Danny Miller, the British actor and soap-opera star, has been highlighting the harm homophobic bullying is doing to the UK's school children, and is campaigning to have homophobia stamped out.
Miller, who has received his own fair share of homophobic taunts since he began playing Aaron Livesy in ITV's Emmerdale, believes that anti-gay attitudes are as unacceptable as racist and sexist views.
Speaking to TV Choice this week, he said:
People shouting things is very offensive and small-minded.
I think homophobia should be stamped on as much as racism or sexism. Like hundreds of other people, I would like to turn round and give them a mouthful but I’m in the public eye so I have to keep my cool.
Recently, Miller recorded a video message for Stonewall’s “It Gets Better . . . Today” campaign – available through their YouTube channel. In it, the 19-year-old actor says:
For all the people out there who are gay or lesbian, you are your own person and that’s all that should matter. It shouldn’t matter what sexuality you are. It gets better today – we can make this happen.
Miller is following in the footsteps of a number of other British soap stars, including John Partridge – who plays Christian Clarke in EastEnders – and Ryan Thomas and Antony Cotton – who play Coronation Street’s Jason Grimshaw and Sean Tully, respectively.
Thomas is the older brother of Adam Thomas – who plays Miller's supportive best friend, Adam Barton, in Emmerdale, but who, ironically, was in the news last month after being accused of using homophobic language towards a gay fan.
Miller plays one half of Emmerdale’s on-screen gay couple, Aaron Livesy and Jackson Walsh (Marc Silcock, 22). Earlier this month, the two young actors added their support to another of Stonewall’s campaigns – “Some people are gay. Get over it!” . On that occasion, they took part in a photo shoot wearing anti-bullying T-shirts.
At the time, the actors told the Pink Paper: “Bullying on any level is unacceptable, especially in our schools. That’s why we’re supporting Stonewall’s campaign to make Britain a safe place for all young people to live in.”
Stonewall Soap Awards
Earlier this year, in an online poll conducted by the charity, Emmerdale was voted the best UK soap for gay storylines. EastEnders came a close second with 43 per cent to Emmerdale’s 44 per cent.
Gavin Blythe, Emmerdale series producer, acknowledged the impact the soap’s gay storyline had had on viewers. He said at the time:
From the outset, we always wanted to be very truthful and honest in the story of Aaron’s sexuality and how he as an individual attempted to deny himself. While we obviously recognise this doesn’t mirror the journey of every man and woman, we were aware that it would resonate with very many. The enormous positive feedback we have received has proved it to be the case and to be recognised by Stonewall in this way is a huge honour to all involved.
Stonewall launched their YouTube channel in the summer, in order to promote its events and campaigns. As well as the celebrity messages, the channel includes clips about research, campaigns, events and interviews with politicians and Stonewall volunteers.
There is also an interview with a 17-year-old girl who has suffered homophobic bullying and an interview with Nat Miles, the author of Stonewall’s research on gay and lesbian people in the British asylum system.