Thursday, 28 November 2013

At the Swans

I described the the first two days of filming here … along with how it came about and what it’s about.

The rest of the filming happened at the Surrey Swans meeting on Sunday November 24th.

The meeting was unusual in several respects.

There were over 20 people there which was great.

There were four new people – Saffy, Gina,Carole and Louise – which was fantastic. It was great to meet them.

There was also the film crew, which was unprecedented.

The crew consisted of James, Sinead, Vlad, Lexie and Xander from the University for Creative Arts, Farnham. They are making a short (5 to 7 minute) film and are including some footage from Surrey Swans.

They arrived before anyone else so that they could spend some time interviewing Mike who runs the pub where Surrey Swans meet.

At about 7:30 they dropped by the room where the Swans actually meet.

During the evening they filmed general goings on and also interviewed several volunteers.

Xander and Vlad with cameras.

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Vlad lines up the shot:

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Vlad, Xander, Lexie (with thumbs up) and James setting things up for an interview.

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Adrianne being interviewed:

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There was a band called No Lip playing in the main bar.

James asked if anyone was ok with the idea of being filmed as part of a No Lip audience. So half a dozen, or maybe more, of us spent a while tapping our feet in the bar.

No Lip in the main bar:

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The crew take a break. Lexie, Sinead, Vlad and Xander.

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Shooting the juke box. I think the song was Girls Night Out.

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Another interview:

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Farewells:

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The end of the evening: Xander, Lexie, James, Andrea, Vlad and Sinead.

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We’re hoping that we’ll be re-visited by the team at the end of January 2014 so they can show us the end results of all their hard work.

For me the evening was very special for several reasons.

It’s great to spend time with friends.

It’s especially great to welcome new people to meetings.

The film crew were also great. Very friendly, helpful, unobtrusive and professional in everything that they did. Fantastic.

I feel that it’s good to open up the transgendered world to help people better understand it.

And it’s my hope that the making of the film will have helped James, Sinead, Lexie, Vlad and Xander understand us a bit better.

And that it’ll also help the tutors and other students on the course in the same way when they get to see the finished product.

The trip to the main bar was also unusual. Individuals have always done this from time to time, but it was unusual for so many of the group to be there together.

Again it’s all part of the process of making it not so unusual for transgendered people, in this case mainly transvestites, to be around in ordinary everyday kind of situations with no one feeling that it’s especially weird.

As this type of thing happens more and more, society … and individuals within society … will be given a chance to re-examine their preconceived ideas and learn to accept the transgendered simply as people.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The movie …

On September 24th I received an email from James, a Production student at the University for Creative Arts in Farnham.

James mentioned “My team and I have recently been given a brief which entails creating a 5-7 minute film”.

The initial idea was for a film that would be focussed mainly on the Surrey Swans. Because of difficulties in finding people that were able to participate on the dates that were available, it changed somewhat into more of something that would be about aspects of the life of a transvestite with some filming to take place at a Surrey Swans meeting.

I emailed everyone that goes along to Surrey Swans regularly to ask how they felt about the idea of a small film crew turning up. No one raised any objections. A little reticence from some. But also several people expressing really positive feelings about the concept.

Then there are  emails, phone calls, a visit from James (producer) and Sinead (sound).

Risk assessment and filming consent forms get completed.

James and Sinead check that Mike, who runs the pub where Surrey Swans meets is ok with using it as a film location.

And so, at about 09:30 on the morning of Friday November 22nd, James (producer), Sinead (sound), Lexie (post production), Xander (camera) and Vlad (director) arrive.

I hope I’ve got the roles right.

They come complete with cameras, sound equipment, light reflectors and all the paperwork that goes along with shooting a film.

I’d taken a day from my annual leave and woken at the usual kind of weekday time to give me a chance to greet them as Andrea.

The transformation takes about an hour.

The makeup actually takes less than an hour. I have to spend ten to fifteen minutes face shaving.

GGs (genetic girls) don’t generally have to factor these extra 15 minutes into their plans.

I’d done the nail polish thing and the body shave the night before.

“I know that you’re already wearing nail polish, Andrea, but can we have some close-ups of you polishing your nails?”

Vlad focuses everything whilst Andrea re-applies some Rimmel Pink Amazon to a selection of fingernails as directed.

Then there’s lipstick (Maybelline 24 hour) over lipstick.

We spend a while, unsuccessfully,  looking for a mirror and end up using the black mirror of a mobile phone.

And then mascara.

Two cameras are set up pointing in the direction of the armchair. Vlad positions one of them, Xander the other.

Things are adjusted to cope with the light and avoid unwanted reflections.

James sits on a chair beside the main camera with a sheaf of papers.

Sinead has the microphone which is attached to a boom.

I sit in the arm chair.

A few warm up questions from James.

Now everyone knows my name, my age and height – with and without heels.

There are quite a few questions. I occasionally ramble, I think.

I need to remember to include a paraphrase of the question in the answer. And to wait three seconds before answering.

The experience is ok for me.

I feel as though I’m talking with people rather than at a camera. It’ll be interesting to see how it actually looks.

Living in Windsor makes life more difficult than it might have been. Every 90 seconds or so an aeroplane passes overhead. The kind of thing that Sally and I never notice when we’re inside. Microphones are more sensitive, I guess.

And then … the main camera signals that its memory card is almost full.

Unfortunately, it’s not yet afternoon and there is still an awful lot of filming to do. Strange that I keep referring to “film”. There is, of course, no film involved at all.

It’s one of those technologically potentially catastrophic moments that can afflict us all from time to time.

However well we prepare, there’s always a hole waiting for us to fall into.

The camera can takes SD memory cards.

But on sliding one into the slot there doesn’t seem to be a menu option to convince the camera that it’s a good idea to use it.

It may be that one day someone will unearth this option somewhere on an obscure menu. But it would have helped a lot on the day if it was somewhere a little more in everyone’s face.

Andrea mainly sits comfortably on the armchair.

Sally is at the table working n a laptop.

Everyone else is busy working out the best way forwards.

I’m impressed that everyone is busy working out a solution rather than complaining about a problem or blaming everyone else.

Coffee and tea.

A few pone calls and Xander heads off to borrow a memory card from another team.

Everyone else tries to coax the camera into using an SD card. But it refuses to cooperate.

Phone calls.

But the camera still refuses to play ball.

There are some other shots that need to be taken using one of the other cameras.

There’s a plan to illustrate the transformation of Andy into Andrea.

The idea, I think, is that Andy does something and transmogrifies into Andrea in the process.

