CJ de Mooi, President of the English Chess Federation, actor and a regular on the BBC quiz show Eggheads, said he was left “shaking with fury” over objections to his “Some people are gay, get over it”, tee shirt that he wore at the British chess championships where he was set to present awards but was later dropped because of it.
De Mooi said he was approached by the championship arbiter, Lara Barnes, prior to the awards ceremony and urged to reconsider his outfit. “They then suggested that it might be better if I just presented prizes to the adults,” he said. “I refused. I was either going to present all the prizes or none at all.”
Leonard Barden, the Guardian’s chess correspondent, said: “There has never been a dress code before. It’s not something that happens in chess, it’s supposed to be non-discriminatory.”
Barnes praised de Mooi’s efforts to promote chess but said it was improper to mix the game with gay rights: “I’ve every sympathy with his cause, but I didn’t think it was appropriate to have the sentiment on the T-shirt in every photograph with junior chess players – under-10s, under-12s and under-14s – promoting a particular sexuality.”
De Mooi said he had worn the T-shirt throughout the event without complaints. “None of the parents, none of the kids, said anything to me that wasn’t completely positive. Quite a few of them said, ‘we love the T-shirt, well done for wearing it’.”
The slogan “Some people are gay, get over it!” was originally launched in November 2007 by Torchwood star John Barrowman as part of Stonewall’s Education for All campaign to tackle homophobic bullying in schools and has been endorsed by politicians and celebrities alike including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Stonewall co-founder Sir Ian McKellen, Alan Carr, Rhona Cameron, Sarah Waters and Dannii Minogue.