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A gender-neutral James Bond? The idea has left me not just stirred, but shaken. It is time to put the brakes on the more extreme woke and cancel culture, otherwise I predict that we will soon see an enormous backlash against some of the minority groups in our country. Some more extreme activists undo the hard work, sacrifices, and tireless fighting of the many heroes of the LGBTQ+ community which gave us the rights we have now. 

When I first heard the news that there could be a gender-neutral James Bond, all I could think was “NO!”. James Bond was created by the writer Ian Fleming. The character studied at Cambridge University, where he achieved a first in Oriental Languages. In Fleming’s novels, Bond alluded to briefly attending the University of Geneva (as did Fleming) before being taught to ski in Kitzbühel. His character is rumoured to be based on Sir William Stephenson. In fact, Fleming’s first choice actor to play James Bond was David Niven. It is documented that Fleming was less than impressed by Sean Connery playing what he called a glorified stunt man who used to drive a lorry. What the character was certainly not was trans, gender-neutral or a woman. 

We do not need to rewrite the classics to force inclusion. Instead, we need to positively and proactively introduce strong gay characters into new films, television series and cartoons.

Boarding school

True, in “Skyfall,” Daniel Craig’s Bond hints that he may have tried sleeping with a man (it was almost cut). Let’s face it, while the character may be fictional, he did go to boarding school, so it is a plausible possibility. Craig is considered the closest actor to Fleming’s original description of Bond in the first novel. Casino Royale was published in 1953, with a further 11 novels making up the series.  

According to the book, Bond was a womaniser, a man’s man. Rather the antithesis of a gay or gender-neutral person. He embodied, for the most part, what heterosexual men aspire to be, next to being a footballer or sports star. If the woke mob were sensible, they would leave well alone and leave this classic macho character to be just that.

There is, for sure, room for LGBTQ+ superheroes or villains on mainstream television or in films. It is important that everyone is given roles to give exposure to all communities. But this needs to be positive exposure, done with tact and not at the expense of “the other side”. 

Lesbian Snow White

I do not want a lesbian Snow White. Nor do I want a socially challenged Queen with narcissism issues carrying a fair-trade organic apple. Or Cinderella, who obviously lost the shoe because she was drunk, being transformed into Buttons, who lost his shoe while getting ready for Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Or Indiana Jones and the Last Top on Old Compton Street. Leave them alone!

Sure, many of us in the LGBTQ+ community did not have role models growing up and those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s can thank God for Bowie and T-Rex, Boy George and Quentin Crisp!

We do not need to rewrite the classics to force inclusion. Instead, we need to positively and proactively introduce strong gay characters into new films, television series and cartoons. Netflix recently released “Single All The Way,” which was a brave attempt at exposing general audiences to gay characters with a sense of normality – just a typical rom-com where the main characters just happened to be gay (it’s a shame though that Jennifer Coolidge could not save that turkey!). But, as my sister says, heterosexuals have to endure Hallmark. It is only fair we have a bad movie too.

Joan Collins

The last thing we need is to start to attack something that is seen as masculine or feminine and try to turn what is seen as a heterosexual character into an LGBTQ+ character. If the heterosexual community thinks we are attacking them, we are in trouble as fear has caused more wars in history – that is what will happen if we attack their foundation.

Why do we need to do this when so many of our community are such heroes? 

Joan Collins has so eloquently expressed that cancel culture is a problem, but so are extremists in the LGBTQ+ community. Trust me: we have a huge backlash approaching as extremism in any group is not a good thing. All the incredible work so many in the community have dedicated themselves to accomplishing to fight for our community rights can quickly be undone. We are already seeing this unravelling –  homophobic hate crimes have trebled in the UK this year…and that’s just crime that is reported. 


Talking, not arguing, is the way forward. Recently, I had the pleasure of having drinks with two friends. The topic of trans children came up. I know many trans activists who think children should wait until they are 18 years old to start treatment but are frightened to say so in case they are cancelled or abused on social media. I was wondering what the author’s perspectives were, and the conversation quickly went quiet. So, we moved on. Later in a very entertaining hour or so, the subject of Mermaids, the charity for trans children and their parents. It turned out that one of the groups had been involved with the charity. I asked if they had gone quiet before as the subject had offended them. They said no: they just said they didn’t want an argument. The statement “I do not argue, I merely correct” sprung to mind as they said this, and it made me realise that different perspectives within the LGBTQ+ community may not be heard. We need to calmly listen to one another, as we still have a lot to learn. Thanks to the conversations I have had, I have learned a different point of view and, that night, I started to look into Mermaids and find out about how they help trans kids who need support through what, for many, is a difficult and often traumatic experience.

The LGBTQ+ community is still under attack every day. Like all wars, a good strategy is a key factor in survival. Education in schools is essential – using positive role models and making kids feel safe who do not fit the masculine or feminine stereotypes. This is still going to take time, understanding, and some amazing people to give a strong voice to this community. This is NOT going to be achieved by trying to rewrite classic characters, as this will only antagonise those not affiliated with the community.  

If we do not box clever, one day, we could wake up to someone ruling the world that will make Trump look like a fairytale character. Just think back to 1933 when a failed artist persuaded an entire nation to turn against minorities. Let’s not be naive and think it could not happen again.

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Steven Smith

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