To the Republicans in the audience, E! is the channel your deeply closeted gay son likes to watch. To the Democrats, E! is the channel your happy openly gay son likes to watch.
Joel McHale at the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
I made this screenshot as I was scrolling down my Instagram newsfeed. The capture was made by Tim Kruger, a German gay porn star I follow – I’ll come back on the fascinating experience is it to follow (some) porn stars on social media.
Anyway, this homophobic comment was left to him and he decided to respond to it by encouraging others to stop homophobia. No hatred, no retaliation, comments are begging for him to give out the name of the sender, to go and hate him obviously, but no, Kruger is calling for social peace
Now, when you are on Instagram, you can go on the search page that will offer you countless recommendations but as they say clearly everytime you click on one of them, they are all “based on who you follow”, “similar to accounts you interact with” or “based on photos you liked”.
And, they never recommend you to follow porn stars. I do follow a couple of them, out of hundreds of other blogs and they have never recommended a single other, which is good, I believe. You can look for them yourself.
Which brings me to the sender of that homophobic message: he cannot have stumbled upon Tim Kruger just like that rather went to look for him to send that message. It was not just another “I’m fucking fed up!” rant because once again the algorithm gets it horribly wrong, like when it suggests I follow alt-right blogs, just because I liked a picture of Hillary Clinton once.
No, that man is hating as a lifestyle. He went on his phone, computer, tablet or whatever and purposefully looked for a gay person to abuse just for the sake of abusing them. Kruger posted it and brought it to the world for the greater good but how many other gay people have received the same message but we don’t know about because they don’t have a lot of followers or have decided to ignore it? How many gay people is this man (and millions of his ilks) willingly looking for and willfully abusing everyday? How many gay people don’t have the strength and self-confidence Kruger has? How many gay people are brought to even more self-loathing, depression, even closer to suicide everyday by that kind of cheap but calculated and targeted hatred?
The alt-right likes to brand themselves as the victim of everything and everyone nowadays, their uncontrolled hate speech towards pretty much everything constantly “under attack” from “censorship” and “political correctness”. And It’s unfortunately not going to stop for their reading of history says that victimhood is what made rights movements successful.
What Kruger did is the best way to fight back against the current tide of proudly racist, sexist and homophobic conservatism. It must be exposed all the time, at all costs for this message and every other hate messages are a reminder of what every member of a minority (and women) is still facing everyday and if stopping it gets labelled “censorship” and “political correctness”, be it.
I am not here to talk about what gay people are going to do for it is simple: Keep living and carry on loving.
We have been the victims of all kinds of abuse since the dawn of monotheist religions: we have been denied, ignored, shamed, insulted, persecuted, trialled, imprisoned, exiled, assaulted, tortured in the name of finding a cure, burnt and murdered. And we still are. It has however never stopped us and it never will because we have no control over our heart which leads us to love.
I am here to talk about the desperation of the Right (mainly) and the major religious bodies in trying to condemn the act without having to change their rhetoric. We are told the killer has radicalised on line. No, he has not but right-wingers are all too happy to follow their archenemy Obama, for once. How convenient…The on-line, the unknown, the dark side, the uncontrollable where everything happens and all Evil springs.
Maybe the killer has indeed found a flag to fly on-line, the one of Daesh and the caliphate, but one needn’t go on line to find, hear, read, witness the reasons he proudly advertised as being his motivations: he was outraged by the sight of two gay people kissing. Two men, two women, who cares? His father brought water to the mill. He said his son killed “these faggots” because he was disgusted by them.
There are a lot of things you will solely find on-line but homophobia is not one of them. It is everywhere.
It is in the words and actions of our leaders, in every speech made by right-wing parties. It is in the US Congress, l’Assemblée Nationale, The House of Commons, Der Bundestag and all seats of democracies when debating any kind of laws that would put gay people on par with straight people. In France, MPs used the hemicycle to quote the Nazis almost words for words except that “Jews” was replaced by “Gays” such as: “Gays are the undertakers of mankind.” Putin has erected himself as a leader of the world against homosexuality, turning Russia into a lab of what a country can “lawfully” do to eradicate it. However, most countries did not wait for him to light the bonfire as most of Africa and Asia will kill you for being or suspecting you of being gay.
