Sunday 22 October 2017

Neighbours star Matt Wilson apologises after suggesting gay character he plays 'acts straight' and 'normal'

Matt Wilson on The Wright Stuff, Channel 5.
Matt Wilson on The Wright Stuff, Channel 5.
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Neighbours star Matt Wilson has apologised after he suggested the gay character he plays on Australian soap Neighbours was written to "act straight" and "act normal".

Wilson appeared on Channel 5 show The Wright Stuff on Thursday and made the comments when speaking about whether or not a gay actor should play the role of his gay character Aaron Brennan.

"We've had this argument come up a couple of times," he said.  "There is a lot of people who say, 'Why don't you get a gay person to play a gay character?'  It's like saying why don't you get a person who's in a wheelchair to play a character in a wheelchair."

He continued, "We specifically designed the character to act straight and act normal.  When I say normal I mean he doesn't stand out amongst the crowd. 

"It's not like the guys on Modern Family where you see them, they're flamboyant and camp, and sort of walk around tiptoeing.

"That creates separation, that's us and them, and it shouldn't be like that.  It should be all equal and nobody should have a problem with that.  And the way the other characters react around my character is that there's never a problem.  There's never a problem at all.  It's kind of setting the standard."

Several viewers were offended by Wilson's comments, which they felt implied that camp gay men are not 'normal' and are creating a 'divide', and took to Twitter to comment.

Wayne Dhesi, Youth Programmes Manager at Stonewall UK and founder of RUcomingout.com, shared the clip on social media and wrote, "his point about being normal was just so off the mark!"

The Aussie actor replied with an apology and attempted to explain.

"Hi guys.  Agreed.  Choice of words wasn't right and apologies if it comes across as offensive!" he wrote.

"The message I want to get across (and this is in support of one of my closes friends as he is having issues coming out) that he is sick and tired of people assuming that because his sexuality is different to the guy next to him that they "expected him to act different".  This isn't the case, and shouldn't be preached on tv."

Dhesi responded by pointing out that in challenging stereotypes we should not "dismiss those who 'fit' them".  However, he thanked Wilson for acknowledging his poor choice of words.

Wilson added, "Once again - apologies for offending you, I trust you can see through this and see we are promoting the same msg"

Read more: Does Pride still matter? We asked 10 young Irish LGBT what Pride means to them

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