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The emptiness of being queer Sexual libertarians and rainbow bureaucrats created the perfect racket


May 6, 2022   6 mins

What does “queer” mean to you? For many older gays and transsexuals, it’s an unpleasant reminder of past homophobic encounters, some of them physically threatening. Yet thanks to its positive recuperation over the last 30 years, today queerness means something completely different. It’s now an umbrella “identity”, covering everything that’s non-standard and non-vanilla in the sexual world, from boring old lesbians to more brilliant non-binaries, demisexuals, kink-lovers, and beyond.

In recent years, queerness has also become a fascinatingly multifunctional symbolic object in the psyche of the nation, simultaneously representing both sexily avant-garde transgression and fully paid-up membership of the British establishment. Compelling new evidence of the latter is provided by the opening this week of a museum celebrating “LGBTQ+” history in central London. Entitled “Queer Britain”, the venture is financially supported by M&C Saatchi, Allen and Overy, Levis, and Coutts, and lists partnership with the V&A, the National Trust, the Tate, the British Library, and English Heritage on its website.

In stentorian tones more reminiscent of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee than Derek Jarman’s Jubilee, we are told that the museum “will be an essential place for all regardless of sexuality or gender identity, to find out about the culture they have been born into, have chosen or seek to understand. It will help complete the Nation’s family tree.” Online events in the run-up to its opening included partnering with a wine company to run a competition asking what “queer creativity” means, and a celebration of the launch by the Bank of England of what’s surely the least visible banknote in its history to date — a £50 note featuring Alan Turing, unlucky in his timing once again.

A project on the history of the gerrymandered categories of “LGBTQ+” and “queer” is, of course, a fantastic idea; were it done properly, it would be genuinely exciting. Ideally such a museum would interrogate the sociological and historical conditions of its own movement. It might ask, for instance: what economic forces have shaped its transition from the gay rights movement of 20th Century to the present rainbow soup, in which many lesbians and gays feel they are not waving but drowning? Who gains and who loses from this radical reorientation?

Relatedly, a serious historical inquiry might ask: how did Stonewall move from defending the rights of homosexuals in the Nineties to arguing in 2022 that lesbian women should date members of the opposite sex — that is, males who identify as women — or else be judged as motivated by “social prejudice” and even “sexual racism”? And while historians were at it, they might also consider how our society has moved from the laudable aim of depathologising homosexuality, to a now fairly widespread acceptance of the chemical castration of confused gay youth, under the guise of “transitioning” them — a fate horribly reminiscent of the one meted out so vindictively to Turing. All fascinating historical questions, none of which are remotely likely to be asked within the glossy corporate-friendly walls of Queer Britain, I predict.

In truth, queerness as framed by its most culturally powerful representatives has absolutely nothing to do with the average gay man, lesbian, bisexual, or adult transsexual in the UK. For most of these, their sexual orientation or feelings of gender identity are not the chief source of meaning or motivation in life, and hence they are not particularly politically engaged in activism nor in posturing online about queerness. This leaves the field clear for rather more self-interested people to take both the mic and the money. The fantasy conjured up by the overused phrase “LGBTQ+ community” might suggest a cohesive group with genuinely shared interests, if not some sort of glittery high-camp version of the Bruderhof, but in fact the term is a shiny carapace shielding the eyes of straight people from big underlying divisions.

Though you’re unlikely to see an exhibit about it at Queer Britain, at the top of the pile sits an uneasy coalition of two radically different factions, each indifferent to the interests of many for whom they jointly claim to speak. The first of these factions is the sexual libertarians, mostly accounting for what remains of the avant-garde reputation of queerness in the public mind. Broadly speaking, this group wishes to erode most prohibitive sexual norms in society, considering them as pernicious curbs on individual freedom. Some are gay men, some are transwomen, and some are — as the lingo goes — “cis-het” but overcompensate for it by means of elaborate tattoos, the sort of facial hirsuteness last seen on a Victorian parson, and an ostentatious interest in pornography. All have a strong theoretical interest in sex (perhaps not so much in practice, given the amount of time spent talking about it, but who knows?).

What unites this group is the conviction that there’s no sexual act between adults that cannot be redeemed through the magic of “consent”. A significant number of them are to be found in universities, opining scholastically about chemsex, BDSM, furries, sexual choking, or whatever the latest and hottest transgression is supposed to be. Another notable presence is in the creative arts. In terms of concrete political projects, they mostly nick ideas from the instinctively libertarian youth culture currently going haywire on the internet. Indeed, a lot of unthinking public support for sexual libertarian projects comes from the merging of those projects with those of more idealistic and naive teenagers, doing their best to piss off their mothers by talking loudly on the internet about sexual deviancy.

Meanwhile, to situations where consent is obviously absent — as in the large number of sexual offences against women — the response from sexual libertarians is mostly studied indifference. These people are not in the business of public sexual disapproval, after all. Yet despite being norm-averse in sexual matters, they are often happy to enforce social sanctions against those who they consider political enemies, tending to be highly censorious about speech they perceive to threaten their own interests. They like to call themselves feminists, though only on the understanding that Judith Butler has definitively shown that women don’t really exist. Though a few pay surrogate “birthing bodies” to produce Insta-friendly babies, most don’t have children; but this doesn’t stop them having very confident opinions on the rearing of “trans kids” or on sex education in schools.

