Thursday, July 5, 2007

Do camp images make gay men cringe?

I wonder how many gay men cringe when they see camp depictions of gayness on Coronation Street or on some of Graham Norton’s shows? asked my That’s Men for You column in Tuesday’s Irish Times.

I am not denying the validity of campness but if campness is depicted by the media as the predominant expression of gayness, then where does that leave the majority of gay people who are not camp and who do not want to be seen as camp?

For instance, I can only imagine the distress felt by a young teenager who has realised that he is gay but who would find it agonisingly embarrassing to be regarded as one of those exotic people camping it up on television.

This, I suspect, is more of a problem for gay male teenagers than for gay female teenagers. The media likes to depict gay females as looking, sounding and acting the same as any other females. In other words it sticks closer to reality.

For these reasons I was delighted to read that groups for gay and lesbian young people are to be established around the country with the help of the HSE and the Departments of Education and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. This work is being spearheaded by a Dublin-based group called Belong To which helps gay young people between 14 and 23 years of age to meet in a safe and relaxed environment.

Michael Barron, the group’s national coordinator, recently told The Irish Times that the numbers of young people coming to the project’s groups in Dublin has been more than doubling each year. Some people travel to the groups from various parts of the country every week.

Mr Barron also pointed out that young people are increasingly willing to come out to their families and friends.

However, I see that a survey of its readers by Gay Community News found that while 80 per cent of respondents are “out” to their friends, only 60 per cent are out to their family and only 50 per cent to everyone at their workplace…..

The article was inspired by this piece on Dublin's Gay Pride Parade.

For Gay Community News article on Belong To click here.

No comments: