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June 15, 2010

Chinatown

Time goes slow when tick means tock,

        When clanking clocks invade again,

When darkness glows, when black takes shape;

        When moonbeams stick to edges.

Moments last so long when you

        Are sleeping in a single bed,

Though mine has room enough for two.

        When you’re in far-flung China.

Hurry back, my love – the tock

        Is pestering my fortitude

(And you know that it’s weak enough

        When we are forged as one).

As one! I cannot wait for it!

        So learn yourself then tell me how

Bright Chinatown transformed your heart,

        But don’t say that it changed the way

Your heart was made for me.

        No, please – I know it’s easy

To be led astray, when far away.

        And though I love enough for two,

The pulsing feeling in my chest,

        That keeps me up, when I should rest,

And makes my mind spin crazily,

        Would quickly break if I lose you.


June 14, 2010

Babylon

              Feed me lies from Babylon[i];

              eradicate conflicting policies

              with misquotations. I can

              shave my arsehole ’ til the

              saviour comes[ii], but should

              I love, then I am doomed

              to die. Well, I’ll meet you

              in the brimstone and clink

              my melting goblet on your

              skull. No-one but the Lord

              can grant forgiveness, yet

              you proclaim authority to

              condemn everyone. But I

              despise Conservatives.



[i] The Catholic Church is referred to as the whore of Babylon throughout the Bible.

[ii] Alludes to the way in which the Mosaic Laws considers shaving oneself to be an equal abomination to homosexuality.


Tumbung

              Naked feet scuff sunburnt track,

             headed for Tujereng. Market day

              brawl for breakfast and Vimto;

              throats creak in the merciless

              heat.

              “Hibidjay!” the Gambian cackles

              and bursts into smiles. Kids

             cling to my scrawny white legs

                  and prance

                      to birdsong

                              and dance

                                  to English;

                                  the rhythm and beat of mellifluous language.

                                  Come, sway

                              Your arms

                      and shake

                  your legs

               to Wolof, and sing!

              Tabletops spring from tormented land

              while Tumbung grows pawpaw and jack.

              Snapper fish gasp from bowls in the sun;

              Tanjean fishers left them to

              drown.

              “Niaata la?” A local man roars

              and holds up three fingers. I

              hand him dalasi and skip

              back to Tumbung

                  to eat

                      papaya

                              and sing

                                  with friends,

                                 who garment themselves in Gambian dress.

                                  Come, swing

                              those feet

                      and rattle

                  those joints

              with Etu, and munch!


The Sauna

              I know that vodka won’t excuse

              the things we did,

             but I will never change the past,

              although I’ve tried

              to wipe it all away.

              I think I said I’d go with you

              (you said I did),

              but something makes me think, that night,

            you spoke for me

              as I lay dead

              And let the mob

              of pensioners

              caress me everywhere.

              A pill is all it takes, I guess,

              and I should learn

             to choose my friends more carefully,

              but I thought you

              would care for me

              that night,

              when I lay dead.


Coming Out

              A secret cuts your world from mine

              But I have lied

                      The same as you

              And know the things you’re going through;

              The words will never sound the way

              You want them to,

                      I lived like you,

              When I was too naive to live at all.

              If you could learn to speak the truth,

              They wouldn’t care -

                      Then me and you

              Could do things we want to do.

              But you will never let them see

              The face you hide,

                      Though if you do,

              I’ll kiss your broken body when you fall.


Recycling

              Nature’s dead – the cityscape

              Recycled it to doors and brick.

                  A cherub smiles from on the wall;

                  Inside its mouth, fossils fade.

              A pane of glass, thick with steam,

              Conceals thinly-painted lips.

                  My old love smiles then fades

                  Away, never to be seen again.

              Beauty died when man destroyed the

              Swallow’s nest.

                             London glimmers proudly.


Chemtrails

Silver

birds spew

chemicals as

balding men parade

the streets of London.

Liquid breaks into a billion

particles and shackles newborns

to the grave. Warlords laugh behind

their desks, gauging tests with eager smiles.

“Welcome to England,” they proclaim. “Iraq is heaven”.


Rome

               I never asked for you to interfere;

               you forced yourself inside,

               and raped my mind

               with tender smiles.

               Now, my eyes are broken.

               Defined by diagnosis,

               I live how you decide -

               Naked in the

               Coliseum, for your

               God-like eye to analyse.

