Richard Hammond: I'm not ‘anti-gay' for questioning why people publicly come out
Richard Hammond has defended himself, saying he is not being homophobic after facing criticism for questioning why gay people come out publicly.
The Grand Tour host faced a backlash on social media after saying it is “old-fashioned” to make a big deal of someone announcing their sexuality.
His comments came despite recent research from charity Stonewall showing nearly half of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) children in Britain’s schools are bullied for their sexuality or gender.
“The last thing I am is in any way anti-gay or homophobic because love is life and if you’re lucky enough to find someone you love, it doesn’t matter,” the former Top Gear presenter told the Press Association.
“I think what I was saying is my daughter’s generation – perhaps in my rather comfortable, middle-class little world – it simply isn’t an issue. Coming out isn’t an issue.
“Now I know full well that there are people in parts of the world for who it’s a massive issue and my heart goes out to anybody who is wrestling with the need to be themselves, or for the fact they’re being persecuted for doing that.”
He added: “The very last thing that I would want to do is make that process difficult for anyone.”
Hammond, 47, made the comment when he was questioned by The Times over his previous claim in the debut season of the Amazon Prime show that the reason he did not eat ice cream was “something to do with being straight”.
In an interview published on Saturday, he said he did not mean to cause difficulty to anyone, but added that “when I hear of people in the media coming out, I think, why do they even feel the need to mention it?”.
“It is so old-fashioned to make a big deal of it. That isn’t even an interesting thing to say at a dinner party any more,” he added.
Stonewall surveyed more than 3,700 school pupils this year to find 45% of LGBT students said they have been bullied because of the way they are and that 52% said they regularly hear homophobic language.