After recently being invited to an awareness raising event for LGBT History Month – I was in two minds whether to go. I mean, are such things necessary these days when every girl worth her designer handbag and eyelash extensions has the obligatory GBF (gay best friend) and Saturday night telly is awash with campery? (Actually British telly has always been camp, it’s just that the purveyors are allowed to be adult and open about their preferences now). And aren’t these events usually just preaching to the converted any way? But then, what is that rumble I hear? A bunch of dinosaurs thundering and lumbering down Downing Street to beat on the door of number ten. And that was only the warm-up act to the cobweb-draped primordial beings rising up on their hind legs in the Commons today to dribble out their bigoted nonsense.
For myself, having a bit of a bohemian upbringing meant being L/G/B/T was no big deal. (I have fond memories of my mum taking me to see Quentin Crisp in his one man show at the Edinburgh Fringe) Also gay men and women massively informed my literary and artistic landscape: Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, Joe Orton; gender benders from Dietrich and Garbo to glam rock, the new romantics, Morrissey. Their worlds were vivid, magical, shockingly honest, witty, bursting with life. It didn’t mean that I necessarily wanted to be gay but a world without these people would be rubbish, frankly.
Of course you can’t live by Art alone and things inevitably become political. Equal rights are important – even if it means having the right to be grey and boring, ‘staying in to watch TV while eating food covered in breadcrumbs’ (thanks, Julian Clary)… getting married, even! So, I’m pleased with today’s vote but I can’t help hearing the words of Mr Crisp: ‘Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, drag them down to your level!’