               Catapult me back two thousand

               years - let me feel

               the wrath of Rome.

               I will fight and fall,

              another broken gladiator.


March 20, 2009

The Dark Side of the Rainbow Flag

I believe in true sexual equality - not the contrived alternative which dominates our gay culture. Thousands have died for me to even make that statement, but swiftly joined the mass-grave of anonymous freedom fighters. Does youth culture commemorate the dead? Do homosexuals practise equality themselves? Has the gay scene become a caricature of the Terrence Higgins Trust? I visited the dark side of the rainbow flag to find out.

It’s Saturday night and Canal Street’s alive with teenage boys wearing ill-fitting clothes. They stumble towards a building, which has been sugar-coated orange in case they haven’t made a bold enough impression already. I’m inside with Ray Davidson, a local pensioner, when they burst onto the dance floor. He flinches at the sudden movement. “What are they sniffing?” I ask as a lanky boy withdraws an ominous bottle from his pocket.

“Poppers,” he replies, shuffling in his stool.

Gay clubs didn’t exist in the public arena when Ray was their age - and, as I discover through talking to him, he was too afraid to visit the underground bars in case the police performed a spot-search. “When homosexuality was eventually legalised,” he says, perusing the boys mournfully, “I was too old to fall in love. So I’ve come here every Saturday for the past forty years.”

Four pints of bitter eventually encourage him to join the mob and bend his knees to The Spice Girls. I notice the boys scoff whenever he approaches, pointing amongst themselves at the old man relegated to an unfamiliar generation. Ray traces the wrinkles on his neck in response and drops his eyes to the floor.

I can’t shake the image from my mind the next day, as I travel by train to Brighton for Gay Pride. How can people victimise others without considering their experience? Barely twenty, I have been taught to respect my elders and express even more towards those who fought to achieve my liberal upbringing. It seems as though, in some cultural circles, acceptance is reserved for the youthful – and those who have earned it most are alienated from the cause.

When the train glides to a stop, I follow a bunch of men wearing gay rights badges to the city centre. The march is already underway, so I tag onto the closest group and make petty conversation about the colourful street decorations – and the famous rainbow-striped flag.

Thousands have turned out to celebrate the legalisation of homosexuality. “We fight for equal rights,” says Jamie Barnsley, who has adopted me for the day, “and they impose barriers to separate our culture from theirs”. He nods in the direction of a straight couple squashed against a railing. “It’s ironic,” he says, “and they don’t even see it.”

If truth be told, while Gay Pride promotes equality and diversity on the surface, it’s transformed into an excuse for men to get drunk and have casual fun beneath. An online survey conducted this year verifies that ninety percent of the internet users questioned attend Gay Pride to pull or have a good night out[1]. The NUS LGBT officer struts through the street with a megaphone.

“People like him annoy me,” says Jamie, pointing in his direction. “All that the gay community achieve by protests nowadays is segregation. The only way to stop homophobia is to wait for traditional attitudes to disappear – and that comes with generational change, not incessant campaigning”.

But while I understand his viewpoint, and feel as though gay men are self-pitying in general, I don’t think we have achieved enough equality to warrant the extinction of protests just yet - gay men are killed in homophobic attacks every year, after all. However, it’s hard to take gay issues seriously with topless men wearing angel wings as our mascot.

After a night of celebrating in local clubs, which use the occasion to boost drink prices, I head to a local hotel to ponder my findings. While rooting for my train ticket to London for tomorrow, I try to understand why gay men find it acceptable to commemorate human sacrifice with oil-covered men and cocktails every summer. The issue confuses me all night.

The next stage of my journey leads me to London.

Promoting objectification of the body, and embracing promiscuity forty years after the summer of love became unfashionable; the gay world alienates the romantic thinker. Craig Howard meets me at the station to explore the issue further. He moved to the capital with his boyfriend in 2008, but the London scene distorted their monogamous attitude towards sex and they forged an agreement that each may frequent gay saunas on alternate weekends. But while Craig’s story might appear shocking, recent studies have revealed that 66 percent of gay couples have sex outside their relationship within the first year, and almost 90 percent if the relationship lasts five years[2].

That evening, Craig takes me to the gay sauna he attends regularly.

“Prepare yourself,” he says as we amble through Soho’s labyrinth of alleyways, “this might be a shock.”

