Thursday, 31 March 2011

Gay Politicians: Alan Duncan Rejoices in Coming Out

b. 31st March, 1957

Too many politicians fear being outed. For Conservative MP Alan Duncan, outing himself was "the best thing I ever did".

From the Independent:

On 29 July 2002, I gave an interview in The Times stating un- equivocally that I was gay. It was the best thing I've ever done.
When I came out, I'd been an MP for 10 years. I'd always known that, one day, honesty was going to be the best policy. But I didn't want to make an announcement about my sexuality when I was a just a junior MP, because all I would have been remembered for was being "the Tory gay".
I wanted to make the announcement when I had established myself more, and when I could make my announcement more relevant to the direction I thought the party needed to take. As it happened, it worked perfectly. I decided to do it, and when to do it, although of course I did tell the party what I was going to do so they weren't caught by surprise.
I think it smashed a massive taboo, permanently. I was the first Conservative MP ever to come out of my own volition, and no one can take that away from me. My professional life has improved as a result. What used to bug me was that, after the announcement, people would say: "Oh, we always knew." I used to say: "How the hell did you always know? The cheek!"
(Biographical notes at Wikipedia)

Friday, 25 March 2011

Elton John

b. March 25, 1947
Elton John has sold more than 250 million records in a career that spans more than three decades. He has been honored with a knighthood for his work on behalf of AIDS research and education.
"The great thing about rock and roll is that someone like me can be a star."

Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight. The son of a former Royal Air Force trumpeter, he was a musical prodigy, playing the piano at age 3. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music for six years before leaving school for the music business.
A turning point came when he connected with lyricist Bernie Taupin through a music magazine advertisement both men had answered. Their first collaboration, "Scarecrow," was recorded in 1967, beginning a songwriting partnership that continues to the present. About the same time Reginald Dwight legally changed his name to Elton John, in tribute to musicians Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.
In the 1970's John became known for his energetic performances and his flamboyant stage wardrobe, including a large collection of outrageous spectacles. Many considered the Elton John Band to be the greatest act in the rock world. John had a string of seven consecutive Number One records, 23 Top 40 singles, 16 Top 10 singles, and six Number One hits. He has the distinction of having had a top 40 single every year from 1970 to 1996.
In the 1990's John turned his talents to film and musical theater. In 1994, his collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice on the Disney animated film The Lion Kingresulted in a soundtrack that won both an Academy Award and a Grammy and remained at the top of the Billboard chart for nine weeks. He later worked with Rice on the film El Dorado and the musical Aida, which won both a Tony award and a Grammy.
John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1995.
John's friendship with Ryan White and Freddy Mercury inspired him to establish the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992. He announced his intention to donate all future royalties from sales of his singles in the U.S. and U.K. to AIDS research.

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Thursday, 17 March 2011

Out in Sport: Football Adopts Gay-rights Charter

There are at present no openly gay players in the top ranks of British football - unlike rugby and cricket, where things are beginning to change, and some individual sporting codes, where the circumstances are easier. (The last time a British footballer was known to be gay ended tragically in the man's suicide, after intense hostility and gay-baiting from the stands. Some other modern players are not out, but receive similar taunting just on the suspicion).

In a welcome new development, the Football Association has agreed to join other sporting codes in supporting the UK government's charter for action, to stamp out homophobia in sport. Young boys often idolize their sporting heroes, and seek to emulate them. When they see the leading players engaging in homophobic taunting of opponents, this too easily becomes repeated on playing fields and playgrounds of British schools. If the charter can succeed in changing the behaviour of top players, it could potentially help to counter the homophobic bullying that so many young boys encounter.

This, from Politics UK:

Football accepts gay-rights charter

Efforts to wipe out homophobia in sport have received a significant boost as the country's major sports leagues put their weight behind a government campaign.
The organising bodies for football, tennis, cricket, rugby league, rugby union and the Olympics have all signed the government's charter for action.
The charter aims to create a welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in sport.
Activists welcomed the move as a sign that sport - often considered the last bastion of homophobia in the UK - was pressured to modernise in line with other industries.
(Full report at Politics UK)


Saturday, 5 March 2011

In the Navy:Official Disapproval,Sensitivity in Bereavement.

In the Catholic Church, many people will know that in spite of official disapproval from on high, and outright hostility by some individuals in the church, very often parishes on the ground can be truly welcoming and accepting, with acceptance and full inclusion from both parishioners and parish priests. That was certainly my experience at Holy Trinity Parish, Braamfontein, Johannesburg -and is the experience of many others at countless parishes around the world.
A story from Chicago Sun Times demonstrates that this disconnect between official disapproval and practical warmth on the ground also applies in other formally homophobic institutions, in this instance the US marines. In spite of the policy of DADT which was still in force last June, and notwithstanding the vicious persecution that some gay servicemen experienced under that policy, the widowed husband of one Marine, John Fliszar,  found exceptional co-operation from the Naval Academy officials when he approached them for help in executing the dead man's wish to have his ashes  interred in the Naval Academy.

I enjoyed imagining the confused expressions of these officials when they were first approached by the widowed husband, Mark Ketterson:
The memorial coordinator asked about his relationship to the deceased. Ketterson said that John Fliszar was his husband.
“They were always polite, but there was this moment of hesitation,” Ketterson recalled. “They said they’re going to need something in writing from a blood relative. They asked, ‘Are you listed on the death certificate?’ ‘Do you have a marriage license?’ ”

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Out in Sport: England Cricketer Steven Davies Goes Public

In an ideal world, this should not make the news: sexual lives are personal and private - but we do not live in an ideal world.

Young people need role models. Young boys in particular look to their sporting heroes, far too few of them have had the courage to come out publicly as gay. There are welcome exceptions - and England cricketer Steven Davies has just added to the number, becoming the second British member of a national squad in a major team sport to do so. (The first was Welsh rugby captain, Gareth Thomas).

Steven Davies, the 24-year-old Surrey and England wicketkeeper, has become the latest high-profile sportsman to announce he is gay. In today's Daily Telegraph Davies becomes the first serving professional cricketer to 'out' himself.

Davies, who began his career at Worcestershire, says he hopes his decision will encourage other young gay people to do the same. He said: 'This is the right time for me. I feel it is the right time to be out in the open about my sexuality. If more people do it, the more acceptable it will become.'

Davies follows the former Wales rugby union player Gareth Thomas, who also went public about his sexuality.


The New Statesman makes a bold claim, that Davies' coming out could be the tipping point for public acceptance and openness in sports, based on the contrast between Davies and Gareth Thomas, who did so at the peak of his career, and with a solid backing of public support . Davies is young, just starting out in his career, and has not yet established that personal following, which made his action all the more courageous. This assertion of a tipping point may be premature - but there will certainly be many more, in Britain and elsewhere, in team sports of all kinds as well as in the individual sporting codes (where there are rather more examples already).

Coming out is a process, not an event. Davies first did so to his family, five years ago, and then to his cricketing colleagues after his selection for the national team last year. He has now gone public. The very many other gay men in professional sport, who remain trapped in a closet of fear should pay attention to his words: coming out can help others - but also themselves. Coming out is a relief.

"I'm comfortable with who I am - and happy to say who I am in public," he said in an interview with The Sun.

"To speak out is a massive relief for me, but if I can just help one person to deal with their sexuality then that's all I care about."

Davies, who missed out on a place in the England squad for the current World Cup campaign, came out to his friends and family five years ago.

But the first time he told any of his fellow players came following his selection for England's successful Ashes tour during the recent winter.

And he revealed the relief he felt after telling captain Andrew Strauss and the rest of the team.

"It was a fantastic thing to do, telling the lads. The difference is huge. I am so much happier," he said.

Daily Mirror

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