Bisexuality and The Police

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No. I don’t mean the rock band. It’s an unexpected advert curtesy of the other police that I caught a glimpse of instead. It took me several attempts to get the shot, as the car was rocking back and forth threatening to flatten me against bemused commutes. Plus, the purple safety bar was unfortunately very much in the way, hence the angle.

I’m not sure whether you can read the small print, so to ensure you need not squint yourself into a wrinkly visage, I’ll lend a helping eye:

“At Stonewall we’ve campaigned for 25 years for equality. We’ve had major successes with legalising same sex marriage, repealing Section 28 and lifting the ban on gay people serving in the forces. But 99% of young gay people still regularly hear homophobic language at school, 100 homophobic hate crimes are reported to police every week and 2.4 million people have witnessed homophobic bullying at work in the last five years.

Lots done. Lots to do.”

Atta police. Keep up the good work. 

Whenever the law enforcement agency appears in the press of late, it is once again to emphasise its shortcomings. Either you hear more about PlebGate or a shooting gone wrong. These are important issues, and keeping them in the public eye will hopefully ensure that appropriate measures are taken so that they might not reoccur in the future. There is little media coverage of the things that the men and women entrusted with serving and protecting the public are getting right. Don’t they deserve some acknowledgement for this?

Snippets from the Underground series.

Russia’s Stance on Homosexuality

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

“Russia needs to get its act together. What the f**k? Is this the 19th century? This goes for the rest of the world, but they are the ones in vogue right now. In over half the countries in Africa, homosexuality is “illegal”. How can you make one’s sexuality illegal? Marching against Russia's Punitive Laws against HomosexualityThis is ludicrous. Some places even enforce the death penalty. Of course, this stems from religion – the plague of the world. Wake up! God is not listening to you. And if he is, he is a douche bag. Jesus is supposed to be about love. You a**hole.” Jonathon Saia

 

While I am very much in agreement with the spirit of Jonathon’s answer regarding the issue of homosexuality, being a promoter of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights myself, I think it is important to distinguish between our support for the gay community and our disagreement with the Christian position on homosexuality.

He is right to indicate that the Christian church ought to adjust its position on homosexuality, be open to change and rectify this instance of discrimination which results in appalling acts of violence and even in the death of gay people around the world by the hand of those who use religion to justify their heinous actions.

The Church could do a lot more to prevent this. But we should remember that not all Christians share the attitudes of the Church in this, as exemplified by the following: Why I Can’t Say “Love the Sinner / Hate the Sin” anymore. Many Christians are indeed as committed to equality and would want to see gay people’s rights and safety protected just as much as a non-believer would.

Furthermore, we ought also remember that many gay people are themselves Christians, and whilst it is a struggle due to the inherent contradictions that their faith engenders, it must be said that they are the ones who have the power and capacity to change things from within.

I am an atheist, so for me God is an idea created by Man in his own image – an
attempt to make sense of a world that can be unsafe, fragmented and uncertain. Since human beings are flawed, then all our creations are similarly so. In making God in his own image Man has also imbued this idea with his preconceptions, not to say prejudice.

But there is also another side to this idea, one that emphasises love, collaboration, solidarity and kindness. Many Christians, indeed many people that subscribe to other faiths too, tend to subscribe to this side of the coin, and do their best to curtail the first.

We shouldn’t make a habit of throwing them into the same basket with fanatics and fundamentalists that – had they not religion as an excuse – would have found another way to perpetrate harm on others.

Jonathon’s answer gave me a lot to think about, and I hope that my contribution will be of interest to him, as well as to the other participants.

Here are some snippets of the discussion that followed:  

navigator1965 says: Jonathan, Sorry, but your submission didn’t work for me. #6 I don’t see how your general disrespect for monotheistic religion and specific disrespect for Christianity materially differs from some other person’s general disrespect for homosexuals.

cineaste says: Because if God’s message is really saying, “I do not love homosexuals” as MANY Christians are vocal to say, than he is not worthy of respect.

