Banning gay propaganda can backfire. Spectacularly. In the 1980s, when the UK Government of Margaret Thatcher outlawed the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality, gays were still semi-criminal. As well as immoral, ridiculous, disgusting, diseased and after your kids.
Since then however UK gays have been promoted more rapidly and giddily than almost any persecuted, despised group in history. In just a generation or so they have achieved legal equality, civil rights and even respectability. Today they are gay married by the Conservative Prime Minister, no less. Homosexuality has joined the golf club.
But, asks the English writer Mark Simpson in a provocative and personal essay, perhaps gay people are in danger of becoming victims of their own success. Perhaps the biggest problem they face in the UK and much of the West is no longer overt homophobia, but rather the rapid falling off of it. At least for their survival as a distinct group with their own identity, culture, clubs, hankie semaphore and sensibility.
‘The Gays” have been shaped and defined by their long struggle against prejudice and their experience of their difference. But what’s left of gayness when the homophobia stops?
And, for that matter, straightness?