We fucked it, lads. All of it. The entire thing.

Ever since our distant ancestors stopped flinging their own shit at each other, stood upright and took their first, tentative steps into the realm of self-awareness, we’ve been in charge of more or less everything. But, stop now: pause for a moment and look around. Depressing as it may be, I’m pretty sure that even the most ridiculously optimistic among us would probably now admit that very little of anything remains unfucked.

The climate’s changing, the oceans are acidifying, species are dying out on an industrial scale; a flabby, semi-literate, incoherent, megalomaniacal tosspot with piss-coloured hair and the temperament of an intoxicated toddler is in charge of one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals; Nazis walk among us, and you’re apparently not even supposed to punch the hateful cunts; the planet has been in a state of more or less perpetual war for the entire duration of recorded history; and, to top it all off, we seek to excuse the nastiness, stupidity and racism of one of our most senior British politicians by saying, ‘Oh, that’s just Boris’. It’s all quite irrevocably fucked, and we were the fuckers doing the fucking.

We set ourselves up as leaders, decision-makers. So concerned were we that women might try to have a say in how things were being run, that we actually invented entire religions designed (amongst other things) to keep women down. Women were a spare rib, an afterthought.

“Need something to stick your cock in when you get bored, Adam? Here, have this.”

They were the reason for our fall from grace, the ones to blame for their own misfortunes and ours, and they were certainly not to be trusted.

Fast forward a few centuries, and little has changed. Sure, women in western society, at least, have been granted something we men like to call ‘equality’, but in reality, it’s little more than a veneer. An illusion. We grant them the minimum amount of ‘equality’ we think we can get away with, as though it’s a thing we own and that we get to dole out as we see fit. We drip feed rights that ought to be inalienable, then have the temerity to expect gratitude in return.

Women can run for office now, but most parliaments and legislative chambers are still predominantly, often overwhelmingly, male. The US has never had a female president, and when it looked like there was a chance of one being elected, the old boys’ network came together to ensure that misogyny won out. And whilst we have had two female Prime Ministers in this country, neither of the two largest ‘progressive’ parties in the UK has ever had a female leader.

Similarly, it’s illegal to discriminate based on gender in matters of employment, and yet, there is still a huge problem with women being paid less for doing exactly the same job as their male counterparts. Even our publicly-funded broadcaster was recently found to be guilty of such unequal treatment.

“Ah, but,” the half-brained twat cries, “if women take time off to have children, they can’t expect to have the same pay and benefits when they return to work as a man who hasn’t had a break.”

Putting aside the obvious point that not all women do take time off to have children, this is a line of argument that neatly encapsulates the problem:

“Hey, women, we can’t have children, so you’ll have to do it for us. You’ll have to pause your careers to bring the next generation of doctors, nurses, teachers and scientists into the world. Then you’ll have to clean up their shit, amuse them, nourish them and care for them until it’s time for you to re-enter the workplace. When that time comes, we’re going to give you worse pay and conditions than men who are doing the same job as a punishment for your dereliction of duty, even though we were unable/unwilling to do this vital job ourselves.”

And while we’re on the subject of equality related to reproductive rights, the whole abortion debate is another area dominated by men when they don’t have any fucking right whatsoever to a say. Once again, we use religion to justify our staggeringly unpleasant treatment of women:

“You can’t get mad at us, God wants us to behave like arseholes.”

If men had to carry children and give birth, not only would the gender pay gap not exist, but we’d be as over-stocked with abortion clinics as we are with tired excuses for our unreasonable behaviour.

“Can you fit me in for a quick abortion this afternoon, Jeff?”

“Sorry, mate. I’m booked solid ‘til six.”

“That is indeed inconvenient.”

“Try three doors down, Dave. There’s another abortion clinic there. Failing that, there are three branches of ‘Abortions R Us’ in the next street.”

And then there’s the sex thing. I suppose there was no way I could hope to get through writing an article like this without discussing the ongoing sexual abuse scandal, much as you might consider it better if I did. Now, I know what you’re thinking:

“Ooh, good. That’s just what the internet needs: yet another man’s take on the sexual abuse and harassment of women.”

With that in mind, I’ll keep it as brief as I can, but suffice to say, I have been nothing short of ashamed of my gender over the past few weeks. It’s not just that we’ve been exposed as having abused our power to perpetrate some fairly hideous crimes against women, but also that our reactions to the revelations have, in far too many cases, been so utterly fucking horrific.

There have been the cries of ‘witch hunt’, the lamentations that ‘we can’t even flirt anymore’ and, most sickeningly of all, those seeking to lay responsibility for the death of Carl Sargeant earlier this week at the door of women who have reported sexual crimes perpetrated against them.

I won’t dignify any of these arguments with an individual response, but I will say this:

If a culture of hyper-vigilance surrounding the sexual exploitation of women adversely affects you in any way, you might want to consider being less of a creepy, sexually-aggressive, breathtakingly contemptible fucking jizzstain.

All of which ties back to my earlier point. We’ve had absolute power forever, and we’ve used it to lay waste to everything we ought to hold dear. It’s not even like we just stood passively by and watched as things gradually turned to shit. No, that wasn’t enough for us. Instead, we decided to mould a gigantic passenger jet out of shit, and crash it gratuitously into the stuff we were supposed to be looking after.

So maybe it’s time for the women to have a go. But, y’know, a proper go this time, unlike all the other times when we’ve just patted them on the arse and said,

“Sure thing, sweet cheeks, you can be equal. Right after you’ve made me a sandwich.”

The time has come for us to relinquish our grip on power. Uncomfortable as some of you may find it, we’re shit at being in charge. And let’s face it, there is literally no way that women being in control of the world could make things any more unrelentingly fucking awful than they currently are.

It’s time for true equality, and we all have a part to play. If women are shouting about something, ask yourself why they need to shout. Then shut the fuck up and listen to what they’re saying. Don’t stand by while casual misogyny goes unchallenged – even stuff that might seem harmless on the surface helps to create a culture in which it’s the norm for women to be treated as second class citizens, as objects for our amusement and sexual gratification.

Even if you’re not one of those men who actively seeks to discriminate against women, we’ve all gained an advantage at some point from a system that favours us in more or less every way. At least, on the face of it we’ve gained an advantage. In reality, we’ve gained nothing, for we are still part of a society that treats half of its members as being beneath the other half. I firmly believe that, when that changes, we all stand to benefit in innumerable, immeasurable ways.

I have a confession to make: I’m a pedant. I am the sort of person who will react like a steak-deprived Jeremy Clarkson at the sight of an erroneous your/you’re, and who will beat his fist on the desk like a millionaire Tory MP who’s just been told about a proposed £3 per month increase in the rate of disability benefits at the use of the word ‘I’ when it should rightly be ‘me’. For many of you, this will hardly come as a surprise, but it did give me cause to stop and think about my reaction over the past few days to the persistent use of the term ‘Gay Pride’ by a range of news outlets and social media users.

The BBC News channel’s coverage of Belfast Pride on Saturday repeatedly referred to the event as ‘Gay Pride’ (though they also referred to homophobic fuckweasels as ‘religious conservatives’, so accuracy obviously isn’t high on their agenda); that bastion of left wing inclusivity The Guardian told us yesterday that the National Trust had reversed its decision to require volunteers to wear ‘gay pride badges’ (because even those volunteering for charities should be free to behave like arseholes, presumably); and The Star proudly reported how Michaella McCollum (no, me neither) was pictured ‘flashing her nips at Gay Pride in Brighton’, which is presumably the sort of hard-hitting journalism the author, Nicholas Bieber, feels justifiably proud of having produced. The monumental titwank.

Perhaps most worryingly, though, a quick Google search for the term ‘Gay Pride’ brought up the following result:

FullSizeRender

I can’t even begin to explain that last one, but the organisers of a Pride event really ought to know better.

Every time I hear the words ‘Gay Pride’, my reaction is similar to that experienced when I witness ‘imply’ and ‘infer’ being used interchangeably: my brow furrows, my buttocks clench (often audibly) and I let out the exasperated sigh of a teenage boy whose parents simply won’t fuck off out so that he can have a wank. Given my self-confessed pedantry, therefore, it was only natural that I should start to wonder whether my objection to this phrase is just another manifestation of my somewhat anal commitment to linguistic accuracy.

The short answer is that it is not. Having given the matter a good degree of thought, I have reached the conclusion that my bristling is actually quite justified. Whereas the first Pride events were routinely referred to as ‘Gay Pride’, this hasn’t been the case now for many years, and rightly so. Our lesbian, bisexual, trans and other queer friends have been with us from the start, playing an instrumental role in the Stonewall riots of 1969, and in organising the very first Pride event the following year.

For the most part, LGB rights have improved immeasurably since the late 1960s, but it’s sad to say that the rights of trans, intersex and non-binary people haven’t kept pace. Whilst LGBT+ people still experience disproportionately high rates mental illness across the board, by far the worst affected are trans people, around 40% of whom will attempt suicide at some point in their lives. And far from looking upon this as a reason for attitudes to change, many a loathsome shit will actually use the intolerably high rates of attempted suicide as a stick with which to beat trans people:

“Trans people aren’t ‘stuck in the wrong body’, they’re just mentally ill – look at their suicide rates!”

