Tag Archives: gay

On Galliano And Streatham

John Galliano

When I hear the name Galliano, I don’t really associate it with Streatham.

My first thought is of the tall thin bottle of Galliano, a sickly yellow Italian liqueur, that used to stand behind the bar in the pub my parents ran. It’s the main ingredient of a Harvey Wallbanger, which in the Iron Duke wasn’t the usual tipple of choice – a pint of best was more the thing. But my parents had to keep a small supply of such things in an unassuming Berkshire pub, and keep dusting them, just in case the cocktail set pranced in.

My second thought would be of the excellent journalist Joseph Galliano, who I used to have dealings with when I was a Labour press officer.

Only thirdly would come fashion designer John Galliano. I knew vaguely of his connection with Streatham before his whole shameful ‘I love Hitler’ drunken tirade blew made the news. Galliano’s Streathamite credentials have been much quoted in the past few days, though only in the off-hand way that Naomi Campbell is always mentioned by journalists as being ‘Streatham-born’ when she does something wrong. Galliano, when he transgresses, is written about as ‘Streatham-raised’.

It’s all a shorthand for ‘Isn’t he or she actually a bit of a bad ‘un, a bit common, dodgy, dangerous?’, which of course ends up characterising Streatham in the minds of people who don’t live here.

Simon Callow, the distinguished actor, is ‘Streatham-born’ but you don’t read about that very often, if at all, in coverage of his career. Perhaps it’s because he talks with a plummy accent. Perhaps because he hasn’t committed any offence – if he did, I imagine he’d be written up as ‘Streatham-born’ in every paper.

Streatham has, and has always had, many good and strong things to recommend it, not least of which today is its diverse and vibrant community.  Streatham’s history, its past, is fascinating. Its present is promising, despite the recession. And its future is in the hands, not so much of local councillors like me, but of its young people. So it’s not fair to them that journalists persist, deliberately and lazily, in using and abusing Streatham as a badge of disrepute.

That said, what is John Galliano’s connection with Streatham anyway? We know, through the official blurb, that he arrived here from Gibraltar at the age of 6 in 1966. His father worked as a plumber, apparently in the area. The family seems to have moved quite soon after arriving in the UK, decamping to Brockley (Lewisham). So ‘Streatham-raised’ is therefore pretty tenuous. We know he attended St Anthony’s, a Roman Catholic primary in Peckham Rye (Southwark), some distance away. After that, Wilson’s Grammar School for Boys in Camberwell (Southwark). Thereafter, St Martins College of Art, also not in Streatham. So is he really all that connected with Streatham?

Galliano’s anti-semitic comments, made in a bar in Paris, were disgusting. We have two synagogues in Streatham, numerous churches and mosques. Streatham, a diverse place which is its strength, does not represent the mindset of people like John Galliano. As an openly gay man, he should also know and feel sorrow and anger for the 100,000 homosexuals imprisoned or locked away in mental institutions by the Nazis, and of the 15,000 who died in death camps wearing pink triangles. Being brought up a Catholic, he should feel sorrow and anger for the deaths of 3,000 Polish clergy at the hands of the Nazis. Above all, he should feel sorrow and anger at the fate of 6 million Jews.

It is obvious to me that living in the glittering, pampered bubble of high fashion in Paris, and being indulged for years in his behaviour, has been Galliano’s downfall, not any vague connection with SW2 or SW16.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Berkshire, Streatham

Moir Is Less

I’ve been out leafleting in my ward and meeting constituents for much of the day, so I’ve come home to Twittergeddon over the Jan Moir article appearing in the Daily Mail today promoting a vile innuendo about the death of the singer-actor Stephen Gately, a gay man whose untimely end is something the Mail can’t comprehend as a human tragedy. Moir has presented it instead as a tragedy of morals, a tragedy of celebrity life and a tragedy of being gay. What a callous and stupid woman.

I’ve read the article (online, observing the changes of headline and the removal of advertising) and Moir’s puppety statement (Paul Dacre pulls her strings) in which she says:

“In what is clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign I think it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones.”

Arrogantly put, Miss Moir. (I’d say Ms Moir but the Mail doesn’t approve of that kind of political-correctness-gone-mad, and I read on her website that she lives with her boyfriend so she’s probably not married. Hang on – presumably the Mail doesn’t approve of that kind of thing either. Note to Mr Dacre: One of your lady columnists appears to be living in sin, sin I tell you. Please explain).

Whether the Mail likes it or not, the internet does exist and has a valuable purpose – the democratisation of news and information. The debate has moved from the newsprint pages to allow people an immediate ability to agree and disagree on the issues of the day, via Twitter for example. Gone are the days where a debate would meander along for a few days on the letters page, and that is all to the good. The debate moves faster and stronger now and can no longer be controlled by editorial barons like Mr Dacre. You and your paper are not what you were, Mr D, and it’s my sincere hope you will both become less and less with every day and month.

Miss Moir affects shock that anyone could have thought her article had ” homophobic and bigoted undertones”. Of course not. They were overtones, typical Daily Mail homophobic and bigoted overtones, clear as a clanging bell. Just read the last line of the whole article: “The ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see.” 

