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Right-on Kew

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We must all hurry down to the Temperate House at Kew Gardens next month to enjoy Queer Nature After Hours, an evening of drama, music, comedy, drag acts and ‘a sprinkling of queer joy’. If, like me, you have never previously been sprinkled with queer joy, here’s your chance to find out what it’s like. There will be a performance by Trans Voices as well as a chap, or maybe not a chap, called Bi-Curious George. Here’s what George will be doing: ‘Within the splendour of the Temperate House, Bi-Curious George (he/him) will broadcast immersive parody-monologues, set to soaring classical scores. The audience becomes George’s parade of beautifully queer creatures and George becomes some of the animals too. Expect cabaret, parody songs, lip syncs, dancing, and sparkly costumes.’

If a few more people had examined the demands of the trans lobby, we might not be in the current quagmire

Can’t wait, can you? Kew has helpfully provided attendees with the correct pronouns to employ in regard to each performer, so nobody should leave having been triggered or merely affronted. Anyway, this should all meet with the approval of the plants, 90 per cent of which are, like about half of our country’s sixth-form students, possessed of both male and female sexual organs and would most certainly object to being referred to as ‘him’ or ‘her’, were they capable of objecting to anything other than an injudicious watering regimen. In point of fact, the plants actually don’t get much of a mention in the blurb for this extravaganza, despite the fact that this is why Kew Gardens exists.

In other words it is not a celebration of the beauty tended over the years by less stupid curators, but yet another example of fashionable, top-down, performative grandstanding – a simpler description of which is ‘narcissism’. The people invited along, and the performers, are not there to marvel at the miracles of nature, but at their own miraculousness and to shout about it and show off. It is a revelling in themselves and how wonderful they are and yet also how victimised and oppressed by the horribly white, straight hegemony. In this it is much like the rest of the stuff which makes up what we refer to as the ‘culture war’ – whether it’s the gays or the trans people or indeed the Black Lives Matter crew, identitarianism is always an act born of narcissism: we are important, everybody else not so much. Perhaps I should get on board and be a bit more identitarian myself, in the hope that one day Kew Gardens might put on a special event for my tribe – An Evening Among the Giant Ferns For Ageing Fascist Gammons.

Meanwhile, in the thrilling transsphere, where excitement and hatred perpetually abound (largely, I suspect, because an awful lot of the participants are not quite right in the head), it has been business as usual. The good news is that the (cancelled) scriptwriter Graham Linehan – whose views on the trans issue are shared by, I would guess, the overwhelming majority of the population – has received an apology from one of his long-time tormentors, the writer John Boyne. Having slagged off Linehan repeatedly for espousing views which simply accord with biological realities and which were always expressed with compassion for those who are, uh, mixed up about their genders, Boyne has now decided the Father Ted creator was right all along.

‘So I’ve called this meeting to clear the air.’

Linehan accepted this Damascene conversion with a lot more grace than I would have mustered. If a few more people had examined, earlier in the day, the counter-rational demands of the trans lobby with a degree more rigour and logic, then we might not be in the current ludicrous quagmire. But they didn’t. Our establishment, especially in the arts and education, swallowed every preposterous demand and assertion, not because they thought them morally right, I suspect, but because they wanted to be on the same side as their witless friends. Not to mention being terrified of the wrath of trans activists and fearing that they might get themselves cancelled if they spoke the truth.

Boyne also offered support for a woman called Róisín Murphy, once the singer in a slightly irritating electronic indie duo called Moloko. Murphy has had gigs pulled and the promotion of her new album cancelled because she happened to express doubts on Facebook about the efficacy of giving puberty blockers to children. Again, I would suggest that the overwhelming majority of the country would not wish to ply children with harmful, life-changing drugs when counselling might address their gender issues and a good few others besides. Indeed, this is now the government’s policy with regard to the transitioning of children, following the frankly horrendous revelations about the Tavistock Clinic, which promises more lawsuits somewhere down the line.

Murphy has been vilified and forced to issue an apology in order to rescue a career which had been put more or less permanently on hold. The important thing here is that while it was the trans activists who began the denunciations, it was others who did the damage – much as Boyne had done to Linehan and much as the genuinely useless actors Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson did for J.K. Rowling when she expressed her misgivings about the activists’ wilder demands. In Murphy’s case it was gig promotors, the people who run concert halls, the staffers in her record company – all desperate to signal their allegiance to a cause which, if they examined it for more than 30 seconds, would surely seem absurd to them. But this is how the process has worked all the way through, much as BLM suddenly found its divisive and obnoxious aims championed by the Football Association and our benighted police forces. And much as, today, Kew Gardens finds itself eager to clamber, with its famous plants, upon the fatuous bandwagon. I hope you all enjoy Bi-Curious George.