Tag Archives: lesbian

Gay History: More Than Words: Gay Pt. 1 — We’re Going Gay

“Gay” was the first queer word I ever learned, and the first queer thing I ever called myself.  Something about “lesbian” didn’t sit right with me, and I wasn’t yet aware of reclamation, of the bright side of pejoratives — the spark that happens when you turn a weapon on itself. Plus I liked the sneakiness. Gay meant happy, right? You could claim it while admitting nothing. It was a rainbow dream mask.

But even before it got the rest of its colors, this word blushed. Pleasure, joy, and other gaieties are perpetually societally fraught, and gay has the scars to prove it — it’s been punned on, leaned on, worn proudly, hidden behind, argued over, and ping-ponged across the net of respectability ever since it was invented. If words could break, gay might have a long time ago. Luckily it bent instead. Here’s the beginning of how it happened.

The most common etymology of the word “gay” has it rooted in the Proto-Indo-European root *gey- (“to go”). This evolved into *gheng- (“to stride”) which became the Proto-Germanic *ganhaz/*ganhwaz (“sudden”), and then the Old High German gahi (“quick, impulsive”). The move to Old French jai (“merry”) brought the recognizable definition and a nice modern jauntiness. Jai became gai likely due to the influence of Gothic gaheis (“impetuous”), and soon we had the Middle English gay, direct ancestor of the word we use today.

Easy enough — except that etymology is an inexact science based on barely traceable exchanges that took place thousands of years ago, so not everyone agrees on what happened. Anatoly Liberman has an alternate theory that roots gay in Old High German wahi (“shining”/”beautiful”), based on a g/w interchangibility that we see borne out in word pairs like “guardian” and “warden,” or “guerrilla” and “war.” But he’s even more attached to a different explanation from the 19th century master Frank Chance. An “excellent etymologist, now almost forgotten,” Chance used to publish almost exclusively in Notes and Queries, a quarterly where scholars and hobbyists traded notes and asked each other questions — kind of like an early Formspring, but for linguistics and lexicography. In an 1861 Note, Chance took on “gay” via an analogy to the French gaîne, or “sheath,” which comes from the Latin vagina, also “sheath” (and also your bonus etymology-of-the-day).

“SON, WE SHALL NAME YOU FRANK CHANCE, DOOMING YOU TO A LIFE OF GAMBLING AND/OR ETYMOLOGY”

“The g in gaîne,” Chance explains, “corresponds to the v in vagina… In a similar way, I think, our adjective “gay” might be readily deduced from the Latin vagus, or perhaps from the corresponding Italian vago, which means both wandering, roaming, and pleasant, agreeable.” About a century and a third later, German linguist Harri Meier added some evidence to the pile, listing Italian cognates like svagarsi (“amuse oneself”) and svago (“diversion”).

I have also become attached to this theory, not only because it’s more fun, but also because it means that the start of  gay’s backstory involves a gradual influx of positive feeling — what semantician Stephen Ullman calls an “amelioration of meaning.”  As Liberman points out, the Latin vagus often meant “flighty” or “frivolous,” which, though not the worst possible things to call someone, aren’t as sunshiney as the merriment and joie de vivre implied by “gay” — see, for example, Propertius’s Elegy V, in which a “vagis puellis” is compared negatively to Cynthia, a “docta puella” or “learned girl,” and Propertius’s perpetual muse.  So somewhere over the course of its initial leap into English, gay enjoyed a rise in reputation — a fine beginning for a word that would spend the rest of its life undergoing a roller coaster ride of semantic shifts.

“Gay” first hit paper in 1325, in a transcription of a Middle English song called “Blow, Northerne Wynd.” When I started reading it, I thought it was about how the narrator would brave the northern wind to get to his beloved, who is described as semly and menskful and lossom (“seemly,” “worshipful,” and “lovely,” if you prefer boring new English words). But in the end, he’s actually asking the wind to blow his suetyng (“sweetheart”) to him, which honestly sounds kind of mean and lazy. Dave Wilton found the relevant stanza:

“Heo is dereworþe in day
graciouse, stout, ant gay
gentil, iolyf so þe iay
worhliche when heo wakeþ.
Maiden murgest of mouþ;
bi est, bi west, by norþ ant souþ,
þer nis fiele ne crouþ
þat such murþes makeþ.
Blow northerne wynd!
Send thou me my suetyng!
Blow northerne wynd! blow, blow, blow!”

(TRANSLATION: “She is precious in day / gracious, stout, and gay / gentle, jolly as the jay/ noble when she wakes. / Maiden merriest of mouth / by East, West, North and South / Neither fiddle nor crowd / Makes such abundance. / Blow northern wind! / Send me my sweetheart! / Blow northern wind! Blow, blow, blow!”)

Gay is a nice-sounding, one-syllable word that rhymes with a lot of things — all the makings of a poetic mainstay. To the delight of decades of middle school English students, no one could get enough of it for centuries and centuries. Chaucer used it in 1385. Robert Mannyng used it in his “story of England,” in the late 14th century. The lyrics of “Deck The Halls” are from 1862. Shakespeare used it thirteen times in total. Here’s Iago, in Othello, written in 1603: “She that was ever fair and never proud / Had tongue at will and yet was never loud / Never lack’d gold and yet went never gay.” I’m trying to be mature here but Shakespeare makes it hard.

DON’T LISTEN TO HIM, DESDEMONA! YOU’RE BETTER OFF GOLD AND GAY

Over this time, though, “gay” began experiencing a “pejoration of meaning” — it’s the opposite of the aforementioned amelioration, and you use it when a word’s reputation starts going downhill. Some think this started as far back as the 14th century, but it was definitely established by the 17th, when, according to the OED, it was generally used to describe those “addicted to pleasures and dissipations.” Carefreeness had flipped back to frivolity. You can even see it in the above Shakespeare, as Iago uses “gay” to mean “flashy” and sets it in parallel with pride and loudness, two then-undesirable traits). This frivolity developed into a general lack of inhibitions, and often referred to sexual carefreeness — by at least 1799, a “gay man” was a womanizer, a “gay woman” a prostitute, and a “gay house” a brothel.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF COMING OUT (VIA PUNCH MAGAZINE ARCHIVES)

In a nice return to its roots, “to go gay” was to live a life of hedonism. For proper usage, see this sentence, from Edward Montague Compton MacKenzie’s Carnival, that was far ahead of its time:

“After dinner Jenny went back to Hagworth Street, and had a flaming quarrel with her mother, who accused her of “going gay”; demanded to know how she dared put in an appearance dressed in another woman’s clothes; insisted she was to come home immediately after dinner; forbade a hundred things, and had the door slammed in her face for the advice.”

While this meaning became more prevalent, another now-familiar one snuck up alongside it. Next time we’ll talk about when gay started meaning what it does now — and take another few dips up and down the semantic roller coaster.

Reference

Gay History: Timeline Of An Acronym – LGBT

The Stonewall Inn in the gay village of Greenwich Village, Manhattan, site of the June 1969 Stonewall riots, the cradle of the modern LGBT rights movement and an icon of LGBT culture, is adorned with flags depicting the colors of the rainbow.[1][2][3]
LGBT (or GLBT) is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In use since the 1990s, the term is an adaptation of the initialism LGB, which was used to replace the term gay in reference to the LGBT community beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s.[4] Activists believed that the term gay community did not accurately represent all those to whom it referred.

The initialism has become adopted into the mainstream as an umbrella term for use when labeling topics pertaining to sexuality and gender identity. For example, the LGBT Movement Advancement Project termed community centres, which have services specific to those members of the LGBT community, as “LGBT community centers”, in a comprehensive studies of such centres around the United States.[5]

The initialism LGBT is intended to emphasize a diversity of sexuality and gender identity-based cultures. It may be used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual or non-cisgender, instead of exclusively to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.[6] To recognize this inclusion, a popular variant adds the letter Q for those who identify as queer or are questioning their sexual identity; LGBTQ has been recorded since 1996.[7][8] Those who add intersex people to LGBT groups or organizing use an extended initialism LGBTI.[9][10] The two acronyms are sometimes combined to form the terms LGBTIQ [11] or LGBT+ to encompass spectrums of sexuality and gender.[12] Other, less common variants also exist, motivated by a desire for inclusivity, including those over twice as long which have prompted criticism.[13]

A six-band rainbow flag representing LGBT

History of the term

The first widely used term, homosexual, now carries negative connotations.[15] It was replaced by  homophile in the 1950s and 1960s,[16][dubious ] and subsequently gayin the 1970s; the latter term was adopted first by the homosexual community.[17] Lars Ullerstam [sv] promoted use of the term sexual minority in the 1960s, as an analogy to the term ethnic minority for non-whites.[18]

As lesbians forged more public identities, the phrase “gay and lesbian” became more common.[19] A dispute as to whether the primary focus of their political aims should be feminism or gay rights led to the dissolution of some lesbian organizations, including the Daughters of Bilitis, which disbanded in 1970 following disputes over which goal should take precedence.[20] As equality was a priority for lesbian feminists, disparity of roles between men and women or butch and femme were viewed as patriarchal. Lesbian feminists eschewed gender role play that had been pervasive in bars, as well as the perceived chauvinism of gay men; many lesbian feminists refused to work with gay men, or take up their causes.[21]

Lesbians who held the essentialist view, that they had been born homosexual and used the descriptor “lesbian” to define sexual attraction, often considered the separatist opinions of lesbian-feminists to be detrimental to the cause of gay rights.[22] Bisexual and transgender people also sought recognition as legitimate categories within the larger minority community.[19]

After the elation of change following group action in the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, some gays and lesbians became less accepting of bisexual or transgender people.[23][24] Critics[Like whom?] said that transgender people were acting out stereotypes and bisexuals were simply gay men or lesbian women who were afraid to come out and be honest about their identity.[23] Each community has struggled to develop its own identity including whether, and how, to align with other gender and sexuality-based communities, at times excluding other subgroups; these conflicts continue to this day.[24] LGBTQ activists and artists have created posters to raise consciousness about the issue since the movement began.[25]

From about 1988, activists began to use the initialism LGBT in the United States.[26] Not until the 1990s within the movement did gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people gain equal respect.[24] This spurred some organizations to adopt new names, as the GLBT Historical Society did in 1999. Although the LGBT community has seen much controversy regarding universal acceptance of different member groups (bisexual and transgender individuals, in particular, have sometimes been marginalized by the larger LGBT community), the term LGBT has been a positive symbol of inclusion.[6][24]

