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Should someone's private life remain private?

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Cross posted to penny_b .

Little preamble for here.  This is sparked off by the post about Wikipedia the other day.  On whether privacy and biography are interchangeable ... Anyway, I thought I'd put this up for discussion.  Be warned, long post under the cut!

The internet has opened out the world and at any time there are millions of people online uploading information (scans, articles, blog posts, tweets, images, discussions, forum posts, reviews, publications, videos, audio files, and many other forms of communication).  Some of this rehashes other sources, whether attributed or not, some is original thought, research, comment or opinion. 

The most emotive area appears to be around what should and shouldn't be shared and discussed around the private lives of those in the public eye, particularly those who have died. 

The particular example I'm thinking of today is the late actor Jeremy Brett, who has a huge and active fanbase across many countries and many sites devoted to him and his work.  When we read about Brett, for example on Wikipedia, a notoriously poor but very high profile source of biographical information, we hear that he was 'intensely private' about his personal life.  Curiously this 'fact' is not given a source but on the very flimsy basis that because we have read it there must be some truth in it, let's leave it as 'fact' for now.

It seems to me that it has been 'OK' to discuss certain aspects of Brett's private life with impunity, particularly concerning his two marriages to Anna Massey and Joan Wilson Sullivan, and anything relating to his son, David Huggins.  We can track several 'facts' in the public record: The Times carried an announcement of the marriage between Brett and Massey.  Massey herself has written a book which touches on their marriage and subsequent relationship of divorced parents of a son (We'll return to this book later).  We have audio and video interviews where Brett discusses his marriage to Wilson (although no wedding announcement or certificate appears to be in the public record, and even the date of their marriage seems to be in dispute).  We have photographs of him with Massey (although whether his wedding pictures were part of the public record at the time seems debatable), and with Wilson (again, they look like personal shots which have been shared since the birth of the internet).  There's also the issue of Linda Pritchard but that is rather different given the fact she has written two books about him and is the source for many personal photographs and material entering the public record. 

What it doesn't seem 'OK' to discuss is aspects of Brett's private life relating to his relationships with people of the same sex.  Three in particular are known about - the mystery man in Switzerland who caused him to end his marriage with Massey (documented by her in her own book, but without naming the man involved); the late actor Gary Bond (who was first mentioned by name in the Terry Manners book but who has been mentioned in various places since, including by theatre critic and reviewer Sheridan Morley who knew both him and Brett very well, and in a recent biography of director John Schlesinger, who was a neighbour and friend to both of them; there is also a photograph of him and Brett together which is available in many places, although not always without being cropped to just show Brett); and the late actor Paul Shenar (purely on the evidence of one of those liberated photographs showing him and Brett together).  We are led to believe that Brett would not want these relationships to be made public because he was ashamed of them and wished to forget about them.  (In which case, why keep photographs?).

I'd like to look at some arguments why this odd situation is still with us:

You risk being libellous/slanderous ...

It isn't possible to libel or slander someone who is dead.  There is no legal precedent or definition to cover this.  In any case, why is saying someone may be anything other than heterosexual immediately read as defamation?  We are not saying that Brett was a criminal (although before 1967 gay relationships were illegal in the UK).  We are not saying anything detrimental to his character, or to those of anyone involved with him.  I personally think it is far more damaging to share photographs like the mannequin one which has been in circulation and which is clearly not aimed at a female audience.  I think, personally that Jeremy Brett is a fantastic role model for bisexual men to aspire to.

I'm in love with him.  Please spare me from the trauma that he was gay.

I swear I actually read this on a real Brett forum.  I would say to that person that if you love someone (how can you be in love with someone you've never met?), you accept them for what they are or in this case were.  You don't go into denial or refute facts because you personally are affected by thinking of someone as being someone other than they are in your perfect little world.  And you know what?  It doesn't matter.  The man is dead, so have your fantasy in your mind.  It doesn't matter - or shouldn't - in the slightest what his inclinations were in real life.  (Jeremy Brett wasn't gay, incidentally).

He never mentioned it, so we shouldn't ...

Not a good reason.  Times were different then.  How do we know who he mentioned it to, when, and why?  Someone in the public eye often has a private persona and a public persona.  Many do not share anything to do with their private lives at all with their public but are happy to be open with friends, colleagues and family.  So if we change this argument to 'He never mentioned it on the record.'  Regrettable, but that's the case for many people.  It doesn't automatically mean he was ashamed of it.  That's just someone's opinion.  I've seen comments on blogs from people who claim to have personal knowledge that he was 'ashamed'.  But he never said it on the record.  He did however keep photographs which, although they look innocent enough, do prove that he knew the people concerned.  If he was ashamed of knowing these people, wouldn't he have destroyed the photographs?

It's disrespectful to talk about someone when they are gone ...

Perhaps it is more disrespectful to fight about certain issues and post abusive comments and refutations if you don't agree with what is being said.  Now, I'd be the first person to be annoyed about the Terry Manners book.  It's shoddily written.  It's extremely poor when it comes to dates.  It makes too many assumptions about the inner workings of Brett's mind and his thoughts.  However, that doesn't mean that it should be totally dismissed as a source.  I have heard it described as a 'respectful' book, which I must admit surprised me.  On 'the issue' I think Manners is actually quite discreet.  He touches on the fact that between his two marriages, Brett had at least one male partner.  Believe me, he could have said a lot more which would have been disrespectful.  But he didn't.  I think in most of the writing about that aspect of Brett's life, Manners errs on  the side of discretion.  As does David Stuart Davies in 'Bending the Willow' (although, of course, he doesn't mention names).

It's not fair to his two wives and his final companion ...

It's not fair to his male companions, two of which are dead and unable to speak for themselves.  Brushing them under the carpet is incredibly unfair and disrespectful to their memories.  I refer again to the photographs of Brett with Gary Bond, and with Paul Shenar.  You know what I see in those photographs?  A man who is happy in the company he is in.  I can't believe for a moment that he would want his association with them forgotten, denied, or referred to in some of the offensive ways which have been put forward by those who say they are his fans.  I think it is extremely disrespectful to the memory of Gary Bond to say that his relationship with Jeremy Brett meant nothing and should just be forgotten (or, worse, to imply that his name has been linked to Brett's because of some distasteful reason or to increase interest in his own career, both of which are absolute rubbish).

Just being famous doesn't make you fair game for gossip ...

That's true.  But biographies sell well, and biographical information is sought out and highly prized when it is found.   There's a difference I think between facts (which could be from published sources, or from personal knowledge) and gossip.  I wonder what the reaction would be if the issues surrounding Brett 'facts' were about him having a long string of young girlfriends or something similar.  I suspect that would be seen as OK.

The Brettish Empire doesn't say anything about it ...

Because every site owner has their own views, and that particular site owner, for whatever reason, chooses not to acknowledge that side of Brett's life.  TBE is not the only Brett site, or the only Brett source.  Read more widely.

His family wouldn't approve ...

His family didn't approve when he was alive it seems.  They should be proud of everything in his life now he's not here to be proud about them himself.

Wikipedia/YouTube etc says anything on this topic is trolling ...

Wikipedia would.  Some site editors there have a big problem.  And if we go back to the start of this article, Wikipedia is very poor on biographical subjects (although high profile in relation to other sites).  Sadly some trolls have jumped on this issue purely because of the negative reaction of some outraged fans who, out of the best of intentions, want to protect the memory of their idol.  This is balanced out by some fans who want to honour and respect the memories of all Brett's intimates, of whatever gender.  As for YouTube, some people just have boring lives and want to post the same stuff ad infinitum.  Stop them in their tracks.  Say 'yeah, we know' and they'll go away.  I've tried it - it works like a charm.

I'll show my flag here at this point.  I run a website in memory of Gary Bond and half that traffic comes from Jeremy Brett fans, either through referrals from JB-related sites which are interested in and supportive of his relationship with Gary (and grateful thanks to them), or through Google searches linking their names together.  I wish that my traffic sources were a little wider but I'm touched and surprised by the interest in this lovely person who does not deserve to have his own private life bickered about under the cloak of 'protecting' Brett.  When I set up Gary's website I thought long and hard about whether to include anything about Brett.  I decided in the end that I had to - my interest is in protecting Gary's memory and by acknowledging someone in his life who was obviously important for many years I can do that.  By ignoring Brett it would be saying that this person isn't important and to me, that's taking too much upon myself.  I haven't speculated beyond one paragraph about the fact they were together and to me that is being respectful of both men.  I don't want to hurt either of them, if such a thing is possible when someone has passed.  I also don't want to hurt Gary's surviving partner who was with him for many more years up to his death.  I want to celebrate the fact that two distinguished and talented actors found each other and loved each other, and that even when that relationship ended, they parted as friends.  I admire them both very much.  I especially admire them because of how difficult it must have been to sustain a relationship on the fringes of the public gaze.

I think that it is important that Brett's life is discussed in full.  If we are not to discuss his private life then that means no discussion about his first or second marriages, how much in love he was with his second wife, what went on with his final companion, and everything around that.  It means no discussion of his mental state. It means discussion of his career only.  Otherwise, I'm afraid we are just being hypocrites.  There's no such thing as selective biography.

So - over to you for your thoughts.
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On December 8th, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC), sam42 commented:
I agree with you so completely that I really have nothing to add to this well written entry. *applause*
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On December 8th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC), love_bug_54 commented:
*stands and applauds* Bravo! I could not possibly say this better (or even as well) as you did. Thank you for sticking up for the truth about Jeremy's life -- and Gary's too, for that matter.

It's high time for Jeremy's fans to quit pretending this aspect of his life didn't exist. Can we just be adults about this?
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On December 8th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC), willowtreedance commented:
I used to believe that Jeremy wouldn't want anything about Gary or any other male lovers mentioned, because I was told that he wouldn't. As a soppy slightly obsessed fan, I wanted to do what Jeremy would have wanted. But over time I noticed something quite interesting...

A lot of the people "protecting" Jeremy were actually causing him harm. Because they went to such lengths to cover up and stamp out any mention of his bisexuality that it made it seem as though it was a sort of crime. A lot of these people aren't homophobic themselves either, but they felt Jeremy could have more love as a straight man in the public eye.

I was told by countless fans not to read Terry Manner's book as it's full of lies. Many of the people who demanded me not to read it hadn't read it themselves. That annoyed me. Because I am someone that likes to make up my own mind and have opinions based on facts. When I read the book I found that, yes, it was distastefully written, but there were some beautiful insights in there. I learned about Gary Bond. Even though I hated the book I was glad to of learned about Gary and wished to know more but found very little). I then started to think how Gary had been completely and wilfully covered up by many Jeremy Brett fans. Surely that's not right, that's bad on Gary! My opinion on protecting Jeremy changed completely.

It isn't protecting Jeremy to cover up his sexuality because you think he'd want that. How do you know he'd really want that in the year 2010?? Times have changed. And by being open about Jeremy's bisexuality you are protecting countless gay and bisexuals. How? By showing that a bisexual man can be beautiful, kind, caring, talented and intelligent. It opens peoples minds!

It also makes other gay and bisexual people feel better about themselves. They realize they have no reason to be ashamed. They have a wonderful role model. I'm bisexual myself but have always struggled with it but when I realized Jeremy was bisexual, I started feeling a lot better about myself. I love Jeremy and he's bisexual, and I don't see anything wrong in that, so why should I see anything wrong in being bisexual myself. The knowledge of his bisexuality has helped free me. Brilliant!

We need more openly gay and bisexual people. We also need more straight people showing open support for gay and bisexual people. Stop covering up for Jeremy (is it really Jeremy you are protecting?). Stop trying to second guess him. Don't follow other people no matter who they are. People that aren't willing to accept the real Jeremy Brett don't love him anyway. They are no friends of his even if they are genetically related to him, if they don't accept the real HIM...

Make the moral choice for the greater good. No more covering up!


Love him and be proud of who he was.

Edited at 2010-12-08 06:12 pm (UTC)
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On December 8th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC), fumine replied:
Re: Agree!!!
I couldn't agree more with what you have said!
— On December 8th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC), dreamingjewel replied, “Re: Agree!!!” · Expand
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On December 8th, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC), happy_lizard commented:
This is the best JB post ever! Seriously, it is. You said everything perfectly.

One point I'd like to stress for the people who think JB would want that part of his existence buried is that Anna Massey wrote in her book, "I shall never regret my first marriage, but I regret that Jeremy had been forced to feel guilty. We were living in1962. A year later the Wolfenden Report was published. Perceptions were changed forever. I hope that he felt released from the tension and pain that haunted him. "

What better way to honor Jeremy's memory than to be honest about who he was? Those who wish to 'protect' him are the ones who would have shunned him in the 1960s.
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On December 8th, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC), willowtreedance replied:
I agree, Penny's post was the best I've seen on here.
Those who wish to 'protect' him are the ones who would have shunned him in the 1960s.

Yes, in some cases that is true. I think a lot of the protectors I've come across on forums are deeply religious and Jeremy's sexuality doesn't fit in with their beliefs.

I think it's sad that Terry Manner's is the only author to have talked openly about Gary Bond (when writing a book about Jeremy). It gives some people an excuse to pretend Jeremy's relationship with Gary was all lies. Shame!

Edited at 2010-12-08 06:41 pm (UTC)
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On December 8th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC), trampadoo commented:
Wow. *applauds* This is an excellent post and I agree with everything you said and couldn't have said it better myself. This is something that has been bothering me for some time now and you really hit the nail on the head. Cheers! *hugs*
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On December 8th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC), earthspirits commented:
This is a very beautifully written and moving post, which I applaud! To me, admiring or loving someone means unbiasedly accepting them fully for who they really are. Jeremy's bisexuality is simply just another aspect of a fascinating man, whose kindness and intelligence made him unafraid to freely express a honest and sweet love toward another person. I think that both Jeremy and Gary would have been very pleased with what you are saying, thank you so much for sharing with us.

Edited at 2010-12-08 07:16 pm (UTC)
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On December 8th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC), radiogaga80 commented:
Twice I met (either virtually or for real) an actor I admired and twice I bumped my nose. Hard. I have also been among fans who were VERY protective of their idol up to the point they lost sight of reality (for example, according to them, the actor didn't commit suicide but there was a conspiracy. And they had a right as fans to know all the details of said suicide. Also, they met said actor in their supermarket - 30 years after his death.)

Over the years I discovered that, the more I knew about an actor's private life, the harder I found it to keep the actor seperate from the character that he played. And because it's because of his acting that I admire an actor, I decided that "private life is private life" and I personally don't need to know all that much about it. It's his acting I admire him for, not for his lovers or the fact that he was bisexual.

Even so... I understand why one would be frustrated by people who will not acknowledge Jeremy's bisexuality as it clearly is a part of the man's life. However, is it up to me to tell those people that they should acknowledge that aspect? I think people will always pick those aspects of a person that they feel most comfortable/agreeable with.

