Nigeria human rights, reflective poetry & the thoughts of a Nigerian gay male. 

By @Akpa_Arinze

In 2009, a Ugandan MP, David Bahati, drafted a bill named Kill the Gays. In late 2013, this was called the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014, and was passed as law in parliament. This Act changed the previously held “imprisonment” sentence, to the death penalty. In 2014, the Nigerian government also criminalised homosexuality, and many other African nations took it upon themselves to follow in the footsteps of these two countries.

I was in the undergrad school for my BA and was also facing labelling. Some of my mates (male colleagues) took it as fun to say “He behaves like a woman – he is gay”.

Because of the tension in the country during this period, there was no gay person I knew that was ever “so gay” (going with people’s views on who is gay, and who is not). Every one of them went into hiding. Many took to fake lifestyles, pretending to be who they were not. Society became vigilant. Everyone seen acting as the law stipulated was caught and sanctioned. To be gay in Nigeria within this period was to be stoned, ridiculed, brutalised, or beheaded.

During this time, I sought comfort in several works of poetry. I loved the work of Jericho Brown, Francine J. Harris, Kaveh Akbar, June Jordan, Danez Smith, Roxanne Gay and Ocean Vuong. I admired their courage in the documentation of the “goings-on” of the society – the hostile attitudes towards gays and transgender, or any member of the ‘Rainbow Family’.

The want or need to belong drives people to social places. It can also drive gay men to clubs – though some of these clubs are hidden in Nigeria. I witnessed the death of friend when police raided one such club. I then came across this poem by Danez Smith – The 17-Year-Old & The Gay Bar:

this gin-heavy heaven, blessed ground to think gay & mean we.

bless the fake id & the bouncer who knew

this need to be needed, to belong, to know how

a man taste full on vodka & free of sin.

At once, I thought of all the things the gays I know in Nigeria do to stay hidden and be who they are – everything that had backlashed – that had claimed their lives in the process. All of this, because someone somewhere thinks that homosexuality is “sin”, but whose definition are we using? Words given meaning by fellow human? Like the way “heterosexual” formerly meant “perv”?

As a child, I fancied my sisters’ clothes – I’d never wear any clothes but theirs. I’d walk in my mother’s shoes, tied her head scarf, and paraded myself in the village as a grown woman. Other times relatives mistook me as a new person in the family and would ask my mum when she gave birth to another girl. Other times too, I’d be caught and made to remove the attire. It was fun for a child of eight through twelve, but then I was sent to a high school that was bent on instilling morals into young ones by threatening the students with hell.

Bring back to life the son
Who glories in the sin
Of immediacy, calling it love.
God, save the man whose arm
Like an angel’s invisible wing
May fly backward in fury
Whether or not his son stands near.
Help me hold in place my blazing jaw
As I think to say, excuse me.

Jericho Brown’s poem (above), Prayer of the Backhanded, makes me weep every time I read it. It haunts me as I try decoding the meaning of every figure of speech encountered. What prayer is the next gay man facing execution saying? How does God approach it? I know the things that will kill a man like me (either in Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe or any other country of the world criminalising LGBTQIA+) – this thought alone makes me sweat.

I grew up in a religious home, which meant that every one of my footsteps must be ordered in the way of Jesus, as written in the Bible, but not as he might have lived the said life. I have found myself in arguments about whether gays are God’s children or not. I’d shriek and shriek to no end sometimes.

…men when they cannot change anything

Jet themselves indoors and feed on what is left

Of a magic mushroom and watch the world dance

Like a bereaved widow –

Before I had the courage to choose who I was, people already defined it for me – the sexuality question was all over me. I saw myself fighting this often in my teens and finally, in my current 20s. In Nigeria, you are either gay or straight, no one knows of pansexuals, bisexuals, transgender, intersex, asexuals, etc. No one cared, everyone who is conceived of not being straight is bundled and thrown into this “gay” frame, and persecuted as expected. Families disown their children or wards or whatever. Anyone who comes out is reported to the police or sent to be stoned by the mob outside. I used to think I was asexual because I wanted to stay away from all of this. I like my life peaceful. I stayed this way for years before finally admitting that I am pansexual. Which leaves me explaining to people that “I am not so gay, neither am I so straight”. No one listened to that, so, I joined the other young Nigerian creatives to make some people hear it, and keep hearing the story until everything is changed.

