I was channel surfing last night when I stumbled upon Simon Fanshare’s documentary looking at the problems with gay men shown on BBC3 entitled The Trouble With… Gay Men. If you missed it then it’s repeated on Saturday 29th April at 2:50am (that’s Friday night essentially) – you might want to set the recorder for that!
The synopsis promised a look at the upsides and downsides to being a gay man in the UK in 2006. It was hardly the UK view though with the programme being based in London. Although there was a brief trip out to London-by-Sea (Brighton) and an even briefer trip out to Peterborough to meet parents of two gay men getting ‘married’.
Fanshare and the programme focussed on problems that are endemic to youth culture regardless of sexuality, such as drug taking, promiscuity and worshipping the young & beautiful. I must admit to some worshipping of the young and beautiful – who doesn’t?
He seemed to be upset that the youth of today felt it owed no obligation to their elders – again something I think is not confined to the gay community. In fact this seemed more a rant about people with different morals, lifestyles and ideas to his own, for instance he condemned entrants to Mr Gay UK, labelling them as vain and naïve. Whilst I agree I also feel that if you have looks and want to parade in front of the general public in nothing more than your designer underpants then who am I to judge? It reminds me of the outcry about Miss World competitions and beauty pageants the world over, again nothing really new here and nothing specific to being gay in the UK.
Then there was the interview (in a sauna) about promiscuity. An extreme example shown of one man claiming that gay men can never be monogamous. Sure some can’t, but then neither can some straight men. How many marriages end because of infidelity by both men and women? Plus if you have the interview in a venue people go to have promiscuous sex you are hardly going to get an unbiased view. I believe wholeheartedly in monogamy.
My favourite part however was when he interviewed a group of young gay men in Brighton. Complaining they had no role models on television because they felt people like Graham Norton were too camp. Did anyone mention that television is for entertainment? They did all manage to agree though that the cute presenter Kristian Digby from daytime TV shows (and previously That Gay Show) was a good role model. Now I have to say I think this was simply worshipping the young and beautiful and this would have been a nice segue between the two subjects. I personally would have said that John Barrowman would have been a better role model and he is 39.
On a brighter note, and outside the normally closeted world of media, the interview with the Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Brian Paddick was brilliant, showing that gay men can lead regular lives, even in a ‘dangerous’ environment. I already knew that though – my flatmate dates a copper. I also know many gay men who are builders, firefighters, nurses and office workers. So what does that prove? Oh yeah that being gay is about who you sleep with not what you do for a living.
While I found the programme interesting, I also thought that it served to reinforce the stereotypes that many people have about gay men and women. Proving ultimately that you don’t need to be straight to have gay stereotypes. I disagree with many points that he made, in particular the divisions that have occurred within the ‘community’. I have to say though the ‘community’ is little more than a sham. A few bars and shops on the whole owned by large corporations eager to make money from the ‘pink pound’.
I also thought that some of the statistics were questionable too, in particular, the ‘1 in 5 gay men have tried crystal meth’ statement was misleading – were they asking clubbers in Vauxhall at 4am on a Sunday? I know a lot of gay men in many countries and know no-one who has taken it. Some of them take ‘recreational’ drugs every weekend so I would have thought if it was so prevelant one of them would have tried it.
So I think ‘the problem with gay men’ is they are becoming normal. Being gay is no longer about fighting for rights or any of the other causes that were necessary before we got pretty much equal rights. Many gay men just lead hum drum everyday lives. Many do not cruise for sex on gaydar, are not promiscuous and have never taken crystal meth or other drugs. In fact I don’t think there is a problem with gay men other than an overwhelming need to feel accepted yet different, never a combination that will work well.
Anyway it’s been a while since I’ve had a rant. I’ll step off the soap box now!