Monthly archives of “September 2018

An open letter about the open letter about homophobia

A currently running government and police campaign aims to address hate crime, and it’s getting lots of praise in my cosy liberal-progressive echo chamber. (I must add more soft furnishings!) And for good reason; it’s optimistic, inclusive, and has a message of love and tolerance.

There’s one line that rankles in one of the posters, though, and it’s a trope that is often used by GSRM people.

It’s “…because of who they love”. I know, and have been subjected to abuse by, homophobic people, and ‘love’ never enters into it. Their intolerance and fear and revulsion is not because of who we love but because of who we fuck. Picture it: a man stands up in a pub with his partner and declares “I love this man!” In a progressive city, he’s met either with polite indifference, or support. In a conservative city, awkwardness or hostility.

“I fuck this man!”? Very different. Even if it’s just because they know they risk vilification from progressives, conservatives and bigots tend not to fight about ‘love’, but they’ll fight about sex.

And I fear that GSRM people are being disingenuous, being all wide-eyed innocent, when we claim we’re discriminated against because of who we love. That may indeed be why we are, or it may at least be what it feels like for us, but I don’t think that’s why people feel licence to abuse us.

Love is noble and pure and good. Or at least, it’s complicated and disorientating and hard to define, which might actually just be what ‘noble and pure and good’ looks like from behind.

Sex is simpler. It’s not literally more visceral unless you’re into a kink I’m pleased to say up until this point it hadn’t occurred to me to imagine, but it’s certainly more animal. (That one we know about, by the way.) Our buttons are more easily pushed when it comes to sex, although most people counsel a little foreplay first.

GSRM people shouldn’t just be demanding respect from the cishet majority because we think they can just about stand non-heterosexual love being shoved down their throats.

Look, I’m getting silly, but there’s something here that seems important to me. Too often, society of all genders and sexual preferences use ‘love’ as a euphemism for ‘love and fucking’ because we think we can swing ‘love’ while hoping everyone else forget genitals will likely be involved. And that’s generally neither here nor there, but it bugs me a bit when GSRM people do it then feign outrage when cishet people crack their cunning code. How dare they? How dare they judge me for who I love?

I’m not saying they should be able to judge you for who you fuck either, to be clear, but this coyness, even deliberate dissembling about sex does nobody any favours.

If I’m going to be judged, let it be for the whole me, not some sanitised, saintly, de-sexed subset of me.

In praise of the three-door family car

The news of impending parenthood is shortly followed by the swift emptying of your bank account as you prepare the house to welcome junior. There is a temptation to upgrade your car, if not to a full people-carrier or Chelsea tractor, then at least to something roomy. Indeed, the three-door VW Polo we had was surrendered by its original owners as they upgraded to a Tiguan when they were expecting.

We didn’t replace our car, not because we knew better or we’re taking a principled stand, but because we couldn’t afford to. And yet, three years later, we’re really happy that purely thanks to luck and weak spending power, we are still driving that hatchback Polo, and I’d like to encourage prospective parents to stick with or even choose a three-door car.

First, hatchback boots are roomy, and having height as well as depth (something saloon cars lack) for luggage has saved us several times.

More importantly, though, is that because in three door cars the front seats fold forward and slide away from the rear, you can really get access to your baby or toddler in the back seat when loading them up or getting them out. This is probably less of an issue, at least pre-toddler, with ‘travel systems’ in which you put the baby in a self-contained seat that you separate from a fixed base and lift wholesale out of the car, but we chose not to afford this either, instead getting a non-removable seat into which we placed our baby, and in which she now sits as a toddler.

And flicking the front seat away, and having room to perch on it comfortably while facing the baby seat and carefully getting the kid secure and happy is wonderful. We didn’t even realise how how wonderful until we tried to settle our kid into a car seat in a five-door car, which involved an awkward sideways delivery, with less visibility of straps and buckles, and with a greater chance of knocking the kid on bits of the car as you manoeuvre them in. (Sorry, Ada.)

Had we had more money, we may have bought a bigger car, and bought a travel system. Had we done that, though, we’d probably have had a worse experience.