Terry’s story of the anti-gay witch hunt

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Now aged 89, Terry (not his real name) was a young man when he was arrested in central London following an admission from his then boyfriend that the pair were in a consensual, private – but under the law of the time, criminal – sexual relationship. Terry told The Independent his story.

“It was by far the most terrifying experience of my life. The police came to my flat in the early morning. I think they were hoping to find me and my boyfriend in bed together but he happened to be out of town that week. He was arrested later.

“They turned the place upside down and I remember one of the constables saying to his colleague that they’d got ‘another effing queer’. I was given a suspended sentence on the basis of my boyfriend’s statement. They were scary times. A real witch hunt was going on. Even now it’s pretty hard to talk about it – I told no one for years and lots of people still don’t know.”

The Independent reminds us that the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, which introduced the notorious Section 11 offence of two men committing “gross indecency”, was used to prosecute Oscar Wilde in 1895. The bulk of prosecutions took place after the 1930s and sharply accelerated during the post-war period as homosexuals became increasingly equated by the Establishment with depravity and betrayal.

Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, who was made Home Secretary in 1951, instructed the forces of law and order to conduct a “new drive against male vice” that would “rid England of this plague”.

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Turing pardoned

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Alan Turing, age 16, in 1928, from his school photograph | 14128

Computer pioneer and second world war code breaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon which addresses his 1952 conviction for gross indencency, an offence at the time, for which he was punished by being chemically castrated. The pardon was granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling, and follows a year long campaign to clear his name, and a petition which was signed by more than 37,000 people.

A genius, Turing’s work had a huge impact on Allied efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. He also contributed some more fundamental work on code breaking that was only released to public scrutiny in April 2012.

“Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man,” said Justice Minister Chris Grayling.

The pardon takes effect today, Christmas Eve 2013.

A pardon is only normally granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy when the person is innocent of the offence and where a request has been made by someone with a vested interest such as a family member. Dr. Turing’s pardon is historic because neither of those conditions has been met.

CNN

BBC

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Nicky Crane, the far right gay skinhead

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A boy stands in front of a poster featuring Nicky Crane. Photo: Gavin Watson | 14129

The BBC profile the life of former far right neo-Nazi, skinhead icon and gay man Nicky Crane. Nicola Vincenzo Crane was born on 21 May 1958 and died on 7 December 1993. He served a number of prison sentences for acts of considerable street violence.

Crane chose his politics before he accepted his sexuality.

Peter Tatchell recalls a row erupting after it emerged Crane had been allowed to steward a gay rights march. The organisers had not been aware who Crane was or what his political affiliations were.

In a complex and lengthy article it emerges that Crane

…appeared in a series of skinhead-themed amateur gay porn videos.

The article also traces much of the history of the far right movements of the 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s.

The 1980s were particularly dangerous for young gay men in the UK, at the height of Thatcherism and her politics; many young gay men adopted the skinhead style and image to protect themselves.

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Note. This is the 250th article on Gay History. Thanks to everyone for their continued support and assistance.

Missouri Museum gets gay collection

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Huy Mach | 14130

The Missouri History Museum is hoping to acquire a private collection of gay memorabilia and artifacts from the last 40 years, for its collection and to begin its gay collection.

The private collection of Steven Brawley is being made available. Mr Brawley started collecting Drag queen dresses and wigs, leather vests, handwritten protest signs, Pride Parade T-shirts, and books.

“Sometimes things are happening right before our very eyes,” said museum curator Sharon Smith.

Mr Brawley said finding a home for three-dimensional artifacts is more difficult. “What worries me is this stuff sitting down here,” he said recently, nodding to the piles in his basement. “I want to keep it safe.”

He started about seven years ago, when he and other project contributors began to watch gay community leaders age and die without plans for their memorabilia. Families threw away boxes and boxes of history, either ignorant of their importance or embarrassed by what they saw.

This September, the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History included a session on the topic: “Entering the Mainstream, Interpreting GLBT History.”

There are opponents who do not like tax payers’ money being spent on gay collections. “I don’t think it’s a good use of tax money at all,” said Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger, a Republican from Lake Saint Louis, who recently issued a news release criticizing tax benefits for gay couples.

Mr Brawley’s basement now holds several thousand little pieces of history. He has a handwritten poster from teacher Rodney Wilson’s 1994 Mehlville classroom, urging in multicolored marker that parents support their gay children. Wilson came out to his class, and went on to start the national LGBT History Month. A black bejeweled dress is tucked in another corner, wrapped in plastic. A local drag queen who called himself Lady Charles wore it on stage in the 1970s, at a time when the city’s “masquerading laws” made cross-dressing illegal and drew periodic police raids, and motorcycle vests remind of days when St. Louis had three gay men’s riding clubs. One of the vests, in leather, has a patch identifying its owner as a Show-Me Bear, St. Louis’s club for bears.

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