Occasionally, very occasionally, I re-run my old pieces when I feel they’re particularly relevant to current events.
This is one such occasion, for Boris Johnson and Jo Swinson are in the news together, Boris somewhat more prominently. Both of them have just been elected leaders of two major parties: the Tories and the LibDems respectively.
Well, it just so happens that five-and-a-half years ago they already co-starred in the news. Boris was then Mayor of London, while Jo held that vital post of Equalities Minister, without which no valid government can function.
(Activating a simple equation, one can infer that no government in British history had been valid and functional until Tony Blair first created this post.)
Anyway, I sensed then, without at the time realising I had sensed it, that their destinies would be intertwined. So here’s what I wrote on 14 January, 2013.
Can you see sparks flying? Are you deafened by ear-splitting bangs? These are coming from mutually exclusive pieties clashing all over the place.
Having devoted my life to promoting political correctness (well, merely the second half of my life, but only because the term didn’t exist in the first half), I find myself in a quandary.
Just look at this. Mayor Boris Johnson is to offer London as the site for the 2018 World Gay Games, presumably to be called Homolympics.
Far be it from me to suggest there’s anything wrong with extending a welcoming hand to those whose lifestyle, though different from mine, is just as valid and commendable – morally, socially and above all politically. The PC community to which I proudly belong regards everything and everyone as equal in every respect.
However, it’s precisely our hitherto unshakeable belief in even-handed equality that’s being shattered by the very idea of Gay Games. I, for one, am shocked at the implications. What does it actually mean? Let’s consider the possibilities.
Possibility 1: The Games will involve sports in which only homosexuals can ever participate.
Other than adding a whole new meaning to ‘relay baton’, one hesitates to think what these might be.
Women’s tennis? No, that’s not it – there have been some notable heteros even among Wimbledon winners (springing to mind is Chris Evert and… er, Chris Evert).
Beach volleyball? Admittedly, its homoerotic potential has been popularised by the film Top Gun and, to make sure nobody missed the point, the female lead was played by a self-outed lesbian. But this is too marginal a sport to act as the fulcrum for a worldwide extravaganza. No, this possibility has to be discarded.
Possibility 2: Homosexuals have to compete in a separate event because their physical abilities are fundamentally inferior.
This raises such horrendous subtexts that any member of the PC community should recoil in horror.
Repeat after me: WE! ARE! ALL! EQUAL! This is the principle to live by, and in this case it has ample empirical support.
On the women’s side, the vile discriminatory proposition is refuted by a long and honourable roll of hetero Wimbledon champions, such as Chris Evert and… well, Chris Evert. (I’m not suggesting there have been no other straights among them, only that I can’t think of them offhand.)
On the male side, a few homosexual boxers have held world titles in even the heavier weight classes. And one didn’t see Justin Fashanu pull out of too many tackles. So this possibility bites the dust as well.
Possibility 3: Homosexuals must be segregated, as they can’t be allowed to mix with heterosexuals.
Yes, I know this is outrageous, but I’m running out of possibilities here, so bear with me.
To make such separation even remotely valid, other sporting events would have to exclude homosexuals. Yet no attempt to hold a Heterolympics has ever been made, nor ever will be. Anything like that wouldn’t just fly in the face of equality, but would indeed smash it to a pulp.
This is precisely what vexes such a strong champion of political correctness as me. Surely it’s discriminatory to limit a sporting event to those practising a particular lifestyle (that’s what homosexuality is, isn’t it?)? Isn’t it akin to having whites-only or, for that matter, blacks-only restaurants or swimming pools?
Of course it is. And I can prove this by simply inviting you to imagine the furore that would ensue if Boris Johnson announced that London is bidding for the 2018 World Straight Games. Why, Boris would be tarred and feathered faster than you can say ‘bigoted homophobe’ – and quite right too. Then why doesn’t it work both ways? I’m baffled.
In Boris’s view, “there should be no limit to London’s legacy ambitions”. Whatever that means, obviously one such limit ought to be imposed by our rejection of discrimination in all its forms. Otherwise the PC community, to which I belong so proudly, will be offended, and it offends easily.
Yet Jo Swinson, the equalities minister, went against her mandate by making me even more mystified: “I have always been a passionate supporter of sport being open to everyone and I am wholeheartedly behind the bid…”
But that’s precisely our problem: the Gay Games won’t be ‘open to everyone’; they’ll only be open to homosexuals. Then again, one doesn’t expect a barely post-pubescent girl, and a politician to boot, to think before she talks.
And is she suggesting that regular sporting events, such as Wimbledon, are at present not open to homosexuals? If so, she should by all means produce the supporting evidence, of the kind that would refute tonnes of contradictory evidence available.
A satirist complained the other day that his genre is moribund because no satirist can outdo our self-mocking reality these days. All one can do is come up with serious, rational suggestions, such as amalgamating the World Gay Games and Paralympics. I for one would love to watch the homosexual cripple jump, wouldn’t you?
In this bid London faces competition from Amsterdam, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Limerick. I’m especially intrigued by the last bidder, for all sorts of poetic slogans suggest themselves (such as, “A gay heavyweight from Khartoum//Took a lesbian champ to his room,// And they argued a lot// About who would do what// And how and with what and to whom”).
So I’m rooting for Limerick, but the others shouldn’t be discouraged. Go for it, chaps, and may the best men lose.
In the end, it was Paris that won the bidding game in 2013. Better luck next time, Boris and Jo. And Boris? If you ever find yourself in conference with Jo, keep your hands to yourself, there’s a good lad.