Former far-right homophobe explains how he realised the truth about gay people
A former member of the far-right English Defence League made an incredible call to a radio show this week to explain how he saw the light, and stopped being a racist homophobe.
Ben called into talk show host James O’Brien’s show on LBC, during a discussion about how people can atone for bigoted comments.
Scroll down for the clip.
The caller explained: “I’m only 28… if I was pulled on some of the things I said in my early 20s, I’d never work again.
“I used to be a member of the English Defence League and I couldn’t be any further away from that now.
“I was homophobic, I was racist… it couldn’t be any different to what I am now.”
Of questioning his homophobic beliefs, he said: “It’s the simple questions: ‘Why do you do that? Why do you hate gays? Why do you hate black people?’ I never bothered to ask myself.
“I had this ridiculous notion in my mind that being gay is against God. But I’ve never been to a church in my entire life. I couldn’t care less about God.
“It was an argument that was so widely used and accepted by the people I associated with, I never stopped to think.”
The caller credited listening to the liberal radio host’s show as one of the things that changed his point of view.
He said: “I met a woman about four years ago and quite frankly, she found [the EDL viewpoints] boring. I didn’t have anything interesting to say to her.
“I happened to start listening to you, and at the very same time, I started working with a lot of foreigners, a lot of Polish guys.
“My viewpoint absolutely flipped and changed and I now speak to absolutely none of those people that I used to associate with.
“I don’t hold a single one of those views anymore. I help the homeless. If I met my past self, when I was 20 years old, you’d have to fight to keep me off him.”
Of the appeal of the EDL, he said: “There was a sense of loneliness and having somewhere to belong. There was a sense of meaning, that I was doing something important and standing for something.
“If I’m completely honest, it was immaturity. I was young and stupid.”
He added: “Whenever I speak to anybody who shares the views I used to have, I try to enlighten them in the way that I’ve been enlightened, and say, look – why? Why do you feel this?
“I’m always very adamant about sorry I am about the way I’ve affected people, because I’m sure my actions have affected people.
“I’ve been trying to even the balance sheet. I like to think that people can tell from me fully acknowledging what I did – I genuinely believed what I was doing. That’s really important – acknowledging I believed in what I said, and not just ‘it was something stupid I said’.”
The radio host was clearly overcome by the caller’s story.
He said: “On the days when I wonder why I bother, I imagine people like you listening to the programme.
“To actually speak to you is a privilege and a pleasure. Thank you so much for that.”
Mr O’Brien is a strong supporter of LGBT equality.
Last week Mr O’Brien was hosting a debate about religion and homosexuality when one caller, Daniel, called up to insist that Christian teaching is clear that gay sex is sinful.
The radio host was curious to hear where these pronouncements come from – given Jesus makes no mention absolutely of the subject, and the only verse of the Bible to clearly condemn homosexuality, Leviticus, is full of bizarre archaic diktats that are not Christian teachings.
Mr O’Brien said: “Just remind me – just tell me the things that Jesus said about it.”
However, the caller appeared unable to recount any teaching from Jesus about gay people, probably because there aren’t any, and continued to attempt to change the subject
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Mr O’Brien would not let it go, however.
He added: “I will give you all the time that you need to answer the question I’m asking. Either you repeat the words that Jesus said, or you say, he didn’t say anything. You’ve got to choose. Did he say anything, and if he did, what were the words?”
Clearly unable to concede the point, the caller again tried to detract, referring to other parts of the Bible – but the host kept on the same point.
In total he asked the question an incredible 27 times, across a 5-minute segment – at one point breaking into song to repeat the question over and over.