Confronting the bigots

It’s become something of a habit for those of us in the spanko world to contrast vanilla attitudes towards our lifestyle with the public’s view of the LGBT community. I know I’ve written along those lines myself in the past.

The generally-held view seems to be that, in the developed world at least, our LGBT friends suffer far less condemnation and distrust now that they did, say, twenty years ago. The hope, then, is that we’ll travel a parallel path – and that a similar trend towards greater understanding will make it far easier to be open about being kinky in years to come. Max Mosley’s brave stance a couple of years certainly seemed like an important early step on the road to creating a more tolerant climate in the UK, for example.

And then there’s a story like the one in The Times of 22 March about an incredibly courageous young woman in Mississippi called Constance McMillen:

A lesbian, 18, whose school cancelled its annual prom to prevent her from turning up with her girlfriend and wearing a tuxedo, will today head to court to try to force education officials to reinstate the dance….

School officials had ruled that she could go to the prom with her same-sex partner but that they could not arrive together, hold hands, kiss or slow dance… When she refused to accept their conditions and set lawyers on the case, they cancelled the event. Miss McMillen has been shunned and abused by fellow students [who] blame her for the officials’ decision to cancel. One girl told her: “Thanks for ruining my senior year.”

Miss McMillen… said: “I just want to go to the prom that I’ve been looking forward to ever since I’ve known what a prom was.”

My anger at the people who run the school, and my sadness at what the incident reveals about some people’s attitudes, is scarcely tempered by my awe at Constance’s dignity. But maybe I won’t be quite so quick in future to imply that the LGBT community has reached the end of the difficult journey on which we kinky folks are just starting out.

The school in question, by the way, is Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton. I was going to drop a line to officials there expressing my thoughts about their conduct, but they seem to have removed their email details from their contacts page. Bigots and cowards, it seems.

9 thoughts on “Confronting the bigots

  • 27 March, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Great post. I think sometimes it is easy to assume that the “journey” is over for the LGBT community and that acceptance is widespread and common, at least in the developed world. Stories like this not only make me furious, but serve as a reminder that intolerance and hatred of anything other than the “norm” are still deeply ingrained in many sections of society in places that really should know better by now.

  • 27 March, 2010 at 10:50 am

    @Etienne – thank you for that link. I’ve written to Mr Hood, the chairman of the school board, using the email address provided there, stating:

    Dear Mr Hood,

    I’ve just read the report from last week’s London “Times” about your school’s recent conduct towards one of its students, Ms Constance McMillen.

    Discrimination against individuals because of their sexual preferences has no place in modern society. It’s truly sad hear of such antiquated and bigoted attitudes. I do urge you to reconsider your establishment’s decisions in relation to Ms McMillen, her girlfriend and your ‘prom’.

    Yours sincerely…

    @Eliane. I agree: I too was ‘furious’, as well as being quite, quite shocked. Indeed, the first draft of my email to Mr Hood was very blunt – until I decided notes like this probably have more impact if they’re phrased courteously.

    All – do please join in and drop notes to the ‘gentleman’ concerned. People like this do need to realise that the civilised world objects to their conduct. I’ll keep you posted as to whether I get a reply – but I rather doubt I will, somehow.

  • 27 March, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I completely agree about Ms. McMillen’s courage and the school’s outrageous stand. However, I am sadly much less surprised than you are. At the risk of being too political on a spanking blog, the more radical arm of American Right plays shamelessly on racism and homophobia (along with opposition to abortion) to rally opposition to any legislation that would even partially address the outrageous income inequality we have in the US today. Unfortunately, the radical right has essentially taken over the Republican Party, once the Party of Lincoln, the party that ended slavery.

    Now, you see Republican leaders in Congress gleefully cheering on angry mobs of so-called Tea Partiers, just as those same mobs hurl racial epithets at African American members of Congress and homophobic epithets at gay members.

    Ms. McMillen is doubly brave to stand up to her school’s supposedly “reasonable” compromise in the midst of such angry and troubling times.

  • 30 March, 2010 at 8:18 am

    In some slightly heartening news, Ellen DeGeneres gave this girl a $30,000 college scholarship.

    Not that the money makes up for it, but I think it’s wonderful for this young woman to have someone stand up on her side in such a visible and tangible way. I hope she’ll continue to get good support from all over.

  • 30 March, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    @Iris: What a great ending to this story! Although I agree that the money is only a side benefit.

    Abel: The potential difference, I think, is that the LGBT community organised rapidly and has become very political since the ’70s. This has yet to happen in our neck of the woods. However, I read on another blog that spanko social groups are starting to become more regular in the States, so I guess that a desire for political recognition will eventually follow.

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  • 1 August, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Constance won her case on July 20th. $35,000 settlement and official rule changes at her school!


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