As long as they are willing to accept and respect the fact that I do acknowledge Jeremy's bisexuality I am willing to accept the fact that they will not. And when my view is not respected, the discussion will be a short one for I have wasted too much time already having fights with people who are deaf and blind to different opinions (that's a general remark, not specifically aimed at you guys ;))
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On December 8th, 2010 09:29 pm (UTC), penny_b commented:
And I was wondering whether to post this here at all! I've been wanting to write this for a while now but didn't really have the words. I think with having Gary in my mind for several months and discovering a lot of negativity in places where I wouldn't have expected it (IMDb, Internationally Brettish, etc) I felt it was time to speak up. First on a closed forum Google can't see, then on LJ - now in LJ community. I want the unpleasantness to stop and the trolls to go away. I want the fans to have some tolerance rather than a knee-jerk 'this can't possibly be true because ...' or 'I don't want to know because ...'. TBE especially annoys me as it has actively practised misdirection for years now. I've known about JB and his inclinations for over twenty years: a long time to keep quiet and now, with the Internet, people are talking, people do want to know, people care. I'd just like to see that negative undercurrent dammed shut for good.
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On December 8th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC), agent_mimi commented:
Wikipedia would. Some site editors there have a big problem.

I gave up on Wikipedia when I tried editing a post about a very well-known American gay actor. Seems that several editors thought there was no proof that he was gay and they would delete all mention of it. I sourced some proof and added the information, which they have slowly but surely removed with their own "sources" (often just blogs when my sources were books and published bios).

Wikipedia is not a particularly good idea, overall, because people with certain agendas latch on to articles there and create "facts" that suit their own ends. It's happening on Jeremy's page, of course, and it's sad but ultimately futile to fight.

An idea would be to create a blog or a webpage with your own sourced information and get it listed high up in Google searches. I don't know as much about Jeremy as most people here do, but if someone else started such a page, I'd be happy to promote it any way I could.
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On December 15th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC), willowtreedance replied:
An idea would be to create a blog or a webpage with your own sourced information and get it listed high up in Google searches. I don't know as much about Jeremy as most people here do, but if someone else started such a page, I'd be happy to promote it any way I could.

That is actually my plan for Jeremy Brett information but I haven't got the time nor the energy to do it alone. I'm looking for helpers with heads firming on their shoulders than mine are!
— On December 15th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC), penny_b posted a reply · Expand
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On December 9th, 2010 01:47 am (UTC), ajat commented:
I am so glad he liked both sorts. Most of us do, don't we ? Just that many remain in denial.
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On December 9th, 2010 09:36 am (UTC), landladyhudson commented:
Agree with you!!!
I respect all about Jeremy,I admire both of them and the lovely memory.
Thank you for your article!
By the way ,do you administer this site? I love it!
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On December 9th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC), penny_b replied:
Re: Agree with you!!!
Yes indeed, that is my site. I'm glad you've enjoyed looking at it :)
— On December 9th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC), landladyhudson replied, “Re: Agree with you!!!” · Expand
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On December 9th, 2010 10:35 am (UTC), butterflies80 commented:
Should someone's private life remain private?
Yes, that's why it's called a *private* life.If it's not going to stay private then give it another name.
There's idiots who call me homophobic because I don't like to talk about Jeremy Brett's relationships with men. The fact is that I don't like talking about *any* of his relationships. Not and not you and not any one can say what Jeremy would like today. I hate to see fans dissecting his personal private life. For example his marriage to Anna Massey. I'm against discussing personal relationships with the men *or* women.

I think that it is important that Brett's life is discussed in full.
That's your opinion so I respect it but I don't agree with it. That's a very strong sentence and we don't have the right to make this decision that it's alright to discuss everything about him. You continue with

If we are not to discuss his private life then that means no discussion about his first or second marriages, how much in love he was with his second wife, what went on with his final companion, and everything around that. It means no discussion of his mental state. It means discussion of his career only.
That is your explanation and your understanding but it's not right. it just means that we don't talk in details about any of his relationships. Nobody said don't talk about his mental state. He talked about it in public and helped a lot of peole who suffer and helped make awareness about bipolar disorder. If somebody says I don't want to talk about his private life that doesn't include his mental illness it's just his sex life. How can you say what he thinks of the photographs? All the photographs that you have in your home you don't mind when you die that all of them appear on the internet? Give him some privacy. Stop sharing the photographs with his wife and with his baby. Those are private also not just the pictures with Gary Bond and other men. He was an actor and he had a private life and a public life, don't mix them together. Don't tell his family what they sould or shouldn't do, who are you? I feel sorry for him because he was born in the 1930s so homosexuality and bisexuality were unacceptable and also against the law. Not any one can say that it's 2010 that if he was here that he would talk about it openly and that he would feel about it differently. Maybe he still in 2010 wants it private *all* his relationships and also maybe like his mental illness maybe he would make awareness & help people. We don't know what he will want in 2010 it can be this or that but the important thing is that it's not for *us* to make that decision for him. If any one has a problem that he was bisexual then that's their problem but they can't deny. IT DOESN'T MATTER. He was a kind, generous, sensitive human who loved people and animals and cared abbout every one. Bisexuality doesn't change that. He was a talented actor and bisexuality doesn't effect that. He was bisexual and it doesn't matter to anything so it's enough jujst to say he was bisexual and that's the end. There's no need to go deep in the details that maybe he wanted to stay private. *All* his relationships. We can't decide for him what he wants so it's better to stay private.

