So, David Mundell’s gay, get out the bunting.
I appreciate this isn’t the biggest news in the universe but being the first openly gay Tory to serve in the cabinet does actually count as news despite what many straight people seem to think.
Before I get into the reaction, a word on the coverage – or more accurately, three words. Not a piece about his coming out didn’t include the words “father of three.” They featured in The Sun headline, the first line of a now disappeared Express article, even STV couldn’t resist finding a way to mention his 3 weans, despite having almost never read about how many kids any other cabinet member has. What’s the point being made here? That we, as random punters, are owed some kind of explanation? A flow chart perhaps? I’d rather not spend my days making the assumptions about other people’s relationships implied by the tabloid tales of this “father of three.” The only family member who is of any public interest whatsoever is his son Oliver, who’s running for office – he can be found loving his da, obviously.
It needs to be noted that if you were to make a pie chart comparing openly positive with openly negative responses, it would basically just be a big gay pie. It wouldn’t have been like this a decade ago; when David Mundell turned 18, homosexuality was still a criminal offence in Scotland. We can’t forget that but if we don’t keep talking about what needs to change, we can only go backwards. We seem to have reached a point where most people think homophobia is a matter of calling people specific names; no names, no homophobia. In 2016, that’s not necessarily what homophobia looks like, it’s often much more mundane and rubbish than that but sadly, it’s also way more common.
Some of the below phrases were uttered by entirely well meaning individuals but the combined effect has looked a lot like an attempt to shut down any discussion about sexuality because yuck and who cares and Tories and austerity and boo!!! And some are just awful homophobia:
“he’s doing it for attention/sympathy”
“it’s a distraction” “it’s a conspiracy”
It’s been a small minority of yer usual eejits who’ve been peddling this but it‘s just not on. Undermining the legitimacy of someone‘s sexuality is the most basic form of homophobia. “Call me a cynic but…” No, you’re being a homophobe.
“I don’t care” “who cares?”
Your lack of care is duly noted, although why people make it their duty to dedicate time to telling us this every single time someone comes out, I’m not sure.
Many of these responses look a lot like the work of the wheesht brigade, who leap out to tell gay people to shut up because “who even cares?” and “wouldn’t it be nice if we never had to talk about this” purely because it makes them uncomfortable. If you actually don’t care, go and do whatever you care about, I’m sure David Mundell of all people is well enough resourced to survive without your round the clock assistance.
“I’m not surprised”
What was it exactly which made you just know he was one of us? The voice? The hair? The fact he’s posh? Does he do *that* thing we all do? If you’re punting your amazing ability to spot a gay, based on your own prejudices, as though that’s something to be proud of, have a word with yourself.
“why is this even news?”
It might not be news if we lived in a society which didn’t violently enforce heterosexuality or if straight people and non-straight people had the same life expectancy or if homophobia no longer existed.
OR people might still have a right to use an opportunity like yesterday to have a discussion about our history/the incredible complexities of human sexuality/the pumping, whether it makes you a bit squeamish or not.
“He’s still a fucking Tory”
I’ve dealt with this in some detail before. I really don’t like Tories either – and I really don’t like David Mundell. But it’s beyond patronising for people to think they need explain why Tories are really bad, in response to someone coming out.
I haven’t forgotten a single thing the Tories have done, and continue to do, to LGBTI people or anyone else. We’ve not gone soft because we chose to respect and discuss the issue at hand, rather than treating someone’s coming out like a playground for our much more important stuff.
Equality which doesn’t include the right to be wrong is not equality. We’re the last people to pretend the left is all sweetness and light on issues of sexuality and/or gender but I cannot imagine what being a gay Tory at various points in their history would have been like. I don’t want people to be bullied or to be driven out of politics because of their sexuality, even if it makes a party political point.
The expectation that people who’re gay have to want to join you in your quest to overthrow capitalism/end London rule is actually, well, homophobia. In some ways, it means more that he’s a Tory…it annoys way more people anyway.
I may firmly believe David Mundell lacks basic compassion, is part of a Government engaged in brutal and wilful destruction of our communities and that he probably dines of kittens – but we musn’t be dragged back to a time when the best many could muster was some kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” response to someone very publicly coming out.
It’s time we talked about sexuality- in our schools, in our politics, in our lives. On the week a Scottish Parliament Committee struck down a petition for LGBTI inclusive education, it seems the desire to hope we all shut and go away without making too much noise may not be a fringe view.
The most important thing to remember, if you thought this was a great excuse to have a good rant about what a roaster David Mundell is, is that he didnae actually see your smart arsed remarks. But the people around you who’re not straight or who’re struggling with their sexuality did – and sometimes the message to them might not have been as supportive as you thought.
You hate the fucking Tories, like almost everyone else in Scotland, do you want a biscuit? Next time, if you’ve never had to deal with these issues, consider whether you’d have more to learn by listening to the discussion, rather than just dismissing it.
I’ll finish with this – because these three words were every bit as common in the muddled responses as “father of three” was in the reporting.
“It doesn’t matter”
If one kid brought up in a Tory voting family feels a bit more secure in themselves and their sexuality today, if one person realises they’re not too old to accept who they are, this matters. The happiness of David Mundell is not my concern but unless we recognise that coming out still matters, we do a disservice to those who do it in much more challenging circumstances. It’s easy to remember who we’re fighting against – but what we’re fighting for matters much more.