Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pop Bitch Of The Week: Holly Johnson

To use his phrase, Johnson “outed” himself as having HIV in his 1994 autobiography A Bone in My Flute. At the book launch, the Communards’Jimmy Somerville “presented me with a handbag as a gift, and said he thought it was very brave of me, and he didn’t know whether he would have been so brave. It was a really touching moment for me in actual fact.” Still, he wonders why he and Somerville never became friends. It might be to do with their differing political stances. “His particularly politicised form of gay activism was rather at odds with my fuck-you form of gay activism: ‘If you don’t like it, fuck off,’” he grins.

Boy George was another who didn’t always see things Johnson’s way. “George wrote a letter to Sounds saying [the “Relax” video] gave gay people a bad name. That set us up for a bit of sniping in the press throughout the 80s,” he says, still tickled by the silliness of it all. But he admits that, in 1984, it was a lonely time to be an out-and-proud leather-trousered gay man in pop. “None of the Georges were publicly out at the time,” he says, referring to Messrs Boy and Michael. “It was funny: although they were more obviously gay, they were less forthcoming about it – because they were signed to proper record labels that had publicity departments who guided them into trying to sell the most records that they could sell.”

Johnson attributes George Michael’s seemingly ongoing troubles to his reluctance to be open. “I do think that was because he spent so much time in the closet that he’s sort of over-compensating, being the über-gay man now in every positive and negative aspect of it. It’s like he invented gay now,” he says waspishly...

Holly Johnson in The Observer.

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