What these subhuman sacks of festering excrement fail to realise (or do realise but are simply too fucking vile to care), is that trans people aren’t taking their own lives because they’re who they are, but because of the nasty, small-minded shite fountains who abuse, belittle and attack them for who they are. Their families disown them, their friends ridicule them and a rabid, unchecked right wing media portrays them as something to fear and deride. High-profile commentators, like the arse-faced, steaming bucket of pig jizz that is Piers Morgan, routinely use their platforms to make bigoted statements about trans people with little or no backlash. And whilst it would be nice to lay all the blame at the door of oily, shitty little cunts like Morgan, it’s disappointing to report that it’s not possible to do so. As I touched on in my previous article for Pride Month, casual (and not so casual) transphobia is still rife in the LGB community. All too often, I hear words like ‘tranny’ and ‘she-male’ being thrown around by assorted cis-gay fucktrumpets who, quite understandably, don’t particularly like it when they’re referred to as ‘poofs’ or ‘faggots’. It really has to stop.

Another problem we face as a community is our tendency to dismiss bisexual people as ‘confused’ or ‘undecided’, with a troublingly large minority of gays and lesbians being willing to declare that ‘bisexuality doesn’t really exist’. I have to say, I bear a good degree of residual guilt for the prevalence of such views because, although it’s certainly not an idea I subscribe to in any way, I did feed into this narrative by identifying as bisexual when I first came out. I think my reasons for that were fairly easy to justify (it wasn’t a conscious decision – I actually was a little confused), but it doesn’t stop me feeling like a gigantic twat, all the same. That said, it’s important to note that, whilst there are confused people who identify as bisexual, not all bisexuals are confused. And neither are they an inconsequential part of our community that we can simply forget about when it suits us.

Like it or not, we are in this together. From the lesbian who incited the unrest after being hit on the head by a police officer outside the Stonewall bar, to the trans women who risked everything to throw rocks at law enforcement officials and the bisexual people who fought alongside them; our pasts, and our futures, are inextricably linked. It seems a little like some in the gay community are happy to reap the benefits of the support we received from lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer activists then, and in the many years since Stonewall, without feeling the need to return the favour when it’s most needed.

So I urge you, fellow gays, to drop the term ‘Gay Pride’ from your vocabulary. It erases those members of our community who have stood up alongside us for so many years and betrays exactly the same level of privileged bollocks that so many straight people unthinkingly shit out on a daily basis (straight pride, anyone?). Moreover, if you see others referring to Pride as ‘Gay Pride’, correct them. Whether it’s a 300-follower user of Twitter, your Daily Mail-reading aunt on Facebook, or an international media outlet, it’s an exercise worth undertaking. None of us are free until all of us are free, and it’s up to us to ensure that every single part of our community is represented. It’s patently obvious that we can’t trust the media to regulate itself in this regard, so we have to accept responsibility for saying to them that it’s not ok to erase the LBTQ people upon whose shoulders we are so fortunate to stand.

For those of you who missed it, yesterday was Heterosexual Pride Day. At least, it was on Twitter, where the topic was the number one worldwide trend for several hours. I have to say, it’s about bloody time.

For too long now, life for straight people in this country (and others) has been a seemingly endless uphill struggle against LGBT tyranny, and it’s time for the privileged queer majority to sit up and take notice. So many of us can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to not even be able to hold our partner’s hand in public for fear of being ridiculed, abused or beaten, and what most LGBT people don’t realise is that, in certain parts of the UK, straight people still can’t legally be married.

It goes further than this though. Did you know, for example, that until around a decade ago, it was perfectly legal to discriminate against non-LGBT people based on their sexual orientation? In everything from employment, to housing, to provision of goods and services, this downtrodden straight minority was afforded zero protection under the law. Some were even evicted from their homes for no other reason than that they were in an opposite sex relationship.

And whilst things have improved for heterosexual people over the years, their struggle continues to this very day. The way straight people are portrayed in TV programmes as ridiculous, over the top stereotypes, for example, or the way gay characters in sitcoms still routinely imply that their friends are straight as a kind of jokey insult, perpetuates the notion that straight people are somehow lesser, that it’s ok for them to be the butt of the joke. The huge public outcry every time a man is seen kissing a woman in a pre-watershed TV soap is further evidence that full equality remains a long way off.

