It’s Not Unusual

One thing you always have to account for is the shifting attitudes of the times – what was once normal and acceptable within society can become frowned upon or even illegal and similarly what was once thought unnatural or immoral can find acceptance in a more enlightened society. With that in mind, I present to you the case of Tom Jones, yes the famous singer, has come under fire from social media users for revealing that when he first broke into the music industry, his first producer was homosexual and this made him uncomfortable at that time. The responses to this news have been polarised and whilst it might not make headlines, it has generated some hype around it so I’m going to weigh in on the issue, if only for an excuse to use the title “It’s Not Unusual”

In an interview with The Big Issue, he said: “I was ready for most aspects of the music industry but when I met the producer Joe Meek, that threw me off a bit. Because he was a homosexual. I thought, wait a minute, is the London scene, the people who run British show business – are there a lot of homosexuals involved here? Because if so, I’m going back to Cardiff.” Apparently he continues, his first manager wanting to talk to Tom in private and Tom fearing that he was being solicited for sex in order to get a record deal and then realised, no, that’s not the case – this is a legit record deal, no sexual payments required, his manager just happens to be gay. Tom Jones admitted to a paranoia he held onto at the time and since then, he’s grown up and moved past it, accepting homosexuality and homosexuals in general as being just like everyone else, not a creepy cult conspiracy forcing people into sex through misdirection. Good on you Tom, good on you.

However, the backlash came from his tweet in which he said he realised “most people were normal. Well, I shouldn’t put it like that. Homosexuals are normal, it’s not that they aren’t normal. It’s just that they are what they are.” Ok, so not the best wording ever and I’d wager he probably still has a lot to learn about sexuality and the diverse range of sexual identities people class themselves as but Tom Jones got unfairly savaged by someone for his ‘outdated ideals’. He KNOWS they’re outdated, bear in mind he was establishing his fame in the 50s/60s, homosexuality was still illegal in some places and regarded as a mental health disorder in many psychological and professional circles, there wasn’t as much of an LGBTQIA community presence then as there is now. Jones didn’t have much information available to him to learn better, the media stereotype of the gay man was of an overly flirtatious weirdo that needed to be steered clear of and with doctors and preachers and news coverage calling homosexuality abhorable, it’s understandable he had a paranoia about them, the media image was not positive. Today, Tom Jones realises that these people are no different from him and that’s something he deserves commendation for.

Now, bear with me, the liberal minded of you out there might go “Well duh, of course gay people are just like us, why does he deserve credit for realising that?”. I’ll tell you, he deserves it because he had the gall to put up in the public space an admission that he WAS a homophobe and since then, he learned better through interacting with actual homosexuals and respecting them. Well done to him for that, it is not easy to admit to having held onto wrong belief systems and I stand by him – truth be told, when I was much younger my own belief of homosexuality was “I don’t mind them as long as they aren’t doing it where I have to deal with it or to me”, as if I had to lay down some ground rules with the LGBTQIA community or else be swamped with gay sex pests. I’ve changed, he’s changed, nobody is perfect from the start. For him to expose himself like that takes guts. Furthermore, it is an important realisation, sure it might only seem like a start to some but a starting point is something. You would say well done to a friend if they even committed to taking part in a marathon wouldn’t you? If people hold beliefs like “being gay is unnatural and immoral”, we have to give them credit when they get as far as “Okay, it’s not immoral, I can see that… but I’m still uncomfortable”. Fine, that’s okay, we can work with that – what we can’t do is shout people down for any misconception they have or they just won’t learn.

The pressure to be politically correct, such as it were, I can actually understand. I of course encourage everyone to keep trying to learn to be more acceptant of others but that works both ways, we have to be acceptant of those that are learning. I had a friend, who will remain nameless, but they accepted that people could be gay and that’s not inherently bad but they still thought it weird and gross. Now, I could have told them to not be such a privileged twat and many would have laughed and applauded me but I’d have just embarrassed someone who could have potentially become an ally in the fight for equal rights, someone who was at least trying to learn. So instead, of course, it was a matter of explaining why it isn’t all that gross and even if it were, how is it any more gross than straight sex? Outside of the fun of being a part of it, sex is really pretty frickin’ gross, a hot sweaty mess of stains and genitalia smashing together, what does it matter what goes where as long as those involved are okay with it? We have to accept that changing your views on things such as sexuality, politics or feminism are slow processes of constant learning and if you want to win someone round, you’ll catch more flies with honey over vinegar. So let me finish by saluting the Welsh legend, you did a brave thing indeed Sir Jones!

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Cheer Up Sunshine!

Trigger Warnings –

I’ve probably covered this topic before but I am not a sunny man, my disposition, whilst perfectly hospitable, is one of a stone faced man who can only just about force a smile onto his face most of the time. I’m capable of having a laugh and enjoying myself, don’t get me wrong, but my cheeriness is generally quite reserved and softly spoken.

With Christmas fast approaching, I feel I should be excited for it, it’s been a generally good year for me, I have a tight social circle, I know I’ll be receiving some nice gifts and I have gifts lining up for a number of friends and family members, quite good ones too. However, I struggle to feel excited, I always have in all honesty and I’m not 100% sure why but I have theories.

Contrary to the impression given by the number of personal posts I make on this blog, my innermost feelings are really quite valuable to me and I tend to keep them under my hat, which has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is strength, I can plough on through personal dilemmas and get stuff done. I can suffer indignation and still be driven to rise from the ashes like the metaphorical firebird of legend. Disadvantages are that I give off this impression of never enjoying anything and when people comment on it, I internalise it and so here I am, unable to be excited because everyone has to ask why I never am.

I guess this is a standard of masculinity forced upon me by being a male, the eldest brother of the household at that, everything was about strength and resolve, weakness was not an option. I went out of my way to be a strong person, I had to prove it at every opportunity. Feelings, or at least feelings like excitement, were weak, they were childish and unnecessary to a fighter. All of this loops back to my teenage years of anger and fire, I’ve overcome that part of myself but there is so much more to it than just learning not to resolve problems by punching them in the face, you have to rethink everything.

Overcoming that anger was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and even now there a handful of people I’d love to do some damage to if there were no consequences to it. However, such things exist only as petty fantasies like we all have, we all know that one guy you would like to see get what’s coming to them, for me I used to do just that by mashing their faces into walls, now I just mumble. The trouble for me was learning to walk away or breathe slowly but also the process of changing because I think only one person ever really had any faith in me, everyone else seemed to label me even after months without so much as a raised voice. Change is like that though, a painter isn’t paid for holding brushes, they’re paid for a painted wall and any substantial change is the same, nobody will applaud you for saying it will happen, only when it has happened and even then they’ll remind you how much of an asshole you used to be. I don’t mind people bringing up my past but when it’s in the context of “You used to be a real sack of shit”, how do I respond adequately?

Anyway, rambling on, this sorta wandered across a broad spectrum. I meant to say I feel too exposed when I’m visibly displaying a passionate emotion and open to mockery so don’t take it personally if I don’t jump up and down grinning when you say you’ve got me a Christmas present. If you ever see me opening up, don’t take it for granted and don’t call attention to it or I will clam up right away.

Final note to anyone struggling to change, don’t give up. People will doubt you, deny you, resent you and maybe try to break you but we are all capable of great things if we have but the courage and resources to try. I used to be a hyperaggressive super jerk with delusions of grandeur, now I’m just me, I’ll leave you to your own descriptions of me from there.