Monday, 13 June 2016

Don't read this if you don't like swear words

It's been an incredibly emotional day. A day of disbelief. A day spent wondering whether the gates of hell are about to open. Llio described it in a text message: "It's like the world is missing a layer of skin today and everything and everyone is red raw."

The day started with a little blast of happiness. I got a message from Jem in New York telling me that Arnold's picture had appeared on the screens in the "In Memoriam" sequence at the Tony Awards. I feel incredibly proud that he has been recognised in this manner, particularly as his biggest career catastrophe actually happened on the hallowed turf of Broadway. His show, Shylock, which would have starred Zero Mostel, sank without trace when the aforementioned actor died in previews.

Within about five minutes of Jem's message, I received a text from Matt Lucas with a YouTube clip which proved there was truth in the rumours which suggest that ABBA reformed for a one-off performance of The Way Old Friends Do at an intimate gig. And there they were together on stage wearing flowing white gowns. Frida's voice appears to have barely changed. Agnetha seemed nervous and a little shaky. But the sight of them performing together for the first time since 1983, made my heart almost almost burst with joy.

The news from Orlando, however, is heartbreaking. It appears one young lad was hiding in the loo for some time texting his mother. I can't even write about it without crying. His mother was helplessly texting back. Then the texts stopped. He was terrified. Terrified. The best part of two days later, the mother is still hoping they'll find him alive. But where would he be? Shot to pieces, that's where, whilst cowering in a toilet cubical texting his mother for comfort. Killed by a fucking coward.

A lot of stuff is being written today about the fact that there hasn't been the same outpouring of love on social media sites as there was after the attacks in France. In fact, baring a number of notable exceptions, the majority of people expressing their sadness on my time lines have been members of the LGBT community. Whether this is a result of sympathy fatigue, or the fact that we don't identify as much with the Americans, I've no idea. I dread to think that it's an indication of the fact that people aren't that fussed when a bunch of gay people are killed. And if you're reading this, don't you dare roll your eyes. The way people talk about immigrants at the moment, as though they're worthless animals, has made me start to entirely lose faith in the human race.

What does seem to be the case is that getting people to acknowledge that this is a homophobic hate crime is tantamount to getting blood out of a stone. Guardian columnist, Owen Jones, stormed out of a Sky News interview last night because the news anchor refused to describe what had happened in those terms. The (w)anchor felt it was important to repeatedly note that the tragedy was a "terrorist attack" against the West. The fact that it took place in a gay club was largely irrelevant. Jones continued, "this is the largest massacre of LGBT people since the Hollocaust. If this had happened in a synagogue we'd undoubtedly be calling it an act of anti-Semitism." The anchor rolled his eyes as though to say "troublesome gays."

Other people are using the tragedy to goad America about its gun laws. These laws will not change. If the deaths of scores of children in a primary school can't make the Americans change their minds, then the death of a load of gay men certainly won't. Also, the American gun laws aren't the REASON why that worthless piece of shit went into that gay club. They're the reason that more people died than were killed at the Admiral Duncan pub when a similar worthless piece of shit full of hatred walked in with a nail bomb. Blaming American gun laws won't make my community feel any safer.

One woman on Twitter decided to use the Owen Jones affair as an excuse to talk about the fact that she thinks he's a misogynist, thereby entirely proving the point that he was making. Donald Trump has used the attacks to score points against Obama and congratulate himself on predicting such an atrocity would happen at the hands of a Muslim (one who was born in the States, but why let the facts get in the way.) None of these arguments make my community feel any safer.

Trying to call homophobia anything other than homophobia tries to pretend that it no longer exists. Yes, we have gay marriage. Yes, we're equal in law, but if that genuinely makes us believe that homophobia is dead then we've failed in our duty to protect my community properly. We can't sweep this attack under the carpet by calling it an attack on all of us, however much that appeases our middle class guilt.

So, this evening I went into central London to the vigil on Old Compton Street in support of the victims' families. I was surprised and hurt that so few of my friends saw this as an important gesture, although I was hugely touched to discover Tina and my old friend JP from university there. Both straight as it happens.

So, it would seem that football fans riot when they get angry, but that the gay community takes hatred and converts into big dollops of beautiful, shimmering love. I don't know how many of us were there. 8,000? 10,000? They released rainbow-coloured helium balloons, we cheered and clapped for two minutes, we fell silent for two minutes and then we cheered and clapped again like our lives depended on it.

The masses departed and left a street party in their wake. Little clusters of people chalked messages on the pavements. The London Gay Men's chorus sang The Way Old Friends Do - the very song which I'd watched ABBA singing this morning. Other groups of people gathered to sing spontaneous songs like Imagine whilst a woman with an iPhone called out all the words before everyone sang them. Newsreader Jon Snow was wandering around chatting to people, loving the atmosphere. He threw his arms around us when he saw us: "I've dined out on your wedding ever since it happened! Let's plot to do something else!" He said...

We had tea with Tina in a little trattoria off Berwick Street. She was very excited to have seen Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan. Note that it's the LEFT wing politicians who support my community. Was Boris there? Was he f**k! Boris, incidentally, has still not commented on the attack in social media. So if the Brexiteers get in then we can assume the gay community won't be getting much support. Perhaps he'll do a U-turn on gay marriage too. That muppet-haired tit-sack has done a u-turn on everything else.

As the night drew in, the candles on the streets started to glow and shimmer. The police were chatting merrily to the crowd. Their presence wasn't needed for anything other than stopping traffic so that people could cross over Dean Street. God I felt proud to be gay. I didn't just feel proud. I felt enlightened. My community might be scared, but, my God, we're not showing it!

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