Coronation Street's newest family are in crisis after Ed Bailey (Trevor Michael Georges) rejected son James Bailey (Nathan Graham) when he came out, and his difficulty in accepting his sexuality has put an end to James's chance of happiness with Danny Tomlinson (Dylan Brady).
Emotional scenes on Monday 24th February of Coronation Street saw Ed's old builder pal Danny dump soccer prodigy James unless he went public about being gay, which the rising star player is reluctant to do for fear of the reaction within the football community.
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But heartbroken James laid into Ed for deliberately wrecking his relationship in an attempt to keep him in the closet, putting father and son at odds.
"Danny was the catalyst for James coming out," says Graham, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com. "James knew if he wanted anything to happen between them he needed to be honest with his dad, but he didn't react well. When Danny breaks up with him, James thinks Ed has influenced his decision and blames him."
Ed has struggled with his boy's bombshell, insisting he's concerned he will face homophobia and discrimination in the ultra-macho footie world if he's a fully out and proud player. Graham believes Ed's own prejudices also play a part.
"James knows the kind of public reaction he could face, but he's not buying that is why Ed has a problem with him being gay," he continues. "His son's happiness should mean more to him than the issues he has with his sexuality.
"In a way Ed wants to protect James by saying he could choose not to come out and avoid getting all that stick, but it's not a choice for James - he's gay and wants his dad to love him for who he is. It shouldn't matter who he's seeing."
As viewers have witnessed, Ed's attitudes have caused a rift with wife Aggie, and Graham hints the patriarch's views could tear the clan apart. "It could definitely have a big impact on Ed and Aggie's marriage," he warns. "Ed reacted in the worst way, as far as James is concerned, and this may cause a strain on other dynamics within the Bailey family. Aggie is disappointed in Ed, and also wants to protect her son."
Can James and Ed build bridges after the recriminations of the last week? "I'd like to think they could have a better relationship eventually," sighs Graham. "You can't hold grudges in life. At the end of the day, James needs his family as a support network and hopefully that will happen.
"I also think Ed needs to talk about the troubles he's been through in the past - he's encountered racism himself, maybe talking about those experiences might help his son. James just wants his dad to fully accept who he is and be there for him."
Although James's sexuality storyline and the exploration of homophobia and prejudice in football was flagged when the Baileys moved into the Street last summer, the slow burn plot is only now coming to the boil. "It's given it a sense of realism and let the audience get to know James as a character. It's better that James has told a few people he trusts first before Ed.
"Since the storyline has been in focus recently I've had some nice messages. Hopefully we're breaking down stereotypes, but unfortunately it's the kind of story we still need to be telling in 2020."
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