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Alan Bennett: I haven’t met anyone who cares for or is against same-sex marriage

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  1. Alan Bennett’s comments on equal marriage are fairly measured, those about sexual abuse less so ” the notion that one would be scared for life……” Well I am delighted that he wasn’t personally scarred for life by being groped by dirty old pervs….However many are, I was sexually assaulted by a SOCIAL WORKER when I was 18, when the age of consent was 21…It has taken me 40 years to fully understand that impact that this has had on me. ….Sexual assault of whatever type must never be trivialized or dismissed as not harmful….it has terrible affects that can ripple through an entire life…

    1. i was thinking the exact same thing!

    2. Well said. In fact, I would say that rather than being unharmed, he is in denial about what the molestation cost him.

      I sincerely hope he has not become one of those old men who “touches up” young lads legs.

      1. indeed LEH I hope he has not . I see sexual abuse a bit like throwing a hand grenade into someones emotional well being and cause terrible but unpredictable damage, be it self esteem issues, relationship issues, intimacy issues and in some cases the abused becomes the abuser. (NOT in my case !)..There needs to be an ongoing open and honest dialogue about sexual abuse, so that people understand that in all its forms running from an unpleasant grope to a violent penetrative rape it is terribly damaging. There also needs be a reclaiming by men of this issue, many many men Straight and Gay are abused yet this is still seen much more as a women’s issue. I see it as a people issue. People get abused both women and men and it is always wrong and always damaging. MR Bennett’s comments are not part of an intelligent debate on the subject.

  2. Additional to what has been said well already, what of the children that arnt in the relative safety of a cinema!?
    At the very least a very selfish man but quite possibly a normalization of such Perversion.

  3. Dear Alan, the reason Equal Marriage is so important is because the law currently allows those right-wingers to actively discriminate against us. It’s precisely because these people don’t want us to have equality with them that we must have the law changed.

  4. Stuart (Hove) 12 Mar 2013, 11:18am

    Sensible down to earth comment from Alan Bennett. As a lifelong and ‘out’ gay man in a civil partnership, now aged 70, the fuss about marriage is not worth bothering about when all legal rights are encompassed withing the civil partnership agreement. Having lived to see homosexuality de-criminalised, and having known men who’s lives were wrecked by legal proceedings/prison before the act was repealed, we now have in place an equality previously only dreamed of.Amongst my large circle of gay friends and acquaintances I don’t know anyone who cares particularly about the marriage issue, and why bother with the religious mumbo-jumbo anyway?

    1. Stuart, the issue is not about wether you personally want to marry or not its is that you have the opportunity to do so. We must have full equality in law for other people to see us as equals. Some people wish to have their partnerships recognised religiously and some religious organisations want to offer that facility.

    2. That There Other David 12 Mar 2013, 11:40am

      The legal rights aren’t entirely encompassed within the civil partnership agreement Stuart, because a CP isn’t portable internationally.

      Also, marriage doesn’t belong to religion, it belongs to society. The religious mumbo-jumbo aspect is entirely optional.

      Things have improved, but it’s not equal. Marriage won’t mean we’re there yet either, but it’s an important step that is currently missing.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Mar 2013, 11:52am

        Well said, David. There is no standard for CPs anywhere in the world. People such as Stuart or Alan Bennett just don’t see the larger picture or the implications of not having equal marriage.

    3. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Mar 2013, 11:42am

      You’re part of the problem, Stuart. Just because you don’t care for marraige doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t have access to it. If there were no CPs, what would you do, never get married? FYI, CPs are UK peculiar, not much portability outside the UK if you look at the diverse array of legal unions for gay couples in the UK and elswhere, Very little reciprocity, a great disparity between the rights conferred in all of them, some with more, some with far less. How on earth can you consider yourself equal. I know many gay people who do care about marriage and don’t care about CPs, two can play that game, but I wouldn’t deny someone the right to have a CP, even straight people if they didn’t want to get married. Don’t be so damned selfish. Did you sign the C4M petition perhaps since you are so opposed to marriage?