Despite the fact that LGBT does not nominally encompass all individuals in smaller communities (see Variants below), the term is generally accepted to include those not specifically identified in the four-letter initialism.[6][24] Overall, the use of the term LGBT has, over time, largely aided in bringing otherwise marginalized individuals into the general community.[6][24] Transgender actress Candis Cayne in 2009 described the LGBT community “the last great minority”, noting that “We can still be harassed openly” and be “called out on television”.[27]

In response to years of lobbying from users and LGBT groups to eliminate discrimination, the online social networking service Facebook, in February 2014, widened its choice of gender variants for users.[relevant? ][28][29][30]

In 2016, GLAAD‘s Media Reference Guide states that LGBTQ is the preferred initialism, being more inclusive of younger members of the communities who embrace queer as a self-descriptor.[31] However, some people consider queer to be a derogatory term originating in hate speech and reject it, especially among older members of the community.[32]

LGBT publications, pride parades, and related events, such as this stage at Bologna Pride 2008 in Italy, increasingly drop the LGBT initialism instead of regularly adding new letters, and dealing with issues of placement of those letters within the new title.[14]

Variants

Many variants exist including variations that change the order of the letters; LGBT or GLBTare the most common terms.[24] Although identical in meaning, LGBT may have a more feminist connotation than GLBT as it places the “L” (for “lesbian”) first.[24] LGBT may also include additional Qs for “queer” or “questioning” (sometimes abbreviated with a question mark and sometimes used to mean anybody not literally L, G, B or T) producing the variants LGBTQ and LGBTQQ.[34][35][36] In the United Kingdom, it is sometimes stylized as LGB&T,[37][38] whilst the Green Party of England and Wales uses the term LGBTIQ in its manifesto and official publications.[39][40][41]

The order of the letters has not been standardized; in addition to the variations between the positions of the initial “L” or “G”, the mentioned, less common letters, if used, may appear in almost any order.[24] Longer initialisms based on LGBT are sometimes referred to as “alphabet soup”.[42][43] Variant terms do not typically represent political differences within the community, but arise simply from the preferences of individuals and groups.[44]

The terms pansexual, omnisexual, fluid and queer-identified are regarded as falling under the umbrella term bisexual (and therefore are considered a part of the bisexual community).

Some use LGBT+ to mean “LGBT and related communities”.[12] LGBTQIA is sometimes used and adds “queer, intersex, and asexual” to the basic term.[45] Other variants may have a “U” for “unsure”; a “C” for “curious”; another “T” for “transvestite“; a “TS”, or “2” for “two-spirit” persons; or an “SA” for “straight allies“.[46][47][48][49][50] However, the inclusion of straight allies in the LGBT acronym has proven controversial as many straight allies have been accused of using LGBT advocacy to gain popularity and status in recent years,[51] and various LGBT activists have criticised the heteronormative worldview of certain straight allies.[52] Some may also add a “P” for “polyamorous“, an “H” for “HIV-affected“, or an “O” for “other”.[24][53] Furthermore, the initialism LGBTIH has seen use in Indiato encompass the hijra third gender identity and the related subculture.[54][55]

The initialism LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual) has also resulted, although such initialisms are sometimes criticized for being confusing and leaving some people out, as well as issues of placement of the letters within the new title.[42] However, adding the term “allies” to the initialism has sparked controversy,[56] with some seeing the inclusion of “ally” in place of “asexual” as a form of asexual erasure.[57] There is also the acronym QUILTBAG (queer and questioning, intersex, lesbian, transgender and two-spirit, bisexual, asexual and ally, and gay and genderqueer).[58]

Similarly LGBTIQA+ stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual and many other terms (such as non-binary and pansexual)”.[59]

In Canada, the community is sometimes identified as LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Two Spirit).[60]Depending on the which organization is using the acronym the choice of acronym changes. Businesses and the CBC often simply employ LGBT as a proxy for any longer acronym, private activist groups often employ LGBTQ+,[61] whereas public health providers favour the more inclusive LGBT2Q+ to accommodate twin spirited indigenous peoples.[62] For a time the Pride Toronto organization used the much lengthier acronym LGBTTIQQ2SA, but appears to have dropped this in favour of simpler wording.[63]

Transgender inclusion

The term trans* has been adopted by some groups as a more inclusive alternative to “transgender”, where trans (without the asterisk) has been used to describe trans men and trans women, while trans* covers all non-cisgender (genderqueer) identities, including transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.[64][65] Likewise, the term transsexual commonly falls under the umbrella term transgender, but some transsexual people object to this.[24]

When not inclusive of transgender people, the shorter term LGB is used instead of LGBT.[24][66]

Intersex inclusion

The relationship of intersex to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans, and queer communities is complex,[67] but intersex people are often added to the LGBT category to create an LGBTI community. Some intersex people prefer the initialism LGBTI, while others would rather that they not be included as part of the term.[10][68] LGBTI is used in all parts of “The Activist’s Guide” of the Yogyakarta Principles in Action.[69] Emi Koyama describes how inclusion of intersex in LGBTI can fail to address intersex-specific human rights issues, including creating false impressions “that intersex people’s rights are protected” by laws protecting LGBT people, and failing to acknowledge that many intersex people are not LGBT.[70] Organisation Intersex International Australia states that some intersex individuals are same sex attracted, and some are heterosexual, but “LGBTI activism has fought for the rights of people who fall outside of expected binary sex and gender norms”.[71][72] Julius Kaggwa of SIPD Uganda has written that, while the gay community “offers us a place of relative safety, it is also oblivious to our specific needs”.[73]

Numerous studies have shown higher rates of same sex attraction in intersex people,[74][75] with a recent Australian study of people born with atypical sex characteristics finding that 52% of respondents were non-heterosexual,[76][77] thus research on intersex subjects has been used to explore means of preventing homosexuality.[74][75] As an experience of being born with sex characteristics that do not fit social norms,[78] intersex can be distinguished from transgender,[79][80][81] while some intersex people are both intersex and transgender.[82]

2010 pride parade in Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires, which uses the LGBTIQ initialism.[33]

Criticism of the term

The initialisms LGBT or GLBT are not agreed to by everyone that they encompass.[84] For example, some argue that transgender and transsexual causes are not the same as that of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people.[85] This argument centers on the idea that being transgender or transsexual have to do more with gender identity, or a person’s understanding of being or not being a man or a woman irrespective of their sexual orientation.[24] LGB issues can be seen as a matter of sexual orientation or attraction.[24]These distinctions have been made in the context of political action in which LGB goals, such as same-sex marriage legislation and human rights work (which may not include transgender and intersex people), may be perceived to differ from transgender and transsexual goals.[24]

A belief in “lesbian & gay separatism” (not to be confused with the related “lesbian separatism“), holds that lesbians and gay men form (or should form) a community distinct and separate from other groups normally included in the LGBTQ sphere.[86] While not always appearing of sufficient number or organization to be called a movement, separatists are a significant, vocal, and active element within many parts of the LGBT community.[87][86][88] In some cases separatists will deny the existence or right to equality of bisexual orientations and of transsexuality,[87] sometimes leading public biphobia and transphobia.[87][86] In contrasts to separatists, Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage! argues that to separate the transgender movement from the LGB would be “political madness”, stating that: 

Queers are, like transgender people, gender deviant. We don’t conform to traditional heterosexist assumptions of male and female behaviour, in that we have sexual and emotional relationships with the same sex. We should celebrate our discordance with mainstream straight norms.[…] [89]

The portrayal of an all-encompassing “LGBT community” or “LGB community” is also disliked by some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.[90][91] Some do not subscribe to or approve of the political and social solidarity, and visibility and human rights campaigning that normally goes with it including gay pride marches and events.[90][91] Some of them believe that grouping together people with non-heterosexual orientations perpetuates the myth that being gay/lesbian/bi/asexual/pansexual/etc. makes a person deficiently different from other people.[90] These people are often less visible compared to more mainstream gay or LGBT activists.[90][91] Since this faction is difficult to distinguish from the heterosexual majority, it is common for people to assume all LGBT people support LGBT liberation and the visibility of LGBT people in society, including the right to live one’s life in a different way from the majority.[90][91][92] In the 1996 book Anti-Gay, a collection of essays edited by Mark Simpson, the concept of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ identity based on LGBT stereotypes is criticized for suppressing the individuality of LGBT people.[93]

Writing in the BBC News Magazine in 2014, Julie Bindel questions whether the various gender groupings now, “bracketed together” … “share the same issues, values and goals?” Bindel refers to a number of possible new initialisms for differing combinations and concludes that it may be time for the alliances to be reformed or finally go “our separate ways”. In 2015, the slogan “Drop the T” was coined to encourage LGBT organizations to stop support of transgender people; while receiving some support from feminists as well as transgender individuals, the campaign has been widely condemned by many LGBT groups as transphobic.

Alternative terms

Many people have looked for a generic term to replace the numerous existing initialisms.[87] Words such as queer (an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual, or gender-binary) and rainbow have been tried, but most have not been widely adopted.[87][102] Queer has many negative connotations to older people who remember the word as a taunt and insult and such (negative) usage of the term continues.[87][102] Many younger people also understand queer to be more politically charged than LGBT.[102][103] “Rainbow” has connotations that recall hippies, New Age movements, and groups such as the Rainbow Family or Jesse Jackson‘s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. SGL (“same gender loving“) is sometimes favored among gay male African Americans as a way of distinguishing themselves from what they regard as white-dominated LGBT communities.[104]

Some people advocate the term “minority sexual and gender identities” (MSGI, coined in 2000), or gender and sexual/sexuality minorities (GSM), so as to explicitly include all people who are not cisgender and heterosexual; or gender, sexual, and romantic minorities (GSRM), which is more explicitly inclusive of minority romantic orientations and polyamory; but those have not been widely adopted either.[105][106][107][108][109] Other rare umbrella terms are Gender and Sexual Diversities (GSD),[110] MOGII (Marginalized Orientations, Gender Identities, and Intersex) and MOGAI (Marginalized Orientations, Gender Alignments and Intersex).[111][112]

The National Institutes of Health have framed LGBT, others “whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity varies, those who may not self-identify as LGBT” and also intersex populations (as persons with disorders of sex development) as “sexual and gender minority” (SGM) populations. This has led to the development of an NIH SGM Health Research Strategic Plan.[113] The Williams Institute has used the same term in a report on an international sustainable development goals, but excluding intersex populations.[114]

In public health settings, MSM (“men who have sex with men“) is clinically used to describe men who have sex with other men without referring to their sexual orientation, with WSW (“women who have sex with women“) also used as an analogous term.[115][116]

References

     Julia Goicichea (August 16, 2017). “Why New York City Is a Major Destination for LGBT Travelers”. The Culture Trip. Retrieved February 2, 2019.

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  • Gay History: Why Be LGBT When You Can Be LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA? The story of an escalating acronym

    Enrolling at Parsons College in New York the other day, a friend was asked to state her name, subject and PGPs. Her what? Her preferred gender pronouns. In other words, did she want to be referred to as ‘she’ and ‘her’, or ‘he’ and ‘him’, or ‘it’, or ‘they’, or none of the above, and was she a Mr, Miss, or Mx? If she wasn’t sure, a support group was on hand to help, called the LGBTQIAGNC. There was no need — she said her name was Clare and ‘she’ would do fine. And the rest of the class? ‘No one stated a PGP other than the obvious,’ she reports, ‘although we do have a large LGBT community.’

    Your reaction to that story might be to think how marvellously inclusive Parsons is — an institution so evolved that people can live gender-neutral lives without prejudice. Or it may be to ask: what on earth does LGBTQIAGNC stand for? And to wonder whether some people in the gay rights movement haven’t veered off course. As one activist sighed when I asked if he could spell out the acronym, ‘Matthew, there are so many letters now that nobody can keep up.’

    A little light googling reveals that it stands for ‘Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual and gender-non-conforming’. Go a little deeper and you discover that there are dozens of different acronyms, and that nobody can agree on what the official one should be. Well, how do you find a name for individuals who are united by being different? Other terms being tacked on to the LGBT movement include ‘questioning’, ‘pansexual’, ‘ally’ or ‘allied’, ‘straight’, ‘leather’ and ‘fetish’, though nobody has found a way of stringing them together to make a snappy word, which I always thought was the point of an acronym. Someone did come up with ‘Quiltbag’, though perhaps understandably, it hasn’t caught on. A more sensible suggestion is ‘Glow’ — ‘gay, lesbian or whatever’.

    Peter Tatchell, who has done more for gay rights than almost anyone, is bewildered by the proliferation of incomprehensible acronyms. ‘It’s great to be inclusive,’ he says, ‘but the new alphabet soup is a confusing and alienating mess — made even worse when people get into spats over missing initials or the inclusion of initials they disagree with. The longest I’ve ever seen is LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA. This is absurd. It makes us a laughing stock and devalues serious issues around sexuality and gender.’

    The problem seems to be that the western world is only just coming to terms with transgenderism. For even the most enlightened liberal, the idea that we are anything other than just men and women is unfamiliar territory. Perhaps that’s because incidence of intersexuality is rare. Accurate figures are hard to come by, though the Intersex Society of North America puts the number of people born with neither XX nor XY chromosomes at one in 1,666. Is that really enough to merit institutions asking for our PGPs? Or for the Whitney Museum to install gender-neutral toilets, in addition to male and female ones? Or for some British schools to insist that teachers no longer address classes as ‘boys and girls’, for fear of offence?

    This might all sound silly — and the rush to take offence does undermine the LGBT movement. But surely it is important to create a society in which trans people can live without fear and prejudice? According to Stonewall, nearly half of trans people under 26 have attempted suicide. That perhaps puts a few odd pronouns into perspective.

    Personally, I wonder if the trans movement isn’t now at the beginning of an arc that gay rights and anti-racist campaigns were at a generation ago. In the 1950s, we prosecuted Alan Turing for homosexual acts but now recognise this as such a terrible injustice that he has been given a posthumous royal pardon. In the 1970s, we used to laugh at racist jokes in Rising Damp – now they appal us. I still doubt that, in 50 years’ time, terms like Mx will have caught on. But by then, it will perhaps be entirely irrelevant what gender or sexuality you are, and we’ll look back on the PGP as a relic of a long-gone fretful age.

    There is now a K in LGBTQQICAPF2K+

    This is a new one for us but welcome the Ks

    There is now a K to add to the ever-growing LGBT+ acronym – and apparently, it stands for “kink”. The acronym which has grown since the 90s, out of a need to move away from the limiting “gay community” adds letters to encompass any community that defines itself as anything but heterosexual or cisgender.

    The LGBT initialism was coined in the late 80s / early 90s.

    So what do all the letters mean?

    L – lesbian

    G – gay

    B – bisexual

    T – transgender

    Q – queer

    Q – questioning

    I – intersex

    A – asexual

    A – agender

    A – ally

    C – curious

    P – pansexual

    P – polysexual

    F – friends and family

    2 – two-spirit

    K – kink

    However, the addition of the K has been met with some reservation from many on the question website, Quora. Users were quick to dismiss Kink as part of the LGBT+ community.

    Sarah remarked, “Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t believe that fetishes belong in the same acronym as sexualities and gender identity”.

    While Caitlin added, “However, I and others believe that it shouldn’t be included in the acronym. Kink is not inherently non-cis or non-straight, and including it can feed into the stereotype of queer people being “sexual deviants”. BDSM is fine in a community of its own but it’s strange and unnecessary to include it with sexual orientations and gender identities”.

    John wrote, “I’m gay, and I do not and will not use this silly LGBTQLAPK sh*t. They keep adding a silly letter for inclusion. You are just labelling yourselves, and that is a silly thing to do.”

    References

    Gay History: The Queer Nation Manifesto

    Text of a manifesto originally passed out by people marching with the ACT UP contingent in the New York Gay Pride Day parade, 1990.

    How can I tell you. How can I convince you, brother; sister that your life is in danger. That everyday you wake up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being, you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and functioning queer are a revolutionary. There is nothing on this planet that validates, protects or encourages your existence. It is a miracle you are standing here reading these words. You should by all rights be dead.

     Don’t be fooled, straight people own the world and the only reason you have been spared is you’re smart, lucky, or a fighter. Straight people have a privilege that allows them to do whatever they please and f— without fear. But not only do they live a life free of fear; they flaunt their freedom in my face. Their images are on my TV, in the magazine I bought, in the restaurant I want to eat in, and on the street where I live. I want there to be a moratorium on straight marriage, on babies, on public displays of affection among the opposite sex and media images that promote heterosexuality. Until I can enjoy the same freedom of movement and sexuality, as straights, their privilege must stop and it must be given over to me and my queer sisters and brothers.

     Straight people will not do this voluntarily and so they must be forced into it. Straights must be frightened into it. Terrorized into it. Fear is the most powerful motivator. No one will give us what we deserve. Rights are not given they are taken, by force if necessary.

     It is easier to fight when you know who your enemy is. Straight people are you enemy. They are your enemy when they don’t acknowledge your invisibility and continue to live in and contribute to a culture that kills you.

     Every day one of us is taken by the enemy. Whether it is an AIDS death due to homophobic government inaction or a lesbian bashing in an all-night diner (in a supposedly lesbian neighborhood), we are being systematically picked off and we will continue to be wiped out unless we realize that if they take one of us they must take all of us.

    An Army of Lovers Cannot Lose

    Being queer is not about a right to privacy; it is about the freedom to be public, to just be who we are. It means everyday fighting oppression; homophobia, racism, misogyny, the bigotry of religious hypocrites and our own self-hatred. (We have been carefully taught to hate ourselves.) And now of course it means fighting a virus as well, and all those homo-haters who are using AIDS to wipe us off the face of the earth.

     Being queer means leading a different sort of life. It’s not about the mainstream, profit-margins, patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It’s not about executive directors, privilege and elitism. It’s about being on the margins, defining ourselves; it’s about gender-f— and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside the heart; it’s about the night. Being queer is “grass roots” because we know that everyone of us, every body, every c—, every heart and a– and d— is a world of pleasure waiting to be explored. Everyone of us is a world of infinite possibility.

     We are an army because we have to be. We are an army because we are so powerful. (We have so much to fight for; we are the most precious of endangered species.) And we are an army of lovers because it is we who know what love is. Desire and lust, too. We invented them. We come out of the closet, face the rejection of society, face firing squads, just to love each other! Every time we f—, we win.

     We must fight for ourselves (no else is going to do it) and if in that process we bring greater freedom to the world at large then great. (We’ve given so much to that world: democracy, all the arts, the concepts of love, philosophy and the soul, to name just a few of the gifts from our ancient Greek Dykes, Fags.) Let’s make every space a Lesbian and Gay space. Every street a part of our sexual geography. A city of yearning and then total satisfaction. A city and a country where we can be safe and free and more. We must look at our lives and see what’s best in them, see what is queer and what is straight and let that straight chaff fall away! Remember there is so, so little time. And I want to be a lover of each and every one of you. Next year, we march naked.

    I’m Angry

    The strong sisters told the brothers that there were two important things to remember about the coming revolutions. The first is that we will get our a–es kicked. The second is that we will win.

     I’m angry. I’m angry for being condemned to death by strangers saying, “You deserve to die” and “AIDS is the cure.” Fury erupts when a Republican woman wearing thousands of dollars of garments and jewelry minces by the police lines shaking her head, chuckling and wagging her finger at us like we are recalcitrant children making absurd demands and throwing a temper tantrum when they aren’t met. Angry while Joseph agonizes over $8,000 a year for AZT which might keep him alive a little longer and which does make him sicker than the disease he is diagnosed with. Angry as I listen to a man tell me that after changing his will five times he’s running out of people to leave things to. All of his best friends are dead. Angry when I stand in a sea of quilt panels, or go to a candlelight march or attend yet another memorial service. I will not march silently with a f—ing candle and I want to take that goddamned quilt and wrap myself in it and furiously rent it and my hair and curse every god religion ever created. I refuse to accept a creation that cuts people down in the third decade of their life. It is cruel and vile and meaningless and everything I have in me rails against the absurdity and I raise my face to the clouds and a ragged laugh that sounds more demonic than joyous erupts from my throat and tears stream down my face and if this disease doesn’t kill me, I may just die of frustration. My feet pound the streets and Peter’s hands are chained to a pharmaceutical company’s reception desk while the receptionist looks on in horror and Eric’s body lies rotting in a Brooklyn cemetery and I’ll never hear his flute resounding off the walls of the meeting house again. And I see the old people in Tompkins Square Park huddled in their long wool coats in June to keep out the cold they perceive is there and to cling to whatever little life has left to offer them, and I think, ah, they understand. And I’m reminded of the people who strip and stand before a mirror each night before they go to bed and search their bodies for any mark that might not have been there yesterday. A mark that this scourge has visited them. And I’m angry when the newspapers call us “victims” and sound alarms that “it” might soon spread to the “general population.” And I want to scream “Who the f— am I?” And I want to scream at New York Hospital with its yellow plastic bags marked “isolation linen,” “ropa infecciosa” and its orderlies in latex gloves and surgical masks skirt the bed as if its occupant will suddenly leap out and douse them with blood and semen giving them too the plague. And I’m angry at straight people who sit smugly wrapped in their self-protective coat of monogamy and heterosexuality confident that this disease has nothing to do with them because it only happens to “them.” And the teenage boys who upon spotting my “Silence = Death” button begin chanting “Faggots gonna die” and I wonder, who taught them this? Enveloped in fury and fear, I remain silent while my button mocks me every step of the way. And the anger I feel when a television program on the quilt gives profiles of the dead and the list begins with a baby, a teenage girl who got a blood transfusion, an elderly Baptist minister and his wife and when they finally show a gay man, he’s described as someone who knowingly infected teenage male prostitutes with the virus. What else can you expect from a faggot? I’m angry.

    [Untitled]

    Since time began, the world has been inspired by the work of queer artists. In exchange, there has been suffering, there has been pain, there has been violence. Throughout history, society has struck a bargain with its queer citizens: they must pursue creative careers, if they do so discreetly. Through the arts queers are productive, lucrative, entertaining and even uplifting. These are the clear-cut and useful by-products of what is otherwise considered anti-social behavior. In cultured circles, queers may quietly coexist with an otherwise disapproving power elite.

     At the forefront of the most recent campaign to bash queer artists is Jesse Helms, arbiter of all that is decent, moral, christian and amerikan. For Helms, queer art is quite simply a threat to the world. In his imaginings, heterosexual culture is too fragile to bear up to the admission of human or sexual diversity. Quite simply, the structure of power in the Judeo-Christian world has made procreation its cornerstone. Families having children assures consumers for the nation’s products and a work force to produce them, as well as a built-in family system to care for its ill, reducing the expense of public healthcare systems. All non-procreative behavior is considered a threat, from homosexuality to birth control to abortion as an option. It is not enough, according to the religious right, to consistently advertise procreation and heterosexuality … it is also necessary to destroy any alternatives. It is not art Helms is after … It is our lives! Art is the last safe place for lesbians and gay men to thrive. Helms knows this, and has developed a program to purge queers from the one arena they have been permitted to contribute to our shared culture.

     Helms is advocating a world free from diversity or dissent. It is easy to imagine why that might feel more comfortable to those in charge of such a world. It is also easy to envision an amerikan landscape flattened by such power. Helms should just ask for what he is hinting at: State sponsored art, art of totalitarianism, art that speaks only in christian terms, art which supports the goals of those in power, art that matches the sofas in the Oval Office. Ask for what you want, Jesse, so that men and women of conscience can mobilize against it, as we do against the human rights violations of other countries, and fight to free our own country’s dissidents.

    If You’re Queer, Shout It!

    Queers are under siege.

     Queers are being attacked on all fronts and I’m afraid it’s ok with us.

    In 1969, Queers, were attacked. It wasn’t ok. Queers fought back, took the streets.

    Shouted

    In 1990, there were 50 “Queer Bashings” in the month of May alone. Violent attacks. 3,720 men, women and children died of AIDS in the same month, caused by a more violent attack – government inaction, rooted in society’s growing homophobia. This is institutionalized homophobia, perhaps more dangerous to the existence of queers because the attackers are faceless. We allow these attacks by our own continued lack of action against them. AIDS has affected the straight world and now they’re blaming us for AIDS and using it as a way to justify their violence against us. They don’t want us anymore. They will beat us, rape us and kill us before they will continue to live with us. What will it take for This not to be ok? Feel some rage. If rage doesn’t empower you, try fear. If that doesn’t work try panic.

    Shout It! 

    Be proud. Do whatever you need to do to tear yourself away from your customary state of acceptance. Be free. Shout.

     In 1969, Queers fought back. In 1990, Queers say ok.

    Next year, will we be here?

    [Untitled]

    I hate Jesse Helms. I hate Jesse Helms so much I’d rejoice if he dropped down dead. If someone killed him I’d consider it his own fault.

     I hate Ronald Reagan, too, because he mass-murdered my people for eight years. But to be honest, I hate him even more for eulogizing Ryan White without first admitting his guilt, without begging forgiveness for Ryan’s death and for the deaths of tens of thousands of other PWA’s – most of them queer. I hate him for making a mockery of our grief.

     I hate the f—ing Pope, and I hate John f—ing Cardinal O’Connor, and I hate the whole f—ing Catholic Church. The same goes for the Military, and especially for Amerika’s Law Enforcement Officials – the cops – state sanctioned sadists who brutalize street transvestites, prostitutes and queer prisoners. I also hate the medical and mental health establishments, particularly the psychiatrist who convinced me not to have sex with men for three years until we (meaning he) could make me bisexual rather than queer. I also hate the education profession, for its share in driving thousands of queer teens to suicide every year. I hate the “respectable” art world; and the entertainment industry, and the mainstream media, especially The New York Times. In fact, I hate every sector of the straight establishment in this country – the worst of whom actively want all queers dead, the best of whom never stick their necks out to keep us alive.

     I hate straight people who think they have anything intelligent to say about “outing.” I hate straight people who think stories about themselves are “universal” but stories about us are only about homosexuality. I hate straight recording artists who make their careers off of queer people, then attack us, then act hurt when we get angry and then deny having wronged us rather than apologize for it. I hate straight people who say, “I don’t see why you feel the need to wear those buttons and t-shirts. I don’t go around tell the whole world I’m straight.”

     I hate that in twelve years of public education I was never taught about queer people. I hate that I grew up thinking I was the only queer in the world, and I hate even more that most queer kids still grow up the same way. I hate that I was tormented by other kids for being a faggot, but more that I was taught to feel ashamed for being the object of their cruelty, taught to feel it was my fault. I hate that the Supreme Court of this country says it’s okay to criminalize me because of how I make love. I hate that so many straight people are so concerned about my goddamned sex life. I hate that so many twisted straight people become parents, while I have to fight like hell to be allowed to be a father. I hate straights.

     Where Are You Sisters?

    Invisibility is Our Responsibility

    I wear my pink triangle everywhere. I do not lower my voice in public when talking about lesbian love or sex. I always tell people I’m a lesbian. I don’t wait to be asked about my “boyfriend.” I don’t say it’s “no one’s business.”

     I don’t do this for straight people. Most of them don’t know what the pink triangle even means. Most of them couldn’t care less that my girlfriend and I are totally in love or having a fight on the street. Most of them don’t notice us no matter what we do. I do what I do to reach other lesbians. I do what I do because I don’t want lesbians to assume I’m a straight girl. I am out all the time, everywhere, because I want to reach you. Maybe you’ll notice me, maybe start talking, maybe we’ll become friends. Maybe we won’t say a word but our eyes will meet and I will imagine you naked, sweating, openmouthed, your back arched as I am f—ing you. And we’ll be happy to know we aren’t the only ones in the world. We’ll be happy because we found each other, without saying a word, maybe just for a moment.

     But no.

     You won’t wear a pink triangle on that linen lapel. You won’t meet my eyes if I flirt with you on the street. You avoid me on the job because I’m “too” out. You chastise me in bars because I’m “too political.” You ignore me in public because I bring “too much” attention to “my” lesbianism. But then you want me to be your lover, you want me to be your friend, you want me to love you, support you, fight for “our” right to exist.

    Where Are You?

    You talk, talk, talk about invisibility and then retreat to your homes to nest with your lovers or carouse in a bar with pals and stumble home in a cab or sit silently and politely by while your family, your boss, your neighbors, your public servants distort and disfigure us, deride us and punish us. Then home again and you feel like screaming. Then you pad your anger with a relationship or a career or a party with other dykes like you and still you wonder why we can’t find each other, why you feel lonely, angry, alienated.

    Get Up, Wake Up Sisters!!

    Your life is in your hands.

     When I risk it all to be out, I risk it for both of us. When I risk it all and it works (which it often does if you would try), I benefit and so do you. When it doesn’t work, I suffer and you do not.

     But girl you can’t wait for other dykes to make the world safe for you. stop waiting for a better more lesbian future! The revolution could be here if we started it.

     Where are you sisters? I’m trying to find you, I’m trying to find you. How come I only see you on Gay Pride Day?

     We’re out. Where the f— are you?

    [Untitled]

    When anyone assaults you for being queer, it is queer bashing. Right?

    A crowd of 50 people exit a gay bar as it closes. Across the street, some straight boys are shouting “Faggots” and throwing beer bottles at the gathering, which outnumbers them by 10 to 1. Three queers make a move to respond, getting no support from the group. Why did a group this size allow themselves to be sitting ducks?

     Tompkins Square Park, Labor Day. At an annual outdoor concert/drag show, a group of gay men were harassed by teens carrying sticks. In the midst of thousands of gay men and lesbians, these straight boys beat two gay men to the ground, then stood around triumphantly laughing amongst themselves. The emcee was alerted and warned the crowd from the stage, “You girls be careful. When you dress up it drives the boys crazy,” as if it were a practical joke inspired by what the victims were wearing rather than a pointed attack on anyone and everyone at that event.

    What would it have taken for that crowd to stand up to its attackers?

     After James Zappalorti, an openly gay man, was murdered in cold blood on Staten Island this winter, a single demonstration was held in protest. Only one hundred people came. When Yusef Hawkins, a black youth, was shot to death for being on “White turf” in Bensonhurst, African Americans marched through that neighborhood in large numbers again and again. A black person was killed because he was black, and people of color throughout the city recognized it and acted on it. The bullet that hit Hawkins was meant for a black man, any black man. Do most gays and lesbians think that the knife that punctured Zappalorti’s heart was meant only for him?