It is in the street, loud and proud. In France, for example, under the banner of La Manif Pour Tous – The Demonstration For Everyone – populated by people who don’t hesitate to drag their toddlers and under-10s in the streets of the major French cities holding signs saying that they “don’t want to marry their brother”. The link? Gayness, incest, paedophilia…All is linked obviously and proudly shouted by people in the name of freedom of expression.
It is at the core of our societies in the name of religion: Judaim, Christianity, Islam all based on books supposedly mentioning homosexuality as a crime punishable by death. These books are 2000 to 1400 years old and so vague that it can be interpreted as one wish – hence the countless currents, divisions and endless infighting behind three banners: Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Calvinists, Lutherans, Sunnis, Shiites, Yazedis, Jews, Orthodox Jews, Ashkenazi Jews…However, they find their common ground in the God-wanted submission of women and eradication of homosexuality.
Let’s focus a second on Catholicism for two reasons: it is the only one to have an official, universally acknowledged, accepted and followed hierarchy and it prides itself of being the heir of the Ancient Greek democratic process and the inspiration for all modern democratic process. What does it say about homosexuality? A sin. With various degrees of punishment – Hell being the softest as they, thankfully, have no control over where we do or don’t go after we die. They have been fiercely and continuously condemning every single equality law in every single country with an extra layer of hate speech in the name of a God.
What about the killer in all this? The killer’s father was very clear: his son’s mistake was to have believed it was his duty to carry God’s punishment. He should not have done it. It was for God to decide, not him. The death of gay people is justified and a good thing, but just not that way. I’ll let you digest the the failure of our education system and thrive for tolerance as they are constantly attacked by everyone on the right of the political spectrum.
The killer did not radicalise on-line. He didn’t radicalise because his parents are Afghans. He did not radicalise because he was a Muslim. He radicalised because the world is still crusading against something people have no control on: their feelings. And at the head of this crusade are right-wingers and religious authorities whose desperation is growing as days pass.
Indeed, they need to join the chorus of voices condemning the killing by an Muslim because that’s at the core of their scaremongering push for dominance, however the motives are their own rhetoric. How do you condemn someone who justified his killing innocents using what you gleefully preach? How dare the Catholic Church “empathise with families” when they believe their murdered loved ones are now burning in Hell?
So, in addition to trying to come to terms with the atrocities, the past few days have forced us, the LGBT community, to listen to our usual attackers removing the LGBT factor from the picture altogether. The gayness of people is irrelevant in all this, we hear. Suddenly, we are all one, all Westerners in war against the same enemy, radical Islam, or just Islam for most anti-gay people. This is no hate crime which is coming as a direct consequence of their increasingly violent push for institutionalised intolerance and exclusion. What the killer said were his motives was just a cover, it’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, just a detail from a mad man. It’s Daesh, it’s Islam, this is a proper terrorist attack and we are all in this together (and those who disagree are therefore in line with Daesh.)
Bottom-line, deniers will be deniers. The traditionally anti-gay commiserating and expressing sympathy for the families need to move the debate on grounds that are more convenient to them, especially as it erases their hate speech as one of the main sources of the problem. I am not denying there is more to what he did than homophobia. Notwithstanding, it is not bad enough for them to deny us in life, they also deny us in death to protect, if not further, their agenda. This is beyond the pale.
As the US Supreme Court (with or without capital letters) declared same-sex marriage legal under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, the people who thought their outdated views of the world were still dominant in the US have decided to turn themselves into victims.
Their aim is to not focus on the fact that the US have finally entered the 21st century, to just talk about the fact that those who chose to remain in the 19th century are now to become “victims”.
In this article (x), we learn that these 19th century-anchored Americans are facing being called ‘bigots’ for opposing the Court’s decision or believing it is wrong.
“Bigots”…this vile word that is demeaning above all insults, isn’t it?
Well, they might be seen and called that very unmentionable word by ” the government, employers and schools”. They might not even dare speak out for fear of retaliation.
How terrible! I suggest we take a moment to reflect on the dreadful fate that is awaiting them at the corner.
