Tag Archives: homophobia

Spotlight: Henry James Garrett | Drawings of Dogs

Brighton based illustrator Henry James Garrett aka Drawings of Dogs first created his wonderful illustrated stories after dropping out of his PhD studies due to anxiety. He started drawing and creating stories as a means of soothing his anxiety, which eventually lead to selling greeting cards. This is his story, wonderfully illustrated, of course:

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I first found out about Henry’s illustrations from Pride London who have collaborated with him for this year’s Pride festival. Prior to this he currently has a series of weekly cartoons for The i Newspaper, which features other animals, called Adventures in Anthropomorphism. The comic above is a narrative told by Billie, Henry’s real life dog, which first appeared in CALMzine, a magazine for mental health charity CALM. This makes me love Henry even more because I am a huge supporter of CALM.

So he’s created illustrations for Pride and CALM. He’s living my dream.

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Pride tweeted “Homophobia can duck off! Around 1,500 animal species practice same-sex coupling. Only one species practices homophobia.”

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“Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. Always assume that a person is an expert in themself.”

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Above are some of the illustrations he has created for Pride, but he also covers other topics like racism, feminism, kindness, politics, and of course his usual funny animal jokes:

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I love his style – the simple, line drawn illustrations is reminiscent of my own preferred illustration style. I have always been drawn (pun intended) towards art that conveys a strong message and make us question how we treat each other. Comics that make us giggle are great too – let’s not under-appreciate his copy skills.

I honestly will be here forever if I post all my favourites, so make sure you check out his Instagram.

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Advertising and Gay Men: How the Media Avoids Gay Intimacy in Advertising

One of the most beautiful and important things about working in the creative industry, whether it’s photography; graphic design; music; dance; acting; writing, is that it allows people of any background, gender, race, sexuality, age to express their opinions and beliefs in whatever medium they wish. The creative industry is at the forefront of self expression and freedom, which has always encouraged and inspired me to pursue a career in this field. Advertising in particular is, as we know, incredibly influential – whether you enjoy ads or just stare blankly during the commercial breaks – they can help convey messages to a wider audience.
Although I am part of British advertising, and we have produced some incredible and iconic work that is undoubtedly timeless, ever since I can remember having an interest in the industry I have been unable to shake off one very obvious tactic used by agencies: appearing pro-LGBT, but avoiding gay men. Obviously, showing gay couples in ads is a very recent (and important) thing, but as equality has progressed so rapidly in the last 10 years I have found myself questioning why the media prefers using lesbian characters over gay men.

Last night I watched a bizarre (but fascinating) documentary ‘For The Bible Tells Me So’, which documents the ways in which conservative Christians have exploited religious teachings and scriptures to deny LGBTQ+ rights. Without spoiling too much, one factor which stood out like a sore thumb was the fact that the parents (of gay children) being interviewed all expressed fears of having a “faggot son” (they said those exact words), even if the story ended up focusing around their lesbian daughter. There was a continual theme of obsessing over the fear of a gay son. As we all know, homophobic beliefs all stem from religion, and their target is 9 times out of 10 going to be gay men.
Why?! Well, as the husbands in these documentaries (and in most religious and/or homophobic households) have the final say on what goes, men generally have more discomfort towards gay men than lesbians. It all stems from a fear that gay men will try to have sex with them (don’t flatter yourself) or influence their sons’ ‘sexual behaviour’. It probably also relates to the fact that mentions of sexuality in the Bible only relate to men sleeping with other men. Lesbianism became publicly demonised during the Victorian era.
I have no idea why gay men seem to receive more homophobic abuse (I know, that is a sweeping statement), and this is particularly evident in the homophobic slurs used – I can name only a few related to lesbians, but gay insults based on gay men are endless. There is a fear and disgust surrounding gay sex, whereas lesbians are often used as part of the male sexual fantasy. Funnily enough, I always wonder whether these religious homophobes get off on girl-on-girl fantasies but heaven forbid two men together! Gross!

[Before I get into the advertising part of this blog, I want to say that I am by no means denying or deflecting homophobia against lesbians, nor am I insinuating that gay or queer women receive less discrimination than gay or queer men. These are merely my observations about the representation of gay men in advertising].