The further we walk, the more I feel as though I know what Soho’s really about; the shops advertising porn magazines like candy are reserved for tourists, but these dank buildings give the area its reputation. The sauna flashes red neon in the distance.

When we enter, Craig presents his NUS card to obtain the reduced rate of ten pounds. I stare in disbelief, having equated student discount with Topman, not fetish clubs. I quickly realise that boys are charged less as a publicity tool, being more desirable than older men. I exchange my money for a white towel begrudgingly and follow Craig down the staircase, which leads into a subterranean sleaze pit.

“You’ll enjoy this,” Craig says with a coy smile. I’m not so sure.

Naked men flaunt themselves around the changing room. I feel their glances flutter along my back when I remove my clothes, and quickly wrap the towel around my waist. Craig guides me deeper into his secret world, showing me the different rooms and floors. I’m surprised to encounter atmospheres varying from the Grecian trance zone, in which naked exhibitionists sprawl across sofas, to the Jacuzzi, which is busy with men pleasuring each other beneath the foam.

A group of men survey me over the water while Craig performs a guided tour.

“Just let yourself go tonight,” he recommends, gesturing towards a group of men masturbating over pornography in a side-room. My eyes involuntarily assess their genitals before I reprimand myself for yielding to animalistic curiosity. “We’re only mammals,” he says, reading my thoughts. His words resonate in my head as I watch him climb into a sadomasochistic contraption hanging from the ceiling. “I’ll be here if you get bored,” he says, then leans backwards until somebody decides to dominate him.

I explore the rooms alone for hours, battling temptation with moral concern. We’re only mammals. The truth behind Craig’s words is painful to confront, but dozens of lustful strokes by naked men eventually erodes my logic and the night subsides into intoxicating deviance from social convention – and, in a sense, from myself. For the first time ever, I embrace objectification. The night is heroine as a consequence.

I’m not proud of what I did that night; the next day, I broke down. I had let the dark side of the rainbow flag consume me, lost all sense of identity, and there was no going back. But I don’t regret the experience completely, for it taught me that most of the gay scene encourages men to concede to animal impulses; to sacrifice what it is to be human and perceive the world aesthetically. But I am more than a stereotype, and refuse to abandon my ability to moralise. It is, then, my belief that a dark stripe should form part of the rainbow flag – if we want to represent our culture, why not do so honestly, unless we live in shame?

[2] http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0075.htmlA


March 17, 2009

Conservative Christianity

The church has manipulated biblical passages for centuries in attempt to streamline Christians into suiting a conservative social ideal. Priests have endowed themselves with the divine authority to blacklist homosexuals in recent years and watched them suffer psychologically as a consequence. This is not an essentially Christian practice. Do religious denominations promote bigotry because their figureheads are unacquainted with what they preach or is contemporary religious thought fixed in fundamentalism? I investigate the scriptures which form the backbone of Christian homophobia to reveal the hypocrisy dominating established religion today.

As a gay Christian, I am frequently chastised for leading a loving lifestyle with a member of the same sex while upholding the Christian faith. I have changed churches in attempt to escape the prejudice but repeatedly encounter members of the congregation that presume my sexual preference cannot accord with my belief system. They say that I must refigure my heart if I want to be accepted by God.

This is the result of brainwashing.

Recent investigation into human psychology reveals that sexual preference is genetic, with homosexuals possessing one more chromosome than heterosexual men. But it’s ludicrous to suggest that God imbued me with something that causes my own downfall; to suggest otherwise embraces predetermined rejection. I once considered, following a heated discussion with a fundamental Muslim, that my orientation was a test of faith, but thereafter found it equally incomprehensible that a benevolent Creator would reduce me to a life of loneliness while allowing others to fall in love.

I believe instead that homosexuality as a sin stems from social homophobia, scriptural misreading and biblical manipulation. But transferring social belief onto a divine text distorts the meaning and disrespects the divinity which Christians live their lives by. To reveal how homosexuality is not condemned, let us consult the first ‘clobber’ passage which supposedly condemns homophobia: Adam and Eve.

The most infuriating statement that I encounter when discussing homosexuality and religion is, ‘God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’. The slogan has unleashed an international wave of religious homophobia to the extent that posters, t-shirts and mugs wearing the motto can be purchased online. The concept is simple: it is unnatural for two men to be together, because they cannot procreate like man and woman. However, homoeroticism is a natural occurrence. This can be seen through animals that are incapable of moralising sexual deviance engaging in same-sex acts.

Those who continue to believe that being gay is abnormal, however, should return to Genesis. There, they will discover that mankind was not fashioned to reproduce; the only consequential thing that differs homosexuals from heterosexuals in my eyes. Adam was actually made to tend the Garden of Eden alone. Mankind did not begin with the heterosexual ideal dominating modern society, then. It did not commence with Adam and Eve, as the aforementioned slogan suggests, but rather with a lonesome figurehead.

Leaving feminist issues aside, it was only when Adam expressed loneliness that womankind emerged to keep him company. This reveals that the Lord cares more about the emotional bond between two people than the physical implications of partnership. It is demeaning to suggest that He only views us by gender –as the Lord’s sheep, we are defined to Him as children are to their parents: by love. Gender forms our identity, not the way we are identified.

To this Christians point defensively at Genesis 1:28, which documents God’s blessing upon Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply”; thereby reducing the scripture to its most basic form and completely removing it from the story of Creation.

When God issued the blessing, Adam and Eve had tasted the forbidden fruit and lost themselves to human vices – which includes heterosexual sex. God never wanted the Garden of Eden to overflow with moody toddlers; it was only when mankind was cast onto an unpopulated earth that He underlined the necessity of procreating to sustain our race at that moment in time. The same words were issued to Noah following The Great Flood when there was a similar need to re-establish mankind.

But procreation is not a requirement of the human race today; that problem no longer remains – the world is crammed with billions of people; half the children in the world are malnourished; the earth is steadily being destroyed to support our abundant species. Indeed, when a customer orders a drink refill, he does not expect the waitress to continue pouring coffee until his mug overflows. He hopes for a satisfactory quantity to fulfil the purpose at hand. It is not fair, then, to suggest that we must have children when too much heterosexual sex has become the problem.

Above all, I find that the attack on homosexuals because they cannot procreate is stained by moral inconsistency – should infertile people be attacked by the church; are parents fulfilling their purpose if they bring a child into the world and abuse it; are disabled people that cannot care for a child abusing their human right by not reproducing; are fertile adopters going to hell? It would seem that leading a loving relationship without physical produce applies to multiple social groups. But the church conveniently overlooks this.

Why are the gay community alone attacked? It is my belief that as homosexuality was only legalised in 1967, remaining traditional thought has infiltrated the priesthood and inspired bias religious interpretation on the subject of homosexuality. I doubt that it will ever leave completely, sadly, inasmuch as I do not believe in a utopian society - bigotry will always crop up, no matter how much generational change the human race experiences, because some people are conditioned to reject equality. However by embracing religious liberalism, such attitudes will become the inferior school of thought.

The most famous ‘homophobic’ passage gay men encounter states that “It is a crime for man to lie with man as he does with womankind; this is an abomination unto the Lord, and he shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 18:22). I would place a bet that each gay Christian reader has heard it quoted before. However, allow me to reveal why this passage cannot be used to condemn the gay populace.

If read outside of the intended context, then apparently this condemns gay sex. But we were provided with a Bible to read, not a collection of cut-outs. Leviticus 18 is actually directed at the ancient Israelites, not modern day Gentiles. Indeed, the foremost Jewish biblical scholar Dr. Jacob Milgrom concluded (after a laborious dissection of Leviticus which spans four volumes) that it is only really applicable today to gay Jewish men residing in Israel. The passage in question actually marks God’s expectation for Israelites to separate themselves behaviourally from geographically surrounding cultures that practised false idolatry – for example, the slave-master relationship which culturally dominated nearby Egypt.

Ironically the church does not follow the other approximately six hundred Mosaic Laws, which state, in the same context as Leviticus 18 (to name a few of the more humorous ones), that it is an equal abomination to have a haircut, charge interest on a loan or plant seeds in the corners of a field. So, why does the church follow this particular verse?

The simple answer is difficult for many Christians to confront: the church preaches selected scriptures to scaremonger the Christian populace into submission. The clergy has always been a thinly-veiled dictatorship with the intention of governance. And although they may deny or sometimes not realise it, the Bible has become their tool.

However what concerns me most is that Christians often absorb others’ interpretations without researching the issues personally. I make this sweeping statement on the basis that they would not be so quick to pull the trigger if they had read Leviticus entirely.

This lack of investigation inspired my first suicide attempt.

By the age of nine years old, I had developed an awareness of homophobia before I knew what it was to be gay. When I learned to understand my emotional attachment to males, I was terrified and tried to kill myself in order to avoid the temptation to ‘lie with man’. If the Christians surrounding me had researched their beliefs before imposing them on my impressionable mind, perhaps I would not have experienced a childhood dominated by self-hatred that ultimately led me to abandon the faith for a short period of time. It grieves me to comprehend the amount of gay men that have also shunned God because believers taught them that Christianity and homosexuality are at war – from personal experience, I know that most are unable to confront the religious bigotry in adulthood.

Perhaps the most over-quoted and least understood biblical story is Sodom and Gomorrah. It is frequently used as evidence for God’s hatred towards homosexuality, inspiring Mark. E. Howerter’s opinion that “Lest we should ever forget how God feels about homosexuality, the whole story of Lot in Sodom should be read by every person in America at least once a year”[1].

As you have probably guessed, this is a criminal distortion of the truth.

In Genesis 18, The Lord visits Lot to communicate His decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of its inhabitants’ uncharitable nature. Lot begs for its pardon and strikes a deal: God will spare its destruction if 10 righteous people reside within the city. In Chapter 19, God sends two angels to evaluate the situation. Whilst inside Lot’s house, Sodomites surround the walls and demand to rape the two male visitors as a form of degradation. In attempt to calm the mass, Lot offers his two step-daughters instead. When the mob refuses and continues to behave inhospitably, the angels blind them, allowing Lot and his family safe passage from the city before it is destroyed.

Conservative Christians suggest that the mob’s demand to rape the two male angels reveals that Sodom and Gomorrah was a harem for homosexual men and that anal sex was the sin for which the city was destroyed. But it is ludicrous to suggest that the city was absolutely gay - such a place does not exist currently, let alone would it have done two thousand years ago when the concept of gay relations was not established. Furthermore, if the Sodomites were homosexual, then why would Lot offer his two daughters instead of his two future son-in-laws to the men; why would some of the citizens be engaged and married to women; and why would there be children in the city if same sex partnership cannot produce offspring, as we are so frequently reminded of? The self-destructive supposition reveals more biblical glossing and misunderstanding.

However, even if the sin in question was sexual, then surely it should be the act of rape that is damned as opposed to homosexuality? It is unfair to connect homosexual rape with consensual same-sex relationships inasmuch as it would be incorrect to equate heterosexual rape with conventional lovemaking. Indeed, the Sodomites’ proposed rape cannot be equated with issues of sexuality as it was intended maliciously; it was premeditated as a form of disrespect on the two male angels by feminising them and making them sexually passive. It was a punishment, not a lustful act serving to gratify the men.

In truth, we know that the city was not destroyed due to anal sex as it was condemned in Chapter 18 before sodomy entered the question. To suggest otherwise, according to Inge Anderson, is like a condemned man cursing a guard en-route to being executed and subsequently being executed for insulting him. So, what was the sin that eludes so many Christians? The Bible answers the question on many occasions.

Jesus described it as a refusal to welcome strangers (Matthew 10:14) and, in Ezekiel 16:49-50, God said quite clearly that the Sodomites “were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen."

By this point, you will not be surprised to hear that the church ignores such blatant explanation – manipulating the story to condemn the gay lifestyle instead.

Those biblical examples provide the basis for most religious homophobia today. However, they only expose a fraction of the bigotry poisoning institutionalised religion – dozens of passages are regularly misused to confined gay men to a life of denial. In my view, this illustrates an attempt to banish liberal concepts from a conservative environment. The condemners are the Sodomites, promoting hostility in a brotherhood of faith

However, Metropolitan Community Churches that openly welcome LGBT Christians are appearing across the globe, marking the international shift in gay Christians researching the passages which once overshadowed their lives only to discover that they are not steeped in hatred. At present there are around 300 denominations of the sort. But that is a meagre figure considering that there are approximately 3, 000, 000 churches worldwide. It is only through raising awareness and forming personal belief that this statistic can be changed – and that gay Christians across the globe can reap the reconciliation they deserve.



[1] The Homosexual Lifestyle is Not Normal


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