Sexually Ambiguous

On July 29th 1992, Nicky Crane – National Front skinhead and Skrewdriver roadie; who featured in the same Nick Knight photo essay as the V-flicker on a Morrissey t-shirt – came out as gay on the UK Channel 4 documentary, Out: The Skin Complex, that explored gay skinhead subculture.

On August 22nd 1992, the NME spent 5 pages denouncing Morrissey as a racist for playing 1 of 2 planned gigs with headliners Madness, at Finsbury Park, where he was heckled by a homophobic crowd (Select reported hearing them shout ‘poofy bastard’) while whiplashing a Union Jack flag (for less than 2 minutes before throwing it away) in front of a Derek Ridgers art print of 2 skinhead girls.

https://illnessasart.com/2020/11/26/nme-22-august-1992/amp/

Despite lead singer, Suggs’s, skinhead past and old Skrewdriver connections, Madness was deemed ‘unfortunate’ for attracting the racist crowd. Derek Ridgers worried that Morrissey had demeaned the skinhead girls, who WERE racist imagery. And Flowered Up, another band on the bill, thought Morrissey had asked for trouble by ‘prancing around‘.

the ‘racist imagery’

Most of the National Front supporters were outside Finsbury Park to oppose a march for a cause Morrissey supported; British troops out of Northern Ireland. Morrissey’s from an Irish Catholic family – it wouldn’t be impossible for him to join the National Front, but it’s unlikely given his obvious queerness and his mother’s keen interest in Irish history.

It just goes to show that nationalism and homosexuality do not fit in together, because Nationalism is a true cause and homosexuality is a perversion. Nicky Crane left, and I think that it was the best thing he could have done, but he should have left a hell of a lot earlier. He was living a lie for all of them years. I’ve got no respect for the bloke anymore. (Ian Stuart Donaldson, lead singer of Skrewdriver, 1992)

the BNP’s homophobia inspired terrorism
They exploited conflict in Northern Ireland

Even the idea that musical subcultures can be linked to fascism is dubious – The National Front’s most violent organiser, Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair was a fan of reggae band UB40 and his paramilitary loyalist gang would kill Catholics while listening to rave.

Johnny Adair, on the right, at a National Front march

https://edinburghfestival.list.co.uk/article/43221-madness-frontman-suggs-tells-life-story-at-2012-edinburgh-fringe/

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/the-uda-killer-nicknamed-top-gun-behind-a-dozen-sectarian-murders-1.4628830

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/news-analysis/how-loyalists-got-out-of-step-with-fascism-28657619.html

https://ansionnachfionn.com/2011/09/16/fascists-neo-nazis-and-the-british-unionist-minority-in-ireland/amp/

But still the NME lied that Morrissey was a British Nationalist, that his imagery was racist, that he was fanning the flames of race-hate, that Bengali in Platforms was a diatribe against assimilation, that it was supportive of (ex-Tory) Ulster Unionist MP, Enoch Powell, that it incited calls for immigrants to be deported, that he wanted a pre-immigration green and pleasant Little England, that he wanted an English ethno-state, that he was provoking genocide, and – in a technique that now dominates his coverage – they cobbled together so many snippets of lyrics and interviews spuriously branded racist that to refute them all would look demented; no fire without all THAT smoke. Even his quiff was racist for being a 1950s style. The past being ipso facto racist as if black and Asian people only came into existence in 1987.

And, taking their cue from The Skin Complex, they speculated that he had a sexual fetish for racism, that he was getting vicarious skinhead thrills, that he was using real men, like skinheads, The Angelic Upstarts, as a cover; and noted that ‘Richard Allen’s skinhead chronicles are full of sickening accounts of violence against blacks. And for that matter, homosexuals’.

And for that matter, that was their real point.

Someone must have watched it, got excited, thought OH THAT’S WHAT HE’S UP TO and decided to disguise their usual prurient, repressed homophobic obsession with his sex life beneath a heap of lurid faux righteous anti-racism.

Dr Dinesh Bhugra, a psychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, speaking on Skin Complex, the Channel 4 programme to be screened on Wednesday, argues that gay men adopting the skinhead image is not surprising. In a society that is producing a tremendous amount of homophobia, you have to try and protect yourself by whichever means you can and if, in order to do it, it means you are identifying with the oppressor then people will do that in order to survive. (Independent, 26th July 1992)

Let’s not forget that the adolescent Morrissey used to be chased through the streets of Manchester at night by leering beer-boys, some of whom may have held NF sympathies, simply for being ‘different’. And he definitely spent a lot of time in Whalley Range, a multi-racial area. Is he now identifying with his former oppressors? Has he changed from the persecuted to the persecutor? Or, is he fascinated by the idea of racism, by the look of violent skinheads, to the extent of being oppressed so much he falls in love with his oppressors? (NME, August 1992)

Nicky Crane

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/reformed-fascist-ready-to-admit-homosexuality-martin-wroe-reports-on-the-conversion-of-a-right-winger-that-highlights-a-thriving-gay-fashion-1535856.html?amp

Maybe they wanted to kill his career.

Moz is history, and we’d all do well to learn it. (Andrew Collins, NME, April 1992)

Or ‘out’ him without risking a libel trial as catastrophic as The Face losing to Jason Donovan in May 1992 over their ‘Queer As F*ck’ issue.

https://gtmediawatch.org/1965/07/01/gay-times-may-1992/

Or both – Sire had sidelined the Smiths in America after Rolling Stone labeled Morrissey gay.

A piece in Rolling Stone claimed Morrissey was gay, completely contradicting his stand against sexual roles and their divisive consequences. “That brought a lot of problems for me”, he recalls ruefully. “Of course I never made such a statement”, Immediately their American record company, Sire, recoiled from supporting The Smiths. “They were petrified”, he remembers with disgust. “I thought that kind of writing epitomised the mentality of the American music press. That sicking macho stuff. After it appeared in Rolling Stone it ran rife through the lesser known publications, which to me was profoundly dull”. (Melody Maker, November 1984)

https://illnessasart.com/2020/01/05/melody-maker-3-november-1984/

In 2001, Andrew Collins thought Dele Fadele being their only black writer justified the homophobia. The publicity around the C4 documentary had mentioned some gay black men being angry that it was hard to tell a gay skinhead from a violent skinhead. Morrissey’s quiff & gold lame shirt – as well as the description of him as ‘prancing’ & the fact he was attacked by the homophobic crowd – wouldn’t cause that problem.

(Also the irony of Andrew denouncing an Irish Catholic 2nd generation Immigrant for being a cultural tourist by holding a Union Jack – the UK’s national flag – for less than 2 minutes after the NME accused him of bile for the line ‘life is hard enough when you belong here. Morrissey doesn’t belong here?)


‘The skinhead look is a dominant one in the gay scene at the moment,’ according to Harvey Gillis, fashion editor of Boyz magazine. ‘It’s a fashion statement not a political one.’ Some black gays oppose the trend because of the difficulty in separating violent fascists from the simply fashion-conscious. (Martin Wroe, the Independent, 26th July 1992) 

Sadly Dele died in 2018, and in a 2020 obit in the Guardian, the homophobia is written up as his greatest achievement.

[Dele summed up] the dark side of Morrissey... famously helped persuade the magazine’s staff to run its Flying the flag or flirting with disaster? cover story, which called out their most bankable star Morrissey’s dalliance with the far right for the first time. (The former Smiths man refused to talk to the paper for more than a decade after it was published; his reputation remains tarnished to this day.)… It was in 1992, though, that Dele played his most pivotal role. He had attended Madstock in Finsbury Park, the now-notorious gig in which support artist Morrissey draped himself in the union jack, a move some saw as a move pandering to the crowd’s skinhead element… Dele was appalled by what he’d witnessed… “It was Dele’s finest hour,” recalls Andrew Collins… “He wrote from the heart – and, uniquely among the staff – from an actual vantage point… It was a turning point for Moz’s provocations. Dele… gave urgency and weight to an otherwise hand-wringing situation” (Tim Jonze, the Guardian, September 2020)

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/sep/14/dele-fadele-remembered-nme

Morrissey was saved by the success of 1994’s, Vauxhall and I, but battered by record company, legal, personal and management issues; and excluded by the music press from Britpop, he moved to LA and built an audience of equally excluded Chicanos.

