Sunday, 23 July 2017

Trans Rights–Some thoughts on Being and Choosing

I’ve been reading the article entitled “Choose your own gender WITHOUT seeing as doctor: Government to rip up rules on switching sex” in the Mail Online together with some of the comments made by people.

I’m saddened by the way that some people contribute to and make comments on articles like this without really seeming to think about the people that they are talking about.

I believe that for a person to be trans doesn’t make that person a sexual predator. It doesn’t make them a sexual deviant. Doesn’t make them into a person that wants to sneak into toilets and changing rooms to sneak peaks at people. Or go to rape crisis centres or prisons to abuse people.

I haven’t met anyone that identifies as being trans who says “I just woke up one morning and thought I’d like to be a girl” … or “boy”.

I know a lot of people that have faced years and years of struggling with a sense of guilt, shame and denial before reaching a position where they began to accept the fact that they are trans.

At Sparkle this year there were quite a few people wearing T-shirts a bit like this:

Image result for trans is not a choice transphobic is

The article “Check the Science: Being Trans Is Not a 'Choice'” provides some interesting reading on the subject. It includes these thoughts:

We should know then that to be transgender is not a choice.

It is not a choice when meta-analysis of suicide rates indicates that lifetime prevalence of attempted suicide in transgender individuals is ~40 percent as opposed to ~4 percent in the overall population. It is not the same as deciding whether you will wear a red tie or a green one.

It is a choice for us to educate those who mistakenly believe that allowing transgender people to use bathrooms appropriate for their identity endangers women and children. Such people either do not know transgender people or, more likely, know them but do not know they are transgender.

And those that believe that real sexual predators will be dissuaded by a sign on a bathroom door are truly lost.

It is a choice for those of us who study the complexities of biology and the human brain to inform those who are not neuroscientists so that they can understand why it is not “a choice” for transgender people; it is who they are.

And there is this comment:

Scott T. Parkhurst · Santa Rosa Junior College
Look, all I know is that transgender people are just humane beings who want to be left alone and be treated with respect just like everyone else....because they are everyone else.

And as far as using the restroom...for Gods sake, they...us, we, just want to go in and use it and hopefully wash your hands and then walk out and go about with your day!

They do not choose to be male or female because they are born male or female in their brain and not what is between their damn legs. They are trapped and they are in a lot of pain and suffer in silence and a lot of them do kill themselves and I can promise you the rate is VERY high.

A lot of you have sat and worked and talked to some and never knew it. They are the gender that they feel they are in their brain and soul. There's no questioning it.

Their not going/saying "Oh, I think I'll be a women or guy today so I it will be fun to dress up"...which I have a few folks write and think that's what transgender people do and or think.

Never in my law enforcement career have I ever had problems nor arrested a transgender person in a restroom for being inappropriate either.

But I sure did arrest mostly middle age white men who were doing nasty crap in there! And they were from all walks of life too....

So don't be so quick to judge each other if you haven't walked in ones shoes....Just my up close and on the job 2 cents. Thank you.

There are people around who are predators, molesters and abusers.

But is it right to allow such people to set the standard by which genuinely trans people are to be treated?

Is it right to make innocent people suffer because bad people exist?

The article in the Mail Online says: “Reforms to help transgender people choose their legal sex, which include speeding up the bureaucratic process, will go out to consultation in the autumn.“

Which means that at the moment nothing has changed.

It’s simply the beginning of a conversation and of a process.

And yes, of course there are and will be challenges to face and obstacles to overcome.

But please, let’s not write the whole thing off before it’s even started.

Transphobia and Misogyny

Please see here for a description of why I’m recording these discussions and comments.

Transphobia

The Article

The comment was made in response to the article: “Children In Britain Are Being Sent To Clinics To Be Told That They Are Transgender”.

The article was attributed to Theodore Shoebat.

The text of the comment was originally recorded here: http://shoebat.com/2017/07/10/children-in-britain-are-being-sent-to-clinics-to-be-told-that-they-are-transgender/#comment-3421045030

The comment was made by Andrea Wright (https://disqus.com/by/disqus_u52jnKnZ6E/) and addressed to Theodore Shoebat, the author of the article.

On 23 July 2017 the discussion reads as follows:
Andrea Wright to the Author of the article - 6 days ago (17 July 2017)

Hello Theodore,

Please could you confirm if I understand what you are suggesting.

You believe that the parents of all the children who have been referred to gender identity clinics should be arrested and executed?

And also that if any of the children cannot be rehabilitated then they should be stoned to death with stones?

Also I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know if you have contacted any of the parents, children or medical staff involved in this to seek out their opionion to find out what's actually happening or if you're suggesting that executions should happen based on an one report at CP World?

I note on the web site of the American College of Pediatricians, that when asked "Does the College advise its members to refuse care to LGBQT-identified children and families?". It answers as follows:

"Of course not. As expressed in our mission, vision and values statement, the College and its members are committed to compassionately caring for all children regardless of their family structure, race, ethnicity, ideology or sexual preference. We physicians extend unconditional respect to our patients who may hold different views, and we ask that our own convictions and professional judgment be likewise respected."

Would you therefore say that members of the American College of Pediatricians should be subject to a similar punishment?

Thanks,
Andrea

As at 23 July 2017, no response had been made.

Misogyny

The Article

The comment was made in response to the article: “How Modern Women Are Destroying Society (And Before You Scream Sexist, WATCH THE VIDEO)”.

The article was attributed to Theodore Shoebat. And I did watch the video.