     The straight world has us so convinced that we are helpless and deserving victims of the violence against us, that queers are immobilized when faced with a threat. Be outraged! These attacks must not be tolerated. Do something. Recognize that any act of aggression against any member of our community is an attack on every member of the community. The more we allow homophobes to inflict violence, terror and fear on our lives, the more frequently and ferociously we will be the object of their hatred. Your body cannot be an open target for violence. Your body is worth protecting. You have a right to defend it. No matter what they tell you, your queerness must be defended and respected. You’d better learn that your life is immeasurably valuable, because unless you start believing that, it can easily be taken from you. If you know how to gently and efficiently immobilize your attacker, then by all means, do it. If you lack those skills, then think about gouging out his f—ing eyes, slamming his nose back into his brain, slashing his throat with a broken bottle – do whatever you can, whatever you have to, to save your life!

    Why Queer?

    Queer!

     Ah, do we really have to use that word? It’s trouble. Every gay person has his or her own take on it. For some it means strange and eccentric and kind of mysterious. That’s okay; we like that. But some gay girls and boys don’t. They think they’re more normal than strange. And for others “queer” conjures up those awful memories of adolescent suffering. Queer. It’s forcibly bittersweet and quaint at best – weakening and painful at worst. Couldn’t we just use “gay” instead? It’s a much brighter word. And isn’t it synonymous with “happy”? When will you militants grow up and get over the novelty of being different?

     Why Queer …

     Well, yes, “gay” is great. It has its place. But when a lot of lesbians and gay men wake up in the morning we feel angry and disgusted, not gay. So we’ve chosen to call ourselves queer. Using “queer” is a way of reminding us how we are perceived by the rest of the world. It’s a way of telling ourselves we don’t have to be witty and charming people who keep our lives discreet and marginalized in the straight world. We use queer as gay men loving lesbians and lesbians loving being queer. Queer, unlike gay, doesn’t mean male.

     And when spoken to other gays and lesbians it’s a way of suggesting we close ranks, and forget (temporarily) our individual differences because we face a more insidious common enemy. Yeah, queer can be a rough word but it is also a sly and ironic weapon we can steal from the homophobe’s hands and use against him.

    No Sex Police

    For anyone to say that coming out is not part of the revolution is missing the point. Positive sexual images and what they manifest saves lives because they affirm those lives and make it possible for people to attempt to live as self-loving instead of self-loathing. As the famous “Black is beautiful” changed many lives so does “Read my lips” affirm queerness in the face of hatred and invisibility as displayed in a recent governmental study of suicides that states at least 1/3 of all teen suicides are Queer kids. This is further exemplified by the rise in HIV transmission among those under 21.

     We are most hated as queers for our sexualness, that is, our physical contact with the same sex. Our sexuality and sexual expression are what makes us most susceptible to physical violence. Our difference, our otherness, our uniqueness can either paralyze us or politicize us. Hopefully, the majority of us will not let it kill us.

    [Untitled]

    Why in the world do we let heteros into queer clubs? Who gives a f— if they like us because we “really know how to party?” We have to in order to blow off the steam they make us feel all the time! They make out wherever they please, and take up too much room on the dance floor doing ostentatious couples dances. They wear their heterosexuality like a “Keep Out” sign, or like a deed of ownership.

     Why the f— do we tolerate them when they invade our space like it’s their right? Why do we let them shove heterosexuality – a weapon their world wields against us – right in our faces in the few public spots where we can be sexy with each other and not fear attack?

     It’s time to stop letting the straight people make all the rules. Let’s start by posting this sign outside every queer club and bar:

     – Rules of Conduct for Straight People

    1.  Keep your displays of affection (kissing, handholding, embracing) to a minimum. Your sexuality is unwanted and offensive to many here.

    2. If you must slow dance, be an inconspicuous as possible.

    3. Do not gawk or stare at lesbians or gay men, especially bull dykes or drag queens. We are not your entertainment.

    4. If you cannot comfortably deal with someone of the same sex making a pass at you, get out.

    5. Do not flaunt your heterosexuality. Be discreet. Risk being mistaken for a lezzie or a homo.

    6. If you feel these rules are unfair, go fight homophobia in straight clubs, or

    7. Go f— Yourself.

    I Hate Straights

    I have friends. Some of them are straight.

     Year after year, I see my straight friends. I want to see them, to see how they are doing, to add newness to our long and complicated histories, to experience some continuity.

     Year after year I continue to realize that the facts of my life are irrelevant to them and that I am only half listened to, that I am an appendage to the doings of a greater world, a world of power and privilege, of the laws of installation, a world of exclusion.

     “That’s not true,” argue my straight friends. There is the one certainty in the politics of power: those left out of it beg for inclusion, while the insiders claim that they already are. Men do it to women, whites do it to blacks, and everyone does it to queers.

     The main dividing line, both conscious and unconscious, is procreation … and that magic word – Family. Frequently, the ones we are born into disown us when they find out who we really are, and to make matters worse, we are prevented from having our own. We are punished, insulted, cut off, and treated like seditionaries in terms of child rearing, both damned if we try and damned if we abstain. It’s as if the propagation of the species is such a fragile directive that without enforcing it as if it were an agenda, humankind would melt back into the primeval ooze.

     I hate having to convince straight people that lesbians and gays live in a war zone, that we’re surrounded by bomb blasts only we seem to hear, that our bodies and souls are heaped high, dead from fright or bashed or raped, dying of grief or disease, stripped of our personhood.

     I hate straight people who can’t listen to queer anger without saying “hey, all straight people aren’t like that. I’m straight too, you know,” as if their egos don’t get enough stroking or protection in this arrogant, heterosexist world. Why must we take care of them, in the midst of our just anger brought on by their f—ed up society?! Why add the reassurance of “Of course, I don’t mean you. You don’t act that way.” Let them figure out for themselves whether they deserve to be included in our anger.

     But of course that would mean listening to our anger, which they almost never do. They deflect it, by saying “I’m not like that” or “now look who’s generalizing” or “You’ll catch more flies with honey … ” or “If you focus on the negative you just give out more power” or “you’re not the only one in the world who’s suffering.” They say “Don’t yell at me, I’m on your side” or “I think you’re overreacting” or “Boy, you’re bitter.”

     – Let Yourself Be Angry

     They’ve taught us that good queers don’t get mad. They’ve taught us so well that we not only hide our anger from them, we hide it from each other. We even hide it from ourselves. We hide it with substance abuse and suicide and overachieving in the hope of proving our worth. They bash us and stab us and shoot us and bomb us in ever increasing numbers and still we freak out when angry queers carry banners or signs that say Bash Back. For the last decade they let us die in droves and still we thank President Bush for planting a f—ing tree, applaud him for likening PWAs to car accident victims who refuse to wear seatbelts. Let yourself be angry. Let yourself be angry that the price for visibility is the constant threat of violence, anti-queer violence to which practically every segment of this society contributes. Let yourself feel angry that there is no place in this country where we are safe, no place where we are not targeted for hatred and attack, the self-hatred, the suicide – of the closet.

     The next time some straight person comes down on you for being angry, tell them that until things change, you don’t need any more evidence that the world turns at your expense. You don’t need to see only hetero couple grocery shopping on your TV … You don’t want any more baby pictures shoved in your face until you can have or keep your own. No more weddings, showers, anniversaries, please, unless they are our own brothers and sisters celebrating. And tell them not to dismiss you by saying “You have rights,” “You have privileges,” “You are overreacting,” or “You have a victim’s mentality.” Tell them “Go away from me, until you change.” Go away and try on a world without the brave, strong queers that are its backbone, that are its guts and brains and souls. Go tell them go away until they have spent a month walking hand in hand in public with someone of the same sex. After they survive that, then you’ll hear what they have to say about queer anger. Otherwise, tell them to shut up and listen.

    Reference

     

    Gay Men Reveal the Fetishes They Don’t Want Others to Know About

    Kinky gay men who are open and honest with partners are more likely to have better mental health

    Photo: torbakhopper / Flickr

    Gay men have revealed the fetishes they don’t want others to know about.

    XTube surveyed their users to determine and rank which fetishes they get turned most on by.

    The winner was ‘partialism’, also known as a fetish for a particular part of the body. This could be anything from feet to a hairy chest.

    Role play was second on the list, while narratophilia (or dirty talk) was third on the list.

    The answers was collected from over 3,000 gay or bisexual men over the age of 18.

    Fetishes

    Clothes often play a key part in people’s fetishes | Photo: Differio

    The full list:

    1. Partialism (9.54%)

    2. Role play (8.24%)

    3. Narratophilia [or dirty talk] (7.55%)

    4. Uniforms [firefighters, soldiers etc] (7.41%)

    5. Bondage (7.31%)

    6. Submission (7. 3%)

    7. Exhibitionism [sex in a place you can get caught] (6.28%)

    8. Voyeurism [watching others have sex] (4.7%)

    9. Maschalagnia [armpits] (3.4%)

    10. Macrophilia [someone being bigger than you] (2.79%)

    11. Olfactophilia [smells and odors] (2.52%)

    12. Clothing fetishism [leather, rubber] (2.14%)

    13. Underwear fetishism [jockstraps, etc] (2.01%)

    14. Ablutophilia [baths, showers] (1.78%)

    15. Technosexuality [robots, toys etc] (1.4%)

    16. Medical fetishism [doctors etc] (1.36%)

    17. Podophilia [feet] (1.24%)

    18. Coulrophilia [clowns] (1.11%)

    19. Sitophilia [food] (1%)

    20. Pygophilia [bums] (0.79%)

    21. Transvestophilia [wearing clothing typically worn by the opposite gender] (0.65%)

    22. Toonophilia [cartoons] (0.3%)

    Kink and mental health

    If you are kinky, psychotherapists advise to share it with your partners if you already have good communication.

    Also, some studies say people who do engage in kink are more likely to have positive mental health.

    Deborah Fields, a kink-specialist and psychotherapist, told Gay Star News: ‘[There are studies that say] people who are kinky are more likely to be ok with themselves. People who are kinky tend to have better mental health than people who are not.

