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HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement

26 Apr 03 - 10:23 AM (#940635)
Subject: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: phil h

Re the recent 'RACISM ...' thread, folk revival in Britain grew up in a CND, CP, anti racist cauldron but a lot that's happened since seems to have passed it by. A guy (Mitch from Worksop?) in Whitby earlier this week proudly sang a song he had written called 'My propper name is Clarence'. Most of those present seemed to find it amusing. The song, which I have heard previously in sessions, was to me embarasingly homophobic. I spoke afterwards to Toni Bunnell, who like me was obviously offended by the song, we determined to think of ways to confront the next person we heard sing it.
My point is that despite being forced in recent years to acknowlege trans gender issues the folk movement in Britain still doesn't think there is an issue in 'comic' songs about gay people.

Phil


26 Apr 03 - 10:31 AM (#940638)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: treewind

Troll alert!


26 Apr 03 - 10:35 AM (#940643)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: MMario

Considering the number of comic songs I have heard about heterosexuals I would say it's just a normal occurence


26 Apr 03 - 10:36 AM (#940646)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Leo

hardly a troll post, treewind

Phil H, that's definitely worrying. I would think if questioned about it all present would probably not have a problem with gays, but laughing at a song like that is akin to chuckling to songs about "sambo" etc.


26 Apr 03 - 10:41 AM (#940648)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Hillheader

I thought the essence of folk music was like comedy. Nothing is sacrosanct. Would it have been different if the song had been done by someone overtly gay? Hunour is humour. PC Folk songs? Whatever next.

Davebhoy


26 Apr 03 - 11:28 AM (#940678)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: katlaughing

There is a difference between a gay person singing one and someone else doing it. It's the same as a black person using the "N" word.

Phil, you might find these threads of interest: Gays, Lesbians and Folk Music

Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Historical Songs (I might have the title switched around on this one.)


26 Apr 03 - 11:31 AM (#940680)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Leo

I agree. I'll wager a white guy getting up and singing racist slurs against black people wouldn't go down well at all, in fact the singer would be forced off stage (i'd hope!). Why this should be any different for songs insulting homosexuals, i don't know.


26 Apr 03 - 11:34 AM (#940683)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: LesB

Just a thought, should this & the racism thread be a BS/none music thread?
Cheers Les


26 Apr 03 - 12:51 PM (#940725)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: phil h

Thanks for all your comments, This is no troll treewind I was ofended that at a folk club people were encouraging children to ape camp actions & laugh at this song. I risk upsetting people I know (who I'm sure will have this thread pointed out to them)& maybe not being so welcome at their sessions but I feel strongly that making no comment encourages people to think (or rather not bother to think) that joke homophobia is acceptable.
Phil


26 Apr 03 - 01:13 PM (#940736)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: greg stephens

Could we see a text for this song? It is a little difficult discussing it if you dont know how it goes? Clearly there is nothing homophobic about laughing at homosexuality in general, but obviously in particular cases it can be. So what are the words? Anybody know?


26 Apr 03 - 01:45 PM (#940758)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Dead Horse

I'm sorry if you disagree, but to sing of homosexuals in a comical way does not make you homophobic, anymore than singing about beating the French makes you a Francophobe. And I often use the word "nigger" when singing some shanties because it was coloured seamen who made the songs popular. To disguise the word by substituting "sailor" seems to be abhorant somehow, and I wont do it even if a negro is in the audience. (It has happened, and after we explained the song to them, they agreed that it should be sung that way)
What next? Are we to refrain from singing songs about sexual conquest on the grounds that it degrades women?
Drinking songs that might offend alcoholics?
"As I went a-walking one morning in May"......oh bugger, cant sing that, theres a wheelchair present.
If I dont see offence in a song, I will damn well sing it.
If you are too delicate or self righteous to listen, you have my permission to leave.


26 Apr 03 - 02:00 PM (#940770)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST

The incident did take place in Yorkshire so attitudes will be at least 10 years behind the rest of the world.


26 Apr 03 - 02:03 PM (#940773)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: treewind

Phil H:
My point, for what it's worth, is that homophobia in "The British Folk Movement", (whatever that is), is not an issue. Your issue is that you heard one song that you found offensive, sung (let me just check - yes) once by one singer and you have sensationalised it with you tabloid-style choice of subject line, capital letters and all.

I doubt if most folk audiences would be very impressed with a song like that, in fact they'd be embarrassed as were you and another, and I think that would be the same story for nearly everyone.

