Helen Martin: Was Wings Over Scotland’s tweet really homophobic?
HOMOPHOBIA is a mystery to me. Even though I’m in my sixties now, I’ve always, since early teenage, known gay peers.
Several were, or are, good friends. In general, I have found many of the gay people I have known to be pleasant, kind, broad-minded and caring, more so than many heteros, to be honest.
I never understood discrimination or harassment, or laws which back in the day branded them “guilty” for having a consensual relationship.
Sexuality is something everyone is born with – gay, straight, bi, asexual, and now as we know, transgender issues.
Just as some of us are born with different coloured hair or eyes, short legs or necks, freckles, different shaped faces or noses, athletic or clumpy build, short or tall . . . nature, God, genes or inheritance somehow produce the person.
Fortunately, we now live in a country where homosexuality and heterosexuality (or anything in the middle) is equal. Pop stars, politicians, doctors, lawyers, actors, soldiers, police officers, sports stars, journalists and any other career is open to all.
Anyone can get married, have babies, choose their career and have the same rights. And that’s how it should always have been if society hadn’t been so fearful and ignorant.
But the time has come for gay people to realise that it is simply not normal to belong to a “type” which will never, ever be criticised. We all are.
From an Irish family, and being Catholic, I and many more have to listen to football coverage with songs and chants of “Fenian blood” in the background.
That may not be widely approved, but it’s permitted. Racism is worse than sectarianism, a source of viciousness and terrorism.
But being human at all usually involves having some characteristic, physicality or label that provokes “bad” people to be rude or insulting without being really damaging.
Most of us have to dismiss them as idiots and ignore them.
When Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell tweeted: “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner”, it struck me as a means of saying Oliver was a rubbish speaker.
Everyone knows his dad David, our Scottish Secretary of State, is gay. No-one cares. The “attack” was more on the son than the father. It wasn’t a nice thing to write, but was it homophobic?
MSP and fellow columnist Kezia Dugdale (who happens to be gay) thought it was, and wrote about it in the Daily Record, resulting in Campbell, who claims to support homosexual equality, suing her for defamation.
Now the ruling lies with the Sheriff, and it could go either way. Discrimination is sometimes difficult to assess.
Many Scottish people loathe David Mundell because of his slavery to Westminster – but not because he came out three years ago, which as a 54-year-old politician was honest, courageous and admirable!
Genuine discrimination against homosexuality, stressful harassment, assault, any hint of inequality or limiting of opportunity needs to be made public and punished.
But I believe it’s time now for those who have yet to embrace and have faith in their equality and stature to leave behind any victimhood attitude.
I doubt blood-dripping anti-gay chants at a football match would be allowed, yet some of us have to tolerate the equivalent.
Are we miserable enough to stage a revolution?
IT’s interesting that the Brexit process has left many million people in the UK, probably the majority, feeling like Les Miserables, well – miserable.
Coincidentally, the author Victor Hugo was very involved in politics as well as literature. In 1849 he broke from the French conservatives, wanted to end the poverty and misery of the people, and became a Republican. Les Mis was his method of speaking up for the public who had no voice in French society or politics.
None of us have either. Brexit seems part of a political battle between Tories, rather than what’s best for people and the economy. We can only hope it doesn’t result in no deal, a bloody revolution, bodies littering the streets, and all those EU, UK, or Scottish flags smeared in blood!
Seed money is a Lidl helpful
MY husband spent seven years on the allotment waiting list and finally got his longed-for plot 12 years ago. Seeds, plants, tools, maintenance . . . it all costs a bob or two.
He enjoys the hard labour that comes with it – the digging, weeding, top-soiling, manure spreading, planting and watering.
My job is removing mud and soil, washing, removing slugs and beasties, chopping off bits that “something” has nibbled, cooking, and freezing or preserving seasonal crops that come in bulk. Often they come in funny shapes and are bruised by harvesting.
Ludicrously, we often check prices in supermarkets to see how much we “save” by growing our own.
Now Lidl sells five kilo boxes of fruit and veg for just £1.50 to reduce waste because no-one wants to pay full price for misshapen oddities.
If you are one of the 3000 on the allotment waiting list now, 1500 of whom have been on it for five years, Lidl would certainly be a cheaper option….. if not so much fun.
Police wear the wrong trousers
POLICE officers in Scotland have had to buy their own work trousers because the uniforms issued were poor quality and not good enough. Who on earth procured them for the force – Wallace and Gromit?