Letter: The importance of being Julie

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From Mr W. Stephen Gilbert

Sir: There was surely a type- setting error in the letter you published from Julie Burchill (31 July). Instead of beginning "As an important member of the gay community myself", Ms Burchill must have written "As a self-important member of the gay community myself ..."

Ms Burchill is, in fact, a Julie-Come-Lately to the gay community which, for its part, does not necessarily welcome with open limbs or accept as a (self-)important member a woman who, as recently as June, publicly denied her homosexuality. In affecting to teach John Lyttle, her gay grandmother, to suck eggs (if that is not a bewildering metaphor), Ms Burchill demonstrates her slender purchase on gay politics.

She may, as she puts it, tell lies about "what brilliant sex" she enjoys, but those of us to whom same-sex sex is not a novelty perfectly well understand that the "love machine" myth is the kind of marketing tool that only those who mistake hype for experience will swallow, hetero quite as deeply as homo. The great beauty of John Lyttle's thrilling and courageous column is that it achieves a universality by reflecting the humanity of one gay man. That is not a shortcoming.

Yours faithfully,

W. Stephen Gilbert

London N8

1 August