As we celebrate the beginning of Pride Month 2022, Jason Reid reminds us that history is repeating itself and that we need to stand firm against the rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ hate.
I’ve been trying to think of a time in my life when the state of the world as a whole was worse than it is in 2022.
The only period that seems comparable is the 1980s; in fact there are striking similarities between the two decades: loathsome right wing governments, emergence of devastating pandemics, and moral panics (the targeting of gay men in the 80’s, and trans people today). The latter really troubles me because it’s a plain-as-day case of history repeating — go on take a look for yourself, it’s the same playbook.
I’m unashamedly vocal about standing shoulder to shoulder with trans and non-binary people who are subject to the most atrocious vitriol on a daily basis from TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists). My view is that we should all be standing together to counter this fanaticism — right now we are witnessing pure obsession from people who have been radicalised online and are spending every waking hour pouring scorn on trans and non-binary people, regurgitating anecdotal evidence and imagined scenarios that creates hostility towards ALL LGBTQ+ people.
In the 80s gay people were labelled dangerous with no supporting evidence — merely good old fashioned bigotry, and now that same rhetoric is being used against trans people.
Certain journalists and media outlets are hellbent on scapegoating trans people at any given opportunity, posing the same jarring questions about genitalia over and over. There seems to be a push coming from shady quarters to keep the topic of trans people in the spotlight. Most non-LGBTQ+ people I know couldn’t care less, including my 78 year old mother who quite happily accepts everyone for who they are. This outrage is being forced onto people.
A reminder that Dana International — a trans woman — won Eurovision in 1998 when it was last held in the UK, and there was little pushback, and certainly no hysteria regarding her genitalia. Similarly with Nadia Almada who won Big Brother in 2004 — one of the most watched TV programmes at the time.
Now, many newspapers and talk shows are not there to explore opinions, but to foist their agenda-driven opinions on us. Yes, people are given a voice, but the topics are always selected by those driving the narrative. The current narrative is the dehumanisation of trans people, dressed up as women’s rights.
LGBTQ+ people would be a lot safer if print newspapers and talk-shows that masquerade as free speech champions, ceased to exist. Get rid of them all. Starting with Rupert Murdoch’s toxic, fear-mongering media empire, News Corp. It was The Sun that led the hate campaign against gay people in the 80s, and The Times now leads the charge against trans people — both Murdoch owned at the time.
Political leaders here in the UK are hesitant to take on Murdoch because they want the endorsement of his rags that are sadly still read by many. In fact, politicians purposely cosy up to Murdoch in order to court favour. Now that’s not the sign of a healthy democracy, is it? You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Such interference should worry us all.
These tabloid endorsements have been said to be pivotal in previous general elections, for example Tony Blair was backed by The Sun in 1997. It is reported that John Major, conservative PM at the time, was told to impress Murdoch with his confidence. Whatever Major did, it clearly didn’t cut the mustard. A day before the general election, The Sun front page read: The Sun backs Blair. Give change a chance. At the time, The Sun’s daily readership was approximately 4 million.
Interestingly, in Murdoch’s native Australia where his media stranglehold is even tighter, there is now a significant backlash against his bullshit. In 2020, former prime minister Kevin Rudd launched a petition to the Australian parliament calling on the parliament to establish a Royal Commission into the abuse of media monopoly in Australia, coupled with a scathing public denunciation of the nonagenarian media mogul.
In a video address, Rudd said: “Murdoch has become a cancer – an arrogant cancer on our democracy.” The petition became the most signed petition in Australian history, with over 500,000 people adding their names to oppose Murdoch. This is seemingly when the tide began to seriously turn. The recent shock general election result was also a slap across the chops for Murdoch, despite the best efforts of his employed lackeys, Labor romped home to victory and Anthony Albanese is now the new PM. The Independent of Australia headline read: Anthony Albanese defeats Rupert Murdoch to become 31st PM of Australia.
Australians have watched with growing anger at what the Murdoch media monopoly is doing to our country. A cancer on democracy.
Today I am launching a national petition to establish a #MurdochRoyalCommission.
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) October 9, 2020
Outgoing PM Scott Morrison is vehemently anti-LGBTQ, so an all round win for Australia.
Murdoch’s toxic media has been a constant corrupting force in the UK for 40 years, and the rot runs deep. Whether that’s undermining democracy or spreading prejudiced falsehoods about LGBTQ+ people. However, the good news is that newspaper circulation across the board is going down faster than me in my 20’s. And it’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.
Fingers crossed all of it crashes and burns. If Australian leaders can take on Rupert Murdoch, so can ours. Or at least not slavishly solicit media coverage in return for favours further down the line. Starmer and his sensible flock need to stop being such unmitigated wimps. The less influence Murdoch has on our politics, the better life will be for everyone.
On the upside, unlike the 80s when we were powerless and anti-gay tabloids decided upon practically all of the information that was consumed by the population, resulting in widespread public distrust of gay people, we now have our own voice with social media and that can be used to counter the current moral panic. I think that’s where our strength lies. Imperatively, the LGBTQ+ community as a whole has to stand together against anti-LGBTQ hate, bad faith antagonists, and media misinformation that seriously impacts the lives of vulnerable people.
Use your voice for good, every single morsel of resistance helps, and if you have a large online platform I’d say it’s your duty to do so.