This is an email conversation that took place recently between Captain Grumpy and one of our regular readers. We re-print it (with the reader's permission) in the interests of ... well, just because it's interesting, really.
I have been enjoying your web page for some years now, and indeed have contributed in the past. I find your page often expresses my thoughts on a range of topics more succinctly than sometimes I could manage myself, and certainly brings to my attention much of the madness this country seems to sleepwalk into that I would not otherwise have realised (I refuse to read daily newspapers as they seem to contain as much useful factual information as my compost bin).
However, one aspect of your page, and hence I presume your beliefs, has always rankled with me, and until now I have tried my best to ignore it, but I wondered if it might actually serve a better purpose to engage you in some dialogue on the topic, if you have the time. It is not a topic that is easy to have a rational debate upon with most people, and as you are clearly both intelligent and articulate I hoped that we might actually have some meaningful discussion.
My problem is with your apparent stance on homosexuality. I am, and always have been, homosexual. I am an honest, hard working, law abiding, tax paying citizen with a long term stable relationship that was cemented three years ago with a civil partnership ceremony. I don't flaunt my sexuality, I don't attend 'Gay Pride' events, I don't go to nightclubs, I don't mince down the street in cut off jeans and a crop top (although the mental image of such, with my beergut on display, I do find mildly amusing), I don't find drag queens amusing, and I don't fancy skinny young men (my partner, as with all objects of my affection in the past, is a 'man', as opposed to a 'boy'). I don't even partake of the very sexual activity that most people would assume defines 'homosexuality' (and which research suggests is actually practised by as many heterosexual couples as homosexual). Nor do I deny it when asked, and if, when making smalltalk at a conference or somesuch, someone asks what my wife does, I simply reply using the masculine gender and continue the conversation as normal, not making the point "Actually my partner is a 'he'", but just quietly inserting the correct gender into the sentence and moving on.
My parents, who were born in the mid 1930s, were quite disapproving of homosexuality when I was a child (I will not use the word 'homophobic' because apart from a few individuals who fear their own latent homosexuality I very much doubt anyone is really 'homophobic' - I don't like celery and don't understand why anyone else would choose to eat it, but I am not phobic about it). When I first told them I thought I was homosexual, at around the age of 12 or 13, they told me it was a phase and they would prefer if I was not. When it became clear to me around 17 or 18 that this was not going to go away, I made a very tough choice to live a lifestyle that would bring me the love and contentment others achieved, rather than denying my feelings and essentially living a lie. This decision was, in part, due to the development of a close relationship with a girl I adored, and felt that I loved too much to betray her by making her unwittingly party to a sham relationship. Since that time my parents have accepted my sexuality, they have accepted my partner and treat him as another son (I am their only son, I have sisters), although they still don't really 'approve' of homosexuality they understand that it is how I am made and how I must live (I do not 'choose' to be homosexual, it was apparent to me from the age of 3 that I was innately different from others, although of course at that age it would be impossible to determine exactly how, and when people refer to homosexuality as a lifestyle 'choice' they must simply mean the choice of whether to live a lie or be true to one's nature, as my nature is homosexual and there is no choice in that matter any more than people have a choice whether they are naturally talented at art or maths).
So, I am an incredibly lucky person, I am aware of that. Not many people are given the opportunity to work hard, achieve a good job, live comfortably with someone who loves them, and be a useful contributor to society (I am on several Parish Council committees and intend to stand for election to the council itself soon, and I am one of a handful of individuals driving forward the plan to build a community centre in my village).
My question to you is - given the information above, what is your view of me? Does the fact that I am homosexual colour that view? Does it mean that I should have less rights than non-homosexuals? My partner and I are discussing the possibility of fostering or adopting a child - because we both have prior experience of working with people with learning disabilities we may well opt for a learning disabled child, who I understand are the very hardest for adoption agencies to place. Should my sexuality bar me from offering love to a child? Would you remain suspicious of me - and would your suspicion be increased were I to adopt a boy rather than a girl? Would the fact that many of my friends leave their children (of all ages from a few months to 18+)with me from time to time concern you, and would the fact that they all say what a wonderful father I would be have any impact on your view of me?