Do I really have to point out how ridiculous that is?
The problem with such privileged people is that they have no idea what it is to be actual victims so their attempt is not just ridiculous but frankly insulting, as per usual, to the real victims: the ones who have been suffering from them for ever.
They are nothing but bullies shouting “That’s unfair, people are going to call me violent now!” after the school has decided to officially render the beating of other students a bad thing – not a punishable offence yet, a just bad thing.
These very people have been branding me and every single other gay man in the whole world paedophiles and zoophiles every time they’ve had a chance and when they did not, they created these chances filling the media with their hatred-infused, insulting and life-threatening speech.
They say that my physical and emotional attraction to other men means I rape children and animals. Rape! And now they fear they are going to be called “bigots”!? Are you fucking kidding me?
They treat lesbians like under-humans and refuse to even acknowledge the fact that women can possibly live a happy and fulfilled life without the presence of a man and his penis at the heart of it. For them, a life of which men are not the centre is a life that doesn’t deserve any attention expect when it comes to the porn they watch behind the back of the wife and the priest.
I don’t even mention the treatment they reserve to anyone tragically stuck between their narrow definition of gender and sexuality: bisexuals, transvestites and transgenders. For these people, they are monsters, freaks, mistakes of God, children of Satan, sinners that should not even deserve to be touched, looked at or even mentioned unless absolute necessity, i.e. to call for their complete extinction either through “treatment” or simply “removal”.
These people have been treating millions of LGBT people like untouchables and rejects of the society. They have been arguing that our rights to be equals are no constitutional matter all the while pushing for a constitutional interdiction for us to be equals.
These people have been naming and shaming us, threatening the life of every single one of us all the way into our very houses.
They have been calling on parents to have teachers fired when they are discovered to be gay because “a gay teacher is a threat to every child”.
They have been supporting in every way possible every company who fires employees solely for being gay.
These people are still lobbying so LGBT remain forbidden from giving their blood, not matter how important and useful it is because we are “AIDS-infested pest”.
These people still have access to wide audiences to which they repeat time and again that we are the worst thing that has ever happened to humanity.
They are still saying that we are a threat to humanity and should therefore be removed.
These people are still calling daily on the repel of laws that define homophobic crimes because they see these crimes as a benefit to society.
All of us have had to be putting up with their violence, their insults and their intolerance. We have been fighting against these people for decades after we have been chased, hunted, stoned, burnt, tortured, exiled by these people for centuries and now that the world is moving forward without them, they try to be turn themselves into the victims.
Let me be clear: bullies like them are and will always remain victims of themselves, of their intolerance, of their unwillingness to be tolerant and open-minded.
The world is round and yes, you are bigots! Embrace it because that’s the nicest thing you will hear coming that very world.
And when it comes to us, the LGBT community, don’t you worry, we won’t call you names. There is no way in Hell we’ll ever go down to your level.
This week is starting with the coming-out of Joey Graceffa which, for me, is indeed a major event for the gay community. His coming-out is pretty common in terms of what he says about being gay in itself. He has, like many of us, come to terms with the fact that, notwithstanding the expectations and rules of the outside world, his sexuality does not and will not define who he is, what he does. It’s just a matter of heart. However, it is important because it was seen by, at least, his four or so million subscribers.
What interests me is he mentions the fear of being outed and that’s what I want to address because it is also a major issue within and outside the community.
For all of us, coming out is much more than saying out loud to the world or just one person that we like to “get it up the arse”. This is, first and foremost, the most visible, public outcome of months, years, maybe decades of struggles with your inner self during which you are realising more or less slowly that you don’t belong to what is considered and shown as “the norm”. Not matter how tolerant your family and society you grew in might be, homosexuality is still not a norm. It has still not reached the same status of normality that heterosexuality has always had. Being gay is still tainted with many positive and negative prejudices.
So you are something else but what does that mean? What does that involve? It was easy to have girlfriends when I was a boy because I could just be like my dad and mum, like the people on TV, in books and everywhere. But what does it mean to be gay? Does it change my way of being altogether? Will I get AIDS too? I remember being terrified of it because I heard gay people get AIDS. I don’t know why or how exactly at the time but I was terrified of being sick because I would just think one of my classmate was rather cute.
