Russell Tovey has so much going for him. Looks, charm, a show on HBO, and a great looking dog…
Russell Tovey, unfortunately, has one other thing, a giant mouth that just got him in a world of trouble. In a recent interview Tovey said,
“I feel like I could have been really effeminate, if I hadn’t gone to the school I went to. Where I felt like I had to toughen up…If I’d have been able to relax, prance around, sing in the street, I might be a different person now. I thank my dad for that, for not allowing me to go down that path.”
Those words speak volumes and unfortunately the volumes are about a disease that has always affected the gay community, internalized homophobia.
If you don’t know that term, Internalized homophobia is when a GLBTQ person resents their own sexuality and goes out of their way to distance themselves from the community or external social perceptions of their sexuality.
Through his own words, Mr. Tovey has exposed his internal homophobia and personal views of the gay community.
Now I understand that not everyone is an activist or wants to be the grand marshal of the pride parade, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That is not what I’m questioning though. I am questioning Tovey’s vocal betrayal of the community that he is a part of both as a gay man and celebrity.
We have seen, in the last few years, a sad number of young gay teens bullied to death because of their effeminate nature. We have heard the names they have been called, seen the devastation on their parents faces at the loss they will never recover from. A loss caused by words. Words that aren’t too far from the ones Russell Tovey uttered. This line of thinking is what explains why some guys to use terms like “Masc (short for masculine) Only” or “No fems” to describe the kind of guys they are looking for. These terms are as destructive as they are worthless. Those and Tovey’s words are ones that don’t further a conversation but rather lets one crumble.
But who cares what Tovey said? They are his views after all is and he’s entitled to them. That said the reality is that Russell Tovey is a star on one of the biggest networks, on a show that is directly about the gay community and that is what makes his words carry more weight. Last year we saw the RuPaul’s Drag Race fanbase divided over the show’s use of the word “shemale.” We saw the fandom take sides over if it was fair to say it or not. Former Drag Race contestant and trans model Carmen Carrera said that the show should “Use their platform to educate their viewers truthfully.”
While Drag Race and Looking are two different shows, the sentiment remains the same: use your platform wisely. Tovey has chosen to be a public figure, no one made him be an actor, no one forced him on Looking, he has chosen a path that, as a result, put many eyes and ears on him, so for the words he speaks to be those of division and judgment is a blow to all of the good Looking is seeking to do.
Tovey’s words are harmful because they will either resonate with other’s who agree with him or they will fall on the ears of those already struggling with their own expression of sexuality. It is because of the latter that makes his thinking and words the most dangerous.
If you’ve made it this far you can tell that I obviously have some strong opinions on the matter and you would be correct.
I had a relationship that ended because the person I was with took extreme issue to whenever I would have a moment, a comment, or article of clothing that he perceived to be “Too gay.” He would bring up things about me that he felt was “Too gay” and said, “Do you know how unattractive that is to me?”
He was similar to Tovey: charming, attractive, out to his friends and family, but much like Tovey, out did not mean proud and felt that gay men should still act like “men.”
Tovey recently posted an apology to his Twitter but read his first tweet
I surrender. You got me. I’m sat baffled and saddened that a mis- fired inarticulate quote of mine, has branded me worst gay ever Contd
— russell tovey (@russelltovey) March 3, 2015
“I surrender. You got me.”
It was only until the community that he thought would accept his comments called him out, that made him apologize. It is that red flag of insincerity that negates the apology. If Mr. Tovey truly wants to make amends he can go to a GLBT Center and Spend time with effeminate teens who have been kicked out of their house, listen to their stories. Use the moment as a learning lesson and not one of “I need my manager in every interview.”
Russell Tovey is by all accounts, not a bad person, but he should not let his own insecurity and homophobia destroy the platform he has at its foundation. He said in his apology, “We’re in this together.”
Tweets come and go, but truly believing, that will last forever and only that can make real change.