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We're LGBT crazy at the moment, but is it a good thing?

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There is a cultural obsession with LGBT issues at the moment, not just in this country but across Western civilisation.

For example, if for some reason I chose to tune into any of the major UK soaps – Eastenders, Emmerdale, Corrie etc. – I can be pretty confident that one of them will be running a storyline about a character currently wrangling over their sexual identity. This has been the case for quite a few years now, and it comes at a time when several major nations have all leapt through the legislative hoop that is permitting equal marriage. The most recent country to do this was the Republic of Ireland. The ‘Yes’ vote in May’s referendum was one of the first genuinely refreshing pieces of news this year.

Then there is the continuing obsession with LGBT celebrities, such as Caitlyn Jenner, the new transgender icon. When famous figures take to Twitter to make their departure from the closet known to the world the announcement often become news in itself. To a certain extent this is understandable: the idea of someone coming to terms with a profoundly important aspect of their identity and seeing-off all the problems that surrounds it is a noble one. Yet at the end of the day, are we all not fussing a little too much?

As a cultural phenomenon, the LGBT frenzy is benign, and will only help hasten the day when people are no longer defined by the type of person they have the hots for. But we should be wary of making too much of a culture of this craze. I was slightly sceptical when the aforementioned Caitlyn Jenner made her debut as a woman on the cover of Vanity Fair. It cannot be healthy to make such an idol out of a transgender person who, it must be said, is not like most transgender people out there. Jenner is extremely wealthy; she can afford expensive surgical procedures such as breast implants, and has teams of photographers from a stylish American magazines to make her look unfathomably favourable to the eyes.

Most people looking to change their sex do not. As a result, we have the bizarre situation in which Jenner is both representative of folk that are the ‘T’ in LGBT, while at the same time she’s nothing like them.

I remember reading an article by a freelance journalist a few years ago, published shortly after the hunky Olympic diver Tom Daley came out, saying that in a truly equal society our reaction to his announcement should run along the lines of ‘good for you, you smug git’. LGBT campaigners are honest and determined people, but what they must be fighting for is the day when a ‘coming out’ announcement is met with nothing but apathy. After all, surely the aim of any person who basks the under the LGBT rainbow is to assimilate within society without fear of stigmatization. Instead our cultural obsession with all things LGBT creates this bizarre antithesis, in which many figures are identified purely because of their sexuality – a kind of ‘positive’ stigmatisation.

We’ve all seen the Stonewall poster that proclaims ‘Some people are gay – get over it’, so why don’t we? To repeat: people will only truly be equal when this craze has dissipated, otherwise problems occur. For example, I was very concerned to hear reports in January of this year that a school specifically for LGBT teenagers was to be opened in Manchester. A spokesperson for the project suggested that students who faced homophobic bullying would be given the opportunity to apply for the school. The solution is to challenge the bullying, not to the pluck the victim from the site and transport them to an incubated environment that does not reflect real life. At the risk of sounding like a cracked record: why define people by their sexuality?

With the exception of a few ignorant individuals, the vast majority of people in our society today don’t have the slightest problem with people of different sexualities to their own. Even those who possess a slight prejudice, or are in the habit of using the term ‘gay’ in the pejorative (“that’s so gay”), would probably see the light if pressured any further on their opinions. Yet we are not yet a totally equal society, and issues of sexuality still cause distress for many people. We can only consider ourselves fortunate that we don’t live in a nation that still practices state-sponsored hostility towards gay people. Within the Commonwealth alone it is still illegal to be gay in 41 out of its 53 member states, which is as absurd as it is hateful. It is over these countries which the LGBT tide that has swept us must now wash, and in doing so sweep away a long history of stupidity, hatred and ignorance. Long live the queers.

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