Of the three main soap operas, Emmerdale has the best depiction of lesbian and gay lives, voters in Stonewall’s latest social media poll have said.

The online poll, with 1,025 responses, was a close call with Emmerdale narrowly taking the top spot at 44 per cent, and EastEnders coming a close second with 43 per cent. Coronation Street received 13 per cent of the vote.

Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said: ‘We waited years for a decent gay storyline to be written into a soap. Then – in Emmerdale, EastEnders and Coronation Street – three turned up at once. We wanted to find out how well gay people felt these storylines reflected their own lives. Stonewall will continue to work with broadcasters to ensure lesbian, gay and bisexual people see the reality of their lives reflected regularly in programming.’

Emmerdale series producer Gavin Blyth said: ‘From the outset, we always wanted to be very truthful and honest in the story of Aaron’s sexuality and how he as an individual attempted to deny himself. While we obviously recognise this doesn’t mirror the journey of every man and woman, we were aware that it would resonate with very many. The enormous positive feedback we have received has proved it to be the case and to be recognised by Stonewall in this way is a huge honour to all involved.’

Observations from Stonewall’s Facebook page included Craig Scott who indicated why he voted for Emmerdale: ‘Emmerdale and EastEnders are important I think for different reasons. The religious issue in EastEnders and many gay men internalise their feelings like Aaron in Emmerdale. Emmerdale just gets it for me.’

However, not all voters in the poll felt the soaps were representing the reality of their lives with much accuracy; Dean Jennings asked: ‘Why can’t we have a gay soap character coming out and feeling good about themselves? Coming out was one of the most liberating experiences for me and I don’t feel the soaps display this.’

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