So what the hell does this have to do with advertising? I believe it all stems from the same place – whilst companies, agencies and brands are largely trying to be inclusive by introducing LGBT narratives, the avoidance of male couples is remarkably salient in advertising.
In the US (certain states, of course, we couldn’t have two guys in love being aired in Texas now could we) the depiction of a range of LGBT couples has been, overall, fantastic in comparison to what it was like as recently as 5 years ago. This is particularly amazing for gay men who seem to have an equal platform in terms of narrative to lesbian couples or female same-sex families. Certain states in the US are notorious for being openly pro-LGBT and have no qualms when it comes to presenting gay men in their commercials. A lovely example of this is cosmetics company Lush who recently launched a Valentines Day campaign for 2017 featuring non-heteronormative couples in their campaign. Wonderful! A gay couple are featured as a header on the US website, alongside other gay and lesbian and gender-nonconforming couples in the campaign:

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They even released a very sweet statement for the campaign:

At Lush we believe that love transcends gender. We set out to do one thing when creating our Valentine’s Day visuals, we wanted to capture love between two people and we believe that’s what we have done here. The fact that our loyal and loving fans are starting their own conversations using our visuals and #loveislove absolutely warms our hearts.

But, (and this is a big but), why on earth didn’t this transcend to the UK website for Valentines Day?! There is no mention of the LGBT campaign – no photos, no #loveislove hashtags, just a crappy photo of a heart-shaped bathbomb. This kind of contradiction and blatant picking-and-choosing of where to present certain messages makes the campaign and the company come off as inauthentic, consequently using the gay community to publicise a Valentine’s Day sale. Love is a universal experience, so why can’t Lush’s campaign be? My theory is that British ad men and women are too afraid to upset anyone. We are so apologetic and fearful of offending in the UK that it’s affecting how we stand up for what we believe in.
To reiterate, this seems to be a bizarre UK problem – as a country where gay marriage finally opened its doors to lots of British gay couples and proudly abolished Section 28, I struggle to accept that the advertising industry has moved forward in this way too. The only time I ever seem to see gay couples represented correctly in advertising is when Pride in London is being advertised!
Another very sweet Valentine’s Day campaign featuring a man proposing to his boyfriend by Hallmark has done a fantastic job at normalising gay love in a campaign with lots of other couples celebrating international the day of love:

There’s no hashtags about equality, no clickbait, no hint towards inclusivity, just a mix of normal people showing us what love means to them. Of course this was a campaign in the US! This is the third consecutive year that Hallmark features a gay or lesbian couple in their Valentine’s day ad. I’ve never seen any of those campaigns here, despite Hallmark being a retailer in the UK.

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Ok, for a moment I will stop listing the negatives, and actually praise a British brand who has defied the norms when it comes to gay male affection in marketing – Lloyds! It’s been noted that brands are failing to represent LGBT+ people in mainstream marketing campaigns, but Lloyds Bank have been praised for advancing LGBT diversity both internally and through its brand communications. Perhaps Lloyds being no.2 in Stonewall’s Top 100 LGBT Employers 2016 rankings influenced the fantastic campaign for ‘He Said Yes’, a same-sex proposal featuring two men.

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Here’s what Joey Hambidge (client account manager at Stonewall) had to say about the importance of LGBT representation in marketing:

While campaigns around Pride season are encouraging and to be applauded, consistent year-round communication with the LGBT community and featuring LGBT people within mainstream campaigns sends a strong message of inclusion and support.
Lloyds Bank springs to mind due to its recent mainstream commercial featuring a male same-sex couple’s proposal. Many young people entering the industry have grown up with an inclusive mentality. Their social circles can be mixed and varied so they are looking for companies that reflect these values. So even if someone may not identify as being LGBT themselves, finding an LGBT-inclusive employer is often important to them.

Lloyds Bank could have so easily used women in the ‘For Your Next Step’ ad, but I absolutely believe they did the right thing by using two men. Not only were they featured in the ad below, they have also been used on huge underground billboards and posters:

Lloyds Bank have actually featured same-sex couples in its advertising since 2010, and Marketing Week have written exactly why this is so important in an article here. I feel honoured to have worked with such an inclusive brand during my time at adam&eveDDB.