In 2002 the NME mournfully accused him of giving the illusion of intimacy while never discussing his sexuality, and of being – ambiguous, unambiguous, brutally upfront and distastefully infatuated, with racism.

In 2004, You Are The Quarry, gave him a brief respite.

… excised from the hearts of many, horrified by the messy “flirtation” with racist imagery. (VS, NME, November 1999)

… nevermind the shaky accusations of racism… all those years of being Mother Teresa for the clumsy and shy and suddenly he was being reviled for crimes he’d never committed. (VS, Mojo, May 2004)

But his shyness, difficulty with social norms, and outsider art meant the press soon fell back on ridicule, demonisation, inflammatory headlines and witch-hunts.

And (for a spell) his public image has fused with the forgotten Nicky Crane – a bad gay; toxic, shunned, unwholesome; his empathetic solo work unbelievably conflated with Skrewdriver.

Side Note: Nicky Crane’s Showbiz Career

Nicky Crane on Psychic TV.
Nicky Crane on a record cover

NAZI FARTSY : Earsay’s snippets (Channel 4) on Genesis P-Orridge et al featured an unexpected guest – a certain Nicola Crane. Crane, the neo-Nazi who by a series of errors made the front cover of ‘Strength Thru Oi’, turned out to be one of the ‘stars’ of a Psychic TV video film. Let’s hope the media are as quick to condemn this obviously deliberate airing for Crane as they were with that accidental airing three years ago. (Sounds, 22nd September 1984)

Side Note 2: Before the NME’s false allegations, the issue at Finsbury Park was Morrissey’s masculinity.

Moz at Madstock

to the gold lame flounce of Morrissey, who, having replaced The Farm, was accorded the proverbial ‘mixed reaction’ for his trouble. But then, Morrissey has never been exactly the most blokeish of performers. (Andy Gill, 9th August 1992, The Independent)

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/rock-cracking-the-nutty-boys-beery-nostalgia-laddish-boisterousness-and-a-bunch-of-ordinary-blokes-andy-gill-on-madness-in-finsbury-park-1539470.html

Side Note 3: Nicky was on the gay scene from 1984, made gay porn films, attacked a benefit gig that had the Smiths on the bill & drank in a gay pub, The Bell, in Kings Cross that Morrissey also frequented. The video for Our Frank, directed by gay filmmaker John Maybury, used skinhead extras & was shot around Kings Cross.

The Bell: https://www.gayinthe80s.com/2017/09/pub-bell-kings-cross-london/

The gig: https://pasttenseblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/today-in-londons-radical-history-striking-miners-anti-fascists-beat-off-nazi-attack-on-glc-festival-1984/amp/

Nicky: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25142557

Brief clip of The Skin Complex in a news report about another gay NF ex-member. https://www.channel4.com/news/neo-nazi-national-front-organiser-quits-movement-comes-out-as-gay-kevin-wilshaw-jewish-heritage

Gay History: https://timalderman.com/2018/04/30/gay-history-a-contradiction-in-terms-nicky-crane-and-kevin-wilshaw-gay-neo-nazis-part-1/

Side Note 4: the NME’s claim they were just as hard on Eric Clapton, David Bowie & Elvis Costello is untrue.

Eric sailed past an anti-racist letter appealing to his better self into 1980s rock aristocracy while still supporting Enoch Powell. The worst it got for David Bowie was the NME faking the picture of a Nazi salute that became gossipy rocklore (although it might be significant that he dropped his gay alien persona for something more hetero). And the NME refused to believe that Elvis Costello could mean it when he called James Brown a “jive-arsed n——” and Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant n——.”

