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  • Traveller_23 11:41 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink  

    Bangladeshis React to Gay Pride 

    Apparently the next march should be bombed

    Update (20th April 2014): According to the Gay Star News article here, they spoke to the organisers and this was not a Pride march but rather a rally to celebrate diversity and friendship with LGBT and allied participation. Personally I think this is a good stance and a very good first step. I'm leaving this and my other blog posts as they originally were, but including this note for clarity - the assumptions about it being a Pride march were mine based on news and social media reactions.

    Every year on the 14th of April we celebrate Pahela Boishakh in Bangladesh. This year was no exception, except for the short rainbow coloured rally that took place right after the main New Year's march. Bystanders may not have exactly understood the theme of the rally at the time, but people soon realised what it was given the later media reaction. published an article on the march, and people - just like the commenter above - have been reacting since on Facebook, Twitter and various blogs. A translation of the article can be read here.

    I am very grateful to the people behind the rally as what they did was incredibly brave. I've always wanted Bangladesh to make advances with respect to LGBTQ rights, but I didn't think I would see such an event so quickly. However, there is still quite a long path ahead of us in terms of acceptance if people's reactions are anything to go by. Below are a set of thematically arranged comments, most popular in terms of likes, that people have made in response to the aforementioned article on the rally. 

    Names and pictures are blacked out, and I'm only describing the gist of each comment as opposed to doing word by word translations. Feel free to get in touch if you want an exact translation of anything below. 

    Religion and Islam 

    As a queer Muslim one gets used to hearing the story of Prophet Lut

    The above comment talks about the story of Lut, and has had the most likes on the site so far. People often like to remind queer Muslims about how God destroyed an entire population for the sin of homosexuality. But what everyone seems to forget is that (1) the context of that story is male homosexual rape and (2) the people in question had committed a number of other sins including and were ultimately destroyed for denying God. People also forget, or probably don't even realise, that the Quran also talks about accepting diversity and casually mentions men who have no desire for women without negative connotations. 

    Who are we to judge?

    I'm glad this comment got so many likes

    The above is currently the comment with the second highest number of likes on the site. Hopefully in the future more people will think like this. The commenter basically asks who are we to judge whether this is good or bad, and why does it concern everyone so much. Picking out the Bengali parts of the comment, the commenter goes on to say that they are brave for standing up to the narrow minded people in our society.

    The question of why does it bother others is the one that strikes me most. First of all, no LGBTQ person is going to really want to associate themselves with a homophobe so I believe these people should rest a little easier. My second issue, one that Isee mirrored in other parts of the world, is what harm exactly do people think we're going to do to society? Living openly and loving our partners hardly seems like a precursor for the apocalypse.

    শেষের প্রশ্নটা নিয়ে আসলেই আমাদের ভাবা উচিত - এত  মাথা ঘামানোর কি আছে?

    "Why are you personally so hostile towards them?" is the question the commenter asks. An important question in my mind. Again, why is everyone so concerned by us and do they really think we'll want to associate ourselves with people who dislike us? And as ever, when the hate is so personal I always wonder if we're dealing with a closet case. 

    Awami League is to blame for everything

    It's a shame I have to translate this one, takes the punch out of the joke! 

    The first commenter states the rally is our current PM Sheikh Hasina's fault. The second commenter suggests that some people like to blame the PM for everything, including a bad fart. 

    The third commenter is worse - they blame the rally on Bangladesh's current digitalisation campaign. Fourth commenter asks exactly what relationship do digitalisation and homosexuality have, and not in a particularly nice way. A little humour is never a bad thing!

    Again, I'm pleased that the positive comment got more likes 

    However, despite some commenters' ignorance there is a general sense of displeasure with the government amongst some people. And for them everything they see as going wrong in the country currently is the government's fault. But whether Awami League actually support LGBTQ rights I don't know. But I would rather take my chances with than the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami alliance (read: the second part of that alliance consists of Islamic fundamentalists/terrorists).

    Comparisons with animals, addiction, peadophilia and incest


    We've seen these comparisons our whole lives 

    I am a little bored at this point. All of the misconceptions are things that I've seen before. The commenter talks about a number of things but I'm only going to address animals, paedophillia and incest. Feel free to get in touch to ask me why my sexuality isn't an addiction or why I'm not otherwise a criminal - as these are other things mentioned above.

    The commenter starts of by addressing those who say homosexuality is natural as it is seen in animals. They ask whether we should really be imitating animals as animals live naked, kill their own offspring etc. I wonder if the commenter also wants humanity to give up other animalistic behaviours like sex and the search for a life mate?

