This is as neat an illustration of my previous blog as could be. Without wishing to repeat myself, a few brief points about it:

  • As is already typical of this issue, it’s a column written by a Westerner which features absolutely no voices from within Russia. It seems a no-brainer to me that any boycotts (or indeed other action) should not only be informed, but meaningfully led by, activists in Russia. If people in other countries had decided to boycott the UK when it introduced Section 28, without actually speaking to anyone in the country, we would have found them utterly absurd. It’s an illustration of our Western arrogance that we feel completely justified leading on action in a country most of us have never set foot in.
  • An ignorance which is aptly illustrated by a series of links to reported events which we still known next to nothing about. The ‘Neo-Nazi skinheads torturing gay kids’ thing is reported on the website of a ‘human rights’ organisation which pretty much no-one had heard of last week. Its ‘base’ appears to be a PO Box in America. It provides almost no actual evidence for its claims and we have no reason to treat it as a credible source. Yet the story has still been reported worldwide. This isn’t to deny that it may be happening but we surely have an obligation to properly look into it rather than indignantly posting some links while demanding our boycotts which it’s clear some Russian activists think are utterly pointless?
  • She also posts the Buzzfeed link which everyone has been sharing. A link where you can see some harrowing photos surrounded by links such as “Your Favorite Celebs Decked Out In Lisa Frank”, “20 Signs that Jennifer Lawrence is Your Spirit Animal” and “27 Occasions That Definitely Call For Cake”. It’s cheap and tawdry. Buzzfeed could easily have a) written more than 50 words about the issue and b) linked to further reading. They don’t do either because they want to keep people’s attention and they don’t want to drive traffic away from the site. The fact that the story was apparently their most read of the week explains why they’re doing so many (facile) follow-ups. Seriously, what is this shit?
  • Thinking that the IOC actually cares a jot about human rights suggests at best a staggering naivete and at worst an incredulous stupidity. As I previously wrote, the IOC has history both of lending credence to repressive regimes and of demanding authoritarian crackdowns in ‘democratic’ countries which are hosting the games.
  • Indeed, it’s somewhat ironic that this author brings up the Nazi comparison and the Jews given that almost no countries boycotted the Olympics when they were held in Nazi Germany in 1936. The UK has never boycotted the Olympics, even during the US-led boycott of the Soviet Union in 1980.
  • The point she makes however, that everyone would boycott the Olympics if Russia was persecuting Jews, is a bit of an odd one given that Russia (and indeed previous host cities like China) have a track record of oppression which long pre-dates…last month. The clear implication that the Russian authorities could continue to harass, attack, jail and murder its opponents, feed and use far-right nationalism and racism, crack down on basic human rights and engage in brutal crackdowns as long as no-one was subject to any of this solely because of their sexuality is embarrassing, if not blatantly offensive.
  • Twenty-first century queers aren’t going to wait quietly for a diplomatic solution while each month more of us are tortured and more of us are murdered.” You’re right, not drinking vodka and calling for Olympic boycotts is far more appealing and productive. Yet in the next paragraph she pretty much attributes the end of apartheid to the actions of world governments.
  • Which is in itself obviously hugely problematic, completely ignoring the long and often violent struggle which took place on the ground within South Africa. It certainly became an international movement but it was not one which was imposed on South Africans from the West. Plus, Russia clearly isn’t South Africa and its dominance of the EU’s oil and gas supplies is enormously relevant here.
  • In short, this is the kind of indignant and ill-informed response which unfortunately seems to be driving this whole thing.

Shame on the IOC, NBC and foreign governments for turning a blind eye on Russia’s LGBT hate campaign

I Love the Gays

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Look! A cute doggie! Awww don’t you just want to pet it? It’s so cute and fluffy and friendly. Just like the gays, in fact! Aww I love the gays.

Facetious, certainly, but this awful and patronising attitude (hello, Neko Case) seems to be far more prevalent than it ought to be and it is currently unavoidable whenever the issue of gay marriage rears its head. Right-on liberal icons write about ‘the gays’ like they’re some homogeneous mass of stylish and sassy accessories. All women must have a Gay Best Friend, after all – a topic Moran is so enamoured with that she returns to it in this awful interview. Loving the gays is some liberal badge of honour and it both feeds into and is fed by the ‘gay is good’ idea. Twitter yesterday was awash with the ‘heroic gays/awful homophobes’ dichotomy and endless trite reiterations of ‘only homophobes have a problem with gay marriage!!’ (which, ya know, isn’t actually true)

Obviously the ‘gay is good’ thing grew out of real pain and adversity. It had a purpose and there are still contexts where it will have a purpose. In the UK in 2013, however, the pervasive idea that gays are cuddly little pets who you can pat on the head to show how right-on you are should be confined to the dustbin. It’s embarrassing and stupid. Of course many gay people are all too complicit in allowing themselves to be patronised; there is still a little fuss whenever any straight celebrity says something nice about the gays (it will without fail be reported on Pink News). Gay magazines still have an unhealthy affection for straight men who say they like gays while posing in their pants while the idea beloved of broadsheet journos that ‘gay’ represents something “exciting, underground, pioneering, fearless ” is clearly an easy ego-boost if you’re that way inclined (egotistical, not gay). For all of the offence taken at stereotypes and presumptions, many gay people are happy to indulge in them ranging from the widespread ‘gay people are more sensitive/liberal/funny/etc’ to the ridiculous. And of course, we allow niceness about the gays to be used as a nice polish for the images of companies and politicians.

Personally, I don’t want to be reduced to a mere conduit for flattering the self-image and ego of ‘liberal’ types. I don’t want to be complicit in becoming a one-dimensional person and I don’t want people to think that they deserve special props merely for not being a wanker. You deserve scorn for being a bigot, sure – that’s because you’re not supposed to be a bigot. It’s kind of a given these days – we’re thankfully largely past the days where people would feel alright advertising the fact that ‘some of their best friends are black’, an attitude which is now rightfully mocked. If you’re not homophobic, great – all it means is that you treat me as a person, not that you automatically treat me as some lesser being who should be simperingly grateful that you’re being pleasant. Because guess what? There are people who are gay who are utter gits. There are people who are gay who are racist, sexist, violent, stupid, ignorant. There are people who are gay who do terrible things. And everyone who is gay has good points and bad points, good days and bad days. Shocking, huh? So if you are one of those people who feels the need to make a song and dance out of how cool you are with people being gay or a gay person who rewards this behaviour….if you retweeted Neko Case thinking ‘awww’…if you think that Andrew Garfield is amazing cos he wouldn’t mind if Spider Man was gay…you’re kinda part of the problem when it comes to achieving ‘equality’.