BY JON ALEXANDER
Yes, it’s possible, you can be gay and right wing. Shocking I know, gay guys are supposed to be caring and effeminate and the darlings of the left, adored for our fashion sense, fabulous humour and sadly attitudes. Why wouldn’t we vote Labour, the party that strives to defend us against evil homophobes that think we shouldn’t be allowed to have any equal rights?
Well, the first time I ever voted was June 2001 and I voted Labour. My parents were Tory voters and they told me – when I asked who to vote for – they wouldn’t say. Instead they suggested ways to find out information about the parties involved.
I didn’t use the internet when I was 20 so I watched the news, listened to the radio and decided that Labour would be the right choice for me. Labour pandered to the part of me that felt entitled, that thought life would be easy and money was free. I revelled in it. Equal rights were happening too, thanks to more gay story lines on TV, the series ‘Queer as Folk’ and laws coming in to protect people against discrimination. Things were looking up for the likes of me.
I was out from a young age – 14 to my parents and 16 to everyone else. Us gays were in fashion and people like Graham Norton were getting their own chat shows, the days of Julian Clary being the only gay on TV were well and truly over.
After I moved to Manchester in 2002 I partied in Manchester’s gay scene regularly, Canal Street was still the premiere place to be if you were gay or a friend of the gays and I basically carried on with the attitude that I could keep spending money, have a fabulous life and everything would fall into place without any effort – nice house, great boyfriend, two holidays a year. Boy, was I wrong!
So, fast forward to 2009, we were in recession, I had huge money difficulties, my depression was in full swing and life was tough. I started to adjust my attitude, got a new job and began to take control of my life. Personal responsibility is an amazing thing. I grew up.
Nothing ever goes smoothly, so I fell a few times but now my life is finally back on track. I realised my values were changing, I was constantly seeing people with entitled attitudes, complaining they weren’t getting enough and expecting others to sort their mess out. All this confirmed for me that I was starting to lean more to the right in my politics and my thinking.
During the 2000’s us gays were making progress and being accepted for who we were. I was no longer introduced as “the gay friend”, I wasn’t asked if I knew “my friend Barry, he’s gay as well” and even straight men would ask me about my partner or social life without feeling nervous. In short, I was treated normally. I even stopped ticking those stupid “Please state your sexual orientation below” on forms as I found it irrelevant and unnecessary.
Then in the past few years we’ve regressed and it’s really angered me in some respects. It seems like acceptance isn’t enough now, it’s not enough that your straight colleagues aren’t bothered whether you’re gay, bisexual, pansexual etc. They now have to wear badges, celebrate their sexuality and make a fuss over it. No wonder people are put off; we’ve mistaken people’s nonchalant attitudes as non-acceptance and proceeded to undermine ourselves in the process. Where are all the straight marches and parades?
Thanks mainly to social media now, rather than raising awareness of people’s struggles, we’ve managed to make ourselves look insecure and unsure of ourselves. So what if a straight guy makes a joke about “the gays” – chances are you’ve made jokes about straight people or disparaging remarks yourself, who cares if someone doesn’t want to bake you a cake – use someone else.
I don’t expect people to like me, I’m not bothered that someone looks down their nose at me being gay, it’s not important in my life and once I started to realise that important and simple fact I became more comfortable with myself and happier in my own skin.
We do have laws in this country to prevent discrimination but at the same time we do have to accept that things won’t change overnight, forcing people to suddenly accept something without any consideration of their lifestyles and opinions whatsoever will only breed and foster more hate. Education is key but we can’t claim to be more “enlightened” and “tolerant” of others when we just constantly scream “homophobe” and “bigot” – they’ll just think we’re over-emotional gays and reinforce their already narrow-minded view.
I saw something the other day that referred to “straight allies” and it took me a while to realise they just meant straight people. I have friends and acquaintances, their sexual orientation is irrelevant, I don’t feel the need to label them…I wonder why the Left still insist on labelling people, even when we’ve spent decades trying not to be labelled; trying to be free.
I find the left quite toxic when it comes to equal rights these days: each group is trying to tussle for supremacy, it’s not enough to be equal, we must be superior, anyone who doesn’t think our way must be excluded and crushed.
This was evident at London Pride when the organisers banned any UKIP voting gays from attending…the sheer nerve of it! I’ll admit, I’ve taken the mickey out of UKippers, especially when one accused us of controlling the weather but really, to exclude all? No, at that point I realised the straight community was more accepting than we were.
Peter Thiel was hailed as a gay role model due to him being extremely successful, recently he was denounced as gay by the same publication because he supported Donald Trump in the U.S presidential elections, all because he didn’t think the same as the rest.
I’d also like to note that it was a Tory Prime Minister that brought in gay marriage not a Labour one, the right don’t mind us being gay, most really don’t care, the important thing is that we are judged on who we are – not who we sleep with. We are judged on our abilities and don’t need special consideration just because we have the entire Bette Midler back catalogue.