11 JULY 1992, Page 24

LETTERS Yours, disgusted

Sir: As a homosexual reader of The Specta- tor, one has become fairly well inured to the casual insults that drop from its contribu- tors' pens; it's simply a mild form of indeli- cacy, like a burp. They can't help it; it just pops out. It takes a sustained and detailed piece of abuse like that contained in Paul Johnson's column (And another thing, 4 July) to raise one's hackles. Johnson regrets Drusilla Beyfus' inclusion, in her new book of etiquette, of suggestions as to how to deal with homosexual guests and their part- ners. 'Why should a hostess ... invite them in the first place?' he asks. 'After all, other guests may not like living in the same house with people who could have Aids.' One had been mildly pleased at Ms Beyfus' small contribution to society's ludicrously delayed acknowledgment of normally homosexual people within it. Have we not eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, pas- sions? Fed with the same food? etc. etc. If you don't like homosexuals (though it's hard to know what homosexuals have in common apart from a sexual orientation towards their own gender), then don't invite us into your house. If you so invite us, then treat us like anyone else. Simple.

The jibe about Aids, however, as well as being tasteless and cruel, is unforgivably ill- informed. The incidence of the condition among homosexuals, who, for reasons not yet properly understood, are among the groups at high risk, is only a small percent- age of the homosexual population; the con- dition is communicated with great difficul- ty, mainly by acts of anal intercourse or by the sharing of a hypodermic needle. Unless Mr Johnson is suggesting that all homosex- uals are irresistibly sexually attractive, rapists or homicidal drug addicts, his com- ment is meaningless. Hostesses everywhere should relax, and continue to be guided by Ms Beyfus' considerate and ordinarily human example.

As for Mr Johnson, his views are chilling- ly similar to the casually and widely expressed anti-Semitism of only 75 years ago. Exchange `Jew' for 'homosexual' in his article, and you have it. It took the Holo- caust to eliminate — for the most part — that particular barbarism. What do we need?

Simon Callow

120 St Pancras Way, London NW1