Unfortunately, Lloyds Bank are the exception in the UK. Whilst doing my research for this blog post I came across one of my favourite websites, Pink News, which had a news section on gay ads – hoorah! Lots of content to prove me wrong! Not quite…….. as wonderful as they all are, they’re all American. Check out the list here.
There has been cataclysmic shift in the portrayal of homosexuality in advertising, particularly when it comes to the likes of fashion brands such as Dolce & Gabbana producing homoerotic ads for years. This is an improvement to be noted – we’re hardly seeing any half naked, muscle bound and oiled up Adonis, instead we’re seeing gay men being portrayed in a mundane, family-orientated way, like the ads mentioned above. This still isn’t good enough – all of these campaigns (including Lynx’s ad featuring a dancing man in heels; Lynx’s “kiss the hottest girl… or the hottest guy” adTylenol’s #HowWeFamily campaign, to name a few) are American and Australian. They aren’t broadcasted on British TV, even if though sell the exact same products or services here.

Whilst we should always praise and encourage the portrayal of lesbians in advertising, as the sexualisation and fetishism of lesbians is still rife in the media, it’s difficult to ignore the blatant use of two women being more comfortable viewing than two men.
Match.com really had the chance to represent the LGBT+ community in a normal way like a lot of the ads above have done. Lots of dating apps and websites are now trying to convey a message of inclusivity – that their services are not just for straight people. As part of their campaign, Match.com decided to dedicate one spot to two girlfriends who supposedly found love through the website. I cannot help rolling my eyes and cringing every time I see the following ad on TV:

‘Messy Girl’ actually was no.3 on the top 10 complained about UK ads, because of kissing women (896 complaints). Despite the ridiculous amount of homophobic complaints, I do not respect Match.com for this campaign, and I cannot support their efforts. I find the entire narrative unnecessary – the “messy” story did not need to include lesbians undressing (with lacy lingerie on underneath… come on, really?!) where all the other spots for the same campaign are not sexualised, and instead portray the innocent, adorable and quirky aspects of dating and falling in love.
The entire ad screams male gaze, and Match have clearly spent no time researching into what it means to the LGBT community to be represented in advertising. ‘Messy Girl’? more like Messy Idea! Who wrote this sh*t?

Sainsbury’s 2016 Christmas ad saw an enormous amount of praise not just from creatives surrounding the concept and execution, but also from families in the UK – particularly same sex parents who were thrilled to see female same-sex parents along-side mixed-race families and a single dad:

Whilst successfully reflecting modern British families, I can’t help believing that two women were favoured over two men. Even though they are animated characters, lesbian women are predominantly more accepted over gay men because society still does not feel comfortable with the idea of gay male sex. You might be thinking “calm down, how on earth did you go from innocent animated characters to gay sex?” well, that’s how homophobes’ minds work – they believe the representation of same-sex parenting is damaging and has a gay-agenda. So, ASA (or whatever standards authority board) receive complaints, ads get taken down, and clients/agencies steer clear of pro-LGBT concepts for fear of offending. I can’t tell you why people think this way, but I can tell you it is still a very big and very ridiculous problem. It’s particularly concerning that very few UK brands choose to represent male couples, particularly affectionate or intimate gay couples.
I think the current discrimination epidemic seen during the US election speaks volumes in terms of how far we have to go regarding LGBT rights. From what I have seen on social media, people have (up until the election) remained naive and unaware of how discriminatory certain groups of people can be, and how manipulative they can be when working in numbers. A lot of people in this world genuinely believe gay sex is demonic, and that those showing it on TV are pushing an ‘agenda’ to turn their kids gay. These same people compare gay men (never lesbians) to pedophiles. If it wasn’t so tragic, I’d laugh.

I want to end this blog post on a positive note – the note being Thomas Cook – a UK company who have subtly flown the flag for the LGBT community in this lovely ad called ‘You Want We Do’:

Again, no hidden messages; no hashtags; no trends; no exploitation, just a bunch of different people all wanting a great holiday with the ones they love.
Jamie Queen, marketing director for Thomas Cook Group told Marketing Week:

I think marketers can always do more to represent the needs of the consumer and that’s what we’ve tried to do with the gay kiss. It comes down to the needs of our customers and addressing a modern population.

Aside from the wonderful representation of gay partners (header image) and gay dads (below), the ad itself is actually wonderfully art directed and shot.

