Monday, October 12, 2009

Stephen Gately: The Sun, Andy Coulson and... blackmail?


The Sun reminds readers today that Stephen Gately of Boyzone - who has died suddenly at 33 in Majorca -  "was the first boyband star to bravely come out as gay" in 1999. "He took the decision to 'out' himself in the Sun in June of that year." Oh, really.

The reality of course is much more interesting than that. I must have imagined that his mother Margaret had a different view of the matter at the time. "Stephen has been bullied into doing this," she told the Mirror. "The Sun has destroyed so many lives. There was Lenny Henry and there was Sophie Rhys-Jones. Now it's my son - and us. All of us are involved in this. I have to go out and do my day's work with the whole place looking at me."

An ex-Boyzone roadie had slithered to the Sun with his gay Gately tale. Having promised to give up its habit of homophobia earlier in '99, the paper couldn't just splash with its exclusive (with its unreconstructed "gay shame" implications). It had promised: "From now on the Sun will not reveal the sexuality of gays - men or women - unless we believe it can be defended on the grounds of overwhelming public interest. If gays choose to come out, we will report it if we feel it is newsworthy or relevant. Otherwise, we will not invade the privacy of gay people."

So the paper, anxious not to lose anything to mere integrity, contacted Boyzone's PR agency and made it plain the story would come out sooner or later, so why not let the Sun handle it responsibly. Or as Boyzone manager Louis Walsh said at the time after a phone interview with the Guardian's Roy Greenslade: "Greenslade said to me that didn't Andy Coulson (of the Sun) ring me and say: `There's two ways of doing the Gately story - the right way and the wrong way?' Was that not blackmail? I said it wasn't blackmail..."

Ah, Louis, ever the pro. As he has said, "We work the tabloids. We need them. They need us." And our old friend Andy Coulson! Now the Conservative Party's media boss.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you MA for reminding us of this course of events. Andy Coulson is a bully, he taps people's phones, he has rummaged through dustbins, he should really be put on trial for crimes too various to detail here...but instead he's respected as Mr Murdoch's poodle inside the Tory Party...scary!

Amy said...

That is a shame, a lot of entertainers are dying so young, Fame is not worth the price.

The late Marje Props said...

It's worth being reminded of the circumstances of Stephen's outing. On the whole I thinkthe Sun behaved well, but there's no doubt Stephen would have preferred not to have gone public, if only for the sake of his family.

Anonymous said...

Why have you got it in for the Sun? You know we can destroy you.

Anonymous said...

The Sun has continued with its irresponsibility by reporting that Gately died of binge drinking, based on one or eye witness accounts. The family deny this.

Anonymous said...

Coulson is slime

Blithe Spirit said...

"I have to go out and do my day's work with the whole place looking at me."

Well, we have all said of tabloids at one point or another they are not much more than jackals, but actually, that quote from his mother is far more disturbing and saddening.

We still have a long way to go as a society, don't we, MA darling?

Sam Kaufman said...

There have been so many sad/tragic stories in the news lately. The reports on Gately's passing seem pretty vague in general, but there are (of course) a lot of rumors about it floating around

the late Bertram Russell said...

The Sun is sinking slowly and anyone who believes the Dirty Digger's empire will not crash is deluded. There is a reason the headquarters are based in Delaware where accounts can be kept secret.

Just as the USA is to find that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires-so will News Corp that was chief cheer leader for the war.

Hacks of the world-learn a new trade while you can !

Madame Arcati said...

What's striking to me about life on newspapers, and tabloids especially, is the pointlessness of a working day. Nothing useful is achieved beyond the work of a few specialists and intelligent members of the commentariat. Just read Twitter - whole bundles of feed and salaried writers with nothing much to do except crow about a deadline and their little- read piece - I get better viewing figures.

Anonymous said...

The Sun this morning is now hinting at a threesome, or that the Bulgarian boy slept with one of the guys. It's a pit of shit this paper.

The late Justin Fashanu said...

You can say someone is gay - but no more. The whole homosexual dimension of the boyband thing goes unreported. As for sport - walls of silence.

Food For Thought Of Hampshire said...

Well, I did wonder why Stevie was on the sofa. Perhaps he was unhappy that Andy brought back a bit of (Bulgarian) Trade. But then again, what business is it of ours?

Madame Arcati said...

I'm sure we'll read all about it in the Sun, all in the public interest.