Whine producers

My friend Ellie just coined a phrase I really love: whine producers. Think Toby Young, Allison Pearson and all the other people who have bad opinions for money, and who churn out those opinions on an industrial scale.

LGBTQ+ Media

The paper of a broken record

Jeffrey Ingold, Stonewall’s head of media:

In 2020, The Times (incl. the Sunday Times) wrote 324 articles about trans people & ‘trans issues’. Zero of which were written by trans people themselves.

For comparison, in 2019, The Times wrote 321 articles about trans people & ‘trans issues’. 3 were written by trans people.


COVID year two

Ed Yong is one of the best science reporters we have, and his COVID reporting for The Atlantic has been superb. He’s just published his final piece of 2020: Where Year Two of the Pandemic Will Take Us. It’s for a US audience but it’s relevant to many other countries too.

How does a country learn from its mistakes if it cannot even agree on whether it made any?


The great bucatini shortage

This article made me laugh: Why is there a bucatini shortage in America?

Being educated noodle consumers, we knew that there was, more generally, a pasta shortage due to the pandemic, but we were still able to find spaghetti and penne and orecchiette — shapes which, again, insult me even in concept. The missing bucatini felt different. It was specific. Frightening. Why bucatini? Why now? Why us?

I didn’t know what bucatini was, so I’ve ordered some to try it for myself. There doesn’t currently appear to be a bucatini shortage in Scotland.


Mistakes were made

As far as I’m aware, The New Yorker has only devoted its entire issue to a single story once before, for reporting on Hiroshima. And now it’s done it again for this incredible piece of journalism, The Plague Year. It’s very long, very detailed and very powerful.

There are three moments in the yearlong catastrophe of the covid-19 pandemic when events might have turned out differently. The first occurred on January 3, 2020, when Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke with George Fu Gao, the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which was modelled on the American institution. Redfield had just received a report about an unexplained respiratory virus emerging in the city of Wuhan.


Say a prayer for the lost and lonely

My band released a Christmas EP last year, and I think the closing track is even more appropriate this year. It’s called A Christmas Prayer.

The lyrics are:

I hope you have a good one
I hope your christmas is fun
I hope you’re with your family
and there’s something for you under the tree

and I hope you thank your lucky stars

Say a prayer for the lost and lonely
pray for the battered and the bruised
raise your glasses and remember
the ones that didn’t make it through

I don’t believe in a god up there
but I offer up a Christmas prayer
to fill every aching heart with love
fill every hateful heart with love
fill every broken heart with love
fill every empty heart with love

I hope you have a happy Christmas and that 2021 is better for all of us.



Religious leaders demand a global ban on conversion therapy

This is beautiful. Over 370 religious leaders from 35 countries have signed a declaration demanding a worldwide end to the dangerous practice of conversion therapy for LGBT+ people.

The signatories include Archbishop Desmond Tutu; the Most Revd Linda Nicholls, Archbishop of Canada; the Most Revd Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church; the Most Revd John Davies, Archbishop of Wales; Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, chair of the UK Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors; and many other key figures from many faiths including the Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu religions.

Here’s an extract from their declaration:

  • We affirm that all human beings of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order.
  • We affirm that we are all equal under God, whom many call the Divine, and so we are all equal to one another.
  • We, therefore, call for all to be treated equally under the law…
  • We believe that love and compassion should be the basis of faith and that hatred can have no place in religion.
  • We call on all nations to put an end to criminalisation on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, for violence against LGBT+ people to be condemned and for justice to be done on their behalf.
  • We call for all attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression – commonly known as “conversion therapy” – to end, and for these harmful practices to be banned.
  • Finally, we call for an end to the perpetuation of prejudice and stigma and commit to work together to celebrate inclusivity and the extraordinary gift of our diversity
LGBTQ+ Music

“Maybe you haven’t found your people yet, but they will be there.”

There’s a nice piece in Refinery29 by Robin Craig. It’s about chosen families, the networks of supportive people that can mean so much to LGBT+ people.

A chosen family is, as the name suggests, a family that someone chooses for themselves. It blurs the lines between friends, siblings and parents. For trans people, relationships with biological families can often be strained or marked by transphobia. Chosen families can step in as replacement care networks that provide emotional and community support when biological family ties break down.

There’s a song on my band’s current EP about this. It’s a very noisy guitar song called Tribe.

The key line, which is also the chorus, is simple and true:

Everybody needs to love and be loved.

LGBTQ+ Media

“Extremely inappropriate”

According to Dame Melanie Dawes, the head of Ofcom, it is “extremely inappropriate” for the BBC to platform organisations such as the LGB Alliance to “balance” stories about trans people, trans healthcare or trans people’s human rights.

The video’s here. It’s in response to a question by MP John Nicolson, a gay man who’s been subject to vicious homophobic abuse from LGB Alliance supporters.


Life in the fast lane

Oh, to be fast-tracked and rushed into medical treatment. Here are the latest gender clinic waiting times for the UK: in the Exeter area the waiting list for an initial appointment is now five years.

The maximum waiting time for these services is supposed to be 18 weeks.