The second significant influence on contemporary queer culture could not be more different. These are the rainbow bureaucrats: the charity workers and trustees, managers, PR specialists, lobbyists, and equality advisers who keep the whole corporate-friendly show on the road. In contrast to the sexualised norm-busting swagger of the libertarians, the dominant idiom here is completely asexual and intensely moralised. The self-appointed role of the rainbow bureaucrat is to educate, to sooth, to care, to “manage difficult conversations”, to protect, and to inspire. The tone is comforting, homely, and eminently responsible. It’s time for tea and biscuits, not for chemsex. And as with bureaucrats everywhere, there is also a positive relish for rules and norms: what words to say and not to say, what badges and lanyards to wear, what Stonewall holy days to mark, what petitions to sign, what bake sales to have, what mantras to chant, what merchandise to buy. There is also a strong legislative instinct — as soon as there is a norm they approve of, there probably ought to be a law or a policy to help it along.

An illustrative example of this side of the queer coin is the Mermaids website, where a basic aim of the charity — lobbying to make medical and social transition easier for minors — is placed within a miasma of cooing, caring, supporting, “affirming”, and consoling. Colluding against potentially protesting parents, the site even tells kids that “if you are nervous about visiting our site then you can click on the arrow over on the right-hand-side of the screen and it’ll take you to another page”. (The arrow takes you to Wikipedia.) So much for out and proud.

These, then, are the two signatories to the exceptionally weird pact underpinning queerness as a contemporary cultural phenomenon in the UK — between one side who believes nothing and one who believes everything; between the icily cold and the warmly caring; between those who say fuck the police, and those who want to call the police (in Mermaids’ case, quite literally, as was revealed last week). The sexual libertarians steal their ideas from youth cultures online, while the rainbow bureaucrats operationalise those ideas, earnestly selling them back as identities to the next generation of young consumers, as well as selling on the victimhood tropes that will keep the cash flowing from corporates keen to have a socially responsible-looking brand.

Perhaps it won’t have escaped the reader thus far that there’s a biological element to all this too. The sexual libertarians are mostly men; the staff and trustees of Mermaids are nearly all female — no matter how they identify — and, in my experience, so are most other rainbow bureaucrats. Despite foundational intellectual myths, it turns out biological sex matters in the queer world too. And though they won’t like it, it’s tempting to see these two factions as part of a tediously conventional nuclear family, with rebellious jack-the-lad Dad and solicitous stay-at-home Mum, and with many confused children shunting between the two.

Between them, these two symbolic parental figures allow queerness to be all things to all (non-)men, depending on what the interest is at the time: sexily threatening or passively threatened; thrillingly disruptive or reassuringly conventional; cynically nihilistic or earnestly idealistic. Their joint influence explains why the adjective “queer” might as easily be added to a Brighton nightclub flyer as to an NHS pamphlet or an article in the Women’s Institute magazine. It also explains why the whole “LGBTQ+ movement” remains so impervious to criticism. Should a sexual libertarian ever go rogue and overdo the transgression (say, by claiming that “children have sexual desires at an early age”), or should a rainbow bureaucrat ever get sloppy with procedure (say, by committing a massive data breach), other bureaucrats will instantly appear in reassuring mummy-mode to steady the horses, talking soothingly about best international practice and strong safeguarding policies.

If a back-up is needed, a pre-digested narrative stands ready for employment at any time, which says that any criticism must be motivated by phobia. And since victimhood sells these days, both to troubled kids looking for a spiritual home and to corporates looking for a progressive brand image, a crisis is thereby neatly turned into an opportunity for growth. Truly, when they called this whole racket queer, they weren’t wrong.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
2 years ago

“Stonewall holy days” … the immense pleasure of reading Kathleen Stock who has been firing on all cylinders since Sussex University let her off the leash. How well she articulates what many of us have felt in an inchoate way for absolutely yonks.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Smith

…….

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Smith

Academia’s loss has been our gain. Katherine Stock’s writing manages to both analytically enlightening and wonderfully entertaining as she lets it rip!

Carol Hayden
Carol Hayden
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Smith

It is wonderful to have regular contributions from Kathleen Stock, her analysis of the current situation is so well articulated. I look forward to reading more. Looking down the comments here, so do a lot of other people.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

You can make an argument that many groups of people who believed they were once discriminated against have been successful in becoming unremarkable. But activists cannot accept being unremarkable and getting on with life – they end up creating more and more contrived narratives why they are still being persecuted and are therefore still ‘special’.
Meanwhile the bulk of ordinary, unremarkable, people have little time for such shenanigans, realising that originally praiseworthy movements to address social wrongs are now creating more social wrongs than they solve. Which activists take as more ‘proof’ that their work is still not ‘done’.
They’re not called ‘special interests’ by mistake.

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

The same happened with class politics: having largely abolished mass poverty after WW2, the Left discovered ‘relative poverty’, which, as the name suggests is relative to whichever ‘privileged group’ you choose (the 1%, the 10%, top quartile – take your pick) and ‘wonder of wonders’, because it is relative, it can never be satisfied. ‘Progressive’ thinkers thus had a perfect political tool: permanently on the side of the ‘oppressed’ and therefore apparently virtuous, and unsatisfisable and therefore an effective ‘raison d’être’ for a political movement. Genius!

The same as occurred with both sexual and race politics: the permanent search for victimhood and thus the encouragement of the ‘narcissism of small differences’ and crucially, either ignorance, or deliberate sidelining and disparagement, of real gains.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Diggins

Good comment, except that I think of Freud’s concept of the narcissism of small differences as applying to the left’s capacity for splitting over nugatory doctrinal differences.

John Mack
John Mack
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Diggins

Real poverty is a very real problem for large numbers in the uSA. And the term working poor is accurately descriptive, And form what I read poverty is still a problem in the UK. Not the grinding poverty of the past, but there it is.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  John Mack

Yes I live here and we are about to get much poorer…

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Very incisive comment.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

If I remember my history correctly, Spartacus and his fellow escaped-slaves, having fought their way to the edge of the Roman Empire, decided that returning to their pre-slave days and mundane lifestyles was not an exciting prospect. So they turned around to fight their way back through Italy and to die, either in battle, or by crucifixion. Stonewall has changed its mission with a similar motivation: to carry on being noticed.

John Mack
John Mack
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

In many parts of the USA LGBTQ+ people are being persecuted. Not where I live or have lived but in large parts of the country.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  John Mack

that’s not true.

Chris Baumgarten
Chris Baumgarten
1 year ago
Reply to  John Mack

Undoubtedly and sadly, there still is a lot of homphobia in the US. This leads to a lot of discrimination in some parts of the US, and churches there play a large role in that. That being said: We can certainly say that there still is a lot of discrimination against gays and lesbians in the US, but there is no persecution. That is not the same thing. Nowhere in the US are gays and lesbians arrested or put on trial, nowhere in the US is the practice of homosexuality illegal, nowhere are there vigilantes hunting gays and lesbians while police are looking on. And this is what persecution means.

harry storm
harry storm
2 years ago

Katherine Stock is just so good!

John K
John K
2 years ago

I see all of this in rather more cynical light.

I get the impression it’s more about creating and maintaining well paid jobs for a narrow group of (largely UMC) people who have cleverly turned reality on the head and bullied institutions to protect their gravy train. It all started with Human Resource Management.

They care not a jot about working class women.

But then I’m a mere older white man, so what do I know?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  John K

 “it’s more about creating and maintaining well paid jobs for a narrow group of (largely UMC) people “
I think you’re basically right about this. I see wokeness as the theoretical excrescence of a movement which has nowhere else to go once the crucial battles over rights for racial and sexual minorities have been won, and is reduced to the expedient of justifying its own existence, and the salaries of its clerisy, by the production of openly fatuous ideology.

M Harries
M Harries
2 years ago

Superb analysis, articulated so lucidly I punched the air.

I LOVED the frank comparison to expose the twisted medicalizing of being not-so-feminine or not-so-masculine.

“And while historians were at it, they might also consider how our society has moved from the laudable aim of depathologising homosexuality, to a now fairly widespread acceptance of the chemical castration of confused gay youth, under the guise of “transitioning” them — a fate horribly reminiscent of the one meted out so vindictively to Turing.”

Last edited 2 years ago by M Harries
Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  M Harries

That sentence from Stock is so spot on.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I am curious why the descriptor “vindictive” was used?

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago

Because the treatment meted out unjustly to Turing was indeed vindictive.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

Isn’t it funny the way the world is (very) slowly and grudgingly being forced to admit the whole sexual liberation thing is a train wreck?

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

And this has happened before in history, with not pleasant outcomes.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago

I don’t think the whole sexual liberation thing is a train wreck. For those of us who can remember back a ways … ignorance of anything sexual was astonishing. I actually saw a teacher sexually abusing a boy at school (Catholic) and simply couldn’t process it, I didn’t have the words or concepts. The word sex was never, ever uttered at home. I could never have told parents or teachers about what I saw at school – sex just couldn’t be spoken of.

And as we became enlightened (by Playboy magazines and dirty jokes!) we came to believe things that were really just plain wrong, such as that homosexual people were perverted, sinful and probably deserved what they got – bashings and sometimes to be murdered. How many girls got pregnant and either had unsafe, illegal abortions, or a quick entry into a miserable marriage? How many gay people committed suicide rather than face the rejection hurled at them? Lots of good things came from sexual liberation in the 60s & 70s. We need to be careful about what has gone wrong, while acknowledging what has gone right.

Last edited 2 years ago by Russell Hamilton
Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
2 years ago

Well said.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rick Lawrence
Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

Do I detect a boomer comment? Hefner died an empty old pervert…let’s compare the number of fetus deaths (62million in USA) to the deaths due to back alley abortions…’if only we could go back to an earlier version of liberalism’ is usually a boomer lament.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kat L
Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

Only a certain few full grown adults will ever see it or admit it. I shop for classic character items for my children but the only sizes come in adult. Parents can keep children on their insurance plans until age 26. We have a lot of adults who aren’t being pushed to grow up and accept reality.

Phil Mack
Phil Mack
2 years ago
Reply to  Kat L

Well, if you’re going to talk about being “grown up”, perhaps refrain from mindlessly and predictably lobbing casual “boomer”-bombs into the conersation. Infantile.

