As a northerner, gay man and also as an academic I often feel an outsider on the inside. Too often, our media is London-centric and panders to internal liberal angst. The various stories concerning East London pride over the last few months were a reminder of this situation. It seems odd to me that (with possibly the exception of Manchester), the London-based LGBTQ media too often appears concerned with the ins and outs of stories that do not affect vast swathes of their readership. As such, I more or less ignored the East End pride stories as stories that don’t directly affect me.
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this response, but I’m also sure that it was a mistake. Our media have been useless at translating a ‘local’ story into a national one and assumed that simply palcing it in a national outlet does that. It doesn’t. Yet, as we see in a blog post by the controversial feminist writer, Julie Bindel, we should sit up and examine what’s been going on in the East End of London.
In a nutshell, and as Bindel notes, Last autumn, stickers began to appear all over the East End proclaiming that the area is now a “Gay-Free Zone.” “And Fear Allah: Verily Allah is Severe in Punishment.” After that, it all gets complex, and you should go read the excellent summary by Julie Bindel here (then carry on reading…). You don’t have to agree with Bindel on anything to find the commentary useful and interesting.
I’m quite sure the post will annoy some, but it needs to be read and debated. Our failure to do so, and opt instead for a conspiracy of silence, serves only to create an environment perfect for the incubation of ignorance and hatred. We must not allow that to happen.