Friday, April 6, 2012

The Dinner Guardians

I find social gatherings perplexing affairs, unless I know everybody there very closely. So to me, the concept of dinner party soirees are about as appealing as a week under the care of a US Rendition operation. Yet I still find myself being absconded to them against my will.

I think it is my aversion of small talk that has me sweating with anhedonia at the mere thought of "let's get together for dinner". It is the banal witterings of the chattering classes that makes me want to swallow my own tongue and die face first into the gazpacho soup.

"Did you read Lucy Mangan's article, this week?"

"No" I replied.

"Oh you should, she writes these great insightful......"

Don't patronise me with your Sixth Form bleatings about how you've just discovered the Guardian! I know what it is, I sometimes read it, often alongside books, you know those things that the Guardian reviews?

Jesus wept, I'd had about all I could take of The Guardian says this and The Guardian says that and ooohh isn't The Guardian just about the best social commentator since ...... It made me want to start reading The Daily Mail, just to counteract this turgid assault on my sensibilities. To bring some insurgency to the proceedings and neuter the vacuous automaton just RSS feeding me the entire contents of today's Guardian.

Am I over-reacting? Am I being over sensitive to the art of conversation?
I like to form my own conversation though and not just cut and paste a load of op-ed pieces from a newspaper and re-iterate them parrot fashion to appear interesting, because ultimately it's not.

I don't like people telling me what is fascinating and interesting as an absolute, because contrary to popular belief, it is a subjective viewpoint and I don't necessarily care about the things you care about. We're different. I don't bother you with fascinating aspects of serial killer profiling or Andrew Keen's notions on Web 2.0 or Cziksentmihalyi's theory of flow. They are likely to be only fascinating to me and not that interesting to you. See how that works?

Then comes that moment where some bright amoeba wants to play the most imaginative conversation piece game known to single cell organisms. Yep, the old "If you could have dinner with any 5 famous people, who would it be?" They then point out the exact ludicrous nature of this parlour game by quantifying that the selected "guests" can be alive or dead. I instantly imagine this in my mind's eye as a Jeffrey Dahmer dinner party. I often want to ask, "can it be the very same people I'm with, but they're dead instead of alive?"

I assume that this game is supposed to be insightful? To somehow psychoanalyse you and your character, a little slice of self analysis that is on a par with the kind of rubbish that Daisy Goodwin spouts.

The problem is ,and this is the fundamental issue I have. Even if it were possible, it would be a torturous evening because you are still you, you would be the most boring, inane and pointless person at the table. You would stand out a mile. Your slack jawed wonderment would put off the famous guests and you'd sit there drooling over just how special it is to be there. Dribbling like someone post electro-shock therapy and pre-enema mental patient. It's barely worth considering how depressing this situation would be, the table may as well be set with razor blades instead of dessert spoons because you are not going to make it to the final course. So who would I share this moment with, this ritualistic humiliation?

Hmmm, it would have to be this fella and I just pray he's brought the Kool-aid.

So I am destined to spend my time at these events looking on like a Guppy frozen in formaldehyde, only able to affect a slight nod of recognition to what is being said, whilst inside another piece of my soul dies and I wonder where my guardians are to protect me...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

To My Child

I had a few people question why I wrote my piece titled "Love and Marriage" given that I am not gay or particularly an "LGBT activist" - this I find bizarre, as if to say I have to be part of the group in order to stand up for what I consider a matter of civil liberties rather than an issue of sexuality. I've never been a prisoner or known a prisoner either but continue to support humane treatment of them and investigating miscarriages of justice.

But I thought about the question further and it did evoke a personal connection that I had forgotten about. My son has always loved to dance, he could dance well before he could speak, it was his first real form of expression. So naturally I wanted to encourage it and the only form of dance classes for his age at the time was tap and ballet. He went, loved it and excelled, I noted he was the only boy but didn't think too much about it until a mother started talking to me one day as we watched our children practise.

"My son would probably like this too, but my husband won't let him come"
I naively responded, "Oh why's that then?"
"You know, it might make him gay" I had to let those words bounce around a bit to see if they ever made sense IT - MIGHT - MAKE - HIM - GAY. Nope still no logical basis for the statement.
Sadly I didn't tackle this full on because I was in a bit of shock and took a while before I put the statement together with the assertion that this dancing lark would alter my child's sexuality in some way. Which was already a wrong thought process, ie it assumes my child is not gay in order for it's sexuality to be altered. See how subtle those seeds are planted. Anyway I digress. I firmly believe in the nature rather than nurture argument when it comes to LGBT issues, I don't believe activities make people gay, hence my reaction to this oxygen thief's assertion that dance classes would make my son gay.

Then I thought about how any of my children could be gay they just haven't reached an age of awareness yet. So in that role of protector parent, I want them to grow up in a world where being who they are or may be isn't a problem, that people wouldn't be there with their hateful undercurrents or passive aggressive attitudes. It is there all too prevalently you see, within two weeks some of the children had teased my son into not wanting to go to dance classes any more - the fuel had come from their parents. He still dances, but won't go to a class because of it. My kids have come home from school telling me how men can't love other men and ladies can't love other ladies, I correct this, but where is it coming from?

So this is a personal reason why I want to fight for better LGBT acceptance and rights, along with believing that all humans regardless of sexuality, gender, race, age, socio-economic background, religion etc deserve an equality of acceptance in society. Sadly we're along way from this utopia at the moment, whilst things have indeed got better in the mainstream and majority. We still have an underbelly of spite as was clearly surfaced last month when people decided to hijack the #tomyunbornchild hashtag meme that was trending on Twitter, a sweet meme where people sent tweets to their future children.

Sadly the same mentality that likes to hijack Facebook tribute pages came out in force in a hateful way as illustrated in this video where the tweets are realised by actors to show how disgusting these tweets were.

and captured here in a Storify timeline

Hopefully we can reverse this underbelly by confronting the hate and speaking back