Bristol Tories brand lottery grant to youth LGB group “outrageous”

// 26 August 2009

Call me naive, but I would’ve thought that most people would be hard pressed to find fault in the National Lottery’s decision to award almost £400,000 of funding to EACH, an award-winning charity dedicated to combatting homophobic bullying. Apparently not:

Richard Eddy, who heads the opposition Conservative group on Bristol City Council, said: “I think this is a mistaken and misguided, outrageous waste of money. Sadly, it seems to be further confirmation that the Big Lottery has long since ceased to impartially distribute lottery cash to worthwhile and respected causes, instead it seems obliged to dole out punters’ money to a raft of politically correct lobbies which clearly sit within the Labour Government’s priority.”

The Bristol Evening Post is no more supportive, asking ‘…so you call this equality?’ Quite how the blatent inequality in attitudes towards young peopleʼs sexuality – the fact that kids and teens arenʼt bullied for being heterosexual – managed to escape the editors is beyond me. Though a commenter does point out that the paper is owned by – you guessed it – the Daily Mail, which might have something to do with it. (I don’t recommend reading the comments section unless you have a VERY strong stomach, it’s homophobe central.)

The money will go towards youth training and support groups:

EACH’s executive director, Jonathan Charlesworth, said: “Each’s lottery win, in the year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, is most welcome.

“Far too many homophobically bullied gay young people leave our schools with few or poor qualifications, regardless of their actual academic potential.

“This initiative strives to build confidence in the very institutions set up to nurture them. We want to see many more young people thrive, realise their academic and social potential and engage positively in all aspects of life. Each and every young person participating in this initiative will be encouraged to become the best person they can be.”

Good stuff.

Comments From You

Kez // Posted 26 August 2009 at 4:55 pm

Ah well, I think the Tories are mistaken, misguided and an outrageous waste of space :D

I wonder what they would consider a “worthwhile and respected cause”? Themselves?

sianmarie // Posted 26 August 2009 at 5:05 pm

as a bi woman living in bristol, i applaud the lottery for funding a campaign that is so important to this city.

and as a human being living in bristol – man i hate the evening post! it publicised reclaim the night bristol and when i read the response (i was looking after the press side of things) in the comments it was just nuts, people telling us rtn was irresponsible.

it is ignorance plain and simple, people have their heads in the sand about homophobia. someone once told me that they didn’t think people were homophobic anymore because of will and grace being on tv. seriously!!

as far as i know, the police are doing good work on tackling hate crime in bristol, and there is a youth group for young lgbt people, but it is great to hear that more is being done to tackle bullying. even caling people “gay” to mean “rubbish” has to stop, it’s part of the contiuum that ends in homophobic violence and ignorance.

saranga // Posted 26 August 2009 at 5:06 pm

I’m convinced the tories are gearing up for the next election by slagging labour in all guises at every opportunity.

Gareth // Posted 26 August 2009 at 10:39 pm

This guy has form. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1528238.stm

Karen // Posted 27 August 2009 at 12:18 am

Why are things only “pc” if the daily male doesnt like them, why is this waste-of-space newspaper so homophobic and why are the tories so far up their own arses they cant see daylight! I have been there with the homophobia, yes it bloody hurts, I totally agree with charitable funding but then the right-wing media won’t ask those of us that have been there what we think because we won’t tell them what they want to hear. What about them spending public money on charitable duck-houses on the ponds in their estates with their tennis courts, helicopter pads and armies of flunkeys? Grrr!

JenniferRuth // Posted 27 August 2009 at 8:50 am

If that is the attitude then it sounds like the money is going to exactly where it is needed.

DeusExMacintosh // Posted 29 August 2009 at 3:19 pm

Well I guess Richard Eddy wont be going to the GLBT events at the Conservative Party conference on October 6, then.

http://www.edgeboston.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=&sc2=news&sc3=&id=95667

ToniM // Posted 1 September 2009 at 10:13 am

As many Bristolians realise, EACH has been doing some sterling work on educating young and older people about the odious practice (and crime) of homophobia; nevertheless, they are swimming against a millennial current and need all the help they can get.

We have all hear (and hopefully challenge!) the repulsive use of the word “gay” amongst younger people as a derogatory, belittling term, intended to convey that something is “naff” or “lame”.

When we consider that young LGBT people around the UK are exposed to the routine use of this word, at school and in their social circles, to implicitly brand them as sub-standard, weak, lame and somehow inferior to their peers, I think the Big Lottery Fund award is not a minute too soon.

I guess even Bristol’s Conservative party must be wishing that Cllr. Eddy, who kept a gollywog on his filing cabinet **and saw nothing wrong with it!**, would have the honesty to resign to follow his *true* heart’s desire, show his true colours and join his soulmates… in the BNP!

