Name::straighttalker05 From::Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
I'm an avid dreamer. I have big ideas, and I'll probably take them somewhere. Watch this space.
I want to present what I think - and not with words minced up into an acceptable platter. Some things need to be told straight - particularly gay rights. Particularly life in the closet, it's very nature means no one hears it. If they do it's usually tinted with nostalgia.
I'm confident, I know what I like and what I don't. Please don't confuse this for arrogance. I'm probably more insecure then you imagine. View my complete profile
The NSPCC (National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children) has reported a rise in callers to their helpline to ask for help with homophobic bullying. In my opinion this is not because homophobic bullying is a new phenomena in schools, but more that young LGBT teenagers realise that it is wrong.
There was a 21% rise in calls to Childline about all types of bullying in the year up to March 2006. About a quarter of all calls to the helpline are about bullying of some form or other. LGBT youth feel unable to tell teachers or parents, and thus feel lonely and isolated.
Many teachers ignore verbal abuse of gay young people, passing it off as a normal part of growing up in a school environment. This may then escalate into physical abuse. All of which has a detrimental effect on LGBT youth.
The Liberal Democrats have produced three points which they think should be implemented immediately:
1. Homophobic taunts and name calling in schools should be challenged immediately by staff.
2. All schools' anti-bullying policies should be required to include measures specifically to deal with homophobic bullying.
3. At least one teacher in every school should undergo training which includes how to tackle homophobic bullying.
My sincerest apologies for my absence of late. Even Straight Talker needs a break once a year. And a year it has been – for today is the first birthday of this blog, and of my entire blogging career. I feel somewhat of a vetern.
I realise that this day last year I had few readers, if any other than myself. I posted the following, and I think I shall repeat it, as both new and old readers might need introducing to me, and to the nature of my blogging.
“It’s easier for me to be anonymous. Cowardly perhaps. But it would be rude of me not to give you some idea of the real me. I’m a pre-writer. That is, I don’t have a career in writing. Maybe I’ll tell you my name when I do, but for now names aren’t important. Think of me as one of the strangers you’ve met, whose name you missed.
So I live in Northern Ireland. Some believe it’s a country torn apart by it’s own people; maybe it is, but come see for yourself. Having been in Dublin once doesn’t count.
My town is medium – average like nearly everyone in it. It’s anonymous too, and full of insular people doing insular things. Forgive me for not dwelling on it.
I’m still at school – read some of my blogs – go figure. I write about what I see and what I feel. I take inspiration from around me, from my left and my right. I’m not a gay writer – I’m just a writer who is gay, who finds herself writing about gay things – maybe because she can’t talk about them.
This blog was born from my mind, and it’s relationship with the internet. It’s a mixture of ingredients, and it’s ever evolving.Someone once told me you see more of the real me through my words than any other outlet.
I am no longer at school – my schoolgirl career is now over. I will soon face a new set of challenges in becoming a student, moving away from home and meeting new people. I can’t wait to begin this new phase, so no doubt I will still find myself blogging about my life.
I may still blog, even without any readers. Yet the apathetic part of me thinks this may not be the case. I feel some kind of attachment to the strangers to read my anonymous blog. Thank you – all of you.
I said a year ago that this blog is ‘ever evolving’. I hope this is still the case.
The rapper “Beenie Man” is renowned for his somewhat controversial lyrics. I was first introduced to his music by some of the ‘hip hop’ crowd in school. I can’t say I was a big fan. I believe the first lyrics I picked up on where “I want a dude who will do me in the van / A thug that can handle his biz like a man”. (“Dude”, Beenie Man Feat. Ms. Thing). I thought, charming.
It was only later that I heard his name again, this time in connection with complaints about homophobic lyrics. Such lyrics included (easily offended look away now) "Hang chi chi gal wid a long piece of rope" [Hang lesbians with a long piece of rope] and "Tek a bazooka and kill batty-fucker" [Take a bazooka and kill gay men].
I don’t know about you, but I don’t see how such lyrics could be easily misunderstood – seems pretty clear to me. However, Beenie Man, after facing complaints, having concerts cancelled and the like, thinks this is an unfair translation. He was quoted in “The Independent”, saying the true meaning of his lyrics have been misinterpreted due to cultural differences.
Last month groups of black gay and lesbian bloggers and activists protested about the artist's inclusion in a HIV/AIDS benefit organised by LIFEbeat, a music industry AIDS organization. The concert organisers cancelled the event after days of complaints. His concert in Brighton (British Gay Mecca) was cancelled, and across the water, two Canadian concerts were cancelled.
In the modern media controlled world, it is surprising how much influence singers and celebrities have on young people. While I am all for freedom of speech, I am not for homophobia and hate.
If my disapproval of Mr. Beenie Man and his music is because I don’t understand his culture, I don’t want to. I fully support calls from gay and lesbians everywhere to bring to light this mainstream homophobia.
I thought it would be fitting to write a follow up to my last post, written while on the Bangor-Belfast train. I had planned to type this follow up on the Belfast-London plane. However, as I’m sure many of you are aware, due to the security restrictions, I was parted from my darling laptop as he was hidden in the hold.
Despite the snooty man informing me they would be extra careful with laptop bags, he was returned to me rather battered. I have since bought a laptop skin cover to protect him further. My laptop now has a skin that reminds me rather of a wet suit. Laptop will not be swimming. Ever.
I am not really that surprised to find myself having some problems with the security measures. I have no issues at all about bringing only my wallet and travel documents on the plane, other than the fact I was slightly bored. (For the record, the BMI in flight magazine was much more interesting than the FlyBe one.) My quibble was more over being separated from my laptop, mp3 player and mobile phone. I’m of the battery powered information generation.