If I was an organiser and somebody sang a song like that in my club, I hope I'd have the courage to have a quiet word with them afterwards and tell them that this wasn't the place to sing a song like that and they needn't bother to come again if they were intending to continue in similar vein in the future.

I think most English folkies are extremely tolerant of "trans-gender issues" and it's one area of society where people truly don't give a damn less what anybody's sexual preferences were. I personally know a gay female living with a woman who was once a man. One of them is a well known performer in Britain's folk clubs. Their friends, many of whom I also know well, have been hugely supportive. I'm not going to name them; if you know, you know.

Unless you can come up with some more extensive and convincing evidence, this, like the events that led to the racism thread, is an isolated incident.

FFS, it's bad enough trying to sing a hunting song these days. But I'm not going to start an "Outbreak of political correctness in the British Folk Movement" thread...

Anahata


26 Apr 03 - 02:42 PM (#940796)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: nutty

I have heard this song on a number of occassions and have never found it in the least offensive. Indeed the singer is such a nice person that he would be upset to discover that people werebeing offended by it.
I agree with Treewind , surely it would have been better to speak to Mitch in person, Phil,


26 Apr 03 - 02:44 PM (#940798)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Raedwulf

If you want to be offended, that's *your* problem!

If they weren't trying to offend you & you got offended, whose fault is it?

If they *were* trying to offend you & you got offended, whose fault is it?

I've homosexual friends. I know of homo-s who would rather be described as "queer", than "gay".

If you feel that strongly, heckle the performer for being a jerk. Mostly though, the matter of offense is always down to YOU. No matter who 'you' are, no matter who the alleged offender is, it's down to you.

You can't offend *me* - I refuse to play that game. It's very much your problem. Sorry...


26 Apr 03 - 06:11 PM (#940909)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: greg stephens

Personally I find homosexuality hilarious, also heterosexuality. So do most people. I would have thought.


26 Apr 03 - 07:02 PM (#940937)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: McGrath of Harlow

"Clarence" isn't in fact a joke directed at gays, it's directed at people who put them down. At least that's how I'd understand it, and I've met the man who wrote it.

Of course, it might get sung by someone who didn't understand it and was singing from an anti-gay point of view. That kind of thing can happen to songs easily enough "Born in the USA" for example, and I'm sure we can all think of other examples.

Here's a link to the song in the DT


26 Apr 03 - 07:07 PM (#940946)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Leo Condie

well that's hardly homophobic. i retract my whines!

incidentally i thought mitch mitchell drummed for jimi hendrix. well i guess he wouldn't have much of a job doing that nowadays, anyway.


26 Apr 03 - 08:05 PM (#940979)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: phil h

The fact that the performer was pantomiming stereotyped camp gestures while singing the song does not support the notion that it poked fun at homophobia rather than gays.
Phil


26 Apr 03 - 08:56 PM (#940996)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Thomas the Rhymer

After encountering many misinterpretations of my songs, and the more provacative folk songs I do, I am drawing the conclusion lately, that people are very likely to jump to conclusions about my motives for singing any particular song. They are almost always wrong, and for reasons I will never completely understand. Like Paul Brady writes 'only for himself', listeners listen 'only for themselves' and performers preform 'only for themselves' by being enjoyable to many. Probably best not to try to please everyone though... *BG*

No one likes to be made fun of in front of a room full of people... so, ...you really have to make fun of everyone, or no one, or yourself...

By the same token, whether homo, hetero, or celibo... you are funny sometimes! ttr


26 Apr 03 - 10:23 PM (#941031)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Curious George

Help me out with something here. I live in a large Metropolis with a substantial gay community. I work with gay folks, socialize and in general interact, and have for many years.

Here's my problem. I've never in all this time encountered one gay man who would waste his time "being friends" with the kind of people who are always justifying their conservative values with the old "some of my best friends are gay" crap.

Assuming these people hang out with other conservative "pro Bush, Cheney, Thatcher, Ashcroft" types and supporters, what do these gay "best friends" do? Try to change the conversation? Just say "Hey, I know you guys hate me but can I still one of your best friends?" It boggles the mind.

CG


27 Apr 03 - 02:48 AM (#941099)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Hillheader

Having read the lyrics I think the message is "Homosexuallity is here - deal with it". I certainly do not see it as homophobic and to generalise this song into an indicator of homophobia in the folk scene in general is a quantum leap from the reality of the song and (apparently) the circumstance.

