Okay with Gay. It’s not Fixed Yet

I woke up this morning planning the day ahead, hoping to finish a script, perhaps spend an hour in the gym (if I finish the script my treat is a brisk work-out, go figure), thinking about a friend who is unwell, and pondering, yet again, my own mortality, which creeps up on me every day. And then I read about Stuart Walker, a twenty eight year old man who police are saying may have been tied to a lamppost, beaten and burned to death, and possibly because he was gay. This crime happened in Scotland. I felt physically sick when I read this and then I felt immense anger. There is nothing that makes this atrocity acceptable, whatever the reason, it is not okay, it will never be okay. This is the kind of act I relate to the race attacks in the southern states of America, which still took place during my lifetime up to the 1960s, but not of Scotland or anywhere else and not in the twenty-first century. And I do not forget the brutal murder of Jody Dobrowski, or others killed in homophobic attacks, which are alarmingly on the rise. It was not okay then, it’s not okay now. If this grotesque act was carried out because Stuart Walker was gay, it worries me, and I’ve never been worried about being gay before, or perhaps not to the extent I am now, possibly because what was once uncommon is becoming too common. While we are aware that homosexuality is still illegal in some US states and countless countries, and homosexuals are frequently killed in the most inhumane ways in Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, I wonder if our real feelings, those of us in the apparently civilised west, are suppressed because what goes on in those countries is so other to us, we are able to detach ourselves from the awfulness, because it wouldn’t happen here, it couldn’t happen here. And now it has happened here, on great British soil, how do we feel about it? When comedians still make jokes at the expense of gay men, though mostly at the expense of lesbians (if I knew I was that funny I’d have made a career out of it), when the press and television and theatre allow audiences to applaud every time I am at the heart of another cruel joke, or the term gay is used in a derogatory way by school children and adults and few people speak out and correct them, I say I have had enough. Try substituting gay and lesbian for black, Indian, Pakistani, disabled, Jewish, Muslim, or any other minority you can think of and see what kind of response you get then. You wouldn’t dare. Well, I’ve had enough of it, enough of people not speaking out, not taking my side, (and those who do, don’t get the medals because I don’t get a medal every time I support a black, disabled or Muslim friend, because it is a given), because it is right and just that you take my side, that you support me and countless others, because if you don’t it makes me think you’re scared, that perhaps you know, in your heart that it isn’t fixed, but you can’t admit it, because if you admit it, you might have to do something about it, and it’s so much easier to say nothing than to speak out. It’s so much easier to remain silent. But speaking out allows real change to happen. So admit it. It isn’t fixed. We need to work harder, as individuals and as a society, we need to work alongside the charities and organisations and individuals, Stonewall and Diversity Role Models, teacher Elly Barnes and No to Hate Crime, we need to make it okay for our homosexual children to feel safe in the world and for their heterosexual friends to feel safe about speaking out, with no fear of harsh reprisals, but we also need to work harder with our enemies, and we need to fix it before someone else is tied to a lamppost, beaten and killed.

I’m one of the lucky ones. But in the big world, out there, it’s not fixed yet. Our heterosexual friends may think there is no problem, because they are okay with us, because they have always been okay with us, because they have gay friends in their lives, because their children grow up knowing us and know better than to call us names, but for every heterosexual person who is okay with gay, there are at least fifty others who would happily see me imprisoned, correctively raped and killed. And it’s not okay.

10 thoughts on “Okay with Gay. It’s not Fixed Yet

  1. I stand with you on this. I am disgusted and scared for my friends when I hear things like this can happen in our society.
    In Ireland we have uproar in our Church of Ireland community because a Dean entered into a civil partnership with his long time partner. But the news does not speak of a long term relationship being solomised and the joy that brings. No we have the sensationl DEAN “MARRIES” ORGANIST !!! Who’s a man !!!!
    Ireland has always been backwards in coming forward but this upset me. What happened to that poor man in scotland scares me and annoys me to the point that I NEED to do something. So I will shout it loud and clear. This is NOT ok !!!!!

  2. It’s an appalling crime – the pain he must have borne – and doubly so if it was bigotry that prompted it. It’s certainly not ok – not anywhere near ok – and nowhere near fixed yet. I don’t think Scotland’s more bigoted than England – not in my experience anyway – but I’m ashamed it happened on my home turf.

  3. Actually, having said that – the crime would be just as appalling whoever the victim was, but the motive being bigotry makes it doubly unacceptable. Hair-splitting, soz.

  4. Nice piece Shelley. I do worry about Britain sometimes. That when you leave London behind you, you effectively leave behind the cosy liberal democracy we take for granted. I remember being caught on a stationery bus surrounded by marchers in the centre of London during the first Countryside Alliance protest and I remember looking at the sea of ruddy faces, the harvest crop of bad haircuts, and the wellie’n’tweed fashions, and thinking, ‘Oh, so these are the English’. Unfortunately where you don’t find difference, you also find ignorance. And where ignorance reigns you often find violence.

  5. I feel irritated and astonished at the smug response of the above. When you leave London behind you are leaving civilisation is the sub text here. Jeez, were we discussing bigotry, it isn’t just about homophobia you know. Most bigotry is about people making assumptions and relying on stereotypes. I live a long way from London, Scarborough in fact and I don’t have a ruddy face, a bad haircut and violent tendencies, In fact, I try to see people as individuals, unlike Marinabenjamin it seems.

  6. Just so you know… Lawrence v. Texas, (2003) is a landmark United States Supreme Court case. In the 6-3 ruling, the Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by proxy, invalidated sodomy laws in the thirteen other states where they remained in existence, thereby making same-sex sexual activity legal in every state and territory of the nation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s