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British Critic Slams Soaps For Gay 'Propaganda,' Star Responds


Goodness, England has had much same-sex drama this week.

First, of course, there was Lee Hall's gay opera row, and now British art critic Brian Sewell has taken to The Daily Mail to decry LGBT characters on the popular soaps Coronation Street and EastEnders.

“There’s too much, not only of gay men … but also of lesbians, bisexuals, the trans-gender community, cross-dressers and everyone else with some sexual quirk or fetish," wrote Sewell.

The dear old egalitarian BBC protested that its policy is to portray gay and heterosexual relationships in exactly the same way, both equally suitable for pre-watershed viewing. But are they equally suitable?
Are soaps, watched by pre-pubescent children — who may still have some tattered remnant of innocence that we should cherish — really a proper platform for sexual propaganda and special pleading?

Sewell also lamented that LGBT characters are "preaching to us from some supposed moral high ground." The assumption, of course, is that gays can never have a moral high ground. Because we're wicked and sinful and all that.

Read more, AFTER THE JUMP...

Actor Charlie Condou, who plays gay character Marcus Dent on Coronation Street, does not appreciate Sewell's criticism, and penned his own op-ed in The Guardian to respond.

"Sewell seems to suggest there's something morally reprehensible in being gay, and that there's some kind of promotion of a gay agenda at work (led by a sinister-sounding "mafia")," writes Condou. "In fact you barely see a kiss from the gay characters, just like our heterosexual counterparts. It's not a 'sexy' show."

Condou also says that he's "proud" to be part of Coronation Street's historically inclusive heritage, and worries that Sewell's article may be part of a greater, regressive trend:

Sewell's article worries me because it seems to be part of a change in mood that reminds me of the Section 28 years, when everyone was shouting out that the gays were taking over. This week's news that Opera North had pulled the plug on Lee Hall's opera Beached over explicit references by a gay character to his sexuality has added to this. It feels like we're moving backwards, and I find that shocking.

On the bright side, though, Condou's article illustrates how far Britain, and indeed the world, have come; it wasn't so long ago that actors, gay or straight, would ignore LGBT rights all together.

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  1. Nod, nod, wink, wink ... the pot calling the kettle black ... Sewell is, shall we say, "not straight"

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 7, 2011 9:10:01 AM

  2. Because, after all, the only people that exist are straight, white, protestants, right? The other 10-20% of the population who isn't straight should NEVER be heard from so this bigot can pretend they don't exist?

    Posted by: Craig | Jul 7, 2011 9:15:07 AM

  3. When you realize that Brian Sewell is 80 years old, this entire post seems pointlessly obvious. Really, an octogenarian is uncomfortable with gays in the media? Call the papers!

    Moving on...

    Posted by: Mike8787 | Jul 7, 2011 9:19:14 AM

  4. Yeah, TV here in Britain is in a dreadful state. Why, in 2007 Channel 4 showed a scurrilous documentary film entitled 'Dirty Dali' all about Salvador Dali's bisexual obsessions and masturbatory habits. One of the sources for the stories was an art critic who recalled his time spent as a young man posing naked in Dali's garden while the great Surrealist painter wanked himself off.

    The name of the critic? Er...Brian Sewell.


    Posted by: John C | Jul 7, 2011 9:30:55 AM

  5. To use an old, antiquanted Queeny British expression (which seems fitting for Sewell) isn't that the pot calling the kettle black ? Sewell is one of England's crustiest stately homos...i suppose he would rather return to the days of picking up tricks in the East End or the Docklands and Clause 28 Britain..the gloom of a different age of consent, Thatcherism etc

    Posted by: Paul | Jul 7, 2011 9:31:41 AM

  6. Sewell is Bisexual, but not happy with his same sex attraction. He is an out and out self hater, and admits to it. Why else would he write for the Daily Mail? He is bitter gay people are no longer subject to social hatred and an internal religious guilt, like he was. He could learn a lot for Sir Ian.

    Posted by: Rovex | Jul 7, 2011 9:34:33 AM

  7. Criticism is the last resort of the incompetent.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Jul 7, 2011 9:45:26 AM

  8. "watched by pre-pubescent children, who may still have some tattered remnant of innocence that we should cherish"

    Hey, F-U.

    I reject your assumption that children understanding that a spectrum of sexuality exists, amounts to a loss of innocence, or something that they need to be 'protected' from...

    I'm more worried about protecting kids from prejudice & narrow-thinking, dear.

    Posted by: Pete n SFO | Jul 7, 2011 10:05:53 AM

  9. Hey Mike8787! I am almost an octogenarian, and I resent that.

    Not senile yet...

    Posted by: Joel | Jul 7, 2011 10:06:58 AM

  10. Poor Sewell--80 years is a long time to hate oneself. The good news is that it can't last much longer.

    Posted by: Danny | Jul 7, 2011 10:10:36 AM

  11. Thank you @JOHN C that was awesome

    Posted by: MrJ | Jul 7, 2011 10:15:38 AM

  12. I saw Sewell's film about Dali and it is highly entertaining, the thought of Dali knocking one out over Brian Sewell's naked form in the long grass behind his spanish villa in 1970 is very funny and to be fair Sewell tells the story very well, I recommend a look to anyone who has time.

    Posted by: arch | Jul 7, 2011 10:27:49 AM

  13. If pre-pubescents are watching shows they shouldn't, they don't need this ass-clown to worry about their "tattered-remnants" (who the f*ck does he think he is, James Joyce?) it's their parents responsibility.

    This seems like the whinings of an old man who needs attention rather than anything actually resembling reality. Why are soaps playing up gay characters? Because we've had 50 years of straight characters having sex, cheating on their spouses, fathering children out of wedlock, cheating, lying, philandering. And this bozo is worried about a guy in a dress? Really?

    Unpucker your ass, pull out your panties and grow up, Mr. Sewell. We've left the 70s behind.

    Posted by: Bart | Jul 7, 2011 10:31:13 AM

  14. I wouldn't worry too much about Brian Sewell's opnions, it's generally accepted that he's a sad old man who has never quite accepted his own sexuality (he's actually said as much - look him up on wikipedia and read his quotes on his own sexuality and depression). It's a shame but I get the impression that he sees a life he could have lived writ large on screen and is regretting his own cowardice and servitude. Just one more example of how f**ked up and self-hatng, a life pre-Wolfenden rendered a lot of gay men in this country. Nevermind, they're all very old now and wont be with us much longer..

    Posted by: Craig | Jul 7, 2011 10:57:05 AM

  15. Because it's state owned, the BBC becomes a political hobby-horse for various voices in Britain and attracts political criticism.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 7, 2011 11:11:22 AM

  16. Though for the record, Coronation Street (and Emmerdale too, which probably has the most consistent and positive record on LGBT characters and storylines over the years) is not a BBC programme and is produced by ITV, which is not "state-owned" but a commercial station.

    On an entirely more shallow note, the guy on the left in the photo is super cute! :-)

    Posted by: mynci_bone | Jul 7, 2011 2:50:26 PM

  17. How innocent can a child who watches East Enders be?

    Posted by: BobN | Jul 7, 2011 3:44:38 PM

  18. Who is the cute guy next to the drag queen?

    Posted by: jaragon | Jul 7, 2011 5:33:24 PM

  19. Here at Glenn's Homophobia Newsletter, we have three major concerns in life:

    1. Our raison d'être: developing our sense of entitlement by obsessing over how misunderstood, ill-used, and put-upon we all are.

    2. Our vocation: looking at digitally altered fantasy photographs of shirtless men between 15 and 30 years of age and 5-7% body fat who spend at least 30% of their waking hours exercising and who shriek and pass out at the sight of a french fry.

    3. Our hobby: recreational contempt. (It used to be self loathing, but now that we love ourselves altogether too much, we've switched to loathing everyone and everything else.)

    I come here every day so that Glen can tell me who hates me, who I should adore despite the fact that he doesn't actually exist, and who I should hate (preferably while accusing others of being "haters.")

    Posted by: Bryan | Jul 7, 2011 5:55:47 PM

  20. @ jaragon:

    His name is Ryan Thomas. He recorded an "It's Get Better" segment for Stonewall.


    Posted by: mynci_bone | Jul 8, 2011 9:44:43 AM

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