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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I Hope Their Kid Is Gay


Have you seen the latest hoax this week? Several articles- all copying and pasting the same thing, of course- claiming that Robert Mugabe‘s son has come out as gay. In case you’ve been under a rock for the last few decades, Mugabe has been either Prime Minister or President of Zimbabwe for longer than I’ve been alive. And I’ve got more than five or six grey hairs. As with most people who’ve been executive heads of states for thirty-odd years, his career hasn’t exactly been a wonderful golden age of prosperity and safeguarding of human rights. I’m no expert in Zimbabwean politics, though, so let’s just stick with one point: Mugabe is a virulent homophobe whose government has brought in laws making it illegal for two people of the same sex to as much as hold hands, and who has described LGBT people as “worse than dogs and pigs”.

He’s probably not volunteering to set up a local chapter of PFLAG, y’know?

Of course, the story isn’t real- Robert Mugabe doesn’t have a son called Chipape, never mind a gay one. But it did spread quickly before (and, it seems, even after) the inevitable 5-minute debunking. That’s not a surprise- it’s exactly the kind of story that people like to hear. Because LGBT people show up in all kinds of families, it’s never too much to hope that well-known homophobes will have to face up to people they love dearly coming out. And we all know that nothing crumbles homophobia to dust quite like knowing, loving and understanding someone who’s queer. Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone like Mugabe was forced to come to terms with having a queer son or daughter? Couldn’t it change everything? Wouldn’t it be the perfect combination of redemption narrative and schadenfreude?

Not really. No.

Where is your empathy?

Seriously. If that narrative sounded glorious to you, where is your empathy? I ask this in a very literal sense. Who have you empathy with?

It seems to me like the people being noticed here are you and the homophobic parent. The homophobic parent gets their comeuppance. With any luck, they learn a valuable lesson about acceptance and (eventually) come to love and accept their gay son or daughter, after getting the shock of their lives. You get to sit back and enjoy watching your enemy squirm, before putting on your most benevolent smile and welcoming them over to our side. Everyone has a great time.

Except for the kid.

You see, in this story you forget about that kid. The one who had to grow up knowing that their parents- the people who are supposed to love you most unconditionally- despise a basic part of who they are.

In the best-case scenario, it turns out okay in the end. Before that, though? The best case scenario involves that child growing up learning that anything other than cisgender heterosexuality is an abomination. It involves the dawning realisation on the part of that kid that they are the abomination everyone hates so much. Years of trying desperately to change themselves. Years of trying to hide. Years of fear of losing everyone that they love. Of knowing deep down, every single moment, that they have to pretend to be someone they’re not.

In the best-case scenario, this child- who has been unknowingly brutalised their entire life- finds support and love somewhere. They find a place to stay and a community to accept them when their family rejects them. Over months or years, their family comes around and, eventually, things are okay. Mostly.

Okay, except for the pain inflicted on that innocent kid in ways that never truly goes away.

That’s the best-case scenario. I don’t think I can stomach the worst.

We are not your punchline. We are not your punishment.

I’m going to say that again. Queer people? We do not exist to provide punchlines in straight people’s stories. We do not exist to punish straight people for the error of their ways. Life is not a fairy tale, and we are not supporting characters in someone else’s morality play.

I don’t hope that Mugabe has a queer kid. I don’t hope that the WBCers do- although it’s highly unlikely that all of their kids will grow up cis and het. For their sakes, I hope that they do.

I don’t want queer kids to be born into families that hate them, so that they can do the work of converting their families to our cause. I want queer kids to be born and raised by families who love and cherish them for exactly who they are. I want the to grow up knowing that whatever the rest of the world will throw at them for being queer- and it will- they always have somewhere safe to come home to.

And if you don’t agree? Put yourself in that kid’s shoes. Then get back to me.

Why You Need To Quit Calling Homophobes Closet Cases.


A comment over at The Journal:

Homophobia is often a symptom of latent homosexuality. Homophobes need to be encouraged to accept their orientation.

I quote it because it’s so common. We hear this all the time. Someone expresses wildly homophobic views, and the response is that they must be closeted themselves. They’ve got some issues to deal with, amirite? Some personal stuff they need to work out. Wink. Nudge. Know what I mean?

Yeah. I know what you mean.

Sometimes you’re right. Lots of people do respond to internal conflicts by acting out. Loads of vehemently homophobic people are closeted. But I’ve got a few issues with ‘homophobes are all queers’ being our go-to explanation.

…and you can find them out over at the Tea Cosy’s new home!

Episode 233: A(nother) New Pope


Happy New Pope Day, eh? After a Popeless fortnight during which the Vatican got struck by lightning and a kid got cured of HIV- yes, I know that correlation and causation are not the same thing. But you can’t say there isn’t a certain poetic justice to what happened after Benedict’s resignation.

The first thing I heard about the new guy was that he’s a Jesuit, he’s calling himself Francis, he lives a simple lifestyle and even takes the bus to work and lives in an apartment. He’s the first non-European pope in over a millenium, the only Southerner to ever get the job, and he’s vocally opposed to extreme poverty. Unlike the last guy, a quick scan of his Wiki page doesn’t detail allegations of covering up numerous cases of child abuse. After the Papacy of a man described (among other things) as the high priest of fashion, this didn’t seem half bad. My Nan, a devout Catholic and lifelong fan of St Francis, would’ve loved him. I can see the appeal.

But then you look a little deeper. Let’s start with my pet topics: abortions and queers.

Are we all to be homophobic misogynists now, Father?

Much has been made of the fact that Francis believes that homosexual people (as they delightfully refer to us) should be treated with respect. This, however, ignores the fact he is more or less obligated to do so. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (a rip-roaring read if ever I saw one) acknowledges that there are many people with homosexual tendencies. Their official line is one of hating the sin and loving the sinner:

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

There’s nothing special about Francis’s assertion that the homos shouldn’t be actively hunted down. He’s only following the party line. And when it comes to actually having respect for queer folks and our relationships, he goes right back to that Catechism for a line to follow to the very letter:

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

Surprised? Here’s what he had to say about the introduction of equal marriage in Argentina in 2010:

We’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.

Francis is okay with LGBTQ people existing. If we dare to love each other, though, we become little more than tools of Satan himself. Strong words, eh? You ain’t seen nothing yet:

At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.

You’d think that someone as intelligent as Francis, working in an organisation like the Catholic Church, would steer clear of, say, describing kids being raised by two loving parents of the same gender as child abuse. One would think that someone in his position would be painfully aware of precisely what does constitute child abuse. That he might not want to bring up the topic when he doesn’t have to, maybe. Obviously not.

And, of course, he’s that special kind of anti-choicer who figures that people who are raped should be forced to give birth, and that anyone who disagrees with this should be denied communion. Charming.

All of this, however, is well within Catholic doctrine and precisely what we should expect. Being a homophobic misogynist is a requirement for the job. However, there are questions over the head of Pope Francis that go far, far deeper than the disregard for women and queers that we’ve come to know and love. How do you feel about dictatorships?

He didn’t, did he?

I’m no expert on Argentinian politics and history. I barely manage keep up with things going on around here, never mind a country of, er, about ten times the population of Ireland that happens to be a bit far away. Even I, however, know that Argentina’s had a bit of a problem with military dictatorships and state terrorism in the recent past. The TL;DR of it is that the 1970s weren’t a great place to be a person with an opinion inconvenient to the regime in Argentina. The bright side of that, of course, was that if you were a person with an opinion inconvenient to the regime, you wouldn’t have to worry about things like rent and electricity bills for very long. What I’m getting at, by the way, is abductions, torture and concentration camps.

