a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Facing prejudice throughout early life


Religion and homosexuality: a decade-long abstinence
Brian Sewell Writer
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

There was a morning in high summer, I think in 1957, when I was on my way to mass at the Carmelite church in Kensington Church Street. And feeling really miserable about sex. And also feeling strongly that I was not in a state of grace, and therefore should not take communion. And I got almost to the door of the church, and then crossed the road and walked into the park, Kensington Gardens, the little alleyway through York Place. And really did, I think, challenge God. I... to say, you’ve had ten years of my life. I have been abstinent. I’ve had sex with nobody but myself for ten years. I can’t go on like this. I can’t. I have to do something. I have to fall in love with somebody, somehow. And you’ve had this sacrifice, and I want a sign. I want something to happen to tell me that my ten years of not having sex with anybody has been enough.

And there was no sign. And there hasn’t been a sign since, so… and desperately out of practice, I just went out that night and picked somebody up and went home to bed with him. And having broken my duck, as it were, my life changed. I’m not to say it changed for the better, but it certainly changed.

And I… you know, I think, in terms of living comfortably in our society, homosexuality is a bit of an affliction. It’s a bit of a nuisance. It gets in the way. People are patronising or indulgent or try to – even at my age – try to find, you know, somebody for you. And that never works. You have to find for yourself.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Kensington Church Street, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Simon Stock, Carmelite

Duration: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: 2008

Date story went live: 28 June 2012