I watched a quick Instagram video of Tom Daley giving us tips to get healthy by doing something call the Pistol Squat – which I am convinced gets its name from prisoners of war who managed to not get shot by doing it.
One thing: anyone who can pull that off is already healthy. There might not have very defined six packs or the 0.1% of fat necessary to see them because they don’t do eight hours of sports everyday for a living but this exercise requires so much from your body, i.e. put the entire weight of yourself on one knee, that only the 5% fittest can do it.
Bottom-line is: the more I watch Tom Daley, his fitness challenges and advice on how to get healthy, the more I realise he’s talking to people who are already healthy. Just not calendar-fit, like he is. PR…PR…PR…
A comic in France came on TV and tried to make a point by saying “Hi, my name is XXX and I have something to tell you…I’m straight!”. Great laughter and approval.
I understand why he’s done that. Actually a few years ago, I would have applauded as well. Everyone has been talking about it for years: someone should do it to show how ridicule the compulsory coming-out is, to show that homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality.
I would have agreed with what he did if it were in relation to people coming out to their family. The absolute ridicule of the situation millions of gays and lesbians have to face one day when they feel like they have to admit into a crime to their parents. Yeah, why aren’t the straight ones doing it.
However, he referred to the stars coming out and the argument was to say that it should not be happening because gay sex is normal. He missed the point. Badly! And actually, he’s still playing into the idea that for gay people, sexuality is at the centre of their lives. What he’s saying is “It’s okay to be gay” not “It doesn’t matter whether you are gay ”.
When Gareth Thomas, or Tom Daley, or Zachary Quinto come out as gay, the point is not to say that from now it’s normal for a man to suck a dick just because they do it and they are famous. That’s reducing gay people to sex again and turning us into shallow teenagers who will imitate the stars. “Tom Daley gets it up the arse? It’s okay then, I can do it too!” It is a part of it but the real message is not to encourage the gays to be gay.
When Gareth Thomas says “I’m gay”, the message is: I am gay and yet I play rugby, a “man sport”. Not only did I play rugby but I played internationally and I gained respect for being one of the very best players in the world. Me, the gay man, in a world of macho straight men who think I am a role model. I am gay but I am very masculine, I also have straight male friends and I am very comfortable with them and my team-mates. I am not attracted to them because they are my friends and colleagues. No, not everything in my life is about fucking men!
When Bétrand Delanoë comes out as gay, he says I am gay and yet I made into politics and was a very good mayor of Paris. Zachary Quinto and Jodie Foster show you can be gay and yet be very successful actors that do not always have to play gay characters. Ellen Degeneres shows everyday that being a lesbian has not stopped her from making it to the top, amid terrible struggles. Tom Daley is showing that when you are gay, you can be a successful, Olympic medallist, have a flat of your own, travel the world, be crap at baking, and be friends with cute, hunky male divers without the need to orgy with them every night.
What these men and women are doing is helping gay people to be something else than sexual beings. They are encouraging them to be something more, to become more confident, to realise that their sexuality is not defining who they are and what they do. They are showing that you can be gay and yet succeed in whatever you like from playing “macho men sports” to politics, and arts, and plumbing because there is no such thing as “gay roles”. They are showing that it is possible to make it out of the little, narrow box in which society has put us.
This stuffy box labelled “Stereotypes for the gays: Things you have to stick to” that says we are uncomfortable with straight men, always fear locker rooms because we will get a boner, hate male-dominated sports, like Glee and musicals, are all sensitive and fragile, are our mother’s best-friends, love fashion and know how to dress, love shopping with “girlfriends” and love drag-queens…all because we are gay.
The coming out from stars are not here to say gay sex is “normal” because, first of all, normality doesn’t exist and frankly the ones who don’t believe it will not suddenly start to agree just because stars say it is. The coming out of stars is de-ghettoise gay people, to make them realise their sexuality is as irrelevant to their success as straight people’s sexuality is because we are all human beings with endless alternatives and ways of existing.
So yes, a straight man solemnly saying “I have something to tell you…I’m straight” has missed the point entirely and is still reducing gay people to sexuality.
A friend said, after Tom Daley’s coming out video, that it was unnecessary, ridicule and even indecent for him to do that. It was too much, she said. “The whole drama and everything! What’s point? Another PR move…” This friend is everything but homophobic, she is okay with me being gay, we like to gossip about hot actors, and her best-friend is gay.
What she is, however, is basking in what an American friend of mine would call “straight privilege” like there is “white privilege”. I don’t really like that, just to say. It seems like gay people are trying to compete with Black people to see who is the most persecuted, which I guess a lot of minorities do in today’s society’s Olympics of Misery. Soon there will be the “man privilege”, the “married people privilege”, the “thin people privilege”…
The fact is that in our society, anyone who is not a man between 30 and 50, married, Christian, brown-haired, tall, thin, handsome, light-skinned but tanned, workaholic but a family man, driving a car, drinking beer, slightly sexist, watching football and openly right-wing…Anyone else will suffer from a form of intolerance. However racism and homophobia are today the most violent and extreme forms of discrimination so I personally want to keep that notion of privilege solely to “white-” and “straight-“.
Anyway, for her, to talk openly about your sexuality is indecent because sexuality is a private matter and “no one cares about it”. She says that him publicly coming out as gay – although he just said he was dating a man, which does not make him gay – is nothing but a call for his sexuality to become a public matter. He therefore can’t complain that people talk about it now because he’s bringing this on himself.
There is indeed “straight privilege” in there of someone who, because she is a woman sleeping with men, the issue of her sexual orientation – not her sexuality – is non-existent. Whom she is friend with, how much she wants to share about her love life at work, where she goes to have a bite or a drink, where she moves house, whom she votes for, even what she wears or what background she will put on her desktop… At no point will she make decisions based on her sexual orientation because it’s irrelevant to the society so it doesn’t affect her. Society will judge the person and how many of them she dates but not the fact that she dates men. She never hesitates wearing trousers for fear of looking like a lesbian or lending her phone to someone for them to make a quick phone call because she doesn’t care if they see the topless pictures of an actor.
Whereas gay people would love to be able to keep their sexual orientation private but we are constantly bombarded with the fact that it defines who we are, how we think, what we do, and especially it dictates how much we are allowed to be normal citizens in democratic countries. Being straight doesn’t strip you from basic rights, so basic that you take them for granted. Whereas for LGBT people, who we fuck defines every aspect of our lives in the eyes of the society and it will not let us forget it. We have to constantly think about it because it is always lurking and creeping on our social interactions. And we have to constantly fight to make people understand that we are not different and we deserve to be the same – through the pride marches to begin with.
What Tom Daley did, like all famous people coming out, is to make different sexual orientation part of the norm so one day no one has to “come out” or be accused of being a shameful coward for not doing so.
Inspired by Peggy McIntosh’s questionnaire on race, look at the following questions and if you say no to most of them, you have “straight privilege” and you cannot possibly fathom why someone like Tom Daley making a video where he says to millions of teenagers, the future, that dating a man doesn’t make him any different is a priceless beacon of hope:
- Have you ever questioned how your family and friends would react to your sexual orientation?
Have you ever feared your family and friends might hit you, ban you, abandon you because of it?
Have you lost any of them because of it?
Have you ever pretended to be of a different sexual orientation with your family, friends, roommates, landlords for fear of being kicked out and having no place to go?
- Has your sexual orientation been called a disease by the World Health Organisation?
Has your sexual orientation ever been called “contagious”?
Has people died under torture aka “healing treatments” for having the same sexual orientation as you?
- Is your sexual orientation used an insult everyday from school playgrounds to high-ranked politicians offices, and everywhere on mainstream media?
Have schools in the UK ban the mention of your sexual orientation because it has become an insult?
- Can your sexual orientation get you the death penalty or imprisoned in most countries?
Do you hear people of your sexual orientation being murdered everyday because of it?
Is your sexual orientation automatically and lawfully forbidding you from giving your blood or donate your organs in order to save lives in almost every single country?
Has your sexual orientation ever prevented you from having the same rights as others?
- Have you ever felt like you’ve had to admit to your sexual orientation, to “come out” to people like it’s something you are doing wrong?
Have you ever been accused of having your sexual orientation? Not an observation but an accusation, like a criminal.
- Have politicians, in “First World democracies fighting for freedom and liberty”, ever publicly said other people were “not ready” to accept you and your sexual orientation to justify official discrimination?
Have people been openly praised for fighting your sexual orientation?
- Are people publicly associating your sexual orientation with paedophilia, zoophilia and necrophilia?
Are people afraid to be with you, touch you, talk to you because of your sexual orientation?
- Have you ever feared losing your job or your home because of your sexual orientation?
Have you ever feared for your physical integrity because of your sexual orientation?
Do you avoid or decline going to some places, even with friends, because you know your sexual orientation will get you in trouble?
Have people ever stared, pointed or laughed at you, abused or physically threatened you in a public place because of your sexual orientation?
- When you make plans for the future, do you ever worry about what the neighbourhood might think of a same-sex couple?
Do you know you will have to avoid the countryside even though you love nature and hate the city because you know people will not accept you and your sexual orientation?
- Are people telling you will never be a good parent because of your sexual orientation?
Do you seriously think of not having children at all because you know others will abuse them because of your sexual orientation?
- The most important: is your sexual orientation the name solely used to define who you are in the society?