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Alan Carr Interview: The ‘Chatty Man’ Star Talks LGBT Issues, George Michael And Who Would Get His Vote At The British LGBT Awards (EXCLUSIVE)

'We have a huge ticking bomb of ignorance just waiting to explode.'

07/05/2017 13:37 BST

Ahead of the 2017 NatWest British LGBT Awards, we sat down for a chat with this year’s host, Alan Carr, to chat about his involvement in the annual event, as well as all things LGBT.

We also got him to spill on his co-presenter (and partner in crime) Melanie Sykes, Lady Gaga and the late, great George Michael.

Dave J Hogan via Getty Images
Alan Carr

Why are the LGBT Awards so important to you personally?
It’s funny because when I was younger I didn’t really care about LGBT issues or anything like that, but now LGBT issues seem to be on my mind a lot more. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older or the world has got that little bit crappier, who knows? I mean, if someone told me that there would be concentration camps for homosexuals in my lifetime, well, I would have laughed in their face.

I think the issue of LGBT rights has just got serious and what with the rise of religious extremism in this country, we as a community need to stop our infighting and stick together. There are people out there who really do hate us and don’t want us around.

Who would get your vote?
Lady Gaga, I just think she’s the best. I’ve met her a few times and her championing of gay rights doesn’t seem like bullshit to me, she really does seem to care and I love that. Some performers are happy just to take the pink pound and say ‘see ya’, but she gives back with interest.

You’re presenting with your old mate Melanie Sykes... why do you think you work so well together?
I just love her. What you see is what you get. It doesn’t feel like work with her, it’s such a giggle. We have the same sense of humour and sometimes just a look between us will set us off. Usually someone as gorgeous as that is dull as dishwater, but she is so much fun.

Beautiful, killer abs and a great personality - do you know what - I think I hate her?

David M. Benett via Getty Images
Alan will present this year's NatWest British LGBT Awards with his mate, Melanie Sykes.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the LGBT community in 2017?
The rise of religious extremism - the more rights we get the more religious extremists flex their muscles and kick up a fuss. And with a growing number of faith schools refusing to teach their pupils about homosexuality, we have a huge ticking bomb of ignorance just waiting to explode.

What would you tell your young gay self?
Don’t worry Steps will get back together again. Ha! No, I’d tell myself to stop worrying and do you know what, you actually will find someone - and he’ll be half decent!

Do you think LGBT issues still get enough coverage in mainstream media?
I think we do when it matters. There has to be a balance. I really don’t want us to become THAT minority that’s always moaning about their lot, whinging about this and that, screaming for attention.

A lot of people are struggling, not just the LGBT community and I think sometimes singling ourselves out as ‘victims’ doesn’t help our cause one bit. A lot of the negativity we get is due to people thinking we have too much ‘our way’ anyway: the right to marriage, adopt etc.

You held off commenting about LGBT matters at the start of your career, what changed?
To be honest I didn’t care about LGBT matters. Let’s be honest, you’re very selfish in your twenties, and in your thirties you are just trying to get a down payment for your flat or enough money to pay your bills.
It wasn’t anything deliberate, you just have other more seemingly relevant things to do.

Weirdly I’ve started giving a shit about everything now. I shouted at a dog owner for not pooping and scooping, donated to an anti-poaching charity and signed a petition about refugees. I’m worried I’m giving TOO much of a shit nowadays.

Do you think high profile LGBT stars have a duty and responsibility to speak out?

Not really. Suggesting that just because someone who is on the telly has a superior moral viewpoint to someone who say, shelf stacks at Aldi is ridiculous. High profile sadly does not mean High IQ.

We can all make a change in different ways. You don’t have to go to Speakers Corner and whip out a megaphone and scream ‘Listen up, I’M GAY!’ You can change people’s attitudes with even the slightest things. I personally try to get off with bigots - I’m a lover not a fighter.

Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Alan took home the LGBT+ Celebrity of the Year award at the 2016 awards.

Obviously we lost George Michael last year, who was arguably one of the most well-known out gay men in the UK. Did you ever meet him?
Despite always taking the piss out of his driving on ‘Chatty Man’ I was a huge fan. Melanie Sykes was friends with him and she invited me as her plus 1 to his house for Christmas drinks. We were all set to go and I was giddy with excitement, but I don’t know if you remember that one time we had snow in London, but it came down so heavily, London became an ice rink. Because he lived on the top of Highgate hill he had to cancel the night as no one could get there. We were gutted, and at one point I was thinking of buying some crampons and a pair of moon boots to scale the hill to get to his house, but alas we went back to our homes disappointed.

What do you think his legacy will be to the LGBT community?
His legacy will be the music, and as we are finding out about more and more, his huge heart and generosity.

The gay scene has been accused of becoming mainstream these days, is that the price we pay for acceptance?
Parts of the gay scene have become mainstream but there are still those dark and dingy gay clubs down the back alleys that cater to every kink and depravity - so I’m told!

Do you think we need more outspoken LGBT stars like Julian Clary and Kenny Everett these days?
I don’t see Julian or Kenny as outspoken. I think they are and were fabulous flamboyant hysterical entertainers. Are you asking if we need more flamboyant entertainers? Than hell yeah!

The Straight Ally award is a controversial one. What do you think about it? (The ‘Straight Ally award’ is given to a straight person who has supported the LGBT community, spoke up for LGBT rights and equality etc. Previous winners of this award have included Sir Brian May, Danny Dyer, Joey Barton).
I used to roll my eyes at this award because, naively, I thought everyone was a straight ally. But do you know what? In a world of gay concentration camps, gays being thrown off the rooves of buildings, members of the LGBT community getting shot dead in night clubs, if we want to celebrate someone who gives a shit about us - who am I to start moaning?

We need to pick our battles and if a straight person wants to make our lives a little bit better and tolerant than they are an ally of mine!

Which award are you most looking forward to presenting?
The last one so I can pop off and get to the after-party for a bevvie!

NatWest British LGBT Awards will be live-streamed at www.britishlgbtawards.co.uk on Friday 12 May from 7pm

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