Unsolicited Advice: It Came From The Search Terms


In a small, secret part of my mind I’ve always wanted to be an advice columnist. I mean, don’t we all? In the absence of any actual people asking me actual advice, I’m going to take the next best thing. That’s right! It’s time to respond to the search terms.

 

1. How to not be a douchecanoe

I find that it helps to take a mental step aside from my own perspective to try to see a situation from someone else’s point of view. Don’t assume everything’s about you. Be considerate and kind and understand that people don’t owe you more than consideration and kindness in return. Be clear about your own boundaries and gracious about the boundaries of others.

If you’re having a specifically pronoun-related attack of asshattery, try my detailed advice. For simply being more excellent all-round, spend a few days reading through Captain Awkward. Pay close attention to the comments.

2. blackface.com

Please refer to question one. Repeat frequently until you understand the reasons why it is truly terrible. Then promise to do better next time.

3. ah women unicorn bisexual

You wouldn’t want to hurt the unicorn, would you? Would you?

But seriously: if by ‘unicorn’ you mean ‘a hot bi babe who will sex up me and my girlfriend/boyfriend’, then I’d recommend starting with a couple of understandings:

  1. The amount of ‘unicorns’ in the world is far outweighed by the amount of m/f couples who are looking for them. You gotta impress, y’know?
  2. Despite the name, they are people. Not mythical creatures. People with feelings and desires and boundaries all of their own, which are going to be every bit as important as yours are.
  3. The world doesn’t owe you a unicorn.

With these 3 facts, you’re now better informed than 99% of people out there looking for unicorns! Go forth and be lovely and have fun!

was jesus a vampire

Yes. Duh.

did vampire drink jesus blood

Probably.

was marie fleming afraid of death

Oh, I hope not. As far as I know, though, she was far more afraid of a long and painful end then death itself. According to her partner, her dearest wish was to die peacefully in her own home. She got that wish, at least, and I hope that she was loved and not afraid. What more can any of us hope for?

feminists shame men by calling them homosexual

Who are these ‘feminists’? Because they’re asshats of the highest degree and homophobes to boot, and I would like to have a word with them. Several words.

i am a lesbian dating a man

I hope you are very happy! A present for you: check out Erika Moen’s DAR. I just read it this week on the recommendation of my housemate. It’s a lovely comic about a woman who is, among other things, someone who identified as a lesbian until she met her husband. It’s super cute and full of ❤

what sauce is chicken wings cooked in in ireland

Potato. Just potato.

need people to talk to about being closet

Oh, honey. The closet is a scary place to be, isn’t it? I don’t know where you are or what you’re in the closet as, so I can’t offer specific advice- although do try googling your location and LGBT, if you feel brave enough. There might be an LGBTQ switchboard or community centre who you can talk to in person?

If not.. well, there’s the internet, and there are plenty of supports and advice online.

If I could only give you one piece of advice? It would be to care for yourself. Being in the closet is scary. So is coming out and being out. Both of these are things you can do from a place of harming yourself or a place of caring for yourself. Ask yourself- is being in the closet stifling who I am as a human? Is it keeping me from flourishing and feeling connected to others? But also ask yourself- Would coming out be safe for me? How can I protect myself through that process?

If you do decide to come out, think carefully about who to talk to first. That first coming out? It’s going to be the most vulnerable moment of all. If things go well, then for every moment after that you’ll have at least one person who’s on your side and who’s got your back. Do you know someone who you think is supportive of LGBTQ people? Better still, is there anyone you know who is already out? Are any of these people who you think could be trusted, both to keep your confidence as long as you need it, and to be kind to you through the process?

It’s okay if you find people online first. It’s okay to take your time. It’s okay to come out to only some people, to one or two, or to everyone. Remember: care for yourself.

do you put cumin on vegetables

I sure do! One of my favourite comfort foods is potato wedges made by chopping up some spuds (skin ‘n’ all, natch) and then roasting them with loads of cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. Then I nom them up with BBQ sauce mixed with mayo. Yum!

lesbians in my soup

Oh dear. Are they burnt? You probably want to take them out and cool them down. Maybe a nice cold shower? Unless they’re in gazpacho, in which case a nice hot bath would be in order.