Phil Mack
Phil Mack
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil Mack

ConVersation innit

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago

It’s like a breath of fresh air, reading Kathleen’s article. So much common sense & a very articulate description of the emperor’s lack of clothes. I suppose that makes me a terf (whatever that might be).

Elizabeth Fairburn
Elizabeth Fairburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Marcus

Sorry I didn’t mean to down click – my thumb is too big- perhaps I should be a man!?

Kencathedrus
Kencathedrus
2 years ago

Luckily you can reverse it by up clicking

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 years ago
Reply to  Kencathedrus

More than once!

Phil Mack
Phil Mack
2 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Unlike transitioning

Phil Mack
Phil Mack
2 years ago
Reply to  Kencathedrus

Unlike transitioning…

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
2 years ago

“LGBTQ+ community” might suggest a cohesive group with genuinely shared interests, if not some sort of glittery high-camp version of the Bruderhof,”  
Very funny!

Bill Wainwright
Bill Wainwright
2 years ago

Is one seeks and demands approval, the acts are no longer transgressive. They are banal.

Gender Critical Dad
Gender Critical Dad
2 years ago

Every generation, until recently, could grow up secure in the (illusory) belief that they invented sex, that their parents would disapprove. This allowed us to define and negotiate our sexuality along with our partners.
Now they are surrounded by adults telling them that they are doing it wrong, that are only doing cis-het sex, that they really need to be more advanced

Stacey Walker
Stacey Walker
1 year ago

Oh my goodness…… this comment is so funny! Yet, not funny because it’s so so so sadly true…….

S S
S S
2 years ago

Great to have another measured and thoughtful response from Dr Stock, someone whose behaviour since the despicable mistreatment she suffered in her former workplace has been a lesson in dignity. The article is full of acute observation and wit.
However, she poses the question ‘What does “queer” mean to you?’ I say it means ‘sub-human’.
The idea that such a term can be ‘reclaimed’ is as disingenuous as would be using the word ‘n****r’ to infer something bright and life-affirming about black people.
Professor Stock is correct when she refers to all sorts of activities that might be regarded as questionable – such as choking during sex – being corralled into the ‘queer’ ambit. But then all such causes attract questionable ‘fellow travellers’.
You will not have to wait too long before the paedophiles use the opportunity to have their form of sexual dehumanisation ‘embraced’ and ‘celebrated’ (words that have have become debased by those who use them) by the queerocracy.
Dr Stock is of course right in stating that the term “LGBTQ+ community” “is a shiny carapace shielding the eyes of straight people from big underlying divisions”. As a young man going to meetings of gay groups such as the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) and others, I was only too aware of the class and cultural differences between those of us lumped together by sexual stigma.
I refuse to drown in the alphabet soup constructed by those “rainbow bureaucrats” who have to create an ever-widening constituency to justify their existence. But I remain heartened by the reaction to all this being led by such people as Dr Stock.

Last edited 2 years ago by S S
Thomas Chappell
Thomas Chappell
2 years ago

Never mind “Stonewall holy days”, it seemed to go on for a whole month this year!

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
2 years ago

A bit like Ramadan I suppose.

Sheila Dowling
Sheila Dowling
2 years ago

I love the Stevie Smith reference “not waving but drowning” .

Andrea 0
Andrea 0
2 years ago

” a few pay surrogate “birthing bodies” to produce Insta-friendly babies”
An instant classic!

And another one: “any criticism must be motivated by phobia”

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrea 0
Colin Davies
Colin Davies
2 years ago

Reading bits of Orwell yesterday, I got to wondering if there was any social commentator today who could write as lucidly and as accurately as he did. As of this morning, I don’t anymore.

Christine Hankinson
Christine Hankinson
2 years ago

Thank you Kathleen Stock. Brilliant. Questions, academic rigour. ( I particularly enjoyed said museum bearing more likeness to the queens current jubilee than Derek Jarman’s)
So many targets hit. So many revealed. And the disturbing parental analogy beneath the apparent parental rebellion.

Julia H
Julia H
2 years ago

This had me laughing out loud. What a tonic Kathleen is. More please.

Richard Marriott
Richard Marriott
2 years ago

An excellent article, but let’s call this out for what it is. In general terms, a mental illness and in some specific cases (puberty blockers for example), genuinely evil.

Last edited 2 years ago by Richard Marriott
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

A great piece, which could only have been written outside the uni bubble. Thank you. We started out with the aim of freeing some people from definition and punishment by and for sexual prediliction. Now we are all thus defined. How long before the punishment resumes?

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
2 years ago

“Queër” is the artillery, the brilliant non-binaries, demisexuals, kink-lovers, etc. disrupt society with their shock tactics, then, when society has been sufficiently softened up, the infantry (charities, think-tanks, academics) sweep in to consolidate the gains.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lennon Ó Náraigh
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Good analysis.
“Fighters for Justice” can never declare victory and “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks”, even after decades of pushing against an open door, because, well, that’s too boring and too much like hard work.
Not only that, but their causes always seem to attract many more warriors after they have achieved their original aims, and then what? The demand for injustices greatly exceeds the supply.
As AC Harper suggests below, “activists cannot accept being unremarkable” . They are addicted to the excitement of victory and seldom care, or pause to ponder, that victory now means destroying reputations, careers and lives.
And there are jobs, value-sapping jobs, for creators of all this mayhem.

