Homophobia, Binary Gender Stereotypes and Not Giving a F**k!

Homophobia is not a phobia at all. It’s a form of prejudice. Usually thought of as only affecting gay and lesbian people, it affects everyone. And, it’s not just about sexuality, it’s also about gender too - the social interpretation of our biological sex.

Although, gender and sexuality are separate concepts they are intimately linked. There isn’t outright agreement over gender norms, but departures from those sketchy standards are often judged signifiers for ‘atypical’ sexuality. Specifically, the fear of being labelled ‘queer’ has a profound impact on the behaviour of straight men. Being labelled a cissy for a boy is thought worse than being labelled a tomboy for a girl. Punishment for transgressing gender norms is not necessarily overt. It might be outright abuse or acts of aggression but also includes eye-rolling, disapproving looks, sarcastic comments or social ostracization. In the case of Big Brother, they became reasons for nominations for eviction.

In the TV show Celebrity Big Brother 2018, a friendship in the house had people talking. It was between a genderqueer, pansexual, Australian drag queen (Shane Jenek, and his female alter-ego Courtney Act) and a straight-identifying British businessman (Andrew Brady). Was it romance, bromance or showmance? Was it all for the cameras or will it all end in tears? The friendship drew mixed reactions from other contestants in show. Some concluded that ‘they are in love’ and others branded the friendship ‘disgusting’ and described play wrestling between the two as a lewd act ‘bringing the whole house into disrepute’ with the gay man leading the straight man astray. Interestingly none of these slurs was challenged by ‘Big Brother’.

So, can a straight man and gay man just be good friends? Whatever the future hold for their friendship, Jenek has professed love, admiration and respect for Brady’s willingness and openness and attitude of ‘not giving a f**k’ and it’s how he wishes more straight men could be. In short, can we look to a definition of masculinity that is more secure in itself, and not so focused with staying on the straight and narrow? Something less hooked on labels. Something that gives less of a f**k!