Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cliff Richard: Move it

Don't laugh.

Because "Move It" has a strong claim to being the great British rock and roll record. He was soon tamed, but back in 1958 Cliff was sexy.

I heard Cliff interviewed on a recent television documentary. He said "I didn't just want to be like Elvis: I wanted to be him." And I think if has to be admitted that he came closer to fulfilling that ambition than any other British artist.

Cliff went on to add: "I wanted to wake up inside him." But this week of all weeks is not one to snigger at him. Because, in his own hesitant way, Cliff seems to have come out.

As the Independent reported it:
The 67-year-old singer has spoken for the first time about his close relationship with a former Roman Catholic priest, and calls on the Church of England to approve same-sex marriages.

Sir Cliff describes how he struck up an intimate friendship with an American former missionary, Fr John McElynn, after meeting him in New York seven years ago. The famously clean-cut pop singer reveals that he hired Fr McElynn to look after his charitable projects and numerous houses, after it became clear the American would give up the priesthood. The pair now live together.
And good luck to them. If nothing else, it is a pleasure to see someone who is identified as an Evangelical Christian taking such a civilised view of same-sex marriage.

The artist Cliff Richard has always reminded me of is Dirk Bogarde. He was a gay man who became a huge sex symbol for British women in the 1950s. Like Cliff Richard singing Move It, Bogarde was sexy and dangerous in films such as The Blue Lamp. But he too was soon tamed and went on to star in tamer fare like the Doctor films, though he later escaped abroad to become an internationally acclaimed film actor.

Bogarde lived for many years with his "manager" Anthony Forwood, but never felt able to talk about the reality of their relationship. So all power to Cliff for his honesty.

And I would not criticise Cliff Richard for his reticence in the past. What I once said of Simon Hughes applies to him several times over:
It is hard not to have sympathy for Simon. He was elected to Westminster at a time when it was thought impossible for a gay politician to be open about his politics. He is standing for the leadership in an era when it is possible even in the Tory party.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cliff did not say he is gay. He only said people who are should have the right to a marriage. Cassie