Coming Out — an act of repetition — because the personal is still political


TS Eliot died in 1965, four years before the birth of the modern gay liberation movement. What he might have made of being quoted on National Coming Out Day, goodness knows. And yet his words, from the final stanza of part three of East Coker, came to me this morning — as they often do. […]
Suicide — it isn’t always good to talk, but talk we must


Sixteen years ago, just a few years shy of middle age, I came to Edinburgh to make a new life. Summer was just beginning but it was a cold coming. An inauspicious arrival. All bets were off. I came to begin a new chapter in the very place where, scarcely six months earlier, I had […]
Finding a way to belonging — on Constitution Street


Yesterday evening I took part in a protest. It wasn’t on the streets or outside a building. There were no placards, no hecklers. There was no lobbying, no them and us. It was a book launch. In a library. I’ve taken part in a protest in a library once before. Nearly 40 years ago, my […]
Marching the streets won’t get Yes over the line: cool heads might


‘Increasingly, SNP supporters are wrong-headed would Alex Salmond do?’ was the question posed by Iain Macwhirter in his Herald column this morning. It grabbed my attention but made me flinch. The question seemed entirely wrong headed. Granted, I’m sure some SNP supporters are asking it. Salmond has his fan base; it’s clearly sizable and super […]
Refusing to name Trump’s racism normalises it — and the next stop is fascism


From ‘Lock her up’ to ‘Send her back’ in three short years. The misogyny of ‘Lock her up’ was deplorable enough. But if the chants from Trump’s rally in North Carolina aren’t chilling your bones yet, I’d recommend watching it on a loop until they do. And if they do, but you think it couldn’t […]
Attitudes to same-sex relationships – no time to call it a day


An apparent stalling in the pace of liberalisation on attitudes to same-sex relationships and a welter of angry protest about LGBT inclusive education in schools provide a sharp reminder of the need to re-double and re-focus our efforts in the battle for equality. And as we look forward it’s worth looking back. In 1987, my […]
A letter to Toby Young about Pride and ‘woke corporations’


Dear Toby, I read your column in the Spectator, about the notion that Pride has been taken over by ‘woke corporations.’ We’ve never met, and I think if we did, we’d disagree rather a lot. I don’t mind that. But your piece irked me, and I felt I had to respond. Lurking in its midst […]
Books on the Box with Barr


The announcement that BBC Scotland has commissioned a new arts series to celebrate literature got the Twitterati — on my timeline at least — in quite a fizz. Fizz is good. We all need a bit of it especially on the driechest of June days. The Big Scottish Book Club is to be hosted by award-winning writer, Damian Barr. […]