To my horror, [the column] has been widely condemned as ‘homophobic’ and ‘hateful’. Obviously, a great deal of offence has been taken and I regret any affront caused. This was never my intention.
To be the focus of such depth of feeling has been an interesting experience, but I do not complain. After all, I am not – unlike those close to Stephen Gately – mourning for the loss of a much-loved partner, son, family member and close friend.
To them, I would like to say sorry if I have caused distress by the insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral.
The point of my article was to suggest that, in my honest opinion, Stephen Gately’s death raised many unanswered questions. What had really gone on?
After all, Stephen was a role model for the young and if drugs were somehow involved in his death, as news reports suggested, should that not be a matter of public interest?
We were told that Stephen died of ‘natural causes’ even before toxicology results had been released. This struck me as bizarre, given the circumstances.
Absolutely none of this had anything to do with his sexuality. If he had been a heterosexual member of a boy band, I would have written exactly the same article.
Yet despite this, many have interpreted my words as a ‘bigoted rant’ and suggested that my motive was to insinuate that Stephen died ‘because he was gay’.
Anyone who knows me will vouch that I have never held such poisonous views.
[…] Indeed, I would stress that there was nothing in my article that could not be applied to a heterosexual couple as well as to a homosexual one.
This brings me back to the bile, the fury, the inflammatory hate mail and the repeated posting of my home address on the internet.
To say it was a hysterical overreaction would be putting it mildly, though clearly much of it was an orchestrated campaign by pressure groups and those with agendas of their own.
However, I accept that many people – on Twitter and elsewhere – were merely expressing their own personal and heartfelt opinions or grievances. This said, I can’t help wondering: is there a compulsion today to see bigotry and social intolerance where none exists by people who are determined to be outraged? Or was it a failure of communication on my part?