Being gay ‘doesn’t’ just happen… right?

Oh the irony. I was going about my business today, when I saw a London Bus advertisement for Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5. I don’t watch television, just films really – so, won’t be tuning-in. I prefer ‘I’m NOT A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!’

Anyway, whilst socially-networking earlier (I used to have friends) I came across an article about Celebrity Big Brother on the Daily Mail’s website, with some comments from the Former Welsh Rugby Player Gareth Thomas who apparently* is one of the latest ‘celebrities’ to go into the house. *Channel 5 haven’t revealed the line-up yet!

Gareth came out publicly as gay in December 2009.

I read the article and found it ironic that his views as ‘alleged’ to be in the Daily Mail – fly in the face – of what I wrote yesterday in my blog about Stephen Lawrence and his family receiving justice for his horrific murder, where I touched upon sexuality in the following context.

Yesterday, I specifically wrote towards the end of my piece about Baroness Howells (a peer in the House of Lords) commenting about people who say they are for example… a Public Servant who ‘happens’ to be black/gay etc. The Baroness’s view was that if you weren’t a Public Servant tomorrow, you’d still be black/gay. Her insight made total sense to me, and as a mixed-race gay man I agreed. I can’t change my colour or sexuality, but can my job.

However, it was the comment from Gareth Thomas in the article that caught my attention especially the latter part with him saying… ‘I don’t want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player first and foremost. I am a man’. Oh, how I rolled my eyes. If Gareth wasn’t a rugby player tomorrow (I’m not sure if he still is after playing for Wales), he’d still be gay, right? And, you can be a man and gay?

Gareth say’s he made the decision to come out as he felt attitudes had changed in sport, saying… ‘I just happen to be gay. It’s irrelevant’. Again, I rolled my eyes having spookily wrote about this also in my blog yesterday. Maybe, I was meant to come across this article?

I’m yet to meet anyone who ‘just happens’ to be gay, black etc etc. They don’t just happen as I wrote yesterday, and this in my opinion is one of the important issues many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people challenge – the idea that they ‘choose’ to be LGBT. If it was a choice, I’m not a betting man but I think quite a few LGBT people might ‘choose’ to be straight for an easier life!

I’ve got nothing against Gareth personally, especially as I don’t know him and a role model is a role model but if his comments are true – I personally don’t think they help things. I’m not advocating that people walk around with stickers on themselves saying their gay or shouting it from the rooftops – but, describing yourself as a gay rugby player is a positive thing. It can breakdown stereotyping. A declaration that you are proud to be gay and ‘happen to be a rugby player’, shouldn’t be frowned upon.

Many LGBT people have been in the ‘closet’ for far too long (and many remain so) for different reasons (like Gareth, from reading the article), so saying you’re gay with your profession might be a way of empowering yourself around others so that ‘eventually’ it won’t be an issue. Sadly though it still is, so to me it’s important to show that gay people do all kinds of jobs not just those often negative ones portrayed on television. Homophobia even in 2011, is still ‘alive and kicking’.

I finish with a final comment from Gareth where he says… ‘What I choose to do when I close the door at home has nothing to do with what I have achieved in rugby’. That’s good, but as gay people we shouldn’t have to make such a statement. I’ve learned it implies a negative, making others think about or question something they might not have had i.e. why did he say that? I mean, my straight friends don’t make statements to me that their career success is (or not as the case may be) down to their bedroom antics!

We are all different, even within the LGBT community and naturally we all have different views and opinions on life and don’t agree. I’m not saying Gareth is wrong, or that I am right – but, my ‘View from the Bottom’ on comments about people ‘happening’ to be gay. Like I wrote yesterday, I’m proud to be a mixed-race gay Scouser who happens to be…? NOTE: you can fill-in the blank 😮

I’m not one for shying away from real issues, so have sent a copy of my blog to Gareth. It’s important when we’ve got something to say, that we share it with others especially those concerned.

This has been a… sensitive, ‘View from the Bottom’.

Take care, Max x.

Live Healthy, Laugh Often & Love Yourself!

Published by My Mum. Copyright © Kevin Maxwell Film, Media & Performance 2012.