Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Fall: Hastings

To Hastings to see The Fall again.


Bye. x

Bruce Jenner: The Interview!

This is getting loads of coverage everywhere.

So brave etc etc.

Fagburn wishes him every happiness, of course,* as he does to anyone who's not a former Olympic athlete and current star of a bafflingly popular US reality TV series about rich people.

PS Bruce was in the Village People's magnificent movie, Can't Stop The Music, so will always be in the Fagburn Book Of Super Cool.

* Edited: Jenner says he wants to be referred to by male pronouns until he announces his new name.

PS The other story that's everywhere right now is the straight dude who asked his gay best friend to be his prom date. All media, but of course, think this is 'adorable'.

Gay Dad Watch: Neighbourhood Watch

There’s something about Thornbury Road that really sucks you in,” Sophie Broadbent tells me, smiling. Her partner, Jamie Lancaster, nods in agreement, “I don’t think we realised how interesting it was until we started meeting our neighbours,” he adds. Two years ago, toddlers in tow, the couple embarked on a project to photograph as many of their neighbours as possible. The result is the Thornbury Road portraits: 30 intimate, joyful portraits of local residents...

Each portrait took a couple of hours for Jamie – a photographer since school and a professional director – to set up. And it was not always easy. Trying to cram lights, camera equipment and himself into a small bathroom to photograph Seany O’Kane, a former Big Brother contestant, and his five-year-old son Kuziva-Aodhán, was a challenge. Seany, from Northern Ireland, works for a London charity that supports young fathers, and is gay. He co-parents Kuziva with his son’s two mothers, a couple who live in Manchester...

Not much to comment on in today's papers, so here's the weekend Guardian's obligatory gay dad

This being Brixton, Seany is far from being the only gayer on his street - this is Clemens, 'a flamboyant web designer originally from Germany'.

“We knew he would enjoy it because he loves dressing up,” Sophie says. “At Halloween he is always in thigh-high leather boots and a corset.”

No info on these two, but they look the sort who never miss an opportunity to loudly refer to 'my husband'...

By coincidence it's Reclaim Brixton today.

Election 2015: Analysis By Nicky Haslam

What did Ed Miliband’s kitchen say to him, I wonder? “Oh, kitchens are so common, aren’t they? And people who bang on about kitchens are common,” he says dismissively. Bathrooms are much more revealing, he thinks. “Dickie Avedon [the American photographer] once said to me, if you want to decorate for someone properly, you should go to the bathroom and find out what pills they take, if they’re on uppers or downers or what.”

Haslam may be unenthusiastic about Miliband’s kitchen but he loves the man himself. “He looks like a Velázquez. An extraordinary face. He’s really rather beautiful. I met him the other day and I said, ‘You may have read, Mr Miliband, that I think you’re wonderful-looking.’ And he said, ‘Have you met my wife?’” He chuckles throatily. “I thought that was quite funny.” What about David Cameron? “Great fat lump!” he declares. “I’m very fond of David but he looks like anybody really, doesn’t he?”

Interior designer and socialite, Nicky Haslam, The Times.

Lucky readers also learn Nicky keeps his weight down by watching his diet. 

“Avocados only,” he says. “I’m sure that was the food of Eden.”

Friday, 24 April 2015

British LGBT Awards: Live From The Rainbow Coloured Bowels Of Hell!

Katie Hopkins arrived - then it proceeded to get even shitter.

Unsurprisingly none of the above turned up.

Though Fagburn understands Christopher Biggins was in da house!

Check the rapturous response to the totally legit* D-list shitfest that is the British LGBT Awards on Twitter.

These used to be the European/National Diversity Awards. The organisers are trying to get media to say it's 'the gay Oscars'. Only the clueless Katie Hopkins has fallen for this.

The first sponsor listed is the Royal Air Force - who could help carry out Katie's dream of shooting migrants in the Med.

* 'The independent judging panel will select the winners of the corporate categories, based on their shortlist submission.' 

Update: Hilarious Mail photos of some of the non-celebs at the awards ceremony last night.

Update2: Organisers Square Peg Media denied Hopkins was an invited guest - but she was! [Via Pink News].

V&A: The Unnatural History Museum

'Corporate greed, government inaction and public indifference make Aids a political crisis'.
Gran Fury's 1989 détournement of a vacuous Benneton ad for Act Up is part of the V&A's LGBT collection.

The V&A are hosting a LGBTQ Tour of the museum each last Saturday of the month, starting tomorrow.

For more queer artefacts and stuff see Out In The Museum.

'My Heroes', April Ashley by Grayson Perry.
PS You may also enjoy the British Museum's Same-sex desire and gender identity trail and website.

Drag Studies: It's A Bloody Minnie Mouse Degree! Etc

'Senior lecturer and drag queen Mark Edward'.
A UNIVERSITY is launching a course on wearing drag for degree students.

Undergraduates in their third year will be invited to study the “art”.

It is open to those taking degrees in dance and drama or performing arts at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, Lancs.

