For most of this year the gay community has felt confused. Gay rights debates. Will we, won’t we? gay marriage debates in the UK, France and most prominently the USA.
Why was the organisation of 40 years of gay pride such a mess? Some thought things were getting better, others feel it just looks like that on the surfaces: political equality vs. public acceptance.
But one thing remains the same: the bullying of men who are camp. Both by straight people who are homophobic and sometimes by actual gay men as well. Who are well, probably “campophobic”.
It has often been discussed that gay men who are effeminate often feel threatened by a big part of the gay scene, that is pushing more and more towards “straight acting”, “don’t let them see you are gay”. Which I have always found puzzling: why bother coming out when you are planning to just go back in again? The camp gay is frowned upon because “he is too visible” and “too out”. TV shows use this premises a lot these days: the feminine out man who has to be protected by the “masculine” gay man. The masculine gay couple looking down on the camp men. The gay camp servant, the “bitchy queen” etc.
With this forgetting true history: the camp gay men and the drag queens were always the strong ones. They have been the ones that made the changes. From Quentin Crisp to Stonewall they were the radical ones, the protesters, the ones that drew attention to themselves because they wanted to be heard. This is a something that should be remembered. The people responsible for the changes should be honoured, not brushed aside.
Then, last month suddenly Julian Clary returned to our screens in Celebrity Big Brother and reminded us of our history. His appearance made a lot of us look back on our past and our history. We also finally reacquainted ourselves with the massive changes he made for gay TV, gay comedians and the gay community in general. Where other gay comedians were scared, Julian was the first to openly discuss his sexuality and gay sex on TV. He created one of the first sitcoms starring a very out and openly gay character with “Terry and Julian” and diligently battled for gay rights whether in TV discussions, interviews or joining protests. He was attacked mercilessly by the media in everything he did, and it got to the point where many newspapers including the Daily Mail and The Sun launched a campaign to rid the TV of Julian Clary, taking offence on behalf of viewers who never complained.
Julian stayed strong for a very long time, until the loss of his lover in combination with the continues media attacks and living in a neighbourhood where he was terrorised, drove him away from TV and into hiding. He did all this, despite living through years of hell at school at the hands of not just students but teachers as well, a true survivor.
After what he has been through you would expect to see a bitter man entering the house, ready to cut the housemates with a nasty sneer. Instead we got the exact opposite: a kind, caring and gentle man who would give up most of his experience in the house to care for an elderly woman. Someone who kept the peace between housemates, despite the growing anger in the air. Julian also defended the girls when the younger boys grouped against them and kept his dignity when MC Harvey began to make nasty little remarks to him. Despite being without any gay companion, Julian wasn’t afraid to display his gay and camp sensibility, wear make up, discuss his sexuality and even homophobia.
And surprise, surprise, the audience adored him and took him to their heart. It showed the anti camp brigade that there is nothing to fear, and how far away from reality those recent TV portrayals of camp men are.
Celebrity Big Brother has been around for ten seasons and never has a gay celebrity won the show. After all he has been through, would it not be amazing to see Julian be victorious? To have him walk out of the Big Brother house knowing that Britain has finally taken him to it’s heart?
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