An Island Pariah - Sex and Secularism in the Scottish Hebrides
On the 20th of November 2013, the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage. The SNP government’s Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill passed the first of three votes, with…
VERY interesting if somewhat long and depressing article about Hebridean attitudes towards same-sex relationships. Apparently there’s no Gaelic word for “gay,” who knew? (Though someone did once tell me that their equivalent of “plays for the other team” translates literally as “is on the other bus” which is quite quaint).
Check out the comments beneath our open letter to Alasdair Allan to get a more positive view of island attitudes to same-sex relationships.
(Obviously, please do NOT sign it, unless you are from the islands!)
There are a number of neologisms you could use for value-neutral “homosexual” that only the BBC ever use, but like I say the casual terms you might hear in everyday conversation among truly everyday speakers are negative slurs and insults. But, because of the diglossic status of Gaelic with respect to English, people will just use gay (gaelicized to gèidh when written down, but pronounced the same) if wanting to use a word with the same positive connotations as the English word gay.
I sort of regret making this point in the post, as it was somewhat tongue-in-cheek! That Gaelic doesn’t have a positive colloquial word for gay isn’t a reflection on Gaelic culture being inherently homophobic because all Gaels are bilingual in English anyway and will use the English-derived words if they need and want to. Rather its a reflection of the status of Gaelic in the 60s and 70s when gay was coming into fashion, a marginalized language undergoing large-scale language shift, with its speakers universally using English as the language of education, progress and learning new things.
Apologies for the length of that, but I wanted to clarify that point about Gaelic as it wasn’t meant to be taken terribly seriously!
Celebrating "Sam-Hane" - the problem with Paganism
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my room writing my essay, when I heard someone on the street outside laughing as they wished their friend a “Happy Sam-Hane!”
This is well worth reading.
Basically what I should’ve posted for my “I don’t celebrate Samhain” post.
Eclectic Pagans are happy to pick-and-choose between lots of different cultures, without a care for consistency or guarding against appropriation. ”
Even atheists should take care to properly research …
I’m not sure I understand your criticism? Granted, he says a couple of typically “blah” atheist things - he doesn’t seem to have a concept of henotheism or non-creedal religion, for example - but I don’t think the above statement is off-the-mark when you look at the most vocal and visible cross-section of pagans.
Hi, I appreciate the point that pagans are usually following a very personal spiritual path, however, I think it is fair to generalize and say that Eclectic pagans (e.g.) tend to draw their inspiration from a few specific cultures (Celtic, Norse, Hellenic, and, most problematically, from lots of different indigenous cultures in Africa and the Americas).
My problem with a pick-and-mix attitude is that it allows people from dominant cultures to appropriate whatever they like from minority cultures. Minority cultures’ value becomes defined by whatever contribution they can make to an outsider’s personal spirituality.
That’s why I’m okay with CRists, although I would argue that even CRist model would also be completely not all okay for a closed-off non-white indigenous culture.
P.S. Not sure what ‘blah’ atheist means, but anyway…
Abair an fhìrinn! Couldn’t agree more. I identify as a pagan simply because of the traditions I grew up with (Gaelic and Saami) and I have no time for most neo-Pagans today.
I like to think I’ve come to a more generous understanding of pagans -Celtic Reconstructionism in particular - since I first wrote about it last year.
Tairis is especially good.
I certainly don’t identify as pagan spiritually, but I value that side of the culture I grew up in.
Celebrating "Sam-Hane" - the problem with Paganism
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my room writing my essay, when I heard someone on the street outside laughing as they wished their friend a “Happy Sam-Hane!” This, of course, is a gross mispro…
Why can't people just call me by my name?
Always and without question, when I email someone I don’t know and sign my name off as: “Many thanks and kind regards, Dòmhnall Iain MacDonald” They reply with: “Dear Iain” In my reply to their rep…
This seems to have struck a chord with people - my frustrations with people who translate or ignore non-English names…
There is no such thing as a Little Scotlander
Hugh MacDiarmid believed poetry mattered. Born Christopher Murray Grieve, he was undoubtedly Scotland’s greatest modernist poet, and wrote poems because he thought his words would change things, th…
Vote yes for Scottish independence because Scotland would be one of the most progressive countries in the world.
Anonymous asked: HELLO, I just rediscovered your blog and read through, and so PLEASE DON'T LEAVE TUMBLR.
Hi, thanks so much for your kind words.
I am going to publish my text posts on wordpress, but I will publish them as links with a bit of informal commentary on here.
Why (ironically enough) I am not an "Internet Atheist"
Atheist activism has a bad name. Why? I believe there are two reasons - religious privilege, and well, what can only be described as atheist privilege. Let’s get the easy bit out of the way first -…
As I now actually have serious nationwide campaigning responsibilities, I’ve decided to move off Tumblr to a “proper” blog on wordpress. I thought I’d begin with a statement of intent, to explain why atheist (shorthand for atheist, humanist and secular) activism is necessary in the UK, and why it is different from so-called “internet atheism,” I haven’t had time to sort my theme and widgets out yet so the blog looks pretty shabby, but I think this longish essay is a reasonable defence of my new role, although its certainly coloured by own political views.
I submitted this to National Collective but I can’t imagine they’ll publish it so I’m posting it here for anyone interested to read.
My name is Dòmhnall Iain Dòmhnallach and English is my second language.
In other words I am a native Gàidhlig speaker and what keeps me awake at night is not the results of the next referendum poll, but the dread I feel about the release of the 2011 census data. In the last century, the number of Gàidhlig speakers declined from nearly a quarter of a million in 1901 to less than 60,000 in 2001 – half clinging onto the west coast and the rest scattered throughout Scotland’s cities. Last week saw the announcement of the news that Bòrd na Gàidhlig had achieved only 6% of its Five Year Plan to double the number of children in Gàidhlig Medium Education (GME) by 2017. There are not enough young Gaels to replace the old who are, to put it bluntly, driving in their droves. The language is being culled by the passage of Time.
The passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2013 means registry offices and religious organizations will be able to marry two people of the same sex. Religious organizations must opt in to be able to do this while the Church of England will be banned from doing so altogether. We can predict that nearly all religious organizations (except e.g. The Society of Friends) will NOT opt in.
So, in reality, this bill gives gay people the right to marry in a small state-approved registry office by a registrar with only a few guests. Thus gay people will be unlikely to be able to have the large “big day”-style ceremony so popular with people today because the religious organizations which provide these will just refuse to marry them.
That is one of the reasons it is so important to support the campaign for Humanists celebrants in England/Wales to be able to officiate at marriage ceremonies - as they are able to in Scotland. This gives irreligious people the same right as the religious to a personal marriage ceremony which isn’t just a legalistic act run by the council. It hence also gives gay people the (practical) right to an actual marriage ceremony they control.
Personally I don’t like the idea of the state sanctioning and sponsoring certain relationship choices over others. However, so long as people want to get married, then I believe they should have the right to marry who they want, in a ceremony under their own control - and not controlled by the wishes of a priest or a registrar, of the Church or State. That is why it is so important to support the equal marriage campaign for humanism - it is inextricably linked to that of same sex marriage, because without humanist marriage, in practical terms, gay people will have no choice but to marry in an official state-chosen setting such as a registry office. The bill passed this week provides for a review into humanist marriage - it needs to be supported.
(NOTE: When people have humanist ceremonies in England/Wales at the moment, they aren’t actually having a marriage ceremony. They have already had to go to the registry office to get married by the registrar. The humanist ceremony is just a celebration. Humanist marriage means the celebrant marries the couple, without any need for a servant of the state or church.)
I’m shocked this isn’t already the case. In New Zealand people can be married in a secular ceremony by a Justice of the Peace. I have been to two beautiful weddings performed by JPs. This should be the case everywhere to avoid discrimination against LGBT people and nontheists.
A secular JP ceremony sounds similar to a registry office marriage in England/Wales. Presumably you are tied to legalistic terminology? In Scotland, Humanist celebrants are trained by the Humanist Society of Scotland, and help the couple literally write and create their own ceremony.Can’t get this in England/Wales yet, sadly.