The BBC helped persuade a gay man in his 30s to come out to his homophobic parent

Mayer Nissim October 10, 2017
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This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, which partially decriminalised gay sex between men aged over 21.

The BBC marked the landmark half-century anniversary with a series of programming under the Gay Britannia banner, and has used National Coming Out Day to share its insights following the broadcasts.

It said that 43 per cent of UK TV audiences were aware of the season, with that number rising to 75 per cent of lesbian and gay people.

Gay Britannia (BBC)
The Man in the Orange Shirt (BBC)

A quarter of those who watched Gay Britannia programmes said that it taught them something they didn’t know before, with that rising to 37 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual audiences.

Gay Britannia and beyond: The best TV programmes marking the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act

The impact of the shows was also showed by anonymous testimonies from audience members, including one gay man who said Gay Britannia convinced him to come out.

“It helped persuade me to finally come out to a homophobic parent, who quite surprisingly accepted it,” said the 31-year-old.

Another 36-year-old gay man added: “It made me more proud of being Gay and also an appreciation of how lucky I am.”

One older respondent said: “As a gay man of 77 I remember what it was like prior to the part decriminalisation.

“But I wasn’t aware of the horrific attack that some gay persons have experienced in the last few years.”

Another older man said: “As a gay man of 77 I remember what it was like prior to the part decriminalisation, but I wasn’t aware of the horrific attack that some gay persons have experienced in the last few years.”

One 18 year old said: “As I am gay, it helped me to find identity with other people in similar situations to me.”

Gay Britannia
Gay Britannia on Radio 4 Extra

The BBC’s head of research projects David Bunker said welcomed the viewing figures for the shows, especially among lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

And he added: “It seems to have had an even wider impact: delivering new insight, sparking conversation and driving a sense of connection between people across the country on the issues the LGB community have faced in the past, and still face today.”

Not everyone was a fan of the coverage marking the 50th anniversary of partial decriminalisation.

Writing in The Times, Libby Purves suggested that too much attention was being paid to the anniversary.

“Even if you have long supported gay and transgender rights, even if squads of your friends and idols are gay, the overkill can make you flinch,” she said.

“There is a danger in coercive liberalism, one-note righteousness and the guilt-tripping of harmless guides as if they bore a share of blame for old oppression.”

And another Times columnist, Iain Martin, attempted an ironic comment about the season.

“The reform of 1967 was a landmark moment,” he said.

“You would think that the Beeb would have commissioned some kind of series of programmes, possibly stretching over an entire month on every channel for hours on end to highlight the anniversary. But no. Nothing on the nation’s airwaves.”

More: 50 year anniversary since partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, BBC, coming out, Gay Britannia, partial decriminalisation, sexual offences act

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