DailyFail Mailwriter Jan Moir's article, originally titled Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death, has taken over Twitter, spawned a Facebook group and crashed a website that handles press complaints.
The piece, now titled A strange, lonely and troubling death..., has spawned the Twitter hashtag #thedailymailisgay and angry tweets about the article's implications are coming at the rate of hundreds a minute. Moir's conclusions are cringe-worthy, embarrassing to read and brings to mind the feeling one gets when an off-color remark is overheard at a party.
The general tone permeating the piece implies that Gately died, essentially, of his gayness. That homosexuality is somehow an inherent moral disease that eats away at a person, making the sudden death of an otherwise apparently healthy 33-year-old man not necessarily shocking. The fact that Gately was found by a man other than his partner (who stayed the night!!!) and that he'd >gasp< smoked cannabis sometime that evening are held up as proof that his death was not only to be expected, but it's implicit that it was somehow deserved. What does one expect, hosting strange gay men for sleepovers and puffing the magic dragon? Nevermind that the UK as a whole is booze-soaked and marijuana has no recorded fatalities, he was a pot-smoking homo!
Reaction to the piece was quick and painful across the blogosphere. Twitter big shot Stephen Fry opined, "I gather a repulsive nobody writing in a paper no one of any decency would be seen dead with has written something loathesome and inhumane...." and Brit news parody site satirized Moir's angle with a similar hateful dismissal of her career:
One Mail reader told us, "All she did was speak the truth about Stephen Gately's unusual death, because every Daily Mail reader knows that the gays can only die if you drive a wooden stake through their heart."Should you doubt Moir's homophobia or want to give the woman the benefit of the doubt, pay close attention to this portion. While Moir's implications are hateful and hurtful, she wraps it all up in a discriminatory bow at the end. Overlooking the much more plentiful instances of straight on straight violence, Moir doesn't pass up the opportunity to cast aspersions on the many happy gay couples both in the UK and abroad:
"His death is very suspicious, maybe someone should think about interviewing all the immigrants, eh?"
Another real sadness about Gately's death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships.
Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael.
Of course, in many cases this may be true. Yet the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately's last night raise troubling questions about what happened.