BRAVE NEW WORLD IS (STILL) HERE

By Molly Ellen Pearson

CW: sexual assault, rape

David Wiener’s TV adaptation of Huxley’s classic dystopia launched on Sky One and Peacock on July 15th 2020.

Set in New London – in a society where class is enforced by genetic engineering and hypnopaedic indoctrination, the use of the euphoric drug soma is universal, public orgies are wholesome fun and ‘mother’ is a swear word – Brave New World is a novel with many themes. One of them is misogyny and the mechanisms by which it is expressed and perpetuated. Consequently, the portrayal of the novel’s central female character, Lenina Crowne, and her relationship with John the Savage (the emotional core of the story) are huge contributing factors to the success or failure of any adaptation. Wiener faces the challenge of depicting a society he describes as ‘hugely problematic’ without condoning it, which raises questions about how the problematic aspects of the novel could, or even should be, adapted.

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‘JUST A NOTHING’: ASEXUAL ERASURE IN ADAPTATIONS OF THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY

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By Molly Ellen Pearson

Few novels with openly queer protagonists are as enduringly loved, or have achieved such acclaim, as Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley.

Tom Ripley is a charming, Machiavellian antihero whose talents include ‘forging signatures… and impersonating practically anybody’, and whose unreciprocated worship of Dickie Greenleaf, the prodigal son of a New York shipping tycoon, leads him to kill Dickie and assume his identity. He is also asexual, yet not a single adaptation of Highsmith’s work has addressed this. With a new adaptation in the works, in the form of a Showtime drama directed by Steven Zaillan and starring Andrew Scott, it’s important to acknowledge and reflect on the ways in which this aspect of Ripley’s character has been erased.

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ENGLAND FOOTBALL FANS BACK TO OLD (HOMOPHOBIC) WAYS IN PORTUGAL

england fans portugal

by Jonathan Lee

After the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, England football fans had enjoyed a slightly improved reputation internationally for behaving themselves a bit better at away games in Europe. This illusion was shattered last week in Portugal for all the world to see, as boozy lads in shorts and polos attacked locals with bottles, wrecked cars, and clashed with police on the streets of Porto. It turns out that, without Russian ultras and law enforcement to keep them in line, England’s lads-on-tour stag party of intolerance and imperialist nostalgia is just as present in the travelling fan culture as it always has been. Embedded homophobia, a staple of the hooligan culture of old, also reared its ugly head again in Portugal with some England fans feeling unsafe among their own supporters.

I experienced more homophobia in 3 hours here than I did in 3 weeks in Russia,” said Joe White, an English football fan and co-founder of LGBT+ supporters group Three Lions Pride. “And this has all come from England fans” he added. “LGBT+ is clearly not welcome.

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JUSTICE FOR CLEANERS AT KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

By KCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign

Content warning: mentions sexual harassment, homophobic abuse

This week, the KCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign released a short film revealing the struggles of migrant cleaners at King’s College London, a day before management made a recommendation to the College Council as to whether to end the outsourcing of cleaning. Through the film, cleaners speak in their own words about the violence of the outsourcing model and how mistreatment at KCL is normalised.

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JACOB REES-MOGG, JEREMY CORBYN, COURTESY AND CONVICTION

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by Justin Reynolds

Writing in the midst of Europe’s interwar turbulence, the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci observed that ‘the old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.’ Though contemporary parallels with Gramsci’s troubled world can be overplayed, these transitional times have spawned, if not monsters, an impressive array of fabulous beasts.

Donald Trump is President of the United States. Self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders almost won the Democrat nomination. Silvio Berlusconi is once again on the verge of becoming the leading powerbroker in Italian politics. Jeremy Corbyn emerged from the deepest political wilderness to lead the Labour Party.

If, as the Brexit negotiations intensify, Theresa May’s vestigial authority finally fades away, the Government may have little option but to take a chance with a charismatic leader able to hold it together through sheer force of personality. And it is no longer absurd to suggest that, just as Labour members insisted on Corbyn, the Tories might turn to his mirror-image, Jacob Rees-Mogg.Continue Reading

FEES, FREE SPEECH AND FILIBUSTERING – A BRIEF HISTORY OF SAM GYIMAH MP

by Lewis Martin

Here’s a sentence I’ve wanted to write for some time: Jo Johnson is no longer the Universities minister. Last week Theresa May ‘promoted’ him to the transport office and made him the new minister for London. His removal came just days after Toby Young was forced to resign from the Office for Students (OfS) board, in part due to his link to a eugenics conference held at UCL.

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FIND THE DOMINATION IN THE NARRATIVE

by Eli Lambe

CW: victim blaming, transphobia, homophobia, rape

Sitting in my mum’s living room, vaguely paying attention to what she had loaded up ‘on-demand’, I started to get antsy and agitated. The programme, a gritty ITV crime-drama called “Cold Blood” kept jumping out at me with its thinly veiled victim blaming, transphobia and homophobia. Because it was being played ‘on-demand’, the same few ads kept popping up. This, along with a summer of conversations that continually went nowhere, prompted the following rant/doodle/mess…

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FEMINIST TOP PICKS – EDINBURGH FRINGE 2017: PART 3

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by Carmina Masoliver

Read part one of Carmina’s top feminist picks here.

Read part two of Carmina’s top feminist picks here.

 CW: rape, sexual assault, islamophobia, homophobia

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50 YEARS – HOW FAR HAVE WE REALLY COME?

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by Alex Powell

CW: mentions homophobia and homophobic abuse

Last week marked 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 entered into law, in the first step towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality. There’s been a great deal of coverage of this milestone in British media, including some brilliant, informative TV programming (I highly recommend the BBC’s drama ‘Against the Law’). But it is Owen Jones’s recent Guardian column ‘Hatred of LGBTQ people still infects society. It’s no time to celebrate’ that seems to have been most prominent. Jones’ arguments are certainly justified, but commentary like his risks misrepresenting the situation that now faces LGBT+ people in this country. It’s not all bad.

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WHO ARE THE DUP?

by Zoe Harding

Content warning: article mentions terrorism, (anti) abortion, homophobia, racism

So, the election was fun, right? Even if you didn’t vote Labour (and fair enough if you didn’t), watching Theresa May fall from an unassailable lead in the polls all the way to a humiliatingly hung Parliament, in a blizzard of vague soundbites, invasive and inadequate policies and flailing attempts to smear the opposition, was still rather viscerally satisfying in its own way. Early Friday morning saw a weird sense of relief from many who expected a Tory landslide.

Unfortunately, early Friday morning turned to mid-Friday morning, and then suddenly dove back into the bad old days, with the announcement that a desperate May government had decided to form a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to form a government.Continue Reading

NINETIES SIT-COMS, LGBTQ+ FRIEND OR FOE?

by Jess Howard

As a nineties baby, I grew up with Friends. There’s seldom a day where I make it through a 24 hour period without adding in a few quotes from it, be it “PIVOT” or “WE WERE ON A BREAK”, and any show that involves a cameo from Bruce Willis is fine by me. This show was my life.

But lately I’ve been thinking about how it applies to my life today as a pansexual woman. Does this nineties/noughties classic represent an accepting attitude towards homosexuality at the turn of the century? Or does it contain strident homophobia disguised as a casual joke?Continue Reading

FUCK OFF, TERFS: DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERNET HATE MACHINE

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by Zoe Harding

Content warning: article contains strong language and mentions transphobia, rape, death threats, online harassment, homophobia, biphobia and bi erasure.

So this week a friend of mine said something on Twitter about accepting transgender people as people, regardless of genitalia. One of those reasonable discussions that occasionally ensue on the internet ensued, and ended with her getting dog-piled with sufficient angry, hateful messages to nearly crash her ageing iPhone and accusations ranging from homophobia to gaslighting and advocacy of corrective rape. While the barrage of tweets from a dozen accounts was polite by online discourse standards (for ‘polite’, read ‘no swearing but massively condescending, dismissive, pompous and worryingly intense’) the death threats and abuse that followed in private messages was significantly less so.

Once more, my friend had attracted the ire of the TERFs.Continue Reading

THOUGHTS FROM THE FENCES – YARL’S WOOD & THE IMPORTANCE OF IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

by Lotty Clare

Content warning: mentions violence against women, abuse, rape, self-harm, suicide, racism, harassment, homophobia.

Last Saturday, a group of UEA students and Norwich residents travelled to a protest at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. This protest was the fifth Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) has organised to shut down detention centres. As I approached the building, hidden inside an industrial estate, surrounded by fields, in the middle of nowhere, it was just as intimidating and depressing as 6 months ago when I went to Yarl’s Wood for the first time. It looks like a prison, except that it is ‘worse than prison, because you have no rights’, as former detainee Aisha Shua put it. Some women are in Yarl’s Wood because their visa expired, others because their asylum claim was unsuccessful. They have committed no crime. And yet they can be detained there indefinitely.

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CHRISTIANITY, QUEERNESS & ME

by Tara Gulwell

I was nine years old when I first learnt what lesbian meant. It was a word thrown at me as a measurement of depravity to which I should never want to sink. Little sweetheart notes I was trying to send to another girl were found and I was not-so-kindly made aware that that wasn’t natural. Up until that point, I had assumed, like every child does, that my way of experiencing the world was like everyone else’s. Lesbian, that dirty word tossed about on my playground, brought me out of the naivety that blinded me from realising I was different from my peers, and overshadowed my childhood at my Anglican, Church of Wales, primary school.

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THE RADICAL NOTION THAT WE ARE PEOPLE: 5 REASONS TO HAVE HOPE FOR 2017

by Candice Nembhard

From terror attacks to constitutional changes, there is no doubt that 2016 will go on record for being an insanely dismal year. To paraphrase Ginsberg’s Howl, ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by bigotry, fear and greed’ (or something like that).

However, despite certain adversities and geopolitical setbacks, much was gained by the likes of small yet vocal communities campaigning for drastic change. With the help of social media and public platforms, we have seen a burgeoning of new safe spaces for women of colour, nonbinary folk and creatives alike. It goes without saying that their good and honest work should not go unnoticed, nor should it be underrepresented.

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THE LEFT’S IMAGE PROBLEM

by Zoe Harding

We have an image problem, you and I – yeah, you and I. Us. Lefties. Radicals. The chances are – if you’re reading this site – that you’re fairly left-wing. You’re a general believer in the doctrine of ‘don’t be a dick to other people’ with the sub-clause of avoiding ‘fuck you, got mine’, even if our specific approaches to doing so differ. I’ll be speaking in very general terms in this article, because I have 1000 words to work with.

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TIME TO FUCKING STAND

by Alex Valente

Content warning: mentions racism, xenophobia, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and the general mess that is 2016.

And so the world has suddenly changed, again, seemingly even louder than before. For a lot of people who claim to be interested in following politics, nationally or internationally, the events of the past month can feel like a shock. We’ve all trying to find someone to blame, someone to accuse, someone to stand in front of us as we look in a mirror, and global media has been having a field-day of think-pieces on the issue. But quite frankly, who cares?

We fucked up. We’ve been doing so for a long time. We’ve been doing so with every time we didn’t speak up, stand up, stand in the way of neoliberalism, aggressive capitalism, individualism and their opening the gates to full-on, fully backed racism, xenophobia, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and so many other horrors that not even patriarchy-mythologised Pandora could be blamed for them all.Continue Reading

QUEER VISIBILITY – THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE

by Cherry Somersby

Content warning: mentions homophobia, homophobic violence

Anyone with a basic understanding of society will know that queer people encounter instances of homophobia on a daily basis. Seemingly removed from what many view as ‘real oppressions’, everyday instances of homophobia can be intensely draining, but ultimately the form they take is rarely an aggressive one. So why, then, does an act so apparently harmless as a prolonged stare or quiet whisper in the street, have the power to provoke so much fear? The answer is something I failed to realise until three days ago when I witnessed homophobic violence in my own city.Continue Reading

NO, HATE CRIME LAWS AREN’T CENSORSHIP – AND HERE’S WHY

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by Paige Selby-Green

I was disappointed but not surprised to see Concrete publish this article last week about how hate crime laws are supposedly on par with censorship. I wish I was more surprised, but the simple fact is that this opinion isn’t uncommon even though it is eye-wateringly ignorant. It boils down to people flailing their arms and squawking about free speech and the right to an opinion. Well, I’ve got a question for all you believers – why is it more important to you to protect an opinion than it is to protect actual people?