Senior lecturer Mark Edward — himself a drag queen — said: “This module not only explores drag as a highly camp performance art, it also engages with complex gender, feminist and queer theory.

“It is completely unique in exploring the crossing of boundaries in terms of gender and performance.”

Edge Hill — motto In Knowledge There Is Opportunity — has 16,000 students and was 2014’s University of the Year.

Mr Edward said the course was not just “wigs, make-up and high heels”.

He said: “Performers have been ‘dragging up’ since Shakespearean times.”

Like the way The Sun start by making this sound like you can get a degree in how to put on lippy and walk in heels.

Yesterday's Telegraph gave the module a fairly fair hearing.

Hopefully the Mail and Express will cover this soon and send their readers FEWMIN! 

PS The drag kings and drag queens of performance module at Edge Hill University.

Und! Are straight men in drag offensive to women? An NUS Women’s Conference recently called for a ban on cross-dressing 'as a mode of fancy dress'. Martin Daubney defends a man's right to wear a frock A spirited defence in the Telegraph by an ex-editor of Loaded.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Rainbow Crossing: Makes People Ill

TOTNES’ plans for Europe’s first permanent rainbow road crossing could be shelved after fears were raised that it could cause dementia sufferers to have hallucinations.

The group Proud2Be has been working on establishing a permanent rainbow crossing in Totnes following the success of the temporary one it set up in the High Street for the town’s gay pride event last year.

Now the group, and town councillors who had been asked to support the plan for the crossing across The Plains, have been warned by someone who works with elderly people that the brightly-coloured crossing could have a serious health impact on people with Alzheimer’s.

Councillors have advised Proud2Be to seek further medical advice from experts...

The mere thought of this makes Fagburn feel nauseous.

Tweets Of The Day: Barclays - Investors In Pride And Death

See also: How Wall Street came out on gay marriage, Mail Online via Reuters, and After Indiana debacle, states are showing off their LGBT-friendliness, AdWeek.

Update: Harvey Milk quit working on Wall Street for gay activism, Lance seems to be doing the reverse...
Dustin's even endorsing this junk, the British LGBT Awards!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Sewers Of Paris: Last Night Gay Culture Saved My Life

Has a book, movie, TV show or song ever changed your life?

For me, it was a late-night showing of The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert on VH1, hosted at commercial breaks by RuPaul. I was 15, shy and growing up in a small Connecticut town; this was the first time I had ever seen queer men together, rather than popping up as villains or punch lines. "Is this what it's like to have gay friends?" I thought.

Priscilla gave me the confidence to come out, and to start wearing some insanely garish bright yellow and purple outfits. Hey, if it worked for Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette, I figured I'd have to do the same. And it worked! Before I knew it, I was dating a boy with similarly gaudy taste, and getting up to no good on the bench seat of his pickup truck.

Years later, I mentioned that memory to a friend over drinks at The Eagle in Seattle. He responded by telling me how important he found Christopher Isherwood, the gay novelist who chronicled the sexual underworld of Berlin in the 1930s. Another friend stopped by and confessed that Looking had changed the way he dated; someone else mentioned longing for a protective figure like Lucille Ball in Mame; and, soon, we were all remembering where we were on December 3, 2000, when Queer as Folk showed the world what real gay sex looks like.

What's the entertainment that made you who you are today?

That Eagle conversation left me wanting to find more of the formative media that shaped gay men's lives. I've never read any Isherwood, and haven't seen Mame. What else have I been missing?

That curiosity led me to create The Sewers of Paris, a new podcast about the entertainment that changed the lives of gay men. Each week on the show, a different guest reveals personal stories of the books, movies, music and shows that made them who they are, opening up about their secret struggles, hidden passions, and surprising triumphs.

The results have been fascinating.

In one of the first episodes, I learned about the young love affair that exposed a young gay teen to the secret gay slang of the opera world. In another, my guest revealed that Wizard of Oz conventions once served as undercover meeting places for closeted gay men. I talked to a man who learned from gay comedians on the radio how to defend himself with his words and wit. And I found another guest who grew up closeted and scared in Latvia, where the only access to camp culture came once a year in the form of Eurovision.

Throughout the interviews, a few pieces of entertainment kept recurring. I've rounded them up here, but there's a lot more culture that belongs on this list! I'll keep adding more and more as the show goes on -- you can subscribe at to hear what we discover about next.

And please do let me know what I should add to this list. I'm always eager to discover more. You can tweet at me @mattbaume.

Ian McKellen: The Director's Cut

Labour luvvie Sir Ian McKellen is the highest-profile celebrity so far to come out for Ed Miliband.

The Oscar-nominated actor yesterday said he was impressed by the party's manifesto for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

I wonder what he makes of Miliband's pledge to eradicate tax avoidance?

McKellen, like many artistes, is sole director of his own company, Kirikiri, through which he channels his earnings.

Last year, the company had assets of £8.3 million, boosted by income from reprising his role as the wizard Gandalf the Grey in the Hobbit film trilogy.

Companies are tax efficient as they are subject to corporation tax of 20 per cent, rather than a top rate of income tax of 45 per cent on annual incomes of more than £150,000. Expenses incurred in the line of duty can be offset against profits.

Last year, McKellen — perfectly legally — took out a loan from his own company of £1.7 million.

One tax expert says: 'In the case of a loan to a director — provided a certain minimum rate of interest specified by HMRC is charged — the borrowing is not liable for tax. Such a measure is perfectly legal, but it allows those who take advantage of the mechanism to delay when they pay tax on income earned through their company — potentially indefinitely.' ...

Your actual gay Uncle Tom - and gay Tory, obvs - Andrew Pierce in his rubbish daily election diary for the Mail.

And here is Labour's LGBT Manifesto.

PS Pink News take on Gandalf's endorsement of Labour's LGBT manifesto attracted some comment on Twitter...

Born That Way: Julie's Choice

None of the science dedicated to finding a gay gene holds water, so why not make a positive choice to reject heterosexuality and decide to switch sides? Julie Bindel explains why she believes she chose her sexuality, rather than it having chosen her. But, she asks, have we returned to the essentialist notion that we are either 'born that way' or that we are unthinkingly heterosexual?

The Guardian.

Can't be arsed to watch this - cos Bindel.

The thing is nobody has a clue why people are gay.

Perhaps human understanding will never reach a point where we know.

It's most likely a combination of nature and nurture.

How odd that noted binary-phobe Bindel thinks it's a straight choice between being 'born that way' or 'choosing it'.

Maybe it's just something that happens to us?

That's Gay: Or Is It!!???

Almost half of young people (49%) think the term "that's gay" is acceptable to use.

Newsbeat asked YouGov to survey 3,000 18 to 29-year-olds about where they draw the line with offence when it comes to sexuality, race and sexism.

Sexuality is the third part of a Newsbeat investigation into what words or phrases people find offensive...

Of the 12 words about sexuality which we put to the audience, "faggot" was the one that people found most offensive - 75%.

More than half of people in the survey said they would ask their friends to stop using the word if they heard it.

Just over half surveyed thought the term "lezza" was also offensive.

Many agreed the context in which a word is used is as relevant as the person who is using it...

Around (15%) didn't know if "queen" was an inappropriate term while almost 10% believed using the word homosexual was not acceptable in any circumstance...

The video features a gripping discussion with some young faggots and lezzas, and the thoughtful insights of Jaymi from Union J!

Ed Sheeran: Faggoty Man

A video clip of Ed Sheeran using homophobic language was pulled from the internet today.

The five-minute film featured the singer in a “freestyle battle” trading insults in off-the-cuff rap verses with fellow artist Devlin.

Sheeran, who has millions of young fans worldwide, uses the word “gay” in seemingly ­negative terms and labels him a “faggoty man”.

A faggot is a derogatory term for a homosexual man.

Tonight the video was taken offline after the Mirror contacted the artist’s record label.

A notice on YouTube, where the clip was posted, said it was “no longer available due to a copyright claim by WMG”.

WMG is his label Warner Music Group.

Ed's spokesman said: “Ed was sending up rappers who make homophobic remarks. He is clearly not ­homophobic.”  ...

The star, whose album X sold more than a million copies last year, raps: “Yo, I freestyle to the faggoty man.”

He continues: “I go on the bus and I sleep for a day, then I come back and they’re like, Ed, you look like this gay.”

He adds: “These guys are safe they’re not gay mans.” ...

Gay rights charity ­Stonewall was ­unimpressed by the language.

A spokesperson said: ­“Homophobic language is a real issue in Britain, and is endemic in our schools.

“It’s important to think about the words you choose to use, as what some people see as ‘banter’ can have a ­negative and lasting effect.”

Daily Mirror.

Sometimes people are being ironic - get over it!

Nick Grimshaw: Has Harry Had Grimmy?

During a weekend largeing it in Istanbul, the fun-loving DJ filmed a Q&A with his fans via Periscope at 4.25am local time.

The clearly relaxed star filmed in bed with mate Fifi and, asked if he'd ever sleep with Harry Styles, gave a big knowing wink before collapsing into hysterics.

Team Grimmy made it clear yesterday that Nick had never slept with heartthrob Harry.

But not before shocked fans on Twitter came to their own conclusions about what they had just seen.

As Nick hosted the impromptu Q and A session he answered mundane questions including "what hair product does he use", before one cheeky fan asked if he would ever sleep with 1D's Harry.

Initially saving her friend from an awkward moment, Fifi said: "Would I ever sleep with Harry Styles? No, he's not my type."

Then she looked at Grimmy who teased fans with an over-exaggerated wink to the camera followed by a slight nod of his head and then fell into hysterics with his pal.

One fan wrote: "Nick Grimshaw just refused to deny that he'd sleep with Harry Styles on a Periscope. There's a shock." ...

