The good gays and the bad gays

WHEREAS THE political hurricane that engulfed and destroyed the ministerial career of Ron Davies has lasted for two weeks (and may drag on for much longer), the admission by Nick Brown, yesterday, of his homosexuality will be nothing more than a one-day squall. The feeling of embarrassment that he acknowledged in his statement will, as I can testify from my own experience of being "outed" by the News of The World in 1994, have turned to relief as he sits down this morning to his ministerial duties, with his position in the Government strengthened.

But Mr Brown has no reason to feel embarrassed. He appears to have conducted his private life with total discretion and decorum. He is unmarried and there are no complications involving wives and children, or behaviour in public places. If he was worried about his immediate family, I'm sure they will have known for many years - even if he didn't think they did - and they will be totally supportive.

It is now clear that there are so-called bad gays and good gays. Bad gays are those who live a lie or hide under the cover of girlfriends or marriage while seeking sexual solace and pleasure in ways that some sections of the public and media still find repulsive.

Good gays, like Mr Brown, live honest but secret and quiet lives. But the secrecy of such lives still causes the possibility of perceived embarrassment and the betrayal of trust and friendship by toerags who may see an opportunity to sell a story to the tabloid press, if the victim becomes an important figure in public life.

Mr Brown, being a good gay and having voluntarily jumped through the hoop of fire yesterday, emerges as the clear winner of the three ministers who have been caught in the media spotlight since the current government gay sex saga began.

He is the first serving minister in both Labour and Conservative governments to have "outed" himself before the tabloids got there first. This, as befits a former chief whip, indicates his understanding of the need to respond positively when the threat of a scandal is about to unleash itself. His sexuality was always an open secret at Westminster and he has successfully gazumped attempts by a former boyfriend to earn a quick buck. No one is now interested in his boyfriend's tales.

Chris Smith has also shown that by quietly admitting his homosexuality years ago he is probably the one politician whose private life is now a matter of supreme public indifference. Whether we like it or not, however, the present world of politics is one where some politicians revel in encouraging the media to concentrate on good news stories about their lifestyles and personalities. The corollary of this means, therefore, that the media will not leave their private lives alone.

There is no doubt that it may be thought to be more difficult for middle- aged politicians, such as Mr Brown, to admit their homosexuality than those a generation younger. Mr Brown is 48 and entered Parliament for a northern working- class constituency more than 15 years ago, when attitudes were perceived to be less tolerant.

Newspapers still find suggestions of relationships between older men and younger men somewhat raunchy, and hint at the suggestion of the older man corrupting the younger man. This is, of course, absolute nonsense, and any concerns that Mr Brown may have had on that score have been misplaced. The immediate reaction of his local constituency has been one of total support, and proves that public opinion is, as so often, well ahead of the media perception.

I would like this country to get to the position where the question of a politician's or anyone else's, sexuality is of no concern to us and does not even merit a column inch inside the back page of a newspaper. But we have not got to that stage yet. It will take one more big-time player to help with that process.

Which is where Peter Mandelson comes in. He is now in the bizarre situation in which everyone knows he is gay, since he was "outed", albeit inadvertently, by Matthew Parris on Newsnight. Mr Parris has held up the hoop and lighted the flame. If I were Mr Mandelson I would thank Mr Parris for doing this and jump through the hoop. If he resists this invitation there will continue to be the same sort of attempts by some disagreeable friend from his past to go to the tabloids and try to sell a story.

Once we put paid for ever to the possibility of past boyfriends or others trying to make money from selling stories, MPs can stop living in the fear that has haunted Mr Brown until yesterday, and which may continue to haunt others.

Michael Brown was a Conservative MP from 1979 to 1997

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee