Saturday, June 29, 2013

"People Like You Give Faggots a Bad Name": Straight Pride?

Oh the fun I have on social media. Today, I was on twitter. What a blast that always is. My focus today is on  the issue of "Straight Pride". It's the time of year for LGBT Pride parades and festivities around the world to take place, sometimes even in defiance of society and governments of the country they are being held. I support Pride events. I see the value in them. It is an opportunity for people to say "Hey, fuck you, I am NOT staying in the closet!" and rightly so. It's a chance to go out, have fun and show support for LGBT's who have faced so much discrimination, persecution and ill treatment all over the world! This concept of Pride seems completely lost on many of those calling for Straight Pride, and that is highly frustrating.

So, in my scrolling through tweets I run across this one guy on twitter, a "hip hop" DJ or rapper or whatever, from Toronto, a dude called Kadeem who appears to goes by the name Madniss, though he is Bruce Wayne on twitter. His comments were, first "Gay float at caribana? I'm not trynna hate on homosexuals but naaaahh bro none ah dat," followed by "If there's gonna be a gay float at caribana then I'm calling for a straight pride parade then. That's what I call #EqualRights". Oh, the whole straight pride thing pisses me off, so I gave it a go. My response was a snarky "One float is devoted to LGBT, and the rest are heterocentric. Congrats, you got a straight pride parade. Idiot". In hindsight, I shouldn't have made the last second decision to add "Idiot" to the end, but it was definitely in my brain, so I added it. His response was "People like you give faggots a bad name." Then he blocked me.

Well, this leaves me angry and feeling far less bad for using the word "Idiot". The use of the word "faggots" suggests that he doesn't exactly get the whole gay pride thing, failing to see that a statement like that is EXACTLY why gay pride is so important. Maybe he could have an "Idiot" pride day, seeing as I used that term, and that was derogatory. That would be interesting.

A follow up tweet read "I don't have anything against homosexuals. Caribana is the one thing that reminds me of back home and the gay stuff just makes it weird." So, basically, YES, you do have a problem with gays. That's like saying "I'm not a racist, but I really hate it when black people show up at basketball games".

Here, clearly, is a kid that doesn't get it. And the impression that I get is that he is a newer Canadian, possibly a first or second generation. I'm not against immigration. I believe in an open Canada that can be home to many people from all over the world. I do, however, hate that ideas such as homophobia are imported into a country where LGBT rights have been fought hard for. In Canada, of course, LGBT's have the right to marry, and I am proud of that, but there are still many issues facing LGBT folks in this nation that need to be tackled. So, more people coming in with homophobic ideas doesn't help the situation. That's not saying this kid doesn't have a place in Canada or that he should go home. I am just saying that we don't need more homophobia, from anyone! We need an inclusive Canada. That includes space everywhere for LGBT's!

Now, his wasn't the only comment denouncing gay pride, using a term like "faggot" or trumpeting this grand need for a "Straight Pride" event. There is no shortage of that. But, our brief interaction left me feeling angry, frustrated and disappointed. It left me feeling that, with all the progress made, there are still people such as him who do see a problem with a float placed in the parade by members of the LGBT community. It leaves me sad that, with so much progress being made within the younger generation who seem to be much more open to understand LGBT issues, there are still young folks with ideas like these. Times are changing, but the fight is still on. Sorry Kadeem, but you ARE part of the problem.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Doha Rants: Y Village, Doha

Okay, so, I have this going through my head and I thought I would write it down.

So, for three years we lived in Qatar. I've sorta covered that in past posts, though not much. Anyway, it wasn't my favourite place to be for a number of reasons, but the insane racism was definitely high on the list of issues that I had with being there.

Now, for the last stint of our time in Doha, Qatar, the company we were associated with decided that they would move us into a place called Y Village, a compound near Aspire Park, owned by Ramco. Now, this place was pretty nice, aesthetically anyway. It had the look and feel of a resort as a opposed to a compound which, well, was okay I guess. It was just a cold, not very friendly place in the end really. All looks, no substance, as most things are in Qatar. Completely devoid of character, completely devoid of everything that makes a true community.

Anyway, the number one complaint that I have about the place is what I see as their racist, discriminatory policies which shouldn't come as a shock in a region that, in my mind, defines the term racist. Now, there are some people in the compound who have live in nannies and maids. This alone is part of the culture that really got under my skin. Having a human servant on hand to raise children and do the chores? Not my favourite idea. But, regardless, it is the reality of living in Qatar. And to be fair, we did have a wonderful person who came to clean for us every two weeks, and babysit every other week. We really appreciated her help and she was a great person and we were so grateful to have her in our lives.

So what bugged me is that the facilities, like the pool and the clubhouse were OFF LIMITS to nannies on their spare time. Excuse me? These people who are such a big part of our lives, who live ON the compound, and who work hard, and they are not allowed in the pool?? These people are part of the community! They are part of families! They live there just like anywayone! So, hold on a second, what's the problem here. Well, these can easily be explained. Most domestic workers in Qatar are from countries like the Philippines (like most in our compound), Malaysia, Nepal, etc. Why could they not use the facilities? Basically because of their nationality. Because of their nationality, they are identified as domestic help and as such should not be in the public areas. Sound bad? Yes, that's because it is. But that's par for the course in Doha.

And it made me mad. I won't mince words about that. I sent the management an email over this. I heard no reply. I sent another one because I was also angry about another issue, which was that people just kept showing up at our door at weird hours to do little jobs that no one told us about that didn't seem to need to be done. So, in this second email, I was a little more angry. I used swear words. Oh yes I did. And I meant them, dammit. Boy did I. I was angry about these people showing up, but more angry that not only their racist discriminatory policies were in place, but that when questioned they didn't even bother to respond.

Well, turns out I rubbed some people the wrong way, and guess what. The company we work for got in trouble over this. Excuse me? Come again? This place that we were moved into has a racist policy, I call them on it, and the company has to face the music because I used swears or whatever it was that got things going? Now, should I have sworn in the email. Well, of course, that is up for debate. It probably shouldn't have been done, and I will admit that, although it did a good job of helping to express the anger I felt. But, was it wrong? Probably. But, what happened? Instead of racist policies being put into question, the big deal became swear words. And that's the kind of culture it is in Qatar. And, yes, I am glad to not be in it anymore, thanks for asking.

You know what, that place was horrible as far as I am concerned. I was completely disappointed and disgusted by Y Village. With these restrictions in place, it created a prison for several people we knew and cared for. It meant that they were second class citizens in our community who did not share the same rights and privileges we had merely because of their race and their jobs. This left me with a sour taste in my mouth that sticks with me to this day, even though we have been out of that country for 1 year now. I still can't believe I lived in a place like that. I feel rather sad, a bit ashamed and disgusted that I lived in a place with a policy like this. It mad me feel like I was also living in a prison, knowing that members of our community had restrictions placed on them and there was NOTHING I could do about it, and that the company that we worked for was completely indifferent about, even though it is a Canadian company. That will lead me to more posts. Just the idea that this company should be operating in a country like Qatar to begin with needs to be question.