by Mary Harrington
Monday, 30
August 2021
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11:03

The rainbow wars get religious at Manchester Pride

The heckling of an LGB supporter is a worrying sign of things to come
by Mary Harrington

The religious wars went up a notch this weekend at Manchester Pride, with footage emerging of Alexander Bramham, a gay man, being hounded out of the parade. His crime? Wearing a t-shirt disavowing political alliance between gay and transgender people.

For anyone who’s been asleep or on a desert island for the last few years, a quick recap. The gay rights movement has seen rapid expansion beyond lesbian, gay and bisexual issues to a seemingly-endless array of new identities.

I’ve argued before that the ever-expanding Pride remit is now less about gay rights than a utopian dream, of the radical unchaining of all desire. This dream has, over the same period, garnered increasingly pseudo-religious overtones, complete with feast months (February and June), syncretic fusions with existing faiths, and an increasingly adversarial attitude to political expression of competing religious worldviews.

In turn, this has prompted claims from some lesbian, gay and bi people that replacing gay rights campaigning with a more ‘inclusive’ approach creates insuperable conflicts. Historically, a core argument for gay rights activism was that same-sex attraction must be de-stigmatised because for a minority it’s simply innate. But this is difficult to square with an updated, ‘inclusive’ movement that claims sexual orientation is based not in bodies but ‘gender’.

Some protest that encouraging gay people to unlearn their ‘genital preferences’ so as to include trans people in the range of potential sexual partners is in practice indistinguishable from efforts to ‘cure’ gay and lesbian people by convincing them their orientation is a choice.

Last year, to coordinate these objections, the LGB Alliance was founded by several veteran gay rights activists with links to Stonewall and the 1970s Gay Liberation Front. The reason Bramham was mobbed at Manchester Pride was that he was wearing a t-shirt bearing the LGB Alliance logo.

To my eye, it’s a mistake to see this as an intramural dispute within minority rights politics. The mob’s fury only makes sense in the wider context of the rainbow flag’s transformation from political to religious symbol.

Political campaigns can make room for compromise: evangelical faiths, not so much. Donning an ‘LGB Alliance’ t-shirt to attend a Pride march is, in practice, like going to Catholic Mass wearing a t-shirt rejecting the doctrine of transubstantiation. No wonder Bramham was hounded out.

We can expect more of this because the theology is still contested. What is desire, and what if anything are people owed purely for desiring it? Should there be any limits whatsoever to desire? Is desire a matter of bodies, souls, or both? Who should enforce its freedom, and how?

If the rainbow flag increasingly represents a pseudo-religious allegiance to the sanctity of identity and desire, these are important doctrinal questions. It’s my suspicion that we’re barely into the foothills of these disputes. And much like the religious conflicts of old, we can’t rely on them remaining civil forever.

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Terry Needham
Terry Needham
9 months ago

It’s fascinating watching a society sink into religious mania. I presume we get bloodshed before it subsides. The worring part is that the sane majority wili be forced into expressing alliegance to one or other side in a battle that most of us don’t care about. Will a financial and economic crash bring these people to their senses as they learn that they have more important matters to worry about, or will it encourage them to double down on the frenzy thing? I’m in two minds. Meanwhile I will continue to bake bread and brew beer.

Last edited 9 months ago by Terry Needham
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

“society sink into religious mania.”
So to you 1930’s was religious times, WWII Religious wars? This is secular/Political Bull *hit out to cause war – cultural, but ultimately to actual.

Mary is an excellent writer, but she fell into the extremely lazy trap of calling this craziness ‘Religion’ It is Political. Unless you want to label Vegans, Bansky, Communists, Skateboarders, Unions, Wokes, Corbynites, Thatcherites, Antifa, BLM, CRT adherents, MAGAs, and Maskers religions and reduce all Thought to the absurd, stop calling any political and behavior group religions. It is lazy and wrong and puts SPIN on it which is unjust.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Maybe not literally a religion, perhaps, but within the normal descriptive use of language (and the author includes the terms pseudo-religious overtones and pseudo-religious allegiance).

The parallels between, on the one hand, the thought-patterns and behaviour of these militant ideologues, and on the other hand, religious zealots … it seems plain to me.

A revealed truth that must not be challenged, above critical question, too holy for human enquiry enquiry; the expulsion of heretics and apostates; the demonisation of opponents; the insistence on abject confession of guilt; the (literal) genuflection of taking the knee; the separation into the saved and the damned by predestination; the duty to destroy the infidels; all human life a holy war.

What is this if not a religion?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

“What is this if not a religion?”

Ok, I’ll bite….

Defining religion is hard, there are a couple ‘Great religions’ (Confucianism, Daoism) who are non-Theist, so it is pretty broad.

