers, perpetually obsessed with drugs, drink, sex and beauty. Fanshawe’s status makes his viewpoint all the more influential and therefore all the more regrettable because it gives these views some kind of veneer of legitimacy and respectability. I would call them sweeping generalisations but I don’t really think that would quite cover my alarm, frankly.  

There are, of course, several objections I could raise. Perhaps Fanshawe could have instead highlighted the problem of the way in which LGBT people are allowing Gay Pride to become a corporate event, or the lack of compassion for LGBT people who aren’t lucky enough to live in a country like the UK which provides them with basic human rights? Instead, he attributed the issues of promiscuity, binge drinking, drug-taking and worship of the young beautiful – which are endemic to youth culture generally – specifically to gay men. I wouldn’t deny that these issues are present amongst gay people to a certain extent, but you can’t apply the actions of a minority of gay men who happen to be more visible than the majority to the rest of the population so flippantly, as if they bear some kind of responsibility for it. 

If LGBT History Month in part is about celebrating equality and battling homophobia, shouldn’t this kind of perception be challenged? At this rate, Fanshawe risks becoming the ‘enemy from within’. What we can be certain of is that the dissemination of this kind of bigotry – there’s no other word for it – doesn’t do anyone any favours. Simon Fanshawe and his ilk are for gay liberation what Katie Hopkins (who appeared on Question Time recently opining that women do not want equality and many “couldn’t handle it if they got it”) is for feminism.  

I often wonder if we’d have L, G or B if we didn’t have homophobia. What people often forget is that the struggle against discrimination is essentially why they came together as a movement in the first place. And what we can be certain of is that homophobia and the systematic oppression of gay people is very much a product of the modern age. What we now recognise as homosexual behaviour, however, has probably existed for as long as human beings have walked the earth. In many ancient societies, homosexual behaviour was successfully integrated into their cultures – the most famous example being that of Ancient Greece.  

This has led left-wing gay historians argue that homosexuality – as in, the distinguishing traits of homosexuals – were not considered a unified set of acts and most certainly not a set of qualities defining a particular person in pre-capitalist societies. According to this theory, what we now understand as identifiable categories of people – that is, ‘homosexuals’ and ‘heterosexuals’ – are instead social roles and attitudes pertaining to a certain culture: modern capitalism. Modern capitalism’s preference for the nuclear family – surreally depicted in numerous breakfast cereal commercials over the decades – as individual units of production leaves little room for ‘sexual deviance’. Instead it represses various kinds of behaviour and pigeonholes people into restrictive categories, like ‘gay’ and ‘straight’. But there are more than two kinds of people in the world; sexuality is fluid, not fixed, with gay sexuality existing along a continuum.  

Not, of course, to paint LGBT people as perpetual victims, but perhaps people like Simon Fanshawe could look to this systematic marginalisation and oppression before assuming a moral high-ground over what he sees as a debauched lifestyle. It’s all good and well to despair, as Fanshawe did, that when presented with equality, gay men hedonistically “drink and drug and whore their way up the gay pleasure food chain in search of the ultimate high”. But LGBT people don’t need equality, they need liberation. 

So please take note: when you’re knocking back the Blue WKDs and the Foster’s while boogying away to Lady GaGa during History Month’s ‘Gender Blender’-themed Scene Tour on February 14 at Revenge, don’t be so sure that’s what you’re getting – trust me, you’re getting the opposite.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
11 views
11 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018
Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
50 views
50 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018
University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
94 views
94 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018
Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
80 views
80 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018
Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
111 views
111 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018
In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
147 views
147 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018
Brighton Needs You!
News
112 views
112 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
248 views
248 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
191 views
191 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
203 views
203 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
233 views
233 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
2 views
Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes
National News
4 views
4 views

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018
Renting Unaffordable for Young People
National News
5 views
5 views

Renting Unaffordable for Young People

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Moving on the movement – Kieran Burn | The Badger – USSU | Just Gay Men

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

What’s ACCA-ning?
Arts
11 views
Arts
11 views

What’s ACCA-ning?

Emma Nay - October 16, 2018

  All you need to know about autumn at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts If you have not seen the ACCA’s new autumn programme, you…

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols
Arts
50 views
Arts
50 views

Review: Journeying with Grace Nichols

Kate Dennett - October 12, 2018

In celebration of Black History Month, Sussex Student Union organised a number of interesting talks and events across October. One of these exciting opportunities was a chance…

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA
Film & Theatre
50 views
Film & Theatre
50 views

Review: Suzanne Ciani & Martin Messier at the ACCA

Anonymous - October 10, 2018

At the outset, Mr Messier’s FIELD at once invoked The Matrix and Daedalus’ Boiler Room set.  The basic concept of this mixed media performance relies on transducer…

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development
Arts
78 views
Arts
78 views

Shelf Help: The Organisation Encouraging Self-Development

Kate Dennett - October 10, 2018

To commemorate to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Day, I found it increasingly difficult to draw attention to just one book of relevance in recognition of this…

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective
Campus News
74 views
Campus News
74 views

Freshers’ Week from a second year perspective

Chris Ahjem - October 9, 2018

Annually, the University of Sussex welcomes thousands of new students to our Falmer campus and every year the Student’s Union and Brighton based clubs and businesses increase…

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known
News
110 views
News
110 views

National Badger Day: 10 fun facts you might not have known

Chris Ahjem - October 6, 2018

To celebrate National Badger Day here are 10 fun facts about our animal kingdom namesake Badgers can run up to 16-19 miles per hour which is the…

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week
Arts
94 views
Arts
94 views

University of Sussex Joins Libraries Week

Kate Dennett - October 6, 2018

This coming week marks the celebration of Libraries Week, an event solely dedicated to praising the work of libraries across the UK. This annual event is taking…

