2 Sep 2010

Hague story not about sexuality

It’s been known for a few weeks. The former chairman of the US Republican Party has come out as gay. In the September edition of Atlantic, the man who ran George Bush’s presidential election campaign, Ken Mehlman, confirmed officially that he was out.

These days he’s an executive vice president of the huge KKR private equity corporation in New York. The revelation has had no consequence…it has caused not a stir. Mr Mehlman says he wishes he’d done it years ago, and has done it now to advance the cause of gay marriage.

Contrast with William Hague’s agonising statement yesterday and the “up the sleeve” sniggering and innuendo on the web. Should anyone give a damn about anyone’s sexuality? One normally views life across the Atlantic, particularly in matters of private morals, as more puritanical than our own. Not so when it comes to homosexuality.

10 per centĀ of the US electorate is thought to be gay. Gays are now an accepted and influential element of civic society in the US – their votes are courted. The outstanding issue today in America is no longer sexuality, but the marital rights of gay people.

If anything, in the UK, the internet, far from liberating the gay community, has joined the tabloid press in the trough of prejudice.

It matters not a damn whether William Hague or anyone else in public or private life is or is not gay. No one would have to share such information with anyone. Indeed, find me the journalist who hasn’t shared a room with someone whether sexually or otherwise in their reporting careers. I have done so with the fattest man I have ever seen in the nude. Lovely man, he was my producer in the 1992 General Election. We had to do an “overnight” in Central London and got the last hotel room in Bloomsbury.

The issue in the Hague matter should have nothing to do with his sexuality. The only question is whether the aide he was “accused” of sharing a hotel room with was hired and employed according to whatever rulesĀ govern these matters. That would be true were the aide a man or a woman, fat or thin.

Thanks Ken Mehlman for having the courage to do what you have done. You won’t remember me. I was the lanky Brit asking awkward questions about George Bush from the back of the room in that downtown Washington hotel in 2004. I wasn’t interested in your sexuality then, and I shall not be if there’s ever a next time.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4