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CISGENDERED OR NOTHING – THE ABSENCE OF LGBTQ+ CHARACTERS IN FILM

by Jess Howard

Earlier this month, Warner Bros and DC released their latest superhero film Suicide Squad, sending mixed reactions across the internet as viewers commented on the film’s plot line and the sexualisation of squad member Harley Quinn. Audience and critics’ opinions aside, what is explicitly noticeable within the film is the lack of LGBTQ+ characters, such as DC character Batwoman, for example if Batman can make a cameo, why not her? In a world with superheroes, Killer Crocs, and witches, why are production companies still refusing to feature LGBTQ+ characters in their films?Continue Reading

INTERPRETATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ISLAM

by Faizal Nor Izham

Trigger warnings: Female Genital Mutilation, Islamophobia, Homophobia, Torture

How does Islam actually fare in terms of human rights, and is it really any different from any other religion? The “religion of peace” has been getting a poor reputation in Western media over the issue for decades, with human rights abuses in Muslim countries often stretching from the major to the mundane.

Female genital mutilation, the stoning of homosexuals to death, the subjugation of women – the list goes on and on. Apostasy is frequently met with the death sentence in conservative states such as Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, individual liberties in these countries, such as speaking up against the state, are frequently curtailed on the pretext of actually insulting the religion itself. Just ask Raif Badawi, the Saudi activist and blogger who dared to criticize the Saudi regime and was sentenced up to 1,000 lashes from the theocratic state for his troubles.

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WE ARE ORLANDO, BUT PERHAPS WE ARE OMAR MATEEN TOO?

by Emmanuel Agu

Content warning: mass shooting, homophobia, mental health

In the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting, myself members of queer societies and wider society are yet again pulled into self-reflection in this time of despair. The tragedy stands as a solid reminder that those who live queer lives are aberrant; there are those who can never accept us — our death is the only thing that can appease them. A solid reminder that when these atrocities strike our communities — those who are struck hardest will be the queer people of colour, our trans siblings and disabled siblings. It was a solid reminder of the extent of homophobia within our society leads to; whilst simultaneously exposing the exclusion of faith within our spaces of activism and self-organization. It is entirely uplifting to see people from across the world and many facets of society declare their solidarity following #weareorlando trend; I am filled with pride and affirmation that the life style myself and my kinfolk live are valid, we deserve recognition, we deserve to be able to celebrate our cultures — to simply exist, without fear of decimation and harm.

I do not mean to detract from these displays of solidarity, but it is necessary to also ask one another to what extent are we responsible for the development of Omar Mateen?Continue Reading

LONE-WOLVES AND STATE WARRIORS

by Joshua Ekin

Content warning: mentions suicide, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, mass shooting, murder

A massacre in an LGBT+ space, by a Muslim, with a legal gun, and alleged connections to Daesh. It’s easy to see how contemporary American anxieties converge in the political aftermath of the Orlando shooting. The media response to this — the largest massacre in modern American history — exposes how truth is controlled by the present political regime.

For those who do not spend their days fretting about radical social discourse, homophobia can be difficult to define. Before Obama legalised same-sex marriage federally, it dominated the media conversation, establishing rights as the fulcrum of group empowerment. While the LGBT+ movement focused on this, statistics revealed that LGBT+ kids across the world were entering sex-work and committing suicide at an alarming rate. If such statistics were ever mentioned, it was to bolster marriage as the unequivocal endowment being denied to the LGBT+ community. The institution Australian Marriage Equality claims that the ‘higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, early school leaving, conflict with peers and parents and suicide ideation [are] all directly related to the discrimination.’ Marx might have called this ‘bridal false-consciousness.’Continue Reading

WRITING OVER THE ACRONYM

by Chris Jarvis

Content warning: mass shooting, homophobia.

In response.

At midnight they dance the devil’s dance
Gleeful in their deviance

As sun rises
Their hearts Pulse in the ecstasy
Community and camaraderie

Unprovoked and unannounced
Space safe no more

Oh hold your breath then count to ten
Then fall apart and start again

All the way to forty nine
Mommy I love you.

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THEPEWPEWLIFE AND WHY I’M HOPELESSLY ANGRY

by Zoe Harding

Content warning: mentions mass shooting, homophobia, Islamophobia.

As you know, on Sunday a homophobic mass-murderer killed 49 people and seriously wounded 53 others in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He used a handgun and a semi-automatic rifle, took hostages and was only finally killed when the Orlando police rammed the wall of the club with an armoured vehicle and forced him to come out, before gunning him down.

News media and political statements have been full of Islamophobic vitriol and scaremongering. Owen Jones walked off Sky News after deciding he was sick of listening to Mark Longhurst and Julia Hartley-Brewer trying to downplay the homophobic aspects of shooting up a gay club in favour of a more anti-Daesh approach despite the attack not yet being confirmed either way if in any way connected to Daesh. As Julian Canlas commented for The Norwich Radical, ‘It is not just an ‘Orlando nightclub massacre’. It is an Orlando lgbtQ+ Latinx nightclub massacre.’ Florida governor Rick Scott suggested that the best thing one could do to aid victims of the shooting was pray, and dodged questions about what could be done to stop further shootings— the NRA logo practically glistening behind his eyes. Continue Reading

WE’RE HERE. WE’RE QUEER. AND WE MATTER: THE HIDDEN FACE OF THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY

by Julian Ignacio Canlas

Content warning: mentions racism, homophobia, suicide, arson, massacre, mental health 

On June 12th 2016, a mass shooting happened at Pulse, gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, USA. 49 people were killed and 52 injured, mostly of Latinx descent. Across the world, lgbtQ+ communities and allies have been organising vigils and other events to express support and condolences.

‘Look, you don’t understand this because you’re not gay,’ Owen Jones said, before storming out of a Sky News debate on the massacre, after the two presenters refused to see the incident in a lgbtQ+ context.Continue Reading

THE GENDER SLIDER – LGBT+ REPRESENTATION IN GAMING

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by Zoe Harding

TW: Homophobia, transphobia.

On June 2nd, the latest in the life-simulating retail behemoth Sims franchise, The Sims 4, was patched to allow players to create non-binary and transgender characters. As IBTimes reported, the free update ‘unlocks over 700 items of clothing’ for either of the game’s binary genders, allowing ‘Female sims [to] wear suits like Ellen [DeGeneres], and male Sims [to] wear heels like Prince.’ This update has apparently been a year in the making in conjunction with GLAAD, but it was launched with little fanfare (most major gaming sites haven’t picked up the story, and there’s been comparatively little buzz online) and provided completely free of charge.

That last part was the most surprising for those versed in the gaming zeitgeist. EA, which owns The Sims’ publisher Maxis, is famous for its brutally exploitative commercial tactics and complete lack of corporate ethics, but they do have a surprisingly positive reputation for LGBT equality, at least amongst their workers. While it’s depressing that it took four massive games, sixteen years, 114 (and counting) editions and expansions and billions of gamer-hours of deleting the ladders leading into swimming pools to finally realise the dream of letting people put boy clothes on their girl Sims, it is encouraging that even a product like The Sims is finally starting to include people who aren’t just cisgender and straight.Continue Reading

HOW I FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH PETER TATCHELL

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by Chris Jarvis

I didn’t want to write this article. For a long time, Peter Tatchell was one of my political heroes. Reading about the infamous Bermondsey by-election when I was 15 and going through the process of being outed and the abuse and violence that came with that, understanding that people such as Tatchell had put themselves through that 25 years prior so that the world we live in was more tolerant and more accepting, was a comfort and an inspiration. Tatchell’s continuing radicalism throughout his long career in activism and into his elder years had me in awe. One of the proudest moments I’d had as a student activist was organising a talk by him at my University and just chatting with him in the pub afterwards. But it’s become obvious that we need to talk about Tatchell.

There’s no denying that Peter Tatchell and people like him have been an incredible force for change in social attitudes and legislation in the UK when it comes to LGBT rights and human rights more broadly. From that violent and unpleasant by-election in 1983, through to his attempted citizens arrests of Robert Mugabe and his unequivocal support of human rights worldwide, Tatchell has been at the forefront of radical direct action, and progressive movements.Continue Reading