I addressed a letter to Sarah Crouch of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, which is in Russell Road, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1QL. I have withdraw the letter following finding this letter was a spoof/parody. Even the Daily Mail fell for the spoof in a page they have now deleted. Having had letters from a Catholic Church with this design, and with the letter being posted to Facebook by a friend, I assumed it was authentic. However the points I made in the letter, which is linked to below the image, still stands.
As you can see it is claimed the headteacher has criticised a child for calling another child’s shoe’s “gay.” Even though this letter is a spoof, this sort of attack on freedom of expression happens so often, and it is one that as a Media Studies graduate that is ‘gender and sexually diverse’ is a particular bug-bear of mine. In the letter I drafted to send I made the following points of what constitutes “gay”:
- Things which are out of place; such as someone wearing odd socks, shoes no one else wears, or a Catholic priest wearing a frilly dress
- Men doing things stereotypically female; such as wearing pink clothes, driving a pink curvy car, wearing a flowery top
- Things which are showy; such as a couple holding hands or kissing in public, a man showing off his bare chest, someone boasting about their body parts or other advantages, or a Catholic priest being proud of his collar
- Someone presented as super-perfect; such as Kylie looking tall and spotless in her videos, Robbie suggesting he is a great sportsman in his videos
- One sex intimately interacting with the same sex; such as footballers hugging after scoring a goal, rugby players gripping each other’s backsides in the scrum.
- Out-dated stereotypes; like woman portrayed as vulnerable and needy, teachers thinking they are somehow the fountain of all knowledge, or a Catholic Church that thinks only men have the right to the top jobs.
- Anyone claiming authority they don’t have; such as headteachers thinking they are the guardians of pupils who do not need that because they are independent minded, or a Catholic priest that denounces people of other faiths.
- Someone who identifies with ‘gay culture’ regardless of sexual orientation, which would include heterosexual women kissing while Katy Perry’s ‘I kissed a girl’ is playing, or heterosexual women performing together at a strip club for men.
So whilst I can unreservedly apologise to St Mary’s Catholic Primary School for wrongfully addressing these points to them in this letter, I think the wider debate over the use of the word “gay” needs to happen. It is not right for anyone to be called homophobic for using the word “gay” in a context where it is not in reference to homosexuality.