PinkNews.co.uk’s Marc Shoffman bids farewell to the site

I am not afraid to admit that I came to PinkNews.co.uk as a novice. To me Section 28 sounded more like a military base than an example of discrimination and intolerance, however, it did not take long for me to realise that the gay community’s plight is not just about getting society to realise that it is ok to sleep with a person of the same sex, but rather just because a person falls in love with a person of the same sex, that does not give others the right to discriminate against them.

During my first month on the website I reported on reactions to Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten’s revelation that he had an affair with a rent boy, the Conservative Party shedding its homophobic image and local councils coming to terms with civil partnerships.

Now, as I complete my final day on this award winning website, I am proud to say the stories – and the gay scene – have moved forward. Ten months later it comes as no suprise that lesbian businesswoman Margot James is to stand as a Tory candidate at the next election, and that record numbers of gay and lesbian couples have opted to register their partnerships.

I am pleased to have worked on groundbreaking stories such as the saga over the News of the World’s allegations that footballer Ashley Cole had been involved in a gay orgy, and highlighting Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly’s poor voting record on gay rights as well as her devotion to Catholic group Opus Dei.

I was honoured to have been at the front of the EuroPride march in London last summer to photograph so many members of the LGBT community freely strolling through Oxford Street and Regent Street while fundamentalist Christians had to be caged and protected by police.

Like any minority group there are splits and divisions. I have been to events and been warned against talking to certain people and scowled at by others, but equality can only be achieved together. So while not everyone may agree with each other’s methods, everyone is after the same goal, and that is what the community should concentrate its efforts on.

When PinkNews.co.uk won a Stonewall Award last month I said in my acceptance speech that homophobia should be fought by everyone. Gay rights are human rights and I will always take that with me wherever I am.

I finally have to thank my peers, mainly PinkNews.co.uk founder Benjamin Cohen. His ideas, innovation and individuality have been an inspiration to me and it has been great to work with and learn from him.

It has been an privilege to have been given the chance to build this website and The Pink News magazine and I wish my successors all the luck in the world.