Gay Pride isn’t what it was


Participants dressed as dogs crawl on leads during the annual Pride London parade

Participants dressed as dogs crawl on leads during the annual Pride London parade on June 29, 2013 | Luke MacGregor/Reuters | 14222

Twenty-five years ago, Pride was so small it struggled to fill half of Kennington Park and a disco tent, writes Ivan Massow.

“A few of us would get together and walk from Embankment Tube station, over a bridge, to the only park in south London that would have us. A route and a park where we’d cause least objection to the slightly disingenuous group of authorities from whom we needed permission. Hyde Park was totally out of the question. … We weren’t many; most were too frightened to be seen on the march in case they were spotted by their folks on a slightly pitying Six O’Clock News.”



Lytton Strachey



Lytton Strachey | Daily Telegraph | 14225

Lytton Strachey was born on 1 March 1880 and died on 21 January 1932 of stomach cancer (which had not been diagnosed). His mother was a Suffragette.

Openly gay, he was one of the founders of the Bloomsbury Group. He studied at Liverpool and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was at Cambridge with Keynes. Strachey regarded Keynes, a fellow homosexual, as a close friend, although they often chased after the same men. He believed in a complete freedom and integrity of the private life, unfettered by conventional prejudices. The implications of this were shocking enough, but it was expressed in a camp, frivolous style which was unfashionable in an age when gay sex was illegal.


Smithsonian, Washington DC | 14226

From 1904 to 1914 he wrote book and drama reviews in The Spectator magazine. On the onset of World War I he tried to register as a conscientious objector, but was granted exemption from military service on health grounds.

In 2005 publication of Strachey’s letters revealed he had a sado-masochistic relationship with his last lover, Roger Senhouse, who became a book publisher.

Daily Telegraph, 14 Mar 2005: Bloomsbury’s Final Secret
The Independent, 28 Aug 1994: For consenting adults: ‘Lytton Strachey: The New Biography





Right to Live | | 14227

COC Nederland is a Dutch organization for LGBT men and women which was founded in 1946, and it is understood to be the longest established continuing gay organisation in the world. It was founded in Amsterdam on 7 December 1946 under its original name of “Shakespeareclub”, then in 1949 the organisation was renamed Cultuur en Ontspanningscentrum (Center for Culture and Leisure).

Its history goes back to before the second world war, however. The founders were a number of gay men who were active in producing a magazine called “Levensrecht” (Right To Live), which was founded a few months before the German invasion in 1940. The first edition of the magazine was published in March 1940 (pictured). The magazine re-appeared after the war and continued until 1947. when they could not get a permit for the paper to print it on. The magazine was written by Jaap van Leeuwen under the pseudonym Arent Santhorst and Niek Engelschman under the pseudonym Bob Angelo. The magazine was backed by Han Diekmann.

From its beginning in 1946 until 1962, the chairman was Niek Engelschman. In 1962 Benno Premsela took over and in 1964 the organisation “came out” by changing its name to “Nederlandse Vereniging voor Homofielen COC” (Dutch Association for Homophiles COC).

One of COC’s first objectives was to get article 248-bis in the Wetboek van Strafrecht (the main code for Dutch criminal law) revoked. This 1911 law made sexual contact with someone of the same sex between 16 and 21 years old punishable by up to one year imprisonment. For heterosexuals, the age of consent was 16. Article 248-bis was revoked in 1971.

COC is one of the few LGBT organisations that has a special consultative status with the United Nations.


The COC emblem | COC | 14228

Undated: Liberation for Everyone – Gays and Lesbians in (Holland in) war and resistance

English language Home page: COC


The Tay Bush Inn Raid, San Francisco, 1961



The site of the raid | Michael Macor, The San Francisco Chronicle | 14229

On Sept. 14, 1961 242 patrons, nearly all of them men, were packed into the Tay-Bush Inn at the Corner of Taylor and Bush in San Francisco. The photo shows the scene today – a block of apartments occupies the block where the Inn was. Gary Kamiya tells SF Gate what happened on that night.

“The Tay-Bush was a one-room cafe that drew night owls who danced to its jukebox until dawn. Some walked up the hill from the theater district after the shows let out.

At 3:15 that September morning, three undercover police officers in the bar gave a prearranged signal, the jukebox went silent, a loudspeaker outside blared and uniformed cops barged in. They began herding the patrons onto the sidewalk and arresting them.

The headline on The Chronicle’s story the next day read, “Big Sex Raid – Cops Arrest 103.” The secondary headline said, “139 Get Away.” (Police later insisted only five or so had escaped.)

The story called the raid “the biggest action of its kind in the history of the department.” Many of the arrestees were students, it said. “Others called themselves clerks, laborers, hairdressers; one said he was a psychologist. Police said the men were dancing together and kissing.”

The raid “was reminiscent of the old speakeasy days of Prohibition,” The Chronicle wrote. “Three paddy wagons shuttled back and forth between the inn and the city prison – seven loads in all – and apartment house dwellers watched from their windows.”

Most of the patrons were booked as “visitors to a disorderly house.” The bar’s owner, 27-year-old Robert Johnson, was booked on four counts, including “lewd and indecent acts” and “keeping a disorderly house.”

Asked by a reporter if any “deviates” had been at his club that night, Johnson said, “Yes, of course. But we have a lot of show people and others – they like the New York atmosphere – you know, brick walls.” ”

Despite having the names of the arrested printed in the papers, charges against all but two of those arrested were dropped. The raid – years before Stonewall – raised a political consciousness in the gay community. The Mattachine Society seized on the incident to push for civil rights.

