Thursday, 30 September 2010

Stonewall & Gay Marriage: Breaking The Silence

Stonewall have issued their official reply to the open letter criticising their silence over gay marriage.
"In summary, our view is that having started a consultative process it would be entirely inappropriate (and unfair to people engaging in it) to announce the outcome before it’s over. We recognise this may be frustrating for some people..."
A Populus poll published in The Times in June 2009 showed 61% of all adults supported gay marriage, a poll of Pink News readers in August showed 98% backing same-sex marriage - the leaders of both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have come out in support of it.
Why can't Stonewall?
When your mission statement is "Working for equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals," why do you have to have a consultation process on supporting marriage quality?

Tony Curtis: 1925-2010

Thanks for Spartacus and Some Like It Hot and for camping it up in The Persuaders and for being ever so entertaining.
The deleted "Oysters and snails" scene from Spartacus can be viewed here.
Farewell sir.

Ed Miliband: Living In Sin

The Daily Mail is up in arms again.
'Ed Miliband becomes first British political leader of a major party to be living with his family out of wedlock.'
Actually even they didn't seem too convinced by this manufactured outrage.
"...the couple’s relaxed stance on marriage stands in contrast to David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s ultra-traditional set-up.
"It also reflects the changing attitude of voters; in past generations, being part of an unmarried couple would have been regarded as electoral suicide. Previous party leaders have either been married or, as with Edward Heath, resolutely single."
Funny Ted Heath never married, eh?
The Daily Mail's constant carping about Ed being unmarried is satirised in the new Private Eye who mocked up a front page; "'WHY WON'T ED GET MARRIED - Is he a poof? House prices plummet as Labour elect new leader.'
In The Times Carl Midgley writes; 'How many hoots could you give that Ed Miliband isn’t married to his long-term partner? I have checked my “bovvered” barometer repeatedly on this matter and never found it to be hovering much above zero. I have polled my friends, too — some married, some not, all over 35, most with children — and the general reaction has been the same. A quote from one of them probably sums it up best: “Nah — don’t give a rat’s rectum. More to worry about in life.”'

Gays On TV: 18% Can't Stick 'Em

"Nearly one in five people are unhappy about the depiction of gay, lesbian and bisexual people on TV and radio, according to a report commissioned by the BBC.
A survey found that 18% feel "uncomfortable" or "very uncomfortable" with it, even after the 9pm watershed. Just under half of respondents said they were either comfortable or ambivalent.
Around a fifth of straight people said there was too much content relating to gay people on TV generally, although 46% said the volume was about right. Many lesbians felt there were not enough gay women on TV and most were portrayed either as "butch" or "lipstick lesbians".
Gay men said they would welcome a more realistic portrayal of gay life and criticised a tendency to feature camp men, though they said this was improving..."
From The Guardian.
Here's the BBC's original blog about the survey - which rapidly walks into loonyville.
And here's the BBC's own more laudatory take on the survey's findings; 'The BBC has made "great progress" in its portrayal of gay people and gay relationships, but there is still more to be done, according to a report...'
The Guardian's first story on the survey may have been more candid; 'BBC to ask homophobes what they think of its coverage of gay people.'
All we need now is someone to write a column fuming at how there are so many gays on the BBC - "which we pay for with our licence fees" etc - when we now "know" they are only 1% of the population.
My money's on Richard Littlejohn.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Billy Lucas: 1995-2010

Billy Lucas, 15, took his own life because of homphobic bullying.
"Greensburg High School principal Phil Chappel said that officials were unaware of bullying against Lucas, but friends said the abuse was constant, and often directed to what the aggressors presumed about his sexual orientation."
This is happening too fucking often.

EDIT: Tragically I typed too soon, 19 year-old gay student Tyler Clementi, has also killed himself.

Seth Walsh: 1997-2010

Seth Walsh, another gay kid aged 13 who killed himself after being "bullied to death."
What a world, what a world...

Heat: This Week's Hottest Celebrity Hotties

As there is not much going on in the world of gay since we found out there are so few of them last week, Fagburn has picked up a copy of last week's Heat.
It's fluff, and proud of it - and still seems to be written by a bunch of queens.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Though some of the reviews section is terribly written.
Actually, the rest of it may be too - I just looked at the pictures.
Fagburn liked how a man wanting to read Heat was a signifier of being a gayer in a particularly funny episode of The IT Crowd, The Work Outing.
No wonder. It mainly consists of bitching about celebrities and printing photos of celebrity male "hotties".
Fagburn quite likes the idea of printing photos of celebrity male "hotties", so here is one of the lovely Corey Monteith.

The Daily Mail: Hello Sailor!

The Daily Mail is ever so excited about the reissue of some saucy seaside postcards from Bamforth.
But Fagburn isn't quite sure what the joke is meant to be in this one they published on Mail Online.

The Sun: Squaddies Tart In Cushy Lags Shame

One of the many, many joys of reading The Sun is its use of words that no-one actually uses in real life, but they think sound "working class".
It's journalism as a sort of drag act.
Do you know anyone who still calls prostitutes "tarts"?
Or "hos"?
Or calls soldiers "squaddies"?
Or "Our boys"?
Or "heroes"?
Similarly we have recently learnt that the "Shamed George Michael" - or if you prefer "the pothead pop star" - is in a jail that is "cushy", and has been playing pool "with his fellow lags".
You couldn't make it up.

Asher Brown: 1997-2010

Asher Brown, 13, a gay kid from Houston, "bullied to death".

North Korea: Like Father, Like Sung

Fagburn has written before about how Kim Jong-Il's second son, Kim Jung-Chul, was passed over for dynastic succesion on account of Kim senior thinking he was a girlyboy.
But is Fagburn alone in thinking Kim Jong-Il looks "a bit gay"?

