I recently came across an article about “Cliff Richard“.
Looking at what had been written, I was rather surprised to find that the author wrote about how Cliff met a Catholic Priest and that they now lived together and were really good close friends. I thought to myself, “no, that simply can’t be right, I must have googled the name and found somebody else”. Remember now, this is the famous pop icon, the darling of the evangelical world because he found god, and also famous for almost marrying the tennis star Sue Barker. Well OK, also famous for a few songs he wrote … perhaps. So I hit google in earnest and discovered that what I thought I knew had been gleaned from popular culture, but was not at all the real story.
What you discover from his biography is a rather frank account of an intimate friendship with an American former missionary, Fr John McElynn. Officially John was hired to look after Cliff’s charitable projects and numerous houses, but it is quite clearly a deeper relationship than just business, they live together.
When asked about gay relationships, Cliff has also openly commented that the Church of England needs to update its views on same-sex marriages, arguing that all judgements on sexuality should be left to God
“I think the Church must come round and see people as they are now. Gone are the days when we assumed loving relationships would be solely between men and women. It seems to me that commitment is the issue, and if anyone comes to me and says: ‘This is my partner; we are committed to each other’, then I don’t care what their sexuality is. I’m not going to judge; I’ll leave that to God.”
You can read more about this in a 2008 Press article here.
Steve Turner, who wrote a biography of Sir Cliff in 1993, is also quoted as saying:
“Of all the people I’ve interviewed, from David Bowie to the Beatles, he’s the one most people ask me about. With Cliff, there’s always that element of uncertainty and puzzlement, because there’s something unresolved about his image.”
There are a couple of observations here:
- There is no conclusive evidence regarding the precise nature of the relationship between Cliff and John, and to be frank about that, its none of our dam business. Cliff has chosen not to be explicit, and so thats the way it should stay.
- In many ways I can indeed understand Cliff being a bit coy about it all. His main fan base, the evangelicals, would eat him for lunch and then spit him out if, what I’m hinting at here, was ever confirmed by him.
I would like to think that we, as a culture, have moved beyond outright prejudge, but sadly belief still condemns individuals for having a close loving relationship because some bronze age text says so. History is a long saga filled with belief resisting change as we progress and upgrade our morality. Examples abound and include slavery and racism as instances where believers had to be dragged kicking and screaming away from utterly immoral positions, this specific issue is no exception.
As for Cliff and John, I do truly wish them both happiness, and perhaps hope for a day when they can feel comfortable about being more open about it all. – Sadly today is not yet that day.