the revenge of the raging queens

By the time you read this, it will all be over. The march, banners, beers, slogans, pick-ups, snogs, rubber shorts and nipple-rings, Portaloos, gay and lesbian dance groups, the surprise guests (Bananarama, it says here), Boy George, and the inevitable Jimmy Somerville, all will have fused into a warm, sticky, fuzzy memory of Gay Pride 96. Or rather, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride 96, to give the event its full, delicious, have-we-left-anyone-out-here? monicker. There will be disco divas, there will be drag queens, there will be Chrystal Rose and Toyah and Shakespears Sister but not Vanessa Feltz, who is, apparently, shopping in Rome. Why on earth would anyone want Vanessa Feltz on a Pride march anyway? "Oh, you know, it's that typical misogynistic thing: she's a blowsy blonde with big hair, a big voice and hideous clothes, so of course gay men are bound to love her," says a sneery friend of mine.

Pride is more about hedonism than politics, although this year's theme "Generations of activism", celebrates young and old getting together to fight homophobia. "And that's a laugh," continues the sneery friend bitterly, "considering the gay community's absolutely divided along age lines. Y'know, that old joke about 30 being 210 in gay years ... " When you're sneery, you see, Pride is nothing to be proud of: it celebrates brainless optimism, mawkish sentiment and uncritical consumerism. And yet this year there's been a fag-end in the cold-cream, a false eyelash in the cappuccino. His name is Divine David, he's one of the co-hosts, and he represents salvation for the anti-gay movement: those men who like having sex with men (the easy part of being gay) but can't be doing with the pecs'n'poppers mentality of your average disco muffin. The joke is, the organisers seem to think they've booked a standard-issue drag queen, and instead they've got "the fiercest queer performance artist", as Sneery puts it. The name would appear to promise wigs, slap and sequins, but Divine David, it seems, is not at all glad to be gay. I hear all this from our mutual friend M, who fills in the background: apparently Divine David is full of rage due to having been born in Blackpool (just like David Thewlis, who seems full of rage, too). The son of a merchant seaman, he discovered, on emerging into the light of queerdom, that the pumped-up gym bunnies despise skinny pansy types just as much as, well, your average merchant seaman does. So Divine David was born, half self-loathing angst-merchant a la Richey James, half crazed working-men's-club slapper.

"When he lived in Manchester," confides M, "he used to send me cassettes of himself impersonating John Hurt impersonating Quentin Crisp, with bongo drums playing in the background. And I'd say, hmm, very nice." But DD persevered. "At his gig last week," M continues, "he was lacerating himself with broken glass." David is also fond of singing, Shirley Bassey- style, every syllable quivering with overcharged emotion: "Being gay ... is a waste of time!" How will the happy-clappy punters in tight shorts and identikit singlets deal with this freight of gloom? Not too well, perhaps - David is "obsessed with sportswear", according to M. "He goes on a bit about it, actually, but it's very funny. The overkill is all part of the act." Another highlight is when Divine David displays his weakling physique and draws on a washboard tummy and a pair of disco tits with a Magic Marker.

But M has called on other matters. Will I come to dinner? "Oh good," he says briskly. "We need a woman." This might be a very gratifying remark outside the gay context, but here it has distinct overtones of: "Some of my best friends are ..." Much to my disappointment, Divine David will not be there. He's much too real to cope with over-char-grilled polenta, and besides, he might decide to eat the cutlery in some inner-directed fit of rage. Although if it's anything like the last gay dinner party I attended, I might have to chew the knives myself. The hot topic of the night was how horrible lesbians are: how fat and aggressive and ugly and whinging. Their cat-owning, pulse-eating, lack of personal hygiene, bristliness ... every insult that used to be flung at feminists 20 years ago. What's going on?

The pink pound tends to be the gay pound, and the boys resent what they see as the persistent chippiness of impoverished lesbians. As Paul Burston put it satirically in Time Out: "It is well known that gay men are a bunch of middle-class bastards who have never suffered a day's oppression in their lives, due to the fact that on the day he reveals his true self to the world, every gay man is immediately handed a great wad of cash and the keys to a swanky flat in Soho. Lesbians, on the other hand, immediately become the victims of a patriarchal conspiracy which not only silences them and renders them invisible, but forces them to live in Hackney on a diet of pulses and karaoke nights at the local women's centre." If you think that's savage, you should have seen the anti-dyke tirade he carried in his pages by a straight woman who called herself a "hasbian".

It seems the flashpoint for this new spat between gays and lesbians was last year's Pride march and its well-meaning "Visibly Lesbian" theme. Rumblings of disgust over women-only areas combined with widespread mockery of "Look at me, I'm here!" as a political aim. Let's hope this year's anti-ageism theme will be less divisive. Virginia Woolf once remarked that the old age of buggers was something not to be contemplated. And she'd been to a few gay dinner parties in her time, I reckon.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

    Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

    Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

    £8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

    Day In a Page

    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border