Throwing some light on throwing shade

Wings Over Scotland has started a fundraiser in order to pay legal costs for Stu Campbell’s defamation case against Labour in Scotland’s leader Kezia Dugdale.  The case was brought after Kezia called Stu a homophobe after he insulted Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell by saying that Oliver’s public speaking skills were so risible that it was enough to make you wish that his father had embraced his homosexuality earlier. Oliver is of course the son of Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who came out as gay last year after spending many years in the closet.

Ever since, social media and the press have been full of people heterosplaining about that horrible homophobe Stu Campbell and how we should all recoil in horror from his hatred of gay people. As regular readers of this blog will be aware, I’m gay. I came out as gay a very long time ago, way back when we were still arguing about the B part of the LGBTQI alphabet. I came out as gay when homophobia was respectable, indeed obligatory. If I had a pound for every time someone called me by some abusive homophobic slur I’d have been set for life and wouldn’t have to do a fundraiser for this blog. That’s what life was like as a gay kid in Coatbridge in the 1970s.

I’ve experienced real homophobia. That’s real homophobia of the sort that leaves an actual bloodied and bruised body, homophobia of the never-darken-my-doorstep-again you pervert variety. I’ve been gay bashed twice. I was made unwelcome in the home of my birth by close family members some of whom refused to speak to me for years because of my sexuality. I’ve been subjected to sexual harrassment at work that was so bad I had to leave my job. I had children with lesbian friends back when the newspapers were full of screaming editorials that people like us shouldn’t be allowed to have children, and telling us that our families were excuses for child abuse. I’ve experienced homophobia that leaves real physical and emotional scars. Not homophobia of the “he said something nasty on social media” sort. So I figure I know what homophobia is. If you’d walked a mile in my ruby slippers, you’d know what real homophobia was too.

What Stu Campbell said about Oliver Mundell was not homophobia. Homophobia is founded in the sentiment that gay people are less worthy. What Stu Campbell said about Oliver Mundell was based in the sentiment that it would have been a good thing if his then-closeted father hadn’t been closeted but had instead been proud and accepting of his sexuality. That’s not a homophobic sentiment. What Stu Campbell said was what gay people call throwing shade. Was it tasteless? Yes. Was it insulting? Hell yes. It was supposed to be tasteless and insulting, that’s what throwing shade is. It was throwing shade of the sort that a drag queen would be proud of. What it wasn’t was homophobic. Not all references to gay people are homophobic.

I know how serious an issue homophobia is. David Mundell did not feel able to be open about his sexuality for decades because of homophobia. He only came out after people like me had made it safe for him to do so. Homophobia blights and deforms lives. It has victims apart from lesbian and gay people. The wives and husbands of gay men and lesbians who entered into heterosexual marriages in an attempt to hide their true sexuality are also victims of societal homophobia. Scotland has made enormous strides as a society in tackling homophobia and allowing queer folk to live open lives, but there is still a lot of work to do. There are still people in Scotland who suffer real abuse and discrimination as a result of homophobia.

Last week I started a fundraiser to help support this blog for the coming year. I’ve only ever done one fundraiser before, that was back in 2014 when I was still a full time carer for my partner Andy, who was then in the final stages of a terminal illness. Caring for a spouse in the last stages of vascular dementia is extremely distressing. It’s hard work. I was unable to get out of the house for longer than it took to rush round the block with the dog, and I’d come home to find Andy upset and in a panic because he’d forgotten where I was. Getting to the supermarket and rushing round Morrison’s with a trolley was the closest I got to quality me time.  Funding constraints meant that I was unable to get any respite from a task that was grinding me into the dust, both physically and emotionally.

Stu Campbell told me that unless I did a fundraiser in order to pay for respite care so that I could take care of myself, he’d do it for me. Then he held my hand through the entire process. That was not the action of a homophobe. That was the action of a man who respected my relationship with Andy as much as he would respect a heterosexual marriage where one of the partners was dying. That’s how I know that Stu Campbell is no homophobe, and that Kezia Dugdale was merely seeking to score a political point by bandying the term homophobia about as a weapon to use against a political foe, and cheapening it as a consequence.

As LBGTQ people we need the word homophobia. We need to be able to articulate the concept behind it, and the pain and discrimination that result from it. When an accusation of homophobia is made against something which is not in fact homophobic, we weaken the impact of future accusations, accusations which may very well rest in solid fact. That does no favours to the LGBTQ community. It is vital to us all that when we call someone a homophobe, that they really are a homophobe, that their words or deeds really do diminish and damage the life chances of lesbian and gay people. That’s what gives the accusation its power. We need that power.

