Gay press slams Sun 'schoolboy' humour

By Lou Thomas

The Sun has been accused of “insidious homophobia” and of being “out of touch”

by the gay press over its coverage of Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Simon Hughes’s decision to announce his bisexuality.

Last
week, The Sun splashed on Hughes’s interview with associate editor
Trevor Kavanagh in which the MP admitted he had been wrong to hide his
sexuality. Hughes made his admission after being confronted with
evidence that he had phoned a gay chatline.

A front-page
strapline read: “A second Limp-Dem confesses” and a teaser at the
bottom of the page said: “Another one bites the pillow”.

Editor
of monthly gay magazine Attitude, Adam Mattera, said: “The Sun is a bit
out of touch. It couldn’t get away with this sort of stuff if it was a
racial slur, but still it can do something like ‘another one bites the
pillow’, which is outrageous really.

“When it covered the Elton
and David wedding it was the same sort of thing, and when the guy who
played Sulu in Star Trek came out it had ‘Beam me up botty’.”

The
Sun’s splash after Elton John and his partner David Furnish married in
December was headlined: “Elton takes David up the aisle”.

Mattera
said: “It’s a kind of insidious homophobia. It’s just chipping away,
constantly perpetuating ideas that, ‘Oh, they’re all limp-wristed
hairdressers who have anal sex all the time’.”

Mattera also
criticised a Sun cartoon that depicted Mark Oaten and Simon Hughes
naked on a horse with the words ‘Brokeback Party’ underneath.

Mattera
said: “Why are they naked on that horse? It’s sad that they do this
sort of stuff all the time. Every time there’s a big gay news story
they start rolling out the schoolyard puns.”

The editor of Gay
Times, Vicky Powell, said: “Under David Yelland, The Sun actually
became quite respectable about gay issues. I think in the last few
months it’s really been deteriorating again. It’s boring, old-fashioned
and has got no place in a newspaper.”

The Pink Paper’s editor,
Tris Reid Smith, took a more light-hearted view saying: “The quality of
the [Sun’s] punning is not as good as it once was and I think that’s a
well-recognised fact.

I would have thought, from what I know of Sun journalists, they’d be a bit more up-to-date on their sexual references.

You would have thought they would be, given what their private lives are like.”

Sun
managing editor Graham Dudman said the newspaper had received no
complaints from the Liberal Democrats or from Hughes. He said: “The
number of complaints we received about our coverage of Simon Hughes’s
confession you could count on one hand. It wasn’t homophobic, it wasn’t
nasty, it wasn’t offensive, it was funny.”

Dudman said that The
Sun had received hundreds of emails and phone calls from gay readers
and straight readers saying how they laughed at the cartoon and the
presentation.

“They’re both jokes, plays on words.

If people haven’t got the sense of humour to be able to see that, then I suggest that they ought to lighten up a bit,” he added.

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