Letter to a Homophobe

5 July 2019

It’s 2019, and I’m angry.  I’m angry that we are still having these conversations:  why conversion therapy should be banned, why lesbian couples can’t feel safe to be affectionate towards each other on public transport, why it remains controversial to mention the existence of LGBTQ+ relationships to schoolchildren, and why, in reality, most gay and bi men are still being excluded from donating blood.
 

I look back over the past year, and sadly, there have been a number of occasions when ill-informed homophobic comments have aroused my ire.  But, I reckon it’s good to be angry when it protects something that we deem is worth protecting and when we feel we should do something about it.  So today, I will put my anger to good use and take a minute to explain to the authors of those comments why I feel they are ill-informed or just plain wrong.

  • In February, The Grand Tour, filmed a sequence where Hammond and May mock Clarkson for driving a Wrangler Jeep in Colombia. “Isn’t that a popular car with the gay community” says May, before Clarkson is ribbed for wearing a pink shirt and ‘It’s Raining Men’ is played on the car’s stereo.  Will Young called out this offensive behaviour and for his efforts received the following non-apology from Clarkson. “I will apologise to Will for causing him some upset and reassure him that I know I’m not homophobic as I very much enjoy watching lesbians on the internet.”  Dear Jeremy, do you find this funny? Did it possibly occur to you that it is exactly this type of shaming and laughter at homophobic narratives that causes many young LGBTQ+ to be bullied or harassed, or tragically to commit suicide?  For my part, I just can’t seem to find the funny side in that.
  • In March, Parkfield Community School in Saltley, Birmingham protested over ‘No Outsiders’ lessons being delivered to their children.  Dear parent, who held the sign stating “say no to promoting of homosexuality and LGBT ways of life to our children”, please rest assured that we are not on recruitment drive. But it’s true, LGBTQ+ people are out there; we are in your cities, in your communities and perhaps even in your homes.  What these lessons are designed to teach is understanding and tolerance that, happily, people are different and beauty lies in our differences.  I would have thought that is quite a useful lesson to teach those you love.  
  • In June, during an interview with Sky News, Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe said “The fact that we think it is now quite impossible for people to switch sexuality doesn't mean that science might not be able to produce an answer at some stage." Dear Anne, in case you weren’t aware, being gay or transgender is not a disease to be cured. Let me live and let be.
  • And finally, to all of the trolls who attacked Tom Daley and Lance Black over the birth of their son via a surrogate, I have this to say:   A child born into a same-sex family is very much wanted; it may have escaped your attention but it is not particularly easy for gay couples to ‘accidentally’ fall pregnant.  And do not ask “Who’s the father/mother?” firstly, that is none of your business and secondly, it’s a stupid question, the obvious answer to that question is … we both are.  

On this gloriously sunny eve to the London Pride parade, I wish you all a very happy and safe Pride. If, like me, you feel that progress for LGBTQ+ communities has stalled or even reversed this year, then I ask you to keep up the fight and have the courage and determination to call out behaviour that you won’t tolerate.  Remaining silent, as history shows, will never achieve the desired effect.

Thank you to all members of Kingsley Napley’s LGBT & Allies network for contributing to this blog series and for making Kingsley Napley a more colourful and happy place to work. 

About the author

Melinka Berridge is a Partner in Kingsley Napley’s regulatory team.  She is Co-chair of the firm’s LGBTQ+ & Allies network and Chair of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion committee.

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