The text of the comment was originally recorded here: http://shoebat.com/2017/07/19/how-modern-women-are-destroying-society-and-before-you-scream-sexist-watch-the-video/#comment-3428175333 

The comment was made by Andrea Wright (https://disqus.com/by/disqus_u52jnKnZ6E/) and addressed to Theodore Shoebat, the author of the article and maker of the video.

On 23 July 2017 the discussion reads as follows:
Andrea Wright to the Author of the article - 2 days ago (21 July 2017)

Hi Theodore,

Some of the statements made in this video are unconvincing and some appear to be incorrect.

As an example, there is an assertion that "most people do not agree with homosexuality".

If you look here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/... - the figures show that the assertion made in the video is incorrect.

Also there is this: http://www.people-press.org...

And it's not only "millenials" that feel this way.

If you don't trust these figures then perhaps you could point to alternative credible figures elsewhere and I'd be happy to take a look.

I can accept the argument that just because the majority of people are in agreement about something doesn't make that thing correct.

What I'm unhappy about is that statements are made that appear to be incorrect in supporting any kind of an argument.

There's quite an emphasis upon the wife of Lot in the video. The implication being that because one woman behaved in a particular way then all women are the same.

It's similar to someone saying "I read a story about someone that was gay that molested a child so all gay people are child molesters."

Or someone else saying "I know that there have been Catholic priests that have molested children, so all Catholic priests must be child molesters."

This kind of thinking is patently absurd.

I've re-read through the account of Abram (later Abraham) and Lot's lives as recorded in the book of Genesis from chapters 12 through to 20.

Here are some things that stand out to me.

Very little is said about Lot's wife other than that she "looked back" and what happened to her as a result of that.

There's a lot more about Abram and Lot.

Abram (and then later as Abraham), had a habit of pretending that he wasn't married to his wife. This resulted in his wife being used sexually on at least one occasion and also made Abram into a wealthy man. The people having sex with Abram's wife didn't know she was married to Abram. In fact Abram had led them to believe that she was unmarried and available. The only people to suffer as a result of this were the people that Abram lied to. Abram effectively made a prostitute of his wife.

Lot, who often seems to be characterised as a "righteous man" offered his virgin daughters to a mob of people, and said the mob could use them anyway they liked. Granted, this was to get the mob to not molest his visitors, but it's an appalling thing to do nevertheless.

Later, Lot allows himself to get so drunk that he has sex with his daughters. He was so drunk he couldn't remember doing it. They both had children as a result of having sex with their father.

I know gay people. None of them have prostituted their partners or had children with family members.

Yet I am told to believe that they are evil and that Lot and Abram are righteous?

The story of Abram, Lot and Lot's wife seem to say a lot more about the way that men have the potential to destroy society than it does about women.

To use the story of Lot's wife as a way of tarnishing the reputation of women without taking a look at the entire story in context seems to me to be misleading and disingenuous.

When Jesus told people to "remember Lot's wife" He wasn't making a statement about women. He was telling people not to look back when there was an urgent need to move forwards.

Please, if you are going to attack women and gay people do it with honesty and integrity and not, as appears to be the case here, by taking passages of Scripture out of context and tarnishing the reputation of large groups of people based on your experiences of a few.

Thank you,
Andrea

As at 23 July 2017, no response had been made.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Discussions on homophobia

Please see here for a description of why I’m recording these discussions.

The Article

The discussions took place in response to the article: “Only Homophobes Will Make It To Heaven And All Non-Homophobes Will End Up In Hell”.
The article was attributed to Walid Shoebat.

Discussion with PaulF

The text of the first discussion was originally recorded here: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/walidshoebat/only_homophobes_will_make_it_to_heaven_and_all_non_homophobes_will_end_up_in_hell/#comment-3421006308
The discussion was between myself Andrea Wright (https://disqus.com/by/disqus_u52jnKnZ6E/), and PaulF (https://disqus.com/by/disqus_xmVDERDvoP/) PaulF frequents the following other communities: https://disqus.com/home/forum/cherald/, https://disqus.com/home/forum/telegraphuk/, https://disqus.com/home/forum/spectator-new-www/ and https://disqus.com/home/forum/spectatorwww/
On 21 July 2017 the discussion reads as follows:
Andrea Wright to the Author of the article - 5 days ago (16 July 2017)
I have to admit to feeling sad that you have these opinions. I have a feeling that you'd perhaps say that they aren't your opinions, they are what the Bible says and what God says. Nevertheless, it makes me feel sadness, not hatred.
 
PaulF to Andrea Wright - 5 days ago (16 July 2017)
What God says in the Bible aren't my opinions. They are the truth.
Andrea Wright to PaulF - 4 days ago (17 July 2017)
Hello Paul,

Please could you explain why it is that you personally believe that what the Bible says is what God says and that this is the truth?

And also what it is that leads you to interpret the things that are in the Bible in the way that you do?

I ask this in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15
".. in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence".


Thank you.
As at 21 July 2017 no further response from PaulF.

Discussion with Trevor

The text of the second discussion was originally recorded here: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/walidshoebat/only_homophobes_will_make_it_to_heaven_and_all_non_homophobes_will_end_up_in_hell/#comment-3421656152
The discussion was between myself Andrea Wright (https://disqus.com/by/disqus_u52jnKnZ6E/), and Trevor (https://disqus.com/by/trevorsgreene/) who maintains a journal here: http://atrevorsjournal.blogspot.co.uk/ and writes from what he describes as a Catholic-Orthodox perspective. He poses his own question on his Disqus profile: Am I a Christian or not simply because I chose to become Anglo-Catholic?
On 21 July 2017 the discussion reads as follows:
Andrea Wright to the Author of the article - 5 days ago (16 July 2017)
I have to admit to feeling sad that you have these opinions. I have a feeling that you'd perhaps say that they aren't your opinions, they are what the Bible says and what God says. Nevertheless, it makes me feel sadness, not hatred.
Trevor to Andrea Wright - 4 days ago (17 July 2017)
A man sticking his johnson in another man's butt ok with you?

