Gary Glitter fans who can’t let go of their pedophile idol

Gary Glitter performing at Lea Valley Park in the 1990s.

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Gary Glitter’s recent trial saw witness after witness recount cases of abuse by the former glam rocker, enough to convince a jury that he is guilty offenses including the attempted rape of an eight-year-old girl. And this is just the latest in a string of child abuse-related cases Glitter has faced. Enough, you might think, to fend off even the most die-hard fans, and to shake off any affection felt for Glitter. But a group of die-hard fans are determined to support Glitter. They took to the web to show their support, kept fan clubs active, and backed him from the public gallery during his trial.

“I stay by his side because he has given me so much pleasure in my life,” says John, a social worker from Newport, Wales. “I wouldn’t let him look after my kids, but again, I wouldn’t let anyone I didn’t know very well look after my kids. I stay by his side because I feel like his life is deliberately turned into hell by the hypocritical media and the Hang-’em-and-flog-’em squad. And I don’t think that’s fair. “

John’s response is typical of Glitter fans I’ve spoken to, many of whom accept that the former musician is at the very least guilty of some of the allegations made to him over the years. Indeed, in 1999, Glitter himself admitted download images of child sexual abuse. But many followers see this, as one fan put it, as simply “a silly mistake” which means he’s been unfairly harassed ever since.

“I think the media always ridiculed Gary before he even got into the IT business. There has been a witch hunt against him, and the press won’t be happy until he finishes it,” says one fan. would like to be known. only like Julia.

“They constantly intimidated him… made sure he never worked again, while others in favor walked away unscathed. Nobody likes bullies. I stand by Gary’s side, because I do. have great affection for him and I would stay with anyone I felt. was genuine in the same way. “

Most of his remaining fans have been in Glitter since his early days, when he strutted on television and attracted a fanatic fan base. For many people, it formed an emotional bond that they couldn’t shake off despite the revelations that haunted Glitter as he fell from stardom. Mick Connor, a housekeeper from Hertfordshire, is one such case. He discovered Glitter in the summer of 1973, shortly after being sent to a boarding school 100 miles from his home.

“I was very lonely and upset,” he says. “Then I saw Gary singing on The top of the pops and I went to a store in Cheltenham and bought my first record. Gary and glam rock really brightened up my then miserable days at residential school… I will always be grateful to him. “

“I thought it was bad enough when I found out he was wearing a wig. But that tore me apart as a fan.”

However, some fans have struggled to reconcile their love of music with the revelations that have emerged from the man behind Gary Glitter. A male fan who wishes to remain anonymous tells me of his extreme disappointment when Glitter first admitted to possessing images of child sexual abuse.

“I was devastated, angry and felt so disappointed. I thought it was bad enough when I found out he was wearing a wig. But it ripped me apart as a fan. Friends. and family. I threw his autobiography in the trash, and all my Gary Glitter records went to the loft. That was it, it was erased from my memory, at least that’s what I thought, ” he said.

But once online video streaming took off in the early 2000s, he again found himself drawn to the music of Gary Glitter. He ended up creating a YouTube channel dedicated to the former glam rocker and believes that the appreciation of music should be separated from the crimes of man.

“It’s not your fault that you like certain songs. Mine happens to be Gary Glitter’s music, and I’m sticking to it. But I just think, Sod ’em. Who the hell do they think they are? Yeah, I’m having a hard time, but that’s how it comes with the gig so to speak, “he said.

Of course, Gary Glitter is just the on-stage alias adopted by Paul Gadd, and that helps some fans justify their continued adulation of their icon while distancing themselves from his crimes. “With his recent conviction, I think if he actually committed the crimes he has to pay like anyone else. But like Paul Gadd, not like Gary Glitter. People have to separate the man from the music. “said Nigel, 54. -a teacher from Norfolk.

But while many fans accept that Glitter is guilty of certain crimes and feel able to forgive him due to his apparent contrition, most do not want to accept that he went beyond watching images of abuse and fulfilled one of his fantasies. This despite numerous allegations in the UK, his last conviction and one conviction in Vietnam in 2006.

“I don’t believe in the current allegations. Over the years I have spent time with Gary, and I never had a clue of the allegations I read. He is a genuine man. been very welcoming and adore his fans, ”says Julia.

Photo by Flickr user David Sim

Some fans still cling to the fantasy that he might come back on stage. “I thought about doing a charity concert and getting Gary to do it, but I think it would be a logistical nightmare because you wouldn’t be able to tell who was a real fan and who is just there to. cause trouble. I would love to see that happen, it’s a beautiful thought and something that people like me would absolutely love to see, “said John Hughes, 50, of Bristol, who performs with a tribute band at the glam rock called Fab 208.

Whatever they think of his guilt or whatever, there is no doubt that many fans are suffering for their adulation. Antipathy from family, friends and especially the online community is common when they reveal their love for Glitter.

“Being a fan isn’t easy, you face hostility all the time. I keep it to myself most of the time and just let all the negative comments from friends, coworkers and family get past me. I take great solace in belonging to certain groups on social media where we have a common interest, but after the last conviction these sites had an influx of newcomers and I’m afraid most of them are not true fans, yet another form of sabotage, ”says Julia.

Others are less accommodating when it comes to criticism. Klavs, from Denmark, has been a fan since 1972. “I’m six foot four and a former bouncer so people don’t give me much but my friends kindly tell me when our boss is in the papers again, ” he says. But even he isn’t wearing his support on his sleeve anymore. “I have T-shirts but I don’t wear them very often anymore,” he adds.

There are, of course, many examples of other prominent rock stars who have been accused of sexually abusing children. And many fans don’t hesitate to jump on it to justify their admiration for Glitter. “Jimmy Page had a 14-year-old girlfriend, and no one said a word, ”says Tim Potter, a Glitter fan from Australia. “Bill Wyman from [Rolling] Stones slept with Mandy Smith when she was very young [14 according to Smith]… So this is hypocrisy at its peak. “

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