A first draft of a piece to be published in tomorrow’s Daily Mail has recently fallen into my hands. In it Jan Moir has explained her motivations for writing an article on the death of Steven Gately. Of course there are bound to be revisions before it is published but I think it is important it is published now.
Last week, I was 500 words short for my deadline and I thought I’d fill this column about the death of Boyzone star Stephen Gately.
To my glee, it has been widely circulated beyond any normal figures for my mediocre writings. Obviously, a great deal of offence has been taken and I regret any affront caused. This was never my intention, I only wanted to attract readers.
To be the focus of such depth of feeling has been an interesting experience, but I do not complain, well apart from this complaint of course. After all, I am not - unlike those close to Stephen Gately - mourning for the loss of a much-loved partner, son, family member and close friend. No, I am just sticking the boot in.
To them, I would like to say sorry if I have caused distress by the insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral. How was I to know the timing would be so awful, writing just following his death and handing it over to the sub-editor moments after the results of the post-mortem were revealed (results I ignored).
The point of my article was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, Stephen Gately’s death raised many unanswered questions. What had really gone on? I thought, this is a fun game… Let’s Guess!
After all, Stephen was a role model for the young and if drugs were somehow involved in his death, as news reports suggested, should that not be a matter of public interest? Or at least voyeuristic and parasitic gutter journalism?
We were told that Stephen died of ‘natural causes’ even before toxicology results had been released, of course I care deeply about medical procedure, that is why I referenced the post-mortem so heavily in my recent column.
Absolutely none of this had anything to do with his sexuality. If he had been a heterosexual member of a boy band, I would have written exactly the same article. I hate everyone.
Yet despite this, many have interpreted my words as a ‘bigoted rant’ and suggested that my motive was to insinuate that Stephen died ‘because he was gay’. Of course I don’t think he died because he was gay, it was because he was a promiscuous gay, and a druggy.
Anyone who knows me will vouch that I have never held such poisonous views… or else.
It is worth stressing that the version of events I recounted in my column had already been in the public domain, having been described in detail in several “newspapers.”
What had been reported about that night is that Stephen and his civil partner Andrew Cowles went to a nightclub and brought back a Bulgarian man to their apartment. An immigrant no less, if you know what I mean.
There were also reports of drug-taking. Yes, hey had been to a bar… and drunk! Alcohol! One of the most damaging drugs there is! And some pot, but most sensible people know that’s harmless. Following this, it was reported that Cowles went to the bedroom with the Bulgarian – damn immigrants, coming over here taking our gays – while Stephen remained on the sofa. I have never thought, or suggested, that what happened that night represented a so-called gay lifestyle; this is not how most gay people live.
Rather, I thought it a louche lifestyle; one that raised questions about ‘elf and personal safety.
There have been complaints about my use of the word ‘sleazy’ to describe this incident, but I still maintain that to die on a sofa while your partner is sleeping with someone else in the next room is, indeed, sleazy, no matter who you are or what your sexual orientation might be. But especially if you are gay.
My assertion that there was ‘nothing natural’ about Stephen’s death has been wildly misinterpreted. I wonder how, indeed.
What I meant by ‘nothing natural’ was that the natural duration of his life had been tragically shortened in a way that was shocking and out of the ordinary. So I simply had to write, immidieatly and in grotesque detail about waht I thought had happened.
As for Stephen’s civil partnership, I am on the record as supporting same-sex marriages.
The point of my observation that there was a ‘happy ever after myth’ surrounding such unions was that they can be just as problematic as heterosexual marriages. (No shit sherlock, we can leave it in though, they’ll lap it up – ed)
Indeed, I would stress that there was nothing in my article that could not be applied to a heterosexual couple as well as to a homosexual one.
This brings me back to the bile, the fury, the inflammatory hate mail and the repeated posting of my home address on the internet.
To say it was a hysterical overreaction would be putting it mildly, though clearly much of it was an orchestrated campaign by pressure groups and those with agendas of their own. Like promoting gayness and such.
However, I accept that many people - on Twitter and elsewhere - were merely expressing their own personal and heartfelt opinions or grievances. This said, I can’t help wondering: is there a compulsion today to see bigotry and social intolerance where none exists by people who are determined to be outraged? Or was it a failure of communication on my part? Its political correctness gone mad. You couldn’t make it up apart form where I did.
Certainly, something terrible went wrong as my column ricocheted through cyberspace, unread by many who complained, yet somehow generally and gleefully accepted into folklore as a homophobic rant.
It lit a spark, then a flame and turned into a roaring ball of hate fire, blazing unchecked and unmediated across the internet. (You sure we can get away with this? – ed)
Yet as the torrent of abuse continued, most of it anonymous – at least when I insult the dead I make sure I put my byline on it – I also had thousands of supportive emails from readers and well-wishers, many of whom described themselves as the silent majority – I never knew I was big in Switerland. The outcry was not as one-sided as many imagine.
Their view, and mine, was that it was perfectly reasonable of me to comment upon the manner of Stephen Gately’s death immediaetly and callously, even if there are those who think that his celebrity and sexuality make him untouchable. I wouldn’t touch him, filthy gayer.
Can it really be that we are becoming a society where no one can dare to question the circumstances or behaviour of a person who happens to be gay without being labelled a homophobe? If so, that is deeply troubling. When Elton dies I’m really worried I won’t be able to make stuff up about kidnapped Eastern European Children.
(We should probably tag something like this on at the end “Finally, I would just like to say that whatever did or did not happen in Majorca, a talented young man died before his time. This, of course, is a matter of regret and sadness for us all.” – ed)
Interesting stuff hey? Read more: