Sonia Hendy-Isaac

Sonia Hendy-Isaac

By Sonia Hendy-Isaac – Senior Lecturer, Curriculum Design for Employer Engagement. 

As well as teaching and researching, Sonia is a published poet with a keen interest in contemporary poetry, revisionary fiction, feminism and gender studies, postcolonial theory, linguistics and the construction of meaning, and creativity and culture. 

Some might argue it’s been a landmark few years for gay rights – gay marriage, or as it’s better known – marriage – has been legalised in the UK and some parts of the US have even joined in. Despite all the drama surrounding the supposed devaluing of the very notion of marriage, and the threat to the fabric of society, most people are beginning to (genuinely) see the light – equality is equality and pension rights, marriage and legal parity is something we should champion; not because of some looney liberal stance, but because it is the best way to secure the truest sense of what it is to be human – to be humane – to foster humanity.

And yet this comes with the backdrop of Russia – the oppression and violence against those deemed homosexual (whether or not in fact, they actually are), a law which suppresses their actual humanity; the world stood by, merely gazing at the Sochi Olympics with a conscious blind eye – ignoring the perils faced by those who did not fit the heterosexual norm. And at the same time, in the UK, our own ‘liberal’ press are giving column inches to certain ‘feminists’ whose hate speech against the transgender community is cunningly constructed under the label of ‘free speech’ and ‘genuine debate’ (apologies for not including a link, I refuse to circulate more publicity to such a stance).

So, despite the claims that the ‘gay cure’ or ‘reparation therapy’ industry is dying, it is not entirely unthinkable that some elements of society are still firmly of the persuasion that being gay is a lifestyle choice.  This ‘therapy’, often driven by a religious zeal, or a societal pressure to please their families, means that the gay community are at risk of deep psychological damage, if they find themselves unable to ignore the pressure to conform to an unsettling and unrealistic version of their own sexual identity and desires.

In a one-off Channel 4 documentary this week Dr. Christian embarks on the therapy – through hidden cameras and candid interviews, he explores the dark, and deeply disturbing, world of conversion therapy.

I am somewhat in awe of Dr. Christian for being strong enough to endure the therapy; such ‘cures’ are simply inhumane – they represent the very worst of what can only be described as the legacy of patriarchy, that still sits within a society that suppresses sexual identity – whether that’s the slut-shaming of women for sexual empowerment, the rape apologists in contemporary pop culture, or the lack of understanding (despite legal parity) shown to the LGBTQ community. When will we learn that there are no ‘cures’ for difference? Acceptance, understanding and empathy are the backbone of an equal society – without that, we are surely destined to continue to take one step forward and three steps back…

Students and graduates from Birmingham School of Acting, part of Birmingham City University, are addressing gay preconceptions in a new theatre production where characters are scrutinised for being ‘straight’, in a society where everyone else is gay.

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Sonia Hendy-Isaac

Sonia Hendy-Isaac

Senior Lecturer, Curriculum Design for Employer Engagement