Eloise du Plessis
Eloise du Plessis
2 years ago

What a fantastic description: Rainbow Bureaucrats. This is so enlightening and incisive. Thank you for giving the rest of us words to describe what we are seeing happen. You are a treasure.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
2 years ago

Wow ! Such a powerful undoing ! And with style ! A Rap-Artistry of prose ! There is no overarching “otherness” to which only some people belong.
I was the youngest in my law school class in 1977, and a trans student asked me to serve as her campaign manager for class president. This was back in the day when the bathroom was a huge issue. Sympathetic care-giving female that I was, I said sure, you can use my name but don’t ask me to do any work. I feel the same way today – do your own goofy thing if you like. In other words, I’ll stand up for your rights – just don’t get in my face or overreach. She made herself a martyr, campaigning herself into tearful isolation day after day. Her case had mental written all over it. Trans was not my thing, but neither is cruelty.
I later read a book called The HIstory of Childhood.* ,( well the prologue was enough actually). Clearly we are sacrificing our children to the altar of our own virtue signaling. Children may have sexual urges but they also might eat candy and ice cream all day if left to their own devices. For the sake of a generation of our grandchildren, this whole goofy perversity needs to be called out for what it is – gaming the emotions and a cry of desperation. So to the Queer and LGBT community – Get a room !

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper
2 years ago

Not many of us have sexual histories devoid of regret but the sexual culture described in the article seems to have little to do with human flourishing and more to do with the depressed and messed up.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

“the chemical castration of confused gay youth”
If we all just regard the people carrying out these procedures as the sadistic paedophiles which they are, everything becomes much clearer.

Chris Baumgarten
Chris Baumgarten
1 year ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I seriously doubt that most of the people carrying out these procedures are either sadist or paedophile. These are ordinary doctors who revel in a sense of righteousness and infallibility, convinced they are doing something good. That sort of people is more dangerous than the first. There is so many more of them and they usually find a lot more victims.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Mary and Katherine really should start a political party.

M Harries
M Harries
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Many agree with the views of KS concerning the Trans agenda, as do I, but for all I know she may be a Socialist/Marxist, I’m blindly presuming she is – can one have openly right of centre views and be hired as a staff member at the University of Sussex? But here we are, some issues are so important that cross party collaboration is compelling.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

a place where intelligent people with a diversity of views could listen to and discuss ideas
Diverse does include authors with whom you disagree. I read here many articles (and comments) with which I deeply disagree, but my philosophy is “best to read what the “enemy” is really saying rather than what they are reported to be saying”. If this became a (right-wing) bubble I probably wouldn’t want to continue reading, I need some relief now and then.

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 years ago

…I can’t help wondering just how many of those of the “Bueaucratic” side of the divide are pre-occupied with protecting the feelings of their own troubled child…or of the troubled child they themselves were before they grew up. Which is no way to make public policy on any issue, much less this one…
…as to the others, they want to be sexual outlaws…but for some reason need permission and approval from society…which rather defeats the point of being an outlaw, where the aim is surely to do stuff people disapprove of as defiantly as possible..!

Last edited 2 years ago by R S Foster
Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Agreed. I await the time when good old fashioned heterosexual behavior is seen as cool again. The way nature intended.

Kencathedrus
Kencathedrus
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

It is. Many of my students have proudly come out as straight. A lot of young people are sick and tired of the LGBQT morality circus.

Tex Sotn
Tex Sotn
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

Nature made LGB folks too–and no need for chemical and surgical mutilation. And no usurping women’s sex-based rights based on the incoherent concept of ‘gender identity’ and no forcing ridiculous pronouns on everyone. LGB and T are not the same but trans activists’ strategy was to force-team the T onto LGB to garner greater acceptance. LGB is a sexual orientation but T is an identity-not the same thing.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Great article. There’s a reason Kathleen Stock was a professor.
I wonder how well she’s doing post U of Sussex? She can publish in the relatively small number of conservative-leaning publications, but most of the media is closed to her because of her alleged wrong-think. And what university will hire her and risk the wrath of the woke crowd? How will she make a living now?
Which brings me to what I view as the big question lurking under the surface of this fine article: what meaningful redress do people like Kathleen Stock have against those who took away their livelihood? Does employment law, the law of defamation, the law relating to intentional interference with business relationships have a role in her situation? I’d love to read articles about the legal framework that protects people like Kathleen Stock (assuming it exists) but it appears Unherd has no interest in that subject matter.

Marsha D
Marsha D
2 years ago

Hooray for Dr Stock!

Paul Blowers
Paul Blowers
2 years ago

This is a superb analysis, and I believe it could extend to the cultural fetishes in the US, where claims of “victimization” and “hate” are so routine as to have become meaningless. At the end of the day, what this shaky LGBTQ+ alliance faces is a future in which its causes have become banal. As obsessed as American higher ed (especially social sciences) are with every possible “transgressive” sexual this-or-that, this will all become quite uninteresting to later social and cultural critics. It will become banal. For many of us, it already is.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago

… the staff and trustees of Mermaids are nearly all female — no matter how they identify — and, in my experience, so are most other rainbow bureaucrats.
Is there a robust hypothesis or hypotheses for this representational phenomenon? In my view it could do with some illumination.
… the Mermaids website, where a basic aim of the charity — lobbying to make medical and social transition easier for minors — is placed within a miasma of cooing, caring, supporting, “affirming”, and consoling. Colluding against potentially protesting parents, …
And in the same vein, is there an underlying motivating pathology for this behaviour?