Dotta Raphels :  Hi there, it’s good to read your takes here. I think what this project has done is give me a birds eye view into what people want me to see of them (at the end of the day, it’s exactly what you let out that is seen or perceived as you) That said, I respect your opinions and applaud your support to fundamental rights especially in the sexual orientation department and all.
I think when attitudes of “I don’t give a damn” is thrown around too much, it really may be a sign of something deeper and frankly, being frank many times offends.
As a follower and believer in the words and doctrines of Christ, it pains me to hear you refer to “God” as a douche bag regardless of intent, The one thing this project has been is REAL and intensely discreet in respect to civility and maturity.

IMO everyone has managed to make their point without disrespecting others beliefs or opinions.
To disagree is an absolute welcome, but lets do it with class. I have enjoyed your take and I hope the project has also opened you up to new horizons in regards to diversities and humanity as a whole. Thanks for sharing.

cineaste says: I am not speaking of people of faith in general. Many people believe in God and also believe that gay people are worthy of respect and love. What I am referring to are the people who use God as an excuse to persecute LGBT people. Hopefully he is NOT listening to them because ostensibly, theoretically, God is about love. But if they are truly doing God’s bidding, if this is behavior that God truly wants, than he is an asshole.

Susan Irene Fox says: Jonathon, as someone who is as intelligent as you are (I’ve been to your blog, so I know of where I speak – btw, loved the Myra Breckenridge post), you must be able to differentiate between the characteristics God and the people who misuse His name. As you so aptly stated, “Jesus is supposed to be about love.” In this you are correct. I am proud to be Christian, to be a follower of Jesus, and we are not all like the Christians who blithely toss around hate or judgment.

I would respectfully request that you not lump us all together, and please don’t judge the God who created and loves us all by the actions of the vocal and fundamentalist extremists who presume to speak for Him or for the rest of us.

Thank you, and thanks for sharing your opinions. We all have so much to learn from one another, it would be terrific it we could be open enough to do it graciously.

 

What is your take on this issue?

You have the stage. Make your voice heard. All opinions welcome.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Brokeback Mountain Whispers

Let’s Talk Opinion: in conversation with Project O

Bradley: www.howisbradley.com

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

It’s very difficult to narrow down to one, but, I feel most strongly about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights. In just the past several months a transgender teenager in Jamaica was murdered by an angry mob when he arrived at a party wearing women’s clothing; a Russian man was brutally beaten, had his clothes set on fire, his anus was slashed open and filled with bottles and his attack ended when a 20 kg stone was thrown onto his head; In Washington DC, my nation’s capital, two women attacked a drag performer, who was a gay man, by biting him on the thigh, and yanked him around by his hair while a bystander videoed the crime and encouraged the fight. I wish these were rare instances, but unfortunately as more cities and countries embrace equality rights for those who are LGBT, more acts of violence are occurring. Homosexual acts are illegal in 76 countries and there are still 5 countries in which the penalty is death.

http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/27/project-o-article-110-bradley-california-usa-scheduled-for-9-28-0600/

I feel strongly about this, and hope that the efforts of all communities will result ultimately in effective equality. The stories you shared are horrific. I simply can’t believe that this still happens in this day and age. Truly, deeply saddened that this is the case.

There was a somewhat hostile reply to one of my Project O comments in which I challenged a contributor’s use of the phrase “…even though I don’t agree with homosexuality.” Mandy, incidentally was writing this in the context of a church gathering where she spoke out on behalf of someone from the gay community, so I felt very warmed by her actions. But the phrase still irked me, so I decided to write Be happy. Be gay! in the hope that an exchange might ensue.

