Paul Hollywood’s rainbow flag comment causes trouble for GBBO

GBBO paul hollywood
(Image: Channel 4)

The Great British Bake Off was hit with several complaints by the LGBTQ+ community in Last Tuesday’s Bread Week Show. The Bakers had a technical challenge where they were asked to make rainbow Bagels.

The 54-year-old GBBO Baker, Paul Hollywood failed to mention the significance of the rainbow flag for the LGBTQ+ community. This left them frustrated and he has been under constant fire for this mistake. While Paul has been the victim of the uproar, this incident clearly indicates that we have a bigger problem at hand.

What happened at GBBO?

GBBO paul hollywood
(Image: Channel 4)

GBBO’s Baker Paul Hollywood asked the Bake Off class of 2020 to set to work for the show’s most colourful challenge of making rainbow bagels and acknowledged their historical relevance. However, there was one thing of importance that he didn’t mention at the show.

During the show, he was discussing the beautifully created rainbow coloured bagels by the contestants. Co-star, Prue Leith at one point turned and asked GBBO Baker, Paul Hollywood, “Paul, why rainbow coloured bagels?” Paul said, “I think bagels are a great challenge when you’re making bread. You’ve got to boil them which is unusual”. He added, “I think the rainbow colours for me, although it originated over in the States, I think it represents the NHS.”

“Well, it does now,” said Prue Leith to GBBO judge Paul Hollywood as they chuckled away.

The reaction of the LGBTQ+ community to the statement made by Paul Hollywood at GBBO

This small incident turned to a massive potent acid trip when the LGBTQ+ community realised that the most recognisable and universal symbol of its tortured history was wiped out with the crunch of a bagel. To be more exact, not just the history but also the straight-up washing of its future.

The community expressed its rage in big numbers on social media:

“Can’t wait to come out as the NHS bagel to my family”

“The level of ignorance… the appropriation… I…”

“Making rainbow bagels on #bakeoff and Paul Hollywood reckons they make you think of the NHS. No Hun, those bagels are gay bagel”

“Watched by millions of people. Paul didn’t even a knowledge the significance of the rainbow flag to the gay community, he just said ‘it originated in the states”

And, this is not just it. This also resulted in around 18 complaints to TV Watch Dog OfCom according to MailOnline, regarding the misrepresentation.

The LGBTQ+ community isn’t clearly visible enough

The rainbow flag’s importance is a symbol of importance for decades. Gilbert Baker designed it to represent the LGBTQ+ community in 1978. This happened after a push from one of the first openly gay elected US officials Harvey Milk, to create a symbol for the gay community.

Of Course, from the past six months, the sign has also represented the NHS. Several people plastered paintings and flags of the rainbow on their doors and windows in support of the NHS. It is a universal message for togetherness and has become something of great importance in this fateful year.

However,  with an LGBTQ+ curriculum, coming into force in 2019, and met with opposition at that, taking ownership of the rainbow flag it lies at risk of losing its identity in the world. However, GBBO’s judge Paul Hollywood’s misplaced insight about the rainbow coloured flag is not entirely his fault. We can only think about the day when these misinformed straight, white public will take time out to study the history of their oppressed peers, they shouldn’t have to so that the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t have to face any more misrepresentation in the world. What Paul Hollywood did at GBBO takes place at so many places in the world. His remarks were unsatisfactory and needed correction.

From September 2020, all secondary schools were required to teach pupils about sexual orientation and gender identity, and all primary schools will be required to teach about different families, which can include LGBT families. However, lessons on the LGBTQ+ community are still rare and many still remain ignorant. In a recent study by StoneWall, 40% of LGBT students will never be taught anything about LGBT issues.

With such circumstances is there any hope for the heterosexual community to know more about the homosexual community?

The problem is not just what happened at GBBO

On one hand, the LGBTQ+ people are still relatively few and far between, and inadequately represented by the heterogeneous community. Although, there have been instances to educate more and more people about it. Streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime, have taken a step to spread awareness. This happened with the help of documentaries such as the immensely informative Disclosure – a deep dive into trans representation and its pretty catastrophic past. However, the responsibility to actively seek them out lies in our hands.

That is not the end of the matter. Even today with the world changing and so much happening,  Boris Johnson appears reluctant to enforce Black history into schools. In many schools, the history lesson is simply restricted to the straight and white community and has a sheer disregard to people lying outside this categorization.

Paul Hollywood made an accidental oversight in GBBO. This will clearly impact the LGBTQ+ community as noticed and discussed by several members of the community online. This was however simply a well intentioned gesture of showing support for NHS workers. The rainbow flag has been a symbol of these people and has represented them for decades. It is now genuinely at peril of losing its identity.

Joe Nellist of LGBT Foundation explained, “We are sure no malice was intended, and this is simply a consequence of how little LGBT histories are taught or understood. We would like to see a world where the many complex histories of LGBT communities, including the adoption of the rainbow flag as a symbol of pride, solidarity and community, is taught more throughout society and embraced as the vital part of British history that it is.”

Paul has not yet addressed this incident yet. 

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