Instead of talking about or for Muslim women, our research puts the voices of Muslim women front and centre: to give voice to their silent and overlooked stories of discrimination, bigotry and hate, stories that for many are far too real aspects of their everyday lives. More real that is than the newspaper headlines asking whether to ban or not ban the 'burqa'.
The bullet that assassinated Harvey Milk; the ligature that loosed us of Justin Fashanu; the odium that obliterated Matthew Shepard; the rising gay teen suicide rate that claimed Clementi and Rodemeyer and thousands more throughout schools across the globe, and now DOMA and Prop8, are things that should have broken us and yet they have saved us by forcing us hidden homos into an ostensible openness.
Personally, I tend to be less bigoted than I used to be, but when I do get on my high horse, which happens more than I like to admit, I tend to direct my anger towards the people I perceive to be ignorant, stupid, naive or socialist. The problem is that when I do this, I stop thinking of the person in question and start thinking of a group.
A week prior to my birthday an immediate family member, so repulsed by my lifestyle, threatened me with a ten-inch green handled screwdriver and banned his only child from communicating with me, insinuating that I would abuse him and was a present hazard to his and any other child. All of this is what now led me to vacillate over ticking the gay box when asked my sexual orientation in an application to facilitate child learning (which I have done for 17 years). What if, I thought, there are others like him?! "Safer for who?" asked mum. "You just started being yourself; now you're ready to be someone else again! Stop running."
I find the notion of forcing a group of people to accept a view they do not agree with a horrifying one. I do not believe a church should be forced to marry people they do not want to, even if its policy may seem old-fashioned or bigoted. That change in stance has to come from within the church itself, otherwise it is a disturbing expression of totalitarianism.
I doubt very much that Banks is a homophobe. She has worked with many gay artists and is bisexual herself. But the fact that sales of her music have risen sharply since her tweet to Perez Hilton probably suggests that she won't be admonishing the homophobic members of her fan base any time soon... We all know that freedom of speech is fundamental to any democratic society. If you want to say the word "faggot" you are free to do so, but you should also accept the consequences.
In 250 years, when this country will have either loosened or entirely relinquished the moronic grasp of organised religion, how do you think this issue will be chronicled in the history books: as a crucial battle for the inalienable rights of homosexuals, or as the period in which the Church bravely stood up tall against the immorality of a sinful nation?