Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Fagburn has had some bad news and will be away for a bit.
Thank you for your patience.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Gareth Williams Murder Update: He Was Definitely Gay/Not Gay

No. He wasn't.
The Daily Mail says so.
Not today, anyway.
Oh, hang on. The Sunday Times has found "the first solid evidence" that Williams "may have led a double life."
What's that then?
Two people say they saw him in Barcode, a gay bar in Vauxhall.
Whatever next?
Verily, this has to be the most baffling gay-not-gay murder-not-murder case* of all time.

*Or sportsbag.

Quote of the Day: Crispin Blunt

"I believe it right that our law should discriminate in that limited way between homosexual and heterosexual practice. While I accept that, in law, we should tolerate people's choices to follow a homosexual life style and practice, I maintain that those are not equivalent to heterosexuality - nor should we pretend that they are. It is also clear that there a much greater strand of homosexuality than of heterosexuality which depends for its gratification on the explpoitation of youth.
"I am sorry if Labour members do not like the truth, but I do not intend to run away from difficult issues."

Crispin Blunt MP, who came out as a lesser homosexual on Friday, speaking in parliamement as a presumed heterosexual in 1998.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Gareth Williams Murder: Still No Idea. Oh, But It May Not Be Murder

"MI6 Murder: Was it a serial killer?" asks The Sun.
The eternal anonymous "source" says; "We are checking all the files to see if there is a link. The fear is that this is the beginning or part of a series of attacks."
So it could be "a serial killer" who's only killed one person?
Or maybe not; "The murder team will also speak to cops who worked on the unsolved garotting of pre-op transsexual Kellie Telesford, 39, in South London in 2007."
Good for them.
The Daily Mail have a new lead; "Thousands of pounds mysteriously moved through the bank account of murdered MI6 spy Gareth Williams in the fortnight before his death."
At least they had the decency to warn readers; "There could also be a perfectly innocent explanation."
In The Times we learn; "Investigators, led by the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command with the security-vetted Counter Terror Command (SO15) in a lesser role, have dismissed outright many of those allegations."
Sorry, there's been so many, could you tell me which ones?
"There was no evidence of contact with male escorts, and that no sado-masochistic gear had been found in his Pimlico flat. Claims that Mr Williams had been stabbed and dismembered were also untrue, they said."
Oh, hang on... Tucked away at the end we learn something that's rather important; "Police have refused to class Mr Williams’ death as murder, saying only that it was “suspicious and unexplained”."
Perhaps the most honest comment on this sad and sorry saga comes from whoever wrote the photocaption in The Daily Mail.
"Mysterious demise: The fate of MI6 spy Gareth has been the subject of some lurid debate in the absence of any solid information."

Friday, 27 August 2010

Cabinet Rumour: Who's Next?

"A Cabinet minister is ready to take legal action to halt a series of increasingly lurid but baseless rumours sweeping Westminster over his sexuality, The Daily Telegraph has learnt."
Has it? Who?
No, not Crispin Blunt, he came out this afternoon.
"The minister, who is married, has been accused of having an affair with a Whitehall official and of having a long-term relationship with a journalist. He has strongly denied the allegations. Senior Downing Street aides are braced this weekend for “suggestive” reports to begin surfacing over the Cabinet minister’s private life.
"Friends of the minister have warned that he will not hesitate to take “action” should unfounded allegations that he is homosexual, which are circulating on the internet, appear in mainstream media."
Who on Jupiter can they mean?
Apropos of nothing - there's a fun new caption competition on Guido Fawkes blog today.
What larks!

Robbie Williams In Gay Video Shame

Brokeback Mountain - it's the gay cultural cliche that just keeps on giving.
When Take That started out way back in 1991 their "Well, we might be..." schtick seemed ever so modern and rather racy.
In 2010, when Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow exchange longing looks and do some serious shirt lifting in the bromantic video for their reunion single Shame, one wonders if they're referencing those two gay cowboys in Brokeback Mountain, or just Nick Clegg and David Cameron's Brokeback Coalition.
But that's progress for you, I guess.

Newsflash: Crispin Blunt Comes Out

"Prisons minister Crispin Blunt splits from wife and says he's gay;" The Mirror has just announced.
Don't know much about him to be honest. It's hard keeping up with this new lot.
The statement from his office reads: "Crispin Blunt wishes to make it known that he has separated from his wife Victoria.
"He decided to come to terms with his homosexuality and explained the position to his family. The consequence is this separation.
"There is no third party involvement, but this is difficult for his immediate and wider family and he hopes for understanding and support for them."
More when we get it.
There often turns out to be "more" in these sort of stories, doesn't there?
I wonder what the weekend papers hold.

Gareth Williams Murder Update: Nobody Knows Anything

The plot thickens!
Or maybe it's thinning.
On Wednesday Gareth Williams' murder was alleged by several media to be some Cold War style hit.
The Sun asked aloud; "Did al-Qaeda bump off suitcase spook?"
Yesterday The Sun hinted that his death was linked to Williams supposed homosexuality.
And today... Nobody knows for sure.
The Sun says; "Spy chiefs launched a probe yesterday into their security vetting of murdered spook Gareth Williams as it emerged bondage gear was found in his flat..."
"Detectives are believed to have discovered porn films and sado-masochistic equipment..."
"The master codebreaker working for MI6 was also linked to a male escort..."
Good old allegations of "kinky sex" - they make the tabloid world go round.
Although the broadsheet Daily Telegraph is usually more prurient than any of them; "Daily Telegraph; "One line of inquiry is that he is the victim of a sex game that went wrong and questions remain over why he was not discovered sooner."
The Daily Star managed to shoehorn in allusions to two of the most infamous names in espionage.
"A real-life James Bond found murdered in his bath could have fallen prey to a modern day Mata Hari."
Although as he worked as a codebreaker, Williams was more like Alan Turing than James Bond.
And Mata Hari was probably innocent, but anyway, do go on...
"Police found a SIM card containing telephone numbers of escort agencies in the flat where 31-year-old spy Gareth Williams was discovered stuffed inside a giant sports bag."
"Porn was also recovered from the £500,000 top floor apartment."
"Some reports, unconfirmed by police, suggested women’s clothes in Mr Williams’ size were discovered in the apartment in Pimlico, central London, suggesting he might have been a cross-dresser."
Although not according to The Star's sister paper The Daily Express;
Daily Express: "They [police] believe the spy may have known his attacker and let him into the flat. However, reports that the spy was a transvestite with a secret double life have been dismissed."
Over at The Daily Mail they were a little more reluctant to jump to any conclusions; "It has been reported that Mr Williams, who lived alone and did not have a partner, was a gay cross dresser and may have been killed by a gay lover."
Though they happy to speculate like nobody's business; "Police sources believe another theory is the spy's killer may have planted a trail of clues to make it seem as though he was murdered by a gay lover.
"They said gay magazines and the phone numbers of gay escort men were found in the apartment near the agent's body.
"Police have also asked a pathologist to check whether Mr Williams's neck was broken, which would suggest a professional hit, the sources said."
But - and it's quite a big but; "Those who know him say there is nothing to suggest that he may have been homosexual."
And finally, we hear on The Daily Mail online this afternoon;
"The government may be running a 'dirty tricks' campaign to blacken the name of murdered British spy Gareth Williams, according to the agent's family.
"William Hughes, the codebreaker's uncle, said Mr Williams's parents Ellen and Ian were 'furious' that their son has been labelled as gay and a cross dresser in media reports.
"'It is completely false,' said Mr Hughes, 62, who yesterday visited the Williams's family home in Holyhead, North Wales.
"'The lad had been away from home for a long time — we did not know much about his private life, but it has never crossed any of our minds that he could be gay..."
'Maybe it's the Government or somebody trying to discredit him.'"
It's certainly something to think about, isn't it?
Let's leave things today with the latest round-up from the rumour mill from The Mail;
"The latest reports on Mr Williams include claims that bondage gear and equipment associated with sado-masochism had been discovered in the flat he used in Pimlico, London, while it has also been claimed he had links to a male escort.
"Police sources believe one theory is the spy's killer may have planted a trail of clues to make it seem as though he was murdered by a gay lover.
"They said gay magazines and the phone numbers of gay escort men were found in the apartment near the agent's body.
"But people who knew the cycling enthusiast said he never gave any indication of being homosexual and a former landlord, who rented a flat to him for ten years, never saw him bring anyone – male or female – back to his home.
"Sources close to the inquiry have dismissed some of the allegations, which raises questions over who was behind them - and why they were made."
How many of the "allegations" were the media behind?

Asylum: "Fake Concern From Shameless Labour"

Where would the LGBT community be without The Pink Paper, eh?
We'd be a lot better informed for one thing.
'LGBT Labour: UK government ignorant of queer human rights abuses abroad' read a headline yesterday.
"LGBT Labour has blasted the British government for considering downgrading the Annual Human Rights Report because of budget constraints, because they believe it will leave human rights abuses of LGBT people abroad overlooked."
That's terrible, isn't it?
The Pink Paper quote LGBT Labour co-chair, Katie Hanson - ie they've cut-and pasted the press release from them.
Hanson "says"; "It is unconscionable for the Con-Dems to even think about scrapping the Human Rights Report which is a vital tool for speaking up for human rights and LGBT equality the world over."
"The previous Government was steadfast in its support for LGBT rights abroad by condemning human rights abuses affecting LGBT citizens and using its embassies to promote our own positive record in solidarity with those fighting for the rights we now take for granted..."
What does Paul Canning of LGBT Asylum News make of this on their website?

Here is an edited version of Paul Canning's response [read it in full here]:

"Labour really is shameless in hoping we'll all forget the gaping, gigantic, ginormous gaps in its LGBT record isn't it?
On asylum it's taken months before one solitary leader has acknowledged their appalling record - something completely and deliberately ignored during the election campaign in favour of a 'forget that, look over here' approach of 'keep pointing at the domestic legislative record' and 'yell loudly whenever some odd right-wing Tory 'misspeaks''.
"On LGBT rights overseas, as I've documented, under Labour it was all about EU members with the occasional stretch to Africa and never about the world's biggest LGBT rights catastropy - Iraq. During the election the leading contender for the leadership David Miliband even told someone to shut up about Iraq during an LGBT event. The international record for Labour is actually thin, weak and late but you wouldn't know it from them banging on about it..."
"Now LGBT Labour is joining in with Amnesty International amongst others blasting William Hague's Foreign Office on the new government's record internationally on human rights in general and LGBT specifically. The reason? Because of the generalised cost-cutting effort, they're looking at stopping publishing the annual human rights report as a glossy brochure and instead just publishing it online."
"That's it. That's the big 'sell out'."
[On Hanson's claim that "the previous Government was steadfast in its support for LGBT rights abroad"]
"Tell that to the LGBT Muscovites sold out by both Miliband when he was Foreign Secretary and now Hague. Tell that to the asylum seekers told by the Labour government that Jamaica and Uganda are 'safe' countries so 'f+++ off home'. But most of all tell that to the LGBT Iraqis murdered by the hundreds. The annual report they're rushing to defend claimed, under Miliband, that Iraqi "official figures do not show a significant overall increase in violence against, or systematic abuse of, the homosexual community by fundamentalists or militia groups"."
"Miliband consistently refused to offer any criticism of Iraq's government, even when evidence mounted of their direct involvement in the killing of LGBT."
"Where was LGBT Labour when Miliband was selling out foreign LGBT? In hiding. Nowhere to be found. "Steadfast in its support"? You're kidding me, right?
"There's little reason to think the Coalition will be any better, though LGBTory are loudly calling for support for international LGBT rights, but come on! Have some humility! Labour are just shameless."

Julian Clary: The Flesh Is Willing

Gay men getting older - it's one of those articles you read all the time but are normally puffed up as though talking about this subject is The Great Gay Taboo.
Yes, yet another one.
Usually they lapse into clapped out cliches; you're only as young as you feel, I've never been happier, I'm going to grow old - hey! - disgracefully etc etc. Zzzz...
Or else you get a fit of barely concealed envy at young gay men, shagging and dancing and drinking and drugging and partying and having fun.
The bastards!
A revival of Manchester's legendary gay rave night Flesh this Sunday prompts Julian Clary to ponder 'Is 51 Too Old For Clubbing?' "What does it mean to be gay and middle-aged?"
It's a lovely liitle piece, big-hearted but unsentimental.
"My own experience is that life has sorted itself out with no particular effort on my part: just when it would be unseemly for me to skulk in the dark corners of nightclubs, I no longer felt the urge to go. It all dovetailed rather neatly. I couldn't put my finger on when exactly this happened – but I remember speaking to my mother one morning after the night before and she commented: "Aren't you a bit old for that sort of thing?"
And what does Julian say about other older gay men who keep on dancing? "Good for them."
Good for him.
"The difference, I conclude, between gays and straights when it comes to mid-life is that gays don't feel bound to fulfil certain roles. Why should we? Having lived our lives on the boundaries of society's norms we feel able to negotiate our way through the experience of ageing. And most of us do not have children to distract us from our self-absorption..."
"The consensus is that middle-aged gays are happier than they were in their youth. And if they're not? I think that on his 40th birthday every gay man should get a letter from his local dog's home inviting him to come and choose the life companion of his choice. It would make a change from crabs."

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The King & Me

I have now lived
for 42 years
seven months
and ten days

I never thought
I'd outlive
Elvis Presley.

