Finsbury Park

On August 8th 1992 Morrissey played at Finsbury Park with headliners Madness. He’d worked with band members, Suggs and Cathal Smyth, and also with their producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley.

During his set the crowd shouted homophobic insults & threw coins & bottles of piss.

He was so distressed by the ‘loathsome yobbos’ that he refused to play the 2nd day of the two day booking.

Nowadays he could phone the police & they would investigate it as a hate crime.

Back then he was denounced as a drama queen, who had blown it with his imagery & let his fans down.

Select Magazine, October 1992
select Magazine, January 1993

The NME implied he was a racist & a fascist based on an outright lie that the Union Jack and a Derek Ridgers art print of two skinhead girls amounted to racist imagery that had provoked the homophobic abuse from National Front skinheads in the crowd while trying to appeal to them.

Cornershop burned his picture outside EMI.

Students picketed EMI apparently unconcerned that the ‘racist’ Union Jack was on the office building.

Despite the National Front’s known hatred of gay people, that included ‘queer bashing’, the supposedly liberal-left music press dismissed violent homophobia to denounce Morrissey for his art & for refusing to explain himself to the press who had dismissed violent homophobia.

A violent attack on a gay pub, October 1993
Police pay compensation to a gay man wrongfully arrested for cottaging and beaten up in custody, May 1993
Perhaps this inspired the police to take anti-gay violence more seriously than they took policing gay sex, 1993 (research by Simon Edge, shared on Twitter)

Morrissey has always said that he was attracted to men and women. In 1991 he’d toured with lesbian singer, Phranc. So it’s unlikely the audience thought he was heterosexual.

Morrissey & Phranc

The NME exonerated Madness who attracted the racist and homophobic crowd. And the Angelic Upstarts who played to skinheads with their stage draped in a Union Jack. Heterosexual male rock stars are unambiguously ‘good’ men.

Skinhead band, the Angelic Upstarts

Years later the NME plunged him into yet another race row because he thought Knightsbridge – the most expensive street in London – had lost its local character.

28 years later The Guardian asked if he was showing his true colours.

Love Music Hate Racism used it to say he has a long history of supporting Far Right organisations – his only other ‘support’ being a comment that The BNP should be allowed to speak. Morrissey is from an Irish Catholic family, he supported a United Ireland. Between 1988 & 1994 Sinn Fein’s politicians had their voices banned on UK television. As someone on the heavily censored margins of British culture (working-class, queer, chronically shy) being allowed to speak mattered to him.

‘Morrissey might have just been looking for some temporary credibility from Love Music Hate Racism. Certainly, the long history of support for racist and far right organisations speaks to something else. We certainly wouldn’t be taking any further donations from Morrissey‘ (Zak Cochrane, the Guardian, May 2019) 

Twitter had no trouble linking skinheads and violence to Morrissey’s sexuality.

His only skinhead ‘pal’ was his boyfriend

“Former friends” eager to bring unity by casting out the foreign “tax exile” whose family still lived in the city, had never opposed the homophobia.

And there are relentless examples of homophobic or transphobic digs about Morrissey in the media. David Quantick’s ‘Mozz Flanders in a dank cellette’, ‘Dorrissey’ in the 1980s video game ‘Rock Star Ate My Hamster’, a hand up bum bit in Vic and Bob’s Morrissey the Consumer Monkey sketch etc etc…

Which might have been why the homophobia has been entirely written out of the Finsbury Park story – except it turns out homophobia was the reason for the Finsbury Park story.

Forget the Union Jack and the Skinhead girls – what they were really worried about was the gay skinhead scene.

Side Note: there was no inflammatory hate in anything Morrissey said – however misguided or in need of a fact check. The inflammatory hate came from a press narrative that falsely claimed Morrissey was anti-immigrant and from social media. Not only did they lie about Morrissey’s motivations but they took the opportunity to hate him for his sexuality, gender identity, age, body shape, mental health, veganism, and animal rights activism.

I despise racism. I despise fascism. 
I would do anything for my Muslim friends and I know they would do anything for me.
… the tyrannies of the MSM who will tell you that For Britain are racist or fascist – please believe me, they are the very opposite…  This is my last political strike. No wish to upset anyone!  (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, April 2018)

for every shade and persuasion … we shall always be alongside each other – everyone’s culture of value; no more fashionable outrage; cows are friends to
humans – don’t kill them… (Morrissey, Morrissey Central, May 2019)

I am not an activist, I have never voted for a political party, I do not belong to any political party… I do not believe the most important thing about a person is the colour of their skin. (Morrissey, Kipper Central, June 2019

He says the party, featuring more than a dozen of the city’s top DJs is “in response to Morrissey’s divisive views, and his support for the far-right”… “Manchester is our home, it’s a city built on immigration, a city with an amazing legacy of great bands and wonderful clubs… Music brings people together. Strangers become brothers, sisters. All this positivity spreads into the city and beyond… Morrissey hasn’t lived in the city for thirty years – he lives abroad in tax exile – and has now joined the ranks of various right-wing politicians, tax exiles, tabloids, and media hate-slingers seeking to divide our community”. (David Haslam, Press Release, June 2018)

Side Note 2: in 1992 Buju Banton released a song with lyrics about torturing and killing gay men. The Guardian accused gay rights campaigners who complained of being racist. And found it easy to accept his explanation that it wasn’t literal (perhaps because he made them feel guilty about colonialism, Morrissey’s Irish Catholicism getting him no such dispensation).

In the 11 years since Buju Banton released his single Boom Bye Bye, which appeared to advocate shooting gay men, the singer has done much to shake off the controversy that surrounded him… Banton pointed out that he wasn’t literally advocating murder, but maintained that homosexuality was against his religious beliefs… Banton is fiery enough to make me feel personally responsible for every British injustice towards Jamaica in the past 300 years. (Dorian Lynskey, The Guardian, March 2003)

In 2009, Buju would meet with gay rights activists in San Francisco, but went on to blame them for a pepper spray attack:

This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs ‘there is no end to the war between me and faggot’ and it’s clear. The same night after I met with [gay activists], they pepper-sprayed the concert. So what are you trying to tell me? I owe dem nothing, they don’t owe I nothing.”