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To conclude, what I’d like to say to creatives is, don’t be like Match.com – be like Thomas Cook – be revolutionary, be bold, be authentic. Feature gay love, feature men playing tonsil tennis, and do it with conviction. Don’t worry about the complaints, the Bible bashers and the ratings. You are the voice, and we are living in a time where your compassionate creativity is needed more than ever.

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Enemies of Equality: If Coachella’s Price Tag Isn’t Putting You Off, Maybe Your Conscience Will

Put the flower crowns away, kids. Philip Anschutz, the owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG Live) has been exposed for his right-wing radical beliefs and contributions towards organisations against human rights!
The Coachella lineup has only just been released, and the hippie, beige, HOLLYWEED, home-made flower-power accessory makers of the world rejoiced after headliners like Beyonce, Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar were announced.

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In all seriousness, last year, festival-goers spent a minimum of $400 on the most basic tickets for Coachella, and LGBTQ activists are urging people not to spend their hard earned money funding hate. The wonderful organisation ‘Freedom for All Americans’ released this infographic, showing well-known and influential anti-LGBT supporters:

FFAA is the bipartisan campaign to secure full non-discrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. The organisation has gained attention from reporters, journalists and bloggers for their claims that Anschutz’s foundation gave $190,000 to anti-LGBTQ organisations between 2010 and 2013. Having picked up on this information about the 77-year-old billionaire, more information has come to the surface that shows how Anschutz supports some of the most damaging and oppressive organisations in America, donating the following:

  • $110,000 to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) between 2011 and 2013. The ADF litigates cases to oppose abortion, same-sex marriage, and civil unions.
  • $30,000 to Family Research Council between 2010 and 2013. The lobbyist organisation battles pro-LGBT laws and has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • $50,000 to National Christian Foundation between 2011 and 2013. The foundation has contributed tens of millions of dollars to ADF, the Family Research Council, and other similar organisations.

Apparently Anschutz has funded anti-equality groups for decades, supporting Colorado’s 1992 proposition Amendment 2, a ballot created to overturn laws offering LGBT protection. Also, he has been noted by Greenpeace to finance science denial groups, with a Greenpeace report alleging that he attends “strategy meetings” with the Koch brothers (Republican narcissists who don’t believe in climate change) twice a year. This man is starting to sound weirdly similar to Donald Trump…

So, why do I care? Why should you care? Well, as we’ve seen in last year’s US election, with great power comes great responsibility – and unfortunately power is often put in the wrong hands. Something that has always deeply disturbed me from a young age is the rose-tinted glasses people seem to wear surrounding topical issues that don’t directly affect them. This is exactly how immensely rich and powerful people take control and spread hate. This is particularly important when it comes to something like Coachella, because the artists performing (almost always), such as Beyonce, are pro-human rights. Most importantly, so are their fans (Beyonce is a huge gay icon and pioneer for young black women). Thousands and millions of people are fans of these musicians, yet they would probably still buy tickets to Coachella knowing this information. Headliners Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé have both released amazing, politically charged albums over the past two years that have helped set the conversation around blackness, feminism and progressive politics.
Similar to this situation, following the US election debates, business in the USA made their political beliefs known (which is unusual) and confidently showed support for democrats – check out the extensive list here. Also, here in the UK the campaign Stop Funding Hate has convinced businesses to stop advertising their products and services in newspapers that contain ‘hate campaigns’ – Lego being the first company to break their contracts with said newspapers.

By purchasing tickets to Coachella, you are paying towards an empire that supports the following:

  • gay conversion therapy
  • pro-abortion
  • anti-LGBTQ groups
  • extremist hate groups like Gordon Kligenschmitt’s (a despicable televangelist in the US) ‘Pray in Jesus Name’
  • denial of climate change and global warming
  • Mission America Foundation (vomit), whose president considers homosexuality a “deviance”

…the list goes on.

Interestingly, a representative for AEG Live forwarded the following statement from Philip Anschutz in response to this report:

Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news – it is all garbage. I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation. We are fortunate to employ a wealth of diverse individuals throughout our family of companies, all of whom are important to us – the only criteria on which they are judged is the quality of their job performance; we do not tolerate discrimination in any form.

Both The Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes. Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and when it has come to my attention or the attention of The Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.

Let’s have faith in humanity for a moment and believe that Philip is pro-LGBTQ (which is hard to believe when he has had such a huge influence in Colorado politics)… this means that someone in his team is supporting these extremist views. These donations weren’t made by accident. Who is he trying to kid? That is so depressing.

My final thoughts on this terrifying, draining topic can be perfectly summed up by Ian Silverii, ProgressNow Colorado’s executive director:

At a time in American history when discrimination and violence against LGBTQ citizens is on the rise, support for pro-discrimination groups puts Anschutz on the wrong side of Colorado, and on the wrong side of history.

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GLAAD: Trump Accountability Project

GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) is one of the many LGBT+ organisations I support, and am very fond of, not only because they are a non-governmental (and therefore non-profit) organisation, but also because of their purpose – GLAAD is a media monitoring organisation founded by LGBT people in the media. Their aim is to tackle tough LGBT issues and consequently create a narrative that leads to cultural change.

GLAAD has taken the open homophobic and transphobic statements made by republicans very seriously, and used this information to create ‘The Trump Accountability Project (TAP)’, “a resource for journalists, editors, and other news makers reporting on the Trump administration, which catalogues the anti-LGBTQ statements and actions of President-elect Donald Trump and those in his circle.”
The aim of TAP is to hold those on Trump’s team accountable for their hate speech, stemming from GLAAD’s original project ‘Commentator Accountability Project’ (CAP) which aims to bring anti-LGBT statements to life, putting information about anti-gay interviewees into the hands of newsrooms, journalists and editors. Similarly to this project, GLAAD aims to do the following with TAP:

…Use first-hand statements, video, and/or audio to document the animus displayed by people being appointed into positions of power in the U.S. government. GLAAD will update the following profiles with new statements that disparage LGBTQ people, women, Muslims, Immigrants, and many others. GLAAD will also share this information with reporters, journalists, producers, activists, and fellow organisations each time they make headlines anew.

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What a great project. It’s a shame how targeting works on social media, as Trump supporters probably would never see these types of articles and projects on their feeds (not that it would necessarily change their minds). The US election really opened my eyes to targeted ads and news feed items, especially on Facebook…
Now listen up. Organisations like GLAAD can’t exist without donations, so please reach into your privileged pockets and donate towards an amazing cause – love, acceptance and unity! Pretty please!

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The ‘T’ in ‘LGBT’: the trans* Community and Why They’ve Been Left Behind

Whilst I try to keep this blog focused on the creative world, it is impossible to ignore and not speak about another big passion of mine – campaigning and awareness. Even if you have no interest in such things, please continue reading, because you should take an interest.
This week marks anti-bullying week and transgender awareness week – two totally different topics being widely spoken about on social media, but more closely connected then ever before. Since the US election, my social media feeds have been filled with concerned LGBT folk and their allies showing support and defiance. The problem goes way beyond this – whilst I generally live in a liberal bubble, we are nowhere near being a prejudice-free society… not even close. Not as close as the average person thinks we are.

[you can get involved by donating to organisations like ‘Ditch the Label’]

Last night Channel 4 aired the first part of their docu-series ‘Kids on the Edge’ with ‘The Gender Clinic’, featuring 2 children and their families. The kids were both completely different, one being autistic and unsure about their gender (Matt/Matilda), the other being confidently ready to transition (Ashley), but both visited the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust (a gender identity development service based in London) to explore their genders with their mothers. This kind of groundbreaking documentary has aired at a really important time – the doctors state that referrals increased form 40 to 1400 in just 1 year – and children who speak out about their gender concerns are becoming more and more frequent.
What concerns me (and the parents of trans* kids) are the thousands of people all over the world who criticise these documentaries, claiming that they’re “damaging” and “abusive”, which in turn has created an illogical, ill-educated hysteria by presuming facts about blockers (and other medical procedures available to trans* people) and the concept of gender itself. Hysteria is what created the social construct of gender in the first place… These outcries to “save the children” can only be due to a desperate lack of knowledge – something that Channel 4 has been trying to change for years. Recently, the BBC followed in their groundbreaking footsteps by releasing a CBBC series called ‘Just a Girl’, which follows Amy, a fictional 11-year-old girl:

Amy has a secret and she’s scared that it will come out at her new school. Follow her as she tries to make sense of the world and not lose her friends forever.

