On The B and The T: A Response To GCN’s LGBT Soup

We have a bit of a problem.
And when I say “we” I mean the LGBT community, otherwise known to some people as the LGBTLMFAO. Recently Ireland’s longest-running national gay publication GCN published an article that has raised a lot of comment and heckles- LGBT Soup

Now before I dive into this, there are two clarifications I want to make. Firstly that I usually really enjoy GCN and it’s writings, it’s interesting, relevant even if I find it focuses a bit too much on the G in LGBT sometimes, this is not an attack on GCN that I’m writing, but an article published by GCN and written by the deputy editor was the catalyst. Secondly, I’m majorly focusing on writing about bisexual and trans* issues and marginalization here, and being neither bi nor trans* I am admitting now that I may screw up on something somewhere, but if I’ve messed up, please tell me what I’ve gotten wrong or if I’m inadvertently offensive because I am happy to learn and be corrected.

There are masses and masses of issues I take with this piece, majorly the marginalization of bi-sexual, trans*, and asexual people, all of which I will get to in a minute.

While I do agree with the basic premise as put forth by GCN in their The Editor Responds, to write more opinion pieces and create and facilitate discussion, which I believe is the first step to changing any social opinion or feeling, and to comment on the use of LGBT and the extended abbreviations that are also added on (A quick look at Wikipedia tells me that the letters often used are LGBTQQUCITTSAPSHOFP) I do not agree with the way Ciara McGrattan has chosen to phrase her views.

Let’s start with the thorn-bush-like issue of the acronym. I think practically everyone can agree that it is too long and fairly damn confusing, but right now we don’t have anything better. Since I came out I’ve been involved occasionally with a few official LGBT groups and I really love the feeling of community that I’ve found there, a community majorly built on acceptance and openness to individuality, so it upsets me to hear other people saying that some people don’t belong in the movement. We need an umbrella term, a really big and lovely umbrella term to describe ourselves, and the community that we’re building but until then let’s stick with what we’ve got and let people add on what they need as they need? Yes it’s sometimes a bit off putting, and quite unwieldy, but is that the worst thing in the world?

Now we get into the section where I start quoting… When talking about trans* people and their place in the LGBT movement she says “By including an identity not specifically referring to same-sex attraction (T), the flood gates were opened.” “But as big a fan as I am of sensitivity to marginalised individuals, I am more concerned with accuracy of language.“. I understand that the trans* community has issues that are not always mirrored by the issues of the L, G and B, as gender and sexuality are often separate issues, but there’s still the major point that draws us all together and means these conversations are even an issue in the first place, the fact that we all face marginalization and discrimination, and we can fight that together.

“Even the current LGBT mouthful is unnecessarily long, when ‘gay’ suffices for all same-sex attractions. This doesn’t cover bisexuals, you might argue. It doesn’t need to: ‘bisexual’ is only a description of what someone is doing when they’re not same-sexing it up.”

“I propose it’s time to simplify and perhaps employ a modicum of moderation to the unwieldy beast of LGBTLMFAO initials. Do you sleep with people of the same sex? Welcome to Gay Club. In a relationship with someone of the same-sex? Welcome to Gay Club. Trans and exclusively attracted to people of your gender? Welcome to Gay Club. Attracted to both sexes? Good for you, but unless you’re with someone of the same-sex, you aren’t part of Gay Club.”

That’s Ciara McGrattan’s view on both bisexuality and what we should use instead of our current, lovely umbrella term. And I disagree heartily with both. Isn’t the whole reason we banded together because straight cisgender people didn’t want us in their club? Now is not the time to get all cliquey!

Now, there seems to be over whelming belief from all sides of the ring, heterosexual and homosexual that bi-sexuality is not a true sexual orientation and instead is the name that people have chosen to describe themselves when they can’t pick a side, are sexually thrill seeking and therefore exploiting the feelings of the people who are “genuinely homosexual”, or are just plain greedy. When I was 14 I read a novel a friend had about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality and in the novel a friend of his who was already out warned him not to date bisexuals as they were fickle and would break his heart. Now maybe it’s just me but I don’t think that’s on.
I think bisexuals possibly even have more issues to face within themselves when coming out because they face both the stigma placed on homosexuality and and the stigma placed on bisexuality. I know bisexuals who have had a massively hard time coming out and some who haven’t come out at all because of these stigmas and articles like LGBT Soup just help continue these.

And the idea that your issues only matter when you’re in a same-sex relationship? That’s just insane. It’s saying that when I’m not in a relationship or as it was so nicely put “same-sexing it up” my issues don’t count? Is everyone asexual when they’re not getting laid in her worldview? She seems to be saying that sexual attraction is only an issue when you’re acting on it, something I massively disagree with. The whole point is that we all have a place here, anyone who has had issues along the way because of gender identity or sexuality, and personally I whole-heartedly welcome allies too. Come in from the rain under our umbrella, we’ve got soup!

Somewhat Related Links- (Mostly stolen from Consider The Tea Cosy)

Other responses to LGBT Soup-

We Are Not Your Afterthought – Responding To LGBT Soup

LGBT Soup for a Reason

Further Reading on B, T and Acronyms-

Wikipedia on LGBT

STAD- Stop Transgender Abuse and Discrimination

The Case of the Missing Bisexual

The Case of the Missing Bisexual

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What Does A Lesbian Look Like

Last Thursday, I became a proper lesbian.
Now, understand. I came out as gay in 2009, but that didn’t really count.
I’ve had girlfriends, but as everyone knows, any girl can snog another girl and not be a “dyke”.

No. To be a real lesbian, you must own a plaid flannel shirt. And so it came to be, that after a quick shop in Oxfam, I became a proper lesbian.

Now, properly and unsarcastically, I call bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my new plaid shirt, it’s actually really comfy and I think it looks good. But I’m not wearing this shirt because I love women, and wearing it does not make me gay either.
When I came out there were a few people who were confused because I “looked straight” which I’ve always found strange, I suppose I’d technically be termed as a “lipstick lesbian”, or “femme lesbian”? I can’t keep up with all the hip new terms the kids are coming up with.
I’m just a woman, a woman who likes women, and dresses. I’m not more attracted to “butch” women or “dykes” because I feel there needs to be a gender binary balance to our relationship. I just feel that my sexuality and attraction to women have no connection to the clothes I wear. And it frustrates me when I try to come out to someone and they can’t comprehend my lesbianism due to my wearing of long floaty skirts, or when I buy clothing and my friends give out to me for looking “dykey” and playing into stereotypes. It seems I just can’t win!
So what do you do? What can you do in the face of all these stereotypes and lose-lose situations?
Confuse the hell out of people back. Wander around in flouncy dresses and Doc Martins, plaid shirt with hippy skirts.
Wear the clothes I want to wear, that make me feel happy, comfortable and like the person I really am.

Anyway…
Plaid shirt now bought and worn in, I must make a hair cut appointment to get a buzzcut… Or maybe a mullet.

Why I Miss MSN and Wish It Would Come Back

Back in the days before most of my friends were on Facebook, we were on Bebo, and while they were very similar Bebo did not have a chat system built in.

So instead we used MSN Messenger. In some ways those were the glory days of the internet for me. Some of my closest friendships now were solidified through MSN in it’s heyday.

There were silly animated gifs, and emoticons, you could have different backgrounds to your conversations with different people, I’d talk to Alison and it would be a background of Lavender, Nadia and it would be autumn trees. It was aesthetically pleasing and nicer than anything we have now. A chat system that was just that, a chat system.

So many evenings passed in wars of gifs and nudge wars (Yes, nudge wars were the predecessors to poke wars for those who were not there and do not remember), and others passed in hours of utterly important gossip, news, scandal. I had a relationship that was based mainly on a mutual love of R.E.M. and took place almost entirely on MSN, and I know I’m nowhere near the only one of my friends who did.

It was a procrastination station, there is no denying that, there were hours I spent playing solitaire or pinball, while waiting for someone, anyone to log in. But it was never as bad as Facebook, on MSN when you had a conversation you were having a conversation, that was why you were there. There were greetings (Or in some special cases, immediate exclamations of gossip) and there were goodbyes, there was an intention and an attentiveness to the conversation that isn’t really present anymore.
I kept the majority of my MSN conversations, the logs were saved and they’ve come through four different computers with me. I wouldn’t (Or couldn’t) look at them now, seeing as most of them come from when I was about 14 or 15, but they’re a part of my life that I want to keep around, even if they just sit there unread. Also potential leverage against oh so many of my friends!

Somewhere in about 2009 there was a mass exodus. I think that the system broke down a bit, but the main issue was that everyone slowly started siphoning their time into Facebook more and more. I remember being one of the last people to leave, I remember logging in most evenings to a empty graveyard of offline users, until eventually MSN crashed on me and I didn’t bother to try and update or fix it.
I miss MSN, I know I’m not the only one who does, most people I know have lots of good memories attached and wish for it back.
I miss you MSN.
Maybe I can make Skype as fun…

The Cake Project Part 2: Sir Terry Pratchett

So, I’d met Neil Gaiman, and 14 year old me was halfway there on her life goal quest, owning a twice-signed copy of Good Omens.

