Thick and fast come the apoplectic accusations from the LGBT+ lobby against members of the authentic and historical lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) community and other gender-critical people. We are repeatedly told that we are guilty of transphobic “hate” and that our organisations are “hate groups”. Simply insisting that sex is a biological and immutable characteristic, and that the settled definition of “sex” underpins LGB and women’s rights, is even enough to get you accused of being a terrorist or a neo-Nazi sympathiser, no less. However, whilst gagging on their own froth and spittle, these accusers miss the irony of how it is they themselves who are dripping with hate and an overpowering lust for vengeance and domination. They themselves show allegiance to the real anti-LGB and anti-women “hate groups”. Devoid of honest evidence and persuasive arguments, they instead resort to lies, calumnies and attempts to silence the heretical voices that are speaking the truth: a common behavioural trait of fundamentalist religious adherents.
The last execution in England for heresy was in 1612, when Edward Wightman was burnt at the stake; and the last successful prosecution for blasphemy was in 1977, when Denis Lemon, the editor of Gay News, was fined and received a suspended prison sentence for the publication of a poem. How disturbing it is to see the mentality of religious theocracy returning to the West today, with public denunciations and attempts to ruin the lives of people who express even the mildest dissent from the fundamentalist LGBT+ gender credo. As is so often the case when totalitarian movements take hold, this bullying of heretics has a disturbingly chilling effect on freedom of speech and rational debate across the whole of society.
How disturbing it is to see the mentality of religious theocracy returning to the West today, with public denunciations and attempts to ruin the lives of people who express even the mildest dissent from the fundamentalist LGBT+ gender credo.
In every cult or fundamentalist religious community, you will find people who are there because they derive some kind of financial benefit or social prestige from being there. There are others who find it difficult to apply a critical mind to what they are being told, and who absorb the instruction without challenge or question. There are others who are driven by their feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and who feel empowered by adherence to a dogmatic and putatively infallible ideology; and yet others still who are lonely, insecure and isolated, and looking for a community where they feel they can belong. When we look at the LGBT+ lobby, we can see all of those categories. Many members know that allowing themselves to have ideological doubts that they then express could lead to ostracism – excommunication. Humans have evolved to have a primordial fear of banishment from our communities.
We must ask ourselves, however, how much damage the LGBT+ lobby is doing to the mental health of the young LGB people who gravitate towards it, given that these are people whose experience of being same-sex attracted is being overruled and negated by the lobby, which tells them they are “genital fetishists” if they restrict their partners to members of the same biological sex and if they do not centre extreme demands from a subgroup of the transgender-identified community. Furthermore, these young people do not benefit from the exclusive lesbian and gay spaces that people like me could enjoy when we “came out”: spaces we still had, and that were not disputed, until very recently. Time and again I hear of lesbian dating apps with many male-bodied male members self-defining as lesbians, and of the equivalent development on gay male dating apps. Our right to meet and organise separately, based on our shared minority characteristic of same-sex sexual orientation, is under attack, and the LGBT+ lobby wants to take it away from us permanently. I wonder what effect this is going to have on the psyches of young LGB people.
Our right to meet and organise separately, based on our shared minority characteristic of same-sex sexual orientation, is under attack, and the LGBT+ lobby wants to take it away from us permanently. I wonder what effect this is going to have on the psyches of young LGB people.
We must also ask ourselves what self-accepting and properly-informed LGB person would sacrifice his or her own authentic LGB identity, interests and spaces in order to centre and aggressively promote an extreme gender ideology that is doing so much serious harm to the LGB community and especially to LGB children. It looks as though we need to re-read Dr George Weinberg’s groundbreaking 1972 book, “Society and the Healthy Homosexual”, where he coined the term “homophobia”, and where he explained how LGB people internalise the homophobia we experience from our environment, with this internalisation harming our self-esteem and causing negative compensatory behaviours. The self-oppression of enthusiastically centring an ideology that is harming you as an LGB person and restricting your opportunities for development and self-acceptance has been very common in the past for those LGB people who have got involved in homophobic fundamentalist religions; and the self-oppressive behaviour of those LGB people who promote gender-extremist ideology in thrall to the new LGBT+ fundamentalism suggests that the same internalised homophobia is at play there as well.
The viciousness with which gender ideology adherents attack, vilify and defame members of the real, traditional LGB community displays stark parallels with the anti-gay viciousness meted out a few decades ago by “closeted” LGB people who were self-hating, repressed, or primarily concerned about “virtue-signalling” homophobic views to protect their reputations or careers. Much homophobia of yesteryear was motivated by homophobic self-oppression, and today’s homophobia seems to reveal, among the careerist sell-outs and the brainwashed conformists, a new manifestation of self-rejecting, insecure and frightened hostages, screaming condemnation at others for what they secretly have not come to terms with in themselves, and for the authenticity that they have been ordered to sacrifice for the greater alphabetical good.
