I have wondered, from time to time, what it is that Stonewall
actually does. It wasn't that long ago that "the gay charity"
failed to support marriage equality. Of course, it does great work
in schools to help gay and bi kids (but not trans) and has produced
some important research into homophobic bullying. But what about
its chief executive Ben Summerskill, I hear you ask. Isn't he just
a pampered apologist for the heterosexual status quo? A man
motivated purely by a love of champers, canapés and OBEs?
(Seriously, like that's a bad thing!) Well, no. It turns out he
really is an activist. Who knew?
Mr Summerskill deserves our congratulations for his recent
appearance on BBC News, where he was really rather "off" with the
leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal O'Brian.
Speaking about the Cardinal's recent comments against marriage
equality, he told the news anchor:
"The cardinal says you can't redefine history, but the reality is
that there are still some lesbian and gay people who want the
registration of their long-term relationship to be defined as
marriage… putting aside the deeply offensive views expressed by the
cardinal today - there's no overwhelming argument as to why that
shouldn't be the case."
When asked about people who believe that marriage should be kept
between a man and a woman, Summerskill was on top form:
"We're very clear that - for anybody who believes that marriage
should be between a man and a woman - the sensible thing to do is
to marry someone of the opposite sex, but that doesn't justify
people not being able to do what is good for them."
On a roll, he then attacked O'Brien for implying that gay marriage
was a threat to children:
"One of the saddest things about the article he wrote was to claim
that the safety of children is at stake. Cardinal O'Brien comes
from a church which has been responsible for the abuse of tens of
thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of children in this
country who have never had an apology," he alleged."
Kicking the boot in, Summerskill added: "It's absurd to suggest
that if children are at risk in modern Britain they're at risk from
a small minority of lesbian and gay people in long-term
relationships who want to get married."
There, he said it. Wow.
SCRAPING THE BARREL
Following the panic last week, when staff at the Daily Mail ran
out of trans people to demean and misrepresent, Britain's hate-iest
paper has released a rather large feature on Thomas Beattie, and
how weird and unnatural he and his family are. You see, it's always
worth scraping the bottom of that barrel, isn't it? How's this for
"The man who has given birth three times: With their broad smiles,
the Beaties look like any normal, happy family. Nothing could be
further from the truth..."
As with most stories about trans people, the article is little
more than an excuse to point and stare. "Highlights" include:
"Of course, as Susan will doubtless discover one day, there was
nothing natural about [her birth]. Male seahorses are genetically
able to carry embryos: Thomas's pregnancy was possible only because
he was born female."
The Daily Mail was also, surprise surprise, interested in the
family's "sizeable" house:
"But, inside, things are less peaceful. There is a playroom beside
the kitchen, but toys are strewn all over the house. There is a
doll's house in the hall and soft toys everywhere"
Goodness! Toys strewn everywhere!
"So far, so normal. But then we move on to the delicate subject of
the couple's sex life.
Why? Why did you move on to the "delicate" subject of their sex
life? What possible concern is it of yours? Perhaps most
breathtaking is the way the Mail makes the abuse Thomas has
suffered sound like a character flaw:
"While Thomas and Nancy are desperately trying to be an ordinary
family, it is clear there are issues at play that shall never be
resolved. Thomas, in particular, has felt the full burden of the
Well, it's probably all his fault anyway:
"One has to wonder if Thomas's controversial choices in life might
stem from his disturbed childhood."
The bit that makes me most angry though, is this:
"The debate about whether couples like Thomas and Nancy are
justified in having children will only intensify as more
trans-gendered couples follow their controversial lead. So
does the question of whether they have done the right thing keep
them awake at night?"
What possible right does the article's author, Annette Witheridge,
have to question this couple's decision? And why should anyone have
to justify their existence to the bloody Daily Mail? Jeez.
I hate to end things on a hateful note, so here's something warm
and fuzzy: in response to recent comments from Catholic cardinals
(see above) the Movement for Reform Judaism has officially backed
gay marriage rights. The Movement joins Liberal Judaism, Unitarians
and Quakers in officially supporting marriage equality, in a
statement released on its website. So there you go, not all
organised religion is against us!
Follow Paris on twitter: @ParisLees