August 13, 2012

Enough is Enough is Enough

Earlier this year, I did an interview with Out Magazine to promote a film. During the course of the interview, I grew increasingly fond of the interviewer and we settled into a very comfortable camaraderie. He seemed to be a lovely, gentle, and intelligent man genuinely interested in the life experiences of another human being. Fortunately, it was an accurate, albeit risky, character assessment.

I chose during that interview to discuss the fact that, earlier in my life, I had been in relationship with a woman. It was the first time I revealed this fact in a public forum, and I chose to do so for two reasons. One was that a woman whom I was in relationship with had died a few months beforehand and I felt, in the context of our conversation, it was safe and appropriate to bring it up. Many years beforehand, and well beyond our time together, this woman had called me out of the blue at the height of my television fame to say that she had been offered $60,000 by a tabloid to provide a picture of us together. At the time, for various reasons, not including shame, I did not want that information in the public domain and despite the fact that she was struggling to pay her rent, I asked her not to sell our story. She took what at the time I considered to be the high road. To this day I regret asking her to do that. That 60 grand would have had a greater positive effect on her life than a negative effect on mine. By discussing our relationship in Out, I felt like I was honoring her memory in some way simply by admitting its existence.

The context of our discussion within the interview was 'choice', and I was sharing how, unlike those who identify themselves as being gay, I could not speak from experience to the fear and shame that sometimes accompanies that realization, because I have always been clear that I am not. During the interview, I do not believe that I had revealed the fact that she had recently died, but in a subsequent interview with another magazine, when asked why I had suddenly chosen to discuss this area of my personal life, I gave that as the predominant reason why but was keen to move on because I really did not want this to become the new topic of conversation about my life. Itís enough that a good proportion of reporters choose to mention the unfathomably boring fact that I was voted most likely to be arrested in high school or the worryingly inaccurate detail that my ex-partner Mark made his fortune in wheel clamping. But for some reason, lets call him Interviewer #2, decided that instead of reporting this legitimate and honest reason to reveal an aspect of my past, he would use the ironically correct impression that I had liked the interviewer of Out Magazine more than him as a point of humor or false discord, itís hard to tell which.

So imagine my dismay/horror/disgust to discover that after an interview with the London Sunday Times, interviewer #3 turned my brief response to yes, the same question, as motivation to turn the entire article into a lesbian impregnated specimen of veritable tabloid journalism. I donít think Iíve ever used the word "fluid" in my life to describe my sexuality, nor would I be so stupid or selfish to count my four days with female friends over seven weeks of family holiday as my favorite part. Do I even need to mention that over my dead body would I refer to myself as a "property wheeler dealer"? I could go on and on. It boggles my mind that this cutting and pasting schlock can be considered legitimate journalism, and by not just an associate editor but someone who fancies herself a champion of women, or should that be the other way round. This article is a perfect example of why publicists do ask for copy approval - not to cover their own lies but to extract the lies and insinuations whipped up by the journalist. Iím not sure if Iíve ever read such a mean spirited interview "about" me, although it fortunately and fabulously revealed more about the spitefulness of #3 than anything at all about its apparent subject. But I digress. A bit. Imagine as well, if you will, that I was actually considering asking this woman who was pretending at the time to be friendly, if she would consider finding a way to work into the article that Mark and I had been separated for some time. Fortunately in retrospect, I did not, so when for some very strange reason, she asked if I was still with my partner, I was justifiably thrown. Had I said something that implied this? Had I said it out loud even without realizing it? Had my publicist said something? #3 so cleverly picked up on all this confusion and I have to say those pauses and ellipses may be the only verbatim detail of the entire article. Bravo.

But this post was not intended to reveal my opinions about horrible people in pseudo-powerful positions but to shed light on an intention to share once, and once only, the fact that a seemingly straight-laced almost middle aged woman with three children can be open and shame-free about her life and love experiences and itís okay. But what Iíve learned from this is that maybe itís not. Itís not possible to be honest through the siphon of another. It gets abused and misconstrued and silly me.

Gillian.

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