Rumours have circulated of a bromance ever since Harry found fame on X Factor in 2010, forming a close friendship with Nick and mutual friend Caroline Flack.

A rep for Nick told Daily Star Online: "To be clear, Nick has not slept with Harry Styles.

"Nick absolutely denies that his response conveyed any suggestion that he had (or would) sleep with Harry Styles."

Daily Star.

Thanks for clearing that up.

PS Fagburn suspects the Star is suggesting Nick was off his nut on blood-boiling rave drugs.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Grant Shapps: A World Turned Upside Down

Mirror montage.
Wikipedia has blocked a user account on suspicions that it is being used by the Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps, “or someone acting on his behalf” to edit his own page along with the entries of Tory rivals and political opponents.

The online encyclopedia, where pages are edited and created by readers, has tracked the changes made by a user called “Contribsx” who has systematically removed embarrassing references on Shapps’ Wikipedia page about the Tory chairman’s business activities as Michael Green, the self-styled millionaire web marketer.

A Guardian investigation found about a third of the contributions made by this user were to Shapps’ own Wikipedia entry while the rest are made up largely of unflattering changes to the online pages to senior political figures – including prominent figures in the Tory party such as Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, Justine Greening, the international development secretary, and Lynton Crosby, Conservative election campaign strategist.

Wikipedia says that “sock-puppetry” – creating a fake online identity “for an improper purpose, such as to mislead other editors, disrupt discussions, distort consensus or avoid sanctions” – is not permitted.

It added that it had banned Contribsx and said any evidence of future attempts to cover the user’s tracks would be investigated immediately.

The site’s administrators, selected Wikipedia volunteers who patrol the site, told the Guardian that they “believe that the account Contribsx is a sockpuppet of Grant Shapps’ previous accounts on Wikipedia ... and based on the evidence the account is either run by Shapps directly or being run by someone else – an assistant or a PR agency – but under his clear direction.”

When the Guardian first approached Shapps saying that Wikipedia would be closing down this user account because Wikipedia said it was linked to him, a spokesman for the Conservative party said: “This story is completely false and defamatory. It is nonsense from start to finish.”

When Shapps was sent a detailed exposition of the changes made by Contribsx – including posts critical of cabinet colleagues such as George Osborne – the Tory chairman did not respond.

Later, on Tuesday night, he said it was “categorically false and defamatory”.

“It is untrue from start to finish, and was quite likely dreamt up by the Labour press office. Sadly it is typical of the smears coming from those who would rather not debate policy and substance,” Shapps said...

Some of the posts made by Contribsx, which was created in the summer of 2013, illuminate Conservative divisions, focusing notably on one of the biggest rebellions in the last parliament over the issue of gay marriage – a policy that remains controversial, with traditionalists targeting liberal Tories in this election.

The rancour began after May 2013 when 134 Tory MPs voted against the government, arguing the idea would weaken the institution of marriage. Shapps was one of the MPs that had supported the leadership line that the country was ready for the change.

In the months to come, Contribsx highlighted those in the cabinet who had rebelled. In September 2013 Contribsx edited Hammond’s Wikipedia page so that it noted the then defence secretary had “been openly critical of the prime minister’s approach to the (same-sex marriage) bill saying that he was ‘shocked’ at the speed at which it was pushed through and that it ‘damaging’ for the Conservative party”.

Another edit made a few minutes later drew attention to an interview given by the then attorney general, Dominic Grieve, to his local newspaper in his Buckinghamshire constituency noting that he “was one of four members of the cabinet who abstained in the May 2013 same-sex marriage vote. He said that he believed that the bill had been ‘badly conceived’”. ...

Fagburn believes this is known as 'doing a Johann Hari'

But what a sign of the times that a Tory MP thinks he will smear his fellow Conservatives by pointing out that they did not support equal marriage.

Fagburn has a little list of gay journalists and a well-known gay campaigner who have written much of their own Wikipedia entries, which I shall run soon.

Fagburn calls this 'Wikiwanking'. 

Chelsea Manning: Bad News

Convicted Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning is asking her 50,000 Twitter followers and supporters to help foot nearly $100,000 in legal fees.

“I really need your donations to keep my appeal going, especially right now,” her account tweeted Tuesday.

Through a Twitter intermediary, Manning said attorneys would bring up conditions at Quantico as well.

“I’m still very optimistic about the case and funding for it! But I really need your help,” another tweet read.

We only have one shot to make several points in our case at the Army Court of Criminal Appeals in the next year.

Manning’s Twitter provided a link to her followers to send donations through the Chelsea Manning Support Network, as well as instructions to send directly to the Legal Defense Fund...

Tom Daley: Against Empire

Our Tom is in Russia right now.

Here he is pictured in the Kremlin with Chris Mears and the other one (Jack?).

This is a clear two-fingers to Nato and American empire, and all the right-wing gayers (and anti-gayers!) who've called for a boycott of Russia.

Well done Tom.

