Nov 2003 Journal

next article:Kindertransport statue commemorates pre-war arrival at Liverpool Street Station

The Bible, literally - or liberally - interpreted

The issue of clerical homosexuality is currently splitting the Anglican Church, with both camps adducing arguments which are too well-known to bear repetition. Judaism's inbuilt emphasis on family cohesion has so far insulated the Anglo-Jewish community from the full force of the controversy, although Rabbi Blue has been a high-profile taboo-breaker in the public sphere.

Homophobia is a hallmark of all intolerant societies, whether they be Fascist, Communist or theocratic as in Iran and Saudi Arabia. That did not mean that prominent homosexuals were necessarily great liberals - think Frederick the Great, Captain Röhm, head of the Nazi storm troopers, or Edgar J Hoover of the FBI.

On the other hand, there is no denying the fact that so-called gays have made a totally disproportionate contribution to world culture: in art Leonardo and Michelangelo, in music Tschaikovsky and Benjamin Britten, in literature Henry James and Proust, in philosophy Wittgenstein, in drama Tennessee Williams, in poetry Auden, in cinema Visconti and Schlesinger, etc etc.

As against this, one ought to consider how many leading British personalities, especially in the cultural sphere, were 'children of the manse'. If Anglican or Presbyterian clergy had been allowed to be gay in the past, English literature might not have been enriched by the Brontë sisters, Laurence Sterne or Louis MacNeice, HM ships might not have been commanded by Horatio Nelson, the National Theatre might not have been created by Laurence Olivier; and Number Eleven Downing Street might not have inhabited by Gordon Brown. (Notice to my inveterate critics: if this last paragraph is construed as in any way homophobic, I am quite prepared to face the music.)
Richard Grunberger

next article:Kindertransport statue commemorates pre-war arrival at Liverpool Street Station