John Inman: He’s free

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John Inman, campy star of the Britcom Are You Being Served?, died Thursday at age 71, the London Times reported. His bustling, punning, happily effeminate shopclerk character rose from background to foreground in the hit BBC comedy in the 1970s and added U.S. fans through repeated play on public TV. Inman’s stereotyped behavior appalled gay liberationists at the time, but columnist Matthew Parris salutes “that lifesaving human compromise, the open secret,” which was kept through “a dark age” by Inman, Liberace and generations of sissies and drag queens who announced that homosexuals certainly seemed to be present … and turned “what was once seen as shame into light entertainment.”