Friday, 25 April 2014

Why? The Big Question With Unacceptable Answers - Homelessness Amongst Young LGBT BME Persons

Why? The Big Question with Unacceptable Answers.
This was my response to a question that Bisi Alimi posed on Facebook after he revealed a statistic about the percentage of homelessness amongst LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transsexual) young persons of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups between the ages of 16 to 25 in London.
As a member of the Stonewall Housing Board (SHB), he noted that 75% of the young persons seeking housing support from the SHB were of African, Asian and Caribbean descent.
He closed his comment with, “My people, why would anyone in 2014, drive out a child in Britain just cos (sic) of their sexuality? Why?
No acceptable excuse
In my humble opinion, I cannot find any excuse that any parent in any situation or circumstance can give, regardless of what they believe or the positions and status they hold in society or in their community that would justify their unreasonable and unconscionable loss of humanity, humaneness, parental affection and responsibility to their child.
To throw a child on the streets at a vulnerable stage of their lives because of the discovery of their sexuality that does not seem to fit a construct they expect is heartless at best and downright evil.
Not the end of the world
Whilst very little can prepare parents for the realisation that their child is LGBT, it cannot be the end of the world and it should not be made the end of the world of the child.
The station of parent demands great responsibility and many situations challenge the capacity of parents to hold that responsibility with stoicism and courage, but a parent is what a parent should remain - understanding, supportive, protective and hardest of all, accepting.
It is hard enough for the child realising that they are different for all sorts of reasons with the possibility that they feel that the world is against them.
Sexuality is rarely taught
More pertinently, the child having grown up under guardianship in most cases cannot have been nurtured into homosexuality living in an environment where heterosexuality is the situational norm, which can lead to the conclusion that sexuality is innate and natural rather than learnt.
Then again there are children who have been reared in a same-sex parentage who are naturally heterosexual – it really is not the end of the world.
Children are not clones
Sadly, the truth is parents have to get to grips with stark realities about their children, they would be distinct, different, individual, distinguishable and accomplished in so many diverse ways, they would assume our likeness beyond which their character, temperament, imaginations, dreams, abilities, sexuality and whatever else that makes up a human being indicate they are not clones of ourselves.
That BME groups would remove parental protection on account of the sexuality of their child is beneath contempt, but I am thankful that organisations like the SHB exist to help, by providing shelter, protection, opportunity and a brighter future.
Many of these homeless child will in spite of and despite the actions of their parents find their own way, and though they might be bitter and helpless now, it is not like these children do not have a bigger heart of humaneness and compassion that would put their parents to shame.
The Story of Chris
I share a story about such a person who was thrown out of his home at 15 for coming out to his mother in 1988, and this was in Caucasian family whilst contrasting it with the attitudes of the other siblings.
When a child comes out to their guardian, that is the time to offer some comfort, strength, reasonable guidance and support, it is definitely not the time to wash your hands off the child you brought up and ostracise them by throwing them out of the home.
Any parent who does this should be ashamed of themselves, whether that parent were ever worthy of being one, is a question for another time.
Chris, a son, a man, a person of honour
I first met Chris some 11 years ago, just about a year after we began chatting online.
I cannot say how many people he told his story, but it has been one story that has stuck with me long after his sudden and unexpected demise in late 2009.
He grew up with a single mother and a younger brother when at the age of 15 she threw him out of the house because he came out as gay.
In the late 1980s, that is what most parents tended to do, dump their offspring who under their care and protection just by happenstance appeared to exhibit a same-sex attraction.
Someone else became guardian
Providence shined on Chris because an African-American saw him on the streets and arranged to give Chris a better life and future in America.
There he lived for 6 years, gaining an education and skills before returning to Europe and eventually settling down with a partner in Amsterdam who one day due to mental illness sadly drowned himself in one of the Amsterdam canals.
Chris returned to the UK then and engaged in a number of social and creative activities, in which time his health suffered, but he still had a wonderful outlook to life. That is when I met him.
A son without malice
In early 2006, the mother who dumped him for being gay was very ill, and ironically, of all the children she had, it was Chris she looked to for care and help.
He bore no anger or malice towards her and in February 2006 she died in his arms.
Chris did what was expected of a son and much more, he buried his mother with honour, dignity and respect. For all that he had suffered, he had the warmest heart to care even to the point of denying himself essential care.
A son with a heart
Yet 2006 was a horrible year for him because his father from whom he had been estranged for years and who was atrociously unsympathetic on hearing of Chris' mother's death was dying too.
His father who had many other offspring, at least three much older than Chris with their own children, desired earnestly that Chris be at his bedside.
Chris did not think twice about providing succour to his father who at times past was as nasty and horrid as ever can be, to Chris.
Something informed his father that of all the children he had, only Chris would do right by him.
A worthy son
So when his father died in December 2006, it was Chris that stood in the position of son and man to give his father a befitting funeral.
The child rejected and reviled almost two decades before became the child to honour those who spurned him. His father in his testament bequeathed all his worldly goods to Chris at the expense of the brothers and the grandchildren.
The brothers had the shameless temerity to contest the will, but Chris won in every court of opinion and process.
Chris was one of a kind, a gentle soul whose hard life did no becloud the opportunity to be forgiving and accommodating.
That was the manner of man he was and sadly he died of renal failure in London, in October 2009, a great loss to many who knew him and never will forget what a kind soul he was.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Thought Picnic: Meeting Spaces