Everyone fights for something, but I don’t see myself fighting for anything – I’d lived six years of my life in denial and lying to myself. This, of course, led to excessive drinking and engaging. I had failing health, but I lived an unhealthy lifestyle. I stayed out with friends of all types to keep sane of whatever thing that was happening. This experience is better captured in:

Fellow young angels and I

Hallucinated upon Angel Dust –

We saw the world coming to an end

In 2013 before it ever did –

We all believed in the powers of resurrection –

Two angels leapt off the 3rdMainland Bridge

And now it is my turn to show the city of Lagos

How disco lights flicker

Every one of us – young as we were, had something to hide from, think about, and forget. So, some mornings, it wouldn’t be news whenever I heard any of my friends had died – I always knew the cause of death.

In 2016, I came online for the first time, to show my support to the loved ones of the victims of the Orlando Club shooting. With millions of people, I condemned the act and ever since have been active in the decriminalisation of gay people. We are all humans. Let love lead.

In 2017, a gay poet friend of mine won a Brunel Prize for Poetry, and young Nigerians took to the media to slander this award, and ever since, have targeted the LGBTQIA+ advocates. Another poet was kidnapped, another friend was shot, another in the police custody, another disappeared – me? My phones never stopped beeping with threats, and on three occasions, I was beaten with my devices confiscated and run over a motorcycle. Other times, hungry youths have come asking me for money, or else I’d be reported for supporting gays.

This is the Nigeria I live in. This is not the Nigeria we want, or the future we dreamed. My poems, or that of the poets I mentioned earlier may not do that much, but let them teach, as well as inspire people to embrace love. How much dead do you want to witness before you start accepting what you cannot change?

Be yourself! 

By @amyann2100

Society can be very mean towards us! 

Many don’t understand us and have created myths.  While there is plenty of biphobia in the world,we shouldn’t have to worry about embracing our sexuality because we are amazing people, who just want to be ourselves. It can be hard because of the misconception that we are “going through a phase”, as well as many others. If you’re reading this, I imagine you want someone to say, “Embrace all of yourself and don’t give too huts about what’s said”. As much as I want to say that, I can`t.

Everyone should embrace everything about themselves, but it`s not possible to not care in the slightest what is said about you and your sexuality. Being bisexual is amazing. I love it and I wouldn’t change this part of myself for the world, but I do care what people say when I fully embrace this part of myself. If you’re like me and struggled to accept being bisexual at first then I imagine you know what I mean; it takes a lot to put it out there and you do feel vulnerable to begin with, but it does get better.

I took small steps in embracing my bisexuality: coming out to friends and family, talking about how I felt about being bisexual, watching YouTube videos by gaywrights (I felt so much better after watching Camille’s videos) and I recently started liking and retweeting lgbtqia+ pages and bisexual pride pages. I have followers that are homophobic, but not even one has said something negative on any of my retweets. It`s scary, I’m not going to lie but you’ll feel so much better. Not embracing your bisexuality is like being in the closet, because your hiding. You don’t need to hide. There are manysupport pages on the Internet. 

If you experience any biphobia that help you to deal with it and become thick skinned to it. You are you and no one can change that. I`ve heard people say, “You’re so brave for embracing being bisexual. You’re embracing yourself and it’s a wonderful thing”. It’s not brave, pure and simple, heterosexual people embrace themselves and so do gay men and women. It’s not a new concept to be yourself. I keep saying this, but it`s true, it is scary and it can take a lot not to go back and hide, but it`s worth it. It is so worth it to embrace being bisexual and we shouldn’t have to hide through fear of what will be said. 

Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t worry about embracing your bisexuality:

  • ·You get to be yourself, and no one should worry about being themselves.
  • ·Allies, we have so many allies, that will be so proud of you for embracing yourself
  • ·You know the myths/ misconceptions are false
  • ·Only your opinion of you matters

You will be happier and no one deserves to worry about happiness. If you embrace your bisexuality, well done,I`m so proud of you, I love you. If not,that’s fully acceptable, you will not be judged for it, I love you also. Negative things are temporary, you are forever.Whether you embrace being bisexual or not, it’s your decision, don’t let anyone make you feel bad if you don’t. If you don’t embrace being bisexual, but you want to and are scared, I promise you there is support for you and it will become easier in time. Baby steps help a lot. It’s okay to be scared. It`s totally valid and you are not alone, I`ve been there and I promise you, you can do this,if you want to. You shouldn’t have to worry about being yourself, because you are amazing and no one can take that away from you.

This is the view of the author and may or may not be the view of Pride matters or any other authors. 


Who are we watching? 

​By @AlexandraClare 

For @Mattersofpride 

One piece of advice which seems to work equally well in all situations is to ‘be yourself’. The reasoning goes that people will detect if you are hiding something and, whether it is a job interview or a date, it won’t go well. But if you are an actor and your whole purpose is being someone else, how much does it matter who you are?

 

Josie Wittaker has pleaded with fans not to judge her performance on her gender. 

Over the last week (July 2017), I would guess that more people around the world have reacted to the news that Dr Who is being reincarnated into a female body than watch the average episode. The debate is fascinating because it hasn’t touched upon acting ability or whether the show is entertaining but solely on the gender of the actor. The primary argument against the choice appears to be based on a principle: since the show’s launch in 1954, the character has always been a (white) man, therefore he should always be a man.

 

Doctor who has always been a white male since 1954. Why should that always be the case? 

This same debate has been taking place for rather longer in theatre. Amidst complaints of a lack of strong female parts in Shakespeare, the solution has been to take on the great roles written for men. Maxine Peake starred as Hamlet, Prince of Denmark to acclaim in 2014 but she was following in the footsteps of Frances de la Tour in 1979 and trailing behind Sarah Siddons who played the role in 1777. And the question doesn’t stop at gender: in 2006, when the RSC launched its cycle of 8 history plays, Chuck Iwuji played the complex role of Henry VI. Comments focused on the fact that the king was not black, though there were no similar objections to the historical inaccuracy of peasants speaking in perfect pentameters and French characters all being played by English people. There was a much more visceral reaction in 2016 when a black actor, Noma Dumezweni was cast as fictional character, Hermione Grainger from the Harry Potter books (where her skin colour is not mentioned). The author JK Rowling commented: ‘Idiots were going to idiot… Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job.’

 

Chuck Iwuji playing Henry VI

That is a powerful argument for open casting, that you get a new depth to a character. The other one, which can have less positive effects, is that to get a film made, you need star quality and a well-known name, even if the casting provokes a sharp intake of breath, such as the five feet seven inch Tom Cruise becoming the six foot five inch Jack Reacher. Unfortunately, plenty of less-amusing examples exist, where well-known white actors have taken roles written for other races.

 

As more entertainment feature trans characters, it has been highlighted how often trans parts are taken by cis actors. The director of The Danish Girl, Tom Hooper, cast Eddie Redmayne in the lead role. While defending his decision, he pointed out that the film also featured a number of trans actors playing cis roles and he called for this to be made the norm. He was articulating the risk that the statement ‘only trans should play trans’ gets heard as ‘trans can only play trans’ condemning these actors to be marginalised rather than given full access to all roles. Underlying each decision is the real question over whether these portrayals may contribute to discrimination against the trans community. This is particularly in scenes where men play trans women and then accept their acting award in a tuxedo, potentially reinforcing the slur of trans women being just men dressed up.

 

Although unconscious bias may influence a lot of casting decisions, even the best actor will struggle if given a dull plot or cliched dialogue. As portrayals of diverse characters become more the norm, we will also need diverse writers and directors for an experience that reflects our beautiful, diverse world. And at that point, entertainment should start getting a lot more entertaining…

 

What’s in a label? 

​​By @oddsocks2017

So, what is the importance of a label?

A word?

Why must we define ourselves, our lives, our sexual identities and behaviours? These are questions that many of us within the beautiful and diverse LGBTQ+ family have pondered, no doubt. 

