Ah hate Tories. This isn’t an occasional hobby either – I’ve spent most of my life trying to tackle conservatives and conservatism in Scotland in all their many forms. The important part of that sentence is their many forms.
On Monday, to coincide with the publication of the “Teachers’ Report” into homophobia in schools in the UK, a YouGov poll commissioned by Stonewall Scotland revealed that 88% of teachers interviewed said they had experienced homophobic bullying in schools with only 16% saying they had ever been given training to deal with classroom homophobia.
[Content warning: homophobia, misogyny, violence, sexual assault]
Ruth Davidson, the out leader of the Scottish Tories, took to Twitter to highlight the findings of the report and talk about her own experiences of being subjected to homophobic and misogynistic bullying. What followed was a barrage of broadly similar abuse from Scotland’s vast array of conservatives, many of whom were still proudly displaying “Yes” or “45” badges on their profiles.
Sifting through the comments made, both directly to Davidson and in various discussions on social media, I saw a familiar connection being made between what you think about economics and what you think about grown men and women getting jiggy and I witnessed Scotland’s gay and lesbian history being rewritten, by straight people, to make party political points.
In the history offered up by the (definitely not misogynists and homophobes) saying Davidson should, among other things, be hanged/grateful/slapped/shagged/thankful for their constant violent bigotry, we were dutifully informed that all Tories have always been homophobes and always opposed to equality – unlike them.
As someone who grew up when Section 28 was “a thing”, there is nothing I need told by straight people about what the Tories attempted to do to people like me, it’s an essential part of why I fucking hate them. However, following its abolition, the Tories knew fine well they had fuck all to offer LGB people, so someone came up with the idea that they could say law and order was all about the gays, in the highly unlikely event anyone ever asked about their “gay credentials.” Every press release or question on the issue resulted in the Tories saying that they would get tough on bullies and violence and criminals and school weans and the net result would be less homophobia. So while the reasons might be rather bizarre – and hardly suggest a progressive attitude towards, well, anything – the fact is that Scottish Tories have been the ones talking about homophobic bullying in Scotland’s schools for the last 14 years.
A brief glimpse at the history of my fellow travellers – be they lefties or “members of the online community supportive of independence” – reveals precious little to be complacent about. Until at least the mid 80s, many of the far left believed socialism would “cure” homosexuality. Recently, they’ve had to amend that to socialism being a magical potion which cures homophobia instead. Why did this change? Because a new generation came along who refused to give up on their right to their political tradition, even if it fucking hated them. Things have got better, although we’re still often treated to the view that they’re will be plenty of time for whatever it is us lot do after the revolution.
Many of those more keen on a permanent referendum are also mighty late to the big gay ball. Pretending Brian Souter is not as much of “a thing” in Scotland’s political history as the Tories who created the law a decade or so earlier doesn’t wash with me. The SNP were still attempting silence on the issue no more than 5 years ago and even their last manifesto contained the most pithy commitment to consult on Equal Marriage, giving unneeded ammunition to those attempting to portray basic legal equality as being in some way anti-democratic. The Nats used to be fucking awful, some of them still are.
And before any of you objectionable Labour bellends (I’m looking at you @dhothersall) start getting on your high horses – as if to prove what utter scumbags that mob are, some Scottish Labour MPs [Tom Clarke (Coatbridge Chryston & Bellshill), Brian Donohoe (Ayrshire Central), Michael McCann (East Kilbride Strathaven & Lesmahagow), Jim McGovern (Dundee West), Iain McKenzie (Inverclyde), Frank Roy (Motherwell & Wishaw), and Jim Sheridan (Paisley & Renfrewshire North)] went down to Westminster to vote against Equal Marriage in England and Wales! Your Scottish Labour “lefty” Elaine Smith reinforced the point that there is no connection between economics and gaiety by being in ScotLab’s lonely homophobe club alongside the McMahons (Siobhan & Michael) during the equal marriage vote at Holyrood.
None of those bellowing abuse at Ruth Davidson give the tiniest fuck about LGB people but there’s something much more implicit than outright hatred going on – yet it’s just as dangerous.
“Gay Tories? Does not compute.”
“HOW DARE YOU BE IN THAT HOMOPHOBIC PARTY?”
“Selfish as usual. Yeh, just ignore everyone elses’ oppression”
I’m not generally one to judge, but all of the above comments were from white, straight dudes and all of them had some sort of indication from their profile that they think they are in some way progressive. Yet what’s actually happening is that someone is being told they don’t have a right to talk about their experience of homophobia BECAUSE they are a Tory and that they aren’t possibly capable of being a Tory AND a lesbian at the same time, by a bunch of conservative homophobes.
In this world view, gay, bisexual and lesbian Scots are magical beings who all endorse full communism, dance to disco, hold no views which could be interpreted as bigoted and devote their entire existence to the struggle against inequality and injustice. The most important thing to remember about non-straight people is that they are never allowed to be wrong/miserable/religious/married/a bit boring, otherwise – what would be the point? The notion that even those of us who do happen to be militant disco dancing commies (*cough*) are here for the benefit of furthering YOUR agenda is not a radical one.
We’ll have more on Stonewall Scotland’s poll on ATF in due course but the cynic in me can’t fail to see supporters of the governing party loudly shouting down an out, lesbian politician on the day it was reinforced that Scotland’s schools (which are entirely devolved) remain training grounds for violent homophobia. How long can that continue to be the fault of “Ruth Davidson” and “her party” and not something we all can and should make political choices to deal with? As well as remembering how far we’ve come, we can’t lose sight of how far Scotland has left to go or of the kids who continue to suffer because all the parties still seem busy telling us the other ones did it and then ran away.
There are plenty of reasons to dislike Ruth Davidson, plenty of reasons to despise the fucking Tories but if we’re going to get rid of conservatism, we have to be honest about homophobia – and the role it has played and still plays in Scotland’s story, across our political, economic and constitutional divides. It’s important to point out just how much this transcends party politics and recognise how much has changed and the pace of that change – it’s staggering how much the mainsteam political narrative has been transformed in the last decade alone and we should celebrate that. I don’t see why members of parties which have changed and people who’ve changed themselves don’t want us to be allowed to recognise what’s occured but we mustn’t allow straight people to pinkwash our recent political history as a pretext to going queerbashing on Twitter.
Whether people are entirely correct about economics (like me) or favour a destructive, divisive, brutal and unequal model (like Ruth Davidson), being a lesbian doesn’t mean someone has less of a right to be wrong than all the horrendously objectionable people out there who happen to be straight. We either hate all conservatives equally or we don’t.
Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AThousandFlowers
Follow us on Twitter @unsavourycabal