PS And here she is outside St Basil's cathedral (clearly mocking the dimwitted Tilda Swinton).

Hey, Dustin's not with you, Tom, I see. Hmm...

Tom returns to the Motherland in July to compete in the FINA World Championships in Kazan. *

Good luck, babes! x

* But can he be??? Fagburn seems to remember reading last year Tom was boycotting Russia cos anti-gay fascism.

Update: Tom, Russia, Gays and Stupidity, a great piece by Eruestan Brethil.

Frida: I *HEART* The 70s

“My motto is to live in peace and respect all the different religions, people’s sexualities and ethnic origins.

"I cannot tolerate people who harm others in the name of religion and I salute all those who stand up for free speech and differences of opinion.”

Not quite sure why they've put her on the front page today, her 70th birthday's not til November.

Might have lost some of its poetry in the translation.

Still, a beautiful thought - and one that Fagburn is sure is shared by everyone at the Express, Richard Desmond and his new BFF, Nigel Farage.

aTEEN: Flash

Haven't seen the new issue of aTEEN yet.

The world's first digital magazine just for young gay men is available for download now.

The cover star is posh chap, Harry Judd, aged just 29, who was in a band who were famous ten years ago.

When aTEEN's target audience were what... 10?

That's pre-Jurrasic in young gay years.

Loving all those Take A Break mis lit coverlines; 'Having one hand didn't make coming out harder.'


Oh, and what did furry Ben Cohen, straight and a young 36, say when aTEEN asked him about his foundation's accounts?

You did ask him, yes?

Monday, 20 April 2015

Reggie Yates' Extreme Russia: Gay & Under Attack

Russia is the largest country on earth and home to nearly 150 million people. Vladimir Putin is well into his third term as president and with the West imposing tough sanctions, relations are now the frostiest since the Cold War.

Reggie Yates gets up close and personal with three very different communities in contemporary Russia. By living with them for a week, he explores what it's like for young people living here, 24 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. A year after the introduction of the controversial anti-propaganda law, Reggie finds out what life is really like for young people in what has been described as the hardest place in Europe to be gay. He travels to St Petersburg for Queerfest, a 10-day arts and culture get-together for the LGBT community. Reggie spends time on both sides of the battle lines - with the Queefest team as they face the daily fight to keep their festival open, and the homophobes who want to see it closed.


On the other side, Reggie meets leaders of Orthodox pressure groups like God's Will, who would stone gays to death if the law allowed it, and Vitali Milonov, the architect of the anti-gay propaganda law. Reggie ends up in a sauna, being beaten with twigs by a naked man, in a bid to understand what it means to be not just Russian in this post-Soviet era, but what it means to be a Russian man.

Fagburn has nothing to say beyond this exists.

If you want to partake in an Orwellian hate hour of the West's current bogeyman, feel free.

Pavlov's gays will cry on cue.

Other bad countries are available. 

Madonna: Maggie & Me

Posted on Madonna's Instagram thingy earlier today, but swiftly deleted when people pointed out she was a demented and deluded evil old witch.

Maggie, that is.


The Hot Maths Teacher Guy: Reveals All

Is he the hottest maths teacher in Britain? Yes, The Times.

Last line; 'The bad news is, he has a girlfriend. Sorry.'

PS Times' readers are FEWMIN!

If this article was written about a female lecturer it would belong in some lads mag.

Has this turned into a magazine for teenage girls? Clicked on this expecting some depth beneath the headline. Nope. I think Poldark has done something to the women of Britain.

This is an extraordinarily sexist article. Is The Times intentionally dumbing down like the Daily Mail?

etc etc...

PS The Mail have upgraded Pietro to 'the world's hottest maths teacher'. Fagburn wonders about the wisdom of this, when the Mail demonise all teacher-pupil relationships. 

Prison Dating: Alright Mate, What You In For, Sorry, To?

Bosses at Prison Dating are claiming “unprecedented success” with “the biggest dating site” for UK inmates.

It comes after lags were found last year to be flouting the ban and uploading snaps of drugs and weapons on social media sites.

The homepage blurb reads: “See for yourself just how easy it is to meet single prisoners in the UK.”

But lawyer John Spyrou said: “Prisoners don’t even have access to the internet.”

And a Ministry of Justice source said: “There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that prisoners have accessed this website.”

This story (that isn't) is surreal even by the Daily Star's standards.

Good to see they've started pointing out when their own stories are bollocks, though.

Hang on though, can't 'lags' get online with their smuggled-in smart phones?

Imagine having Grindr in prison - Wa-hey!

Prison Dating is open for men seeking men, btw.

Sam Smith: Ex-Fatty Still Gay

“If someone called me fat, that affects me way more than someone calling me a faggot. I think just because I’ve accepted that, if someone calls me a faggot, it’s like, I am gay and I’m proud to be gay so there’s no issues there. But if someone calls you fat, that’s something I want to change.”

If that video won't load you can watch the new slimline Sam here.

Two words; Karen Carpenter.

