No use complaining - it is all in vein

29th February 2008 at 00:00
A guy I knew at university had a list of signs for spotting homosexuality.

One of the most bizarre was "prominent veins at the side of the forehead". A friend who was gay (wiry-haired, slightly over-weight at the time, into homebrew and Ford Escorts, none of which made the list) reckoned there might have been an element of insecurity there. The list-maker had, on occasion, been accused of looking like a mascara-wearing Thunderbirds puppet.

Perhaps the veins were prominent on the side of my forehead a week or so ago, but that was down, doubtless, to blood pressure rather than a sudden shift in sexuality. I had been gigging at Jordanhill Campus and discovered, as I made my way back, that the trains to Glasgow Central were off, buses didn't give change and taxis were few and far between in the area.

When I did finally find transport home, I slumped in a seat, cold, damp and with only an MP3 of "The Smiths Greatest Hits" to cheer me up. After a time, I became aware that a group of older school kids were carrying on and that the carry-on was directed my way. Since the Village People's "YMCA" song featured in the nonsense, it wasn't hard to guess what the theme was. I was torn between wanting to do something about having my privacy invaded and not wishing to convey that there was anything wrong with homosexuality. In the end, I found my own way of dealing with the situation and continued my journey in peace.

Shortly before leaving teaching, I found a piece of graffiti that stated: "Mr Steel is gay." I decided to talk to my fourth year about it, though I suspected the writer had been from S2. I expressed disappointment at the vandalism and reminded them that I had been a teacher at the school for 10 years. In that time, I hoped people had come to know me. I regretted, deeply, the fact that this was clearly not the case.

Raising my voice a little, I wondered aloud if it was not too much, after all this time, for pupils to realise that there was an "e" at the end of Steele? As the veins at the side of my forehead receded, I flattered myself that I'd made my point.

Gregor Steele was inspired to download some Pet Shop Boys tracks following the incidents described here.

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