It has recently come to our attention that The Isle of Wight is celebrating it’s first Pride festival. This should be great news, it has only taken the small island forty-six years to catch up with the mainland, not too bad at all, all things considered.
Unfortunately, the way it was brought to our attention was rather more
negative, than perhaps a festival that involves dancing and rainbows deserves. In an article, which we can only assume is opinion editorial, rather than news, a writer for Isle of Wight County Press Online takes a position that has offended many of the LGBT community, both on the Isle of Wight, and further afield.
In the interest of being balanced, it is clear the author of the article is trying to be humorous, whilst absolutely and utterly missing the point, and causing offence to lots of demographics along the way.
She begins by defining LGBTQ for her readers, none of whom, apparently have a television, or access to any other kind of media other than her paper, who must never have broached the topic of homosexuality on the Island before, to require such a full explanation in this article.
Oooh, I hear you squeaking, surely “queer” is a no-no these days? Why, on the contrary, apparently it’s perfectly fine, though maybe not for Daily Mail readers who haven’t yet heard about this word’s official reclamation by Pride
Yes, the LGBT community reclaimed it, quite a while back, maybe you were concentrating on a knitting pattern at the time, easily missed if it’s not something that directly effects you, which clearly it doesn’t. Feminists reclaimed a lot of words too, it’s a way of gaining control over bullies, essentially. Read The Vagina Monologues and “Reclaiming Cunt” for an explanation of why, if you’re interested. She, clearly isn’t, as she goes on to say in the article:
I couldn’t care less what people do in their private lives. Do it whatever which way you like. Enjoy yourselves, especially if you’d prefer not to say what you’re enjoying yourselves with. But do you think the rest of you could shut up as well?
That’s not really the point of Pride though, is it? Pride is the one day a year where they get to shout out their love, be themselves, be loud, be proud of who they love, PRIDE. They get one day. You get all the other days, they get one. Stop moaning, seriously. Moaning about this suggests a certain lack of understanding due to white, heterosexual privilege. Are the gay community really shouting in your ear everyday on that tiny little island you live on? Seems incredibly unlikely. Is there even a gay bar? Is there even one?
The prefer not to say is referencing a comment made earlier about being “other”, or preferring not to say. She states:
Yes, I realise the thought of what “other” might involve is disturbing but we mustn’t be narrow-minded. There is, helpfully, a box for those who “prefer not to say”, though that also raises worrying possibilities.
Well, let us set your mind at rest, here, madam. Those people who prefer not to say do so for a number of reasons, almost certainly none of which are due to some sort of sexual deviance. It is possible, that they think it is no-one’s business who they sleep with, so prefer not to say. Equally, they may not want to be discriminated against, so prefer not to say. They could, prefer not to be beaten up in a back alley, so prefer not to say. Or, they could not like the tick boxes on application forms that are totally irrelevant to how they do the job, so PREFER NOT TO SAY! There is also the option to prefer not to say for “religion”. This does not mean that everyone who ticks it is a Satanist. Just because someone ticks “prefer not to say” does not mean they are off shagging a sheep in their spare time, so don’t be worried, it’s fine.
Our man on the Island, Samuel Z Jones spoke to On The Wight, who offered a link to their piece on the article, and remarked “that it must be tricky to balance satire with real news.” On the Wight is a separate news outlet from The County Press, which published the article we are discussing.
What is perhaps more worrying that the tone of the article, which could be described as demeaning, is the editorial response to the letters of complaint received. Whilst it apologises for offence caused, it does not apologise for the article. It’s more of a “sorry, not sorry”, or “sorry you were upset” than an actual apology.
The editor states:
I would ask those complaining to read the article carefully before thinking too badly of Ms Hofton.
Look at phrases such as: “But while we are in many ways a more tolerant and understanding society, hateful bigotry still exists, and those of the Pride Community, understandably, feel the need to show their solidarity and celebrate in public their joy in being whatever they like in sexuality and gender terms,” before judging too harshly.
No, no. Don’t judge her too harshly, after all, there’s that paragraph. Well found sir. It’s not so much that paragraph that’s the problem, as ALL THE OTHER PARAGRAPHS. However, since that’s the one you choose to reference, let’s break it down. “their joy at being whatever they like in sexuality and gender terms”. “Whatever they like, in sexuality and gender terms”.
Yes, we quoted it three times, for emphasis. It’s not about being whatever you like. It’s not, ‘I fancy having a go with this this week, yey, let’s do it’. It’s about not being persecuted for who you are. That’s what Pride’s about. It’s about strength in numbers, it’s about being yourself and not being afraid. If you don’t get that, then you suffer from a severe lack of empathy and understanding. Still, it’s OK, as long as you keep your lack of understanding to yourself, and don’t flaunt it, for example in a newspaper article, we’re OK with it. Whatever you think in your own bedroom is fine by us.