If any one has a problem with bisexuality just remember that before you discovered that he was a wonderful human to you and a wonderful actor and after you discovered it guess what happened he was a wonderful human and a wonderful actor. If you have a problem with it then you have your opinion but don't say he wasn't bisexual. The best thing is not to say anything at all because he's actor and we are admirers of his work and his personality and let's leave *private* life private.

Thankyou for discussing this. I openend an account specially to comment
On December 9th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC), butterflies80 replied:
Re: Disagree
Sorry about the mistakes

Not - you - and not you and not any one can say what Jeremy would like today.

remember that before you discovered that COMA he was a wonderful human to you and a wonderful actor and after you discovered it

without the coma it changes the meaning
— On December 9th, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC), trampadoo replied, “Re: Disagree” · Expand
— On December 9th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC), penny_b replied, “Re: Disagree” · Expand
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On December 9th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC), nunewesen commented:
Begging to differ
Before I get started about anything else, let me firstly say this: I happen to identify myself as bisexual, and thus it would be ridiculous for me to “shun” Jeremy regarding his whatsoever preferences. On the contrary, think about it: Would I not LOVE to have such an iconic character as part of the brother-and-sisterhood? Yeah, I would – but that is not the point here.

Second, my uni studies as well as my personal interests have turned me into some kind of (part time) historian, dealing with biographies from varying centuries.

And then – there is me as a devoted JB enthusiast who has started quite some time ago to become that engrossed with this great human being that I decided to do research in earnest in order to write a biography about him. For that purpose I used the “classic” and more modern methods of media research. I was also fortunate enough to be supported by a few “specialists” in that area, so that I was granted insight in ways the many tabloid press clippings cannot provide.

I agree that when you endeavour to write a scientific history of one’s life, you ought to take a look at the life as a whole. You ought to be able to maintain a certain “professional” distance to your subject of research. Being a historian is not exactly about maintaining your subject’s privacy.

Now – it turns out that the historian and the JB devotee are two sides of me that only meet each other in parts.

One of the main reasons is that the condition of distance does not exactly apply for me in this special case, whether emotionally or in respect to passed time. I have come to consider Jeremy the way I would consider a very good personal friend (though I was never fortunate enough to meet him in person), whom I admire and – beyond that – respect. And if I want to write about this good personal friend and his life, that simply does not include publishing about his bedroom behaviour. I might write about his two spouses, and about the male and female persons he was close to. I might write about relations, relatives, friends, colleagues – but (if you’ll forgive the bluntness) who has f*ked whom is not part of the business.

I have never witnessed him inside the bedroom, and had no-one talking to me about themselves inside his bedroom. And beyond being merried he was not in the habit of referring publically to ANYONE (male or female) in a way that indicates a sexual relationship. From that I must conclude that he considered this his private affairs. And if I could not respect this, I would give the word “fan” a questionable aftertaste.

Just my two cents on the subject.
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On December 9th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC), penny_b replied:
Re: Begging to differ
You say:

"And if I want to write about this good personal friend and his life, that simply does not include publishing about his bedroom behaviour. I might write about his two spouses, and about the male and female persons he was close to. I might write about relations, relatives, friends, colleagues – but (if you’ll forgive the bluntness) who has f*ked whom is not part of the business."

May I ask you then whether you would include such people in your list of 'male and female persons he was close to'? Or would you simply ignore them because there might be more of an intimate relationship than you wanted to write about? It sounds as if your biographical study would include spouses, friends, colleagues - but go out of the way to ignore anyone else who doesn't fit into one of those little boxes.

I'm also quite staggered that yet again a relationship between two people of the same sex gets dismissed in such a crude way. There is more to any relationship than simply f*king as you put it. There's love and affection, shared interests, friendship and respect for each other. When I write about Jeremy and Gary for example it is not of my damn business what went on in their bedroom so why would I speculate about it? I wouldn't speculate about anyone's sex life. What matters is they had a long and enduring relationship just the same as Jeremy did with both of his wives.

And I do understand what you mean by saying about a personal friend and respect, and, you know, that's just where I'm coming from. I just don't feel you can respect someone by saying 'I Don't Want To Talk About It', especially if you are planning to write a study of their life. Otherwise as I said in my original post, you are being a selective biographer only.

