Over the last few weeks, the UK has begun to question whether we have spent too long putting the wrong heroes up on a pedestal.
Quite literally in the case of statues up and down the country which are now the subject of reviews as to whether they should still stand.
One hero who I felt personally let down by was JK Rowling, who received a lot of, understandable, criticism regarding views she has expressed on transgender women.
For me, the Harry Potter author has been something of an idol. Aside from the incredible talent she clearly has as a writer, I also admire her as a Mum.
You will have seen, thanks to an atrocious headline from The Sun, that she went through an abusive marriage and went on to raise her daughter alone (while writing the books!).
She worked hard through poverty and rejections until finally her book was picked up by an assistant at a literacy agency and, well, you know the rest.
Her books have become a huge part of my life, my partner and I bonded over our shared love for them, my sons are both named after characters from them, we’re even going to be basing the theme of our wedding on them.
So, to come online and find her name trending because she has made comments that I vehemently disagree with has been an unexpectedly challenging experience.
Hero to zero?
It’s not the first time I have felt let down by someone I admired: a little while ago Gary, Howard and Mark of Take That were criticised for using a tax avoidance scheme, something one of my Twitter followers likes to remind me every time I tweet about them.
Following along the boyband theme, Ronan Keating was probably the first of my heroes that I felt let me down when it was revealed he had had an affair.
Having grown up adoring the singer and his band, Boyzone, having learnt about love and relationships through their songs, I suddenly started feeling guilty for having invested so much time in them.
The same is true of Jo Rowling, I write this in a study that has been adorned with pictures and memorabilia from the films, pictures of our visits to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour and the golden snitch ring box that my partner used when he proposed to me there.
So much of my time and money has been invested in this series, it has been a huge feature of my life, brought some of my happiest memories and supported me at times when I have felt low.
Now that’s tinged with the sadness and resentment I feel at Jo for handling this in such a terrible way, I won't go into the finer details of it as I feel that is better left to those who have been affected by her words.
But I hate that someone I have always revered as a pillar of exemplary morals has expressed an opinion so hurtful others.
Does the UK need to take a closer look at its heroes?
All of this got me thinking about another big news story from last week, over the weekend the statue of Winston Churchill in London was covered to protect it from potential vandalism.
Now, I’m personally somewhat aware of the things in his past that make him less than the hero our country likes to paint him as, but I’m not sure that is true for others.
Yes, he led us to victory against the Nazis and stopped them bringing more death, pain and anguish to the world.
But while celebrating that, we seem to have forgotten to acknowledge that he also expressed some very questionable views on white supremacy.
In the wake of the protests for Black Lives Matter there has been a defensive response to any criticism of our leaders, police force and culture.
‘Those are bygone years and the morals of then cannot be applied to now,’ I see posted on my timeline repeatedly.
And that would be true, if we had actually learned our lesson. If we had actually eradicated systemic racism within our society. But we haven’t.
There are still more steps that need to be taken, whether it’s in terms of equality for BAME people, transgender males and females, or women, and putting these ‘heroes’ on a pedestal that cannot be touched will not allow us to make that change.
Should statues around the country be removed immediately?
Probably not, each needs to be assessed individually and the thoughts of those in the local community taken into account.
That was the problem in Bristol, a petition for the Colston statue to be removed had been raised, but it was ignored. The people in charge had refused to have the conversations needed to discuss this challenging topic.
As a result of the Black Lives Matter protests, these discussions now seem to be starting. My own council here in Leeds have announced they will be reviewing the Robert Peel statues in our city.
It’s a good start, but it mustn’t stop there.
We need to be talking honestly about our own white privilege and underlying racist views. To challenge ourselves on the sub-consious thoughts deep within us and to make sure we sit and listen to the views of others.
It is down to us to stop idolising these heroes and to realise that they are just people and they have made mistakes which we can all learn from.
If you ignore those mistakes you are doing an injustice to those that have been wronged, when we have a real opportunity here to make sure these incidents never, ever happen again.
Can we forgive JK Rowling for her tweets?
As for JK Rowling, I think it’s important to keep in mind that there are two sides to this story. The truth is, there are sensible counter arguments that support what she has said, to an extent at least.
While appreciating how much she has achieved in her life, I can still listen to the LBTQ+ community and learn about why what she has said is so hurtful to them and their way of life.
I don’t need to defend her, I can learn from her mistake and the same can be said for Colston, Churchill, Peel and all the names that are now being included in this important topic.
We can take these awful events and turn them into something good, if we allow ourselves to embrace the fact that there are good and bad parts in everyone.