Pope Francis, though, is a man so sensitive to the value of human life that he extends it to fetuses and people with painful, terminal illnesses begging for their suffering to end. He’s bound to have come out all guns blazing against a dictatorship willing to kill people even after they’ve been born, right? Right?

Eh, no.

It turns out that Pope Benedict isn’t the only recent Holy Father to have a somewhat dodgy history when it comes to fascism.

Remember the way that Francis would deny communion to pro-choicers and euthanasia advocates? What do you think his attitude would be, then, to a man who took responsibility for the kidnapping, torture and murder in concentration camps of tens of thousands of his political opponents? Not to mention taking newborn babies from their mothers at these concentration camps. Surely a man so concerned with protecting the family from the threat of same-sex couples would not have been able to remain silent?

He did.

Francis didn’t just remain silent- he actively collaborated with the regime. What do you think of hiding political prisoners from the visiting delagation Inter-American Human Rights Commission in his own summer house? (The Guardian has since retracted this claim- see comments below). How about removing religious licences from two members of his own Jesuit order, just before they were kidnapped by the regime? Convenient, eh? Remember what I mentioned above about newborn babies being stolen from their captive mothers. What would you think of a man who remained silent when he found out the details of the important family that one of these stolen babies was given to?

But hey. He lives in an apartment. He takes the bus to work. He sometimes hangs out with poor people, and once he washed the feet of people living with AIDS. And these days, he speaks out against the abuses that he collaborated with all the time. That makes it all okay. Right?

We are Jamaicans: Javed Jaghai


There’s this.

Watching this I remember someone I don’t get to remember. When I was a kid, my dad had a best friend who lived in London. I’m told I met him when I was very young. I always heard about him, though.

He was one of the people who had to leave. Ireland didn’t just export its unemployed back then, you know. The undesirables had to go. Remember reading this week about the Magdalene escapees who fled to England?

I don’t remember him because you couldn’t be a gay man dying of AIDS and stay in your home back then. Not where he was from. Not here.

It’s not very long ago, and it sure as hell wasn’t very far away. We don’t get to look at the situation for LGBT people and those who love them in Jamaica and think that it’s somehow far from our own experiences. The changes in Irish society came about so quickly, and they did so because first some, then many of us found the courage to live our lives openly, but there are still thousands of people in this country scared of who they are and of what their communities will think of them. We’re not so different, even now.

So let’s not look at videos like this and pat ourselves on the back. Let’s look at these and remember that we’ve a lot of work to do, in every part of the world, before we’ve seen the last person growing up and being rejected for who they are and who they love.

 

Don’t Call Me Bisexual: another oldie


This was originally posted back in 2010. I came across it as I was looking for my old civil partnerships video, and figured I’d give it an airing. Enjoy!

 

Don’t call me bisexual.

Seriously, don’t. Call me bi, call me queer, you can even call me by my name if you really want to. But I don’t like being called bisexual.

I’m happy to be open about my orientation. As long as I’m in a relatively safe situation- nobody going to actually harm me- my preference is to be out. It prevents some misunderstandings and misconceptions, it’s an important part of my self and my history, and it’s good for people to know that they know someone who’s queer. Being out is also a very handy asshole filtration system, sparing hours to months of wasted time spent with people to turn out to be small minded bigots. Not to mention the fact that, if I happen to be interested in meeting someone or getting to know them a little better, having the orientation thing worked out as early as possible makes things run a lot smoother than they otherwise would. I recommend it to practically everyone, really I do.

Sexuality ≠ sex

One of the profoundly irritating things about being open about one’s orientation, as I’m sure some of you know all too well, is the assumption that coming out involves a revelation about one’s sex life. That if I come out I’ve shared something personal, even intimate, and that coming out opens a window to all sorts of juicy conversations and details.

It really doesn’t. Think about it this way: if you and I are strangers, and then we meet, it is likely that you’ll* assume that I’m straight. We live in a heteronormative society. Most people assume that most other people are straight. So we’ve met, and you have, consciously or unconsciously, assumed that I am only interested in sexual or romantic relationships with men.