PS The fat-shaming Mail are OBSESSED with Sam's recent weight loss.

UND! The ever-hapless Independentwhat can that asterixed word be???

Operation Elveden: Keep Taking The Tabloids

I applaud legal fightbacks from famous people whose privacy is trashed, and relish the satire of Homer Simpson’s “if they didn’t want people pawing through their garbage and saying they’re gay, they shouldn’t have tried to express themselves creatively”.

There is plenty to dislike about British tabloids. They squawk confected outrage, they oversimplify, they pry into complicated private miseries, they do mean stings, some did hack phones. They cozen people in crisis to make fools of themselves. They are obsessed with the wobbly bits of women’s bodies, yet turn on a sixpence to deploy outraged Aunt-Agatha prudery whenever it suits them. They are capable of misjudged campaigns leading to real danger, like Rebekah Brooks’s name-and-shame paedo fiasco. They are sometimes racist, frequently homophobic, almost always sexist.

But they are vivid, economic forces of communication, and some headlines are brilliant (“How Do You Solve A Problem Like Korea?”). They do expensive investigations. Their ease with the grittier end of society, their fellow-well-met pubbiness creates matey fellowship with coppers, prison officers, hospital porters, soldiers: people whose officer classes we definitely ought to know about.

The tabloid hack has no respect for authority, rules or notices; blags in, nips through windows, lies to get a story worth getting. Many have been well worth it, and picked up gratefully by the soft clean hands of the “quality” press and television.

Tabloid readers are not stupid. They don’t believe everything, they don’t approve of all exposés, they give generously to appeals, they smell injustice and callousness (as The Sun learnt the hard way, over Hillsborough). They just want bite-sized information, straightforward language and an irreverent laugh. Sometimes they are offered beautifully succinct political information, more useful than some cerebral analyses.

And though the red tops often deserve an outraged libel suit and contumely, they did not really deserve the targeted, legally dubious, vengeful and institutionally snobbish attacks of Elveden. As Lord Macdonald admitted: “It is simply obvious that there are circumstances in which it can be in the public interest for journalists to pay for information.” ...

S'pose so, yeah, sort of...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Social Attitudes: Bigots R Us

The Observer's Britain Uncovered Survey.

Define 'common'?

Still, Fagburn is fairly baffled how anyone could disagree with any of the above.

You may want to compare it with the one below...

But what would they know, eh?

The Sun: We Never Forget

'Ex-CPS head Sir Keir Starmer (right) in London on Saturday'.
Great to see The Sun (On Sunday) covering yesterday's Save The Black Cap protest.

Strange they only mentioned it in a piece about their current whipping boy, the former Director Of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, now standing as a Labour Party PCC.

A FORMER chief prosecutor piled pressure on his successors last night as he blasted their £20 million witchhunt against journalists.

Sir Keir Starmer and CPS chief Alison Saunders were accused of making an “error” by hauling reporters into court.

Their predecessor Lord Macdonald spoke out after three more Sun newsmen were cleared of paying public officials.

It means 48 charges against Sun journalists probed by Operation Elveden as part of would-be Labour MP Sir Keir and Ms Saunders’ crusade have resulted in ZERO convictions...

The comments risk overshadowing Sir Keir’s bid to become Labour MP for the London seat of Holborn and St Pancras.

Yesterday he joined locals protesting at the closure of the Black Cap gay pub in Camden.

Poor show by The Sun for not managing to shoehorn in another mention of Greville Janner this time, though.

Only connect...

Or am I reading too much into this?

Gay Nazi Watch: Lest We Forget

The Mail - no friends of Nazism or historical revisionism they - sent some undercover reporters to a top secret meeting of holocaust deniers in London this week.

They didn't make much of this, but you'll never guess who they spotted there.

Only Martin Webster, national organiser of the National Front - and some say de facto leader of - during their glory days in the 70s!

He got jackbooted out of the party in 1983 for being a poof (like no-one knew!) - and later claimed to have been the bumlover of a teenage Nick Griffin.

Can't link to much bar Webster's Wikipedia page, as it looks like Mr W has had a load of stuff about him removed under that Google Right To Be Forgotten thing.

Funny that.

PS Lest we forget too...

'Parading hateful Blackshirt insignia...'

Cuba: Insight?

Some of the fun has gone out of being gay in Cuba, says Andres as he slips into Las Vegas, a state-owned cabaret bar in the heart of Havana, in time to catch the nightly drag show for the all-male clientele. “I liked it better before. There was more romance.”

By “before” he does not mean the early years of the communist regime of Fidel Castro, when exposing yourself as a homosexual meant running the danger of being shipped to a holiday camp as an “ideological deviant”. That was the misery chronicled by Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in his wrenching memoir Before Night Falls that became a film with Javier Bardem.

Andres is looking back a decade, when gay nightlife was vibrant but still mostly underground. Every Saturday, he and his friends would gather at a nearby park and wait for someone to whisper the venue of that night’s party. One night it would be at an abandoned mansion, the next a field behind a factory. So long as they stayed one step ahead of the police.

The journey from rejecting to embracing gay, lesbian and transgender lifestyles has been as complicated for Cuba as it has for many other countries. But the surprise may be that Cuba has indeed gone down that road, and done so even faster than some of its neighbours...

Though the author has quotes from some gay Cubans, there's not much here that couldn't be gleaned from an hour or so on the internet.

As ever, Fagburn is more than happy to volunteer to undertake an all expenses paid two week fact-finding trip to this sun-kissed communist island paradise. 

Hurry up, before it turns into Uncle Sam's whorehouse again!

Thought For The Not Too Gay Day: Giorgio Armani

“A homosexual man is a man 100%. He does not need to dress homosexual. When homosexuality is exhibited to the extreme - to say, ‘Ah, you know I’m homosexual,’ - that has nothing to do with me. A man has to be a man.”

Oh, do shut up, Mary.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Egypt: What's Going On?

So they’re going to deport gay foreigners from Egypt. My phone started ringing a few mornings ago, reporters wanting comments: solicitous but always with a subtext of What’s going to happen to you?

I don’t know. The case involves a Libyan student whom police expelled from Egypt in 2008, after a complaint that he was gay. From back in Libya, he sued. This Tuesday, after seven years – the alacrity typifies Egyptian justice — an Adminstrative Court ruled that the Ministry of Interior did the right thing, under its power to”prevent the spread of immorality in society.” In fact, then, this isn’t a new policy. The court reaffirmed authority the state always had. Two years ago, for instance, a Polish citizen was vacationing on the North coast here with his Egyptian partner. The Pole grew seriously ill and had to be hospitalized. The nurses found their relationship suspicious and called the police. After several days under arrest, the Egyptian was freed; police deported the Pole, who was still in agonizing pain. I heard all about it at the time, but there was nothing we could do.

Things are much worse these days under Sisi. I sometimes seem insouciant about threats in Egypt, but I’m not. it’s just that the atmosphere of threat is general here. It affects every corner of your personality, yet it’s hard to take it personally, so wide is the danger spread.


Still: this story, the deportation story, went viral abroad. It’s strange because LGBT Egypt has not been in the international news much for months. When you deal with the media, you get used to its collective movements, puzzling as tidal motions when it’s too cloudy to see the moon, or the startled shuddering of gazelles racing in unison through tall grass. But other terrible things happened here recently. A man acquitted on charges of homosexuality tried to burn himself to death in despair. Police arrested an accused “shemale,” splaying her photos on the Internet. Egypt’s government threatened to close a small HIV/AIDS NGO because it gave safer-sex info to gay men. None of these got such press. The contrast is striking...

Scott Long reports from Cairo, as ever explaining what's really going on.

Opera: Queen

[Mariusz] Kwiecien is at Covent Garden to sing Krol Roger, a little-known opera composed by fellow Pole Karol Szymanowski in the 1920s. It tells the story of a Sicilian king and his queen and court who fall under the spell of a shapely young shepherd’s quasi-religious promises of sensuality and sexual abandon. The opera is one man’s struggle between duty and homoerotic hedonism but everyman’s struggle between intellect and impulse.

While Mozart’s Don Giovanni is Kwiecien’s calling card — he has sung it worldwide including at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and most recently at Covent Garden — Krol Roger is something of a personal manifesto. Kwiecien has championed the opera from Paris to Santa Fe, and not only for its shimmering music, which ranges from a byzantine choral opening to standout arias. The piece speaks directly to his Polish roots and a desire to see tolerance rattle Poland’s enduring homophobic social attitudes.

“Poland is such a conservative country dominated by the [Catholic] church,” says Kwiecien, who lives between New York and Krakow. “When I come back to my country I love to see the changes; Polish people are becoming more European. But in one aspect Poland is never changing: it is so traditional.”

Szymanowski privately wrestled with his sexuality at a time when homosexuality was widely disapproved of. Among his gay lovers was Boris Kochno, 22 years his junior, who later became the lover of Sergei Diaghilev and Cole Porter. Szymanowski wrote a gay novel, Efebos, some of which he gave to Kochno, and this expression of tolerance sowed the seeds of Krol Roger, completed a few years later.

“Our nation created this kind of musician, who created such a fantastic piece that celebrates the differences: being different as a man, different as a human being,” says Kwiecien, who won’t be drawn on his own private life. “But in Krol Roger, Polish people always see the Shepherd coming as Jesus Christ . . . and they still think that homosexuality is inappropriate. We have to change the mind of our nation.”

Krol Roger could be considered the world’s first gay opera; it was embraced by American gay culture in the 1990s and last year, before Russia’s Sochi Winter Olympics, gay rights campaigners proposed it as the ideal operatic rallying cry against Putin’s anti-gay legislation, calling on Russian super-maestro Valery Gergiev to conduct. “You cannot say that Krol Roger is an opera about straight people because it’s not,” says Kwiecien.

