Saturday, 31 July 2010

Joe McElderrry Comes Out whilst Balding Goes on the Offensive

So Joe McElderrry has come out. I guess my reaction like many is "well yea, I kinda thought it anyway". That makes it no less brave for McElderry. The Sun (amazingly) breaks the story and does so in a very sensitive way. Read the full story here. Sometimes, our sexuality might be obvious to others but is something that we find more complex and difficult. This seems to be the case with McElderry. Of course, it's worth noting that coming out is often seen as a one off event. It rarely is. In reality, new friends and acquaintances, new social clubs, new employers can all mark the need to come out again. McElderry comes out amidst a different legal landscape to the one I did eleven years ago, but it remains a complex social landscape.

Meanwhile - and interestingly the story that seems to be getting more media coverage - is that BBC Present Clare Balding, an out lesbian, has lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission. The original piece was by AA Gill who wrote:

"Some time ago, I made a cheap and frankly unnecessary joke about Clare Balding looking like a big lesbian. And afterwards somebody tugged my sleeve to point out that she is a big lesbian."

After a mock apology, he continued: "Now back to the dyke on a bike, puffing up the nooks and crannies at the bottom end of the nation."

Yet, I suspect nothing would have come of this but for the response by John Witherow - editor of the Sunday Times - the paper the piece appeared in. He wrote back to balding (who had written, raising concern at the piece) with an astonishingly cack-handed reply:

'In my view some members of the gay community need to stop regarding themselves as having a special victim status and behave like any other sensible group that is accepted by society'.

Balding responded to this remarks by commenting:

"When the day comes that people stop resigning from high office, being disowned by their families, getting beaten up and in some instances committing suicide because of their sexuality, you may have a point.

"This is not about me putting up with having the piss taken out of me, something I have been quite able to withstand, it is about you legitimising name calling. 'Dyke' is not shouted out in school playgrounds (or as I've had it at an airport) as a compliment, believe me."

I have only one thing to add: "go Clare!"

Read the full Balding story in the Guardian here.

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