The butler did it
I saw a headline the other day which claimed that Paul Burrell, infamous butler to Diana, Princess of Wales, had boasted to his brother-in-law that he had fucked his employer. This story didn't interest me in the slightest- no story surrounding Diana will ever shock me- but I did find myself reading it online later.
The story itself was pretty unremarkable: outlandish claims based on hearsay and not much else. One comment by the enraged brother-in-law leapt out at me, though. He said that because of the gay company Burrell had kept in the past, Burrell's wife should consider an AIDS test. That homosexuality still equals AIDS to someone living and breathing in the 21st century isn't entirely unbelievable, but it does make me sad to read it in the most-read Sunday newspaper in the UK. Comments from the newspaper's readers below the article demonstrated that the bitter brother-in-law was not alone in his ignorance.
I remember the first time the story of Burrell's alleged bisexuality hit the front pages. Coverage that had been at best neutral and at worst slightly snidey all of a sudden ramped up to vitriolic, pathological hatred and ridicule, as if all other traits like alleged dress-pinching, lying and cashing in on a dead employer had faded into insignificance next to the possibility that Burrellmight have just clamped his jaw round a penis.
Living in my London bubble where gay is more or less OK, I sometimes forget that the real, intolerant world is waiting with a great big pin.