Indigo Editor’s Blog – 738
Over the past issues, perhaps I’ve been too flippant in my editor’s letter; I’ve decided to go a bit more serious, and discuss something I care about. Like N-Dubz, when they helped children with enduring charity single ‘I Got Soul.’ What a song. That it was a great PR opportunity was superfluous to them: they really cared about those kids.
Following on from the DSU and LGBTa’s Pride Week last week, I thought I’d write about a couple of issues facing gay people. The most recent census found only 1.5% of the UK population is LGBT. If you’re not part of this minority, what do you imagine being gay is actually like? In some countries, it can get you ostracised, incarcerated or even killed: this is a pretty terrible state of affairs. Petitioning at www.allout.org can make a real difference.
In light of these prehistoric views, we are extremely lucky to live in a modern country like the UK. People are generally accepting. They tend not to burn your house down. But minor things could still be addressed. Like, for example, use of the word ‘gay’ in a negative way. Homophobia seems to be conditioned into society by the word; from a young age, people call anything bad or annoying, and therefore undesirable, ‘gay’. So it’s not unreasonable for LGBT people to find coming out difficult: when everyone’s using the word negatively, it doesn’t exactly give off great tolerance vibes.
Even the most accepting of my friends use the word this way without thinking about it. Although some gay people don’t disagree with using the word pejoratively, I do. It’s technically a homonym, but you’re kidding yourself if you think it hasn’t got roots in homophobia. Whichever way you slice it, calling bad things ‘gay’ is hardly going to reduce homophobic attitudes. It’s probably only said out of habit, but at the same time, it reveals a colossal lack of imagination. We should be rid of the ludicrous equation of ‘gay’ and ‘bad.’
I also commonly encounter stereotypical views of LGBT people enforced by TV. It’s great that LGBT people are commonly seen in the media, but representations are often lazy and clichéd. Frequently what we see is true of certain members of the LGBT community, but isn’t a genuine cross-section. It’s not good for the public to be fed such a monochrome image of gay people, because as a result, there is little variation among gay role models and public figures.
I hear things like ‘He likes musicals, you’d think he was gay’, which seems harmless enough, but saying this kind of thing instantly reveals that you patronisingly view all gay people as one entity with identical opinions. Straight people can be as dissimilar as Ross Kemp and Noel Fielding; it doesn’t follow that all gay people should be the same. What makes people interesting is that they don’t agree on everything – we should value these differences. Maybe it’s the fear of not being considered normal that makes people homophobic and prejudiced, but why care about being normal? Normal is boring. If you gained nothing else from Pride Week, I hope that you’ll at least be brave enough to tone down the careless homophobia, folks. Because we all know that homophobia is really gay.