Wouldn’t it be cool if makeup was as easy as that?

The idea is to film the Andrea part of the activity now.

Andy can do his bit tomorrow.

So Andrea walks across the room and closes the curtains.

Several times.

Gets an item from a cupboard in the kitchen and puts it into the microwave.

Several times.

Comes in from outside and walks across the kitchen.

Yep. Several times.

These last two shots are more complex.

Vlad is outside with the camera.

The kitchen window provides a variety of unwanted reflections.

Andrea provides a black coat.

James stands beside Vlad using the coat close to the camera as a shield against the reflections.

It’s a cold day so there is some shivering.

Sticky tape gets applied to the floor to mark the spots where the camera was so that when Andy does his bit tomorrow everything will be aligned.

The camera moves. Sticky tape gets stuck.

Andrea walks out the bedroom door and down the stairs a few times.

The camera moves. More sticky tape.

Andrea walks down the stairs a few times. The camera capturing the high heeled shoes.

Here’s Lexie, Vlad, James and Sinead. I took the picture. Xander is out hunting for a memory card. The camera is pointing at where I was sitting during the interview.

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The view from the interview chair – except Xander is out looking for the memory card:

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Sally waits patiently for the arrival of the memory card.

 

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Xander returns and the new memory card re-invigorates the camera.

The interview resumes.

And then it’s Sally’s turn to be interviewed.

I spend a while removing makeup.

The day ends with Andy arriving home, parking the car in the driveway and walking into the house. Four times, I think.

I have no idea what the neighbours thought was happening Smile

And so ends Friday.

Saturday begins at about 11:15.

James, Vlad and Sinead arrive.

First on the menu is an interview with Andrea and Sally.

Then there is  footage of me removing makeup in the bathroom.

Usually, before I remove makeup, I remove clothing.

On this occasion I just remove my hair.

And then the makeup.

And then the problem of the day arises.

Another shot of Andrea with Sally is needed, but Andrea has become Andy. Though Andy is still wearing a dress.

James and Vlad discuss the problem.

The problem being that it will take Andy up to an hour to become Andrea again. Well, maybe 45 minutes. But not much less.

The proposed solution … filming from the back over the shoulder of Andy complete with a dress and a wig.

The camera is set up something like this:

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It’s a strange feeling. Wig without makeup. Even though I’m wearing a dress I feel strangely naked as I head downstairs.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out. Andrea from behind says hello to Sally and offers her a glass of wine.

About 5 times.

Cheers Smile

And then the other half of the transmogrifications. I can’t believe that I spelt that word correctly first time.

Off with the heels, the wig and the dress … on with the trousers, shirt and sweater.

Off camera.

Of course.

The camera moves and Andy walks across the room and opens the curtains.

The camera moves outside.

James gets the black coat.

Vlad calls out “Action”.

Andy pops something in the microwave.

“Action.”

Andy walks through the door and across the kitchen.

The camera moves.

Andy walks out the bedroom door and down the stairs.

The camera moves again.

Andy walks up the stairs.

Just the man-shoes appearing in the shot.

Of course each activity happens several times.

Each positioning of the camera involves lining tripod legs up on pieces of yesterdays sticky tape.

Pieces of sticky tape get gradually unstuck.

And that’s it.

Well, apart from the night at the Swans.

To be continued …

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

On the death of Nathan Verhelst

Driving back from work today I was listening to the 6:00 pm news on Radio 4.

There was a story about a transsexual (female to male) in Belgian named Nathan Verhelst who was “helped to die by doctors after a series of failed sex change operations.” There’s more on the BBC web site here. There’s some more on the Daily Mail web site here and The Independent here.

I find the whole story very sad.

Reading some of the comments I find it strange how so many people want to try to fit individual unique people and circumstances into neat stereotypes. Sometimes using a single news story about a single individual to justify quite sweeping statements about entire groups of people.

It’s said that in Belgium, 2% of all deaths are now a result of euthanasia. I find that a surprisingly high number. It seems disquieting.

I’m not qualified to comment much on psychological disorders. But I find it sad to think that when faced with a person with deep problems and needs, a doctor will effectively agree that the best treatment is for the patient to die. For if the doctor didn’t agree that this was the best treatment then why would she or he help carry out the treatment?

Maybe there is a time and a place for this. But it bothers me that it could just become the easiest and lowest cost of the possible treatments.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Girls, Guys, Shades of Gender, Suspender Belts and Pay Cuts

A little while ago I was involved in conversation with a transvestite that raised some thought provoking ideas.

She seemed to feel that all transvestites are on a path that leads to a need for more and more time to be spent as a girl. Less and less as a guy.

That as time passes there’s a need to be more and more girl-like and less and less guy-like.

And that there’s an inevitability in all of this for all concerned.

As we talked I expressed my disagreement.

For myself I feel at peace with where I am at. My life is a mix of guy and girl, masculine and feminine. I don’t feel a need for the balance that there is at the moment to change.

I know that different people have different feelings and experiences. But I also know what my own are.

Actually at times all these kind of terms can get surprisingly confusing.

Girl, guy. Man, woman.Male, female.Masculine, feminine.Gender, sex. And I think that we (including myself) sometimes use some of these words interchangeably when they aren’t always quite so interchangeable.

However, having spent a little time looking around the WEB at definitions of some of these terms, there seems to be some confusion there as well.

There’s an interesting article here: Sex Difference vs. Gender Difference? Oh, I'm So Confused! – but it isn’t easy reading.

There’s an article on the UK National Health Service WEB site entitled : Gender dysphoria which also seems a little odd. It says:

Biological sex is assigned at birth, depending on the appearance of the infant. Gender identity is the gender that a person “identifies” with, or feels themselves to be.

and also says:

Gender can be defined using very narrow medical terms such as what types of chromosomes you have, or what types of genitals you were born with. However, many transsexuals (and also many experts in the treatment of gender dysphoria) find this type of narrow definition both unhelpful and offensive.

Whilst the World Health Organisation says:

"Sex" refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.

"Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women

My own feeling is that there is more to gender than the World Health Organisation gives credit to. And they definitely have a different understanding of the word sex than do most of the people that I know.

I have a feeling that somewhere in all of this the word psychology should also appear.

I’ve heard it said, and I think that I’ve mentioned it previously in other blog posts, that there’s a view that gender is a line that joins masculine to feminine and that different people are at different places along the line.

There are times when people feel compelled to live their lives as though they were at a position on this line that they don’t really feel that they are really at.

Sometimes even at entirely the wrong end of the line.

Also, for many, the pressure to conform to a role that is either purely masculine or purely feminine has been intense and damaging.

The good news is that the pressure is, in some places at least, lessening. People are being allowed to be themselves. There’s still a long, long way to go, but at least things are moving.

I have this feeling that there are many more than 50 shades of gender, and that they aren’t all grey.

Over the years I’ve grown to accept and, in a way, celebrate, my own gender and have been fortunate enough to have family and friends that are able to accept it as well.

I feel that my position isn’t at either end of the gender line and I’m OK with that. The makeup and feminine clothing that I wear at times is an expression of this.

Actually it’s not just about gender in the sense of socially constructed roles. Nor is it just about sex or genital surgery. It’s more about who I feel that I am. It’s an expression of myself.

I think that different people are in different places when it comes to gender.

That there are lots of people that are in the process of still discovering who they are and where they are.

In a way, perhaps we all are still learning and still making discoveries about ourselves. And if we’re not then maybe we should be?

And I’m sure that the world is always a nicer place when people are allowed to be themselves when the way that  they are and the things that they do are of no harm to anyone.

And then … here’s a list of a few gender characteristics taken from the World Health Organisation:

  • In the United States (and most other countries), women earn significantly less money than men for similar work
  • In Viet Nam, many more men than women smoke, as female smoking has not traditionally been considered appropriate
  • In Saudi Arabia men are allowed to drive cars while women are not
  • In most of the world, women do more housework than men

There’s no mention of makeup, nylon stockings, suspender belts, skirts, blouses, dresses or high-heeled shoes.

Instead it’s a list of things that seem to be a result of men exercising unfair and unreasonable control over women. Although, I guess the smoking in Viet Nam represents something of an own-goal scored by the men.

And, ok, to be honest, I’ve heard is said that the history of high heeled shoes fall into that category as well. And there are perhaps people that would say the same of stockings and suspender belts.

As I said earlier. It’s a complex business.

But, for myself, I’d definitely rather have the suspender belt and stockings than a pay cut. Though immeasurably better would be the suspender belt, stockings and equal pay for equal work.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Andrea and Tina at Kay’s Harrogate Weekend

Last weekend Tina and I went along to Kay’s Harrogate Weekend there are additional details here.

We hadn’t been able to get along to Sparkle back in January, so Tina came up with the idea of Harrogate.

We had a great time there.

For me preparations begin early Thursday evening with nail polish. A nice shade of red. Three coats. A day before it’s needed, but it’s nice to know that it’ll be dry and pretty scratch resistant by the time I need to use my hands again.

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Later in the evening there’s packing to do. The suitcase is big enough to hold plenty of clothing for two weeks, so I hope that it will hold a couple of days of my girlie things.

Short dresses. Two black. One pink. One red.

Longer dresses.  One black with white spots. One floral. One a shade of purple. One blue.

Medium length skirts.  Blue denim. Black cotton.

Blouses. Two.

Shoes. Black heels. White heels. Black small heels. Grey small heels. Black flats. White trainers / sneakers.

Makeup and brushes. Lots.

Toiletries.

Bras, knickers, stockings, suspenders, tights.

You know how it goes.

It fits into the suitcase. I know it’s on the extravagant side for a weekend. But you never can tell.

Friday morning sees an all over trim and shower then I drive across to Tina’s. We’re driving as guys rather than girls. If we did the makeup thing it would take an extra hour and by the time we hit Harrogate we figure we’d have to take it all off and do it all over again.

I transfer my stuff to Tina’s car … well actually to Tina’s wife’s car and prepare for the journey.

“Have you got everything?” asks Tina.

“I hope so. I’m always afraid of forgetting something important. I could manage ok if I forgot some of the makeup – or even my boobs” (yes, Andrea has detachable boobs that are currently in the suitcase), “but if I left my hair behind I’d be in big trouble.”

“Oh”.

Tina heads back for the house explaining that her hair had been washed and hadn’t got so far as the car.

Tina and Andrea have detachable hair as well.

Tina re-appears complete with hair.

Wow.

That would have been a close shave.

The miles speed by.

We meet a few of Eddies girls along the way, and stop for coffee at Leicester Forest.

Eventually the traffic stops moving. An air ambulance appears, disappears into the distance and returns. The traffic flows again.

I’m reminded of a Chris While song, A Simple Twist of Fate that I said I liked a lot here.

You can listen to a bit of it here.

We arrive at the Cairn Hotel a little later than expected, but all is well.

We makeup – without ever having fallen out.

It’s a little slower than usual. Only one usable makeup mirror between two girls is a recipe for complexity.

We dance around each other applying touches of  foundation, powder, shadow, liner, mascara, rouge, lipstick and gloss. Oh, and boobs, hair and a short black dress. Black high heels.

A trip to the bar and a meal. Lovely people. Enjoyable conversation.

Saturday begins with makeup, a patterned dress and flat shoes. Soon followed by breakfast.

The food, people and hotel staff are great.

We stroll through the hotel grounds for a little while.

Andrea:

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Tina:

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Then back to the hotel entrance.

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We take a look at some of the things on sale inside the hotel. Tina buys a handbag. Andrea buys a necklace and earrings.

A short walk to the town centre.

I suspect that Tina has a fetish and so we call in at the Winter Gardens, a J D Weatherspoons pub. To be fair though, it was me that suggested calling in as we passed by.

I definitely didn’t twist any arms though.

If you ever meet Tina, be sure to ask about J D Weatherspoons in Manchester.

A couple of hobgoblins keep us company for a while, but they don’t last too long.

On our way out we visit the ladies. It’s strange how a lot of Weatherspoons web sites feature pictures of washrooms. Here’s how it looks at the Winter Gardens, just in case you are interested. I’m not sure if it’s the ladies or the gents. I only visited the ladies, but my memory is unfortunately not photographic.

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We drop by Debenhams and take a look at what’s on offer. Quite a lot of nice things but nothing especially takes our fancy.

I feel the after effects of the hobgoblins and discover what the ladies room at Debenhams looks like. A lot less chic than the Water Gardens version.

As we stroll through the park we hear wolf whistles. A small group of guys and girls seem to like the idea of whistling at us. I can’t make out what they are calling out, but it seems good natured.

Rather than seek the services of a policemen I wave and blow them a kiss.

We sit and chat in the shade on a bench along Montpellier Hill, the young men and ladies leave us alone.

After a while we walk slowly back towards the hotel, enjoying the afternoon sun. Stopping for pictures at Crescent Road.

 

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At the hotel there’s time for a little drink and then we change for cocktails and the Gala dinner.

