Under the presidency of Barack Obama, gay marriage was legalised in all 50 states in the USA this year. It’s a long way from the Stonewall Riots in 1969, where men and women joined together to oppose the stigma placed on homosexuals. Obama has since been seen as a hero, a figurehead for those who don’t have a voice, and a martyr for those in need of help. But what most people may have forgotten is that Obama actually voted against gay marriage in 2008, claiming that he opposed it for ‘religious reasons’.
It’s an interesting way to look at things, especially if you consider the current US presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton is currently running for the second time, and she is another person who has evolved since her former days. Today, she is extremely supportive of same-sex marriage, posting on her Twitter how ‘proud’ she was when the announcement of the legalisation was made public. However, it was a different story back in 2004, when she believed, like Obama, that marriage was ‘not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man and a woman’.
It’s a difficult subject to approach when it comes to politics, as any person worth his salt knows that politicians will say whatever they know that people will want to here in order to get them on their side, or to get more votes from people who are undecided. But does that argument stand for everyone? If someone has said something homophobic in the past, is it right to vilify them forever, or is someone’s homophobic past actually redeemable through education and evolution?
Who remembers the icon that is Donna Summer? If you’ve not heard of her, which is doubtful, there is no question that you’re heard her music – tunes like ‘Hot Stuff’, ‘I Feel Love’ and ‘MacArthur Park’ made the Queen Of Disco a regular fixture on the 80’s gay club scene. But in 1983, it emerged that she had made some scathing anti-gay remarks during one of her performances, stating that homosexuality was ‘evil’ and ‘AIDS is the results of your sins’. She later denied having ever made those comments, and began to perform at LGBT events and contributed to several HIV charities. Was this damage control, or a genuine gesture of goodwill? We’ll never really know, as Summer passed from cancer in 2012, but a closeted gay executive at her record label claimed she was never homophobic, ‘just dumb’.
And really, can we ever believe people in the spotlight to be truly genuine? Gays are an easy audience to market to – the majority of us are suckers for a decent club anthem, or a supportive shout out, and, let’s face it, we’re shallow as hell when it comes to a hot celebrity doing a half-naked photoshoot. But we’re also vulnerable. It’s easy to be led to believe that we’re being supported when the people who are supporting us have an agenda, whether it’s to make more money or to get in a position to run the country.
The fact is, we’re a minority group, and minority groups are always going to be the first point of target when it comes to certain issues. The only people we can really rely on is ourselves. And we always have to be wary of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
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