Look Who's Talking: Music Comes First, Sex a Close Second

Article excerpt

THE PRESIDENT of Geffen Records once told me: "Opinions are like assholes - everybody's got one." Actually, nobody gave a toss about my opinions until the Tom Robinson Band had a pop hit in 1977 with "2-4-6-8 Motorway". Only then did our work for Rock Against Racism and gay rights become news, although my priorities were always music first and changing the world third. Sex came second.

Things soon got out of hand: journalists started asking me how to solve the problems of Northern Ireland, and I started trying to tell them. I was 27 and determined not to let the attention go to my head, but whose ego could withstand it? In the end, my sense of self-importance got bloated and I began believing my own publicity.

Then it all came crashing down. Having believed the praise on the way up, I agonised over the abuse on my way down. People wrote that I was pompous, boring and couldn't even sing - that bit really hurt, although maybe it was true then. People become irrational when the subject of homosexuality comes up. Because I was openly gay, they used to say I couldn't possibly be - it had to be a front. Because the rest of the band weren't gay, other people would say: "They must be. Who are they trying to kid? Just look at them! What a bunch of screamers!" By the same token, in all the years I lived with a man, no one ever wanted to know his name, or whether or not we were monogamous. But in the seven years I've lived with my girlfriend, journalists have hardly asked about anything else.

Some newspapers used the fact that I live with a woman as ammunition to try to devalue my campaigning efforts for lesbian and gay rights - a cause I still passionately support. Having made such a song and dance about being gay - almost literally in the old days - I suppose I can't really complain. But it's hard on my partner when the papers make up bollocks about her as well. The bloody Times is worse than the Sun in some ways: last year it announced that I was now a married heterosexual, thanks to 10 years of psychotherapy. Actually, I've never claimed to be anything other than gay, because "bisexual" sounds like a cop-out. The trouble is, journalists simply research the old cuttings, then embellish the lies they find there. Nothing you can say to the contrary seems to counteract it.

Fatherhood is brilliant, though. In my experience, lesbians and gay men make not only great teachers but great parents, too, given the chance. …