In a time when it is more common for people of my age, and my disposition, to 'come out', I'm going to do something unusual -- I'm going to publicly 'in' myself. For the record, and in support of all straight men who suffer from the same suspicions, here are the facts.
Yes, I'm in my 40s and have never been married. Yes, I'm fond of my mother. And yes, I spend longer in the shower than my female flatmate. But no, I am not, never have been, and never will be, gay. And I know that in so doing, I'm risking being accused with that old "he's protesting far too much, so it must be true" line.
But a funny thing happened to me this week, which makes me feel compelled to set the record straight. On Monday morning, I got an A5 envelope, with my name and work address handwritten on the front. Even more unusual, from my point of view, was the contents: issue two of THE, the 'gay lovers magazine', with 32 pages aimed 100% at gay people. And, at the risk of repeating myself, it came in an envelope with my name and address written on it, by hand.
I imagined someone stuffing the envelope, then wondering who in the media they could send it to and, as my name came to mind, starting to write in on the sticker thinking, "yeah, he's definitely gay".
I can understand why people may think I am. Slight, a bit effete, a tiny bit too fond of flicking my hair back and using expressions like "oooh, get you ... ", I have far too much knowledge for a straight man as to the intricacies of corsage, how a dress can be cut on the bias, and the difference between a hat, a headpiece and a fascinator. And all I can plead in my defence is more than a dozen years in the magazine publishing business, surrounded mostly by women talking about fashion, periods and willies. That shit will rub off on you eventually ...
And so what if I went to the Dragon twice last week? Dragged in on each occasion by a group of girls seeking a break from being pawed by neanderthal cretins in other bars around Dublin, it's easy to see the attraction of a gay bar for straight women. No hassle, good music, half-price cocktails on Mondays (er ... someone told me), it's easy to be seduced by the ambience, especially when you'd spent most of the previous night being barged, hugged and having drink spilt on you by drunken yobs banging on about how the dris-meister has just lost his edge, man ...
Contrary to that most popular of stereotypes, I didn't spend my night in the Dragon with my back to the wall, constantly getting hit on by every guy in the joint. Which was a relief and, at the same time, strangely disappointing. Because let's be honest, the only thing more unsettling than a gay man finding you attractive, is an entire room of gay men not finding you attractive.
And to whoever posted me that piece of literature over the weekend -- you can come and take it back, it's at the reception in VIP Towers. Oh, and gimme a buzz when you're outside. And puh-leaze, don't wear a fleece.
Michael O'Doherty is the publisher of the VIP magazine group