The Sunday Times carried an interview with Tory front bencher Alan Duncan today. The piece focused on his forthcoming civil partnership. At the age of 18 I was (for my sins) a Tory activist. I led the local youth group, sat on the local executive and was expected to take over the regional group and ultimately stand as an MP. Yet, ten years ago I put out a press release that suggested the Tory Party should be more open and should be keen to attract more gay members. I went on to call for the repeal of section 28, equalise the age of consent and look at what was then termed ‘gay marriage’ with an open mind. Much to my shock and my mothers irritation, a massive media storm blew up with the story running on the front page of the local press, people from the regional newspaper appearing on the doorstep and the phone constantly ringing with requests for interviews. I turned them all down. I’d switch on the radio and the local BBC station was running a phone in on my comments. Within 48 hours I was gone and my brief thought of a political career over. Instead I went off to university and became passionately involved in student politics and LGBT issues. In the weeks that followed I was approached in the street and in my workplace by local activists who said they applauded what I said but could never publicly agree themselves. Others said they agree with me but thought it would never happen so I should have kept my mouth shut. It deeply affected me. I don’t regret saying what I did but I do look at interviews such as this with a wry smile. It took ten years, but the Tories might just have ‘got it’.
Read the Alan Duncan interview here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3510791.ece