That synopsis from the CBBC website is pretty ‘face-palm’ itself, and could do with some less scary, “this child is damaged and her life could be ruined because she’s really a boy” vibes. I’m surprised they didn’t slip in the old “born in the wrong body” line.
Anyway, last month The Mail on Sunday sparked a huge backlash with its front page story using the unbearably offensive and bigoted phrase “sex change” (please don’t ever use that term) to describe how “parents are angry that the show…features a transgender storyline inappropriate for their children”. Tory MP Peter Bone also said the show is “completely inappropriate” and wanted to write to the BBC to demand they remove it.
Co-editor of the ‘Conservative Woman, Laura Perrins, also claimed that these shows “normalise, trivialise and glamourise” transgender issues (because she’s so in-touch with this topic) and even stated that it encourages children to change their gender. Whatever you do, do not allow children to be themselves, god forbid!

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A very poignant comment made by Perrins is that she believes the CBBC programme is an “unbelievable piece of propaganda targeted at children”… do you feel history repeating itself?In 1983 papers like The Mail influenced Section 28’s passing, consequently banning the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools, which in turn scared teachers out of discussing homophobia and therefore doing nothing about bullying. It wasn’t that long ago that the same tabloids mentioned above frequently linked gays with the spread of HIV and paedophilia – a notion that we now see as absurd and archaic. In 1986, Tories even distributed leaflets claiming that “You do not want your child to be educated to be a homosexual or lesbian”, and The Telegraph warned readers about “a deliberate attempt to molest the sexual education of children”. I cannot believe this all happened only a decade before I was born. This was shortly followed by outrage and campaigning, leading to the overall (I say that with a pinch of salt) positive portrayal of gays and lesbians on TV and in the media nowadays. We still have a long way to go, but Section 28 was repealed in 2003.
Now, it has become apparent that trans* folk have been left behind. The parallels between homophobia in journalism and transphobia in journalism is astonishing. LGBT charities and organisations were trashed and attacked, just like The Mail did on Mermaids when they publicly attacked the UK’s only charity for families with kids who are trans*:

Last week it emerged that Mermaids had been supporting a mother who was found to have caused her son ‘significant emotional harm’ by forcing him to live as a girl.
She had the boy removed from her care by a judge after he found there was ‘no independent or supportive evidence’ that the seven-year-old wanted to be a girl.
He said the boy, who now lives with his father, had been ‘pressed into a gender identification that had far more to do with his mother’s needs’ than his own.

Since then, activists (Fox Fisher accumulated over 8k signatures on change.org) have fought back as the ruling was so unjust, and the judge was entirely unacceptable in the use of outdated and inappropriate concepts of gender to justify removing a child from their mother, and demonising the mother consequently. This outcome would never happen now with a gay child, but probably would’ve happened 30 years ago. So why on earth haven’t we “moved with the times” for the trans* community?
Just like parents were accused of polluting gay kids’ minds, parents of trans* kids are facing the same backlash. What is so bizarre is that people out there genuinely believe these children are choosing to feel this way, which is something they certainly wouldn’t claim if they bothered to watch documentaries like ‘The Gender Clinic’.
One of the most upsetting scenes I’ve ever seen on a documentary about trans* kids is by Louis Theroux, which showed a very young (possibly 4-years-old) trans* girl who continuously tried to cut her penis off because she simply knew, undoubtedly, that her body was incorrectly correlating to the sex she was assigned to at birth. No parent (unless they are mentally unstable) would ever want to see their child in that state. Scientists claim that around 4 years of age is when we start to develop the concept of gender, and we are hearing more and more that children are speaking out and telling their parents that something isn’t right with how they feel about their gender.

Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids spoke about the CBBC show:

The writer for this series did a lot of work with Mermaids parents and young people to make sure that he represented the challenges that children and their families face. The horrific headline detracts from a wonderful series that has been well received as educational and empathic.
No parent would choose this path for their child. And teaching children about trans issues is important. Education is key to understanding every aspect of life. It’s not on mainstream television and only accessible through CBBC website, therefore it is not thrust upon those not wishing to see it.
I would like to see more education around trans issues across the board. Maybe then we will see less hatred and prejudice, and can begin to celebrate the fact that everyone is different.

[donate to ‘Mermaids’]

I couldn’t have said it better myself! Education is key. This is particularly critical at a time where suicide and murders of trans* folk are on the rise. This should not be happening, but simply not enough people care. Most people love a good gay pride parade, a cheeky night out to G.A.Y and aren’t shy to call out homophobia, but very few people speak out about transphobia. I don’t know why.
Is it a lack of empathy? A lack of knowledge? Is it fear of the unknown? Are people too busy to care about what doesn’t directly affect them?