Stephen Sondheim: He's Still Here

Fagburn loved this interview with the ever wonderful Stephen Sondheim in the Telegraph; 'Still Cutting it at 80'.
Octogenerian East Coast Jews rock!
It's good on his self-percieved outsider status; "Somebody who people both want to kiss and kill".
"Sondheim describes himself as 'melancholic by nature’ – if given of 'a huge adolescent streak. I would like to think I have the soul of a Russian Jew. But unfortunately I’m a German Jew, which is rather different...’"
Fagburn thinks of himself along similar lines.
Also Fagburn thinks this is the first article to draw a portrait of Stephen's boyfriend, Jeff Romley.
"For the past six years he has been in a relationship with Jeff Romley, 32, a personable young man with even good looks who comes in as Sondheim and I talk. Romley, Sondheim says, works 'in cyberspace’. He gives a bemused shrug, as if he is not quite sure what that might mean. 'He is a great joy in my life.’"
Note to journalists: Most gay men will be out if you ask them nicely.
I'm not sure what "even good looks" means, but the thought of him and Stephen Sondheim watching Glee together made me touch heaven.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

ONS Gay Survey: Oh Dear

It's hard to know where to start with this think [sic] piece published on Guardian online, written by one Joseph Galliano.
Apart from expressing my delight at how it is so beautifully written and well argued.
Oh hang on - I'm being sarcastic...
Fagburn presumes it must be the result of an editing error, and the piece that appears has been written by a particularly thick five year-old.
Oh well, these things happen.
Fagburn has nothing to say about Joe Galliano - or the fact he's clearly so thick it's a wonder he hasn't got a job as a draught excluder - but Fagburn loves the irony of Joe Galliarsehole (as I understand he is known to his former workmates) writing about gay men and the closet.
Could this be the same Joseph Galliano - the former editor of Gay Times - who edited a book, Dear Me, where he described himself as the former editor of a "national magazine"?
Fagburn wonders if he was ashamed of being gay.
Or of how bad he made Gay Times.
The mind boggles...

ONS Gay Survey: No idea. Anyone?

Here's Rod Liddle's take on the ONS survey in The Sunday Times.
Fagburn is posting it mainly to stick it to The Man in brazen defiance of Rupert Murdoch's News Corps paywall, but also as it's a textbook example of how to write a newspaper column if you're a liberal bigot.
Read it and see if you can tell what Mr Liddle's argument is.
Me neither.
Do you think he was sober when he wrote this?
Me neither.
Verily, Rod Liddle is the thinking man's Jeremy Clarkson.

Lesbian myth

I knew it. A census from the Office for National Statistics has at last proved that lesbians — like the Abominable Snowman, the unicorn and werewolves — do not actually exist, but are the creation of someone’s mischievous imagination.
The report out last week suggests that 0.6% of the British population are lesbian, and only 1.3% of men are gay. Given the usual margin of error on such studies, this could mean that minus 4.4% of British people are lesbian, a figure I would be inclined to believe.
For years, gay pressure groups have insisted that at least one in three of us is gay, or perhaps all of us but we don’t know it yet: all we need is a night out down Old Compton Street with some amyl nitrate. Just as disabled pressure groups insist that one in three of us is disabled and child abuse groups claim that almost every child in the country has been interfered with.
It is a shame that there are not more gay people in Britain, as they are responsible for very little crime, work hard and are high achievers.
If only the ONS was wrong and the gay pressure groups were right, we’d be the richest country on earth.

No idea. Anyone?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

ONS Gay Survey: A Doctor Writes

Curiouser and curiouser...
The Daily Telegraph isn't usually the go-to paper if you're looking to make sense of the cavalcade of nonsense issued in the wake of the ONS sexuality survey, but it was yesterday.
There's one page in today's Daily Telegraph that says most of what needed to be said.
ie it was nonsense.
Firstly, Matthew Norman - an old Guardian writer...

[Which Fagburn will provide a link to whenever the Daily Telegraph put it on their website. It was actually quite funny, though he did start off badly by quoting that cliched line from Samuel Johnson about statistics, and then went into a bizarre riff about Brighton as some fantasy Gayland where the streets are paved with Gays, which only exists in the minds of some journalists and stand-up comedians, but anyway...]

And right above it a letter from Dr Tony Bentley from Leicester.

No pride in gay figures

SIR – You report research (September 24) which shows that one in 66 will admit to being gay or bisexual. I can’t believe that the three per cent who “did not know” or would not say are all straight.
Rather than raising questions about the focus on diversity (the implication being that there should be less attention on this), it raises serious concerns about the ongoing shame that a significant number of people still bear over their sexuality.

