top of page

Episode 2: It's Just Not A Gimmick

Niall Hemingway 0:01

Hello and welcome to it's just my queer opinion with me your host, Niall Hemingway.

Right! Here we are, we're back Episode Two. And my goodness, have I got some treats for you today!

A lot is how Oh, hang on. I should probably preface this by saying the following episode may contain strong language. just as a warning, because I didn't do that in the last one and I dropped a few f bombs, for which I do not apologise. But also if you hear any noises, its because my dog has decided to sleep under the desk today, which is lovely and kind and sweet. But it's just a little bit small. And he's a bit big. So every time you maybe hear sort of bangs into things, but hopefully he's settled and we won't have that issue. Now, oh, should we go straight into this? Yeah, probably because I'm exhausted. This. So much has happened in the week for LGBT people. And I realised actually more than anything that doing this podcast has become more important to me. And the need for these conversations to dry and bring people together and bring awareness is is fast. And as much as I'll be going off on things, I have got some positive stories that I'll be sharing as well because I figured it's good to have the balance. Now I'm gonna dive straight in with an issue that happened in my industry, the performance industry. If you don't know, there's a man called Cameron Mackintosh, who produces great theatre he was produced as some of the best. But dear old Cam Mack decided to voice his opinion on casting, transgendered actors and referred to it as gimmick casting. I believe his exact words, when he was asked about it was because he was asked about trans performers. And he said, You can't implant something that is not inherently there in the story or character. That's what I think to quote Macintosh. He then went on to say, just to do that becomes gimmick casting is trying to force something that isn't natural.

Okay. All right. And, of course, that's stupid. But also, let's just start off really at the very, very the bit that really pisses me off and has pissed off a lot of the acting community. gimmick casting of casting a transactor Why is it a gimmick? It isn't, right. I mean, it just isn't. But this is coming from the man who cast Nick Jonas as Marius in Les Mis that Ladies and gentlemen, is gimmick casting. Okay, let's Jonas brother. I'm not knocking Nick Jonas, his gorgeous, lovely voice. Is he the best person for that role? No. Was it stunt casting? Yes, these producers that put the same people over and over and over again, in shows that have been on reality TV or the you know, six weeks only will have this person from this soap opera. Now don't misunderstand me here. I'm not saying those people aren't talented. But we cannot hide from the fact that that in itself is gimmick casting, casting a trans person in a role? Because they are the best person for the job is not a gimmick. Flat Out it isn't. And I say Remember last week, I said it'd be balanced on this. But I've looked at the other side of this argument. And, and he even uses his own quote, to use his own quote against him. He says it is implanting something that is inherently not there in the story. Well, the story isn't about it's not a trans story. If If, for example, you are a trans woman, and you were to play Mary Poppins. The trans woman is a woman playing a woman. It's not someone going Mary Poppins was trans. So I put a trans person in and I'm changing the meaning of the story. You're just casting a woman in the role of playing a woman and it was a trans woman because she was the best person for the job. That does not change the story. It does not implant something that isn't there is this weird old fashioned view that the people have to define everything limited to only gender. When really cast the best person for the job whether they are cis woman, cis male, trans male, trans female, or non binary If they are the best person, cast them now one of my heroes and I don't know if many people know about this woman, but she is an incredible Broadway performer and she may Broadway history as she was cast is wicked smart and marble in 2020. This is Alexandra Billings, of course, who is a trans woman who played Madame Morrible. And she's come out against Cam Mac quite quite. I'm going to read this quote, because I love it and it makes my heart lead with joy. And I think she's such an incredible woman. And she said her quote, excuse me, I'm going to burp pardon, and she said in her quote, so Cameron, I am an actor. I am Mame, and I am madam rose. I am Miss Hannigan. And I am Annie Oakley, and I am fun team. I am an actor, Mr. Macintosh, not a gimmick. Ah, yes, Queen. But that's the truth of it. So there's this argument of playing, of casting. Certain people cant play certain roles and blah, blah, blah. And there's always this argument that comes up. But the truth is, if we lived in a balanced equal world, you should be casting the right person for the job. And unless that person is white, and the character is intrinsically written as POC, then there's no justification for it. But even if that character is intrinsically queer, then please cast a queer actor, because we don't play the queerness we play the truth, and that there is a very great actors out there, and they're straight, and they're wonderful. But nine times out of 10, when they are cast in queer roles, they play up the queer, and they play the gay or the lesbian or the and it becomes gimmicky. Really. And whereas casting trans women, trans men in female or male roles, I leave the pause because I mean, it speaks for itself. They are women, they were born in the wrong body, or they are men and they are born in the wrong body.

