I had friends from a reasonably early age onwards who were obviously gay. So said Tony Blair in an interview with UK gay magazine Attitude, published last week, the same interview in which he predicted there will one day be a gay prime minister. Can you imagine John Howard, even in the most desperate throes of electioneering, making either statement? Me neither.
It doesn’t surprise me that Blair mingled with the openly homosexual at school. He has that Drama Club voice and displays a certain theatrical flair. And Cherie is just a blonde wig away from a stunning Carol Channing impersonation.
John Howard, meanwhile, has that congested monotone and all the charm of a faulty appliance. I can’t picture him having any friends from an early age onwards. And Janette? Who’s Janette?
Blair’s revelation of liberal adolescence transported me to my own obviously gay high-school days. Within the all-boys hierarchy, this placed me way below the jocks and in the crosshairs of those who would now be described as emotionally troubled. I, in turn, looked down on the A/V nerds and those who would today be called aesthetically challenged. Those private school playgrounds can be brutal, I tell you.
John Howard strikes me as the sort of person I would have teased at school: physically unimposing but unshakably self-confident; lousy at sport but tireless in the pursuit of befriending those who won the trophies; a shifty little opportunist harbouring Big Ideas.
Even if little Johnny had tried to befriend me, I would have thrown him a withering glare. I know his type. They had nothing to offer and everything to gain. We, the obviously gay, had the gall to value honesty and consequently paid the price. Friendship was found among our own and with those, like Blair, who failed to see a problem. We all viewed boys like Johnny with a mix of pity and disdain.
That both Blair and Howard joined the Coalition of the Fawning is depressing. That Blair, unlike Howard, is prepared to acknowledge that there are heterosexual people and homosexual people and that is just a fact is even more so. We really got a raw deal in the prime ministerial stakes. But then maybe Johnny just needs the friendship he never had, a pat on the back, if you will.
With a kick me sign.