A Tonight Show Special
2010 | 24 mins | UK
›› Afraid to be Gay
the shocking undercurrent of sexual prejudice.
Afraid to be Gay; A Tonight Show Special Once again I take time out from reviewing gay films to comment on a television programme. In this instance, the show that caught my attention was the much postponed gay edition of the ITV flagship Tonight series and an insightful documentary that set out to examine present day attitudes to homosexuality and more specifically to pose the question of why and in spite of all of the recent pro-gay legislation, homophobic attacks in the United Kingdom are on the increase? Namely, are we really as liberal a nation, as what we would like to think we are?

To find the answer, former Wales rugby union international and now OUT rugby league player Gareth Thomas surveyed current opinion, in the process showcasing his coming out party, alongside meeting a group of young rugby players seemingly blind to the hurt verbal homophobic abuse brings, to that of a young man tragically only too well aware of its brutal reality. That all too many gay teenagers still attempt to commit suicide, along the way wishing they were straight, speaks volumes of how homosexuality whilst no longer the love that dare not speak its name, remains in the minds of many, a sexuality that should not be seen. Certainly, NOT in public.

Afraid to be Gay; A Tonight Show Special That a survey carried out for the show alarmingly found that almost half of those questioned would be offended if they saw a gay couple kissing, with even one in four seemingly offended by the sight of a same-sex couple just holding hands, underlined the fact. Yet interestingly here these findings were put to the test, as cameras followed Mancunian couple Nick Stacey and his partner Nathaniel Hall as they nervously walked through Wigan and Leigh holding hands and embracing each other openly in the middle of the high street. The outcome, as expected, was mixed, coupled with it has to be said, a certain degree of tolerance. Or so it would seem. Only when the same exercise was repeated, but with the security of a television crew replaced by hidden-cameras, a series of homophobic abuse was soon to be heard, with the possibility of violence ever present in the air from those who hate gays, period.

That we as a nation love our gays on television, is not in doubt. But when face to face with the reality of openly gay people, unease and prejudice is all too soon to be found. And that is perhaps the most disheartening aspect of this programme, given it confirmed what we already knew. Namely that and in spite of some of the most liberal laws on homosexuality in Europe, ingrained levels of homophobia still prevail. That education is the answer, is crystal clear. As too is the fact that a free society where you can sexually express yourself outside the relative safety of the gay community, remains a commendable objective. Yet judging from the public reactions on display here, that aim is still a long way off. For the fact is that hate crime is on the rise, as the mother of murdered Jody Dobrowski gave moving testament to, that of a hidden undercurrent of prejudice that keeps gay footballers unwilling to break The Last Taboo, MP's from all parties ill at ease to step out of the political closet and gay teenagers living in constant fear of verbal and physical abuse on the school ground, being simply too afraid to be gay. And that, just isnít right.
 
an ITV 1 premiere: 2010 / 19:30 to 20:00.
hosted by Gareth Thomas.
introduced by Julie Etchingham.
with the participation of: Professor Geoffrey Beattie, Lauren Booth, Max Clifford, Sheri Dobrowski,
Justin Fashanu - archive footage, Nathaniel Hall, Dr Christian Jessen, 'Joe,'
Emma Kenny, Justin Ryan, Nick Stacey, Will Young
and the Baines High School Rugby Team.
official websites:
Childline |  London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard |  Stonewall
Tonight: Afraid to be Gay | Enough is Enough: ACTION against Homophobia
Copyright 2010 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #288
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