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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The L Wire's Review of 2013: November

November brought with it further progress in the equal marriage front as Hawaii and Illinois became the 15th and 16th American states to legalise same-sex marriage and Scotland’s Bill passed its first vote with a large majority.

It also saw campaigning organisation All Out launch a thought-provoking video ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics and Stonewall launch a campaign about homophobia happening closer to home.

Both of those, and more, will be examined in our review of…

“All Out” release a sad imagining of Sochi Games

All Out released a video this November that re-imagined a familiar scene from many previous Olympic Games. An athlete wins gold and wishes for nothing more than to celebrate with their partner who's watching in the crowd.

But what happens when that person is of the same sex and the games are taking place in a country with homophobia written into its laws? This:

The video me goose-bumps the first time I watched it and I’ve got them again now.

At the end it asks “What if living your dream meant living a lie?” and that’s a question that’s familiar to a lot of LGBT+ people; athletes in particular, I'd imagine. We saw back in February that Robbie Rogers felt unable to unite his identities as a footballer and a gay man and that led to him taking a break from the sport.

Perhaps the situation that is expected in Sochi is even worse though. Some people choose not to disclose their sexuality for whatever reason, and that's their choice. But in Sochi, athletes who have accepted their sexuality, who are out and who have brought their partner along for support are being forced, by law, to publicly deny their own identity and to deny who it is that they love. 

No one should have to pretend to be someone they’re not and love is not something that should be hidden. It’s sad and frightening to think that, were that video to be a glimpse into the future; a glimpse at the Sochi Games; that single moment of love between those women could see them both sent to prison.

Stonewall sets the meaning straight

Lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, Stonewall, have become increasingly well known for their slogan “Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!”. It’s been seen on t-shirts, posters and even on the side of buses.

November saw the charity launch a new campaign: “Gay. Let’s Get Over It!”. The campaign aims to tackle the increasing use of homophobic language in schools. The terms “That’s so gay” and “You’re so gay” are now commonplace is British schools; according to Stonewall 99% of young people have heard such phrases and only 10% said that teachers intervened every time it happened. Whilst it might be the case that there is not always malicious intent behind the homophobic words, 84% of the young gay people questioned said that hearing such phrases caused them distress. 

One of the new campaign's posters (

And that's why this kind of campaign is so needed. 

Stonewall have been reaching out to 2,500 schools across the country and providing them with toolkits on how to challenge the use of such language. These include a series of posters challenging the use of the word gay as an insult. With the campaign in its earlier stages, it's a bit early to gauge any success, but the campaign is both necessarily and timely and will hopefully have as big an impact as their eye-catching posters.

Grammar lesson + anti-homophobia ad. = dream come true (

And, as the next story shows, casual use of homophobic language doesn't end in the classroom…

James Arthur criticised for using homophobic slur

Musician James Arthur was criticised in November for using homophobic language in a track he posted online following a Twitter spat with a rapper.

James Arthur (

Many Twitter users, including some famous names, were quick to criticise Arthur and his derogatory use of the word “queer”. Arthur apologised, categorically denied any homophobic intentions and took the track down soon after. But the thing with the internet is that what happens on it tends to stay on it.

Just when things seemed like they had started to settle down, fellow X-Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan posted screenshots of text messages sent from Arthur asking why she’d publicly criticised him. He said that it was a bit “over the top” to claim that people kill themselves on a daily basis due to homophobic language and asked whether she’s spoken out because she was a “gay rights activist”.  

Lucy Spraggan (

Following this, Spraggan posted a statement that clarified that she didn’t consider Arthur to be homophobic and never had, and I’m inclined to agree. People pull the "I can't be homophobic, I've got gay friends" card all the time, but, having seen Arthur interact with a number of gay contestants on X-Factor, it never crossed my mind, even during this incident, that he might actually have an issue with homosexuality.

I don't think that everyone who uses homophobic language and phrases such as "that's so gay" is actually homophobic in the true sense of the word. I think they can be ignorant and in need of a vocabulary lesson or two, but they don't necessarily bear ill-feelings towards LGBT+ people.

The thing that straight, non-homophobic people need to realise, though, is that if you choose to use the language of our bullies, then you may as well be one yourself. If you're not fighting with us, you're fighting against us. And allies don't keep quiet; they treat the fight as though it's their own.

I hope this incident has helped James Arthur, and those who've made similar comments, realise how powerful, and hurtful, their words can be. Every single LGBT+ person I know is thankful to our straight allies. Our numbers are relatively small and that makes it difficult for us to gain equality on our own. We need our allies to set a good example and to challenge those who don't make the grade; whether that’s in the classroom, the workplace, the pub or even at home.

And, trust me, we really appreciate it every single time you do.

Viral video show kids reaction to same-sex marriage proposals

In our reviews of September and October we saw two same-sex couples getting engaged in style.

In November, Fine Brothers Productions gathered together a few kids, let them watch both videos, filmed their reactions and then asked them a few more questions on the subject. The results, which have been viewed over 10 million times, are definitely worth a watch:

I was amazed at how articulate and clued up these young people, aged between five and 13, were and thought that some of the analogies they come up with were just gold.

Being realistic for a second (which I sometimes do), this was filmed in California and was obviously done with parental consent. It’s unlikely that any parent with strong anti-gay views would let their children be involved in such a project in the first place. Even still, the majority of these kids seem to get it and, not only that, they were, on the whole, able to justify why they felt the way they did.

Even if there is still that one kid saying “it’s bad to be gay” (although he doesn’t seem to know why), I think we can take hope from the fact that these children are our future adults and, some of them at least, will be future parents. These are the people who are going to make an individual's LGBT+ status as much of a non-issue as their eye colour.

Take the statement, “Even though that’s not my problem, I’ll still fight for it if I can.” 

You'd expected it to be attributed to a great civil rights hero, but it came from a polka-dot wearing pre-teen girl with a red ribbon in her hair.

Isn't it amazing to think that those two might actually end up being the same thing?

Can you believe that tomorrow is our final review (and also Christmas Day!)? With so much happening this December, I’m going have to cram it all in like I’m stuffing a turkey! Happy Christmas Eve, y'all!

What were your favourite LGBT+ moments of 2013? And what were your personal highlights? Did you come out? Get married? Do something life-changing? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Julie Price on Twitter, @JuliePee

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