I used to think that institutionalised homophobia was something that would never penetrate our pragmatic, mannerly British borders. Let alone the nation’s capital. Today, the leader of the Core Issues Trust, Mike Davies, has proven me, and perhaps many other dwellers of this diverse city, renowned for its tolerance, wrong.
I lived in the United States last year, feeling a great deal of sympathy towards my LGBT friends, when I discovered that much of the nation’s right wing politics is entrenched in a desire to treat the Queer community as second-class citizens.
Davies’s views are similar to the husband of, former bidder for republican presidential nomination, Michelle Bachmann. Like Dr. Marcus Bachmann, Davies believes that “homoerotic behaviour is sinful”. His homophobic advertisement was created with the intention of converting the LGBT community towards a, religiously superior, heterosexual lifestyle.
As an LGBT Londoner my faith in my city was shaken for an entire two hours. Then TFL released this statement on twitter: ‘We don’t believe these ads reflect TfL’s commitment to a tolerant and inclusive London’, and scrapped the whole thing.
I tweeted back, ‘Good on you!’, and breathed a sigh of relief. British common sense, combined with London’s accepting attitude, has triumphed once more over downright barmyness. Had this advertisement had gone through it would had have been an absolute disaster.
Thousands of impressionable youths ride London buses every day to get to and from school or work. Such propaganda directly attacks a minority, implying that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured through perseverance. The buses not only would have been telling us, ‘Gay people just need to sort themselves out and become straight’, but also could have provided a niche for “corrective” homophobic behaviour. Davies’s actions would have fed homophobic bullying in schools, and may have led to an increase in anti-gay violence.
As well as this, thousands of members of the LGBT community not only use Transport for
London each day, but also pay taxes and contribute a great deal to this city.
Despite these glaring injustices, one thing that really got my goat about the advertisement was its disingenuous statement. ‘Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!’? I would have much preferred if Davies came out [excuse my pun, or perhaps it is literal?] with it: ‘Homophobic and proud. Get over it?’ However, I doubt the Core Issues Trust would ever do this, because as always the problem is not with them, but with the gays.
It is also extraordinarily nonspecific: Where does bisexuality fall into this? What about the Trans community? Are Lesbians okay? I mean really, if you’re going to try and save me I’d at least like it if you did a proper job of it, Davies.
Perhaps the most insulting thing about this whole ordeal is the fact that the campaign has mimicked Stonewall’s powerful ‘Some people are gay. Get over it‘ advertising campaign. Non specific and unoriginal – oh how they rub salt into the wound!
How should London’s LGBT community respond to this? I suggest that we re-appropriate once more by opening a gay bar in Soho, and naming it after Mike Davies. That would only be fair.
Featured image by AndrewHA, Flickr