Marriage and the Language of Visibility

A year ago, this utility company advertising poster on a wall in a Berlin U-Bahn station might have been considered “provocative” and pushing a progressive social agenda. Now, it’s showcasing the new normal, as marriage in Germany is no longer defined by gender, and so it follows, neither are families. Fighting bigots for the right to same-sex marriage was about our being able to pitch our wedding reception tent on the enemy’s lawn, and with the law in place…well, now it’s our lawn too. Continue reading “Marriage and the Language of Visibility”

Americans “Too Timid” In Confronting Hate

Late in the evening on Christmas day, Stephanie Pazmino slashed a black, transgender man after he offered her a subway seat. “I don’t want to sit next to black people,”

Sabine Heinlein, in a powerful article for The Daily Beast, argues that Americans have become too timid when it comes to confronting hate (reported incidents hace increased significantly since the election of Donald Trump).

“In Germany, we were taught over and over again that Hitler came to power because ordinary people were afraid to stand up and speak out. Americans could stand to learn that lesson now.”

Is it alarmist to talk about a rebirth of fascism?


The spread of fascism in the 1920s was significantly aided by the fact that liberals and mainstream conservatives failed to take it seriously. Instead, they accommodated and normalised it.

The centre right is doing the same today. Brexit, Trump and the far right ascendant across Europe indicate that talk of a right-wing revolutionary moment is not exaggerated. And the French presidential election could be next on the calendar.

Despite feeling unnerved by the what’s going on, I’ve preferred to not to get too close to this notion, partly because – in street politics, in Britain at least and particularly in the 70s – fascism is a word frequently over-used and misunderstood. However, read this article from The Conversation, and after you’ve read it, watch the Trump campaign ad that’s embedded in it. Just because I think that James McDougall makes a convincing case (and you may disagree) it doesn’t mean I feel immediate panic. But it does make me all the more determined to be vigilant and active in trying to keep the warm suffocating blanket of apathy and indifference from rolling over us.

Don’t trust Goldilocks

“But Grandma, what big teeth you have!” is how German web site reacted on Facebook to Donald Trump’s strategically-emollient appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes where he told viewers “don’t be afraid”, and it sums up just how I feel about the whole charade. There’s a good summary of what he had to say at Sky News.

You can’t help but admire Trump’s tactics. Saying the whole gay marriage debate is over and settled is – bluntly – just horse excrement. He can afford to say that now, as others are rushing to get rid of it for him; the National Organisation for Marriage and their friends will sooner or later get some kind of case to the Supreme Court, where his pro-life super conservative new appointee will be waiting.

Ah, yes, abortion rights, the perfect distraction; an issue rightly so important for so many that campaigning around this one issue will effectively divert effort from – and submerge coverage of – many of the hurtful daily indignities inflicted on the trans community with “bathroom laws” and so on, while new “religious freedom” laws will pop up like mushrooms, excluding the LGBTQI community from services and venues, and employment protection may be weakened. Pink triangle, anyone? Great news that Trump wants to embrace some of the central planks of Obamacare, and there’s no reason necessarily to oppose changes in how that’s delivered; but watch how in reformed contracts, support for birth control ebbs away, and how money for – and any entitlement to – gender confirmation surgery, medical care for the trans community, prEP and HIV treatment and prevention strategy gets cut or stripped out.

What’s also worth noting is that Trump, both on CBS and in his interview with The Washington Post, has refused to apologise for anything he said during the campaign, justifying it all with a simple “I won”. Which tells you a lot about the man, what he’s prepared to do to get his way, and about his moral compass.

Living in and around Berlin, I can see historical reminders every day of how easily an open, dynamic multi-faceted society under pressure can slip terrifyingly sideways when chasing broadly unfocused promises of a better tomorrow and renewed national pride, when pushed in the right direction with some strategic name-calling. Be very afraid…

NOM- They Have Evolved And They Have A Plan

Unsurprisingly, the National Organisation For Marriage are cock-a-hoop at the election of Donald Trump.

This is a bright and exciting time for NOM, and we are committed to taking full advantage of the opportunity we have. Our voice and our views matter to the incoming administration, and that means your voice and views matter.

And as you might expect, they’re determined to reverse the US Supreme Court decision in favour of same-sex marriage and to end “dangerous” Presidential gender identity directives. It’s tempting to yawn, but protecting our hard-won rights and freedoms is going to occupy us and require a lot of energy over the next couple of years, don’t you agree?