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Again the food, service and company is excellent. I meet Sally and chat with her as we eat.

After dining there is a chance to dance and, for the brave or foolish, there is karaoke.

Tina and I don’t drink anywhere near enough wine to be tempted by the karaoke. But it’s fun watching the others. It ranges from the sublime to the … not-s0-sublime.

It’s a warm evening, but we do dance a bit.

At about midnight we drift back towards the bar and get a drink and sit and chat with Rita and her wife.

And then its makeup removal time, sleep, breakfast and the journey home.

As I said, we had a great time. So thanks to Kay for all the hard work that she put into it.

Fantastic!

Monday, 29 July 2013

A night with the Swans

Last Sunday (July 28) was a Surrey Swans evening.

Brenda was passing out a few envelopes to people.

Being a little nosey, I ask Tina what’s it all about.

Ladies day at Brighton Races” says Tina.

“Do you have to wear a big hat?”

“I asked, but didn’t hear back yet.” says Tina.

“’Chelle, what’s the position with hats?” asks Tina.

‘Chelle looks somewhat perplexed.

“They look best on your head” contribute several people.

“On your own head be it” giggles Laura.

The consensus is that the hats are optional.

The theme for the evening is School Uniforms. There are over 20 girls in attendance, with about a third being dressed in a manner befitting the theme.

 

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I don’t often get a chance to wear my Anne Summers school uniform, so the evening is a special pleasure.

“And are you wearing the Spank Me’s?” asks Laura.

Whilst collecting money for the raffle tickets, Laura proves to the whole world that indeed I am:

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I did survive the evening, though, without being spanked at all.

And no, I’m not going to ask if my bum looks big in them.

Claire had organised the school examinations for the evening.

During this we discover what a bumbershoot is and by about 10:30pm we each wish that we had one.

I take a guess at the band that was named after the volume of semen produced during an average male ejaculation and get one. A point in the quiz that is – what else did you think I meant?

In fact, it seems that the whole thing is a myth. 10cc were really named after a band that Jonathan King dreamed about. Otherwise they would have been called somewhere between 2cc and 5cc. 10cc would have been a definite case of hyperspermia.

Emma took the prize, the quiz prize, with 17 out of 20 … a massive 85%. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

TVs on TV

Recently I was watching Question Time on BBC TV. I was pleasantly surprised to see a contribution being made by a member of the audience that was a transvestite. No-one t all seemed perturbed.

Yesterday I did search on Google using the term “question time transvestite”and came up with this which refers to a different Question Time program.

I spent a bit of time looking through the Stormfront web site and was appalled. They say that they are:

a community of racial realists and idealists. We are White Nationalists who support true diversity and a homeland for all peoples. Thousands of organizations promote the interests, values and heritage of non-White minorities. We promote ours. We are the voice of the new, embattled White minority!

An alternative summary is:

Stormfront is a white nationalist and supremacist[2] neo-Nazi[3] Internet forum that was the Internet's first major hate site.[4]

Stormfront began as an online bulletin board system in the early 1990s before being established as a website in 1995 by former Ku Klux Klan leader and white nationalist activist Don Black. It received national attention in the United States in 2000 after being featured as the subject of a documentary, Hate.com. Stormfront has been the subject of controversy after being removed from French and German Google indexes, for targeting an online FOX News poll on racial segregation, and for having political candidates as members. Its prominence has grown since the 1990s, attracting attention from watchdog organizations that oppose racism and antisemitism.

The website is a theme-based discussion forum with numerous boards for topics including ideology, science, revisionism, homeschooling, and self defense. Stormfront also hosts news stories, a merchandise store, and extensive links to racist organizations. The site has a logo featuring the Celtic cross common to neo-nazi iconography surrounded by the motto "White Pride World Wide".

It saddens me that there are people – and quite a lot of them – that seem to swallow the kind of stuff that Stormfront propagates.

Of course, the Express article that is mentioned by Stormfront leaves me saddened in a similar way.

The Google search did also come up with this at the Over 50’s forum. It’s nice to see a more open minded view of life.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Rome, freedom, power and persecution. Churches and Jesus. Matchsticks and premature ejaculation. Priests, sexuality and disaster. Art, porn and hermaphrodites.

We recently spent four days in Rome, doing the regular tourist kind of things. I was a really great time.

At the Coliseum there was an exhibit about the emperor Constantine which mentioned the Edict of Milan which was drawn up 1,700 years ago in the year 313 AD. It includes this kind of stuff:

Therefore, your Worship should know that it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever, which were in the rescripts formerly given to you officially, concerning the Christians and now any one of these who wishes to observe Christian religion may do so freely and openly, without molestation. We thought it fit to commend these things most fully to your care that you may know that we have given to those Christians free and unrestricted opportunity of religious worship. When you see that this has been granted to them by us, your Worship will know that we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion.

There are, of course, a lot of potential reasons as to why this religious freedom was being offered to people within the Roman empire. It’s strange though that, 1,700 years later, there are large chunks of the world that don’t do this.

It’s strange also how a part of Christianity developed from being a persecuted group of people, into a group that was tolerated and then accepted, into a group that was in power into a group that persecuted others.

There seems to be an almost inevitability in that wherever religions, of any type, gain a position of power then members of other religions end up being persecuted.

I remember many years ago being at an event where Tony Campolo was speaking. He said that he thought that the only churches that had never gotten heavily into persecution were the ones that had never had any power.

On another day, sitting in St Peter’s Basilica I was left wondering if it was the kind of lace that Jesus would have spent much time in.

Sitting in a metro station I watched a video featuring two match sticks in bed. I’ll leave you to work out what the video was advertising. 

I still find it strange that the churches are full of nude statues and paintings, but very fussy about bare shoulders and legs. It’s quaint that most of the nude statues in the Vatican Museum have been given plaster coatings to protect their genitalia and our modesty.

There were many very young looking priests around Rome. I’m not a psychologist or psychoanalyst. I don’t know if the sexual needs that I have are similar to those experienced by other people. But my guess would be that putting men into positions where they are forced to repress whatever sexuality they have, is a recipe for disaster. 

And wow. Guess what?

Speaking of nude statues. I kinda liked this one:

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She must be art and not porn because she’s in the National Museum of Rome.

You need to see her from a different perspective to see what makes her special.

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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

And another step closer …

The possibility of same sex marriages in the UK came yet another step closer today as the House of Lords voted overwhelmingly against a motion that was intended to block the same sex marriage bill.

The Telegraph put it like this.

Prior to the vote, some people had been predicting it might be a close call. But n the event, the attempt to block the bill was defeated by 390 votes to 148. Quite a sizeable majority.

As I mentioned here I had received a letter from Care that encouraged me to write to members of the House of Lords asking them to vote against the same sex marriage bill.

On May 25th I emailed Care at mail@care.org.uk as follows:

Dear Care,

I'm writing in response to a letter that you sent regarding the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill dated May 2013.

I'm saddened by the way that you are reacting to this whole issue and have made some comments on this here: http://andrea-wright.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/caring-and-care.html

Please let me know if you feel anything that I've said is unreasonable or unfair and I'll be happy to update it accordingly.

Alternatively, it would be really lovely if you were to change your views on this topic.

So far I’ve had no reply, suggesting either that people at Care are happy that my comments are reasonable and fair or that they are  busy doing other things and don’t care.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

On the death of Lucy Meadows

Tonight driving back from work I listened to part of the 6:00 pm news on BBC Radio 4.
There’s a summary of it on the BBC News website here. There are also stories in the Huffington Post, The Independent and the Accrington Observer where, it seems, the whole media show began.
A male teacher at a primary school was about to undergo gender reassignment. The school wrote a letter to parents to explain what was happening. At least one parent was upset by this and the whole story ended up being published by the local and the national press. The teacher concerned was hounded by journalists and complained to the Press Complaints Commission about harassment and an article in the Daily Mail by columnist Richard Littlejohn questioning her right to teach.
The teacher, Lucy Meadows, later took her own life.
The Daily Mail has said there was no link between the article and the teacher’s death and that the article in fact defended the rights of people to have sex change operations.
However, they have removed the article from their web site.
The Daily Mail is a newspaper that is not noted for its fair mindedness. I think that it has a poor track record on how it deals with trans-gender related issues.
Having read Richard Littlejohn’s article, it is true to say that he doesn’t complain about the idea of  gender reassignment.
However, the article does seem to amount to an unjustified, unsubstantiated and unfounded  personal attack upon the teacher concerned.
Here is the text of the article (it isn’t possible to read it on the Daily Mail web site any more, so I can’t post a link to it that will work):
He's not only in the wrong body... he's in the wrong job
PUBLISHED: 17:29 EST, 20 December 2012 |
UPDATED: 03:08 EST, 21 December 2012
Look, it can’t be much fun being a woman trapped in a man’s body. Believe me, ladies, there are times when it’s not exactly a bundle of laughs being a man trapped inside a man’s body.
So I have every sympathy for the 400 or so people a year who opt for ‘gender reassignment’ surgery to put themselves out of their misery.
I don’t even have any problem with sex-change operations being carried out on the NHS, provided it’s a genuine medical necessity and not a lifestyle choice. Transsexuals pay taxes, too.
Schoolteacher Nathan Upton, 32, says he always knew he was born into the wrong sex. Yet he married and fathered a child, now aged three. It was only fairly recently that he decided to go public with his inner turmoil.
The first indications came when he began growing his cropped hair and dyeing it purple. He started turning up for class wearing pink nail varnish and sparkly headbands.
His pupils at St Mary Magdalen’s Church of England Primary School in Accrington, Lancs, couldn’t help noticing. A crayon drawing of Mr Upton by a Year 6 pupil on the school’s website shows him with long hair swept back over his shoulders.
One parent said: ‘I saw what I thought was Mr Upton dressed as a woman in town one weekend, but I decided I had imagined it.’
Oh no, you hadn’t.
Confirmation came in the school’s Christmas newsletter. It started innocuously enough, with a series of routine staff announcements. Then in paragraph six, out of the blue, BOOM! Are you sitting comfortably, children?
‘Mr Upton has made a significant change in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman after the Christmas  break. She will return to work as Miss Meadows.’
It went on to stress that the school is ‘proud of our commitment to equality and diversity’. Of course they are.
This week, the school’s 169 pupils, aged between seven and 11, were informed class-by-class that from now on, ‘Sir’ would be ‘Miss’.
Teachers told them that Mr Upton felt he had been ‘born with a girl’s brain in a boy’s body’ and would henceforth be living as a woman.
Nathan Upton is now in the early stages of gender reassignment treatment. He issued a statement which read: ‘This has been a long and difficult journey for me and it was certainly not an easy decision to make.’
So that’s all right, then. From now on, kiddies, Mr Upton will be known as Miss Lucy Meadows.
What are you staring at, Johnny? Move along, nothing to see here. Get on with your spelling test. Today’s word is ‘transitioning’.
Mr Upton/Miss Meadows may well be comfortable with his/her decision to seek a sex-change and return to work as if nothing has happened. The school might be extremely proud of its ‘commitment to equality and diversity’.
But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter? Children as young as seven aren’t equipped to compute this kind of information.
Pre-pubescent boys and girls haven’t even had the chance to come to terms with the changes in their own bodies.
Why should they be forced to deal with the news that a male teacher they have always known as Mr Upton will henceforth be a woman called Miss Meadows? Anyway, why not Miss Upton?
Parent Wayne Cowie said the news had left his ten-year-old son worried and confused.
For the past three years he has been taught by Mr Upton, but has now been told that he will be punished if he continues to call ‘Miss Meadows’ ‘Mr Upton’ after the Christmas holidays. ‘My middle boy thinks that he might wake up with a girl’s brain because he was told that Mr Upton, as he got older, got a girl’s brains.’
The school shouldn’t be allowed to elevate its ‘commitment to diversity and equality’ above its duty of care to its pupils and their parents.
It should be protecting pupils from some of the more, er, challenging realities of adult life, not forcing them down their throats.
These are primary school children, for heaven’s sake. Most them still believe in Father Christmas. Let them enjoy their childhood. They will lose their innocence soon enough.
The head teacher denies that pupils will be punished for referring to the teacher as Mr Upton but added ominously that they would be ‘expected to behave properly around her.’ Nathan Upton is entitled to his gender reassignment surgery, but he isn’t entitled to project his personal problems on to impressionable young children.
By insisting on returning to St Mary Magdalen’s, he is putting his own selfish needs ahead of the well-being of the children he has taught for the past few years.
It would have been easy for him to disappear quietly at Christmas, have the operation and then return to work as ‘Miss Meadows’ at another school on the other side of town in September. No-one would have been any the wiser.
But if he cares so little for the sensibilities of the children he is paid to teach, he’s not only trapped in the wrong body, he’s in the wrong job.
 