Even the news that Germany has finally legalised opposite sex marriage this week was tempered by the fact that their Chancellor, Angela Merkel, so often held up as the sort of leader we could only dream about in this country, voted against the legislation because she feels that marriage should only be permitted between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. And our own government here in the UK has recently entered into an arrangement to enable them to cling onto power, with a party whose leaders have equated straight sex with besiality and paedophilia.

It’s important, then, that a day exists where straight people can celebrate the progress that has been made in recent years, and to raise awareness of the many battles they have yet to win. And how fitting that this day should come during LGBT Pride month, giving a massive middle finger to the self-interested, attention-seeking dykes, poofs, greedy bastards and trannies who have dominated the discussion for far too long.

“They couldn’t get him on his record, so they got him on his racism. I’m deeply uncomfortable with that.”

“He was asked whether black people are inherently inferior, and I think he clearly feels they are, but couldn’t say so. This troubles me.” 

“He thinks that white people are the superior race, but it doesn’t matter what he thinks, it matters how he acts. Anything else is the persecution of private convictions.” 

“I’ll argue against anyone who thinks black people are somehow beneath white people, but I wouldn’t preclude those who do think that from politics or public life.” 

“Denying people the right to be racist is not liberalism, it’s intolerance.” 

“He can be racist for moral or religious reasons, and I don’t understand why it’s not possible to be ok with that.”

Sounds horrible doesn’t it?

It sounds horrible because, for most people, racism is objectively wrong. There are no grey areas – it’s unacceptable, whatever the justification. It’s difficult to imagine that anyone would seek to defend racist views in the manner outlined above because, whilst we value our right to free speech, it’s generally accepted that free speech does not mean that there shouldn’t be any consequences associated with our decision to exercise that right.

If you were a politician who had generally voted in favour of equal rights for people from minority ethnic backgrounds, therefore, and it later came to light that your private beliefs were somewhat racist, there would, quite rightly, be a considerable degree of public consternation. To move that on a step, if you were the leader of a progressive political party and you privately held racist views, you would, almost universally I suspect, be considered unsuitable to continue in that particular post.

If it’s not yet obvious, I should inform you that each of the quotes at the beginning of this piece has been altered. The original statements referred to Tim Farron’s decision to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats and were made by people seeking to excuse homophobia rather than racism. And whereas the quotes in the form that they appear above would be jarring to the sensibilities of most non-racist people, if they appeared in their unaltered form, many of the same people would be nodding along in agreement.

This begs the question as to why it’s still considered acceptable (or at least, less unacceptable) to hold negative views about LGBT people, when views of a racist nature would not be tolerated.

Much of this stems from the undue reverence we still afford to religious belief, which, apparently, must never be questioned under any circumstances. However readily a religious person would seek to denigrate you for things over which you have no control, their views must always be treated with unwavering respect. So if a politician is, as Mr Farron was, so conflicted between his personal views about gay sex and his role as the leader of a liberal party that he felt he had no other option but to resign, it’s really the fault of us intolerant gays, who dared not to respect his ‘sincerely held belief’ that we’re upsetting his god by having sex with one another.

This ‘free pass’ that religion seems to enjoy where other ideologies would be justifiably criticised is irksome enough in and of itself, but when you factor in the blatant and unashamed cherry-picking that accompanies religiously-justified prejudice, it’s utterly incomprehensible. You see, unless Mr Farron thinks that slavery is acceptable, that women who are raped should be stoned to death, that it’s an abomination to wear a cotton/linen blend and that the Lord will smite him for eating a prawn sandwich, his apologists don’t get to excuse his views on gay sex by simply saying, “It’s prohibited in The Bible.”

In the book of Leviticus alone, there are 76 different things that we’re told we must not do lest we upset the divine creator of the universe. Most Christians have abandoned many of these prohibitions as unworkable, outdated, or just plain silly, and yet, ‘lying with a man as with a woman’ still seems to be a sticking point for some of them. It’s almost as if this particular verse conveniently validates their personal prejudices, so they choose to believe that Yahweh gets really angry about gay sex, but not so much about the trimming of beards.

I think the other reason for this double standard between racism and homophobia is the enduring belief of some unenlightened individuals that being LGBT is a ‘lifestyle choice’. Of course, these people ignore the obvious arguments that ‘choosing’ to be LGBT means choosing to limit the number of people with whom we could conceivably enter into a relationship to a tiny fraction of the population, choosing to risk being ostracised by our family and friends, and choosing to place ourselves at greater risk of being physically attacked as a result of our ‘decision’, but that’s another issue. Even among those who don’t literally believe that we choose to be LGBT, there are those who seek to trivialise homophobia as if they really did believe that.

Many young LGBT people grow up with internalised feelings of shame about who they are, believing on some level that they’re ‘wrong’ or ‘abnormal’. This is hardly surprising when, according to an LGBT Foundation survey, 95% of school pupils have heard the word ‘gay’ being used as a pejorative, 75% of school staff have witnessed homophobic bullying, and only 9% of the pupils asked thought that a young LGBT person would feel safe coming out at school. It’s no surprise, then, that rates of depression, self harm and suicide are more than twice as high for LGBT people as they are for heterosexual people.

And this, in my opinion, is the crux of the whole issue. By saying that he thinks gay sex is a sin (or prevaricating on so many occasions when asked whether he thinks that this is the case), Mr Farron is feeding into this sense of being ‘other than’ that so many young LGBT people experience. After all, if the leader of a party with the word ‘liberal’ in its name can’t state unequivocally that gay sex is no different to straight sex in the eyes of his chosen deity without being badgered into it, how is the young person struggling with their sexual identity supposed to interpret that?

Support from LGBT allies is arguably the single most important factor in staring to reverse the disproportionately high rates of mental illness (and worse) in LGBT people. People in positions of power and influence standing up and saying clearly and unambiguously that there’s nothing inherently wrong or sinful about any aspect of being LGBT can have a hugely beneficial effect on those who might be struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. And any reluctance to do so can have precisely the opposite effect.

So no, political commentators and assorted Twitter account holders, it’s not ‘persecution’ for us to reject religion as the cloak of acceptability in which Mr Farron’s bronze age views are draped. It’s not ‘intolerant’ to decry homophobia as unacceptable in any circumstances, just as deploring racism is not in itself a form of bigotry. And it’s not unreasonable to expect that a person describing themselves as ‘liberal’, should hold exclusively liberal beliefs on LGBT-related issues, both publicly and in private.

I was a little late to the party where Pride is concerned. This time last year, I was still contemplating the prospect of emerging from the closet in which I had spent the previous 37 years.

My secondary school was an unforgiving sort of place, a hulking, miserable pile of concrete in which anyone uttering the phrase, “I’m attracted to other guys,” would have spent a disproportionate amount of time with their head forcibly inserted into a toilet bowl. I found life there unpleasant enough without the added bonus of daily beatings, so pretending to be someone I wasn’t seemed like the path of least resistance.

By the time I reached adulthood, I didn’t know anything else. I got married, had a son, did what was expected of me. But it was there. It was always there, no matter how hard I tried to push it away. And I did try. I tried really hard.

Up until I turned thirty, I was pretty good at it, though I can see now that this level of self-denial was anything other than ‘good’. I don’t know what happened in my early thirties, but the feelings I had tried so long to suppress began to re-emerge, growing in strength as time progressed. I recall the surreptitious glances at handsome guys in the street, or the times when my wife and I would be in a restaurant and I would find myself gazing a little too intently at the attractive waiter. I remember trying to rationalise such incidents to myself after they had occurred, performing mental gymnastics to convince myself that there was some explanation other than the one I dared not articulate.

When I did eventually get to the stage where I could admit to myself that I was attracted to other men, it took a further three or four months for me to mobilise the courage required to be able to tell my wife. Those weeks were comfortably the most difficult part of the whole process, wanting desperately to be honest with the person who meant the most to me, and being terrified that doing so would cause everything to blow up in my face.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. She cried when I told her, but not for herself. Her first thought was for me, for the suffering I had endured in all those years leading up to that point. With her acceptance, her love, her support and encouragement, I was able to let go of any residual guilt and begin to be my true self. Or nearly my true self.

When I first came out, I identified as bisexual, and I think that was the last lie I told myself. ‘Bisexual’ felt like a much less destructive bomb to drop than ‘gay’, and besides, I couldn’t be gay if I was still in love with my wife, right?

Maybe that is the case, and maybe it isn’t, but, with one exception, I have no romantic interest in women whatsoever. I guess it can be difficult for some people to understand how I can identify as gay and still be in love with a woman, but when someone has been a central figure – the central figure – in your life for sixteen years, it’s pretty difficult to just flick a switch and turn those feelings off. If I’d been honest with myself before we met, we probably wouldn’t have ended up together, but I can’t regret a single minute of it, in that sense, at least. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the majority of my adult life with my best friend, and we’ve somehow managed to produce a beautiful, caring, accepting and open-minded son together. My coming out served only to bring us closer together, and I really can’t imagine my life without her in it. So maybe I’m gay, maybe I’m bi, or maybe I just don’t fit neatly into a particular box. Either way, I’m not particularly precious about labels.

So why am I telling you this, and what on Earth does it have to do with Pride? Why does my particular story matter in the context of this global celebration of the LGBT+ community?

I think the answer to that question is that my story is your story, and your story is mine. Our community is the sum of those tales, each one unique, and each as important as the last. Every triumph and every tragedy we experience helps to shape who we are, to inform where we’re heading. Which is why, to me, Pride is as much about celebrating the diversity within our community as it is promoting tolerance and acceptance from without.

When I first came out, I had this (somewhat naive, as it turns out) vision of the LGBT+ community as a safe, supportive and loving place, where everyone looked out for each other and no one was left behind. And whilst this is undoubtedly the case in a large proportion of instances, there’s an ugly underbelly to our community that it’s incumbent on every single one of us to help eradicate.

In a little under a year, I’ve witnessed and, in some cases, been on the receiving end of, countless instances of intolerance and bigotry towards LGBT people from the very individuals who ought to be acutely aware of the painful, destructive consequences of such actions. Even a cursory perusal of gay dating apps will pull up a worryingly large number of profiles saying such charming things as, “No blacks, no Asians, no fems.” Then you have the ‘straight-acting’ gays who say camp or effeminate gays ‘give the rest of us a bad name’, the lesbians who hate gay men altogether, and the gays and lesbians who say, “Bisexuals don’t really exist, they’re just confused.”

Seeing these ‘friendly fire’ incidents unfold with such unsettling regularity has left me baffled, disillusioned, and often angry. I don’t think I’ll ever get my head around what causes a person who has almost certainly been on the receiving end of judgement and prejudice at some point in their life to visit that same intolerance on others.

And whilst all of this LGB infighting is undoubtedly concerning, I think the biggest issue facing us right now is the tendency for the ’T’ to be figuratively erased from the LGBT+ acronym, as though trans people are somehow a lesser part of our community. Of all the incidents of ‘internal’ LGBT intolerance I have witnessed, transphobic attacks have been by far the most abundant.

The struggle for trans equality in general is probably a decade or two behind where we are with LGB rights, with this lack of acceptance being fuelled by the many shocking instances of transphobia in the right wing media. For the rest of us to be anything less than 100% behind our trans friends at this time is a gross dereliction of duty.

Now more than ever, this part of our community needs us. They need us to stand up and state, unequivocally, that we are with them, that we won’t tolerate any attempts to diminish them, or to erase them. They are us, and we are them. The only difference is time.

So, this Pride month, I ask you to reflect on how you can play your part in making the LGBT+ community more open, more accepting and more inclusive than at any time before. As we continue our inexorable march towards equality, consider the fact that there’s no way we’ll ever have true acceptance from those outside of our community if we don’t make more of an effort to support each other, and to raise up those who so many would seek to knock down.

The comparatively benign atmosphere we currently enjoy in this country is built on foundations laid down by those who have gone before, many of whom paid the ultimate price in our fight against intolerance. It’s our collective responsibility to honour their sacrifice by opposing bigotry in all its forms, by speaking up for those who don’t have a voice, by accepting those who aren’t the same as us and those who are, by being proud of who we are, and by celebrating both the diversity and the commonality that binds us together.

Right-minded people the world over rejoiced today as one of the great injustices of our time was finally rectified and another small step was taken in the inexorable journey towards equality for white males. With the news that Sweden would be dropping their rape investigation into Wikileaks founder and world hide and seek champion Julian Assange, a small, but nonetheless critical, victory was recorded in this most important of struggles. Maybe now we can finally put to bed the risible and inhumane idea that men accused of sexual offences should have to submit to law enforcement authorities for questioning in the country in which the attack is alleged to have taken place.

We witness time and again the absurd situation where men are actually required to answer for their alleged crimes against women (who are nearly always either making it up or were asking for it anyway), such as in the disturbing case of promising college athlete who loves his mum, Brock Turner. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this case, Turner was sentenced to a draconian six months in prison (of which he served three) for the so-called ‘crime’ of inserting his penis into a ‘completely unresponsive’ woman without her consent. Thankfully, the judge in this case used to go to the same school as Turner, and he understood that Turner’s own intoxication meant that there was ‘less moral culpability’. Without this compassionate and enlightened arbiter of the law understanding the suffering that had been visited upon Mr Turner by his own actions, this excellent young swimmer could have been looking at up to 14 years in prison. It’s reassuring that, in this isolated case at least, privileged white males are looking out for each other.

