At a time when morale is low in the gay community (a chronic rise in homophobia, teenage suicides, gay bashing and religious intolerance) I thought it worth making the light enough point that in some ways you could see the male gay life as a lot easier than the male straight life. But to read anything more into it than that is either wilful or stupid. I know that women enjoy sex. If women also say (and I’m in no position to agree or disagree with them) that they have as equally insistent and urgent libidos as men then I have no doubt that must be true also. It is perhaps sad to think that they are as pathetically in the grip of a base and humiliating need to get their rocks off as men are, but if that is the case then that is the case and god knows I’m no expert on the subject and have no right either to confirm or deny the proposition. It simply isn’t my business to pronounce on something that I know nothing of and I’m sorry if the very idea of my even touching on the topic is deemed offensive, inappropriate and outrageous by authorities on gender issues, if such authorities exist. As a gay man, female sexuality is patently a closed book to me. I had fondly imagined that in a free and open society one might be allowed to play with such ideas in a reasonable spirit of debate, but it seems not. It seems that such a conversation was offensive, ignorant, arrogant … god knows what else. Ill-judged it most certainly was.
Spank me with a fly-whisk
You will perhaps say that after nearly 30 years in the public realm I should have known better than to allow myself to have a free-wheeling happy, explorative and silly conversation with any journalist. Maybe I should have guessed that the interviewer wanted not an interview but a story. I should have known that comic exaggeration, so much the chief mode of a humorist, can easily be made to look bad when wrenched from context and nailed up as a proclamation. I admit that I do have a sometimes disastrous tendency, when asked a question, to answer it, often jokingly, or in the interests of ventilating a new thought that has struck, or more or less as the mood takes me but certainly too much without any consideration of the possible consequences. I am not, after all, a politician who has to weigh every syllable and its chances of giving offence. Maybe I should be more aware that those who wish me ill are always likely to seize on such instances and use them as a fly-whisk with which to spank me.
What the Papals Say
The whole Pope business, you might argue, should have warned me plainly. I was one of dozens, scores almost, of signatories to a letter sent to the editor of a low-circulation serious newspaper which suggested (mildly enough I thought) that the pontiff, while welcome (the letter, which I had no hand in writing, used that word) to Britain should not perhaps have his visit paid for out of the public purse. Instead of letting such a letter drop like a flat cowpat onto an uncaring field of public indifference, the press decided to publicise it widely and shriekingly to turn it into a great scandal. For some reason they singled me out as the figure most responsible for it and before long I was Fry the anti-catholic, Fry the Pope-basher, Fry the atheistic hate-monger. Weird, worrying and barely sane.
Am I that important? Should a letter to the Guardian in which I was a fractional part have been talked up into a cause célèbre for which I was judged almost uniquely responsible? Should a gamesome conversation in Attitude magazine be blown up into a major controversy that occupies acres of print? Surely I’m just a writer and actor? Just a nobody whose opinion is worth no more than anyone else’s? Indeed isn’t that the whole thrust of the articles written deploring my sillinesses? Bloody luvvie, who does he think he is? Well, then, why publicise and bring my worthless opinions so sharply front and centre? They can’t have it both ways. They pick up otherwise ignored articles, fulminate against them and in doing so accuse me of pushing myself forward! If the mainstream media ignored the frankly insignificant articles in which I appear almost no one would hear of them. All they have to do is ignore me, instead of which they big up everything they can find which involves me and then follow up their irritation with outraged expressions of annoyance at how prevalent I am. Well they are the ones who make me prevalent. It’s all rather potty and in the end all one can do is giggle at such farcical nonsense.