The post-mortem on Stephen Gately has shown death by natural causes. Gately’s mother has spoken of a hereditary heart condition (Moir seems to suggest that the poor woman is kidding herself) that was probably the cause of his death aged 33. Not enough to satisfy Miss Moir. She suggests there was a rushed post mortem, perhaps a cover-up. 

She then goes on to state, with all the confidence of one who knows the damage they want to inflict: “Another real sadness about Gately’s death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships. Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages.”

 

Actually, for the information of Miss Moir and those of her opinion, it’s not tolerance LGBT activists call for. ‘Tolerance’ suggests LGBT people are yours to patronise from above. ‘Understanding’ suggests we are somehow socially deficient, at a permanent disadvantage as human beings.

 

We want equality and equal rights as human beings and citizens. Same-sex relationships are every bit as valid as heterosexual marriages, and heterosexual relationships in general.

 

Moir goes out of her way to take a sour potshot at the ‘happy ever after myth’ of civil partnerships. Are ‘heterosexual marriages’ 100% successful? Perhaps she doesn’t know that, as she is not married to the man she lives with. But she doesn’t tell Mail readers that. Oh no. 

 

I doubt the many, many complaints that have gone to the Press Complaints Commission will get very far, but they have been worthwhile  – as with Twitter – as an expression of public contempt for poison pen journalism like Miss Moir’s.

 

She also makes a living, when she isn’t a paid extremist for the Mail, as a restaurant critic.  She’d better watch out from now on for any gay waiters. I’ve known several over the years and if people aggravate them … well … who knows what might end up in the soup? 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Daily Mail Dale Fail

It’s always interesting to observe the off-balance reaction of Conservatives when they are attacked by their own side, particularly around issues of sexuality. But on this occasion, I have some sympathy and respect, and I don’t think the reaction is at all off-balance. It’s the attack that’s way off-balance, and it’s no surprise to see it emanating from that bastion of all that’s putrid and poisonous, the Daily Mail.

Tory blogger and political publisher Iain Dale has blogged about a diary story in the Daily Mail which, on the face of it, draws sneering attention to the fact he is a gay man seeking to enter elected politics.  The Ephraim Hardcastle diary has this to say:

“Overtly gay Tory blogger Iain Dale has reached the final stage of parliamentary selection for Bracknell, telling PinkNews: ‘I hope any PinkNews readers who live in Bracknell will come to the open primary on October 17 to select their new candidate. You don’t even have to be a Conservative to attend.’

“Isn’t it charming how homosexuals rally like-minded chaps to their cause?”

Dale has written to the editor, Paul Dacre (see p 721 of Alastair Campbell’s diaries to read about my brush with Dacre). He has also made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. Dale rightly complains about being described as “overtly gay”. What does overtly gay mean? militant? flamboyant? predatory? dangerous? camp as Christmas?

Dale says on his blog “I’m afraid I have had it with the Daily Mail and their particular brand of hate”.

Well said, though I would have to agree with his pessimistic view that he’s unlikely to get anywhere with Dacre or the PCC. Dacre after all, as well as editing the Mail, is Chair of the Editor’s Code of Practice Committee, which ‘reviews and revises the voluntary code of standards overseen by the Press Complaints Commission’. When he was elevated to that giddy height, he said “I am a passionate supporter of the principle of self-regulation, Press Freedom and a Code which reflects both the concerns of newspapers and needs of the public which it serves.”

Or in other words, he believes that papers should be able to print whatever suits their agenda. Fair enough for papers to have an agenda, but in this case, the Dale diary story is typical of the Mail’s “brand of hate”. The subtext is: here is a homosexual with the effrontery to want to stand for Parliament, he’s obviously trying to get others of his sort to infiltrate the selection process in Bracknell, let’s try and ‘queer’ the pitch, guffaw, guffaw. 

The Mail should be ashamed but of course it won’t be. When I was a press officer, of the Labour persuasion, I regularly had to deal with Mail hacks who seemed to have long ago crossed the line of fair reporting to glory in inflicting misery and damage on people in politics. I was the defender, so to make my job more difficult and theirs easier, they would call at times that would make it all but impossible to sort out and present the facts – late at night, last thing on a Friday afternoon, twenty minutes before the paper went to bed, you get the picture. Even when the facts were presented to the sneering voice on the other end of the phone, they rarely appeared intact in the story, or an inaccurate story appeared despite having been doggedly knocked down for not being accurate or not a story at all. 

I don’t share Iain Dale’s political views but he has a right to them. He also has a right to be respected as a person of experience and character who wants to serve people as an elected politician. His sexuality should not be imposed by others as the issue that defines his candidacy, it should be his values and his policies. 

I was born very near Bracknell and know it well. Obviously I would like to see Labour winning there, but that doesn’t stop me wishing Iain Dale good luck in the open primary, particularly if unfair obstacles are being set up for him, as seems the case. I hope none of his fellow candidates in the primary are engaging in smear tactics. Primaries are a positive attempt to break away from the backstabbing and backroom dealing that only contributes to cynicism about politics, so it would be depressing to see such behaviour creeping in. It should be for the people of Bracknell to make their decision in the primary and then their choice in the general election, not narrow-minded Daily Mail journalists.

Leave a comment

Filed under Berkshire, Politics