Tag Archives: LGBT

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? 



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The Political Closet

The “outing” of public figures who are LGBT is an extremely emotive and difficult issue.
It is not straightforward. None of us want to go back to the days of lurid tabloid headlines which outed gay politicians, often leading to resignations and a retreat into the political wilderness, and often left many cowering in the closet.
Even the infamous outing of Peter Mandelson by Matthew Parris on Newsnight, although hardly shocking to the Westminster village, was at best undignified.
The answer should be of course that all politicians, and figures in public life, should feel comfortable and able to be open about their sexuality and not fear jeopardising their careers if they do so. The number of openly gay members of the Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet should prove that it is not necessarily a barrier, although we haven’t yet faced the realistic prospect of a gay prime minister (the first of which we saw in Iceland recently).
We all know, especially those that work in politics, that there are plenty of politicians that are ‘in the closet’ and not open about their sexual orientation to their constituents and the public at large.
The consensus seems to be that as long as they are not hypocritical, as long as they don’t actively support anti-gay legislation then while we may think it is sad, it is disappointing or in some blatant cases frankly pitiful, but we must respect their privacy and not actively announce their sexuality.
The issue is increasingly coming to the fore in the United States, perhaps a decade on when we reached some form of consensus here in Britain.
A new documentary movie, Outrage, actively outs mainly Republican politicians who it claims are in the closet and labels them as hypocrites. It makes reference to Florida governor Charlie Crist, a long-term bachelor who married last year and of course infamous Idaho Senator Larry “wide stance” Craig, as well as a number of other GOP legislators.
For gay Americans the situation is frustrating. There are only three openly gay members of Congress, no openly gay members of the Senate, no openly gay governors, and no openly gay members of the Cabinet. The temptation is to be more active in outing these lawmakers and thus showing the country that there are plenty of gay legislators out there.
Until now the emphasis, particularly that of the Victory Fund (which raises funds for openly gay candidates across the country) has been on getting more openly gay people elected.
This film marks a more aggressive effort to confront the issue. Where these legislators are actively promoting or supporting discriminatory legislation or using anti-gay rhetoric then the conclusion must be that they deserve everything coming to them. The difficulty arises when you attempt to define “hypocrisy”. Is opposing hate crimes laws or opposing same-sex marriage or failing to actively support gay rights intrinsically homophobic or hypocritical?  I would say yes, but there is complexity here.
My view is that hypocrisy should be viewed in a broad sense and those who are clearly hiding their quite obvious sexuality and who refuse to acknowledge this fact to their constituents and who refuse to do anything to support their LGBT peers deserve the full treatment of the media. At the same time, there are privacy issues, and we cannot give a blank cheque for the media to expose the private lives of every gay politician who it deems to be hypocritical.
My hope is that, particularly as America begins to embrace gay marriage and equal rights (if not in every part of the country) a new generation of politicians will not feel that they need sham marriages or denials to gain public office but can be themselves. Who do we want making laws (even if you have a problem with gay people)? Those who are gay and have stable lives, or those who are “married” and yet spend their time frequenting airport toilets looking for sex? The answer is clearly a no brainer.


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