EVERY Sunday in the 1950s, when I went to the Sunday School at our Presbyterian Church (dangerously more worldly than the Free Kirk of my grandparents) we sang children’s hymns and recited children’s prayers.
I was reminded of one of those hymns while watching BBC TV’s Politics Live on Friday when one of the panel was introduced as a drag queen. And went on to present a film of himself painted and decorated with green sparkly lips, wild crazily coloured hair, and wearing – well – frilly gowns. He (dare I call him that?) was explaining to us the importance – in all our lives – of ‘intersectionality’. He claimed to be all sorts of things, but basically ‘non-binary’. From the film, he looked like a very colourful drag queen. On the TV panel, he seemed a normal-looking guy, though with some outlandish views.
But I had to ask: why is this young man taking part in a political panel discussion? We even had to listen to his views on Brexit. I am at pains to understand why the wildest extremes of social behaviour are being forced upon us, not just – but very often – via the BBC. I tried to envisage what my children, now in their 40s, would have made of his film. Probably no comment (and that in itself is alarming). But my grandchildren would just have been roaring with laughter. What they would have seen was a freaky witch with a cheesy voice. And they – like the little boy who saw through the Emperor’s new clothes – would have been spot on.
Which takes me back to that children’s hymn: Jesus Bids Us Shine. It’s that pure clear light that is so desperately lacking. I believe myself to be tolerant of others, but only as long as the intolerance of others doesn’t invade my personal space. I’m entirely happy for the drag queen to do his own thing, amongst his own. What I don’t want, and cannot tolerate, is that his world view gets oppressively imposed over mine.
As the sweet little hymn reminds us, sin and want and sorrow are all around us. So please, government, legislators, authorities, can you please just let us all get on with our little lives – ‘you in your small corner and I in mine’ – and stop needlessly interfering.
It’s fitting that I’m writing this on 25th January – Burns Night. It was my local and national poet who wrote the lines: ‘Would that some power the gitftie gi’e us, to see ourselves as others see us.’ If only that young man on Politics Live had had the benefit of reading Robert Burns.