Television

I love that people assume I’m gay

James Delingpole on the evidence that he hasn’t totally lost his fashion edge

20 September 2014

9:00 AM

20 September 2014

9:00 AM

At a birthday dinner over the weekend I was introduced to this delightful party girl of a certain age whose diet for the evening consisted of chips and Grey Goose vodka on the rocks with lime. She launched straight into the praises of this marvellous gay couple she knew in the area who were mad keen on hunting, kept getting injured but didn’t care, and who she was sure I’d get on with like a house on fire. They did indeed sound like my kind of people. But it was only later, after my new friend had had a few more and she had expressed surprise at the existence of my wife across the table, that she fessed up. ‘I had no idea you weren’t gay. Those clothes. Your manner. That gaunt look…’

I didn’t mind, obviously. In fact, I totally love the idea that people still assume I’m gay after all these years because it means I haven’t totally lost my outré fashion edge. At home, I’m a terrible scruff: filthy jeans, T-shirt. But I do very much still like dressing up on occasion, be it the splendid rat-catcher outfit I got an excuse to wear out cubbing the other day, or the mauve Paul Smith trousers, floral Liberty shirt and Emma Hope ponyskin bootees I wore the other day for a TV encounter with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Vivienne Westwood. Once a fashion whore, always a fashion whore.

Which is why I so identified with so many of the characters in the BBC’s three-part series Oh! You Pretty Things: the Story of Music and Fashion (BBC4, Wednesdays): the high Sixties couple who’d bought all their psychedelic threads from Granny Takes A Trip and made films of themselves communing with nature and talking to trees on LSD straight from the Sandoz labs in Switzerland; the mod who modelled himself on the Small Faces and always knew he was winning when he got wolf whistles from building sites; Andy Mackay, the sax player from Roxy Music, recalling the metallic emerald jacket designed for him by Antony Price. These were eras before my time, but I was well versed in their lore. It set the standards for my own fashion experimentations from the early 1980s onwards — once I’d graduated from that awkward period where your Mum gets all your sensible clothes for you, mainly from M&S.


Boy, I’m pleased to notice, is starting to enter a similar phase. Last term, he borrowed the black leather biker jacket I spent ages tracking down when black leather biker jackets were last in (c.1988). He checked the label — La Rocka! — and was pleased to see, after googling it, that such items are now quite covetably expensive.

They’re always nice for a dad, those rare moments where, just briefly, you’re made to feel that you can still actually serve some useful purpose in life. At the same time, though, I did worry that maybe this was another case of the younger generation having it far too easy: in my day, if you were into fashion you had to suffer for your art. There was no Top Man at Oxford Circus providing instant cheap rip-offs of all the latest bang-on trends. You had to shop like a girl: hard, dedicatedly, relentlessly. Sometimes, oftentimes in fact, you’d make terrible mistakes, all the more troubling for the fact that there weren’t so many Far Eastern child-slave factories then, so clothes were relatively much more expensive.

And even when you knew you’d got it right, you’d still have to brave the scorn of squarer friends who thought you hadn’t. It was hard to keep your nerve on such occasions and sometimes you didn’t. My cropped, tomato-red, bumfreeze-cut, World Service double-breasted linen jacket with the tulip labels and my stripy palazzo pants: all it took was one unkind remark from an Oxford contemporary who hadn’t seen me since my Hacketts cords and tweed jacket-wearing phase and that was it — the ensemble stayed in the wardrobe for a whole year before I decided it was safe to bring it out again.

What they don’t realise, all these fuddy-duddy mockers, is what a debt they owe the small, dedicated band of fashion-forward heroes prepared to die of embarrassment in order that others might have something slightly more interesting to wear when that weird kit goes mainstream about five years hence. After all, if there weren’t people in each new generation prepared to mince down the street in floral-pattern jackets made of curtain material or sharp, mod-style trousers cut about six inches above the ankle, we’d still all be stuck in tabards or doublet and hose or periwigs.

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Show comments
  • Tim Gilling

    You wore rat catcher clubbing???

  • Tim Gilling

    You edited!

    • jamesdelingpole

      It was a good spot of yours. None of us can work out where the ‘l’ crept in – it wasn’t in my original copy, but no one can recall changing it. I mean if anywhere is going to know the difference between “cubbing” and “clubbing” it’s the Speccie, right?

      • Tim Gilling

        They still love you down the Cotswold kennels, James. Gay or not.

        • jamesdelingpole

          I am SO touched. And I still love the Cotswold kennels. It was a great day.

  • Tim Gilling

    Anyway – Autumn hunting is the preferred euphemism these days.

  • Hard to tell with urban chic these days. The influx of young uber rich internet fortune geeks has made scruffy tat ‘in’. Add that to the beard thing and it’s a wonder anyone with sartorial elegance gets noticed at all.

    And ‘that gaunt look’…surely they’re all hyper fit, healthy glowing polished trimmed metro-sexual aping these days?

    • Chris Morriss

      I hadn’t thought that Delingpole was homosexual, but now after reading this narcissist hogwash, I realise that I was wrong. What an odious man he appears to be.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Have you never come across heterosexual narcissists? I recommend to you ‘The Egoist’ by George Meredith. Ignorant fellow.

        • Chris Morriss

          Only female ones!

          • Solage 1386

            All human beings are out for themselves. They are programmed to be so by their very nature. Self interest is their only true motive, even when it is well disguised. “The ego would sacrifice the whole universe for an extra minute of life” (Schopenhauer.) But nobody can be blamed for this. We are what we are. In other words, nobody chooses to be a narcissist.

          • frank marker

            Indeed, I don’t think I have seen so many muscle bound men in figure hugging t-shirts swaggering and preening their way around London this summer.

          • Kitty MLB

            Thaank God .Whatt on earth didd men look
            likke in the 70s..diid women theen actually like
            thee medieval kknight hair witthout the style.

          • frank marker

            Don’t actually think they are doing it for women.

          • frank marker

            Yes a pity that 90% of these contemporary pseudo macho men are total kn*bheads. You know I’ve always found the less vain people far more attractive and sexy.

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            An old Welsh proverb: Gymnasiums are exclusively for narcissists, neurotics, and homosexuals……..Oh, how true!

          • frank marker

            Quite right and I bet with all their plastic muscles they’d be totally useless at putting up a bookshelf.

          • In my experience of this website’s comment sections, you’re called a narcissist if you dare to talk about yourself in something other than disparaging tones.

        • edithgrove

          It’s a form of Delingpole’s en vogue homophobia and superficiality that it hasn’t occurred to him that heterosexuals can be just as camp and 2-dimensional as his gay stereotypes.

    • little islander

      paul smith is old and far from gaunt. but man does he look good. and he doesn’t seem to try too hard. then again, i suppose mr smith has nothing he needs to prove.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Nobody thinks I’m gay because I’m scruffy, fat and bald. (sob)

    • PeteCW

      There are plenty of bars that cater specifically for fat and bald chaps – you won’t even need to shave your shoulders. And no-one can tell you’re scruffy if you’re naked in the dark.

      • A pretty picture you’ve painted there. %^[]

      • Miss Floribunda Rose

        Strangely, instead of being attracted towards their opposites, they are attracted only towards those who are fat and bald themselves! The true narcissism of homosexuality revealed! (There are a few exceptions, of course.)

        • Kitty MLB

          Rubbbish, people aree draun toogether for
          lots offf diferent reasons.Itts chemistry.

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            True. But this particular type of homosexual searches for his own mirror image…….Yang and Yang rather than Yin and Yang! So to speak!

    • eclair

      Id never have guessed…..

    • But do you have a nice bum? That’s the $64,000 question. I think it’s outrageous that the best bums (generally) seem to be on gays. Gays and lesbians between them get all the best lookers and the straight gals are left with the rest.

      • Kitty MLB

        Youu have jus made mee laugh..thhe bum beinng a
        peach or a flaaby piece of uncoooked stretchhy dough. Straigght gals all hard donne by.

        • What about the bum that is clasped in prayer? Shaped something like a strawberry with a cleft down the middle. My mother’s has always looked like that. Fortunately I took after Dad. Sorry if that’s TMI but you’re made of tougher stuff than some of the blokes on here. By the way, your new spelling style is beginning to make my eyes water.

          • Kitty MLB

            S, whhat about thos whoo have bum implaants
            so they lok like ‘jo lo’ morre like llamas I say.
            Annd I’ll not mention those bums thaat resembble a mountain range.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Nothing wrong with my bum, love. Not a wrinkle nor a pucker.

        • Serves me right for asking. I suppose you couldn’t make it your avatar, decorously veiled in voile curtain or something?

          • Fergus Pickering

            I’m sure your bum, mydear Shanandoah, is equally divine.

          • I’d say you’re too kind, sir, but it happens that it’s one of my best features ;^)

      • Miss Floribunda Rose

        They probably give ’em lots of exercise (their b**s, that is). [I cannot bring myself to say or even write the word……….]

    • Scaramouche

      That’s no bar to being gay Fergus. it might be just no one would fancy you.

  • Liz

    Maybe your wife is gay.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Are we allowed to use the word “bitch” yet?

      • Liz

        Shut up bitch. Yep looks like it.

        • Miss Floribunda Rose

          In The Daily Express, anything with “tit” in it–even “title” or “titter”–is automatically moderated, as I have discovered to my great dismay…..”Titter ye not!”

          • Scaramouche

            A ‘titter’ ran around the Court.

  • Solage 1386

    Those who define themselves by their sexual proclivities are fools. Homosexuality exists; heterosexuality exists; bisexuality exists; possibly even trisexuality (they’ll try anything) exists……..but ‘homosexuals’, ‘heterosexuals’, ‘bisexuals’ and even ‘trisexuals’ do not. Counter-intuitive perhaps, but nevertheless true.

    • Damaris Tighe

      Exactly so. More identity politics.

    • Cim Thayne

      Quite right.

    • Nah, the shoe fits: I’m heterosexual — and no one would ever think otherwise. Though ‘post-sexual’ is probably a better term in my case.

      • Miss Floribunda Rose

        Dear Shenandoah: I, Miss Floribunda Rose, think otherwise……

        • Perhaps, but then we’ve never met….

          • Miss Floribunda Rose

            Oh, Shenandoah, you are doomed to wander…..Apologies, but having imbibed 13 pink gins, I am inebriated, and will soon retire to bed…….Why do I vouchsafe this information? I know not! Booze inspires the Muse.

          • Kitty MLB

            13 piink gins…I hoppe your not bitteen byy a mosquito in the nightt or they wiil be flyng
            uside down deliriouus and plickled.

          • I reckon you had the 14th, darling.

          • Kitty MLB

            I’m not aloweed alcohol,takinng anti inflammatoryys. A Set back froom having a falll and hurting skulll a whille ago
            I previosly hurt my skulll ages aggo when mountan climbimg
            The coordinatonn is note ok alsso. yet.

          • pedestrianblogger

            ..

          • Kitty MLB

            Welll you haave a sparre glass of wine fr me
            on Saturday..becase I cant 🙂

          • You poor dear!

          • Guest

            Your very kind. My hubby has done something to computer
            that corrects written word. I will be hopefully be having an operation next week ( privately) Others have not been as nice
            as you, so you’ll notice that I am ‘ Guest’. If I return I might have a fresh start with a new name. Take care and have a nice
            weekend.

          • Good luck and I hope it all goes well. You’ll get through it. Have a good weekend yourself (in the circumstances) and perhaps we’ll see you back here in due course.

          • I like a limpid and lucid lush!

    • mrsjosephinehydehartley

      What about omnisexuals? Or perhaps universexuals?

      • Miss Floribunda Rose

        Such creatures, if they exist, which I doubt, would be deviants indeed…….Avoid them at your peril……

  • ACN

    Tabards, doublets, periwigs! Wow!
    I sense a new fashion trend inspired by no less than JD him/herself.

