Was David Beckham born gay? I’m not convinced…
My knowledge of LGBT history isn’t all that comprehensive. In fact, I’ve only started to look into it in-depth relatively recently.
For work, I had to take a look at some archive footage of shows from the 60s-80s that tackled LGBT issues, and they make for interesting viewing. These early documentaries had a huge impact in terms of reducing prejudices, and benefited many gay men and women in Britain. One viewer wrote: “They just looked so ordinary and that was fabulous. It was an incredible relief, because I heard people talking about the way I felt, and suddenly I wasn’t an alien, suddenly there were people like me.”
I was actually quite surprised to see transgender women interviewed in a 1971 documentary, and moderately staggered to hear about a lesbian couple who had brought up two children together in 1980. Perhaps naively, I thought that gay couples bringing up a family together was a a breakthrough not much more than a decade old. It was great to hear a lot of liberal views, especially as homosexuality had been illegal a little over a decade before some of the documentaries were made. There were also plenty of negative views though. A lot of the views could be excused by ignorance, but others were just plain homophobic.
It got me wondering about how far we’ve come since then. Whilst there’s no doubt homosexuality is far more accepted nowadays, how many people are just afraid to come across as homophobic and not say what they really think? Forty years ago, people would have been much less frightened to say that homosexuality is wrong, I wonder how many feel that way today but just wouldn’t say it on record? You only have to look at comments on Daily Mail online articles to see that people are much more willing to be bigoted when their names and faces aren’t made public.
In Alan Whicker’s The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay from 1973, a group of gay men in America were interviewed who identified themselves as gay, but not homosexual – they rejected the scientific and limited scope of the label ‘homosexual’, at a time when medical experts still viewed homosexuality as a mental disorder. They were also adamant that all people were actually born gay, but then socialised to be heterosexual. Now, as much as I’d like to believe David Beckham is just in deep denial, their comments didn’t sit comfortably with me.
They raised an interesting debate though; what if we were brought up in a completely neutral society, where there was no emphasis on hetero or homosexuality and people were completely free to follow their instincts? The recent interest in Sasha Laxton, a five year old who was brought up as gender neutral to avoid stereotyping, has made me question what sexuality would be like if there were no stereotypes and if they weren’t such a core part of many people’s self-identity.
The truth is, a society without stereotypes or prejudices is infeasible. Still, our unconscious ideas and prejudices – that are often thrust upon us through socialisation – are worth delving into.
I’ll consider unconscious bias in greater detail when I’ll be challenging my own prejudices in a future blog…