Library Dissertation Showcase

A study of queer space in British cities, and its impact on the lives of gay men in the 1970s and 1980s

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2019

In this dissertation I set out to show that despite the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, being a gay man in the eighties presented a number of complexities when experiencing same-sex desire. In spite of the arrival of the AIDS epidemic in the early eighties, the gay community reconfigured their efforts as a collective unit to challenge the prejudice towards gay men in British society. Whilst the complex experience of homosexuality in this period has often been neglected by historians, the study highlights a great number of similarities when experiencing same-sex desire in the interwar period. Most notably in how the establishment sought to challenge gay men in the public sphere, condemning the gay lifestyle for the ‘moral’ decline of the previous years and the absolute need for state intervention. With the analysis of right-wing newspaper articles and reports produced by gay men, the study highlights how the gay experience dramatically varied on a number of factors. This was dependent on an individual’s geographic area, access to gay spaces and their experience with the police, as individual officers had the ability to interpret the law to suit their agenda when policing gay men. By ordering the chapters chronologically and thematically analysing the material, it enables the study to document distinct similarities with the gay experience in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Whilst equally allowing the study to note how gay activists in the eighties, despite homosexuality being decriminalised, were responding to broader historical concerns for gay rights.

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