Monday, July 28, 2003

PRIDE IN THE NAME OF CASH: So, as the British summer grinds onwards, this weekend it was the turn of Gay Pride to push its way to the front of the festival calendar. Johann Hari wrote a confusing piece in the Independent [subscription required; although, confusingly, we picked it up for free in a Toby Carvery] - he tut-tutted over complaints about the lavish corporate sponsorship of the event; in a nutshell, Hari couldn't understand the demands of the politico-gays that it should be a march - "why should we all share a political platform just because we're gay?" he asked. Which isn't unreasonable, except in the context of an article saying how great Pride is - because, why should we all share a music festival just because we're gay? And if the aim is to state Pride, isn't that a political stance in itself? (Although if Ford are happy to bankroll the event, and the Royal Parks are happy to host it, why the need to make a statement of Pride? We're here and we're heavy consumers?)

And there is a slightly stinking smell at the heart of this year's politics. Gay Pride was brought to you by, ahem, Clear Channel. Talking to the Guardian, the event defended the hook-up: "Jason Pollock, the festival director since 1999, said: "The question is, do we worry about radio stations in the States or do we want to put on the pride event in Hyde Park?"

So, that's the face of Gay Politics in 2003: It boils down to the question "What's more important - freedom of speech for all, or being able to get an easy tube ride to see Liberty X play a set?" We know where we'd have hoped the answer would be, but Gay Pride seems to have gone off in a different direction. So maybe it's left to us to "worry about Radio Stations in the States", shall we?

Clear Channel's Champ 101.3 and The Zone 96.7 stations happily take money from , and carries advertising for, American Renewal's political campaigns. AR is the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council. Amongst their 'good works' is an exhaustive campaign against rights for same-sex couples, peppered with spurious nonsense linking gays and child sex abuse and listing the negative health effects of being homosexual.

But this, of course, is about US radio, so why should the organisers of Gay Pride be bothered?

Why should they worry about Jan Mickelson? Mickelson is on American Radio. He broadcasts a show on WHO Radio out of Des Moines, and took the opportunity of the Rooselvelt High School's day of silence to launch a week-long rant against the Straight and Gay Alliance, homosexual perverts and so on. That's a weeks-worth, mind - not a single outburst that got reigned in; a week of bile. Not that anti-gay programming is unusual on his show. But why should this bother Gay Pride, who have managed to persuade Jimmy Sommerville to sing some songs on a stage owned by the same company who smile benignly on Mickelson's shows?

When Michael Savage was dumped by MSNBC for a - heh - savage on-air attack on a gay caller - sorry, a sodomite pig who he hoped would get Aids and die - (his supposed apology seems to have consisted of saying that he thought he wasn't on air - which presumably would have made the Nuremburg Rallies palatable, had they not had the radio coverage they got), Clear Channel's KNEW-AM not only signed him up on the spot, but put him into the heart of their station. But this is about US Radio, and why should the people who have managed to book Soft Cell for a PA fret about that?

But then, maybe I'm just a bitter old bi-boy.


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