Sunday, 1 August 2010

'...from the skyscraper, the world turns out of sight.'

Having ragged on the papers a little in my last post, I suppose in the interests of fairness I ought to highlight a more worthwhile journalistic endeavour, already mentioned in passing below: namely, the Independent on Sunday's latest annual Pink List, the list of the most influential LGB (no T sadly, which we'll get to very shortly) people in British life.

Generally I support the idea of the Pink List. I think it could stand to have, well, some trans people in it somewhere; but I could be persuaded that, if we're talking about influence, it's a sad fact that trans people in British life don't have a lot of that (if it were otherwise, then maybe David Cameron would have said more about the ongoing campaign of murder and harassment against trans people in Turkey during his recent visit to that country). And I'm very happy to see Gareth Thomas topped the list, along with Mary Portas: I think it's important for young gay men to have strong role models, and I wish more sportsmen (and women) in general would come out of the closet (actually I'm also really pleased Mary Portas came in first as well, though this is mainly just due to wishing I was her girlfriend). I think a list like this highlights the increasing visibility of LGB people in society, and that's a good thing. But. There is always, always, a but with these things. So I'm just going to come out and say it:

Why in the name of all that is holy is Julie fucking Bindel on the list? Admittedly she came in at 98, a mere hop-skip-n-jump away from X-Factor warbler Joe McElderry and expenses-fiddler David Laws, but I contend that her being on the list at all  is an insult and actually undermines all the good work the list does.

Gareth Thomas himself has written eloquently on his Twitter feed that he would like his being awarded the top spot to stand as an example to other people like him that they can feel comfortable in their own skin. Julie Bindel, who is allowed to share the same list with him, has written articles which are almost deliberately designed to make trans people as far from comfortable in their own skin as possible. From her contention that all trans women are just gay men in denial (because we all know lesbian trans women don't exist, right?) to her sick joke that a world populated entirely by trans men and women would be like a remake of Grease, Bindel has engaged in the kind of prejudice and distortion that legitimises negative attitudes to trans people in exactly the same way the homophobic language discussed below legitimises anti-gay prejudice (you could argue that Bindel's ilk actually contribute more to anti-gay violence, as an awful lot of homophobic violence is directed at gay men who don't conform to standard male gender norms).

In that sense, perhaps, you might say that she does have influence, though it's a malign kind of power, and far from the positivity the Pink List aims to celebrate. But even if they were absolutely desperate to put Bindel in their supplement, the perfect chance was there in the attached 'Rogue's Gallery', a list of gay men and women who, while out of the closet, aren't exactly putting the hours in as ambassadors for tolerance. The Rogue's Gallery rightly includes people like nemesis of reason David 'women can't write history' Starkey, and Elton John (for accepting rather more than thirty pieces of silver to play Rush Limbaugh's wedding)...and also has a go at Sam Fox, because...well, because Sam Fox's last record was a little bad.

So, yeah. I set out to write a positive post about the Pink List here because, in general terms, I think it's a good thing. But, as happy as I am for Gareth and Mary, I really can't stand by and allow people to compile a list in which they apparently believe that making a shit record is a crime, but helping to legitimise a climate in which one of the most vulnerable minorities in society face violence and intimidation on a daily basis  is no bar to inclusion.

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