These are a selection from a large postbag the County Press received on the subject
From Breakout Youth, Southampton:
As IW members of Breakout Youth, the youth group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and those who are questioning or unsure of their sexuality or gender identity (LGBTQ), we wanted to convey some of our responses to, and the emotions engendered in us by, the article.
It serves to make us feel unwelcome, invisible and angry and almost as if you would like the people that feel they belong to or support the LGBTQ community to react badly so we can be further vilified.
If we lacked morals perhaps we would generalise wildly and offend the straight community with our response but thus is not our style as we spend a great deal of time and thought trying to understand our place in the world and are intensely aware of ourselves and others.
Whereas you don’t seem to care about how your words reinforce the negative stereotypes that still pervade the community we live in.
You appear unaware of the acceptance you get every day of the year in regards to your sexuality and gender identity. However, you want us to keep quiet and only express ourselves on the day of Pride.
Expressing ourselves means to be able to talk freely about who we are and our emotions without being judged or, worse, assaulted.
A Pride event to us means a united community that involves the family, peace, freedom, love, acceptance and solidarity.
It give us a chance to see we are not alone, that we have support of the cis-gendered and heterosexual community (people often referred to as allies). More importantly it gives us a chance to be happy and open about who we are.
It also provides another social occasion for the few of us who will only socialise with others in the two hours a fortnight we have at Breakout. We sometimes feel that this is a time of unicorns, magic and rainbows, but that also makes us feel it is a time of fantasy when in fact with just a little effort it can be made a reality.
So, Charlotte, we will make you a deal, our deal is that you stop invalidating our human rights and we will continue to work towards an equal society as opposed to the social isolation we currently live in.
From Molly Lambert:
I feel the article was condescending and offensive to the LGBT+ community of which I am a proud member, and was very dismissive of the struggles our community is still facing every single day.
I hope the writer of the article will reconsider her standpoint and better inform herself on the matter, or, better still, leave articles about this to LGBT+ journalists, or even just people who are willing to accept the LGBT+ community does not have to please them, nor is its celebration of acceptance and freedom anything to do with them at all.
I was hurt by the article and the ideas it perpetuates, and I hope it has not stirred the same bordering- homophobic opinions with other readers, as our community has more than enough prejudice to deal with already.
From Adam Palfrey, Newport:
While Charlotte’s views revolt me, what really shocked me was Alan Marriott’s follow up in which he asks us to 'read the article carefully before thinking too badly of Ms Hofton.’
Believe me, I have read it very carefully. It is nothing short of raw and blatant homophobia.
Doubtlessly neither of them would take such a stance with any other minority group? So how it is that they feel this publication is both acceptable and defendable is totally beyond me, or indeed any sensible-minded person.
Charlotte and Alan both need to imagine themselves living in a world in which the simple act of loving another human being results in them being treated differently to others, without respect, being pointed and laughed at, having strangers scream abuse in their faces, being attacked in the street and worse.
This is the world I, and many others, grew up in. A world of fear. Fear for your job, fear for your friends, fear for your own safety, each and every day. A world where having strangers verbally and physically abuse you is so common, you feel surprised when it doesn’t happen.
How would they feel in this world? How would they feel if they finally had the confidence to stand up and demand equality and liberty, only to be told to be quiet because not everyone wants to hear them?
The reason Pride events are loud, colourful, creative and fun, is because nobody ever gained equality, liberty and freedom from oppression by being quiet.
Charlotte, Alan and others would do well to remember this.
From Tom Simpson, Cowes:
As a straight man, having read Charlotte Hofton’s opinion piece and the response, I don’t think Charlotte’s attempts at humour were appropriate for the subject matter, nor is it clear to me she is informed enough on the topic to be giving voice to her opinions.
Her equating people’s sexual identity to "tantric sex with a lamppost" was nothing short of shameful and the CP’s defence almost equally so, it being along the same lines as "I can’t be racist because I have black friends".
What I think Ms Hofton fails to grasp is Pride shouldn’t be necessary but it is so long as there is hate crime directed towards this marginalized group. When LGBTQ+ people can go through life with as little malice directed towards them for their sexual orientation as Ms Hofton has experienced for her own, then we can shut down