Dining across the divide: ‘He’s not visibly queer like me and I don’t think he faces the same issues’

One votes Labour, the other has a dog called Thatcher, but they agree to disagree on politics. Will they be on such amicable ground when it comes to gender?


David, 48, Burnley

Occupation Works for the NHS in teaching, training and research

Voting record Always Conservative and a Boris Johnson fan

Amuse bouche David has a border collie called Thatcher. “Named after the great lady herself”


Maple, 26, Leeds

Occupation Studying to be a midwife

Voting record Maple came to the UK from Hungary in 2015 and has settled status, so can only participate in local elections, in which they voted Labour

Amuse bouche Maple was a contestant on the Channel 4 show Naked Attraction

For starters

David Maple was fashionably late and dressed in a rather outlandish fashion – a dress and dangly, Pat Butcher earrings. I thought: here is somebody who wants to make a point. Nothing wrong with making a point.

Maple He seemed like a nice man, late-40s, middle class. We ordered some wine and food, and chatted about normal things for 10 minutes.

David I know what I am: I’m gay, but I’m not L, T, Q, I, A or any of the other things. A little bit of me resents being lumped in – that if you’re gay you’re also part of this subculture and you must all think the same. I think it’s important to be an individual.

Maple I am non-binary and queer. In Hungarian, we don’t even have a word for non-binary. I wouldn’t be able to be myself to the extent I am here. When you don’t feel welcome in your society, it can get you down massively. Since I came out as non-binary, my whole life has fallen into place.

Maple and David

The big beef

Maple I felt our main area of disagreement was about gender.

David I didn’t pick up on that from the evening, but fair enough if that’s how it came across.

Maple I said, “I’m non-binary, so I’m not a man or a female.” He didn’t seem to understand. I had to explain to him what it means to be a cis person. I’m like: if you call yourself a gay man, you should know the word because that’s what you are, a cis gay man.

David I haven’t got particularly firm opinions either way – it’s something I know little about. I would have liked to learn more from Maple. I asked a few questions but I didn’t get very far – there was a bit of a barrier that came up.

Maple If he thinks it’s just men and women, then he doesn’t accept my gender. If he wants to talk about nature, there are animals that can change their gender. Normal garden slugs, I think. One minute they can be male, the next female.

Maple and David

Sharing plate

David It’s a given that the Tories are going to lose the next election. We’ve reached the point where we were with the Major government in the early 90s – a party that is obviously going to crash and burn. It’s a case of go away, think again, come back with better ideas.

Maple In two years there will be an election and Labour will win – that is one thing we agreed on. For me, that is hope and there might be some changes in this country.

David Maple wasn’t as engaged politically as I would have liked. It was more: you think that and I think this, we’ll agree to differ, move on.

Maple and David

For afters

Maple My generation is more vocal. We don’t brush things under the carpet, we have to be activists to change the world. My niece is nine, she already knows the difference between bisexual and pansexual – for me that is heartwarming.

David It doesn’t bother me how anyone presents themselves to the world. If I do have a problem, it’s with this kind of campaigning extreme. Over the years there has been a gradual acceptance, and to be gay now isn’t an issue. I used to get abuse, but time has moved on. I do think there’s a sense of: “The gay battle has been won, now what do we need to kick against? What can we feel hard done by about?”

Maple He’s just comfortable and seems to accept things the way they are. Obviously he’s not visibly queer like I am. I don’t think he has to face the issues I do every day. It shows my generation and his are completely different.

Maple and David


David Maple was very good company, nice to chat to, if not as intellectually engaging as I would have liked. I would recommend the experience to anybody.

Maple It’s a shame when someone isn’t fighting for the same things, but we have to accept we are different. We walked to the station together, hugged and wished each other all the best.

Maple and David

Additional reporting: Kitty Drake

• David and Maple ate at Aya Sophia in Hebden Bridge.

Want to meet someone from across the divide? Find out how to take part

US readers: would you like to take part in a special US edition of Dining across the divide? Let us know here.


Sam Wollaston

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘I don’t think we fully agreed on a definition of woke’
One is from a leftwing family but moved right; the other from a conservative background and moved left. Did that help them understand the other’s perspective?

Sam Wollaston

02, Feb, 2023 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘He’s picked up a lot of misconceptions from the rightwing press’
They might agree that the current government’s a mess – but will they see eye to eye on cancel culture?

Zoe Williams

24, Nov, 2022 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘I don’t agree with his overblown fears about what Brexit would unleash’
They both think Brexit has been economically bad – but can they agree on the problems faced by young people?

Sam Wollaston

27, Apr, 2023 @11:30 AM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘It was like a conversation with my grandad 40 years ago’
Did a Tory and a Green who disagreed on the cost of living crisis and statues really spend a very enjoyable evening together?

Sam Wollaston

25, Aug, 2022 @11:30 AM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘He’s definitely more eat-the-rich and I’m a bit more nibble at them’
They are both republicans and agree on Brexit, Boris Johnson and banning private schools, but will they see eye-to-eye on inheritance?

Zoe Williams

10, Aug, 2023 @11:30 AM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘I think it’s an oversimplification to say the British empire was all wrong’
One is a republican and the other is a traditionalist. Will their mutual stand on Brexit save the day?

Sam Wollaston

16, Feb, 2023 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘I can get quite French Revolutionary about the monarchy’
He thinks the monarchy has value, she finds attributing privilege by birth offensive. Can they agree on nurses striking?

Sam Wollaston

22, Dec, 2022 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘When I got home, I Googled “bromance”’
Two Labour voters with an equal loathing of the Tories lock horns over retirement age and religion

Zoe Williams

01, Sep, 2022 @11:30 AM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘When he mentioned the economic benefits of the EU, my response was: for whom?’
They are both on the left, but could they agree on Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership qualities or whether Keir Starmer is an eel?

Sam Wollaston

03, Aug, 2023 @11:30 AM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘I found to my enormous surprise that we both admire Mick Lynch’
One votes Lib Dem, the other Ukip and Conservative, but is the union leader all they agree on?

Zoe Williams

05, Jan, 2023 @12:30 PM