How Gay Is Too Gay?

How Gay Is Too Gay?

From BBC’s Newsbeat:

CJ de Mooi, who is gay, says they opted for the show’s host, Jeremy Vine, instead because of his request. He says his manager had approached the show’s producers and they were considering him. “I thought, as it’s now 2015, it’s time this format in Britain had a same-sex couple,” he told Radio 1’s Newsbeat. CJ de Mooi, who is one of five quiz champions on Eggheads, is also angry about a BBC statement in response to his claims reportedly stating: “Strictly is a family show and we have chosen the traditional format of mixed-sex couples.”

The BBC’s decision not to allow a gay couple on Strictly is a poor one, and perfectly illustrates the double standard that exists over portrayals of gay people on-screen.

CJ de Mooi appears on Eggheads, a daytime family quiz show. No one bats an eyelid at this, and I can’t remember his sexuality ever being discussed on the show.

But while audiences are happy to tolerate an openly gay character appearing on a daytime quiz show, audiences are still squeamish about any hint of affection between gay people on screen.

So while other BBC family shows such as Eastenders routinely depict gang violence, child abuse and rape, TV shows never push the envelope too much on gay affection.

You may get a hug – but never a kiss, unless it’s heavily advertised. So you end up with either no gay couples at all, or gay couples that can’t act like couples.

Thankfully, this effect is fading – but it’s all too easy to come to the conclusion that homosexuality is fine on screen unless there’s any hint of affection.

For younger viewers in particular, this has the effect of making gay relationships all but invisible. If you’re under 16, you have little to no opportunity to see real gay relationships on screen, not least because censors tend to treat gay-themed content more harshly.

For young people struggling with their sexuality, it sends entirely the wrong message: that gay relationships are second class, and need to be hidden away.

We should pose the question differently – if a gay couple cannot even appear on Strictly, when is a gay relationship okay?

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