Do I always choose the girls when playing video games because I am gay? Am I a feminist because I am gay? Do I own a pink tie because I am gay? Am I a good baker because I am gay? Am I close to my mother because I am gay? Are straight men never doing or being any of the above? Was I conditioned…am I still conditioned solely by my sexuality above all else? Am I just a programmed thing whereas straight people enjoy the freedom of choice, being born free of their sexuality?
Even I, who grew up in a non-homophobic family, am still struggling trying to define who I was, who I am and therefore what my place within the society could and will be. I never had to worry about what my family would think or do but I am one of the exception. Some…many people, in fact an important majority of LGBT people does not have the support of a family who treats you exactly the same as your straight relatives and they are not born in a country where mentalities are changing. People are still being hung and murdered by their own parents so coming out for them is not just question of finding out and defining who you are, it is also a question of survival. How much of the people you love you will eventually lose. How many of them will reject you, will hit you, will go as far as killing you , blinded by their faith or their eagerness to save face and remain part of the murderous community.
I never faced death. I was born in Versailles, the posh and influencial, well-educated Western suburb of Paris and yet, I did experience stones and cigarette burns on my neck and that’s when people just assume I was gay so I don’t know if I could ever be as comfortable as I am today with my sexuality if someone else had just officially outed me when I was not ready. I would have withdrawn, rejected my true nature because people would have started filling my head again with their definition of who I am supposed to be: “You are gay so you have to do, be, think, fuck and act this way”. I feel like my life would have been limited to certain jobs, certain places, certain people and I would have never been able to say: Yes, I am gay…What has it got to do with teaching German grammar?”
Outing someone without their permission is therefore not just an act of disrespect, it has deep psychological consequences that can go as far as life-threatening for we don’t know the ins and outs of someone’s private life, whether they are famous or simply a neighbour’s kid or even of our own family. There are actually very little cases of accidental outings. Most of them are acts of revenge, retaliation or simply and purely of destruction of the other and we, the LGBT community, must be able to draw from our own struggle to understand the scale of coming-out so we can protect people who are not yet ready to do so but also support our peers who wish to keep it private without shaming them, calling them “cowards”, “closeted”, “half-baked gays” and reducing to second-class gays.
If the message is that sexuality is a private matter irrelevant to public life, coming-out, the act of making one’s sexuality more or less public, shall remain a personal decision and not become a matter of social pressure.
And this goes for famous people as well. I do not buy to this tabloid-like rhetoric that they have a responsibility to be role-models, to expose their private life, to speak for the community, to educate the world. That they deserve, they should, they have a mission to have every single of their word analysed, every single of their moves followed, every single of their interviews dissected by all parties to serve the purpose each are pursuing.
I don’t believe, like some said with outrage, that Tom Daley coming out last year means he should have boycotted the competition in Moscow because of Russia’s treatment of gay people. He’s a diver and coming out has not made him a speaker for the whole community. He has not said he wanted to be a speaker for the community, he never pretended that what he did or said was a reflection on the whole gay community (whatever that is). He just felt the need to tell people that he had come to terms with a long struggle. I don’t expect him to be a speaker just because he can dive. This would be desperately foolish of me. Coming out should not force him to give up on trying to be the world’s best diver. It’s a choice he should be able to make one way or the other without being treated like a second-class gay.
I talked about his coming-out previously and why I think we still need people like him to do so. Because they are banalising being gay to irrelevance, they are showing that who they are and who they fuck are not linked and that the prejudices we are all trying to see out of are actually irrelevant, whether they are good or bad. You can be, do, think, believe anything and be gay.
However, not matter how much I believe how useful and a blessing these coming-outs are, I am appalled by the (frankly angry sometimes) endless calls, even from within the community, to famous people to come out so they can put on the supergayhero cape, fight discrimination and be role models to the rest of the world. I read newspaper where columnists are asking, even demanding famous footballers, rugby players or tennis players to “finally!” come out because they think it would stop homophobia in their respective sport. We need some high class gay footballers to come out so we can show all the idiots you can be good at football and get it up the butt. That’s the message I read, even in papers like the Guardian or Le Monde.
Why is it their responsibility to display their sexuality in order to change mentalities? Why is it the responsibility of individuals to publically talk about what kind of gender they fuck so that reactionary idiots stop abusing them? Why is it that the victims have to reveal even more of their private life so their executioners stop trying to murder them? Was it for the victims to prove themselves, to prove they don’t deserve the hits and insults to begin with?
If some people want to do so, it is a major commitment and responsibilty. We should therefore encourage them but if people do not want to do it, we should respect and accept it. After all, we have already had hundreds if not thousands of famous people in all walks of life who came out and are proving homophobes wrong on a daily basis. Some of them by just being themselves, others by taking a bigger step and campaigning, talking, raising awareness. How many more famous gay people will have to say “I like sucking dicks” before the papers and the community are satisfied? All of us? Is “out loud and proud” a prerequisite to being a “real gay”, the way “real Catholics” are only the ones going to church?
If homophobia remains strong in football or other aspects of life, it is not because gay footballers are “closeted cowards” but because there is a systematic, willful failing by the state and the relevant institutions to educate. It’s not because the famous gays have failed their community by choosing to keep their sexuality a private matter, it is because we still expect the victims to be solving the abuse they are suffering from on their own. “Your fellow gays are being abused, it’s your responsibility to come out, help them and lead by example” is basically the mantra.
Not a single gay person, famous or unknown should be forced to make their sexuality public for whatever reason or purpose, good or bad, because coming out means coming to terms with a whole new vision of the world. This is not just the beginning of a new life but the end of another. It is like being forced out of your parent’s home by some strangers because they decided it was time for you to do so. What if you are not ready? The consequences can be and are often terrible and irreversible.
It is time we acknowledge the deep struggle a coming-out is putting an end to.
It is time we acknowledge that coming-out never means life is from then on going to be easy and that it can actually open the way to more existential questions if not the actual Pandora’s box.
It’s time we acknowledge that no degree of fame will ever make that struggle easier and that we need to stop begging for famous people to come out thinking they are going to solve the problem of homophobia by exposing their sexuality.
It’s time we stop forcing people to come out or simply stop outing them to begin with.
It’s time we praise and respect the ones who choose to keep their sexuality a strictly private matter as well as the ones who are using it to fight intolerance because both are serving the same purpose: to make homosexuality irrelevant to who a person is.
I have not been away, no. I would have had the Internet anyway. I just buried my grand father two weeks ago and for some reasons, I have not been able to care about something long enough to put some thoughts together properly and write about it. What’s coming may well be all over the place as well but I want to talk it.
However, it came to my attention that once again, the Internet put on some pants who were far too tight and that made it a bit touchy and angry.
Last week or so, Russell Tovey, who I really like, said in an interview with The Observer that he ‘could have been really effeminate’ had he been able to ‘relax, prance around, sing in the street’. He then thanked his father for refusing to let him become a ‘tap-dancing freak without qualifications’.
Everyone got mental on social media and he was branded “the worst gay ever” after having been branded “the best gay ever”. Russell Tovey has unfortunately fallen into the honey trap of all other accidental role models: he turned out to be nothing but a puny human like all of us. How dared he?
The reason why he was made into a gay role model in the first place is because, from very early on in his career, he was not the “normal” gay. When people found out he was gay, they were surprised. Even gay people were surprised for, even in their eyes, he was nothing like a normal mincing, bitchy, sassy drama queen whose tight, too-short jeans, geled come-overs, garish and ostentatious colour combinations were to become an inspiration to One Direction and all nowadays oversexed metrosexual men.
Yes, that’s what Russel Tovey’s role modelling was all about. He looked like a normal Essex straight guy. I remember when he was just another young British actor, whose ears showed the lack of care of new-borns in England, when he was unknown from the rest of the world, when his sexuality was still a private matter, some questions did however pop up about his not being like “the other gays”… whatever that means. And these questions were coming from gay people themselves. That’s possible, then? How wonderful! How does he do that? Please, Russell teach us!
I got into trouble myself with a group of gay friends for I could not understand their obsession with “how did he manage that? You know, being like a normal man”. I pointed out that their questioning made them look like they were desperate to emulate him, as if they were looking for a way to not be who they were, rather to conform to another, more masculine version of a gay man. A version they had sadly – it seemed – never managed to achieve. They said I was “not a real gay anyway”…
So Russell Tovey, who has never advertised himself as being a role model, has never done anything publically expect being an actor and playing roles that are not who he is, has become a role model because he was different from the “usual gays”. He walked like a straight guy, he talked like a straight guy, he’s butch like a straight guy, no swoopy hair, clothes you can buy in supermarkets…no one would ever realise he is gay unless they were told so. His whole accidental role modelling is based, by others, on the fact that he is not like them, he’s an atypical gay man. He became the ultimate version of what the “gay people would be if they could be bothered to try a bit”: normal, looking like every other man except that they are attracted to men. One that “doesn’t prance around singing in the street”
Let’s be honest, this is the big stereotypical question people can’t figure out and the psychological struggle you will find within a lot of gay people: why are gay men so ostentatiously gay? Why can we see them coming a mile away? How can we less physically and behaviourally defined by our sexuality? Is that even possible?
Yes, by finding people like Russell Tovey or Neil Patrick Harris and putting Boy George and Elton John aside for a bit. Enough with the stereotypes: the moustachioed 1970s closted husbands, the 1980s queens and the 1990s pyschologically struggling gay man who pretends to like football when in fact he fancies David Beckham – and has obviously bad taste!
It’s fucking 2000s, let’s get real here! The queen is dead, long live the everyday gay guy. Let’s have an alternative that would help people like me who are not extravert and just want to get on with our lives. Russell Tovey became someone who managed to blur the line, to put sexuality in the optional section and for that, the gay community put him on a pedestal.
Now, the issue when you are on a pedestal is that you are not allowed to make mistakes. Being a role model (willing or unwilling) is making you a messiah, someone who will lead by example and someone who has, from the moment they are praised to the skies, a mission to preach rather than speak.
That’s what happened to Tovey, a great actor and a great guy – for those who live in England, you will have seen what a genuinely nice and simple guy he is. Once again he was asked how he managed this unbelievable, almost magical, surely mystical feat of being gay but looking normal and his answer was bad. It was clumsy and badly put, although you can feel the frustration behind the words. The frustration of someone tired of being asked the same daft, irrelevant questions about the non-visibility of his sexuality and, if he’s like me, a bit of frustration at the whole world for reducing gay people to the sights of the various prides.
I see myself in Russell Tovey and that’s the kind of answer I would have made, unfortunately. That’s because the questions speaks to my younger self, to my formative years of accepting my homosexuality and trying to find my place. And the prancing ones singing in the streets did drive me to be a different kind of gay: private and minimalist. In Russell’s words, you can feel the immaturity, you can see that he has not reflected upon this issue deeply since he was younger so the way he thinks and talks about it today came out like a teenager or young adult would phrase it: blunt and silly.
When I was a teenager and a young adult, the gays we were shown by the media and the gay community itself were in my eyes outrageously fake. I was Will Truman and although I found Jack McFarland funny, I wish he had more substance and would let the human show up from behind the mask.
I could not shake away the feeling that the gays I was seeing were hiding behind make-up, muscles and attitude, hiding who they really were. “No one can be like that all the time”, I used to think. “That’s fucking exhausting!” For a long time, these types of gay people were something I did not like because they were sending a message everybody else was more than happy to buy: that gay people are all “fabulously sassy bitches” whose careers are made in the cabarets and through endearing rudeness. “The tap-dancing freak without qualifications.”
I did not want to be the extravert, me-showing, look-at-me-my-arse-and-six-pack stereotype of gay you see shaking it badly on the gay parades. For me, they were the ones who never showed anything but glitter to define ourselves. How about jobs? How about substance? They also were not me! No one was fat, or with body hair, a student, a young teacher or anything. How about real life?
