Monday, 3 October 2016

Queer Conservatives Confuse Me

The introduction of gay marriage in 2014 was the death knell of the gay rights movement, and rightly so; now that we can finally get married, just like our SBFs (straight best friends) what is there left to fight for? We can all settle down in our little right-to-buy, with our cat familial, debating the pros and cons of adopting a Korean vs Hungarian orphan, while sipping premium brand artisan gin & Fever Tree tonic.

Antipathy to our cause has naturally been on the rise after the activism of the late 20th century waned – as social attitudes towards homosexuality changed, there was less need to be so vocal, or radical; in short, we no longer needed to be so angry. Pride parades today are less about the struggle, and more about the party; angry marches demanding rights replaced by gyrating hot pants and dancing all night. We can’t be sacked for being gay, and now we can marry – but two thirds of of us are likely to experience mental health problems, LGBT youth are still more likely to find themselves homeless compared to straight counterparts, with 77% believing the family rejection and violence was because of their orientation or gender identity.

There have always been gays in the Tory party, some secret, some out, but through the ages they’ve been there – they had their hypocritical hands on levers of power, and they worked against their own because they themselves were protected. Brian Coleman writes in the New Statesman that droves of gay men flocked to Thatcher, which I find hard to believe given Section 28. But then, the gays do have a tendency to idolise strong women, and as we internalise a lot of homophobia, we’re not above acting against our own interests – so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he’s right. Is it once again another strong woman in power and pearls which attracts our kind to the nasty party?

I’m not old enough to have seen the introduction of Section 28, and neither are the young gays flocking towards the Tories, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored – it is apart of our history. An Act introduced by then PM Margaret Thatcher, prohibiting local councils from ‘promoting’ homosexuality or ‘pretended family relationships’ cited by many to be responsible for high level of homophobia. Of course Section 28 was repealed in 2003 (but only after Baroness Young [Tory Peer] died, leaving no one to lead the opposition). In fact, Tory-led Kent Council has its own version of Section 28 still on the books.

When it comes to the 80's AIDS epidemic the Toy government were slow to start in offering their help with the epidemic, some even going so far as to say they were indifferent to the scores of men dying from the disease. Mrs Thatcher even denied a ministerial broadcast on the matter, despite the idea having cross-party support. By this point, ‘quite enough’ had already been done because of a few PSAs. Tell that to the dead.

Maybe it’s a side effect of the vapid and vacuous narcissistic era we find ourselves in, the notion that if it doesn’t effect me, it doesn’t matter. Let history be resigned to the books, they say, the world’s no longer like that, they say, after all, we can marry now.

Maybe history is irrelevant for these young new Tories, perhaps it was the great moderniser, David Cameron that brought them to fold - he managed to more than double the their youth vote (10% to 20.5%). Because of this great and glowing Tory, we have same-sex marriage, hooray! Of course, it would be unfair to give the PR PM all the credit for gay marriage, after all, more than half his party opposed the move, with the motion passing only because of Labour votes, but still, with just one of many policies picked from the Labour manifesto, he will be remembered as the PM who introduced gay marriage, or he would be, if it wasn’t for that other, not that one, the other thing.

It seems that for every bit of equality we get, we become more homogeneous. We will get married, we’ll emulate the whole straight thing. We’re going to be gay, but we’ll do it on your terms, because you were nice enough to let us get married it would be a shame if we all didn’t settle down, get a dog that can fit in a carrier bag, and resign ourselves to the same dreary existence as our straight brothers and sisters.

It seems strange that after what is usually a torturous adolescence, there would members of our own ranks that would seek out the opposition (at worst) or apathetic (at best). Is it a weird manifestation of Stockholm Syndrome, or is it an extension of this modern need for constant validation and approval? We always want what we can’t have and always crave that which kills us.

Perhaps, dear reader, I am simply bitter and holding firmly to a grudge I should let die. But I can’t easily reconcile recent history and a reluctant reception to the party. A fiscal outlook, it isn’t enough for me to betray the years or hardship caused by a nasty party.

Years or hardship still caused, only now they're directed at someone else.

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