    We happen to have quite a few biological similarities to animals, especially mammals. This is scientific fact. Homosexuality happens to be one of these similarities. Why is it being bandied as a harmful one? Again, who is being harmed here?

    The comparison to paedophillia and incest follows swiftly on, with the commenter asking why should we tolerate homosexuality as it's similar to those two aforementioned evils. Paedophillia involves the rape of children. I fail to see how that can be compared to consensual sex between adults, and once more, who is harmed by this consensual sex. I ask a similar question to the comparison to incest - how is it comparable to consensual sex between to non-related adults? And surely incest can be committed by people of any sexuality? 

    Threats of violence

    What can I say to these? 

    This is an easy, mindless section. The first comment calls for people to throw shoes at the marchers, while the second asks why no one is beating up these things. It's people like these who hold our country back - those who resort to violence instead of reason as soon as something doesn't go their way. Just look at the violence our political strikes descend into. 


    Most of the comments are negative. Let's face it, we knew this was going to be the case. Besides the banging collection above, there are a lot of negative comments with no likes that I haven't posted here. But interspersed within those are a few good comments, and then there are the few good comments with lots of likes. And this is what gives me hope.

  • Traveller_23 4:07 am on April 18, 2014 Permalink  

    সমকামীদের প্রতি বাংলাদেশি মানুষের পতিক্রিয়া 

    আমাদেরকে নাকি বোমা ফাটিয়ে মেরে ফেলা উচিত

    উপডেট (২০ এপ্রিল ২০১৪)ঃ গে স্টার নিউজ নামে একটি ইংরেজি অনলাইন সাইট রিপোর্ট করছে যে এটা ঠিক 'গে প্রাইড প্যারেড' ছিল না। আর্টিকেলটি পড়তে পারবেন এখানে। রূপবান, জারা এ প্যারেডের জন্য দায়ী, তারা বলেছে যে এটা মানুষের মধ্যে যে বৈচিত্রতা ও বন্ধুত্ব হতে পারে সেটা তুলে ধরার জন্য আয়োজিত করা হয়েছিল। আমার মতে এটা তাও খুব ভালো একটা পদক্ষেপ, বিশেষ করে আমাদের দেশের কথা চিন্তা করলে। আমি আমার এই এবং অন্যান্য ব্লগ পোস্টগুলো পাল্টাছি না তবে এ নোটটা উপড়ে দিয়ে রাখছি ইনফর্মেশনের জন্য। এ প্যারেডটা যে 'প্রাইড প্যারেড' ছিল তা আমি ভেবেছিলাম শুধুমাত্র নিউজ ও সোশাল মিডিয়ার পতিক্রিয়া দেখে।

    গত মঙ্গলবার ১৪ এপ্রিল আমরা ১৪২১ সালের পহেলা বৈশাখ উদজাপন করলাম, যেমন আমরা করি প্রতি বছর। কিন্তু এ বছর মঙ্গল শোভাযাত্রার পরে কিছু মানুষ রংধনুর রঙে রাঙানো ছোট্ট একটি মিছিল বের করেছিল। ঠিক ওই মুহুর্তে জনসাধারণ বুঝতে না পারলেও পরে সবাই ঠিক বুঝতে পারে যে এটা একটি 'সমকামী র‍্যালি' ছিল।এ নিয়ে এ একটি লেখাও চাপা হয়েছে। এ লেখা, ফেসবুক, টুইটার ও বিভন্ন ব্লগে অনেক বাংলাদেশী মানুষের বিভিন্ন পতিক্রিয়া প্রকাশ হয়েছে - উপরের ছবির মানুষটির কমেন্টের মতন।

    এই কারনেই যারা এ মিছিলের আয়োজন করেছে, তাতে অংশ গ্রহণ করেছে তাদের কাছে আমি কৃতজ্ঞ। এরখম একটা কাজ করা সাহসের ব্যাপার। আমার আশা ছিল যেয়ে আমার জীবনে দেশকে এ বিষয়ে অগ্রগতি করতে দেখে জাব। এতো তাড়াতাড়ি এরখম জিনিস দেখবো তা ভাবিনি। তবে সাধারণ মানুষের আমাদেরকে গ্রহণ করতে এখনো অনেক দিন বাকি। মানুষজনের কিছু প্রসঙ্গ অনুযায় বেশি 'লাইক' পাওয়া কমেন্ট আমি নিচে (নাম মুছে দিয়ে) ছাপছি - তারা আমাদেরকে নিয়ে কি ভাবে তা দেখানোর জন্যে, এবং তা নিয়ে কিছু কথা বলার জন্য। উপরের কমেন্টি ছাড়া সব কমেন্ট প্রথম পারাতে লিংক দিয়া আর্টিকেল থেকে। 