    ‘It’s a hard one to judge. I see a lot of mental health issues. However, do I see any more mental health issues than those outside of the kink community. No.

    ‘I think what kinky people do is talk more. We have to talk about our shit more than someone that doesn’t. You’re negotiating consent. That community, we, are more likely to discuss things and be open about mental health upfront. The idea of being risk-aware is also including mental health.

    ‘Research says we’re quite ok. However, there’s no widespread research that has yet to look at the kink community.

    New calls for Kink to be added to LGBTI acronym

    What do you think?

    Should ‘Kink’ be a part of the LGBTI acronym? | Photo: torbakhopper and See-ming Lee / Flickr

    There are new calls for the letter ‘K’ (which stands for ‘Kink’) to join the LGBTI initialism.

    According The Gay UK, the full all-inclusive list of initials is now: LGBTQQICAAAPF2K+

    Breaking this down, the letters stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Agender, Ally, Pansexual, Polysexual, Friends and Family, Two Spirit and Kink.

    But many took to Twitter to respond with confusion to the addition of ‘k’ to the list.

    Some called out the fact kink is not a sexuality or a gender identity.

    Vonny Leclerk said: ‘There’s now a K for Kink in the LGBT+ acronym. Really? Is kinkiness now viewed as a sexual orientation?’

    Twitter user Sister Outrider wrote: ‘Just no. [It] is not a sexual orientation. People with sexual kinks do not face any structural or systematic discrimination as a result of those proclivities.’

    ‘Isn’t Pride all about celebrating who you have sex with?’

    Previous forums on the subject also discuss the appropriateness of adding kink to the acronym.

    On a previous MacRumors forum, one user wrote: ‘The queer community is already incredibly sexualized.’

    ‘One major problem I have with including kink in the LGBTQ+ community is it makes LGBTQ+ spaces inappropriate for minors. LGBTQ+ youth need safe spaces to express themselves and any struggles they may be facing as a result of their identity,’ they said.

    But then another came to kink’s defence: ‘Personally, I see the sexual aspect of gay pride parades being the participants giving the finger to the people grossed out by the sexual aspect of their relationship as if that’s the only thing it is about.’

    Then another said: ‘Isn’t Pride all about celebrating who you have sex with?’

    What do you think?

    Who watches the most kink and BDSM porn out of gay, bisexual or straight men?

    Other findings include how one in five straight men watches gay porn

    Who out of straight, bisexual and gay men is the most interested in kink?

    A new study has surveyed the porn-viewing habits of 821 gay, straight and bisexual men from across the US, and the results are very revealing.

    One in five straight men watches gay porn and 55% of gay men watches straight porn.

    Other findings included how bisexual men were far less interested in kink or BDSM than their straight or gay counterparts.

    Dr Martin J Downing, the lead researcher, was surprised to find how 21% of men, who say they only had sex with women, would watch two men having sex together on screen.

    He found sexual behavior and sexual identity seems to line up, with straight men having sex with women and (apart from a rare few) gay men having sex with men.

    Downing said this ‘identity discrepant viewing’ as ‘some level of evidence’ of fluidity in sexual attraction, at least in the habits of what porn they watch.

    Bisexual men displayed different porn-viewing habits to gay or straight men, with bis saying they watch guy-on-guy porn just as must as gay men do and watching guy-on-girl porn almost as much as straight men. They also reported watching a significant amount of ‘bisexual porn’, with two men and one woman or two women and one man.

    Downing said this proves bisexual men are not ‘watered down gays or heterosexuals’.

    ‘[Bisexual men] are more like heterosexual men in some things, and more like gay men in other things, but that’s a reflection of their own unique attractions,’ he wrote in Archives of Sexual Behavior.

    ‘They’re not identical to either group in terms of their porn viewing, which I think is really interesting for understanding bisexuality.’

    Both bi and straight men watched solo masturbation more than gay men (60% compared to less than 50%), and bi men were far less interested in porn involving BDSM or other kinks (13.7%) than straight (24.6%) or gay (27.9%). However, gay men were far more likely to watch videos involving fisting, felching or water sports.

    Reference

    Gay History: Love And Affection: Vintage Photos Of Gay And Lesbian Couples

    A couple’s photographic portrait is an affirmation of their relationship. It states for all to see: “We love each other. We care for each other. We are proud of who we are together.”

    During the Victorian era many gay and lesbian couples proudly expressed their love for each other in studio portraits. Unlike the common belief that such relationships were “the love that dare not speak its name,” as Oscar Wilde so famously described same sex attraction in his poem “Two Loves,” gays and lesbians often dared to show their love. Indeed, many gay and lesbian couples more or less lived openly together throughout their lives. This was far easier for women than for men as women were expected to live together if they were not married, or to live with the euphemistically termed “female companion.”

    Men, no historical surprises here, had their own haunts for meeting like-minded souls. In London these could be found in the “Molly houses” and gentlemen’s clubs or pick-ups haunts at Lincoln’s Inn, or St. James Park or the path on the City’s Moorfields, which was charmingly referred to as “Sodomites Walk.”

    Theaters and circuses were also well-known dens of homosexual activity—this can be traced all the way back to Elizabethan England, when male prostitutes plied their trade at theaters.

    The armed forces, in particular the Royal Navy was notorious for gay relationships—understandable with all the horny seamen looking for any port in a storm. Apparently word got around.

    It is a moot point that the change in public attitude towards homosexuality commenced with the Labouchere Amendment to the Sexual Offences Act in 1885, which “prohibited gross indecency between males.” This was the law under which Wilde was infamously prosecuted and the law that heightened discrimination against gays.

    Before that there had been the Buggery Act—against anal penetration and bestiality—which was introduced during the reign of Henry VIII. This led to numerous executions (hangings) and imprisonments. It was briefly repealed, then reinstated by Elizabeth I. However, there were few prosecutions under the act and it was repealed again in 1828—though “buggery” remained a capital offense. James Pratt and John Smith became the last two men to be executed for buggery, in 1835.

    The Labouchere Amendment outlawed homosexuality and made it more difficult for gay men to live the lives they desired. Labouchere did not include lesbians in the act as he believed drawing attention to lesbianism would only encourage sapphic desires amongst most Victorian women.

    So even when gay relationships were outlawed in England, they still thrived in open secret. In America, the sodomy laws varied from state to state. What one state tolerated or had no opinion about, another state punished. However, as with England in the Victorian era, America gay and lesbian couples would often openly express their love for each other in portrait photographs.

    This collection of beautiful, brave people gives us a small visual history of LGBT relationships from the 1860s-1960s. Many of the couples are unidentifiable, but where possible their names have been given. (Editor writes: Mild disclaimer: Of course it’s difficult to say that in all cases these photos are of gay couples.)

    Reference

    Gay History: Photos Of Same-Sex Couples From The 1880s – 1920s

    Vintage Gay Love: A Look Back At The Early Gay Pioneers in Photos

    The following is a photo tribute to gay couples from the late 19th century and first half of the 20th Century. It is a testament to the early pioneers of the LGBT movement who have made the world a more accepting and compassionate place for everyone today. It is also a reminder that homosexuality has been around since the beginning of mankind and is not something which can be legislated back into the closet.

    England, 1875

    Unknown location, 1880’s

    New York, 1900

    Unknown, Early 1900’s

    Europe, 1906

    New York, 1907

    “A friend of mine found this old photograph in a shoe box in his Grandmother’s attic. On the back was written… Aunty Mary and her “friend” Ruth, 1910. I wonder if those quotation marks imply what I think they do, by the look on their faces, I would say they do”

    Unknown, 1912

    Unknown, 1914

    Unknown Lesbian Couple, 1915

    WWI couple, England, sometime between 1914-1918

    California, 1923

    Unknown, 1925

    Unknown

    Unknown

    Unknown

    Source: Flickr / gaytwogether.com / and are the property of their owners.

    Reference

    Gay History: The Most Surprising LGBTI Stats And Facts From Around The World

    This couple spent a year collecting fascinating LGBTI data to answer every question you can dream of

    Pride in London: One couple has gathered LGBTI data from around the world to get to know the crowds better. Photo David Hudson

    My husband and I spent a year collecting LGBTI data from hundreds of surveys, polls, reports, studies and monographs.

    And the result is our new book, LGBTQ Stats: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer People by the Numbers.

    Ever wonder how many people around the globe live in countries where same-sex activity remains subject to criminal prosecution? Or how many trans people have been elected to public office? What relationship style lesbians prefer? Which US state was the first to elect an openly bisexual governor? Or what the top-grossing films are with LGBTQ content?

    We answer these and about 1,000 other questions.

    Noted economist and professor MV Lee Badgett, of The Williams Institute, says the book is ‘the most comprehensive portrait of LGBTQ life around.’

    There are plenty of surprising facts and eye-opening figures.

    My husband David Deschamps explains: ‘I was especially struck by the change in attitudes among young people. There has been a huge generational shift in a remarkably short span of time – from revulsion and derision to acceptance and marked casualness.’

    Here is some of the most interesting LGBTI data, stats and facts we found:

    Shifting attitudes

    In 1994, 51% of college freshmen in the US believed lesbians and gay men should try to be heterosexual. Today, an astonishing 31% of 18- to 29-year-olds in the US and a whopping 49% of 18- to 24-year-olds in the UK describe themselves as ‘not 100% heterosexual’.

    In 1985, 24% of Americans said they personally knew a lesbian or gay person. By 2015, that number had risen to 88%.

    LGBTIs and the law

    There is no country on earth in which LGBTI citizens enjoy the same legal rights that their heterosexual counterparts take for granted.

    More than 2.7 billion people live in countries where being LGBTI is punishable by imprisonment, violence, or death.

    The UN Security Council’s first meeting dedicated to addressing the persecution of LGBTI people took place In August 2015.

    73 countries and 5 entities imprison consenting adults for homosexual acts. In 45 of these nations, the law is applied to women as well as men. In 14 countries, including Uganda and India, the potential penalty for engaging in same-sex activity is life in prison.

    France became the first European country to decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults of the same gender in 1791. The following countries repealed sodomy laws in the years indicated:

    • Brazil in 1830.
    • Mexico in 1871.
    • Russia in 1917 (recriminalized in 1933 and decriminalized in 1993).
    • Poland in 1932.
    • Switzerland in 1942.
    • England in 1967 (partial decriminalization); gay men achieved full decriminalization in 2003.
    • Spain in 1979.
    • All of Australia in 1997.
    • All of the US in 2003.