Last edited 2 years ago by michael stanwick
Miriam Ben-Shalon
Miriam Ben-Shalon
2 years ago

This sort of article is somewhat angering because, as a “boring old Lesbian” (how sexist: are there no boring old Gay men? What does boring have to do with it anyway?), I see the author __presuming__that LGB people welcome all the codswallop and claptrap of the transgender community. We don’t and what is happening is that because of the reactionary transgender movement the LGB are being thrown under the bus–especially the L. The trans community has commandeered all the work we LGB people did and perverted it for their own means. Transgenderism is essentially an MRA movement targeting youth but especially young Lesbians and pressuring them to “transition because they are really men”. Many women see the trans goal as the elimination of biological females.
However, the author is correct that being “queer” is empty: because the motley crew of outliers in the trans community are selling snake oil of an horrific kind: the sterilization of children with puberty blockers, the mutilation of healthy bodies, the sad lives of those who detransition because they may have profound medical problems for the rest of their lives. . .They are selling fakery and lies both medical and spiritual.
And what is even worse is that society is supporting this hogwash and putting good money into the dirty pockets of Big Pharma and Big Medicine for nothing worthwhile at all and will continue to put money that could be used for more decent use into the same pockets to care for the damaged bodies left behind because of all this medical experimentation. Can you say, Joseph Mengele resurrected? Good. I knew that you could.
What the word queer means today is–all of humanity whether hetero, Gay, Lesbian, fetishist, or asexual. It means–absolutely nothing other than being very misogynistic, twisted, and truly emtpy of anything worthy. It contributes–nothing at all.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

Don’t pigeon-hole yourself; be both at the same time, enjoy holding two contrary beliefs, if the fashionable thing to do.

Gender Critical Dad
Gender Critical Dad
2 years ago

Another brilliant article from Stock.
I’m not so sure that “between adults” is really needed here:

What unites this group is the conviction that there’s no sexual act between adults that cannot be redeemed through the magic of “consent”. 

Also:

Between them, these two symbolic parental figures allow queerness to be all things to all (non-)men, depending on what the interest is at the time:

I think it allows queerness to be all things that men say it is, it falls to the women to do the slog work of enforcement, unless there’s a chance to shout and threaten, then the lads turn up.

Alex Shipley
Alex Shipley
2 years ago

Kathleen Stock is a national treasure!

John Lammi
John Lammi
2 years ago

As a guy who came out at Stanford in 1970 and became a clinical psychologist I am disgusted by this movement. Currently I am in my home state of Florida with our great Governor DeSantis

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago

Now perhaps she’ll begin to grasp why the human imagination (especially as it pertains to sexuality: gasp! I can already hear the cries of ‘Prude!’’Bigot!’’Hater!’etc) – that kicks against legal, moral, behavioural and emotional goads – requires those boundaries. We move the ancient boundary stones at humanity’s peril.

Stel Coombe
Stel Coombe
2 years ago

‘Lesbian women.’ (Mental note: no longer a tautology).

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
2 years ago

sexual choking, or whatever the latest and hottest transgression is supposed to be.”
Donatien Alphonse François Marquis de Sade
Was there nearly 300 years ago – what goes around cums around.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
2 years ago

Out of curiosity, I once searched LBGTQ. This led me to porn websites where they are simply just five out of hundreds of ‘tags’ or ‘categories’ of multifarious sexual peccadillos. Why do they get all the fuss? … who cares?

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

I hope you weren’t led to any websites about tractors.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
2 years ago

I invariably enjoy reading Kathleen Stock but here I must admit to complete boredom though not by the writing but the content. For what she describes is such an inconsequential bunch of boring people living privileged and decadent lives that are of no interest to, or impact on, 99+% of the population. Maybe I’ve just become old, where matters of more importance arise.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

Excellent article. Perceptive and intelligent.

James Volk
James Volk
2 years ago

Well, there it is. Critics labeled as bigots. My day is complete.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
2 years ago

I first came across the term Chemsex at a blood donor session. I didn’t know what it was. Among the usual questions which start with “Have you had sex with….” was the one “Have you had chemsex since your last session”. At 70 these questions are easy to answer but I had to think about that one. Had I had chemsex since the last session? How would I know? I was too shy to ask the nurse so I took guess. At this rate they’ll have to include a glossary in the questionnaire.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

A spot-on analysis!

Lindsay Khan
Lindsay Khan
2 years ago

Great essay Kathleen.

Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
2 years ago

If it wouldn’t offend all sorts of people, I’d make a comment about disappearing up one’s own backside.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ibn Sina
John Mack
John Mack
2 years ago

I, an elderly gay American male, have never felt alienated from my cultures of origin (not exactly conforming Catholics, ex-Catholics, Jews and old time Wasps). I expanded out into getting involved with musicians, all of whom, as far as I could tell, were straight. I would not know, we did nt talk about sex. In fact no one has ever asked me about my sex life, even when telling me a lot about theirs. I have always been honest with myself about my sexual identity (and yes, it started in early childhood) and with a few others with whom I have had a sexual relationship or a physical bromance relationship. I have always supported gay rights, including doing phone calls for gay marriage. And supporting gay political candiadtes, not because they were gay but because I mainly agreed with them on the issues.
My Catholic/ex-Catholic relatives in the USA, Ireland, Britain, Canada, and France have always been supportive of full gay rights, But I have never talked with them about my sexual preference and they have never asked because we discuss far nore interesting topics, family related and not. I also never had any LGBTQ+ friends that were not lovers (not many at all).
So, as the author asserts, the LGBTQ+ establishment/doctrine definers are irrelevant to me, and to most LGBTQ+ people. The museum sounds like a good idea though. And if I ever get back to London (doubtful) I will visit it

Caleb Murdock
Caleb Murdock
1 year ago
Reply to  John Mack

So you don’t mind being called “queer”, John Mack? I hate it. The word is a slur, and always was.

Kencathedrus
Kencathedrus
2 years ago

What is the non-bigot way of responding to this article? Genuinely interested in your thoughts.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago

Unherd is very herd like in ways. Really we all should be looking for red minus numbers in our comments and not have those with the most votes on top.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago

I was alerted to this potential problem (I am not sure whether it is an artefact of a bias I may have) when I listened to Freddie Sayers interviewing Will Knowland. I noticed some of the questions were couched in subtle, disapproving language and inflection.

Peter de Barra
Peter de Barra
2 years ago

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter de Barra
Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
2 years ago

The fact that there is voting of any kind on here makes UnHerd very Herd-like. I never understand why “most voted” is the default sorting. Oldest first please with no sorting.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Rick Lawrence

I think voting is fine (“look at how many agree with me!”) however agree with no sorting and oldest first.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

An accurate analysis I’m sure, but of course it leaves out the story of how we got to this ridiculous point. No matter which way you cut it, the various factions of LGBTQ+ all have one thing in common: they’re all Progressives. And this includes the TERFs as they’re now called: these people helped construct the ideological edifice with which they now have such a problem.

Graeme Archer
Graeme Archer
2 years ago

Another outstanding piece.

Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
2 years ago

Stimulating, enlightening and fun. Thanks, Dr Stock!

Caleb Murdock
Caleb Murdock
1 year ago

Kathleen, when you lost your job at the university, I tried to contact you to express my sympathy, but I couldn’t find a way. Of course, you don’t know me from Adam.
Thank you for this article. I am a 71-year-old gay man who has been on a years-long mission to stop the use of the word “queer”, which (as you point out) was a slur for my generation. It means “strange, odd, weird, unusual, abnormal” — no one in their right minds would want to be called that. My understanding is that it is mostly nonbinary people who are using it because they don’t know what else to call themselves. But I find it particularly insulting that it is now used as an umbrella term, with universities having “Queer Studies” departments and all. How stupid.
When I was young, I felt part of the gay community (sort of — it was always a meat market receptive only to good-looking people), but now I don’t (naturally, being old and ugly). Although I count myself as liberal, too many liberals have become too weird for me to relate to them. I am especially angry at Obama, Clinton and now Biden, who adopted transgender ideology lock, stock and barrel without fully understanding what they were endorsing. What’s happening now with transgenderism is akin to the lobotomy trend in the middle of the last century. Eventually, people will see the harm that is being done and they’ll back off, but not until a lot of children have been damaged.
Anyway, I strongly admire people like you, J.K. Rowling, Martina Navratilova, and other courageous women who are speaking up. I wish you all the best.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

Slippery meets the slope that was established. It’s no surprise that later generations ran with it.

Rick Abrams
Rick Abrams
2 years ago

Being Gay, transgender etc has nothing to do with equality. It is 100% liberty. Professional “gays etc” use Equality ebcause Equality makes money. Equality soon means comparing one group to another and tehre is money is all that measuring and then bitching about lack of equity. Gay etc have a sexual aspect, but to focus on the sex alone is to completely ignore that totality of the individual who is far more than some sexual proclivity.

Both the Right Wing and the Left Wing makes tons of money for themselves and not for the benefit of actual human beings.
https://bit.ly/3fUBy1z      April 8, 2021, CityWatch, Hate Money Stalks America

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
2 years ago

queer

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

I concur. It is a pity if UnHerd becomes a place that no-platforms comments. One understands of course the risks of libel.

Penny Mcwilliams
Penny Mcwilliams
2 years ago

While I d found this amusing, and very well written, it doses get perilouly close to a grumble that about the ‘right’ sort of LGBTQ+ people and the ‘wrong’ sort

Andrea 0
Andrea 0
2 years ago

How can you have unsubscribed if you are commenting?
Anyway, your name is one of those I look for in the comment sections when I choose who to read.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

who cares?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

I am fed up with the amount of column inches dedicated to this tedious, tiresome and irritating ” subject” nee new tribe cum religion…

Cheryl Poniatowski
Cheryl Poniatowski
2 years ago

“Relatedly, a serious historical inquiry might ask: how did Stonewall move from defending the rights of homosexuals in the Nineties to arguing in 2022 that lesbian women should date members of the opposite sex — that is, males who identify as women — or else be judged as motivated by “social prejudice” and even “sexual racism”?”