The Tay-Bush raid made the civil rights of gays and lesbians a legitimate subject for debate, and marked the beginning of the end of San Francisco’s crackdown on gay bars. The SFPD’s final attempt to repress gays took place on New Year’s Day 1965, when police raided an advocacy group’s masquerade ball at California Hall on Polk Street. Even John Shelley, the mayor, condemned the police action. San Francisco was now Gay.


Ireland notes 20 years of legalisation

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The 1993 Pride parade on O’Connell Street, Dublin | Matt Kavanagh/Irish Times | 14230

Two decades ago, Irish President Mary Robinson signed a law decriminalising homosexuality. Life for gay people in Ireland has changed since.

When University College Cork refused to recognise its students’ first Gay Soc, in the late 1970s, the group’s members responded by building a raft with a triangular pink sail and taking part in the annual boat race through the city as part of the university’s rag week.

In May 1981 over 200 gay men and women attended Ireland’s first national gay conference at Connolly Hall, organised by the Gay Collective, “Gays in the ’80s: Which Way Forward?” The conference was ignored by the Irish media.

In the autumn of 1983 Paul, a gay man who had Aids and was in the last weeks of his life, asked the chaplain of the Catholic-run Dublin hospital in which he was a patient, to hear his confession. The priest explained that, because homosexuality was against the laws of church and state, he could not absolve the man unless he promised never again to contemplate having sex with another man. Paul died shortly afterwards. His death wasn’t recorded as related to Aids, records Ger Philpott in the Irish Times.

Ger recalls the Dubin gay scene of the pre-legalisation era.

“In 1980s Dublin the Bailey, on Duke Street, was a trendy pub to go to on a Saturday lunchtime. The Oak, on Dame Street, was also a happening place. The best-known gay bar was Rice’s, on St Stephen’s Green. Nearby, “the Triangle”, between Peter’s Pub, Bartley Dunnes and the South William, was an oasis of tolerance. Many would head to the Hirschfeld Centre, on Fownes Street, afterwards to dance and, if they were lucky, to score. Disco reigned, and a mirrored alcove was the unofficial territory of a cohort of handsome young men who had been to the US and brought back with them music and a lifestyle that were previously alien. They imbued Dublin with a joie de vivre and gave us a taste of what was possible. Most of those fine young men have died since then.

…I can’t help thinking of how my departed friends, people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and are no longer with us, would make sense of the Dublin and the Ireland of 2013. I imagine there’d be some dancing involved.”

Ger Philpott is a writer, director and journalist, and former director of Aidswise.


What’s gay about the British Museum



The Warre Cup | Trustees of the British Museum | 14231

The British Museum has launched a guide focusing on elements of homosexuality to be found in its collection.

“Museums have always been very important spaces for people to consider their own sexual identity,” explained the Museum’s Richard Parkinson, who is the curator in the ancient Egypt department. “Most museums have collections of Greek and Roman statues which show men looking very naked, so for men who desired other men it was one of the few spaces where they could look at naked male bodies in a culturally respectable sort of way.”

The picture shows The Warren cup, a Roman wine cup decorated with scenes of men making love, said to have been found near Jerusalem, owned in the early 20th century by the American art collector Edward Perry Warren, who kept it at his home in Lewes, Sussex, and called it the “holy grail”. Bought for £1.8m by the British Museum in 1999, its most expensive single purchase.

The Guardian notes that the Museum also has a “Collection of donated gay rights badges, including one by the cartoonist Kate Charlesworth insisting, “no, it simply isn’t true that being a lesbian means you have to keep a cat”.”


Charlie Self and Vincent Hanley

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Charlie Self | Public domain | 14232

Charles (Charlie) Self, a well-known figure in the Irish gay community, was murdered in his flat in Dublin, Ireland in 1982. Nobody was ever charged with his killing. His former friend and house mate Vincent Hanley was a video and radio disc jockey who died in 1987.

Charlie Self was a 33-year-old set designer with RTE, the Irish state broadcaster, who was brutally murdered on January 21, 1982.

Self was the victim of a vicious knife attack. He was stabbed at least 14 times in the chest and the blade penetrated right through his back six times. A ligature was tied round the neck after this wound had been inflicted. Self’s living room had been ransacked but there was no evidence of a robbery. The killer left through a window, leaving footprints in the blood on the carpet. People living nearby did not notice anything unusual that could help the investigation. Two fingerprints at the house in Annesley Mews, Monkstown were never matched.

Irish Police questioned around 1,500 people during the investigation and narrowed the suspects down to two young men, both homosexual prostitutes. One had an alibi; the other could not be identified by a witness who had seen the set designer with a young man at a late-opening café on the night of the murder. A main problem facing the detectives was that despite their best efforts there was a lack of co-operation from the largely underground gay community in Dublin, at the time homosexuality itself and sex between even consenting adult males were crimes.

On the night he was murdered, Self had been cruising around Dublin city centre, visiting a number of gay haunts. He left the city in a taxi in the company of a young man. An RTE colleague who was sharing the house, who had taken the room vacated by Vincent Hanley, found his body the next morning. He said he was disturbed at around 2.30am by a young man with dark hair who came into his room and said: “sorry, wrong room” or words to that effect, before leaving. He told Police it was not unusual for Mr Self to bring young men back to the house and he didn’t feel concerned.

Self, who was born in England but brought up in Scotland, worked for the BBC before joining RTE as a set designer seven years before his death.


Vincent Hanley | RTÉ/Today in Irish History | 14233

Vincent Hanley was born on 2 April 1954 and died in Dublin on 18 April 1987. He was a pioneering Irish radio DJ and television presenter, who worked mainly for Radio Telefís Éireann and was the first Irish celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness – congenital cerebral toxoplasmosis, described as an “eye disorder”, which left him blind in one eye.