Friday 30 September 2011

Harriet Harman has another dime bar moment

Onetime trans-bashing clueless-embarrassment-to-the-nation equality minister Harriet Harman now has a new role - as a clueless opposition MP.

On balance it's an improvement.  Her inability to grasp even pretty damn simple ideas while governing the country damaged our equality legislation and made life worse for people.  Now she just embarrasses herself and her party.  I'm a lot more comfortable with incompetents in opposition than in government.

So today she's getting herself in the headlines for condemning the left-right coalition's plans for individual voter registration to replace household-based registration.  She says it's a terrible thing to do: it will disenfranchise people who are young, black, or poor, and suchlike. It is the act of politicians who are seeking to rig elections.

And the BBC reports her as bewailing that "the Lib Dems - to their eternal shame - (are) colluding with the Tories in changing the law on the electoral register."

So, changing to individual voter registration bad. Apparently. What does Harriet want instead?

She wants ...individual voter registration. Only, rolled out in 2015 not 2014.

Now, maybe I'm just peculiar (it has been suggested) but it seems to me that either this is a terrible thing to do, it rigs elections, disenfranchises the black / poor / young etc... or it isn't.  Which year you change over to it isn't going to change that, not when your wiggle room is a matter of twelve months.

Get a grip, Harriet, you election-rigging, youth-hating, poor-bashing [etc!]

With an official opposition of this calibre no wonder the only effective opposition to the coalition is also on the government benches.

Highlighting the differences

The announcements today and tomorrow from the government will be fun.

In the past with one-party government, (or one-effective-party as in the Lab/Co-op coalition) you had all the exciting pronouncements in one go at the start of the relevant conference week.  Now with an openly talked about coalition, each side gets its hot topics to display separately.

So two weeks ago the ministers in the left side of the left-right coalition were the ones getting their special announcements out.  Rolling back of the blood ban, same-sex marriage, gender-free passports, to cite the ones that caught my LGBT-centric eye.  Now we get the ones the Tory ministers wanted held back til their conference for them to celebrate: so far we've got the extra money for going back to weekly bin collections. 

What else will there be to delight the blue-rinse conference audience?

Lost Girl's gorgeous cliche

Lost Girl is now up to episode four on SyFy.

If you liked Buffy and Angel, you'll probably like this.  It's got that vampires-are-real kind of world mythology, with the more 'adult' themes (aka people don't just fancy those of a different gender from themselves, and sex happens) that Angel and later seasons of Buffy had.

But where Buffy dodged the bi bullet with Willow's instant gay/straight flip, Lost Girl takes the bull by the horns. Our central hero, Bo, is a succubus, feasting on the sexual energy of whomever comes to hand without regard for gender; and when faced with a choice of joining the 'light' or 'dark' supernatural sides, she walks the line between them instead, not feeling herself to be either one thing or the other, and thus faces bewilderment and opprobrium from either camp.

You know, I think there might be the odd hint of the Big Book Of Bi Cliche there.

The first season finished showing months ago in the USA so as it starts showing here, I hear of it getting renewed for a second season. Our two lead characters are both women, and programme commissioners on the other side of the Atlantic don't seem to like their scifi to have too many strong women in it: see the cancelling of Caprica or Firefly. Hopefully they'll continue not to notice that our hero in this one is a woman for another couple of years.

Friday 23 September 2011

Happy #bivisibility Day!

Happy Bi Visibility Day everyone!

As I was reflecting with someone earlier this week, there's a lot of mirroring between being a bisexual and being a Lib Dem:

  • It's not either of the two big, popular choices that everyone's heard of.
  • If you say you are, people will try to get you to admit you're not perfectly equidistant and are therefore one of the two popular choices really.
  • There's a popular image that it's just a 'stopping off' point and not a real, coherent, long-term thing to be.
  • It attracts nowhere near the financial and social support that the easier options get.
  • And finally in this dubious list: after a few brief bursts of fashionability, it's starting to get a little bit more sustained and serious recognition in the public eye.