    ধর্ম ও ইসলাম 

    মসুলমান হিসেবে আমার হজরত লুতের গল্প অনেক শুনতে হয় 

    এ কমেন্টটা এ পর্যন্ত সবচেয়ে বেশি লাইক পেয়েছে। কোরানএ হজরত লুতের কথা লেখা আছে, এবং অনেকেই আমাদের মনে করিয়ে দিতে পছন্দ করে কিভাবে পুরা এক জাতিকে ধংশ করে দেওয়া হয়েছিল সমকামিতার জন্য। কিন্তু সবাই একই সাথে ভুলে যায় যে (১) এখানে পুরুষদের সমকামী ধর্ষণ নিয়ে কথা হয়েছে আর (২) লুতের মানুষের আরো অনেক পাপ ছিল, এবং তাদের শেষ পর্যন্ত শাস্তি হয় এ সব পাপ গুলোর জন্য, এবং আল্লাহর কথা নিন্দা করার জন্য। মানুষ আরো ভুলে যায় যে কোরানের অন্য অংশে এমন লোকেরও কথা লেখা আছে যাদের মহিলাদের প্রতি কোনো আকর্ষণ নাই। এবং এখানে তো সুধু পুরুষদের নিয়ে কথা হচ্ছে - মহিলা সমকামীদের তাহলে কিভাবে এ সুরা দিয়ে অশিকার করা যায়?

    আমরা এদের বিচার করার কে?

    এ কমেন্টার যে এতো লাইক তা দেখে আমি খুশি!
    প্রথম কমেন্টি খারাপ হোলেও দ্বিতীয় অবস্থানের কমেন্টি ভালো। ইনশাল্লাহ ভবিষ্যতে এরক্ষম কমেন্টি সবচেয়ে বেশি লাইক পাবে। আরেকটা কথা যেটা এই কমেন্টার তুলে ধরে হোল কেউ সমকামিদেরকে পছন্দ না করেলও ঘৃনা করার কি আছে - সমকামীরা তো আর ঠিক তার সাথে মিশতে আসবে না! এবং এসব মানুষরা ঠিক কি ভাবে - সমকামীরা কিভাবে সমাজের ক্ষতি করে?

    শেষের প্রশ্নটা নিয়ে আসলেই আমাদের ভাবা উচিত - এত  মাথা ঘামানোর কি আছে?
    "আপনি পার্সোনালি এতো হস্টাইল কেন ওদের উপর?" - এটা বেশ ভাল একটা প্রশ্ন। মানুষের আমাদের নিয়ে এতো মাথা বেথা কেন? সমকামীরা নিশ্চয় সুধু তাদের নিজেদের মধ্যে অথবা তাদেরকে যারা সাপোর্ট করে তাদের সাথে মিশতে যাবে। যেচে পরে নিশ্চয় সমকামিতা যারা অপছন্দ করে তাদের সাথে বন্ধুত্য করতে আহ্সবে না।

    সব আওয়ামী লীগের দোষ

    প্রথম এবং তৃতীয় কমেন্ট দুটো পুরোপুরি হাস্যকর, একটু মজার জন্য ছাপলাম!

    কোন কমেন্টা বেশি লাইক পেয়েছে তাতে আমি একটু শান্তনা নিচ্ছি 

    তবে এটা সত্যি যে এ মুহুর্তে অনেক মানুষ আওয়ামী লীগের উপর অসন্তুষ্ট ইলেকশনের কারণে। তাই বলে সব কিছু তাদের দোষ। তবে আওয়ামী লীগ আসলেই সমকামী অধিকারের পক্ষে নাকি তা আমার জানা নেই। সুধু এটুকু বলতে চাই: বিএনপি-জামাতের এটা কি চোখে দেখবে তা আমার মনে হয়না কারোর সন্দেহ থাকা উচিত।  

    পশু ও 'শিশুকামীদের' সাথে তুলোনা


    এ ধরনের তুলোনা আজীবন দেখে আসছি 

    এখানে ঠিক কি বলার আছে? পশুদের সাথে তুলোনা করণ অনেকে বলে পশুরা সমকামী আচরণ দেখায়, এবং তার মানে নিশ্চয় সমকামিতা প্রাকৃতিক। পশুর সাথে আর কি মিল আছে আমাদের জানেন? আমাদের জীবন সাথী খোজা, যৌন প্রজননতা ইত্যাদি - পশুরা এগুলোও করে। আমাদের কি তাহোলে এসব বন্দ করে দেওয়া উচিত? 

