June 5, 2012
Don’t mention the J word: Why I’m not celebrating today
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee today.
The year of her coronation, Alan Turing was convicted of “gross indecency” and later killed himself. The Queen would have surely been aware of the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969. I’m not sure if she’s seen the 2008 film about Harvey Milk, or if she even owns a DVD player, but she was on the throne when he died. Elizabeth witnessed the slow decriminalisation of homosexuality, the AIDS epidemic, Section 28, the Gender Recognition Act, the first civil partnerships. She was on the throne throughout. She must have an opinion on the current fight for same-sex marriage. And yet, she has never publicly acknowledged the existence of us queers.
In Peter Tatchell’s piece for the Guardian last week, he said that the Queen had turned her back on the gay community. Granted, the Queen has done an awful lot since the death of Diana to dress the monarchy up as down with the kids, but her silence on LGBT issues has left him—and others—wondering whether she’s quite as modern as the monarchy she’d like to present.
He concluded that the monarchy is homophobic, “if not by conscious intent, then by default”. I’ll leave you to make up your own mind. I don’t know whether or not the Queen is supportive of LGBT equality, but regardless, all the pomp and ceremony are just a bit too much for me to bear, especially in these times of austerity. It seems everywhere I turn, people are falling over themselves to get a bit of the Queen. I don’t understand this love affair at all. The fanfare over the Royal Wedding? I kind of got that. At least Wills and Kate have some semblance of normality. I mean, he wears jeans. But the Queen? I’m not even sure she’s human.
Aside from perpetuating hierarchy and inequality, I’m just not mad keen on the monarchy, and the Diamond Jubilee festivities have left a rather sour taste in my mouth. That’s not just the bottle of Pimms we polished off over the weekend. Donald Wilson, Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh said last week that the street parties and bunting were the perfect way to lift our spirits and take our minds off all the double dipping and economic doom and gloom and talked of the “buzz of excitement” up and down the country. They’ll be a lot of you that agree with Donald and think I’m being a bit of a killjoy, but really, if I felt there was something to celebrate, I would. I just think that instead of all the flag waving, this might be a good time to talk about what role, if any, the monarchy has to play in a modern society. It all feels to be so out of touch, and hard as I try I can’t feel proud of something that says nothing to me about my life. Why are we still paying for this ceremonial nonsense when more and more people are without work, without a future and without hope?
I’m not advocating hanging a pride flag above Buckingham Palace or even a mention in her Christmas speech, but as Peter says, her silence sends a signal of exclusion and disrespect to so many and I think has far wider implications. It can only serve to reinforce negative attitudes in the Commonwealth, where homosexuality is still illegal in over 40 countries.
Of course, the monarchy has been successful in bringing itself into the 21st century in many ways but it still has an awful long way to go before it’ll win me over.
Now, away and enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. I want everything back to normal by the time I wake up tomorrow.
Tegan and Sara interview Kate Moenning
Tegan and Sara interview Kate Moening aka Shane from the L Word. This video is also directed by Clea Du Vall. What a lovely, Lesbilicious bunch of women all crammed into one little video.
February 6, 2013