Gareth Williams Murder: Secret Agent Man

The Sun was first out of the box with the speculation that the murder of MI6 employee Gareth Williams could be connected to the fact that he was gay.
They were also the first to mention the fact that Williams was gay.
Or is it just speculation?
Like all the earlier speculation that Williams had been assassinated in some John Le Carre-style Cold War hit by al-Qaeda or someone.
The Sun's tasteful headline: 'Murdered Spook Was A Cross Dresser'.
And that's not all; "Murdered MI6 worker Gareth Williams was a secret transvestite who may have been killed by a gay lover, detectives said yesterday."
For why? "Cops found women's clothing that would fit him at his Pimlico flat in central London... And Mr Williams, 31 - found murdered at his central London home - was known to meet men in the capital's gay mecca of Vauxhall Cross and Soho in the West End."
Blimey. Although having some womens' clothes in your flat isn't quite the same as being "a secret transvestite".
"Senior Government figures were concerned that anyone with a private life as sensitive as his could hold a post in which he could be vulnerable to blackmail."
Were they? Which ones? And why would they be?
This isn't the 1950s, the buggers are legal now.
MI6 lifted its ban on gay staff in 2007.
Its sister secret service, MI5 has worked with Stonewall to recruit lesbians and gay men.
The other paper's initially all missed the possible gay angle.
Though The Daily Mail mused; "Officers from Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad, with assistance from their counter-terrorist and security service colleagues, are delving into the private life of Mr Williams, seeking to discover whether he had relationship or money problems."
"Another possibility is that he was the victim of a dangerous sex game gone wrong."
Well, people do say "anything is possible..."
The Mail also interviewed "his landlady for a decade", Jenny Elliott; "yesterday [she] recalled how the 31-year-old bachelor lived without a TV in the annexe of her home."
No TV, eh? What a spooky spook he sounds.
"Mrs Elliott said she did not remember him ever bringing a girlfriend back to the self-contained flat, comprising a bathroom, bedroom and kitchen, above her garage."
"That’s not to say he didn’t meet girls. But if he did, he certainly didn’t talk about them to me.
"Gareth occasionally said he was meeting some of the guys from work for a quiet drink but he wouldn’t tell me who they were or where they were going and I never pried."
Good for you, landlady lady.
The Daily Telegraph thundered; 'Murdered British Spy "May Have Been Killed By Jealous Lover".'
"Gareth Williams, 31, had been working for MI6 on a one-year posting but was due to return to his regular job at the GCHQ listening station in Cheltenham at the start of next month.
"Detectives believe Mr Williams, whose body lay undiscovered for up to two weeks in the bathroom of his top floor flat, might have had a violent row with a lover over his decision to return to Gloucestershire."
The Telegraph quoted one of those handy anonymous sources; "Inquiries are focusing on his lifestyle."
As indeed now are the media.
Maybe one of the newspaper's professional information gatherers will eventually discover another photo of Gareth Williams besides the one of him cycling above.

Grindr: A Strange, Lonely and Troubling App

The Daily Telegraph has finally caught onto Grindr, the iPhone gay cruising app.
And boy are they worried!
Apparently Grindr is "Troubling... damaging... destructive... disturbing... unhealthy... risky... nurturing a generation of lonely and single middle-aged homosexuals... [and] impressionable gay teens... are being sucked into this creepy and dangerous world."
Oh. Dear.
Fagburn loved the rhetorical lose-lose question asked in the DT's headline; 'Grindr: combatting loneliness or a cruising ground for gays?'
They sound like they could both be Good Things to Fagburn, but I think we are about to enter... the twilight virtual world of the homosexual.
Journalist Milo Yiannopoulos asks another terrifying question in his feature; "But is this troublingly convenient new way of soliciting anonymous sex fuelling a rise in damaging and self-destructive habits?"
He'd announced the article on Twitter as; "My piece about the disturbing rise of gay cruising apps like Grindr".
Disturbing?! You betcha.
"These new discovery mechanisms aren't just accelerating the process of finding casual sex, with all the concomitant risks that entails. They also appear to be fostering a set of unhealthy and risky behaviours among gay men."
What could they be?
Unsafe sex? Smoking? Rock climbing? Pony trekking???
Tell me Milo!!!!
"According to one app manufacturer, which collects data about its users and is able to generalise about behaviour patterns, a significant portion of users get obsessed with checking and re-checking the app despite having little or no intention of using it for its ultimate purpose."
Fagburn checks his email account quite a lot to see if there's anything interesting there - is that "unhealthy and risky behaviour"?
Wait. It gets WORSE!
"Gay social networks remain controversial, with many - even, and perhaps especially, gay people - dismissing them as little more than online cruising grounds."
So Gaydar and Grindr are "online cruising grounds".
Well duh.
I've also heard rumour that Amazon is little more than an online bookshop.
Hang on Penis Duh Milo is hurtling towards his conclusion; "While these new apps certainly can't be blamed for nurturing a generation of lonely and single middle-aged homosexuals by themselves..."
You will almost certainly recall the hoo-ha last year over an article in The Daily Mail by Jan Moir on Stephen Gately; "A strange, lonely and troubling death..."
Moir ended that piece with a macabre non sequitur; "For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see."
And so (unwittingly?) does Milo Yiannopoulos.
"With apps like Grindr around, which ought to come with a health warning, that's hardly surprising. I wonder: how many impressionable young gay teens with shiny new iPhones are being sucked into this creepy and dangerous world?"
Yup - The creepy and dangerous world of gay!!!!!
Although one online reader, Scribbleandrew, begged to differ; "You want to know the scariest thing about Grindr? It really is a battery killer on the iPhone!"

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Scott Long: Thank You

Sad to hear Scott Long is leaving Human Rights Watch due to illness.
A great man, a tireless campaigner, a genuine radical and seeker of truth.
Hardly surprising then that some chose to try and smear his good name - shame on them.
Fagburn wishes Scott well, and looks forward to reading the book he is writing.
Here is Scott Long's wonderful statement in full:

