Patrick Strudwick

Patrick Strudwick

The decision to fine the Christian B&B owners for refusing to let a gay couple stay represents “a tyrannous new morality which is every bit as oppressive as the old”. Children “should be raised by a man and a woman.” “Being a campaigning, ardent gay is no longer necessary.” And, “Imagine the demons that could plague Elton John’s little boy with his unconventional parentage.”

Who do you think said these things? The BNP? A bishop? Muslim fundamentalists? No. You’re way off. These quotes come from some of Britain’s most prominent gay commentators. There were uttered or written by, respectively, historian and TV presenter David Starkey, political blogger and radio host Iain Dale, Minister for International Development Alan Duncan MP and Daily Mail columnist Andrew Pierce.

These are not solitary quotes or out-of-character aberrations. Each of these individuals betrays the gay community with a drip feed of their internalised homophobia, splattered across the public domain. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the homophobe collaborators.

Iain Dale says there’s nothing anti-gay about believing we’re not suitable to look after children: “There are lots of people in this country who aren’t homophobic who don’t believe in gay adoption”.

Andrew Pierce attacks those who criticise homophobes: “The very intolerance that was once targeted at gays is now being directed at those who have sincerely-held…objections to gay equality.” He attacks Graham Norton for being a “mincing” “vulgar” “parody”. He mocks Alan Carr for being a “limp-wristed, lisping screamer”. He criticises Gok Wan for being “more camp than an Ascot marquee”. Only those who secretly think there’s something wrong with being gay – or being obviously gay - deem “camp” a valid criticism. When the Pope smeared Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill saying it “violates the natural law” Pierce wrote that he “agreed with much of what he said”.

Alan Duncan openly opposes gay marriage. “It’s helpful to keep the distinction between civil partnerships and full marriage rights,” he told me. He has also admitted that he’s “seriously uneasy” with gay people having children, which, he thinks, is “not consistent with being in a gay partnership”. When I asked him about these assertions he replied: “There’s a risk it’s more for the interest of the gay person than it is in the long term interest of the child.” This is despite study after study finding that children of gay parents fare just as well if not better than those of straight couples. There is a word for negative feelings that are not based on fact: fear. Which is, of course, the chief ingredient of homophobia.

David Starkey says that “being nice and sweet about gays isn’t wholly a good thing”. So, instead he prefers to vilify those who campaign to protect gay people as “tyrannous”.

Then there are the homophobe apologists. Douglas Murray, the gay neocon author and director of the inaptly named Centre for Social Cohesion, routinely praises one of Britain’s most influential homophobes. When the former Bishop of Rochester, Lord Nazir Ali, who sat on the board of advisors of Murray’s think tank, spewed wildly anti-gay comments including: “We want them to repent and be changed,” Murray not condemn the remarks. He later enthused about the then bishop: “I have huge admiration for his bravery, his intellect and his leadership.” With gay people like this, who needs homophobes?

Let’s put this in context. Can you think of any black or Asian people in mainstream public life who believe in only partial equality for ethnic minorities? Or who condemn attempts to achieve equality? Or who support racists? Does, for example, the black Labour MP Dianne Abbott opine that white people make better parents or that hotel owners should be able to turn away black people? Of course not. If she did, her party would expel her. Her constituents would vote her out. She would be regarded as a deranged self-hating lunatic – and then ignored.

What Andrew Pierce and the rest fail to realise is that part of the reason for their prominence is that they are the ultimate gift to those who loathe us. They are the puppets of our oppressors. Powerful organisations can wheel them out and cry, “Look, even gay people think the gay rights movement has gone too far!” When David Starkey, for example, made his “tyrannous” remark on Question Time, it spread across Christian websites like news of the Second Coming.

At least Nigel Evans MP, the deputy speaker of the House of Commons, had the good grace to admit recently to being “Neanderthal” and “in denial” when he voted for Section 28.

Not for a moment am I saying gay people are beyond criticism. But those bellowing voices of our “community” who denigrate us for wanting fair treatment or for not being “straight acting” enough merely expose their own twisted subconscious.

The message of gay equality needn’t be drowned out by them. You can speak up. You don’t have to be an author or politician to be heard. You can campaign, you can write a blog, you can have a voice - one of self- and mutual respect. I urge you to use it before the internalised homophobia of a few poisons us all.

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