Friday, August 28, 2009

when you march, stand up straight/when you fill the world with hate

First up: Apologies about the major hiatus this blog has taken (again). Family bereavement, relocating from London to Liverpool and a sudden upsurge in my freelance work have all combined to distract me from my duty to you, dear readers. Like Boxer in Animal Farm, I will work harder. Mini-rants can now be found on Twitter, and I have a guest-blog post up at The F Word, about the film (500) Days of Summer.

And now onto our feature presentation: The National Front are boycotting this autumn's Reading Pride. In preparation for the parade, taking place on the 5th September, police have banned offensive placards and no more than 20 people are allowed to congregate . The NF, who have already marched against the annual parade, are protesting at the 'flamboyance' of the gay community. A recent blog post by Swindon National Front argues that "the very nature and ideology behind White Nationalism condemns homosexuality and its promotion"

In a country that grows ever more tolerant of sexual identity, where even our Prime Minister makes grand statements like "you can't legislate love", is there really a need for annual celebrations of sexual identity?

Surely the fact that we can have these celebrations proves that we no longer need them - as Stonewall's advertising campaign reminds us, some people are gay, it's time to get over it. No big deal. In fact, it's so OK to be gay that the word has now been reclaimed to mean 'rubbish' - but that's not homophobic, it's just a sign that people are more tolerant these days. Right?

Not exactly.

Yes, we're lucky that it's safer to be queer in the UK than it is to be in, say, Russia or Croatia, whose gay pride parades were beset with homophobic violence. But the fact that homophobic hate crimes in Manchester, whose own Gay Pride festivities come to a glittering climax with this weekend's parade, rose by 63% in 2008 paints a less rosy picture. Remember, this is a city known for embracing the gay community, the city that spawned the original Queer as Folk.

The protestors at Reading won't be complaining about civil partnerships or the increasing number of gay bars, their problem isn't that the government encourages discussion of homosexuality in schools. Their problem - and the problem with all homophobes, no matter how much they may dissemble - is with gay people, period. They say 'flamboyance', when they mean 'existence.'

Gay Pride parades don't promote homosexuality. But if, as the National Front claim, homosexuality really is such a threat to their master race utopia, maybe we should start.

And if you're going to get riled up, it's always a good idea to do it with a soundtrack:

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