I didn’t get a reply from Mandy. Instead, another blogger decided to put me in my place. I gather she deemed my comment to be an attack on Christians. Well. I have to say, that even though I am an atheist, I do not make it my business to attack anyone, and – as a former Christian myself – I have sympathy with those who strive to keep their faith in an increasingly secular world. I am curious to know what you think of the exchange, particularly on the issue of homosexuality, if you would be so kind as to read it: God @TheTweetOfGod Sigh… maybe Nietzsche was right.

In support of the gay community – through what I write and through everyday personal interactions with others – I hope to promote healthier attitudes towards those whose sexual inclination differs from what is deemed to be the “norm”. My favourite haunt in London is Soho. There is nothing that I enjoy more than going on a gay-pub/bar/club-crawl with my best friend and his boyfriend. This has given me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people: gay, transgender, lesbian and bisexual. I feel grateful for the warmth with which they accepted me into their fold, and for the stories they have chosen to share with me. It’s opened my eyes to the obstacles they encounter, and gave me a better understanding of what they have to overcome in their everyday lives. Inspiring people.

This motivated me to be more vocal about difficult issues, defend the community and my own stance on gay rights whenever challenged.

Thank you for your post.  Insightful.

P.S.: On a lighter note… #BenedictCumberbatch goes Brokeback Sherlock, one for the boys.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

God @TheTweetOfGod Sigh… maybe Nietzsche was right.

 Humour will save us all in the end…

Dear lensgirl53,

Thank you for your considered reply to my comment. I will attempt to engage in what follows with the main points you make. Of course, if you feel that there are additional ones in need of consideration, just let me know, and I will happily oblige.

lensgirl53: I know this is controversial

Not at all, I assure you, if by controversial you meant your own contribution to the debate of course. The issue at hand is indeed a controversial one.

lensgirl53: but I can’t just let this slip by because of some people’s casual toss of the word and understanding of “prejudices”…

Nor should you let it ‘slip’, as you say. I am glad that you didn’t. As I’ve said many a time in the past: You have a voice too. Use it.

Do correct me if I’m wrong, but I assume that in this particular case by ‘people’ who casually ‘toss the word … “prejudices”’ around you meant me?

If I may be so bold as to protest.

In my line of work, tossing words around is not current practice. My choice of words in general is measured, and my use of this word in particular, particularly so, given the issue under discussion.    

Perhaps we ought to return to the context in which I appealed to the term. I said, and I quote: “As far as I am concerned, Man created God in his own image – and somehow seems to have managed to imbue his invention with his own prejudices in the process.”

Notice that I do not claim this statement to be a truth universally acknowledged. The above shows clearly that I do nothing other than simply put forth my position regarding the idea of God. It was important to elucidate this point, since my reply was to someone with a religious background, who had expressed a view coloured by that background, regarding a political and social matter of some import.

It would be helpful perhaps for me to clarify at this point why I felt it necessary to take issue with Mandy saying, and I quote, “…even though I don’t agree with homosexuality.”

She did not say that homosexuality is morally reprehensible. Had she done so, I would have rebutted in quite a different manner. I would have also taken a less genteel line in such a rebuttal.

What Mandy said was that she did not agree with homosexuality. Does not agree… on what?

Homosexuality is not a person, a political group with a manifesto, or an institution with a set of policies that one could disagree with.

Is it same-sex coitus that Mandy disagrees with? This would be an insultingly reductive view of homosexuality. I persist in the hope that this was not Mandy’s position.

Is it that Mandy disagrees with the existence of homosexuality as a counterpart to heterosexuality? Does she believe that heterosexuality is a ‘natural’ occurrence, whilst homosexuality is a lifestyle choice? If so, then this would suggest that, when she says she disagrees with homosexuality, what she means is that she disagrees with homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice. I leaned towards this interpretation of her statement, and my comment on her article makes this plain.

