… still here

by Mr Wainscotting

Phew… Sorry for the absence. It was end of term, assignments were due, busy times. I’ve also just resurrected my old computer, so I can actually blog on a computer with a real keyboard!

So, there’s lots to catch up on: New York (Yay!); Alasdair Thompson (Boo!); ACT on Campus in Auckland (BOO!); as well as a few election PSAs that I want to throw out there.

So, sit back, and I’ll see if I can get the swirling things out of my head an into this blog in good time…

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In which I feel I must clarify myself

by Mr Wainscotting

In my last post, I blogged about the same-sex couple wanting to attend their school ball changing the name and details of the Facebook page. I’ve been ruminating on it for a few days, and I’m worried that my support for the boys didn’t show through enough in my writing.

I want to emphasise that I fully support them and their campaign to see all same-sex couples in all schools allowed to attend their formals, without the schools making excuses for their bigotry.

Furthermore, I wish to apologise for temporarily removing my name from the cause (see third to last paragraph on my post. It was something I did before the whole story had been made clear, when it did look like it was all a hoax. And I feel that some of the things I posted on the page, though said with the best of intentions, may have inadvertently fanned the flames, for which I am sorry.

With all the vitriol flying around on that page, it’s easy to lose hope that we can change this world for the better. It’s not often that such bigotry and hate makes itself so visible, but it goes to show just how deep it runs.

I wish those boys all the best, and hope they’re surrounded by enough love and support to see them through – and I wish to extend that to everyone facing such discrimination, both institutional and from their peers.

Gay students banned from ball a hoax?

by Mr Wainscotting

Not quite.

The story in C. Connoisseur’s post yesterday has taken an interesting turn. There have been accusations on the Facebook page accusing them of not actually being a gay couple. This was highlighted when they changed the name and the description of the event to a more generalised protest against the practice of prohibiting same-sex couples at all school formals.

It turns out that one of the boys is straight and, according to his Facebook page, is in a relationship with a girl.* (Having said that, according to my Facebook page, I’m in a relationship with a hat.)  I require a much higher standard of proof than Facebook accusations before I’ll protest such a thing. If true, however, then it does us all a disservice. People who signed up to the event could feel cheated (and with the vitriol that was flinging around, it’s easy to see that is the case) and, in the minds of those we have to convince, it diminishes the voices of those of us who genuinely experience this sort of thing and work to bring an end to it. 

* If you choose to look up their pages, I shouldn’t have to tell you to be civil and respectful of their privacy.

The parties involved had been very silent on what the actual story was. In the same way that the A Gay Girl in Damascus hoax trivialised and made a mockery of the plight of actual LGBT people in the Middle East, regardless of the good intentions of the author, so does this trivialise the issue of the rights and wellbeing of queer youth. However, this morning, his girlfriend posted this:

“As keith’s girlfriend, i can tell you that this is an issue of homophobia. He was attending the ball with his friend who also identifies as being queer so that he would be able to take, if not a romantic partner, then at least someone of his preferred gender.”

This I agree with, and I agree with her that it is homophobic to exclude him. With the vitriol flinging around the Facebook page, I sympathise with them changing the details and taking their names off it. Even if they’re not romantically involved, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t go together if that will make a young queer boy feel comfortable in a fiercely heteronormative setting.

Furthermore, the school is bound by the Human Rights Act, and is not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. Even though it’s a Catholic school, and “religious organisations” are exempt from following the law, the school (by virtue of the fact that it’s a school and not a church) must follow the law.

Even if the older student is straight, he wanted to support his friend. The school claims it doesn’t allow same-sex couples to stop old boys and those from other schools attending due to the issues it can cause. I think there’s a much better way of dealing with this (being better at supervising the formal, for example) without discriminating against queer youth.

We can’t know the actual situation of these students, no matter how much of their Facebook pages we read, and no matter what other students at the school say. It’s always best to not second guess what a person identifies as.

However, the fact that they changed the name and details of the event, even though I still agree with it, is enough reason for me to withdraw my support.† I would gladly have signed up to a new page, had they asked us, but now I can’t trust them with my name if they’re going to change the details of what we’ve already signed up to. I’m not at all encouraging you to do the same, you may even like to sign up to the modified page. Throwing a hissy fit over this would be giving up an opportunity to challenge the antiquated and offensive rules that many schools still hold.

The message stays the same, but now applies to all queer students in all schools. We also can’t comment on the personal situation of the students involved. We should cut through the vitriol and the name-calling, and support all queer students everywhere to live happily with complete equality.

