Sunday, 18 November 2018

Depicting Trump and Putin in a romantic relationship isn’t funny – it just makes you a homophobe

Depicting Trump and Putin in a romantic relationship isn’t funny – it just makes you a homophobe
17 Jul

Most LGBT+ people remember when they first heard their sexuality or gender identity being used as the butt of a joke. It might have been in the school playground or on one of the dozens of TV shows in the Eighties, Nineties and Noughties which only had gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender characters as a means of comic relief. Are You Being Served?, anyone?

For me, it was before I was even a teenager, when my parents would use the phrase “poof’s parlour” to describe anything they perceived to smell feminine.

These days, parents are better educated, TV shows are more inclusive and diverse and schools even have bespoke protocols in place to prevent the word “gay” or similar from being used as a pejorative. 

So why is rampant homophobia still permitted under the guise of political commentary, satire or even activism?

The New York Times is the latest culprit, this week taking aim at Donald Trump and his Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin by depicting the two heterosexual world leaders as gay lovers.

In the latest episode of the publication’s “Trump Bites” series, a feminised caricature of Trump eagerly prepares for a date with a hypermasculine, topless Putin. The pair embark on their date, hold hands, ride a flying unicorn in their underwear – because unicorns are gay, obviously – before Trump tweaks Putin’s nipples while they engage in a deep and passionate kiss.

In the end, it turns out the “date” was merely a fantasy in Trump’s mind, but the implication is very much a reality. The New York Times wants you to think that Trump is gay. Not only is Trump gay, but Trump is gay for Putin. Trump wants to have gay sex with Putin. Trump possibly even wants to be in a gay relationship with Putin. And the whole thing is deeply, deeply homophobic. 

This cartoon from The New York Times is far from an isolated incident. At the anti-Trump protests in London last week, hundreds of placards and signs depicted the two presidents in homosexual embraces – with protestors even going as far to Photoshop the heads of Trump, Putin and in some cases Piers Morgan into gay porn scenes.

In June this year, Bette Midler – “The Divine Miss B”, someone the community has long looked upon as an ally – tweeted: “Trump and Putin are meeting in Finland next month. That’s a long way to travel for a blowjob.” 

Meanwhile Kathy Griffin, someone who isn’t shy of controversy herself when it comes to Trump, took a different tact and tweeted a picture of Trump and Kim Jong-un in a tender embrace on the cover of Vogue

Rewind further still to February of this year when BBC2’s The Daily Mash broadcast a cartoon of Piers Morgan rimming Trump.

Rimming can be fun for both heterosexual and same-sex partners, but there’s nothing funny about using a sex act to imply that two heterosexual men are gay together – regressing to the old schoolyard mentality of yore that to be gay is to be something shameful.

In this instance, the BBC wanted you to think that Piers Morgan is gay. Not only is Piers gay, but Piers is gay for Trump. Piers wants to have gay sex with Trump.

He wants to rim Trump, actually. Piers possibly even wants to be in a gay relationship with Trump. And again, the whole thing is deeply, deeply homophobic.

There are countless more examples of Trump and Putin – both oppressors of the LGBT+ community, it should be pointed out – being depicted as gay men. But no matter how many examples, the point remains the same. 

Being gay is not a punchline. Being gay is not a weakness. Being gay is not something to be ashamed of, or to fear, or to reject. A

nd whether you’re Bette Midler, the BBC or a well-meaning protestor with a sign, when you bash Trump with a rhetoric which implies that being gay is something to be laughed at, you’re not only being insidiously homophobic, but you’re doing as much damage to the mental and emotional wellbeing of young LGBT+ people than Trump himself.



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