faustus: (Default)
( Jul. 2nd, 2013 04:05 pm)
Saturday I got up at daft o'clock to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my driving test - I caught the 6.00am train to Victoria, breakfasted in the Regency Cafe and was the first person through the doors of the Lowry exhibition. Imagine! Having the whole exhibition to yourself! After doing something similar for Lichtenstein and Hirst, I'd imagine crowds, but I had the place largely to myself - there were no more than four people in the same room as me at any time. A fantastic show, although light on biographical context.

And I am still pondering whether his liking of Pirandello might explain him somehow.

You could buy flat caps in the shop. But not, as far as I could see, whippets.

I also did Caulfield and Hume - shows rather light on explanation, and I rather bounced off.

I'd planned to do the Psycho show at Pace, but ambled first to the Pace at the rear of the RAA where I saw a Robert Irwin show (presumably not the same Robert Irwin...).

At this point I ran into and - against a certain degree of cynicism - watched half an hour or so of Pride. I confess and would like to risk expressing mixed feelings. It's the first one I've seen.

The theme this year seemed to be marriage and I can see the if-it-quacks-like-a-duck argument for extending civil partnerships, enshrining equal rights, clarity of medical decisions and access, inheritance of property etc. On the other hand, I have reservations about marriage as an institution for anyone. I'm also torn between the seashift of corporate attitudes that means people can now march as workers with Tesco and on the other hand the question of whether, say, BP and Barclays are in a position to gain positive PR from this. (I realise Apartheid is over now. I still have a distrust of Barclay's). I was all for the scattered placards complaining about the commercialisation of Pride, but on the other hand these were branded Socialist Worker.

On the other hand, it is good to see public displays of commitment, across the QUILTBAG spectrum.

On the other hand, whistles still annoy me...

Were there people marching for themselves or with partners who weren't under a brand? Or do you have to be part of a gang? (I suppose I should have been marching with my colleagues, had I chosen to, although I didn't recognise anyone there.) Was there a group of miscellaneous marchers at the back? If so I moved on before I saw them. The old visibility problem, perhaps. Where are the banners for people with no banners save their own visibility on the march?

Several of the crowd didn't remember - pace the placards - Lucy Meadows. I'm ashamed it took a couple of minutes to place the context.

It was hot in the sun. I was beginning to dehydrate. It was all rather moving.

It took a bit of wandering to locate Pace, proper, and it required an entryphone to be negotiated. I passed, for now.

Then a long wander up to a pub I like in Finsbury. On the other hand, I've twice been when Whitstable IPA was one of the choices and I can get that locally. Not all the beers taste great. And there was only one choice this time. I rapidly moved onto Clerkenwell and the Craft Beer Co, where there was only one beer at 4%. The rest was 7% plus. I settled for a 7% Thornbridge/Dark Star collaboration and a Sirens at 11.4%, but only a half. £10.50. Ouch. On several levels.

That left a stagger down to Temple, and the train home from Victoria.
The Grauniad Open Door on use of pronouns for the transgendered in reportage: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/08/pronouns-transgendered-people

The comments are a mixed bag, as may be guessed, but this leapt out: "What you fail to acknowledge is that transgenders, by their acts, are aggressive to the larger community around them." To which, WTF?
Stonewall have just released a survey of British universities [http://www.gaybydegree.org.uk/index.html], measuring how well these institutions cover LGBT issues as follows:

* Stonewall Diversity Champion
* A policy that protects lesbian, gay and bisexual students from bullying
* Compulsory staff training on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues
* Lesbian, gay and bisexual staff network ("Is there a network group for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff which is supported by the university? Is this publicised so prospective students will know about it?" Do students need to know about a staff network?)
* Student lesbian, gay and bisexual society
* Info for students on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues
* Events for lesbian, gay and bisexual students
* Explicit Welfare Provision for lesbian, gay and bisexual students
["Does the university or the Student Union offer specific welfare support for lesbian, gay and bisexual students. This may be in the form of counsellors who are specifically trained in lesbian, gay and bisexual issues or in the form of LGBT society welfare reps."]
* Consultation with lesbian, gay and bisexual students
* Specific Career Advice for lesbian, gay and bisexual students:
["Does the University actively promote lesbian, gay and bisexual recruitment guides such as Stonewalls Starting Out? Or does it offer specific career advice for lesbian, gay and bisexual students either on their websites or through promotional events?" Ponders if this differs from advice offered to straight students - I guess careers in the armed forces or the church might be a problem, otherwise I suspect this falls under bullying policies. Maybe I'm missing something. Advice on becoming a hair dresser, interior designer or chat show host??]

Whilst in general I think this is a good idea - if a blunt instrument - there is a but, which I gather is typical of Stonewall. Let's pass over Diversity Champions (which is mainly the university signing up to agree not to be a shit to LGBT staff and student) with the minimum of sniggers and visions of masked avengers in lycra.

I cannot help but notice an absent presence here. On the one hand, "Stonewall’s University Guide is for all lesbian, gay and bisexual students; and all those in-between" and "You would probably like to go to a university that makes an effort to include lesbian, gay and bisexual people too", but on the other hand, "We’ve made this guide for LGBT students thinking about applying to university so you can find out how gay-friendly each of the 150 UK universities really are and what they have to offer you". In the jargon zone, they define Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT and Queer, and yet, and yet, there's surely a definition missing here.

The accuracy of the information may be gauged, perhaps, by the location they give for the Secret Campus, which is rather closer to Brisingamen and Peake than to me.

And I pause to wince at "Universities come in two types, town universities where the university is mixed in with the town and campus universities where the university has it's own designated space a ‘campus” usually outside of the town."
faustus: (lights)
( May. 15th, 2009 05:34 pm)
Local and national press - see, say, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/8049841.stm - has announced that Canterbury Pride fears that the council is insufficiently gay-friendly - the council responds with the declaration that they've spent a whopping four grand since 2005. That's nearly a thousand a year. The last Pride march was in 2006.

It just so happens that my local was a gay bar in the mists of time - specifically lesbian, I gather - and another place I drink less often but now owned by the same person as my local also had a gay reputation. More recently the gay bar the WestBar became the CityBar and shut, reopened, and I think shut again. Bar 11 - gay friendly* - has rebranded. Bar 11 is now The Jaggy Thistle, presumably to attract the Scottish squaddies from the barracks. I have not heard whether Bar 11's previous clientele have embraced the squaddies with open arms, and what the squaddies feel about that. On the other hand, the gay night at one of the local clubs is one of the most popular in town.

Still, it's hardly the council's job to run pubs of any kind. Someone has been misquoted or is being silly.

I do ponder how The Canterbury Tales are going to police cheaper admission to their attraction ("The Canterbury Tales, said it would be offering members of the LGBT community a discounted admission fee until 30 June to encourage further "pink tourism".) It's not as if there's a membership card, like the Arts Fund or the RAC. A short quiz on Eurovision? The wearing of a green carnation?

* This was the site of a minor assault by a racist homophobe on someone who frankly would tax the mildest and most open minded of individuals. T is no respecter of anyone's personal space - but B is a bigot at the best of times. Dickheadedness is race-blind and sexuality-blind. In some cases both sides in a court case should lose.

ETA: The Daily Hate Mail has predictable comments on its coverage at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1181301/Canterbury-city-simply-isnt-gay-according-equality-campaigners.html
faustus: (culture)
( May. 12th, 2009 10:52 am)
An obituary, a tad belated, of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Her Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (1985) and Epistemology of the Closet (1990) introduced me to the concepts of the homosocial, homosexual panic, although probably not, quite, to queer theory. Her work has been an incalculable influence on the queer studies area of my work.
A forwarded email:

Please find below a message from Julian Petley regarding continuing
opposition to the 'extreme pornography' provisions in the Criminal
Justice and Immigration Act (which comes into force in January 2009)
and the government's more general attacks on sexual freedoms.

From Julian:

I am writing to tell you about CAAN (Consenting Adult Action
Network). CAAN itself is the natural progression from some of the
campaigns AGAINST what government has been doing in respect of the
laws that govern sexual behaviour. It is a loose-knit network of
campaigning groups, with the overall aim of creating some
counterbalance to the current "moral majority". At its heart is a
simple statement of principle - which is what you are being asked to
sign up to. For further details of CAAN and the statement, please go to:


The principle is intended to assert the right of consenting adults to
express their sexuality with one another without interference from
Government: the bedroom is not a place best suited for the
application of criminal law. We are aware that no matter how we draft
such a statement, there will be dissent: some born from genuine
political difference; some no more than detractors looking for
loopholes. For example, we pass on the issue of "harm": we suspect
that there probably IS a level of harm that government should be
concerned with; but that a society that tolerates two grown men
beating each other up in the confines of a boxing ring is probably
not well placed to lecture adults on a shared interest in sado-
masochistic sex. Beyond the basic principle, there are a number of
issues we believe to be germane: the extreme porn law; legislation on
Vetting; lap-dancing; the criminalisation of prostitution; and so on.
Of the various issues acknowledged by CAAN, campaigning is active on
just two: the extreme porn law, and the Vetting law. The latter, in
that it regulates the "fitness to work" of around half our working
population and has the potential to bar from work anyone who merely
possesses "sexual material that is violent in nature", could prove
far more devastating in the long run than the extreme porn
provisions. I hope that this helps to explain where CAAN is coming
from, and allows you to sign up to the statement of principle. If you
feel that you can pass details of this campaign on to any one else,
please do so.