A woman licking another woman's hoo-ha ok with you?

A man having his way with a horse ok?

A woman allowing a horse to penetrate her ok?

Say yes to any of the above and you are damned.
Andrea Wright  to Trevor - 4 days ago (17 July 2017)
Hi Trevor,

Thanks for that.

Is this what you believe the Bible says because you believe it to be the Word of God and the truth?

If so then I'd like to ask you the same thing that I asked Paul.

Please could you explain why it is that you personally believe that what the Bible says is what God says and that this is the truth?

And also what it is that leads you to interpret the things that are in the Bible in the way that you do?

Again, I ask this in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15
".. in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence".


Thank you
Andrea
Trevor to Andrea Wright - 3 days ago (18 July 2017)
You failed to answer the questions.
Andrea Wright to Trevor - 3 days ago (18 July 2017)
Hello Trevor,

First, my apologies, I'd misinterpreted your reply.

I had thought that the questions were rhetorical and had been asked in that way to indicate a list of beliefs that would lead to a person being damned.

I am, of course, happy to answer your questions with what I hope is gentleness and reverence.

Do I think it is OK for two men to love each other?

Well, it's not something for me personally, but I think it's better for people to love each other than to hate each other.

I think the way that you phrase the question is, perhaps, a little over-dramatic.

Love between two men needn't be all about "A man sticking his johnson in another man's butt". Just as marriage between a man and a woman isn't only about "A man sticking his johnson in a woman's hoo-ha". Both ought to be about love.

I think the same applies to love between two women. Not for me personally, but love is better than hate.

The sexual relationship thing with horses is illegal in the UK where I live, and I'm happy with it remaining illegal. So I'm not OK with that.

I'd be happy to provide more information on why I think this way if you're interested.

And as I said before, I'd be honestly interested if you're able to answer my questions.

Why do you personally believe that what the Bible says is what God says and that this is the truth?

And also what it is that leads you to interpret the things that are in the Bible in the way that you do?

Thanks again,

Andrea  
Trevor  Andrea Wright - 2 days ago (19 July 2017)
So you answered poorly. God's Words is crystal clear on who WILL NOT enter the kingdom of heaven and He leaves no room for personal interpretation over whom will not enter.

It is why sodomites and their allies reject the Orthodox interpretation of the Scriptures and created the blasphemous "Queen" James Bible in order to justify their continuing in sins. It is why Romans 1 declared without apology "God gave them up to their own lusts," and at the end of Romans 1, St. Paul, without blinking, declared those who approved of the sodomites lifestyle were also worthy of death.

That's why people of your ilk have done more damage to Christianity because you opt to use "pick and choose" of the Scriptures to justify continuing in sins instead of adhering to how the Scriptures were interpreted by the Church through the ages.  
Andrea Wright  Trevor - 2 (19 July 2017)
Hi Trevor,

Thanks for your reply.

I notice that you didn't answer my two questions.

In reading 1 Peter 3:15 I think it's saying that Christians should be always prepared to explain why they believe what they believe.

And this is all that I'm asking.

Mentioning specific verses from Scripture helps me understand what you believe, but not why you believe it.

I'm not quite sure how I've done damage to Christianity since I don't claim to be a Christian, I'm just a person that's trying to reach out and find out why you believe what you believe.

I notice that towards the end of Romans 1 Paul includes people that "have no love, no mercy" in the list of the types of people that are in trouble.

Verse 32 says "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

To me this seems to be talking about people who not only do these things but also approve of others doing these things.

I checked it in several different translations and they all seem to say this.

It doesn't seem to say anything about people who do not actively condemn a certain lifestyle. It's about people who adopt that lifestyle and also approve of it in others.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding this.

Either way, it would help me if you would explain how and why it was that you came to Christ.

Also, do you believe that all Scripture should be understood literally without any room for interpretation - for example the account of creation in the book of Genesis.

Thanks again for your time.

Andrea.
Trevor to Andrea Wright - 2 days ago (19 July 2017)
Why should I answer you when you appear to be sympathetic toward fags?
Andrea Wright to Trevor - 2 days ago (19 July 2017)
Hi Trevor,

Thank you again for replying.

You asked why you should answer me.

Well, I've been looking at 1 Peter chapter 3 again. I've included verses 8 to 17 below so you can read it in context - it's taken from the New American Bible (Revised Edition), but reads pretty much the same in other translations.

In saying "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope" it does use the word "anyone" - it doesn't say "anyone except people that you think are sympathetic toward fags".

To use your phraseology, the meaning seems "crystal clear."

So really, if you were to answer me I'd see it as an act of obedience to the Scriptures that you believe to be the word of God.

Thank you,
Andrea


The passage in full (1 Peter 3: 8-17) reads as follows:

Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing. For:

“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep the tongue from evil
and the lips from speaking deceit,
must turn from evil and do good,
seek peace and follow after it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears turned to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against evildoers.”


Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
 
Andrea Wright to Trevor - 5 hours ago (21 July 2017) Pending
Hello again Trevor,
At the moment I'm assuming that you either don't have an answer to my questions or that you're not prepared to answer them because you believe that I appear to be "sympathetic towards fags."

If you don't have an answer then it leaves me saddened that you aren't able to explain what it is that led you to having the beliefs that you have and yet are so vocal in expounding them.
If you aren't prepared to answer me because you believe that I'm "sympathetic to fags" then I'm saddened because it seems that you choose to be disobedient to the very Scriptures that you hold to be absolutely true in all circumstances.
The other possibility is that you haven't had the time to answer but that you will do in due course. If this is the case then I apologise unreservedly for jumping to conclusions and await your response with interest and also humility.
Thank you again,
Andrea

Reaching out

First let me explain why I’m about to write what I’m about to write.

Here I wrote about watching the television program “Murdered for being Different”.

In writing about that I mentioned:

A thing that I take away from this is a renewed personal commitment to engage with people that I see as being different from me whenever that is possible. To not make assumptions about people without taking the trouble to get to know them.

And also to do what I can to make it safe for people, so that there is no need to hide. For, if we hide, then it may seem as though the idiots win. But when idiots win, we all lose. Idiots included.

Soon after that, here,  I mentioned a comment about my experiences  at Sparkle 2017.

This comment led me to an article entitled “Only Homophobes Will Make It To Heaven And All Non-Homophobes Will End Up In Hell”.

I believe that it’s important to challenge people that express these kind of opinions and beliefs.

From what I can see, if they had the chance then some of them would be more than happy to pass laws which resulted in the persecution and even execution of a whole lot of people that have different opinions about life than they do.

I get this feeling from the article that I just mentioned and also other such as this one: “Children In Britain Are Being Sent To Clinics To Be Told That They Are Transgender”.

So, I decided that I’d try to engage with these people – the people that write articles and post comments  on the web site http://shoebat.com/ to find out why they believe what they believe. It includes people like Walid Shoebat – with another view of the man here and his son Theodore Shoebat who is described here.

I’ll provide info on how this all goes as it happens in separate posts. I want to keep a track of conversations in my own blog in case the comments get removed from the place that I posted them.

First a summary.

I realise that this is based upon just a very small number of attempts at conversation with people and maybe it isn’t typical. But, sadly (and I do mean that) the responses fit into the stereotypical view that tends to see such people as bigots:

a person who has strong, unreasonable beliefs and who does not like other people who have different beliefs or a different way of life

I suspect that the people might not mind the term bigot being used to describe them, and a likely response is something like “if the truth is bigoted then I’m a bigot”.

My experiences so far suggest:

  • They seem to place a lot of emphasis on the truth but don’t seem to be good at (or even willing to  get involved in) articulating why a person ought to believe their version of the truth.
  • They tend not to respond well when challenged about this. The answer often seems to be either silence, some Bible verses or some kind of rudeness, vulgarity or profanity
  • They seem to have no capacity for accepting that their view might be wrong and someone else’s might be right. Even though some admit to the fact that they once believed something else and then changed their minds about that. They seem to believe that their current beliefs and understanding of things are absolutely correct and will never change.
  • They tend to be disrespectful, unkind and even hateful to people who have opinions that are different from their own
  • They tend have very extreme views. Believing that laws should be changed so that people who disagree with them on issues of sexuality and gender should face extreme penalties. Some believe that execution for people with such views would be acceptable. Even for people people that they class as sympathisers rather than perpetrators of the things that they condemn.
  • It seems almost impossible to get involved in a reasonable discussion with them.

I have a feeling that some people I know might think that I’m wasting my time.

But it matters to me, and, I guess, it’s my time.

During this process, if I encounter people that affect the thought’s that I listed above then I’ll try to remember to update them appropriately.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Phobias, Love and Hate

kold_kadavr_ flatliner left a comment on my account of Sparkle 2017.

He says:

That's totally whorizontal, dood.
Wiseabove.
Follow us on the journey Upstairs:
I'd looove to meet you
in Seventh-Heaven...
yet, you first must be prepared:
Find-out what RCIA means... and join;
classes are free,
starting early September.
Aint no joke, earthling:
our indelible soul is on the line.
What's 77ish years compared to
the length N breadth of eternity?
What's the Tyranny of Progressivism
compared to the saving of our soul?
Doesnt make any difference
if you're an atheist;
doesn't make a whole-hilla-beans
wortha difference when you croak.
You'll be crying-out for JEEE-SIS!!!
...yet, if you've been a non-believer
your entire, finite existence,
Jesus maaay not hear you.
Billions of everlasting souls
are now in Hellfire without
the basic nessecities for eternity.
Are you actually willing
to take THAT risk of being condemned?
Again, Jesus laughs when you
should've learned the
meaning of wisdom N discernment,
mortal sinner... as am I.
Im not better than you...
yet, I gotta lotta d'knowlijj
which'll save-your-soul, kapiche??
Sorry for the New Yoirk accent.
Again, find-out what RCIA means.
Make Your Choice -SAW
PS 'Saving souls from Hell
should be your
primary occupation'
-Jesus

There is an image on the Google+ page of  kold_kadavr_ flatliner that looks like this:

image

It’s taken from here, a posting from Mike Warren, Disciple, Husband, Father, Soldier.

Warren says:

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love,” (Prov 27.5).

We love others when we see them as individuals to be loved as differently as they are from one another but always in accordance with how God commands.

If we really loved them, and we know that love is defined by God, then helping them learn how to love God should be our ultimate aim, even if such love would be defined by our world as “hate.”

But there are still problems here. In knowing about the things that are defined by God. Just believing something doesn’t make it true. Even having faith in something doesn’t make it true. Having it written down in the Bible doesn’t make it true.

In the context of the original article I think a fair translation of the text on the image is:

My opinions

sound

like hate

to those

who hate

my opinions.

Hateful words aren’t made less hateful by being based on a persons interpretation of what the Bible says.

Here,  a comment from Kold_Kadavr_flatliner links to here. The About Me section of this page takes me to -blessed holy socks, the non-perishable-zealot which says that his Web page is here. The July 15th feature is headlined:

Only Homophobes Will Make It To Heaven And All Non-Homophobes Will End Up In Hell. This kind of thing makes me struggle with the idea of freedom of speech. It seems to stem from a persons belief in their correct understanding of a book that they claim is infallible giving them the authority to speak with absolute certainty about the mind of God. Coupled with an inability to understand people and a propensity to pass judgment. Walid Shoebat says of himself: For the record, my name is Walid Shoebat. I used to be a radicalized Muslim willing to die for the cause of Jihad until I converted to Christianity in 1994. So perhaps he has changed from being a radicalized Muslim to being a radicalized Christian?

Earlier today I wrote about a “renewed personal commitment to engage with people that I see as being different from me whenever that is possible. To not make assumptions about people without taking the trouble to get to know them.” And I have to admit that I’m struggling with this at the moment. It’s difficult to draw alongside someone who gives the impression that they speak for God, that God hates you and that they hate whoever God hates.

I haven’t any Hellfire to threaten people with. I don’t lay claim to understanding the mind of God. I’m don’t believe that I am homophobic, biphobic or transphobic. These are some of the differences that seem to exist between myself and Walid Shoebat.

Things that we might have in common. I accept the fact that I’m fallible. I make mistakes, do wrong things. I don’t know all the answers. I hardly understand the questions. Maybe Walid is like that as well?

Anyways I added the following comment to the posting:

I have to admit to feeling sad that you have these opinions. I have a feeling that you'd perhaps say that they aren't your opinions, they are what the Bible says and what God says. Nevertheless, it makes me feel sadness, not hatred.

At the moment it says: Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by Walid Shoebat. I find that a bit curious.

Anyways. if anything comes of this I’ll post it somewhere here.

Being Different–Love and Murder

A few days ago I watched “Murdered for Being Different”.

It’s a “real life drama” that tells about the love between Sophie Lancaster and Robert Maltby. It also tells about the murder of Sophie, and the equally brutal attack on Robert that left him almost dead.

imageimage

A significant motivating factor in the attack and murder was the fact that Sophie and Robert, as goths,  were seen to be different.

There’s an article in Cosmopolitan here that talks about the people and what happened. And a review of the drama by Julia Raeside in The Guardian here. As she says, "It’s not a programme you’ll love, but it will stay with you long after the credits have rolled."

At the end I was left wondering. How can people do that? What makes them that way?

And it has stayed with me.

Julia Raeside mentions this moment:

When they are chased by another gang of youths, Rob wants to hide. “Hiding means the idiots win,” she tells him, grinning and inviting him to the pub.

Simon Usborne wrote an article based on an interview with Robert Maltby that was published in the The Guardian here. A few extracts from this:

 “My initial memory was seeing the coffin and thinking, that’s too small,” he says. “Her entire life shouldn’t have fitted into that small box. That’s when I began to crumble. And I’ll be honest, I was resentful of the fact so many people were there. They had the best intentions, but I was thinking: ‘Did you ever eat a meal with her? Did you know how she took her coffee? You just saw this archetype on the news. You didn’t know her.’”

But for Maltby, struggling alone in Bacup, the “goth murder” narrative widened the gap between his and the public understanding of what had happened, and who Lancaster was. “I have never seen it as a hate crime,” he says. “It was always like: ‘Sophie Lancaster was killed because she was a goth.’ No she wasn’t: she was killed because some arseholes killed her. Why can’t we ask what it is about them that made them want to murder someone? Not what it is about someone that made them be murdered.”

To Maltby, the media focus on their appearance in the aftermath of the crime felt like a form of victim-blaming. “Besides being patronising, the goth thing was also an oversimplification of a much broader social issue,” he explains. “Life hasn’t progressed in these poor areas. There is still that dissatisfaction, that stagnation. These areas are still forgotten, and forgotten people will feel like … well, it can breed nihilism. I’ve never tried to demonise the attackers and, in many ways, they were victims.”

After the funeral precipitated a steep decline in his mental health, he became a recluse. On receiving proper treatment, eventually he felt ready to return to the park, and then to visit Lancaster’s grave in a nearby village. “I said: ‘I’m sorry, I have to find my life again’,” he says. “If anything, it was a ceremony for myself, to go: ‘Look, this has happened but now I need to be me again.’” Going back to university became part of that process. He studied illustration with animation at Manchester School of Art and moved to the city for his final year. But none of these moments felt like breakthroughs. “They were both incredibly profound and entirely meaningless,” he says. “There is no panacea, no one big thing that snaps you out of it. It has been gradual and hard.”

Maltby was not in court when his attackers were sentenced, but a lawyer read out a statement. “Before all this happened I was settled into a life quite independent,” he said. “Now I’m finding the whole world a terrifying place.” Today, he no longer lives in fear, but finds life “terrifyingly meaningless”, albeit in a strangely reassuring way. “Life is chaos, anything can happen and it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things,” he says. “No matter how significant something is to you, the universe doesn’t care. But there’s something freeing in that: do what you want, what makes you happy.”

What is it about some people that makes them want to murder someone? Hate? Fear? Ignorance? Evil?

I don’t know the answer. But I think that there’s more than one.

Somewhere in it all, I think, is the fact that we don’t know each other. Rob’s words made me stop and think:

‘Did you ever eat a meal with her? Did you know how she took her coffee? You just saw this archetype on the news. You didn’t know her.’

And I didn’t.

It can be surprisingly easy to harbour phobias about the kind of people that we don’t know. And phobias aren’t good things. At the heart of them there is no sense. Just non-sense.

A thing that I take away from this is a renewed personal commitment to engage with people that I see as being different from me whenever that is possible. To not make assumptions about people without taking the trouble to get to know them.