† I have since signed back up to the event, as now that I’ve weighed up the facts, I feel that the students are genuine, just understandably overwhelmed by the vitriol that is being thrown at them.

Enough is enough of Destiny Church, apparently.

by Mr Wainscotting

UniQ Otago has joined the fray in complaining about the $860, 000 given to Destiny Church to run Community Max and Breakaway youth programmes. UniQ Otago’s president Justin Boswell says:

“Any organisation that marganises [sic] and separates any section of the New Zealand community should not be the beneficiary of Government funds. … These programs are realistically inseparable from the Church’s message, which is one of Homophobic views. Our government should not continue to endorse this message in any way.”

[This is a rather long post. Might want to put the kettle on. :3 ]

Continue reading

School Ball Season and Queer Youth.

by C. connoisseur

Two years ago I wrote a guest post for The Handmirror on queer youth and school balls.

I am saddened today to see another school not allowing a two young men to attend their school ball as a couple. A Facebook page to gather support and update people on their discussions with their school. The school in question is a Catholic school and the school prefect has put forward this point, which personally, I have respect for:

A St Patricks student and prefect, Zubin D’Sousa, who is friends with both men, has endorsed their stand, saying; “I just wanna say that I fully support them, and while this may be against a supposed teaching of the school and the Catholic institution, as intelligent beings we need to consider and question rather than accept blindly.” (from GayNZ )

I hope that the young men are able to attend their school ball as a couple and are respected and celebrated by their school and church for the stand they are taking. Kia Kaha.

Media Reporting Bias

by Anthrogoddess
It’s not exactly a news flash, but it is frustrating, seeing how news of the Gay Pride parade in Croatia has been reported;

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/5133140/Croatia-gay-parade-turns-violent-over-100-arrested

http://www.torontosun.com/2011/06/11/croatia-gay-parade-turns-violent

Glancing at the headlines anyone would think that it is those participating in the parade that had turned violent. It wasn’t. Those whom were violent – hurling abuse, bottles and stones at the marchers – were onlookers and an anti-gay protest. The headlines should have more accurately said ‘anti-gay protesters in Croatia use violence against peaceful Gay Pride parade’.

But back to the media reporting. I read a few articles, thinking maybe they would improve in content once I got past the mis-leading headline. I was disappointed. Reporters seemed most concerned about their 4 fellow journalists being injured, despite the fact that there were many more in the parade that were injured (this was briefly mentioned later on in a couple of articles).

The one quote that many publications decided to include was from an onlooker who said “events of this kind should be forbidden”. Yeah, ‘cos that will help…….How about getting some quotes from the marchers? Oh wait, they did include this  – ‘Homosexual groups have long complained about hostility towards open expression of their sexual orientation’. Am I being unfair in thinking that the media could have come up with some better wording, such as replacing ‘complained’ with ‘stated’, since the statement is clearly factual, given the evident violence directed at the marchers from the onlookers?

This report was an improvement on the others, with quotes from Amnesty International – http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n252200

Many other reports focused on Lady Gaga’s comments – http://www.g/ALeqM5hnZkMTi5JbVwallxccXsx1qOPdsw?docId=CNG.25b78f54a3b7e30abed76c9d803100d4.101

It would be good to see more conscientious reporting overall however. IMO many reporters simply aren’t aware of their own ingrained prejudice and how that might come across in their reporting of events. This can be seen in many different reports on cultural and political issues where ethnocentrism is obvious, as well as issues of domestic and sexual violence where misogyny is often subtly (or not so subtly) evident. Perhaps journalists should have to take some culture, gender and sexuality papers during their training hmmmm?

Political parties tacitly endorse bigotry

by Mr Wainscotting

National’s Tau Henare, Labour’s Shane Jones, Maori Party’s Pita Sharples and Mana’s Hone Harawira all attended, by invitation, Destiny Church’s conference, with the aim of helping to secure their vote.

Destiny, famous for its fiercely homophobic, transphobic and misogynistic stance, and infamous for its ‘Enough is Enough’ rally during the Civil Union debate, were not challenged on their views by the politicians, who seemed to not want to rock the boat in return for looking like people the chuch members can vote for. Church leader Brian Tamaki is known to tell his congregation who to vote for at the election, and all the MPs seemed to be wanting his approval.

This has drawn condemnation from the Greens, as well as Academics and bloggers. And rightly so. By trying to appeal to them, these MPs have shown that they don’t care for the rights of gays, lesbians, trans people and women, so long as there are votes to be gained. That’s a rather large section of the population to exclude for a miserly share of the votes.

[EDIT: Harawira, to his credit, did take a pro-gay stance at the conference (via GayNZ.com)]