Allow me to repeat that part of my reply which illustrates the above point:

“I struggle to understand what there can be to ‘agree’ or disagree with about homosexuality. Homosexuality is not a matter of opinion. You can’t disagree with homosexuality as if it’s equivalent to coffee-drinking, governmental policy on education, or… whatever-have-you: whaling! for example. Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice.” (vicbriggs)

So far, so good. Now that you understand my reasons for engaging with Mandy on this issue, I will return to my later statement which incited your reply:

“As far as I am concerned, Man created God in his own image – and somehow seems to have managed to imbue his invention with his own prejudices in the process.”

As I have already indicated above, this statement is nothing other than a clarification of my position regarding the idea of God.

I am willing to acknowledge that since for me God is an idea, rather than an entity, and since I was writing a reply for someone for whom the opposite is the case, I ought to have taken pains to make the distinction clearer perhaps.

As for Man imbuing the idea of God with his own “prejudices”? I stand by this. I’m afraid that if you want to disagree with me on this, you’ll have to do it from within the framework of my argument rather than the Christian one, since my point is a philosophical rather than a religious one.

Suffice to say that all human beings are incapable of leaving their preconceptions fully off the table, and since this is the case, anything they create will necessarily be “imbued” with those preconceptions. Since for me God is Man’s creation, it follows that this idea is necessarily contaminated by humanity’s own shortcomings.

My statement was not intended to challenge anyone else’s faith. Everyone is entitled to make sense of life and death, themselves and the world in the manner of their own choosing. Religion does not do it for me, but I know it does work for others, and I’m not some militant atheist who requires for religion to be obliterated or else.

That being said, I am militant about maintaining a clear separation between public and private. Religion belongs to the latter and has no business dictating policy in the former.

I do take issue with those who use their faith to discriminate against others.

 

lensgirl53: Therein lies the difficulty of explaining our position on such delicate subjects as homosexuality that the Bible says is a sin…along with lying, murder, stealing, etc.

Actually, the Bible may say that homosexuality is a sin, but it does not say that it is a sin along with those others you mention. The sins you enumerate, as you well know, come from the Old Testament’s Ten Commandments. Commandment nr.9, lying: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Commandment nr.6, murder:Thou shalt not kill.” Commandment nr.8, stealing: “Thou shalt not steal.”

Notice again, how I’m being pernickety about the choice/use of language and the context that language implies?

I do this because in choosing to enumerate homosexuality as a sin in the context of ten commandment sins, you are implicitly creating an image of homosexuality as a sin so great that it would be worthy of an eleventh commandment. If that was not your intention, then perhaps you ought to have referred to other sins that are not mentioned in the Ten Commandments, but appear in the Bible elsewhere. Consistency and parity of position would be appreciated in this context.        

 

lensgirl53: Now, I could start quoting scripture here but what would be the point? If a person does not believe in God or a Bible then those words will have no meaning. But if you are inclined to look it up…try the book of Romans and read it in its entirety.

The western secular world is in many ways also a post-Christian world, so you are mistaken in your assumption that the values and norms of Christianity as presented in its key texts have no meaning for those who do not believe. Meaning however does not equate faith. I am able to understand you and your beliefs and simultaneously adhere to my own worldview, my own set of “truths”.

Thank you for your suggested further reading. I was brought up as a Christian and have read the Bible and many other religious texts extensively as a result. In fact, at my last count, I had read the Old Testament (in its entirety) six times and the new one, almost as many.

I was a believer as a child, and then I grew up.

lensgirl53: As far as the desire of homosexual behavior….they may be inclined to a certain sexual orientation but the real sin is the act of immoral sex (hetero..and homo) The Christian perspective is that we should exert self-control in all things and when we fail, as we will do….then we are forgiven through our faith in Christ. Simple as that…a gift from a loving Father.

Interesting. Your explanation is insufficiently developed I’m afraid. I am still in the dark as to what, in your opinion, constitutes immoral sex. Care to elucidate?