And also to do what I can to make it safe for people, so that there is no need to hide. For, if we hide, then it may seem as though the idiots win. But when idiots win, we all lose. Idiots included.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Sparkle 2017

How large a grey suitcase does a person need for a 3-day trip?

The truth is that it depends upon the trip and the person.

If the trip is to Sparkle and the person is Andrea then the answer is larger than you might think.

To be fair to Andrea though, the same is true if the person is Tina. Except the suitcase is more of a red colour with a floral pattern.

The plan to Sparkle was laid back in February.

The time: July 7th to 10th 2017.

The accommodation: The Premier Inn, Portland Street, Manchester.

The event: Sparkle 2017

Thursday July 6th is a day to pack the larger than you might think suitcase.

It begins with makeup.

There’s a dinky pink little suitcase thing. It’s a little like a Time And Relative Dimension in Space machine. It doesn’t do time or relative dimension in space travel. But it almost seems to be dimensionally transcendental. Which is a mouthful of a way of saying that it fits more on the inside than you would think by looking at it from the outside. It’s a shame that its big grey brother is more dimensionally challenged.

The dinky pinky receives Foundation. Max Factor X, 106 Natural beige, 35 ml. Times two. And yes, this is a lot of Foundation for a long weekend. But, thinks Andrea “one of them is half empty … and a bit left over at the end of the weekend is better than not enough at the wrong time of day during the weekend”.

Hindsight being the thing that it is reveals that Max Factor X cartons may also be dimensionally transcendental.

Kryolan Transluscent Powder. Also known as Transparent Puder, Poudre transparente, Polvo transparente, Cipria transparente. 60g. Times 2. That’s a lot. A bit like Max Factor X. It took a long time to type all that. And, having checked the spellings, I now have a keyboard spattered with Cipria transparente. A lot less than 60g. But a little bit of powder … as you might know … goes a long way. One might almost say that it is dimensionally transcendental. But only almost.

StarGazer 31 Eye Dust. 1.8g. AKA hyper pigmented loose eye shadow powder.

Max Factor Earth Spirits 495 Smokey Gold Lidschatten. 4g. Just another name for eye shadow.

Revolution Redemption Palette Iconic 2. 14 g. 12 shades. This stuff is “a perfect mix of pearl, shimmer and matte shades. Totally collectable and a pure sellout”. Must be something to do with all that ethylhexyl palmitate. It’s also, eye shadow. Complete with an eye shadow applicator tool.

That adds up to a lot of eye shadow for someone with just the regular two eyes.

Body BC Collection classic gold. 12 shades of eye shadow. 3 shades of rouge. It makes it into the pink TARDIS by virtue of one shade of rouge.

Maybelline Master Precise liquid eyeliner. Black/Noir. And also, Noir – Black. 0.4mm point. Which is a Pointe Ultra-Fine in anyone’s language.

Maybelline Pulse Perfection Vibrating Mascara. Yes. Really. It has a battery. 6.5 ml.

Max Factor Lipfinity lip colour, 108, Frivolous. That being the shade.

Maybelline Super Stay 24 Colour, 510, Red passion. 19 ml.

Then comes the additional hardware.

Fingers. Not necessarily the most chic way to apply foundation. But they work and are pretty low cost. These stay attached to hands rather than adding to the payload of the petite pink thing.

Powder puff applicator pad to put the Cipria transparente on.

Powder brush to brush it off again.

An eye shadow brush.

And another one.

That’s two.

Andrea has two eyes and they are different shapes. The bristles on the brushes, that is.

A Ms Makeup rouge brush. Only one.

Lipfinity and Super Stay are self sufficient.

MAC Vernis à Ongles. Nail Lacquer. Cream Shirelle AA4 being the colour. 10 ml being the size.

Rimmel 60 Seconds Super Shine. Nail polish. 340 Berries and Cream. 8 ml.

Nail file. Nail clippers. Tiny scissors. Little tweezers.

Cotton wool buds.

Balls. Of cotton wool that is. More than two.

The rest make it into the pink wash-bag.

Nivea Soft Moisturising Cream. Superdrug Nourishing Nail Polish Remover (Acetone free with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E no less). Cotton wool roll. Simple Cleansing Lotion.

3 shavers (Panasonic, Braun, Phillips). 1 toothbrush (Braun). Toothpaste (Colgate).

Then come the reasons for the grey case needing to be so big.

Three wigs. This could be considered an extravagance for a girl that has only a single head.

Two breasts. Silicone. Fairly modest in size. Exactly the right number.

A lingerie of assorted knickers, bras, suspender belts, stockings and tights.

Three skirts … blue denim, floral cotton, black faux-leather.

Three blouses … pink, black, white.

Three t-shirts … black, pink, pink + white stripes.

Six dresses … short black times two, pink, long with white spots on black, long floral, long patterned.

Three pairs of shoes.

Two pairs of sandals.

Three handbags.

Two belts.

Four necklaces. Two rings. One watch. Three bracelets. Four pairs of earrings.

No room for the partridge.

Or the pear tree.

Experience has shown that haste and nail polish do not make good partners. And that loading a car boot with recently painted finger nails is certain to lead to tears.

So, Thursday evening sees Berries and Cream being leisurely applied to toe nails. Cream Shirelle to finger nails. A trickier process than initially envisaged. The Berries and Cream brush has somehow been sadly deformed, making it surprisingly easy to paint toes as well as nails. Cream Shirelle is runny, but thankfully there is no rush. Andrea is glad to be a girl with time on her hands. Not to mention Cream Shirelle on her fingers.

