The Tube strike, the arts, and gay privilege

Chikonzi writes exclusively for kaos about gay white male privilege. London-based Zimbabwean Chikonzi teaches psychology and sociology.

On Tuesday evening, I went along to the Bush Theatre in West London where my friend Rogue "Marbie" Scott's first ever play, the dark and fascinating Give Me Your Heart, was showing as part of a festival of short plays.

There was much talk about positivity and creativity from director Rikki Beadle-Blair, who made much of equality in his pre-show pep talk. Looking at his Facebook page after the event for pictures from the night, I ended up stumbling instead upon a post from someone who wanted to make a point about a strike on the London Underground, which was into its second day. Its brash entitlement and sheer meanness made it stand out like a sore thumb on Beadle-Blair's otherwise sunny feed, and got me thinking, again, about a certain kind of gay man.

Once upon a time, I was surprised by the fact that there was such a thing as gay Conservatives, but I shouldn't have been, because gay men in cities like London and New York are a breed apart; so often a wealthy elite for whom inequality and prejudice don't exist. Preening mummy's boys who care nothing for the "plebs" beneath them, they are the children of the well-off and the wealthy, entitled (usually, but not exclusively, white) show queens who want for nothing: this city is their playground and their plaything.

Impervious (and imperious) in his cosy arts bubble, actor Craig Daniel Adams (no? Me neither) is one of those men. Striking Tube workers had the temerity to disrupt his golden existence, and Adams was jolly cross about it. A cocktail-swilling Hooray Henry, whose job is playing dress-up for his hipster mates, he is the quintessence of Generation Me. Spoon-fed by Britain's notoriously right-wing media, he sees the striking workers as "militant" and "lazy", and the union leaders, "union barons". He knows this because the Evening Standard (and Mummy and Daddy) say so. Employers (and Mayors who go back on election manifestos) get a free pass, because of, you know, the economy. The likes of Craig Daniel Adams never criticise them; they'd have to get their facts right first. It's just easier to beat down the little guy than face the real villains. That's what bullies do. Why question what's really going on in our society, when you can rant about "lazy" Tube workers who just want the day off? You see, those Tube workers (who don't get paid for their "day off") are merely dehumanised drones, plebs to be trodden on and vilified. But when the likes of Craig Daniel Adams is sipping cocktails in a Soho bar at 3am, the "lazy bastard" he despises so much is waking up after a few hours sleep to man the Tube station other workers - like check-out assistants, cleaners, and waiters - will be filing into at 5am. She's the single mum being spat at by drunks at midnight on Saturday.

Why do so many middle-class English people hate Tube workers so much, I wonder? They are some of the last working class people who still earn a decent living wage, that's why. People like Adams loathe them for that. But its real working people who pay for the likes of Adams to doss around at "uni" for years: it's the taxpayer who subsidises their fees so generously.

Inequality is increasing, but don't look to the arts for help: they've been taken over by the elite. As for Craig Daniel Adams, he'll have another strike to moan about next week. My heart bleeds.


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