London Spy, starring heartthrob Ben Whishaw, premiered last night and we touched on it’s gay characters yesterday, here. So, what better time to treat our readers to an excerpt from our latest issue? The full feature can be found in our issue 20 of Pride Life magazine, which you can buy right here in our store.
A more realistic dramatisation of the murky world of espionage comes to BBC 2 this autumn. London Spy details the romance between the brilliant, enigmatic Alex (Edward Holcroft), an agent with the Secret Intelligence Service, and Danny, a beautiful, hedonistic pill-popping clubber played by gay heart-throb Ben Whishaw. So far, so good. And then Alex disappears. And the real drama begins. Does Danny have what it takes to penetrate the complex and codified world of British espionage and discover the truth about his lover’s disappearance?
Over five hour-long episodes nattily-dressed chaps will exchange lingering glances filled with ambivalence, meet behind closed doors and on street corners, tell lies to their friends and family and converse in code while keeping one hand firmly on their holsters. All of which probably sounds quite familiar to anyone reading this, and with good reason.
Since the recruitment of the Cambridge University spy ring in the 1930s, which included homosexuals Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, third cousin of the late Queen Mother, gay men have been drawn to the murky world of espionage. Unfortunately for the British government, this has usually involved working for the other side. Despite the Communist party remaining largely silent on homosexuality, a disaffection with petty bourgeois attitudes at home inspired Burgess and Blunt, along with Donald Maclean and Kim Philby to offer their services to their Russian paymasters.
It was not just our “enemies” that recruited from our top universities. It is a practice that continues to this day. I remember attending an LGBSoc meeting at an Oxford college one evening and couldn’t help noticing a group of suited gents on the lawn. They stood out through their sobriety as much as their inappropriate attire. It turned out the Secret Service had paid a visit. Given their occupation, they were remarkably easy to spot. A gay spy worth his salt would never have worn a double-breasted blazer, or declined another glass of champagne. Perhaps this is why we make such good spies. The ability to “fit in”, to become something we are not for the sake of our own survival. Happily MI5 and MI6 now recruit through open advertisements in the press that carry a Stonewall Diversity Champions commendation.
Read more in our latest issue!