Gareth Roberts Gareth Roberts

Why can’t Peter Tatchell leave Cliff Richard alone?

Sir Cliff Richard outside Parliament (Credit: Getty Images)

Leave Cliff alone! Peter Tatchell has weighed in on Cliff Richard’s refusal to declare his sexual orientation. Tatchell was spurred on by the reemergence of a video clip of Cliff declaring on Loose Women: ‘I don’t mind talking about things but there are things that are mine, that will go with me to my grave…I don’t talk about my family, I certainly don’t talk about my sexuality.’

This interview, from 2016, rattled Tatchell’s cage. As ever he can’t keep his nose out of anybody else’s business. ‘Sure, it is up to him,’ said Tatchell, ‘But –’. (As usual, everything after the ‘but’ is nonsense.) ‘Hiding his sexuality colludes with the idea that it is shameful. It’s not! It plays into homophobia & a lack of candour sets a bad example to young people’.

What a journey for Cliff – from being the unacceptably sexual face of teen rebellion to the unacceptably asexual face of pensioners. Yes, really, Cliff was a sex god. He had the same winning combination of coltish and very slightly chubby as Elvis, and was the first British rock and roll star. Just like Elvis, he moved into the world of all-round entertainment in short order. Unlike Elvis, Cliff’s response to being good looking and talented – and, as his recent autobiography My Kinda Life reveals, benefitting from an almost uncanny run of good luck – was to become a Christian.

So why do people use Cliff as a screen to project their own anxieties? The man is 83. He went through the most appalling ordeal a decade ago with ludicrously unfounded allegations of child sexual abuse which should’ve been immediately laughed out by the police and CPS. Instead he was exposed and humiliated in the most public way – not least by the BBC, from whom he rightly received substantial damages.

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