Now that we have begun having full-on same-sex marriages, one would have thought that the whole issue of revulsion at the very concept of homosexuality in British society might have disappeared, if not been swept under the carpet or buried altogether. After all, that is presumably what all those in the gay-lesbian-bisexual-and-whatever-takes-your-fancy community would earnestly be hoping.
But is that actually what is happening?
Currently we have two instances of homosexual behaviour attracting considerable media attention and comment. They both happen to involve parliamentary MPs. Tory MPs – well, until one of them became an independent in 2013.
Nigel Evans, the sitting MP for Ribble Valley, was and is that man. He officially ‘came out’ as a homosexual in December 2010 and is currently the accused in a ‘live’ legal case that began on 10th March 2014 involving claimed of male rape and sexual assault, so I must be careful as to what I report or comment.
Mr Evans was a well-known Tory MP and Deputy Chairman of the Commons’ Way and Means Committee – and then a Deputy Speaker – until his resignation in 2013 over the allegations referred to above.
At the weekend Mark Menzies, 42, the Tory MP for Fylde in Lancashire, resigned his position as PPS to international development minister Alan Duncan after an alleged Brazilian rent boy went to the Daily Mirror with a tale involving Mr Menzies and sex-for-money and illegal drug-taking, if not actual buying.
Mr Menzies commented publicly that, whilst he was resigning over the allegations, a number of them were untrue and he would be contesting them – a statement which, logically, implies that some of them are true and he will not be contesting those.
My observation is this. Somehow, however enlightened and liberal (with a small ‘l’) we are all supposed to be in 2014, there are double-standards being applied here – by the media, and possibly also by me personally and the great British public.
Frankly, when public figures’ supposed sexual misdemeanours are heterosexual in nature, whilst there’s an inevitable degree of prurient outrage at the detailed luridness of the alleged exposures, we the public also quite enjoy the spectacle of the hypocrisy and/or deceit thereby being uncovered. It allows us the chance to tilt at windmills and knock our supposed ‘masters’ down to our own size and our ordinary level of sexual propriety, however imperfect.
I’d actually go further. Without either admitting or denying the infinitely wide range of sexual fantasies that I’ve harboured at various times in my life, I have to confess that, whenever I read of a pert youngish – late-twenty-something? – female supply teacher having an affair with some teenage schoolboy in her charge, I can never avoid my instinctive first reaction of “Lucky bastard!” (referring to the younger party involved).
Somehow, even when male celebrities are caught with their heterosexual trousers down – whether our supposed outrage/interest springs from the fact that they’re deceiving their wives, paying for their sex, or simply hitherto (as with John Major and Edwina Currie) they were seemingly ‘the man most unlikely ever to’ – the sex angle itself is regarded as unremarkable and/or normal, well unless it involves activity that might be described as ‘oft-piste’ – at least in relation to missionary-position coupling.
However, when the exposure involves homosexuality, without or without illegal drugs, the public’s interest is tinged with a sense that the incident involved is inherently muckier.
This is nothing to do with the hypocritical angle, which is taken for granted. We expect so little of our politicians that we regard any instance of Parliamentary hypocrisy with a degree of ‘told you so!’ ennui.
But when it involves a male MP or celebrity being caught out indulging in homosexual activity, especially when hitherto he has presented himself to the world as ‘straight’, we enjoy it all the more.
Simply because – and perhaps I’m generalising here – the majority public view of same-sex activity is that it is not normal, indeed vaguely perverted … and therefore technically ‘worse’ than any form of straight sexual misdemeanour.