It’s true you can’t actually use your mobile phone on the plane, but I think it’s more of a confidence thing. A bit like being stripped of your bra, I feel a bit naked without it. And while there is no guarantee I will even use the laptop during the 55 minute flight, it is comforting to have it close at hand, lest the person beside me wants to engage in conversation. The mp3 player speaks for itself – I go mad at the sound of those little air conditioning spouts that blow cold air at you, and make the noise of 4 generators doing it. Anything to block it out.
I tried to consider it an in-flight technological detox, but I feel it didn’t work. I felt like a worried parent waiting by the baggage claim, and I did get some funny looks when I hugged my bag when it appeared. If anything, my technology nakedness just reminded me how much I need my little wonders.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and hug my laptop in the manner of a crazed woman stealing a baby.
It is the wonders of modern technology that are allowing me (a little like Lemon Pillows) to compose this on the train. Not only do I find something terribly exciting about looking so professional as to have a little laptop to entertain me on the train, but I feel even better when I can look pensive as if I have something important to be typing. In reality I’m typing this.
I do like trains, because while they can be super boring, there is something terribly ‘suffering artist’ like about travelling by public transport. Of course, now that they have replaced Northern Ireland’s old trains with swish new ones, it doesn’t have quite the same kudos, but there is still that element of people-watching lonely-people people-watching.
In today’s train I have an old woman who keeps smiling a bit disturbingly at me. She has also started talking to herself, about what I’m not fully sure. She has a pleated skirt, a blue rinse and a bag worthy of Mary Poppins. (I was going to say Maria from the “Sound of Music”, but I can’t remember if nuns are allowed bags. Surely that is vanity?)
Also in this carriage is a slightly hairy, tobacco smelling, aging rocker type. He is now shouting ‘Did I waken ye?’ into his oversized mobile phone. I can’t make out the rest of his conversation. I am avoiding looking at him.
That is, so far at least, all the company I have. It would appear everyone else has the sense to drive. I am beginning to wish I brought my personal alarm with me. I’m sure aforementioned old woman has one somewhere in her bag.
One of the perks of our new posh trains, is that there is a voice to tell the dumb people which station is theirs. I can’t help feel that the person who recorded these voices was having a bit of a laugh, because, as each station passes, her voice appears to get all the more seductive. Given present company, there is no need for this.
I shall now meander off into other computer tasks. This is stopping anyone from engaging in conversation with me.
Belfast Pride passed off peacefully yesterday. Despite claiming I was going to hide and not march, I did end up sweeped along for a little while at least. Even the threatening grey Belfast clouds couldn’t rain on our parade.
The protestors who so fervently screamed at us last year didn’t want to be friends anymore, promptly turning their backs as the parade passed. In contrast, it was nice to see the first lesbian couple to marry under the Civil Partnership laws there, as well as many varied gays – showing just how diverse a community we really are.
At this time of year the gay community is more visible than ever, and thus we face many more questions than ever. Some see this as negative, but I see this as an opportunity to explain our traditions and our culture, in an attempt to promote better understanding.
However, at the same time, it’s important to stress that the gay community isn’t for everyone. It’s understandable if Belfast’s Queen drag Queen, Baroness Titti Von Tramp, gyrating against a fence, isn’t your thing. I sometimes find it all a bit much too, but then, escapism is what Pride is all about to a certain extent. Isn’t it?
Anyway, enough of me, here’s some photos of the event itself….
It’s quite late in hitting me really, but it’s only really occurring to me that I will never return to my school (as a student at least). It’s quite sad considering how much time you spend in your school, how much it is part of your life and your identity for your teen years.
When you really sit down and think about it, there are many memories of school that shape you as a person. Friendship circles, arguments and disappointments. Even more cosmetically (for me at least), I hate first wearing new clothes because they remind me September 1st and the brand new uniform.
Here is a storm of figures, in Northern Ireland, 86% of young gay people are aware of their sexual orientation while at school. Of the 63% of LGBT young people who faced negative attitudes around sexual orientation, only 13% of them sought support. 69% of the young people who left school earlier than that would have preferred were bullied.
Few would deny that the messages young people get in schools are crucial to their personal and social development and ability to manage the critical transition from youth to adult. Yet the “shout” research in 2003 found that schools are not providing the best environment for LGBT youth.
While I feel lucky to have so many positive memories of my time at school, I am aware that there should be no rose tint. I also have some more negative memories of school time, homophobia, silence and a general lack of support.
Yet - I’m lucky to have reached the end of my school years without significant abuse.
It would be careless of me to neglect to mention that this week is Belfast Pride week. I can only hope for kind weather on Saturday, and that all the events this week go well and reflect positively on the LGBT community here in Northern Ireland.
The youth dialogue event I have previously mentioned happened last night, amidst worries members of the Stop the Parade Coalition would picket it. I’m not sure if we should be glad that the Stop the Parade bats stayed at home. I’m inclined to think that the sporadic torrential rain may have been a deciding factor in their notable absence.
While it was certainly interesting to sit down with representatives of the many Christian churches here, it was again disappointing. True, almost everyone there agreed that the church does need to do more to be more accepting to young gay people, but what they do when they return to their churches is another matter.
It did feel a little bit like a talking shop, because to be fair, the Christians (represented predominantly by grey men in grey suits) agreed with most everything. Some of their views nearly surfaced when one showed his discontent with the Pride parade, ‘Why does it have to be so flamboyant?’
Perhaps if he had any idea of gay culture and history, he might have a better idea of the reason behind Pride. I did feel the need to point out that the parade was one of many events taking place, which represent the diversity of the community. I gave him a copy of the ‘Pride Guide’, which he promptly left behind.
Indeed, the Christian’s again showed their true feelings when I told them I expected to see them all on the streets to support us.