Sunday, November 24, 2013

Internalised (& externalised) gay self-hatred

Bias statement: This post will largely consist of my own undiluted opinions which are not those of the LGBTQ community, & will quote at least one hate opinion.

There is an opinion current among the fundamentalist Christian community & others (this source is one I chose at random from a Google search):

'Homosexual marriage invites God's judgement. And so they have A.I.D.S. to deal with. And want us to pay for it through Obama's socialist healthcare law. This country needs to return to core Christian values.' Source

There are several issues here, all of which are begging me to get my teeth into, but of course being me I want to come at it from the other side. You see, kids, the people who first & foremost hate homosexuals & homosexuality are homosexuals themselves.
This is first & foremost seen in queer bashing, in whatever form it takes. Research repeatedly shows that men who hate homosexuals have responses that way themselves:

'The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia (W. W. Hudson & W. A. Ricketts, 1980). The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire (A. H. Buss & M. Perry, 1992). Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.' Source

This is externalised hate of something you can't cope with in yourself. Also frequently you find gays hate themselves & their own homosexuality. Anyone who reads this blog will know that in my opinion this is found most frequently in aping the heterosexual world. At the moment this is obviously found in the push for gay marriage & equality. Let's make it plain why I think this is internalised self-hatred: I am not straight & see no reason why I should take the heterosexual world as normative. Sometimes gays are pushed into this by an apparent lack of contemporary or historical models for gay life nowadays, but I remain convinced that heterosexual life & society should *not* be the model for gay life.
Another example is the whole top/bottom thing. Radical feminist lesbians of the 1970s got this one sussed by refusing to be pushed into male/female models of sexuality. Gay men of the 21st century are falling for the self-hatred trap of modelling ourselves on heterosexual society. We can take a leaf out of the radical lesbians' book by not being polarised into male/female roles. Are you a top or a bottom? - Neither. This exchange changes the question rather than the answer. Gay sex also need not revolve around anal sex, I personally have always thought straight sex must be boring in the inevitability of its ending. I would also even question the subconscious motivations of those who maintain that penetration is in some way necessary to sex, to which everything else is a mere prelude.
This may seem to have moved far away from the way this post started, talking about G*d's judgement. But there's a marvellous twist in the tail to this story of self-hatred & the judgement of G*d. As we know HIV is passed through bodily fluids and mucuous membranes. And this is the bit where the queers get the last laugh: some of the more kinky sexual activities carry a much lower risk of transmission of HIV than vanilla anal sex, because there is less contact between risky bodily fluids and mucuous membranes. For example watersports & lots of bondage-type things are much lower risk. This is also the reason there are such low rates of HIV among lesbians, because they don't tend to do the sort of things that pass it.
This tickles me, needless to say. I don't often think I have a message of hope for the world, but I might have here. Leave the fundamentalist Christians to their conclusion that HIV is G*d's judgement on homosexuals & have different sorts of sex. Like that you can both love yourself & escape the so-called 'judgement of G*d'.
Can you hear laughter?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spirit of Place: Key Hill Cemetery

I have posted before on Key Hill's neighbouring cemetery, Warstone Lane Cemetery, but had actually never been to this one until today. The reason Birmingham has two cemeteries next door to each other is one was for the nonconformists, namely Key Hill. It is actually the older, since Warstone Lane was only started after Church of England churchyards started filling up.
They are both now closed to new burials, & both on preservation registers, yet feel subtly different. For a start, I'm surprised at the exaggerated height of the surrounding buildings, on what is already a sloping site. This means the key feature at Key Hill is mush, damp, sludge (at least today). It is also apparently not as well cared for as Warstone Lane: the paths are clearly visible in Warstone Lane today, but indistinguishable in Key Hill. Both have had their chapels demolished.
The gravestones at Warstone Lane are more flamboyant, whereas at Key Hill they bring the feeling of the solid nineteenth century Nonconformity on which so much of Birmingham was built. Many of the great names of Birmingham's early history are buried here, & their scientific interests bring to my mind the dead atmosphere of nineteenth-century Deism. Yes, darlings, it is possible to reconcile Christianity with rational thought, & what you end up with a strange moral Christianity with almost nothing supernatural in it.
What did I feel there? Absolutely nothing. The people buried there are either long gone or horrified at the thought of me. I've never got on well with Christian nonconformity, preferring Anglicanism & Catholicism, where at least you get to dress up. My mother was brought up as a Primitive Methodist, giving her a strange approach to drink: the man she describes as the 'black sheep of the family' got that title purely for drinking, which is rank hypocrisy when you think what some of the rest of the family have been like.
Actually, I did meet someone there: I met the stock from which my mother's side of the family comes. I wound up getting in contact with my roots, because let's face it, saying 'I am a witch' is about as non-conformist as you can get. I had not thought before that what I do is actually in a great family tradition, even if those people would turn in their graves at the very thought of me. But here's the difference: I aim to live on many levels at once in a multitude of worlds & possibilities. They aimed to close possibilities, & even memorialised their attempt by slamming the mausoleum door shut.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Not cosy