But they are women, they are men. So they can and should be given the right to play male or female roles, whether they are written as trans or not. Because the definitive point is, they are actors. And if they are the best person for the job, cast them and stop obsessing. Cam, Mack and all these people who always seem to have an issue with our it's not a real woman, or it's not a real man, check your own fragile masculinity and step back. Because why does it affect you? marvellous production of rent on the hope mill theatre, which has got trans actors and non binary actors. And let me tell ya, I mean, it works in that show, in particular, because it's a celebration of queerness and art, and it's a great show. But I no one sits that guy like, oh, oh, that's a trans person. Oh, that's a non binary person. They're sat there watching actors tell a story and being mesmerised by that story. Because they were the best person for the job. Now, I mentioned a minute ago about like, casting straight people as queer characters. And this is something that divides a lot of people, because again, it's this argument of like, what actors should be actors, and I kind of am going to, I've used that argument, why trans men and women should play male, like cis written female male roles. But I also am going to say, we can't have that equal opportunity for straight up playing queer people all the time. Because it's not balanced. And also, as I said, when when you cast someone in a straight Actor in a queer role, they don't always play the human they play that they are gay. And that is the defining characteristic of that person, as if that is all. We as queer people have to offer, like me, I mean, I'd like I lead my queerness because I'm very proud of it. And it is, it is a definitive part of who I am. But it's the base of my life. So when I am given a gay role, I don't immediately go well, I'm gay. I look at the characteristics. And there's so many people that have played gay and stereotypes in it see, is tired and it's old, but that is what people don't expect us to be like or you know, record shows of human beings that is just old and tired. So, ultimately, my overall opinion on this is trans actors can play any fucking role they want as long as they're the best person for the job. And in the same way, queer actors should get queer roles, because it just gives you something deeper... than it humanises. I think I've kind of lost my train of thought, because I'm I don't know, I'm trying to say. I think I've said it. That's why I don't want to say ultimately, on the transition to fuck off stop obsessing about what is between people's legs and how they identify if they are the right person for the job. cast them. That's my dog's opinion. He's like, That is correct. Because Yeah, it's just tired and old. And I got to say this because I believe, just check my notes. Yeah, here we go. Macintosh later said, with his comments had been misinterpreted, and came out to say so to quote Macintosh here, I meant only that I would not as a producer disregard the author PL travers. He's using Mary Poppins as an example, original intention for the character. And his statement, he said, to be clear whether a person is trans has no bearing on their suitability for any role in my shows, including Mary Poppins, as long as they can perform the role that's written, he added trans actors are welcome to submit an audition for any of my productions. Look of benefit the doubt, I hope he means that but he I don't believe that I'm sorry, I think he's being very sweet saying you can audition. But I don't think he's going to cast a transactor anytime soon, because he said that he won't disregard the writers intent. But you're also basing it on someone who wrote way, way back in the day when we did not have the openness to live freely and be ourselves. So we are stamping our opinion on it. So ultimately, that's his opinion. Good for him respect. I don't respect your opinion. I think it's an ignorant, old fashioned opinion. And I disagree with it. And I'd love to know your thoughts.

