It’s not often that proper reporters put their own reaction to the story they are working on front and centre, but it can be revealing. Have a listen to this wonderful From Our Own Correspondent from gay BBC journalist Paul Henley reporting from the frontlines of Russian homophobia.
Without whining, Henley gives a wonderful flavour of what it is to be hated by people who don’t even know that they hate you. For me, the encouraging thing about this story is that the wall of hostility that Henley is obliged to bang his head against in Russia is new to him. Had he been born even 30 years earlier in the UK (and maybe still now in many parts of the United States) the blanket of homophobia would be woven, consciously or not, willingly or not, in to his life and his soul.
It’s not at all encouraging if you are Russian, of course, or Ugandan, or from one of the many other countries where self-appointed moralists like to stick their prurient noses into other people’s bedrooms. But the fact that Henley can broadcast his sexuality to the 180 million people who listen to the BBC World Service and make many of us feel proud of him means that in some countries, at least, we have come a very long way in the right direction.
The good side of homophobia is the vanishing side.