Dutch Communion
When I lived in the Netherlands, I used to think meetings were a chore, highly soporific talk shops of near inanity, I suffered.
They are a cultural thing with the purpose being consensus and the achievement being you had spoken, having made your views known regardless of whether it did anything to promote consensus.
The convenor whilst heading the meeting never made unilateral decisions; that just created resentment, some meetings achieved nothing more than the convenience of a séance.
Time for crime
Amongst us was always a contrarian with a tangential thought planted in our midst as an advocate of Lucifer to bring disarray, disorder, distraction, confusion and chaos to the proceedings, it took tact to shut them up with finality.
Back in the UK, much as there is a culture to meetings, and like the Dutch, meetings that could go on until we were found centuries hence, bones of a long lost civilisation giving archaeologist grounds for specious speculation, salvation comes with the need to attend other meetings.
I once asked why we did not have the meetings standing up, they would be done in 10 minutes flat with clear decisions made, discomfort makes for agility and alacrity.
Useless words and sentences
We mostly attend teleconferences now, this links people together from various time zones and cultures.
Whilst in the Netherlands, many speak English murdering with aplomb the rules of grammar that the cringingly loathsome becomes funny and incredulous - accents abound, here, we do converse in English with the generous abuse of spiel, -speak and jargon.
Specious space
Everything as I have recently learnt is a space, we have all sorts of spaces for ideas, objects, plans, events, people, vacuums and dare I say, idiocy, or rather sensible idiocy and tolerable stupefaction.
The space is taken up by the space of fresh manure that an observer might creditably call bullshit. There is space for fertilizer in my garden too.
Yet, for all the space that takes up space in the space the agitates the eardrums, the sound-space does suggest the medium of interaction is the English-space, only that the space for understanding the multitude of words is void of meaningfulness.
Not my kind of English
It is as tortuous as it is desperately tending to intemperance to have to live through it without becoming suicidal, but many subsumed into this space revel in saying so much to say very little. It is English reserve that prevents one from stating the obvious.
At which point you really want to ask as the essential salvation of slumber does not spare you this encounter - Is there space for a little bit of plain-speaking effective communication?
The straw man touching base with his offline priorities can only look up at that point for inspirational Blue-Sky thinking, the kind of thinking that is outside the box.
Why am I in this meeting?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Opinion: Save the children from these people - Part III - Helen Ukpabio's removal from the UK

A nasty woman
Nothing could have pleased me more than to hear that the self-styled apostle Helen Ukpabio had been bundled out of the UK with no option for future entry.
Helen Ukpabio is notorious for the absurd pseudo-Christian ministry of stigmatising helpless children as practitioners of witchcraft in Nigeria and then conducting macabre exorcisms that brutalise the so accused in ways too evil to depict.
What is most repugnant about her sorcery is having trained as a nurse, she propounds that if children are distressed at night, crying and running high fevers, the said kids are in the employ of Satan.
A religious quack
That anyone would believe this, let alone act on this criminally contemptible quackery is indicative of the mesmerising hold her atrocious doctrine in the name of religion has over an easily manipulated and vulnerable people who can be cajoled into ascribing every misfortune in their lives to some agency of evil spiritual forces.
In the process, stigmatised children have been abused, violated, brutalised, abandoned, starved and sometimes murdered. It sickens beyond anything tolerable that such barbarity finds adherents, supporters and proselytes.
That is why she was in the UK to promote amongst us unconscionably superstitious and animist-like rituals suggestive of questionable Christian provenance.
Frustrate this evil enterprise
From the moment she landed for her odious campaign, activists got onto her case, and had the venue owners hosting her meetings rescind the arrangement, then agitated to have her removed from the country.
Some children suffer enough in the UK due to all sorts of unfortunate, unforgivable and avoidable issues in parenting, care and the system than to have that compounded by the likes of Helen Ukpabio.
Her breakaway from the cultish Brotherhood of Cross and Star to form a ministry that trades in fearful stigmatisation along with the thugs in her ambit who foment violence on those who oppose her views makes her a danger to any community at home or abroad.
Prosecute this to all lengths
The ideal situation would be to close down her theatre of the absurd along with finding ways to make her responsible for the grievous harm committed against children as a result of her influential and abhorrent teachings.
Failing that, deportations, discomfort, disruptions and anything to arrest the abuse of the helpless and innocent in the name of religion must be done.
Helen Ukpabio must be persona non grata in any civilised setting and especially in Nigeria, her activities must be trammelled and supervised to ensure no other child comes to any harm.
She is evil, there are no better words to describe her.
Yet, it is imperative that we save the children from people like Helen Ukpabio who acts irresponsibly with the power she has to convince people of religious absurdities that gross atrocities are committed against defenceless and innocent children.

Opinion: Save the children from these people - Part II - The Boko Haram Abduction of Girls

Abducted and enslaved
In Nigeria, two issues are conflated with a religious dimension to them but the worst of it is the pain of parents not knowing where their children are.
It just makes ones blood run cold that for over a week, about 230 girls were abducted from their boarding school by an extreme religious sect, Boko Haram.
What compounds the issue is that over 40 girls have managed to escape, some during prayers or when they were already pressed into slavery cooking for the terrorists.
We must note that none of the girls have been rescued by the authorities, they escaped and one cannot say if any in the process of escaping have been recaptured by Boko Haram and probably summarily executed for their daring-do, the thought just makes one shudder.
It is just unimaginable
Considering how many of these sorts of religionists have persuaded sexually repressed men to become suicide bombers with the promise of 72 virgins in heaven, one cannot begin to imagine the possibility that the girls are also used as sex slaves and forced into marriage completely against their will and without any justifiability apart from atrocious criminality.
For the principal to say not enough is being done to rescue the girls is not just a damning indictment of the security services, it beggars belief that for a region under a State of Emergency the Boko Haram brigandage literally has writ large to perpetrate unmitigated and untrammelled evil and criminality with fear that they even visited the federal capital with a bomb last week.
What are they doing?
One also asks how it is that the escapees do not seem to have been debriefed to pinpoint where they escaped from and have the encampment surrounded as they lay siege on this rotten escapade.
Yet, one understands that the Nigerian security services are more trigger-happy than considered to be sent into such a domain without it resulting in carnage. What we need is probably people able to contact and negotiate the release of the girls in some sort of quid pro quo arrangement leaving the fighting until another day when there are no hostages at risk.
That the parents had to hire vigilante groups to go after the Boko Haram registers on the scale of extremely unfortunate and beyond words.
Failed by the system
We as Nigerians are sadly constantly failed by a system of leadership and apparatchiks completely bereft of empathy and redolent of their responsibilities we have to do everything for ourselves including go after terrorists to obtain the release of our most precious offspring.
How have we been so accursed with a system that sees no urgency and necessity to be out there, working everything possible to get the girls back is beyond sadness, it is a tragedy.
It is not enough to pray for their release unharmed and unscarred, we need the authorities to assume responsibility and start acting responsibly so that no other lives are put in peril in the quest to get the girls back.
My heart goes out to the girls and their parents along with the staff under whose care they were but would have been helpless against a marauding atrocious and rabid religious mob that has no respect for anything either of humanity or of the deity they claim to worship.
Yet we must save the children from those who have no sense of responsibility in their quest for aims that debase our humanity.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Opinion: Save the children from these people - Part I - The South Korean Ferry disaster

The father in me
Maybe just a word or two needs to be said about a number tragedies that have involved children that I have tweeted about lately.
I find myself having never exploited the possibility of having children and now by reason of the effects of chemotherapy possibly having no ability to bear my own children.
That said, age and maturity suggests and imposes on me a sense of both parenthood and grandparenthood that it is impossible for me not to at the very least feel like a parent would about their child or children in every way from the ordinary things of life, the celebration of successes or the unfortunate waves of anxiety and tragedy.
A lost integrity
In faraway South Korea, it was the man-made disaster of a ferry sinking that took with it hundreds of children’s lives as the captain of the ship shirked his responsibility and posed as a victim to get treatment.
Maritime responsibility has changed since the days of the Titanic or before then when the captain, Edward Smith went down with his ship rather than turn up later with crocodile tears asking for forgiveness and what not.
The ethos and integrity of captainship does not seem to have been installed in the captain of Costa Concordia and now MV Sewol, which meant that passengers under their care suffered where they should have been better cared for especially where the accidents in both cases were caused by grave errors of judgement committed by men with character flaws undiscovered until tragedy struck.
English for disasters
There is the other issue about the crew who were both chaotic and indecisive considering it was clear that the situation they were in was beyond redemption. Maybe it is a problem with the Power Distance Index of the Korean language as Malcolm Gladwell observed in his book Outliers with regards to air accidents.
It makes one suggest that in times of an emergency one should dispense with protocols and get straight to the point about what the power is, who it affects, what help is needed and be clear as to how soon they need that assistance.
From what transpired between the crew in the harbourmasters, neither was authoritative nor clear, in the process we have the tragedy of the needless loss of life that could been avoided even if the ship was definitely going to be lost. English offers clarity removing unnecessary hierarchies and probably should become the maritime language of communication as we have for aviation.
Peace, they must find
The agony of the parents unaware of the fact of their children’s watery demise is beyond what words can express, beyond being sorry for their loss, even enforcing the most severe penalties against the cowardly crew would not begin to assuage the pain of the death of the innocents.
May they find strength, comfort and some peace through their faith or any support systems made available to them in these troubling times.
Yet, we must save the children from those who would not assume the responsibility they have in despatching their duties.