So Attitude magazine has put David Cameron on the cover. Not in itself a bad thing – there is an argument to be made that an interview with the potential next Prime Minister is a coup and that his record on gay rights should be tackled. What makes it a bad thing is the context and the ridiculous way that the magazine has went about it.
First, the context. Over the past 3 months the magazine has interviewed the leaders of the three main parties – Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and now Cameron. The latter is the only one who has been given the cover. I’ve no doubt that the magazine would argue that this is because he is the most likely to be the next Prime Minister – the truth is that the former two leaders giving an interview to a gay magazine is not particularly noteworthy because their/their parties support for gay rights is well-established. Attitude know that Cameron being on the cover will garner attention from the ‘mainstream’ press because of the Tories’ appalling history on gay issues.
Now, again this could be excused with the arguments in the first paragraph. Indeed, the magazine trumpets the fact that Cameron is interviewed by ‘one of his most vocal critics’ and has a feature preceding the interview examining the history of the Tory party on gay issues. The interviewer does manage to make Cameron squirm on a couple of occasions, but more often he is allowed to be evasive and vague. A critical reader will take this as damning behaviour, but those looking to believe in Cameron’s conversion to the cause of gay rights will be able to read far more positive interpretations into the vacuum.
The final thing which renders Attitude’s decision to put Cameron on the cover utterly indefensible is their bizarre, patronising decision to have an ‘alternate’ cover consisting of…a model in his underwear. Featuring the tagline, ‘Think politicians are pants? Then here’s a man in some!’. The magazine knows full well that many of its readers will be appalled by its decision. Rather than have the courage of its convictions, it pretends that many gay people are so idiotic that they will be turned off not by the fact that a Tory is on the cover but by the fact that it’s a politician. Because we’re gay, and we like fit men, see? At once Attitude is saying ‘This is important! We tackle Cameron on gay rights’ and on the other saying, ‘You might find this a bit boring cos it’s politics lol’. It’s breathtaking.
Make no mistake, the fact that Cameron is on the cover when Brown and Clegg weren’t (not even on ‘alternate’ covers) will be seized upon by many Cameron supporters as further evidence of his and the Tories’ conversion to the gay cause. Completely irrespective of the contents of the interview. It’s symbolic and will be taken as an endorsement.
I honestly believe that no gay person could seriously believe that Cameron thinks that they are equal to heterosexuals (not deep down – I do believe that some gay people have convinced themselves that Cameron is onside, because supporting a political party is frequently like supporting a football team). He was still supporting Section 28 in 2003. His converstion to the cause happened when he wanted to be the party leader. Such a swift turnaround tells me not that he deeply realised the error of his ways, but instead that he realised the British public had long since moved on in their attitudes and he had to follow to have any hope of winning power. For that reason he cannot possibly be trusted, and Attitude are being completely irresponsible in playing coy with him..