This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture


shame on whom?

This Magazine Staff

Some intriguing details coming out of Britain surrounding the resignation of Lord Browne as head of British Petroleum after revelations of, among other things, a gay affair.
The intrigue? No-one’s all that intrigued.
“Gay stories are just not appealing to the masses it seems.” — so says PR consultant Max Clifford in The Guardian, attempting to explain why none of the major British broadcasters is devoting much money or time to the story.
I lived in London in 1987, during the second Thatcher election. It was a circus. My neighbourhood, Earl’s Court was the centre of London’s gay scene at the time (don’t know if it still is), as well as being the expat Aussie neighbourhood and a hangout for local Chelsea football supporters on match day — how’s that for a potent diversity? One of the local candidates for office — and I confess I forget which one — was caught in a classic British tabloid sex scandal. Dude was red-handed with a “rentboy,” and I believe there was some spanking involved. The papers and radio news went nuts. That week, at the local open-air market, obvious plants from the opposing campaign dogged this candidate through the crowds with cricket paddle spanking devices and shouts of “For shame! For shame!”
Clearly, in 1987, gayness and shame was still a sellable media connection.
These days, not so much. Lord Browne resigned mainly over allegations of bad business practices, though lying about his relationship didn’t help his credibility. Is Britain over gay?

Show Comments