Stu Campbell’s quip does not come into that category, but Kezia knew that she’d get more traction by accusing him of homophobia than she would if she’d simply called him out for being crass. She’s done our community no favours as a result. The next time a politician calls a blogger homophobic, many people won’t believe them, and that’s potentially very damaging to the LGBTQ cause.

Link to the Wings Over Scotland fundraiser is HERE

gingercartoonWee Ginger Fundraiser

I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –

Alternatively you can donate by Paypal by clicking the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account I’ve set up for the purposes of this fundraiser, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at and I will send the necessary information.

Many thanks.

53 comments on “Throwing some light on throwing shade

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug Throwing some light on throwing shade […]

  2. Morag says:

    Are you writing a statement in support of the plaintiff in this case then, Paul? 😉

  3. xsticks says:

    Well said Paul. Dugdale must be called out for this slur. I wish Stu every success in taking her to task.

    I hope it also exposes the ‘Scottish’ media to some extent too. Their one-sided blame of the independence supporting movement for abuse is despicable.

  4. ockletycockletywitch says:

    Thank you for this excellent explanation of the facts, Paul. Being an ex-pat, I hadn’t come across this unpleasant incident and, had I done so via the usual organs of the Press and Media, I might still not have been aware of the truth!

    The more I learn about Ms Dugdale, the more detestable she appears to be.I sincerely hope that Stu Campbell is successful in his suit.

  5. Capella says:

    Bravo Paul. Time to set the record straight and you certainly have the courage to do that. This is what “solidarity” actually means; not the misguided deluded kind that Kezia’s political cabal cultivates.

  6. Les Bremner says:

    I look forward to Dugdale’s appearance in court.

    Stu has, albeit possibly unwittingly, performed a move of which Rudolph Nureyev would have been proud. What a brilliant public platform for the independence movement.

    I will contribute to his fundraiser.

  7. Thanks for the second good article today, Paul. Thanks also for the education about the term ‘throwing shade’; that’s a new descriptive on me although I understand the concept.
    I think the cruelest example of throwing shade I’ve ever heard concerned a guy who once worked in the same place I did. He was a rather ham fisted bloke with a small brain and a big gub. He wasn’t popular.
    One lunchtime after a particularly irritating bumping of his gums, he walked out of the messroom at which point the foreman commented; “If his maw had gain tae the bingo that night he’d have just been a wank.”

  8. Whitburnsfinest says:

    Heh, we’ve both had some interesting experiences with the Rev before but good grief, this time I’m standing right there with him. As soon as I can I will make donations to both of you. He shouldn’t be going through this.

    Also, I’m with ockletycockletywitch (oh how I love your username, I smile whenever I see it) in that Kezia is becoming a more obviously horrible person as time goes on. She seems intent on playing some kind of victim card every chance she gets,

  9. Paul, I am moved by your story of Stu Campbell offering to look after Andy because you were running yourself into the ground. Friends like that are beyond price.

    Coincidentally, I made my own small contribution to Stu Campbell’s fighting fund not many hours ago, but before I read your article. I grew up not much more than 10km from your home in balmy, palm-fringed Coatbridge, in sun-drenched, romantic Lenzie… as I was born in 1955, I know exactly what you mean by “real homophobia”, and for the same reasons.

    Which is why I said in my comment in the space provided when I made my contribution to Stu’s fund that I was doing so because I know what REAL homophobia is. Anyway, Dugdale’s accusation was far more crass and insulting than Stu’s remark – which meant exactly what you just said it meant, Paul, and is exactly how I understood it when I read it myself.

  10. bunnyfunster says:

    “What Stu Campbell said was what gay people call throwing shade. Was it tasteless? Yes. Was it insulting? Hell yes. It was supposed to be tasteless and insulting, that’s what throwing shade is. It was throwing shade of the sort that a drag queen would be proud of.”

    🙂 probably just me but I thought that that was an absolutely cracking compliment

  11. Republicofscotland says:

    Sorry to hear about your traumatic experiences, I’d like to think that Scotland is moving in the right direction, with regards to fairness and understanding towards the LGBTI community.

    As for Kezia Dugdale, her blind wrath to do down the Rev Campbell will be her undoing. She could’ve settled quickly, but chose not to, her smear attempt, will now probably cost her big time.

    However I doubt such a heavy cost will prevent her from gish galloping, she could talk the hindlegs off a donkey, as my old granny used to say.

  12. Peter Shand says:


    Brilliantly written. My eyes were welling up. I wish I was so articulate in dealing with the knuckledraggers of social media.

    Peter (racshade42)

  13. Gavin C Barrie says:

    A moving article Paul, I have one objection, please do not use the term queer folk, again.Queer means strange, odd.

    I’m heterosexual, still admire a shapely female in my advanced years, it is how I was born, I’m comfortable with it though I wasn’t given a choice, it’s nature. Just as by nature some people are born to be gay.

    Just waiting for someone to challenge me to define nature,

    • weegingerdug says:

      The word queer has been reclaimed by a new generation of lesbian and gay people.

      • Illy says:

        Actually, it’s (mostly) been reclaimed by Bi, Pan, and otherwise uncovered by the rest of the LGBTI alphabet soup.

        Who shouldn’t be forgotten about, just because the acronym is getting far too long.

      • ockletycockletywitch says:

        You beat me to it, Paul. I was just going to make exactly the same response.

  14. Jon A says:

    what a heartfelt piece Paul, thanks for posting this. So sorry for your experiences you’ve gone through.

  15. Bob p says:

    Peter shand. Knuckledraggers don’t do articulate.

  16. trispw says:

    Excellent read, Paul. I’m off to contribute.

  17. Macart says:

    Very well said Paul.

  18. Robert Harrison says:

    Hope Campbell beats her though the courts will be rigged in Kezias favor you know her being a politician still hope stu Campbell wins and show everyone she’s a mouthy little git who basically shoots of without thinking

  19. […] Source: Throwing some light on throwing shade […]

  20. Ian says:

    And this is just another example of what Scotland should be !!! I disagreed with your defence of Cat Boyd earlier today, I could understand if she was a naive first time voter who had went to labour, rather than a politically savvy person,but that doesn’t matter,I will always enjoy your writing Paul and your much needed education of people who have never seen the fear in the eyes of a 25 year old married man with two kids as he whispers to someone he can trust that he is gay,that happened to me over 20 years ago and as a straight guy I honestly didn’t know what to do or say,but just to see the relief on my friends face as he knew he had an understanding ear made me feel proud,it not only helped him but it helped me,as an uncle of a gay man who lives in N Ireland under the DUP your thoughts and memories of your partner constantly remind me that things are a bit better but for some the hatred of the unknown is strong,we all need to let it be known our combined love beats there individual hate

  21. Gavin C Barrie says:

    Queer is fine by me Paul. I was trying to express my view that we are all of the human race…of whatever, shade.

  22. hettyforindy says:

    Thanks Paul, this gives a good indication on what it means to be attacked simply for being gay. How dreadful that this was, and still is happening, just not as frequent and definitely not acceptable in our society in 2017.

    Very heartened but not surprised, to know that Rev Stu was so supportive when you were really struggling. Carers can become very isolated and not know where to turn for support, so that is fantastic to know. 🙂

    Waiting for a financial miracle to support you both in your blogs, meanwhile, thank you.

  23. Ken McNeil says:

    Dugdale wasn’t just allowing herself to be offended on someone else’s behalf, as so many do these days, she was seeking to attack the SNP and the FM by association although Stu has no connection with either. I’m glad he is taking this action. Unionist politicians and press need to be called out on this kind of smearing behaviour.

    • Paul says:

      Yes certainly she was seeking to attack SNP and Nicola Sturgeon but I think it was mainly as a ‘look a squirrel’ when Labour was having some issue with councillors in Aberdeen but I forget the details. It was a pathetic bit of politicking that seems like it will blow back up in Dugdale’s face.

  24. Jack Laidlaw says:

    It’s quite sad that the very people who claim to protect and fight for LGBT rights etc, are the ones who always use words like homophobe and the like to shut down political descent. I know Dugdale herself is a lesbian however screaming homophobe or racist to shut down conversation is bad practice and only dilutes the meaning of the word for when it is really needed like for instance the tough times the author of this post has gone through.
    Dugdale needs taught a lesson if not just for herself but a an example for all those others out there who call people an ism or a phobe without evidence to further their “side” or argument.

  25. Andy Anderson says:

    I think Kez should publicly apologise to Stu and he should accept it. Saves money and much angst.

