Stonewall-Leckie: the almost final act

And so we move to the denouement. Not quite the final act. I don’t really believe in such things. Rather, I’m with Stephen Sondheim (in his “Into the woods” phase): there are no endings, happy or otherwise. Merely temporary respites whilst the good guys get to celebrate – and the less good ones go to jail (or hell).

The Stonewall-Leckie affair is now more or less over. There is still some talking to do – not least between Trans Media Watch and Ben Summerskill. But that is for later. Meanwhile, Bill Leckie, the immediate casus belli was writing in his column today.

Well, I believe he was: my access to his article is via an online aggregator. So if I’ve got some details wrong and you happen to read the Sun (yeah, yeah! I know its not fashionable for the right-on and liberal to do that: but they ARE a newspaper, and not an entirely badly written one at that), please let me know.

Right. According to my source, Mr Leckie started off with a funny story involving gay flight attendant Steven Slater and Queen’s – the district, of course. For why? To make the point – in which I would tend to be mostly on his side, that it is perfectly possible to find humour in gayness and gay-related topics, without automatically being some sort of homophobe.

Nice intro, because it both makes a point and then allows him to segue neatly into a condemnation of the humourless people “out there” who think otherwise, and to pick up on the humour defence later in his piece.

He outlines his invite from Stonewall, a little bit of light speculation about whether he would have had to attend as a Red Indian or as motorcycle cop – and then dissects the piece that caused all the fuss in the first place. (In so doing he sort of overlooks the piece from a year or so later on trans prisoners, but hey: this is a tabloid not an academic journal!).

“Not pulitzer prize” stuff, he reckons: just a little poking fun at something that everyone pokes fun at. This next bit comes direct from what I was sent (so here’s where anyone who thinks it isn’t the finally published article needs to get back in touch):

Bill apparently writes:

“Call me naïve, but the phrase “drag queen” conjures up visions of Lily Savage or Danny La Rue, guys who dress as women for fun and like a laugh.

“Not so, however — because the article was taken as an insult to the transgender community. Who, it seems, are allergic to jokes.

“Yet how can this be? In Eddie Izzard, Britain has a comic genius who’s never shied away from gags about being a transvestite.

“Do the same protesters cane him? And does the fact that I was in a kilt that fateful night in Vancouver not at least cut me some slack? Again, no. The militants were now demanding Stonewall rethink their nominations and that if not, they’d be demonstrating outside the venue on the night. This flabbergasted me — though not as much as Stonewall’s response did.

“A statement said since that article appeared in 2007, they’d been working to re-educate both myself and The Scottish Sun and the nomination was partly down to me having been “on a journey”.

“To which I replied, that they were talking b******s on two counts, the first being that no one from the organisation had ever contacted me before this nomination, so this reeducation thing was clearly a fib.

“And the second thing? The fact that if Gareth Thomas had come out three, five or even ten years ago, I’d have supported him then — and if I saw a sign for Drag Queen Bingo tonight I’d write the same now as in 2007.”

I had to smile at that last bit. Bastard journalist! He’s just gonna go right on and write what he thinks he should write. And all power to him! Even if he is totally wrong! Because that’s what us journalists do.

Apparently I came in for some stick from a Christian Group recently for something I wrote. Am I going to change? Recant? Nah.

However, this raises a number of questions that those of us who are transgendered maybe should address.

First – common mistake – Bill sees us, in a bit I didn’t copy over, as some outpost of the Gay empire. Oh dear, Bill. No way. But that’s a nit-picking factual issue and one that maybe one shouldn’t expect a mainstream sports writer to get. L, G, B or T is bad enough…let alone all the extra initials like Q, Q and I.

(And before i forget, please hold on to one simple fact: this was never about Mr Leckie, who may not be the obvious choice to give the keynote address to the next European meeting of Transgener International, but is no worse than most journalists on this subject,bette than many. It was always about Stonewall’s insensitivity).

He also doesn’t get the relationship between drag, transvestite and transsexual and, again: why should he? I’m not at all clear myself what the transgender view on some of these issues is – even if there is one – having been presented with radically opposing views on pretty much all of them. If we want a recognisable public position on something like drag, we probably need a private agreed position as well, first.

Last but my no means least is this re-education lark. It always did strike me as improbable. Like, Stonewall are a touch stalinist – but surely not THAT stalinist. I must put away that amusing vision of journalists being sent off to gay enlightenment camps to receive their instruction in the correct way to think and write.

Which leaves, nonetheless, the fact that they DID claim they’d re-educated Bill: and he says not.

So unless someone is, er, mistaken, or it was so subtle or subliminal as to be unnoticeable, they are either mistaken or ever so slightly fibbing.


About janefae

On my way from here to there
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2 Responses to Stonewall-Leckie: the almost final act

  1. Phoebe says:

    Stonewall have behaved ridiculously, and I can see why Bill Leckie is as mystified by this as the more usual suspects in the trans camp are.

    I’m glad he’s pointed this out, smoothing problems over on the assumptions that they’ll disappear or that people won’t notice seems to be a common way for a number of the more bureaucratic rights groups (I wonder if this is a bad habit from high table work which just doesn’t translate to ground floor issues where people want less bullshit and more honesty).

  2. chrissie says:

    None of this surprises me…

    The more I read of it, the more it seems like a put up job by Stonewall, either as a personal pop at Summerskill’s favourite bête noire group, or as a fake runner that was intended to generate outrage, prompting Stonewall to “reconsider” quickly and earn some kudos for having done so.

    The added bonus for Summerskill is that, whatever the reason for this decoy nomination, Leckie now feels he has a personal axe to grind against the likes of us. I dare say we shall feel it soon.

    Jane said “If we want a recognisable public position on something like drag, we probably need a private agreed position as well, first.”

    Can’t see how that can work, or why it should even be desirable. All one surely needs is an open mind and a belief in fairness, in order to accept the many diverse areas of “transgender” that exist. I don’t want to be crammed into someone else’s narrow definition just so ignorant oafs like Leckie can find it easier to “understand” me.


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