Here in the UK, the LGBT community can celebrate the many rights we have all fought for and won over the last few decades, from having homosexuality abolished as a criminal offence, the equal age of consent and most recently the right for same sex couples to have their union together acknowledged in the form of civil partnerships. Looking at such ground breaking achievements it would be easy to think that we can sit back and relax because all the big battles have been won; but this really is not the case.
For every outdated piece of legislation that has been overturned there are still those who see homosexuality as second class to their straight counterparts and this is passed down to the next generation through a variety of ways. Last week it immerged that Google had rolled out a new app giving mums the opportunity to answer twenty cliché questions to determine if their son is gay.
Some of the ridiculous questions that the makers claimed would determine the outcome of their son’s sexuality included,
- Is he a fan of divas (Madonna, Britney Spears)?
- Does he spend time getting ready before being seen in public?
- Does he like musical comedies?
So what if someone, gay or straight, takes a while to get dressed up to see Madonna in a musical comedy, but the way these questions are backed up by,
- Does he like football?
- Does he read the sports page in the newspaper?
- Has he ever been in a fight?
It become perfectly clear that the people who put the app together are suggesting that if someone’s son doesn’t conform to the outdated gender norms, they are less of a man and as such are seen as inferior to others in society. Of course the people behind the app would say that such questions should not be taken so seriously and they are just a bit of fun; but it is these same outdated views that bullies use to undermine their peers from the playground to the workplace and keep many people from declaring proudly that they are gay.
A prime example can be seen in football. At present there is a campaign DVD due to be launched, titled; Homophobia: Let’s Tackle It! with the makers hoping to follow the success of, ‘Show Racism the Red Card’. The makers had wanted a gay footballer to front the DVD, but have been greeted by a brick wall. Not since Justin Fashanu, (who committed suicide in1998) has there been another professional footballer ‘come out’ as gay. They also found it impossible to get a straight footballer to speak out against homophobia, for fear of a backlash from the terraces and in the press.
It is without doubt that the main reason for such an absence of ‘out’ footballers speaking out on the issue isn’t down to gay men, as the app questions would suggest, not being any good at sport but more to do with homophobia still being rive within the ‘beautiful game’.
In the same week there was a conference for the Orlando Republican presidential debate. During the session Stephen Hill, a US soldier serving in Iraq, spoke via video link saying he was pleased he was able to be open about his homosexuality now President Obama had abolished the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that had meant gay and lesbian service men and women would be fired from their post if their sexuality was exposed. The response from the chair came that should the Republican Party take office again, the ban on homosexuals in the forces would be put firmly back in place. The people behind such thinking are fully aware that there are hundreds of gay and lesbian people working in the arm forces, but to show that gay men and women are working in environments outside the clichéd stereotypes would show that the only thing different between sexualities is the gender we decided to sleep with.
These are just a few examples of how a part of society believes that to be gay is something that must be ridiculed, hated and stamped out. We may have won some big battles, but we must keep our voices heard loud, expose gay hate in all its forms, and stamp out the hatred so the next generation will only find homophobia in the history books.