In order to compare the LGB experience of homophobic fundamentalism of yesteryear with that of today, let us look more closely at the ideological policy capture of important bodies by the old homophobia and by the new homophobia. When I was eighteen, forty years ago, the police were notoriously and systemically homophobic. My boyfriend – also eighteen – and I were denounced to the police by his mother when she found out her son was gay and that we were in a relationship. We were lucky that the police did not pursue her complaint, as the age of consent was 21, and we could have been sentenced to two years in prison. Even the Police Federation openly declared that the age of consent for gay men should remain at 21. Gay and lesbian people could not trust the police. There were even “pretty policemen” who used to hang around in gay bars as agents provocateurs, arresting men who propositioned them. The police were the enthusiastic custodians and enforcers of homophobic legislation that derived from religious condemnation of our sexuality.
Today, ignoring the legal requirement to remain politically neutral, Police Federation members brandish rainbows on their uniforms and cars and actively promote LGBT+ ideology. This fealty to the LGBT+ lobby is a fealty to an ideology that denies LGB people the right to define ourselves as same-sex attracted, to meet exclusively on the basis of our shared sexual orientation, and that promotes the medical transitioning of children before they have a chance to discover they are actually gay or lesbian. We could even end up with a disclosable “Non-Crime Hate Incident” police record if denounced for asserting that sex is an immutable biological fact that is at the very heart of our identity and reality. Today’s police homophobia is less blatant, but it is at least as harmful.
The new and ever-escalating attack on LGB rights driven by the gender-extremist LGBT+ lobby that we continue to observe and experience in the West, has a pitchfork-mob hatred and viciousness about it of a kind that, even under the old homophobia, no longer existed at such an intensity and at such a widespread level by the 1980s.
The new and ever-escalating attack on LGB rights driven by the gender-extremist LGBT+ lobby that we continue to observe and experience in the West, has a pitchfork-mob hatred and viciousness about it of a kind that, even under the old homophobia, no longer existed at such an intensity and at such a widespread level by the 1980s. Most fundamentalist Christians who regarded homosexuality as a sin, at least preached a maxim of loving LGB people as human beings while hating just the “sinful act”. Many of today’s extreme gender religionists do not make any such distinction or hold any such scruples: their hatred is directed unequivocally at people themselves, at those daring to express heretical views instead of genuflecting before the Revered Rainbow and the Angelic Anime Avatars. Efforts are made to ruin the life of the infidel, to destroy her reputation with lies and smears, and to make her unemployable so she may even struggle to feed her children. This is raw medieval theological hatred.
The role of schools in the old and the new homophobia also deserves closer inspection. LGB children growing up in the 70s and 80s in a depressingly anti-gay culture were at least spared the blight of our schools peddling this new fundamentalist religion of extreme gender ideology with a messianic zeal, reinforced by an ignorant virtue-signalling media and by the influence of peer contagion. As LGB children, many of us gender non-conforming, we were not at risk forty years ago of being referred to gender clinics for the construction of a new heterosexual identity via puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and even possibly amputations, before we had a chance to come to terms with our sexual orientation. We were not being groomed online by gender missionaries, and teenage girls were not being sold breast-binders. We were safe from the irreversible and traumatic effects of what is today called, with a nod to Orwell, “gender-affirmative care” – which, for LGB children, is nothing less than “sexuality-negating abuse” – a new and sickening form of medical conversion therapy. In Western societies today, LGB children are exposed to a new and very serious risk of harm.
The teachers and educational establishments that collude so willingly with today’s fundamentalist gender homophobia have much in common with the teachers of forty years ago who willingly colluded with traditional religion-derived homophobia. Schoolteachers commonly used to permit homophobic language to be thrown around without any challenge and even sometimes used it themselves. When Section 28 was introduced by the Conservative Government in the 1980s, prohibiting in schools the positive presentation of homosexuality and of LGB people, the teaching establishment duly and thoroughly complied, with very little protest. I was not aware of any campaigns of civil disobedience in solidarity with LGB students. The teachers and teaching unions, who prided themselves on being so progressive, simply sold out and did as they were told. Their jobs could have been at stake, just as their jobs are at stake today if they don’t fall in line with the LGBT+ lobby credo. The teaching profession betrayed LGB children then, and it is once again betraying LGB children now.
