GAY TIMES June 2004

Three cheers for Ross Kelly, the TV presenter, late of TVam, now of The Heaven and Earth Show, who came out in an interview with The Mail on Sunday. (Mind you, given he’s been on our screens for 20 years and has never said a word before, perhaps we ought to reduce that to two cheers). “It’s time to tell the viewers that I’m gay,” was the headline over his rather unexceptional revelations.

Mr Kelly says that this declaration of his sexuality is entirely voluntary but given that he’s fronting a religious programme these days, it will be interesting to know how the evangelical element of his audience will take the news that their favourite TV personality is a child of Sodom. Neither will they be reassured by his other confession – he’s also an atheist. No sooner have the Bible-thumpers picked themselves off the floor from one blow than he delivers another. “I don’t think you can take the Bible too seriously. As well as denouncing homosexuality, for example, the book of Leviticus says couples found in adultery should be taken to the market place and stoned,” he says.

Ross Kelly’s fulsome revelations stand in stark contrast to two other public figures who have decided to go down the “ambiguity” route – the keep-’em-guessing game that that Peter Mandelson so painfully discovered is like a red rag to the tabloids.

Robbie Williams’ former manager Kevin Kinsella started the ball rolling when he went on TV and said he could state categorically that Robbie is gay. “I don’t think he is bisexual, I think he is totally gay,” Mr Kinsella said on a Channel 4 documentary about Robbie’s days with Take That. “I think Robbie has the same problems as Michael Barrymore. They know that they are gay. They know what they want to do. But they are controlled by parameters that say you can’t come out and say you are gay because it will affect your career and sales, and people may not love you. So what happens is that these demons inside of them come out in drink and drugs.”

This little tirade cranked up once more the speculation that has accompanied Robbie throughout his career. Is he or isn’t he?

The Daily Mail presented all the known evidence – and a bit of new stuff – in a double-page spread by Robbie’s biographer, Paul Scott. Mr Scott says: “In the past, [Robbie] has announced variously that he is having an affair with his straight song-writing partner, Guy Chambers; declared that he was changing his name to Roberta Williams; and told a Top of the Pops audience: ‘Tomorrow I’ll be coming out as homosexual.’”

Mr Scott asks us to consider Robbie’s “camp performances” with his lifelong friend Jonathan Wilkes at the Royal Albert Hall concert in 2001. “Williams and Wilkes put on a performance shot through with homosexual innuendo. At one point, Wilkes threatens to tell the audience Williams’s ‘gay secret’, while Williams himself described his flat mate as his ‘rent-boy’.”

The ostentatious parading of a string of short-lived “girlfriends” is also suggested as a cover for the truth. This, along with many other instances, all add up to the inevitable conclusion, according to Mr Scott.

So why doesn’t Robbie just do a Ross Kelly? Well, it seems that senior executives at his record label, EMI, “wake up in cold sweat from nightmares that Robbie has again said something about being gay”. An unnamed “record company insider” says: “For some time there has been a plan in place for how to handle the fall-out. The truth is that nobody here knows what Robbie is going to do from one minute to the next, so it is best to be prepared.”

It seems that Mr Williams will be well-protected and well-advised should he ever feel the need to tell us something ‘important’.

This is more than can be said for Kevin Spacey, the Oscar-winning actor, who caused a tabloid sensation after it was revealed in The Daily Mirror that he had been “mugged” in a London Park while out walking his dog at 4.30am.

Now, before we go any further, the question that none of the papers have asked is: who revealed the details of Mr Spacey’s visit to the police?

Well, the only people who could possibly have known about it were the police themselves. Presumably someone in the cop-shop thought it their public duty to contact the press and let them know they’d had a VIP in. I’m sure no money would have changed hands, of course. And newspapers never reveal their sources, do they?

Anyway, Mr Spacey’s little adventure in the park – rapidly dubbed “a gay haunt” and a “cottagers paradise” – mushroomed into a humiliating barrage of innuendo.

Trying to stem the flow of speculation, Mr Spacey foolishly went on the Today programme to explain to an agog public that he was in the park at 4.30am because his doggy “needed to go”. He said that he had not been mugged, he had simply been conned out of his mobile phone by a youth spinning a cock and bull story (sorry, better make that a “likely story”) about needing to make an emergency call and then running off with the phone. In hot pursuit, Mr Spacey fell over the dog and cracked his head on the pavement. He went to the police station to encourage them to pursue the thieving youth by telling them he had been mugged. A few hours later, thinking better of it, he returned to the station and said he didn’t want to take the matter any further.

The reaction to this explanation was summed up in a headline next day in The Daily Mirror. “Yeah, right Kev…”

You would have thought that at this point, Mr Spacey’s close friend Peter Mandelson might have stepped in to warn Kevin about his own experiences of trying to run rings round the press on such matters.

He obviously did not do so, and there followed a few days of sneering scepticism from the papers, including the predictable cracks from Richard Littlejohn in The Sun: “It wasn’t Clapham Common by any chance, was it? Someone should tell Kev to be more careful. He could have bumped into Ron Davies looking for badgers.”

Once more it was The Daily Mail that took up the sword of truth for its readers, probing far back into Mr Spacey’s mysterious past for information that might shed light on the actor’s fiercely protected “private life” (i.e. sex life). It quoted from interviews he had given to various magazines. In Vanity Fair in 1996, the headline had been “Kevin Spacey has a Secret”. “The interviewer had asked him three questions about his sexuality, but Spacey refused to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. ‘I live in a world in which I work with many different people all day long. They are my friends and I love them. And many of these people are gay and homosexual. And I can’t imagine the need to jump up and say: ‘I’m not one of them’. If anyone wants to think that they are absolutely free to think that, I have no interest in confirming or denying that at all. It’s just of no interest to me. So what?’”

Another American magazine, however, published photos of Mr Spacey walking hand in hand with a young man in a park, where they later cuddled, massaged thighs and generally looked to be more than mere acquaintances.

Mr Spacey seems to want to keep the world guessing, but he is obviously unfamiliar with the tactics of the British tabloid press. Kevin is said to like dogs – I wonder whether he’s ever seen a terrier with a rat? It ain’t over yet, Kev.

But go back to the beginning of this article and consider Ross Kelly. He’s now in the driving seat. You could be, too, if you wanted to be.

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