Eric: https://genius.com/Red-saunders-letter-to-the-uk-music-press-regarding-eric-clapton-annotated

David: http://www.chalkiedavies.com/blog/b9wr8hr5mr79wkkbx83lf8cd7p54f7

Elvis: http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/New_Musical_Express,_October_30,_1982

Side Note 5: The Union Jack is ubiquitous in UK culture – at no point in our history has it ever been a clear signal of fascism or has it needed to be reclaimed from the far right, nevermind from Morrissey. Some comrades on the hard left hate it as a symbol of the British Empire, but that’s a minority opinion.

Skinheads were a working-class subculture that spanned the political spectrum and listened to Reggae, Punk and their variants. They had widespread coverage in the press, including in the NME.

The NME’s coverage of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland:

https://journals.openedition.org/etudesirlandaises/10464?lang=fr

Demon of Britpop

Britpop was a 1990s musical style that favoured an ‘ironic’ or flattened version of working-class British life inspired by the 1960s – booze, birds and ‘having a good time’.

There is a myth that the movement had to save Union Jack iconography from Morrissey’s fascism.

To recap – in August 1992 Morrissey played 1 of 2 gigs at Finsbury Park, London with the band Madness, who allegedly had a strong skinhead following. While singing Glamorous Glue, Morrissey thrashed the Union Jack around the stage for less than 2 minutes before throwing it away. The crowd reportedly yelled homophobic slurs at him and threw missiles. He refused to play the second gig. The NME interpreted this as Morrissey being racist.

In contrast, The Rolling Stones hired Hell’s Angels to be security at their gig in Altamont, San Francisco in 1969. While they were singing Sympathy For The Devil, a fight broke out and the Hell’s Angels stabbed to death an 18 year old black audience member, Meredith Hunter. This was interpreted by everyone as ‘the end of the 1960s’.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidchiu/2019/12/03/altamont-at-50-the-disastrous-concert-that-brought-the-60s-to-a-crashing-halt/?sh=3ddd92ab1941

The Union Jack had always been used extensively in UK pop promotion.

In 1990 New Order (a band that had used Nazi iconography and slogans in their previous incarnation, Joy Division) released a song for the World Cup with the English football team. Its chant ‘En-ger-land’! became popular without any agonising about it encouraging England’s underbelly of football hooliganism and racism.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19596766

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/feb/08/english-football-is-consumed-by-racism-and-hatred-can-the-cycle-be-broken

The 90s would see two more hit football anthems, Three Lions (Football’s coming home) by Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds, and Vindaloo by Fat Les (We’re England, We’re gonna score one more than you, England!).

Sentimental longing or arrogant bragging, both songs were celebrations of National fandom.

Morrissey’s football song – from Your Arsenal, the same album as The National Front Disco – was ‘We’ll Let You Know’ – sinister, mournful, violent – it was anything but a celebration.

How sad are we?
And how sad have we been?
We’ll let you know
We’ll let you know
Oh, but only if you’re really interested

You wonder how
We’ve stayed alive ’til now
We’ll let you know
We’ll let you know
But only if you’re really interested

We’re all smiles
Then, honest, I swear, it’s the turnstiles
That make us hostile
Oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah

We will descend
On anyone unable to defend
Themselves
Oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah, oh-wah

And the songs we sing
They’re not supposed to mean a thing
La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
La-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la

We may seem cold
Or we may even be the most depressing people you’ve ever known
At heart, what’s left, we sadly know
That we are the last truly British people you’ve ever known
We are the last truly British people you will ever know
You’ll ever, never, want to know

Morrissey was excluded from Britpop not because he was the dark side, but because he reminded them that the dark side existed when they wanted to use the fig leaf of irony to enjoy the pride and thrill of being loutish, lustful and patriotic.

I crave extremes. I want to be THAT famous, or THAT known. The only reason I’m in this is to make great rock’n’roll records, for the hell of it, and I’m concerned that everybody thinks I’m this politically correct, right-on woman. (Louise Wener, January 1995, Melody Maker)

We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich as long as they pay their taxes. (Peter Mandelson, New Labour strategist, October 1998, Financial Times)

https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cool-britannia.html

This Is Not Your Country

The song ‘This Is Not Your Country’ is often cited as evidence of Morrissey’s racism despite being about the troubles in Northern Ireland.

The title may have been taken from the Australian skinhead film ‘Romper Stomper’, which he cited as a favourite in a press release for Maladjusted:

But it’s impossible to argue that the lyrics approve of racist attacks, or that even the most alarmist skinhead could think that posting a letter meant getting past roadblocks, barbed wire and armed soldiers.

Roadblocks and fire
Barb wire upon barb wire
This is not your country

Armoured cars, corrugated scars
Graffiti scrawls:
“This is not your country”

Home sweet fortress
Gunshot – we hate your kind
Get back!
This is not your country

I need some air
And I’m stopped and repeatedly questioned:
“Born and raised ?”
But this is not my country

We’re old news
All’s well
Say BBC scum
One child shot, but so what?

Laid my son
In a box, three feet long
And I still don’t know why

A short walk home becomes a run
And I’m scared
In my own country

We’re old news
All’s well
Say BBC scum
Everybody’s under control
Of our surveillance globes

We’re old news
All’s well
And thirty years could be a thousand
And this Peugeot ad
Spins round in my head
British soldier pointing a gun
And I’m only trying to post a letter
A short walk home becomes a run
And I’m scared, and I’m scared, I am scared

Old news
All’s well
BBC scum

You’ve got more than the dead, so zip up your mouth
Zip up your mouth
Zip up your mouth
Zip up your mouth (repeated)

National Front Disco

In 1992, Morrissey’s album Your Arsenal, had a track called The National Front Disco.

The National Front was a fascist political party founded in the UK in 1967. In the 1970s they tried to appeal to youths via social events like football matches and discos, eventually becoming associated with punks, skinheads and hooligans.

In a 2015 essay by Frank Owen about the 1970s Manchester punk scene, Morrissey is described as a ‘wallflower’ and a ‘delicate bloom’. Many of the details were a rehash from the Melody Maker interview in 1986 where Frank calls him ‘camp’, a ‘big jessie’ and a ‘big girl’s shirt’.

https://medium.com/cuepoint/booze-blood-and-noise-the-violent-roots-of-manchester-punk-af8092bcaac3

https://fxowen.wordpress.com/golden-oldies/home-thoughts-from-abroad/

Giving the impression that Morrissey was girly and gay seemed important at the time, now he calls him a bigot and a racist.

The song had a variety of inspirations or antecedents – Bill Buford’s Among The Thugs that described a homoerotic National Front Disco in Bury. Nick Knight’s Skinhead. Bands like Bradford, Angelic Upstarts, and Cockney Rejects. Photographs by Derek Ridgers. Derek Jarman’s Jubilee. The pulp novels of Richard Allen.

In it family and friends tell a young man that they’ve lost him, they know why they’ve lost him, and they doubt he’ll get the revenge or the reward he’s seeking.

In August 1992 Morrissey played a gig with Madness at Finsbury Park. It was reported that the crowd threw missiles and yelled homophobic slurs like ‘poofy bastard’. Morrissey finished his set, but refused to return for the next date. This refusal was widely condemned in the music press culminating in the NME running an article accusing him of encouraging racism with his ‘fascist iconography’ – a union jack and a picture of two female skinheads – and citing The National Front Disco as the latest of a series of racist statements in his interviews and lyrics ie Hang The DJ, Bengali In Platforms, When You Belong Here, Shelve Your Western Plans, Asian Rut, Reggae Is Vile, Black Pop Conspiracy (it was Frank Owen who framed it as black artists v. Indie – Morrissey was complaining about BBC producers not giving him airplay).

In The Observer, December 1992, Robert Chalmers, thought he was ‘perversely attracted to the iconography of the far right.’

