Before global mass media, statues were an effective way for governments and elites to assert authority and identity in a politically volatile climate

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Image caption: George Washington, Philadelphia

Back in 2017, Tweeter-in-Chief Donald Trump had this to say on the removal of Robert E. Lee’s statue in Charlottesville: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”

It would be cruel to expect someone who doesn’t read to consider that history is often changed. It’s not a continuum of events upon whose meaning and relevance everyone is agreed, or even what is to be included. It would be hard for Trump’s Great (White) Man viewpoint to grasp queer or black social history as having something else to say about the past, a counter-narrative to the one offered by Lee’s statue being on public display. …

How COVID-19 could finish off queer nightclubs and why that matters

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Image source: Horse Meat Disco

We know us Brits aren’t shy of a drink, with the UK’s night time economy annually generating £66 billion. London alone, where I live and manage a gay club, accounts for 40% of that with a whopping £26.3 billion. That’s a lot of Jaeger bombs. Right now, every owner of a pub, bar or nightclub is potentially watching years of hard work washed away by COVID-19. Hospitality was the first sector to be closed and will be the last to reopen. Social distancing presents a unique problem to these businesses: their whole purpose is social intimacy.

Since 2006 the number of LGTBQ venues in the capital has dropped from 125 to 53, that’s an astonishing rate of closures that has undoubtedly taken some shine off London as a global beacon of diversity. The days when people flocked to the city expecting — and getting — a world beating choice of clubs, bars and under the radar all nighters are long gone. Walk around the West End after midnight and you’d be hard pressed to find much beyond Heaven and one or two other bars still open. …

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The Daily Beast

You needn’t have watched Boy Erased, the screen adaptation of Garrard Conley’s memoir of growing up in a Bible Belt fundamentalist family, to know that gay ‘conversion therapy’ is a bad thing. Given the choice of being disowned by his religious parents or attending a residential camp spouting dodgy psychology and pray-it-away fervour, he endures the inevitable failure of a bunch of quacks trying to turn him straight.

A melding of outdated behaviouralist techniques, cod psychoanalysis, spiritual interventions and some good old fashioned shaming, it’s an entirely discredited pseudoscientific practice pushed by the ‘Ex-gay’ movement that can cause mental and emotional harm to those subjected to it. As nasty as it is, there’s no denying it’s an improvement on previous attempts to ‘convert’ LGBTQ people back in the mid twentieth century: the ice pick lobotomy — supposed moral failings are easily rectified when you’ve had your prefrontal lobes mushed to blancmange. …


Martyn Fitzgerald

Scribbling away in London. Twitter: @mfitzgeralduk

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