After 41 happily unmarried and ambiguously gay years in dutiful service to petro-giant BP, CEO Lord John Browne of Madingley resigned from his fantastically well-paid post May 1. He slinked away from it all technically because he perjured himself; actually because he lacked the courage to be frank, or even silent, about his own good taste for a Toronto man, Jeff Chevalier.
I hate to throw away half a cantaloupe that I can’t choke down before it turns squishy brown. “There’s two dollars I’ll never see again,” I mutter to myself. So, I can relate to how Browne must feel.
I bet he wishes now that, when Chevalier pressed for financial support after their relationship ended, he’d either coughed up a little more sugar or simply been open about the relationship and told the truth about how the two met.
If he had held things together through July he would have retired from BP in glory, having made billions for shareholders since he became CEO in 1995, and taken with him a fat retirement purse of more than $7 million with another $26 million in benefits and bonuses.
It’s an expensive lesson about the perils of allowing guilt and fear to shape one’s decisions about interpersonal relationships. Fortunately his lordship already has bank enough to keep him in high style for the rest of his life.
When I first read about the Browne fiasco the first thought that jumped into my cynical and slightly morbid mind was, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if these two men hooked up on Squirt? That would be another wonderful Toronto connection to this circus of a story.” Squirt is operated by Pink Triangle Press, which also publishes Xtra. Sadly, the men met on a different website.
My second thought was, “Canadian men do seem to make fantastic boy-toys. We’re well mannered, enthusiastic, sexy, relatively good at keeping secrets and adapt quickly to the protocols of high society.” It’s no accident that so many of the world’s fabulously rich and ridiculously powerful men have beautiful Canadian men in tow—just ask Elton John.
The truth about the relationship between Browne and Chevalier should, and likely will, always lie between them alone. The press attention and the stupid double standards attached to this story only illustrate that homophobia, internalized and otherwise, still flourishes.
Regardless, it’s a feather in the cap of Canadian queerdom that the object of Browne’s affection was a fresh-faced Canadian lad. It’s nice to have Canada known as a country teeming with hot, likeable men.