Also, how did they get there?

Credit: thewrongbathroom.wordpress.com

why dont gay men date lesbians

Why don’t gay men date lesbians. Why don’t gay men date lesbians? Why don’t gay men date lesbians?

 

p.s. Yes some gay men are dating lesbians I am sure because sexuality isn’t always black and white and people find love in all sorts of unexpected places and I hope that they are all very happy indeed.

But still.

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How To Not Be A Complete Douchecanoe To Gender Variant People: Pronouns Edition


We’re going to have to get something out of the way before I start this: I didn’t watch the Eurovision this year. Or last year. I think the last time I saw it was either three or four years ago. It was a perfectly pleasant experience, although I generally rather my rare moments of alcohol-induced patriotism come with less Jedward. What I’m getting at here is that while I completely understand the appeal of camp spectacle and national pride, I was perfectly content with my own decision to spend the evening knocking my friends (and bare acquaintances) over in stinky skate gear. We all have our hobbies, y’know?

I have gathered from the internet that this person likes to sing songs and also have fabulous hair on her face as well as on her head.

Anyhoo, even from where I was sitting it was impossible to miss that this year’s winner (or at least, the person everyone’s talking about) is Conchita Wurst. Unable to resist a palaver, I gave ‘er a google and a watch. Aside from having a daycent song (if you like that kind of thing, which I do), Wurst also presents as strikingly gender-variant. And also just plain striking (those eyes!). And while most people are cheerfully (and accurately) exclaiming about how great she is, there’s also the loudmouths who seem to have missed out on how to deal courteously and calmly with the fact that there exist people on this planet whose genders aren’t immediately apparent to bystanders.

This post is for them.

A little note before we start: I, your friendly blogger, am cis. This post is by me. If you read this and then talk to someone who’s not cis and they disagree with me, then for the love of all that’s cute and fluffy listen to them and don’t you dare refer to me to argue with them because I am significantly more likely to be wrong than they are.

That said, let’s go on.

Panic, Chaos, Dogs And Cats Living Together, Nothing In My Life Has Prepared Me For This!

And with that, here’s your friendly message directing you to the Tea Cosy’s new home for the rest of the post. See you there!

‘Winning the War’ for Marriage Equality?


Love, Joy, Feminism is one of my favourite blogs, and has been for a long time. Libby Anne’s writing has a wonderful combination of clarity and empathy that I always look forward to reading. A couple of weeks month or so ago (can you tell I’m a little behind on responding to things?) she wrote about marriage equality. Hardline anti-LGBTQ US evangelicals are losing support for their position not only in the general population, but in Millennials within their own communities. There’s some lovely looking graphs at her post, by the way- go check it out!

Libby Anne describes this, happily, as anti-LGBTQ evangelicals losing not only the individual state ‘battles’ against equality, but the ‘war’ as well. If we’re talking about marriage equality in the United States, this is undoubtedly true. If you widen your lens to take in my own Western Europe as well as some parts of South America, it stays that way. In these parts of the world more LGBT people are entitled either to legal equality- or at the very least some legal protections- than ever before.

Does that mean we’re winning the war, though? I’m not sure. But it definitely doesn’t mean that it’s okay to see “marriage equality throughout the United States” as the war that needs to be won. It doesn’t even mean that “marriage equality throughout the United States” is the war that needs to be won by USians.

There’s a parochialism to a lot of USian thought. You have a massive country that has been exercising a cultural dominance (among other things) over huge swathes of the rest of the world for decades. Lifetimes, even. Like all social relations borne of inequality, we in the rest of the world pay a lot more attention to you than you do to us. We know more about you than vice-versa. Non-USians internalise US concerns and understand some of the nuances of US culture(s) in a way that is not reciprocated.