    কেউ বলতে যায়নি যে আমাদের নগ্ন থাকা উচিত বা সন্তান হত্যা করা উচিত। আমাদের যেয়ে স্তনপায়ী প্রাণীর সাথে কিছু জীবতত্ত্বিক মিল আছে তা বলেছে। এটা বৈজ্ঞানিক সত্য। এবং সমকামিতাও এই মিলগুলির মধ্যের একটা। এটাকে কেন ক্ষতিকর আচরণ ধরা হচ্ছে? এখানে ঠিক কার ক্ষতি হচ্ছে?

    আর শিশুকামিতার সাথে কিভাবে তুলোনা হয়? শিশুকামিতা হয়ে দাড়ায় শিশুর ধর্ষণ। এদিকে একজন অ্যাডাল্ট মানুষ যদি আরেকজন অ্যাডাল্ট মানুষের সাথে সম্মিত ভাবে শরীরক সম্পর্কে জরায় সেখানে, আবারও, ক্ষতি কার হচ্ছে? 

    এবং ধরে মারো

    কি বলব জানি না 
    এটার আবার বিশ্লেষণ করার কি। অনেকে এতই অসভ্য যেয়ে তাদের ইচ্ছা মত কিছু না হোলেই কাউকে মারপিট করা দরকার। আমাদের দেশের কি সাধেই এ অবস্থা? এদের জন্নে দেশে এতো খুন-খারাপি, এতো আমরা পিছিয়ে আছি। 

  • Traveller_23 1:25 am on April 16, 2014 Permalink  

    Pride Colours in Dhaka 

    The parade - image taken from Gay for Girls

    Update (20th April 2014): According to the Gay Star News article here, they spoke to the organisers and this was not a Pride march but rather a rally to celebrate diversity and friendship with LGBT and allied participation. Personally I think this is a good stance and a very good first step. I'm leaving this and my other blog posts as they originally were, but including this note for clarity - the assumptions about it being a Pride march were mine based on news and social media reactions.

    Update (19th April 2014): I've translated some of the social media reactions to this here.

    Apparently there was a Pride parade in Dhaka on Tuesday 14th April during the city's Pahela Boishakh (or Bengali New Year) celebrations. I don't have any concrete details right now, including the identity of the organisers or what their intent was. I've come across a lot of comments on Twitter and Facebook from LGBTQ themed pages and links to mainstream media reports. However, these have all been in Bengali so below is a translation of an article from I have the text clipped in case the article is removed. I will also update with any details as I come across them.

    Comments have been mostly negative, but there is some positivity there too. Comments are social, religious as well as political. Some are in English. I may do a follow post translating some of the Bengali comments soon. It is interesting to note that the Roopbaan group mentioned below is now no longer on Facebook. I wonder why - too much homophobia, a hack or the government?

    Homosexuals Hold First Open Rally in the Capital
    Tuesday, 15 April 2014 - 1:30pm

    A group of homosexuals, who previously came to attention by publishing a magazine for homosexuals called Roopbaan, have held their first open rally in the capital during Bengali New Year celebrations. 

    The group brought out their rally at Shahbag on Monday around 9.30 AM after the Mongol Shobhajatra. Coordinated to the well known homosexual symbol of the seven colours of the rainbow, the rally marched from Shahbag to the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel (previously known as the Sheraton) and before turning back to Shahbag. 

    The rally consisted of gay men marching in seven lines wearing purple, blue, indigo, green, yellow, orange and red panjabis carrying paper flowers, birds and balloons. At the end of the rally they released their balloons to the sky. The unusual organisation of the rally created curiousity amongst members of the public present in the area. 

    An outburst of activity has been observed on the Facebook group for homosexuals called 'Roopbaan' as a result of the rally.  It has been learned that they are thinking of organising a 'Gay Pride Parade' similar to those in Western countries. 

    It is also of note that in January 2014, after the publication of Bangladesh's first homosexual magazine 'Roopbaan', the issue has created much discussion amongst people and society.

    Quick Links

    I only run this personal blog and have no direct link to anyone. Below are links that will give you a better look at the community in Bangladesh.

  • jen 9:18 am on April 15, 2014 Permalink  

    Manchester Council takes another step in recognising bisexuality 

    Until not so long ago Manchester City Council had the non-existence of bisexuals as a matter of policy. No, really: in service use monitoring, equal opportunities policies and suchlike, the official line was "at those times a bisexual is lesbian or gay they are covered by those policies and at those times they are heterosexual..."

    Things are improving.

    They've just published the annual Communities Of Interest report, which is a kind of "here is the evidence base" document on diversity concerns for the council and for voluntary and private sector organisations they work with. This has been published for many years now, and each time has a section on LG(B)(T).

    This is the first time there's been a bi section. Previously we were a subset of lesbians, which, hmmm.