    Good comments Paul.

    • bettyboopwp says:

      …and that apology should have the same prominence in the newspaper as her claim had.

  26. orri says:

    The thing is that whilst on the face of it the whole being a play on wishing he, as in Campbell, hadn’t been born so he wouldn’t have had to listen to Mundell Jnr being modified to wishing Mundell wasn’t is the logical interpretation there’s an alternative.

    Occasionally sexual preferences change and one of the triggers for a change can be parenthood. In simple terms the reproductive urge has something to do with it. In Mundell snr’s case that may very well have been the case. Giving rise to a potential internal conflict leading into maternal strife which regardless of how much they tried to protect jnr from would have had a negative impact on him at an early stage.

    Who knows, if Mundell snr had come to terms with who he was, or had become, then his son may have grown up to be a far more inspiring public speaker.

  27. emilytom67 says:

    You are as god made you nothing more nothing less and be happy with that,if you are a good person it matters not that you are “different”,be good be kind is really all that matters,though this has proved “a bridge too far” for the majority of folks.

  28. bettyboopwp says:

    Excellent piece of writing, Paul. Just send it along to the court and no one else need say anything! Many of us already know that Stu Campbell is essentially a very decent and compassionate person (although I doubt he would admit it!) and it is obvious what he meant by his remark.

    Politics daily become an ever more a malevolent morass of lies and stupidity as the perpetrators say anything in an attempt to save their precious union. Pseudo victims such as those reacting to that remark and trying to make political hay by taking faux offence are damaging to society.

  29. Ian says:

    A very moving and passionate piece of writing Paul, although all this talk of shade has me picturing Stu as a Drag Race contestant – can we make that happen?

  30. Jan Cowan says:

    So pleased to hear about Stu Campbell’s concern during your extremely difficult time while caring for Andy. Proves he’s a worthwhile person and a true friend.

  31. Linzclimb says:

    A very moving piece Paul. Wishing Stu a speedy and positive outcome. Will continue to support your writing as and when finances allow. Met you in Fort William. Challenged you and you took it with good grace. Always good to hear intelligent debate and read likewise. You are a talent. All the best.

  32. Roibert a Briuis says:

    Lovely Paul, that and your article in The National will I am sure be useful evidence if Kezia actually goes into court to defend her comments in the Daily Record. Probably she will go into court as she is detached from reality and I really wonder why and for how long she will last as the SLAB office minder

    At least she presents unwittingly a positive case for independence regularly and frequently.

  33. Jeremy says:

    Using someone’s sexuality as a dig against them is homophobia. It’s really that simple. People can say and do homophobic things and still be friends with gay people. They can say and do homophobic things and be absolutely lovely in many ways. I find it immensely sad your political views cause you to feel the need to belittle this, and attack a gay person who has a *right* to publically identify homophobia, rather than having the courage to tell your pal that it wasn’t actually okay.

    • weegingerdug says:

      No, it really isn’t “that simple”. You can’t judge whether something is or is not homophobic without looking at its intent and the attitudes that it perpetuates. Does it perpetuate the sentiment that gay people are less worthy? In this case the comment in question did not. If you want to reduce everything to simplicities, you end up with a simplistic world and simple people.

      Of course all gay people have a right to publically identify homophobia. And other gay people have the right to tell them when they’ve got it wrong, or as in Kezia’s case, when they’re misusing that right in order to score a political point.

      Before writing this piece I consulted with a number of gay friends. All but one of them thought the comment in question was not homophobic. The other considered it – in his words – “borderline, but not so I’d get upset by it”. We are clearly not dealing here with a blatant example of homophobia such as a gay-bashing or depriving a person of their employment due to their sexuality. It’s not even in the same category as calling someone by a homophobic slur. Insisting that it is in the same category – and therefore that the person who made the remark is “a homophobe” – is a reprehensible devaluation of the term homophobia.

    • ockletycockletywitch says:

      I don’t agree with this at all. Paul is absolutely correct, if you study what was actually said there is absolutely NO slur aimed at Fluffy’s sexuality … the insult is aimed at the son NOT the father. Take the time to figure the “insult” out … it’s convoluted and clever but it is NOT homophobic.

