Most of my childhood took place in the 1960s and early ’70s. In those days it was considered OK to hate “queers” and use that word as a term of abuse, and the only gays (though that word hadn’t yet been co-opted) that one saw on television were outrageously camp, thus rendering them “harmless”. (If you saw one you could avoid him in plenty of time). It is little wonder that, deep in the recesses of my mind, I became tainted with homophobia.
It has been suggested, by some “straight” people, that I should be ashamed of this taint. I disagree. In order to fight against bigotry, one must first identify even the smallest trace of it. Knowing where it begins, one can engage one’s brain and realise the stupidity of bigotry.
When he appeared on BBC’s Question Time, the British Nazi Party’s Nick Griffin said that if he saw two men kissing he’d ‘feel weird’. To a small extent I would agree with him, but unlike Griffin I don’t think such sights should be in any way discouraged. That weird feeling is my problem, and Griffin’s, and anyone else’s that feels the same way. Gays and lesbians should be afforded the same rights, at all levels of society, as everyone else. If that becomes the norm the emotionally damaged and bigoted among us, unwilling to think, will be the exceptions being stared at.