No one can deny that gay rights in the UK have come a long way since the decriminalisation of homosexuality over 50 years ago. Hell, come this time next year, I will be able to legally marry any person I choose - regardless of sex - although let's face it, given my track record with men thus far, or lack thereof, that's probably never going to happen. But that's beside the point - on the surface it seems that gays in Britain have it pretty good, so do we really have anything left to complain about? Well, when consistently greeted with questions such as, "So, you're gay? Fully gay? And you're happy with that?" It would seem that the short answer is yes.
To be honest, the cause for immediate concern when people question my sexuality isn't whether the person's homophobic, it's that for a second they actually doubt my sexuality. Of course I'm gay, you need only look at me to know that. But this isn't the real issue, the real issue here is what makes people think that it's OK to ask such stupefying questions. Would a similar thing happen with someone who was mixed race: "Oh so you're mixed race? Half Bengali? And you're happy with that?" No one in their right mind would ever ask a these questions. Of course they're happy with that, you fucking moron.
Danny, 21, who came out four years ago recalls, "My faghag [technical term] once asked if I 'got bored of just the one sex position'". It seems funny that so many gay men are still unable to purge their mind of at least a dozen mental images of heterosexual sex (cheers Sex and the City), yet there are many straight people who believe that when it comes to the sack we're all nothing more than plain old 'Ben Dovers'. Even more distressing, 21-year-old James who has been openly gay for three years told me that, "After being at work for a few weeks, I was told by a colleague that she'd never met 'a gay' before." Please dear, there's over 3.5million gay people in the UK, I think you'll find you have met 'a gay', in fact you've probably met a herd of them. Although perhaps the most concerning question a gay person can be asked, as vouched for by David, 22, is "How can you know you're gay if you've never been with a girl?" Really? REALLY?
The issue here isn't malice or hate-filled homophobia - it's down to plain old ignorance. You can't really blame people for asking these questions when you look at the state of the UK's sex education programme, which often fails to provide relevant information to heterosexual students, let alone homosexual ones. It was only in August this year that the BHA identified 45 schools that had similar policies to that of Section 28, which was first implemented 25 years ago in 1988 and banned the 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools. The government needs to create and implement set specifications for sex education lessons (like it does all other areas of study) which cover all the bases of sexual relationships. Currently there are "guidelines" that only require the teaching of reproductive sex and even then need to be sensitive to "religious and cultural backgrounds".
With the word 'gay' still being synonymous with loser, weirdo and fucktard in many school playgrounds, all of this probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. It's this lack of discussion from an early age that is at the heart of this casual homophobia. If it's never spoken about, then these ridiculous questions are likely to come up again and again, with straight people continuing to ignorantly question us about how things go down (or up) in the bedroom.
Follow Planet Ivy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@planet_ivy