As some of you know, in mid-July I suffered a pulmonary embolism of a fairly unpleasant sort. While running to catch a bus on a New York street, I saw a blinding effusion of white light, amid which several spangled and bell-bottomed figures vaguely resembling ABBA beckoned me to an eternal disco complete with spinning ball. Yanked back from their blandishments by a superior fashion sense, I spent a couple of weeks in intensive care. I had plenty of time lying in a bendable bed with an IV dripping, to compose, like Woody Allen, lists of the things that make life worth living: the last movement of Bruckner’s Third Symphony; “Sit Down, I Think I Love You” as covered by the Staccatos, with that harpsichord and those violins; the closing pages of “Lolita”; W. H. Auden as sung by Cleo Laine. Somewhere in the middle of the lists, I realized that working for Human Rights Watch wasn’t on them.
I am resigning as director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch. I feel great pride at what this program has accomplished in the almost eight years I have worked at HRW. I’ve had the privilege of partnering with the best, smartest, most creative and committed staff in the world: Juliana Cano Nieto, Boris Dittrich, Rasha Moumneh, Dipika Nath, Jessica Ognian, and, in the past, Jessica Stern and Iwona Zielinska. I am also especially proud of the deep and cooperative relationships we have built with activists and social movements around the world. I remember our long engagement in Egypt, where with a coalition of courageous human rights groups we produced evidence and performed advocacy to terminate a state crackdown that had marred hundreds of lives. I remember our work in Jamaica, where we were present at the creation of a similar activist coalition that generated passionate debate about the island’s colonial sexual legislation for the first time—and provided vital legal and social support to people under attack or arrest. I remember our efforts in Iran, where our accurate research dispelled misconceptions and deceptions about the state of sexual rights, and where we furnished life-saving assistance both to activists inside the country and to asylees without. I remember our emergency work in Iraq, where we documented for the first time ever who was behind the killings of non-conforming men, and began the slow work of putting the issue on a paralyzed state’s and still-stunned society’s human rights agenda. And I remember our work in the United States, where we showed the intersections between homophobia and anti-immigrant agitation, and the invisible corrosions both insinuate into people’s struggles for common lives.
The LGBT Rights Program was, and to some extent remains, an experiment: the first program of its kind at a so-called “mainstream” human rights organization. Undeniably there have been frustrations. One of the most basic splits in contemporary human rights work—sometimes mapped onto a division between “global South” and “global North,” though not quite reducible to it—is between rights as a set of legal norms, and rights as a complex of human dreams and political aspirations. The split has to do, as well, with the difference between institutions and movements, the former ones formal and developing their own standards and needs, the latter fluid and chaotic and responsible to individuals’ and communities’ desires and drives. The LGBT Rights Program worked balanced on the knife’s edge between these divisions.
It was never easy. Things need to change. For its efforts in this sphere to succeed in future, Human Rights Watch—and other international organizations like it—needs a far deeper understanding of what social movements are, why they are important, how they turn human rights into living values rather than legal abstractions. It also needs a far clearer comprehension of the political contexts in which it works every day; the impotence of artificial categories to explain the experiences of suffering or joy; the intersections that are the real geography of LGBT people’s, and everybody’s, lives.
Racism, neocolonialism, Islamophobia, patriarchy, anti-Semitism, and sectarian hatred, to name only a few, are as real as homophobia for LGBT people. They are real facts within LGBT movements as well. A “mainstream” intervention that willfully elides this complexity is doomed to make almost everything worse.
Likewise, though, our movements need to compare their histories more closely and examine their actions more exactingly. They must reject the temptation to be parochial, simply because others are. They must be alert for the foreshadowings of real rather than simply rhetorical universals that glimmer through the challenges they have overcome. Every intersection is a meeting place, as well as a divergence. To forget that is to be crucified on the differences, and divided into irrelevance.
And that’s it. One of the glorious Nina Simone’s recordings—it’s her version of “I Shall Be Released”– starts off with her stopping the band: “Don’t push it,” she tells them. “Don’t put nothin’ into it unless you feel it.” That’s my mantra as I move ahead. I intend to rest a bit, most likely with a fellowship at Harvard University over the next year, and write a book: based on my own experience, about what’s moral and what’s immoral about “international solidarity,” and what’s worked and what hasn’t in campaigns for sexual rights. I’ll keep on being a loud voice for the things I do value—“Lolita,” liberation, and more; and with the book behind me, I’ll be back to activism. In much the same form, probably, only different.

Scott Long

William Hague: Just Asking What?

Guido Fawkes is asking some probing questions about William Hague.
"Seems odd that young Christopher Myers (25) should go from driving William Hague (49) around his constituency during elections, where according to the Mirror, “although he never worked at Tory HQ in London… they became close during campaigns”, to become his third Special Adviser at the Foreign Office..."

Monday, 23 August 2010

The Krays: Twincest's New Poster Boys

"They fought as one. They killed as one. But did the Kray twins' uncanny bond lead them to break the ultimate taboo?" asks a headline in today's Daily Mail.
"The ultimate taboo"?!!
What on Jupiter could that be? - Did they write an article about gay men and mental health?
No - it's something even more taboo-y.
The Mail are running extracts based on a new book by John Pearson, who wrote what's regarded as the definitive book on The Krays, The Profession of Violence.
The Mail probably paid a small fortune in serialisation rights, so Pearson must have some really eye-popping new revelations about Ron and Reggie to reveal.
Saturday's Daily Mail had some stuff about The Krays association with the Tory queer peer, Lord Boothby, where Pearson "reveals the full, shocking story he was gagged from telling".
Though hadn't Pearson already written how "the true story of Lord Boothby and the Krays can finally be told" in The Independent On Sunday in June 1997?
The pulled-quote rather gives the gist of the new revelation away; "They discovered they were both homosexual and were so concerned with keeping it secret they only had sex with each other".
The feature in The Daily Mail today is 2,600 words long - so what do we find out about this taboo-busting tale?
"In adolescence they discovered they were both homosexual. At the time and given the macho nature of the East End, this struck them as so shameful that they attempted to conceal it. According to Ron, they were so concerned to keep their secret hidden that for a while the only sex they had was with each other."
And that's it.
Presumably Ron Kray must have told Pearson this at some point.
'Ad a word in 'is shell, like.
Presumably it must have crossed Pearson's mind to ask for a bit more detail, what with this being a pretty big bombshell, and him planning another book and all.
And presumably Mr Pearson shrugged his shoulders and thought to himself; "Probably best not to pry..."

Children In Need: Fury As Charity Money Goes To Charities

"The BBC was criticised last night for giving £140,000 raised for Children In Need to Scottish projects benefiting teenage criminals, travellers and young gays and lesbians," seethes The Daily Express in predictable mode.
The item's headline was even more blunt; "Fury as BBC Charity Cash Goes To Criminals'.
What??? They're literally giving criminals cash?
It's political incorrectness gone mentalist!
The Express eventually provides some detail; "Shetland Arts Development Agency received a grant of almost £27,000 to hire an “arts and restorative justice worker” for its “space2face” scheme. According to the job description they will work 16 hours a week to “facilitate young person responsible for causing harm in creating a gift of artwork, and where appropriate, to facilitate the presenting of that artwork to the person/s harmed”.
Oh. Is that it? Who'd be furious about that?
The Express could only find Scottish Tory community safety spokesman Bill Aitken - and unluckily for The Express, he was all for it: “I am all for reparations to the victims of crime and I think offenders should be encouraged to attempt to make amends in this manner."
But there's a bit after this where it looks like The Express asked Aitken a leading question and tacked it on the end; "I doubt, however, if many of the donors to Children In Need envisaged the money being spent in this way.”
Okay. But what about the travellers??!?
"Fyne Families in Lochgilphead, Argyll, received almost £40,000 to “build the self esteem and confidence” of children, mothers and toddlers from the travelling community through after school clubs and outdoor activities."
Sounds like a good idea - I imagine all the shit the Daily Express stirs up about travellers can't be good for a kid's self-esteem. And The Gays??
"LGBT Youth Scotland Glasgow was given over £72,000 to “reduce feelings of isolation and exclusion” among homosexual youngsters."
What kind of a heartless cunt would be against something like that?
"Laura Midgley, of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: “I’m sure donors will be surprised to find projects like this are receiving funding, especially in the current climate.”
The Campaign Against Political Correctness are go-to guys for stupid quotes in a story like this.
Who are they? A couple, John and Laura Midgley.
Yes, there are basically two of them - making them twice as big as Christian Voice's one man crusade.
This gruesome twosome are often quoted in the press whenever the press need someone to say; "It's political correctness gone mad!"
The fact that they might be talking absolute bollocks seems neither here nor there.
But CAPC's website provides a handy guide to Famous Non-PC people, including such intellectual heavyweights as Trisha Goddard, Coleen Nolan, Jim Davidson, Jeremy Clarkson and The Krankies.
That's right - they've got the fucking Krankies on board!
Fagburn suggests you give John and Laura Midgley a call on 07092 040916 and ask them if they'd prefer it if lesbian and gay teens committed suicide.
Go on!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Attitude: Are You A Sex Addict?

