An interview with Charlie Condou
"There are people that live in the middle of nowhere who are still bullied and there are still gay teenagers committing suicide because they’re not being accepted for who they are."
“There wasn’t anything for same sex families events wise,” Charlie Condou says of life before he set up Out with the Family, an initiative described as “a series of events aimed at LGBT families and straight allies”.
Himself a gay married man with two children, the former Corrie actor continues, “I’m lucky, I live in central London and it’s very diverse and cosmopolitan and all that. But it’s not like that for a lot of gay families and gay parents, some literally are the only gays in the village and it can be very isolating. I wanted to set up Out with the Family because I think it’s great for kids in same sex families to see other children in same sex families, and also for the parents to feel like there’s a bit of a social network for them and a bit of support.”
Prior to OWTF Charlie had a regular column in the Guardian, ‘The three of us’, about his family setup – how he, his partner Cameron Laux, and the children’s mother Catherine Kanter approach parenting as a threesome. Due to his speaking out on the subject, owning a profile, and having his kids before these days where “you can’t move for celebrity gays with children”, he believed he “was probably the right person to set something up.”
With the UK’s legalisation of gay marriage in 2014, it does seem this country has in recent times made decent progress in terms of equality for gay people. “Are there still things that concern you?” I ask the actor.
“There’s always more work you can do,” he responds. “Homophobia is rife across the country and the world. It’s great for me – as I say – living in central London, but there are people that live in the middle of nowhere who are still bullied and there are still gay teenagers committing suicide because they’re not being accepted for who they are. Until that kind of thing stops we’ve got a long way to go.”
Venturing into the vicinity of soap opera, we discuss the power of television in changing people’s perceptions about gay people. It’s this that made Charlie “really pleased about the Coronation Street role, playing a gay character who turned out to be a bisexual character.” He states, “people may have an issue with gay people at first but when they get used to seeing that person again and again on screen and realise their sexuality is just a small part of them, they get used to it. That’s when things start to change. I think shows like Coronation Street really are ground breaking – they’re political with a small p.”
Charlie returns to Oxford again this Christmas, as the Narrator in Rocky Horror Show. How does this production speak to those who might feel ostracised by society though? “Rocky Horror is all about being true to yourself,” he says. “It’s about the people that don’t necessarily fit in, the people that don’t feel they are conventional, it’s embracing the freaks I suppose. I think that’s something that everyone can identify with to a degree. All of us feel slightly different and there’s something really lovely about embracing that.”
The current UK tour of Rocky Horror comes to New Theatre Oxford 13th-31st December. Charlie Condou is one of four performers taking on the role of the Narrator during the Oxford run.
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