David Baddiel’s reaction to criticism after clumsy Boris Johnson gay sex joke is a breath of fresh air

Lily Wakefield
·2-min read

David Baddiel made a clumsy gay sex joke about Boris Johnson, but set the standard for comedians listening to queer people and avoiding “straightsplaining”.

As the number of UK COVID-19 deaths surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday (November 11), Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain quit his job, despite being offered a promotion to Johnson’s chief of staff.

According to Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, two Tory sources confirmed that Cain was offered the chief of staff position by Johnson over the weekend after they had been “talking about it for few weeks”.

But Johnson’s fiancée Carrie Symonds was understood to be “deeply unhappy about the plan”. Shortly afterwards, Cain quit.

Cain, who played a key role in the Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum, will officially leave his post at the end of the year.

But his resignation has caused the government to descend into chaos as rumours swirl that his allies, including fellow Johnson aide and Barnard Castle aficionado Dominic Cummings, may follow him.

David Baddiel constructively listened to queer concerns and avoiding ‘straightsplaining’ a Boris Johnson gay sex joke.

Responding to the situation, comedian David Baddiel wrote on Twitter: “Why exactly is Carrie Symonds opposed to the appointment of Lee Cain? I can only assume Boris is shagging him.”

While some on Twitter interpreted the joke as using gay sex as a punchline, others simply saw it as a reference to Boris Johnson “having a lot of affairs” and being “a serial shagger”.

Responding to criticism of the joke, Baddiel explained: “My intent was a joke about [Boris Johnson] being serially unfaithful, and how his fiancée, not an elected official, should not have a political reason vs the appointment of Lee Cain, but might be sexually suspicious of everyone [he] meets.”

But, the comedian said he was open to criticism of his joke and erred on the side of caution by deleting the tweet.

He said: “The intent was about [Johnson] being over-priapic. It does not to my mind imply any value judgement about the type of sex he’s being over-priapic about. But I acknowledge… that now I am straightsplaining.”

Baddiel added: “I don’t hold with the modern principle that impact is more important than intent.

“However I do believe that it’s not my place to define offence for a minority I don’t belong to, so have deleted it.”