Do you think it matters if a trans woman or trans man plays a sis written, man or woman? And if so I'd like you to explain to me and I mean that with an open heart, like, I'd like to hear your side of the story so we can find out why you think that's important. And again, I'm thinking about what I'm talking about, like, but I'm saying only queer people should play queer characters. But there is a difference, because queerness is about sexuality. And trans ness is about gender and identity. And they are two very different things which I spoke about a long time ago on my podcast with Callum, but I will definitely do another conversation on here about gender identity and the difference of gender identity and politics. Who I told you we were getting into and this isn't even the hard stuff yet. This is just the light well it's not light, I'm not diminishing actually, because it is important because this man caseloads, the shows in the West End, and there are fabulous trans actors out there. Who Why the fuck should they be? Fantine or Val Jean or Javert? Because I can tell you, they'll probably be better than no, I'm not gonna do that. I'm not gonna say any names of so popped up soap opera, or reality TV stars I've seen in lame is or in shows like Legally Blonde and say that they were bad. But I firmly believe there are actors trans actors cis actors that could have done it better. woo say If like me, you're parched, and your dog is resting his head upon your lap. Let's take this moment for a little bit of music, and a coffee refill or a wine refill whenever you're drinking, whatever you're drinking, heck, grab a frickin biscuit if you want. And we'll be right back.

Okay, we're back. I will say look, I just want to really clarify something as well. Because I was just thinking about brewing a coffee. I am not in any way saying so pop actors or, or people from reality TV aren't good when they are in these shows. I'm just making the comparison that that is gimmicky. And often because of people I know there are better people for the job. I just wanted to make sure that people don't go Oh, well. If I was I'm not calling those people bad actors because they're not They're working. And that's amazing. But I'm just saying we have to create this opportunity. And yeah, so I just wanted to clear that up. I felt like that was important to say. Okay, now moving on from this, we're gonna talk now about some shit that's been happening in Afghanistan. So obviously, I don't know if people are following it, but the Taliban have taken back Afghanistan. And I think everyone is now out as of the end of August, all Allied troops are out of Afghanistan, and they are in charge. Which is, you know, a thing. And now I'm gonna do a podcast probably in the next couple of weeks about how the West created the Taliban, help fight the Soviets, then left them to it and how we created basically this enemy. But I want to talk about being LGBT, in Afghanistan, in places like Afghanistan, anywhere that's under Sharia law. Because it's, it's Well, look, they have people have died. Lots of people have died, men, women, and but I'm talking specifically about LGBT humans. Now, I'm just getting all my notes up. And previous Taliban roll. They executed gay man, and it is yet to be confirmed. Obviously, the Taliban have said they're new and better. And they held like a press conference on TV say how much they were better. Whilst two men stood with guns behind the reporter. Make it that way you will. But there is there's a, there's a fear of queer people being weeded out and exterminated. And that's a quote from an Afghan activists that is predicting that gay people will be weeded out and exterminated. Now, what happens here is often straight people leave a switch off. And I hope you don't, because they're like, you know, doesn't affect us. But this is why we have pride here. And it's why we celebrate it across the world. Because there are countries like this where being who you are, could kill you. So there's I don't know where to begin. So what it's making me bring this up is that I've been reading over the last couple of days, about Afghan, particularly queer men I've read about have had to go into hiding, to protect their families and protect themselves. There was a heartbreaking story of two men who were out together and when the Taliban took over, and they went home to their separate homes, and the other was then informed two days later that his partner had been killed. Which fell apart for for loving someone. They were killed. There's been another report of a young man being raped, beaten, demanded for his father's numbers, so they could tell him that his son was gay. And he was lured into by a trap on social media. He's this young man, who was who thought he was going to another person for help to get out of the country was tricked, raped and beaten. And you know, he's survived, but

