Chapter 5 pays attention to representations of gay men on radio and television, and in films, plays, novels and the press. The chapter examines how gay men participated in and influenced the wider culture of the ‘swinging sixties’, including the fashion industry (through the rise of Carnaby Street and the Mod look). The chapter also highlights the development of a distinctive gay identity and lifestyle.
Chapter 2 examines the Wolfenden Report of 1957, analysing its main recommendations and casting a critical eye over some of its less well-known points. The chapter looks at each recommendation in detail, and assesses whether or not these represented an advance in contemporary attitudes towards homosexuality. This is followed by a detailed overview of the reactions and responses to the report, ranging from the press and broadcast media to the Churches, politicians and the general public. The chapter examines the report’s significance in changing attitudes towards homosexuality and in prompting an opening up of homosexual themes in plays, television and film. It also looks at the first steps towards law reform, up to and including 1960.
Chapter 3 looks at the medical treatments meted out to gay men in the 1950s and 1960s, and attempts by the medical profession to ‘cure’ them. The chapter examines the origins of the medicalisation of homosexuality as a diagnosable ‘condition’, and analyses the Wolfenden Report’s conclusions on the issue. It points to some of the report’s contradictory views, and the parallel controversies about the nature, causation and treatment of homosexuality by medical professionals. The chapter examines the theories behind psychological and psychiatric treatment, and the various methods of treatment, from psychotherapy to ‘aversion’ therapy. It recounts the experiences of patients and the attitudes of doctors and nursing staff. There is a statistical examination of the efficacy of these treatments, and an overview of the challenges against them.
Chapter 4 examines the everyday lives of gay men in the early to mid-1960s. The chapter looks at the personal and social contacts available to gay men in Britain, and at the opportunities open to them to meet and socialise with each other – including places for sexual ‘pick-ups’. It looks at the housing conditions, living spaces and geography of gay men, as well as the associated increase in gay visibility.
Chapter 1 looks at the lives of gay men in the early to mid-1950s through the eyes of contemporary observers, including Wolfenden Committee witnesses. The chapter explores some of the issues discussed by the committee, which investigated male homosexuality between 1954 and 1957. It seeks to understand what life was like for homosexual men at this time, and how they were viewed by outside observers and commentators.
Chapter 7 takes the story forward to 1971, looking at the failings of the 1967 Act and questioning the extent to which gay men’s lives improved. The chapter demonstrates that the Act further restricted gay men’s freedom and punished ‘illegal’ acts more zealously and harshly than before. It also examines the Act’s impact on gay men, evolving social attitudes towards homosexuality, further efforts at reform, and increasing violence and hostility towards gay men.
Odd Men Out is a social, cultural and political history of gay men living in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s. It covers the period from the circumstances leading up to the appointment of the Wolfenden Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution in 1954 to the emergence of the British Gay Liberation Front in the early 1970s. It looks at contemporary public, political and legal attitudes towards male homosexuality and gay men. It also focuses on the emergence of gay identities, the opening up and limitations of social spaces and contacts, the operation of the law, and the legal reform process up to and beyond the partial decriminalisation of adult male homosexuality in 1967. The book draws on a wealth of source material from archives, newspapers, magazines, memoirs, diaries, oral histories, interviews, television broadcasts, radio programmes, films and plays. It also includes interviews with social and political commentators, writers, directors, actors and others about their recollections and experiences during the period.
Chapter 6 examines the homosexual law reform process from 1960 to 1967 and the corresponding shift in public attitudes towards gay men. The chapter looks at the role of (mainly women) journalists in encouraging a more sympathetic attitude, and at the eventual gap between public opinion and politicians over the issue of law reform. It further traces the normalisation of gay men in the media and on radio and television.