Not reciprocated, that is, in all ways except one. The average USian doesn’t have the understanding of Irish (or German, Argentinian, Ugandan or Thai) politics and society that we do of yours, but this hasn’t stopped the US from actively interfering in other countries. Sometimes this is overt militarism. Sometimes it’s more subtle, but no less real. Take here in Ireland, where antichoice forces are bankrolled by American backers. People who have never met us campaigning for laws that will never affect them. Similarly, when you look outside your borders you can see that many homophobic USian fundamentalist evangelicals have set their sights outside your country and are busy interfering elsewhere to drum up homophobia, transphobia, and legal and physical violence against LGBTQ people. It’s not that the war is being won. Battles may be being won, but front lines don’t end at a particular nation’s border. The war is shifting, being taken by USians to places where most USians aren’t even looking.

The progress made in Western and Central Europe, the Americas and Australia on marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ rights and protections is incredible, although even in these parts of the world we’ve a long way to go. There are battles being won. But the rest of the world- Eastern Europe, Asia, the vast majority of Africa and the Middle East- matter every bit as much. Especially when Western forces have been interfering in most of these parts world for centuries, we don’t get to wash out hands of the results of our ongoing interference. Ever.

The war is nowhere close to being won.

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Marginalisation and Anger


Last week Several months ago because half of this post got buried in my drafts folder for ages before I decided to resurrect/finish it this week, Patrick RichardsFink published a post called Dear Straight People. It was about, among other things, microaggressions and the reaction of straight people to queer anger and frustration- which is, of course, something that can be expanded to speaking of any relatively privileged person reacting to the anger of any relatively marginalised or oppressed person. It sparked off a long and involved conversation over on Facebook, and, to be honest.. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I feel a lot of things about it. It seems to me that when we talk about this- and this is not the first conversation I’ve had this month on the topic- we talk past each other. We all speak from our own pain, reacting to the unfairness that we experience, and it’s tough to listen to others. Especially when, as we’re talking about anger, people are on edge. This post won’t be a conclusive statement or a manifesto on how we should all act towards each other forever. It’s about exploring what I see as some of the different threads and conversations going on, and trying to get to a place where we’re talking about the same things at the same times. I’m bringing in quotes and perspectives from earlier, not because I necessarily agree with all of them, but because I want them to be part of the conversation. Oh, and one note, before we start: Please don’t assume someone’s orientation or identity from what they write, unless it’s specifically stated in the text.

Do marginalised people get to express anger?

This is the most obvious question. Nobody disagreed with this: everyone accepted that marginalised people (we were largely talking about queer people but some referred to other experiences they have) get to feel upset, frustrated and angry, and that attempts to force us to be constantly polite are damaging and oppressive.

Continue reading over at the Tea Cosy’s new home!

Sceptics, Religion and Queers, and some Rather Exciting News


Do you know how tough it can be to sit on incredibly exciting news for days on end, while you get things in order for the big announcement? Especially if you happen to be the kind of person who likes talking about things so much that they habitually do it in public for all the internet to see? And if your news is that you’re now going to be writing for one of your favourite sites on the entire internet? It is really tough.

Which is why I’m both excited and relieved to be able to link you to my first post at Queereka. Queereka, if you’re not familiar with it (though you should be) is the Skepchick network’s LGBTQ sister-site. The Skepchick network is a ridiculously awesome group of sites which have in common a feminist, sceptical perspective, and I couldn’t be more chuffed to be able to write for them.

And with that, on to some linking!

Why don’t LGBTQ people leave their religion after their communities harm them?

It’s a question you see a lot, around the skeptical side of the internet. You’ll hear yet another case of an LGBTQ person being treated horrendously by their religious community. Maybe it’s another kid being kicked out of home after they come out. Maybe it’s another teacher being fired from the job they excel in after their employers find out who they’ve married. Maybe they’re not as lucky as that kid or that teacher, and it’s their body or their life that’s been put at risk by the religious communities they come from.

We see these things happening, and every single time, someone wonders the same thing: why on Earth are there any LGBT religious people left? Why aren’t LGBT people hightailing it out of their religions, haemorrhaging from their churches, mosques, temples and synagogues without a backward glance?

Continue to my answer- and don’t forget to let me know what you think!- over at Sceptics, Religion and Queers, Oh Myyy.

 

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Curing The Gays Of Our Gayness: An Open Letter To RTE


Hi there RTE,

I would say that I’m not normally one for open letters, but this is the second in as many months. Congratulations- you’re turning a first into a trend.

I’m afraid, though, that that’s all I can congratulate you on tonight. You see, I’m writing this to express, well, my utter outrage and disgust at the extremely irresponsible and damaging actions of your spokespeople tonight. Specifically? On The God Slot’s Twitter account.

The God Slot- that’s, as you know, a programme on your very own RTE Radio 1- published this tweet regarding their programme for Friday 17th January:

godslot

“Can gays be cured of being gay? Try The God Slot Fri 17.01”

When challenged on this, this was one of their responses:

"Can questions not be posed in this age of fascism masquerading as liberalism?" Pic credit @mattuna

“Can questions not be posed in this age of fascism masquerading as liberalism?”
Pic credit @mattuna

You deleted the posts several hours after they were made- a bad mistake, by the way, in a social media landscape where accountability is expected and screenshots are barely a click away.

There are several points I need to make on this. If I were you, I’d make sure I was sitting comfortably.

Curing “The Gays”

Let’s start with the idea of a ‘cure’, shall we? Let’s take a moment to ask a question- what is it that needs to be cured? That’s not a trick question, by the way- there’s an obvious answer. We cure illnesses and disorders. Sometimes those are things which we catch from others. Sometimes they are genetic, innate syndromes, inheritable conditions that require treatment. Sometimes they’re mutations in our cells gone wild. However we came about them, we cure- or attempt to cure- the things that are wrong with us.

Being LGBTQ- really, describing our entire community as ‘gay’ is so twenty years ago- is not something that is wrong with us. I don’t say that because many LGBTQ people feel that we were born with our orientations, or because our identities are as consistent throughout our lives as those of straight people. I say that because, unlike the homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that we live with, our sexual and romantic orientations are a source of profound joy, connection, intimacy, family and community.

When you ask if gays can be “cured” of our gayness, you don’t just ask if a particular characteristic can be changed- you assert that it is something disordered. And somehow, somehow you manage to do that in utter ignorance that the thing you are describing as disordered is one of the most transcendent experiences we humans have. You are saying that our falling in love- from the moment we meet someone who catches our eye, to the sparkling bliss of a new relationship, to building homes, supporting each other through our lives, all the way to holding each other safe and caring for each other through our final days- that this is a sickness.

Love is not a neutral trait. It is not something we can idly talk about ‘curing’. To ask whether we can be cured of our gayness- or, as you didn’t mention, of our bi-ness and our queerness- is to ask whether we can be cured of profound love, cured of some of our closest and most valued relationships.

A Question of Pointlessness

Let’s leave that for the moment, though, shall we? Let’s pretend for a second that you are not asking about a cure which would destroy families and tear loving relationships and marriages apart. Let’s leave the word ‘cure’ behind and simply ask, in more neutral and less homophobic terms: does therapy to alter a person’s sexual orientation work? Is this something that is still open to questioning?

If you ask the World Health Organisation or the American Psychiatric Association, the verdict is a firm ‘no’- conversion therapy does not work, homo and bisexuality are not disorders, and it is, in fact, unethical to attempt it. You’d get a similar answer from the American Counseling Association, the Pan American Health Organization, the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists- any legitimate, reputable organisation you can find. ‘Therapies’ with the aim of changing people’s sexual orientation are both entirely ineffective and profoundly damaging.

There is no question to be asked on this worth spending an hour on. To do so does nothing but foster the illusion that there is a debate to be had on this subject. The debate is over. It has been over for years.

And remember: this is not simply a clever topic to play with. This debate is about our families, our relationships, our ability to love. Is about ‘curing’ us of our partners, our husbands, our wives. It is about curing children of their mothers or of their fathers.

Let’s move on.

Fascists, Queers, and Remarkable Ignorance

I would have hoped that your staff, being professionals working in a field made up entirely of communication and sharing of perspectives, would be able to respond with dignity and respect to feedback. I would have hoped that they wouldn’t accuse LGBT people responding to them of “fascism masquerading as liberalism”.

