I don’t quite know where to begin to explain what is wrong with homophobia, because it’s easier just to say what is right with it… and that, is simply nothing.
Looking back to when I first began writing this piece, I’ll be honest, I had a very naïve understanding of homophobia. I’ve heard of stories in the media, about Uganda and Russia and Civil Partnership but what the media portray compared to what is actually out there is next to nothing.
Although the content of the stories I found through my research shocked me greatly, more shocking still was the sheer volume of them.
It seemed that for every disgraceful example of homophobia I found, there was one twice as bad to follow.
To give a brief insight into each case of the attacks and injustices faced purely as a result of a persons’ or peoples’ sexual orientation; would be a task to occupy me indefinitely.
Despite the difficulty of this task, I will try to keep it as brief and informative as possible but I’m making no promises, this is a highly rant-worthy subject.
So what if I’m gay!
For me homophobia is something that I’ve experienced in varying degrees throughout my life. Interestingly though, the time I’ve found myself most effected by homophobia was when I hadn’t come out of the closet.
You see, for a young person coming to terms with who they are and trying to find comfort in the council of others… there is nothing worse than to hear the term used to describe their own sexuality in a derogatory manner.
It’s a highly unfortunate circumstance that the word ‘gay,’ for reasons unknown to myself, has become stigmatised. On a daily basis, common insults such as ‘gay boy,’ ‘puff’ and diminutives such as ‘that’s gay’ are circulated in conversation.
Now tell me, who in the right mind would label themselves as ‘tw*t’ or ‘bollo*ks’? As ridiculous as this comparison seems, if you think about it, you’ll see my point. The word gay, now, seems to hold the same meaning as these expressions.
To be quite honest whoever thought to give an unwanted task a sexual orientation, really needs to look up their definitions. The last time I checked homosexuals were in demand?
The fact that adults and especially children today, at a time when same sex couples can be legally bound in marriage, still use the term ‘gay’ in a derogatory manner is testament to societies failure to mature in terms of homosexual acceptance.
On the Straight and Narrow
Everyone has been through it, the awkward, embarrassing, scary process of sex education. The first ever time I was spoken to about sex, off the playground, was in the third year of Primary School.
Now sex education, as in most educational facilities seems to consist of an outdated video tape and teacher, tip toeing around the details. The very clichéd phrase we’ll have all heard, when referring to this topic is, ‘when a man and a women love each other very much…’
But what about when a man loves another man, or a women loves another women and a man?
For anyone, coming of age can be a tough and confusing time and the role of sex education is to relieve some of those anxieties.
For the adolescent homosexual however, no such relief is offered. The education system just doesn’t seem to acknowledge such a phenomenon as the common garden gay.
So for anyone who didn’t understand why they felt the way they did, towards people they thought they shouldn’t; it must have been a relief to know that even the teachers they looked up to had no intention of explaining it.
The sad truth is that schools neglect to mention the existence of homosexuality for fear of a wide spread parental panic. Parents don’t want their children to be abnormal, every parent really just wants their child to stay on the straight and narrow, excuse the pun.
To introduce the concept of homosexuality in some people’s eyes is to encourage it. Not long ago, whilst at work, an adolescent customer casually conversing with his parents made the statement: “I don’t think children should be taught about homosexuality in schools, it might lead them down the wrong path”.
I was genuinely disgusted on hearing such a narrow minded opinion, especially from someone who belonged to my own; supposedly open minded generation.
It is those of us who have these warped ideas that are the route of the problem, homophobia stems from people’s views of what is normal.
The Earth would still be Flat
The main cause of continued homophobia, I believe, is a failure to really challenge the idea that it is wrong.
From childhood we receive a lack of education about homosexuality and an abundance of deeply embedded heterosexual expectations… even today certain relatives ask me, and my boyfriend, if we have a girlfriend yet.
If the idea of homosexuality was introduced from the early stages of our lives then we’d all find the concept a lot easier to understand and therefore to accept.
