Matt Lucas has been reported as apologising for his character Daffyd “the only gay in the village” from Little Britain. It turns out that this is not what he said, but a reinterpretation by an LGBT magazine who clearly feel he should. They are, of course, wrong.
It’s an unhealthy obsession applying today’s values to yesterday’s views. By current standards Daffyd is anachronistic, but at the time it was a sharp observation of that first evangelical phase of someone coming to grips with their sexual identity. It was on TV in a grown up time slot and yes, it’s a crude stereotype, but the whole joke of the sketches was that Daffyd was surrounded by people who were absolutely fine with his sexuality — he just didn’t realise it, being caught up in the narrative of repression and isolation.
We (as in people with minority gender or sexual identities) should absolutely be able and willing to poke fun at ourselves, to question our attitudes and satirise the sorts of behaviour that develop when no-one challenges our views. It’s a hugely positive thing — not only within our communities, but also for people on the outside to see that we’re aware of our failings and limitations.
Lucas reportedly apologised because the “Only gay in the village” catch phrase has been used to bully young people. I don’t think it’s his responsibility to own the barbs other people use to cause hurt. If they weren’t using that phrase, they’d find another — it’s not his fault. We should be condemning the behaviour and lazy stereotyping (it is very anachronistic!), not the person who happened to come up with a phrase that struck a nerve — not for it’s ability to insult, but for it’s humour.
Little Britain also satirised crossdressers — something closer to home for me. Did I find the sketches uncomfortable? Yes, a little. Should they have stopped them? No. Would they make sense in the modern, gender aware world? Not in the slightest. Like Daffyd, they were poking fun at one behaviour that even back then was closer to previous decades’ attitude to gender and identity than current times.
These days we talk about these things in far more sophisticated terms, with many more nuances and wrinkles, wider and more open communities and much more self-awareness. Does that mean we shouldn’t laugh at ourselves, satirise our foolishness and celebrate the ridiculous world we live in? Of course not. We need a modern equivalent of Daffyd and all the others to remind ourselves that we are only human and sometimes leave others bemused and suprised.
Should we confuse that with giving license to trolls to insult and belittle us? Not at all. We should fight that behaviour at every opportunity. Except not too violently, because I’m a lady.