An irrational fear of gay spiders!


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My Father, who sadly passed away a few years ago, was a Geordie. He raised six of us, mainly on his own, and, though he wasn’t a perfect Father, for me he was a very good one and I believe also, fundamentally, a very good man. Now I appreciate that every persons’ experience is different in life so I can only really speak for myself when I say that he never forced or laboured any issues with me but he still managed to raise me not to be prejudiced of other people and, I also think, to be a fairly rounded individual…if a little weird at times. I think the same can be said for my siblings too.

But you see…here’s the thing…I have no issues with people of other ethnicities so I don’t consider myself racist. I like to think that I’ve championed women in mine and others’ workplaces and I also feel strongly about equal rights so I don’t think I could ever be accused of being sexist. Am I ageist? I don’t think so, certainly not at the rate that I’m getting there myself too. Disablist? Nope. Homophobic? Well…errr…I’m confused…I mean…after all…surely there must be something wrong (right?) If people can’t just be anti-gay but instead have to be scared of them. Society doesn’t think it enough to label people who are different but now, I can’t just be anti-gay, I have to be homophobic, like its’ something that’s a threat or possibly contagious. I always thought that a phobia was an irrational fear of something.  No?

And the fact is that it saddens me that we still live in a society where people believe they have to ‘come out’…like its’ something to be ashamed of or to hide from people…but the sad truth of it is that people still haven’t accepted it for what it is. I am referred to as being straight but even that is mildly offensive. To suggest that I’m straight implies that someone who is gay is bent which in turn implies broken. Okay, so I may have overthought that one slightly but it has always been something that has bugged me.  But seriously, what right have I to tell another person who they can love? Who is society to determine a persons’ sexuality? There are parts of the world where people are ridiculed, imprisoned or even worse just for being openly gay…but thankfully not all parts of the world are so blinkered or backward.

However: There still remains a stifling undercurrent of unspoken pressures and subtle reminders for younger people who might believe themselves to be gay that forces them to still hide in the shadows, to conceal their true selves and to camouflage one of the most fundamental yet advanced qualities that human beings have developed…and that is…the capacity to love.

A few months back I was given cause for concern by my ex-wife that she wasn’t prepared to accept the eventuality that our Son might one day announce that he was gay. He has never given us reason to believe that he is gay but then, to be fair, what does gay look like? Gay is not the stereotypically camp shop-floor attendant as depicted on television in the 1970’s, nor does it necessarily involve the wearing of pink fluffy unicorns on your T shirt etc…but I digress. So the subject came up with my ex and I decided to make my feelings on the subject known. I took the opportunity to speak to my Son about it on two or three occasions and, without labouring the point, I explained to him that it was important in life to be the person you feel you want to be, to love the people you want to love. I also discussed sexuality with him and hopefully left him assured in the knowledge that however he is and whoever he is, it’s all fine by me. Now I’m not rallying for any ‘perfect parent’ of the year award. Trust me, that boat sailed a long time ago, I’m not the perfect parent, but I try to be a good one. And I know that, were my Dad still alive today, his only concern about his Grandchildren would be whether or not they were happy. In fact that would be the only thing that would have broken my Dad’s heart is if one of his children or Grandchildren had sat him down for a quick word just to ‘come out’ as being unhappy in life.

I also had this conversation with my Son because I know people that, in the past, struggled with ‘coming out’…struggled to find a way to have that conversation that society expects of them where they sit their parents down and have to ‘admit’ that they’re gay and then wait and pray that they were not too harshly judged. They struggled to tell the ones they love that they are different, that their peg doesn’t necessarily fit society’s expected hole…(Stop it now!)…and this is all because, even when society has been fairly open minded about the subject, some individuals, including parents, still try to repress their children from such ideas, they still drop subtle hints about how it might be wrong or dirty…and this often, not because they are necessarily against the idea themselves but moreover because they’re concerned about ‘what the neighbours’ might think or ‘what they might say down at the social club’.

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Bob: “Hi, my name’s Bob…and…I’m gay.”

Other members of the circled group applaud Bob as he retakes his seat.

Daphne: “Oh well done Bob, you’re halfway there if you can admit it.”

Martin: “You’re well on the road to recovery now Bob.”

Bob looks awkwardly at his feet as he shuffles them on the dusty floor of the underfunded council property.

I look forward to a time when people don’t have to ‘come out’, don’t have to ‘admit’ that they’re gay, they just are…because being gay is not a choice, it just is. Some people are gay, some are left handed, some are blonde, you know, it just…is. Meh.

But, and this is where I guess I kind of lose my professed arguments about being open minded, if I was sitting in the bath and an eight legged gay man started scuttling up the side of the taps then, yes, I would very likely shit myself. So…okay, I’m out…colour me Arachnahomophobic!

If you have any, questions, feedback or views, please feel free to leave them in the comments section or, alternatively, contact me via

ned@thewayofthesquirrelbooks.com