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Who is my gay hero?
Well, setting aside for the moment the torrid ramblings of my fevered, late night imagination, and assuming that Tom Welling, of Smallville fame, really is not, in fact, actually a proponent of penile pleasure, I’d have to say that I have trouble answering this particular question.
In some ways, we are blessed with a surfeit of potential gay heroes: high heel wielding drag queens from New York, 1969, standing up for themselves and all of us against bigoted police forces, and starting in many ways the modern gay civil rights movement; Alan Turing, possibly one of the more obvious choices – a genius, bridging in some ways the gap between Einstein and Hawking, one of the greatest minds on this world, subsequently suffering government mandated chemical castration to correct his “deviancy”; Michaelangelo, incredible artist and genius, tortured by his sexuality yet turning the conflict into beauty; Stephen Fry, perhaps the only modern world polymath, from petty criminal to petit- and haut-bourgeois darling, beloved luvvie; the list isn’t endless, but it’s pretty bloody long!
But why do our heroes have to be gay? Are we still so insular and isolated that we can only relate to and respect people whose sexual proclivities mirror our own?
My hero, a fact which I don’t consider something of which to be ashamed, is the Doctor. Yes, Doctor Who.
He’s not gay – per se – but he almost certainly isn’t straight either.
Especially when you consider that the Doctor with whom I grew up was Peter Davison – he could scarcely be less of a sexual being. But then, none of the (now known as) classic Doctors was sexual. There was famously “no hanky-panky in the Tardis”.
And as a putatively gay teen, unable to relate to the traditional heterosexual images of masculinity and heroism (even if not sure why at the time) the Doctor’s uniquely non-sexual, non-violent, non-aggressive form of heroism was incredibly appealing. He was, to me, everything that the rest of the humdrum, human heroes weren’t; self-sacrificing, witty, intellectual and cerebral, rather than physical and violent.
Now the Doctor has been resurrected for the modern age, and things have changed somewhat. He’s now at least aware of sex and sexuality, though he seems not to dip his “toe” into that particular “water” too often! Of more importance though, is that he’s definitely NOT straight now; something for which we partly have (gay) Russell T Davies to thank, and partly the changed nature of society. He’s far more free-and-easy when it comes to sex, as his relationship with Captain Jack alone more than adequately demonstrates.
Should it not be possible, however, for me to find a GAY hero? I don’t think it’s needed actually; anyone I consider a hero, would be that regardless of their sexuality, not because of it! And that’s the best way for it to be!
So, my gay hero? He’s a fictional, non-human, and – perhaps oddly – non-gay man. Deal with it!