Today I came across Nick’s piece on sosogay about Facebook’s addition of “in a civil partnership” to their relationship status list:
The thing is, for the last five years I felt Facebook already did recognise my relationship. I’m married. My husband was listed as just that. There was no fanfare, except the day or so after our big day when I changed my status from engaged, and then it was from our friends. Then just last week I updated my status again, this time to civil partner. A flurry of likes filled the post on my timeline – but, in all honesty, I felt a bit cheated.
Now, while I welcome Facebook’s recognition of civil partnerships I agree completely with the author that it’s yet another reminder of inequality.
I’m very pleased to be getting married myself, in Canada this summer, a country that allows marriage between people of the same sex… and to be able to say I am married (even though it is only recognised as a civil partnership on this side of the Atlantic). The fact that despite such recognition in the UK a Civil Partnership would count for nothing in Canada is another reminder. If it’s not marriage, it’s not marriage.
Regardless of what it’s called, your partnership should be about what you feel it is.
Until we have real equality in the UK it still won’t officially be marriage – maybe having your relationship as Civil Partner is a way to keep reminding others that gay people still face discrimination and inequality.
So the Office for National Statistics has released data suggesting that almost three-quarters of a million UK adults say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual – equivalent to 1.5% of the population: 480,000 (1%) consider themselves gay or lesbian, and 245,000 (0.5%) bisexual. London is home to the highest concentration of gay people at 2.2% of the population, while this proportion falls to 0.9% in Northern Ireland.
Of course it’s easy to look at that data and conclude it is much lower than the most commonly used estimate of 5% to 7%, which was cited by ministers introducing civil partnership legislation and implied a non-heterosexual population of 3.5 million.
It was data that surprised me. And it’s data that is – I believe – is being misrepresented as wholly accurate. Here’s some reasons why:
- All the survey’s statistics are considered experimental, or in a testing phase, as they have not yet been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority.
- Only people aged 16 and over were questioned about their self-perceived sexual identity – a large proportion missing when you consider that their age profile is also much younger than the rest of the population.
- People were asked to respond with one of four options: heterosexual/straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual or other. It’s not always appropriate to apply a label with boundaries to yourself. If Stephen Fry would label himself as just 90% gay how could he tick a survey box explaining he fits into one of those four exclusionary categories?
- Many homosexual people would not be happy to admit to a stranger that they are gay, or bisexual. Sexuality remains deeply taboo to many people.
- Many gay or bisexual people may be in a heterosexual relationship (maybe married) and not want to admit their sexuality.
I was pointed to an amazing moralising Christian article by a Facebook friend recently. I’m not going to make any judgment on the diary piece in the Newyorker magazine it refers to. But I will copy one incredibly written but fabulously tangental paragraph from it.
“Why do we allow ourselves to be raped repeatededly [SIC] by the homosexual media? Who are they to invade our lives? They lure our teens and 20-somethings off into darkness with nasty promises. They violate the conscience of millions of Californians with activitst judges. They taunt the vulnerable even on our tv sets, adding subversive messages to every child’s show, from Glee to True Blood. And they are not finished yet. Once they grab the young generation from the real world, they are not even close to being finished. Who could describe or truly know what our Malthusian future holds? For now, they destroy our values with each stomp of their damp, musky sneakers on after-hours disco floors, crushing our very souls as harsh lights illuminate their flourescent Charlie Brown t-shirts and cocaine-pale faces and even then they find new frenzies, rubbing harder and harder into each other, aspiring to the perfect veneral opprobrium to all the hopes and dreams that people like Sarah Palin represent”.
I have a number of problems with this. I won’t go in to them all but
- since when has True Blood been a child’s show?
- was the Judge in California really activist? Or just implementing the law?
- what are these hopes and dreams Sarah Palin represents?
It’s a wonderful piece of prose but the implication that the homosexual media lures people is plain wrong. You can’t be told to be gay. And where I lose all respect for the writer is the implication that homosexuals are all disco dancing drug fueled sex-maniacs. By all means – from your point of view – criticise 28, male, Williamsburg, gay [who wrote the Newyorker diary] but sweeping generalisations and aggressive assertions do nothing to sell your point of view to an intelligent reader. More importantly, though – how far off of the original point of view is this? And why say that Williamsburg is “stone’s throw away” from Ground Zero when that stone would have to be thrown over three miles, if not only to exaggerate outrage? This is moralising at tangents.
There’s a lot wrong with the gay scene. Attitude’s issues issue, and the Observer report on it, prove that clearly. But surely it would be far more constructive to seek to change that, to provide alternatives, to help the disproportionately large proportion of gays who suffer problems of mental health.
The fact that “the result of living as a stigmatised minority is that you self-medicate” with drug and sex addictions proves how much damage articles like ChristWire’s do. If that’s your point of view surely it’s better to do something proactive than moralising and making sweeping judgments.
Why should anyone care who’s gay? So Tom Hardy’s had gay lovers, and Joe McElderry has come out. I admire them both, for their bravery. Some may say “so what?”. But it’s a big thing. Coming out is a shock, a shock tou yourself, to your family. But why? Why is it a big issue still? Why should we be shocked? Why should we make the news? Perhapss those people who don’t understand how difficult it is to come out should try being a gay child. It’s not easy. It’s really not easy. Trust me.
Well, just look at Claire Balding. Look at what’s happened to her recently. She put it better than I ever could myselfr:
When the day comes that people stop resigning from high office, being disowned by their families, getting beaten up and in some instances committing suicide because of their sexuality, you may have a point.
This is not about me putting up with having the piss taken out of me, something I have been quite able to withstand, it is about you legitimising name calling. ‘Dyke’ is not shouted out in school playgrounds (or as I’ve had it at an airport) as a compliment, believe me.
It may be your job to defend your writer and your editorial team but if you really think that homophobia does not exist and was not demonstrated beyond being ‘the butt of a joke’ then we have a problem.
The point, surely, is why it even needs to be an issue. If people didn’t still get bullied, shouted at, beaten up for being gay it wouldn’t even need to be an issue. Until it’s no longer an issue, Joe, and the others, should be praised for their bravery, and celebrated.
Pride London, Saturday 3rd July 2010.
A couple of weeks ago was London Pride. Despite my reservations about some elements I really do enjoy Pride. I’ve uploaded a slideshow and gallery of some of my photos.
Tonight is Eurovision 2010 – in Oslo. Last year’s fiddler won resoundingly and took the contest to Norway this year. Having seen the semi-finals (including the shock ejection of Sweden!) I’m looking forward to a night of musical camp and frivolity.
For Pete’s Sake! This year’s UK Eurovision entry may have come in for criticism – and to be honest I don’t know a single friend of mine that thinks it’s much good – but That Sounds Good To Me (below) has certainly grown on me. The title refrain has not only been going round in my head all day, but coming out of my mouth too!
Azerbaijan are known to be favourites this year. Their ballad-ic eurostyle song (Swedish written, of course) is one that – in song terms perhaps – should do very well. In a quirk of eurovision Cyprus this year is represented by a Welsh boy. Not so sure they’re favourites though, sadly.
But I have a couple of other personal favourites. Romania’s catchy little number (musically less melodic than Azerbaijan, but more catchy than Pete Waterman’s ditty) is one of those tracks that sticks in your head and you remember in the midst of the other short numbers that merge into one as you watch them all.
The Ukranian track is another memorable one, less camp, more quirk but with a mild svensk-schlager slant. Interestingly this song was selected in a re-run of the country’s own contest this year after a new president of the state controlled television network was appointed by the government. Finally, however, Bulgaria have realised that it’s not only about the song – it’s the performance – in Bulgaria’s case a dance track accompanied by babyoil coated dancers (for which you may have to watch tonight!)…
UPDATE: well I’ve just been reminded you won’t be able to look out for babyoil boys – their dance number failed – like Sweden – to make it through the semis. Shocking, i know!