November 10, 2021 - 12:28pm

Nearly a third of American millennials identify as ‘LGBT’, according to a recent study by the Arizona Christian University. While it’s worth taking these findings with a pillar full of salt, they don’t seem enormously surprising, with an astonishing 39% of the younger cohort of 18 to 24s signing up to the increasingly bizarre rainbow flag. But what does this actually mean?

I’m reminded of my first experience of a Rocky Horror night at a student union in the late 80s, with a variety of very ordinary middle-class youngsters adorning themselves in fishnets and cosmetics applied paint-roller style; a dismal, sanctioned attempt at transgression, like a medieval carnival with everybody safely back tilling the fields the day after. ‘Queer’ is merely an extension of such tourism. 

It’s no surprise that the United States is the great leader in all things LGBTQ. This was after all the nation that codified pop music that was only very slightly different to the mainstream as ‘Alternative Rock’ and turned it into a billion dollar industry. The genius of corporate capitalism, expert at selling the slightly outrageous, has merely applied glittery varnish to the nails of its invisible hand. 

It’s all so deeply, tragically pathetic. You can’t identify out of your whiteness — even to consider adopting the customs, or the appearance, of other racial groups is haram. But roll up, roll up, come one come all for LGBT, for queer, and for instant high status as a cool victim. This is the culture (such as it is) that anyone can appropriate, no questions asked — a permanent celebration, with colourful flags and regular feast days. 

It is, of course, highly ironic that at the same time as these jamborees and fallals, actual, morally neutral, day-in day-out, boring homosexuality is very much on the cultural back burner.

In the western world it’s now heavily frowned upon for lesbians even to associate on the basis of same-sex attraction, either socially or politically, without including kinky straight men, who it has transpired, perhaps surprisingly, are the most oppressed lesbians of all. Objecting to this is apparently not just party-pooping but (according to Stonewall’s Nancy Kelley among others) next door to Nazism. When the dull, basic rights of homosexual people are concerned, ‘allies’ and ‘queers’ are either nowhere to be seen or tutting like the horrified maiden aunts of yore. 

So the findings of this survey maybe don’t seem so outlandish. The culture that was generated back in the day by lesbians and gay men living with the unfeigned, not-fun threat of exposure, plus the risk blackmail and social opprobrium, is now a fun youth cosplay craze, as conventional if not more conventional than were mods, rockers and Goths. 

I say, they’re welcome to it. Fill your LGBT boots, millennials. With your naff posing you’re making the actual homosexuality you can never understand authentically, transgressively cool again.

Gareth Roberts is a screenwriter and novelist, best known for his work on Doctor Who.