Photo of Will Fletcher

Will Fletcher

Whose stereotypes are they anyway?

Tuesday August 18, 2015

Like me, many of our supporters will have seen an interesting new poll from YouGov over the weekend. It found that 49% of 18-24 year olds say they are not exclusively heterosexual. It’s undeniably a good thing that younger generations are becoming less rigid in their understanding of sexuality.

Interestingly though, when you examine at the full survey results, you can see that when asked which term best described their sexuality, 83% of 18-24 year olds chose to identify as heterosexual. It seems there’s a mismatch between how young people feel and how they view their sexuality.

One of the other big LGBT news stories of the weekend might shed some light. In his interview with the Sunday Mirror, Keegan Hirst, the first openly gay rugby league player spoke about how difficult he found it to come to terms with being gay:

“I had a wife and kids. I’ve been a builder, doorman, working in factories – I play rugby. I tick every macho box. How could I be gay? I’m from Batley for goodness sake. No one is gay in Batley.”

Keegan Hirst doesn’t fit the stereotypes of gay men. Because of that he couldn’t believe that he is one.

A significant part of our workshops in secondary schools revolve around young people’s stereotypes of LGBT people. By introducing them to LGBT role models – both our own volunteers and well-known LGBT people – we help them understand that whatever your sexuality you don’t have to fit prescribed stereotypes, you can just be yourself.

Keegan Hirst made a brave step publicly disclosing his sexuality this weekend. By doing so, he’ll be a positive role model to young people across the country, helping them understand that anyone can be LGBT, even a macho rugby player.

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