There is a scene in the UK TV series of Queer as Folk in which the two central characters – Stuart and Vince – go to a third characters home after his death from a bad reaction to drugs (in the US series he survives). The reason for their visit is to remove those things the deceased wouldn’t want his parents to find – porn and sex aids. The central idea is that to have a dead son is horrendous but to have to go and clear out their property and have a pile of porn, dildos and so on is in some way unbearable. Their son is not sexual and not ‘deviant’ in any way. In death we are all a little homophobic is kind of the message.
A similar scene evolved in my mind upon reading the story on BBC News that Westminster Coroner’s Court has been reviewing the death of the former DJ, Kevin Greening. According to the story, Greening died following an accidental drugs overdose and the coroners court recording death by misadventure. The BBC also reports, in a matter of fact sort of way that Greening had died in a sling during a bondage session and goes into some of the details, quoting his former partner. Remarkably, having taken a quick look at the websites of a few tabloids, they all seem to report the story in an unusually factual and respectful way. Whilst homosexuality has become tolerated by society, and depicted in TV and cinema as part of a wider narrative, the idea of a ‘normal’ being interested in BDSM is still seen as something unusual, something not to be discussed in public. It’s also unfortunate that this particular story links drugs and bondage in the way it does and seems to suggest that bondage is therefore some sort of dangerous deviant behaviour.
It’s always sad to read of a tragic death but as a national we are fixated on deaths that expose something of the person, particularly the sexual and/or the deviant nature of our fellow human beings. Greening was not, as so many of us are, ‘de-sexed’ upon death and looking at the media, I’m left wondering how differently an individual might be viewed if they retained their sexuality upon death.
You can view the QAF clip below: