I was bullied from the moment I first flounced through the school gates. Nothing physical, you understand. That would be unseemly at a traditional grammar school with a 400-year-old charter granted by the Virgin Queen. Besides, beatings were reserved for the teachers to dish out. I suppose I hardly helped my cause by being a bit lippy and totally rubbish at rugby.
Poofter, bumboy, shirt-lifter, homo, pansy, bender – you name it, I got called it, often accompanied by a teapot impersonation. We all fell about at that one. Kids can be cruel and the cruellest jibe of all was the word ‘queer’. Back in the buttoned-up seventies it was the nasty label of choice – in the playground, on the street, in the pub, in the redtops, on the box, everywhere. I hated it. I still do.
But we’re all queer now, apparently. It’s all queer this, queer that. I get the point, I really do – turning a negative into a positive can be incredibly empowering; just like me perking my pansies. And I can see the convenience of a one-word-fits-all. But who got to decide? Whoever it was didn’t bother to ask me. So just for the record, I’m not queer, I’m gay. God knows I earned that right. End of.