Sunday, August 16, 2015

Do we need Gay Heroes - or just 'Heroes' ?

I am so glad to read the current news items about Rugby League star Keegan Hirst coming out as gay ( 

It is fantastic that we are finally starting to have positive role models in professional sport. 

And yet...

I feel genuinely sad that both Keegan himself and the tone of the piece are focused on the attitude that being gay = being a non-masculine man: 'I was 6'4", a builder and a rugby player - I was fully butch and masculine so how could I be gay?'

Being gay doesn't mean being 'fem', or less masculine. True, society tends to spot fem and camp-acting guys easier, and identify them as 'different', but they are not the sole 'colour' of our rainbow sexuality; despite what most people think (including a whole load in our community itself) every gay guy doesn't secretly want to wear makeup and drag, any more than every lesbian has to be 'butch' and dress in dungarees... 

And yet, as a community, we set these gender identities as polar opposites, and set ourselves up as combatants: 'men are from Mars, women from Venus', fem-guys against 'straight-acting', drag against butch. 

But these polarised notions of gender and sexuality are damaging to *everyone*. They encode and enforce the idea that 'Men are butch, strong, unemotional, good with their hands' and 'women are pretty, good mothers, no good at science...' - the very notions that create so much gender tension, body-dismorphia and unhappiness in every generation of kids who grow up thinking they are 'different' in some hideous way, just because they think and feel outside of some hideously charicatured 'gender norm'. 

As a society, and as a community, we need to grow up past these 'Janet and John', 'Barby and Ken' ideals. We need strong models who can stand up and be THEMSELVES, regardless of how close or divergent they are from the 'norm'. We need butch gays, fem queens, Tom-boy dykes, lipstick lesbians, 'straight-acting' bromances, gender-queer Bears, radical fairies, married gay-dads and guys-who-fuck-guys - and ALL of us to proudly wear the rainbow saying 'yes, I'm gay and queer - so fuckin what?'

Well done Keegan for accepting yourself - but please, don't change. Be yourself as you've always been - having sex with a guy is just one tiny aspect of who you are. Be you, be 'butch', and be gay too. Take a lesson from Gareth Thomas and Tom Daley: just be yourself - and in being, become a genuine role model For a better society that embraces us just for having the strength to be who we choose to be.

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