In a way I find this kind of personal attack even worse than would have been an attack on the concept of gender reassignment itself. The corner at the teacher’s inquest referred to media character assassination. And to me that is exactly how it reads.
I find it difficult to understand how anyone can say “I have every sympathy for the 400 or so people a year who opt for ‘gender reassignment’ surgery” and then proceed to write an article that demonstrates an almost complete absence of sympathy.
I’m not going to write a line by line critique of Richard Littlejohn’s article. It’s tone, as well as its content, is sufficiently self-defeating.
But I will express my sadness that national and local newspapers, and journalists stoop so low as to write and publish this kind of stuff.
The coroner at the teacher’s inquest said:
"I will be writing to the government to consider now implementing in full the recommendations of the Leveson Report in order to seek to ensure that other people in the same position as Lucy Meadows are not faced with the same ill-informed bigotry as seems to be displayed in the case of Lucy."
Addressing the media at the conclusion of the inquest he said: "And to you, the press, I say shame - shame on all of you."

Maybe Richard Littlejohn’s article wasn’t the direct cause of Lucy’s death. But I find it impossible to believe that it wasn’t a serious contributing factor. And I agree with the coroner, that is a shameful thing. To both the author and to the publishers.

There is an online petition at http://action.sumofus.org/a/daily-mail-littlejohn-lucy-meadows/?sub=taf. Take a look at it if you'd like to express your feelings to the Daily Mail.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Surrey Swans, boobs, and lingerie

Last night was a regular Surrey Swans get together. It was different in that it was actually warm enough to sit outside for a while in the early evening.

This did pose some challenges.

Four of us were sitting at a table. Myself, Laura, Chelle and Brenda.

“Hello Andrea” says Chelle.

We struggle to see each other. The sunshade / parasol is down and positioned right between us.

“Maybe we can take it out”, says I.

Then, after a short struggle.

“Maybe it would be easier to just put it up” says Brenda.

So I hold onto the pole with my left hand and the sliding bit with my left and start pushing.

“Omg …” says Andrea.

“What’s up dear?” asks Laura.

“I think I’m losing a boob”.

At this moment Andrea loses interest in the parasol and catches the boob as it slides out from under her blouse.

The opening of the parasol is completed with an upturned silicone boob sitting on the table.

As I slide it back into place it reminds me of a joke I first heard as a schoolboy. I share it with the others.

"A friend placed his left hand on his chest and solemnly declared ‘You know, sometimes I feel a right tit.' "

We giggle like a group of schoolgirls.

Rozz is serving drinks for the night. It’s really nice to see her again.

Part way into the evening Claire introduces herself.

It seems that in the near future she’s running a lingerie sale kind of event at the pub as a charity fund raising event. Mike, who runs the pub, had mentioned to her that we might be interested in the lingerie. So she asked if we’d be interested in taking a look at some catalogues that she had brought.

Oh and the lingerie as well.

Things were then quiet for a little while as people studiously looked through the catalogues.

 

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The pictures were taken just before the rack of lingerie was assembled.

It was really nice to meet Claire and she was really helpful to everyone. I think a few people had checks on bra sizes.

On checking with Emma, it seems that the first ever Surrey Swans meeting was in September 2003. So in September 2013 we’ll be 10 years old. That’s cool.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Caring and Care

I received the following letter from Care, dated May 2013:

Making a Christian Difference for the sake of the future

By the time you read this the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will have completed its journey through the House of Commons. It now goes to the Lords.

It was important to set out arguments for MPs and maximise the vote against the Bill, but we realised that it would be very difficult to win in the Commons. However, at the Second Reading in the House of Lords on Monday 3 June there will be a vote and, if all the Peers opposed to the Bill are present, there is a real chance of defeating the Bill at this crucial stage.

I am therefore writing to ask you to act urgently by sending a letter or email to one or more of the Peers specially selected and listed overleaf. Please contact as many as you can as soon as possible, asking them to attend the debate on Monday 3 June, to consider speaking in support of traditional marriage and to vote against the Bill. You could also mention the following:

There are many constitutional irregularities in the Bill's development. There was no mandate for this fundamental policy change. It was not in any party manifesto or the Coalition Agreement. There was no

Green Paper or White Paper. It wasn't in any Queen's Speech.

Religious liberty measures in the Bill are limited to 'wedding ceremony' protections for church ministers and churches. Contrary to what the Government has said, these are far from robust. There are no free speech conscience protections for public sector employees: chaplains, teachers, registrars, and others.

Please ask others to write too and, above all, continue to pray about this issue. More information about the

Bill and its progress is at www.care.org.uk/marriage. If the Bill is passed at the Lords' Second Reading there will still be opportunities at its later stages and we will keep you informed.

Thank you so much for your ongoing support in this crucial matter. If the Government passes this Bill there will be far reaching consequences for society that will affect us and future generations.

Yours in His grace

Nola Leach

Head of Public Affairs

Nola Leach

Care

53 Romney Street

London

SW1p 3RF

mail@care.org.uk

Care is a registered charity: Charity No. 1066963

The reverse of the letter includes a list of about 40 Peers from Lord Moran to Lord Saatchi in alphabetical order. There are details of email addresses of a whole load of Peers here. There’s also information on how to contact them here.

I think it’s interesting that the letter makes no mention of the following facts:

  • The vote in the House of Commons was a free vote. Each Member of Parliament was free to vote however she or he wished.
  • A very large majority of the MPs that voted were in favour of the bill
  • The House of Lords is an unelected body made up of these people. It even includes bishops of the Church of England. Peers in the House of Lords aren’t answerable to any electorate. Effectively they are an undemocratic body of people.

My own point of view:

  • Whether there was a mandate, party manifesto commitment, coalition agreement, green paper, white paper or Queens Speech on this is irrelevant.
  • I don’t see a real reason as to why public sector employees should have special treatment compared with other employees
  • I believe that it is not only churches and church ministers that are “protected”. The protection talks about religion rather than churches
  • It seems a shame that Care are keen to capitalise on the potential support of an unelected and undemocratic body to further their own socio-political view of how life should be

I think that the people at Care likely have good intentions. But I believe that the main reason for their opposition to this Bill is really that they believe that the Bible says that Gay relationships are sinful. They don’t want to do anything that encourages or makes it easier for people to get involved in sin. I believe that they would say that they do this because sin damages people. And so their opposition to the Bill is actually about doing the best for society and for individuals. Ultimately they believe that in opposing the Bill they are performing the will of God.

Of course, all of that depends on believing in God, believing in the Bible as the Word of God, and also believing in a particular interpretation of the meaning of the Bible.

Maybe you would like to write to Care and let them know how you feel? In a polite way, of course. There is contact information here.