he's living in this new regime, basically being forced to be something he's not how do we help these people? I don't know. I don't know. Education is my first point of call but but this is the truth. You know, like when you see these assholes across the UK and America saying we need a straight pride because all gays get a pride queen. It's like fuck off. You're not killed for being who you are, you know, it's just mind blowing to me, and it's something I've never been able to understand is why other people hurt and kill other people that are different, whether it's race, sex, gender, whatever sexuality is, I don't understand it. But now we have a country that we were supposed to be helping. And we've just left people there. And I don't know what you do about that, because I don't believe in war. I think it's a manipulated thing. But my heart breaks. And I doubt any Taliban members are listening. Or maybe they are, in which case, thanks for tuning in. But I would just plead to lead with your heart and understand that a people love does not affect you, in negatively, nor any god that you might follow. Because if that's your interpretation of your religious text, I'ma tell you now you've got it wrong. And before anyone comes at me, I have done a little bit of reading of the Quran because I'm interested in this sort of stuff. I always want to know why. Particularly why people quote, religious texts and why my kind shouldn't exist. So I have a little bit of knowledge here. But everyone's really shocked at these people are being killed. And in Afghanistan, how awful that is in the world. But how many of you know about the young man who is not so young? I believe he's 50. Yeah, he's 50. He was discovered with a fatal head injury in Tower Hamlets in London. That was just this week last week. So and that was because he was gay. It was motivated by homophobia. I believe they've arrested a man on suspicion of the murder. But it happens here. My kind of killed here as much as we think we are this really well. I don't know if we can get away with saying that the UK is an advanced thinking nation. Just like I don't think America can anymore because we voted to leave Brexit, which is the dumbest shit we've ever done. And I think we live under the illusion that we're really an equal nation. When we are not equal to men. Women are not men. Fuck, man. No, man. I mean, gay men. We're not equal to LGBT plus human beings. We're not equal to people of colour with equality is lacking. We were sold a myth because what happens here in places like the UK in the West, we give a little bit something to a minority group. For example, they gave us gay marriage. Well, what a what a generous gift. But then that was it. That's kind of where they stopped. But they gave us gay marriage. How progressive? They gave us at all. Thank you straight was so progressive. But it's not progressive. Chemotherapy is still legal here. It's not that progressive. A man has been killed. And you know what the advice was from the Met police. This is the advice right? gay men should be careful when walking home at night, not have their music too loud. And don't go down any where they don't feel safe or is not well lit. The fuck is it our responsibility to fix this? But this is exactly what they said. When Sarah ever odd. May her soul find peace, wherever. But the advice given as soon as that happened was to women. Oh, you better not go out late. Don't have your music up. Why is it the victim? Who has to be responsible for the genome? Why is it the victim that takes full responsibility then? And now people are gonna well? What do you do? Look, as a queer person. I have said many times there are places I don't walk. There are places I can't hold my husband's hand. There are times I've got off the bus because I've been called a faggot or name called and I get off the bus because I worry my life is in danger. That happens regularly,

more regularly than I want to admit. But it happens and it happens to women. When men walk behind them on the street, they have their keys between their fingers, they cross the road, they have to make a phone call. It is not an it should not be the responsibility of a victim to solve this problem, but if you want us to solve the problem, here it is. I'm gonna give it to you really clearly. Education. Teach men that women are not property and they do not have the right to fuck them but just because they are a man and teach straight people men and women. The violence against someone else is not correct. It's never correct. Teach them to mind their business and stay the fuck away from other people's, not choices. But why should we let but we don't get taught. We don't teach about queer couples and lives and in the way that we should, they're mentioned briefly. And it's just like this tokenistic mention, unless you have a good teacher that speaks more openly. But straight men have had the right to other people, for the run of history, most histories and infuriates me. Because straight people, men and women, straight men and women do not know what it's like to not be able to hold your husband's hand, your partner's hand, because you fear that you might get beaten up. You don't know what that's like, women maybe have an idea of what that's like. But their fear isn't just being beaten up, their fear is also being raped. So straight women have a pass again, in a way. But I don't know how you use a bit a bit. It's our responsibility. We already do that. We already don't go down certain streets, we already have to turn our music down. Because we already know that we're at risk. Most gay people know someone, if not themselves, that has been a victim of a hate crime. You know, when I was about 16, I was held over the edge of a bridge for being gay. When I was 16 years old, that happened to me in Norfolk. And you know what, I didn't report it, because I didn't believe the police would do anything. And I was so ashamed because I didn't know anyone else like me. And that's what happened at 16 years old. So fuck that bullshit of like, Oh, you got to take care of his educate people properly. Teach them that difference is good, that we can learn from each other. And that's just my opinion on that, who I told you. I'm gonna go off on things today. But it's because you know, people say how awful This is in Afghanistan. I've seen straight people share these stories of how awful it is what's happening to queer people. And I'm like, but it's happening in your own back garden. It happens here in the last couple of weeks, so this guy has been killed. There was another guy raped. There was another two men in Birmingham that were attacked with broken bottles, one unconscious, left unconscious and the other one extensive car. And in Edinburgh, a married couple were punched, kicked spat on as they walk down a busy street. in Liverpool during Pride Month, hundreds of people joined a protest on the 22nd of June after at least three street attacks on young men within this space of a few weeks.

We are in danger. But the media doesn't report all these stories, not the mainstream media because we like to sell this myth and this illusion that everything's got better. That is 2021 we don't have these issues. And this is where I get you know, queer people we talk about it. We know what's going on in our community mostly. I was shocked we were like oh my god, I had no idea. I know you didn't and what a privilege that is of you to have no idea anyway, look, that's that. It's just it's devastating. But you know, and then this is why we have pride. Do I believe prides lost its way a little bit Yes, it's become very capital capitalist has lots of businesses that like we support gays for one month of the year, and then we don't mention them again. Sainsbury's, however they're actually very good. I don't know if people know this. But Sainsbury's are really good. With their they've always been on the forefront of equality in a lot of aspects, which I found fascinating. I learned from my late father, Paul, who worked in advertising and I love that and but the protests happened. It's to commemorate and fight for equal rights for queer people. And we've come a long way. And the amazing Peter Tatchell has been trying to organise, to get prayed back to what it was to the march becoming a protest again, because we have a lot to march against. We have a lot tomorrow. Against if we are not careful, as LGBT people and as allies, we will fall into a dangerous place of losing our rights because it has is happening is happening. Now in Parliament, you know, the convenient not passing of cure therapy, making it illegal is also then you take it onto a class level, you see these rich, beyond rich people refusing to up the living wage, because heaven forbid, there was some form of equality. Who I told you today, I was going to go off. And I realise like, I haven't been that balanced. In this because I'm tired. This week is exhausted me reading the stories of my because I view LGBT people whether I know you're not as my kin, my part of my heart and I'm exhausted about reading and seeing the abuse is tiring, interested in the same way I hate seeing the abuse of black people and an Asian people. And we get angry for like a minute. And then and then it disappears. And we don't challenge the problem enough, we sort of go, Oh, well, we've moved on new problem. those problems are still there, and we have to be better. as queer people straight people. As however you identify people, as speaking up for each other, particularly minorities, we have to band together. So I vow and look I'm putting on record that as a queer person, I will stand with all minorities, I will stand with black people, Asian, whatever nationality you are, I will stand with women and trans people. I am queer people and and the disabled a. Although I don't know if it's mentally disabled anymore, I think immensely different abled places where I need to improve my education, but I will speak up for you. And I need you to speak up for us and, and straight people. You have to speak up louder. Because you reach a group of people that we don't get to reach. You get to talk to your friends down the pub that make those queer jokes that you will have a laugh about. But that's dangerous. shut that down. Tell them about the gay people that have been killed. Find out who is around you and work out whether they need to be challenged. Because if you're my friend and you're straight Why am I okay? And not everyone else. Shut that massage and bullshit down and look out for each other. It's not comfortable to do it. But it's the right thing to do in the right thing is rarely comfortable. You know? Fuck it. Who now let us know that this is the greatest heavy podcast. Oh, she given it to you today. So let me give you some good stuff too. And I mentioned last week and it was brought to my attention by one of our listeners Jaffe

