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Ivan Massow: This new gay hedonism is not what I fought for

By Ivan Massow, London Evening Standard

In a provocative view, a leading gay rights campaigner says obsession with drugs and sex is blighting the cause

My financial services company was the first corporate sponsor of London’s Gay Pride. Twenty-five years ago, long before Royal Bank of Scotland was sponsoring high-profile gay awards (and receiving most of the prizes), we stood with a banner behind a trestle table promoting the case for unity through a pink pound.

Pride then was so small it struggled to fill half of Kennington Park and a disco tent. But I believed that if you could get business behind gay rights, the rest would follow.

We had a dream. We dreamed of a world where we could come out at work and prosper. Where we’d be educated about safe sex and sexuality, rather than be bullied because of it. Where we weren’t only represented on TV by camp comics (as much as we loved them) and where we didn’t have to descend to public toilets to meet partners. Where our sexuality was seen as just another facet of humanity to be respected alongside all others. In short, a world where we were considered normal, or at least harmlessly different.

We hardy dared dream of a world that would allow us an equal age of consent and marriage, so ferocious were our critics. We accepted that homophobic jokes would go unquestioned in the workplace where, if levelled at blacks or Jews, they would have brought instant discipline. We accepted that some blacks, Jews and Christians alike had the right to hate us as part of their “culture”. We were, quite simply, at the bottom of the pile and in a legal abyss, unloved and judged.

[...]  Twenty-five years later, many of our dreams have been answered. But I can’t help wondering, now that so much has gone so right, why does it all feel so wrong?

Don’t misunderstand me: I enjoy apps like Grindr (gay dating apps that supply you with a photo and precise distance of your nearest shag) as much as the next man. I admit to recreational drugs use in my distant past.

But am I the only one to notice that the gay scene today seems obsessed with drugs? Obsessed with sex. Unable to take responsibility for its part in the spread of HIV. Inhabiting a soulless and empty world of hedonism.

In fact, as many thousands prepare to descend on central London this weekend, I am finding it difficult to be proud.

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