As an aside, I just started to read through the Bill here. Whoever wrote it isn’t going to be getting any prizes from these people.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The possibility of same sex marriage comes a little closer

The House of Commons has voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. This was the third stage.

In common with a lot of people, I don’t know much about how a Bill becomes Law in the UK. If you’re like me then there’s a descri0tion of the process here.

So it looks like it now has to go through a whole series of stages in the House of Lords.

Some of the statistics are unusual.

According to the Daily Mirror 133 Conservative MPs voted against the Bill, whilst only 123 voted in favour.

However, a total of 366 MPs from all parties voted in favour, with only 161 voting against – a majority of 205.

I believe that it’s quite unusual a Bill to be passed when so few of the Governments own party voted in favour of it.

There are now calls from some of the people that voted against the Bill asking that the (unelected and undemocratic) House of Lords prevent it from becoming law. 

My own Member of Parliament, Adam Afriyie has consistently voted against the Bill. There’s a record of communications that I had with him here and here.

Adam wrote:

For the avoidance of doubt, I am very much in favour of a long term commitment between same sex couples and I would like to see the same legislation underpinning every long term relationship so that there is no further inequality in the eyes of the law.

I must admit, that I don’t understand this at all, and I very much doubt the truth if the above statement.

I’m suspicious that some people that have spoken out against the Bill haven’t been completely open about their reasons. The list of reasons include protection of families, of the institution of marriage, of children. The Daily Mirror says:

It comes after Tory grandee Norman Tebbit accused Mr Cameron of “f***** things up” over gay marriage.

The former party chairman claimed the change could spark a constitutional crisis if a lesbian queen married a woman and had a sperm donor child.

The mind boggles.

I don’t know what Norman Tebbit’s real objections are.

However, I think that maybe, for quite a few people, there’s an underlying feeling that the Bible says it’s wrong. And so they think it’s wrong. And so they are against it. There are some people that say this. But I have the feeling that there are others that think this, but don’t say it. Instead they come up with a host of other reasons.

Over the coming few days I hope to make time to write to my MP and ask exactly why he voted against the Bill and what actions he is taking to ensure that there is no further inequality in the eyes of the law.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Ends and Beginnings

Tuesday was a TV dinner at Billie and Kathie’s.

But sadly it’ll be the last regular one though there may be occasional ones in the future.

Over the years both Billie and Kathie, the TV dinners and the people that go along to them have played a very special part in my life.

I first visited them on July 10 2007 as described here.

It was the first time that I met people outside of home when I was wearing wearing makeup that I’d put on myself.

At that time Billie and Kathie organised the Surrey Swans group and it was when I first went there on the last Sunday of July 2007 that I first ventured outside my own front door dressed as a girl.

Billie and Kathie invited Sally around for a meal so that she’d have a chance to meet another t-girl and the partner of one. There’s an account of that here. That has made a big difference to us both.

My first venture into Windsor as a girl was with Katie, who I met at Billie and Kathie’s. It’s described here. It’s sweet that last Tuesday I mentioned to Katie that we’re planning a School Uniform theme for Surrey Swans in July and she asked me if I still has the Spank Me knickers.

My first shopping trip as Andrea was with Billie on March 1st 2008 as described here.

My first trip to Sparkle was with Billie in June 2008 and it’s all documented here.

And also, Billie and Kathie’s place is where I met such lovely friends as Laura and Tina and Nikki bringing to mind thoughts of Pink Punters (I still have the sparkly Stargazer eye shadow) and Candy Girls. And Susan and Julia, who accompanied me to the Bridal Wear shop in Bracknell mentioned here.

In writing all of this because I just want to say a very big thank you to Billie and Kathie – for being who they are and for the difference that they have made to me. And also, I know, to many other people.

In a way it’s the end of an era. But, ends do lead to beginnings.

Time and Peace

On Monday Sally and I went to see Fairport Convention at Nettlebed Folk Club.

According to Wikipedia then band was originally formed way back in 1967.

I remember the name from my youth, but not really any of their music.

It was a good evening with quite a few timeless kind of songs from way back when.

For me the highlight of the evening was the song Who knows where the time goes written by Sandy Denny who played with Fairport Convention for a while back in the 60’s.  Sandy died in 1978. There’s an official website here.

In introducing the song Simon Nicol, who plays with Fairport Convention now, and also at the time when Sandy Denny did, mentioned how wise he felt the words were, almost especially because they were written by someone who was still only a teenager at the time. Not to denigrate teenagers, he pointed out. More to compliment them.

There’s a fairly recent Fairport Convention version of the song here:

Fairport Convention: Who knows where the time goes?

And a Sandy Denny version here:

Sandy Denny: Who knows where the time goes?

And the words:

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving

But how can they know it's time for them to go?

Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming

I have no thought of time

For who knows where the time goes?

Who knows where the time goes?

Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving

Ah, but then you know it's time for them to go

But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving

I do not count the time

For who knows where the time goes?

Who knows where the time goes?

And I am not alone while my love is near me

I know it will be so until it's time to go

So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again

I have no fear of time

For who knows how my love grows?

And who knows where the time goes?

The first line, it seems, originally mentioned a purple sky.

I, like a lot of people, think that it’s a beautiful song.

To me it speaks of the possibility of finding peace even in a world where things are changing all of the time.

In a way that reminds me of one of the songs sung by Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston on the album Sing a Full Song. The song is called Windowbox and it’s beautiful. I saw Miranda and Rex at Norden Farm Park recently as mentioned here.

You can listen to the song here. It’s really worh listening to, honest. The lyrics are by Boo Hewerdine:

When I was young

The world went on

For ever and a day

I'd run beneath the endless sky

Where I would dream and play

How could I know or even care

What the coming days will bring

And sometimes in the branches there

I'd hear the robin sing

So I grew up to understand

How life was going to be

Daily cares that tell us all

That nothing comes for free

I'd lie awake and worry o'er

What coming days might bring

And sometimes on the fence post there

I'd hear the robin sing

Peace

Peace

So many years have gone by now

I look back on them all

It's funny how as time goes by

The world's become so small

And now I know for certain what

The coming days will bring

Sometimes on the window box

I hear the robin sing

Peace

Peace

Peace

Peace

When I was young

The world went on

For ever and a day

It’s not always an easy thing to discover and to live in peace. And it is strange how perspectives on so many things change as time passes.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Show of Hands

Last week Sally and I went to a concert featuring Show of Hands along with Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston at Norden Farm in Maidenhead.

It was a great evening. Lots of humour as well as great music.

