Tuesday, 22 February 2005

Subtle Mechanic

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Celebrating LGBT History Month

In September last year I finally got rid of my enormous old clanger of a PC (the beast was at least 5 years old) and bought a nicely compact laptop perfectly suited to my tiny room. It's got loads of memory (much more than said old clanger) and when recently I was introduced to I-Tunes, I decided to "rip" my CDs (ie copy them to the computer) and turn my laptop into a jukebox (albeit an expensive one). As I was going through the process I came across a couple of old tapes by a Spanish pop band called Mecano. They used to be very big in Spain (I think they have slip now). I had not listen to those for about ten years. I downloaded the track off the net and listen to the whole thing. To my surprised I still remembered most of them (and that includes the lyrics).

From 1989, I believe, I started to learn a third language at school. After English and German, I went for Spanish. Our teacher, otherwise a nice enough woman, had domestic problems and was a notorious alcoholic. That did not quite make for good teaching. One year, I can not remember exactly when (I would say 1990), she went on long term sick leave and we got a replacement teacher. She was a young wiry woman with short dark hair, several ear piercings, wearing pants. She is the one who introduced me (and my class) to Mecano. They were trying to break in in France at the time and had a couple of songs in French in the charts. One of them, Une femme avec une femme (a woman with a woman), was about lesbian love and society's view of it. We "studied" several of the songs and we did copies of her album. I listened to it quite a bit and I bought the next one they released.

As I was listening to the songs again a few weeks ago, I realised that another of their songs was about being HIV+ and while browsing limewire I came across one I did not know called Stereosexual. Googling for the lyrics, I seemed to understand it was about being bisexual and accepting oneself as such. I was impressed that such a well known band should have such controversial subjects for their songs; especially in Spain, which I have always view as very catholic and conservative (the latest news on marriage coming from over there seem to belie this view). From all this, the penny dropped. It suddenly dawned on me that this woman all those years ago was probably a lesbian (She certainly had the look for it). What was even more thrilling was that without ever saying the word, she had told us, country pumpkins, that gay people (the lesbians of the song) existed. She had find a way to bring gay visibility at our school and considering how fond we all were of her and of the songs, she certainly left a good impression.

Of course if everyone in the class were a blind and naive as I was, her lesson was probably lost on us (at the time at least) but perhaps some of my fellow people did understand more and got a positive view of homosexuality as a result. This was not a big sweeping lesson on what homosexuality is, how important it is to be tolerant and all that. It was just a tiny, low key, matter of fact touch of positive representation that hopefully planted a little seed of open-mindedness in our young minds. An example of which you very seldom (if at all) found when you grew up gay where I come from. And not only at school but in society in general.

This is what History Month is about: changing attitudes so that someday this sort of occurrences become so commonplace that no one will even notice. This is not about perverting children and as we can see, there is not necessarily a need for speaking openly about gay issues or persons. It is about getting into the frame of mind that gay people exist and that they are no better and certainly not worse than other people. Of course History Month is not enough but it is a step in right direction.

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