First openly gay Havering councillor speaks about ‘coming out’
- Credit: Archant
It may only seem like yesterday, but the Nineties had a far different and less tolerant political climate than today’s.
In 1991, Cllr Mark Flewitt used the Recorder to announce that he was gay, making him Havering’s first openly non-hetrosexual councillor.
He faced some homophobic backlash but his bravery helped shape today’s situation in which people no longer need to even “come out”.
He said: “The gay agenda was more about campaigning then – it was much safer just to come out with it. Now it’s not so necessary to do that.”
Cllr Flewitt, who now sits on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, admitted that, while preparing to make the announcement, he failed to tell some very important people.
You may also want to watch:
“In all my planning, I forgot to tell my family,” he said.
His loved ones were “absolutely fine” with it and said they always knew anyway.
- 1 'Disgraceful': Ex-estate agent sentenced for Chris Whitty assault
- 2 Harold Hill man pleads guilty to Chris Whitty assault
- 3 Daniel Laskos stabbing: Teens plead not guilty to murder
- 4 Chronically ill Romford man's fight for diagnosis after being told problem is psychological
- 5 Lower Thames Crossing: How would Upminster be affected?
- 6 Romford ‘best in region’ chef shares his cooking tip and favourite dish
- 7 Road and rail disruptions coming up over the coming week
- 8 Meet the Olympians from east London and Brentwood
- 9 Daniel Laskos stabbing: Teens charged with murder to face court
- 10 Local high street rewards scheme launched in Brentwood
His decision to go public was influenced by gay equality organisation Stonewall and the activism of Peter Tatchell who would “out” public figures who were homophobic in public but gay in private.
“Tatchell’s work may have seemed outrageous at the time, but would seem much less so now,” said Cllr Flewitt.
Stonewall founder Michael Cashman, now a Labour MEP, also played a big part in the councillor’s decision.
Mr Cashman started out as an actor and received the first gay kiss on British television when his EastEnders character , Colin Russell, was kissed on the forehead by his male partner in 1987.