    4. Paul Essex/London 12 Mar 2013, 10:35pm

      Are you & other gay people still falling into the ‘marriage is all about religion’ trap?! Firstly, if that were the case then 68% of people who get married wouldn’t opt for a Civil Ceremony which specifically excludes religion. In this day and age there’s many couples who have no interest in religion & aren’t particularly bothered about having the formal rights of a married couple. They get married, by a Civil Servant on non-religious premises, because they love each other and want show the world, & more importantly their family and friends, that they’re committed exclusively to each other. They are participating in a demonstration of commitment that dates back farther than any monotheistic religion. CPs were a compromise for those who didn’t wish to see gay relationships as equal to their’s, many living in a bubble believing that marriage must have religion (the types that hold principals they agree with anyway) while accepting the marriages of those who have excluded it.

  5. Sorry I and my ‘civil partner’ do care and do want to be the same as ‘straight couples’.to b e married.
    We really can’t allow one set of rules for most people and a different set for us – how is that acceptable.
    Yes things have moved on and that’s all well and good but unless we push to normalise our existence we will never really be seen as equal. I sure as hell don’t want to looked down on or treated differently because I’m gay.
    When equal marriage does happen you’ll be given an option to stay in a CP or transfer to a marriage. Betya most people change to a marriage even those who said it didn’t matter.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Mar 2013, 11:48am

      Well said, allancsn. I’m sick and tired of selfish gay people who don’t want us to have access to marriage. Why should we be forced to enter into a CP and relegated to second class citizenship to gain similar rights? The fact that CPs are so called proves they are not equal and I don’t see many straight people demanding them, especially those who don’t much care for marriage. They are and will never be the universal standard for gay legal unions which explains why more countries are abandoning them for equal civil marriage, 11 so far and counting. France on April 2, UK???????

  6. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Mar 2013, 11:36am

    Oh please. Saying he hasn’t met any gay person who cares about equal marriage is playing right into the hands of C4M and their band of hatemongers who say there are many gays who don’t care about or even demand it. Music to their ears. So what if he hasn’t met anyone who cares for it? That doesn’t mean that the majority of us don’t. Bennett is part of the problem, indifference. Remove CPs and he might be singing a different tune, bloody selfish of him too as well as irresponsible. He didn’t measure his words enough, no matter that he finds opposition to it absurd. I bet he never even responded to the consultation for selfish reasons.

    1. That There Other David 12 Mar 2013, 11:43am

      It’s quite possible he hasn’t met anyone, but I imagine he moves in circles of a particular generation who are conditioned to be thankful for what they’ve got.

      Me, I want equality. Nothing else is sufficient. Marriage is part of that.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Mar 2013, 11:44am

        Yes, quite right. Derek Jacobi is another one who thinks the same way. I’m sure there are many others just like him.

        1. Im think that these views tend to be generational. I have observed that there seems be some quite oppressive views amongst some older Gays. I am 57 and for gays of my age there have been some issues ( which I am not debating here) for LGBT people who were older than me and who were sexualy active in the pre 1967 era , they were brainwashed and acclimatised into repression. Its abit like Stockholm syndrome where the hostage becomes involved and dependent on the Hostage taker. The oppressed take on the role of the oppressors and start to oppress themselves. I have enormous respect for those who endured the brutal post- war sexual repression in this country , (just consider Alan Turing or the men who were tortured with aversion therapy ) and cannot begin to think how they managed to get through it . However I do think any comment that people of Alan Bennett’s or Stuarts generation make have to be taken within this context.

          1. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Mar 2013, 1:27pm

            I agree, it is a generational thing. However, I think people like him should be very careful when opening their mouths. It was irresponsible and I think motivated by selfish reasons. Hooray for me, I’ve got mine, and to hell with the rest who don’t want a CP, but want something far better. The British public responded to the consultation and they overwhelmingly believe we should and so did the majority of MPs. How much clearer does it get?

