I grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the internet didn’t exist, there were four TV channels in our house, and the romantic relationships represented on TV were almost exclusively heterosexual. For years I was surrounded by sexual imagery that didn’t really interest me – straight romances, men and women kissing and going to bed with each other. I could watch mainstream TV knowing that I was pretty much guaranteed not to see any romantic or sexual action that I’d find particularly interesting. It was easy for me to avoid the sort of stuff that would unhelpfully feed my fantasies.
But now the wind has changed and there is gay and lesbian romance everywhere – dramas, comedies, work training videos, billboards, shop displays… There are same-sex couples on Strictly, female comedians talking about their wives, and male athletes talking about their husbands and kids. You don’t have to deliberately seek out gay stories anymore – they’re everywhere.
You don’t have to deliberately seek out gay stories anymore – they’re everywhere.
I was happily enjoying a rerun of The Big Bang Theory the other day when an advert for a car came on which featured two women kissing and I realised – ‘This is what it must be like to be straight.’ This is what it feels like to be ambushed by unhelpful romantic or sexual imagery when you’re just going about your daily life. This is what it feels like to be confronted with your biggest temptation when you haven’t pursued it and you’re tired and your guard is down. Younger people have grown up in this world, but for those of us who had to actively seek out any gay imagery – and therefore could choose not to – it’s a bit of a shock.
I’ve realised I can learn so much from my straight friends who know what it’s like to navigate unavoidable, unhelpful words and pictures. I’m going to spend much more time learning from the wisdom of those who’ve gone before me and who’ve learned what it means to take every thought captive to Christ in a world of sexual temptation.