ah, the IoS Pink List, causing its usual controversy in the LGBT community (why wasn’t so-and-so on the list, why was so-and-so else?) and usual nastiness among the homophobes – check out the comments on Clare Balding’s brilliant piece.
Now, as for the list itself :
I’ve seen comments on some friends’ facebook pages that Gareth Thomas isn’t a role model. The hell he isn’t. Homophobia in sport is rife, how many sportspeople do we all know the rumours about? How many sportspeople are actually out? ANY sportsperson coming out makes a difference, coming out in such a very macho sport not ony takes courage, but is more definitely role-model work.
There’s also the Julie-Bindel-trans-issues complaint. Well, from my pov, this list isn’t about who the LGBT community LIKES, its about what people have done/do for the LG community and/or profile. And there’s no doubting that Julie B has done a great deal for the lesbian community and for women. So that’s fine with me. Rather than be concerned about Bindel’s inclusion, I think an odder omission is her partner Harriet Wistrich, human rights lawyer and (like Bindel) long-term campaigner for women’s rights and in the campaign against violence against women. But those of us more often ‘in the press’ will always garner more attention, I know that …
There’s some concern too that Beth Ditto may be bi-‘phobic’, well, leaving aside that all we know of what she thinks are quotes from the press (and how often we may all find ourselves mis-quoted!!), again, I think it’s great she’s out, it’s great she’s big, it’s great she’s in the press. Those coming along after us do need the role models – they need us as their role models – so the more of us that are out, the better.
Same complaint (and I give the same answer) about the LG Tories – ffs! I too despise their politics, it doesn’t mean they’re not gay, not right to be out, and not useful in being so.
Of course these lists are also fluffy and a bit silly. Do I care that whatisname from X-Factor (or one of those programmes, don’t watch them) is gay? Of course I don’t. Do I care that a twelve year old gay boy in some small town where he doesn’t know anyone gay and doesn’t ever expect to, now knows that this bloke is gay? Yes I do. Out is ALWAYS better than not out. (& am I delighted that writer, journalist, far-too-young-for-his-insight Johann Hari is on the list at No 16? Definitely.)
And of course it’s better to have more campaigners and community workers on these lists. (Great that Sue Sanders is there this year.) And of course there are more men than women (see the same old same old about lack of feminism resulting in fewer high profile women, resulting in fewer high profile lesbians), same with there being fewer people of colour.
But just because these lists can’t please everyone all the time, do I think they shouldn’t exist? Of course not. Again, it’s not fixed yet. Not at all. So ANYTHING that makes a difference, anything that reminds the rest of the world that we’re here, ANYTHING that makes it better for those not yet out, not yet able to be out, not yet brave enough to be out, is worth it.
And if you really still think there’s no need for this kind of thing, have a look at this : the 70+ countries where being gay is still a crime. Some places punishable by death.
So no, as I’ve said plenty of times on this blog and elsewhere, it’s not fixed yet. Not at all. Even if we feel it’s fine or close to fine here, in the (relatively privileged) West, it’s definitely not fixed in the whole world, and as world citizens it is up to us to continue to make a fuss, if not on our own behalf, then for others.
Other things – very happy friend, writer, journo and campaigner Paul Burston is there too. But where’s Amy Lame??!!
And yes, I am glad to be there at No 66. Not sure why I have 66th placing of ‘influence’ this year, none at all last year, and 69*th in 2008, but I don’t mind as I’m particularly proud that, as well as the cv stuff, this year it says ‘political campaigner’.
* heh, yes.
ps – also v happy to see Theo in at No 12 on this list. (Not sure who I’ve pleased at the Indie, but am very happy I have!)
God yes, I agree with you about all of this. People can get such bees in their bonnets about the silliest of things. Just because you don’t agree with somebody, doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing that they’re out and there as a role model for all the different flavours of non-straight there are – particularly the younger ones.