Morrissey said: ‘I like the flag. I think it’s very attractive. When does a Union Jack become racist?… The National Front interests me, like it interests everyone. Just as all manner of sexuality interests everyone. That doesn’t mean you necessarily want to take part.’

Billy Bragg said ‘I don’t think Morrissey has ever quite got his politics worked out… The real problem with neo-fascist symbolism’ – that’s two girls and the UK’s official flag on a stage with a poofy bastard – ‘is that it is extremely difficult to retain an attitude which is neutral or ironic, which is what I think he is attempting to do.’

Except Morrissey’s politics were clear at the time. He hated Mrs Thatcher. He said he was a socialist. Much of the left shared his dislike of American hegemony and saw the European Union as a continuation of Imperialism. And while he was never keen on benefits and boycotts, he had dutifully turned up.

Beyond wanting to give him a kicking for not fulfilling professional engagements there seemed to be an underlying moral panic about his sexuality.

That he might be exploring violent male subcultures as a kink and the only way anyone could deal with it was to attack it for non-existent racism, or contain it by framing it as ironic or neutral.

Scruples from an industry that had no problem with the iconography of future Trump supporter John Lydon, or girlfriend murderer, Sid Vicious:

That’s happy to wax nostalgic about larky bad boys regardless of violence, homophobia and David Icke conspiracy theories:

Mark himself had once had his head banged repeatedly against a wall by Elvis Costello’s combative manager, Jake Riviera; one of his former NME colleagues was set on fire by Rat Scabies from The Damned, and another was left gaffer-taped to a tree in a desert by The Stranglers… Being “duffed up” (as Mark put it) by disgruntled rock stars was, I realised, a journalistic rite-of-passage. Still, he recommended I call (Ian) Brown’s record company and tell them that their “talent” was going around threatening critics… Within two weeks of our phone “chat” came the infamous air-rage incident, when he threatened to cut off the hands of a British Airways stewardess, then hammered on the cockpit door as the flight came into land… Brown was arrested. (He was eventually sentenced to four months in Strangeways, of which he served eight weeks.)… And, a few months later, Brown launched into a bizarre homophobic rant… ”I don’t trust the British fascination with homosexuals… Violence comes from Romans, Nazis, Greeks – they were all homosexuals.”... How did the lead singer of such an epoch-defining band become a swivel-eyed Covid-denier and online truth warrior? Well, one could plausibly point to a heady cocktail of toxic masculinity, over-inflated ego and drug use… A more sympathetic reading is that the 57-year-old divorced father-of-three might not be feeling quite himself in this new normal™, as is the case with many of us right now. Brown’s “me against the world” complex could be heightened by his counter-cultural leanings, instinctive anti-establishment beliefs and estrangement from his former bandmates. (Michael Hogan, October 2020, The Telegraph)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/artists/gonna-give-proper-manchester-kicking-ian-browns-journey-violence/

That will collect together anti-Morrissey songs that include homophobic lyrics because paraphrases of his ‘inflammatory’ statements make him fair game:

All you do is hate life and tell me about it. You’re a homosexual, just keep me out of it. All your music sounds the same
I don’t even like your art fag name. Cause I hate The Smiths and Steven Morrissey
(I Hate The Smiths, Ween)

That crybaby son of bitch, no-talent motherfucker/Bastard-ass dickhead, ball-flapping dicksucker/Baggy-shirted depressed Dean-loving bonehead/Making lots of money with boring songs like Suedehead. (Morrissey Rides A Cockhorse, Warlock Pinchers)

Slap that fag with a toe tag , If you won’t do it then I will. (Morrissey Must Die, Meatmen)

Shaking hands with Morrissey, Sucking cock in East Africa, Ask a lesbian for a fuck, Take a shower in…Auschwitz (Deathtime, Turbonegro)

https://music.avclub.com/viva-hate-15-anti-morrissey-songs-1798222021

Where homophobic anecdotes can be repeated without fear of denting anyone’s career:

When Julian Casablancas (Strokes) has a drink” Jimi (Goodwin, Doves) warns “he goes nuts.” He launches into his favourite Strokes anecdote. Apparently the two bands were in LA having post-gig drinks in a British theme bar. None other than Morrissey was nearby, at a table with 3 girls. “It was fucking strange, man” Jimi laughs “He kept sending these girls over to say ‘Morrissey is sat in the corner if you’d like to talk to him’. He is dead shy, but it was like he was holding fucking court. We were like “We’re cool, tell him to come over and join us”. So he came over and sat down, and Julian started calling him a fucking faggot. I was like “just leave it out, Julian” and he was all “Jimi’s upset with me, man – what’s the problem?” and then he kept doing it! (NME, August, 2001)

Where rock stars can routinely demand everything from drugs to groupies, but Morrissey can’t get a towel:

‘He’s a woman in a man’s body… I remember a feeling of absolute revulsion standing at the side of the stage at the palace watching Stuart James, who’s a brilliant engineer, a good producer and a fine young man, scurrying across the stage with eight freshly cleaned towels for Morrissey.’ (Tony Wilson, The Severed Alliance by Johnny Rogan)

Where casual racism is just a snappy lead:

OK. So it’s not the same as having millions of Muslims baying for your blood, but being at the receiving end of a fatwah issued by Pop’s most vehement star is not an uninteresting circumstance in which to find oneself. (Hot Press, March 2001)

Captions can be in bad taste:

The Smiths, Johnny Rogan, 1994

And your friends get corrections:

No, because your Rabbi respects PIG ISLAM. (Julie Burchill, Independent, September 2014)

Julie Burchill, the funniest, brightest writer I ever met… (David Quantick, Le Document, July 2020)

It does in a way, and it’s nice in a way… but the change in England is so rapid… I would like the freedom to go around the world and be anywhere. So you have to allow others the same freedom, really. So I’m not sitting here saying it’s a terrible thing. (Morrissey, NME, December 2007)

I loathe him with a passion… Morrissey is a vile scumbag… a nasty, nasty man… I’ve been waiting years for Morrissey to trip himself up in the media. (David Quantick, Richard Bacon Show, Five Live, November 29th 2007)

Disclaimer: I like Julie Burchill. She’s got a good heart beneath the reckless invective. And will admit a personal vendetta.

The National Front Disco

David, the wind blows,
The wind blows
Bits of your life away.
Your friends all say,
“Where is our boy?
Ah, we’ve lost our boy”.
But they should know,
Where you’ve gone,
Because again and again you’ve explained
That you’re going to . . .
Oh, oh, oh, going to . . .
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
“England for the English”,
“England for the English”.
David, the wind’s blown,
The wind’s blown
All of my dreams away.
And I still say,
“Where is our boy?
Ah, we’ve lost our boy”.
But I should know
Why you’ve gone,
Because again and again you’ve explained
You’re going to the National . . .
Ah, to the National . . .
There’s a country,
You don’t live there,
But one day you would like to.
And if you show them what you’re made of,
Ah, then you might do.
But David, we wonder,
We wonder if the thunder
Is ever really gonna begin,
Begin, begin
Your mum says,
“I’ve lost my boy”.
But she should know
Why you’ve gone,
Because again and again you’ve explained
You’re going to the National,
To the National,
To the National Front disco,
Because you want the day to come sooner,
You want the day to come sooner,
You want the day to come sooner,
When you’ve settled the score.
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National,
Oh, the National

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.

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
Morrissey and Phranc

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.

http://imomus.com/index60.html

‘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.

https://folk-devil.com/2021/09/05/sexually-ambiguous/

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

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/may/30/bigmouth-strikes-again-morrissey-songs-loneliness-shyness-misfits-far-right-party-tonight-show-jimmy-fallon

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)

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2003/mar/03/artsfeatures.popandrock

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.”

https://www.queerty.com/buju-banton-met-with-the-gays-then-he-spat-in-their-faces-20091016