As it’s LGBTQ+ History Month, I’m looking at a BBC TV series that gives a quirky view of all things Queer in modern Britain. In Preference or Prejudice – presenter Riyadh Khalaf looks first at Queers who face racism. It’s known that up to 80 per cent of the Black LGBTQ+ Community experience it. First up is Abdul, his friend, who tells of dating app Grindr where he has regularly been sent messages like: “ Blacks, please block me”, or “ not into Blacks”.
The question posed in the programme is – is this an acceptable statement of a preference or outright prejudice? In Birmingham we meet Manjinder, an Asian Gay man who’s experienced racism too. He came out to his parents by text, but was taken to a doctor, who said it was ok to be Gay. Then he was taken to his local temple – and they said it was ok too. But he was encouraged to have a sham hetero marriage.
Moving to London, he thought all would be well but again he got racist comments on Grindr over and over again. Next we encounter Alexander, whose book is called True Confessions of a Potato Queen – which describes Asian Gay males who will only date white men. Is this racism ? No, says A – it’s a preference,
Sherelle is in a triple minority: Black/Gay/Lesbian. She finds no representation of her in society or the Queer community. With shaved head and white girlfriend, she finds an unwillingness in society to accept the relationship she is in.
But for Sadie, the organiser of club night Cocoa Butter, there’s a safe space where people can see and meet their community – she calls it ”a movement, a church, a religion- celebrating ourselves”.
In Porn Idols Riyadh dives deep into online Queer porn. He tells us that the most commonly searched term on Pornhub is “straight men”. He meets George, a Gay porn star and producer and sits in on a filming session – all tastefully done within BBC guidelines.
In California we meet Shine and Jiz – two women who are making Queer porn. Asked if sex and money create a power imbalance, they agree, but don’t think the industry is totally an exploitative one. Blath in the UK makes Queer porn as a means of activism and empowerment – feminist porn where the woman is dominant. Cookie is a Trans woman, who markets herself as “ a woman who just happens to have a penis”. She says webcamming has given her confidence and advocacy.
Finally Buck Angel is a Trans male pornstar. He admits he’s controversial and pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a man or a woman. He says he’s creating visibility in order to make a change. “My porn is activism to show people they can love themselves”.
Episode 6 is titled: Queer and Proud. Riyadh admits he still has what he calls ”Queer fear” – not being totally happy with the term which for many years was homophobic But as he tells us: “people now own it and have got power from it as a community”. At Sink The Pink club night, we see the rule book goes out the window. Shay Shay tells us they are gender-fluid: “I run back and forth every day”.
For Trans Queer writer Shon it’s about ”reclaiming something left behind by the Gay revolution. It’s maybe being a bit more outrageous about your sexuality – sexuality is a spectrum. Queer admits everyone – body and gender are not as integral to a mindset as you think they are”.
It’s an important series of programme, made 5 years ago. It would be interesting if Riyadh went back and talked again to the interviewees. I wonder how life has changed for them- hopefully not backwards.