    Full report here. Flick past the first 64 pages and you come to:
    9.3 Bisexual community
    Recent research carried out by BiPhoria in Manchester has suggested that being visible, being included and being acknowledged are some of the main issues for Manchester’s bisexual community. Bisexual people can often experience discrimination from both the gay and heterosexual communities, and at an LGBT Discussion Day event, hosted by the Council in 2011, BiPhoria found that people wanted bisexuality to be referenced explicitly in literature and wanted services to engage more with the bisexual community. This has been a key action for the group since 2011. Bisexual ‘invisibility’, along with bi-erasure and biphobia are recognised as the most common challenges for bisexual people.

    Biphobia may be characterised as taking four key forms:
    ––Similar to homophobia
    ––Similar to heterophobia
    ––Structural or institutional biphobia
    ––Internalised biphobia absorbed from a culture of the first three.

    Manchester has one of the highest profile bisexual communities in the UK and is home to BiPhoria, and the bisexual magazine Bi Community News. As with any other group that experiences oppression, bisexual people may also encounter additional prejudice due to intersectional marginalised identities, for example bi women, black bisexuals, or bisexual genderqueer people.

    Stonewall’s 2009 report ‘Bisexual People In The Workplace’ reflected that the positive impact of LGBT Staff Networks on lesbian and gay employees does not extend to bisexual staff. Research published by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in 2013 showed that bisexual staff are significantly less likely to feel they can be ‘out’ in the workplace than lesbians or gay men:

    The Bisexuality Report (Open University, 2012) reflected that these challenges for many bisexual people also extend into areas such as crime and policing, where homophobic hate crime monitoring may fail to address and recognise bisexuals’ experience of biphobia and homophobia.

    It's fun to see my "four flavours of biphobia" model, albeit in very condensed form, in a council document.  It's also a bit scary to think that I wrote it about twenty years ago, citing certain Manchester City Council services as examples of institutional and structural biphobia.

    Though it is frustrating that there are no specific actions for the council and its partner organisations to take up, I hope this sets a good marker down illustrating some of the key issues for bis and the evidence base underpinning those on which to build in future years.
  • Traveller_23 5:06 pm on April 1, 2014 Permalink  

    Coming Out to…the Unexpected Best Friend 

    My Thoughts

    I found her wandering around our house during one of my parents' innumerable parties. There were no other people there our age, so it was perhaps inevitable that we would start talking. I learned that she was a few years older than me and had only recently moved to England from Bangladesh herself. We were similarly liberal, outspoken and opinionated - and so obviously we got on like a house on fire. We were only occasional friends though, meeting now and then at different social and community events until my parents eventually relocated to Bangladesh yet again.

    Normally, that would be the end of most occasional friendships. But for some reason in this case it wasn't. There were the semi-regular texts and phone calls for birthdays and Eid. It was odd, and completely unlike both of us, but today I'm thankful that we kept in touch. When I moved back to England for university, I already had a friend in town. Our friendship mostly ran in parallel to my university circles. The semi-regular texts continued, but were now supplemented by shisha, food and the occasional party. The many one to one meets meant the conversations would frequently turn to the philosophical realms of life, politics, religious beliefs, significant others and future plans. We had that friendship - the one where we tried to talk through everything in the world as well as sort out each others' problems.

    I knew she didn't harbour any negative views of the queer community. I also knew she didn't have any Islamic objections either, and always chose to focus on peaceful and accepting aspects of our religion. I worried more about what revealing this secret would do to our friendship. Would she be angry that I had kept it from her like my other best friend? Or would it get awkward for some reason? Not because the idea of two men together bothered her, but maybe because bisexuality would be too hard to understand? I should have had more faith in her, however, as she has been one of my most wordlessly accepting friends to date. I told her as we sat in Nando's one summer, meeting up after I'd been out of town for a while for an internship. I remember fiddling with the cutlery, concentrating unduly on snipping another piece of chicken from the bone as I told her I was bisexual. I looked up to see her reaction, and she smiled. She told me that she had just been waiting for me to say, and she emphasised that it changed nothing between us. I was a little surprised - I thought her exposure to my relationship with my ex-girlfriend would have made her think differently, but apparently not.

    She did say that she had thought I would come out as gay, but my being bisexual probably made more sense and besides, it didn't make any difference to her. To date, she has been one of my most supportive friends as she's been able to physically be there through my ups and downs, especially while at university. She's even promised to be there when I come out to my parents. Who know, maybe I'll take her up on that someday soon! 

    Her Thoughts

    Note: I got a wall-of-text from her, Facebook message style! So I've done a little editing here, and run it by her to confirm she's happy.