My point earlier in the thread re an overtly gay person singing the song was a genuine question and borne out by the lyrics. If an overtly gay person sang these the connotations would be different entirely and the subject in my view then becomes that person hiding from his sexuallity. I also do not think that it would have got the same response from the audience and the object is to entertain. If there is an agenda to provoke, I think the song challenges homophobia rather than promotes it.

I agree with Raedwulf. If we are offended it's more usually because we take the offence and not because it was intended. It's a common training point that every time we point the finger of blame somewhere else, there are three others pointing back at us.

Davebhoy


27 Apr 03 - 06:33 AM (#941147)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: McGrath of Harlow

There's a badge that was quite popular one time - "How dare you assume that I am heterosexual". Anyone could wear it, that was the point This song is essentially saying the same thing.


27 Apr 03 - 09:35 AM (#941195)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Chris Maltby

I would have thought that the best medicine is to find and sing a song with an alternative point of view. There's plenty of good material around to use on the homosexuality front. Then, if your singer is really a homophobe, he'll (and I'll assume it's a he) will complain about your song and then you can say "I listened to your song without complaining, but not that _you_ mention it..."


27 Apr 03 - 12:03 PM (#941249)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Amos

This song is very funny -- and it is no more homophobic than "The Yellow Rose of Texas" or "The Vale of Tralee".

I think some people have too much time on their hands!


A


27 Apr 03 - 12:47 PM (#941275)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: phil h

Thanks to those of you who've expressed some sympathy with my point of view.
As to the rest I've read what I should have expected: the implication that I am oversensitively PC; the implication that I have no sense of humour; and attempts (which stretch credulity to breaking point) to reinterpret the song as sympathetic to the gay cause.
I suppose I ought to have realised that when you confront peoples prejudices head on they just get defensive.

Phil


27 Apr 03 - 01:00 PM (#941282)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: nutty

Phil ....once again .....may I suggest that you take this up with Mitch


27 Apr 03 - 02:25 PM (#941348)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST

Why are these controversial MUSIC issues being moved and hidden away down in the BS section? And who is making the decision that if the topic of disuccion is about controversial racist/homophobic folk songs, that the discussion isn't legitimately about music, but must be about politics instead?

Or, if the subject being discussed is the tolerance of racism and homophobia in the folk music community, again, why is the discussion being hidden away in the BS section? Surely, these subjects are not only worthy of inclusion in the music section, but belong there.


27 Apr 03 - 02:32 PM (#941357)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: McGrath of Harlow

"Worthy of inclusion" - worthy or unworthy doesn't come into it.

There's plenty of music and songs in the BS section anyway, thanks to the marvel of thread drift.


27 Apr 03 - 03:02 PM (#941377)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST

No McGrath, that wasn't the point I was making. The point I was making is that the heavy hand of censorship is rearing it's ugly, arbitrary head again on this and the racism in the British folk music movement threads.

When Mudcat management decides they don't want controversial discussion of music issues discussed, they are shunting this stuff to the BS section, which is segregated and unequal as hell. This is the Mudcat discussion ghetto, in case you hadn't noticed. And there is at least one Mudcat Royal who is abusing their authority and power to make these arbitrary and highly questionable judgments. Going by past history, my guess is, it is likely Joe Offer doing it. His judgment in this regard is just plain awful.


27 Apr 03 - 03:47 PM (#941419)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: SINSULL

phil - definitely not a troll but I too find the song funny not offensive. I will have to give some thought to whether or not gay friends would find it offensive.


27 Apr 03 - 03:53 PM (#941422)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Raedwulf

Thanks to those of you who've expressed some sympathy with my point of view.
As to the rest...


{wince} Say hello to "I posted this thread looking for people to agree with me...." Sorry, philh, I may be being unfair, but that reads very badly!


27 Apr 03 - 03:55 PM (#941424)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: phil h

OK maybe we should close this now as 'guest' seems intent on turning it into a troll thread


27 Apr 03 - 04:00 PM (#941426)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Thomas the Rhymer

Rise above the 'push and shove' and give us all a wink
It's easy now, with your know how, no matter what you think
For if youre flustered look within, don't make another stink
Don't whine and 'mine', with gusto dine, your happiness won't blink!
ttr


28 Apr 03 - 01:37 PM (#942009)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Hillheader

Phil

I'm sorry if you think I "stretch credulity to breaking point". This is a subjective matter and open to interpretation. I read the lyrics and gave you my honest opinion as asked for.