If I tell you that I’m bi, you know less about what (who?) I do than you did before. You’ve lost the only point of information you thought you had. I tell you that I’m bi, then you know absolutely nothing about my sex life*. And that is just fine by me.

You see, I don’t want to talk about my sex life in public. I really don’t. Maybe someday I’ll change my mind about this one, but right now it would feel highly unpleasant, a violation of something very personal and important, which I want to keep between me and Relevant Others**. I like to keep my private life private.

Being ‘out’ doesn’t tell you about my personal life. It doesn’t tell you about who I am or am not involved with, it doesn’t tell you anything about my likes or dislikes. It doesn’t tell you anything about kinks and turn-ons. It doesn’t tell you anything about the kinds of relationships I like to be in. It doesn’t even tell you anything particularly meaningful about the type of people I’m attracted to. All it says anything about is that if you do find out about any of that stuff in the future, or even if I happen to mention someone I’m involved with, you can’t be guaranteed a ‘he’.

Language and homophobes

Have you ever noticed that whenever homophobes are talking about LGBT people, that can’t stop referring to us as ‘homosexuals’? You’d rarely hear an ‘LGBT people’, or even a ‘gay and lesbian’***. You might hear a ‘queer’, but you can bet it has nothing to do with queer theory. You might also have noticed that homophobic types tend to be rather preoccupied with queer people’s (feverishly) imagined sex lives. It’s always all ‘sodomy’ this and ‘lifestyle’ that.

This isn’t necessarily a coincidence. I read an article from the New York Times last week which touched on this topic. This article references a February CBS/New York Times news poll, where

half of the respondents were asked if they favored letting “gay men and lesbians” serve in the military (which is still more than 85 percent male), and the other half were asked if they favored letting “homosexuals” serve. Those who got the “homosexual” question favored it at a rate that was 11 percentage points lower than those who got the “gay men and lesbians” question.

Part of the difference may be that “homosexual” is a bigger, more clinical word freighted with a lot of historical baggage. But just as likely is that the inclusion of the root word “sex” still raises an aversive response to the idea of, how shall I say, the architectural issues between two men. It is the point at which support for basic human rights cleaves from endorsement of behavior.

This makes sense, if you think about it. Just like I don’t want everybody knowing details about my sex life, I don’t want to know the details of theirs. I’m quite profoundly lacking in attraction to the vast majority of people. While on a theoretical level I hope that everyone’s having a marvellous time with people who are having a marvellous time back at them, I really don’t want to know the details. If we don’t want to know about the sex lives of strangers- particularly strangers whose sex lives are personally unappealing to ourselves- then we are less likely to feel positively towards them if every time we refer to them, the word we use to do so is, quite literally, full of sex. I’d like to get away from that.

Would you like a stereotype?

All of this is, for me, closely related to prevailing stereotypes about those of us who are attracted to people of more than one gender. There’s the ones where you’re confused and can’t make up your mind, the ones where you’re flighty and immature. There’s the ones where you’ll sleep with anything that moves. The ones where you’re untrustworthy and bound to cheat on your partner with someone of another gender. Where you can’t be trusted.

A lot of this is about our sex lives- or, to be more specific, about the preconceptions that people have about our sex lives. It’s assumed (by some!) that any bi person in a relationship with another person will be tortured with desires and fantasies about people of another sex until we just can’t help ourselves. That, despite this, we don’t know our desires and that we’ll eventually settle down into one ‘side’ or the other. Even that our orientation as a whole can be determined from a quick glance at our most recent, or current, partner(s).

