More than ever the LGBTQ+ community needs straight allies

‘Batty boys!’ was shouted at my boyfriend and I just a week ago in Central London as we were on our way to Harrods for afternoon tea. We’re not middle class – it was his birthday, so I’d saved all my 20ps to take him as a treat.

‘Batty boys’ felt very 1994 to me… and unfortunately, all too familiar.

Last month, we had a similar experience. I had a gig that evening in Leeds, so we spent the afternoon soaking up the sunshine and eating Mr Whippy 99 ice-cream cones before I had to take the train. We said goodbye at Green Park station where three young men shouted at us ‘you’re disgusting! You’re f***ing disgusting’.

And most recently, we were walking through Victoria when a man simply shouted at us: ‘Holding hands are we, boys?!’ I mean how else could we respond to this, apart from ‘Well, yes….good observation skills!’

It’s a strange situation to be in, because I don’t find anything wrong with walking around cosmopolitan, cultured, capital city London holding hands with my boyfriend.

If anything, I’ve been trying to find ‘The One’ for 32 years and now that I’ve finally found him I feel quite smug. These small-minded people don’t change my feelings for him, they just make me feel intimidated. Surely it’s time for LGBTQ+ people to love and to feel safe in doing so – dare I feel so entitled?

I took to the socials (typical millennial) to share what had happened, in the hopes of starting a conversation. If a restaurant doesn’t have a vegan menu, liberal Twitter would be in uproar, yet if two people are verbally abused in the street for being who they are, the response is ‘don’t sweat it’.

But maybe it is time to sweat. I had so many responses from same-sex couples around the UK who said that they wouldn’t even hold hands with their partner in the street because they were scared.

Scared. This was the word that kept cropping up. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more helpless. How do we stop such a thing as fear?

In a time and a country where we can marry people of the same sex, yet are unable to feel safe in that marriage, it doesn’t feel all that progressive to me. It feels hollow.

At the moment, the homophobia seems relentless – and it’s not just in the street by anonymous people either.

Just last week, Ann Widdecombe claimed science could find ‘an answer’ to being gay – and Nigel Farage defended her view.

Meanwhile a US bishop ‘reminded’ Catholics that they should not support LGBTQ+ pride as such events are ‘especially harmful to children’. I’m actually finding it very hard not to swear as I write this.

As they were saying these vile things, I was at my partner’s family’s barbecue which was full of food, joy and love. It seems to me that the homophobes are the ones who need to be cured, and it’s their views which are harmful to children.

I’ve agonised over how to make my point without coming across as ‘preachy’ or ‘whiny’. I’m not entirely sure what I expect to gain from it. But this conversation needs to happen because LGBTQ+ people are being abused in the street for being who they are.

My abuse was ‘only’ verbal (this time) – and perhaps if it was physical, I’d be discussing it on Lorraine – but as much as I want to meet Queen Lozza Kelly, I hope that when I do, I have all my own teeth and no stitches.

As I say, we were the ‘lucky ones’ but as I’m sure you saw in the news over the past few days a lesbian couple, Melania and Chris, were brutally beaten up on a bus by a group of men for refusing to kiss for their entertainment. ‘By a group of men’… I scoff writing that ‘men’ do not behave like this, I don’t even want to call them ‘animals’ because even the wildest of animals are better trained than those thugs.

People ask me why I talk about being gay, or discuss my relationships on stage… and this is why. We aren’t equal yet – but when we are (and we will be) then maybe I’ll discuss something banal like how many points I have on my nectar card.

Until then, I am going to keep telling straight people that I find their relationships disgusting, unnatural and that they shouldn’t be taught about in schools.  

(Before anyone comes for me – that is called sarcasm. I’m happy for everybody to just be happy and loved.)

Now more than ever, I think the LGBTQ+ community needs an ‘A’ more than ever – allies. Our straight-identifying allies. I need you, I want you, I love you and I thank you.

But everyone needs to now get a grip and realise how wrong, how inhumane this behaviour is where boys are getting yelled at in the street (even if you think it’s funny – it’s not) and certainly attacks like what happened to the beautiful, strong and brave Melania and Chris should not be happening. This is 2019. This is the United Kingdom! So let’s unite!

The more of you that stand up and say that the likes of Farage and Widdecombe are wrong, or stand up for my partner and I in the street when abuse is hurled, the more we can show these homophobes who the real minority are.

Because I believe it’s not us.

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