Returning to the Assange case, it seems apparent to all but the laughably uninformed that it was much ado about nothing anyway. I mean, no one really likes fiddling around with condoms, and even fewer people enjoy the reduced sensitivity they impose upon their unfortunate user, so it’s unreasonably vindictive of any woman to insist that a gentleman should wear one against his will. And as regards the allegation that Assange began having sex with one of his accusers without her consent the morning after a consensual encounter, it’s a well-established legal principle that penises are like vampires – if you’ve admitted one on a prior occasion, it may subsequently enter without further invitation whenever it feels like it. It’s baffling, therefore, how the Swedish prosecutors were able to muster the temerity to issue an arrest warrant for Mr Assange in the first place, but even more so when you take into account the fact that he has always maintained his innocence. We have surely descended to the bottom of the pit of lefty, feminist bullshit when ‘I didn’t do it’ is seen as insufficient evidence that a man’s accusers are either mistaken or acting maliciously.

Mercifully, after the UK Supreme Court ruled that Mr Assange should be extradited to Sweden to answer the allegations, he was able to enter the Ecuadorian embassy and claim asylum, which, as we all know, is the hallmark of innocent men everywhere. I once spent a very pleasant summer there myself after my 8th grade teacher made the quite erroneous assumption that it was I who had scrawled ‘Mrs Milner is a hideous twat’ on the cafeteria wall. My innocence pales into insignificance compared to Mr Assange’s, however, who has now spent around five years holed up in the same house in Central London. This, in itself, seems to have been sufficient to cause the Swedish prosecutors to abandon the case, which shows that if you’re patient enough, justice will always prevail.

Sadly though, it seems as though the not at all rapey Mr Assange isn’t quite in the clear yet. With the Metropolitan Police still saying that they will arrest him (for the lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court) if he steps outside of the embassy, and the situation regarding whether the US has submitted an extradition request remaining as clear as a 3am Donald Trump tweet, it seems as though this tireless campaigner for truth, justice and the rights of men to avoid answering for crimes of sexual violence, is set to continue his honourable crusade.

Indeed, in an angry tweet sent a just few minutes after news of today’s developments was reported, Mr Assange told us how he ‘does not forgive or forget’ the hardship he has endured in the notoriously punishing and squalid Ecuadorian embassy. Our hero’s sacrifice serves as a sobering reminder to men across the globe that spiteful lesbian feminists and their dishonest, conniving cheerleaders will stop at nothing to perpetuate the inherently flawed notion that women should have ownership of their own bodies, safe from the unwanted advances of perfectly innocent sexual predators.

With General Election season now in full swing, the leaders of all the major parties and UKIP are trying to convince a weary electorate that it’s worth dragging their democracy-fatigued carcasses down to their local primary school on 8 June to cast yet another vote in what now appears to be an endless procession of opportunities to somehow make things even worse than they were before. Even as the nation let out a collective ‘you’re fucking kidding me’ when Theresa May went back on her numerous promises not to call an election before 2020, the party spin machines were already whirring into life.

May warned us of the ‘chaos’ that would ensue in the event of an SNP/Labour/Lib Dem coalition, seemingly blissfully unaware of the fact that her party’s government has done for political stability what Eric Pickles has done for restraint at an ‘All You Can Eat’ buffet. Jeremy Corbyn told us that the election definitely isn’t about Brexit, thereby demonstrating the incisive political acumen for which he is so rightly known. I’m not sure what Paul Nuttall has said in the early stages of his campaign, but it was probably something about how the ‘darkies’ were the sole obstacle preventing him from winning the 2017 series of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

This leaves Tim Farron, and unfortunately for him and his party, his message seems to be being lost amidst persistent questions relating to his views on homosexuality, or more specifically, gay sex. Now, before I go any further, I wish to make it clear that Farron’s voting record on LGBT rights is beyond reproach. He’s consistently voted in favour of gay marriage and is on record as saying that he doesn’t view homosexuality in itself as being intrinsically wrong. What he has failed to do on numerous occasions, however, is to state whether or not he thinks sexual activity between two men is a sin.

His latest failure to answer this rather simple question was on ITV’s ‘Peston on Sunday’ programme this morning. Instead of a straight answer that would have put this issue to bed immediately and forever, he exhorted Peston to ‘move on’, saying how wearisome this question was becoming and how much of a distraction it was from the real issues. He seemed to be (deliberately) missing the point that six simple words would put an end to this line of questioning once and for all:

Gay sex is not a sin.