Gareth Williams: The Resurrection

Here's a blast from the past!
Gareth Williams - you remember; Welsh bloke, MI6 "spook" found dead in a hold-all, very sad, very strange, keen on cycling.
It was his funeral yesterday - the head of MI6 attended.
The police appear to know so little about Williams that this presents the rather unsettling image of them accosting mourners for information.
Anyway, Mr Williams was back on the front page of The Daily Mail today; 'MI6 spook did NOT die alone: Police certain he was padlocked in bag by someone else'
"The MI6 spy whose naked body was found in a sports bag in his bath could not have died alone, police believe.
"They are now certain he was padlocked into the large holdall by someone else.
"Gareth Williams, 31, who was working on secondment for MI6, was alive when he got into - or was forced into – the bag and died from suffocation.
"There were no injuries on his body to suggest a struggle and police have still not ruled out the possibility that his death was the culmination of a bizarre sex game that went wrong."
Ah yes - I remember reading a story - 'Did dead MI6 spy zip HIMSELF into sports bag in bizarre sex game that went terribly wrong?'.
It was in The Mail On Sunday on September 12.
Back to today's Mail: "We can also reveal that there is no evidence to support claims that Mr Williams was a cross-dresser, that bondage equipment was found at his home, that a laptop was missing from the flat, or that he had reported to spy bosses that he was being followed."
See how many of them you can spot in this single story in The Daily Mail on August 26.
And now? "Police have also dismissed allegations of irregularities in his finances and there is no evidence that Mr Williams had committed any criminal acts."
What like this one?
'Investigation into death of British spy Gareth Williams takes another mystifying turn: What happened to 18K in spy's bank?'
That was in The Mail On Sunday on August 29.
The day before The Mail told us; 'Riddle of murder spy's money trail: Why, for three days in a row, was £2,000 paid into his account and then taken out?'
And what about one of the oddest claims of them all? "Claims that a WPC or escapologist of similar height and build to Mr Williams had locked the padlock while inside the same type of bag, during a ‘re-enactment’ of the possible events leading to his death, have been dismissed."
Funny. I read about that last claim in The Mail On Sunday; "WPC climbed into bag to show how he may have died".
They even published a photo of a similar bag and a copy of The Daily Mail to show how it was possible.
Buried somewhere in today's piece in The Daily Mail we learn; "The case remains officially classified as ‘suspicious and unexplained’."
You couldn't make it up.

Bjørn Lomborg: The Gay Environmentalist

Bjørn Lomborg is interviewed in this week's New Statesman.
He's arguably the world's most famous climate change denier/sceptic, mainly thanks to his 2001 book The Sceptical Environmentalist, though he's modified his views lately.
The NS asks Lomborg how his sexuality has affected his career.
"I didn't want to be the gay guy who talks about the environment. I wanted to be the guy who talks about the environment who happens to be gay. I think that has turned out pretty well."
He'll be pleased with the NS headline; "I didn’t want to be the gay guy who talks about the environment”.

Friday, 24 September 2010

ONS Gay Survey: 1 in 6 homosexuals are gay

The Daily Telegraph thought the ONS sexuality survey was front page news; 'Only one in 66 is gay', but bizarrely gave it just 134 words - the smallest coverage in any of the broadsheets.*
The Guardian, The Independent and The Times all gave over a page to it.
We might as well quote it in full...

"One-and-a-half per cent of the British population is homosexual or bisexual, according to the first official survey on sexual identity.
The estimate, equivalent to one person in 66, is well short of government assessments that put the figure as high as seven per cent. The latest figures come from a survey of 450,000 British people carried out by the Office for National statistics.
It concluded that 480,000 people are homosexual or lesbian and a further 245,000 bisexual.
Homosexual campaign groups welcomed the study but claimed it was an underestimate, as many people would not wish to make their sexuality public.
Philip Davies, the Tory MP, said it raised questions over the focus given to sexual preference in diversity issues.
About three per cent of respondents aid they "did not know" or refused to answer."

As ever, Fagburn loves the fact that the Telegraph still uses the prehistoric term "homosexual".
Even if they fuck up by using it twice in the same tiny, little article to mean two different things; "lesbians and gay men" and "gay men" (as opposed to lesbians).
Time to sort out your style guide, Colonel Blimp.
And who the heck is Philip Davies, "the Tory MP" who is quoted in the Telegraph, but also in The Sun and The Daily Express today?
And why should anyone give a fuck what he thinks about The Gays?
If you Google "Philip Davies MP gay" you'll see that Mr Davies has turned himself into quite a rent-a-quote of late, always more than happy to feed the tabloids with his bigoted take on any gay story they're planning to run.
He's the "Parliamentary Spokesman for the Campaign Against Political Correctness" - ie a bigot alligned to two lonely bigoted nutters.
He's certainly a man to watch - his website suggests he's a first class right-wing saloon bar shitbag, which may not surprise you.
More on Mr Davies a little later after we do a little digging.

* A different and longer piece appears online.

ONS Gay Survey: A Brand New Myth

The Daily Mail can hardly contain its excitement today.
Their headline? "Only one in 100 Britons is gay despite long-held myth... but 71% of public say they are Christian."
"The first ever official count of the gay population has found that only one in 100 adults is homosexual."
Even The Guardian said that the survey had "found" this ('1.5% of Britons say they are gay or bisexual, ONS survey finds') - as if this was the final word, a real eureka moment.
Utter poppycock!
The survey can only be said to have found that 1% of people who took part in their survey were willing to tell the person conducting the survey that they were lesbian or gay.
Does anyone really think 1% is anywhere near the real figure?
"The figure explodes the assumption - long promoted by social experts and lobbyists - that the number is up to ten times higher than this at one in ten."
Does anyone still believe that 10% of people are gay?
Some gay businesses and marketeers may still push the 1 in 10 myth, but even they don't actually believe it.
Similarly most newspapers claimed that the survey had "found" lesbians and gay men were more likely to be younger, better educated and "middle class" than the general population.
Here's The Guardian's headline; 'Young, educated and middle-class: sexual identity survey profiles typical gay Briton'.
"...The latest detailed figures show that gay people are much more likely to be in managerial or professional occupations – 49% compared with 30% for straight workers - and better educated, with 38% holding a degree. Their age profile is also much younger than the rest of the population, with 66% under the age of 44 and 17% aged 16 to 24."
But you could make an educated guess that all this may actually show is that young people, graduates and middle class people feel it's easier to be out (to a stranger conducting a survey).
Perhaps the worst outcome of this ONS survey is that we will now have to endure a brand new myth; only one in 100 people are homosexual.
Which means we'll be seeing a lot more crap like this from - but of course - the Daily Mail:
"The gay population, while small, is highly educated and economically successful, the survey showed.
"Gays and lesbians are twice as likely as heterosexuals to have university degrees or the equivalent.
"Nearly half of all gays and lesbians work in managerial or professional grade jobs, compared with fewer than one in three heterosexuals."
This is an old argument loved by the Right - how can gay people be considered "an oppressed group" when they're all doing so well?
And thus...
"The figures brought calls from religious groups for less political attention and public money to be spent on meeting the demands for legal protection for homosexuals.
"Mike Judge of the Christian Institute think tank [sic] said: 'A large amount of public money has been spent on the basis of higher figures, which have turned out to be a lie.'"

