Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Independent: Being nice to gays

1 July 2012 by Daphne Caruana Galizia

Neo-Mintoffian Joseph Muscat has released a video message for Gay Pride Week. I found it very amusing, and typically right-wing-village-conservative- struggling-to-be -open-minded.

The thought of Joseph and Michelle, with her Gucci-print wellies and their his-n-hers Northface jackets, their mittilkless family car and their social-climbing initiatives, their Soleil and Etoile and their ballet lessons, their nice little parties with useful people from what they think is high society, their stays at Ta’ Cenc with a Filipina nanny, thrust into the middle of your standard Soho Gay Pride Parade, jostled about by men with feathers up their butt and women with elaborately decorated nipples, has me in fits of much-needed laughter.

Try-hards like those really can’t hack it. They will always see “being nice to gays” in terms of the way previous generations thought about “being nice to the maid”. If I were a lesbian, I would feel seriously patronised every time Joseph Muscat opens his mouth on the subject, and feel compelled to ask him to go home and talk down to his pet tortoise.

I have some indication of what it must feel like to be homosexual and listen to this tosh. Around 20 years ago, politicians used to speak about women in this tone of voice, and it used to make me blind-crazy. “Women are as capable as men” was a frequently-used statement that sent me bouncing off the walls each time I heard it, not least because of its inherent lack of logic. “Women need help”, “Women need support”, “Women are important members of society”, blah blah blah.

The undertone was that anyone unlucky enough to be born a woman in Malta needed compassion and assistance. Now the undertone is that anyone unlucky enough to be born homosexual in Malta needs our tolerance and understanding.

If I were a lesbian leading the Gay Rights Association, or whatever it’s called, I wouldn’t be lobbying neo-Mintoffian Muscat and pawing the ground in gratitude each time he recognises my existence. I’d ring him up and tell him to put a bleeding sock in it. I never allowed anyone to patronise me as a woman and I’d have been damned to allow anyone to patronise me for that reason.

They know damned well that Joseph Muscat is never going to legislate for proper marriage between two people of the same gender, because he has said so, fairly and squarely. When people make themselves clear in that fashion, you don’t supplicate, beg, beseech or whine. You just tell them where to stuff it.

Muscat’s video message is called “A Fair Society – It Gets Better”. I read that and snorted: “Indeed, and no thanks to his dreadful bunch of freaks, intolerant losers and blasts from the golden past.” The thought of Muscat as the agent of change is ridiculous to me as I take note of exactly who he plans to use (or be used by) to bring about that change: the very people who turned my growing-up years into an Albanian nightmare, and who have been lurking like ghouls in the wings for 25 years, waiting to have another go at making life miserable for everyone except themselves.

His message is not about what the Labour Party thinks of gay people. This is not because he thinks such sentiments and messages completely out of synch with the 21st century – haven’t we moved way beyond that? − but because he wishes to focus on what he believes the government is doing wrong. The government, he says, should “really believe in and understand the love between two people, without interfering in what they do in their bedroom”.

What rubbish, honestly. For a start, what two people do together in their bedroom has nothing to do with love and everything to do with a far more primeval and transient urge, which might be a difficult concept for somebody raised, as Muscat probably was, with religious euphemisms for sex, like ‘act of love’, ‘act of marriage’ and similar. So he would do well to stop being coy about it. Surely even Joseph Muscat knows that if you wish to marry somebody, it’s because you love that person, and not because you want to have sex with him or her.

But he doesn’t want to mention the words ‘gay’ and ‘marriage’ in the same sentence lest he be held to account. So he talks about what people do in their bedroom and suggests that the government is sitting beneath the bed, ready to stick its nose in where it is not wanted. I don’t see the government interfering in anybody’s bedroom, but quite the contrary. It errs entirely in the reverse direction. A third of all Maltese babies are now born out of marriage, ostensibly to women who have been abandoned by cads and heels, and the government – being quite leftie – supports them and gives them places to live. A right-wing, conservative government would have left them to fend for themselves, or it would have hunted the fathers down and made them pay.

Muscat disingenuously said, too, that the society in which he would like to live should not only be tolerant but also embrace, understand and grant rights to all couples and all families. Lesson 1 in democracy: rights are not granted or grantable. They are inherent. The state may deny rights but it cannot actually grant them. Lesson 1 in reality: we are there already. Maltese society embraces all couples, to the point of what would be considered embarrassment in societies more sophisticated than our own.

Nobody even bothers to behave with a modicum of decorum anymore, because nobody else gives a damn. Joseph Muscat is asking us to be tolerant of the steam engine when the age of jet travel has come and gone.


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