Letter: Out and visible

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Of course a public figure's homosexuality is relevant - though not to his or her suitability for a particular job. To pretend irrelevance is to ignore the vital role of visibility in the continuing fight to promote tolerance. I write not to defend outing but simply to say that until gay men and lesbians no longer feel they have to hide their sexuality we desperately need out gay public figures.

It is in this respect that the current arguments for privacy concern me. What exactly are we fighting to keep private? What a person actually does in bed should, indeed, be private. But arguing that homosexuality itself should be a private affair is so horribly apologetic - it not only acknowledges but bows down to prejudice and allows the bigoted not to confront their intolerance. And it gives us permission as lesbians and gay men to continue the hypocrisy - staying in the closet to protect our family's intolerance, for example, while condemning society's.

Gay Pride is not about being proud in any arrogant sense - we've done nothing special, after all. But it is about a refusal to accept the converse of pride, which is shame. Please don't continue to promote the idea, however well-intentioned, that it is right and proper to want to hide one's homosexuality. Special circumstances apart, such as the complex issue of homosexuality within a marriage, if you are not ashamed, what other possible reason could there be for keeping it private?

ANTONY SMITH

London SE1

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