It is the parents that must agree to such change and realise that educating about sexuality does not encourage anything but understanding. For too long countless generations have been subject to the same ideals about sexual orientation.
Homosexuality is wrong because it isn’t the norm, it is wrong because it isn’t spoken about… it is wrong because the majority refuse to acknowledge it as a part of human nature.
If the same reasoning that resides within the minds of homophobes counted for anything today; then it is likely the Earth would still be flat.
Ok, so I thought it was about time I moved away from my own opinions and started looking into the facts about what is going in terms of foreign homophobia…
As its likely we’ve all have heard of in varying degrees, Russia has recently stepped up its homophobic tendencies and brought its backward beliefs to a global stage.
The man behind this homophobic movement is President Vladimir Putin, a man who on June 30th this year instated a law prohibiting the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to under eighteens.
It’s not only this law but the banning of pride marches in Moscow & other cities, the fines given to gay rights groups and a sharp rise in homophobic attacks which flags Russia as a developing issue in terms of human rights.
It would appear that with this act, Putin’s intentions are to reduce the rights of Russia’s LGBT community step by step, a group who only 20 years before were legally granted the right to live life without fear of discrimination.
In an attempt to show my support and help challenge the growing problems in Russia, I joined All Out a leading campaigner in the fight for civil rights not only in Russia but across the globe.
It was from this group that I learned of multiple projects, supported by thousands, which have been undertaken since Russia first made their anti-gay stand.
The most recent project undertaken by All Out is to challenge Russia’s position as 2014 Olympic host nation. They intend to do this through regulations put in place to ensure that the people of the participatory country aren’t denied there basic human rights.
Within these regulations are 7 principles which must be obeyed, the sixth states that: discrimination of any kind is not allowed.
Recently the Olympic committee voiced its opinion that Russia was in no violation of any of these seven principles… even though Russians are facing anti-gay arrests, violent attacks, and therefore obvious discrimination.
It is through the work of organisations like All Out that questions are asked to those who should be seen to act against such blatant injustices.
As part of their fight for progress an All Out global event was organised in an attempt to raise awareness and pressurise world leaders.
Thousands of people gathered in cities across the world to protest against Russia’s involvement in anti-gay legislation, an effort which lead our own Prime Minster David Cameron to raise the issue with Putin at the recent G8 meeting in Russia.
Putin’s response to such questioning is thus far unknown.
Despite this, All Out continue to work toward gaining rights for homosexuals everywhere but ultimately depend on our backing to make a significance difference.
Although pressure is put upon countries ‘in the spotlight’ there are still an estimated 84 countries where homosexuality is either illegal or restricted by some form of law.
The main concentration of homophobic nations reside in Africa but it expands across a much broader range of countries, including popular holiday destinations such as: Singapore, the Maldives and Tunisia.
But most surprising of all is the interesting fact that, although ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003, thirteen states within America still uphold anti-gay legislation. These include seemingly open-minded states like Florida.
To this day Conservative state legislators refuse to repeal the laws, it is reported that around a dozen arrests were made in violation of these laws in the past few years. All of the LGBT perpetrators where however freed as prosecutors would not seek conviction on defunct laws.
Although Britain is not part of this list, it might make you feel less patriotic to know that of these 84 countries that still criminalise homosexuality, roughly half are ex-British colonies using old British laws.
The most shocking revelation I found as part of this research however, is the fact that 8 countries and two states, all of which who are Muslim, still punish homosexuality through the death penalty.
In fact the term ‘death penalty’ is too nicer term to use, homosexuals, as is written in the Quran; are expected to be executed through stoning, being thrown from a high place and even by burning of the alive variety.
It is for the fact that these horrific anti-gay laws are stooped within religious teaching that: Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, The United Arab Emirates, The Yemen and some states in Malaysia; remain unquestioned for their killing of innocent homosexuals.
This excerpt from a Saudi-Arabian text book really makes Britain’s failure to educate about homosexuality exceptionally insignificant.
