Overtones of Bigotry

[Trigger warning.]

First, some background: Stephen Gately, 33, a member of the Irish boyband Boyzone, died last weekend very suddenly, of what was apparently pulmonary edema caused by an undetected heart condition, which, according to Gately's mother, runs in the family. Gately, you need to know, was gay. When he died, he and his husband were on holiday in Mallorca. That night, they'd been out to a club, and had brought with them back to their apartment a young man they'd met.

You need to know this because, apparently, these circumstances are "more than a little sleazy."

This, according to Jan Moir, in her piece run this morning by Britain's Daily Mail, already one of the contemptible publications on the planet and evidently keen to up the ante. Originally titled "Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death"—and now titled "A strange, lonely and troubling death…" after outrage about Moir's piece consumed the British news and blogosphere—the article is positively shocking.

The coverage of Gately's death has been problematic right from the start, with his partner being called his "boyfriend" in many news reports, despite the fact they were legally bound by a British civil union. But Moir's piece is beyond the conceivable beyond. Shaker Richard, who sent the article to me, aptly called it "about as vile and hateful an article as I've ever read." By the time I was finished reading it, I was incandescent with rage, sputtering furiously and seriously wondering whether I would be able to write anything coherent.

The Guardian's Charlie Brooker does an epic takedown of Moir's gobsmacking fuckery:
Still, if his death wasn't natural "by any yardstick", what did kill him? Moir knows: it was his lifestyle. Because Gately was, y'know . . . homosexual. Having lanced this boil, Moir lets the pus drip out all over her fingers as she continues to type: "The circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy," she declares. "Cowles and Gately took a young Bulgarian man back to their apartment. It is not disrespectful to assume that a game of canasta . . . was not what was on the cards . . . What happened afterwards is anyone's guess."

Don't hold back, Jan. Have a guess. Draw us a picture. You specialise in celebrity death fantasies, after all.

"His mother is still insisting that her son died from a previously undetected heart condition that has plagued the family." Yes. That poor, blinkered woman, "insisting" in the face of official medical evidence that absolutely agrees with her.

Anyway, having cast aspersions over a tragic death, doubted a coroner and insulted a grieving mother, Moir's piece builds to its climax: "Another real sadness about Gately's death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships. … Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages … in many cases this may be true. Yet the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately's last night raise troubling questions about what happened."

Way to spread the pain around, Jan. Way to link two unrelated tragedies, Jan. Way to gay-bash, Jan.
Kevin McGee recently hung himself. It bears absolutely no relation to Gately's death, except insomuch as they were both gay—and, thus, according to Moir, evidence that the total straw-tale of "happily-ever-after civil partnerships" is bullshit.

Which is, after all, the most important point to be making after the tragic deaths of two young gay men. Those straw-men won't knock down themselves!

And even after dragging the unrelated death of another young gay man into her absurd treatise on Gately's "unnatural" death and his "sleazy" lifestyle and how sleazy, unnatural death seems to be the inevitable result of civil partnerships between same-sex couples, Moir's statement in defense of the piece, released earlier this afternoon, incredibly claims:
The point of my column—which, I wonder how many of the people complaining have fully read—was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, his death raises many unanswered questions. That was all.

…In writing that 'it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships' I was suggesting that civil partnerships—the introduction of which I am on the record in supporting—have proved just to be as problematic as marriages.

In what is clearly a heavily orchestrated internet campaign I think it is mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones.
All right then—how about this? Your article has homophobic and bigoted overtones.

Never, ever, have I read anyone argue anywhere on the planet that same-sex civil unions and/or marriages are less problematic than marriages, that every gay couple will live happily ever after. That is an invented argument, and when people invent arguments with the express purpose of creating an opportunity to tsk-tsk at marginalized people and victim-blame them for their own deaths, that's called naked fucking bigotry.

No undertones about it.


[As an aside: The fact the headline was changed to reference a "lonely" death, despite the fact that Gately was with his husband, very tellingly exposes about what the Mail thinks of civil partnerships, too.]

The good news is that there is an incredible amount of outrage (and deservedly so); ads have been pulled and so many complaints are being made to Britain's Press Complaints Commission that the site is totally overwhelmed with traffic.

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