When Mark Dowd began a teenage fling, a daring lie kept the true nature of his relationship secret. But when his former boyfriend died, he suddenly found himself in an excruciatingly sticky situation.
My flatmate greeted me with an unusually severe expression. It was 10pm after another long day at work and I slumped in the armchair. “You’d better check the answermachine,” he said. I walked over and pressed the red button. A message from a relative in Manchester. My 65-year-old father was dead.
Several gulps of whisky later, I plucked up the courage to ring home. A familiar voice said: “Are you all right? You don’t half sound queer.” It was my father – still very much in this world. What was going on? Sensing an almighty mess brewing, I quickly finished the call and replayed the message. It was from a man calling himself “uncle” whose first name I didn’t recognise. He had left a number and when the blunt Mancunian tone answered “Ronnie Craddock”, the surname sent my mind spinning back to 1979.
Full text on the Guardian newspaper website
Mark Dowd – a former Quest chair.
From his new home in Madrid, former Quest chair, Mark Dowd, reports on the difficulties that gays still face despite having some of the most liberal sexuality laws in Europe. A case perhaps of the Spanish equivalent of ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.’ (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)
Summer 2005. I am in Valencia on Spain’s east coast having swapped my London flat in a holiday exchange for a pad just a stone’s throw from the city centre. Tuning in to the evening news, there is a feature on a male couple. They are the first in the country to have taken advantage of the country’s new gay marriage legislation. The crew from TV España film their first full day as a married couple. And it rather resembles a scene from La Cage Aux Folles as the cameras capture them walking the dogs and ambling down to the bakery for pastries. You can tell that the reporter is keen to inject some tension into the piece by trying to find some detractors. She approaches a gaggle of elderly ladies dressed in solemn clothes. Surely they´ll provide a bit of homophobic opposition? Franco turning in his grave at the thought of same-sex marriage blessed by the state; that sort of thing. When I heard the vox pops, I knew that these new legal changes weren’t just superficial.
“Aren’t they lovely? Why shouldn’t they marry?” asked one woman in a severe black mantilla. “They’re very good with dogs…that’s what I like,” said her elderly companion. In the end, the reporter confessed she’d spoken to a lot of people but failed miserably to come up with any ammunition. So all is well in Spain then? It’s the new gay nirvana?
Well not quite. Read more…