There's a full page article in The Observer today about gay men and mental health.
Well, sort of.
Straight outta the media's hall of mirrors it's actually an article about the new issue of Attitude magazine which is about gay men and mental health.
It's 'The Issues Issue'.
Attitude's editor Matthew Todd is quoted as saying it's "a big taboo".
Well, mental health certainly is, but the media absolutely adore this kind of "Being gay is rubbish" story - as The Observer piece shows.
Todd says; "There is this cliché that we are all having a great time partying, but actually we know, and the research is now showing, there are a hell of a lot of unhappy gay people; far higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide than among straight men; far higher rates of self-destructive behaviour; substance abuse and sex addiction; and high levels of issues around intimacy and forming relationships."
All true. Fagburn is with Todd all the way on that - except the bit about "sex addiction"; which I think is a highly spurious concept and a media construct.
But anyway, Matthew Todd gives good quote, and Fagburn prefers seeing him being quoted in the straight press to the drivel machines they usually unearth.
"The gay scene is incredibly sexualised," Todd adds. "Kids come out into this sexualised world where there is lots of booze and lots of drugs, there's nothing that's just healthy, gentle and relaxed. It's empowering to have lots of sex, but only if that's what you actually want, if it's you making the choice."
Fair point. Though in an erotophobic culture like ours it's as often the case to find that sex - and especially gay sex - is problematised and demonised, just as it is celebrated.
"Repressive desublimation" they used to call it - though I've never been completely sure what it means.
And Fagburn suspects that a sense of unease about gay sex is arguably a surer sign that a gay man has "issues" than if he's having lots of sex.
Last month The Observer ran a major feature about gay men and sex, and that new-fangled gay cruising app, Grindr.
Matthew Todd was quoted in that too, striking the only note of dischord; "The commercial gay world – which Grindr is part of – is a very adult, very sexual world. And I worry when I see these young kids coming out on to the gay scene, and everything is about sex. There's no real concept of relationships."
You can say that again. Oh hang on, you have.
The last word here goes to TheChris who posted the following after today's Observer article.
"I thought this was a spoof at first. Attitude is one of the very worst contributors to the sexualised gay culture that Matthew Todd says he's recovering from. "The gay scene is incredibly sexualised", he says - and he should know. How many sex issues has Attitude published? How many youth issues? How many celebrities have they paid to pose naked, perfectly groomed and photoshopped?"
See if you can guess what they've put on the cover of "The Issues Issue" of Attitude?

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Thought For The Day: Jonathan Miller

"My disbelief in God is as trivial as my disbelief in witches - I don't think it deserves a name."

Jonathan Miller, polymath and that, Meeting Myself Coming Back, BBC Radio 4

"Gay Vicar Weds Nigerian Toyboy": Readers Explode Across Middle England

Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.
Of course they do, that's why it said so in that song.
And for the tabloids there are a few other things that are just made to go together.
Like the words "toy" and "boy", and "gay" and "vicar".
Well today the gods must have been smiling, as many papers were able to get all four words into a single headline.
As did - but of course - The Sun; 'Gay Vicar Weds Nigerian Toyboy'.
Bingo! Cue mass outbreak of Little Britain-style Tory Ladies vomiting across Middle England.
And - oh hallelujah - it also touches on two other tabloid obsessions; gay marriage, and there's a hint of "immigration scam".
And - praise be - in tabloid terms this is no ordinary "odd couple", they're not just the same sex, they're from different races and continents and - oh heaven forfend - different generations.
Or as The Daily Mail worded it; 'Gay vicar, 65, to 'marry' Nigerian male model half his age.' (Fagburn can't remember anyone being described as a "male model" since the Jeremy Thorpe trial...)
Good job too - as beyond ticking just about every box that's bound to make a bigot explode, this is more over-the-garden-wall gossip, than a news story.
Rev Colin Coward ("bearded... 65") and Bobby Egbele ("25... a model") aren't actually getting married - they can't.
They're having a civil partnership, but not in Colin's church - they can't do that either.
But they are having a "blessing-type service" in the church afterwards.
And Colin's not saying if the relationship is celibate - cause gay vicars can't do that either.
And if you read the small print in some papers he's not even a practising vicar anymore.
Confusing isn't it?
The Mirror missed the immigration angle, but - predictably - The Express didn't, though surprisingly they didn't milk it; "Bobby, a Nigerian citizen, is in the UK on a holiday visa. The couple are awaiting permission for him to remain in the country from the UK Borders Agency. This is expected to be a formality but the marriage – which means Bobby would become a UK citizen – cannot go ahead until permission is granted."
Fagburn has only seen one media source come right out and say... well; "Of course we all know it's just a sham ceremony so Bobby can get his citizenship papers. You know how those homosexuals are always exploiting marriage laws for immigration purposes."
That was Queerty - and I trust they were being ironic.
The Sun says Colin and Bobby's holy/unholy union has "stunned his flock".
But the only other person they have quoted is the in-no-way barking mad Stephen Green of Christian Voice.
Mr Green thinks the idea is "an abomination before God."
He told The Sun; ""Mr Coward is an emotionally disturbed man trying to inflict his predilections on the rest of the church. I fail to recognise him as a Christian."
Funny. A lot of people say the same thing about Stephen Green.

Amanda Platell: You Can Say That Again...

"Britain's last Catholic adoption agency has been forced to close its doors after half a century, due to Harriet Harman's equality laws.
"Under the new legislation, they would have been obliged to place children with gay couples as well as straight, against the teachings of their faith.
"We all know the Catholic Church does not have an unblemished record when it comes to caring for children..."

Amanda Platell, on the Catholic Care case, The Daily Mail.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Matthew Parris: "I'm a completely crap gay"

The openly amphibious parliamentary sketch writer, Matthew Parris, is interviewed for TotalPolitics by Iain Dale.
They're both gay Conservatives, so it's all very chummy and polite.
Maybe it's down to his boyish good looks, but he's usually presented as one of the nice guys, though his politics are perfectly ghastly.
Parris talks about his admiration for scary right-wing nutjob Keith Joseph ("He seemed to say the things that I was thinking but no one else dared to say..."), and David Cameron - "I believe David Cameron is going to be a great prime minister."
His old boss - Margaret Thatcher - was fine with him being gay, and he offers a word of warning to gay men going into politics; "What gay men who are not really out need to beware of (and Peter Mandelson notwithstanding, this is a warning not a threat), is the status of being a little bit gay and suspected of being gay but not having admitted it, because it really whets the media's appetite. Either you stay right in the closet, or if you've edged a little way out, for God's sake, come all the way out quickly. There is no status, although Peter Mandelson hoped there would be, in your homosexuality being "private but not secret". It's public or it's nothing."
It's most odd that Dale didn't press Parris about his outing of Mandelson, especially as it's been back in the news again this week, but that's chummy interviews for you.
No, he doesn't want to be a role model ("I do hope not. I'm a completely crap gay") and wishes he'd come out earlier.
"I wish now that I had come out when I was a Conservative MP. I think I could have got away with it in retrospect, but it would have been a close run thing. I had the nicest constituency and the nicest association and it would have given them an awful shock. A lot of them, I'm sure, had their doubts already and I think I could have ridden the storm. I so much admire Chris Smith for taking the risk."
Labour's Chris Smith is in the history books as the first MP to come out voluntarily, when he was a Labour MP in 1984.
Fagburn appears to be the only person in the world - including Matthew Parris - who seems to recall that Mr Parris actually came out a few years before Smith did, in a speech he made in the House Of Commons in the early 80s.
Problem was no-one took the slightest bit of notice, so Parris quietly went back in again.