I know that no single word can completely eradicate biphobia and stereotyping. I also know that it is not my responsibility to single-handedly change the minds of every biphobe and homophobe out there- that’s up to them. And I know that I could be seen to be coming perilously close to blaming members of an oppressed group for the actions of oppressors. This is not what I mean to do. I do not blame anyone for choosing to identify themselves as ‘bisexual’. It’s a legitimate word, and identifying that way in no way absolves anyone from acting in a discriminatory way.

However, I do retain the right to want to make my life just that little bit more smoothly.

Back to me. Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

So say ‘bi’, if you like. It’s not ideal- it implies that I have two sexualities, for one thing, which is a bit bizarre. But it gets the point across, it’s a word everyone knows the meaning of, and it’s far less likely to get you thinking about my sex life. Or you can say ‘queer’. I like ‘queer’, but I’m well aware that it’s quite the loaded term for many people, so I prefer to use it only when I’m sure people will understand my meaning, and not find it offensive or triggering. Or you can say that I’m not too picky when it comes to gender****. I don’t mind, I’m not fussy. Just don’t call me bisexual.

 

*Bar the fact that I most certainly hope that you are assuming that it includes consenting adults.

**And whoever I happen to be talking to after a few margaritas. Random drunk people are relevant, right? Right?

***Not that I’d know anything about that. Nothing to do with me, them Gays And Lesbians. Entirely different category over here. Although I do have quite a similar lifestyle to many of my gay friends, so it is possible that all of us, straight people included, are Living A Homosexual Lifestyle.

****I am, actually. In my own way. But if you want to find out more about that, you’d best start making up the margaritas.

 

What do you think? Do you think that the 2010 version of me was on the mark with this one? How’d you feel about the oversexualisation of queer identities? If you’re someone who fancies people of more than one gender (high five!), how do you prefer to identify and why?

Marriage and the Homos: I get comments


I woke up this morning to the following comment in my mod queue:

A true cynic will criticize everyone, both the majority and the minority. I oppose homosexuality, and I blame heterosexuals for promoting it implicitly by their own increasingly pleasure-seeking sexual activity.

http://agalltyr.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/gay-marriage-is-bad-for-society-and-so-are-condoms-and-porn/

To have a meaningful life, do not seek pleasure. Instead seek meaning and purpose. Homosexuality, like many forms of heterosexuality, has no real purpose.

While this comment is ridiculous and the blog the commenter links to even more so, I would like to engage with some of the ideas he brings up

Seeking Pleasure and Meaning

Matthew’s accusation towards us queermos (and a lot of you straight people out there!) is that we get into relationships for no good reason other than pleasure.

Guilty as charged.

While my relationship with the Ladyfriend brings many wonderful things into my life, the primary reason that I’m with her? Happiness. She makes me smile the kind of smile that feels like it goes past my face and under my ribs all the way to my frickin’ toes. Everything else stems from that. I work on our relationship, through our differences, to be the best partner I can be because being around her makes me really, really happy.

And y’know what? That’s precisely the same reason that straight people do exactly the same thing. We make each other happy. Happiness and pleasure aren’t different to meaning- they’re part of meaning. Sharing pleasure, joy and fulfilment are a huge part of what makes our lives meaningful. Following the things which bring you most joy is, in my view, one of the best ways to figure out what your life should mean.

No real purpose?

Matthew would have us think that homosexuality is purposeless, as is, I assume, any hetero relationship that doesn’t involve children.

Take a moment. Think about the people you love. Think about the ways they enrich your life. How they encourage you to follow your dreams. How you are inspired to be a better person by their example and presence. How much learning is involved in sharing your life with others. The ways that you help each other through hard times and share your happinesses. All of the innumerable ways in which the people you love make your life a hell of a lot better than it otherwise could ever be.

That’s purpose. That’s what our relationships are for– they’re an end in themselves. The good things about relationships are, well, the good things about relationships. If Matthew has never had a loved one support him through a tough time, or phoned up someone to share good news, or kicked back with a friend to enjoy a hobby, then I feel sorry for him. If he has, though, then he knows full well that relationships are important just as they are.