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Another bizarre claim is that young children are being given irreversible drugs with little studies or tests. This is absolutely untrue – GRS (genital reconstruction surgery) is not offered to trans people below the age of 18 and puberty blockers only delay puberty so that kids have time to think about what they want. Instead of claiming that these “drugs” are dangerous, why don’t papers like The Mail write about suicide, bullying, self-harm and all the awful things trans* kids are subject to in a heteronormative, transphobic society? Why do people assume that young children are incapable of making emotional decisions about themselves?

I don’t have the answer to any of the questions – I don’t think anybody does. All we can do is open our eyes, our minds and our hearts to make those who don’t fit into gender norms feel authentic, comfortable, happy and loved. Change is now.

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Inter-LGBT / The Obstacle Course

An ad is great when there is no need for spoken words because the narrative speaks for itself.

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Eminem, I’m disappointed in you.

Eminem has been on the music scene since my childhood, and I’ve enjoyed his songs, lyrics, videos and his witty humour. His success makes him no less of a rapper than underground artists (despite many of them believing so), and I fully appreciate the message of his song ‘Rap God’. However, his use (I typed ‘overuse’, then back tracked … it should never be used) of the word ‘fag’ and ‘faggot’ has made me lose all respect for him. Perhaps I have missed, in the past, previous use of this word in his songs, but in ‘Rap God’, he says it 4 times. There is no justification for using such an offensive word (the same goes for ‘nigger’, of which many black artists use … which I cannot fathom any justification for), and I believe as long as such influential people continue to use derogatory; crass language, homophobia (and general discrimination) will continue to exist. Particularly, in the case of todays youth, where using ‘gay’ as an adjective is common in every day conversation. Whilst I (ashamedly) had used this in my early teen years, as it was popular to do so, I am repeatedly shocked to hear people of my own age (18-21+) using ‘gay’ to describe something negative. I wish every person who decides to use this word as an adjective replace it with the word ‘black’, and see how stupid and offensive it sounds.
Just the other day I was watching the fantastic series on ITV1 ‘Masters of Sex’, and the doctor treated a patient from ‘the negro ward’ – both my partner and I looked at each in a ‘wtf?!’ manner, and I have this exact same reaction when people use ‘gay’ as an adjective or openly use the word ‘fag’/’faggot’. (As Macklemore once said in ‘Same Love’, “humans rights for everybody, there is no difference”!!!) It is of huge importance of me to make it clear to people that using such language is ignorant, OFFENSIVE and moronic. Using a sexuality as an adjective or the way to describe someone negatively is simply simple-minded and puerile. We do not (most of us, I’d hope) use the ‘n word’ to describe black people anymore, and I hope for the same with gay people.
I do not think people (especially of my generation) appreciate how amazingly far the world has developed with human rights, particularly LGBT rights. You don’t have to be gay/bi/trans/whatever to appreciate the positive impact equality has on the world, you simply need to have an open mind, an open heart, and a clear, intelligent understanding of what is offensive. [If you think this is an overreaction, I feel genuinely disheartened and sorry for you that you cannot put yourself in someone else’s shoes, that you cannot relate and sympathise with others, even if they share no similarities with you. We are all human.] I believe the impact words have on people, especially young people, needs to be made clearer.
It is deeply insulting to thousands of people who have protested, sacrificed, and put their lives at risk for MANY years, all over the world, to gain rights for the LGBT community, by using one word. People fought to have black segregation removed (I still can’t fathom that that was actually a thing!!), and we now need to fight for the understanding of sexuality and gender. It is all the same. We are all the same!!!

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Björn Borg Makes a Colorful Entrance Into Russia With Pro-Gay Ad in Moscow Times

“Swedish fashion house Björn Borg, whose tagline is “Björn Borg says ja!,” (“Björn Borg says yes!”) celebrated the launch of its Russian website with a full-page ad in homophobic Russia’s Moscow Times showing coloured underwear arranged to look like a rainbow. In Russia, homosexuality has been criminalised.

In a press release, marketing director Lina Söderqvist says “the advert is a way for us to reach Russian influencers. Björn Borg as a brand has always advocated equality on all levels.”