In 2017, that shouldn’t be a difficult thing for someone who describes themselves as ‘liberal’ to say. In fact, the only reason I can think of for a person not to say such a thing is if they believed the opposite to be true. But why does this matter, if his voting record is so overtly pro-LGBT? Shouldn’t he be allowed to think what he wants to think in private provided that it doesn’t negatively affect his party’s policies? I accept that line of reasoning to some extent, and I would definitely vote for a Lib Dem candidate (or Farron personally) over a Conservative. That said, I still think his ‘private’ beliefs are important for a number of reasons.

To begin with, I think it’s vital for us to know the views of any politician on issues such as these, because they tell us about who they are as people. The number of times I’ve called out homophobia only to be told that people are ‘entitled to their opinions’ are too numerous to count, and yet, I don’t think any reasonable person would make the same argument about racism. If Mr Farron consistently voted in favour of equality for black people, but was then recorded privately saying, “They’re good at running and jumping, but I wouldn’t want one of them operating on me,” would anyone think this wasn’t utterly repugnant? What is it that makes it acceptable for people to hold homophobic views in private, but not racist views?

Part of this double standard seems to be related to the stubborn vein of homophobia that still runs through modern society – LGBT people are all too frequently beaten and abused, the idea of homosexuality as a ‘lifestyle choice’ still persists and, even though marriage equality laws were eventually passed, many opposed them at the time and still do to this day. The other side of this homophobic apologism, though, seems to be rooted in the special status granted to religious views above all others. The argument goes that a person’s religious views are sacred and should not be questioned in the same way as you might question, for example, their political views. We should ‘respect’ a person’s religion, regardless of the unpleasant conclusions it leads them to.

I have two problems with this line of thought. My primary objection is that I believe that all ideas should be subject to the same level of scrutiny, regardless of the inspiration for those ideas. No one really bats an eyelid if we ridicule someone for believing that the Earth is flat, yet the belief that the Earth is less than ten thousand years old must be respected because it says so in a book that was written before the invention of paper. Both positions have been demonstrated to be unequivocally false by scientific observation, so why is one more deserving of respect than the other?

The other issue I have with religion as an excuse for homophobia is that most religious homophobes (and religious people in general) are, understandably for the most part, very selective about which parts of their holy books they ought to follow. If Mr Farron was asked whether slavery was acceptable, or whether a woman ought to be stoned to death for being raped, his answer would be an immediate, “No, of course not.” Yet when he’s asked repeatedly whether it’s wrong for gay men to have sex, he prevaricates, he obfuscates, he equivocates. Anything to avoid a straight, “No, it’s not a sin.”

This leads me to the inescapable conclusion that he’s using the Bible to excuse a belief that is his own. If he can accept that most of the other seventy-six prohibitions in Leviticus may be disregarded, what is it about ‘a man lying with another man as with a woman’ that is so different? And if we follow Farron’s views to their logical conclusion, we’d have the ridiculous situation where gay people may be attracted to one another, may even get married, but shouldn’t make love to one another for fear of upsetting Yahweh. The idea that what we do in the comfort of our own bedrooms is so inherently abhorrent that the supreme creator of the universe is personally offended by it is a pretty difficult notion to accept.

And this is the crux of the matter. Do Farron’s private views matter? To most of us within the LGBT community, I’d suggest that they matter a great deal. Of course the issue isn’t as pressing as the Tories’ dismantling of the NHS, or Theresa May’s blinkered determination to dash us against the rocks of an ideologically-driven hard Brexit, but the issue of whether it’s considered sinful for us to act on the feelings with which we were born still matters to us.

In spite of the many welcome steps forward in LGBT rights of late, being gay still means that we will almost certainly be told at some stage in our lives that who we are is wrong, disgusting, an abomination. Sure, society is steadily moving on, and it’s easier to be gay now than at any time in the past (in this country, at least). But we still face judgement, and in some cases outright hostility, on an almost daily basis. So, yes, it matters.

When you’ve grown up feeling that you’re somehow ‘other’ or ‘less than’, it matters. When people spit epithets like ‘shirt-lifter’ and ‘shit-stabber’ at you through mouths contorted with hate, it matters. When others like you are killing themselves at a disproportionately high rate because they think being dead is better than being who they are, it matters. Of course, Mr Farron isn’t directly responsible for any of this, but the idea that gay sex is in some way different from straight (i.e. ’normal’) sex certainly contributes to an environment where such negativity may thrive. And is it really too much to expect that the a leader of a major UK political party in 2017 should be able to clearly state that the physical manifestation of our sexuality isn’t an affront to his chosen deity?