My guess is that you make in the above a distinction between sex within marriage as moral, and church un-ratified sex as immoral, irrespective of whether it is a heterosexual or same-sex relationship? If so, where does that leave civil marriages, where the couple chose not to have a religious wedding?  

lensgirl53: And quit judging Christians, while saying that they “judge” others…it just isn’t so.

Quit judging Christians? I would ‘quit’ if I had been judging Christians in the first place. I’m afraid you have projected onto me and mine your own preconceptions of what un-believers ought to be like, what an atheist or agnostic may be expected to think or “believe,” and how they are likely to act around believers.

Please reread my comment to Mandy. Perhaps on second inspection you will be able to see that I do not judge her, and by extension, I do not judge Christians: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/be-happy-be-gay/

I have no interest in judging anyone. I am a thinker, a philosopher-in-training. What I try to do is engage with people at the level of ideas, which I find to be a fruitful and enriching experience.

Nor do I ever once say that Christians judge others.

Again, you appear to take it as a given that if a non-believer challenges a believer on any point, they are necessarily judging them, making some sort of personal attack. I can’t change your perception of this. Only you have the power to make that change. I can only refer you back to the above.

I have copy-pasted your comment before writing my reply in order to ensure that I do not attribute to you any words or opinions that you have not expressed in writing. Please be so kind as to return the courtesy and only claim that I say something when I do in fact say it, rather than when you believe it to be implied in what I say.

There is a distinction. And it is an important one: When I write/say something: that is my opinion expressed. When you write that I say something: that is your interpretation of my opinion, which may or may not correspond to my actual position.

lensgirl53: I would rather live as if there is a God to die and find out I am right, than to live as if there is no God to die and find out I am wrong!!

Therein lieth the crux of the matter: You believe that there is something to find out after death. I do not.

 

Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read my reply. Additions and corrections to the debate are of course very welcome. Until then, I bid you farewell.

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Writing this article was made possible by Project O. To read my original contribution, please follow the following link: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/project-o/

For Mandy’s contribution to Project O, please follow this link: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/20/project-o-article-80-mandy-uk-scheduled-for-9-20-1800/comment-page-1/#comment-63799

To read other contributors’ Project O pieces, and find out more about the project’s inception and aims, follow the link below: http://aopinionatedman.com/category/project-o/

There is also an interview with vicbriggs and OpinionatedMan coming up in October. Will link it up to my blog as soon as it is published. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter for updates: @shardsofsilence

Be happy. Be gay!

Another day, another cause.

You can read my answer below, and click on the link for my adversary’s contribution to Project O: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/09/20/project-o-article-80-mandy-uk-scheduled-for-9-20-1800/comment-page-1/#comment-63799

Well. Let’s break the silence.

Dear Mandy,

There is a sweetness that comes across in your narrative voice. It is warming that you strive to better yourself despite, or perhaps because of – who am I to judge? – your religious  upbringing. This is why I am confident that you will take my comment in the spirit in which it is intended.

You say: “…even though I don’t agree with homosexuality.”

I struggle to understand what there can be to ‘agree’ or disagree with about homosexuality. Homosexuality is not a matter of opinion.

You can’t disagree with homosexuality as if it’s equivalent to coffee-drinking, governmental policy on education, or… whatever-have-you: whaling! for example.

Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice.

It is not equivalent to preferring skinny jeans to boot-cut, or vegetarianism to meat-eating.

It just is.

In matters of homosexuality, I subscribe to Freud’s view that all humans are inherently bisexual, meaning that everyone incorporates aspects of both sexes, and has the capacity/propensity to love both sexes both psychologically and anatomically. Heterosexuality and homosexuality both, developed from this original bisexual disposition.

All else: learnt behaviour.

As far as I am concerned, Man created God in his own image – and somehow seems to have managed to imbue his invention with his own prejudices in the process.

But even if you are a Christian, didn’t Jesus say “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”? Can’t find any indication in his teachings that this love must be confined to its heterosexual variant.

Regards,

Vic