For the record, Stonewall was a rebellion in 1969 against a police raid at a gay club that was run by the Mafia, and the riot was led by transgender people against police oppression. I’m not sure how you got the misimpression that Stonewall was protecting the rights of homosexuals in the 1990s. People at the Stonewall Riots didn’t get a formal apology until 2019, 50 years later. Likely most of them were dead by then.

“”I had been in enough riots to know the fun was over… The cops were totally humiliated. This never, ever happened. They were angrier than I guess they had ever been, because everybody else had rioted… but the fairies were not supposed to riot… no group had ever forced cops to retreat before, so the anger was just enormous. I mean, they wanted to kill.”[102] With larger numbers, police detained anyone they could and put them in patrol wagons to go to jail, though Inspector Pine recalled, “Fights erupted with the transvestites, who wouldn’t go into the patrol wagon.” His recollection was corroborated by another witness across the street who said, “All I could see about who was fighting was that it was transvestites and they were fighting furiously.”[103]”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots#Escalation

This probably had something to do with the fact that crossdressing was illegal at the time and with every raid the cops would take all the people who were dressed as women into the bathroom and feel them up in the crotch. Maybe this time they just weren’t up for the sexual assault, especially since this time the Mafia informant hadn’t called in the raid so crossdressed people could leave before the cops barricaded everyone inside.

The rest of this article is equally sloppy. For example,

“An illustrative example of this side of the queer coin is the Mermaids website, where a basic aim of the charity — lobbying to make medical and social transition easier for minors — is placed within a miasma of cooing, caring, supporting, “affirming”, and consoling. Colluding against potentially protesting parents, the site even tells kids that “if you are nervous about visiting our site then you can click on the arrow over on the right-hand-side of the screen and it’ll take you to another page”. (The arrow takes you to Wikipedia.) So much for out and proud.”

Mermaids provides an explanation for the exit link:

“1. Why do we have an Exit Button on our website?Exit Buttons allow people to move quickly to another website. When you click on an Exit Button, it will immediately take you away from the website you’re viewing and open a new one in its place. Mermaids’ exit button links to the Wikipedia homepage.

This is a standard feature on websites offering support to potentially vulnerable people and can be found on other charities’ websites such as Childline, LGBT Foundation, Refuge and Gendered Intelligence.

Mermaids has an Exit Button to help young people accessing our website feel as safe as possible while finding support and information. Ultimately, the Exit Button helps protect someone looking at the website from being accidentally ‘outed’ to somebody who could have a hostile reaction. 

Unfortunately, LGBT+ young people need specific safeguarding measures in place to protect them from abuse – and sometimes, hiding the webpage they were viewing from parents or those that they live with is part of that.”

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to hide ourselves from our parents. Know what my father did when I came out as transgender in my 40s? He disowned and disinherited me. I was involuntarily incarcerated in a mental hospital with suicidal depression after he did that and he wouldn’t even answer the phone when I called him from the hospital.

Some parents are monsters. My father was violent. If I had come out to him as a teenager he would have beaten me. If I had persisted in disclosing my gender dysphoria, persisted in crossdressing (it’s a messed up word, you know that? gender-appropriate clothing isn’t crossing anything except the eyes of bigots who can’t stand the sight of natural diversity), or persisted in pursuing medically necessary treatment for my dysphoria, he would have kicked me, a child, out of the house, and made me live on the street with no money, no job, and no skills, because that’s what monsters do to their own flesh and blood.

The exit button is to allow kids to seek help without triggering abusive parents. Parents don’t have the right to be abusive. That’s not legal. They do it anyway because they have the power, and abusive people abuse their power.

Then take this part:

“The first of these factions is the sexual libertarians, mostly accounting for what remains of the avant-garde reputation of queerness in the public mind. Broadly speaking, this group wishes to erode most prohibitive sexual norms in society, considering them as pernicious curbs on individual freedom.”

Ah, here we go with the libertarians. Yes, people like Peter Thiel and his ilk love to transgress boundaries, but the boundaries these right-wing queer billionaire libertarians transgress most severely are the norms on the social contract, where everyone is expected to live by rules that protect the commonwealth and pay their fair dues to society. Deregulation and tax cuts is the bread and butter of these hedonists, and that’s the whole point of this online rag with its numerous silly errors and blatant bias.

This article is one of several sexist pieces on transgender issues that I have debunked on this ridiculous web site over the past few days. There’s plenty to pick on. It’s so rotten it stinks like a dumpster.

The whole point of the culture wars is to divide and distract people so that we won’t fight back against the libertarians with their deregulation and tax cuts who play by an entirely different and more lax set of rules than everyone else does. This site is funded by one. It’s a propaganda mouthpiece and its sole purpose is to divide people with hatred so the right wing libertarians can keep doing whatever the hell they want while the planet burns in a global warming cataclysm.

Caleb Murdock
Caleb Murdock
1 year ago

The people who participated at the Stonewall riot in 1969 were transvestites, not transgender people (there is a difference, especially now that trans people are trying to destroy society).

John Mack
John Mack
2 years ago

Trans people are not delusional. Most lead a normal life, choosing to live among normal people who do not judge them negatively or heroize them.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago
Reply to  John Mack

They are eccentric, but not delusional, if they choose to live as if they had changed sex. But they are delusional if they believe they have actually changed sex.