Sunday 11 December 2016

Red, White and Blue Brexit bad for Northern Ireland

Here in the land that is base for HBO's Game of Thrones the talk of a Red, White and Blue Brexit as first described by Theresa May and increasingly mentioned by others since is not universally going down well. Let me explain why (in the language that GoT fans will find familiar).

Queen Arlene, First of Her Name surveys her Kingdom of the North from her White Keep (Parliament Buildings, Stormont). She was very much in favour of Brexit and her sigil is St. Edward's Crown on a background of Red, White and Blue. However, outside the gates of the keep the people however are not as much in agreement of Brexit as Arlene and her small (well not so small) council.

Prince Martin is meant to be a co-regent with Queen Arlene. His house's ancient sigil was an armalite and a ballot box on a background of Green, White and Gold, but now it is just the ballot box though some banners still show a shadowy figure of the armalite. He is opposed to Brexit and the mention of it as being Red, White and Blue is not going down well with his bannermen who largely were also opposed to Brexit.

Meanwhile in Kings Landing, Queen Theresa, First of Her Name, Queen of the Four Kingdoms and her small council have largely ignored that the Kingdom of the North has a large border with Europeros with which her four Kingdoms are looking to depart. There are many workers from the southern part of the island that the Kingdom of the North shares with Europeros. There leader King Michael, First of his name, also known by some as the Imp, or Leprechaun because of his diminutive stature and his hand Enda are very much in favour of Europeros are a little offended that Queen Theresa is asking them to control movement of Europeros citizens entering their territory as they have not signed up for Brexit but have signed up for the freedom of movement of Europeros citizens both into and out of their nation.

There has been a peace in the Kingdom of the North for only 3 decades and even then at times it has been tense. Talking up Brexit as being an issue that is Red, White and Blue may stir up some of the sleeping armies of the old days. Continuing to wrap this argument is patriotism based on symbols which still cause dispute in the Kingdom of the North contravenes the treaty that the Kingdom of the North was allowed a degree of autonomy over its own affairs. It is a part of the Four Kingdoms that allows civilians to follow in the Red, White and Blue sigil, or the Green, White and Gold one, or both if they chose too. Fealty is not a black and white matter, nor should it be hyped up in full colour.

Be warned those in Kingslanding (Westminster in this tale) not all the people of the Four Kingdom (United Kingdom) want to hear talk of Red, White and Blue Brexit. Here in the Kingdom of the North (Northern Ireland) some of us have been campaigned for safe and open spaces where everyone can gather. Your painting of Brexit as being a matter of Red, White and Blue while talking to little Englanders, is not so great to the fringes Northern Ireland and indeed Scotland.

Thursday 1 December 2016

My former Teacher hasn't learnt #SammyWilsonMP #WorldAIDSDay

Once upon a time Sammy Wilson and I shared a classroom. One of our Economics teachers started a new job and for the last weeks of our first A'Level year Sammy Wilson stepped in.

Just over 15 months later I was at Kingston Polytechnic (as it then was) studying for my degree in Economics. In those early months I met a young man who was the first person I knew who was living with HIV. This was that dark old days of the 80s and ignorance was still rife about how HIV was transmitted with rumours about shaking hands, or sharing cups or toilet seats.

A couple of years later that young man moved into the house that I was living in. I shared many a chat into the small hours of the morning, listening to his concerns about the stigma he was facing, the life that he would be missing out on and the opportunities he felt he would never be able to fully realise. Those were tough, heart wrenching conversations. With hugs, cups of tea and the rest showing that the stigma was only from those who were ignorant.

Sammy Wilson has said he refuses to support World AIDS Day because "HIV is a result of lifestyle choices". The friend that I learnt my first lessons about HIV and AIDS about would snort at Sammy Wilson for saying that. His lifestyle choice that lead to him contracting HIV wasn't really a choice, he took drugs. Without the drugs he would have died. He was a haemophiliac and he had to take those drugs, it wasn't a choice. Like half of all haemophiliacs at that time he actually acquired HIV not through a lifestyle choice but though a desire to live and not bleed to death.

Of course Sammy Wilson has shown his ignorance of LGBT+ people in the past. He really thinks that the young man who sat in his A'Level class that year was happy with the realisation of his sexual orientation. The fact is that he had contemplated taking his life before Sammy stood before him in a classroom. The reason being that he couldn't chose to ignore the feeling he was having and it didn't fit with his Northern Irish, Presbyterian upbringing. That young man couldn't chose to be other than gay or bisexual. His orientation was there despite his upbringing and culture he grew up in. It was unhappy, full of bullying and a lonely place to be. It was something that back then he didn't speak to others about but he bottled it in.

Of course that young man back then is me. The message then was don't die of ignorance. The message is still the same today, sadly it is the ignorance of some of our politicians here in Northern Ireland that is the greatest risk.

Please Sammy don't let others gay, straight, children or adults die because of your ignorance about HIV.