Stu Campbell, who runs the Wings Over Scotland website, has recently come under sustained abuse by Unionists. He’s been accused of just about everything with the possible exception of being personally responsible for the killing fields of Cambodia – although it’s probably only a matter of time before a swivel eyed No supporter on Twitter makes the claim that Wings Over Scotland is published from Phnom Phen.
A persistent claim is that Wings Over Scotland is homophobic, misogynistic and transphobic. It’s a shameless attempt to deter ordinary Scots from engaging with the arguments and information published on the site. I have never read any articles on Wings Over Scotland that I have considered homophobic. Wings Over Scotland and the other pro independence news sites provide information in a clear and straightforward manner which is accessible to all and inclusive of all.
Just today Stu received another tweet from a Unionist describing him as a “homophobic c**t”. Stu Campbell may be many things, but he’s not homophobic. I’ve had a number of personal contacts with him, and I know from personal experience that he has demonstrated nothing but respect for my partner and me as gay men, and for our status as a married couple. The same experience has been repeated countless times with all the many and diverse people I’ve been privileged to meet and get to know as a part of this remarkable mass movement. Acceptance and love. The love of Scotland is a many gendered thing.
Stu is not versed in the arcane language of the organised LGBT movement, but there is no reason he should be. Lack of awareness is not abuse. Accusing an individual of abuse in attempt to deflect from unrelated arguments – that’s abuse. And worse, it’s abuse which diminishes and damages the struggle against real homophobia and real social exclusion. Those who make such accusations should hold their heads in shame.
Sorry readers, but this is not going to be a happy post. It’s an angry one. It’s the height of hypocrisy for the No campaign to make accusations of homophobia. Scotland is a nation. It is a modern European nation like any other. It contains a minority who have homophobic attitudes. Those who possess such attitudes are represented on both sides of the independence debate – although they are without a shadow of doubt louder and more prominent on the No side. Yet these No campaigners are the people who’d have us believe that the traditional Scottish sentiment “A man’s a man for aw that” is a statement in support of transphobia and 19th century gender roles and who are trying to make us fear than an independent Scotland would be less progressive than Russia in its treatment of its lesbian and gay minority. That’s abuse. That’s cheapening the struggle I’ve spent my adult life involved in.
Certainly there are homophobes amongst Yes campaigners, but homophobia is more of a problem for the No campaign. People who are on the same side of an independence debate as the Orange Order, UKIP, the Tories, the fascists of Britain First, and the Daily Fucking Mail have no business taking the gay rights moral high ground with anyone. Remember that Labour hacks, next time you pen an article for that right wing rag or take to Twitter decrying the abuse you claim to suffer.
Labour’s LGBT claque does not speak for me, it does not speak for the majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual people in this country. They speak for their own ghettoised style of politics. Real Scottish lesbian and gay people are here, we’re queer, and we’re Scottish independence supporters too. We’re not going to live in a ghetto in an independent Scotland. We’re going to be mainstream, out in the open, and participating fully.
I’m a late middle aged man who’s recently made the shocking realisation that I’m eligible for a Saga holiday offer. I made the realisation that I was gay a long time before, during the 1970s. I came out in the early 1980s when the Aids crisis was in full blown media hysteria and newspapers regularly engaged in witchhunts against gay people, when people were still sacked from their jobs for being a queer. We were public enemy number 1. Coming out, I got beaten up for my pains, I was estranged from certain family members for many years. I was no longer welcome in the home I was born in.
I’ve experienced homophobia – real homophobia and not the homophobia of the trivial Twitter complaint variety “Oooooh s/he’s said something nasty about me.” I didn’t bother myself when people called me a poof or a pervert, I had far more serious abuse to deal with – the abuse which prevented lesbians and gay men living the life we had a right to live. The abuse that left real bruises, not metaphorical ones.
I was never a prominent campaigner. I didn’t join political pressure groups and sit on committees or seek positions of influence. But I was there. Not mincing but marching. Not complaining about abuse in the pages of the Daily Mail, but doing something about it. I was there in Parliament Square on the evening of 21 February 1994 when the Westminster Parliament rejected proposals to equalise the age of consent for gay men with that of everyone else. I was there during the protests that ensued when the crowd realised that our Parliamentarians had chosen to maintain legal discrimination against us. I was there to witness a group of angry gay men trying to storm a Westminster Palace which had locked its doors against equality.
I was there at the beginning when parental rights where a major issue for lesbian and gay people. And at a time when the Daily Mail and the gutter press insisted we had no right to have children, that we were a threat to the well being of young people, I started a family with lesbian friends. We didn’t ask any straight person’s permission. We didn’t appeal to authority for help. We just did it. We were amongst the first generation of lesbians and gay men to do so. We established that it was possible. We proved that it was good. We opened the doors to parenthood for the generations of lesbians and gay men who followed.
I didn’t have kids to prove a political point, that would have been crass and shallow. I had kids for the same reasons anyone has kids. But we were fully aware of the political significance of the simple act of conception. My children have brought my family immense joy and pride, they are happy, well balanced, doing well in life, they grew up surrounded by love. I am zealous in my protection of my daughters.
I will not be lectured to by the Labour party about homophobia or LGBT issues. I am sickened and revolted by the modern attempts of Labour to assert that it was and is the leading organisation in the societal struggle against discrimination. Because the Labour party was as complicit as the other mainstream parties in maintaining and fostering homophobia.
My partner suffers from a terminal illness. I spend my days caring for him. Yet when he dies I will not inherit his pension rights, because the Labour party decided when it introduced civil partnerships that pension rights would not be backdated. We’ve been a couple for decades, but in the eyes of the law our relationship dates only from our civil partnership ceremony a few years after the law was changed in 2004. I face an uncertain financial future due to the Labour party. That’s real homophobia. That’s discrimination and abuse which is far worse than being called rude names on Twitter. And it’s the Labour party which is responsible for it.
I am of the gay generation which defined homophobia. I’m of the gay generation which taught the likes of the LGBT claque in the modern Labour party what homophobia is, how to identify it, how to challenge it, and how to overcome it. So I’ll not be having them telling me what is or is not homophobic. I’ll be telling them. And I am telling them that Stu Campbell and the readers and followers of Wings Over Scotland are not homophobes. Neither are they hypocrites – that would be the No campaigners making accusations of homophobia in a transparent attempt to create fear, doubt and uncertainty.
No is the campaign of fear and looking over your shoulder to the past. The Yes campaign is the Scotland of equality and inclusion, it seeks to give ordinary Scottish people the tools they need to determine their own future on their own terms. The gay rights movement sought the empancipation of gay people, it fought for equality and inclusion, to give ordinary lesbian and gay people the tools they need to determine their own future on their own terms. Gay rights and Scotland’s rights are part of the same struggle.
Yes is the future, it’s multicoloured, multiethnic, it’s straight, bi and queer. It’s Scotland in all her glory. We’re here, we’re queer, we’re voting yes.
Click here for an audio version of this article, courtesy of 1 of the 99%