Is it just me or is anyone else fed up of being mithered, either about gay marriage, or by obnoxious chuggers?
Last week I was minding my own business lost in the new Dexys album on Tottenham Court Road when my exquisite stroll was interrupted by a rather pushy charity collector who, in the middle of the deepest recession since The Woolly Mammoth roamed London (they did, fact!) was collecting for the plight of The Bengal Tiger. His parting shot was "don't you care about wildlife?"
I respectfully replied that I do, but not enough to give a financial contribution when I am not convinced that it will filter down to actually benefit the animal, there's a long way, and a lot of corruption and bureaucracy, between central London and their habitat. I also went on to explain that I believe in charity OR tax, but not both. I asked him if he was doing the job for no pay. His answer was "No". Even if he was working for minimum wage he would earn more on that day than he was asking me to contribute in eight months, and that's a lifetime for some big cats. At this point his arse was slightly less smart.
The exchange served only to annoy me a bit. What right has a pseudo-worthy charity representative got to question my ethics, generosity or priorities?
I was okay, returning to Dexys got me sorted.
Two days later I was accused of being homophobic simply because I had little opinion on the subject of gay marriage when it came up in conversation, other than I see no problem with it and think that it's a right that should be granted. If the subject of equal pay for both genders had come up I would have had little or no opinion of that either, other than agreeing that it should be as standard. I am not female and I am not gay, so my experience and frustrations regarding both subjects are minimal.
Unlike the many (frankly annoying) dilettantes amongst us, I choose to not enter debates the subject of which I know little about. If it is music, art, food, Prince, travel, London, some politics or a bit of film, I will gladly throw my opinions around and hope to learn something in return for the researched information I am confident in relaying. On cars, football, jewellery, literature, global conflict, high fashion and plenty of other things I will wholly admit that I am pretty ignorant...
...DUE TO NOT RETAINING A BREADTH OF INFORMATION ON A SUBJECT I WILL GLADLY SHUT UP AND LEAVE IT TO SOMEONE WHO HAS! THIS DOES NOT MAKE ME 'CAROPHOBIC' OR 'FOOTBALLOPHOBIC' NOR DOES IT MAKE ME 'HOMOPHOBIC'. ALSO, I WILL NOT CALL PEOPLE 'FOODOPHOBIC' COS THEY HAVE NO OPINION ON SALMON SASHIMI... NOW JOG ON!
I have, and have had, numerous gay friends, family, neighbours, colleagues etc, and can often be found upstairs in The Village long after all the cocktail bars catering for the straight folk have closed. For the last 15 years I've exchanged 'happy birthday' text messages with my ex-boss, and he's as queer as a bottle of chips. Never has he, or any of my numerous gay comrades, male or female, been offended by my opinions of their sexuality, because I don't really have an opinion, they fancy the same sex, and that's it, so what? I prefer to brush my teeth with hot water, that's not a big deal either (try it by the way, it feels way cleaner).
But now, in 2012 it seems that there is an undercurrent of 'If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem' when it comes to homophobia and the hot topic of gay marriage. Also it seems that there is a certain element that feel the need to demonstrate how un-homophobic and politically correct they are by stamping their feet in support. This doltish, belligerent aspect is really starting to grate.
I have lived a very active, productive and sometimes hedonistic life in London for the last 19 years, an epicentre for gay living, I've done plenty I am proud of and have had many adventures. During this time I have never seen or heard anything to make me believe that homophobia is any more of a problem than racism, littering, yobbishness, alcoholism and many other ills, but I am not called 'Racist' by my polish neighbours for not entering their debates or 'Rubbishist' if I neglected to confront a kid for tossing their Monster Munch packet on the pavement.
Homelessness, mental health, the double standards of corrupt politicians and cycling fatalities are, in my opinion, far more worthy issues for any activism I may wish to deploy, but I will not berate anyone if these subjects do not strike the same chord with them. I just hope that in the future other pro-active people similarly credit me with intelligence and not insult me for not having the same urgencies that they have, because, as you are probably getting by now, I am totally fed up of the current craze of haranguing people who chose to not be involved in a protest.
I've had other insults come my way, I was once called a 'White C**t' by a black kid, I had quiet words with him. I will never know if he heeded anything we spoke about. I was called a 'stupid English prick' by a man of Asian descent who had barely missed me while driving his car on the pavement, he drove away too fast for me to speak with him. I was once told in all seriousness "not to waste space in here" while in a gay club after telling the man I was straight. I didn't make a big deal about his 'heterophobia' or demand recognition that Heterosexuals have the right to command space in a club just as much as anyone else, I just told him he was a dickhead, I could see no point in trying to reason with him.
If you want things such as gay marriage and the preservation of endangered felines then articulate this, hopefully in great numbers, to the people in a position to make a change, and hope for empathy, support and action. Don't waste your energy and passion on wrongly accusing the well-wishing ambivalents of prejudice because you may then annoy them and probably fail to recruit. Like the abusive black kid mentioned above, you should be smarter, being horrible to people like me will not be helping your cause... it's always better to have a gobshite on your side...
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