Stonewall are flapping their petticoats again. They have monitored 126 hours of TV programmes such as Coronation Street, The Bill, Eastenders and the Simpsons to come to the conclusion that the BBC is ‘not reflecting gay life in its most popular youth programming’.
Of the 126 hours monitored ‘only 46 minutes’ was devoted to depicting gay people in a positive and realistic light…and the BBC only accounted for 44 seconds of that 46 minutes. Is that why they left out Eastenders, which I occasionally reluctantly catch sight of when changing channels after Chanel 4 news? I was under the impression that Eastenders had been all but consumed by a desire to depict the issues surrounding a mythical gay relationship?
Could the problem possibly be that the BBC are in fact broadcasting lots of programmes that depict gay people in a positive light – but without reference to the fact that they are gay? Gay life does not exist in a perpetual bubble of agonising over the sexual aspect of a relationship; gay life also includes playing Tennis, driving racing cars, painting your windows, cooking your dinner, and telling jokes without making any reference to your sexual habits.
Stonewall’s allegation that ‘just 1.7% of the BBC’s most popular programmes’ included portrayals of gay people is compared to what percentage of the BBC’s programmes that specifically depict non-gay people? We are not told.
Stonewall recommend that ‘Broadcasters’ existing race, gender and disability policies and practices should be mirrored in relation to sexual orientation’. Something of an own goal there for Stonewall, I think. Not only are they effectively complaining that gay people are only realistically portrayed unless they are actively discussing their sexual orientation, now they want being gay to be seen as a form of disability.
The idea that some gay people may behave exactly like non-gay people and merely get on with their lives without treating everyone around them to a blow by blow account of their sexual antics obviously hasn’t occurred to Stonewall.
If Stonewall are right, and 10% of the population is gay, unless they have evidence that the BBC is specifically asking people taking part in their programmes whether or not they are gay and then excluding them on those grounds, theoretically, 10% of the people in BBC programmes will be gay, and consider that it is none of our business. Or even Stonewall’s.