A few lifetimes ago (I avoid getting older by simply pressing reset every now and again), I had a girlfriend who insisted that the personal was the political.
What she meant, if I can precis a complex political/philosophical argument, is that she could grope me in front of a whole load of straight people staring at us because (a) she wanted to and (b) we should make a public stand about our rights to same-sex public groping. I didn’t disagree - it was fun.
There are a lot of people who believe that we have a responsibility to come out and be openly gay because it helps the wider ‘cause’ - “we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re going to exercise our right to be open with our partner, just as straight people do”. The slogan needs some work, but you get my drift.
I was horrified recently when I looked at a gay-news website and found one bad-news story after another - suicides, gay beatings, bullying. It was tragic, and seemed no different to the news of two or three decades ago, despite the fact that we now live in a very different world.
The problem is, of course, that while we have made enormous strides politically in terms of rights for gay people to be gay, with all that that entails, being gay is still an enormously personal thing. It’s hard enough for many people to talk about love and lust and sex, regardless of their sexuality. Coming out as gay means being open about all of these things.
And, of course, other people have very personal responses, regardless of their politics or the political backdrop. With the personal playing such a big part, coming out will always be problematic for some people in some situations. While protective legislation is so important, it’s not everything.
And the tragic fact is that our news will continue to be full of suicides and homophobic beatings for a long time, while society’s personal responses attempt to catch up with a new and more appropriate political backdrop.
Not wanting to depress you even further, but the personal vs political thing is also rearing its very ugly head in the wider political sphere. Politics at the moment seems to be entirely dominated by the personal rather than the political. It’s hard to see what decisions are being made that aren’t motivated by personal ambition.
And votes all seem to be for our personal entertainment - like voting for the no-hope comedy act on The X-Factor purely because it’s funny to watch them fail rather than because they have anything to offer the art of singing. Mind you, to be honest, I’m not sure that X-Factor has ever had anything to offer the art of singing…
The personal should not have anything to do with politics in this sense. In a fair world, politicians would be elected on the basis of which political ideology is most appropriate in the given situation. But we are a long way from that.
We haven’t even got to the stage where all politicians are elected. Like flies trying to swim through a pool of old vomit, our current politicians are in an absolute Brexit mess and the electorate are disillusioned, confused and bored. It’s hard to see how we will recover from this one.
Personal vs political? Personally, I am sick of politics.
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