Friday, April 21, 2006

Just Grow Up

Simon Fanshawe is someone who's irritated me in the past. I don't know him personally but his screen persona has been odious for at least two decades. Today he made a bold statement in the Guardian that gay men needed to start growing up. It's something which has been on my mind this year - in fact it was a principal reason for getting married in the first place. I've done the random sex thing, I've done the clubbing thing (albeit reticently), I've done the serial relationship thing. And with Tom it became clear that I found someone who wanted the same thing out of a relationship that I did, and wanted it to be (and had what it took to be) forever. So I figured it was time to grow up and face the concomitant responsibilities - we got married. Thanks Simon, we are living in the real world - very much so.

And we're not alone. Dave and Steve have a daughter, Tim and Conor are deliberating when and how they might get married (they've been together for almost as long as Tom and me), Scoobs and Colin are debating getting property together...get the picture? So on the one hand he's right, but...he's also wrong. Now that we are essentially equal before the law it is time to normalise our position in society. Yet society doesn't treat us equally, there is rampant homophobia still, and whilst I personally don't need to go on Pride marches anymore, a significant number of people do. Gay men are still expected to marry women they aren't attracted to, gay sex for many people can be nothing but underground and challenging social conventions is so fundamentally impossible for so many people, that when the opportunity to do so arises it's quite vital that it be taken.

Simon Fanshawe is both preaching to the converted and criticising just the wrong people for doing what they need to do. Just because his metropolitan life is comparatively easy, doesn't make that the norm for everyone. The number of young, drug taking, sexually promiscuous gay men in particular has, I believe, been massively overstated recently. Suggesting that 20% of London's gay men are on crystal meth is just nonsense. I know quite a few other London based gay men and none of them do it. I'm not saying that none of them fit Fanshawe's overall stereotype, but one person who does is without question a very damaged individual and needs help, not condemnation.


dave said...

While I can see that he has a few valid points, he's also falling into looking at gay men as the one standard stereotype that so many of us don't fit into one little bit. For someone writing the article that he's written there, he ought to have recognised that point.

Jason said...

Well Fanshawe has been irritating for a very long time (That's Life, anyone?). He has a limited point, but it applies to such a small number (as you say) of the overall total as to make it almost irrelevant. He ignores the enormous diversity which makes us who we are (which is indeed the focus of my photographic project), not noting that it's the invisible gay men who by and large grow up before anyone else...