The textbook states that homosexuality is: “one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…,” and as if that wasn’t bad enough; reiterates the fact that homosexuality is punishable by death.
Just imagine reading the former statement as an Islamic homosexual studying in Saudi-Arabia, and then you can begin to imagine just how far wrong Muslim teachings are in respect to sexual orientation.
Third World Homophobia
A more common and a slightly less morbid example of a country which imposes heavy anti-gay law is Cameroon.
According to Cameroonian’ law: homosexuality is an offense carrying a sentence of no less than 5 year’s imprisonment, a light sentence when compared to Sri-Lanka’s 12 years but a sentence that many locals call to be extended to 20.
It is not only within the law that homosexuality is punished but also within everyday life, this horrific, but by no means rare, example of Cameroonian’ homophobic hate crime alludes to just how dismal the situation is.
Civil rights campaigner, Eric Lembembe, in gratitude of his humanitarian efforts in supporting Cameroon’s LGBT community; was murdered in his own home. His neck broken, his feet smashed and face burnt with an iron.
The attack, carried out on July 15th this year, is one of many reminders to Cameroon’s LGBT campaigner’s, many of whom who have since pledged to ‘privately support’ the movement, that to support gay rights or to be openly homosexual is to risk your life.
The violent nature of anti-gay expression is not only brought to light in such nameless violent attacks but paraded on the streets like a badge of honour.
A ‘day against homosexuality’ was recently declared, involving a march initially attended by only 16 anti-gay protesters, seven of whom where under the age of 21 and two younger than 15.
The march later evolved into four groups of 40 protesters, all of whom were awarded beer after the march for showing the LGBT community the ugly face of homophobia.
Protesters held placards with various messages, a few reading: “Kill the faggots. They don’t deserve to live,” and “Dear Parents: Protect your children from this disgusting thing that comes from abroad”.
More worrying than these deeply distressing messages of hate however, is the complacent support of these crimes from the authorities and government.
The anti-gay brigade, responsible for the weekly searching for and arrest of homosexuals on the streets of Cameroon, states that it “hunts faggots” with the approval of Cameroon’s ministry of defence; who encourage the ‘bringing to justice’ of homosexuals.
It’s not only the 84 countries across the globe that still impose some form of anti-gay legislation that we must be made aware of but every country, including our own, where homophobia, although not legally acceptable; still takes place on a far too regular basis.
Not so Great Britain
Although today, in Britain, it’s easy to believe that equality has been reached in most sectors of society; it is simply not true. Not even for women, whose campaign began in the early 1900’s, has full equality been achieved.
So for homosexuals, whose sexual orientation was only declassified as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organisation in 1992, I’m certain full equality is still some way off.
Not only was homosexuality deemed a disorder in Britain, and throughout the world, but it was only legalised as late as 1967 for England and Wales, followed by Scotland in 1980 and Northern Ireland two years later.
It’s obvious to me that despite the existence of Civil Partnership and protective laws against homophobia, Britain is yet to shake off its homophobic shackles.
An official government survey, carried out in 2011, shows that in the U.K there are around 750,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual adults, equivalent to around 1.5% of the population.
Further research, surveying how 16 year olds perceived their own sexualities, states that 95% viewed themselves as heterosexual and again 1.5% gay, lesbian or bisexual, 3% of those asked either did not know or did not answer.
It is easy for us to believe that with such a substantial amount of self-confessed homosexuals living in the U.K, free to marry, that for gays life has never been better. People can look at closeted homosexuals and shout, why?
But it’s not until you read between the lines that you notice things just aren’t as fine and dandy as looks would suggest.
Research by London LGBT hate crime charity Galop shows that rather than decreasing as a result of equality manufactured through law, homophobic hate crime is actually on the rise at a National level, when compared to other forms of hate crime, like racism.
In 2009, 9% of all reported hate crime was homophobic, rising to 10% in 2010 and 15% in 2011. On average, about 98 homophobic and transphobic crimes are recorded by police each week across Britain.
A more astounding figure however, is the fact that compared with 1 in 33 heterosexuals, 1 in 14 gay, lesbian and bisexual people experience violence annually.
It is also believed that half of all transphobic and homophobic crime is not reported, leading these figures, realistically, to be much more severe.
Regardless of the situation of homosexuals in the U.K, we can never really be guilt free in the grand scheme of things.
As mentioned early, of all the 84 countries who impose some form of discriminatory law against homosexuals; half are ex-British colonies acting upon old British laws.
We may appear to be leading the way in the global fight against homophobia today but it mustn’t be forgotten that Britain’s homophobic reach spread far across the world during its empire.
Therefore the suffering of homosexuals all over the world is on our heads, and the heads of our government; who as a result are bound to speak out against any form homophobia wherever it surfaces across the globe.
The U.K however, when speaking out against homophobic abuses today, is hypocritical at best. It is only when we recognise and confront the adverse treatment of homosexuals in our country that we can help to fight for the freedoms of homosexuals in others.
So this is the end
There are so many more examples and opinions and perspectives that I would like to have like to have included, but I fear that if I yapped on any longer there would be no end.
I hope that this post has served as an eye opener, because it certainly opened mine!
Before I finish I just want to leave you with one last argument, a speech that I’d select if campaigning in those countries, and our own, where people choose to remain ignorant of the truth…
Homosexuality is not in any way a choice, nor is it a burden which should at length be hidden.
Although society likes to label us freaks, really there is nothing more natural.
For those with clouded visions, we do not wake up one morning and decide, hey lets be gay!
Nor through the education of our existence should you fear that your children will turn queer…
We are not planning a recruitment drive.
All that any person has asked when faced with oppression is to be accepted and left alone.
Just as any other person, we deserve respect and the right to live our lives in any manner we see fit, even it is does involve felicitating or rainbow kissing our same sex partners.
How far wrong does the world have to be to imprison, murder and disallow people their freedoms purely based on love… love, the most treasured and rewarding of all emotions. The thing that, for many, makes life worth living.
Attached are extracts of Stephen Fry’s Out There , a highly recommended BBC 2 documentary which follows Stephen Fry across the globe, speaking to those instigating and effected by homophobia. Full programmes can be viewed on BBC iplayer.
Friends, to different people a word meaning very different things. To me friend means simple this: someone you can rely upon and someone you can trust to confide in, but most importantly those people who you just can help having a laugh with.
The benefits of friendship cannot be understated and neither can their ability to change us. Firstly, the benefits…
The best quality of friendship, I find, is the sense of belonging that it creates. To have friends is to be a part of something. There’s no better feeling than to find yourself in a completely alien situation, without an acquaintance, only to find someone that you know.
There is a sense of joy and relief that comes with the knowledge of having that connection with someone. The anxiety of first introductions and awkward greetings diminished by a mutual feeling of security.
It’s that security and confidence that is built throughout our friendships and something that should be cherished.
Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with making new friends, it does come with the potential for embarrassment and awkward situations.
When speaking for someone for the first time, every word is purely experimentation. Of course there will be those people with whom we immediately share chemistry but it can also go the other way.
For me one of the worst scenarios when meeting a new person, is finding that their either shy, uncommunicative or have no intention to be you friend.
In this circumstance you are likely to encounter many an awkward silence, the most dreaded of all social foe pars. With each second of silence the atmosphere thickens and the pressure to say anything mounts to an unbearable weight.
The only thing worse than a face to face awkward silence is a group awkward silence. This phenomenon is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst of enemies.
My How we’ve Changed
The thing I find most interesting about friendships is how prone they are to alter, I mean we need only look back to primary school for an example. Who was your best friend one day, was your enemy the next and your fiancée the one after but in all honesty; no matter how mature you become, not a lot changes.
Even if you are lucky enough to have known a person throughout your life, I’ll bet you see your relationship as different now to how it was. It’s even likely that at some point you even engaged in a romantic relationship with this friend, or wanted to.
I’ll admit that in more than one instance I’ve gained a friend, or even a group of them, based solely on a romantic attraction but of course I don’t condone this as a valid reason. When looking for a partner the most important thing to ensure is that they accept, and like you as you are.
It really does amaze me that people have so much power over us, and more often than not those who we have never even met. You could be the most composed, level headed person but you see that special someone and your mind instantly melts into a puddle of nervous turmoil.
Of course we all know the protocol for such an instance, get drunk, get very drunk and if you can; get them drunk too…
It’s not just our relationships that alter but us, because of them. Most of the time you don’t even notice until someone points it out. But with each person you meet you take a piece of their personality.
The easiest way to prove this point is to list all of the sayings and phrases that you ever stole off a friend. Personally, I can think of countless phrases and mannerisms that are now a part of my everyday vocabulary and behaviour, which once belonged to a friend.
If these are the most basic features that we take from others then it’s scary to think of the most intricate. But in a way it’s also warming to think that we, as people, are a composition of each person we know. With this in mind, you had better hope you have good friends!
It’s not only the subconscious gathering of characteristics from others that changes our personalities. It’s likely that at some point in our lives, we’ve all made the conscious decision to change ourselves.
I would like to say that the only reason people ever change is for their own benefit but sadly that’s just not the case. The majority of changes I’ve made, although for my personal need to fit in, were decided at the request of others.
School yard Tradition
Perhaps for boys, more so than girls, there was set in place a very strict series of guidelines. In order to escape ridicule and be accepted there are certain dos and don’ts. So here’s a brief educational list;
– Do: Play sports, sexualise women, be rude, be boisterous, play ruff and part take in banter.
– Don’t: Do homework, read, display feelings, show compassion, be polite and have a majority of female friends.
If you managed to stick to these guidelines and do so convincingly then it’s likely that you’d have been quite popular with both genders. As for girls, well they got away with the dos and the don’ts but when it comes to the importance of appearance I think us boys got off lightly.
It really is an intriguing thought that with just a few tweaks of attitude and attribute, everyone has the potential to appeal to pretty much whoever they fancy.
Of course I don’t recommend this as the right route to take because that would be false, and no one likes a fake. As with any fake, people tend to notice the difference and the real thing is of much better quality and likely to last.
I hate to admit it but at times in my life I have been fake and acted a certain way in order to create a certain image. But despite sometimes regretting that I hadn’t stayed true to myself, I also value the experiences that I did have; experiences I may never have had otherwise.
It’s also important to remember that whoever you were in the past is still a part of who you are today and if you like who you are today, then you shouldn’t be ashamed of your past.
People have an amazing ability to adapt their attitudes, behaviour and personalities. With enough enthusiasm and the right method, I believe that we all have the choice to reinvent ourselves into the person we would like to be.
Whether it be through changing ourselves or the people we know, we all have the potential to become someone completely different.
But with great power, comes great responsibility…
The want to change ourselves should never be the product of someone else’s desires. Even if it’s the unfortunate truth that people don’t seem to like you as you are, they’ll always be people who you fit in with.
The bottom line is that if you are happy as a person then there should be no reason to change. No one should ever have to strive for acceptance and that’s because it’s our duty to treat people as we ourselves would like to be treat.
I’ll admit that I’ve been the person pointing and laughing at the unusual one, I have gone to extreme lengths just to feel as though I was accepted.
But the truth is you’ll never be accepted by everyone, and who the hell cares?
You should only need to feel acceptance from those you care about, it shouldn’t be the case that we censor our behaviour in order to appeal to certain groups.
If they can’t accept you as you are then that’s their fault for being narrow minded and judgemental.
Their will come a day when there is no meaning to the word freak or difference but for the time being we should just pretend that these words don’t exist.
Please feel obliged to leave a comment, any kind of feedback is welcome!
If you have a suggestion for my next post let it be heard and I’ll do my best to make it so 🙂
Who is the new Doctor?