Witch-hunts sometimes used to take place when people were discovered to be gay or lesbian. Those in prominent positions, such as MPs or councillors, or people standing for election, could be hounded remorselessly by the homophobic press. Today, lesbian and gay people who assert our right to be same-sex attracted and our right to meet and organise separately and exclusively, based on our sole shared characteristic of same-sex sexual orientation, are once again subjected to witch-hunts – this time by extreme gender ideologues and their allies.
Witch-hunts sometimes used to take place when people were discovered to be gay or lesbian. Those in prominent positions, such as MPs or councillors, or people standing for election, could be hounded remorselessly by the homophobic press. Today, lesbian and gay people who assert our right to be same-sex attracted and our right to meet and organise separately and exclusively, based on our sole shared characteristic of same-sex sexual orientation, are once again subjected to witch-hunts – this time by extreme gender ideologues and their allies. There are public denunciations and media condemnations. Employers often fall into line under the duress of possible economic ruin. Plus ça change.
In former times it could be dangerous to meet up as LGB people. We had our places, but many of them were hidden away in discreet locations with deliberately unattractive facades. Physical threats towards us were common, religious fundamentalists tried to get our bars and clubs closed, and we often relied on door attendants to protect us from disruption and violence. This oppression has returned to our community. In 2019 I was invited to an LGB meeting organised in response to the colonisation by extreme gender ideology. The time and location of the meeting were announced very shortly before the event to avoid its disruption by aggressive protestors, and all those invited were carefully selected and were asked to be circumspect about the event details. Special security had to be hired for the meeting. What an appalling state of affairs that this should be happening in a supposedly liberal state in the modern age. It is disgraceful beyond measure that LGB people are once again forced to meet secretly and in fear, as though we were still living in the pre-1980s.
A further “then and now” comparison relates to the calumnies, lies, misrepresentations and insults. In the 1980s and previously, the defamation that gay men in particular were fighting to counter was the lie that all gay men are either actual or potential child sexual abusers. This lie was in wide circulation, and time and again, gay rights activists had to challenge it. Today’s counterpart to this homophobic defamation, when we defend our rights as LGB people, is the textbook LGBT+ smear lexicon, which includes the terms “transphobes”, “people who hate trans people”, “bigots”, “members of hate groups”, and as being “allied”, “aligned” or “linked” somehow with this group here or that group there, including even neo-Nazis, such is their desperation.
“No-platforming”, then and now, is another comparison worth considering. Until around thirty years ago, the lesbian and gay community had great difficulty getting our news and concerns into the media. When the media gave LGB issues publicity, or treated us in a sympathetic way, the public response would often include a barrage of complaints and accusations of supporting “depravity” and “degeneracy”, and of undermining public morals. We were effectively no-platformed. Today, attempts are once again made by the LGBT+ fundamentalists to exclude the voices of the real LGB community from local and national media when we speak out in defence of our community and of women’s and children’s rights. Homophobic fundamentalist gender ideology has filled the gap where homophobic fundamentalist Christianity used to be.
Today, we see widespread LGBT+ lobby ideological capture across the main political parties, with the Conservative Party the most resistant but itself gradually succumbing to colonisation.
The behaviour of many of our politicians in their response to homophobia was then true to form, and is so once again today. Then, setting aside the closeted gay men who entered into marriages of convenience so they could get elected as MPs, there were also many MPs who were quietly sympathetic to LGB rights but who feared to speak out. Today, we see widespread LGBT+ lobby ideological capture across the main political parties, with the Conservative Party the most resistant but itself gradually succumbing to colonisation. There are so many intelligent people in Parliament who are pretending to support stupid, irrational and profoundly harmful ideologies, simply to avoid becoming victims of the LGBT+ lobby’s modern-day witch-hunters. Only few MPs, so far, are willing to speak out and to put the good of the country, and the rights and welfare of vulnerable people, before their own political careers and wish to avoid unwanted attention and targeting. That was true then, and it is true once again today.
The medical profession was also captured by homophobic ideology back in the day. Cruel attempts at medical “conversion therapy” for homosexuality continued until the early 1970s in the UK, and the medical profession colluded with this. The lesbian and gay rights movement was making some progress, however, with changing public opinion, and some doctors were more enlightened and sympathetic than others. Today, we are once again seeing widespread homophobic capture of the medical profession – this time by extreme gender ideology. BBC Newsnight, and brave individuals such as Keira Bell, have exposed how dangerous this medical colonisation is to children – particularly LGB children. Medical professionals now risk dismissal if they fail to bow to their LGBT+ overlords. As a result, medical conversion therapy for LGB children is starting to return via the back door across the West, and the threat of irreversible harm to young lesbian and gay people is now far worse than it was four decades ago, with LGBT+ lobby campaigns to write the extreme “gender-affirming care” model into law.
