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Jack Cullen


Radio 1's first transgender presenter

GT's Paris Lees gives Britain’s prejudices a right good scratch...


Hot dirty B-boys are in for a real treat tonight, as they hang out in McDonalds car-parks and speed down suburban flyovers in their Dad’s Peugeot 207 with Radio 1 cranked up. Because at 9pm sharp the unmistakably dulcet tones of Paris Lees will cut in and start wafting across our green and, as it turns out, not that pleasant land.

That’s right, tonight is the night of the Hate Debate! Radio 1’s hot new documentary all about prejudice. With her iconic voice that is both sharp and ethereal, like Galadriel going through a skater girl phase, who better than to host The Hate Debate than GT's very own Paris? And yes, she is Radio 1's first trans gal presenter. Cool bitch.

You may think prejudice is a tired subject matter for social documentary, but as Paris points out, we still don't think enough about the impact of the words that we use. See the opening line of this blog post. It paints a jocular image, but essentially it's concentrated prejudice. As a society, we are boiling-over with prejudice, and Paris makes a move towards addressing this.

With her smirking style of dry humour she kicks off the show with the following announcement: "This show contains strong opinions, language and adult themes from the very beginning. So if you think you may be offended, it might be best to head to bbc.co.uk/radio1 - and check out another show"

Perhaps now is the time to coin the phrase 'Paris Aggressive'.

The documentary itself is good, a meatier and more interesting take on those stale social science programmes they made us watch in school.

Listeners are taken to Nottingham, where Paris herself hails from, and we hear young people discussing their use of terms like “gay face” and “faggot”. Some attack these words while others attempt to justify their usage of them.

The show boasts a wide variety of ear-catching anonymous interviewees who talk to Paris about their experiences of prejudice:

Via Stonewall Paris finds a boy called Joe who came out as bisexual when he was 14. His coming out admission spread around Joe’s school and he quickly found himself the victim of bullying. It started with whispers and then people tripping him up or beating him in corridors. At home there was no escape, fellow students used websites to anonymously cyber bully him. Joe talks about how the the experience made him feel wrong about himself, he found himself unable to trust people and so he began cutting his own arms.

One girl talks to Paris about how she went through school as an overweight teenager but never got any stick for it. Then as she matured and decided to give her image an update, with new hair and more confident fashions, the negative energy began pouring in. “It was OK when I was just the fat funny one, but not when I started to lose some weight and try and look nice”

Another anonymous contributor describes how he doesn’t feel confident kissing his boyfriend in public because once when he was a teenager he kissed a boy in a café and a man walking past came into the café and started throwing things at them.

Paris doesn’t just point the question mark at others though. Where The Hate Debate really comes into its own is when Paris confronts her own prejudice: one of which is women who wear burkas. Without giving anything away, the scene makes for a fascinating listen as Paris actually visits a woman alone in her home and explains why she feels that the burka she is wearing is a sexist garment that oppresses her freedom.

Hundreds of thousands hear Paris and The Hate Debate on Radio 1 this evening. The interviews that she leads are set against a nice musical backdrop too, featuring Frank Ocean, Disclosure and Hot Chip. Make sure to tune in!

Radio Stories: The Hate Debate airs tonight, March 25 on BBC Radio 1 and will also be available on iPlayer. The Twitter hashtag is #HateDebate

Photo: Ryan Harding

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