Saturday, 13 December 2008

Gay & Lesbian Humanist online mag is out - read it!

I've been slow to acknowledge a compliment recently paid to me, so want to put that right now.
The November issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist came out recently and you can find it at I must admit a special interest - they have a new blogwatch feature, and the first one is very kind about this blog. There - interest declared to appease the critics.
G & LH was always my favourite humanist mag. It actually wasn't being produced for a while because of controversy over a Diesel Balaam article. Now it's back in an online version, bigger and badder than ever.
I read the other humanist mags dutifully but..............................
I don't know, there's always something a bit like Secular Methodism about them. I have a sense of folk who are members of the Rotary Club, drive Volvos, polite middle of the road opinions about most things but don't happen to be religious - if you see what I mean.
I suppose gay humanists are always going to be a bit edgier than that, from necessity,and it shows in the mag. The articles, the subject matter, the opinion, the attention to detail always goes that bit farther.
There's more urgency because, let's face it, it matters more. This isn't some polite academic discussion - the humanist equivalent of theologians arguing over how many angels on the head of a pin. People rarely lose jobs, get beaten up or killed in the UK for not being religious; but if you're openly gay as well as an atheist?
Though I'm not gay I relate to that. I grew up on a council estate in a conformist Midlands town, went to a class-prejudiced grammar school and couldn't wait to get out at 16. In my case the route out and rebellion came through punk - the music, the clothes, the fanzines, the anarchist politics and the attitude. It was a little community of other outsiders - like the gay one -in which we had some respite from a mainstream society whose inability to question or experiment with anything disgusted us.
One of the first punk films was Jubilee, via which I discovered Derek Jarman's writing, and in turn learnt of Outrage and Queer Theory. Actually met Jarman at the premiere of Edward II , which with his mixture of luck and obstinacy was held in a Leeds fleapit, not a flash London venue, and at a time when the effects of his HIV status were very plain. Absolutely magic night, and I'll never forget his mix of wit, charm, principled anger and total refusal to compromise with Thatcherite Britain.
It may sound strange but the gay attitude - and more particularly the queer attitude (there's a difference - think Stonewall and Outrage as rough benchmarks) is an inspiration to someone like me. I'm just trying to get by in a community where everything revolves around the church. I didn't seek arguments with churchgoers, but they don't notice anyone or anything good outside their little world, so I had little choice but to resist.
When I got interested in humanism enough to want to contribute to humanist mags I hesitated - that Secular Methodism again. What had I to say to these folk? When I discovered G&LH that changed. People I could relate to, felt at ease with, who spoke my language.
Look -I can't explain it any better. Just go and read the damn thing. You'll see what I mean, and you won't want to miss an issue - ever!

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