Pride, Prejudice and Diana Ross ~ Read a guest blog by @dailygrime

I’m delighted to welcome English writer, Michael Grimes to my blog. I first started reading Mike’s writing about six months ago and found him to be humorous and witty.

His observations on politics, sex, music, world issues, and a host of other subjects are delivered with flair and intelligence. At times, his words are biting, but there is always that underlying truth. His honest writing is something I greatly admire.

I am happy to kick off April with his post. It’s one that fits well with my own sensibilities about tolerance and acceptance, especially where sexuality is concerned.

Please welcome Michael Grimes.

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Pride And Prejudice – How Diana Ross Helped Me Become Comfortable With Everyone’s Sexuality

~ by Michael Grimes

diana ross

The World’s Best Babysitter As Seen In His Bathroom Mirror In 1977

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all gay men, regardless of race colour or creed, wish they were Diana Ross. Actually, I have no idea how universal that truth is nowadays, but back in 1977, it was pretty much gospel. And it was in 1977 that I was first introduced to homosexuality by my deeply gay babysitter, Gary.

I can hear a little bit of clenching and tensing going on out there, but don’t worry. This isn’t the earnest beginning of my misery memoir. If the cry-ography is your chosen reading genre, I shouldn’t bother reading any further. This bit is an unalloyed tale of unspoilt childhood innocence I’m afraid.

Gary was the second brother of three brothers. Their dad was a close childhood friend of my dad. Their mum was my mum’s best mate. The oldest brother was a career criminal, as was the youngest. Gary was the gay one in the middle, which made parts of my young life a little like a Martin Scorsese movie. Later in life, Gary became a Catholic priest, which made it really like a Martin Scorsese movie. But back in 1977, he was just my babysitter.

I absolutely adored Gary. Gary babysitting me on a Friday night was the highlight of my week. We sat and made fun of television programs. We indulged in experimental cookery. (Our greatest triumph was something that Gary christened “Pecule”, because of how peculiar it looked. Neither of us plucked up the courage to actually taste it.) But above all, we played games.

Admittedly, most of these games involved Gary being Diana Ross and me being The Supremes. Gary always brought along his record collection. He had a lot of Motown. In fact, I don’t think Gary owned a single record that wasn’t Motown. Many gay men have an affinity for tragic female figures. I was almost certainly the only little boy in my school who knew all the words to the classic 1972 movie soundtrack album Lady Sings The Blues.

After all the fun and games, Gary would plonk us both on the sofa and I’d be allowed to watch whatever horror film was on until Mum and Dad came back from the pub. Bear in mind this was the 70s. Kids weren’t handled like the hothouse flowers they are regarded as today. It was perfectly acceptable for an eight year old to stay up watching an old Dracula movie as long as there was no school the following day.

I knew there was something different about Gary, but I had no idea what it was. What I did know was that whatever that difference was, it made him more fun than anyone else I had ever met.

As I grew up, I began to realise what was different about Gary, or at least what ballpark that difference was in. Human sexuality is a very, very complicated thing after all. Facebook has recently introduced 50 different gender options for its members, rather than the traditional binary “male or female”. There are those who feel this is modernistic noodling of the worst kind, but it isn’t really anything new. There are many older and wiser cultures which have recognised multiple shades of gender for millennia.

All of this deeply upsets the deeply religious Christians of course. (Not all Christians by any means though. Some of them ring it off the hook and actually follow the teachings of Jesus.) “God hates homosexuality” they say. By which they mean that they hate homosexuality. By which they mean they don’t understand homosexuality and are fucking terrified of it.

There are many things I don’t understand. I don’t understand why gay men go “cottaging” or why heterosexual couples go “dogging”. Then again I don’t understand why people spend their chilly British weekends going camping. Just because I personally don’t get a thing doesn’t make it automatically wrong or invalid. My understanding of French is ropey at best, but I wouldn’t advocate the eradication of the works of Voltaire or Balzac just because I can’t read them in their original intended form.

Leviticus tat

The sad fact is that many deeply Christian folk are also deeply hypocritical. When it comes to homosexuality, they love to quote Leviticus. They don’t adhere to many of the other pronouncements in Leviticus of course. They do not eschew “eating blood” or “eating fat” (Lev. 3:17). That would be black pudding and most of the American diet prohibited. They have a bit of a lapse of conscience when it comes to “finding lost property and lying about it” (Lev. 6:3), presumably because “finders keepers” trumps the Bible on that particular point. And “thou shalt not touch the carcass of an animal which does not both chew the cud and have a divided hoof” does kind of make it impossible to play American football, the ball itself being made of pigskin.

Some Christians seem to think that even talking about homosexuality is a danger to their children. There are many things which actually are a danger to their children of course (cars, guns, lack of affordable healthcare) but, strangely, they seldom raise much of a fuss about these issues.

The only danger to their children as regards talking about sexuality is that these children might learn to embrace what they are and there is a chance that what they are is gay. In which case these parents would have to disown their children because their own upbringing has covered them with so many layers of bigotry that they can’t move themselves to do what any thinking, feeling human being should do. Give their child a big hug and tell them how proud their very existence has made them since the moment they were born.

The fact is that, whatever the Bible says, we are all unique individuals, and really there are as many different genders and sexualities as there are human beings on the planet. The thing that made my babysitter such fun was not that he was gay, but that he was Gary and he was true to himself

Whenever a girl dresses as a boy or vice versa, or someone erases all clues via androgeny, they are not doing it to be outrageous or annoying. They are doing it to feel like who they are inside. For some people, walking around looking as society expects them to look makes them feel uncomfortable. In fact, it makes them feel as uncomfortable as I would feel walking down my High Street dressed in a frock. It’s a big wide world and there is room in it for every expression of sexuality. The sooner that becomes a truth universally accepted, the better.

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Connect to Michael 

michael grimes

Website | Twitter: @dailygrime

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Please show Michael some love. Read, comment, and share. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, connect with me and let’s talk. ~ eden

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10 Comments

Filed under Eden's Guest Bloggers

10 responses to “Pride, Prejudice and Diana Ross ~ Read a guest blog by @dailygrime

  1. Great post Michael. First, I’m a Christian and I have no problem with people who are gay. I’ll admit that I don’t quite understand, but that’s just me. The Christians who condemn gays as an abomination need to look inward and see that sin has no scale of good-to-bad and judging people is not what we do– in fact that’s a sin within itself.

    I have good friends who happen to be gay and I enjoy them. Here in Thailand it is considered a third gender and I enjoy talking to everyone I meet regardless of preference.

    I really enjoyed your post and laughed at what readers must have thought when you explained Gary. I thought most gay men wanted to be Liza.

    • I had a highly religious upbringing. Educated in part by nuns and priests. Sin is an interesting word. Here is how it was explained to me by my RE teacher. It’s an old English word “Synn” which means guilty. But it back in the day , it was often applied to a very specific situation. Archery. “Synn” meant missing the mark, Not hitting the target.
      This may have been a bit of folk etymology or something that my RE teacher just made up to prove a point. Even if it was, it was an good analogy. Sinning is trying and failing. Or not trying at all.
      Luckily, if you look at the teaching of Jesus, he never mentions the subject of homosexuality. Christians should follow his teachings rather then delving back into Leviticus. Much of the Old Testament is just a desert survival manual designed to keep a very unruly tribe as safe as possible to the extent of the knowledge of the people who wrote. It was only included in The Bible at the time the Nicene Creed was formulated for political reasons.
      As for Liza Minelli, back in the Seventies the gay community was divided on the subject. It was a bit like whether you preferred ABBA or The Bee Gees. Nowadays I think it’s pretty much Liza.
      Thanks for reading my post and taking the time to make a comment on it.
      Mike

  2. raymondboltonauthor

    This is a superior and courageous post. Frankly, MIchael, I wouldn’t take to heart too much from those who insist this world was created in 6,000 years. Oh, and I also understand your hurt. Even though I’m straight, as an awkward nerd in high school, I too was persecuted and bullied for being gay. I dated girls and never cross-dressed. Nonetheless, I endured much that all gay boys do—beatings, ridicule and taunts. If anything, it now helps me be sympathetic.

    • Glad you liked the post Raymond. I’m not actually gay either, but I can see how you may have got that impression. Perhaps due to that somewhat “flamboyant” profile pic. That was my first ever school photo. My mum picked the clothes. She was a massive fan of Liberace. You can tell, can’t you?
      I could never be a cross dresser either. Not with these hips.
      I was picked on a bit for being a nerd too. I got around that quite early though by being a sort of court jester to the school hard lads.
      Comedy aside though, I truly believe in the words and sentiments in that blog and I’mhappy that they touched you enough for you to reply to it.
      I assure you it is greatly appreciated
      Thanks again
      Mike

  3. Interesting, Michael, and very well done. Put a ditto check for me by danniehill and raymondboltonauthor above…they say it all for me as well. It seems we will never rid the world of bias, bullies, and blind prejudice. However, we can still hold hope for those days to be no more…at least, the thought has some measure of comfort. Superfluously, not all Christians carry negative thoughts on the subject. I don’t like the Christians who force too strongly their brand of beliefs on me. Similarly, with gay friends in my life, I don’t particularly like celebrity gays advertising their life styles publicly to somehow free themselves and blitz the world. Best wishes to you, Michael.
    (Thanks, Eden, for an insightful ‘guest blog.’) xox

    • Thanks for taking time to comment on my post Billy Ray. Prejudice is indeed a terrible thing. We may never be rid of it. Though if we do, being human beings, we’ll probably find some aliens or something to disapprove of instead, like on Star Trek.
      I know not all Christians carry negative thoughts on the subject, but the point is that NO Christian should. Not a single one. Those that do should do a bit of revision and actually start looking at the words of that Jesus bloke. He was quite keen on tolerance apparently.
      The problem is that Christians treat The Bible like a buffet and only consider the bits that appeal to them personally. “Do you fancy a bit of ‘Thou shalt not lie with a man as thou does a woman?” “Oh yes, in fact I’ll have two portions of that!” “What about some ‘Turn the other cheek’?” “Fuck no, that tastes like boiled up socks!”
      As for gay celebrities, they’re just doing what all celebrities do. Keeping themselves on the radar lest they be forgotten. I find it annoying whoever is doing it, but only if they’re over exposed. And it’s not like they’re coming around to my house and forcing me to watch. If it gets too annoying, I can always just change that channel or close that magazine.

      Thanks again for your comment. Glad you enjoyed the post.
      Mike

  4. Eden, thanks for having Michael over.

    Michael, excellent post, and very thoughtful. I’m straight myself, but two of my closest friends are lesbians, so it’s personal when you get evangelists and the religious right pulling that kind of thoughtless condemnation of something that they’re fundamentally scared of, don’t understand, and don’t care to understand.

    The general hypocrisy I’ve seen out of religion has turned me into an agnostic, actually.

    • Thanks for commenting on my post William. I have to say that it wasn’t hypocrisy that turned me off religion. Hypocrisy is everywhere. You don’t have to be religious to be hypocritical. It does seem to help though. It is the closed mind that religion seems to give many people that turns me off it.
      You shouldn’t walk around with your mind flapping open all over the place of course; that’s just being gullible. But if you can’t face any challenge to your beliefs at all, then your belief simply isn’t strong enough.
      Mind you, scientists can be just as bad. I’m thinking of Richard Dawkins in particular. My favourite comment on this is by British comedian Stewart Lee, who ironically cites the existence of Richard Dawkins as definitive proof of the existence of God. “To think that something as beautiful and as perfect as Richard Dawkins could have happened purely by chance is ridiculous”. Indeed.

      Mike

  5. Fantastic post, Michael. The graphic of the guy with the Leviticus 18:22 tattoo was priceless.

  6. Thanks Reese. Yes, that graphic is irony on a very visceral level, isn’t it? I have to admit to spitting out my tea and dropping my bacon sandwich when I stumbled upon it.
    Mike

All comments are appreciated.

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