[That Mirror headline is too good not to nick ... ]
Dead ex-Tory PM Ted Heath has been outed.
Ya gotta laugh. Here's the rather desperate comment in the Times:
Any suggestion that the late Sir Edward Heath was ever cautioned for improper sexual behaviour would need much better evidence than has so far been offered.And this is Matthew Parris, but it's the tone of the phlegmatic old Tory establishment ("absolute bollocks!', 'My gay colleagues never said a word'...) .
I guess they all need a pet Gay now, these pillars of the establishment ...
Parris is forgetting the era and his own life experience.
If Heath was gay it's very likely he tried it out at least once, when he was young. At that time gay men lived in a Police State, so the idea that he brushed up against that is not at all ridiculous.
Parris forgets what life was like (see Dirk Bogarde in Victim). He claims Heath would have been discrete, but what about before he could ensure protection?
Heath was before my time but in the early 80s I was very active in politics.
Attending Labour conferences you soon found out who the gay MPs were. There were a lot. And a lot of them were not at all discrete.
I remember one very cute members of our gay activist mob being hit on all the time. But we're all expected to keep the secret.
The Party protected them and kept the secret. Many were well known to be closeted, even if they didn't realise. I'm not going to say who from that time is now a heck of a lot more powerful.
At the same time, we also all knew, just from being in the community, who the gay/bi Tories were - and those haven't all been outed yet and some were extremely powerful.
Parris does comment however, describing how this works from a gay male perspective:
"As a young Tory MP, I escorted his car into my constituency, leather-jacketed on my motorbike, I used to notice the twinkle in Ted’s eye. He thought my costume and conduct a total hoot, never failed to remind me of it."
This is gaydar + how you know, if you're gay. They notice very cute men. Ow, the secret's out ...
Closeted gay men are not the camp ones - they are very often the hyper-straight ones (and not as a defence mechanism). They're the ones not very interested in Boobs and Boob culture (i.e. Jordan/Kylie - actually Kylie is probably a fail safe, I have yet to meet a straight man who doesn't fancy her).
He's got this one right too:
"Women at his table — and there were few — tended to be ignored unless they stood up for themselves."
Very true in my experience of closeted gay men of his generation, very often misogynist.
Heath-types, who bury and deny themselves so deeply that they become a-sexual are still around and are protected.
The whole thing makes complete sense to me, Matthew.