Kasper Holten’s production at Covent Garden presents the homoeroticism between King and Shepherd as a seduction tool for the impostor’s grander political machinations. “Thank God,” adds Kwiecien, who is glad of a new angle...

The Times.

PS And coming up at the Royal Opera House, Pleasure, set in the toilets of a gay club, by Mark Simpson (not that one).

Liberty: If I'd Known You Were Coming...

Is there a real threat to the religious liberty of Christians in the west? If a Belfast bakery refuses to ice a customer’s cake with a gay marriage message it believes is contrary to the Bible, and then is taken to court, is this a threat to religious liberty? In the US, the claim of “religious liberty” is fast becoming a standard Republican talking point, and we can expect to hear much more of it as the primary season advances.

Democracies can certainly persecute unpopular minorities. No one doubts, for example, that homosexuals were discriminated against in both law and practice throughout most of the 20th century and that this discrimination was both unjust and widely approved, as it still is in Russia and large parts of sub-Saharan Africa today. It’s at least possible that conservative Christians might at some stage end up as despised and disadvantaged a minority as some of their victims have been in the past.

Whether it is in fact happening is a different question. Many of the cases of supposed discrimination amount to Christians wishing to retain a right they had until recently to discriminate against others. They claim then that it would violate their consciences to do or say certain things which society as a whole has determined are moral. This won’t do. Conscience cannot provide “a get out of jail free” card, neither metaphorically nor, should it come to that, literally. We all have consciences but there is no guarantee they will lead us to the same conclusions. This fact is literally tragic, as the Greeks knew. Nonetheless, any society has to privilege some ethical viewpoint and some virtues.

'What kind of cakes are they?' 'Fruitcakes.' Irish Times.
In the west we privilege conflicting but broadly liberal values. We no longer privilege the authority of the Bible. So, once we have determined that discrimination against homosexuals violates the principle of equality – and that is the settled position in both law and public opinion now – the fact that some people are compelled by their consciences to disagree does not exempt them from behaving as if it were true. There cannot be a special exemption for mistaken beliefs held on religious grounds when these harm others.

The difficult cases come when what is at stake is not behaviour, or not just behaviour, but speech or opinion. If there were a clear line between advocacy and action, this would be less difficult. But there is not, any more than there is a clear line between act and orientation. This is where the bakery case, unlike others, is complicated. Christian attempts to convert others may be obnoxious and embarrassing but they should not be illegal as well. There is always a case for tact when dealing with difficult employees. No one should be compelled to make propaganda for a cause they think false or pernicious. With all that said, the overwhelming fact is that claims of persecution are not just groundless but morally distasteful. Compared to the monstrous persecution suffered by Christians in Muslim countries like Iraq or officially atheist ones, being asked to ice a cake for a gay wedding is hardly martyrdom. It’s just the price of living in a civilised society.

Dunno really. 

If someone doesn't want to bake you a cake, fuck 'em, and go somewhere that does. 

And similarly, if someone asks you to put a message on a cake you really don't approve of ('God hate fags/bakers!'?), I guess you should be free not to do so.

But it's only a fucking cake for the Anti-Christ's sake.

Or am I missing the point here?

The Sun: It Was The Sun Wot Won It!

The Sun.
Why oh why are the Crown Prosecution Service spending millions of public money going after decent honest journalists in pursuit of the truth and letting establishment nonces off the hook!!??? etc etc.

PS: This piece by Katie Hopkins, I'd Use Gunships To Stop Migrants, hasn't gone down very well...

Cue inevitable/intended Twitterstorm - Do people not realise that controversy is the currency of columnists like Katie?

Hopkins, Dinsmore and Murdoch must be pissing themselves.

Sack her? Bet she got a pay rise.

Oh, and comparing this appalling attention-seeking article to the Nazi holocaust or the Rwandan genocide is a little bit OTT.


Sun On Sunday: You couldn't make it up etc etc.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Nigel Farage: Ask Me Ask Me Ask Me

Pink News.
Dear Mr Farage,

I would like to know how often you were buggered at boarding school.

Also were any of the culprits foreign johnnies?



Election Fever Mounts: A Goat

An election candidate has apologised for joking that he "could be caught with my pants down behind a goat with Ed Miliband at the other end".

Labour's Clive Lewis, who is standing in Norwich South, made the comment in an interview with the New Statesman.

He had been asked if he was taking victory in 

the marginal seat for granted.

He said he was "sincerely sorry" if anyone had been offended by the comment.

Mr Lewis, who worked for BBC Look East as a reporter, had told the magazine: "I mean, in the multiverse there's still three universes in a hundred where there's a Green MP in Norwich, so anything could happen.

"I could be caught with my pants down behind a goat with Ed Miliband at the other end - well, hopefully that won't happen." ...

Regarding his New Statesman interview, Mr Lewis said: "On occasion we all have the ability to get carried away with language and colourful metaphors.

"If anyone was genuinely offended then I'm sincerely sorry for that."