Bear with me while I tell a wee story…
Back in 1970 at High School one of my “inner circle” was a tall, blonde, blue eyed Adonis who seemed to spend his time fighting off the lassies none of the rest of us had the confidence to chat up! We were 16 and all very jealous of his success but also a bit bemused by his lack of enthusiasm.
In 1972 we all went our own ways to Universities all over the UK and abroad and, as happens, we gradually lost touch.
I went to Aberdeen and moved into a flat with 5 other guys.
A couple of years ago I reconnected with my old school friend on Facebook and he explained that after school & Uni he came out and that he was celebrating 20 years with his partner. School had been torture for him but he felt he had to be one of the lads. Suddenly it all made sense! He wasn’t any different, just happy and fulfilled and it was great to hear from him again.
Back to that flat where one of the 6 was struggling with his identity on many fronts. His confusion manifested in extremes of “Being Gay” alternating with “Being Straight”, cross dressing and outbursts of emotion. Remember this was the early 70s and Bowie was presenting his androgynous Ziggy character to a back drop of Glam Rock, Disco and loads of Speed! Many of us were experimenting and pushing the boundaries of the freedom our older siblings didn’t have – it was a veritable shagfest! Some found that freedom liberating but some found it difficult. Genies were out of bottles!
Anyway, all of us stayed loyal to our friend who was obviously distressed, and could be difficult at times, and he came through having decided he was bi-sexual and happy about it.
Back in the 70s my generation got regular press attention for being long-haired, “permissive”, Free Love, dope smoking wasters! (all true!).
This came to an abrupt halt in the 80s when AIDS appeared on the scene and the MSM went into “Gay Plague” frenzy mode followed by religionists declaring that this was god’s punishment for their perverted ways, a view most of them still hold.
Having a healthy disrespect for all god-botherers I didn’t buy into that crap and I also didn’t believe for one minute that a virus was discriminating based on sexual orientation. It didn’t make sense. Of course it eventually became clear that HIV/AIDS was a disease of HUMANS regardless of their sexuality.
So having lived through transformational times and always believing in Equal Rights for ALL regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation and age (did I leave anyone out?) I think I can safely say I’m not a homophobe or insensitive to those who are HIV Positive!
Many of my TwitFriends are Gay and I spent Saturday at the March & Rally with Gay friends who had extended the hand of friendship and looked after me after I decided at the last minute to go along. I sincerely hope they all know where I stand – I would be gutted to think they thought I was homophobic, even in an unthinking way. Anyway I had a great day and I hope they enjoyed my company too! Saor Alba!
Now to the point!
This week we had Johann Lamont’s vile rhetoric, at the UK Labour
SNP Hate Fest Conference, about Nationalism being a virus. The reaction on Twitter was immediate and I noticed lots of Tweets saying “I’m YES Positive!” – effectively claiming the smear and turning it on the ignorant, and frankly dangerous, nonsense from Lamont. I thought it was clever, still do, and mocked up a badge.
Within minutes I was seeing Tweets from people expressing outrage having decided to conflate this with some imagined insult to HIV sufferers.
It quite clearly isn’t as HIV has nothing to do with the “Virus of Nationalist Ideology” and indeed even if it was referring to an actual virus it could have been one of many millions of existent viruses. One outraged soul even went on to say that it was offensive to sufferers of ANY virus when challenged as to who had introduced HIV to the discussion. Is all discussion about viruses now to be taken as specifically referring to HIV?
It’s a bit like the treatment of cancer as a disease. It seems to be the only illness that people “fight”. You never hear of Heart disease or Diabetes sufferers “fighting” their disease in the same language. We get demands for a Cancer Drug Fund but no other illness seems to be worthy of its own special fund. This emotionalising of disease is unhelpful in my opinion.
I fully understand the struggle the Gay Community have fought, and continue to fight, against the bigotry and discrimination they often suffer. I’m witness to the long journey from Crime to Equal Marriage. I hope that struggle is now paying off as we see acceptance of Equal Marriage and a generally less homophobic society. I wish we could also deal with the Age discrimination I suffer almost every day.
Anyone who wants to have a look through my 40,000+ Tweets (Saddoes!) will see that I have been a consistent supporter of Equal Marriage and Minority Rights generally.
I have to say I found the reaction of some to be offensive in itself with some even taking offense on behalf of others. It’s daft and attacking friends does nothing for your cause.
I suffer from an invisible, life-limiting disease myself but I don’t identify myself by it so why do some have to wear their disease as a badge?
I’ve found that having a sense of humour makes suffering easier to thole – sometimes that humour can be dark! I often refer to Coffin Dodgers (being one) but have yet to have outraged Pensioners queuing up to proclaim their offense. We’re all too busy laughing at the Grim Reaper!
So can we please all stop it with the knee-jerk victim mentality and just accept that humour can sometimes have an edge. Fact is almost all humour will offend someone and I’d rather we dropped the faux offense and kept the humour.
I’m aware this may sound like I’m trying to justify my Tweeting the “badge” but I’m not apologising for anything and I haven’t deleted the Tweets. I just don’t like pointless conflict, it affects me badly and I care about what my friends think of me.
I lost a follower I didn’t expect to lose and I hope they can click that follow button again.
Finally, the only apology I’ll make is for this rambling story but I hope it makes some sense. And now it’s Gin & Choons time…