(Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Artillery Row

Dark side of the rainbow

The US obsession with marketing Pride to children has reached alarming new heights

Remember Walter the Softy? Dennis the Menace’s arch nemesis; a flower-sniffing, camp figure of ridicule. He used to prance through the pages of The Beano; today Dennis would be sent on a course to address his homophobia and Walter would be referred to Victim Support.

Whether a genuine attempt to atone for the thinly veiled prejudice of the past, or to cash-in on what’s become a marketing phenomenon, this year The Beano is celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride month. To mark the 52nd anniversary of the New York Stonewall riots, Dennis and Minnie’s iconic black and red jumpers have been replaced by rainbows. The Beano website has several quizzes on the history of Pride and the need for LGBTQ+ acceptance, all with a decidedly US-flavour.

Unbridled (or indeed bridled) displays of male sexuality have long been a feature of Pride

In comics and sitcoms homophobic staples of British entertainment have rightly been challenged for many years. In 2021, inclusivity is expected; it is far more acceptable to be a homosexual than a homophobe. Rainbow-branding for corporations has reached saturation point, and as such the diversity industry has turned its attention to a new market: children. Today, “educational” programmes promoting LGBTQ+ Pride to kids have become a leading American cultural export.

Heading the charge, drag queens have sashayed in their high-heeled size 10s from niche gay clubs into mainstream children’s entertainment. Earlier this month Nickelodeon’s hit show for toddlers, Blue’s Clues & You, released a cartoon to promote Pride and “LGBTQ+ acceptance”. The cartoon, narrated by drag queen Nina West (aka Andre Levitt) with a catchy sing-along theme, has since attracted over one million viewers. 

The parade features non-binary dolphins and transgender beavers, as well various other asexual, bisexual, and pansexual animals. One of the “transgender beavers” has mastectomy scars, sending out the message that the removal of breasts for the sake of an identity is to be celebrated.

Responding to praise on social media, Levitt said: Reading all the incredible comments about how impactful and powerful the latest Blue’s Clues video for Pride has been to so many is inspiring and humbling. Representation matters. Teaching kindness matters.”

Children do not need to be taught acceptance; it’s their default

There is a lie underscoring such woke-soaked gushing — children do not need to be taught acceptance; it’s their default. Part of being a child is not knowing about social boundaries — that is of course what makes children so vulnerable. While it does no harm to teach kids that many different types of family exist, and that as adults they might be attracted to either sex, the aggressive pushing of Pride to children is at best unnecessary and, at worst, alarming.

The high street retailer New Look recently made headlines for marketing padded bikinis to children. While opinion was divided, the imposition of adult norms of sexuality on pre-teens was recognised as contentious enough to provoke a national discussion. And yet, Pride which is by definition a celebration of adult sexuality and identity is promoted to children without hesitation and with minimal backlash.

Today, many of those who are lesbian, gay and bisexual no longer attend Pride parades. As C. J. Liberty explains in Lesbian and Gay News:

Seeing the pictures of nearly naked blokes in dog masks being led by their masters on chains makes it harder to defend the position that it [Pride] isn’t all about sex. I would feel the same about any group or movement in society. Adult sexual activities and events based around that should take place in an indoor, adult-only setting…  [Pride] a mainstream, commercial family day does not mix with people displaying adult sexual kinks.

Unbridled (or indeed bridled) displays of male sexuality have long been a feature of Pride. But as the parade becomes increasingly family-focused, more people are questioning what place fetishes have at parades, particularly in light of historic concerns.

Rainbow flags and glitter have an appeal to children unaware of the sexual and political connotations

The infiltration of campaigns for homosexual equality by abusive male paedophiles from the 1970s cast a long and shameful shadow over the gay community. But fear of offending gay men should not be allowed to eclipse the past; groups like the Paedophile Information Exchange and North American Man Boy Love Association did seek to use campaigns for homosexual equality to further their cause. While there is nothing to suggest gay men are more likely to be child-abusers, for a while paedophile groups were successful in gaining public acceptance by allying themselves to gay liberation.

In 1997 gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell stated in a letter to the Guardian that not all sex involving children was “unwanted, abusive or harmful”. He claims the letter was edited and it originally said that “paedophilia is impossible to condone.” The letter was in defence of a pro-paedophilia book called Dares to Speak, to which Tatchell had contributed a chapter. Today Tatchell enjoys a role as a patron of Educate & Celebrate, a charity which offers LGBTQ+ diversity training in schools.

It is fair to ask who benefits from telling children that in order to “be kind” they must suspend any natural curiosity and treat people on the basis of their professed identity. It is fair to ask why procedures such as sex reassignment are being presented as normal to pre-schoolers.

Fear of being accused of certain “phobias” is stifling legitimate questions and debate

Research published in 2018 into the reasons why some GPs refuse to refer trans-identifying clients to gender identity clinics notes one reason for “seeking gender reassignment” as a desire “to facilitate or normalise paedophilia. This latter small group described gender reassignment as a means by which to increase their intimate contact with children, which they viewed to be more socially acceptable in a female role.”

Fear of being accused of certain “phobias” is stifling legitimate questions and debate about the role of corporations in pushing adult concepts onto kids and their motivations for doing so. 

Removing the stigma of having two mums or two dads, and preventing the bullying of effeminate boys and tomboy girls in schools, is a desirable and welcomed outcome. But one must ask how children are served by an aggressive, US-led political agenda that teaches kids that acceptance matters more than critical thinking.

Rainbow flags, drag queens, parades and glitter of course have an appeal to children unaware of the sexual and political connotations. To protect children we must be alive to the grown-up reality that there may well be an unsavoury agenda hiding in the shadow of the rainbow.

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover