Monday, 1 July 2013

"But he's a TORY!"

There's been a little media splash in the UK as we gained our third bisexual MP (although one of the three has left Parliament) this weekend.  Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury, had  left his wife about two years ago and now decided to go public about his new male partner and not being a heterosexual.

The media have been relatively calm - he wasn't especially high profile like a government minister or what have you, which probably helped, and appears to have come out of his own volition rather than having been embarrassed out by some incident or other.  The Daily Mail misreported him as the first bi MP, and shoddy journalism repeated this unchallenged in a few other places*: a lie is still halfway round the world before the truth has its boots on.

I've picked up a few gruntles from the disgruntled about him being a Conservative MP. The Tories have - ahem - not in the past been terribly good on bi (and indeed LGBT) issues. Over the last few decades on gay and lesbian matters the Liberals led and Labour trotted along reasonably close behind while the Tories were starkly opposed; while on bi and trans matters Labour too have been very poor. How can one of us be one of them comes the cry?

But you know, I want there to be openly bi Tories. It's good for us all. The thing is, I want my sexuality to not be a party political plaything: I want to know that whoever wins the next election will broadly agree that I shouldn't be treated any the worse in employment, the media, healthcare or whatever merely by accident of my sexual orientation.  Yes, aware queer voters might look back at who had been their friend when it cost rather than won votes, but the question of who wins should not be loaded with the fear of a new Section 28 or what have you.

Sure they'll couch it in terms that suit their ideology: Tories that we should be free to be any sexuality the market can sustain, Labour that we should be able to be whatever sexuality our state records have us filed under, and the Liberals that we can call ourselves whatever we like as long as we keep the noise down because the neighbours are trying to sleep.  But getting to the point where being a bisexual MP of any stripe is no bar to progress in public life would be a grand thing.  We're still not there, it's still of note and debate that an MP has come out as bi to a degree that would probably no longer be the case if he were gay, but slowly and surely we are getting there.



* the BBC and the Mirror at least

4 comments:

  1. I'm pretty sure there are more than three, as well -- there's Hughes,Oaten, Ron Davies, and Portillo...

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  2. I agree we can pick a number higher than three.

    Oaten and Portillo are both slightly debateable: Portillo I think talked about sex with men as being something in his youth rather than during his MP career, which if we take sexual orientation as something of a snapshot rather than an "add up all your partners ever and divide by the number you first thought of" could make him a straight MP. Oaten on the other hand just seems so terribly mixed up about all of it... I'm keeping to the ones who have used terms of sufficient proximity to the B word and in the present tense.

    There's also Ken Livingstone's declaration in the 80s of what seems to have been Political Bisexuality, in an "I stand with the queers" kind of a way during the heights of tabloid HIV hysteria.

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  3. And then there's what we make of the Jeremy Thorpe saga...

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    ReplyDelete