Cosy crimes and gritty sagas by Corrie Blog editor Glenda, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Nathan Graham interview: James lies about being gay

How is James and Ed’s relationship as this week begins?

Ed  has this old mentality; he tells James that he has a choice, like he has chosen this lifestyle. If Ed had accepted him then things with Danny might also have been different but at this point James just wants his dad to love him for who he is.

What are James ' first thoughts when he is approached by the reporter regarding his sexuality?

James is baffled because he knows that only a certain amount of people know that he is gay so either someone from his family has leaked it or it’s down to Danny or Bethany. At that moment, he can’t even think who is responsible because the people that he has told, he trusts with that information. Even though his dad has had a bad reaction to him coming out to him, James knows that his dad would not hurt him in this way.

Does James think twice about denying it to the reporter?

No, he’s used to putting up that wall because he doesn’t want people to know outside of his circle. If anyone ever approaches him it’s always a complete denial, he just closes off.

What goes through his head when he finds out it has come from Danny and it is on social media?

He’s doubly hurt because prior to the awards he sees Danny and clearly there is still something there between them. For James, Danny was a big deal. He took the risk of telling Ed that he was gay because he wanted something to progress with Danny. When James finds out it is Danny who is responsible for the online post, he thinks, ‘How could he do this to me?’ because Danny knows the struggle that James is going through. For Danny to take it out of James' own hands when it’s James’s news to tell, is a massive blow and he is distraught with Danny.  He also feels a loss of control because before this, he was completely in control of the situation and he was telling who he was wanting to tell. There’s now a panic and he thinks, “How am I going to get hold of this situation and make myself feel more safe?”

What is James’ biggest fear?

James’ biggest fear is that everyone is going to find out instantly and that it is going to spread like wildfire. His dad has rejected him so he is now thinking about how his teammates and the fans are going to react and he has all that to process and to potentially deal with in the space of a few days. He is worried that he will get grief as the first openily gay footballer because of the way football is with racism and homphobic chanting. He fears that he will have to leave his job because the abuse will all be too much for him and it will stop him from enjoying his football.

After Aggie tells him that newspapers have been calling the house, why does James decide to take action?

James feels like he needs to do something to try and get the control back but to what extent, he doesn’t know yet. He doesn’t want to give a story and he doesn’t know how to handle it. With the press interest, it’s all getting on top of him.

Why does James lie about his sexuality to the football club?

He decides to lie because it is a chance for him to stop the rumour from spreading. It is his way of taking back control in that situation.

Do you think if Ed had been more supportive from the beginning that James would have made a different decision at that moment?

I would like to think he would have because James would have had his full support system in place to help him if he did get grief and flack. When he has got someone he loves rejecting him, that holds more weight than him coming out publicly.

Does James regret the decision he has made to not be truthful?

James is trying to put on a brave face as if everything is all sorted now. He feels like he has taken back control and he just wants to plough on with his football, he thinks it will all blow over. He thinks that no one will ever know or find out.

How much is keeping this secret having an effect on his mental and emotional health?

It’s affecting him because there’s only so much you can hold onto something without it getting on top of you. It’s a struggle for him and it’s definitely weighing on him all the time because essentially when he leaves his house he is living a lie to everybody else so how long can that continue until it gets the better of him? Or how long until it just comes out? It is a ticking time bomb that could erupt either way.

Why do you think it is important for Coronation Street to do this homophobia in football storyline?

It is important because it is clearly an issue as there is no one currently playing professional football who is openly gay. After talking to Keegan Hirst, I can see that in football, homophobia is not seen as being on the same level as racism so it is good to spark that conversation and then hopefully it will educate people that discrimination is discrimination no matter what it is; race, religion, sexuality. If a sportperson is gay, it doesn’t take away from their ability and with any type of discrimination, until people are educated then nothing will change. If someone is going through this struggle, I hope they see themselves represented and they know that it is okay to own who you are.

What were your thoughts on taking on this storyline?

I enjoy playing  storylines with emotion because I enjoy the challenge and my focus is the work. I’ve always known it is an important storyline however at first, I hadn’t really processed what sort of impact the storyline might have but as the story has progressed and after speaking to Keegan Hirst, I know I really need to make sure that I am doing a good job. We are all trying to give it the respect, the care and the attention it needs. We have a duty to do the story justice.

What did you learn from Keegan Hirst when you spoke to him for research for this storyline?

Once he told the people who he wanted to know and who had weight to his life, when it came to the point of him coming out publicly it wasn’t such a big deal for him. It was good to speak to someone who had experience of what James is going through in real life in the sporting world.

When The Bailey’s first came to the street, it was known Coronation Street would be exploring the storyline of homophobia in sport with James. Why was it important for the story to unfold on screen slowly?

The storyline has been a slow burner but it was important to do that and I think it has been done well because it gave the audience a chance to get to know James. It also adds an aspect of realism because James has come out to each person in his own time and every person he tells is a hurdle. That can’t be rushed and when I’ve spoken to people they’ve said that’s how it happens in real life. James has had to let that hurdle digest before telling the next person.

What would you like for James?

I want James to be the first out football player and live his truth and I want him to be a catalyst for other players to come out so then there is a community of players who are openly gay. The governing bodies in football then might realise they need to make it a safe environment and show people that there is zero tolerance to any sort of homophobia.

Glenda Young
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor
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