It comes to something when the only piece of good news emerging from the end of a terrible week (unless you voted to leave Europe, in which case you’re probably still in a state of euphoria now we’ve…ahem… regained control of our country). The news is that Justine Greening, the Conservative Secretary for International Development, has declared that she is in what we refer to as a “same sex relationship”. Well, good for her. And so what?
Ms Greening’s sexuality is of zero concern to me, as it should be to you. If you have an issue with same-sex relationship, then you are the one with the problem. That Ms Greening felt the need to “come out” is a more interesting matter altogether.
I did not, when I reached a certain age, have to admit my straightness.I did not have to tweet that “I’m coming out as a heterosexual” because heterosexuality is “normal”, whatever normal is. But it’s no more normal than any other kind of sexuality.
In my judgement, we are making great strides in this area and it was David Cameron, of all people, who took his party kicking and screaming into the lobbies to pass the bill on equal marriage. It passed with predictable howlings from the extremes but most people just thought one thing: about bloody time.
We have not yet travelled the full distance throughout the world in establishing universal acceptance and equality. In some places, the LGBT community is treated as second class, in others they are hacked to death or thrown off tall buildings. And because we are not quite there yet means that people still feel a need to “come out” in public. Not having been there, I have to imagine why Ms Greening and others have done it. It must be a great relief, an outpouring of honesty, about revealing what and who you really are. Maybe there’s a bit of shutting up the whisperers who still think there is something different about fancying someone of your own sex. I guess that will all come out in the wash in years to come.
I’m very pleased that Ms Greening has come out. I think it sends a great signal to everyone in the land. It may help some people who have “issues” with homosexuality that actually they needn’t have. It may encourage some gay people to feel better about themselves and to contemplate making the big step to going public themselves.
As David Cameron’s political career crashes and burns, as all political careers always do, equal marriage is his greatest achievement, his lasting legacy. I know that the history books will show that he was the man who encouraged the break up of the UK and Europe, but if he deserves any credit at all it is for this. And Justine Greening deserves all the credit and love in the world.