from The Guardian
And so we return to an occasional series in this column known as, “Can you explain? I confused!” Previous subjects treated in this handy little series guide include rape and Tory craziness, and today I add yet another subject to this happy collection. Ladies and gentlemen, this week this page is “Can you explain gay people? I confused!”
There has been much confusion about what, exactly, being gay is of late – even more so than there is normally when it is treated by rightwing politicians as sinful and by Hollywood movies as something that all women should look for in a male best friend so they can then sport him around town like a fabulous, bitchy, sexless accessory. There is even a film coming out called GBF about how all teenage girls want a cute little gay friend to boss around. This film has been lauded by critics as “helping to pave the way for an acceptance of homosexuality”, as though the most gay male teenagers can hope for is to be treated like pliable chia pets. (Obviously, “GBF” only ever refers to gay men, because gay men are adorably camp whereas gay women are either terrifyingly mannish or mindblowingly sexy and just waiting around for a good man to turn them. Everyone knows that.)
But with gay marriage, gay civil partnerships and, most importantly, a gay snog on ‘Enders, one might think that most people outside of Uganda, Pakistan and Iran had come to terms with, if not homosexuality itself, then at least the idea that preaching against it in public was a bit passe.
But the past week has served as a handy reminder that one can still get remarkably far in life while being utterly confused about what, exactly, a gay person is. This is an absolute tragedy! Imagine, there you are and the person next to you is talking about their gay friend and you excitedly ask what colour he is because you thought “gayfriend” was the newest kind of pot from le Creuset. Awkward!
So here is a handy guide, dealing with all current and possibly confusions about what, exactly, gay people are.
Is gay just a fancy word for paedophile?
No. This bigotry got a good airing again in the past week when Vladamir Putin reassured gay people planning to visit the winter Olympics that they won’t be “grabbed off the streets” (the old softie) “but leave the children alone, please”. Vlad-the-gay-jailer is far from alone in being on the political stage and confusing “paedophile” with “homosexual”. Representative Michele Bachmann, a woman for whom the description “wild-eyed” might have been invented, warned doomily: “They are specifically targeting our children.” Targeting them with what, re-runs of Queer Eye For the Straight Guy? As has been stressed by experts on the subject, paedophilia is itself “a distinct sexual orientation” and the most likely demographic to abuse a child is, according to children’s charities, “someone known and trusted by children”. So if Putin really wants to keep Russia’s children safe, he should just ban everyone who knows a child. Still, it would take a hard heart not to feel some sympathy for ol’ Vlad here. How scary the modern world must be if he doesn’t understand that there is a difference between gay and paedophile! This confusion may explain his fondness for posing in some of the campest stage shots this side of the demise of the Village People, seeing as he probably thinks that in order to “look gay” he’d have to be photographed with a child, as opposed to how he is photographed: topless on a horse and with a big gun (not a euphemism.)
Do gay people affect the weather?
No. This heretofore unaired theory came to light over the weekend when David Silvester, a Ukip councillor, wrote a letter to his local paper pointing out the scientific fact that the reason Britain had been “beset by serious storms and floods” because David Cameron acted “arrogantly against the Gospel” and passed the Marriage (Same Sex) Act. “Is this just ‘global warming’ or is something more serious at work here?” Silvester asked, proving himself to be as skilled at sark marks as he is at science. I think the important issue to take from this here is, if God’s wrath is limited to flooding the Thames valley these days, as opposed to raining fire and brimstone, it’s not the meteorological powers of gay people we need to worry about but God’s waning powers.
Are gay people punishment for their mothers’ bad behaviour?
No. This theory came to light this week when Dick Swaab (just … don’t), a neurobiologist, claimed that women who smoke, take amphetamines or suffer stress while pregnant are more likely to have gay children. My science qualifications begin and end with a B in GCSE biology, so I’m not going to get too deep into the medicine here. But there is scientific backing for the idea that the hormonal state of the mother does affect the baby’s development, in utero. And while the gay community generally welcomes proof that homosexuality is not (to use a favourite US republican phrase) “a lifestyle choice”, this data can be abused by homophobes by suggesting gay people are a genetic aberration. So what to believe? I call up Stonewall for guidance. “We simply say, we’d take this finding with a pinch of salt,” says the reassuring Richard in the press office. Do such claims worry them? “Oh yes,” he replies. “We’re worried it will make more pregnant women smoke in order to have a gay child.” And that, dear readers, should sum up gay people for you.