Dear Nigel Farage (again)
Dear Mr Farage
Hello. It's me again.
I realise you're very busy. I didn't therefore really expect a response to my last letter about John Lyndon Sullivan and his suggestion that were one 'poofter (or whatever)' to be shot, 99 other 'poofters' would decide they weren't actually gay.
I thought, however, given the storm of criticism surrounding the issue you might have taken note of my, and far more importantly others', comments and perhaps condemn these and other homophobic statements.
Then I saw your interview with Jeremy Paxman on BBC's Newsnight. In it he asked you about the homophobic comments made by some of your candidates. Most importantly your candidate in the Newark by-election, Roger Helmer.
Mr Helmer has been reported in The Sun and other places, of making a number of comments that could be construed as being homophobic. For example, that many people find homosexuality 'distasteful if not viscerally repugnant', or suggesting that homosexuality is akin to a mental health problem.
I'm not used to quoting the Sun. But I do think their editorial about Mr Helmer's comments was spot on.
The Sun's editorial is right, if rather bluntly put. I would defend Mr Helmer's right to hold the view he, clearly, personally does. It is however entirely wrong to espouse it as a political platform. There are people out there who, when they hear your candidates make homophobic comments, believe that it's acceptable to show prejudice. Acceptable to be intolerant. Acceptable to cause harm,. Just because of someone's choice of partner.
And much more importantly. When there is no retraction by the candidates themselves. No condemnation from you, their party leader. No sanction from the party to which they subscribe. Then those who believe it's acceptable to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation are heartened. They feel they have a home. They bask in your implicit approval.
I'm disappointed by your failure to condemn your candidates' homophobic comments.
I'm even more offended by your defence of them on Newsnight. Your explanation was that Mr Helmer was 'over 70'. He held the views of the 'older generation.' He had been brought up with 'traditional values' that younger people might not hold.
Let me explain a little about my family.
My parents were both born in the 1920s. The younger children of older parents who had themselves been born in the 1880s. Their upbringing was therefore essentially Edwardian, despite being children of the Depression and the 1930s.
Sadly, my mother passed away the day before our adopted son first came to live with us. My father is still alive. He's 87. In many ways he's not dissimilar to Mr Helmer.
'Grandad' is quite often grumpy. He's rarely politically correct. He's a staunch Christian and an even stauncher monarchist. Having been a small businessman for most of his adult life his politics are by default, tribally, of the right. He loved Margaret Thatcher. He harks back often to the 'chaos' of the 1970s.
He is not, and never has been, homophobic.
That's not as a consequence of having a gay son. It's part of him. It's in his soul.
In fact, my father has never shown any prejudice towards anyone.
Honestly, I can remember him using language that would, nowadays, be deemed unacceptable.
The racist words of Love Thy Neighbour and Mind Your Language. Words from a different time. Language that caused hurt and pain then. Names we abhor now. Descriptors that we, as a society regret. Which my father now understands, as the vast majority of us do, were hurtful, discriminatory and wrong.
I can also remember my parents having gay friends. Although the culture of the time didn't allow them to be described as such.
Bobby and Gerald were a devoted couple. Running a business alongside my parents in the small town in which we lived. Taking an active part in the community. Generous with their time and resources. Retiring together to Cornwall in the early 1980s, where my parents would visit them regularly.
"And Bobby was SO kind to his mother," as my Mum often repeated.
They may not have described themselves as gay. They certainly didn't wave a rainbow flag. Had no concept of civil partnership or gay marriage. Would be astounded to think that J and I, a gay couple, would have been able to adopt children.
But Bobby and Gerald were accepted. Accepted by a middle class, small town, homogeneously white community. Accepted for who they were. Accepted for what they contributed. A male couple who loved one another. And for that they were loved by all.
So Mr Farage. When you say that Mr Helmer's and your other candidates' homophobic views are as a consequence of their being from a different generation. Are a result of a 'traditional upbringing' you are entirely wrong.
Not only are you wrong, but you are also denigrating the tolerant, accepting society my parents built. The open, democratic country my grandparents fought for.
You attempt to transpose the discriminatory views of a minority on to a whole generation. Using their age to disguise the prejudice.
Once again, making it acceptable for those far less eloquent, far more unpleasant than yourself to hate me. Dismiss my family. Make our future that little less certain, a bit darker, a tad more dangerous.
Our children came from a dark place. Their past still haunts them. Literally. Your failure to condemn prejudice endangers their being able to put fear and pain behind them. It threatens them with a new darkness. It makes their journey harder.
You should continue to be ashamed.
And by the way, I mentioned your point to Grandad. His response is unrepeatable here.
I never said he didn't use bad language.