I am not trying to provoke you, pleased don't assume that. I am simply trying to understand why you take the stance you do on homosexuality. As an intelligent, hard working, tax paying, law abiding citizen, I see the terrible injustices happening across this country on a daily basis, many of which are highlighted by your web page, and it angers me and makes me want to change society for the better, hence my work to support my community. But when I read aspects of your page that imply that I am somehow a second class citizen, somehow not as worthy as everyone else, purely because the person I love is the same gender as myself, I wonder why I bother. I can cope with the fact that the majority of readers of the Sun despise homosexuality, because they have been conditioned to do so by their brainwashing and they have not the intelligence to think otherwise. But when someone as intelligent as yourself, whose views I agree with on 95% of topics, makes me feel like I am not worthy of the same rights as everyone else, to be honest I despair. There appears to be no route for me to improve my lot, I am forever condemned to be a lesser being, by no fault of my own and with no course of action to change things.
So please do, if you have the time, construct a response to me. I promise you absolutely that it will go no further than myself. This is simply my attempt to elicit a true opinion from someone whose views are extremely similar to my own, save for this one key issue. I hope that as the intelligent and reasoned person you appear to be, you will want to take the opportunity to engage in discussion on this topic. Perhaps if I were religious this is the sort of discussion I would seek with a priest. Perhaps if I had the strength I could have this discussion with my own father, but sadly we have never had a soul-baring kind of relationship. The only other people I know with whom I could have an intelligent discussion on this topic are all very supportive of equality for homosexual couples and so the argument is one-sided. Hence it falls to me having to ask a complete stranger for their time, in order that I might be able to understand the subject from a different perspective.
If you do not have the time or inclination to respond, I quite understand. But in case you do, I would very much welcome your response.
I admire your very reasonable and fluent exposition, and am happy to state my own views.
It's true that sometimes GOS uses terminology which is crude or carries negative connotations about homosexuals, but it uses such language about quite a few other groups in society - tree-huggers, local government nazis, plastic policemen etc. In a way, that's what the website is for - to express the views of elderly, discontented males (mostly) in forthright terms. But I can't remember on any occasion expressing the view that homosexuality is wrong per se, because I don't think it is.
True, I do find it inexplicable: I have to confess that I don't really understand it and can't begin to imagine what it would be like to find sexual satisfaction in that way, but I have no difficulty with those that can. Strangely I find myself rather more understanding of lesbians, probably because I have been sexually attracted to women all my life (still am!) so it seems natural enough that others should too. In my personal life I have had four friends or colleagues who I knew were male homosexuals - my wife has rather more. Of the four, two were quite the most charming and attractive people I can remember; one (a neighbour) is always pleasant and always welcome when he calls round to discuss the garden etc. The fourth is sometimes a little hard to take, but that's nothing to do with his sexual orientation - it's because he's terribly opinionated and never stops talking!
I think you've hit hit the thing on the head when you say "I very much doubt anyone is really 'homophobic' - I don't like celery and don't understand why anyone else would choose to eat it, but I am not phobic about it", although I don't agree that those who attack gays are doing so because they are afraid of being homosexual themselves. Some people just want someone to attack. You don't hear people saying "He hammered some Paki in the street because he's worried about being a Muslim himself".
What it comes down to is that I could not possibly, and do not, object to people loving each other. Love's a good thing, wherever it's found and however it's expressed.
Where I do have a real problem is with the quasi-political clout the gay community has gained in recent years, and of course that has been bred by the great curse of modern society, political correctness. We have a position now where it is wrong to criticise or mock any minority, be it a sexual minority, a religious minority or a racial minority. It's got so bad that even the mere mention of the characteristics of a minority is ruled out of order, vide the case in the papers today of a six-year-old girl who was in trouble for telling a coloured child she had chocolate on her face, or the couple who were so upset because a restaurant identified them as black. I can't imagine feeling particularly cross if I learned that a waiter had identified me by saying I was "white" or "elderly" or "bearded", all of which I am. One wouldn't find it all so objectionable if it were evenly applied across the entire community, but it isn't: on the television I hear just as many comedians making fun of elderly people as I do about gays or Muslims or Rebecca Adlington's big nose. More, probably.
A case in point is the difficulty Catholic adoption agencies found themselves in when gay couples applied to adopt a child. Here were members of a minority faith (in this country, anyway), doing the best they could according to their own lights, performing a useful and humane function. Then they were confronted by members of another minority, gay couples, wanting to do exactly the same - to care for and love unwanted children. Both groups, I am convinced, were positively motivated in every way. But what was the outcome? It would have been perfectly possible for the Catholic adoption agencies to continue their work according to their own beliefs, and for the gay couples to find what they were looking for elsewhere - there are plenty of other adoption agencies, I presume. But political correctness ruled that one group had to be "right" and the other had to be "wrong". I imagine that Stonewall were looking to give someone a kicking; they often are. The result is that nobody won, and it may well be that some children lost (I am not a Catholic, incidentally - in fact I am perfectly sure that all religions are false, and most are dotty).
I will freely admit that I am troubled about the adoption issue, though I'd be hard put to it to explain why. I'm certain it's not because of the fear of paedophilia - that idea is a non-starter, I think. Where I am on safer ground is on the subject of sex education in schools. Whether teaching children about gay sex is useful or not (and it may be), there is a very real danger that it will increase the feeling among ordinary people that views about homosexuality are being forced on them by a polemicist government. In this respect the gay issue is exactly the same as, for instance, man-made global warming. Attempts by the government to use schools and teachers to try and shape the beliefs and attitudes of the next generation to conform with their own must be regarded with the deepest suspicion, whatever the topic. Homosexuality and "carbon dioxide is poison" today, political orientation tomorrow: very dangerous indeed.
I don't know if that's a satisfying answer to your query, or not. At any rate, I'm glad you enjoy the website and hope you'll keep coming back for a long time to come. I guess if you really do agree with 95% of what I write, I'm doing pretty well. My wife thinks 95% of it is rubbish.
Dear Captain Grumpy
Many thanks for your honest and detailed response, which was more than was reasonable to hope for and I very much appreciate the time and trouble you went to in order to compose it.
A couple of rejoinders if I may:
I agree with you about the irritation of the quasi-political clout of anybody who shouts loud enough these days, at the expense of the quiet majority. I benefit from one aspect of this, i.e. when the homosexual rights lobby obtained the right for me to have a civil partnership recognised in law, but I also suffer along with the rest when political correctness goes mad as in the instances you describe. If I had to choose between removing all of the PC-derived claptrap from the statute books (including my own civil partnership) or retaining the status quo, I'd be right next to you with the shredder.
For what it's worth in recent years I have turned around on several of my views because my irritation and anger at the nanny state has over-ridden my personal beliefs. For example I personally dislike smoking and fox-hunting, and originally supported the banning of both. However, I see now (too late...) that these were the thin end of a dystopian wedge. Although I still oppose smoking in places where non-smokers wish to eat, I don't see anything wrong with pubs and restaurants, if they have the space, having a 'smoking room' for example, but it seems reason has gone out of the window on this and so many other issues, which is why I now find myself in the bizarre position of being willing to forego my own civil partnership rights if we could sweep away all of the rotten PC/'health & safety' derived nonsense that has wrecked our country in recent decades.
I certainly agree with you that not all people who attack gays do so because they are afraid of being homosexual themselves. I simply meant that the term 'homophobic' was such an inappropriate term to use (meaning in current parlance 'afraid of homosexuality'), because I believe that the only people who are truly 'homophobic', that is, AFRAID of homosexuality, are those who are afraid of being homosexual themselves. Many more people attack gays because they dislike/despise the very concept, the presumed sexual acts that are associated with it, it offends their religious teachings or whatever, but I don't believe those people are AFRAID of homosexuality, rather they dislike, misunderstand or even despise its existence. So 'homophobia' is not the right word to use - perhaps a more literally correct term to use might be 'sexualityism' or but that sounds like something the PC loonies would dream up, so perhaps not!
I do take issue with one other term you used though, not because it causes me any offence, but because it's lazy and, I think, beneath your usual clarity of language. This is the term 'the gay community'. The people who lobby for gay rights, the people who attend gay pride events, are gay like me, but they do not speak for me any more than Gordon Brown speaks for you because he and you (I presume) are both white males. So I think it would be more accurate to use the term 'the gay lobby' rather than 'the gay community' as it more appropriately describes those individuals who wish to ram their sexuality down people's throats (as it were) and does not include people who just want to live their lives quietly as equal and ordinary members of their community (like myself). I understand that the need for minority groups to shout loudly stems from perceived intolerances in the country at large, but again a reasonable position has to be taken. I don't believe a majority of people in this country would prefer to see homosexuality made illegal again as I believe most people would naturally adopt a 'live and let live' approach (perhaps comments on your site relating to this issue will subsequently prove me wrong) - but it is when the 'live and let live' approach comes back to bite the 'accepting majority' (a slew of gay rights, muslim rights, prisoner rights, these rights, those rights) that people begin to harbour animosity towards the very minorities that they were previously prepared to 'live and let live'. Personally I fear that if we move too far towards 'pandering' to any minority's demands, there will ultimately be a violent knee-jerk response in the opposite direction, and I would much rather my homosexuality were quietly accepted as part of a 'live and let live' culture, than fight for a raft of 'rights' that result in polarising the populace to such an extent that 'hate crimes' begin to increase, which is exactly what we are seeing today.
It is interesting that you can't put your finger on why the adoption issue troubles you, although you say it is nothing to do with the fear of paedophilia, which is a relief as I had believed that a significant proportion of the populace still for some reason equated homosexuality with paedophilia (it defies logic as an argument, but I guess if many straight men find teenage schoolgirls sexually attractive it would only be logical to apply the same principle to gay men, so perhaps that's where this erroneous viewpoint emanates from). I would hazard a guess that the majority of the population is in the same situation as yourself on this issue. One argument I hear is that the child would be bullied at school for having gay parents, but from what I can see children are bullied at school for a thousand reasons, including having the wrong trainers, separated parents, ginger hair or a posh accent, and to be honest the best thing one can do for children is give them a supportive home environment in which to discuss and support, and place the behaviour of bullies in context, so again I don't see why that should be an argument against gay people adopting. It would be interesting perhaps to hear from your readers just why they think my sexuality alone means that I would make such an appalling parent that they would be prepared to stand up against my wish to do so (for the record your remarks regarding Catholic adoption agencies and gay adoption are spot on and are yet another example of pandering to minorities over-riding common sense).
It is in the interest of this last point that I think it would be helpful if you were to print my original letter, your response and this letter (plus any further response from yourself of course) on your site. It would be helpful to me to see:
a) Whether your readership agrees that a 'live and let live' culture is preferable to one in which minority rights receive such attention due to political correctness that they actually decrease the will of the majority to 'live and let live', and whether as a result they would tolerate a gay couple living next door them, drinking in their local pub, and saying 'good morning' to their children, for example.
b) Why my sexuality would make me such a bad parent that I should not be allowed to adopt a child
The responses might be hard for me to take, but I have to confess I am seriously considering leaving this country (I fear the next Government will be just as bad as the current one) and it may be that the responses on your page help me to make my decision either way - giving me hope or killing me off! The statistics show that there are about 7 million net contributors financially to this country, i.e. childless, higher income tax bracket, car-driving, non-benefit claimants, and we support the other 54 million to some extent (of course many of the 54 million support themselves and/or were net contributors during their working lives). How many of us have to leave before the country falls to its knees? Already I know 20 net contributors that have emigrated in the last 8 years. All we ask is for a fair deal, but as your page highlights day in day out, the decent folk of this country get the raw deal time after time while the criminals, louts and benefit cheats are apparently untouchable.
Thank you again for your response, it was fascinating to read and most helpful to me in getting to grips with the one issue I felt at odds with on your site.
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