There is something about this time of year - my favourite time of year - that changes what I want to fill my mind with. Often I have turned to Boswell's Johnson in the past, or sometimes to Sherlock Holmes, only short-term because I want to slap Holmes. This year I'm finding myself listening to cosy Golden Age murders. One I listened to recently, Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger, has set me thinking.
It is very clear why these Golden Age mysteries continue to be popular, despite their often cardboard characterisation & plots holed like old socks, the reason is the world they portray. The Moving Finger is set in a village, with all the characteristic intrigue you get in a Christie village, despite the simplicity of the solution, which Miss Marple insists is perfectly obvious. She fulfills the role of providing a safety net in a world invaded by a dangerous murderer, but which otherwise is inhabited by safe stock characters. The book invites the reader to become a native of the village for a time, which would necessarily mean being surrounded by people one had known all ones life. The feeling of familiarity & safety would be incredibly seductive.
But the point I want to make is that this is not real. For me personally the very idea of living in a village makes me want to flee to the nearest city screaming for anonymity. The life in a Christie village would be so stifling, & actually not cosy at all. Small communities have ways of imposing their own standards on their inhabitants. Having grown up in a Black Country village - one which was superficially well in communication with larger places near by - I can witness to the horizon-narrowing effect of small communities.
Those kind of places are the kind of places that people like me get out of at the first opportunity. If anyone is tempting to hurl the 'snob' epithet at me, do an experiment: move to a small village. Act as if you are a transsexual, without saying 'I am a transsexual', but otherwise act as if you were. Believe me, you'll want to be out of there in no time.
It boils down, as so many things do, to the person that you want to be. Obviously sometimes it's to do with the person that you just are, when it includes such things as sexual orientation, gender, & race. Sometimes you just have to get out of where you are.
When other people do things that we don't want, we have the option if we swish to try to negotiate with them about what they are doing, in addition to the option of getting out. Otherwise you have the potential to create yourself as you will yourself to be. Sometimes they mix. For example, I am very very high maintenance - but you'd sussed that, hadn't you? I take offence very easily & throw a hissy fit easily. So, for example, if I send a friend a text & he doesn't reply I will automatically start looking for reinforcing evidence that I'm not being paid enough attention. And of course sometimes that is actually true: as we change our relationships change.
But here's the nub, & the bit that will explain why I can't do cosy, because living the Willed life is never cosy. I don't want to be a touchy old queen. I don't want to be a difficult old man - at least no more difficult than I already am. My will is to become hopefully more flexible & easy-going as I get older. Hence the recognition of my own touchiness & a lack of comfort at it is essential. Cosy means stagnation, & I flatly refuse to go there.

Monday, November 11, 2013

When it goes quiet

There are times when the witch's life goes quiet. This is the reason for the scarcity of my posts lately.
My personal opinion is that these times illustrate one of the differences between us and conventional religions, which are very insistent that you stick to their prescribed practices come rain or shine, regardless of how inclined you feel to do so. They also have an experience called spiritual dryness, when you don't feel like it at all.
I would like to think that we witches live in a world that we are in a relationship with, & it & we respond to each other accordingly. I've posted before on how often the witch is actually dragged kicking & screaming to a task, so I certainly wouldn't want to imply that what we do is dependent on our feelings, but more that we respond to the tasks & challenges as they appear in front of us.
This is the true school of witchcraft, & this is what is meant by the tradition of putting down the books & just doing it. I would personally resist a too rigid daily practice: I mean, G*ddess knows I'm probably the least disciplined witch in the world. For me, there is no point trying to set a daily discipline & stick to it. I can't do it. Working shifts also interferes with it. The failure to stick to the discipline I set myself ultimately leads to 'ought', 'should', 'must', & guilt, & the one discipline I insist on is not feeling guilt because I haven't stuck to an arbitrary rule. I feel for the witch guilt is a suspicious emotion: it suggests something is being imposed on us - even when we do it ourselves - & dammit I *will* be free from slavery!
I also avoid any negative implications of these times, seeing them instead as part of our natural life cycle, of times of busy witchiness alternating with rest. If we're truly trying to be responsive to the world about us, these hints from the universe will be welcome, & paralleled by the necessary times of rest for fields.
Because nothing doesn't happen in these quieter times. In fact they're the prelude to activity. For example I cast a spell on someone before this rest came along, it seemed like nothing had happened, but it now seems like it's working. It was a spell that she would see & not deny a given situation. She actually told me the whole situation today, & the sitch itself is certainly feeling very pregnant, & ready to pop!
Perhaps that's the secret sometimes: sleep on it & don't force it...