So a working beginning is Religion is: “That Which Is Of Ultimate Importance” as in that which is of greater importance than the Mundane, or merely physical. This is useful in talking of Vegans, say, who have made what goes into their mouth the most important fact in their life, and of the Great Religions.

But that is for discussion really – Religion as we use the word in reality, and not just to score points, means Books, in other words a sophisticated Theology which has undergone many years of philosophical fine tuning. It requires a universally acknowledged leadership and chain of command, as it were, who have received great training in the theology. Also Religious Practices (cultus), and a set beliefs expressed by phrases accepted to be true, and History.

A rabble with some vague commonality of opinion they would fight for does not make a religion, just a like minded mob.

Lindsay Snoman
Lindsay Snoman
9 months ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Arguably its not a religion but a cult! Admittedly religions are also cults (even the big ones) when you consider that cult is short for culture.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay Snoman

What makes a cult typically is that a Leader is the living embodiment of the truth. He has authority in making all decisions, and personally holds the truth and power. Does not apply here.

This group does not have a set of rules defined by books and rules, discussed and accepted, with experts to lead the ideology. It is just a pitchfork, torch bearing, mob.

And cult is short for to culture, as in ‘Agriculture’ (practices, grow, not culture as in collective attitudes – but as cultus, religious practices)

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

It has very much the same psychological basis as religion, at least the intolerant and exclusive monotheistic religions that have grown up in the last millennium or so. There SHOULD be a difference, after all if unbelievers were actually going to Hell that would be a punishment exceeding any human beings could inflict. But, funnily enough, that punishment is never enough. This rather exemplifies the fact that religion is very much ultimately a tribal phenomenon in which maintaining your own group against the outsiders is very much the point. It may have a root in wonder of nature, an inchoate spirituality etc, but has greatly evolved from that, and, at least for any ‘out groups’ not in a good way.

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

You have no idea what you are talking about.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Your list is self serving – hobbies and normal political leaders should not be included for a start, but totalising belief systems should, ie Communism. It has a myth of Salvation arising through “History”; it has good and evil forces – “progress” and “reaction”; it has a millenium in the so-called “revolution” and it discards objective fact and logic in the name of allegedly “higher” insights. In its rituals and mass gatherings it affirms the central dogmas of its faith and anathematizes opposition as “deviation” – clearly another word for heresy. Those mass gatherings routinely have the character of worship – what else were the cultic self-abasements before the “word” of Lenin or the diktat of Stalin? So Miss Harrington is not wrong to call cultic systems religion – for that is what religion is, in the absence of metaphysical truth. It is the presence of that truth which makes the difference. And Christian thinkers have always recognised this, allowing the purely functional definition of religion as an aspect of human life – indeed, an unavoidable aspect. If there were not a religion shaped hole in the human psyche, after all, how would Christianity itself have been communicated to us? Think of Cinderella and the ill fitting shoe: her feet happen to fit, but it doesn’t mean that other feet don’t exist or can’t be tried, does it? And to proceed with the analogy, false religions are Christianity’s ugly sisters. Alas, there are more than just two; and some are very ugly indeed – but they can still squeeze their feet into the slipper.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
9 months ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

How do I bake soft white rolls ?
Mine taste very nice but have a hard crust.

Charles Lewis
Charles Lewis
9 months ago

Let’s not over-intellectualise the situation. The madness of gender identity and its supporters is, among other nasty qualities, homophobic in various ways. So obviously (1) Fanshawe and others needed to start a support group of their own, hence LGB Alliance, and (2) the violent and ugly trans activists who have commandeered the original gay rights group, have to try to cancel the group that now, unlike them, acts in the interests of gay people.

Marco S
Marco S
9 months ago
Reply to  Charles Lewis

Well said!

George Glashan
George Glashan
9 months ago

I like LGBAlliance and i like LGBTQIA+ .
But which is better?
There’s only one way to find out: FIGHT!

credit: Harry Hill

Last edited 9 months ago by George Glashan
Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
9 months ago

The one thing that I don’t get a sense of is how many transgender people there are or may be, and how many of them actively support this new inclusiveness. I suspect that most of this comes from virtue-signalling individuals who have come under the spell of a small number of more extreme activists and who have no real understanding of gender issues.

sarah rutherford
sarah rutherford
9 months ago

Stonewall estimates 500,000. This includes cross dressers, and all manner of different genders. When the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was passed to create a legal fiction to allosw transsexuals to ‘change sex’ in order to marry ( no same sex marriage then), politicians estimated there were approx 5000 trans people in the country. The definition has changed so much that we’re not talking about the same group. Sadly many transsexuals who just want a quiet life living as the opposite sex are not well served by this new movement which also aims to change the definition of sex to the disadvantage of women. Now it is now you feel not your biology, It is a rich and powerful movement that has captured govt departments, universities and corporates.

Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
9 months ago

Thanks: very interesting

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
9 months ago

In 2019 2.9% of men and 2.5% of women in the UK identified as gay and / or bisexual, which is to say about 1.4 million of all ages.
The idea that a further 1% identify as transgender is laughable. It’s also not borne out anecdotally. Literally everybody knows several people who are gay, but roughly nobody knows anybody at all who is transgender.
I would knock two or perhaps even three zeroes off the Stonewall number. They have no incentive to state an accurate figure if it’s small.

Rach Smith
Rach Smith
9 months ago

Many included as ‘Transgender’ are arguably, heterosexual (fully intact) men who enjoy the fetishisation of female gender stereotypes. Some of the stereotypes that women have often wanted to leave behind. There appear (at least on Twitter) to be a great deal of cross-dressing men who are desperate to ditch biological fact so that they can coerce lesbians and straight women into accepting them sexually. Defy them and you will be shunned, tarred and labelled a TERF & transphobe.

Last edited 9 months ago by Rach Smith
Andrew D
Andrew D
9 months ago

If someone went into any Catholic church that I know wearing a T-shirt rejecting the doctrine of transubstantiation, he or she would be met by a mixture of bemusement, wounded feelings and some embarrassment. They would not be driven from the building by screaming zealots. Maybe in 1570, not in 2021. Yet I suspect that those doing the screaming here would probably describe the Catholic Church as full of bigots.

Mark Knight
Mark Knight
9 months ago

The author didn’t mention one of the most worrying aspects of the video, that the police escort the ‘heretic’ away no-doubt for his own safety; in reality for offending an un-offendable group by his presence. Eventually, that ‘presence’ will be recorded as a hate-crime.

Last edited 9 months ago by Mark Knight
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
9 months ago

Excellent breakdown.
[ … ] a utopian dream, of the radical unchaining of all desire. This dream has, over the same period, garnered increasingly pseudo-religious overtones, [ … ]
I would say quasi religious structure, complete with reality-denying myths, such as there is no biological bases for certain behaviours and predilections for example.
In this sense the contested ‘theological’ doctrinal questions – as in the supremacy of gender – are about instantiating and shaping the contours of some internal, mystical, animating ‘spirit’ – that will lie as the grounding axiom and source of this new quasi religion.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago

All very ‘dispiriting’.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago

How is it going Lesley? How are the horse tranqs and life? I am sitting in the flood waters, now only about 2 foot deep, from Hurricane IDA, it is falling fast and soon someone will pick me up, take me to my truck on high ground, and I will head out and see if I was hit much. Soon I get to see if any trees are laying on roofs…..or such things… 🙁

just mention as it was pretty wild…..

Last edited 9 months ago by Galeti Tavas
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Sorry you have been affected… I have followed it somewhat on MSM and it looks truly scary. I remember Katrina so well and the devastation it did to New Orleans – a great city to visit.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago

I was in the Katrina rebuild, I was one of the earliest – living without power and in the muddy mess. I thought about going to work on this Ida rebuild, do not even know how bad it is in where it was really bad, but decided not to. Good money, but cannot get into it, I do not need the money and am older I guess. After Zeta in 2020 I did some roofs, and cut a couple trees off houses, but could not seem to get into it.

Here my property is a mess, only about 5-6 foot of water, but my house is raised high, and everything of value moved. I went swimming up my road last night at about 3 a.m. with the dogs to get to some high ground so they could do their thing – it is hard on dogs because they have such huge inhibitions against peeing in the house. I put on a life jacket and enjoy swimming in the storm waters in my woods, at night, with my dogs. My new little sasuage dog did not know it could swim – I doubt it ever had, and so I carried it mostly – but coming back let it swim the whole way and it swims like a dolphin. Fast, and liked it, right with me.

When I set him down in the water I think he was amazed how great a swimmer he was – just took right to it, as they do. It must be a surprise to them finding they can swim like otters – like if I threw it in the air and he suddenly found he could fly around the woods – must be cool …..

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Nice to get a first hand account Sanford…

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago

“this new quasi religion”

yawn…

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
9 months ago

As the old saying goes, “follow the money”.
As soon as people stop providing funding for “grievance industry”groups like Stonewall – then this issue will probably go away…
The professional SJWs will just jump on the next fully funded bandwagon.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ian Barton
Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
9 months ago

This will all remain arguments about which end of the egg should be oped first until we can start to talk about same sex attraction itself.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago

Actually, the current thinking is if you are a hetro male who will not date a Woman just because she has a p***s you are trans-phobic. Every day we wake up to find we are more racist and bigoted than we were yesterday. Not by thinking differently, but by the moving goal posts.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

This has a distinct element of truth to it IMO.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Women do not have penises. Men do. Biological fact. Transsexual women are biological males who may look like women but cannot really know what it is like to be a woman. Why? Because being a woman is not a feeling anymore than being a man is. The issue in the UK is that it has imported the whole trans debate without thought. The culture and history in the UK is not the same as that in the USA. if the people involved in the arguments really thought about it, then there would be less shouting and threats and maybe more intelligent, informed debate. Unfortunately the majority against debate have bought into the American cult of Trans.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
9 months ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Transsexual women are biological males who may look like women

Bingo. A transsexual man is not a woman. He is a surgically and hormonally mutilated man, who resembles a woman in the same way and only to the same extent, that a shop window dummy resembles a woman.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago

Awaiting for Approval, so re-posted using the handy redacting *** and spaces, the moderating algorithm here is a bit Victorian in its fussiness.

