Blotting paper will never be the same again



Matt Houlbrook | LGBT History UK | 14313

In his book “Queer London”, writer Matt Houlbrook relates the story of “Cyril”, which he gleaned from reading dusty court files. Cyril was a young gay man in London in the early 1930s, during the time when male homosexuality was completely illegal in Britain. Cyril was a regular attendee of a basement club in central London. One evening, there was a raid. Cyril found that some of the men he had been talking to were in fact plain clothes policemen. Cyril was arrested and taken to Bow Street Police Station.

Cyril was subject to the humiliating ritual of having his cheeks rubbed with blotting paper for evidence of make-up (he wore lipstick and rouge, which was the fashion of the time). He was imprisoned pending trial then brought to trial at the Old Bailey for aiding and abetting in keeping a disorderly house. Cyril was let off.



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