Thursday, 20 January 2011

It’s time for intolerant gays to cut us some slack

How do you feel about homosexuals? (The answer isn’t “carefully”, by the way.) I am no stranger to gays: after all, I spent three years at Cambridge and almost two decades at the BBC. In my twenties, my girlfriend and I holidayed regularly in Portugal, in the company of a gay couple, who were extremely hospitable and entertaining.

In my first job in BBC Online, when I was evidently out of my depth, my team included one gay man and one lesbian who were absolute towers of strength and kindness. 

When I later ran a section there, I discovered – eventually - that a whole number of people I’d either hired directly, or whose appointment I had approved, were homosexual. Every one of them was excellent at their job and fun to work with. The best PA I ever had (er… well, you know what I mean) was homosexual. I live in Chiswick, which, to my untutored eye, would appear to be lavishly appointed with Players of the Pink Oboe, none of whom, as far as I can remember, has ever done anything in public to frighten the horses.

None of my best friends are gay, but I’ve had several gay friends over the years. 

I’m convinced that, in this area, if in no other, the influence of political correctness has been fairly positive. I never found homophobic jokes or stereotypes particularly funny. Fewer screamingly camp TV presenters and “comics” would be welcome, but I expect a lot of gays feel the same way. In the UK, at least, we don’t appear to have as many “Gay Pride” marches as we used to – which is a relief: I’m not a great fan of masses of men in make up, tutus or tight T-shirts queening it up while pretending to make a serious point. 

I have no idea how I feel about civil partnerships: for some odd reason, ones involving celebrities annoy me, but I’m genuinely happy when people I know tie the knot – they’ve usually been a couple for years, in any case, and I’m all for people formally declaring their commitment to each other.

I don’t think gays should adopt children, and I find the use of surrogate mothers disquieting. Nature places certain constraints on what we can and can’t do in life: for instance, there will never be another top male tennis player under 5’ 6”, people who are born stupid will never become astrophysicists, and big, strapping girls will never be ballerinas – being born gay is nature’s way of telling you that you shouldn’t be bringing up children. Given that we don’t really know how children raised by same-sex partners will be affected in the long term, it strikes me as an experiment largely without precedent, undertaken purely for the benefit of the adults involved – it’s selfish: if you want to nurture something, get a dog.  

Like most heterosexuals of my age, I suspect, I’ve had to adjust my thinking and behaviour over the years: in my time, I have inadvertently made some toe-curlingly inappropriate remarks to gays which still make me blush when I recall them. I remember with particular shame swapping off-colour jokes with a TV News correspondent while cutting a two-part report on AIDS in the 1980s, only for the video editor to quietly inform us that his brother had died of the condition the previous month. 

But, generally, I don’t have a problem with gays (transvestites, on the other hand, tend to make me feel distinctly queasy), and, I’m not aware that they have a problem with me. (In fact, I have been told I have a distinctly gay “sense” of humour – which I think means waspish: I have rarely enjoyed myself as much as I did swapping bitchy badinage with two homosexual directors during a recent lengthy stint at the BBC.) 

But, given that the overwhelmingly heterosexual majority of people in this country seem to have largely mastered any prejudice they may once have felt towards homosexuals  – up to and including the enormous affection shown to openly gay entertainers and television personalities, and what appears to be universal abhorrence for the ancient working class tradition of “queer-bashing” – wouldn’t it nice if gays cut us some slack in return (the problem with writing about homosexuals is that everything sounds vaguely smutty) and allowed the small minority of heterosexuals who strongly disapprove of homosexuality on religious grounds to choose who they’re willing to accept as paying guests?

I’m sure the couple who were awarded costs earlier this week for being turned away by the committedly Christian owners of a Cornish B&B feel they’ve struck a blow for gays in general: but, by deciding to throw a prolonged hissy fit rather than accept that some people – for whatever reason – can’t get with the PC programme, they’ve done their kind a great disservice. After all, it’s not as though thousands of B&B owners, hoteliers, restaurateurs and pub landlords are dying to exclude them – given the strength of the Pink Pound, I should imagine the very opposite to be the case. 

If the vast majority of us are willing to put up with the small minority of ravingly effeminate gays who seem determined to outrage straight society, then gays might show a little more tolerance towards heterosexuals who find their proclivities unacceptable.  

Two-way street, chaps.   


  1. "... in this area, if in no other, the influence of political correctness has been fairly positive."

    The legalisation of (a) homosexual acts and (b) abortion, two major (David Steel) acts of the 1960s, both passed in the face of major opposition and, since then, barely a peep. Society was ready. Society wanted it.

    The banning of (a) drugs and (b) hunting, utterly ineffective legislation, society couldn't give two hoots, the law doesn't stand a chance.

    There's a lesson there for our politicians.
    Thursday, January 20, 2011 - 11:26 PM

  2. Excellent point, DM. of course, I'm with you on Hunting, but, however pathetically ineffective our drug laws are, I'm not sure I - or the public in general - would want to see them repealed: changed, maybe, but not got rid of entirely. I think sometimes the law has to be there just to say "we really don't think you should indulge in this" - the problem with prohibition was that people positively wanted to carry on drinking - the problem with dropping drug laws is that the vast majority of people don't want to see drug-taking spread. (Whether repealing the laws would have that effect is another matter).
    Saturday, January 22, 2011 - 12:39 AM

  3. I agree, the drugs issue is not simple. It's a shame Al Jolson fired Professor Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He looked as if he had some practicla ideas.
    Saturday, January 22, 2011 - 06:27 PM

  4. Re homosexuals and boarding houses, I owe the following point to Mark Steyn -- what would the county court judge have decided if the boarding house owners had been not Christians but devout Muslims, firm in their conviction that homosexuals should be thrown off the tops of mountains?

    What does a confused administration, intent on social engineering, do when two of its cherished shibboleths collide and point to contradictory verdicts?
    Saturday, January 22, 2011 - 06:34 PM

  5. When there are two competing victim groups involved, an official points system is applied (see my post, Let’s Play Victim!:’s_play_Victim!_1.html). Victimhood status – and therefore the number of points awarded – changes regularly to reflect whether America is for or against the group being victimised. Because America is an overwhelmingly pro-Christian country, Christians don’t count. There are still parts of America where gays get called nasty names, so they get some points – certainly more than Christians. Muslim countries are, of course, under constant attack from the Great Satan, and any Muslims foolish enough to visit America are either imprisoned without trial and shipped to Guantanamo for prolonged torture, or, more usually, shot on sight. Hence Muslims currently outscore all other victim groups: therefore, if the B&B owners had been gay-hating Muslims, the homosexual couple would have been told to apologise to them for not respecting their deeply-held cultural beliefs.
    Thursday, January 27, 2011 - 04:30 PM