Richard Hammond joked on The Grand Tour about how only gay men enjoy an ice cream. It shocked me how close this was to George Michael's death. Clearly there are no direct connections, however, low level homophobia should not be ignored.
Across the pond, the most recent Trump disaster happened a few weeks ago at an event where the president elect spoke about his recent Person of the Year award by Time magazine. At the event, he asked the crowd whether 'person' of the year sounded better or worse than 'man' of the year. The crowd gave a huge cheer for 'man of the year' whilst the more inclusive 'person of the year' received a muted response. What alarms me was the number of female supporters of Trump's statement that were in the audience. The idea that these women do not understand how misogynistic Trump is does not upset me as much as it baffles me.
Trump and Hammond do not operate in a vacuum and are very much responding to the public. Trump knows what his supporters want to hear and he gives them it. Hammond and his cronies apply the same formula. The world will always have individuals who are not the best or most diverse. But what is concerning me is how popular they are and it seems they are playing up to the crowd.
His music, the energy of which formed the beating heart of the gay scene, was celebrated world-wide. George Michael himself, however, did not come out as gay until after his mother's death. Whilst it would be unfair to speculate on his motivations for concealing his sexuality; it would not be far-fetched to point out that many young gay men face a huge amount of prejudice and discrimination which acts as a barrier to 'coming out'.
Society needs to be more open-minded. The scene is great though somewhat out with mainstream. many could say this is intentional and gay men love having their own world. I can relate to this, however, at the same time, no one should be pushed to the edges of society because of who they love. Diversity and acceptance is key. messages of this should be coming from the top down. trump is having a very detrimental effect on this process. Orlando was horrific and what happened was tragic. Trump's response of using this to highlight his campaign against Muslims is incredibly dangerous. Stigmatising one community for existing outside the mainstream, stigmatises all outsiders. Teaching everyone to be open-minded, loving and accepting is the only way forward.
Many people may see or talk about ice cream as trivial and a throwaway comment. However, to see that one of the most watched TV programmes has offensive content highlights the issues. The Grand Tour is loved by many and media coverage highlighting its provocative content only seems to perpetuate the show's 'edgy' image. Some may say the ice cream joke was an attempt to receive more publicity though the fact that a minority group had to take the butt of a joke cannot be excused.
This behaviour reminds me of a naughty school boy trying seek attention by picking on someone vulnerable to make themselves look tough and get applause from the other popular children. This behaviour would be immediately condemned in a school but now Trump is the schoolboy and the teacher. And everyone loves it. The same can be said about Hammond. His public profile gives his words power. The way in which he uses his power- whether he knows it or not- inform attitudes in society. His cheap, throwaway joke perpetuates the idea that it is okay to dismiss gay men as 'lesser' than straight men.
While we could moan about the events of this year for the next couple of centuries, this would be unproductive. Instead, 2017 must be the year in which we finally stand up to bullies and make sure that respect and love take precedence over hatred.