Bono: "The Little Twat With A Big Heart"

A quick break from that ONS sexuality survey, to recommend you read Marina Hyde's hilarious piece on Bono - "the little twat with a big heart" - and his ONE "Campaign to make poverty history".
It's easy to laugh, so we shall.
Hyde was writing in response to the news that "the New York Post revealed that in 2008, the most recent year for which tax records are available, ONE took $14,993,873 in donations from philanthropists, of which a thrifty $184,732 was distributed to charity. More than $8m was spent on executive and employee salaries."
Fagburn wonders if any readers can think of any gay and/or HIV/Aids charities or organisations - perhaps with celebrity backing - that spend an obscene amount of their income on wages and "running costs" and only give an insultingly small amount of money to helping the needy of the parish?

ONS Gay Survey: From The Express Messageboards

Daily Express readers are thrilled to bits - but still of course mad as hell - to learn that 'UK's Gay Population Is "Smaller Than Thought"'.

"The amount of gays on the TV would refute this report, the rag trade, theatre are full of them not just the odd one here and there, the BBC might have a look at the numbers it has in their shows and mainstream programmes because they are if this report is right over represented." Euripedes

"That's strange, listening to all the media luvvies you'd think that they were the majority. In the interests of ethnic diversity surely we are now due a cull. Let's start with the one who made the most fuss about the Pope's visit, Peter whatshisname." Jayhawk

"Good it should be uncounted as they dont deserve the recognition ,why is my taxes used to their advantage ,out of sight out of mind all perverts should be treated with the same accord." Retired

"The people of Britain have been deliberately lied to about the numbers to make it look as if there are more of these people. If only 1% of the population is homosexual, then why are there so many in parliament? If parliament represented the people - which it doesn't - then there would be not one homosexual in the cabinet and only 6 MPs. Yet, even among the Tories they seem to be in the majority. And what about the BBC? One in a hundred there? Yesterday, the BBC did not even mention this important news and you will see how they will try to hide it." Voter

And finally... Fagburn's Daily Express reader of the day, Frankofile. "I don't think any survey can be accurate when such delicate subjects are tackled. If you look at a gay porn website you will find all sorts from young teens to pensioners and very few are obviously homosexual looking.
Gay men are not all mincing queens with eye make up on and being married is no guarantee of heterosexuality."

ONS Gay Survey: The Sun Says

Hats off to The Sun who accompany their story on the ONS sexuality survey with the above photo of two typical lesbians, pictured recently.
Reader Trublu has left the comment; "Only one thing I can say about this story: Well done with the picture The Sun! You could've gone completely the wrong way with that one. =)"
=) indeed...

ONS Gay Survey: An Avalanche of Bollocks

There's such an avalanche of bollocks in today's papers about the National Office of Statistics survey on sexual identity that Fagburn feared he might drown.
I think I need a liedown first to try and recover, but needless to say I shall be returning to this throughout the day...

There's an interesting breakdown of the survey's findings and some funky graphics and stuff on The Guardian's website.

Thought For The Day: Richard Coles

"I actually think my pop past helps me all the time [as a vicar]: you're performing all the time, the hours are long, people look at you funny, you dress up, and there's music. It's actually not dissimilar."

Rev Richard Coles; former Communard, current Curate of St Paul's Church, London and BBC Radio 4 presenter.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

How Many Gay Men Are There? Not That Many

Today the Office of National Statistics publishes Measuring Sexual Identity: An Evaluation Report.
You can read it as a pdf here.
It's their first attempt to try and answer the eternal question; what percentage of the population are lesbian or gay?
There is - but of course - much in the report on how aware they are that its findings may be flawed, how they conducted the interviews, yada yada yada...
Anyway, you want to know the figures, don't you?
Here they are...

Heterosexual/Straight 46,922 - 94.8%
Gay/Lesbian 481 - 1.0%
Bisexual 245 - 0.5%
Other 242 - 0.5%
Don't Know/Refusal 1,393 - 2.8%
No Response 233 - 0.5%

The figure the ONS are now touting as an "Estimate of the population who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual" is 1.5%.
This is much lower than the popular guesstimate - which usually puts the figure at between 5 and 10%.
Sadly this just seems like wishful thinking with little bearing on the facts.
The ONS survey may be closer to the truth - but its low figure will cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who prefer living in a land of make-believe.
Most reliable surveys however have put the figure at between 1% and under 5% (For examples see Tables 6 and 7 on the report).
Interestingly twice as many men identified as gay as women identified as lesbian.
And twice as many women identified as bisexual as men did.
There are also breakdowns of the figures by age, socio-economic classification, religious/non-religious, employed/unemployed and educational qualifications.
It's fascinating stuff but - of course - flawed.
Fagburn has worked out a simple but reliable mathematical formula to work out the gay male population.
This puts the percentage at between 2 and 4%.
Ask me how!