    Honestly I was not shocked about what the whole bisexual thing. I was more disappointed that he didn't tell me sooner and I was annoyed to know that I was not the first one he came out to. He told a completely random person to gauge their reaction first which now that I think about it is very like him. However, at the time instead of being shocked at the fact that my best friend was bisexual, I was thinking of why was I not the first person to know and also that now that I know I can discuss guys with him. 

    The coming out did not shock me because I had a suspicion he might be into guys but never said anything because I was waiting for him to tell me. I knew as a Bangladeshi it must be pretty hard to actually admit something like this so I decided to be patient with him. He was most probably trying to figure out how I would react. And as far as our friendship was concerned my respect and love for him has never depended on his sexuality so that did not change. 

    When I was asked to write the post I initially thought it would be about my reaction to his coming out. I was then also told to write about my views on homosexuality and bisexuality. My views are nothing extraordinary, I am a 'live and let live' kind of a person and never really cared about other people's opinions about this. I used to think everyone thought the same way I do. I might sound presumptuous, maybe even ignorant, however I genuinely did think anyone who posses a brain would have the same views. Unfortunately I found out there are people in this world who do not possess a brain.

    My eyes were opened by one of my colleagues who coincidentally asked me about my opinion on gay people. I told him its their lives to live as they please. He then proceeded to remind me that it's against our religion. To this I replied our religion also teaches us to respect everyone's choice and beliefs and not to pass judgment. Anyways the conversation ended with me calling him a moron in three different languages and telling him to f**k off when he said he is disappointed in me. 

    I have a born Muslim gay colleague at work and he is bitter about how Islam approaches homosexuality. He doesn't believe in the religion because he gets treated so badly by Muslims. After hearing a lot of different opinions from Muslims some positive others negative I thought I would do some digging myself to see what the Quran says about it. What I found actually confused me even more because from what I understood it actually looks like the Quran asked not to flaunt the sexual act but that's true between straight couple as well. Maybe it's just my understanding and I am using the brain Allah has given me to find a plausible explanation.

    Everyone is entitled to choices, it is as simple as that and as long as the choices we make don't hurt anyone, there is nothing wrong with them and that's what Islam teaches us.

  • Edward Lord 10:32 am on March 19, 2014 Permalink  

    See It. Hear It. Report It. FA films help rid football of discrimination. 

    We all want to feel welcome and safe at football matches, whether we are on the pitch, in the dugout, or in the stands. Anti-LGBT discrimination, be it ‘banter’ between players and coaches or more blatant chanting from spectators can often lead to us feeling uncomfortable or even threatened.

    As an FA disciplinary chair and a magistrate in Central London I know that the football authorities and police can only take action against those who perpetrate homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic abuse at matches if it is reported at the time or as soon as possible afterwards.

    The FA’s new films detail exactly what to do if you are a player or fan, should you encounter discrimination, and bring to life the animations of Paul Trevillion, famous for his ‘You Are the Ref’ cartoons. Former England stars Dion Dublin and Graeme Le Saux narrate the films, respectively.

    I think these new films are a great reminder to fans, players and officials alike that we can all help fight discrimination. If you see it, or hear it, then you should report it.

    Edward Lord OBE is a member of the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board; a Stonewall Ambassador and Role Model; and chairman of the Amateur Swimming Association, England’s governing body for swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronised swimming. 

  • Traveller_23 12:08 am on March 8, 2014 Permalink  

    Coming Out to…the Little Brother 

    My Thoughts

    Growing up, I was always aware that my parents wanted me to respect certain Bangladeshi cultural boundaries. I had no interest in doing this, but I toed the party line nevertheless for fear of the consequences. Whenever I did do anything against their wishes, it was either done in a clandestine manner or accompanied by lots of cajoling and placating. My little brother, on the other hand, has always taken a different approach to the parents – pretending that he is completely unaware of their expectations, culturally or otherwise. This has let him go and do whatever he wants, and feign ignorance later to avoid the consequences.

    Given the directions I have seen him take socially, culturally and religiously – he's liberal, practical and agnostic – I've never really thought that he'd have a problem with my bisexuality. I'd wondered if he'd find the gay sex part of it a little icky, but nothing more than that. I believed he was a product of his time – educated enough via contemporary narrative to know that there is nothing wrong, morally or medically, with same-sex attractions. Additionally, his agnosticism assured me that he wouldn't espouse any Islamic prejudice. My concerns had actually always skewed towards the more circumstantial side of the situation. He still lives with my parents, and back when I told him, he was going to be doing so for another 2 years before leaving. He was and still is preparing for university, which is hard work. On top of this, he has major ideological differences with the parents, and this makes his living situation even more stressful. I didn't want to add to his burden by telling him about my bisexuality and the issues it brought up. And of course, there was the tiny, tiny worry of what would happen if he did end up reacting negatively. My brother is one of the closest people to me in the world, so even the slightest possibility of rejection made me doubt myself.

    However, I've become quite the expert at swallowing my doubts and ploughing on. During a winter holiday we were both spending with the best friend, I hinted at my desire to 'experiment' with a man in casual conversation. He's quite close to the best friend so I knew she could create a buffer if he reacted badly. His reaction was mostly bewilderment though, and I left it at that. The following summer holiday was when I next mentioned my bisexuality. I broached the subject of attractions with him while we were gaming in the den, but backtracked because of the concerns I voiced in the last paragraph. I told myself I was building him up to it, so I should see this as yet another small step in the right direction. But within a few hours I got annoyed at the dithering so I changed my mind, went into his room and told him. And that was it. There was a very minimal reaction. He said he wasn't surprised, that the hints had worked and he had no issue with it. The fact that the parents wouldn't take it too well was discussed. I informed him that I was slowly telling other friends and family at a pace comfortable to me, and hoped eventually to tell them too. He shrugged. I didn't mind - his support was always implied. Don't mistake his apparent apathy for an actual lack of empathy. He's probably the most pro-LGBTQ friend/family member I have created by the way of my coming out. I've discovered him challenging the prejudice of random people in various situations, more so than anyone else I've discussed my sexuality with. 

    My coming out has made us closer, and now I can include him in all the aspects of my life. That positive energy has more than anything offset any burden my 'secret' would have left on him, and I am immensely lucky to have someone like him in my life.

    His Thoughts

    When my brother came out to me, the situation was as follows: I was in my room sitting on my bed, reading or looking at something, I can’t really remember. My brother comes and says, without further ceremony, “The person I’m going to be dating this summer is a guy.”  I look up with a bland face and say “I see.” A moment’s pause. “So you’re bisexual then?” to which my brother responds with a simple “Yup.”

    I can’t imagine the scenario in any other way. I tend to take these emotional things with a degree of apathy that some might consider borderline offensive. It’s not malice, it’s just that sexuality to me has never been a big issue. To me, homosexual relationships aren’t wrong, weird, or unnatural, it’s just different. So what if a guy gets turned on by another guy? Or if he gets turned on by both men and women? What’s it to me? It doesn’t harm me, and don’t tell me it results in less children because the last thing the planet needs is more people – certainly not people that think we need even more babies, the wretched creatures. It results in people being happier, as they are able to enjoy a relationship with a person they truly want to be with. Life is hard as it is; let’s not make it harder by enforcing outdated social rules shall we not? There are enough fake couples in school.

    I first suspected, or considered, as “suspected” implies different sexual orientations are crimes, that my brother was gay or at least partially fancied men by his acute ability to distinguish whether they were attractive or not. I couldn’t do it, not because I felt that trying to distinguish attractive men would make me gay, I simply couldn’t do it, yet my brother could, without fail. The second time I considered his sexual orientation was during a trip with his best friend. We were huddled in a room, eating cupcakes and talking about…I can’t remember, something to do with sex? It’s always to do with sex. Anyways, my brother announced that he’d like sleep with a guy, and that it’d something cool to try out, to which I responded “If you want to be bisexual, then you are bisexual! Haha!” but nothing never truly came of it. The last instance, for which I actually now feel bad, is when we were in the house’s den, playing PS3 maybe? He asked me “Hey, can I tell you something? It’s a big issue and I hope you won’t be weighed down by it.” I simply looked in his direction and mumbled something along the lines of “Um, it’s fine by me…”. It was at that moment my thoughts solidified regarding my brother’s sexuality and looking back, I was an insensitive little cunt for brushing it off the way I did.

    Now however, I try to play a more active role regarding these issues. When I see the absolutely stupid reasons for which the LGBT community is oppressed, I cringe inside. I make it point to drive in the fact I fully support the LGBT community despite being straight; as to me it’s a slap in the face for those who try deem them as freaks.

