I'm an X Factor fan. I'm not in the slightest bit ashamed of that. I know all the arguments against it and pretty much agree with each & every one. It is cynical TV and contributes little, at least in positive terms, to the music industry. It glorifies public humiliation and subjects people, often young people, to unacceptable and artificial levels stress. But, it is absolutely fantastic television and the highlight of my Saturday night (were I younger, free & single this may not be the case).
This post isn't about the X Factor though. Well, it is & it isn't. It's not about any particular evils the X Factor may commit whether related to LGBT issues or not, though there clearly is cause for such a post. No, in this post I am referencing the X Factor because in many ways, the audience and participants provide a glimpse of society in the UK today. That society, for me, whilst incredibly tolerant (through choice or legislation) of homosexuality still has a way to go before homosexuality is accepted, without reservation as an equal sexual orientation as heterosexuality.
Consider the amount of overt heterosexuality on display during any episode of the X factor; Judges referring to how much a good looking male artist will appeal to young girls, highly equalised or romantic interaction between the acts and dancers who are always the opposite sex to them, male contestants talking about the key benefit of success being the ability to get girls. I don't have any problem with any of this. It's perfectly normal and within the boundaries of what is appropriate for Saturday prime time TV.
Now imagine that when you watch the X Factor this Saturday you see this: A judge tells Frankie Cocozza that teenage boys are going to fancy the pants off him, Johnny Robinson performs a romantic song and dances intimately with a good looking, half dressed male dancer and the Judges tease Marcus Collins about rumours he has had his way with 2 members of The Risk.
I can't guarantee it but I imagine the editor of The Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, would spontaneously combust with equal outrage and excitement. The really sad thing is that, on this occasion, the Daily Mail wouldn't be alone. It's highly likely other papers would focus heavily on X-Factor's homosexualisation, they'd just do it with a little more tact. What's more, they'd do it safe in the knowledge that they'd be on safe grounds.
The fact is that for much of the population, tolerance does not equal acceptance. There is still very much an undertone of 'got not problem with gay people as long as they don't flaunt it in public'. This way of thinking is wholly unacceptable and it cannot be allowed to continue unchecked and supported by the public because whilst it remains, homophobia will also continue. Those same people who proclaim they have no issue with homosexuality etc. are the same people who also proclaim that homophobia is wrong, not realising that the two ways of thinking are inextricably linked.
As I said, I'm not accusing The X Factor of being in any way a homophobic TV show - it clearly isn't - but I would love, dearly love, for The X Factor to be brave enough to break down the barrier that still exists and not just show tolerance of homosexuality but give it equal footing and credence and to stop pretending that it isn't prevalent in our society. It may seem unfair to land that burden on The X Factor but as the nations most watched & discussed TV show, I can't help but feel that morally, they should.