Comment: In defence of Plaid Cymru’s ‘coming out’ advert

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Mike Parker, the Plaid Cymru Westminster election candidate in Ceredigion writes for PinkNews in defence of an advert released last week by his party which was accused by some critics of trivialising LGBT people’s experiences of coming out.

You know there’s an election on the horizon when storms get detonated in the tiniest of tea-cups. One erupted the other day about a Plaid Cymru party political broadcast (PPB), featuring a young man ‘coming out’ as a Plaid voter to his parents. Our political opponents were lightning quick to claim that it was disrespectful to LGBT people.

For the thousands of of us who have come out both as gay, and as Plaid supporters (and in my case, as a Plaid parliamentary candidate), the claims are laughable. Plaid Cymru has been pro-LGBT rights since the 1970s. Our voting record in Westminster and the Welsh National Assembly on LGBT issues is impeccable. We have had an outstanding gay MP in Adam Price, and have LGBT people elected at all levels.

I would not be standing for a party that showed the tiniest trace of homophobia. Being gay propelled me into political consciousness in the late 1980s, marching against Clause 28 and the other vile legislation of the Thatcher years. As a writer and broadcaster, I’ve written extensively for the gay press and presented the gay magazine show Out on Channel 4 in the 1990s. I know what real homophobia feels like, and this PPB definitely wasn’t it.

The broadcast was a creative and witty way of playing with some of the great clichés of life. For many in Wales, particularly the former mining areas of the south, voting Labour has been the norm for so long that deciding to go a different way is akin to coming out, and that’s what this PPB deftly showed. It chimes too with what many people have told us, that they are considering voting Plaid for the first time in their lives – and many have told us just that in direct response to this broadcast.

The PPB was made by a team that included a fair few LGBT people, and the overwhelming majority of reactions to it have been hugely positive. All too often, party political broadcasts are turgid affairs, and I’m proud that Plaid Cymru decided to try something a little different. It was deliberately light-hearted, something woefully lacking in politics, with an optimistic but serious message.

I’m hugely proud to be knocking doors and talking to voters as a gay Plaid Cymru candidate. That my sexuality really isn’t an issue any more in a rural Welsh constituency just shows us how far we have come from the dark days of the 1980s. It is such a cause for celebration, and that too was the spirit of our cute little film.

Mike Parker is the Plaid Cymru Westminster election candidate in Ceredigion.