Bibliophile: Straight Expectations

Straight ExpectationsStraight Expectations

by Julie Bindel

Guardian Books

Since becoming a lesbian at 15, Julie Bindel has spent her life contemplating bigotry and campaigning against violence against women of all persuasions.

She is co-founder of the law reform organisation Justice for Women and has been named in the World Pride Power List as one of the most influential lesbian and gay people in the world.

In her book, she evaluates what has happened in Britain ten years after the Civil Partnership Act allowed gay men and women to legally marry.

She does believe that as well as legislative changes, there have been cultural changes, with high profile people celebrating their homosexuality. She also thinks that despite all that, “anti-gay bigotry still rages in the public domain” as well as the private one.

Just like in Australia, many people choose to remain in the closet because bullying and homophobic language is rife, hate crimes continue and people still face discrimination even though it is probably more subtle. Of the 5,000 professional footballers in Britain, none is openly gay.

Bindel conducted surveys and interviews to try to gain an understanding of modern gay issues and compares these with her experiences in the 1970s.

Her goal was to find out how well we have adapted to recent changes and challenges and what the future could hold for young lesbians and gay men.

Her big disappointment is that she feels we have “regressed as a movement and been swallowed up by the status quo, while swallowing it ourselves” because “we begged for an invitation to the party instead of throwing a better one ourselves”.

While many countries such as Russia, India and the US have taken back homosexual rights, Bindel sees the assimilation that has occurred in Britain because of marriage equality. She also laments the lack of idealism, solidarity and activism.

Bindel’s historical perspective shows how much times have changed and how much the fight for equality has been railroaded by consumerism. Feeling that “we have gone from radical pink politics to the most boring grey politics imaginable”, she is calling for the revolution to be reignited in her thought-provoking book.

Lezly Herbert