07:30 Friday July 7th, 2017. Body shaving and ablutions. Dress. Breakfast. Extremely large grey suitcase gets loaded, thankful that polish is hardened.

09:45 Tina arrives. Floral suitcase having proportions just as generous as Andrea’s grey beast, but looking prettier.

Hitting the road soon after, Andrea and Tina are DRAB alter-egos.

A308

A308(M)

A404(M)

A404

M40

Slow down it flashes. Incident.

All clear it says with signs of no incident at all.

This is par for the M40.

M42

The newly smart M6 – it could not possibly be dumber than the M40

Hard shoulders turned soft.

60, 50, 40, 60, 50 …

WC and Coffee

Susan phones to say she has arrived.

M6

Sat Nav selected detour involving the A500

M6, the dumb version, complete with roadworks to make it smart

60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 0 all without the aid of added intelligence.

The journey to smartness has its inconveniences

M6

0, 10, 20, 40, 60, 70

A re-envisioned A556

Calculating … Calculating … Calculating … Calculating whispers the Satellite Navigation system patiently

M56

Princess Parkway

Princess Road

Medlock Street

Great Bridgewater Street

Chepstow Street

Portland Street

Dickinson Street

191 miles and it’s about 14:40.

Tina rolls things to reception.

Andrea cruises to St James Street and Q-Park and makes a careful mental note of where the car is.

Reception is a busy place. A bunch of people are checking in personally.

Andrea and Tina go for the faceless option. Touchscreen, credit card and PIN number. Done in a jiffy. Or maybe two. Room 328. Susan is 302.

15:00 “Susan we’re here. See you in about an hour”.

This is an ambitious target indeed.

Fiddle with the air conditioning.

The room is fine, but hasn’t been designed to cope with the contents of elephantine suitcases.

Three hangers for Tina and three for Andrea.

Three into 3 skirts + 6 dresses + 3 blouses.

Two dresses per hanger, remainder 3 skirts + 3 blouses folded neatly in the suitcase.

Let the undressing, redressing and makeup begin.

A Master Precise eyeliner does, in fact, need a master (or mistress) with precise fingers. And patience. And cotton wool buds help a lot as well.

Susan is waiting at the bar.

The 60-minute target stretches on and on.

It’s a short black faux-leather skirt and white blouse for Andrea.

IMG_20170707_163325896_450x800

By about 15:45 Susan, Tina and Andrea are sitting and chatting in the bar.

Hazel pops by and says hello.

The trio adjourn to The Paramount just around the corner. A Sauvignon Blanc. Two halves of Imperial Stout.

Talking is of journeys. To Manchester. Through life.

A trip to the hotel.

A long patterned dress for Andrea.

A walk to Canal Street.

“Can I have a picture with you all? You look fantastic”.

Sackville gardens. Things are in preparation.

Delicatezze which was once Eden. The bar, that is. Not the garden.

It’s a nice place. Sparkle Weekend Guides at the bar.

We sit on the barge and sip drinks. A Sauvignon Blanc and two halves of a rather nice slightly coffee flavoured beer.

Another trip to the hotel.

All buses seem to lead to Didsbury. East or West.

A short black dress for Andrea. High heels and a handbag full of sandals.

An excellent dinner at Red Chilli. Beef. Chicken. Duck. Rice boiled and crispy rice – which is a bit like rice crispies.

A visit to Via.

Via is a nice place. Though a little bit of care is needed when negotiating the winding staircases.

Susan and Tina:

IMG_20170707_213618496_BURST001_1280x720

Tina and Andrea:

IMG_20170707_213713150_BURST000_COVER_TOP_1280x720

We talk of cars. Self-discovery. Self-acceptance. Sons. Daughters. Wives. Friends. Religion. Freedom. Persecution. Life. Death. Trans. Non-binary. Gender-fluid. Sauvignon Blanc. Two halves of Fosters.

We smile.

Andrea’s round. Of drinks that is.

“A glass of Sauvignon Blanc please”

The girl at the bar searches the cabinet.

Then it’s in with the corkscrew.

And yes, it should be out with the cork.

But corks can be stubborn.

Andrea smiles patiently as another girl at the bar repositions the corkscrew.

Pulls.

Pushes.

The cork takes a two-nil lead.

“How would a glass of house wine be?”

“Sauvignon Blanc would be nicer.”

Andrea smiles with gentle amusement as a boy at the bar repositions the corkscrew.

Pushes.

Pulls.

They think it’s all over.

It is now.

Three-nil to the cork.

“They’ll have some at the bar downstairs” says the first girl and kindly offers to go and get some.

Andrea smiles and picks up a diet coke and a Fosters and is happy to trot to the downstairs bar herself.

The trot is actually a careful little trip-trap out of respect to the winding staircase.

“A glass of Sauvignon Blanc please”.

The boy checks out the cabinet, unscrews the top and pours a glass.

A bit of a let-down. But it’s a decisive 1-nil victory to the boy. Not a cork in sight.

The day ends with another visit to The Paramount and the customary Sauvignon Blanc and Imperial Stouts.

Rise and shine at 9:00 on Saturday morning.

At 10:30 Andrea, clad in a knee length denim skirt and pink blouse taps on the door of 302.

At the Paramount it’s 2 traditionals plus one for a child or person with a smaller appetite. Three filters.

P1090289_1067x800P1090290_1067x800

A visit to the hotel rooms bumping in to Nikki and Rachel on the way.

A short walk to Sackville Gardens.

Security is more evident than last time we visited. There are barriers across the ends of roads. Bags are searched at the garden entrances.

The sun is shining and everyone is friendly.

Zarah dances.

P1090291_1067x800

Introductions and safety information. A mention of Alan Turing, who sits in the park.