Actually, the current thinking is if you are a hetro male who will not date a Woman just because she has a pe n* s you are trans-phobic. Every day we wake up to find we are more racist and bigoted than we were yesterday. Not by thinking differently, but by the moving goal posts.

Michael North
Michael North
9 months ago

Totally baffled. What is this about?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
9 months ago

Evil eventually turns upon itself.

Sean Booth
Sean Booth
9 months ago

The logical next steps for the LGBTQ+ etc. etc. brigade is the claim that sexual desire for one’s own family (incest) and then for children (paedophilia) is innate and no different from being straight or homosexual. Will all of the idiots who swallow the current transgender nonsense follow the next one too? In some cultures and religions paedophilia is already practised and encouraged. How long before our own culture falls?

Karl Schuldes
Karl Schuldes
9 months ago

Many people lust for violence, and mob action is the most satisfying. These causes, whatever they may be, are the justification, not the cause, of the violence.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago

This is NOT a Religion! Stop with the lazy analogies. Obviously you Liberal/Lefties dislike Christianity/Religion, ungrateful things as you are, and assume so does everyone else, so use ‘religion’ as a way of throwing aspersion on any group you find going too far – but call it what is is – Fa* cism in action (without the economic/political, just the mob terror and Brown shirt plotters and doing violence and vindictive hateful acts)

“I’ve argued before that the ever-expanding Pride remit is now less about gay rights than a utopian dream, of the radical unchaining of all desire.”

No it is not, it is one of the vary many, Soros and his evil ilk funded, ways to wreck the family, Western culture, morality, society, history, and civilization. It is just like all the ‘Critical Theory, BLM, Woke, destruction of the Education, Welfare trap, single parent, victim guilt -> criminal accepting – destruction of rule of Law and Law and Order, non-platforming, MSM captured, Social Media/Tech driven plan to destroy the West and bring in the New World Order.

With the insane Covid Plandemic response, doing more harm than good but costing $ 30 Trillion, the West is headed for a Economic Depression to accompany this Moral Depression – it is all Planned, all parts of a conspiracy. Read WEF offical site to see you sheep’s future, and these fools, these useful idiots, are part of the road to it.

Stephen Portlock
Stephen Portlock
9 months ago

I may be wrong but I suspect the reasoning behind Pride is that whatever the complexities of trans ideology, one thing that is not complicated is that trans people are losing their lives and being attacked for seeking to have full sex lives. Yet the impish thought comes to mind that physically disabled people are also physically attacked and are stigmatised for seeking to have full sex lives. So why doesn’t the LGBT+ flag have a specific colour for disabled people? This isn’t to say that Pride isn’t inclusive (as a straight man I can’t comment)? The answer is of course obvious – that it’s not an issue that specifically relates to non-heterosexual activity and that by the law of averages most physically disabled people will be heterosexual. That stated, this omission does slightly call the bluff on Pride if they claim, as I suspect they would, that their attitudes are primarily motivated by compassion and if Mary is right in detecting “a utopian dream of the radical unchaining of all desire.”

Incidentally Mary’s claim is clearly not entirely correct. I can recall the absurd and homophobic claim sometimes made that gay marriage would lead to paedophile or zoophile marriage!

As for Alexander’s treatment, it’s deeply distressing, but heartless as it may be to say as much, Pride have the right to set the agenda for their event and they have the right to evict anyone whom they fear might cause a disruption.

Oh and I don’t feel qualified to say whether this is specifically a religion but I long felt that new atheism was a religion and I think Woke politics is its b*****d offshoot.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
9 months ago

We’re still in the beginning phases of same-sex marriage unions. We have no idea what it portends for the future well-being of our civilization. If current events are any indication the future looks bleak. What was once regarded as an alternative lifestyle has now become a defining feature of the West, particularly in the Anglosphere. A lot of bad is being done in the name of LGBQT ‘rights’. It is no longer enough to merely tolerate non-heterosexual sexual proclivities, they have to be celebrated and groomed on to future generations. What was once ‘fringe’ is now embedded in school curricula. I wonder if the insistence on teaching this agenda to students is to ensure a steady crop of youth for those unable to have children of their own.