the baby Do you remember I was talking about the baby and I was fuming. Now if you like me didn't know who was before. You may not remember who he is now. He was a rapper who is said a lot of derogatory things that queer people, HIV and AIDS and lessen the baby meets with HIV organisations after homophobic commentary and controversy. So he had a virtual meeting, I think last week to discuss his HIV education in the wake of everything that he'd been talking about. He met with nine advocacy organisations. Now look, this doesn't mean we forgive and forget. But it means we have the room. We have to allow the change and allow the work because so many people say outrageous things then go on Twitter and in 140 characters they go I'm really sorry. Or they release a video on Instagram saying no crying and I'm saying sorry. I had no idea he did. He knew what you were saying was stupid. He just didn't want to but you didn't think you were gonna get the backlash. But he's doing the work too. I don't even know if he has actually apologised for lay because, look, I'll be honest, I wrote him off. I was like, Fuck yeah, I don't ever want to come across you again. But he's doing the work. He's, you know, he's educating himself on HIV and if that brings him to a level of growth and understanding of HIV people with HIV and AIDS and queer people. Good. That's, that's good. That's great. And we have to allow people to grow from their mistakes. Otherwise, what's the point in, in being mad about it, if we're not going to give them room to educate now, he, he has and someone in the meeting reports that he was genuinely engaged and apologised again for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV and received personal stories and truth about HIV and its impact on black and LGBT communities with deep respect, which is amazing. And I I applaud him for taking those steps to fix the mistakes that he and the lack of education he has. And that means a lot to me as a queer person. I don't know if it means a lot to anyone else. But it does to me, it's Bravo to you. It's like Nick Cannon when he said, Those anti semitic things, and then he apologised, but then he went and did the work he went in, got involved with local Jewish communities and rabbis and educated himself. And so you can allow room for growth. Whereas then you have people like Piers Morgan, who can say racist shit, homophobic shit all the time, and never apologise and ask for his job back. Like these white people need to stop, these straight people need to stop and we need to hold them accountable. If they do the work, and they present, that they are doing these things like to babies, then we have to give them that opportunity to grow. And I respect that. And I respect that he is changing and learning to evolve his opinion. So I wish him all the best. And I hope you know, I hope he learns and feels like Nvidia and then improves in rap songs with a positive impact. And the other bit of good news is Stonewall are running this amazing campaign called here queer youth, which is they've just done just like us did research showing the LGBT people young people in particular face huge challenges and the pandemic has made situations critical. So they are running this campaign, queer youth, here's some facts we say. It's a fact that LGBT people youth are more likely to face mental health issues. And around 68% of LGBT young people said that mental health got worse during the pandemic. 19% of trans young people report live feeling optimistic. Oh, God, so I read this wrong. Just 19% of trans young people reported feeling optimistic about the future on a weekly basis, since 81%, don't feel positive, which is heartbreaking. And I hope we can change that. But if you have time, hop over to app just like us, UK, and see how you can get involved and create space to or visit stonewalls campaign hub to learn how you can help.

Because it's important queer youth are our future and they are bright and colourful, amazing. And we need to give them that space to grow as we have had. Yeah. So that's I love that I love that campaign. And I think it's amazing. So head on over to their Instagrams. Check that out. Who, Crikey, what an episode Hey, look, as always, we're going to finish this with love, from me to you. And I want to hear from you, if you have have been affected by anything I've talked about, say or you have an opinion, whether it is with me or against me, I would love to hear from you. And so ways to get in touch, you can follow us on Instagram, at just my queer opinion. That's at @justmyqueeropinion. You can tweet us at @myqueeropinion, you can send me an email to That's or go to our website, And you can just fill out a little submit form and I get what you've said. And that's lovely. And I meant to mention this last week, but I forgot. They on the website is a link to our blog, which has a transcript of every episode. So to make it more accessible for those that might be hard of hearing. Or if you want to send it on to a friend. It's mostly correct. There's a few. There's a few bits where obviously I don't talk clearly. And I think I got them, but there might be the odd one. So if there is just let me know if I can fix it. Thanks for listening to me today. I have wholeheartedly shared my opinion with you all. And I'd love to hear from you. So go with love in your heart. tell people about this podcast. Talk to your friends about what you've heard today. I'm wishing you lots of love and happiness. Until next week, my friends have a safe and lovely journey. I'm just gonna say goodbye. Goodbye. Lots of love and lots of happiness.

bottom of page