Stone-faced at Stonewall

I was recently invited to join Stonewall for a special garden party, sponsored by a well known vodka manufacturer. The event claimed to be an invitation to all members of the community to join in, socialise and discuss relevant topics of the age. Here is an extract from that email:

At Stonewall we think it’s crucial that during times of uncertainty, we continue to work together

We stand by the side of every lesbian, gay, bi and trans person, wherever they live, work, socialise or pray.

The equality of all LGBT people is only possible with your continued support.

Governments may change but our commitment to achieving acceptance without exception for every single LGBT person will always be the same.

While the idea is great, the implementation left me a little shocked:

Tickets: £85

Of course this event is a fundraiser for a good cause, but that sort of price tag will exclude a large proportion of the Queers I know and love, who would help make the event diverse and inclusive. I wrote to them, expressing my thoughts:

“Dear Stonewall,

A party is a great idea and it’s good to see events like that running, but I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s blanched at that price tag! I appreciate your title means you need to ensure funds are raised for the charity (and rightly so) but maybe the next party could have a more accessible price tag? Or even the option to donate to/use a hardship fund to ensure a wider range of attendees? In the interests of inclusiveness of course…”

Waiting for a response now…!

Courting issues

With the tennis season in full flow, the French Open, which concluded this weekend with Women’s and Men’s finals matches on Saturday and Sunday, threw up a few issues which highlight some of the ongoing issues with gender and sexuality in sport.

Anyone following the action would have been hard pressed to miss the long series of news articles about the controversy surrounding Margaret Court, a legendary tennis player and awful human being. Having risen to hero status in the sport, she has spent much of the rest of her life proclaiming hatred and intolerance under the guise of faith, and the response has been one of shame and outrage.

Many prominent figures, including another hugely important player of the history of the sport, Martina Navratilova, have called for an Arena at the Australian Open to be renamed, as it currently honours Court despite her prominent views. Navratilova herself is a vocal supporter of LGBT+ rights, and has often stood up for other lesbians in tennis, claiming the sport has many such people in its ranks.

navratilova-court.jpg.size.custom.crop.1086x640
Margaret Court (L) has been vocal in her opposition to Martina Navratilova’s (R) right to love and live the life she chooses with the woman she loves

A few individuals have questioned the relevance of this cause, as the player is being honoured for her sporting achievements rather than her current pursuits. The problem is that any such venue reflects the values and legacy of a society, and promoting an individual who preaches hatred and oppression can only shame our liberal society.

The venue is also used for concerts and events, which the Icelandic band Sigur Ros have used as a platform to support equality in marriage. Having such a venue named after someone with such radical views is unpopular with the people of Melbourne, and sets a bad example for generations to come.

In more heartening news, the French Open organisers have responded firmly and swiftly to an incident involving French player Maxime Hamou, who has been banned for an outrageous and completely unprofessional mistreatment of a female reporter. While his actions are reprehensible, the swiftness of the disciplinary action demonstrates that at least the French Open take inappropriate actions seriously and will punish them, in order to set an example of what is appropriate for sports professionals to say and do in their role as public figures.