The ad’s release coincides with last week’s “We don’t support homosexuals, wait, yes we do” statements from Barilla, followed by Bertolli’s “Love and pasta for all!” comeback. Björn Borg totally takes Paypal if you were thinking of sending a gift to Mr. Putin.”

I think it’s fantastic that a brand are gutsy enough to do something like this, but it does make me wonder … if this was a single human being, wouldn’t they be arrested (and probably abused by police) in Russia, yet nothing will happen to these people, because they’re from a company?…..

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…and then they came for the trans* people.

…and then they came for the trans* people.

Written by Mhairi McAlpine in Europe, Gender, Greece, Internationalism, Kyriarchy,Sexuality

 

“Operation Zeus in August last year marked the start of an ugly reminder of a European past that we thought we had long buried.  Nearly 60 years after the end of the Second European War, migrants were round up from the streets of Greece and shoved unceremoniously into internment camps.  In May, women working in the sex industry were pulled from the streets, forcibly tested for HIV, publically humilitated and imprisoned.  In March, they rounded up drug users from the streets of Athens and put them too into camps.  Last month in Thessaloniki they came for transgendered people.

On the 30th of May, the Greek authorities stepped up their cleansing of the streets of the undesirables.  The daily checks of papers, papers, papers whenever someone non-white encounters a police officer sees numerous migrants hauled to police stations, and manyimprisoned in one of the hellholes that pass for the detention camps of Greece.  In April alone 10, 000 people were stopped in these checks, and there are currently 5, 000 languishing in the official camps with an unknown number in temporary facilities such as police cells and shipping containers.  Last month Dendias announced a doubling of the capacity of these camps, although with no commitment to closing the alternative facilities.

Greek citizens, drugs users, homeless people and women working in the sex industry, have also been targeted under these sweeps where they are hauled to police stations, forcibly tested for HIV and in some cases imprisoned among with the migrants in the internment camps.  As the graffiti is cleaned off the shop facades in anticipation of the summer tourist influx, the streets are being cleansed of undesirables.

On the 30th of May, a new group of undesirables was identified.  Trans gender people. For the last week, daily raids have been taking place in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city.  Under the pretense that of checking that the person is not involved in the sex industry trans people are being rounding up and arrested.  Their details are taken and they are detained for several hours.  On release they are warned that if they did not “return to normal” they would be arrested for public indecency.

This is not the first time that trans people have been targeted in Greece, in August last year, 25 trans women were arrested and force to undergo HIV testing and charged with prostitution offenses, in April, finally, the last of this group was acquitted.  This is however a new and sustained campaign against trans people, some of whom were stopped driving their cars and accused of sexual impropriety.

In May, the official broadcast to publicise Athens Pride was banned as it included a lesbian kiss, while in Thessaloniki, the  Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Church described Pride as an “unholy and unnatural event”, urging citizens not to take their children and indicating that he would like to see the event shut down.  At the end of last year gay men were repeated assaulted by member of the Golden Dawn, sometimes armed with knifes, in the wake of the violent and vicious rabble that saw the opening of the play “Corpus Christi” besieged by Nazis.  One MP from the fascist Golden Dawn attacked a journalist, punching him in the face and screeching after him as he escaped “You run away you faggot, you ass-muncher“, while the police silently watched.

This new escalation follows a familiar pattern of harassment, false imprisonment, detention, and arrests.  The experiences of migrants, drug users and women in the sex industry are all testimony to the deliberate targeting of marginalised groupings.   The pink triangle isn’t just a cool emblem, but a reminder that we’ve seen it all before.  We said never again – only it IS happening again….and one-by-one the people who may have spoken up disappear.”

 

This deeply saddens me. How can parts of the world (I’m also talking to you, RUSSIA!) still be SO ignorant and full of hatred?! Makes me so grateful to live in the UK.

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When Did You Choose to Be Straight?

Street interviews conducted by Travis Nuckolls and Chris Baker (ilovechrisbaker.com) in Colorado Springs prove that asking the right question can be more important than anything you can tell someone.

Absolutely love these interviews. It’s funny, but also really interesting to see people say “well… I’d never thought of it like that before”, because that kind of logic and understanding can stop homophobia.
Still, it worries me that people STILL think being gay is a choice!

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