You might find yourself asking ‘Why do people want to boycott the British LGBT Awards? Surely they’re here to celebrate LGBT+ people and commend them for their work?’ and I would agree with you, but it appears that this is not the case.
In principal, that is what the LGBT Awards are for: recognising the work of LGBT+ celebrities across Britain where other awards may not. However, it seems that there are many categories within the shortlist which include an abundance of straight, cisgender nominees, as well as a whole category for ‘Celebrity Straight Allies’. Obviously this is very aggravating because there are countless music and acting awards geared towards this majority and the LGBT Awards are the one place where LGBT+ members can shine, much like the BET Awards are meant to be a place for celebrating black and other minority celebrities when other awards such the Oscars lack the representation.
Members of the LGBT+ community need this award to be specifically for them because otherwise they get pushed to the side, silenced in favour of celebrities who are deemed to be more socially acceptable because they’re heterosexual and cisgendered.
When we start filtering the default ‘straight, white, cis’ celebrities into places meant for minorities, it’s almost saying that the majority must always be included despite the media constantly being geared towards them. The judges of this award, even if it’s unintentional, are reinforcing this idea by allowing the likes of Adele, Zoella, Zayn Malik and even Hillary Clinton to be nominated for awards. The disclaimer (for lack of a better word) in multiple categories says that they accepted ‘public nominations’ without regard to age, sexuality, ethnicity etc because of their ‘ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion’ but to me this defeats the purpose.
‘As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, The British LGBT Awards accepted public nominations in this category, regardless of the nominee’s sexuality, gender, ethnicity, disability, age, education, race and religion.’
Why have an award show aimed specifically at LGBT+ people, only to say that for public nominations you won’t even take into consideration someone’s sexuality?
There is a common idea within our society that not hating the LGBT+ community automatically makes you a perfect human being, even if you only make the most basic of statements along the lines of ‘Being gay isn’t wrong.’ All of a sudden you’re seen as some sort of groundbreaking ally when really you’ve only done the bare minimum, yet you expect people to praise you for being a decent human being. No one deserves praise simply for stating the obvious without actively doing anything to help out that community. At the end of the day, it isn’t the allies who get discriminated against or told they’re somehow wrong; they can go home feeling like they’re the epitome of helpfulness while there are LGBT+ people still struggling for representation.
I mean, really, why does Cher being called ‘the number one greatest thing about being gay’ make her a nominee for an award meant for actual gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people? Why should the fact that Zoella is friends with Tyler Oakley mean that she is worthy of recognition for work in the LGBT+ community? To my recollection, I’ve never heard her speaking up for LGBT+ rights. Furthermore, why is ‘Celebrity Straight Ally’ even a category? Of course it’s great that some (I repeat, some) of these celebrities are being accepting of the LGBT+ community but that doesn’t make them an LGBT+ member, the minority group which this award is meant for. The possibility that non-LGBT+ celebrities could win awards over LGBT+ ones makes it seem just like every other award show.
We need to hear LGBT+ voices standing on their own – we can’t let ‘allies’ overshadow the work and effort that LGBT+ people put into getting recognition because this just furthers the idea that we need straight and cis people to validate LGBT+ struggles. Painting straight people at the forefront of the LGBT+ movement makes it seem like we are reliant on them in order to gain equal rights.
No one group of people should hold that much power over another.
I would like to make a parting side note about ethnic diversity as well – I plan to write something specifically about that in the near future – and thought you should know that only 9/56 nominees (being voted on by the public) are non-white! That’s only 16%!
If you enjoyed this then you should also read this article by Liam Dryden, it talks abut similar issues (also he’s a cool dude).