I’m sitting here scrolling the news at my desk, looking for shite to read instead of doing actual work. I’ve got a stinking hangover. Got home at 6am, rocked up to work four hours late. The Guardian’s got a good piece on the Phil and Holly scandal by Marina Hyde: “The nation’s favourite cocktail”. Why didn’t I think of that?
Now onto PinkNews – always good to keep up with the community. A man in Minnesota is being indicted for stealing Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Last week’s Eurovision was the most-watched in the competition’s entire history. And Taiwan’s just granted adoption rights for same-sex couples. Nice.
It’s not all heel-tapping, eurotrash singing, happy parenting, though. Quite the opposite. Among the happy dappy yay-for-gay news, the modern world doesn’t seem so, well, modern, actually.
A 14-year-old schoolboy in Ireland was brutally attacked by a gang for being gay. A parent in Illinois made an actual complaint to a school after a teacher read her students an LGBTQ+-adjacent book (titled, quite hilariously, This Book is Gay). And then there’s the 11 countries around the world, including Nigeria, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, where being any of the LGBTQ+ is punishable by death – still.
We hear a lot from the older queens about how much harder it was to be queer back in the ’80s, ’90s, even early-’00s. And for the most part, of course it bloody was. Homophobia was all over the news, something a bit rubbish was described as “gay” in schools and George Michael hid in the closet for years out of fear that his career would plummet to nothing but has-been status – and then he got massacred for wanking off a dick in a Beverly Hills loo, then making a video about it, refusing to ever be shamed (legend). And of course, there was the Aids epidemic, when pearl-clutching homophobes wouldn’t even touch “a gay”. Losers. But also: Princess Di. Winner.
There’s no doubt in my wine-sodden mind that it was harder back then. There were fights to be fought, protests to march – and these are all the things that made my life, right now, so much easier. It’s the reason I can have a snog in the street in broad daylight and see gay characters in TV shows without it being too much of an issue for Middle Britain. It’s why Grindr exists, why pop stars like Kim Petras are out, proud and in the charts. It’s probably why it was easier for me to come out to my parents than it would’ve been for a twenty-something in Thatcher’s years.
But we’re also going backwards. Take this in: already this year, the US has broken records for the amount of anti-LGBTQ+ laws that have been passed, with 385 laws introduced at state level by 3rd March. In Uganda, there are reports of people being threatened with phone calls that say, “if you don’t give me money, I will report you as gay,” which could land them with the death penalty. And drag shows are being cancelled all over the shop.
I can be a bad gay sometimes. In fact, a lot of the time. I enjoy all the good stuff – going out, sucking cock, listening to Patrick Cowley, buying expensive clothes. I’ve got it easy, really easy. And as I’m sitting here stinking of booze and fags with a pounding headache and a possible hernia from the amount of gear I did last night, I sober up.
I start thinking about the future, when I’m old and hanging around at some growler pub in Soho. Will things be better for queers then, in 2063 time, like the old queens thought it would be 40 years ago? I should hope so, as long as we do something about it. Riot, protest, sign up to stuff, know what’s happening outside your cushty bubble. That’s what I’ll be doing this weekend, I reckon. Then, when I’m an old leather daddy, I can turn to the young gay standing at the bar and say, “You’ve never had it so good, darlin.”