    Homosexuality remains a crime in 37 of the 52 nations that make up the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth).

    North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam have never had Western-style sodomy laws.

    Japan holds the distinction of having one of the shortest-lived sodomy laws in the world. The statute was in place from 1873 to 1883. Samurai warriors, who had a long tradition of same-sex relations, mounted strong opposition to the law and helped to get it repealed.

    South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution of 1996 was the first in the world to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    Lesbian, gay and bi people in the armed forces

    LGB people can serve openly in the military in 49 countries, including Albania, Germany, Israel, Japan, and Thailand. Two additional countries, Mexico and South Korea, don’t ban LGB people from serving in the military, but they are often harassed and/or discharged.

    Transgender people can serve in the military in 19 countries, including Australia, Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

    Shocking HIV stats

    Globally, trans women are 49 times more likely to have HIV than other adults of reproductive age.

    As a result of homophobic laws, lack of sex education, and the absence of needle-exchange programs, the size of Russia’s HIV-infected population nearly doubled between 2010 (when it stood at 500,000) and 2015 (when it reached 930,000).

    The AIDS Memorial Quilt was first unveiled at the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on 11 October 1987. It is composed of more than 48,000 panels. Each panel is a tribute to someone who has died of an AIDS-related illness. It is the largest piece of folk art in the world. The quilt covers 1.3 million square feet (or about 50 miles or 80 kilometers) and weighs more than 54 tons. More than 14 million people have seen it at thousands of displays worldwide. It was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

    Lesbian and gay prime ministers

    Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
    became Iceland’s first female prime minister — and the world’s first openly lesbian head of government — on February 1, 2009. She served until 2013. There have been three other openly LGBT heads of state:

    • Elio Di Rupo, prime minister of Belgium from 2011 to 2014.
    • Xavier Bettel, prime minister of Luxembourg from 2013 to the present.
    • Leo Varadkar, who at 38 made history in 2017 by becoming Ireland’s youngest and first openly gay prime minister.

    The first bisexual governor and trans politicians

    On February 18, 2015, Kate Brown became the first openly bisexual governor in American history. Brown was sworn in as Oregon’s governor following the resignation of her predecessor. She became the first openly bisexual person to be elected governor in the US after her victory in a 2016 special election.

    According to a Washington Post analysis published in December 2015:

    • Since 1977, 139 transgender candidates have run for more than 200 races in 31 countries.
    • 52 transgender candidates were elected.
    • Nearly 90 percent of these candidates were trans women.
    • As of December 2015, 20 transgender elected officials were in office.

    The ‘gay happiness index’ winners are…

    In a 2015 study of 115,000 of its members, Planet Romeo – an international social network for GBT men – created a ‘gay happiness index’. It had three criteria:

    • How do gay men feel about society’s view of homosexuality?
    • How do gay men experience the way other people treat them?
    • Are gay men satisfied with their lives, and do they accept themselves?

    Based on these criteria, of the 127 countries rated, the top nations in the gay happiness index were:

    1 Iceland
    2 Norway
    3 Denmark
    4 Sweden
    5 Uruguay
    6 Canada
    7 Israel
    8 Netherlands
    (The UK ranked 23rd and the US ranked 26th.)

    The lowest-ranked nations (in descending order) were:

    8 Cameroon
    7 Iran
    6 Nigeria
    5 Iraq
    4 Kyrgyzstan
    3 Ethiopia
    2 Sudan
    1 Uganda

    What kind of relationship do lesbian and bi women want?

    Lesbian website Autostraddle asked 8,566 self-selected lesbian, bisexual, and trans women about their preferred relationship style in a 2015 survey:

    • 61.7% of respondents chose monogamy.
    • 22% chose ‘mostly monogamy’ – which, in the words of the survey authors, ‘means many different things to many different people’.
    • 6% chose an open relationship.
    • 5.3% chose polyamory.
    • 1.4% chose ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. That means partners are free to do whatever they want with whomever they want as long as it doesn’t become known to the other partner.
    • 0.58% chose polyfidelity. If you are in a relationship with more than one other person and you are all emotionally and sexually faithful to each other.
    • 0.39% chose triad — a closed relationship that involves three people, also called a ‘thruple’.

    Where are all the LGBTI families?

    The US states with the highest proportion of same-sex couples raising children are:

    • Mississippi – 26%
    • Wyoming – 25%
    • Alaska – 23%
      What LGBTI films are box office hits?

    Two LGBTI-themed films share the title of winning the most Oscars. This year Moonlight won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. And in 2006 Brokeback Mountain won Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Score. The Academy also nominated Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture but it missed out.

    At $83,043,761
    in US earnings, Brokeback ranks as the fourth-highest-grossing LGBTI film. The Birdcage is first ($124,060,553), Interview with a Vampire comes second ($105,264,608), and The Imitation Game is third ($91,125,683). To date, Moonlight has grossed $27,854,932.

    Which city in the world has the biggest Pride?

    According to estimates from organizers, police, and media accounts, the largest LGBTI Pride events, calculated by the number of attendees, include:

    1 São Paulo Pride Parade (2006) – 3 million people.
    2 Madrid Europride Festival (2007) – 2.3 million.
    3 New York City Pride Parade (2016) – 2 million.
    4 San Francisco Pride Parade (2014) – 1.7 million.
    5 New York City Pride Parade (2015) – 1.6 million.
    6 Cologne Europride Parade (2002) – 1.4 million.
    7 Toronto Pride Festival (2012) – 1.2 million.
    8 Madrid National Pride (2012) – 1.2 million

    And some ‘firsts’ from LGBTI history

    Dr Magnus Hirschfeld founded the first ‘homosexual emancipation organization’ on 15 May 1897. It was called the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee and was in Berlin.

    The first formally organized LGBTI movement group in the United States was the Society for Human Rights in Illinois in 1924. A few months after its founding, the group ceased to exist in the wake of several members’ arrests.

    According to historian Susan Stryker, ‘the first known incident of collective militant queer resistance to police harassment in US history’ took place in August 1966. Transgender people staged a rebellion outside Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district to protest mistreatment and abuse by the police.

    A world of LGBTI data

    LGBTQ Stats: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer People by the Numbers is published by The New Press. Husband-and-husband team of David Deschamps and Bennett Singer are the authors

    Reference

    Gay History: When Gay Marriage Was A Rite

    Gay marriage does not lead to polygamy according to 6000 years of human history. In countries where polygamy is legal, marriage for gays is often illegal. In countries where same-sex marriage is legal, polygamy is illegal.

    St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai.

    A Long Tradition Of Gay Marriage

    As churches struggle with the issue of homosexuality, a long tradition of same sex marriage indicates that the Christian attitude toward same sex unions may not always have been as “straight” as is now suggested. A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine’s monastery on Mt. Sinai.

    It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman pronubus (best man) overseeing what in a standard Roman icon would be the wedding of a husband and wife. In the icon, Christ is the pronubus. Only one thing is unusual. The husband and wife are in fact two men.

    St. Serge and St. Bacchus

    Is the icon suggesting that a
    homosexual or same sex marriage 
    is one sanctified by Christ?

    The very idea seems initially shocking. The full answer comes from other sources about the two men featured, St. Serge and St. Bacchus, two Roman soldiers who became Christian martyrs.

    While the pairing of saints, particularly in the early church, was not unusual, the association of these two men was regarded as particularly close. Severus of Antioch in the sixth century explained that “we should not separate in speech [Serge and Bacchus] who were joined in life.” More bluntly, in the definitive 10th century Greek account of their lives, St. Serge is openly described as the “sweet companion and lover” of St. Bacchus.

    In other words, it confirms what the earlier icon implies, that they were a homosexual couple who enjoyed a celebrated gay marriage. Their orientation and relationship was openly accepted by early Christian writers. Furthermore, in an image that to some modern Christian eyes might border on blasphemy, the icon has Christ himself as their pronubus, their best man overseeing their gay marriage.

    Professor John Boswell’s Startling Discovery

    The very idea of a Christian gay marriage seems incredible. Yet after a twelve year search of Catholic and Orthodox church archives Yale history professor John Boswell has discovered that a type of Christian gay marriage did exist as late as the 18th century.

    Contrary to myth, Christianity’s concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has evolved as a concept and as a ritual.

    St. Serge and St. Bacchus, a partnered gay couple

    Professor Boswell discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient church liturgical documents (and clearly separate from other types of non-marital blessings of adopted children or land) were ceremonies called, among other titles, the “Office of Same Sex Union (10th and 11th century Greek) or the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century). That certainly sounds like gay marriage.

    John Boswell

    earned the Ph.D. in History from Harvard University in 1975. He became a full professor at Yale University in 1982. Boswell was conversant in 17 languages.

    The ceremonies Boswell describes had all the contemporary 
    symbols of a marriage.

    1 A community gathered in a church

    2 A blessing of the couple before the altar

    3 Their right hands joined as at heterosexual marriages

    4 The participation of a priest

    5 The taking of the Eucharist

    6 A wedding banquet afterwards

    All of these are shown in contemporary drawings of the same sex union of Byzantine Emperor Basil I (867-886) and his companion John. Such homosexual unions also took place in Ireland in the late 12th to early 13th century, as the chronicler Gerald of Wales (Geraldus Cambrensis) has recorded.

    One Greek 13th century “Order for Solemnization of Same Sex Union,” having invoked St. Serge and St. Bacchus, called on God to “vouchsafe unto these Thy servants grace to love another and to abide unhated and not cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God and all Thy saints.” The ceremony concludes: “And they shall kiss the Holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded.”

    Another 14th century Serbian Slavonic “Office of the Same Sex Union,” uniting two men or two women, had the couple having their right hands laid on the Gospel while having a cross placed in their left hands. Having kissed the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion.

    Ancient marriage records can be found in libraries across Europe.

    Boswell found records of same sex unions in such diverse archives as those in the Vatican, in St. Petersburg, in Paris, Istanbul, and in Sinai, covering a period from the 8th to 18th centuries. Nor is he the first to make such a discovery. The Dominican Jacques Goar (1601-1653) includes such ceremonies in a printed collection of Greek prayer books.