What exactly is in a name?

Of course, the answers to these questions are varied and complex – just as all of us are unique, complicated, conflicted and individual – so are our attitudes and feelings about labels and defining ourselves by our sexual desires and behaviours.

As a bisexual female, in a same-sex marriage – I have absolutely struggled with this concept of an absolute definition of me. My identity. My sexual identity.

My first experience of same-sex sexual attraction turned out to be my with my future wife. We met at college, fell in love, had lots of amazing sex and 18 years later we have two kids, a dog and quite an unpleasant (but we still love her) cat. 

However, this love happened so quickly and so spontaneously, and for a long time we both had a hard time defining ourselves. The word ‘lesbian’ seemed difficult, for me in particular. It just didn’t feel quite right to me. 

A bad fit.

This, in itself, troubled me. Was I a bad closet case or some sort of deluded internal homophobe? I knew I loved and wanted my girlfriend – that she was the love of my life – but I just couldn’t bring myself to use the word. To say the word ‘lesbian’ to describe myself.

This upset some people. Some gay and lesbian friends. I felt so guilty – like I was almost betraying them by not just ‘admitting’ my sexual identity and saying out loud, “I am a lesbian!”

I just couldn’t do it.

It wasn’t just the word ‘lesbian’ either. The sense of hostility amongst my lesbian and gay friends to the concept of bisexuality was palpable. So I couldn’t say ‘bisexual’ either. This intolerance of bisexuality was a fear, from those who were judged, discriminated against, attacked and vilified  – the idea that someone who was bisexual could jump back to the safety of heterosexual ‘normality’ if the going got tough seemed to be the point of resentment. 

Of course, that’s not how it works.

The complication for me was that I didn’t live the life of a young bisexual woman, dating women and men. I was in love and in a long-term, committed relationship with a hot, sexy woman who, oddly, seemed to quite like me too. So why wasn’t I a lesbian? 

Well, to answer my initial question – and this is an answer that has taken almost twenty years of my adult life and relationship to come to – what’s the importance of an identity, a label, a word? 

The power and strength to be found in your truth, your authenticity, your individual experience is immeasurable. We can not be defined by anyone but ourselves – by any label other than the ones we chose for ourselves.

This is the view of the author and may or may not be the view of Pride matters or any other authors. 


Stereotyping and the LGBT community. 

By @amyann2100

Everyone in the lgbtqia+ community knows that sometimes people think they can tell your sexuality or gender by how we look. This is not the case, but it doesn’t stop people from trying anyway. What does it mean to be told you don’t look lgbtqia+? It means you don’t look like the stereotypes that are believed for us and that doesn’t mean anything, apart from you are being yourself, with your own style.I have been told I didn’t look bisexual, but what does being bi look like? We all look different. Everyone`s unique with their own style, so how can you say someone doesn’t look bi, or gay, lesbian, asexual, transgender, intersex or anything else? 

Don’t assume every gay man is camp! 

This was my first and only incident with this, but it infuriated me because this person had heard me talking about my ex-girlfriend and asked if I felt better being out of the closet. We look the same as everyone else, well if that’s possible, because we’re different but you can’t just look at someone and say, “Oh, they are lgbtqia+”. We don’t have tell-tale signs on us to tell the world our sexuality, because we don’t need to and it would be wrong if we did.

The lipstick lesbian flag was born out of frustration of stereotyping lesbian women in certain ways. 

The stereotypes don’t just work against our community, but heterosexual people, as well. I have a male friend who is “camp” and acts like what a stereotypical gay man would, and this leads to constant questions about his sexuality, simply for being himself. I also have another friend who dresses like a “tomboy” and people assume she is a lesbian, along with my other friend with a pixie haircut, but they are some of the most heterosexual people you’ll ever meet.

I don’t understand how our stereotypes, specifically what we look like, can link to our sexuality because at the end of the day we are being ourselves regardless of sexuality.


Bromo is a term that was born out of frustration that all gay men are effeminate.  

Here are a few more examples of stereotypes that our community face:

  • A gay man is well dressed in expensive clothes.
  • Lesbians ethier dress like a boy or dressed as a ‘girly girl’ 
  • Aromantics aren’t pretty. 

