Gay Chat News: The BBC to deliver primetime gay show… finally!

In 1999 writer Russell T Davis (now known for Doctor Who and Torchwood) engaged, shocked and transformed the nation with Queer as Folk. Later to be remade for the American audience, it was first shown in theUKon Channel 4. Queer as Folk was met by high praise and stark controversy in the British press – but with millions tuning in to see the show; Queer as Folk became a triumph of broadcasting and a great step forward for more queer characters.

In the US the previous year, NBC had started the first series of soon-to-be hit comedy Will and Grace; a high camp and hilarious show about a gay guy living with his (usually) single best girl friend.

The wheels had been set in motion by the late 90s for networks and TV stations to say yay to gay and provide the viewing populous an insight into a world that before had only ever been about death and despair. As the years went on, more pro-gay programming and countless gay characters in films, soap operas and documentaries were brought into people’s home all across the US and Europe. Even the once stuffy BBC have had many gay characters on prime time television but have never broadcast a show that was solely about homo life… until now!

To fill the void of the soon to finish Friday night show, My Family – the BBC are bringing together My Family’s Robert Lindsay and Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon – AKA Richard Griffiths – as a quirky gay couple in a brand new sitcom announced this week. “It’s slightly less than conventional in terms of the family set up but it’s the 21 century and things move one” said one BBC insider.

The new show will start filming in autumn with the working title: George and Bernard Shaw. So far the BBC are only committing themselves to a pilot, but if this works there’s no reason the show couldn’t run for eleven years just like it’s predecessor My Family.

I’m trying to reserve judgement until I’ve seen the show, but I am unsure whether moving the main character from one primetime programme (where he plays a straight father and devoted husband) to being shacked up with another man in the same timeslot on the same channel is the right thing to do. You would think that the core viewing audience is going to be the same and how differently can Robert’s character really be at that time? Perhaps his character is leaving the onscreen marriage to Zoe Wannamaker, coming out as being a gay man to live with a guy… but I can’t see that happening. Who know though – many more extraordinary things have happened on TV shows; Dallas – it was all a dream, Cheers – the doctor is going to get his own more popular show and let’s not even get started on Twin Peaks?

It is great though that the BBC is bringing a gay sitcom to their primetime audience and I am looking forward to seeing George and Bernard Shaw when it airs next year. Both actors are well known, talented and naturally funny so I have no doubt that they will make a storming piece of entertaining television. Now it’s down to the writing and the audience figures to see if this is sustainable.

Terry Gee

UK political leaders battle for the gay vote

It may just be a case of promises, promises but all three political parties seem hell-bent on wooing the gay vote in the forthcoming UK general election.

Liberal democrat leader Nick Clegg this week caused a media storm over his party’s commitment to gay equality. In an interview with gay glossy ‘Attitude’ Clegg said his party would implement laws requiring Faith schools to teach that being gay is acceptable and normal.

On the issue of gay marriage he said: “If we don’t want to discriminate, why do we make differences in language? Language is a hugely important signifier of how we segment society and how you seek to create differences between people. Since we don’t want to make differences on this and the law has moved a great deal to do that, we should be linguistically the same too.”

Not to be out done David Cameron has promised that civil partners will enjoy the same tax breaks given to married couples under a Conservative government. In a recent speech reported by Reuters the Tory leader was quoted as saying: “We will recognise marriage, whether between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and a man, in the tax system – and yes, that is a commitment.”

Gordon Brown said in his interview with Attitude that Labour would push for recognition of UK civil partnerships across Europe. The current Labour government’s commitment to gay rights has been proved substantial: During their term they have equalized the age of consent, lifted the ban on gays in the army and introduced civil partnerships.

It has been estimated that 3.6 million Britons are either gay or lesbian. Attitude magazine concludes that at a close election the gay vote could potentially “swing open the gates of Downing Street – or slam them shut”.

For weekly gay news, chat and soundbites visit www.maleforce.com

By Gary Cosby

Australians say ‘yes’ to Gay Marriage – Govt slow to follow

A recent poll carried out in Australia revealed that a majority of its population is in favour of gay marriage. However, so far, it’s been a slow march down the aisle for gay equality.

Two successive Prime Ministers have strongly opposed reforming Australian marriage laws to allow gay and lesbians to wed. The current leader Kevin Rudd intervened earlier this year in his party’s internal push to modify policy on gay unions and gay marriage instructing there to be no change.

However, it seems a ground swell of support is pushing the country towards allowing gays and lesbians the right to tie the knot.

A survey carried out by Australian Marriage Equality found that 60% of Australians would support same-sex marriage, with 36% opposed and 4% undecided. It also found that 58% would support the recognition of same-sex marriages formed in other countries within Australian law.

Earlier this week the country’s first legally recognized gay civil ceremony took place in Canberra after a bill sponsored by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Greens Party was approved. Many expected the federal government to overturn the new legislation as it has done similarly on three previous occasions, but so far the new law remains in place.

Leading Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald also earlier this week ran an editorial headlined “Whatever the Gender, All Marriages Should Be Equal” in full support of lesbian and gay unions.

“It is time to end legal discrimination against gays and lesbians” the paper said “Spain has done it. So have Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and South Africa. All these nations have legalised same-sex marriage, without evident undermining of heterosexual marriage and the family relationships based upon it. And in Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany and New Zealand, where the law allows same-sex civil unions or registered partnerships, there hasn’t been any shredding of the social fabric, either. Yet Australia, which likes to see itself as a tolerant, pluralist society, has not been able to go as far as deeply Catholic Spain in removing remaining forms of institutionalised discrimination against gay and lesbian people.”

For weekly gay news, chat and soundbites visit www.maleforce.com

By Gary Cosby

Sshh! It’s a GAY couple holding hands!

A Day in Hand

The site of two men walking down the street holding hands (in the Western world) is still, ridiculously, rare. Well hold onto your hats, same-sex hand-holders are coming out…tomorrow!

Guaranteed to stop traffic and draw a crowd, well, at least a bout of rubber-necking, two men or women holding hands in public still manages to strike fear into the hearts and souls of, sadly, a lot of people. Silly, really.

A Day In Hand, a new equal rights initiative that aims to inspire same-sex couples world-wide to hold hands in public, is calling on the gay community to publicly express their affection on the last Saturday of each month.

The first international Sshh! (same-sex hand-holding) Saturday will be on September 26th and held in memory of the recent shootings at a Gay & Lesbian centre in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Campaign founder David Watkins said: “Same-sex hand holding is a silent revolution for LGBT people, because nothing needs to be said: no bold speeches, no reactive arguments, no war of words. Each LGBT person has the power to change the hearts and minds of people in their local community quietly, subtly, by simply holding hands publicly and owning their space. However, hand holding is a simple powerful gesture that can happen anywhere, at any time.”

Watkins is inviting participants the world over to upload photos of themselves holding hands with same-sex friends or partners to the A Day In Hand website.

In areas of the world where it is impossible or unsafe for gay people to express affection publicly the campaign reminds people not to ignore their “survival instincts” but to consider safer gestures.

“If you can’t hold hands in your immediate area, how about resting your head on your partner’s shoulder at the cinema, or kissing them good-bye in the car? We have to start expressing our love in the mainstream.”

For weekly gay news, chat and soundbites visit http://www.maleforce.com/latest_gay_news

By Gary Cosby