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November 28, 2006

Comments

Chris

"...while same-sex behaviour has existed since the beginning of human evolution, defining oneself as gay is a relatively modern invention."

The "gay" label possibly being an invention as a reaction to the homophobic attitudes of the last few hundred years, in the same way that persecuted nations become more and more patriotic and finally nationalistic (and why I got a load of abuse off some kids for being English in Wales the other night).

Maybe.

Noosa Lee

Works for me. I think of how far we've travelled from the days when you'd be confronted with an angry lapel roaring 'how dare you presume I'm heterosexual'. Crude or what? I often thought about getting one of those button making kits that you could buy from record shops then and making a badge that said 'do I look like someone who gives a fuck about your sex life?' Coming from Peter Tatchell it's a quantum leap in awareness of the true nature of equality. Maybe we're making progress after all.

Clare

Fascinating to see the comparison of sexual identity with religious identity.

I'm with Tatchell 100%, but would reinforce his proviso that as long as homophobia exists, it is necessary to define sexual identities as a way of countering that prejudice (so if a colleague shouts "gays are all evil", I say "Oh yeah? Well I'm gay" not "Well actually gay is just a cultural construct and nobody is really gay").

Also, he makes this assumption that homophobia will eventually disappear and the "gay" tag will go with it. Common phallacy - too assume civilisation is on a relentless march forwards ann all problems will eventually be resolved. Homophobia is still a significant problem. Ask any gay teenager - particularly the ones who are still killing themselves. And that's only in Britain, where things are much better than in some other countries.

The same applies to religion. I'm wary of getting too liberal. Case in point: The banning of hijab, etc in French schools, which may appear to have good liberal motives but translates into direct prejudice against people on arbitrary grounds, and plays into the hands of those who are simply racist.

I'm very aware though that I'm only scratching the surface of a complex argument which is being debated to the nth degree of stupidly complex detail in all these NGN discussions, to the extent that I'm not really sure why I'm bothering.... er...

Clare

Oh arse, why do I never edit before posting?

Please assume I am more literate than I appear. My fingers have a life of their own.

Dave Hill

Good points, everyone, and this is a subject in need both of in-depth examination and simple clarity - a tricky combination. I'd underline my Foucault point, though. If I remember right his History of Sexuality shows how the category of "homosexual" was constructed to meet the anxieties of a time when same sex sexuality became deemed problematic. Previously, it had not existed.

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