Acholol, drugs and promiscuousility have longed been automatically  associated with gay culture, but let’s not presume all gay men and women have any of these issues because it’s only a small fraction. 

I was told that I didn’t look bisexual, I had long hair, never wore makeup and was constantly in black clothes. When this person saw me in a college course, most of my class was lgbtqia+. We frequently counted by name how many lgbtqia+ there was compared to heterosexual because someone came out frequently. However we all looked the same; black t- shirt or vest top with black leggings, or tracksuit bottoms with black jazz shoes, or bare feet with hair tied back. None of us wore our every day clothes to college, so based off looks alone, according to this person, we must all of been heterosexual. She was very naïve. I know there are other people like her out there, it happens all the time. I think it’s sad that people think they know us by looking at us, when there is more to all of us than how we look. 

More sinister stereotyping as appeared recently with the transphobic rhetoric of a link between transgender community using American restrooms and sex crimes carried out in such facilities.

If you keep breaking the stereotypes, especially when it comes to looks, we can finally show people that sexuality and looks have no correlation.


The Rainbow flag shows our different colors and diverse nature.


Big brands and Pride are a good thing. 

​By @ChrisQ_1 

I was in a Tesco recently – getting a £3 meal deal – and when heading to the counter, I walked past a stark white display that stood out from the rest of the shop. The cardboard shelves held rows of equally stark white and black packets of Skittles. The famously multi-coloured sweet, owned by Mars Inc, carries the slogan: ‘taste the rainbow’. But for the period of Pride month, the brand has made the decision to relinquish the rainbow for the LGBTQI community, in its own little way of celebrating. 

Now, neither you or I are under any illusions that this is a marketing exercise – in order to make the brand come access as nice (call me cynical). But as a society, we’re far more brand savvy than we used to be. While this particular move by Skittles has backfired for them (more about this later), they are not the only product to attempt to capitalise on the rainbow month. 

Virgin

WKD

Smirnoff

Tesco

Barclays 

nike

There’s a real mix of products and services here, and each year there seems to be more that jump on and get involved. It’s partly because, nowadays, brands see the importance of their image and there’s profit to be made from being seen to support pride; as 65% of 13-to-20-year-olds say that they know someone who goes by gender neutral pronouns and people who fall under LGBTQI or allies are a growing group. 

Above:The white pack of Skittles. 

Having large, influential brands and organisations endorse Pride is a good thing. If we want to achieve true equality, the positive influence these companies can have should be helpful. It will put the flag and what it represents in front of people who otherwise might not have reason to think about it. Exposure to as wide an audience as possible will, hopefully, help teach more people about – and normalise the idea of – LGBTQI equality in places where those ideas are less abundant. 

However, while I think it can be a force for good, It should not be done in a flippant or ill educated way. Any use of Pride on commercial products or services shouldn’t just be a re brand with a catchy slogan and a press release. It should an be actual real world commitment to change minds and perceptions. It should be pro active with your own workforce and supporting LGBTQI employees or getting directly involved with marches by becoming a partner or supporting local charities. 

The ‘brand’ of Pride should also be used in an informed way, in conjunction with the expertise of people who understand what’s going on in the community. Perhaps if Skittles had done this, they may have avoided the backlash they received. While some would argue that they don’t want to see Pride commercialised in that way, if we hold each company that does ‘dawn the rainbow’ to a standard of activism and inclusion, it becomes another way to help improve equality across the board. 

This is the view of the author and may or may not be the view of Pride matters or any other authors. 

Why you shouldn’t have to worry about embracing some of your bisexuality. 

​By @cduffy1999

Bisexual women I can guess most of us bisexuals have at some point experienced one of the following statements/questions.

“Yeah but how do you know”
“You’ll come out gay eventually”
“It’s a phase”
And my personal favorite…
“That’s just you being greedy”

Haha I’m just dying of laughter cause yes totally accurate. *sarcasm

But at the same time I’m not going to apologize for going to see Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in Beauty and the Beast and proceeding to bleed from my nose as beheld both a long held crush and recently developed one at the same time.

And suggesting that a bisexual has more sex than anyone else is not only a major generalization but also suggesting that it is greedy to actually have this much sex is simply slut shamming.

Let’s just explore another thing. Threesomes. Yep. We’ve all experienced this one. I’ve had many experiences online where people will see bi female and Immediately try to coerce me into a threesome. 
This is a horrible experience when you try and try again to explain to them no sorry I’m not going to jump at the chance to have sex with two strangers usually a lot  older than myself. (For context I came out when I was 16)

Having people not get this message or even get pissed off at you for not consenting to this in the first place is sometimes a wake up call. Suddenly the message sent by society to us young bisexuals is you’re everyone’s whore.

 

And then you just want to shut yourself because it would feel easier somehow. Being the opposite of all the stereotypes of bisexuals as some horny jack rabbits to avoid dragging bisexuals through the mud completely.

But suddenly life loses its spice, its spirit and its warmth.

You’ve perhaps been fighting some of you’re natural behavior patterns, suppressing the truth of your identity.

Its clear that some of us are more vanilla, shy, reserved and virtuous. 
But it should not be regarded as a problem to be kinky, outgoing and have the sex drive of roughly oh I don’t know a  rabbit. 

Cause f*** it life is for living and its not our problem how people create generalizations of us. Its theirs. Its them that need their minds opened.

This is the view of the author and may or may not be the view of Pride matters or any other authors. 


Why there is no Straight Pride Month. 

By @dtpjustin

Forty seven years ago, the LGBTQ+ Community joined together to form what has now evolved into Pride Month. One year after the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village – which is widely regarded as the start of the modern equality movement – our community took to the streets in New York City to march for equal rights and protections. While the Pride march has gone through many changes over the years, one thing has stayed constant: the ignorance that some people often display. One question that comes up frequently (and that I’ve heard often) is, “If you have LGBTQ+ Pride month, why is there no straight pride month?”

The answer to that question is easy, and I’m going to lay it out as clear as I can. 

YOU DON’T NEED ONE! 

Now, don’t take this as ignorance or “straight-hate” because I know many amazing straight people who deserve to be recognized as outstanding friends and allies, but that’s because of who they are, not based on their sexuality. If you encounter this ridiculous question (as I’m sure you will at some point in your life), here are the top reasons that I always use to combat the ignorance:

 

Generation after generation, the narrative of our society has always been predominantly defined as straight. Whether in movies, television shows, commercials, or print ads, the idea of the ‘nuclear family’ has always been portrayed as being between a man and woman with the white picket fence and 2.5 children. The nuclear family was something that was always celebrated and shown as something to strive to acquire. The idea of a same-sex couple fitting into that image took decades to even enter the realm of possibility, let alone to be normalized.

 

Above: A typical print advertisement from the 1950’s for Post, depicting the typical nuclear family of the time.

Straight people don’t get fired from their jobs simply for being straight. For many LGBTQ+ people around the world, this is a frightening reality. The fact still remains that people have to hide who they are, how they identify, or the relationship they’re in from their employer to alleviate the risk of losing their job, career, or livelihood. In most countries, the LGBTQ+ Community is not protected under existing employment civil rights laws, taking away our legal right to recourse for being fired for discriminatory reasons.

 

Above: An anti-marriage equality protester perpetuates the debunked myth that same-sex parents endanger the well-being of their children.

As a straight person, it has never been against the law to be straight. The government has never forced themselves into your life to prevent you from being straight or enabling discrimination against you. The stark reality is that many LGBTQ+ people have felt what it’s like to have rights stripped away from them, or limited, based solely on their sexuality. From anti-sodomy laws, religious freedom laws, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and the Defense of Marriage Act, we know exactly what it’s like for the government to step in and define how our lives need to be lived. Straight people never had to deal with the violation of being told who they could love, or what was legal in the confines of their own bedroom.

 

Above: President Barack Obama signs the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act on December 22, 2010, no longer requiring armed service members to hide their sexuality.

Lastly, and most importantly, straight people aren’t targeted for harassment, physical assault, or murder simply for loving whoever they love. No matter how many equality laws or hate crime acts are passed by the government, the staunch reality is that these horrific crimes still happen on a daily basis to members of the LGBTQ+ Community.

