Chas Newkey-Burden, co-author of 'Not In My Name: A Compendium Of Modern Hypocrisy' writing in the 25th birthday edition of GT magazine (page 122) argues that there's a lot of imaginary homophobia about in Britain. In his opinion gay people are disproportionately visible in popular culture, and have "never had it so good."
He believes that we look for homophobia where there isn't any. As an example Newkey-Burden refers an elderly couple who own a hotel in Cornwall and are being accused of discrimination. He then goes on to criticise an article in a previous edition of GT magazine, in which the BBC was "astonishingly accused of being a “bastion” of homophobia." (see blog 11 March 2009) Chas says that one of the key pieces of evidence "for this jaw-dropping allegation" was remarks made about Lindsay Lohan which, he believes, are no different in kind to the "harmless banter" commonly heard in the gay community.
Newkey-Burden then goes on to contrast this with what he regards as serious cases of homophobia - people who are tortured, imprisoned and executed in some Middle Eastern countries for their homosexuality.
His piece ends by stating that making accusations of homophobia against Brian McFadden or Boris Johnson is easy, because neither tends to bite back particularly hard. Opposing anti-gay brutality in the Middle East and elsewhere, he says, "might actually take some courage – a quality in increasingly short supply in British gay life."
I'm not sure what Chas Newkey-Burden is on about. Four years ago he himself criticised a joke on the BBC's Have I Got News For You. True - it would require a great deal of courage for someone living in say Iran or Saudi Arabia to oppose anti-gay brutality. But for people in Britain who rely on the media for their living it takes almost as much courage to criticise the BBC - and that's something that Peter Tatchell has in spades.