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  • I guess I was the cookie cutter straight, white, successful male.

  • Probably people would look at me and think, "Well, I'm probably like them and therefore a little bit homophobic as well."

  • And then I made the really difficult decision to come out.

  • You know, I met a man that I fell in love with when I was nearly 40 and then I realised I was gay.

  • [Why are people homophobic?]

  • [Richard Beaven is a financial services director and LGBT activist.]

  • [He believes it's important to understand homophobia, in order to eradicate it.]

  • Mr. Mawby, do you think homosexuals should be sent to prison?

  • -Yes. Of course if they are ... -Surrounded by other men or ...

  • Unbelievable.

  • [Homosexuality was illegal in England and Wales until 1967, but homophobia still remains today.]

  • When I think about why people are homophobic, I think about a workshop that I ran in the city a couple of years ago.

  • It was really good, apart from this one guy who literally said nothing and he had his arms folded, clearly really uncomfortable about being there.

  • So I stopped the conversation and I looked at him and I said, "I notice you are not engaging with this."

  • "You are not part of the conversation."

  • And I said, "I suspect there are three things that I find a lot of people struggle to engage in this conversation with, and the first one is gay sex."

  • Lots of straight men find it very, very uncomfortable to think about how men have sex with men.

  • But we have to park that.

  • We're not having a conversation around sex, we're having a conversation about inclusivity and making people feel welcome.

  • And then I said, "The second thing I think lots of people like you think is that, you know, that 'all men who are gay fancy all men.'"

  • And I said, "You're just not my type."

  • And he started to smile and I said, "But there's the third thing."

  • And I said, "This is often a problem, is that, 'If I engage in this conversation then people might think I'm gay'."

  • [On top of this, Richard believes the HIV crisis still casts a shadow.]

  • There is now a deadly virus which anyone can catch from sex with an infected person.

  • So protect yourself.

  • It's safer if you use a condom.

  • So I think that crisis had a huge impact on or reinforced the fact that gay people are different.

  • And there was a lot of terrible language around "gay people spread diseases," and it was just ghastly at the time.

  • And I think that's influenced a whole generation in terms of the way they think about homosexuality.

  • -You know, Russia has got anti-gay legislation, Chechnya you find pogroms against gay people. - Oh my god, yeah.

  • If you could speak to Vladimir Putin right now, what would you say to him?

  • I would love to sit down and talk to him face-to-face because only face-to-face with people do you get any progress.

  • So the thing I particularly like about what Elton says there is about sitting down with people and talking.

  • I do think we have repressed a lot, so people have just put it in a box saying,

  • "Oh god I'm not allowed to say whatever it may be …"

  • But if you allow people time to say it, and to say words that they might be a bit clumsy about ...

  • It's fine, because you can help people learn.

  • It's fantastic when I talk to young people who are declaring whatever spectrum of sexuality they are on without thinking about it, I think of my own children.

  • They don't think about this in the way that those of us born in the 60s and 70s and the influences that we had do.

  • So, is this fixable? It's changeable.

  • It really is, and a few simple things can help.

  • If you've never met a gay person, go and talk to one.

  • You know what? They're quite nice to talk to.

  • And listen and we use something called reverse mentoring.

  • You know, if you're senior, go and find someone that's not like you that is in the organisation and listen.

  • Not for you to tell them, for you to listen to their story and who they are, because it might feel a bit uncomfortable.

  • But trust me, that works brilliantly well and I have seen people completely transformed.

  • Their mind is opened.

  • They realize, "They're just like everyone else."

  • Being a straight ally, I know that word gets used a lot now, really matters.

  • And say that you are a supporter of the LGBT+ community.

  • Just do it and you know what, people won't think worse for you they will think a lot more of you.

  • Because it's even more powerful if a straight ally talks about being inclusive and being welcoming of all forms of diversity.

  • That works really well.

I guess I was the cookie cutter straight, white, successful male.

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B1 UK gay people gay people conversation homosexuality homophobia

Why are people homophobic? | What's Behind Prejudice? Episode 2 | BBC Ideas

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    Seraya posted on 2020/08/24
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