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diverse range of sexual identities people class themselves as but Tom Jones got unfairly savaged by someone for his ‘outdated ideals’. He KNOWS they’re outdated, bear in mind he was establishing his fame in the 50s/60s, homosexuality was still illegal in some places and regarded as a mental health disorder in many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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On Coming Out

Two days on from the National Coming Out Day you might argue I have missed the boat on this subject but you know, it’s a relevant topic every day of the year and even so, the event is also regarded as Coming Out Week in some circles so the nature of these things are fluid… as is gender. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Now you might think I’m here to announce my previously unannounced secret sexual tastes but I’m afraid you’re mistaken, I’m comfortable where I stand. Straight, for those who are uncertain, I’m pretty certain I’ve mentioned it before but elucidating it in case, not out of a “Ugh don’t mistake me for being gay!” knee-jerk reaction but literally just so the topic of my sexual orientation is settled right from the start. I never had to come out in my life, I know in certain parts of the world you have to come out as an Atheist and though I was raised a Christian by my mother, once my Dad took charge in her passing he supported my brothers and I in supporting any belief system, seeing as he’d been biting his tongue on how he’s a Buddhist for her sake. For me though, on a serious note, I never had to have the courage to admit to being who I am, I never faced those pressures or inner conflicts outside of the usual straying of the imagination we all experience. So, you might now argue I am not the person to talk to about coming out and you’d be right really, I don’t have that history to recall but I know about so many different people who went through it and I want to say my piece. You don’t have to be directly affected by an issue to see how it affects others so with that said, here I am.

In a broad sense, we as a society have come a long way with regards to sexuality and gender identity, though obviously there is further to go with China still ‘treating’ homosexuality through shock therapy and trans violence being shrugged off as “The assailant panicked because they were confused, of course you’re going to beat some stone dead with your bare hands when you’re confused!”. Whilst once upon a time it was largely an underground society, the LGBTQIA community now holds pride marches and legal victories have been won left, right and centre against the bigoted traditions of old. The community isn’t perfect, things like asexuality and pansexuality get sidelined as weird or made-up, bisexuality is still largely seen as a phase more than the other two like it’s the part of the game of life where you’re still deciding between Charmander or Squirtle, terms like genderfluid are largely seen as wanting to be ‘special’ rather than someone finding a true identity, these are acts of ignorance and discrimination that occur within that same community of those once oppressed (or in some cases, still are). I’m not here to poo-poo the progress thus far by pointing out the road is still a long one, not at all, great job to us for all that, but I am merely providing context because whilst there are so many of us comfortable to proudly announce who we are, there are still so many who aren’t.

National Coming Out Day or Week then, is the chance for people to stand together and encourage their closeted colleagues to embrace who they truly are and let the world love them for it. A noble cause and if you’re taking this opportunity to share the truth, good for you, seriously, you deserve credit for that. On the other hand, the reverse side of this coin is an implied pressure to make the big announcement, to come out and shout from the rooftops that you are in fact not what assumptions make you out to be. At a time like this, we can perhaps be a little expectant of people to tell the naked truth, for better or for worse. Individual circumstance can make these things so much more complicated for so many reasons but I’ll try to explain as best I can.

A friend of mine said that you don’t come out once, it’s nonsense to think that there is one pivotal moment in your life where you gather every single person you know in one room and make the truth known to all. I can understand that, I know people who are out to some groups and not to other, my own youngest brother came out to the immediate family first and then slowly let it slip in school once he felt comfortable people wouldn’t react by beating the snot out of him. Coming out is something people go through time and time again – to the family, to friends, to schoolmates, to work colleagues and so on and so on, each experience is difficult and there’s no guarantee how people will react. We tend to see cisgender heterosexuals as the default sexuality setting, straight until proven otherwise as it were, so we don’t always look at our peers with a neutral judgment of them. Admit it, you’ve seen people in the street and sorted them into straight, gay and lesbian in your head right? You don’t usually look at someone and think “I bet they’re a genderfluid aromantic… they just look like they are” but we still seem to associate certain visual traits with being gay or hetero. As a result of this, most people who came out the closet even as young as say, fifteen, still find themselves ‘revealing’ they are a homosexual at thirty and that’s going to be a thing until society as a whole stops making assumptions that everyone is straight and cisgender before changing their mind somewhere along the line.

