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Not exactly MinisterNigel HawthorneStraight FaceHodder Stoughton 1899 pp328Nigel Hawthornes friends have been surprised by the frank discussion in these memoirs of his sexuality In life he never mentioned it unwilling to embarrass people with what he claimed was a non-issue But what we get here is sexuality not sex life for all his openness the book is remarkably discreet mentioning only two lovers by name and a third whom Hawthorne rejected after watching him eat with a pseudonymThere is not a whisper here of the bedroom He frequented gay clubs when he first arrived in London from South Africa but didnt like them much although he did find the Rockingham piss-elegant It was perfectly usual for me to nurse a drink all evening and not address a word to a living soul Usually I left alone at closing time And what if he wasnt alone We arent toldThis was 1953 the year in which John Gielgud was arrested for cottaging and the time of the Lord Montagu scandal and the whole closet was atremble as to who would be next on the list For personal safety Hawthorne developed his straight face a semblance of heterosexuality that would see him through 40 years in the closet until the public was finally past caringAt least he never developed an Identikit gay personality like other actors of his generation but one cant help feeling that in steering this careful course between the closet and the cottage he failed quite to find his identity It is part of a general reluctance to come down off the fence in both his attitude towards himself and to the world at large I cant find it in me to apportion blame he pleadsAnd so he forgives the Christian Brothers who beat and abused him at school because now he can add up the bill at Tesco He forgives a brother known as the Gorilla who jumped him in an empty classroom
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