On the 4th August, when the 12th incarceration of the Doctor was announced an over excited friend contacted me exclaiming the name Peter Capaldi. My first reaction to this news was, “who?”
But after consulting Google images I was extremely surprised to find that the man in question was non-other than 55 year old Glaswegian actor, Sid’s dad in Skins and timid British politician in the ‘Children of Earth’ series of Torchwood.
It later occurred to me that by combining these two characters and settings, you get something quite like The Doctor.
I first got a taste of Capaldi’s acting in the 2007 hit television series Skins, which followed the intertwined lives of 9 teenagers on their path through college. In this role he plays Mark Jenkins, the short tempered head of a dysfunctional family and father of the unlucky in love, drop out, Sid played by Mike Bailey.
Capaldi’s character becomes a bit of a tyrant within the first series with his explosive, aggressive nature but with great subtlety and control the actor gradually transforms his character into a much stronger, compassionate father figure whose attitude is altered when his wife leaves him.
Capaldi immerses himself excellently within his role, in every scene and exchange of dialect he delivers a tone and expression perfectly suited to the occasion, allowing a sense of realism often missing within the performances of the less experienced actors.
In the third episode of the Second series Mark Jenkins is hit hard with hubris. The somewhat spineless man, before only had the guts to shout at his immediate family but in this episode Capaldi really uses his acting prowess to build his character to new heights.
After kicking his father and brother out of his home for their arrogant behaviour and belittling remarks Capaldi’s character feels a new, defiant sense of triumph.
The following morning Sid tries to wake the lifeless figure that is his father, cigarette in one hand and whiskey filled tumbler in the other, Capaldi’s vacant eyes depict the empty shell of a worn out man.
The writer’s heavy handed use of hubris provokes a real sense of empathy towards Sid and his father and comes as a surprisingly abrupt end to their blooming relationship.
Given the length of time Capaldi actually spent on screen, it is testament to his ability that he manages to provoke such a contrasting array of emotions, empathy and even humour. His role in Skins really shows the dexterity of his acting.
Another role which adds to Capaldi’s Doctor CV is the timid extra terrestrial correspondent John Frobisher. A spin off from Doctor Who, Torchwood follows the investigations of a secret organisation who specialise in extra-terrestrial technology found on Earth. In essence Torchwood is a more organised doctor-who-style team effort, without the time travel.
The story lines are more complex, hence why the world is saved after a 10-part series rather than an hour long episode.
You’ll see much of the same alien invasions, tyrants from other worlds and futuristic technology but with sexual and homoerotic scenes thrown in for good measure.
Capaldi made his appearance in the ‘Children of Earth’ series, playing the role of a British diplomat. After alien interference the population of the Earth is immortalised, resulting in a whole host of issues. His character is burdened with pressing moral dilemmas.
In this role Capaldi again rises to the occasion and portrays excellently a man out of his depth, burdened with a task that could well decide the fate of all of Earth’s children.
Capaldi’s acting is so on form that television producer Russell T Davies describes his performance in the scene where he faces Earth’s enemy, the 456, for the first time as “the finest” he had seen in “anything ever”; which is as good as compliments come!
If you take the extravert and enthusiastic, versatile and thought provoking performance in Skins and blend that with the modest bravery and burdened character in the Doctor Who-esk Torchwood; then the outcome is a well-qualified Doctor and one who’s performance I eagerly await.
The United Kingdom of Gallifrey
As we are all aware Doctor Who is a quintessentially British series whose character radius is polarised to either the British Isles or some distant planet light years away but given that Doctor Who is a British phenomenon I guess we can overlook the fact that time lords all seem highly influenced by English and Scottish culture.
The show will inherit its second outed scot when Capaldi, who is set to keep his native Glaswegian accent, takes the stage. The accent however, is not all that is set to change.
Producers have admitted they wanted to alter the dynamics and have a ‘trickier and fiercer’ Doctor. This shift in persona is part of the reason why Capaldi will be keeping his gritty Glaswegian accent.
