Gone Tabloid: The Shock of My Name in the Headlines

I thought I knew a fair bit about the media industry. After all, I’ve been magazine editing for 13 years now, and I know a good story when I see one. Over those years I’ve often been asked to go on TV, radio and in print to talk about gay rights issues, and the one proviso I always gave was that I don’t talk about my personal life. The reason for this is I have a son, and I felt a responsibility to keep his life out of it, since he had no choice in the matter.

My son’s grown up now, and he lives abroad, plus he’s totally comfortable with me talking about him, so when The John Murray Show on RTE Radio One asked me to come on and talk about my new novel, Knowing Me Knowing You, and at the same time tell the nation what it’s like being a gay dad, how it all happened, and what my relationships with my son and his mother were like, I said yes. I was reluctant – my book is mainstream commercial fiction featuring heterosexual characters, and no gay dads,  but i understand that personal stories are interesting to listeners, and I felt ready to tell my story.

The show was broadcast on Monday, and right after it the RTE press office contacted me to say The Daily Mirror were interested in running a story, based on the interview. Then The Irish Sun called me and said they’d like to run a story too. I said yes, although again with trepidation. There was little I could do about it – my interview was public property. I asked both the Mirror and The Sun to print a photo of my book cover with their pieces and left them to it.

The stories appeared yesterday. The copy stuck to the tone of my interview, which was an honest account of how I came to have a child, the process of coming out as gay, how my child’s mother took the news, and how we have managed to bring our son up together but apart, the very best we could. 

But the headlines were a different story.

‘I TOLD HER I WAS GAY BUT WE HAD A BABY ANYWAY’ shouted The Mirror.

‘GAY DAD PACT HIS BAGS DAY SON TURNED 1’ said The Sun – http://tinyurl.com/c7c2kz8

I know a headline is there to make a reader read the story, but still I was shocked at the negative slant in the headlines about my own life. They don’t reflect the truth of the story at all, and there’s a kind of homophobia to them, a suggestion of irresponsibility coupled with the word ‘gay’ that, for all my knowledge of the tabloid papers and their sexually prurient slant, I was not expecting. I guess, when it’s your life, you can’t imagine it framed in any other way.

God only knows what it must be like to be famous and see this kind of stuff every day!

Anyway, my publishers are delighted. Both papers printed the book’s cover so it should help sales. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it, folks?

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About Brian Finnegan

My second novel, Knowing Me Knowing You was published in May 2013. It's about a teenage ABBA fan club who reunite 30 years later to travel to Stockholm to an ABBA reunion concert. My first novel, The Forced Redundancy Film Club, was published last year. It's the story of five people who loose their jobs on the same day and set up a club where they watch classic films in each other's houses every month. My full-time day job is as editor of GCN magazine in Ireland.

Posted on April 24, 2013, in Bits 'n' Pieces and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Vincent in IrelandVincent

    As a gay father myself I completely understand. I made the same decisions for my son when he was younger even when I launched the Gay Police association within the police in NI and volunteered with The Rainbow Project. Now he is grown up, in the police and has a son (4 weeks old)…..and still I would be reticient tol go public in this way beacuse how others handle it….but then I don’t have a book to promote. Good luck…. and do it your way, warmest regards Vincent

  2. First response is to say I am sorry you that you were in receipt of this treatment. I hope the book does well and I look forward to reading it gerry

  3. catherine kelly

    Water off duck’s back! Hang in there lovely Brian, and as you say the silver lining is more folk will know about your book. Off to get a copy myself now! much love Catherine (Heather and Iris’ friend) xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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