  • frank marker

    Why the picture of a double-denim, shire-horse brass belt wearing Status Quo though? They may have attempted to cut it as psychedelic peacocks around the time of their Pictures of Matchstick Men period, but after that any idea of sartorial elegance went right out of the window. I hated that late 60s early 70s hairy period, thank goodness for Roxy, Bowie and Bolan.

    • Miss Floribunda Rose

      Apparently, Bolan was quite “hairy”. Bowie, of course, was not……As for Ferry, who knows? The hairiest rock star ever was, it goes without saying, Roy Wood (although Patti Smith is a strong contender). Personally, I have a “Thing” about hairy middle-aged blokes, and so am biased…….The more hair, the merrier! It is a weakness of mine, which I have so far managed to keep secret…….Until now!

      • Kitty MLB

        Noo there ar limitss with boddily hair.. a smaaal amont
        is nicce but evolution inn revese..a human forest-ghhastl.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    …my Hacketts cords and tweed jacket-wearing phase

    Do tell, James, were you a Young Fogey?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “I love that people assume I’m gay”
    Try taking a teenager (girl or boy) with you when you go shopping (different race, naturally), if you want really want to disenchant those busybody matron-types.

  • global city

    I don’t know about looking gay, but, as my Nan would have said on seeing you on the telly….”poor lad, he looks like a dying puke”

  • Scaramouche

    If anyone accused me of being gay, my answer would be ‘So what? Whether I am or not, I don’t fancy you.’

    • Kitty MLB

      He willl be heeartbroken.

  • ohforheavensake

    I assumed you were an odd, sexless obsessive. Haven’t read anything here that makes me change my mind.

    • Kitty MLB

      James iss an excellennt chap..and the ladiees would prefer himm to you anyday..get that moron !

      • Hi Kitty. Either you’re typing with oven mitts or your keyboard is sticking.

        • Kitty MLB

          I usee a Tabblet S. Kept spillling coffee over thee
          keyboarrd.Quiite accident prone..in everry way.

          • Oh dear! :^[

          • fitz fitzgerald

            Grey Goose is a hard taskmaster…

        • Miss Floribunda Rose

          Or perhaps typing with her tits…….Let’s face it, many of us have done so…….

    • Rearrange your description slightly and then you’ll be closer to the truth.

  • Noa

    “…if there weren’t people in each new generation prepared to mince down the street in floral-pattern jackets made of curtain material or sharp, mod-style trousers cut about six inches above the ankle, we’d still all be stuck in tabards or doublet and hose or periwigs…”

    There’s no need to be oh so disrespectful of last season’s fashion highlights, James darling!

    • Miss Floribunda Rose

      ……..Or even cod-pieces, also (gasp) cut about six inches above the ankle!

  • This is the one thing wrong with Ruth Sanderson’s ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’. The whole thing is beautiful but she gave the hero a modified — if anything, more extreme — Status Quo hairdo. I was wondering whether the hairdo would belong to an 80s man band or a 70s one or even a 90s one (yeah, I was sort of around, but one forgets — thank god!).

    I don’t like long hair on men. But I like an era in which long hair on men is considered manly. I like it when men wear more than stripes, checks, and solid colours. I like men with a slight sense of humour and flirtiness about themselves. I like it when men don’t wear jeans with stains on them, or any jeans at all. (Given the choice, I’d take leather — but what’s wrong with chinos?)

  • Kitty MLB

    whatt on earthh do they loook like with that loog hair..i assume gay men are weel
    groomed.

  • edlancey

    ” ‘I had no idea you weren’t gay. Those clothes. Your manner. That gaunt look…’”

    She probably thought you were HIV positive.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Chill, James. The local cyber stalking nutter keeps telling me I’m Japanese (like only hundreds of times over a 10-year period) but it doesn’t make it true. And on occasion also homosexual, Internet gay porn viewer, paedophile, autism suffer, living in an Internet cafe, guard at a Japanese WWII PoW camp … The disturbed loonies are always with us (especially when the Spectator provides a forum), so the personality switch syndrome is worth exploring. Specifically, whenever deranged slurs and libels they throw out, are in fact a profile of themselves. Ask them if they believe the Earth is flat.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

    • Kaine

      I am apparently Irish because I disagreed with the Home Counties Taleban.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Don’t tell me you’ve been crossing swords with the Jonathan MacDonald, the Rochdale retard. The self-confessed autism sufferer that’s not playing with a full deck.

