Sir Elton John still thinks there is too much “shame” around being gay.
The 70-year-old singer – who has sons Zachary, six, and Elijah, four, with husband David Furnish – thinks LGBTQ people are all too often simply “tolerated” rather than “accepted” and is concerned about statistics around self-harm and suicide in transgender and non-heterosexual young people.
Asked the biggest problem facing young gay people, he told Grazia: “Tragically it is still shame. Too often LGBT people are tolerated rather than accepted, let alone embraced.
“When almost half of all gay, lesbian, bi, and transsexual pupils are bullied at school and, as a result, more than 60% self-harm and 40% of trans people have tried to take their own life, it’s a serious wake-up call that gay stigma and shame are still poisonous.”
However, the ‘Rocket Man’ hitmaker admits society has changed hugely in the 50 years since the decriminalisation of sexual acts between two men in England and Wales.
He said: “It’s changed out of all recognition. I was 20 when the Sexual Offenses Act partially decriminalised homosexuality.
“Back then, being gay was acknowledged as a source of shame. Gay people were spoken of in euphemisms.
“A gay man was a ‘bachelor’. Lesbians were ‘tomboys’.
“Today, gay couples, married with children, are accepted by most people and even championed by some.
“There are openly gay people in all walks of life, politicians like Ruth Davidson, sports people like Keegan Hirst, Gareth Thomas and Tom Daley, and people in business like John Browne and Waheed Alli.
“Instead of being shamed in public, you would now be shamed for being publicly homophobic.”
And Elton also thinks the music industry has changed since he began his career.
He said: “There weren’t any gay role models in the music industry at the beginning of my career, even Liberace was in the closet! We’ve come a long way since then.”