Intersectional conflict in LGBT Activism

I've just read a few pieces about the appalling case of Joe Mannetti and his treatment by Gays and Lesbians Initiating Dialogue For Equality in LA. Joe apparently some years back did a little ahem - specialist modelling - as a bear, which apparently GLIDE were aware of when he was hired to do some outreach work. And it seems he was rather good at his job too, which apparently is presenting a diversified image of gay life to the masses, which can only be a good thing.

But not so. Apparently a fellow volunteer complained about Mannetti's past and he was booted. GLIDE have refused to comment on the case, thanks to more hardline online pubs like the wonderful sex positive SF site The Sword, and LGBT POV things haven't been suppressed. The shame, however, in casting such a harsh judgement on Mannetti in terms of who does and who does not (or should not) represent us has exposed a deep chasm in the community.

The amusing piece in the Swords, barely contains the justifiable anger when it describes the whinger as having "equality" only for "crusty, menopausal labia." Later on they go on to criticize the complainant as "frigid", "clutching its pearls" and having "picket fence guidelines." Michael Kearn's asks:

In order to achieve our rightful status as human beings, must we mute ourselves, conform and contort ourselves, camouflage our sexual selves? Is this the message that G.L.I.D.E. wants to spread, especially to GLBT kids who are questioning their sexual—yes, their sexual—identity? This feels like potential contamination rather than much-needed edification.

And this is precisely what I've been fighting a lonely battle with for the last 2 years. About 6 months before that, a bunch of mohicaned young dykes in Cork organized what was a lovely night out in one of the mainstream superpubs in their private function room. A dyke night with a difference - performance artists, strippers, dancing, blah. I really enjoyed it, and even my straight friend who came along had a lovely night. There was nothing tasteless or demeaning about it - the performers - as I've learned since on travels is always the case - were respected and enjoyed. The punters loved it. And it never happened again.

Last year some of the great old girls of the late 90s scene organised a night for ladies which included a "dark room, strippers and lap dancers." Apparently a great night was had by all, but there were shrieks of hysteria from certain circles in the community at the horror that gay women might actually openly express their sexuality. Its astonishing in a sense, because the debate which opened up has long since passed on in the rest of the world - most of the big womens nights in LA - Girlbar, the Truck Stop Girls etc - employ Go-Go girls, and a few mens saunas in places like Brighton now have a couple of womens nights a year. And then there is FunForFemales - well need I say more? This is a particularly popular play night for ladies in London. If you know what it is, I need not say more.

What concerns me though, is that those shrieks of hysteria are not just about somebody expressing their distaste for such an event. Lets be honest - its not for everyone. We all have our own tastes and individual styles. My problem is, that there is a significant element of the womens scene in Ireland still that would openly try to undermine an event like this - from discouraging people from going, open verbal attacks on those who do, to letter writing campaigns etc. When there was a justified barrage of criticism against the rather old-school Cork Womens "Fun" Weekend last year for not allowing boys into a debate on gay marriage, a lot of pissed off separatists huffed and puffed and demanded their right to be left in peace to have their own, testosterome-free weekend.

Now don't get me wrong, I can understand why these women might want a couple of events that are girls-only, and I certainly think that very sexualized night would really have to be - there really would be a danger there that they would be a magnet to potentially abusive hetero male creeps, but it would have shown a bit of solidarity to have one or two events at CWFW that were not absolutely exclusively female. After all, the guys rarely exclude women - except for very sexualized places such as saunas, which frankly, I think is justifiable - my only criticism being that they never make any effort to open up to a small but, well, "specialist" element of the womens scene which right now, has no real outlet in the LGBT community and instead is forced to stalk the Fetish community such as online communties like FetLife and events such as Nimhneach and a plethora of private dungeon parties.

The thing is, there is actually quite a lot of interest and demand for sex positve and BDSM friendly events, as well as mixed events. I've made a few friends on the fetish scene, most of them straight, but they are really sound out. I get very hot under the collar because of a political ascendancy in the womens community that denies us this kind of event.

And even more so when they stop very good campaigners like Mannetti from acting on all our behalves. These people really have no right to decide who is representative of us and who is not, anymore than they have a right to decide how and where we express our sexuality. If for you that means a quite women-only night at the womens centre, thats ok, but please stop denying the rest of us the right to a sexuality. If you feel yourself drifting away from thoughts of Atlantic systems while watching Jean Byrne in all leather on the evening forecast or read the publications of Miss Maria Martindale, well why shouldn't there be a space for you? Its not all table tennis and afternoon tea you know.

Maybe its time we all got together and started to put things out there for ourselves? If anybody is on for it, mail me at and lets see what we can do for ourselves.


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