Edited at 2010-12-09 03:29 pm (UTC)
— On December 9th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC), nunewesen replied, “Re: Begging to differ” · Expand
— On December 9th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC), trampadoo replied, “Re: Begging to differ” · Expand
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— On December 10th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC), nunewesen replied, “Re: A little confused ” · Expand
— On December 10th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC), butterflies80 replied, “Re: A little confused ” · Expand
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— On December 12th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC), nunewesen replied, “Re: A little confused ” · Expand
— On December 12th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC), penny_b replied, “Re: A little confused ” · Expand
— On December 12th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC), nunewesen replied, “Re: A little confused ” · Expand
— On December 12th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC), penny_b replied, “Re: A little confused ” · Expand
— On December 14th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC), willowtreedance replied, “Re: A little confused ” · Expand
— On December 9th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC), happy_lizard replied, “Re: Begging to differ” · Expand
— On December 9th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC), nunewesen replied, “Re: Begging to differ” · Expand
— On December 9th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC), penny_b replied, “Re: Begging to differ” · Expand
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On December 9th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC), butterflies80 commented:
What Jeremy talked about in public then we can talk about in public. What he left private then we leave it private. That's how we can respect him. We don't have any right to make this decision for him. We don't have any right to guess what in 2010 maybe or maybe not he wants to talk about or for us to talk about. He had a public life and a private life, we don't have any right to make them one thing.
If we love him then we protect him and his privacy. This means *all* his relaltionships. You are saying let's talk about Gary Bond and the other men because we can't ignore them or deny them or pretend they didn't happen. I'm saying let's stop talking about *all* his relationships because they are private busniess exept what he talked about in public. When you die do you want everybody to read about your personal relationships and private life on the internet? Who likes that? Jeremy will like people to talk about his sex life? Men or women? Who can speak for him? Only him.
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On December 9th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC), penny_b replied:

Pity this has descended into something very different to what I intended. You're saying that you can only refer to a non-hetero relationship in terms of sexual activity? That's rather offensive really. Like saying a seven-year relationship is basically equivalent to just a quick f* that is meaningless because there is no evidence to say otherwise - like a marriage - which would have been impossible in the 1970s.

Poor Jeremy.

Edited at 2010-12-09 06:48 pm (UTC)
— On December 9th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC), butterflies80 posted a reply · Expand
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On December 10th, 2010 12:52 pm (UTC), butterflies80 commented:
You're saying that you can only refer to a non-hetero relationship in terms of sexual activity?

She didn't say that your misunderstanding her word choice.

In my country if somebody is at the intensive care in hospital then just certain people are allowed to go inside it. It doesn't matter if your boyfriend or girlfriend you have been together for 20 years and its a deep meaningful relationship, it doesn't matter because it's not official and if it's not written on legal papers it doesn't matter but your mother or father or brother or sister even if you hate them and not talked to them in 20 years then they can come inside and visit you. That's why it's just the husband or wife that's talked about freely because it comes under an official title. We don't write these laws but we have to live according to them. If you want to be an author there's rules that you have to follow even if you don't like them and you didn't invent them but you have to write according to them to be professional.

Also this discussion is continued on other websites and not everybody can see them so they don't have a chance to defend their ideas. Penny you have a wide imagination and you are putting words in other's mouths and ideas in their heads that are not there just your accusations. Talk to somebody directly if you have a problem with them not behind their back. If you misunderstand they can correct you but only if they know what your saying about them.
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On December 10th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC), penny_b replied:
I don't believe I know you so how can you possibly make a personal statement about me? And happy to state again what I said in discussions elsewhere - none of us own JB whether we think of him as a personal friend or even if he was a personal friend. Also in your country - and now I think I know who you are - the person who sent me an upsetting PM asking about hospitals and next of kin a while ago? - things are different to here. No one's girlfriend or boyfriend is excluded from their lives on legal grounds, and now - thank goodness - we have civil partnerships no one's life partner should suffer the indignity of being parted from their loved one or disregarded purely because they are the same sex. On the subject of biography there is sometimes an element of toeing the party line to appease those who feed us information - again, in my view, regrettable. And again I say to Jeremy, wherever he is, it's fine. Be happy, be proud, as we are of you. And even if some people refuse to recognize your long-term partner because you didn't show him off publicly, I certainly don't.
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On December 10th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC), butterflies80 commented:
Excuse me for talking outside the subject but I have made English mistakes and I don't know how to edit the comments. I didn't know there was edit until after I saw that from willowtreedance in my inbox but maybe because she's an older member she has that option? I can't find button to edit on my comment. Sorry because it's outside our discussion but I need the help!
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On December 10th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC), penny_b replied:
You have to be a paid member to edit your posts butterflies ... which as you've just joined I'm guessing you're not!

Edited at 2010-12-10 02:56 pm (UTC)
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On December 11th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC), sherlockbriar commented:
Both of the points are reasonable,we are discussing this problem very seriously is prove that we all respect Jeremy and his relationships.
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On December 11th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC), redsockjb commented:
My 2 Cent...
I just wonder why this special discussion is always coming up from time to time to time to time...
I never considered Wikipedia as a source of full information, it`ll give you an overview and certain aspects on a certain subject. The quality of information always remains and changes with the author who writes the article. There are a lot of JB biographys on the net, some give out information about ALL his relationships, some don`t. ( Just the same with other actors - If you f.e. look on sites about Rock Hudson, Cary Grant - not every author is mentioning that they where gay)
Maybe it is because of the opportunity to give and get all information we like to know nowadays about somebody, that we don`t think about if it`s really necessary...I think it`s not! Maybe it`s because Jeremy is already dead and not able to give any statement, that we now like to interprete all our wishes,believes,claims,demands on him and like him to be as we like to see him? We will never know what he would prefer.
You will never get the REAL picture of him just out of the media/newspaper/book sources that we have, so every author of a fan site or bio creates a "special view" on JB, depending on the facts the one finds necessary to mention.
And you are not a "bad fan" if his relatioships aren`t interesting to you at all, just like me: I`m not interested in Anna M. or the marriage to Joan or what kind of person Gary Bond was. It`s not important to me. What`s of interest to me is himself as an actor, his work, developement and what kind of person he was. I notice that he was bisexual (for that also belongs to his personality) but it wouldn`t make a difference to me if he was gay, hetero or (forgive me the little joke) a tree-lover ;-).
It is also my opinion that somebody who is looking for info about JB will not only read one site and stay with the only Wikipedia information.
So sooner or later he or she will be enlightened about all the facts of his sexuality anyway...
But I like to see that the kind of discussion is getting better, in a respectful way of listening to the opinions of each other! I really appreciate that, for after all we are connected by the same intersted in lovely Jeremy!
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On December 12th, 2010 01:16 am (UTC), landladyhudson replied:
Re: My 2 Cent...
"What`s of interest to me is himself as an actor, his work, developement and what kind of person he was."
“I really appreciate that, for after all we are connected by the same intersted in lovely Jeremy!”

I agree with you!
Thank you,dear Jeremy,you give us too much!
— On December 12th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC), penny_b replied, “Re: My 2 Cent...” · Expand
— On December 12th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC), redsockjb replied, “Re: My 2 Cent...” · Expand
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— On December 14th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC), willowtreedance replied, “Re: My 2 Cent...” · Expand
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— On December 14th, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC), willowtreedance replied, “Re: My 2 Cent...” · Expand
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On December 12th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC), penny_b commented:
Another comment if I may ...
I just wanted to say a bit about emotional involvement here. Should someone be writing about another person if they have that involvement with them (whether real, if they were a personal friend, or imagined, if you feel close enough to them to regard them as a friend)?

I'd say no. Results can be a little embarrassing - as with Linda Pritchard's book, written with the best of motives but far too subjective - or so focused on the writer's ideal of their subject the end result appears muddled and without focus.

We can debate - but for full-length study of facts we need to stand back and hand the job to someone objective, someone who didn't know the subject and certainly someone who wasn't in love with him/her.

I said in my original post that this topic was an emotive one - and so it has proved. But thanks JB fangirls for being largely supportive or, where you disagree, mainly doing it in a way not designed to cause upset.

I would never write a biog of either Gary or Jeremy because I feel I would be biased emotionally - my choice has been to celebrate them as part of Gary's website because I believe that is what they would have wanted. They are not here to ask otherwise but I hope I am right.

Edited at 2010-12-12 06:29 pm (UTC)
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On December 13th, 2010 08:07 am (UTC), trampadoo replied:
Re: Another comment if I may ...
Yeah, I agree. And I honestly hope sometime in the future a good biographer will take this on, do some good and sounds research, talk to friends, relatives etc. and if Jeremy's relationship(s) with men are confirmed "officially" that he just damn writes about it in an equal way he will write about his wives.
And I don't believe in God or the afterlife so I doubt Jeremy will mind. Why would anyone mind if even relationships he was afraid to acknoledge in public out of legal and probably psychological reasons as well would now be seen and shown as something equally loving and beautiful as the realtionship with his second wife? Only if fear and bad conscience was ingrained deep into that person's mind. And that is not a good thing. It feels a bit like doing so is becoming an accomplice of the people and society who forced all this opression on bis and homosexuals in the past and I don't like it.

Reminds me of Richard Chamberlain. Years of a good relationship but still he thought for decades something was wrong and bad with him, depressions, suicide attempt, never talked to his parents about this. In the end he managed to come out officially and is now very open about it (and as it seems a very happy person) but first he had to go through hell.
— On December 13th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC), penny_b replied, “Re: Another comment if I may ...” · Expand
— On December 14th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC), willowtreedance replied, “Well said!” · Expand
— On December 14th, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC), penny_b replied, “Re: Well said!” · Expand
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On December 14th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC), love_bug_54 commented:
I recently read a book about the history of gay culture (London and the Culture of Homosexuality 1885 - 1914) and the author said one of the biggest difficulties in piecing together what it was like for those gays who lived in that time was the lack of good information about their lives. Families would burn their diaries and letters after they died to 'protect the family name' leaving biographers very little evidence other than hearsay to go on. After the Oscar Wilde trials it became worse as gay men and women went deeper in the closet out of fear of public exposure and prison.