    2. I’m sick and tired of people using the phrase “playing right into the hands of…” to badger and bully others as to what opinions they can or cannot hold.

  7. I think these views may be put in the same category as gay men who would deny the need to a) legalise it, b) equal the age of consent, c) offer equal protection under the law d) introduce civil partnerships, etc. Over the years each step of progress has been meet with a not insignificant number of people form the LGBT community who have asked ‘is this necessary’. I think, perhaps, out of fear that the change alienates their friends/the public from them. The ‘step too far’ that people are weary of and sometimes object to in order to be seen by those who they anticipate will oppose it to be one of them. ‘Normal’ e.g not a militant homosexual. Sometimes equality takes a back seat to the issue of not being seen to want ‘too much’ – at least this is what some people believe. I don’t.

  8. I’ve been pleased to read through nearly all of the comments above and note the disapproval of Bennett’s implication that “respectable” gay men of his ilk have no desire for marriage and that therefore the government is wasting the nation’s time and money with the Same-Sex Couples Bill.

    Bennett is playing to a gallery full of Daily Mail readers, a gallery full of people who are only concerned about the condition of their property, who don’t give a damn about concerns beyond the borders of their property. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bennett is partial to the sentiments of Nigel Farage.

  9. Well, Alan, being born in 1941 nearly 72 yrs now, and growing up Gay whilst the laws at that time were vicious if one was found out, one was put in prison and I knew people at that time who were incarcerated at that time coming out as broken men, very sad, although the law was changed in 1969 due to the Wolfenden report giving age of consent 21 yrs between two consenting adults ‘behind closed doors’, this measure being supported by the church of england, let’s not forget that we were turned away at hotels etc, up until 2004, I have been a great admirer of your work, but one seems to be living in a very closeted world by your thoughts that you have stated. One was lucky to be able to have a Civil Partnership from December 21st 2005, but go outside the UK this meant nothing, all my straight friends are in agreement with SSM, and the Conservative Party should be applauded for introducing this measure of Equality for us.

  10. Evidence once again that simply being in the public eye is not a guarantee of increased insight and wisdom on any given topic.

    In his comments, Mr. Bennett misses the mark on marriage equality and on sexual assault. Sad, really.

  11. I don’t think they’ll like him describing them as “far right-wing”!!!

    Right wing tories, but ‘far right’ is usually reserved for neo-Nazi parties.

  12. I’, 62 and of the supposed grateful-for-crumbs generation. I still feel marriage should be a personal thing and not something the state has to recognise (or not). – for straights and gays alike. I still feel we should work for liberation, not equality. What price equal crumbs?

    1. That There Other David 12 Mar 2013, 6:48pm

      As long as people build their lives together, pooling their assets and liabilities and taking responsibility for each other’s welfare and decisions the state needs some way to recognise that shared status. Thanks to history it’s known as marriage. Whatever the reasons for a couple getting together and staying together that legal recognition should be available to every pair of citizens who want it. It can be as personal or as public as you like, that’s optional.

      Liberation and equality do go hand in hand. They aren’t the same thing, but they are related. Fighting for one increases the likelihood of the other.

  13. Come on Alan meet us we will tell you we like the idea of marriage and I am in my 70’s

  14. I am of the baby boomer generation and of course have always been aware of the casual, sometimes vicious bigotry visited upon LGBT and the effects it can have.Bigotry inflicted not least by the closeted.

    I strongly support marriage equality because of the obvious benefits for young LGBT long after I have fallen off the perch..I also believe that society as a whole will benefit by being more mature and honest with itself.

  15. OK, Alan. If most people don’t care one way or the other, let’s just have marriage equality. And if you didn’t think it was any big deal that some old blokes felt you up when you were a kid, let’s not forget that that doesn’t sum up what sexual abuse is or leads to.
    At times I think your undoubted talent as an observer of private eccentricity blinds you to the bigger and wider implications of life – public and private.

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