It costs £450 for a standard table (£600 VIP and £40 per person for afterparty) there’s a category for ‘Corporate Straight Ally’ and it’s sponsored by the Royal Bank Of Scotland
Who is excited for the British LGBT Awards next week? It is, apparently, dubbed “the Gay Oscars” by the press. That in itself seems like a tautology after this year’s real Oscars – they were pretty gay: Sam Smith declared himself “the first openly gay man” to win an Oscar. Dustin Lance Black snapped back that he was the first. Neither of them actually were, but what are dull facts of history compared to the razzle dazzle of showbiz?
But back to the auspicious LGBT awards every member of the community is waiting for. I say ‘every member’ of the community but I imagine those struggling with housing in an era of austerity may not have the spare change to book one of the “extremely limited” tables that boast champagne and VIP access for those who can pay.
The awards are proudly sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, everyone’s favourite bank – or rather, the one that we all paid to bail out in a fantastic investment that made a huge loss (a loss for everyone except for its senior bankers who paid themselves handsome bonuses throughout the recession).
And we mustn’t discriminate against anyone – as the Awards website itself says: “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”. Indeed, we must show diversity and include the straight people – lord knows they have so few moments of being celebrated in our culture – let them bask in the glow of an LGBT award too!
Straight people are honoured widely to the extent that they even have their own category: ‘Celebrity Straight Ally’. Nominees include Kim Cattrall (because her Sex and the City character Samantha had a brief, two-episode affair with a woman which aired fifteen years ago) and Eddie Redmayne, who played trans pioneer Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl.
Then there’s the ‘Corporate Straight Ally’ category, featuring lots of middle-aged men in suits as nominees. I don’t know any of them but, hey, I’m not corporate or straight (ok I was one time at a party but I was fucking wasted). A man called Vincent who works at KPMG is nominated and says “my LGBT colleagues are brave in a way I am only beginning to understand, and have inspired me again and again.” Cheers, Vince, we love having to be ‘brave’ and glad we inspired you: there’s a bag of meph with your name on it when you wanna hit up Vauxhall.
“There’s the ‘Corporate Straight Ally’ category, featuring lots of middle-aged men in suits as nominees. I don’t know any of them but, hey, I’m not corporate or straight (ok I was one time at a party but I was fucking wasted)”
There is an LGBT category (yes that’s an LGBT category at the LGBT awards) to honour LGBT celebrities. Well, just eight of them. One of the nominees is Boy George, who was convicted of imprisoning and beating a gay sex worker. I doubt any gay sex workers are in a position to complain though – by which I mean they probably haven’t booked one of those “extremely limited” tables to heckle from.
As a transgender person myself, I was keen to see who would be nominated for Team Trans – and, who else, but everyone’s favourite arch-Republican Caitlyn Jenner as our sole icon and representative. The expert judging panel also features one trans woman, Captain Hannah Winterbourne. Winterbourne does, in fairness, do good work with the charity Mermaids but I cannot slightly groan at the fact that the trans community – so often erased in LGBT history – is this year represented in toto by an officer in that queerest and most radical of institutions: the British Army.
The Global Icon category seems to be the big gong of the night given its impressive title and once again its good to see so many straight people nominated. Hillary Clinton is nominated for her work on human rights. Hillary believes in the death penalty, opposed gay marriage for years, lied about the Reagan administration’s response to the AIDS crisis and drone bombs Pakistani schools in her free time but, hey, she’s a strong woman in a male-dominated world! Slay, queen!
For balance, I would say it is good that LGBT charities and community initiatives are honoured in an otherwise pinkwashed event. If I were to be a real bitch I could still raise an eyebrow that my good friends over at Freedom to Donate are nominated when LGBT domestic violence charities, currently under threat, do not receive any of the limelight this event could offer. When we attempted to contact Square Peg Media, the firm behind the British LGBT Awards, for comment at the announcement of the shortlist (way back in February) we received no reply.
However, a spokesperson for the awards did speak to The Independent, lukewarmly insisting all nominees are voted for by the public. There’s no data available on how many votes were received (or how many of these may have come from the PR teams for the nominees themselves). Perhaps, then, the prevalence of straight nominees with dubious qualifications is not the fault of the organisers.
But it leads me to question – if there are not enough queer people in public life to fill a queer awards ceremony, maybe that should be a call to action rather than a cause for champagne-soaked celebration? Of course, I begrudge none of the nominees a night on the town (I’m sure the afterparty cocaine will be top notch) but, rather like the rugby boys at school who wanked in unison while insisting they weren’t gay, these LGBT Awards seem like the biggest hetero circle jerk of all.