Today, as a result of the LGBT+ lobby’s institutional colonisation, this sense of mistrust in core societal institutions is returning for the real LGB community, and with it the sense of pervasive alienation we used to feel decades ago. This is what happens to heretics and dissenters when a bullying totalitarian ideology has made their society hostile, fearful and irrational.
As young gay and lesbian people growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, we were unable to trust many key people and key institutions in our lives. “Coming out” carried a significant risk of negative consequences. That mistrust was directed at the police, the medical establishment, the educational establishment, our employers, the political establishment, and other entities. Today, as a result of the LGBT+ lobby’s institutional colonisation, this sense of mistrust in core societal institutions is returning for the real LGB community, and with it the sense of pervasive alienation we used to feel decades ago. This is what happens to heretics and dissenters when a bullying totalitarian ideology has made their society hostile, fearful and irrational.
The “bystanders” of former times also have their counterparts today. These are the onlookers who do not actually share the extreme and unconscionable views of those doing the bullying, but who choose to say nothing and to simply observe with a disquieting sense of mauvaise foi, given that speaking out could carry a personal cost they are not willing to bear. Forty years ago, these bystanders would remain tight-lipped as others insulted and humiliated lesbian and gay people. Today, they silently watch extreme gender ideologues throw heretics and natal women under buses, and quietly observe the campaign for children to be given puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. The silence of the bystanders comes at an immense price: both to their own self-respect, and to the well-being of others.
In the 1980s, the expression “in the closet” had the specific meaning of concealing one’s gay or lesbian identity. “Coming out” was regarded as an important political action – not least because it encouraged others to “come out” as well, and it promoted LGB visibility and confidence. “Coming out” carried risks, of course: of losing friends, of rejection by strangers, of being cast out by one’s family, or of losing one’s job, simply for being gay or lesbian. Today, homophobic oppression by gender extremists has pushed many LGB people – and others – into a different kind of closet. People have been intimidated into concealing their rejection of extreme gender ideology. And once again, people fear losing friends, suffering rejection, or even losing their job. What a lamentable state of affairs that a person can lose her job simply for asserting the existence of an insuperable biological difference between males and females, for defending LGB rights, or for defending the rights of women and children. It is time for us to “come out” once again: this time as gender-critical and as being unwilling to accept the LGBT+ lobby groupthink.
Today, homophobic oppression by gender extremists has pushed many LGB people – and others – into a different kind of closet. People have been intimidated into concealing their rejection of extreme gender ideology. And once again, people fear losing friends, suffering rejection, or even losing their job.
In the West, we are witnessing the most serious attack on LGB people and LGB rights of modern times. This homophobic attack, by the gender-extremist LGBT+ lobby, is all the more insidious for its pretence that it has the interests of LGB people at heart – a claim also made, of course, by other fundamentalist religious ideologies that attempt to erase homosexuality and convert us to something that accords with their belief system. The fact that this attack is being made under the hijacked rainbow banner is duping people into the belief that, by jumping on to the LGBT+ bandwagon, they are helping the LGB community, when instead they are harming us and, in the process, colluding with the creation of a hateful, intolerant and authoritarian culture in society at large: a culture that is also casually eviscerating women’s and girls’ sex-based rights and protections. Religious homophobia is back; but the new fundamentalist religion that drives this oppression drapes itself in the flags of extreme gender ideology and LGBT+ lobby overreach.
The real LGB community in the West is now fighting back, just as we fought back against deeply-ingrained religious homophobia all those years ago. We are forming alliances with other affected and concerned groups – including many moderate, independent-thinking and socially responsible people who identify as transgender and who are horrified at what is being demanded in their name. These gender-critical alliances are being formed across the political spectrum, and we are gradually building up our support base and building up people’s confidence to speak out. Despite the new role of Big Tech in censoring gender-critical voices and policing our language in a coercive way, we are still managing to have those important conversations and to expose the lies and the harm that are undermining both the civil rights of vulnerable groups and the basic freedoms of Western societies. We are “coming out” of our closets once again and encouraging others to do the same – and it is profoundly liberating. It is just as liberating for LGB people today as it was to come out decades ago, when we refused to allow oppressive ideologies and people to negate our identities and bully us into submission and hiding.
As LGB people, we have proved time and again what we can achieve with courage, compassion, solidarity, and sound organisation. The new challenges of this modern homophobic age present us with an opportunity to draw on our past accomplishments and to demonstrate, yet again, that we will not allow our community and our rights to be trampled over with impunity by an extreme fundamentalist ideology propagated by means of manipulation, hatred, coercion and lies.
Gary Powell is a gay man and has been active in gay politics since 1980. He is the Research Fellow for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the Bow Group and the European Special Consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture.