Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 6 May 2007

UK 'pink list' for 2007

The Independent publishes a list of the 100 most prominent gays and lesbians in the public eye. The list has apparently been published/compiled a little earlier than usual because of the recent public 'outing' (to a wider public at least) of former BP chief Lord Browne, the contention being that Lord Browne is somehow a hold-over from an earlier time as more people are now willing to acknowledge openly their sexuality. If I had more time I would write a lot about this, but suffice to say that I think it fatuous and superficial. As an example of the short (and selective) memories that some people seem to have one need only look very briefly at the list to see that the person ranked 6th there, Peter Mandelson, certainly did not 'come out' voluntarily to the wider public, but was 'outed' in the most casual (and unthinking) way by another gay man during a television interview on a late-evening news programme (Matthew Parris, former Conservative MP and more recently political sketch-writer, when appearing on Newsnight hosted that evening by Jeremy Paxman). In fact the case of Peter Mandelson is in certain ways very similar to that of Lord Browne - both tried, and failed, to keep their sexuality very low-key even if not completely hidden from their own personal acquaintances.

In fact I suggest that Lord Browne, and Peter Mandelson, far from being the exceptions remain the norm - it is the people on the list who are somewhat different and atypical. I wish it were not so, but the 'right on' attitude that the UK is now, overall, simply unconcerned with matters of sexuality is utterly 'pie in the sky', even if I accept readily that things are better than in earlier years. Only 6 people in the list hold positions in commercial organisations completely unconnected from the media, the arts or other publicly-funded activities; a 7th person (Ivan Massow - 94th on the list) does not count, in my view, as his original business activity was providing insurance services specifically to the gay community, many of whom found it difficult to obtain personal insurance in the years immediately following the outbreak of HIV/AIDS - his commercial activity did not depend upon the wider non-gay community. Indeed in the same newspaper today (the Independent) Ivan Massow has an article in which he talks sense about the true position in Britain today for gays and lesbians in the commercial world. These are the facts.

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