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin
Interview
80 views
Interview
80 views

Oscar Jerome at The Hope and Ruin

Alex Leissle - October 4, 2018

The young star is often a tricky title to navigate. There are the big names, who explode into the world with noise, bright light, a big record…

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry
Lifestyle
110 views
Lifestyle
110 views

How Fenty Beauty changed the face of the makeup industry

Rachel Badham - October 3, 2018

Fenty Beauty, launched in September last year, is a makeup line created by global superstar Robyn Rihanna Fenty, better known as Rihanna. It’s not uncommon for celebrity…

Why we should all embrace drag
Lifestyle
111 views
Lifestyle
111 views

Why we should all embrace drag

Chris Ahjem - October 3, 2018

Once an art form disregarded by many, 2018 bears witness to the continuous rise of drag as a legitimate, celebrated art. Spearheaded by RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag…

In Conversation with Alannah Myles
Arts
147 views
Arts
147 views

In Conversation with Alannah Myles

Anastasia Konstantinidou - October 3, 2018

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Alannah Myles, the 1991 Grammy winner for best female rock vocal performance for her outstanding vocal abilities for the…

Brighton Needs You!
News
112 views
News
112 views

Brighton Needs You!

Anonymous - September 28, 2018

Brighton is a vibrant and thriving city that many students at Sussex are lucky enough to call home. But there are many in the area in need…

Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
248 views
Arts
248 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018

Starting university comes with both exciting but potentially daunting changes, with both moving away from home and studying at degree level posing to be two new challenges.…

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist
Film & Theatre
182 views
Film & Theatre
182 views

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist

Olek Młyński - September 18, 2018

One key film in the development of anyone who grew up in the early 2000s was The Incredibles (2004). It’s comedy, vibrancy, and general sense of fun…

France in Fine Fettle
Sports
191 views
Sports
191 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Prior to the start of the quadrennial tournament this summer, football fans across the world grew sceptical over Russia’s credentials and ability to host the most prestigious…

Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
203 views
Arts
203 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Boredom is impossible when you throw yourself into everything this weird and wonderful city has to offer. The specific and unique cultural wonders of Brighton are indeed…

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
233 views
Arts
233 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

During this year’s Pride Festival, Brighton had the honour of welcoming international pop star and voice of the early 2000s, Britney Spears, to the main stage. Undoubtedly,…

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
1291 views1
Campus News
1291 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

News
2 views

What the Fawkes: Lewes Bonfire Night Approaches

kenyon55 - October 16, 2018

The Lewes Bonfire celebrations this year will take place on Monday 5th November, as an independent event run by Lewes’ seven Bonfire societies in collaboration. The event…

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes
National News
4 views
National News
4 views

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Resumes

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

Written by Danielle Ball Shocking witness statements have been heard from the fire crew and call handlers involved in the response to the tragedy The Grenfell Tower…

Renting Unaffordable for Young People
National News
5 views
National News
5 views

Renting Unaffordable for Young People

Jessica Hubbard - October 16, 2018

South East among the most expensive areas to rent as revealed by BBC research. Research carried out by The BBC has found that renting is unaffordable for…

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns
Music
39 views
Music
39 views

Joe Armon-Jones Brings Jazz to Patterns

Lara Antoine - October 13, 2018

Photo by Vojta Dvrocek Whether you’ve seen him in Ezra Collective or featuring alongside other breakthrough neo-jazz artists like Mr Jukes. Pianist Joe Armon-Jones is no stranger…

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur
Arts
51 views
Arts
51 views

“Climax” review – The return of the French provocateur

Olek Młyński - October 11, 2018

The newest film from the notorious Gaspar Noé was so critically acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival that the director himself could not believe it. Climax opens…

Kode9 & Burial – Fabriclive 100
Music
91 views
Music
91 views

Kode9 & Burial – Fabriclive 100

Ryan Bridgewater - October 5, 2018

Released 28th September Available on: CD/Vinyl/Download   The anticipation couldn’t have been greater when the final instalment in London nightclub Fabric’s legendary DJ mix series was announced…

News
71 views

Maniac: a madcap adventure into troubled minds

Olek Młyński - October 5, 2018

With the release of Maniac, Netflix once again proves itself as an artistic powerhouse. This mini-series is a whirlwind of creativity containing often confusing, madcap ideas. But,…

Nike cash in on Kaepernick campaign
Sports
70 views
Sports
70 views

Nike cash in on Kaepernick campaign

James Cohen - October 4, 2018

In 1988 Nike premiered their, now infamous, “Just Do It” campaign, showing 80-year-old Walt Stack jogging across the Golden Gate Bridge. 30 years and a lot of…

Machine Learning for an Efficient Future
Science
110 views
Science
110 views

Machine Learning for an Efficient Future

ecrm20 - October 4, 2018

My project is about how we can explain the predictions made by machine learning algorithms. For example, if we have an algorithm that tells us whether an…

Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar Due to Close
Music
121 views
Music
121 views

Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar Due to Close

Dan Miller - October 4, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35890" align="alignnone" width="4544"] Photo by Lara Antoine[/caption]   The surprising news was released via the venue’s Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon, announcing:    "There are far too many…

Where did you Come from Where did you Escargot?  Martlets Snailway appears in Brighton and Hove
News
101 views
News
101 views

Where did you Come from Where did you Escargot? Martlets Snailway appears in Brighton and Hove

Jessica Hubbard - October 3, 2018

Colourful Snail statues have appeared across Brighton and Hove. The Snails are part of an art trail turned fundraising initiative by Martlets, a hospice and charity. Fifteen of…