Perhaps if you think you might not like the answer, it may be better not to pose the question.

Regards

Davebhoy


29 Apr 03 - 06:52 AM (#942614)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Richard Bridge

Can we rightly say that only gays should sing gay songs (cf: the Gipsy Boy and I) - if so what about the common folk tradition of women singing men's songs and vice versa?


29 Apr 03 - 07:16 AM (#942623)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: greg stephens

Phil H: i have read the song lyrics now. Well, obviously I cant tell how it was performed when you heard it, but judging purely on the lyrics I can't find anything offensive or homophobic in it. And I have no desire to confront the person who wrote it. I have heard some homophobic songs in my time, but this isnt one of them. That's my opinion.


29 Apr 03 - 08:38 AM (#942660)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Raggytash

There is humour to be found in every aspect of life, be it gender, sexuality, religion wars etc, even when the World Trade Centre was destroyed gags resulted.
When we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves and our foibles we become less as people.


29 Apr 03 - 05:31 PM (#943090)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Mrs.Duck

I do not find the song homophobic. I can also recall the time when Geoff (also in Whitby) stood to sing another song of a not disimilar ilk "My best friend is a drag queen called Nancy" (also not homophobic IMO) and realised half way through that there was a 6' transsexual goth sitting directly behind him. He carried on the song and everyone including the said goth seemed to enjoy it. Neither song is about poking fun at anyone or about prejudice they are just songs that deal with real life.


29 Apr 03 - 06:01 PM (#943106)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: JedMarum

I read the lyrics and find the song funny not offensive - further, I can;t imagine that the author had anything but a little humor in mind, no hidden messages, no point-of-view. It's just meant for a laugh. Enjoy it!


29 Apr 03 - 06:22 PM (#943117)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: nutty

The author was definitely not wishing to offend. He sings a lot of this material much of which he writes himself.
My particular favourite is the "Condom Song" ....about safe sex.... "If you're going to have it off, have it on"


29 Apr 03 - 07:43 PM (#943172)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Lanfranc

Around the time that homosexuality was de-criminalised (between consenting adults at least) there was a song that had a brief vogue, though I'm damned if I can remember who wrote or sang it (perhaps as well!)- the chorus ran:

"They've just made it legal for Hubert and Cecil
For ? and Patrick as well
Up in the big city, politicians took pity
There's something queer going on here..."

My recollection was that it was more of an affectionate piss-take than homophobic (the word did not exist in the 1960s, did it?).

In the 60s I heard many jokes told about denizens of the Coleherne (a well-known gay pub on Old Brompton Road) whilst frequenting the Troubadour half a block away in SW6, but it was always good-humoured to my recollection - they probably told similar stories about the long-haired hippy folkies in the Troub.

Alan


30 Apr 03 - 04:32 PM (#943821)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: Herga Kitty

Nutty

I haven't heard the Condom Song. I think my favourite so far of Mitch's songs (which I heard for the first time in the Saturday lunchtime singaround in the Plough last Whitby Folk Week) is the blues song about a man with a speech impediment who is trying to assemble a DIY flatpack. It really brings home the problems of trying to assemble flatpacks from instructions written by people for whom English is not their first language. I'm trying to persuade Graeme Knights to sing it (on Monday at Herga he sang Mitch's song about the geriatric rock and rollers, to the tune of "Putting on the Agony").

Kitty


30 Apr 03 - 06:27 PM (#943905)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex

Having read the words the song just seems rather silly and pointless. With the right (wrong) presentation it could appear offensive.


30 Apr 03 - 06:59 PM (#943931)
Subject: RE: HOMOPHOBIA in British Folk Movement
From: McGrath of Harlow

With the right (wrong) presentation it could appear offensive. Well, so could pretty well any song.

The great Marie Lloyd demonstrated that:
After a public protest from the stalls of the Empire by a Mrs Ormeston Chant of the Purity Party, the courts opposed the renewal of music hall licenses and Marie Lloyd was on trial for lewdness and vulgarity.

She sang her songs from the dock with such innocence and with such acclaim from the court that the licenses were renewed.

Afterwards as a sort of encore, she later in the theatre sang Come Into the Garden Maude with so many obscene innuendos and gestures that her audience once more went wild with delight.