Saturday, 17 May 2014

Open Letter


Dear John Lyndon Sullivan,

Hello! I’m one of those whatevers you’ve read about. I hope it’s not presumptuous of me to assume that you don’t really know any of us- I just get the feeling you might not. If you’re still determined to be a politician you may end up pretending that some of your best friends are etc etc etc, of course, and without doubt you’ll have met some of us. Maybe you had an unmarried uncle who was quite gentle and fond of baking. Think back.

Anyway, I’m writing to take you up on your kind offer to shoot one of us, so that the other 99 (you may need to re-check your statistics) change their minds over whether the whole gay thing is a matter of genetics or education. I’m happy to be your guinea pig in this fascinating social experiment.

I’m guessing you’d be shooting me in the shoulder or the leg, rather than somewhere actually fatal; for elected (or even non-elected) representatives actually to murder fellow citizens who are innocent of any crime is frowned upon in our namby-pamby liberal society. But even so, it’ll send out a powerful message. If we can get a date, time and location fixed, I’ll try and get as many ‘poofters’ as I can to come and watch you prove your point.

A couple of things you need to know: firstly, I won’t back down. You may have run away with the idea that we’re a sissy, physically cowardly lot. You might assume that I’d turn up, pretend to be ready to take a shot, and then run off and write a musical or press flowers or something. But just think- if I did that, your hypothesis wouldn’t be properly tested! I am committed to this project, and although being shot will doubtless sting a bit, I can’t wait to find if it actually works the way you suggest. The idea of standing there, bleeding from a flesh wound, while so many of my friends instantly demarry, fall out of love with their partners, or just plain stop fancying each other is too fascinating to pass up. And besides, you might be surprised. We’re quite hardy, as a bunch. Some of the things we do to each other for pleasure can be really bloody painful.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you’d be pretty well disposed towards me, if the rest of your party is anything to go by. I’m white, I speak nicely, I pay my taxes, and I’ve never been caught being Romanian. Admittedly, your party also doesn’t want me to get married to a man (and if I saw the error of my ways and got married to a woman, it wouldn’t want her to get any maternity pay should she try and bring forth some more white, nicely-spoken non-Romanians). But once I’m shot, your party will have no worries about me getting free medical treatment. That’s why I’m perfect for your experiment- if you found yourself shooting, say, a Frenchman,  on English soil you’d object to your tax money going towards stopping him from dying. But you can shoot me without any such worries. At least for now; if you shot me in a world where your party were in government and had privatized the NHS, you might have a few worries about whether I could afford to have someone pop a plaster on it.

You should also remember that you will get arrested and probably imprisoned. Your party is a big fan of the rule of law, after all, and we can’t have people shooting each other on the street and getting away with it, even in the name of science.  The law seems to be less important when it comes to corporations, admittedly, but I’ve yet to hear any of your colleagues argue for the total deregulation of, say, theft, or mugging. Well, it’s different, isn’t it?

The last thing I’d like gently to mention is the 1980s. It was in that decade that the whatevers faced up to something a little more dangerous than a wannabe councillor with a shotgun. Millions of us, worldwide, died, and hundreds of thousands of others continue both to die from and to live with a disease which threatened our community more than any law ever had. You may have heard about it- it’s not unique to us, it can happen to anyone, even straight white men. It’s laying waste to the third world even now, with no distinctions of sexual orientation, belief or lifestyle (although you may not be hugely informed about the third world because, you know, kipper and all). Anyway, even when that terrible, desperate nightmare stalked us, even when it briefly looked like it was stalking ONLY us, we didn’t change our minds or our orientations. Quite the opposite. We wrote and we sang and we fought and we protested and above all we loved. We loved, and we carry on loving, and we always will.

So I look forward to the results of your fascinating experiment. My shoulder, your gun, your call.

And once you pull the trigger, you wait and see how the ‘next 99’ react. You might just get a surprise.

Yours, in your sights,