This week has been very busy, whilst overshadowed by the death of Nelson Mandela – someone I believe who has a place amongst the truly great reformers and wise men of the 20th Century and whose values will continue to guide us (Kennedy, Ghandi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are on that list) – the mundane has been in my thoughts as well. Weaving together into a mesh of consciousness and political thought I try and weave Tom Daley, Claire Balding and now the President of Germany.
The ‘coming out’ of Tom Daley not caused several gay men to punch the air in triumph and hopefulness it also challenged me personally. The YouTube video was a moving testament to this young man, it was sensitive, it was honest and it was brave and yet a very strong statement. The lines that stick in my mind where ‘it should not be issue’ and also ‘it happen to be a man’.
The bold statement is that we will not have equality until our sexuality is not an issue, until, as a gay man, I do not feel the need to mention my sexuality to avoid complications or embarrassing situations, until all invites are ‘and partner’ or specific gender identification ‘and husband’ (if the relationship is established) is the norm. Of course before I get lambasted my husband is a valid entity in his own right, but when I get a Peerage I would really like to him to be called ‘Sir’ a matter of course.
The Tom Daley video – and please watch it, it is awesomely moving – introduces another dimension, he seems to assert he is bisexual, as a gay man I have now added a dimension to my acceptance. I remember when I was spotty teenager and idolising Tom Robinson who was ‘gay’ – and in the 70’s this was a big big thing – and then he became bisexual, and I felt betrayed. I felt betrayed because he was no longer gay, he was being gay because it was trendy, because he was no longer like me. I will admit that I was bigoted. Unknowingly I have moved on, and now I accept bisexuality as valid, I don’t think that Tom’s video ‘changed me’ I think it has been a journey.
The ‘Twitterarti’ went berserk. Response from Journalist, Friends, Commentators, and even the Westboro Baptist Church (God hates ‘fags’ so much that he caused an Helicopter to crash in Glasgow, what a petty vindictive God they worship that kill peoples un-associated with their ‘sin’) joined in, amongst the well wishers was Claire Balding.
I like Clare Balding, she is articulate, and nice, and very good at her job, she is human, on the day she tweeted:
“You don’t have a choice to be gay, bisexual or straight but you do have a choice whether to be honest, open & proud. Respect @TomDaley1994
An awesome tweet, but the problem is that in a few months Clare will be heading off to Sochi for the Winter Olympics where, paradoxically, Tom would not be welcome as a man who is in a same sex relationship, and also where she could not take her same sex partner. I do not understand how this can be. In the same week that the USA upset Indonesia by appointing an openly Gay Ambassador to the country a Lesbian is going to a country that excludes gay athletes and turns a blind eye to gay hate crimes?
We live in a free society and Clare is free to make her own choices, but I am at a loss at how to reconcile the irreconcilable.
Nelson Mandela died this week, this man is credited with healing wounded, divided, nation and averting a blood bath, and one of the many lessons we must learn from the 80’s is that non-engagement in trade and cultural activities did have an impact on the end of apartheid.
The President of Germany has decided he will not attend the Winter Olympics because of Russia’s Human Rights record, and I have a lot of respect for him, it is a peaceful demonstration against an inhumane Government that crushes option.
Isn’t boycotting Sochi the best option?