So hurrah for the growing number of (mostly female, but that's another blogpost) actors and popstars and other such celebs who are coming out and staying out as bi. Hurrah that they are doing so despite the idiot responses of people like Beth Ditto. And hurrah that for the first time, this year Stonewall have given a little nod towards Bi Visibility Day with their tweet linking to the September 23 website.

Happy bi day folks :)

Thursday 22 September 2011

The least trumpeted success of the week?

This has been a week of three dollops of good news from the government on LGBT issues, but two of those seem to have garnered the most attention.

So while the news of the left-right coalition's plans for same-sex marriage and for changes to the restrictions on donating blood are fab, here's a cheer for the other one that has slipped out.

The government are considering - and presumably with a fair chance of it happening given that these things are more rarely kite-flying under the rigour of the politics of coalition - options for degendering passports. That you could have your passport record you no longer just as M or F - but as M, F or X: Male, Female or Other/Refused.

Brilliant. Brilliant for those of us for whom either our gender does not fit the popular two categories, and those for whom their sense of self is more mutable or shifting; also brilliant for anyone who doesn't think the state has any business recording extraneous data beyond "this is who this is, this is where they are allowed to travel" on a passport.

I wonder if, when it comes in, I could upgrade my old gender-infested passport for free?

Tuesday 13 September 2011

So where would they go?

The Catholic clergy are revolting. Ahem, that is, they are up in arms at the prospect of same-sex marriage in Scotland. Today PinkNews reports:
Bishop of Paisley Philip Tartaglia, who is expected to become the next Archbishop of Glasgow, claimed yesterday that Catholic voters would desert the SNP if marriage equality becomes a reality.

Well where exactly does he think these voters are going to go?

Not the Lib Dems, obviously. The original party of this terrible 'treating all people as if they are created equal' thing that is so anathema to the Bishop's version of Christianity.

Not Labour, who are always just a few years behind the Liberals on these issues.Not the Tories any more, who have been proudly a few decades behind for, well, decades - but who are now playing catch-up as hard as they can.

So... what's left to try, the Greens? Their ideology wouldn't stop the Greens from being awful on queer rights, but their nose for electoral fluffiness and popularity means they aren't making the noises the Bish wants either.

Like the previous lot of dinosaurs, you've got nowhere left to run, mister pointyhat.

Monday 12 September 2011

Seen through other people's eyes

Not least because of the dearth of other bi glossy and zinestery titles even internationally these days, BCN-making is sometimes a bit of a lonely furrow to plough*.

As such, early this summer I started doing a little bit of consciously trying to hook into the places where other small press / zinestery types might be found. After all, while I do my best to make BCN look as much of a Serious Queer Press Contender as I can, the 'independence first: advertising is just to help pay for shiny extras' attitude of rugged small-press publishing is entirely zinester culture. I know where my roots are, even if I do get to do the cover in colour these days :) and it might be good to recharge those firey batteries of WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US representation rage and OOOH CLEVER layout creativity.

This led to finding zinewiki, and to a couple of delicious mornings where I dug out a wodge of my 80s and 90s bi zines and tried to remember enough about them to say something meaningful on zinewiki, and thus built up a bi zine(ster) category on it. It was a bit of a shock to find the zinewiki had so many hundreds of hundreds of zines and none of the bi stuff was out there. A happy, heady mix of improving bi visibility, nerding on one of my favourite subjects, and happily reminiscing about the days of buying stuff from abroad before PayPal made it all so simple ("hello little tourist currency exchange shop that I've caught two buses to get to, I'd like to buy five US dollars please, as notes. Um. How much is that?")

In turn this led to a little flurry of zine-buying, feeling a little more inspired to make another issue of QUelectionEERing, and then finding BCN got offered a writeup by people who read lots of zines.

And here it is, over on SpillTheZines. As the doting mother to BCN you have no idea how much trepidation there was in clicking on the link! But silly of me, they were very kind. It is interesting to see it through someone else's eyes though: for instance, I take all the stuff on the website, the links and such, for granted because I've been doing them for a billion years**.

* I originally wrote "plough to furrow" here. It can be hard some issues to get together all the content for the deadlines I aim for, and be artworking promptly when life gets in the way, but it's not THAT hard! :)
** or is it ten years? one or the other.