Miranda and Rex opened the evening. Here’s one of their songs:

 

Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston: Me and my Sister the moon

 

Steve Knightley opened the Show of Hands part of the evening with Widecome Fair.

Show of Hands: Widecome Fair

Steve wandered on to an empty, darkened, stage singing the song as a solo.

He told a tale of singing this at the Albert Hall in London. The plan was to enter from the back of the hall. However the man guarding the door wouldn’t let Steve back in. He said that he wasn’t allowed in until there was a sound of applause. “It’ll be a long night then” said Steve. However, on pointing himself out on a poster advertising the evening the door guard was persuaded that he could relax the rules this once. And thus the show went on. 

One of the more atmospheric pieces of music during the evening was Katrina,  which relates to the hurricane that devastated New Orleans in 2005. Haunting. Moving.

Show of Hands: Katrina

If you get a chance to see them then go along. You won’t be disappointed.

Candygirls

On Friday I paid a visit to Candygirls and met up with Laura. Nikki was also there and Laura (that’s another Laura). The Friday night parties there are pretty popular these days with usually over a hundred people dropping by. Here’s Laura, myself and Nikki.

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It’s a great place to socialise.

Whenever I visit Candygirls it’s become inevitable to get chained up a little, and Friday was no exception.

A great place for just hanging around.

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And this didn’t hurt much:

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Saturday, 30 March 2013

David Cameron, Lord Carey, Gender and Christian Persecution

Today I read this headline from the Daily Telegraph:

David Cameron 'feeds fears of Christian persecution', former Archbishop of Canterbury says

And this from the Daily Mail (PM is David Cameron, the Prime Minister):

The PM's done more than any leader to make Christians feel they're persecuted

The Daily Mail article is attributed to Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lord Carey says that he likes David Cameron and believes in his sincerity in making Britain a generous nation where “we care for one another and where people of faith may exercise their beliefs fully”.

A little later he suggests that many Christians doubt David Cameron’s sincerity. That according to a ComRes poll more than two-thirds of Christians feel they are part of a persecuted minority.

He does, however, point out that these feelings of persecution may not be justified since “few in the UK are actually persecuted.”

And yet, he says, the Prime Minister has “done more than any other recent political leader to feed these anxieties.”

What has the Prime Minster done?

  • Allowed government lawyers to argue against the idea that Christians should be able to wear the Cross at their place of work
  • More shockingly: is allowing the Equalities Minister to support a bill that would make the Parliamentary chapel of St Mary Undercroft into a multi faith prayer room
  • He is working towards changing the law to allow same sex marriages
  • The law might not offer religious believers who are registrars to refuse to carry out same sex marriages on religious grounds
  • The law might force teachers to express agreement with the new politically correct orthodoxy (with respect to same sex marriage)

And what might this result in:

  • The alienation of people who were considered to be pillars of society
  • Christians not voting Conservative in the next general election
  • Driving law-abiding Christians into the ranks of the malcontents and alienated

It’s not so long ago that things were very different. Same gender sexual activity wasn’t an accepted thing for people to be involved in. There is historical stuff here and more contemporary stuff here. And some background on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issues in the United Kingdom here. Though it actually says an enormous lot more about G than it does about L, B or T.

There have been times when sexual activity between  men resulted in the death penalty. More recently – within my living memory – it resulted in imprisonment. It seems that in 1957 the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, spoke out in favour of the decriminalisation of consensual and private homosexual behaviour.

It wasn’t until 1967, however, that this decriminalisation occurred when the Sexual Offences Bill was made passed.

A quote from Wikipedia:

Lord Arran, a sponsor of the Sexual Offences Bill, made the following remarks at the third reading in the Lords:

“Because of the Bill now to be enacted, perhaps a million human beings will be able to live in greater peace. I find this an awesome and marvellous thing. The late Oscar Wilde, on his release from Reading Gaol, wrote to a friend:

Yes, we shall win in the end; but the road will be long and red with monstrous martyrdoms.

My Lords, Mr. Wilde was right: the road has been long and the martyrdoms many, monstrous and bloody. Today, please God! sees the end of that road.”

And yet, Lord Arran went on to say:

“I ask one thing and I ask it earnestly. I ask those who have, as it were, been in bondage and for whom the prison doors are now open to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity. This is no occasion for jubilation; certainly not for celebration. Any form of ostentatious behaviour; now or in the future any form of public flaunting, would be utterly distasteful and would, I believe, make the sponsors of the Bill regret that they have done what they have done. Homosexuals must continue to remember that while there may be nothing bad in being a homosexual, there is certainly nothing good. Lest the opponents of the Bill think that a new freedom, a new privileged class, has been created, let me remind them that no amount of legislation will prevent homosexuals from being the subject of dislike and derision, or at best of pity. We shall always, I fear, resent the odd man out. That is their burden for all time, and they must shoulder it like men—for men they are.”

It seems that,in the UK, it wasn’t until 2003 that gay relationships began to be permitted in a similar way to heterosexual relationships. Civil partnerships weren’t introduced until 2005.  The first civil partnership ceremony took place at 11:00 on 5 December 2005 between Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp at St Barnabas Hospice, Worthing, West Sussex. The usual 14 day waiting period was waived as Roche was suffering from a terminal illness. He died the next day. The article here gives additional background.

In all of this I’m left feeling that for many, many, many years it has been gay people that have been persecuted. The levels of persecution were extreme. The perpetrators of this persecution have included the Church and the State.

Thankfully things have changed and continue to change. A reading of the history of it suggests that the House of Lords has been a lot less willing to support such changes than has been the House of Commons. And some parts of the Church are moving much more slowly than is society in general.

I believe that Lord Arran was right in saying that no amount of legislation would change the way that people feel about homosexuals and homosexuality. Legislation doesn’t do that kind of thing.

But thankfully his view that homosexuals would forever be the subject of dislike and derision or pity … a burden for all time …  demonstrated that he severely underestimated people’s capacity for change when propaganda and misinformation are no longer supported by the fear that unjust laws can engender.

I’m not at all convinced by the idea that Christians in the UK are being persecuted in any kind of systematic or state-supported way.

There have been instances of lack of sensitivity – but equally there have been instances where the law has mainly been involved in preventing people with strongly held religious beliefs imposing the restrictions of those beliefs upon other people.

I’m particularly saddened by the view that support for same sex marriages should be construed as some kind of a persecution of the Church. Thank goodness that there are many, many Christians who don’t hold this view.

If David Cameron has done so much to make Christians feel persecuted then I’m left with the feeling that there are perhaps a lot of Christians that suffer from an excess of paranoia.