A Level Results: Single Sex Education

"Imagine my horror and disbelief on viewing your (usually impeccable) homepage at guardian.co.uk and finding that you have unaccountably posted a large photograph of two wholesome and attractive young men in a somewhat homoerotic rugby tackle, celebrating their A-level results. To add insult to injury, one of them is wearing a cardigan. Please could you remove this offending image forthwith and replace it with a smiling picture of some blonde totty from public school wearing a low-cut top who has got herself five A*s and is going to Oxford."

Catherine Dean, London. Guardian letters.
For further illustration/s, see Guardian Media Monkey; 'A-levels coverage: Jumping? Tick. Blonde? Full marks'. (On Tuesday, blogger Mark Pack had offered £50 to "a charity of your choice" to the first person to "find me a story in a mainstream media outlet about exam results in the UK this year. Oh, and it has to have at least one photo. Oh, and the photo(s) have to be of photogenic boys, not girls...")

Civil Partnerships: Cliché Fans Joy As 'Honeymoon Over' Headline Returns

Today the Office of National Statistics released the latest figures for Civil Partnerships.
There were two angles on this.
First the bad news; 'Honeymoon over for many same-sex couples as 'divorces' double' (Daily Telegraph).
And now the just as bad news; 'Civil partnerships in 12 per cent decline' (Independent).
Mind you it was great news for the Christian Institute, who billed it as a double whammy; 'Civil partnerships plummet as dissolutions double.'
Fagburn would like to point out we have been here before.
'Honeymoon over for gay marriage as fewer tie the knot' Evening Standard, August 2009.
'Honeymoon over for 'gay marriages' as number of civil partnerships is halved in a year' Daily Mail, June 2008.
'Honeymoon is over for gay weddings' The Observer, February 2008.
'Honeymoon over for gay marriages as number of civil partnerships plummets by 50 per cent' Daily Mail, February 2008.
It's clearly been a long honeymoon.
Let's look at those civil partnership figures in full:

2006 - 16,106
2007 - 8,728
2008 - 7,169
2009 - 6,281

Fagburn has just calculated (on his fingers) that if the decline continues at this rate, NO-ONE will be registering a civil partnership by 2017.
And with dissolutions doubling from 180 in 2008, to 351 last year, that means... actually I can't work out a completely unscientific frightening factoid out of that one on my fingers.
Not that any of this matters as they'll legalise same-sex marriage long before then.
Won't they?

Ray Gosling: Free the Nottingham One

A snack-sized feeding frenzy today over the news that the "veteran broadcaster", Ray Gosling, could face prosecution and be charged with wasting police time following his televised claim that he had carried out a "mercy killing", smothering an ex-lover who was in terrible pain and dying from Aids.
Gosling made the claim in February on a BBC East Midlands magazine programme, Inside Out (Watch it here).
He was arrested on suspicion of murder, but was never charged.
He told the Nottingham Evening Post he'd been released after telling police the name of the man he said he'd killed.
Fagburn greatly admires Mr Gosling, slightly barking though he may be; an instinctive anarchist whose work has always celebrated and defended ordinary people.
It may not be coincidental that his "confession" was made soon after the death of his friend and mentor, Colin Ward, the giant of gentle Anarchism who was Gosling's editor on Freedom, Anarchy, and New Society. Some of his earliest writing appears in The Faber Book of Pop.
Gosling's involvement in the struggle for gay liberation goes back to the North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee in the 60s. More recently, in 1998 he made the only TV broadcast in defence of the Bolton 7, and with Allan Horsfall ran the website, Gay Monitor.
Ray Gosling posted the following statement on Gay Monitor:

"Little did I know my short film for the BBC East Midlands where I have a close intimate relationship with viewers over many many films would become a big worldwide item. I have had hundreds of e-mails and letters of support, sympathy and “Oh you silly bugger”. Thank you. I have had conversations of sadness with members of the lad I loved's family and I have tried to protect his identity. I have nothing more to say on death. I AM writing a big book on sex - the loves I've had, the lads I've chased and not got and the lads with whom I have. In this book this incident will not feature or not much. I shall continue to protect as best I can the identity of the beautiful witty sexy young man I so loved and so loved me. And I shall now on this moment of a long life as best I can shut up."

The CPS summons alleges that Gosling "caused wasteful employment of the police by knowingly making to Bill Turnbull a false report tending to show that an offence had been committed. Contrary to sec 5 (2) of the Criminal Law Act 1967".
Ray Gosling may have been making mischief - he certainly made a timely and important contribution to the debate about euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Fagburn says free Ray Gosling.
If anyone is to be charged with "wasting police time", then it should be the police.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Adoption: No Place For Homophobia

"A Roman Catholic adoption charity's appeal to be allowed to discriminate against gay people wanting it to place children with them has been rejected," BBC News reports.
"Catholic Care wanted exemption from new anti-discrimination laws so it could limit services provided to homosexual couples on religious grounds. The Charity Commission said gay people were suitable parents and religious views did not justify discrimination."
Andrew Hind, chief executive of The Charity Commission said; "In certain circumstances, it is not against the law for charities to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. However, because the prohibition on such discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, such discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances."
"We have concluded that in this case the reasons Catholic Care have set out do not justify their wish to discriminate."
A news report on Radio 4's Today programme pointed out that Catholic Care place around 10 children a year, and that if the Commission felt that the new legislation had led to children not being placed with adoptive couples they might be compelled to allow an exemption.
The Commission's Final Decision can be read here.
Its - quite reasonable - conclusions are:

"The evidence did not provide sufficiently convincing and weighty reasons to justify the charity’s wish to restrict its service to heterosexual prospective adoptive parents. This is because:

* The interests of children are paramount - the courts have found that it is in the interests of children waiting to be adopted that the pool from which prospective parents are drawn is as wide as possible.
* Discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation is a serious matter because it departs from the principle of treating people equally.
* Local authority evidence suggests that even if the charity were to close its adoption service, children who would have been placed through the charity are likely to be placed through other channels.
* Local authority evidence suggests that they consider gay and lesbian people as suitable prospective parents for hard to place children and that such adoptions have been successful.
* The High Court judgment had found that respect for religious views could not be a justification for discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation in this case, because of the essentially public nature of adoption services."

The announcement was made at midnight, and the news was broken by the Press Association.
The story has appeared in some online versions of newspapers - check the hilarious "Picture posed by models" in The Daily Mail's [The illustration on the right does not show today's paper - and I don't think the Nazis would have been staunch defenders of gay adoption, but anyway...] - so we'll have to wait for the usual fright-wing commentators to descend.
This really should be the end of this matter - which may not have dragged on so long if the then prime minister and closeted Catholic nutter Tony Blair hadn't vacillated over Catholic adoption agencies "right" to discriminate ('Cabinet Split Over New Rights For Gays', The Observer, 15 October 2006).
Fagburn will keep you updated on the predictable responses, but expect much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a few more metaphorical last cries of the dinosaur before it falls down dead.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tomasz Schafernaker: Weathering A Storm In a Teacup

You know how when English people have run out of interesting or important things to say, the default mode is to talk about the weather?
In almost all the newspapers' "most viewed" items today has been; "BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker caught giving colleague obscene finger gesture live on TV" (Daily Mirror - you can watch this truly momentous TV moment here).
Apropos of something The Mirror also slipped in the fascinating fact; "In January, Schafernaker appeared bare-chested in UK gay mag Attitude."
As did The Sun; "Early this year Tomasz caused controversy when he posed without his top on for the cover of Active - a supplement in gay magazine, Attitude."
Jeez, it must be so annoying for the tabloids when they want to say someone's gay, but they're not 100% sure if they're actually out.
Fagburn thinks only The Daily Mail even bothered to pretend anyone was actually bothered by the Attitude shoot at the time; "BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker shocks bosses after posing in gay magazine in skimpy shorts."
Attitude gave their fitness feature a wink-winking coverline; 'BBC Weatherman Reveals His Stunning Secret.'
No, he didn't reveal the "stunning secret" one might have expected in Attitude.
Though Tomasz was quoted as saying; “I get into trouble at times, but the producers are forgiving.”
Fagburn hopes so - would this weather man have been such big news if we weren't right at the height of the silly season?

Obituary: Edwin Morgan 1920-2010

At thirty I thought life had passed me by,
translated Beowulf for want of love.
And one night stands in city centre lanes –
they were dark in those days – were wild but bleak.
Sydney Graham in London said, 'you know
I always thought so', kissed me on the cheek.
And I translated Rilke's Loneliness
is like a rain, and week after week after week
strained to unbind myself,
sweated to speak...

from Seven Decades
Edwin Morgan, The Scots Makar - national poet.

Monday, 16 August 2010

ABC Circulation Figures: Unreal Mens' Magazines

This is the time of year when ABC release magazine circulation figures for the first half of 2010.
Press Gazette takes a detailed look at how the leading titles are performing in each magazine sector here.
Magazines have been hit hard by the recession, none more so than "mens' lifestyle" titles, so although there has been a small decline in sales, this is seen as good news by Press Gazette; "Men’s lifestyle is holding up resiliently with just a 3.8 per cent drop year on year."
Here are the top titles:

Shortlist - 518,222 (1.5%)
Sport - 305,479 (0.0%)
Men's Health - 245,754 (-1.8%)
FHM - 192,586 (-18.1%)
Nuts - 147,134 (-22.0%)
GQ - 120,063 (0.0%)
Stuff - 85,370 (1.0%)
Zoo - 80,026 (-27.9%)
BBC Focus - 73,614 (8.0%)
Men's Fitness - 68,123 (0.2%)
Esquire - 58,151 (10.3%)
Healthy for Men - 56,356 (-15.6%)
Loaded - 53,591 (-26.3%)
Wired - 50,009 (N/A)
Front Magazine - 40,971 (7.8%)
Square Mile Magazine 20,204 (-24.8%)
Hedge Magazine 5,318 (-5.9%)

The two leading titles - Shortlist and Sport - are both given away free, and the figures are for their "distribution".
This could just be their print run, it doesn't factor in that many, or maybe most, copies could be left untouched in a large pile at the back of a pub or shop.
With the paid-for titles the biggest drop is for the lads' mags; FHM, Nuts, Zoo, and Loaded have seen sales drop by 18-28%.
Men's Health, GQ and Stuff are "doing well" just by holding steady.
ABCs are seen in the industry as reliable - though even "for sale" titles' figures may not be quite what they appear.
The Guardian's Media Monkey reports today that "Wired is proud to have reached its year one circulation target, posting an ABC total of 50,009... What Condé Nast omitted to mention was that it only hit its 50,000 target by giving away 10,000 copies."
But then even quality newspapers can bump up their circulation figures by including "bulk sales"; copies given away free by hotels, airlines, online supermarkets and so on.
Without an ABC audit any publications circulation or sales figures should be taken with a large spoonful of salt.
The numbers are intended to lure potential advertisers to a title, and with no independent verification claimed sales could be twice or even ten times what they actually are.
You may have noticed that there are no gay titles on the ABC mens' magazines list.
That's not because ABC don't regard gay mags as real mens' magazines, but because no gay title has its circulation audited by ABC.
Bent used to have one - which put it at 60,000 copies. But that's for a free title, and represents copies distributed/printed.
The Pink Paper - also free - (and technically not a mens' magazine, as it was for women as well) - had an ABC from February 2006.
MediaWeek reported at the time; "The free fortnightly tabloid newspaper became the first gay and lesbian publication to have an ABC certificate this month. Its audited circulation is 40,000 copies per edition..."
"Editor Tris Reid-Smith said: "It has taken a lot of hard work to get us to this stage. But it now seems clear that the Pink Paper has an amazing future ahead of it. And the fact that we are starting with an honest, proven circulation figure puts us head and shoulders above our competitors.""
Was Mr Reid-Smith suggesting that the unaudited unproven circulation figures claimed by other gay magazines are dishonest?
Tris Reid-Smith is now the editor of GT magazine.
In their latest media pack GT claims a circulation of - and I quote - "68,143".
Fagburn would like to suggest that perhaps the publishers of GT are being rather modest.
Surely the sales of this excellent magazine must now be closer to 10 million, if not more?
Although - sadly - there is no way of verifying such a figure.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

No News: But Is It "Good" News?

In case you were wondering, there wasn't anything that I thought was worth commenting on in the papers today.
Nothing, nada, zilch!
And I'd be a hypocrite if I criticised the "Phil Space" school of journalism by myself filling a space when there is nothing that I think is worth reporting.
But as I'm a hypocrite I'll fill some space anyway with this French anti-smoking ad from earlier this year that I saw when I was looking through The Independent's Media section, for no other reason than that it sent my mind reeling.
What would Roland Barthes have said, eh?
Something in French, probably.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Mandelson: Meeting Myself Not Coming Out

Peter Mandelson got another chance to plug his well-selling memoirs on Radio 4's Meeting Myself Coming Back this evening.
The programme was picked up and previewed by various media pushing the angle that Mandelson was played a recording of Matthew Parris "outing" him on Newsnight in 1998.
Mandelson commented: "What upset me first of all was that they should be debating this as though it was some sort of question that hadn't been answered or that it was of some political importance.
"I didn't feel any inhibition leading my life as I did. To all intents and purposes - my home, my family, my friends - there was no sort of secret. I had been outed by the News of the World some 10 years before in 1987 and had long since got over it and got through it. What I didn't accept very easily was this had suddenly become the subject of a political discussion on Newsnight, when in my view it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my life as a politician or what I was doing as a minister."
Mandelson is being slightly mendacious - his role in a BBC internal memo swiftly issued afterwards ("Under no circumstances whatsoever should allegations about the private life of Peter Mandelson be repeated or referred to on any broadcast") was brushed over.
But what did you expect? Peter Mandelson's a spin doctor; managing the economy of truth is what he does for a living.
Fagburn dug out a copy of Gay Times from July 1987 to see how his initial outing was dealt with at the time. It happened during a particularly nasty and - for the tabloids - a particularly homophobic general election campaign.
Mandelson was a key player, but a minor character; the two page spread from The News Of The World is reproduced along with several other press cuttings as an illustration in Gay Times' Mediawatch section.
But so much other anti-gay crap was being thrown it didn't warrant an actual mention in the text of a three page feature, nor on the 22 pages of News, beyond its headline being quoted in a round-up; 'My Love For Gay Labour Boss'. 
He just wasn't newsworthy back then. Mandelson isn't mentioned by name in The News of The World piece until the second paragraph - and he shares his spread with the latest on Harvey Procter MP; 'Spanking Tory Resigns At Last'.
Happy times...
Fagburn has nothing further to add to what I've already written about Mr Mandelson's closetry, except to remark that this shows that coming out is a continual process, and - equally - slipping back into the closet is quite easy.
And - but for a bit of schoolboy sniggering ("Mandy...") - if you have the press onside they'll happily collude with your closetry.
Is anyone surprised at Peter Mandelson's newfound candour?
He's happy to talk about his sexuality now - he's not trying to sell the Labour Party, but he knows such straight talking will help promote his book.

Gay Marriage: Things I Learnt Today...

"The UK's civil partnership offers almost all the legal benefits of marriage, apart from the fact that when Stephen Fry gets a knighthood, his partner will have no courtesy title to bandy about."

Philip Hensher writing in The Independent ("The understanding of marriage has altered considerably over time, and across cultures...")

Although Fagburn does not approve of the honours system, he is most concerned that Steven Webb can not be Stephen Fry's Lady boy.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Celebrity Vs News: Famous Man Bites Gay Dog

"How we have reached this pass is one for tomorrow's cultural historians to unravel, and the best of luck to them with that. But, somehow, the war crimes trial of a suspected genocidal tyrant has been transformed, by the catalyst of celebrity, into Agatha Christie's The Mystery of the Blood Diamond. This tale is so suffused with Agatha touches... that the slaughter of untold numbers of West Africans and the butchering of their babies struggle to make the cut as side issues. Even BBC Radio 4, global flagship of high-minded reporting, could summon the strength to lead bulletins with the trial only once Naomi Campbell had made her peevish and petulant way, like a spoilt Eurotrash teenager dragged to church on Good Friday, to The Hague," Matthew Norman rages - quite correctly - in today's Independent.
For further evidence of how for some media, news only becomes newsworthy if a celebrity is involved, take a look at how The Daily Express covered the biggest gay story this month; the overturning of California's Proposition 8.
"Martin & DeGeneres Celebrate Gay Marriage Ruling: Gay stars including RICKY MARTIN, ELLEN DEGENERES and LANCE BASS are celebrating after a U.S. judge branded legislation outlawing same sex marriage in California "unconstitutional". (August 5th).
"Takei Celebrating New Turn In Gay Marriage Debate: STAR TREK actor GEORGE TAKEI is celebrating the news that gay marriage could soon be legal again in California, insisting opponents of the legislation should mind their own business." (August 6th).
"Let Gays Marry, Says Schwarzenegger: California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and attorney general Jerry Brown have filed legal motions calling for same-sex weddings to resume in the state." (August 7th).
Okay - we'll let the Daily Express off the last one, seeing as Arnie is the Governor of California.
And presumably Princess Diana was unavailable for comment.

Film: Bent Double

"The English language can be a treacherous and slippery thing, with some entirely innocuous words changing their character as they cross the Atlantic. This has sadly been the case with the new movie from M Night Shyamalan, which has just arrived here from Hollywood, a deeply serious and long fantasy epic – the first in a number of parts, in fact – based on an animated TV series. For a British audience, the film's language is inadvertently flavoured by associations and nuances that are vulgar, abusive, and very, very unfortunate indeed.
"The story is set in an imaginary era in which the world is divided into four nations based on the four ancient elements: earth, air, fire and water. The Fire nation is warring with the others for total domination. Yet each nation has a certain type of people, a favoured race different from the rest, people with the Jedi-like power to control or "bend" the elements. Firebenders. Earthbenders. Waterbenders. And airbenders. At the cinema showing I attended, the British crowd hooted derisively at key dialogue moments. One wise old lady says solemnly to a young man: "I could tell at once that you were a bender, and that you would realise your destiny." One character tells another wonderingly: "There are some really powerful benders in the Northern Water Zone." Another whispers tensely: "We want to minimise their bender sources." A key figure is taken away by brutal soldiers, one of whom shouts cruelly: "It's a bender."
"And so on, for almost two hours. Each time, the response from the auditorium was deafeningly immature, and brought many of us to a state of nervous collapse. By the end of the film, I felt like a bit-part player in some feature-length adaptation of Viz comic – Springtime for Finbarr Saunders, perhaps. This scene will inevitably be repeated in every cinema in the land showing The Last Airbender. For Friday and Saturday night showings, the police may have to be called..."

- Peter Bradshaw reviews The Last Airbender (1 star) in The Guardian

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Mike Stock: More Songs About Fucking

Several pundits today have picked up on Mike Stock - of Aitken & Waterman fame - BLASTING "Pop charts porn" in a mini-interview with The Daily Mail yesterday.
Let's - hey - take stock of Mike's blast:
"The music industry has gone too far. It's not about me being old fashioned. It's about keeping values that are important in the modern world.
"These days you can't watch modern stars - like Britney Spears or Lady Gaga - with a two-year-old.
"Ninety-nine per cent of the charts is R 'n' B and 99 per cent of that is soft pornography.'
"Kids are being forced to grow up too young. Look at the videos. I wouldn't necessarily want my young kids to watch them.
"I would certainly be embarrassed to sit there with my mum."
So far, so grumpy old git - and all very "Call that music? You can't hear the words. Is that a boy or a girl..."
The Mail contrasted the "innocent" Kylie Minogue - the biggest star from the SAW stable - with "24-year-old Lady Gaga, who burst on to the scene two years ago, has regularly used crude metaphors in her lyrics as well as posing in revealing outfits."
The gaping chasm between the "Innocent 80s" and "Sleazy 2010" is illustrated with the Kylie and Gaga lyrics quoted in the sidebar reproduced above.
Erm, it may be Fagburn's ears playing up, but I'm pretty sure Ms Minogue sings "I was fucked to my very foundations..." in her hit song Shocked, written and produced by Mike Stock with Aitken & Waterman.
One of SAW's tricks/schticks was taking people who were already famous in one field and making a record with them, most successfully with soap stars Kylie and Jason Donovan.
In 1986 they signed 19 year-old Samantha Fox - best known as a soft porn mag and Sun Page 3 topless model - and recorded 'Touch Me (I Want Your Body)' - thankfully there was nothing sexualised about that, nor was there any hint of a pop/porn continuum.
But I digress, let's go back to Mr Stock...
"[Mothers] were quite happy to put their kids in front of the telly to watch Hannah Montana but recently Miley Cyrus [who played Montana] has shown off her maturing body.'
Sayeth The Mail; "He also attacked the launch last week of the Material Girl clothes range by Madonna's 13-year-old daughter Lourdes, which features short skirts and slashed tops."
It's good to have standards.
Though just for the record Fagburn would like to remind you that in 1986 SAW signed one Mandy Smith - a 16 year-old girl who was already famous - and only famous - for "going out" with aging Rolling Stone Bill Wyman when she was just 13.
Her first single for the SAW boys? 'I Just Can't Wait'.