For a man like Jeremy, born in 1933 and raised by parents who themselves were raised in Victorian culture, it should be no surprise to us that he would have been reluctant to discuss his orientation openly. Besides which, and I know it's hard for you ‘young whippersnappers’ to believe this, there once was a time when people barely discussed their love lives with their spouses and lovers, and certainly not with strangers. It just wasn't done. It’s only in the past 30 years or so our culture has swung in the other direction were people feel they must share EVERYTHING with EVERYONE in the interest of ‘letting it all hang out.’ Whether or not Jeremy would have ever felt comfortable publically admitting to or discussing his sexual orientation is all speculation. I hope had he lived he would eventually have felt free enough to do so; not for the sake of our curiosity, but for his own sake, so he could have finally had the freedom to not have to censor himself all the time.

However, the fact we are even having this discussion means that he did not hide his orientation from his friends (and lovers, presumably). He was outed in public sources by them after his death, and whether or not we agree with that, do we really want to go back to the time where all evidence of a gay or bi orientation is deleted after death as if it didn’t happen? In Jeremy’s case “That ship has sailed,” as they say, and as his fans who claim to love him, shouldn’t we be the first to stand up to the homophobes and say, “Yes, he was bi – what of it?” If we don’t, then who will?

You can't hurt the dead -- you can only lie or tell the truth about them. Which honors them more?
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On December 14th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC), penny_b commented:
What makes me uncomfortable is that hetero relationships which end in marriage are seen as normal while gay relationships (which until a few years ago in some countries could not be given a legal tie equivalent to marriage) are, if they are mentioned at all, seen as abnormal and wrong.

I would never condone the outing of a living person unless either they wished it themselves, or they were being hypocritical - politicians for example spouting one view in public and embracing another in private. I feel uncomfortable about outing someone after they are dead. I knew about Jeremy years before he died and when he was outed in his Guardian obituary I just felt relief because now it was in the open. I hoped that a biography would come along which did open the doors a bit and so it did, but because of its approach and title, it was pretty much discredited from the start.

But - and this I think is important - as lovebug says, the ship had now sailed. Once it had set on the seas there was no way of unsaying what had been said. I only came back into the JB fandom online a couple of years ago and was shocked by some of the things I read. Yes, there were trolls and troublemakers - but there were also his fans, dutifully writing about Anna and Joan and Linda and staying silent on everything else. So I took a chance and shared what I knew from personal knowledge. Putting the record straight, if you like (and don't mind the pun). To me Jeremy Brett had three long-term relationships and three spouses. And everybody knows about the odd one out, so isn't it more adult to just say 'great' and include him alongside the wives?

Edited at 2010-12-14 05:23 pm (UTC)
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On December 16th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC), redsockjb commented:
I think it`s good to decide between "not mentioning" and "claiming dirty".
These are two different meanings and they can come out of different reasons.

What always makes me wonder is this: If to Jeremy or Gary Bond it was really a wish to live the relationship "in public" and they really suffered from "not telling anyone", why didn`t one of their close friends or family never mentioned anything? In many other cases of actors friends or family "revealed" certain things because they knew it was a desperate wish of the dead person. If he was my friend and I knew he was suffering by hiding a relationship, I would wait until the right time (or book) and then telling the public, to have the wish fulfilled at least! It is known that everyone who was close to JB never gave any interview or comment on any cases of relationship. That`s what made me come to the conclusion that it maybe either must have been a wish of him to stay descrete, or it was simply not important to him (and also to Gary Bond-his wish in this case must be considered, too!) to tell the world about it.
I don`t know why the author of this particular website didn`t mention Gary Bond, it could be for the bigot reasons (that some have) you stated above, it could also be that she/he was concerned about sources, as I myself too would only write a public article with being able to give a good source, naturally marriages can be looked up and the information is "prooved", relationships unfortunately can not, so I myself would think carefully before giving the information (or try to get better sources) in an article which can be read by everybody. I hope you understand what I mean. I would do so not only in a "case of relationship" or because it`s about bisexuality but also in any other case.
And we still don`t know what Jeremy or Gary would think about it...maybe they sit on a cloud drinking heavenly champagne and wondering about their strange fans...;-)
I always try to treat people fair, especially when I know them only over the net (that`s like nothing). When I get upset about an article I decided to sleep a night about it before answering, remembering that every fan tries to have the best for Jeremy, in different ways.
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On December 16th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC), love_bug_54 replied:
Penny_b is certainly capable of speaking for herself and doesn't need me to defend her, but she WAS a close friend with Gary Bond, and she IS trying to say something about his relationship with Jeremy Brett. She here knows better than anyone else on this forum what Gary's wishes would be. This is why she made the original post in the first place.
— On December 16th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC), redsockjb posted a reply · Expand
— On December 16th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC), penny_b posted a reply · Expand
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On July 7th, 2014 11:27 pm (UTC), John Tess commented:
He was bisexual
My father knew Jeremy Brett slightly in the 1970's. There is no doubt he was bisexual and almost everyone in the business knew it. I can't fathom anyone being so obsessed as to spend so much time droning on and defending him over something that needs no defending. All this nonsense that his private life is private... LOL! He was an actor and in the public eye. He sacrificed any semblance of privacy because of his chosen profession.
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