Forget the movies, the stage, music. Tell our life like it really is

Hi. I'm Andrew. I'm John's ... well, this is always tricky. Boyfriend always sounds so adolescent, and lover is a bit grand, and partner is a cop-out: business partner, dance partner or partner in crime? As for "main squeeze", John thinks that's cute. I don't. I suppose I could tell you I'm "the Ba". That's John's title - the "Ba" (yeah, me too - try sticking your head between your knees until the feeling passes).

Anyhow, I'm Andrew, and I'm your writer for today. Usually I run a computer help desk, but this is an emergency.

John was reading the editorial comment in the gay press earlier and he laughed so hard he dislocated something. The doctor's been, and right this second he's relaxing in a warm Radox bath with Chaps, the rubber duck and a inflatable, life-size Tom Cruise doll. Now, I say life-size. I keep telling John it's only four foot tall, but John just laughs and says "Point?"

We've been trying to decide what I might bang on about. I suggested Brian Sewell, of the London Evening Standard, and how he had penned a piece that began by lambasting John Major for attacking the National Lottery for giving money to gay organisations and ended by telling the Prime Minister that he was lucky to be normal, that homosexuality was an affliction that gay men had to bear bravely.

John and I hummed a few bars of the National Anthem as we mulled it over, then John rolled his eyes and said Brian Sewell was an affliction gay men had to bear bravely. Was there anything else?

Yes. "Heston and Vidal are at it again."

John look startled and says beg your pardon, and I explain that the boys are still disputing Chuck's motivation in Ben Hur. Gore, who worked on the script, claims that the scene where Ben (or is it Hur?) meets his boyhood friend Massala again has a homosexual subtext, and that Stephen Boyd played it that way - former lovers reunited - without Chuck knowing, because if Chuck had known he would have fallen apart.

"And who would want to be responsible for that much wood hitting the ground?" John says, which I happen to know is a line from Vidal's autobiography. Anyway, Chuck says, no, no Nanette, no funny stuff.

Now, John and I went to a preview of the documentary The Celluloid Closet recently and it runs that entire obviously romantic moment, and what can I tell you, except that Helen Keller herself would have clocked that Massala wants free and unfettered access tobig Ben's toga. When in Rome...

John asks me to scrub his back - mow it, more like - and mutters mmm. You could manage a few thoughts about Chuck's craven heterosexual reluctance to acknowledge same-sex desire, he announces, or, he grins, you might care to take Heston's side and establish that homo-eroticism isn't the same as homosexuality. Why should the feelings of love that straight men might have for one another be labelled as anything other than that - love. Why must the gay mind forever descend to the mucky?

I remind him that we'd seen the offending sequence and it was clearly about two guys in sheets who want to shag.

That's true, John admits. But you could package it with American fundamentalists demanding that the song "Out There" be cut from the new Disney cartoon, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, because it shares its title with a gay advocacy group, and do a dissertation on how the mainstream shuttles between now- you-see-it, now-you-don't, and, he shouts, getting excited, if you mention that an old folks group in Birmingham has changed its name to the Gay Gnomes Club to get Lottery cash, then you could write about no matter if it's recognition or denial, heterosexuality is permanently fascinated - obsessed - with homosexuality.

He's about to shriek Eureka, so I point out that he's probably already done that column - that he's always doing that column.

"Then veer to the domestic," he snaps. "Write about Will and his new bloke, James the priest. About how when they go to bed we rush to the CD and crank Eternal's `I am Blessed' and Dusty's `Son of a Preacher Man' to top volume."

Or, I butt in, I could do a column about the column, and what it's like, if you're Will, James or me, to turn up in it, to feel as if you've been made into a fiction. It's not like being outed exactly, but, as I tell John, "That column about adjusting to the fact that I'd slept with a lot more people than you - the one where you wrote that it would be quicker to make a list of the people I hadn't slept with because, really, who had that much time on their hands?"

John says he always asks permission doesn't he, he changes names, it's his life, too, isn't it? Besides, he continues, gay men are kind of fictional. Our lives aren't the conventional, preordained narratives - engagement, marriage, children, extended family - so we look to movies, books, the stage, music for references. Movies like Ben Hur, maybe music like `Out There', maybe even in news coverage like Brian Sewell's. We make it up as we go along, our existences built around the inherent "drama" of our "supposed problem".

I blink. John mumbles it's only a theory.

I reply good, because me, I'm mighty real. Then Ba, John says, write about that, write about being real.

So that's what this column is about, I hope. Being real: not a paragraph in the press, a dispute on the screen, or an affliction posing as a good cause. The real. Or it would be if John wasn't upstairs shouting for the bicycle repair kit because Tom has a puncture and is disappearing down the plughole.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

    £32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam