This book examines the experiences of gay and bisexual men who lived in Scotland during an era when all homosexual acts were illegal, tracing the historical relationship between Scottish society, the state and its male homosexual population using a combination of oral history and Usually ships working days — Title is in stock with supplier internationally. This title is firm sale. Please select carefully as returns are not accepted.
State Regulation, Family Breakdown, and Lone Motherhood
Scotland decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting male adults in private in , 13 years after similar legislation in England and Wales. This begs the question: why was Scotland different? Queer Voices in Post-War Scotland charts the experiences of gay and bisexual men in Scotland who from within the shadows of criminality forged identities and relationships despite the apparent opprobrium of the state, religious institutions and wider society.
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Through the use of extensive archival research and oral histories contributed by gay and bisexual men this book charts the history of male homosexuality within Scottish society from the 19th century until decriminalization occurred in Jeff Meek is a social and cultural historian based at the University of Glasgow, UK, who has published on the impacts of World War One on Scottish society, and on the interactions between religion, the law and sexuality.
Subscribe now to be the first to hear about specials and upcoming releases. South Pacific. Title Author. Trade Paperback 1. Add to Basket Add to Wishlist. Some medical practitioners even took it upon themselves to attempt "treatments" aimed at limiting same-sex desire. Some sought help from psychiatrists, many of whom appear to have been ahead of contemporary opinion in post-war Scotland, offering supportive advice and encouraging homosexual men to accept their sexuality.
But not everyone in the profession was so enlightened. In a society still dominated by the two main churches, gay men struggled to accept their sexualities when powerful institutions condemned what they were.
Yet, despite the rhetoric forwarded by the Church of Scotland in Assemblies during the s, there was considerable ambivalence within the church. The church committee which had examined the findings of the Wolfenden Report was split, with the investigating sub-committee in favour of its recommendations, only to be overruled by the main committee. But, by the s the Church of Scotland was viewing homosexuality in a much more flexible manner, even if it still considered being gay a "handicap".
No condemnation, no rhetoric. Enabling romantic, sexual and social possibilities was not, in Simpson's view, the aim of the group, and in the early s, he ended the collaboration.
The History of Section 28
Having lost their meeting place, the group found an unlikely saviour in the Roman Catholic Church, which supplied premises and priests to speak at SMG meetings. Notable Catholic clergy such as Anthony Ross — future Rector of the University of Edinburgh — and Columba Ryan — Catholic chaplain to the University of Strathclyde — sought to build an inclusive relationship between religious orders and ordinary homosexuals, Catholic or not.
Ross was a pragmatist who was uncomfortable with restrictive doctrines, whether related to same-sex intimacies or pre-marital sex, and who encouraged a democratic approach to love and sexuality, which placed personal fulfilment and happiness above certain demands from religious texts. Without the support of the churches, and these individuals, the SMG would have struggled to develop during its early years, as "Walter", a founding member of the group, told me.
The churches, he said, "deserve a lot of credit for being the only official arm of society that facilitated reform in any way". Accusations were made that the police in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee were harassing gay men, and lacked discretion when investigating homophobic crimes. Complaints about this directed at chief constables received short shrift. They would expect their drinks to be on the bar, it was horrible, horrible.
There was this sense that they were looking down on you, you were the scum of the earth, but they still came in for their drink and caused that feeling of intimidation.
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The movements of persons of manifestly lewd disposition should always be closely watched as many and varied are the artifices employed by these persons to achieve their evil objects. Despite the SMG's tireless efforts to change attitudes, only a handful of the 24 men I interviewed had been aware of the organisation's existence, and feelings of isolation, of otherness, were persistent factors in their lives. In England, high-profile trials such as those involving Peter Wildeblood, Lord Montagu and Michael Pitt-Rivers in the s brought homosexuality into the open.
Here in Scotland, there were fewer platforms for discussion. Those who were lesbian, gay or bisexual tended to migrate south — including artists such as the two Roberts, Colquhoun and MacBryde, and the writer Fred Urquhart. Those who did remain, such as the poet Edwin Morgan, never felt comfortable enough to reveal their sexuality until late in their lives.
Coming Oot also highlights the invisibility of lesbians in Scotland, untouched by legal sanctions but subject to the same discourses of deviance. While gay men were an issue for the authorities, lesbians occupied a strange hinterland where their sexualities, their rights to pleasure, were either ignored or viewed with passive distaste.
The isolation many felt, combined with the need for discretion, had a significant impact upon their later lives, with some feeling unable to participate in the more confident LGBT communities of the s and s. I do feel quite resentful that I have been deprived of that. Yet in spite of the social opprobrium they faced, many LGB Scots continued to forge careers and relationships, explore their sexuality and seek fulfilling relationships. In doing so, with some courage, they also helped to change attitudes. While most of the LGB men and women I interviewed spoke of lost youth, of wasted years filled with fear and isolation, they also spoke of a growing sense of solidarity, unimaginable during the s and s, but within grasp by the mid s.
It was like another family. In the late s, "Ed", who had just found out he was HIV-positive, wrote to his mother to tell her that he was gay, and to reveal his diagnosis.
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Coming Oot is an important piece of broadcasting, examining the mostly unknown gay history of Scotland, charting the law reform movement and examining just why the country had to wait until for homosexual law reform. This led to a mystifying silence around LGBT rights; even the law seemed engineered to silence the "queer". So, unlike in England where change was institutionally inspired, the drive for law reform here came from LGBT citizens themselves, tired of the silences, weary of the prejudices, keen to invoke a lost radical tradition and reshape the tired, dogmatic stereotype of traditional values.
We now live in a society where young LGBT Scots can have honest relationships with their peers and not feel they have to hide a hugely important part of themselves away as though it were shameful. Yet, it is important to appreciate how we have got here, and that for many older LGBT Scots the path to an enlightened Scotland was filled with many obstacles.
Jeffrey Meek is a social and cultural historian based at the University of Glasgow. He acted as historical consultant for Coming Oot!
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