Monday, 31 May 2010

Straight talking

It's absurd that David Laws, the Cabinet Minister who has just resigned after 18 days in the job, felt he still had to conceal his homosexuality at the age of 44.

He resigned over expenses-fiddling, but in the process he was outed as gay and having a quasi-secret relationship with another man.

We don't know exactly why he was so defensive about his sexuality. Presumably from fear of other people's reactions - his parents, his friends, his work colleagues, the media, the public. Who knows?

But it's extraordinary, and sad, that a middle-aged man, a successful, well-connected, well-heeled millionaire, should feel it necessary to hide a major aspect of his personal life and go to such lengths to fabricate a heterosexual facade that falsified his real self.

Asked about his domestic situation a week ago, he declared himself to be "single". Asked whether he was paying rent to a sexual partner, he implied the relationship was not sexual but purely platonic. The constant wriggling and evasiveness must have been an agonising ordeal, yet he had been doing it for decades.

I should imagine that after he has got over the initial shock and dismay of being unexpectedly outed, he will be relieved that the truth has finally emerged and he can freely admit his sexuality and drop the endless, excruciating pretence.

It's ridiculous that so many years after homosexuality was decriminalised, when so many gay men and lesbians have no reservations about revealing their sexuality to the world, there are still many people like David Laws who feel compelled for one reason or another to keep their gayness under wraps like some tawdry, squalid obsession.

Will this sense of shame never disappear?

Pic: David Laws


  1. I suppose he grew up in a time when it was still frowned upon in his chosen career.
    Yes, it is all very sad.

  2. Probably not - the world is a very strange place with people who like their politicians to be straight laced stereotypes - not real people!!
    Sad isn't it?

  3. I personally believe that the 'outing' has given him a handle to tackle his other more serious offense, that of using tax payers' money for paying rent. Using the sympathy of the former, he is getting away with the latter.

  4. The fact that he is gay is immaterial and no excuse for fiddling his expenses and at forty what ever, he is old enough to know that.

  5. Scarlet - Well, it was frowned upon at one time but nowadays there are quite a number of openly out MPs. It's not exactly earth-shattering news any more.

    Kate - I think nowadays all they really care about is whether he's doing his job properly. After all, Simon Hughes (another Liberal Democrat MP) has been out for many years.

    Ramana - I think you're right there. What did he even need the £40,000 (rent payments) for when he's already a millionaire? But that's not what people are focussing on.

    Grannymar - Absolutely, he knew he was fiddling the money, he knew he wasn't entitled to it, but he was too greedy to back off. Of course half the other MPs were on the fiddle as well, but that didn't make it right.

  6. Its a shame that the focus seems to have switched. He's a frauduilent politician and that's so much more important than his sexual preference. I think it a great shame that the two are positioned as related. We have openly gay politicians here even the president of the AMA is gay and proud but the issue here is his swindling not the fact that he's been outed. This sort of distraction is unnecessary and so typical of tabloid journalism

  7. Baino - You're right that the expenses-fiddling is the important issue to the general public, but I think it's also astonishing that he continues to hide his sexuality in such enlightened times.

  8. My take, from what I've read, is a little different. I think his homosexuality was hidden because he was on the take and wished to keep the 'spousal' definition off the books or he couldn't claim his rental expenses. The wealthiest people go on the fiddle all the time, their wealth does not exempt them. We had similar such scandals here in Canada.
    Now that he's been caught he is using not outing himself as an excuse to which I say pshaw, this is not Amurrica.

  9. maybe he is just a weak git and his behaviour on both counts is symptomatic

  10. See, if he were a US political figure, he'd have been out-spokenly anti-gay rights and then tearful when he was outed. Because we're crazy that way.

  11. www - That's right, rent can't be claimed by an MP in a "spousal" relationship, so he claimed they were not behaving spousally! How deceitful can you get? As you say, he's now using the desire to keep his gayness secret as an excuse for the expenses-fiddling. Which of course makes no sense at all.

    Kylie - That sums it up very neatly.

    Secret Agent - Yes, that happens sometimes over here as well. And some gay men still use a bogus (straight) marriage to conceal their real sexuality.

  12. So sad to have to pretend all your life, no life at all in fact?

  13. Suburbia - True, how can you have a normal life when you're always hiding something so fundamental and always afraid someone will expose you?

  14. That aspect of it is terribly depressing.

    I like Kylie's summation--especially because I LOVE the word "git."

  15. Leah - It is depressing. And perverse in today's more open-minded climate.

    A wonderful word, git. Apparently its original meaning was an illegitimate child.

  16. Aww, that's awful. Was he crooked or did his political enemies out him to get rid of him?

  17. Liz - Probably a combination of both. Yes, he was greedy and bent the rules about reclaiming rent. But whoever leaked the details presumably wanted to sabotage either him or the new coalition government.

  18. Politicians have been getting caught with their pants down ever since there were politicians. And yet they still continue to behave like the fallible human beings they are. How shocking.

    In other words, I'm never shocked by anything that comes "out" about any of them. There but for lack of ambition go I...

  19. Megan - They're fallible human beings, sure, but this was a bit more than fallible. This was a millionaire claiming £40,000 in rent payments he wasn't entitled to. And another £100,000 of claims are under investigation.