This weekend Amsterdam will be bursting with pride – Gay Pride that is. You don’t have to be gay to immerse yourself in what will be one great big whopper of a party weekend. And to celebrate that occasion, Dutch public radio, like previous years, decided on hosting the “Homo 100” (the “Gay Top 100”), charting the 100 most “Gay” (gayest?) songs, as decided by a public vote.
Which is where I’m started to feel a bit uncomfortable. (Please don’t misunderstand those words;
I am not taking offense, neither for myself nor on behalf of others… I am just feeling a tad uncomfortable here.)
You see, I am delighted to see how Amsterdam Gay Pride has grown from a one-day parade into what is still referred to as a ‘weekend’ even though events stretch across seven or eight days. In a country where plenty of people still like to (make others) believe they are a “tolerant nation” – which they’re not, really, or should I say not really (or even really not?) – it is great to see that you don’t have to be straight to get married or gay to enter a and civil partnership (oh Britain, how I wish…) and it’s fabulous that Gay Pride has really become a celebration among all people, irrespective of each individual party-goer’s sexual orientation. I sincerely believe that such legislation and events seriously contribute to a culture of equality and integration.
But that’s exactly where I’m feeling somewhat uncomfortable about this “Gay Hot 100” chart. Voting was open to everyone (equality!); I don’t think there would have been any way to set up the online voting system so that “only gays” would have got to put in their choice of “hot, gay music”, nor do I believe it would have been possible to track which percentage of online contributors was gay, bi, or straight. What that did do, though, is open the door to every (hetero?) Tom, Dick, Harry and their dog to put in what they believe to be “music gays like” or “gay music” or whatever you want to call it.
In other words, people get to express their prejudices and stereotypes, and that is what bothers me – this has become a charting of songs perceived as “gay” when I doubt you’ll hear (m)any of those tunes played in popular clubs that specifically market themselves to a LGBT audience (unless the clubs in the Netherlands are very different from those here in London). In that sense the “Home 100” is possibly more a “Homophobe 100” than it is a “Gay Hot 100”.
Doesn’t that risk reinforcing – rather than dispelling – bigotry?