If there’s one thing that really annoys me these days, it’s people being ‘outraged’ over things that do not require any amount of outrage.
Particularly with social networking sites being so popular, it’s easy to log on to the likes of Twitter and jump on a bandwagon of outrage against something.
This week there have been two stories in the news that have resulted in LGBT people claiming outrage. The first is about the comments that Sir Tom Jones made regarding his former views on homosexuality. In an interview he said he was paranoid about homosexuals in the 50s and 60s when he was starting out in the music industry. When I read the article I had no doubt that he was referring to a certain period in history and that his views are surely more open minded now. However, the outraged brigade failed to see that and leaped on to the Tom Jones bashing bandwagon to call him out for being a homophobe. As Tom Jones himself has since said via his Twitter feed, let’s put this story into context. He was clearly talking about a period in history when homosexuality was illegal and people had very different views to ones that are held today.
In another part of the interview he said that he soon realised that most people “were normal” before going on to clarify that “homosexuals are normal” and that “he shouldn’t have put it like that”. From my point of view he had said something that could cause offense, realised what he had said and then corrected himself.
Therefore there’s no issue, right? Apparently not so, as swarms of people took to Twitter to berate him for saying homosexuals are not normal; something which he never actually said. I wonder how many of those people criticising him actually read the article or considered the context of what he said, and how many blindly jumped on the bandwagon of being outraged by something that he didn’t actually say.
The second story that caught my eye is regarding the calls to ban Germaine Greer from speaking at Cardiff University due to transphobic comments she has made in the past. I’ve long been an advocate of trans rights and actively campaigned on behalf of trans people. However I have to disagree with any calls to ban Germaine Greer from speaking at Cardiff University (or indeed any other university). Although I do not agree with the comments she has made about trans women, I also do not believe in silencing or censoring people who have differing views, regardless of how offensive people may find them. As long as no laws are being broken and there isn’t any incitement of hatred, I am all for freedom of speech. Surely it is much better to organise a peaceful protest or actively challenge Germaine Greer over her views than to act to silence her. Doesn’t that make us as bad as those who act to silence our voices?
The link between the two stories and the views I hold, is the outrage and offense that people claim they feel. While I cannot tell people what they do or do not feel, I can’t help but think that people need to read between the lines, see things for that they are, and perhaps open their minds a bit more before getting angry.
Another example is when I recently organised an equality rally in my hometown of Leamington Spa to peacefully protest against a rise in violent attacks on LGBT people. Although not a dangerous place, attacks on the community have been slowly rising over the past couple of years and I decided to do something about it. As well as organising the rally, I also spoke to many local councillors, my MP and the Police to alert them to the situation and call on them to do more to support the LGBT community. The concerns were positively received and in particular the Police were incredibly supportive. They agreed a series of strategies to combat hate crimes against LGBT people, encourage reporting and support the community. I posted about the positive outcomes on social media so that those attending the rally could see what was happening behind the scenes. While the news was welcomed by the majority, there was a sect that became outraged that I would allow the Police to be involved with LGBT people and LGBT events.
A number of very angry individuals, who were acting on behalf of a militant LGBTQ+ group, began aggressively posting their thoughts on how the Police actively murder people from our community and stated that the Police should be banned from all LGBT events. My response was to again explain the context of Police involvement. I told the individuals that the Police were being supportive of our community and that they were not attending local LGBT events to ‘police’ us. It was about positive community engagement and trying to learn how they can do better for our community. My clarification fell on deaf ears and the outrage of that sect became increasingly intense. Along with their outrage and aggressive posts came personal attacks on me, including racism.
Ultimately what happened was a group of people became outraged over something they completely missed the context of and refused to listen to any kind of reasoning or explanation. I guess that’s the same in the case of the Tom Jones and Germaine Greer stories; people are becoming outraged over something without really understanding the context or considering the alternatives.
As I keep saying, the LGBT community is sometimes its own worst enemy.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.