Maurice Bowra, the flamboyant warden of Wadham College from 1938 to 1970, once argued against the legalisation of homosexuality on the grounds that it would take all the fun out of it. Without the risk of being picked up by the police, cruising up and down the Cowley Road at one in the morning would become rather tedious. He referred to the secret club of powerful homosexuals in the British establishment as the ‘homintern’ and prided himself on being a high-ranking officer. He liked the fact that there was something exotic and clandestine about his sexuality and dreaded the risk of embourgeoisement if the law was changed.
Easy for Bowra to say, of course, protected as he was by wealth and privilege. And he may not have really meant it. But you can’t help wondering what he would have made of Pride, the month-long celebration of LGBT identities that now takes place every summer. Talk about gentrification! Every element of the festival is plastered with a corporate logo, so desperate are multinationals to convey how on board they are with the ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ agenda. Procter & Gamble is celebrating its 25th anniversary of ‘LGBT+ inclusion’, while Virgin Atlantic got the jump on its less-woke competitors by announcing earlier this year that it would be replacing the second world war pin-up girl that has adorned its planes for 35 years with a more diverse group of figures, including a gay man wearing a one-piece red bathing suit. (To read more, click here.)