If you want to know why those in LGBT communities are hurt, offended and upset by the awarding of a knighthood to Brian “Fucking” Souter, you need to read Duncan Hothersall’s post on the issue. I was in that struggle too, to repeal Section 28/2A in Scotland, and I came away bruised and scared and determined, too. I remember some years earlier standing in the kitchen stirring pasta and trying to explain to my stepdaughter, then aged 13, what Section 28 was, how it said that we were only playing at being a family, and making a running joke out of it to remove the sting. That evening’s was the first of many “pretended dinners”.
My biological children, both born years later, will never have to have that joke made to ease the insult to their lives. I’m profoundly grateful to Wendy Alexander and Donald Dewar and all the people who I campaigned alongside, for the moral courage that made that true. And I am still angry with Brian Souter for his lying, conniving campaign, for his use of the vast fortune he made exploiting his workers and a formerly public transport system, for being the face and the voice of hatred and humiliation for us for that year. If ever anyone deserved less to be “honoured” by his country – well, no, there are others who’ve caused hurt and death and division, too. But he’s among them.
But I am not going to sign the petition against his knighthood. I can’t say that his should be removed but, ultimately, other people should remain “Knights of the British Empire”. The whole system is a sick reminder of how we reward capitalistic excess and kowtowing to the system with the trappings of aristocracy. The whole system is rotten, and saying we should only give these tainted gongs to the “right” people is missing the point. Let’s refuse the notion of honour in “honours”. Let’s make it as irrelevant as it should be.
To this end, I propose that we each, on our birthdays, confer honours on people who we think deserve them. Let’s each claim the right to bestow titles, on the basis that great judgement of human quailities isn’t confined to Elizabeth Windsor and “her government”. You can call these “pretended honours” if you like, but I don’t accept that any more than when the government called my family “pretend”. We need to change, and that change needs to accept the human dignity of each of us. It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.