“We have to avoid the wakery and the restrictions comedywhich, I’m afraid, he wouldn’t have had time for.’
Those were the words of the British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab on Paul O’Gradywho had only been gone a few hours when politicians and broadcasters weaponized his death to suit their own agendas and twisted definitions of that word.
Both Raab and Amanda Hold (never thought they would appear together in a sentence) took the opportunity to suggest that Paul O’Grady was somehow against waking up.
On her Heart breakfast show, Holden said O’Grady was “not a woke up bone in his body,” so either she doesn’t know what awake means, she doesn’t know who Paul O’Grady is, or she’s unfamiliar with the concept of bones.
Paul O’Grady was as awake as can be.
Despite the fact that the Torry party and some of their media allies would like the public to believe that “waking up” is a plague on our society, a threat to our very existence. racial discrimination and issues of social justice’.
That is it.
For me it means ‘Don’t be racist and pay attention to people who are faced with injustice in society.’
Paul O’Grady fought hard for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and spoke out against austerity measures and poverty.
He was a proud gay man and drag queen at a time when being gay was considered shameful by much of society.
He normalized drag culture to the point where his alter ego Lily Wilde had its own prime time TV slot.
I have so many fond memories of watching Blankety-Blank as a kid with all three generations of my family laughing at Lily’s sharp wit and sarcasm.
I can’t remember the moment I found out Lily was in fact Paul, but I know I never questioned her sex or sexuality – she was just Lily Savage.
How sad that in the weeks leading up to his death, drag queen culture has been demonized and protested against in the name of protecting children from “grooming.”
Those same tropes and lies that contributed to the homophobia that permeated Britain in the 1980s sadly still exist.
So it was pretty annoying when Dominic Raab went to the shipping box at alternate PMQs and tried to pay tribute to O’Grady, but instead paid “respects” to one “Paul Grayson.”
We might perhaps forgive Raab for such a slip of the tongue, but what he said next cannot be dismissed as a mistake.
He then tried to weaponize O’Grady’s death to further his party’s anti-woke agenda, when he claimed the late comic wouldn’t have time for wakery.
Would Paul O’Grady *really* not have time for wakery?
Let him hear in his own words during an interview with the Sun in 2020: ‘I am married to a ballet dancer, I have a daughter, two grandchildren and was married to a Portuguese lesbian barmaid. It doesn’t get much more awake’.
As for the limitations of comedy, I wonder how Dominic Raab would feel about this particular monologue performed by Paul on an episode of Paul O’Grady Live amid the austerity measures of the then coalition government.
He said, ‘You know what made me stand up? Those Tories who booed and yelled when they heard about the cuts… They annoy me. Abolish the pension… No more wheelchairs… Bastards.’
That was in 2010, at the start of the coalition government, so I can only imagine what Paul would have to say after 13 years of Tory rule.
Can you imagine a TV presenter being able to say such things without Rishi Sunak intervening to criticize their speech?
“I bet as kids they laughed at Bambi when his mom got shot,” O’Grady added.
I wonder if that’s the kind of “dashing” free speech that Raab says we need more of in comedy.
If Gary Lineker had done stand-up too, perhaps not so many Tories would have frantically rallied to discredit him and threaten his position as a TV presenter when he criticized their brutal immigration policies.
Raab was right in praising Paul, but he did so without an ounce of self-awareness that the party of which he is deputy prime minister represents so much that Paul opposed.
I never met Paul O’Grady, but I suppose part of his magic was that it felt like I had.
But just because we feel like we know someone doesn’t mean their memory should be misrepresented to further our own agenda and beliefs.
Paul was a working-class hero, Lily was a queer icon. He taught me to be kind to animals, to be kind to each other, and to care more about who I voted for in parliament than I did in the X Factor final.
He joked about the conceit, stood up for what he believed in, and would stand up for you in a fight – provided you weren’t a total “bastard.”
He will be greatly missed, but we can’t let anyone try to twist his legacy, because his legacy – and Lily’s legs – will live on forever.
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