So coming out, as we all know it with the family in the living room and teen angst kid Johnny having to reveal his secret desire to sleep with men to startled parents is perhaps untrue. However, just because it isn’t a big “all will be revealed” affair like we imagine it, it doesn’t make it less daunting for those involved, nor does it guarantee it will be safe. Sexuality and gender identity are topics that can polarise people to one camp or the other and even within the same family, it can be hard to deal with. A friend who shall remain nameless is out to their close family and pretty much everyone they know but still has a grandparent in the dark, said grandparent not having social media to see the truth. Why? Well, they’re of the belief it’s unnatural to feel same sex attraction or to want to be a different gender to the one you were assigned at birth and this friend of mine doesn’t want to compromise their relationship with their grandparent by saying “Guess what? I’m one of those unholy abominations you mouth off about!”, so they endure the flak and pretend to be ‘normal’. Sounds unfair but this isn’t even the worst, that’s someone doing something by choice, not to protect themselves, some people keep their sexuality or gender identity under wraps for fear of their life. Who can blame them? Many US states still stand by the panic defense that attacking someone who is trans or homosexual is forgivable if you claim you were scared they were going to make a pass at you. Like, homophobia being an actual fear of homosexuals in such an instance, which is ludicrous and credit to California for calling that legal defence bullcrap. In a world where people are disowned, beaten, electrocuted, sexually assaulted and just plain humiliated for being outside of the expected norm, can we really shame them for hiding in safety? Let me tell you, if being straight got me forced into having sex with men against my will or locked away in a correctional camp to brainwash me into suppressing who I am, I’d need some serious chutzpah to say I am straight.

In summary, if you can come out and you feel safe to do so, go for it, I hope we will one day live in a world where everyone can feel okay to be who they are and ‘coming out’ becomes a thing of the past. However, if you’re choosing not to open that door, be it for self-preservation, uncertainty or just not feeling up to it, I say go for that too, what matters most is your well-being, if that’s better preserved by not saying anything, so be it, though obviously I wish that wasn’t the case. Don’t pressure people to come out if you know they’re still in their closet, it’s not encouraging or inspiring, it’s terrifying, it’s telling them to strip off and jump in the shark pool because hey, if they survive it, won’t it be cool to say they did that? Most importantly, DO NOT OUT SOMEONE ELSE! I can’t stress that enough, only thing worse than trying to make someone step out, is to shove them out. You aren’t risking anything yourself in doing that, that is pushing someone else in the pool and saying “Aren’t I brave? Am I not a great friend? Isn’t this so much better than just watching the sharks?”. So to everyone, take your time, come to terms with who you are and let the world know when you feel ready, there is absolutely no rush.

The Cosby Case

First of all, I’d like to take a moment to say I am exceptionally proud of my latest work, I hope you are all enjoying it and I can’t wait to see it gain more recognition. I can only ask that you, my readers, like and share anything you find yourself agreeing with on here, at this stage my main means of publicity is word of mouth and shared posts on Facebook so if you could do me that favour, I’d be grateful. Incidentally, if you have not read the Fragile Man, both parts one and two, please do so, it took a lot of effort to write and I’m pleased with the result. You can do it now or read this and check later, either way, I’d appreciate the site traffic. Now then, let’s move on.

So again, the clue here is in the title that this is related to the allegations of sexual assault made against Bill Cosby, I’m not here to argue the case either way, though on a personal level I’d have a hard time believing almost thirty different women (actual figure varies depending where you look, some say a dozen, some say fifty) all had the same get-rich scheme of villainising a beloved TV icon but I am here to discuss why it’s taking so long for progress to be made either way. If the subject matter is likely to offend, I suggest taking your business elsewhere, sadly not everything I cover on here is pretty, I promised you all the gritty reality of the world, here’s a slice. If you’re still reading, you’re doing so because you can face up to it so if you’re honestly ready, I’ll begin.

Friday just gone, ABC aired interviews with the twenty-nine accusers about their histories with the accused Bill Cosby, allowing them to stand in solidarity and fight their case. In the first official deposition since 2005, Bill Cosby himself discussed the allegations made against him of sexual abuse, mainly behind the scenes of shows he worked on but also apparently at the Playboy Mansion, abuse apparently inflicted on women both of the age of consent and below. A deposition is a chance to ask living witnesses for knowledge about a case, Bill has given his, the persecution will give theirs later this month. The information within will be contained in confidence until December at the earliest and it will then fall to the two parties to decide what information is made public, dependent on negotiations and how the actual eventual court cases play out. Bill Cosby made a deposition in 2005, this has been a deal at least a decade in the making, and at that time he admitted to obtaining drugs he intended to give to women he wanted to have sex with. Chances are, he’ll have to do this again, the accusations are being worked through in clusters and judges are slowly approving the move forward for a number of cases at a time, it’d be a nightmare trying to put the same man on trial thirty times in a day after all. Cosby’s lawyers have tried to sweep this under the rug but to little success thus far, each court case they have tried to make go away has come back and claims that Cosby has only made public verbal responses about this whole predicament because he’s entitled to free speech and feels isolated have been dismissed, the whole thing with free speech being that there are still consequences.

So why has this taken so long? Why has the world turned a blind eye to this case for as long as it could? The internet sure does love to spread shit like butter on toast, why has it largely left Bill alone? Is he a god to us? Well, not quite but he does have a lot in his favour. Rape, as a legal issue, is one we have a lot of trouble with, it’s the only crime we really struggle to believe the victim’s words as a collective and the only crime in which we try to pin blame on them as either being crazy, deceptive or a whore. If you don’t believe the world needs feminism then how do you explain this one? A man can shoot himself in the leg and blame it on a black man, for the police to then get involved, investigate his injury, question his neighbours and find the truth (legit case, google it, pretty sure it’s on a Cracked list) but a woman can claim she has been raped and before they even start the search, they’ll try to check if she’s not just a lunatic or having a laugh. Sure, some people lie but then people lie about all crimes, case in point being the gunshot victim I just mentioned but also people who lose things and cry robbery, people who get drunk and cry carjacking and people who bump into shit and cry assault. Rape isn’t the only crime being faked but it’s the only one we try to prove false before we try to prove true, imagine if theft or murder was treated this way?
“Mmm, I see someone left their window open, it’s almost like you invited the burglar in. Plus, y’know, you did own a fifty inch screen. some people can’t resist that temptation…”
Doesn’t happen, shouldn’t happen.

However, beyond the usual reasons rape cases get sidelined or swept away, there’s a lot more to be said about allegations made against a famous comedian than say allegations made against some guy down the road. Bill Cosby has had so many come out as victims that this isn’t even a moment of savage impulse or a lone woman claiming fame through deception, if these are proved true then Cosby comes off as something of a serial rapist, a systematic abuser of women who has been allowed to get away with it for decades. That’s a lot to swallow when you consider the face we’re putting to that reputation is that of a sitcom Dad, he’s a nostalgic favourite of yesteryear we don’t want to see besmirched. Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, also idols of their respective eras but their crimes were hidden in plain sight, they didn’t touch the hearts of generations, there was always something off about them and in Savile’s case, he even openly admitted to an orgy with young girls in his biography. Bill Cosby, well, this is the scatting sitcom silly man who is known for jokes about pudding and being a father figure to a generation of TV watchers. If Jimmy Savile was your weird uncle, Bill Cosby was your dad, he was heart-warming and harmless, a well beloved goofy fool that occasionally spouted sound life advice on his wholesome family unit TV show. Now, you’d have an easier time swallowing the fact a weird old man who smoked all day with chest hair on show had a dark side to him than you would accepting the fact that the sage father in the sweater is actually a sexual deviant and a criminal mastermind. People don’t want to accept that and are trying everything possible to not accept it, if there’s a hole in the prosecution’s argument, it will be blown open so the public can feel reassured they didn’t idolise a rapist.

The issue here for Cosby now is there are too many voices to ignore and over the last ten years, the social movements for the better treatment of these natured cases haven’t gone away, they’ve only gotten more intense and determined. Celebrities who have had their integrity as human beings compromised have tried to buy their way out of it, some have succeeded but some haven’t, getting exposed as shameless cowards. Whilst a single woman or two or even four can be seen as liars, especially under anonymity, when you have nearly thirty gathered in the same room, it’s hard to shut it out as a bad dream. More than anything, people are angry, their childhoods tainted by the idea that maybe this man is not innocent or that the man they love so dearly is being torn down from greatness by legions of harpies, depends where you stand, this is a case that has made everyone involved passionately angry. We ignored it because we either couldn’t face up to it, we couldn’t get the information to make our arguments or the media turned the spotlight elsewhere but with more information and statements flooding in, perhaps we will see the truth either way. I have my own beliefs, I’m not here to condemn or absolve the man, I don’t know all the facts and there are legal teams for that job, I’m just here to say that if you were ever upset that Cosby wasn’t having to face the music, he’s about to.

Asexual Matter

Trigger Warnings – Sexual content and mature discussions

No the title isn’t a typo, I didn’t mean to call this article “A Sexual Matter”, it is indeed “Asexual Matter” because this week, as you may or may not know, it is Asexual Awareness week. I sound smart, I didn’t know either but Laci Green made a post about it so I figured what the hey? I know a few people of the asexual orientation and seeing as I’m stuck for ideas, I might as well use this hot topic seeing as it was sorta served into my lap. I will hope to clarify some of the myths and confusion surrounding asexuality, hopefully educating those who have no idea what I’m going on about, or those who think I have friends that are in fact plants

So asexuality is not asexual reproduction, it is not a case of these people humping themselves to get themselves pregnant and pop out clones, that’s just ludicrous and just as a heads up, if someone comes out as asexual, don’t ask “So you’re sexually attracted to yourself?”. Asexual, on its broadest terms, means someone who does not experience sexual attraction and doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t experience romantic attraction because love and lust are two different things and the pinnacle of love is not mashing your genitalia together like demented bunnies. An asexual person can still feel arousal and may even feel the urge to masturbate, but as a general rule they see a woman and see a woman, or see a guy and just see a guy, less of this “I’d tap that” attitude that is so common amongst those of us with sexual attraction

Asexuals are not asexual because of a choice or a bad relationship, much in the same way a lesbian isn’t a lesbian because she thinks there’s no man right for her, sexual orientation simply is, there’s no “cause” for it because otherwise you’d have to ask straight people what “made” them straight. Celibacy is a choice and don’t confuse asexuality for celibacy. An asexual person may just not feel attraction to men or women or any other gender identity much in the same way a gay man may not feel attraction to women or so forth

Ok, so far so good? Right, this might confuse you but stick with me ok? Now, I shall assume you all know sexuality is a spectrum, it’s not as simple as “He’s a gay man, he likes dick, done”. A gay man can, for example, find himself attracted to a woman for whatever reason and still consider himself gay, the labels of sexuality are just there to help people find their own identity and you’re free to take whichever label suits you, they merely exist for convenience, not categorisation. Ok, so on that same token an asexual person can feel sexual attraction, this may or may not be linked with a desire for sex, these people often take the name “Grey asexuals” as they’re in a grey area of the spectrum, not quite sexually driven but not completely chaste. Respect that, much in the same way you’d want someone to respect your attractions – you don’t pick and choose who you find attractive, you just do, you can’t decide “Ok, I want to find this woman attractive and I want to stop picturing this guy naked. Done. That’s my sex life sorted!”

Now I can understand that for those who love to have sex or sexual thoughts or are in sexual relationships, the idea of someone who doesn’t want sex is weird at first but it’s not that weird when you consider it. I think some people confuse sexual attraction and personal attraction at times, especially as we were taught relationships were the gateway to marriage then sex then kids then family then happiness and voila but a relationship is more than that. I’ve been single for a little while now and what I miss most about relationships isn’t having someone play with my junk, it’s having someone to hold in my arms and smile at, it’s having to pay for someone else’s dinner, it’s having someone I can lounge beside and not be so self-conscious when they’re around and when you hold back on the sexual element of a relationship, it can seem a much sweeter thing. Asexuality often means that these people don’t have the desire to make sex a part of their relationship but they can still desire a relationship, just more for the cuddling and pet-names than having someone to call on to do the horizontal shuffle.

Sexuality is a topic we need to destroy the taboo surrounding, our parents and grandparents put up this “Oh no no no! Bad topic! Bad topic!” shame/fear around the subject but it’s a part of all our lives, whether we want it to be or not, we live in a society of sex – popstars, celebrities, internet porn, strip clubs – sex is there, we all know what it is, let’s make it something we can have a mature discussion about. Asexuality is just as valid an orientation as hetero, homo, bi, pan or any other sexuality and if you have any further questions, ask. If you ask politely, people are often happy to teach you, they want people to know

I hope this article helped to bust some myths and teach some truths. For further reading, try http://www.asexuality.org to learn more about asexuality or comment down below any questions/queries you might have and I’ll respond to the best of my knowledge