Oscar Wilde: A Letter of Little Importance

'There was something curiously touching about Oscar Wilde’s letters, revealed for the first time last week, to a young male magazine editor whom he evidently hoped to get to know rather better. In 1887, Wilde wrote numerous times to Alsager Vian, perpetually attempting to hook him for tea or something stronger, with promises of talks about a “journalism article”. In one letter, he suggests a dinner “at Pagani’s in Portland Street on Friday 7.30pm. No dress, just ourselves and a flask of Italian wine. Afterwards we will smoke cigarettes and talk over the journalism article. Could we go to your rooms? I am so far off, and clubs are difficult to talk in.” The hint to posterity that talk was not the priority was given by the flustered phrase: “Till Thursday night. This is all wrong, isn’t it.”'
This was Jenny McCartney writing in The Daily Telegraph on September 18th.
The unearthing of a new cache of letters from Saint Oscar made it into most of the broadsheets.
The Independent headed their story; 'For sale: letters from a love-sick Wilde to the object of his affection.'
'In one letter... Wilde suggests he write about amusing answers given by American school children. This part of the letter seems innocent enough, but the next paragraph reads distinctly like a proposition.
'Wilde invites Vian to dinner for two with wine at a London restaurant, going on to suggest the men retire after dinner to Vian's house, the address for which Wilde requests. Before he signs off, "Truly yours, Oscar Wilde," he writes: "This is all wrong, isn't it."'
Oscar Wilde had quite a way with words.
His letters to young men he felt passionate about were read out during his trials as proof that he was a sodomite.
In the newfound letter Wilde doesn't seem quite as lovestruck as the man who wrote to Bosie; 'My Own Boy, Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those rose-leaf lips of yours should have been made no less for music of song than for madness of kisses. Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry. I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days."
But still, what did he mean by that telling line; 'This is all wrong, isn't it?'
Today The Daily Telegraph publishes a letter from Donald Mead, chairman of The Oscar Wilde Society.
'SIR – Your report about Oscar Wilde’s letters to Alsagar Vian has Wilde writing, “clubs are difficult to talk in. Till Thursday night. This is all wrong, isn’t it,” and says this shows Wilde “struggling with his homosexuality”.
'Wilde is not agonising about his love life but complaining that it is hard to get hold of a copy of The Court and Society Review, the magazine that Alsagar Vian edited: “As usual I had to go to St James’s Street to get a copy. Even Grosvenor Place does not get the C&S till Thursday night! This is all wrong, isn’t it.”'

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

MI6 Files: "The Name's Bond - Jane Bond..."

"Among the colourful characters employed by MI6 was Lt Col Dudley Clarke who was arrested in a street in Madrid “dressed down to a brassiere as a woman” according to one report.
Clarke had been running a GCHQ deception operation in Cairo using the cover of a newspaper reporter and had traveled to Madrid to meet Hamilton Stokes, the head of the MI6 station there.
After leaving Stokes on October 17 1941, he was arrested by the Spanish police dressed, for no reason ever explained, in women’s clothing.
He at first told them he was a novelist studying the reactions of men to women in the streets and then that he “was taking the feminine garments to a lady in Gibraltar and thought that he would try them on for a prank.”
“This,” reported the British Embassy in Madrid to London, “hardly squares with the fact that the garments and shoes fitted him.”
The police were inclined to believe that Clarke was a “homosexualist” Stokes reported, but the German secret police, the Gestapo, alleged he was a spy.
After four days in custody he was eventually released and returned to Cairo where he “went on to have a brilliant career in deception,” according to the new authorised history of the Secret Intelligence Service."

Where would we be without The Daily Telegraph's diligent reporting?

Nikolai Alekseev: "My Abduction"

Courtesy of UK Gay News, Russian gay activist, Nikolai Alekseev, gives an acount of his very strange disappearance last week...

[The photo was taken at Moscow Pride 2009]

Stonewall Vs Pink News: The Divine Feud

Late on Monday evening a story appeared on Pink News; "Ben Summerskill: Stonewall Not Fighting for Gay Marriage Equality Because 'It Could Cost £5 Billion'."
This seemed quite a scoop - all the more impressive as Pink "News" hardly ever breaks a new story.
"The chief executive of LGB lobby group Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, this evening reportedly told a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat party conference that the group is not actively campaigning for marriage equality because it could cost a staggering £5 billion to implement..."
But after Summerskill made a complaint, Pink News have since "updated" it - and pulled the original (It is reprinted in full in the comments section after this) - and they have deleted the comments section "at the request of Stonewall while we continue to clarify other elements of the story."
Which is nice of them.
Stonewall have released an official statement which can be read here.
"Ben did not say for one moment that Stonewall objected to the motion that would be debated on Tuesday because it would cost £5bn.
"Ben pointed out, factually, that there was a cost to including provision of civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples in the motion. He suggested that ministers should publish the Treasury Impact Assessment that will have been carried out...
"We deeply regret that PinkNews chose to publish the story late at night without double-checking a single fact and without having troubled to attend either the meeting itself or a party conference at which such an important issue was being discussed."
Pink News had always said they'd taken their story from a blogger, Complicity, who attended the fringe meeting.
That'll learn 'em to believe anything they read on a gay blog.
During Monday's meeting Summerskill criticised Pink News for running an “unethical campaign” against Stonewall.
Pink News' publisher Ben Cohen - who presumably wrote the original news story - is a prime mover behind the open letter to Stonewall criticising their silence on marriage equality.
Fagburn thinks Stonewall's position - or rather their lack of one - on gay marriage is daft and indefensible.
Purely in PR terms it's turned into a fuck-up to rival the Papal Visit.
Stonewall's statement claims; "Ben made quite clear at the meeting that Stonewall is engaged in a process of listening and consulting with active Stonewall supporters, of whom there are almost 20,000, about the future of civil partnership."
Fair enough, but did Stonewall consult their members on, say, whether they should be lobbying for equalising the age of consent?
"Confrontation" isn't the first word that springs to mind when thinking about Stonewall or Pink News - Fagburn wonders if there is anything else behind this divine feud between Mr Ben Summerskill and Mr Ben Cohen?

North Korea: Queen Barred From Royal Succession

The big international story today is that North Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, looks likely to annoint/appoint his youngest son - the appropriately named Kim Jong-un - as his successor next week.
I know what you're thinking - surely this isn't the natural line of succession in the world's first communist monarchy?
Kim's eldest son Kim Jong-nam famously fucked up by trying to get into Japan in 2001 on a fake passport on an aborted visit Tokyo Disneyland.
But what about the middle one, Kim Jong-chul?
'Kenji Fujimoto, the pseudonym of a Japanese sushi chef who spent 13 years cooking for Kim Jong-il, has written that the leader considered his second son "no good because he is like a little girl."'

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Equality Laws: Bed & Bigotry

In a poll on the website Bed & Breakfast Owner, 13 per cent of respondents said it would be unacceptable for a lesbian or gay couple to share a double bedded room.
Who's going to tell William Hague?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Stonewall Awards: All Must Have Prizes

Can there be a more thrilling event in the homosexualist calendar than the Stonewall Awards?
All those famous people from off the telly, posh queens, the fagerati and that - imagine!
Fagburn thinks they are basically A Good Thing, and admires its intent of shining a light on those who have been very, very good or very, very bad to The Gays.
But it sometimes seems a bit like the Caucus race in Alice In Wonderland; "Everybody has won, and all must have prizes."
Last year Boyzone's Stephen Gately won an award.
Presumably for dying.
The awards for writer, journalist and publication of the year in particular are an exercise in plate-spinning, trying to keep everyone and anyone happy so they carry on giving Stonewall good press.
Is there a national lesbian and/or gay publication that hasn't been nominated?
In 2008 they even shortlisted the homophobic and transphobic loon Julie Bindel for the Hero award for fuck's sake.
Today Stonewall announced the shortlists for Bigot of the Year and Hero of the Year.
Their heroes this year? Claire Balding, Kath Gillespie Sells of LGBT disability camapigning group Regard, Dr Jeffrey John (Is it just Fagburn's memory playing tricks or does the Dean of St Albans get nominated every year?), Gareth Thomas, and Joe McElderry.
Though one could argue that whoever outed Joe by hacking into his Twitter account is more deserving of the award.
Bigots? They got 'em. Frederick Forsyth, AA Gill, Chris Grayling, Rev Arthur Roche from adoption agency Catholic Care, and Susanne Wilkinson, a bigoted B&B owner from Berkshire.
Good choices all - though AA Gill isn't really homophobic, he's just a sneering posh git, and sadly he'll most likely wallow in being nominated.
But the really good news is that tickets to the awards ceremony are a snip at just £150!
Some gay people are filthy rich - get over it!

• Frederick Forsyth - a man so right-wing he seems sectionable - was nominated for a predictably shitty Daily Express column written about the gay asylum ruling in July. I'd provide a link to it, but it appears to have been removed from the Express website...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Papal Visit: What The Papers Say

Today's news: The pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the fucking pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope, the pope...
Part of the point of Pope Benedict's visit is to beatify Cardinal Newman - the irony of his holiness making a gay man a saint has not been lost on several commentators.
Although confirmed spinster Ann Widdecombe presented a programme on BBC2 yesterday evening, Newman - Saint Or Sinner?, which but of course roundly dismissed the scurrilous rumours about the late confirmed bachelor.
Anyway, it was news to me that the act that has sped Mr Newman on towards sainthood is that a man called Jack Sullivan claims to have prayed to him and "miraculously" found his backache had been cured.
Great news about your back, Jack, but if you really believe that's true it's your mental health I'd be worried about.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Drums: Adam Quits!

Adam Kessler (left) has left The Drums!
If we have to pick one favourite Adam moment, it's him running like a total pansy in the video for Let's Go Surfing!
Fagburn's thoughts are with myself at this difficult time.

Gary Lineker TV Ad: It's Funny Cause It's "Gay"

The Daily Star takes a break from updates on the manufactured romance between Big Brother's Preston and Chantelle to inform its readers about a new ad for Walkers Crisps starring Gary Lineker; 'Gary Lineker Tackles Camp Moves For Ad'.
"GARY Lineker camps it up in his latest TV ad as he prances around to the Weather Girls’ hit and gay anthem It’s Raining Men.
"Wearing a tight vest and jeans, Gary is transformed into Billy Elliott for the new Walkers Crisps telly commercial.
"The former England striker is seen being coached by Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli, 54, before dancing in the middle of a heavy downpour."
Sounds hilarious, doesn't it?
The joke - one has to presume - is that the ex-footballer is dancing to a "gay anthem", whatever that is.
And he "camps it up", whatever that is.
And that Bruno Tonioli, he's a gayer.
For further proof - if indeed proof is needed - watch this clip from the recent unfunny movie spoof, Vampires Suck, where some screamingly and annoyingly gay vampires dance to... 'It's Raining Men'.
People actually get paid for coming up with this old crap, you know?

Sayeeda Warsi: "We Do Do God"

Be afraid - be very afraid.
Baroness Warsi, the dreadful and divisive Chairman (sic) of the Conservative Party, gave a big speech in Oxford on Wednesday to the bishops of the Church of England.
This was reported in the press along the lines of; 'The Coalition "does God", says Baroness Warsi.' [The Guardian].
As ever, the devil may have been in the detail.
Sayeeda Warsi said; "it seems clear that the previous government did get things profoundly wrong. It got things wrong because it sent the wrong signals about the right relationship between state, faith and society..."
"They were also too suspicious of faith’s potential for contributing to society – behind every faith-based charity, they sensed the whiff of conversion and exclusivity."
Despite having been the shadow "Minister for Communities Cohesion", Warsi has used homophobia as a political weapon in the past.
Fagburn wonders if these rather innocent-sounding words are the start of an attack on Labour's gay equality laws?
Interviewed on Newsnight on Wednesday 16th about her speech, Warsi twice refused to answer a question on whether religious charities would be allowed to override gay equalities legislation.
Emily Maitlis: "I'm just looking for concrete examples to help people understand what your government would do if you like to prioritise faith groups, if faith groups ran homeless charities or drugs charities would they have the power - or the choice - not to employ gay people, for example?"
Warsi: "...I'm not prepared to discuss it in those terms..."

Lady Gaga: More Blah Blah Blah

It appears to be open season on attacking Lady Gaga.
After Camille Paglia's drivelfest in The Sunday Times last weekend, yesterday's Guardian staged 'The Lady Gaga Debate'.
"Is Lady Gaga an important feminist, a force for good? Or is she simply a canny performance artist?"
Erm, how about both?
Today's Daily Mail calls her "Lady Contrick: To her fans Lady Gaga is a cutting edge style icon. But is she really just a shameless plagiarist?"
Again, she's both, love.
And in The Independent she gets the fantastically vacuous headline; 'Ghost In The Fame Machine'.
Sounds good, shame it doesn't mean anything.
"No pop star so vividly embodies the values of the internet age. But what lies behind the catchy tunes and outrageous outfits?"
You tell me.
Ironically, this article owes a debt to Camille Paglia in much the same way that Lady Gaga owes a debt to Madonna.
So many words, so little insight.
One of Fagburn's favourite music writers, Simon Reynolds, gave probably the most insightful comment on Lady Gaga on his blog last year.

'Lada Gaga = Fischerspooner with tits

but also

Lady Gaga = Fischerspooner, with hits'

Simon Reynolds expanded on his brilliant thesis here.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Papal Visit: Your Protest, Our Marketing Opportunity

From - who hilariously are billing this as an "exclusive":
"Britain’s leading gay titles – Attitude, DIVA, GT and – have joined together for the very first time in opposition to the Pope’s UK visit, today.
"On the eve of London’s latest anti-Pope rally, the brands [!!!] – who are long-standing publishing rivals – have united in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s state-funded trip, which began in Scotland yesterday and continues across Britain over the weekend...
"But today, the four titles have joined forces against the attacks.
"They have issued this joint statement:
“As our country hosts the Pope this week, we – the leading gay press..."
How kind of you to let us know and try and raise "brand awareness" at this difficult time.
Fight the power!!!!!!!!!
There are rumours of some big ch-ch-changes at Millivres-Prowler Group, does this historic union between the "long-standing publishing rivals" mean a merger is on the cards?

Update: Gaydar also tried to use the protests against the pope as a marketing opportunity, bringing some young men dressed as 'Gaydar Angels' and some adverts masquerading as placards to the protest at Twickenham this afternoon; '6 Million Gaydar Members Are Not Evil' etc.
Oh do fuck off!
Not much of a PR exercise as - predictably - only Pink News and Pink Paper (and now ironically yours truly) mentioned their shameless scam.

• Cartoon from today's Guardian by Steve Bell (again).

Daily Mail Sued: "Relentless and Spiteful Attack"

First Clare Balding - and now Carina Trimingham.
Trimingham has launched a legal action against Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy over stories published in the Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday over her relationship with Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate minister.
Press Gazette reports; "According to a writ filed at the High Court, she claims the stories breached her reasonable expectation of privacy and her statutory right to privacy.
"Trimingham says the stories, which revealed she was bisexual, detailed relationship history which was private information.
"She claims the stories contained details about sexual intercourse, reports of private conversations and included photographs, which she had commissioned, that were taken before, during, and after her civil partnership ceremony.
"The writ says she seeks aggravated damages for the “relentless and spiteful character of the attack” as the eight stories were published over eleven days.
"In addition, she is seeking an injunction banning the papers from continuing to publish pictures of her civil ceremony and information about her sexuality..."

William Hague: Guido Fawkes Plot Thickens

'"The rise of the internet has posed a new challenge to politicians," thundered Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail after William Hague was forced to deny innuendo about his sharing a hootel room with a 25 year-old male aide."
"It is unregulated and bloggers know they are safe from injunction or libel writ. Many hide behind anonymity including Guido Fawkes - who has fuelled the latest smears and who does not even have the courage to write under his own name, Paul Staines."
Quite rich, given that the Mail's newsdesk had been in constant telephone contact with Staines thrpughout the week, following up every item he published on the topic - one story, on 25 August, appearing under the brave byline of "Daily Mail reporter".
Staines himself got the room-share story from a journalist on a national paper who had witnessed the breakfast behaviour of the pair at a Birmingham hotel during the election campaign, and tried (and failed) to get a story about it into their own pages. Needless to say, the paper in question enthusiastically followed up the "internet rumours" after Staines published them.'

Private Eye, No. 1271, 17-30 September 2010.

Very interesting, though for the record Fagburn believes The Daily Mail was the first to publish the whispers about William Hague and Chris Myers.

Queen Biopic: Barot Bruno Mercury

Fagburn isn't sure whether this sounds like a joke - or too good to be true.
Brian May has told the BBC's HARDtalk Sacha Baron Cohen will play Freddie Mercury in a new film about Queen.
"We have Sacha Baron Cohen, which will probably be a shock to a lot of people, but he's been talking with us for a long time."
Why Baron Cohen? Cause he played gay in Bruno?
Or because of that tache in Borat?
Peter Morgan is writing the screenplay - who ironically is best known for the film 'The Queen', about another old queen, albeit one who's much less popular with the great British public.
Some have already noted the clear dramatic sweep in Freddie Mercury's lifestory.
The film will supposedly end on the high of Queen's appearance at Live Aid - which could mean it will be heavy with dramatic irony.
And at least it can't be any worse than that fucking musical.

Clare Balding: "Dyke On Bike" Complaint Upheld

"Writer AA Gill has been censured by the press watchdog after he called TV presenter Clare Balding a "dyke on a bike" in his column in the Sunday Times," Media Guardian reports.
The PCC's statement is here: "In this case, the Commission considered that the use of the word “dyke” in the article – whether or not it was intended to be humorous – was a pejorative synonym relating to the complainant’s sexuality. The context was not that the reviewer was seeking positively to “reclaim” the term, but rather to use it to refer to the complainant’s sexuality in a demeaning and gratuitous way. This was an editorial lapse which represented a breach of the Code, and the newspaper should have apologised at the first possible opportunity."
It seems it was The Sunday Times' editor, John Witherow, sniffy reply to a letter from Balding compounding the insult that swayed the PCC's decision.
You may want to compare it to the PCC's ruling on Jan Moir's infamous article about Stephen Gately, brought by his boyfriend Andy Cowles, which was not upheld.
In July, the PCC refused to consider a complaint against The Sun - for calling Louie Spence a "bender" in a headline - as it was brought by third parties.
Do the PCC's rulings seem a bit random?
You betcha!
More on this later...

George Michael: Locked Up Looky-Likey

The Daily Mail have out-Sunned The Sun today with this lovingly recreated mise-en-scene of what George Michael may look like in his prison cell.
[Picture posed by model]

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Papal Visit: Milking It

Some ice cream manufacturer made this ad, together with the "banned" one featuring a pregnant nun, presumably hoping it too would be banned and they would get loads of free publicity from shitty websites run by gullible schmucks like Fagburn.
The Advertising Standards Association recieved just 10 complaints about the pregnant nun ad, which had been placed in two magazines, Grazia and The Lady.
"We concluded that to use such an image in a light hearted way to advertise ice-cream was likely to cause serious offence to readers, particularly those who practised the Roman Catholic faith."
This seems rather an odd decision, seeing as it's 2010 and people don't get prosecuted for blasphemy in Britain anymore, and we have to put up with all kinds of offensively homophobic adverts.

• Here are some reasons why dairy products stink and you should go vegan.

Free Bradley Manning: International Days of Action

International Days of Action In Solidarity with Bradley Manning

Date: September 16-19
Location: Everywhere

'On September 16-19, groups and individuals will call on the United States government to drop the charges against Army Private First Class Bradley Manning. Twenty-two year old Manning, held in solitary confinement since May, has been charged with releasing classified documents including a video that shows American troops shooting and killing Reuters journalists in 2007. Manning’s imprisonment has resulted in an international outcry, with groups and activists throughout the US and abroad demanding his release and calling for transparency in America’s war policies.'

(Manning - the Wikileaks guy - is gay and there has been speculation that he leaked the documents partly out of anger at how the US military treated him and gay personnel in general. See 'True Heroism Merits No Punishment', Fagburn, July 2010).

Papal Visit: Welcome To The Third World

The Guardian's ever wonderful cartoonist Steve Bell welcomes the Pope to Britain, just as one of his close aides manages to insult and offend anyone else in Britain who the Catholic hierarchy haven't managed to insult and offend yet.
This Papal Visit is turning into an almighty fuck-up of almost biblical proportions, isn't it?
Perhaps there is a God after all.

EDIT: At his first rally held this evening in Glasgow, Pope Benedict said; "Finally, I would like to say a word to you, my dear young Catholics of Scotland. I urge you to lead lives worthy of our Lord and of yourselves. There are many temptations placed before you every day — drugs, money, sex, pornography, alcohol — which the world tells you will bring you happiness, yet these things are destructive and divisive."
So now you know.
Stephen Fry is on excellent form over on his blog in 'Hated By The The Daily Mail', on the Mail's hate campaign against anyone who has dared to criticise the Pope's state visit.

Closet Case: Times Columnist Comes Out

Over the summer The Times has been running a series of weekly online columns, Closet Case, where a journalist builds up to her coming out "after 15 years of pretence".
It was an interesting experiment for a newspaper to take on, and - I think - a first.
Anyway yesterday she revealed her identity; it was [drum roll...] Kathleen Wyatt - AKA The Times' travel editor.
"My girlfriend shook her head and laughed. “They know! Of course they all know.” What would I think if I had been working next to someone for years, someone who wasn’t touchy about being single, loud about being celibate or angry at the mention of relationships; someone who wasn’t a crusader or an obvious psychopath, yet didn’t mention any partners? In a flash of horror, I realised that she was right. My colleagues must have worked out ages ago that I was gay..."
Fagburn isn't too sure what this tells us about the workplace culture at The Times/News Corp.

George Michael: Full Made-Up Story And Pic

George Michael's first day in prison lovingly described and photomontaged [above, obviously] - only in The Sun!
"By 10am he was back in his cell. Lunch was from a menu the star had to pick from the night before - and was delivered to inmates who eat in their cells.
'The source said: "It was pretty basic stuff compared to the five-star fare he normally enjoys. The menu included mince, salads, sandwiches, hot food such as pasta - and, of course, chips with everything."
The Mirror had a slightly different account of his first day, with sadly no mention of what he may have had for lunch.
There appears to be some dispute over Mr Michael's breakfast cereal.
The Sun says he was offered a choice of muesli or Coco Pops.
The Mirror, cornflakes.
It's hard to know who to believe.

Update: "Cornflakes" - The Daily Mail.
Update: A "bucket of cornflakes" - Daily Express.
Update: In The Guardian, ex-Pentonville prisoner Erwin James signs off with; "Seeing the former Wham! singer queuing for porridge in the morning would be unforgettable." Though this may just be poetic licence.