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Pride weekend

Last weekend some 300,000 people visited Brighton for pride weekend. The fact that ‘gay’ has been dropped is significant as the 48 hours of Bacchanalian revelry has little to do with gay celebration and more an annual party that is beneficial for restaurants, bars and letting agencies. Us residents resent that fact that the parade makes travel in Brighton virtually impossible because of road closures. For me there is a deeper issue beyond inconvenience namely the current attitude to homosexuality.

dirkNeil Rosen recently reviewed the film Victim. Watching it I was impressed by the courage of the barrister role played by Dirk Bogarde in confronting his blackmailers and the range of homosexuals depicted. I much preferred it to the play Boys in the Band which seemed much more dated.

We now live in a world where such blackmail would be impossible and most of us welcome a more tolerant attitude. However, you can hardly switch onto Radio 4 without hearing a programme extolling gay icons.

Am I alone in finding this tedious or for thinking that whatever a person’s sexual preference is a matter for them not for promotion? I did a sample poll including one bisexual lady friend of mine who was comfortable enjoying sexual relations with men and women but considered, like everyone I spoke to, sexuality to be a private matter.

Of course there are still areas where there is little tolerance. Only one professional footballer Justin Fashanu has ever come out but there must be at least 20% of all footballers with at least gay tendencies if not practice. Any religion of biblical fundamentalism will be intolerant of gays. Yet equally art which has had gays painters from Donatello to Francis Bacon has no problem, nor has the theatre and other art forms and the design world. The writer Sebastian Barry wrote a novel based on his son passing through a difficult unhappy period until he came out.

Colm Toibin ia a rightly esteemed Irish gay writer but should there be a separate category in the bookshop for gay literature? Val MacDiarmid, Sara Waters and Alan Hollinghurst are well known gay writers but in my view should be judged by their output not their gender preference.

isherwood One of my favourites writers is Christopher Isherwood, certainly a gay writer but one who created two of the great straight characters of fiction in Arthur Norris and Sally Bowles, the model for Cabaret. 

I read Based on a True Story and for all the self-obsession of the author Delphine de Vigan I was intrigued which in the best French arty tradition was left unanswered whether the malevolent L only ever existed in the paranoid mind of Delphine and by the subtle layering of the story within a story within a story. There was subtle lesbian leitmotiv just as there was in All About Eve extolled in the gay icon series but the film is about steely ambition not attraction to one’s own sex.

I guess I’m saying we have gone as far we need to go in terms of tolerance and that we do not need to appropriate any more to the gay cause.

About Oliver Fortune

A doctor formerly specialising in sexual health, Oliver has written widely on matters relating to sex, relationships and counselling. He is divorced and has one daughter. He is a keen skier and mountain biker. More Posts