Gay men are `alarmingly, 17 times more likely to be paedophiles than straight men' - discuss?

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Hi. I'm Andrew. I'm John's Significant Other and I'm here to tell you there won't be a column this week. It's a short story. Against friends' warnings and qualified medical advice, John went to see gay "comedian" Bert Tyler-Moore in performance last night. Next thing it's the witching hour, the doorbell rings, I answer, and there's John collapsed on the stoop, wild-eyed and retching, his "Bert Tyler-Moore - I Can Handle It" T-shirt splattered with the high fibre, low-fat but really quite tasty dinner I had taken most of the evening to prepare.

I wasn't terribly sympathetic. "John", I said, "you must have spotted the Samaritans stall in the foyer - that's called a clue." Unfortunately he was delirious by then - he's so cute when he runs a temperature over 102 - and could only keep muttering, "He's the Agent Orange of homosexual humour," and "Not one f****** joke the entire evening," over and over until I slipped him under the Laura Ashley duvet with an emergency pint of Pralines and Cream and piped our bootleg copy of Imelda Sings The Love Songs through the sound system to let him know he was home, and safe.

So, no column. Correction: not a column by John, who even now is demanding fresh crayons and barley water. However, I have stood in for John before, and if it's OK with you, we're taking that route again ... Whenever a topic is decided. Finally.

See, at first I thought I'd ruminate on a front-page feature in the Observer memorably entitled, "Why are so many serial killers gay?" an assertion that flies in the face of every known statistic. I opined that this sort of dumb and shameless lie needed exposing, except John held up his hand and said, "I'm afraid the problem with that headline is that it's absolutely true ... I certainly intend to find and kill the person who commissioned the piece, the person who wrote it, and the person who subbed it." And though I didn't want to, I laughed, and John pointed a stern finger and intoned, "Your Bert Tyler-Moore needs you," which made him laugh - and throw up all over again. So much for Freud's theory about the mind suppressing traumatic memories.

As luck would have it, John vomited across the page of The Sun in which Anne Atkins - the Helen Keller of intellectual debate - categorically states as fact that gay men are "alarmingly, 17 times more likely to be paedophiles than straight men". "Do those figures include or exclude the gay men who are also more likely to be serial killers?" I asked, and John said, who cares, especially when his pillows clearly needed plumping? Anyhow, he was more interested in Anne's astonishing breakthrough discoveries: a) that gay men could, through presumably strenuous effort and serious application, completely alter their sexual orientation and become paedophiles (not heterosexuals, you understand, but paedophiles) and b) the very idea of "gay" paedophilia itself, when child abuse experts insist paedophilia is paedophilia is paedophilia. It's a child's youth, not their gender, that is the invariable attraction. "She must know something we don't," I said, and John groaned, "Obviously," and drew my attention to Anne's further assertion that the average life expectancy of a gay man without HIV is 43. "I want to see the research," John snapped. "Screw that," I replied. "I want to meet a gay man who admits to being over 40," and I'm afraid John began laughing and puking again.

When he was calm and clean, we decided Anne was clearly a candidate for the Press Complaints Commission, not to mention a complete holistic make- over. (As John mused, "If you're enslaved to the Rank starlet look, wouldn't it be wise to concentrate on the starlet part?") But at least Anne's consistent. Not like the many dailies which this past week have exploded with undisguised glee over a 14-year-old heterosexual being whisked to Miami for marathon humping sessions by a 33-year-old woman, but who have previously thundered that 16 couldn't possibly be the gay age of consent because the young would be set upon by predatory older men. Surely there's 960 words in that, I hiss. But John just shrugs and says, Andrew, some hypocrisies are too transparent to merit intelligent argument. It's like replying to Ku Klux Klan "scientific proof" that blacks have smaller brains; any response dignifies the "data".

Sure. OK. Fine. My last shot, then: nothing I've read about or am likely to read about, unless I write about it myself - why more and more gay men are holding hands in public. I spotted three separate couples yesterday and watched as they received looks that ranged from the curious to the indifferent to the hostile. Not that the couples themselves apparently noticed, or cared. I realise it's a localised urban phenomenon, probably confined to a one mile radius of Soho, otherwise known as Stepford, but I still think this spontaneous outbreak is a significant sign of ... something. I mean, John and I never mesh digits in public unless it's in a dark cinema, or walking back from a club at five in the morning and no one else is about. But we're in our thirties and the guys holding hands are usually in their twenties. Perhaps Generation Next is more comfortable in its own skin. Maybe progress can be measured in a simple act of affection everyone else takes for granted ... Oh God, I'm making my boyfriend sick again. Perhaps I should get the bucket. Perhaps I should pen the column John's been literally gagging for: "Bert Tyler-Moore - The Man Who Single- Handedly Murdered The Myth of Gay Wit"n