Sunday, 11 August 2013

A word to the wise

A quiet day, which started with a mega-lie-in, continued with a trip to the gym, and ended with a visit to Brent Cross. 

I've not been clothes shopping for some time, but realised with horror this morning that the elastic had gone in the waistband of almost every pair of boxer shorts I own. I find the experience of clothes shopping quite horrific. Nathan kept holding things up and saying "ooh, you'd look lovely in that. Feel it, it's really soft against the skin" and I found myself wanting to twist my body into ever-smaller contortions! I emerged with three pairs of something other than boxer shorts. People, it seems, stopped wearing boxer shorts sometime after I last bought a pair! I feel like a 90-year old.

We were sent a link today to a piece in the Huffington Post about gay and lesbian couples who had met on Broadway shows. The article was responding to a piece in Playbill which listed 18 couples who'd met doing shows in New York. Rather shockingly, none of the couples featured was gay, which feels a little bit odd when we consider that the state of New York legalised gay marriage last year, and also, that such a high percentage of Broadway performers regularly lick the other side of the stamp! 

Anyway, today's piece in the Huffington Post deals with these issues, and points out that many of Broadway's finest fell in love with same-sex colleagues whilst working on a show. 

No names were mentioned in the column itself, but at the bottom, a little slide show introduces us to 20 good examples. Our great friends Christopher and Kevin were there, rubbing shoulders with Tony-winning composers, choreographers, stage managers, actors and directors... The sixteenth couple in the slide show were flying the flag for Britain and the West End. They looked strangely familiar. The short text at the bottom of the picture informed us that the two gentlemen met on a show called Taboo. The devilishly handsome one on the right of the picture was the show's Resident Director, and the cheeky lad on the left had played Steve Strange. They'd apparently met in 2002, and been together ever since. That's right... It was Nathan and me! Fame at last!

It instantly struck me what a difference 16 years can make. In 1997, I was photographed with my partner at the time, a young MP called Stephen Twigg. He'd just won an important seat in Parliament and I was having my first opera performed in London. The picture found its way into the Daily Mail, and a load of other papers, usually accompanied by unpleasantly homophobic articles. The pictures caused a stir. Everyone seemed to see them. A distant relative even tried to call my Grandmother to give her sympathy and counselling and when I went back to my home town the following Christmas, quite a number of people approached me in a pub to make rather unpleasant remarks. 

In 1997, we still had a long way to go. Clause 28 was redundant, but still hadn't been repealed and when Stephen entered parliament, no one knew how to treat his partner, to the extent that I was given all the perks of a common-law wife despite the fact that we'd only been together three months, because even if we'd wanted to, we wouldn't have been able to make a valid commitment to one another in the eyes of the law. 

The picture of Nathan and me will be seen by far fewer people than those who saw the 1997 image. We live in a world of images peaking out at us from myriad publications but also because the majority of people are entirely at peace with the concept of sexuality to the point of disinterest. Some who see the picture may even wonder why the gays continue to rub their business in the world's collective face. After all, the British LGBT community has the law on its side, what more does it want? The answer to this question is "usualisation." We want being gay to go beyond being "normal", it needs to be usual. Just as those 1960s pariahs, the single mothers, are these days.  We'll get there. Give us a little time to bask in the glory of equality and a little longer to stamp our little feet and point out instances of neglect like the piece in Play Bill, but we'll soon be off like modern day crusaders fighting the fight in Russia and in Commonwealth countries, whilst demonstrating to the world a nation which hasn't fallen apart because of its forward-thinking equality laws!

Whilst we're at it; a word of caution to my LGBT sisters... We have a duty not to repeatedly play the "gay card." We must not use the fact that all forms of discrimination are now illegal to take every "homophobic" slip-of-the-tongue to court, as some women and certain privileged ethnic minorities are presently doing. Playing the gay card is as easy as it is boring and we're better than that. Be grateful we have full equality, be grateful that there's no longer such a thing as gay marriage, only marriage, and try to understand those who take a while to cotton-on to what is we consider to be appropriate behaviour. 

And there endeth today's lesson! 

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