JenniferRuth // Posted 1 September 2009 at 5:28 pm

ToriM – I agree with your post but using the word “lame” as a synonym for rubbish/crap/naff/etc. is ableist – just like using gay is homophobic.

(This is a word that I am still trying to weed out of my vocabulary – I know better, but it still slips out sometimes. I think it is worth trying to purge words like this and it doesn’t take much effort)

RadFemHedonist // Posted 1 September 2009 at 5:51 pm

I second that lame is an ablist insult.

Laura // Posted 1 September 2009 at 5:57 pm

My apologies, as moderator I should have picked that up, thanks for pointing it out.

I’m sure you didn’t intend any offence, ToriM, but I agree with JenniferRuth that we should all work at eliminating this kind of language from our vocabulary. My pet peeve at the moment is people using ‘retard’ as an insult.

ToniM // Posted 1 September 2009 at 6:10 pm

I apologise, you’re absolutely right and it goes to show how each one of us has tunnel vision about our own oppression… what is also worthy of remark here is that I am gradually becoming more and more disabled by osteoarthritis but, while I have lived with homophobia all my life Since I came out at 14, I cannot yet identify the self-oppression of using words like ‘lame’. I am Italian by birth, so my English language is learnt from my surroundings, my partner’s mother (76) who has a congenital hip deformity, describes herself as ‘cripple’ or ‘lame’ and me as ‘crippled with arthritis’ and means no harm by it.

I am therefore doubly grateful for the correction, believe me it was not meant as an insult and I shall be more vigilant in future.

Cassian // Posted 2 September 2009 at 10:42 am

I respectfully disagree with the emphasis a few of you are putting on words, rather than the feeling behind them. To me actual political correctness (as opposed to the Daily Mail brand, I completely agree with Karen’s point there), and why it is distasteful, is a focus not on hatred but on language. Personally I find this superficial. Specifically the word ‘gay’ to mean rubbish is inaccurate (according to my teenage sources). The word is in fact ‘ghey’, and yes you are supposed to pronounce the ‘h’. My sister and her friends were all very clear about the distinction, although as half of them at least are bi I doubt their social group is likely to be a hotbed of homophobia.

I brought this discussion up with my lesbian house mate, who has suffered homophobic abuse in Bristol. Her response was that although homophobia is horrible, she would prefer people to call her a dirty dyke to her face than tip-toe around her because they were not sure what words were PC. There is the potential for to heavy a focus on words, to create barriers between people who have no hatred towards each other, only ignorance.

Laura // Posted 2 September 2009 at 10:51 am

Cassian,

It might be ‘ghey’ to your teenage sources, but I’ve heard plenty of people – not just teenagers – using ‘gay’ to mean rubbish or pathetic. Perhaps ‘ghey’ just comes from ‘gay’ (I know ‘gay’ was used when I was at school ten years ago) and the teenagers you spoke to are unaware of its etymology. But that aside, while some gay people may not have a problem with the use of ‘gay’ as an insult or synonym for rubbish, this use does reflect and perhaps reinforce homophobic attitudes; if society as a whole didn’t look down on gay people, why would ‘gay’ be used as a synonym for rubbish, crap, pathetic etc? Similarly, if disabled people were treated as full members of society rather than being looked down on as lacking, something to be pitied, would ‘lame’ or ‘retard’ be used as insults? Personally I think it’s important to cut this kind of language out of our vocabularies as part of the overall attempt to tackle homophobia, disablism etc. EACH certainly seem to think the negative use of the word ‘gay’ has a negative impact on children and young people, and I’m happy to go with the experts here.

ToniM // Posted 2 September 2009 at 11:35 am

Cassian, this feels like we are going backwards and revisiting the battles of yesteryear… are we ?

A) Language *does* matter, without a language to communicate spite, hate and characterise *others* as inferior, it is impossible to persuade people that it’s ok to victimise them. It is through language that the Nazis portrayed Jews as inferior and sub-human, it is through language that Apartheid branded non-whites in the same way, and it is through language that Climate Change Deniers are characterising the whole Green movement as “tre-hugging hippie alarmist”, at best, and “Damned Dem-‘O-Krayts” at worst.

B) Do you *really* believe teenagers are “unaware of the word’s etymology”?

With all due respect for you… aren’t you being a little naive? And, with all due respect for your “teenage contacts”, do you not think they may be a teeny, weeny bit disingenuous?

I mean, it rather seems like asking a paid-up BNP member what he means by “gollywog” and getting the reply “oh, nothing, it’s just a bit of fun and, anyway, we spell it “gowllywowg”. Do you believe *any* black person would be likely to accept that as ok? No? Then why should we? Why should disabled people?

If you are not convinced, why not try an experiment, to see how you (and your teenage contacts, if you care to relay this argument to them) feel about it, when the shoe is on the other foot… perhaps it will give you (and them) a flavour (or is it “flava”? :o) for the way LGBT *and* disabled people (I stress, from recently imparted lesson) feel about it…

Specimen argument:

1) let us postulate that the word “teenager” has become widely used to indicate someone inferior, illiterate, barely human, who can only speak in short, guttural sounds and cannot understand words of more than two syllables, and that this whole usage is based on the fact that “teenagers” use text language and manage to misspell even a short word like “gay”.

2) Let us apply that to the same logic and transpose so it reads “that is so ‘teyn’! ” and use it in the context that effectively attributes it the meaning “that is so sub-human!”

3) Now imagine that your “teenage contacts” are routinely ridiculed for being “teyns” and have to listen to that phrase a hundred times in a day… Do you think they’d mind? NOW does it hurt? Does it make your teenage contacts feel demeaned and belittled? No? Newsflash: they’re lying!

As to your lesbian flatmate: if *she* would rather be called a dirty dyke to her face, that is *her* preference and *her* prerogative, no-one has to share it. I for one do not! Nor does anyone else in the LGB organisation I work for… I would rather people were prevented from giving themselves permission to insult and humiliate each other for their differences.

FYI we fought for decades just to stop men calling women “chicks”, the fact that a generation later women permit men to call them “bitches” is, well… *so* “teyn!” ;oD ….

Get it?

Laura // Posted 2 September 2009 at 12:24 pm

What a shame.

I think “gay” as an insult is far too far gone to retract. Probably reinventing “queer” or “dyke” to mean “cool” would be a better way to combat it.

Lindsey // Posted 2 September 2009 at 2:49 pm

@Laura

“Queer” has been reclaimed in a way – not to mean “cool” but as a generic term for people who aren’t straight (I think because “gay” wasn’t encompassing enough). So you can study queer theory at uni or identify as queer without having to get too specific about pigeon-holing into one particular group or another.

RadFemHedonist // Posted 2 September 2009 at 8:18 pm

Teenagers and born homosapiens under 18 in general already get treated as sub-person, much writing about them emphasizes how shallow and ludicrous their feelings, bodies and political activism supposedly are, “immature” “babyish” “balls haven’t dropped yet” “childish” “jailbait” “you little…” “adolescent (intellectual) masturbation” “teenage boys make tissue mountains” “self absorbed” “infatuated (not in love of course)” “seen and not heard” “adolescent fumblings” “never send a boy to do a man’s job” “teenage girls just giggle and shop” “parents should get to decide whether teenage girls can have abortions, parental rights…”

You may recognise this, perhaps that was the point of the post but it must be emphasized that legal minors are an oppressed group and teenagers do not have to imagine what it is to be insulted everyday by words and phrases used without blinking an eye, they already are.

And gay should not be an insult, just because it’s spelt slightly differently doesn’t make it alright when that is where the meaning comes from.

ToniM // Posted 3 September 2009 at 9:56 am

… my point *precisely*, RadFem!

As a mother I watched my daughter go through her teens with nothing short of angst, I felt for her and remembered all the pathos of my own adolescence. That is exactly *why* I used the parallel, to make a point for our friend who seems to believe language does not matter or hurt and that we should not concentrate on words.

My point was that, if the use of such terminology would be hurtful and offensive to a teenager, then why should teenagers (and worst still, adults) expect gay people *not* to take offence at the use of the word ‘gay’ as a pejorative/derogative term?

I am glad you agree that misspelling it makes it no less offensive.

I should like to remind us that he division between heterosexual and lesbian, black and white, working class and middle class women were the nails in the coffin of the Women’s Movement.

That’s why today rappers can call women ‘bitches’ and advocate violence against us and LGBT people with total impunity. In the 70’s they would have faced blockades, marches, sit-ins and boycotts, today it’s taken a ridiculous amount of time to take Buju Bantu to task for inciting murder of LGBT people.

In conclusion: Words Do Matter and unless we challenge them, in our own as well as others’ usage, we are all diminished by them!

“An injustice *anywhere* is an injustice *everywhere*!”

Samuel Johnson, (1709 – 1784)

(incorrectly attributed to Martin Luther King)

Jan // Posted 16 December 2009 at 7:26 pm

Hi Toni M, yeah interestingly enough even though I’m 23, my mum uses the word “teenager” as ammunition to shut me up when having a disagreement. Only as a joke, mind, and we never really have serious rows, but as RadFem has also pointed out, teenagers are discriminated against in that way and not taken seriously! Also last time I saw my mum I was signing on and she called me a chav for not having a job, which I took genuine offence to as she must know there’s a freakin recession! I’ve also been called a nasty bitch for doing nothing worse than telling a guy I’d been friends with for ages that I wanted it to stay that way, so you’re right on there.

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