      • Your name is indeed Irish, and there is admittedly some correlation between Irishness, anti-English sentiment, anti-British politics, left-wing politics and the Labour Party.

        • Kaine

          If we take names literally then you appear to be a zombie, or at best some sort of poltergeist.

          • Very droll; and nice one! You’ve got me right there! I am both disabled and an unemployed, so I am practically one in so many ways already!

            Seriously, this “Jackthesmilingblack” clown is too autistic to be of sound mind! He is not a bona-fide political commentator like you and me, is he?!

            Half of the time, he berates other people on the importance of not to put an extra “l” onto “Saville” and “Milliband”, as if that is in any way important; and as if we ever have “correct spelling” for most surnames in the native-English-speaking World anyway! He is also a Troll anyway, and it is best just to ignore him, even if he say outrageous things, unless he says something that is truly silly, wrong as well as ridiculous.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “deceased” offers a ray of hope. That would appear to the best solution for those with an incurable malady. “He died as he lived, a deranged, xenophobic, racist, bigot. A raving lunatic so full of $hit that if they gave him an enima he could be buried in a shoe box.

  • Simon Fay

    Did by any chance Peter York turn up smirking like a knowing big sister in this BBC4 programme, ducky?

    And the simpering fags’n’hags on here wonder why so many of the Jocks want out…

  • Simon_in_London

    “After all, if there weren’t people in each new generation prepared to mince down the street in floral-pattern jackets made of curtain material or sharp, mod-style trousers cut about six inches above the ankle, we’d still all be stuck in tabards or doublet and hose or periwigs.”

    No, most of us men are not simply conservative; we’re puritans. That’s why no one wears (eg) cloaks, or bowler hats.

    • Uh-huh. And that’s why most men are a great sartorial bore!

    • Kaine

      The demise of hats is a great sartorial tragedy, and the need to protect yourself from the nation’s constant drizzle has led directly to the rise of hoodies.

  • obiwan

    James, I really enjoyed your latest podcast with your Brietbart colleague Milo Yiannopoulos, where you two discuss the Scotland vote and the ‘GamerGate’ scandal. I had no idea Milo was gay, but was delighted to find out via the podcast. As a gay man myself (and at 51 years old, still an avid video gamer!) it’s always very refreshing to read or hear another gay voice from the right of the political spectrum.

    You clearly have a very ‘.alt’ side to yourself, Mr Delingpole! I love the fact you can happily go from discussing the Scottish independence election to chatting about video games (in an informed way, too) without blinking – and all with such cheeky good humour.

    I hope you do invite Milo on to your podcast again – you two make a very entertaining double act!

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    I notice Spectator journalists (Damian, James…) are actually responding to Internet correspondents. From which I deduce that the Daily Telegraph is soon to fold, and the scribes are currying favour in the jobs musical chairs.

  • Miss Floribunda Rose

    My brother, Solage 1386, lost his virginity in 1976 by sucking off Arabs (for money!) in the bogs of the Regent Palace Hotel, Piccadilly Circus, London. He wishes to know: What does this make him? Normal? Abnormal? I, his sister, also wish to know, even though I myself am too deeply spiritual to concern myself with matters of the flesh…..

  • Miss Floribunda Rose

    The Status Quo were very good when they were psychedelic, especially the song “When My Mind Is Not Live”. Then, it was all downhill for year after dreary year…….

  • Miss Floribunda Rose

    A man can only be considered attractive if his neck is thicker than his head.

  • Miss Floribunda Rose

    Perhaps Mr James Delingpole should take up pole dancing? He could earn a bit on the side, and gain some much-needed life-experience whilst he’s “at it”? It is never too late…..

  • Tali
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