The making of a queer marketplace in pre-decriminalisation Britain
In 1966, David McGillivray contacted the Films and Filming editor Peter Baker asking for the opportunity to write for the magazine. Long before homosexual activity between consenting men was partially decriminalised in Britain in 1967, Films and Filming included articles and images, erotically charged commercial advertisements and same-sex contact ads that established its queer leanings. In response to Philip Dosse's financial straits, editorial decisions were consciously based in part on accessing a potential homosexual market. Dosse recognised that a nascent market of culturally literate and cosmopolitan queer men with disposable incomes was appearing in Britain and abroad. The sociologist and historian Jeffrey Weeks has written, in fact, that 'gay' was only widely adopted in Britain with the organisation of the Gay Liberation Front in 1970. Films and Filming editors and readers appear to have known and exploited the word's ambiguities.
This chapter concerns with the various professional practices through which that world was rendered increasingly legible between 1945 and 1968. It argues that the process of uncovering, dissecting and mapping the social world of the male homosexual and his relations with the broader society took place relatively late in Britain. The male homosexual in Britain had a relatively invisible social presence prior to 1945 is also to say much about the relative invisibility of the social sciences in Britain before the Second World War. The aftermath of the war, the human sciences were called upon to deal with a number of so-called 'social problems', the declining birth-rate, divorce, anti-Semitism, race relations, juvenile delinquency and homosexuality. Gerrit Theodore Kempe's article marked something of a watershed in writing published in Britain about homosexuality.
The end of the twentieth century research on postwar British lesbian life and culture has commonly focused on themes such as socialising and the creation of networks, especially the lesbian bar scene and lesbian social organisations. This chapter aims to open a small window on to the obscured area of postwar lesbian domesticity. It draws a distinction between what can usefully be termed hetero-domesticity and homo-domesticity. Analysis of case studies from across the range of experience reveals the impact of available models of hetero-domesticity on the ways in which narrators envisioned and created domestic spaces to foster and live out lesbian relationships. Penelope and Nina speak evocatively about the restrictiveness they imagined would come with hetero-domesticity. In both Laura's and Mira's cases former hetero-domesticity poses a threat to the continuity of their narrative trajectories and their presentation of themselves as out and 'composed' lesbian women.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book begins with a topic of concern to all the authors: the effective interrogation of archival sources in pursuit of British queer history. It demonstrates a fruitful cross-fertilisation of ideas between queer history and art history. The book describes a meticulous reading of Katherine Everett's life-story, Bricks and Flowers. It presents dandyish world of the gossip columnist in British national newspapers and magazines between 1910 and the Second World War. The book provides one of the most significant examples of the 'altericist reaction' fomented by the new British queer history. It highlights the international dimension of what to date has been told as a classic British tale of homosexual law reform, but also illuminates the choices made and constraints imposed at the national level.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on women and the First World War and explores the opportunities and possibilities that the Weimar Republic offered women. For many, during the Republic and subsequently, the 'new woman' was a potent symbol of both Weimar's modernity and its crisis. The book aims to build upon the existing scholarship to produce a comprehensive survey of women in the economy, politics and society of the Weimar Republic. It also explores to what extent the Weimar Republic was 'an open space of multiple developmental opportunities' for women. The book considers the changes in women's roles, status and behaviour during the Republic and how these impacted on the gender order. It describes the diversity and multiplicity of women's experiences in Weimar Germany.
The homophile internationalism of Britain’s Homosexual Law Reform Society
This chapter explores a British variant on homophile internationalism before and immediately after the 1967 Sexual Offences Act by mapping Antony Grey's cross-border connections while noting strain against transnational solidarity. In charge of Homosexual Law Reform Society (HLRS) day-to-day operation, Grey authored and received much of the correspondence, although his work more generally depended on HLRS's Executive Committee, office staff, affiliated professionals, honorary trustees and volunteers. While Grey forwarded lists of those he wanted to meet and contemplated a week's extension to take in Washington, DC, Dorr Legg continued to emphasise homophile divisions that Grey hoped could be overcome. According to Legg's self-serving account, trouble started when the campaigner Barbara Gittings attempted to record Grey's address to the group, prompting Legg to insist that ONE's financial investment gave it sole rights to publish Grey's speeches.
Henry Scott Tuke's career as an artist was deeply committed to the visual proliferation of youths, clad or unclad. The homoeroticism of Henry Scott Tuke's naturalism can be understood as part of his effort to contemporise what was considered to be a lost Hellenic tradition of 'man-manly love'. Paintings of fishermen and other workers were central to Tuke's efforts to bring Greek homoeroticism to his modern time. Tuke's yearning injects a subtle form of homoerotic fantasy into what is apparently a dramatic narrative of working-class men in a storm. Violating the picture plane, Tuke challenges the boundary of the pictorial illusion separated from the viewer's reality. Tuke's naturalistic portrayal of Cornish working-class lads and their lives, with its 'sexless' 'view of labour', is animated by this complex homoerotic desire.
There is something of a paradox in the discussion of sex between men in Britain in the nineteenth century. The John Grossett Muirhead and Richard Archdall prosecutions are the two most prominent trials related to sex between men in the 1820s. The association between Frederick Withers and Archdall had begun in July of that year when Archdall 'had requested a servant fitting Withers's description' from the National Guardian Institution. The Vere Street incident initially led to The Times paying increased attention to a wide range of prosecutions involving sex between men. The denial of homosexual blackmail as the reason for Viscount Castlereagh's suicide has most often been coupled with a dismissal of the idea that Castlereagh had homosexual desires. For radicals, Castlereagh was one of the most hated political figures of the day owing to his longstanding opposition to parliamentary reform.
Society gossip, homosexuality and the logic of revelation in the interwar popular press
This chapter aims to expose the queer implications of celebrity gossip writing. Celebrity gossip writing began as an Edwardian dandy's occupation. The British popular press gossip was a mass-media version of the arch dandy circulating in aristocratic and bohemian circles, a standard figure in British society since the days of Beau Brummell. Some of the gossip writers who would later look for work on Fleet Street sharpened their teeth writing for the Oxford aesthete journal Isis. Gossip writers, like candid photographers whose skill at capturing embarrassing behaviour on camera was called upon extensively in the early and mid-1930s, provided testimonial evidence of the less than savoury aspects of celebrity life. Godfrey Winn faced the discrimination from some of the more bigoted newspapermen that most homosexual journalists in Britain faced, but that seemed to have no negative effect on his success as a gossip writer.
This chapter argues the importance of thinking queer in our practice as historians. Thinking queer provides a point of engagement with the burgeoning historiography on male same-sex relations that Chris Waters terms the 'New British Queer History'. Thinking queer enables a move beyond the thematic constraints of sexuality studies. The chapter explores the capacity of a queer historical practice to elucidate social and cultural formations that engage issues of sex and sexuality. In the interwar worlds class and status were increasingly situated in deceptive practices commonly associated with the fleeting traces of same-sex desire. The chapter also explores how sexual and social lives were apprehended and understood in interwar Britain. Portrayed as a ruthless adventuress, Josephine O'Dare and Sydney Fox existed within a common analytic frame overdetermined by the intersections of sex and social mobilities.