    While homosexuality was technically illegal from late Roman times, it was only from about the 14th century that anti-homosexual feelings swept western Europe. Yet same sex unions continued to take place.

    St. John Lateran Church, Rome

    At St. John Lateran in Rome (traditionally the Pope’s parish church) in 1578, as many as 13 couples were “married” at Mass with the apparent cooperation of the local clergy, “taking communion together, using the same nuptial Scripture, after which they slept and ate together,” according to a contemporary report.

    Gay people have partnered for thousands of years

    Another woman to woman union is recorded in Dalmatia in the 18th century. Many questionable historical claims about the church have been made by some recent writers in The Irish Times newspaper.

    Boswell’s academic study however is so well researched and sourced as to pose fundamental questions for both modern church leaders and heterosexual Christians concerning their attitude toward homosexuality.

    For the Church to ignore the evidence in its own archives would be a cowardly cop-out. The evidence shows convincingly that what the modern church claims has been its constant unchanging attitude towards homosexuality is in fact nothing of the sort.

    It proves that for much of the last two millennia, in parish churches and cathedrals throughout Christendom from Ireland to Istanbul and in the heart of Rome itself, homosexual relationships were accepted as valid expressions of a God-given ability to love and commit to another person, a love that could be celebrated, honoured and blessed both in the name of and through the Eucharist in the presence of Jesus Christ.

    Either we’re all equal under the law or we’re not equal.

    Gay Marriages really are about equal rights and civil rights.

    Everyone should have the right to get married and enjoy the legal protections for their committed faithful partnership which only legal marriage provides.

    This Gay Marriage article, originally published on August 11, 1998 is reprinted from The Irish Times, by permission of its author, Jim Duffy of Dublin, Ireland. Photos and Links added by Rick Brentlinger to illustrate the text.

    Jim Duffy is an Irish political reporter, commentator and researcher.

    Reference

    Gay History: Born Free, Killed By Hate – The Price Of Being Gay In South Africa

    Betty Melamu is still waiting.

    She prays that one day she will face the people who killed her daughter and find out why they did it.

    “I want to know, that’s the point,” she says. “I want those who did this thing to my child to be arrested, all of them.”

    Almost 4 months after Pasca was murdered, no-one has been arrested.

    For many LGBTI people and their families in South Africa, safety, justice, and the promise of a truly rainbow nation still feel a long way off.

    South Africa’s constitution was the first in the world to protect people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation. The country was also the first in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage. But after a spate of murders, gay people say more needs to be done to stop hate crimes.

    Betty Melamu sits on a brown leather sofa in her living room in the township of Evaton, just south of Johannesburg. She’s cradling a framed picture of her daughter Motshidisi Pascalina, known as Pasca.

    In a quiet, wavering voice, she sings Pasca’s favourite song.

    “Whenever she would listen to radio or go to church she would sing that song,” she remembers.

    When I ask if Pasca was a good singer she says, “Yes,” and laughs – apparently Pasca was more spirited than talented, constantly switching between parts as she sang.

    She loved football too, studied hard at school and wanted to be a politician.

    “She wanted to do something good,” says Melamu with pride.

    But the laughter and happy memories are fleeting, and sadness is etched in her thin, drawn face. Pasca was a lesbian, something her family knew and accepted. She had just turned 21 and completed her final high school exams when she went to a party in December.

    “I don’t know what happened after the party,” says Melamu. “But she didn’t come back.”

    Two days later Pasca’s body was found in a field in a neighbouring township. She had been beaten and mutilated. At the morgue her family couldn’t recognise her face and could only identify her by a tattoo on her leg.

    “At that time I was strong,” Melamu remembers. “But after that I feel like I am crazy woman.”

    And as we talk, she repeats one question, over and over.

    “Why? Why did this happen to my child?”

    Pasca was was born in 1994, the year apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela was elected president – she was one of the first of South Africa’s so-called born free generation.

    In his inauguration speech, Mandela promised to “build a society in which all South Africans will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts… a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”

    But 21 years later, this promise remains largely unfulfilled for the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

    In a country where crime rates in general are high, black lesbians in poor townships face particular risks and often suffer the most violent crimes.

    As women, they’re vulnerable in a country with one of the highest rates of rape in the world. As lesbians in an often homophobic and patriarchal society, they face a further danger – the idea that they can be “changed” and “made into women” through what is known as “corrective rape”.

    It’s suspected this may have happened to Pasca, although the post-mortem was unable to determine this.

    And when crimes happen, there’s no guarantee that the response will be adequate. Victims say they often face secondary harassment by police or health care workers.

    Pasca’s case was assigned to a police officer who was on leave at the time, only returning to work two and a half weeks later.

    Frustrated at the delay in this and two other rape cases, in January activists took to the streets of Evaton with rainbow flags and banners. Chanting “Pasca is our sister,” they marched to the local police station to demand justice.

    “The police are not doing anything,” Lindiwe Nhlapo told me several weeks later. She’s part of Vaal LGBTI, one of the groups that organised the march. “The police are failing us big time.”

    Since then, the police have tried to address concerns about the investigation into Pasca’s death, but frustration with the justice system is a common story.

    Lindiwe Nhlapo wants justice for Pasca

    In the nearby township of KwaThema, silver drapes and rainbow flags adorn the living room of the small house that’s the headquarters of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC).

    There’s also a bar down one end and a sign on the wall – Divas and Dykes Lounge. Day or night, this is a safe place for gay and transgender people to socialise.

    “I can’t walk with my partner on the street and hold their hand,” says Bontle Kahlo, from EPOC. “I can’t go out at night and say ‘I’m going to dance somewhere,’ because I’m not safe. I might get killed because of who I am, because of who I love.”

    Bontle Kahlo (right) with her partner Ntsupe Mohapi

    She points to a frame on the wall containing photos of dozens of LGBTI men and women.

    “This is our memory wall,” she says. Some of them died of natural causes, but many of the lesbians in the pictures were murdered because of their sexual orientation.

    “Women are less than men,” says Kahlo. “If you’re a black woman, you are even less, and if you’re a black lesbian woman you are basically nothing in this country.”

    Among the faces on the wall is Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old lesbian who was raped, mutilated and murdered in 2011.

    Noxolo Nogwaza’s photo is top left – she is wearing a baseball cap and white top

    But five years later, no-one has been prosecuted.

    “The feeling we got from the police is that they expected us to do all the work for them,” says Kahlo.

    “It’s very tiring to be an activist but to also be a police officer and to try as hard as you can, and to have a government which is not supportive.”

    Her partner and fellow campaigner Ntuspe Mohapi nods in agreement.

    “They’re good at talking but not at acting,” she says.

    When they heard about Pasca’s murder, there was a familiar sadness.

    “I think it’s getting worse,” Mohapi says. “And these are just the cases of murder that we are talking about. We haven’t started with rape, or hate speech, and the bullying in schools, and the suicides of gay teenagers.”

    South African law doesn’t classify hate crimes differently from other crimes, so there are no official statistics to turn to.

    The organisation Iranti-org is funded by the EU to document violence against LGBTI people – it has counted more than 30 murders and rapes in the country since 2012.

    Pasca was just one of three LGBTI people killed in South Africa during a six week period late last year. The deaths barely received a mention in the mainstream media.

    There hasn’t always been a lack of interest though. After the murder of Noxolo Nogwaza and several other lesbians in 2011, there was a global outcry. 170,000 people signed a petition calling on the government to act.

    In response, the government set up a National Task Team and drew up a National Intervention Strategy to reduce hate crimes.

    It also established a Rapid Response Team to make sure that hate crimes are properly investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. This has had some success in clearing a backlog of murders and other crimes.

    Mpaseka “Steve” Letsike says more should be done to change attitudes

    But the government is not doing enough says Mpaseka “Steve” Letsike, co-chairwoman of the National Task Team and head of LGBTI organisation Access Chapter 2.

    “We are not getting it right. There’s a huge gap. We need to invest our energies into prevention, into conversations, into dialogues.”

    The government is doing some of this – funding awareness campaigns and training police and health workers. But “it’s still a drop in the ocean,” says Letsike.

    To get a sense of the challenge South Africa faces, I travel to the Johannesburg suburb of Yeoville. It’s home to many migrants from more traditional, rural parts of the country.

    In a tiny room, barely big enough for a bed and a fridge, I perch on an upturned bucket and speak to two men. The elder of the two speaks softly, but has a fearsome clarity when our conversation turns to homosexuality.

    “Homosexuality is a taboo to us,” he says. “I’ll go back to African traditions, there’s no word for that in our language.”

    I ask what would happen if one of his daughters told him she was a lesbian.

    “I might kill her myself. That thing is unnatural, it’s awkward, so I cannot accept something that is awkward in my house.

    “If someone said choose between keeping this child or killing it, I would kill it.”

    His views reflect the gap between the law and the attitude of many South Africans. It shows that the government has failed to create a truly rainbow nation, say activists.

    “Conditions for LGBTI people in South Africa have improved substantially since 1994,” says John Jeffery, deputy minister of justice and constitutional development. His department is responsible for the National Intervention Strategy.

    “We are trying to educate people about LGBTI rights, that gay rights are human rights,” he says, and adds that he is frustrated with the criticism.

    “There’s no use complaining outside that government is not doing enough,” he says. “I unfortunately have not heard proposals from civil society organisations about things we should be doing that we’re not doing. They need to tell us where they think we should be improving.”

    While open to suggestions, he says there are limits to what he can do.

    “More could be done, but the extent to which we can run awareness programmes would depend on budget and what money we’ve got, and unfortunately government is facing budget cuts.”

    The government is currently in the process of preparing legislation to outlaw hate crimes and hate speech, which should allow better monitoring of crimes and, it’s hoped, reduce homophobic abuse.

    “There’s no magic solution, it’s a process and that process takes time,” says Jeffery.

    Betty Melamu is still waiting.

    She prays that one day she will face the people who killed her daughter and find out why they did it.

    “I want to know, that’s the point,” she says. “I want those who did this thing to my child to be arrested, all of them.”

    Almost 4 months after Pasca was murdered, no-one has been arrested.

    For many LGBTI people and their families in South Africa, safety, justice, and the promise of a truly rainbow nation still feel a long way off.

    Reference