What's particularly loathesome about the piece, by Jan Moir, is the sanctimonious tone, that actually has the audacity to pass mournful judgment on a ghoulish culture of celebrity death-eaters. "In the morning, a body has already turned cold before the first concerned hand reaches out to touch an icy celebrity shoulder." Nothing like what we're doing here with Stephen Gately, a 33 member of the Irish boy band Boyzone, who died last week in Spain, and whose death has saddened fans across the UK.
Moir, too, is deeply, deeply saddened. Take this supremely backhanded description of Gately's public sexuality, all couched in the terms of a respectful eulogy: "Gately came out as gay in 1999 after discovering that someone was planning to sell a story revealing his sexuality to a newspaper. Although he was effectively smoked out of the closet, he has been hailed as a champion of gay rights, albeit a reluctant one." Understandably reluctant initially, perhaps - the man was a member of a boy-band - but ultimately someone who made his 2006 civil union a cause celebre and was regarded as a role model for many young people.
His death was "mysterious" - that is, the family hasn't gone totally public with details, although his mother cites a hereditary heart problem. The Daily Mail doesn't buy it: that evening, apparently he and his partner had brought a young man home with them, and, they conclude, obviously something sordid was at work. Well, perhaps - maybe drugs were involved. Maybe there was an orgy. Maybe it was a case of celebrity excess. Whatever the case, however sinister and sordid the death - and please, Daily Mail, do let your imagination run wild! - it does nothing to justify the following paragraph:
Another real sadness about Gately's death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships. Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael.Of course, in many cases this may be true. Yet the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately's last night raise troubling questions about what happened. It is important that the truth comes out about the exact circumstances of his strange and lonely death. As a gay rights champion, I am sure he would want to set an example to any impressionable young men who may want to emulate what they might see as his glamorous routine. For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see.
Let's forget for a moment about these "gay activists" with their uniform opinions (Andrew Sullivan, for one, would be surprised to hear his views characterized this way). Let's forget about this straw-man litany of disillusioning celebrity civil unions (since straight celebrity marriages are all a model of decorum and old-fashioned values.) And let's forget about the disgusting poor-taste of using the death of someone - whose body, only today, was delivered home - as an opportunity for ham-fisted, wholly irrational and mean-spirited political sermonizing. All this we'd expect. What's truly vile is, throughout, the tone of commiseration, the "isn't it a shame that his death has proved civil unions are an evil sham, and that he was such a poor role model for the gay youth we care about so very much." They'd just love gay marriage to work - it's too bad they're just inherently sinful! Simple-minded censure is one thing; chilling forked-tongue hypocrisy is quite another. It's - how did a great writer once put it? - like poinous ooze, seeping out for all to see.
A Strange, Lonely And Troubling Death . . .[Daily Mail]