Wednesday, September 22, 2010
It really isn't my attempt to get at Stonewall again it is just a coincidence. When David Laws came out Ben Summerskill took to the air waves and print media saying that gay men who stayed in the closet didn't deserve the same degree of support and sympathy of an organisation such a Stonewall.
Reading the news today, while I was sitting waiting for Mícheál coming out of an appointment at the Royal Victoria Hospital, of David Law's latest statement I think it needs revisiting.
He says he has 'lost the hunger' and is 'unwilling to return to the Government' after the stress of being outed the way he was. There is even talk of him not seeking re-election for his seat in Yeovil at the next election depending on the outcome of a parliamentary investigation into the financial dealings which saw him worse off, but not declaring the relationship with his 'landlord'.
It is a sad case when someone is forcibly outed and loses their va-va voom as appears to be the case with one of the sharpest minds in the Lib Dem parliamentary team. It may be just a matter of time that David still needs to come to terms with his situation, I certainly hope it is, but I hope it is not the onset of some deeper malaise.
As I pointed out shortly at the time public opinion was that the UK didn't care about the sexuality of those leading the country. But it can be hard to have to come to terms with the sudden public knowledge of your sexuality. Most of us get the opportunity to come out to others in our own terms, in our own time. It is an ongoing process as each new contact has to be weighed up for how and when they are told.
To have that decision ripped out of you hands and over the front pages and TV screens must be a traumatic experience and one that takes some time to heal and get over. I'm not saying to David get out there and be proud of who you are right now. I'm sure if he had turned up at the Delga AGM or any of their fringe events* he would have been made to feel very welcome, but he chose to stay away from conference altogether. But I would say don't do anything too hasty. See advice from those of us who are out, gay, candidates or MPs about how we deal with it. Some of us keep it as something we don't talk about, some like me seem to very much at ease as talking about it as part of us, not the whole.
It would be a shame to lose David to politics altogether and I hope that he does reconsider the statement he has made. But I also know that the time has to be right for him.
* Or any part of conference for that matter.