March 11, 2024   6 mins

As a child of the Eighties and Nineties, I remember well that homosexuals were fair game in the mainstream media. One columnist in The Star railed against “Wooftahs, pooftahs, nancy boys, queers, lezzies — the perverts whose moral sin is to so abuse the delightful word ‘gay’ as to render it unfit for human consumption”. After the death of Freddie Mercury, sympathy in The Mail on Sunday was limited. “If you treat as a hero a man who died because of his own sordid sexual perversions,” one writer cautioned, “aren’t you infinitely more likely to persuade some of the gullible young to follow in his example?”

It was sadly inevitable that the AIDS crisis would exacerbate this ancient prejudice. A headline in The Sun declared that “perverts are to blame for the killer plague”. And while a writer for the Express held “those who choose unnatural methods of self-gratification” responsible for the disease, letters published in its pages followed suit. One reader called for the incarceration of homosexuals. “Burning is too good for them,” wrote another. “Bury them in a pit and pour on quicklime.” Someone had been reading his Dante.

I happened to come out in a much less hostile climate. In the early 2000s, we were enjoying a kind of Goldilocks moment, neither too hot nor too cold. We weren’t generally on the receiving end of homophobic slurs, but nor were we patronised by well-meaning progressives. My memory of this time was that no one particularly cared, and I was more than happy with that. Being gay for me has never been an identity, it’s simply a fact, as unremarkable as being blue-eyed or right-handed.

And so it has been troubling to see a resurgence in the last few years of the kind of anti-gay rhetoric that was commonplace in my childhood. Of course, it could be argued that the rise of social media has simply exposed sentiments that were previously only expressed in private. As Ricky Gervais has pointed out, before the digital era “we couldn’t read every toilet wall in the world. And now we can.”

Yet the most virulent homophobia appears to be coming from a new source. Whereas we have always been accustomed to this kind of thing from the far-Right — one recalls Nick Griffin’s remark on Question Time about how he finds the sight of two men kissing “really creepy” — but now the most objectionable anti-gay comments arise in online spheres occupied by gender ideologues, from those who claim to be progressive, Left-wing and “on the right side of history”. The significant difference is that the word “cis” has been added to the homophobe’s lexicon. Some examples:

“Cis gay men are a disease.”

“Cis gay men are truly some of the most grotesque creatures to burden this earth.”

“I hate cis gay people with a burning passion.”

“If you’re a cis gay man and your sexuality revolves around you not liking female genitalia I hope you die and I will spit on your grave.”

“Cis gays don’t deserve rights.”

“There’s so many reasons to hate gay people, most specifically white gays, but there’s never a reason to be a transphobe.”

“It’s time to normalise homophobia.”

Of course, any bile can be found on the internet, but these kinds of phrases are remarkably commonplace among certain online communities. Even a cursory search will reveal innumerable examples of gender ideologues casually branding gay men “fags” or “faggots”, praising the murder of gays and lesbians, and claiming that the AIDS epidemic was a positive thing. Many thousands of examples had been collated on Google Photos under the title “Woke homophobia: anti-gay hatred & boxer ceiling abuse from trans activists & gender-identity ideologues”. The site was taken down last year, presumably because it violated Google’s policy on hate speech — or perhaps because it revealed the toxicity of the ideology the company has spent so long promoting.

If such ideas were restricted to the demented world of internet activism, we might be justified in simply ignoring it. But we now know that the overwhelming majority of adolescents referred to the Tavistock paediatric gender clinic were same-sex attracted. Whistleblowers have spoken out about the endemic homophobia, not simply among clinicians but also parents who were keen to “fix” their gay offspring. And of course there was the running joke among staff that soon “there would be no gay people left”.

And now a series of leaked internal messages and videos from WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health), has revealed that clinicians in the leading global organisation for transgender healthcare have openly admitted in private that some teenagers mistake being same-sex attracted for gender dysphoria. The result of the “gender-affirming” approach has amounted to what one former Tavistock clinician recently described as “conversion therapy for gay kids”. Homosexuality was removed from the World Health Organisation’s list of psychiatric disorders in 1993, and yet here we are medicalising it all over again.

So how did we reach the point where gay conversion therapy is being practised in plain sight by the NHS? Much of the responsibility has to lie with Stonewall, a group that once promoted equal rights for gay people but now actively works against their interests. It has even gone so far as to redefine “homosexual” on its website and resource materials as “same-gender attracted”. It should go without saying that gay men are not attracted to women who identify as men, any more than lesbians should be denounced for excluding those with penises from their dating pools. What trans activists call discrimination, most of us call homosexuality.

“What trans activists call discrimination, most of us call homosexuality.”

Indeed, activists often claim that “genital preferences are transphobic”, or that sexual orientation based on biological sex is a form of “trauma”. The idea that homosexuality is a sickness was one of the first homophobic tropes I encountered as a child. Now it is being rebranded as progressive.

As for Stonewall, its former CEO Nancy Kelley went so far as to argue that women who exclude trans people as potential partners are analogous to “sexual racists”. She claimed that “if you are writing off entire groups of people, like people of colour, fat people, disabled people or trans people, then it’s worth considering how societal prejudices may have shaped your attractions”. It is worth remembering that Stonewall is deeply embedded in many governmental departments and quangos, as well as corporate and civic institutions. Anti-gay propaganda is being reintroduced into society from the very top.

Meanwhile, the Crown Prosecution Service has been meeting with trans lobby groups such as Mermaids and Stonewall to discuss changes to prosecutorial policy in cases of sex by deception. Since these meetings — only revealed after sustained pressure from a feminist campaigner who submitted Freedom of Information requests — the CPS has recommended what Dennis Kavanagh of the Gay Men’s Network has described as “a radical trans activist approach to sex by deception prosecutions that would see them all but vanish”. In trans activist parlance, the barriers to having sex with lesbians and gay men are known as the “cotton ceiling” and “boxer ceiling”. Now it seems the establishment is attempting to support the coercion of gay people into heterosexual activity.

Consider a recent post on X by Stephen Whittle, OBE, a professor of equalities law at Manchester Metropolitan University. In a reply to LGB Alliance’s Bev Jackson, Whittle took issue with the notion that “love is all about genitals” (an argument that Jackson has never made). Having dismissed this straw man as “a very hetero/homo-normative perspective”, Whittle then claimed that “a lot of gay men can’t resist a young furry ftm [female-to-male] cub”.

While it is true that there are some bisexuals who identify as gay, it is simply not the case that homosexual men “can’t resist” certain kinds of women. As Jackson rightly noted in her response, this is rank homophobia, “disturbed and disturbing on every level”. Yet it has been expressed by an individual who has been described as a “hero for LGBTQ+ equality”. With heroes like these, who needs villains?

Another example is Davey Wavey, a popular online influencer, who has encouraged gay men to perform heterosexual acts in a video called “How to Eat Pussy — For Gay Men”. It may as well have been called “Gay Conversion Therapy 2.0”. We are firmly back in the Eighties, where gays are being told that they “just haven’t found the right girl yet” and lesbians are assured that they just “need a good dick”. And yet now these demeaning ideas are being propagated by those who claim to be defending the rights of sexual minorities.

The Government’s recent guidance on how schools are to accommodate trans-identified pupils — in which biological sex will take precedence over identity — has been met with horror from gender ideologues. One of the common refrains one hears from activists is that it represents “this generation’s Section 28”. But this is to get it precisely backwards. Gay rights were secured on the recognition that a minority of the population are same-sex attracted. In dismantling the very notion of sex and substituting it for this nebulous concept of “gender identity”, activists and their disciples in parliament are undoing all of the achievements of previous gay rights movements.

The widespread homophobia of the Eighties, epitomised by Section 28, was based on the notion that homosexuality was unnatural, dangerous and ought to be corrected. Present-day gender identity ideology perceives homosexuality as evidence of misalignment between soul and body. In other words, it seeks to “fix” gay people so that they fit into a heterosexual framework. It is no coincidence that so many detransitioners are gay people who were simply struggling with their sexuality. Gender identity ideology is the true successor to Section 28.

The proponents of this revamped gay conversion therapy dismiss our concerns as “transphobia” and “bigotry”, or as part of a manufactured “culture war”. Worse still, the new homophobia is being cheered on by those it will hurt most. While prominent gay figures continue to feed the beast that wishes to devour them, we are unlikely to see this dire situation improve any time soon. It was bad enough in the Eighties, when gay people were demonised and harassed by the establishment. Who thought we would have to fight these battles all over again?

Andrew Doyle is a comedian and creator of the Twitter persona Titania McGrath