  • EsmeT 12:03 pm on February 17, 2014 Permalink  

    Part of the family 

    I've just finished working on a show with people I have taken to calling our rainbow team ie. the core few people I've been working with within a bigger team are all queer in one way or another.
    And of course our sexualities didn't come up in conversation a lot [even when working in theatre it generally doesn't] but just knowing that if I did bring it up, the people around me would know, acknowledge and further what I was talking about, which did happen on occasion; and knowing that I wasn't a minority on my own (as we were still a minority in the wider team) - it felt wonderful.
    It was simply lovely, similar to the feeling I get in a gay club or when I'm in or watching a pride parade, a feeling similar to that of family - affection, solidarity, pride, understanding, support. But it was different because it was under everything; our queerness wasn't the main focus of the activity, and we rarely talked about it, because we were getting on with the job, but it wasn't quashed. It wasn't hidden or ignored. It was just there and not a big deal.
    I do feel that it's not a big deal with straight friends and coworkers as well (except those that don't pick up or simply forget that I'm bi). It's a feeling akin to acceptance, I think. However, the novelty is being in essentially a queer environment without it being the main reason we are together, and still being tangibly aware of it. LGBT meetings are great, but it is encouraging to find I can get that feeling of solidarity in a 'real life' context as well.
    I've always liked being with other queers, just like I enjoy being with my family. Working on this production was like putting on a wedding - the purpose is the marriage of two people (putting on a performance), and it involves a ceremony and a reception (a rehearsed staging and first night party), and logistics like clothes (costume), venue (theatre) and decor (set and props); but doing all the planning and execution around the main event [that can sometimes be dull or a lot of time/effort!] with people you feel a connection to makes it more than bearable; it can at times be as fun as the event itself eg. a shopping trip for clothes becomes enjoyable if you have a parent and/or close friends along to do it with you, and a lengthy conversation about scheduling is made easier if you have something in common with your director.
    Hopefully that simile shows that they are similar contexts, with similar results. Feeling closer to my team through our shared queerness enhanced the trust we built in our relationships whilst working to put on a show. Sure, you can't get over major arguments or personality clashes just by being connected - that's why Aunty Margaret has to be seated the other end of the marquee to her sister who she's had a feud with for 20years - but hastening the familiarity meant more honest, frank, and I suppose just more grown up conversations (and Aunty Margaret kept her promise and didn't through wine in her sister's face. After all, she's still her sister.)
    I will admit I started writing this post on the way home from the wrap party, so if it doesn't make sense, blame the gin!
  • jen 12:13 pm on February 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    There might be the odd anomaly… 

    The bit of the website that copies all our bloggers’ posts over to the Facebook page has been playing silly buggers unreliable of late. About to try a new fix, apologies in advance if it all goes a bit peculiar for a while! :)

  • Edward Lord 8:07 pm on January 28, 2014 Permalink  

    Stonewall: a new dawn for the UK’s top LGBT equality campaign 

    Anyone who has read my blog on LGB&T issues may have noticed a scepticism in my tone about the work of Stonewall, the biggest and most influential equal rights campaign in the United Kingdom, this despite being listed by them amongst 17 LGB ‘Role Models’ in their publication of that name back in 2012.

    In recent years, Stonewall, and more particularly its egregious Chief Executive, Ben Summerskill, has put itself on the wrong side of debates – arguing for example in 2010 that there was no need to campaign for equal marriage as civil partnerships were quite sufficient. Furthermore, Summerskill steadfastly refused to allow Stonewall in England to support trans* people in their battle for equality; and, most recently, he has consistently used the term ‘gay’ to cover all queer folk, which risks excluding those who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or in some other way that best suits them.

    Then, last Thursday came the news that many LGB&T activists across the UK have long been waiting for. Ben has gone.

    In his place as Acting Chief Executive is Ruth Hunt: Ben’s Deputy since last last April and a leading campaigner with the charity since 2005. In my experience of Ruth she is not only a highly effective lobbyist but also far more considered in approach and willing to listen to all sections of our communities.

    Ruth has already made clear that she wishes to adopt a far more open and inclusive approach to Stonewall’s work. In her first tweet as Acting CEO she loyally said that she was proud to carry on Ben’s legacy but recognised that there is lots to do in Britain and around the world to end homophobia and biphobia.

    The very mention of biphobia, recognising that bisexual people do face distinct discrimination both within LGB&T communities and beyond, is already a major step forward for Stonewall becoming genuinely inclusive in its campaigns.

    Later on the same day – in a debate on Facebook – Ruth opened the door to Stonewall potentially taking up the baton on behalf of trans* people in their desire to achieve full equality in Britain and overseas.

    I believe that there remains a major role for Stonewall. Discrimination against LGB&T people still exists in the hearts and minds of far too many people and institutions in our own country and around the world. The change in Stonewall’s leadership marks a new dawn for the charity and I wish Ruth well in her role as Acting CEO, and hopefully in the post substantively should the trustees find in her favour after their open recruitment process.

    For now though I have reinstated my donation to Stonewall as a sign of my faith that they will change for the better. I hope others who, like me, had doubts about Stonewall under Summerskill will join in supporting Ruth Hunt as she takes the charity through its next stage of development.

    If you feel inclined to do so, follow this link to make a donation to Stonewall.

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