In 2011, the Southern Poverty Law Center, experts in tracking hate crimes and extremism, did an analysis of 14 years of hate crime data and concluded that LGBTQ+ people are far more likely than other minority groups to be victimized by violent hate crimes. We still live in a world where people are targeted simply for holding hands with their same-sex partner. The brutal, senseless murder of Matthew Shepard in October of 1998, was a wake-up call around the world, but, while progress has been made in the legal realm, the reality is that many members of the LGBTQ+ Community are still faced with these targeted attacks in 2017. Being targeted for hate, solely based on sexuality, is an existence that straight people will luckily, never have to deal with.

 

Above: Instead of a traditional Pride march, LA Pride hosted a #Resist March on June 11, 2017 to build upon the grassroots marches that have been organized this year. (courtesy of Genaro Molina/ Los Angeles Times)


While Pride Month has evolved into a celebration of our sexuality and the strides that have been made around the world, it’s important to remember that it began as the declaration for the right to exist without being oppressed or victimized, the demand for equal rights and protections, and for the natural rights that straight people have always enjoyed simply for being who they are – themselves.

This is the view of the author and may or may not be the view of Pride matters or any other authors. 

​Could a Real Woman step forward, please?

By @_alexandraclare.

I read an article in the Sunday Times magazine today (05/03/17). The long-time host of Women’s Hour Jenni Murray has written ‘Be trans, be proud – but don’t call yourself a “real woman”’. Her concern is that those who transition bring their privilege from a male upbringing with them.

I am a firm believer in free speech and the arguments were presented reasonably. However, as I read it again, the urge to point out a basic flaw in the reasoning became compelling. 
There is a fairy story called the Princess and the Pea. A bride-hunting prince rejects lots of apparently eligible women because they are not ‘real princesses’. In the middle of a stormy night, a knock comes on the castle gates and in walks a bedraggled creature. For a reason that is never explained, the prince’s mother senses something about the wretch and gives her a luxurious bed of multiple mattresses. In the morning, the guest is asked how she slept and she complains she could not get comfortable because of a lump in the bed. The Queen admits she placed a pea under the bottom mattress. The guest is revealed as a Real Princess because of her extreme sensitivity, cue royal wedding bells.

Even as a child, I had a number of problems with this story, which can be summed up by the feeling that anyone who was that precious about a tiny pea must have been a real pain to have around (and that she and the picky prince deserved each other). And yet here we are arguing about the concept of a real woman. I will say that I am not sure anyone can call truly themselves a “real woman” because I don’t believe such a creature exists. Or, as another way of looking at it, there is no single version – instead, there are infinite varieties of “real woman” to match the different perceptions of the role of women through time. If you take a snapshot from any one of these realities, you could exclude lots of people from being “real women” – to pick a few examples, those working; lesbians; people without children, there are lots of possible reasons.

Looking at myself, I have the obvious external biological markers of a woman but these can be put in place by surgery. If you discount these elements (which most critics of trans people do), exactly what is it that makes me so sure I am a woman? To help, I can look at examples of the women that are celebrated by the media but I certainly don’t look or act like them. What that leaves me with is just my own conviction that I am a woman. Whether I am “real” or not seems academic, another excuse to label people into ever-smaller boxes. I’m going to continue being me and I will celebrate the diversity of life with anyone who wants to be themselves, whatever you call yourself. 

Original article

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/magazine/the-sunday-times-magazine/be-trans-be-proud-but-dont-call-yourself-a-real-woman-frtld7q5c

Jenni Murray’s twitter page. 

@whjm 

BBC’s article.
Radio 4’s Jenni Murray criticised over trans women article – BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39173398

Alex Clare is the author of He’s Gone, featuring a trans woman DI. Chat to Alex on Twitter @_alexandraclare. He’s Gone is available from Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hes-Gone-Alex-Clare/dp/1907605940 … and Hive http://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Alex-Clare/Hes-Gone/19215735

This is the view of the author and may or may not be the view of Pride matters or any other authors. 


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