Almost a year to the day since he last quit Twitter Stephen Fry seems to have abandoned his celebrity microblog yet again, this time because of the response to an interview which he, err, linked to himself (in an earlier tweet which has since disappeared). Follow the link for details - in short, Fry suggests that straight women don't like sex as much as gay men do or they'd be at it behind the bushes on Hampstead Heath too.
Several curious things here. First, though he claims to have been misquoted he made much the same comments in a live interview which is still lying around on Youtube (thanks steerpikelet, via nisaba). Second, the opinions in question are expressed more-or-less verbatim by the hero of his 1994 novel The Hippopotamus, debauched and aging poet Edward Wallace. Perhaps the prior fictionalisation of this train of thought lends credence to Fry's implication that he was joking; perhaps it merely confirms that this is something he has thought for an awfully long time. I cannot of course know, but the weight of evidence now points towards the latter. Third, quite apart from the understandable limitations of his knowledge of female sexuality, his impressions of gay male sexuality seem inexplicably ill-informed too. See some recent OKcupid research for a simple debunking of the common media fallacy that gay men are unusually promiscuous - such a tiny percentage of gay men are up to anything at all in the bushes on Hampstead Heath that the barest handful of women would have to be as well for it to even out.
I really hope he's joking (again) and comes back (again). 2 million people enjoy his tweets every day and I've personally admired his work for as long as I remember being alive. But it seems implausible to dismiss opinions he's expressed in at least three media over the course of almost twenty years as a joke that got out of hand, merely because this is the day that those opinions have created a little popular disapproval. This is not about being right or wrong. This is about having the courage of your clearly long-held convictions.
Update: Ah, he's back. Glad that all got sorted out then.
Update: Nope, he's gone again and the "buy buy (my book)" tweet has gone too.
Update: looks like he's coming back - here's his long explanation of what happened.