The only problem was that part two of the plan involved tracking down a world famous author who had Alzheimers and was probably not doing much touring due to recent aid diagnosis. At any rate, meeting Neil had been a fluke! No way I could pull that one off again.
But in November my father got an email from someone in TCD (Trinity College Dublin, full ‘official’ name – The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin) where he worked saying that Terry Pratchett was receiving an honorary doctorate of English and there were limited tickets available to go and see him give a talk. Some how (Probably through dark magics) my father got me two tickets. Now believe it or not, I had barely any friends at the time who were into Terry Pratchett at the time, and I ended up with a choice of two, one of my best friends or the lad I was dating. I ended up given them to Nadia, a choice I never regretted seeing as me and her had a brilliant time, and me and the lad broke up not long after.
The night before I was going up to Dublin, I did some baking and stayed up most of the night painting an ice cream box to put the biscuits I’d made into. I painted it, painstakingly and quite impressively for the lack of artistry I generally showed, with things from the Discworld, there was the Luggage, Rincewind’s ‘wizzard’ Hat, the Discworld itself, and something else that fails to spring to mind. Biscuits boxed and bagged along with a letter I wrote Sir Terry and a bunch of books in my bag I was ready.

The talk was brilliant, when I saw Terry Pratchett talk a second time his PA had to give most of the talk as Terry’s Alzheimers had progressed further. But when I saw him in 2008 he was brilliant. But the point of our story comes at the end of his talk. He’d finished the talk and was getting ready to walk out down the central aisle. There was going to be a wine reception in The Long Room afterwards but it was unclear whether Terry Pratchett would be there, I got very worried that this was my only chance ever to give the biscuits to Terry Pratchett, As he walked out I asked Nadia if I should give it to him then, and playings devil’s advocate she said yes.
I ran across a row of chairs and jumped into the aisle in front of him, holding out the bag saying “I made you cookies!”, he smiled and laughed, saying “I suppose I’d better give you a kiss then!” and kissed me on the cheek, before walking out.

He was at the wine reception, and I got my copy of Good Omens signed by him, just beneath Neil Gaiman’s signature.

Coming next The Cake Project Part 3: Bell X1

Almost Crying With Joy Cause Someone Else Got Lots of Money?

When I was little my brother introduced me to a game called The Longest Journey, it was a puzzle game, a full length point and click adventure and I loved it, I loved everything about it. (though the protagonist, April had a monkey doll that scared me, and scared me ten times as much when I clicked it one time too many and it’s eye fell out.)I got stuck, I was frustrated, I almost didn’t finish it, but I did. And it was the best game ever. And then years later there was a sequel, another long journey, called Dreamfall. And that was amazing.
A month ago I found a Kickstarter for the third installment to The Longest Saga. The Longest Journey: Dreamfall Chapters. I gave them some money, because it’s everything I adore about Kickstarter. And they got it funded.
I will properly review the game soon, but for now I’ve got to go and revisit Stark and Arcadia.
Toodlepip!

The Cake Project Part 1: Neil Gaiman

When I was 14 my mam asked what I wanted to do with my life, I replied by saying I thought I would set myself small scale, enjoyable and achievable goals. She looked skeptical at first and only grew more so after I told her my first set of life goals; To meet Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and have them both sign my copy of Good Omens. Until this point in my life I had horribly bad luck with meeting my heroes. Most of them were dead. J.R.R. Tolkien, Roald Dahl, Pete McCarthy, Richard Feynman. But this time I’d be safe, I knew that both of them were still alive. Sadly less than a month after this conversation with mam Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I was distraught, and later realised this was likely to be the end of my chance to ever meet him.

Anyway, my Cake Project idea had very humble beginnings. At Hallowe’en 2008 a friend of mine, Izzy, invited me to come stay at hers and meet Neil Gaiman, who was doing a book signing for The Graveyard Book in Eason’s in Dublin. That night remains one of the best of my life, the two minutes when I met Neil Gaiman in person were amazing, they felt like hours. He had this way of looking at you and talking to you like you were the most important person in his world and nothing else mattered as much. I’d made cookies to bring to my friends and in a fit of spontaneity I offered the box to him and he took a cookie, offering me one of his chocolate buttons in return.

The rule was that you could get three books signed so long as one of them was The Graveyard Book, Neil read the first chapter at that event in a beautifully scary voice, then he did a questions and answers. While we were queuing to get our books we were given postit notes to write the names we wanted them signed to, all part of trying to have a good event without giving people any time with the author they had come to see, but when we finally got to him it was brilliant,  one of the Eason’s people was hovering at his shoulder, handing him the books, opening packets of chocolate buttons all to move the line on quicker, and yet Neil was doing it all at his own pace, chatting with everyone and generally being lovely. As me and my friends were leaving with our freshly signed books in hand we met two girls who’d been in the queue ahead of us, one of whom was gushing to us about how it was the best night of her life while her friend burst out yelling “He let me touch his hair!”.

I left with signed copies of Stardust, The Graveyard Book and Good Omens, and an idea. We all got on the bus home massively happy.

Coming next, The Cake Project Part 2: Terry Pratchett