Monday, 16 April 2012

GET OVER IT? Sloganism, Who does it Benefit?

 Does a campaigns popularity ensure its effectiveness?

We've all seen the stonewall publicity slogan "some people are gay-get over it!" brandished on buses, T-shirts and other promotional paraphernalia. First intended as an anti bullying campain after release of dire statistics of homophobic bullying in schools. In response to this campain a christain group "Core Issues" wanted to parade London buses with the counter-reactive slogan "Not gay! ex gay, post gay and proud-get over it!" Boris acted swiftly in banning the advertisements. The christian group Anglican Mainstream are planning to sue the mayor in spite of the fact they have already recieved alot of publicity from the outrage alone. After all, we know the contents of their proposed advertisement so their message had reach even if it was not in the way they intended. I guess sueing would give their message even more publicity and therefore-gravitas. Potentially more then the intended bus campaign.

Personally I find this flippant "get over it" rhetoric quite childish. Imagine an anti racism slogan that read "some people are black-get over it!" Would such a slogan bring the BNP or EDL to it's knees. Doubtful. The politics of rubbing something in someones face often enough so they'll accept it is ludicrously ineffective. You're either preaching to the converted or reinforcing predjudice. How many people genuinely look to the side of a bus for their morals and values? This mass depersonalisation of what is essentially an intimate affair takes the heart out of the very real homophobia alot of us fear. A campaign highlighting the lives of gay people beyond what they do in the bedroom (lets face it-homophobic people are not offended that we love each other-they are offended by our intimate affairs) would bring a human element and some homophobes may feel that if they can relate to a gay person-how wrong can it be? I've seen this work in practise. As an openly gay person in most enviroments alot of people confide-after getting to know me, that I was the first gay person they met and had subsequently decided we cannot be all that bad. Wokshops in schools and places of employment is another more effective way to facilitate changing attitudes in society.

So, who does slogananism benefit? The word polititian overwhelms me. I have a suspicion that had this ad come up 2 weeks after election day Boris Johnson would be extolling the virtues of free speech and if we didn't live in such a secular enviroment he would have let the ads go ahead without so much as a comment. It's also olympic year. If the BNP can have free speech then why can't christians? They are still selling skin bleaching creams in black hair shops. I don't see Boris or anti fascist organisations picketing the black hair shops or the mass media aswell as commentators saying race is a human condition that cannot be fixed. They are offering a service that a few self loathing gay people have subscribed to. So what? What are we scared of exactly? It's already happening. Why turn a blind eye? I believe in debate over censorship. It gets every conceivable opinion out in the open so we know exactly what challenges we face and precisely how to tackle those challenges. In suppressing freedom of speech however odious we find that speech we could alienate a few of the many straight allies on our side. Freedom of speech directly correlates with the freedom to live our lives in an open fulfilling way. If we sacrifice freedom to predjudice, we will pay the price. It's not worth it.

Sirena Reynolds

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