November hasn’t been the greatest month for gay rights. The passing of Proposition 8 in California took the shine off Obama’s election victory for me and many others.
However watching the new Boyzone video today made me smile, and not just because I’m a recovering boyzone fan (they were the primary focus of my teenage years). Because their video for ‘Better’ features a boyband member in a gay coupling for the first time:
This is the second major first for Stephen Gately. He was the first openly gay boyband member in the UK in the 90s. Since then others have followed, but the sexuality of their sexuality (as it were), has always been discretely brushed to one side, much in the way that gay TV characters have often been sidekicks rather than romantic leads. Even in Will Young’s video for ‘Switch it On’, his gayness was only referenced with jokey innuendo. But in ‘Better’ two gay men are put side-by-side, seriously, and without comment, with straight couples.
Against the backdrop of the crushing constitutional entrenchment of Prop 8, it is easy to feel that a Boyzone video is a drop in the ocean (and I admit that I have been known to overestimate the cultural significance of boyzone!). Nevertheless, it is the cultural drip drip of acceptance and inclusion that can end up eroding away even the biggest mountains of prejudice.
So let’s celebrate every time anyone sends out the message ‘some people are gay. get over it’.