Saturday, 14 April 2012


Now gentle reader it is not often that the Cheerful Fairy wades into the murk of politics. Very much an armchair fairy about that sort of thing. Usually.

Over the last few months Stonewall has been running ads on the side of Strumpetville’s shiney red buses “some people are gay: get over it!”. A very simple and effective message, and part of a campaign that is complemented with posters and leaflets and T-shirts etc.

But that is of course never the end of it. A counter campaign has been formulated: “not gay, ex gay, post gay and proud. Get over it!”. These were also due to be plastered on our shiny buses, right up until yesterday the Mayor had the campaign stopped.

Ensue much hullabaloo and stroking of beards, oh yes indeed.
A group called the Core Issues Trust, supported by Anglican Mainstream, The largely unsought battle between religious faith and sexual orientation continues apace, it appears.

So what’s the issue? Well, the nominal reason is the suggestion the ad promotes gay cures. We know, I think, that such ‘cures’ are utter rubbish, and if anything actively cause a lot of harm.

Does the advertisement itself claim to offer, or support, “gay cures”? No, not really. But I think the man in the street would reasonably infer that such a thing were possible, or at least that sexual orientation is mutable. And we cannot ignore both Core Issues trust and Anglican Mainstream focus on offering gay cures. Certainly the advertisement goes further than arguing, as this article in the Daily Mail suggests, that homosexuality as an aberration and as such we gayers need to “get over” our 'agenda'.

The Advertising Standards Authority, the regulator of advertisements in the UK, has come in for much criticism for not banning the ads itself. But should it? I used to work for the ASA and grapple with issues such as these. It is implausible to ban advertisements because you disagree with their content or message in principle; but on the other hand you can be so offensive that in limited instances freedom of speech can, and should, be restricted.

The ASA cannot arbitrate on this before an advertisement is run. Such a thing is censorship. If after seeing an advertisement someone has grounds for complaint, that complaint should be fully considered and a decision made in favour of one party or  the other. That is what regulators do; they are in the business of disappointing people. Not protecting them, on the grounds of some moral code nobody agreed, from things they might not like.

The timing of the advertisement, and the decision to ban it, can also not be ignored. The Mayor is running for re-election on 3 May, and up to now the campaign has been a mud-slinging vileathon with no debate about real issues. Of the party (right of centre) that is the main partner in the unpopular national coalition government, and one that is consistently considered to be sleazy and nasty, and in an incredibly diverse and largely left leaning city… I strongly suspect he’ll have swung some of those swing votes. Being sued by people who are to me clearly a hate group (although I’m sure they sincerely don’t see themselves as such, take out the words gay or homosexual in what they write and replace them with black of Jewish and see how it reads then) won’t hurt either, methinks.

Cynical? Perhaps. But should then the advert be run? Well, freedom of speech is a right for those who understand, as all sane adult men and women do, their responsibilities. We must think before we speak, and sometimes consider whether we need to speak at all. So it can’t always be absolute.

If I were Mayor of Strumpetville – or better still, king and tyrant – then I would let the advert run, but publicly and loudly voice my disagreement with its message and my view of those behind it. I would use it as a reason to keep equality, rights (and obligations), tackling hatred, and proper education about sexual health sand orientation high on the list of social priorities

In the meantime we have to accept that there are those who disagree with, or simply hate, homosexuality, and this must be tackled through open and honest debate. It creates climate of fear that stops people freely living their lives. Those, like the Anglican Mainstream or the Daily Mail, who clearly have an agenda all their own that is closer to something far more right wing and pernicious than sleaziness or nastiness must not be driven underground or simply banned. They have to be shown to be wrong.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

There's a time and a place

Unbelievably Fella and I have got off our pert arses and actually started planning our civil partnership.

Immediately off on a rambling tangent – Fella calls it the “wedding” and that we are getting “married”. I call it registering a civil partnership; because that is what it is. So there. But if you are 'interested in participating in the UK Government’s consultation on giving us cheerful band of shirt lifting fairy types the upgrade, then you can do so here:
We have visited a few venues near to where we live: TheTudor Barn in Eltham, Eltham Palace, and Hall Place in Bexley.

Now, we love Eltham Palace, but we can’t really afford it – and we’d have to change our plans to accommodate the venue which I get a bit sniffy about considering what they’re asking.
The Tudor Barn is highly affordable and quite nice in its own way… but it didn’t set my world on fire. It’s not likely to be the place we pick.

Hall Place, however, is the Goldicocks venue. Affordable, beautiful, available, and enthusiastic about us being wedded there. The accommodation is just right and very flexible. And they appeal to our innate laziness by pretty much throwing everything in to the price, including the flowers. They have a nice package where they corral the suppliers, but we work with them each individually to meet our requirements which is just great. There’s even a hotel next door.
When I write ‘everything’ I of course use the word quite wrongly; they won’t do the cake or the rings, which Fella has farmed out to friends of ours – and the results of this I await with some trepidation…

Anyhoo. Because our families will be coming from Germany and Scotland, and our chosen day – our anniversary – happens to be a Wednesday so we think that the numbers will be quite small. Our initial guest list is about 60 something, and it may be many of them won’t be able to take the time off.
What we’re planning is an afternoon ceremony, and then a meal, drinks and dancing and then people can totter off in their own good time. At least that way people will only need to take half a day off work, and people can join us in the evening if they wish.
The next day… honeymoon.

We might look at one or two other places but I think we’re going to settle on this one… Have a look and tell me what you think J
I’m already thinking about the invites, what we’ll wear and sending out ‘save the date’ cards. What the hey; a project manager civil partnering an events planner – I think we’ll do alright. In the meantime Fella and I will be living like hermits for the next year to pay for it!


Looking at the stats each and every year the number of posts I write goes down. Partly it's because I've achieved much of what I set out to achieve; and there's only so much you can post about that. Partly it's because I've been busy. Done a master's degree, dangnamit!

Still, I want to continue this blog. I'm wedding planning, and Fella and I have a lot of life experiences ahead which are totally unprecedented for both of us; and of course there's a reasonable chance I'll fuck it all up and I'll be back at square one, slightly the frumpier for it.

Nevertheless, I've decided to do something that may appear counter-intuitive, and that is start another blog. It will run for a few months alongside this one, but will be focussed on my research for my dissertation.

The idea appeals to me because, as part of my research, I should keep a reflexive journal, the function of which will be to record my experiences, thoughts and ideas as I go forward.

For example, I've had 186 valid responses to my questionnaire so far but a huge proportion - nearly 50% - are under 25. No problem with that, except it means I can't easily correlate behaviour with life experience for the simple reason they haven't had many! They've had plenty of sex drugs and rock and roll, but not too many kids, not too much of an income and PhDs, civil partnerships and mortgages will be thin on the ground. However, homophobic bullying in schools is really coming out as an unexpectedly major theme around which I will need to do a lot of background reading and self-directed learning.

Also of concern is that I’m not getting any black respondents at all. This is clearly partly due to the way I’ve marketed my research, and I need to think about how best to address that.

Oh, I could go on and on… but I don’t think it quite proper, or of enough general interest, to do so here. Hence the other blog. My idea, simply, is that the feedback and comments I’ve had on my own blogged life experiences have been so valuable from you all, I could gain a lot from people’s views of my experiences doing my research – just as feedback from those who have taken the questionnaire has helped me tweak my questions.

186 though – I’m pleased to get so many in just over three weeks. In my wildest dreams I imagine bursting through the 1000 barrier by August. We shall see, gentle reader.

In the meantime, if you are at all interest, my other blog is