  34. […] read Wee Ginger Dugs post on it all and i found it […]

  35. […] is homophobia. “What Stu Campbell said about Oliver Mundell was not homophobia,” writes Paul Kavanagh on his Wee Ginger Dug blog. He […]

  36. […] Ginger Dug – Throwing some light on throwing shade & A sense of […]

  37. Ian MacDonald says:

    The LGBT community spent 15 years campaigning against clause 28 because it enshrined in law the idea that LGBT people who embrace their sexual orientation and relationships can’t “normally” have families. That is exactly the same underlying assumption as Stu Campbell made in his comments. I don’t understand what the difference is supposed to be. Having said that, I don’t agree with Kezia Dudgale attacking the First Minster over these comments, because they had nothing to do with Nicola Sturgeon. I also have no time for David Mundell or Ruth Davidson trying to make political capital out of them because they are members of a party that supports homophobic positions. Ruth couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to the speeches at Edinburgh Pride this year to defend her party’s alliance with the DUP. This controversy is a credit to nobody and I hope Stu Campbell loses his court action because he is making the mistake of turning himself and not the cause of Independence into the story.

    • weegingerdug says:

      David Mundell was in the closet and in a heterosexual relationship when he had children. I’m a gay father. I have children with lesbian friends and had them long after I came out. I didn’t see the assumption in Stu’s comment that gay people can’t have children. I saw the sentiment that it’s better if gay men don’t enter into heterosexual relationships in order to hide their sexuality.

      • Marconatrix says:

        Thank you both, I hadn’t appreciated just how nuanced this issue could get.

        I suppose ideally to defuse the issue, Stu might have apologised for bringing in Mundell snr’s sexuality and withdrawn that part of the comment, but still retained his opinion that he wished M. jnr. had never been born, which after all was his main point. And there still remains the question of why an off-the-cuff tweet, a trivial private matter, needed to be brought up in Holyrood by the leader of the opposition, no less.

        The phrase “grasping at straws” comes to mind, only in this case it may turn out to be a matter of “grasping at nettles”.

        • ockletycockletywitch says:

          Spot on, Marconatrix. This has taken up far too much time, energy and “head-space” for the relatively trivial matter that it is.

      • Ian MacDonald says:

        I totally respect your right as a fellow member of the LGBT community to have a different point of view about this to me, and I know that views differ among my own gay friends, mainly based on what they find the boundary of acceptable humour to be.

        But I respectfully disagree with you and it is important to me to try and explain why. You said ” I didn’t see the assumption in Stu’s comment that gay people can’t have children”. The problem I have is that I can’t see how Stu’s “joke” works if that assumption is not in place. The punchline turns on the idea that if David Mundell had embraced his homosexuality sooner, then Oliver Mundell wouldn’t exist. That would only happen if embracing his homosexuality had led to him not having kids.

        If, like you, David Mundell had had children as an openly gay man, then the humour still fails. How would that improve the situation? Because Oliver Mundell would be assumed not to be Tory if his Dad was out? But David Mundell is openly gay and is still a Tory. His son might have been anyway.

        I also think there is a risk of implying that any child that is the product of relationship between a then-closetted gay man and and straight woman is somehow delegitimized, or part of a less legitimate family. All because the father was a victim of a homophobic society. That’s not fair on closetted gay fathers, and certainly isn’t fair on children, not even if they are Tory politicians. I know several gay men in this family situation, and their children are in no way less legitimate than your own.

        I also have a really big problem that this comment doesn’t pass what I call the “black test”. That’s a rhetorical test I apply to comments where you change a comment about sexual orientation to one about race and see if it would still be socially acceptable. In this case, a “joke” designed to dismiss a politician based on raising the question of his father’s sexual orientation and how it affected his family circumstances. Would we accept a “joke” designed to be dismissive of a politician based on reference to his parent’s race?

        So, if someone hypothetically made the “joke” “Joe Bloggs is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had married a white woman”, would we find that acceptable? Would we defend it? Would we risk part of the reputation of the Independence movement raising funds for a defamation case? I do not believe that we would, which begs the questions are inappropriate comments about homosexuality still more acceptable in our society than ones about race, even within the LGBT community?

        As others have said, I think this entire thing is an unwelcome and divisive distraction. As I have commented to Stu Campbell directly before, if we want to win independence we need to convince many older people to support it, and associating our movement with unpleasant, childish or inappropriate comments is exactly the best way to turn them off the whole thing forever. Making these kinds of comments and then doubling down on them isn’t just offensive to some in itself, it also provides ammunition to Unionist politicians, and then a huge and pointless distraction away from the important arguments that we ought to be making.

Comments are closed.