After the prior youthful incarcerations of the Doctor, played by Matt Smith and David Tennant, the writers were eager to find a wiser, more experienced Doctor and that’s the beauty of the plot.
The Doctor has the potential to be anyone and that’s an idea that the producers will really play on in the new series, especially in terms of the reaction of his companions; in particular Clara (Jenna Coleman) who at the point of his regeneration is just developing a proper fancy for the Doctor.
Right from its creation in 1963 Doctor Who has had a very political mind set and challenged the major political debates of its time. Story lines often saw the Doctor locking horns with oppressive creatures and regimes.
The Daleks perhaps embody the programmes political focus best and are somewhat Nazified in their outlook. The Daleks see themselves as superior beings and seek to eliminate all those who are different or inferior in order to reign as supreme beings.
In challenging the Daleks, and countless other oppressive entities, the Doctor challenges racism and supremacist ideals.
Exploration of Sexuality
Although the series goes to lengths to convey humanist political ideas and challenge society’s qualms, like the bulk of science fiction, it failed to talk about modern ideas of sexuality. That is until the introduction of Captain Jack Harkness by executive producer Russell T Davies.
Prior to the introduction of Captain Jack the only sexual reference we saw was in the Doctor’s female companions. Nearly all of Doctor Who’s producers added sex appeal to the show through the use of actresses, all for the same reason, to give heterosexual male viewers something to look at.
When Russell T Davies took over as executive producer, he had very different ideas on how sexuality would be used in the programme. He saw the “massively underrepresented” gay, lesbian and bisexual character within the sci-fi genre as something he was “just not prepared to put up with”.
And he didn’t. Soon after he took on the role of executive producer Davies introduced Captain Jack, who became the first sexual minority companion in Doctor Who history. His character would go on to star in Torchwood.
Captain Jack, played by John Barrowman, was first introduced to the show in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances episodes. Davies introduced the character as an action hero from the 51st Century, a time where anything goes and sexual categories such as ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ hold no meaning.
The Captain’s character is not only represented as bisexual but technically ‘omnisexual,’ in that he doesn’t shy away from getting nasty with aliens. John Barrowman describes his character’s sexual outlook:
“He doesn’t discriminate. Equal opportunity shagger, he absolutely is.”
Such an overt use of sexuality is something unprecedented in the world of Doctor Who but the way that it is dealt with goes far to normalise the character’s sexuality.
His flamboyance adds a flirtatious and playful element to the programme and acts as relief from the more morbid and dark plots. In The Empty Child, for example, he flirts with both the female Rose Tyler and male officer Algy; paying them both the compliment of having a “nice bottom”.
As the female companion is used as an object of the heterosexual man, Jack is offered up as eye candy for gay or bisexual men and straight women alike.
An example of this more explicit use of Barrowman’s character is evident in Bad Wolf, in an attempt to aid an invasion, the Daleks create fatal game shows designed to pacify audiences.
Whilst Rose is transported into a version of The Weakest Link, the Doctor finds himself a contestant of a Big Brother-style T.V show. Meanwhile Captain Jack is given a makeover by robotic stylists Trine-E and Zu-Zana.
Using a ‘de-fabricator’ Captain Jack is stripped to full nudity. Given a frontal view, minus genitals, Jack asks “Am I naked in front of millions of viewers?” after the robot responds in jest with “Absolutely” Jack retorts “Ladies, your viewing figures just went up,” casting a suggestive look toward his penis.
This is an example of doctor Who’s post-modernist take on the tradition of adding sex-appeal for the pleasure of the heterosexual fan base, here inclusive of the bisexual and gay male audience as well as women.
The most important thing Barrowman’s character represents though, is a humorous and cheeky character whose sexuality, arguably, does not depict who he is. Having the bisexual action hero make an appearance in such a high profile programme is a huge step towards introducing more LGBTQ role models onto our screens.
In presenting Captain Jack’s character as completely normal and happy with who he is, the correct message is sent and that is that no matter who you are, what you believe in and who you love; no one should ever be treat as different or unequal.