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Boris Johnson has learned nothing since his homophobic comment to me

3 71 0
28.07.2019

It was the end of the 1980s. I was dating a lovely man. I got to hang out with his friends. They were different from the crowd I was used to. They were Conservatives and all from Oxford. We had different views, but I liked them. One night we ended up in a small private club in central London. Boris Johnson was there. My boyfriend wasn’t. The banter was fun. I was introduced to Johnson, already a force to be reckoned with, as the person going out with my boyfriend. “Oh that shirt-lifter”, Johnson affectionately replied. “What’s a shirt-lifter?”I asked. I’d never heard of such a thing. With gentle ribbing, it was explained to me.

A decade or so later, I met Johnson again. He was a political figure by then. We were with mutual friends, and I regaled everyone with the story. The joke being on me and my naivety, not on Johnson. “I didn’t say that”, he declared.

What does my little anecdote tell us about the prime minister? Does it reveal inherent, latent homophobia? I was warmly welcomed into the circle of friends. My lack of an Oxford degree might have singled me out. My sexual orientation didn’t.

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But the story does show a cavalier attitude towards difference in others. “Different” doesn’t quite capture society’s approach to gay people back then. Section 28, banning the promotion of homosexuality, had just been introduced. The........

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