Professor Julian Petley,
School of Arts,
Gaskell Building,
Brunel University,
UB8 3PH.
Peter Mullen, who satirically suggested gays be tattooed:

"Let us make it obligatory for homosexuals to have their backsides tattooed with the slogan sodomy can seriously damage your health and their chins with fellatio kills."

now writes:

"I voted for the Homosexual Reform Act of 1967; and I would vote for it again today. This act specified the decriminalisation of homosexual acts 'between consenting adults in private'... 'Private' means in the bedroom – and neither Hampstead Heath nor public lavatories.

"What I do oppose – on the authority of the Christian faith – is the corrupting influence of the promotional parades of homosexuality by such as Gay Pride demonstrations. And that is what I was satirising.

"It is scandal that some homosexual campaigners have not kept to the letter and spirit of the generous Act of 1967 and instead have consistently and lewdly promoted homosexuality as if it were merely part of the entertainments industry.

"Sex, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is a private matter and it should be kept private."

No, I say, let's liberate heterosexuality from the closet and the bedroom, and promote it in the entertainment industry! Fight for the right to kiss your favoured member of the opposite sex on the street! Let's stop an 18 Certificate from being slapped on any film containing straight people! Let's stop libraries and schools banning books because they feature straight people! Let's have films where it's okay for a cowboy to have a girlfriend! Let's admit we can't do soft furnishings and fashion even though we're men! Stop the police from raiding straight pubs and clubs! Let's report on marriages in newspaper and magazines - let's fill the pages of Hello! with wedding pictures!

Two, four, six, eight - we are here and we are straight!
One, three, five and seven - tumpty tumpty rhymes with heaven!

Edit: I note with some concern that he "numbers many homosexual men and women among my dearest friends" and that he "was delighted to be so warmly welcomed at church last Sunday by the many homosexual people in my congregation." Surely he should condemn them for letting him know that they are homosexual in such a public space - after all it would be corrupting. One would hope his friends were more discreet (and discrete) and weren't parading their sexuality for him to see. Equally, married people should be separated from their children and each other in church (and elsewhere, aside from the bedroom), as heterosexuality is also something he wants to keep private. I wonder he performs weddings?

Edit II: Move along, there's nothing to see: Is the chin visible during fellatio? You can't see your own chin, and you'd have to look up (or down) according to well, yanno... giving or receiving. (On the other hand, if Delany is to believed, it is safe sex (or at least safer sex).)
There's something I can't put my finger on here... I have no idea why completed papers are necessary two months before the conference.

1st International CCCU Queer Studies Conference

Queering Paradigms
Canterbury Christ Church University
27-28 February 2009

Key note speaker:
Robert Mills (King’s College, London): Adventures in the Queer Museum

Conference Aim
The aim of this conference is to look at the status quo and the challenges in the future of Queer Studies from a broad multi-, trans-disciplinary and polythetic angle.
Participants will represent the whole spectrum of academia and will present papers and panels from the angle of Education, Health & Social Studies, Business, Sciences, Arts, and Humanities.
This conference aims to combine and showcase the great range of expertise held at the CCCU in area’s relating to Queer Studies; additionally, a wider range of national and international external specialists will be invited to contribute.

Queer Studies
The definition for 'queer' adopted for this purpose is not restricted to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender), but holistic along the lines of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's definition in her essay “Queer and Now”:
That's one of the things that 'queer' can refer to: the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when constituent elements of anyone's gender, of anyone's sexuality aren't made (or can't be made) to signify monolithically.
In contemporary Western society, we can approach 'queerness' as querying, contrasting, challenging and transforming hetero-normativity.

Call For Papers
Papers and Panel proposals are invited on any area and aspect of Queer Studies.
The proposals will undergo a peer-review process; the Proceedings of this conference will be prepared for a (RAE-able) publication with a major Academic Press (Cambridge University Press has already signalled strong interest).

Proposal abstract deadline: 1 September 2008
Deadline for completed papers: 2 January 2009

Proposals for individual papers should take the form of abstracts of not more than 400 words; panel proposals should include both a panel rationale and paper abstracts.

All proposals should be sent by email before September, 1st 2008 to
Dr Burkhard Scherer (Theology & RS, CCCU); burkhard.scherer@canterbury.ac.uk
faustus: (gorilla)
( May. 21st, 2008 12:50 am)
Can anyone direct me to the literature which notes that the children of lesbians are more likely to be criminals than a) children of straight people, b) children of divorced straight people and c) children of straight people where the man is a drunken clot too easy with his hands?

Listening to the Quiet Man today it struck me that all the knife crime in the UK must be the result of IVF children borne by lesbians. Stands to reason. Not sure sure if cake knives, fish knives or nail files are responsible.


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