P1090297_1067x800

Poetry is read.

P1090298_1067x800

Ded.pixel play.

P1090301_1067x800

Tina and Susan pose.

P1090302_1067x800

Places to buy clothing, shoes, hair, snacks, drinks, makeup, makeovers. Trades unions. Police. NHS. Lloyds Bank. Asda.

A trip back along Sackville Street, turning right at Canal Street in search of seats in the shade from the warm early afternoon sun.

All the way to Minshull Street. Lots of seats and tables. All paired up with people.

P1090303_1067x800

About turn.

Andrea pops into Velvet, admiring the fish in the floor.

“Any chance of a table for three for tonight?”

“Sorry … we’re fully booked from 6 o’clock”.

All the way to Princess Street. Seats. Tables. People.

So, it’s back across the little bridge to sit on the barge at Delicatezze. Accompanied by Sav Blanc and her coffee flavoured friends.

And another visit to the park.

P1090306_1067x800

A table is booked for 7:00 pm.

At the hotel again Andrea confirms that it is possible to remove bristles and renew foundation without ruining lips and eyes. A trick that is worth 90 minutes.

7:00 pm and carbonarra, calzone and rib-eye. Accompanied by the usuals.

The trip to the Paramount is via Via. At this point my spell checker wants me to “Delete Repeated Word”. But the word survives because it’s what happened.

Andrea’s turn to visit the bar. She recognises the girl.

You perhaps guessed. “A glass of Sauvignon Blanc please.”

The girl behind the bar searches the drinks cabinet and retrieves a bottle.

Together with a corkscrew.

The corkscrew penetrates.

Pull. Push. Pull.

Andrea smiles.

“I had this same trouble last night.”

“I know.”

“Ohhhhhh it was you!!!!!” she smiles.

We settle for a glass of house white with a non-diet lemonade and Fosters.

At the Paramount it’s the usuals.

Sleep followed by Sunday.

A Paramount breakfast.

A Pop bar seat.

“A glass of Sauvignon Blanc please”.

“We only have house white.”

“Then a medium glass of house white please”.

“We only have large and small glasses.”

“Mmm … then a large glass of house white and two cans of Guinness please”

A short wait.

“Two cans of Guinness and a glass of paint stripper … mmm … house white. That’s nine pounds and forty pence please.”

Andrea wiggles a visa card.

“Sorry … there’s a one pound fifty pence charge for that.”

Andrea fiddles with her purse for a while.

Pound coins. Fifty pence pieces. Twenty p’s. Tens. Fives. Ones.

Nine pounds and forty pence it is.

P1090307_1067x800P1090308_1067x800

P1090309_1067x800

Rachel says hello and goodbye as we sip.

Back at the gardens the stalls are buzzing.

P1090310_1067x800

Susan poses with a policeman. Andrea suggests the handcuffs would look cool, but its not to be.

P1090311_1067x800

The music is acoustic.

P1090312_1067x800

P1090315_1067x800

And the judges are looking serious.

P1090317_1067x800

Jordan Gray not-so-serious.

P1090318_1067x800P1090319_1067x800

The scores are almost in:

P1090320_1067x800

And we have a runner up:

P1090321_1067x800

And a winner:

P1090322_1067x800

Time for Susan to set off home.

A phone call from Sarah, the elder daughter of Andrea.

We meet at the Paramount via Q-Park, just to check on the car, passing the rainbow police.

P1090323_1067x800

At Q-Park Andrea discovers that the careful mental note of where the car is, wasn’t quite so careful. A little bit of a search reveals its location.

At the Paramount its beers, lemonade and chatter.

Then it’s a walk in the park.

P1090324_1067x800

And Canal Street complete with all the Gordons:

P1090325_1067x800P1090326_1067x800

Back to the barge. G&T’. Coffee beers. Chatter.

P1090327_1067x800

And now we know the identity of the drinkers of Sav Blanc, coffee beers and G&T.

The gardens again.

The bus stop for Sarah. East and West Didsbury are ever popular destinations.

Doombar, King Prawns and Chicken Caesar at the Paramount.

A hiatus followed by Doombar, Stout and Porter, in no particular order.

Sleep and all of a sudden it’s Monday.

Packing. Paramount. Premiere Reception.

“Checking out?”

“Yes please.”

“Which room?”

“238”

The receptionist checks it out.

“Oh … are you sure you’re leaving today.”

“Yep”.

Andrea nods. And Thinks.

“But I’m not sure about 238 … that should be 328.”

Problem solved.

Q-Park and the drive home via a short visit to see Sarah and Ollie.

Tina and Andrea are DRAB.

“So … do I still call you Tina?” asks Sarah with a smile.

“Oh … and Paul asked if I call you mum when you are Andrea” she asks.

Andrea and Tina are happy to leave the choice to Sarah.

And then, the journey home.

So … how was Sparkle?

For me, it was great.

Most of the above is just an account of events. But Sparkle is much more than a series of events.

The specialness is about people.

The time spent with Tina, Susan, Sarah, Ollie and others.

The things we talked about. Things that matter to us. Friends. Families.

A place where trans people and any people … all people … can relax and be at peace as well as party.

A place of diversity. Acceptance. Trans, bi, lesbian, gay, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Humanist, non-theist … the list goes on … can be different and can still be together.

For me, the acoustic music was special. The dancing of Zarah. The humour of Jordan Gray. The helpfulness of the police force. The friendliness of people at the Premiere Inn and Weatherspoon's Paramount, the Via and Pop bars, Red Chilli and Delicatezze. The time and effort put into the organising and running of Sparkle by so many people.

The weekend is more than the sum of its parts.

Thank you.