I would have expected, RTE, that you would have some people employed to research the topics you’re covering* and the people being covered by them. I would also have expected them to show some competence. I would have expected them to have a basic knowledge of history, for example, and to know that describing LGBT people defending our right to not be ‘cured’ of our orientation as fascists is not only inaccurate, but deeply ignorant of the profound homophobia of fascism, both in its historical and current forms. Fascists kill queers. They kill- and if you go back a few decades, killed in huge numbers- people like me. How dare you use the label owned by people who have murdered countless queer people to describe a queer person defending their right to exist? How dare you?

And at the end of all of this, here is the apology we recieve:

You apologise if we are offended. You do not apologise for your words. You do not apologise for the damage they cause. You apologise for our feelings, not for your actions. And- to add insult to injury- you entirely ignore what you said after your initial tweet.

This is not good enough, RTE.

Edited to add: If you feel like RTE should be held accountable for their actions, you can send them a complaint here: complaints@rte.ie

*On the off chance you’re looking for a researcher, by the way, I do have a couple of social science degrees and a bunch of postgrad research experience under my belt. Y’know where to find me.

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CeCe McDonald is free.


CeCe McDonald is free. Finally, Cece McDonald is free.

If you haven’t heard of CeCe, here’s the deal: She’s been in prison since 2011 for killing a man in self-defence. And not the kind of self-defence where you think someone’s looking at you funny or walking around the place carrying suspicious Skittles so you shoot them point-blank and get away scot-free. This is the other kind of self-defence, where you’re walking down the street and a group of people attack you because they don’t like people of your race and gender walking down the street. Where when you attempt to walk away they smash bottles against your face, leaving you permanently scarred and with a severed saliva gland. And when you defend yourself with a scissors from your bag, you kill your attacker. Where, when the case goes to court, neither your attacker’s three previous convictions for violent assault nor his swastika tattoo are considered admissible evidence of his violent, racist disposition, but a motion to impeach your evidence because you once wrote a bad check is admitted.

That’s the kind of self defence where, if you’re a black trans woman, you are sentenced to 41 months in a men’s prison and, as a bonus, are forced to pay for your attacker’s funeral.

I’ve been thinking about womanhood. How my cis white womanhood protects me, while CeCe’s black trans womanhood made her a target.

My cis white womanhood grants me invisibility and the presumption of a kind of vulnerability deserving of protection. If I had been in that courtroom, there would have been no question that I acted in self-defence. A white, cis woman with a scissors in her bag? Sure, don’t women carry everything around with them? Insert handbags joke here, before carrying on. But black trans womanhood gets no such leeway, instead pointed out at every moment as other, as deviant, as a wild card and a threat.

If I had been in that courtroom, there would have been no question but that I acted in self defence. But with my cis white womanhood, I would never have been in that courtroom. I would never have been in that courtroom to defend my defence of my own life because with my cis white womanhood me and my friends would have walked past that bar and arrived home entirely, or at least relatively, unmolested. We might have rolled our eyes about the loudmouth asshats in the bar we passed, and then someone would have passed me a beer and we would’ve forgotten all about it. White cis women are no strangers to violence, but there are kinds of violence, kinds of punishment for existing, that cisness and whiteness protect us from.

Because womanhood when mitigated by whiteness and cisness translates into our world as small, unthreatening, mostly harmless, and a person who (publicly) attacked me would be seen as a monster. White cis women’s anger is called whininess, nagginess, bitchiness because it is seen as an annoyance, not a threat. But womanhood, when compounded by transness and blackness translates into our world as perverse, deviant, a simultaneous weakness and threat to everything heteronormativity holds dear. A person who attacks a black trans woman- provoked or not- is not seen as a monster. They are seen as defending themselves from monsters.

Every part of CeCe’s experience- from her initial unprovoked attack, to her unjust trial, to the further humiliation of being incarcerated in a men’s prison- played out the way it did because of this culture-wide dehumanisation and monstering of black trans women. She was punished, punished again, and punished a third time for this crime. And make no mistake- it was all of these things, the combination of these things, the way that each one twists our perception of the others to push a person further and further into something other, that led to her punishments.

CeCe McDonald spent two and a half years in jail for having the unmitigated gall to defend herself from an unprovoked attack. CeCe McDonald spent two and a half years in jail for surviving. CeCe McDonald is free.

 

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