Now, I have grown up and I have found my way to be. I don’t have to look at somebody else when it comes to being me because I have found my way to be gay. With reflection, I have also learnt to understand why some people need to be outrageously visible: it’s a message, it’s a way to express who you are, it’s a way to be in the face of the world and say “I exist, deal with it!”. And I actually took inspiration from them: being physically very masculine, I have let my feminine side come out in various ways. For example, I went to one Gay Pride, in London, and wore my 5.5-inch stilettos. It’s not what I do in real life, I wear these heels about twice a year but it helps me let some part of myself out.
But I digress.
My main issue here is the treatment he got and the terribly humiliating apology he had to make because people were offended. The “offense”, the almighty O word that justifies everything from trolling, abusing and insulting strangers to murdering journalists and suicide bombings. We have re-entered a more religious society where every individual and its identity has become sacred and cannot be touch, as much as religious beliefs should now not be touched. People from the First World have interiorised the American idea that being offended is making you a victim and therefore, you will have a valid case of retaliation.
I say “American idea” because it was made even starker and more obvious after the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo: everywhere in the media, when I talked to my American friends, when I hear American people talking about it, they all had this idea that somehow the journalists had it coming. They offended the Muslims and, yes it was awful, yes it was terrorism but the journalists were “also guilty” and more or less “deserved what they got”. We did not really have that in Europe…
Today, on a different scale, in the minds of the offended gays, Russell Tovey deserves what he gets: the abuse, the insults, the “worst gay ever” brand from people who themselves dictated that he was a role model. He offended us, we are therefore the victims, he’s the executioner so he deserves what he gets.
It reminds me of the French who still say that beating children is the best way to make them learn from their mistakes. The same way anti-smacking campaigners are not saying children should be forgiven everything, I am not saying that Tovey should be let off the hook – it’s not black or white – because there is something in what he says, in the words he used which are derogatory. I am saying that vomiting your bile on the Internet, abusing him for one sentence out of the whole article, out of all the work he has willingly or unwillingly done to show the world that sexuality was irrelevant to who you are and what you (can) do, I am saying that it will not solve any issue. You will get an apology and then what? You’ll probably move on to the next person who offended you in some convoluted way.
As I said, his answer was badly put, I give you that but by branding him the “worst gay ever”, you are not only blowing out of proportion (I am sure there are way worse gay people in history) but also, you are serving our enemies by reducing him to nothing but his sexuality, how he sees it and how he lives it. He is not a man anymore, he is not an actor, he is not a son, he is not a British citizen, he’s just gay! And he’s the “worst” at it – on some scale dictated by some people he has never met and who do not know him. Branding him the “worst gay ever” is nothing but misguided, unfair, right-minded self-righteousness.
Role models are important but it’s also time for us to grow up and understand that one is not perfect. If we decide to make someone else a role model, we have to accept their mistakes and flaws as a way forward. An occasion to make it right, not an self-invitation to a free-for-all lynching party. And if you can’t accept it, if you’re looking for absolute perfection, maybe it’s then time to find another role model without quenching your need for closure through the public burning of the icon.
And this is not just true of the gay community but for all minorities who need a model to be inspired and to follow. All role models, speakers, advocates for any cause are not allowed to be flawed or they will “bring disrepute on the whole community” they are standing for. Because this is common practice among the dominant to slander and count the mistakes of the ones who are threatening the order that is favouring them, we try to avoid that but getting rid of people like Russell Tovey the second we think they derailed.
The reaction from the minorities should be to show that mistakes are part of being human, we must show that the amalgam is the most nonsensical and unfair way to consider people. That Germaine Greer outdated views on transgenderism doesn’t undermine her work on women’s rights in any way so she should still be listened too, even if it’s to be corrected in a civilised manner – not abused. That Russell Tovey is not “the worst gay ever” because he clumsily said what he thinks. What about everything else he has done to raise the profile of the every gay guy? All is wiped out?
What thousands of gay people have just done is rise someone unwilling to the sun and claim he was our leader. Then they checked every single of his steps until they found a wrong foot. They sliced the back of his ankles and now only grovelling, begging and the right amount of humiliation and blood will soothe the sores they inflicted themselves but are blaming him for re-opening.
We are still playing by the unfair rules of the dominant and got rid of someone who was proving them wrong. Who’s next?