I love argument. I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me – that’s not their job.
– Margaret Thatcher –
I do hope you don’t mind my familiarity Baroness MT. However, given our history, we really should be perfectly comfortable addressing one another on a first name basis.
I know that the majority of my kind is rather pleased to know that you have passed away. Some are even filled with glee, knowing that your last few years on earth have been spent in isolation, alone over the Christmas holidays with only your housekeeper as company, ridden with health problems and mental decline and eventually dying in a hotel room — devoid of the company and care of your children and loved ones.
I don’t wish such a death for my worst enemy.
I know this is probably not something you expect from a homosexual, but I’m writing to express my gratitude.
Dear Maggie, like you, I too know what it’s like to be lonely and isolated.
I also know what it’s like to be silent about my deepest desires. I know what it feels like to leave the ‘safety’ of my family and community, because I feared they would reject me. I know about the anguish of pretending to be somebody else because in the eyes of the law, who I was at a certain time in history, was a crime. I know the heartache of seeing friends die because they couldn’t get the drugs and medical care they needed to make them better. I know about standing at the open grave of someone you love. Someone who was much too young to die… a death that easily could’ve been prevented.
You taught me all of this. However, it’s a funny old world and because of you, everything I once knew have now changed.
This is why I’m urged to praise you for Section 28. Thank you for stepping up and proposing something so outrageously wrong that it angered the Gay community to the extent that we said ‘Enough is enough’. It made us stand up for ourselves. It made us fight back.
Thank you for wanting to prevent the promotion of homosexuality. Thank you for taking it one step further; to prevent the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a ‘pretended family relationship’. Thank you for marginalising homosexuals and for making the world think we are less than you.
If you and your government did not do this, then perhaps no other government would’ve done it, and we would’ve remained silent and closeted. As a Gay community, we might’ve become complacent — perhaps even comfortable with the fact that we were seen as second-class citizens, with no equal rights… and we may never have thought: ‘Hang on. This is not right.’
Worst still, society would’ve been left unchallenged.
Section 28 is just what we and those against us needed in order for us to realise that we are all the same and equal, no matter who we love. So instead of pushing us back into the closet, this piece of bigoted legislation galvanised the British Gay Rights Movement into action. It gave us a voice and it put us in the spotlight (and you know how much we love that).
Oh my dear, once you gave us our own political platform from where we could shout our slogans and march our marches, the world has become a much better place.
We are stronger, we are prouder and we are more visible.
You yourself said ‘You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it‘. So we did.
Today, as a result, we can adopt children, we can have proper families of our own and we don’t need to hide in the toilets and the bushes anymore. Our shame is dissipating slowly. In fact, we are coming to terms with ourselves and our role in society – a society that is embracing us every step of the way. Heck, we are even on almost every television channel with our own chat shows and we can marry… in a church, my love!
I am pretty sure if it wasn’t for you, our fight would’ve had little bite and we would’ve achieved far less. So, thank you. You’ve epitomised the unkind mother so many of us regrettably still love to hate so much.
Whilst many of my peers and their children possibly will only remember you for the ‘bad stuff’, I will be sure to tell mine (feels great to be able to say that) how your left hand knew very little about what the right was doing. In fact, I don’t think even you knew what impact and ripple effect Section 28 would have on the global Gay community and the movement towards our liberation… Or perhaps you did?
Bless you darling, for all your hard work.
P.S. Though it’s a bit late now, I promise you, if we knew you were going to be such a trooper, we would’ve sent one of our best to do something about your hair.
** Margaret Thatcher passed away aged 87, on April 8th 2013, after suffering a stroke.**
Image – British National Press. Not the property of Little Red Shoes.
Text: FR Lubbe