Freshly Doug Wednesday

Toby Otter

For a nanosecond there (well, about a week), lots of people were up in arms about Associated Press decision to encourage it’s journos to use the word ‘homophobia’ more judiciously because a “phobia” is an “illness” and connotes a “mental disability.” Don’t use it, they said, in a social or political context. If someone is anti-gay, call them anti-gay. If they are prejudiced, or bigoted against homosexuality, then say so.

Here’s my take on it. I have always found the term irritating, because it puts anti-gay prejudice on the same spectrum as claustrophobia, agoraphobia, or arachnophobia. We feel sympathy for the ‘sufferers’. The medical profession looks for ways to cure them.

None of this applies to homophobia. Except for a few, these people aren’t ill. They may be stupid, ill-informed, prejudiced, squeamish or any mix of the above, and more. But they’re not sick. Using the word ‘homophobia’ lets them off the hook. I think the AP have got it right.

The British government continues to needless complicate the legislation for marriage equality. The legislation will allow churches to conduct same-sex marriages if they wish, except for the Church of England. The proposed law will lock them out.

Not everyone wants to get married, of course: there’s a particularly good summary of the case against here. I was almost tempted to go along with it, except for the lingering feeling that the writer was determined to oppose gay marriage on principle, simply because David Cameron and the Tories are for it.

People are already recoiling in horror at the revelations coming out of the Victorian inquiry into clergy sex abuse. In the UK it’s the BBC that’s under the pump, as the scale of the late Jimmy Saville‘s child abuse become clear. A steady procession of other well-known ‘light entertainment’ personalities – including one well-loved elder Australian expat – have been questioned by police, even arrested. The Brits are horrified at the news of a couple of dozen offenders and 500 potential victims in this one scandal.

Meanwhile the Victorian inquiry has been hearing that earlier estimates of 3,000 child-abusing priests is almost certainly a considerable underestimate.  If you think this is bad, wait till the Royal Commission gets going. The Roman Catholic Church – and the Orthodox Jewish community – are in for an apocalyptic year. And deservedly so.

Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that he has prostate cancer. In fact, he’s been living with it for years. To date the cancer has not spread, and so he’s not having any treatment, just keeping an eye on things. A sensible decision, when the treatment can often be worse than the disease. Good luck Serena!

And finally, as they say, a purely personal ‘hooray’ for a new website for the more amply built man who wants more stylish clothes than the offerings at K-Mart or Big & Tall. Pity is just American.

UPDATE: check out the latest antibullying video from Community Brave, starring Penny Wong.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)