Being gay is indecent.

The pre-watershed Brookside kiss

The pre-watershed Brookside kiss

Something has been playing on my mind recently, and it’s an accumulation of many subtle influences over the years. It’s the idea that somehow being gay is somehow more sexual and sexually explicit than being straight. It came to light how prevalent this attitude actually is in a recent daily mail article reporting on decency standards on the television. The daily mail writes

“Lesbian kisses could be banned from television screens until late into the night under radical Government plans to stop children being exposed to ‘indecent’ images.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1382376/Indecent-lesbian-kiss-scenes-face-watershed-crackdown.html

I think what shocked me most was the clear distinction between what was considered explicit vs. family friendly, and that there was a clear dividing line here between gay vs. straight. A lesbian kiss on television was somehow considered to be explicit and not appropriate for children. Why is this so? Straight couples regularly show affection to each other on television, including kisses (and sometimes more), yet these boy-girl kisses never raise an eyebrow. Why is it somehow more sexual and more ‘for adults’ when it is two girls (or two boys)?

It reminded me about an argument I had with a male friend about his young daughters. The two girls were in pre-school and early primary school and were being asked by other parents if they had any little crushes or ‘boyfriends’ at school (in that slightly creepy way that parents do with very young children – jeez give them time to live a little first why don’t you?!). When I interjected and asked if they had any crushes on girls I was quickly shot down by the adults present, saying that this was not appropriate for children of their age, and why was I trying to push gay on them. My response was that I was absolutely not trying to “push” gay on them, rather I wanted them to know that if they did have any feelings of this sort it was completely normal and would be discussed in exactly the same way as if they had a crush on a boy. And furthermore I said, digging my heels in firmly, if anyone was trying to push sexuality on these kids it was the adults who were making these stupid comments to 5 year old girls about having boyfriends in the first place. Needless to say I didn’t make many friends that day. But it illustrates the same concept, that being straight is natural and innocent for young children, but gay remains a ‘deviant lifestyle’ that children need to be protected from until they are old enough to understand it. Given the high rate of suicide and depression in young gay people, shouldn’t we as a society pay very close attention to this distinction?

I am also reminded of a very progressive, liberal primary school teacher friend of mine who surprisingly thought that including gay issues in the sex education course at her state run school would be inappropriate. We spent much time debating this point, and my opinion remained that if a child is old enough for sex education they are old enough for straight and gay sex education. Sex is sex. Its not dirtier or more explicit if you do it with a man or with a woman, no matter what sex you are. As long as we keep presenting straight sex and normal and gay sex as deviant/dirty we keep barriers between the gay and straight communities in place and true sexual equality will remain elusive.A little bit of acceptance could go a long way in helping the next generation of queer kids feel like they are normal human beings just like everyone else.

My suspicion is that a lot of people have a gut reaction to think this way, even though they might have never considered the issue specifically before. What do you think? I would be interested to hear if you think that children should be protected from “gayness” or if you think a gay kiss is just the same as a straight kiss.

(If like me, you think that there should be no distinction between gay and straight, you can also write to Mothers’ Union chief executive Reg Bailey head of the inquiry and tell him how you feel.)

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6 Responses to Being gay is indecent.

  1. Nicole says:

    You are absolutely right! Thank you for spelling it out for those who don’t get it. Heterosexist thinking is prevalent, and there’s a long way to go because it’s so subtle at times, blatant at others – and so ingrained altogether – that people overreact to notions of simple equality…and interpret it as “pushing”.

    Love your blog. Keep it up!

  2. As an update, The Daily Mail is now calling for stricter controls on TV shows (http://tinyurl.com/3du4moh):

    “The dear old egalitarian BBC protested that its policy is to portray gay and hetero- sexual relationships in exactly the same way, both equally suitable for pre-watershed viewing. But are they equally suitable?

    Are soaps, watched by pre-pubescent children — who may still have some tattered remnant of innocence that we should cherish — really a proper platform for sexual propaganda and special pleading? ”

    It is simple. If, in Coronation Street, the audience prefers an urban version of The Archers — agreeable, benign and mostly heterosexual — then the Street must revert to the past, abandon this campaigning and continue to be broadcast before the watershed.

    If the audience responds to the proselytising and is happy for the street to swarm with gloomy lesbians and happy homosexuals engaged in relationships ranging from intensely monogamous to brief, shallow and promiscuous, then it must be broadcast after the watershed. ITV must make up its mind. ”

    So if you are heterosexual you are “agreeable and benign” but as soon as they mention anything related to LGBT they talk of “swarming”.

    I would like to point out to the Mail writer Brian Sewell who wrote this overtly homophobic piece that being gay is not indecent. It is not an alternative lifestyle, it is simply life for many people. We are not more sexual or more disagreeable than heterosexuals. We are just people who love and live with relationships you dont understand and for some reason seem to fear. Our lives and relationships are no more explicit than heterosexual lives and relationships. When considering ‘exposure’ to children, exactly the same standards should be in place for LGBT people as for heterosexuals.

  3. Sadly, twitter is now telling me that Brian Sewell is gay (or bisexual). I am very saddened that this self hating homophobe is writing drivel like this and getting it published.

  4. Connor says:

    I agree completely I am 16 and gay and I had to look to porn when I was 12 to figure what gay sex was. I also think that when we have relationships lessons they should also cover gay relationships and how although it was unordinary there was nothing wrong or subnormal about it.

    As a kid I did have girlfriends but now I look onto it and I realise I was copying another boy in my class who had a girlfriend and he was the most liked person in our class.

  5. I am a 53 year old lesbian who grew up in a right wing, pro-Nixon household. I had no role models growing up aside from tragic figures portrayed in movies like the Children’s Hour. I knew I was very different. My parents were both teachers; my dad had a PhD in child psychology. (So they should have known better!!)

    When I was all of four I announced I was in love with my female kindergarten teacher and wanted to marry her. My parents sternly and cruelly scolded “nice girls don’t think that way”. I had no idea what they meant, but there was no doubt that I needed to bury my feelings, hide them away in shame.

    Each weekend, while in middle school, I would make the long pilgrimage to the public library. I don’t know how I found it, but I would sneak Lesbian Nation off of the shelf to read it. I’d hide in the stacks hoping no one would recognize me and tell my parents. I had siblings who were not at all supportive so I had no one to turn to.

    I suffered through agonizing crushes on other girls my own age, but never put a name to it. Back then no one would have dared to attempt to take their lesbian date to a dance or prom. My only examples of gay people were those drag queens who courageously paraded around time square. I could not relate to them; they helped me maintain my denial until adulthood. It wasn’t until I moved far away from my family that I connected to the women’s community. I could relax since there was no chance my parents would find out. I discovered lesbians looked like me! At long last I belonged to a family. I had a place in the world.

    Back in the 80’s there were many discussions about taking the plunge and coming out to family and friends. When I told my family I was gay they wanted nothing more to do with me. No big deal, really. I never felt connected to them anyway.

    It is appalling that anyone would consider gay teen suicide acceptable! I only wish that I had been “exposed” to the more positive, affirming role models earlier in my life because I empathize with the loneliness and despair that drives some gay teens to suicide. Isn’t it telling that conservatives object to same-gender romance in movies and video games, but accept the gore and violence that the entertainment world? We have a lot of work to do to make this world safe for all young people, regardless of orientation or gender.

    • Oops – that should say: “My only examples of gay people were those drag queens who courageously paraded around Time Square.” Darned spell checker has a mind of its own!

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