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‘After debating pronouns on TV I’ve had emails from people identifying as a donkey’

Comedian and radio host James Barr on the importance of allyship.

By Emily Maskell

Words: James Barr; pictures: supplied

I usually say no to journalists looking for someone to debate trans rights, pronouns, or gender-neutral penguins.

You can’t win a debate with an illogical person and there’s no point feeding the monster.

But my mental health’s a bit shit, so I thought, ‘F*** it’ and in a moment of red-flag f*****ry, rescheduled my Monday-evening therapy session and agreed to appear on Piers Morgan Uncensored in a debate about pronoun badges.

I won’t get into the topic here; it’s obvious that using pronouns and making people feel accepted literally saves lives.

I told Piers that, I also told him I was bored, and that “three cis-lads” discussing people who aren’t in the room is completely absurd.

Ultimately, I think I won, but since the programme I’ve had emails from people identifying as a donkey, with the pronouns ‘Hee/Haw’ (so original). I’ve also had vile DMs laughing at how woke I am! (Please, I’m hardly the woke police.) And I’ve had trans people call me out for talking on their behalf.

One Instagram comment suggested I should “let the evil die in its own fire without adding fuel to it”. It’s hard to disagree with this argument. Yet silence has never won anyone their rights.

As a gay man with a podcast about allyship, I know first-hand the importance of straight people having our back. My co-host Dan sat face to face with a ‘gay conversion therapist’ arguing for my rights and they crumbled in the face of his brilliance.

Our allies make us stronger; they have the power to discredit and disarm. I will always defend my trans and non-binary friends and family, they were there lighting the fire of gay liberation 53 years ago at the Stonewall uprising.

I won’t stay silent while they’re relentlessly attacked now — although I won’t be rushing back to Piers’ show anytime soon. I need some more therapy first.

The Attitude September/October issue is out now