A Great Unrecorded History: GTF's LGBT Super Thread

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A Great Unrecorded History: GTF's LGBT Super Thread

Unread postby scottnesss » 27th February, 2018, 4:12 pm


When I am with him, smoking or talking quietly ahead, or whatever it may be, I see, beyond my own happiness and intimacy, occasional glimpses of the happiness of 1000s of others whose names I shall never hear, and know that there is a great unrecorded history. - E. M. Forster (1879-1970), on his Egyptian lover, Mohammed el-Adl.

I first stumbled across this quote when I was 17 and conducting research for an English dissertation I was writing through the lens of Queer Theory on the wonderfully gothic novels of Daphne du Maurier. It was this idea of the "great unrecorded history" that stirred in me a desire to study, research and to learn as much as I could about LGBTQ history and culture. However, life got in my way, and this hobby of mine fell to the wayside, and E. M. Forster's words fell into distant memory; that was until a few weeks ago. While on the Discord one evening, a discussion began regarding one of the best memes of 2017; "What is Gay Culture?"

Our discussion quickly expanded, dividing into discussions on not only Gay Culture and aspects of it, such as The Scene, Gay Spaces and Drag culture, but on to less quantifiable subjects, such as wider LGBTQ history, the history behind modern Gay Culture, the origin of LGBTQ slang, words and concepts. The list goes on. While JonathanT88, Quinn and myself tried our best to answer the questions raised, it became evident that the Discord was not the appropriate medium upon which to answer the questions being asked. After discussing the matter with JonathanT88, I proposed to start a series of user written essays on the very topics covered in our Discord discussion. The aim of these essays is to educate, inform, explain and connect the GTF community with the uniting aspects of Our Gay World that many may feel they either do not understand, do not belong to, take for granted or are simply unaware of.

It was the words of George that highlighted to me the need to start such an endeavour when he stated that he felt ignorant of the past, and that he didn't fully understand how the history of the LGBTQ community has shaped the LGBTQ community of today. Now, I do not claim to be an expert on any aspect of LGBTQ history and Gay Culture and my knowledge is only the sum of my own interest and study, and the "education" I received as a Chicken from the older LGBTQ community. As such, I invite any GTFer to challenge, question and write their own essay on any of the topics I shall cover, or indeed those that you may feel I ignored, forgot, or didn't expand upon. It is important for me to note however, that in the interest of ensuring this is as accessible to as many users as possible, I shall try to keep the "academic" aspects of writing to a minimum.

If you have any questions or queries you would like me to write about or answer, please submit them here: Inbox

Therefore, with the introductions to this thread concluded, please allow this Fruit to take you on a Troll, to help you Varda, through the many shades of our colourful, Fantabulosa and down right Bold LGBTQ history.


In this first post, I shall cover four aspects of LGBTQ history, culture and community that I think are some of the most interesting or important for young LGBTQ people to learn about. None of the sections will be "definitive" thesis on the aspects, but they shall act as an introduction to the topics that you can either use to build upon yourself, or to just learn a little.

Chapter 1: A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.

You can become anything and do anything, right here, right now. It won’t be questioned. I came. I saw. I conquered. That’s a ball. - Pepper LaBeija.

It is one of the great unknown facts of European LGBTQ History that the first Nation State to decriminalise homosexual activities was France, in 1791. The decriminalisation of homosexuality in Revolutionary France is one of the most important moments in the global perceptions, language and terminology regarding homosexuality, as the city that developed in the 18th and 19th centuries became one of the first LGBTQ Capitals of the world, rivalling interwar Berlin for the access to hedonism, pleasure and "sin". This period marked a high point in both the general and queer cultural life of Paris. An era of booming economic expansion, the so-called belle époque saw Paris emerge as a global centre of a new modernity; celebrated for its technological and cultural innovations and characterised by a hedonistic spirit of social and erotic bohemianism. In its newfound status as the pleasure-capital of the Western world, Paris became a thriving centre for same-sex sexual cultures. Though still relatively underground, a network of early Gay Spaces emerged, catering to homosexual men and women throughout Paris, particularly around the areas of Montmartre and Les Halles. Lesbianism experienced a particular surge of visibility during this period, with some attributing this to the expansion of first wave Feminism and the increasing social freedoms women were coming to enjoy. This period of rapidly changing cultural and social norms saw the Paris of the belle époque become what Catherine van Casselear called "the undisputed capital of world lesbianism." However, as utopian as this sounds, it wasn't always plain sailing. As always, Conservative politicians and commentators of the time were vocal in their condemnation of Paris as the "new Babylon," and they frequently singled out the city's queer cultures as damning signs of its social corruption. It is in this period of the history of Paris that the English term, "Gay Paree", meaning "Joyful Paris" came into being; With the liberal expressionism of Paris being seen as a somewhere of pleasures. Only in recent decades has this period of Paris's LGBTQ history come forward to stake its claim upon the phrase. However, as is common throughout history, this liberal and rather tolerant society was not to last.

The Nazi occupation of France and the installation of the Vichy regime brought an end to such freedoms. Queer venues closed and, for the first time in 150 years, homosexuality was made a criminal offense under French law, punishable with imprisonment or worse. While it is difficult to gauge how many Parisian homosexuals were imprisoned during this period, as it is for all LGBTQ victims of Nazi persecution across all of continental Europe, the survivor accounts, such as those written by Pierre Seel, do highlight the horrors faced by the often forgotten LGBTQ victims. With the end of World War II, life for queer Parisians certainly improved, but it never quite recovered to the heydays of the 19th century. The conservative nature of Cold War culture saw an increase in homophobia across not only France, but most of the Western World, with homosexuality being seen as an insidious threat to national security and social stability. This aspect of persecution remained under the post-war, right-wing government of Charles de Gaulle, which not only maintained the Vichy criminalization of homosexuality, but it also increased its range and penalties.

Motivated by the resurgence of leftist politics that gripped France in the late 1960s, culminating in "les événements," the student-led riots of May 1968, gay liberation groups such as FHAR (the Homosexual Front for Revolutionary Action) emerged throughout Paris in the 1960s and 1970s. Their efforts mirrored those of the Minorities Research Group, the Campaign For Homosexual Equality and the Gay Liberation Front of 1960s and 1970s Britain, to campaign for the eventual repeal of all anti-homosexual laws and the cultivation of a more permissive political and social attitude toward queer sexualities. By 1979, an equal rights organisation by the name of CUARH had been formed, and can arguably be considered one of the most influential LGBTQ rights groups in French history. Their efforts resulted in the largest demonstration for equalising the age of consent for homosexuals in French history. The demonstration took place on April 4th 1981; the result was a promise, by president François Mitterrand, to do so the following year. CUARH led the first Pride parade in French history that year, 1982.

Now, many of you may be wondering why this crash course in French and Parisian Gay history is an important starting place for this essay. The answer is context. With this very rough understanding of the turbulent history of the City of Love, the deeper meaning behind the title of our next foray into modern LGBTQ culture, history and language, can be understood. In 1991, a relatively unknown documentary maker by the name of Jennie Livingston released one of the most influential, controversial and arguably, inspiring documentaries ever made on "LGBTQ Culture". Titled, Paris is Burning, Livingston opened the worlds eyes to the Ball scene of 1990s New York. The title is supposed to highlight the promise, joy, and sadness found within the documentary, evoking images of the grand balls of Bourbon France and the liberal expressionism of 18th and 19th century Paris, while implying that this utopia is anything but. Now, to break up the exercise in block text that this essay has become, I suggest you take a couple of hours out of your day, grab yourself some popcorn and settle down, because the Tea is gonna flow hunty, the shade is going to be thrown, and you will be read for FILTH! I proudly present to you all, for your education and enjoyment, Paris is Burning :

The reason that I chose to start this essay with this landmark documentary is that so much of the language we use in the Gay Community can trace its roots back to this period and scene. Shade. Tea. Vogue. Sashay. Femme. Butch. Realness. House. Sister. Family. The influence of this aspect of LGBTQ Culture is often understated, but even today, this documentary is referenced in some of the most popular contemporary cultural phenomena; RuPaul's Drag Race for one, and any number of Pop songs you can imagine (Looking at you Madonna). Without knowing it, most of the LGBTQ youth of today are in fact referencing and using a language that grew out of a sub-culture that was created to allow LGBTQ people of all ages, races and classes, to express themselves in a safe and loving environment, often when the world stood against them. As the title of this section mentions, a simple Troll through Paris, really can help you Varda the things that really matter in life; Being yourself, supporting each other, and remembering those who fought for the rights we all enjoy today.

Chapter 2: Oh varda that bona chicken, the one with the lovely dark riah.

Translation: Oh take a look at that handsome young man, the one with the lovely dark hair

Come on, vogue
Let your body move to the music (move to the music)
Hey, hey, hey
Come on, vogue
Let your body go with the flow (go with the flow)
You know you can do it.
Vogue 1990 - Madonna

As we have seen, many aspects of Gay Culture, including the language of the 1980s and 1990s Ball scene, have made their way into mainstream culture, occasionally losing their LGBTQ roots along the way. However, there is an older, even more obscure language which has become a topic of academic study within the realms of the English Language. In pre-1970s Britain, as it was in many countries across the world, being gay was something you kept hidden. So, if you want to express your homosexuality to someone you suspect might also be of the homosexual persuasion, how do you word it without endangering yourself? Invent a language obviously!

In a similar fashion to the "handkerchief code", the underground Gay community in urban Britain developed a slang language, now known as Polari. This language was a melting pot of various "low" forms of slang; some dating back to the 18th century and the "Mollie House" culture of that age, other words used dated as far back as Elizabethan times. Some of the adopted worse came from the slang of the Merchant Navy, or from 'exotic' languages such as Yiddish. The selection of the words chosen to populate this underground slang were taken from around the world and were designed to confuse outsiders, express your homosexuality, and say what you thought without fear of persecution.

Contemporary accounts from those who used Polari in their daily lives have also provided hints as to the origin of the age old stereotype of homosexuality in the Navy, and Gays finding work at sea. One such account can be found on the Liverpool Museums website, but to save you all the effort of googling, I've provided a transcript of the account below:

"Polari is, it’s a mixture of, it’s like a gay language but it’s a mixture of all sorts of things like Italian, gypsy, Jewish, and sort of London all mixed together and gay people sort of adopted it for themselves like a secret language so they could talk to each other in front of straight people so they wouldn’t know what was being said about them or about the situation, you know because you could say ‘oh varda the bona eek on the omi’ and it meant have a look at the nice face on that chap over there, and he wouldn’t know what on earth you were talking about or you might get a wallop, that’s how it started and when I went to sea I knew very little about it and I was, you know intrigued and couldn’t wait to learn it all, and I learnt very quickly and I used it all the time, and I still do actually (laughs) much to the amusement of some of my family and friends, but even they seem to learn it eventually because they ask you ‘what was that you’ve just said’ and they pick it up and they enjoy it for some reason, I don’t know why, people seem to enjoy Polari immensely. The gay people used to talk, gay boys used to talk to each other in gay Polari so people wouldn’t know all they were saying, sometimes in front of the passengers you could just say ‘oh cod palone’, that lady passenger there is not very nice, but we used to say ‘what a cod palone’ and she wouldn’t know what you meant but the old co-worker would, you know. It took me, I don’t know, a few months I suppose to learn it but people do for some reason pick it up very quickly because a friend of ours who was a sea with us, she’s had two little girls, twins, and she uses Polari all the time and the babies are picking it up as well can you believe, her twin girls (laughs). About that time ‘Round the Horne’ came on the radio with Kenneth Williams and ‘my name’s Sandy and this is my friend Julian’ and they used the Polari all the time on the radio so an awful lot of people picked it up but, so it didn’t become important as a secret language any more but people still used it, I did, because people liked it and enjoyed it and even now, I’ve left the sea for 15 years, I still get to talk to people and we still talk in Polari, even straight people, I have a neighbour lives near me, he was at sea with me and he loved listening to all the Polari and he learnt it all and joined in and he would say at the table ‘oh look at the cod eek on that palone’, and even now if he sees me in the street he’ll say to me ‘oh hello Michael bona to varda your dolly old eek’ and then you know he has a good old laugh about it because sometimes your days at sea were so good in those days, and so much fun, and I think there’s a little bit of rose tinted memories as well, that when you use the Polari it brings back all those wonderful memories."

The reason this language is now considered "lost" is due to the very reason it was created; to maintain secrecy. Polari was never committed to print nor recorded in its entirety. Instead, it was passed on via word of mouth and, as a result, many versions were created at the same time. Most speakers would have known a small core vocabulary of words for clothes, types of people, adjectives to show approval (or not), sexual acts and everyday objects. However it is believed that there was also a "fringe" vocabulary containing many words known only to a few, and as such, standards of spelling, pronunciation or even meaning were not always the same. It is also believed that through the very avenues that allowed the language to develop, international travellers were influenced, and on returning home they in turn helped to spread versions of Polari abroad. Despite these differences and the lack of any uniformity to the language, in a world where homosexuality was stigmatised through the institutions of law, medicine and religion, Polari flourished for a time. After all, dropping the odd Polari word into a conversation with a new, handsome acquaintance was one way of working out if they might be interested. Forget Grindr, Polari was where it was at.

The following is a clip from the 1998 film, Velvet Goldmine, in which two gentlemen are seen having a conversation in Polari:

By the 1970s however, gay liberation politics had become impatient with what were perceived as camp stereotypes and with the casual sexism of some older gay men. Part of this impatience towards the camp stereotype was the result of what some consider to be a breakthrough for Gay men in 1960s Britain, when Polari had been popularised by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams in the 1960s BBC radio comedy show, Round the Horne, in which the two played a couple of camp out-of-work actors. The success of this show resulted in Polari entering the mainstream; the secret language of the Gay Community suddenly came tumbling out the closet. Furthermore, the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 meant that there was less of a need for a secret language, and thus, Polari fell out of use, and eventually into virtual obscurity. Some words were preserved in the media, such as those spoken in Velvet Goldmine, others have been preserved by Gay men who actually spoke the language, and others even entered mainstream use. Perhaps two of the most common words used today, which some would argue can find their roots in the Polari sub-culture of pre 1970s Britain, are "Camp" and "Buns". Yup, that's right folks, that Anaconda speaks Polari. :tea:

Here is a list of the Polari words I have used while writing this:
    Varda = To look, to see.
    Fruit = Old Queen.
    Chicken = young man, new to gay world.
    Troll = to walk, to stroll, to travel.
    Fantabulosa = Wonderful.
    Bold = Daring.
    Camp = Effeminate.
    Buns = Arse cheeks.

If you're interested in learning some other Polari words, the images below contain one of the largest Polari - English dictionaries I have found:

Chapter 3: "1,112 and Counting"

It's March, 1983. Homosexuality is now legal. Spring is around the corner. You decided to get your hair cut. You're starting to plan for Gay Pride. You've just started a new job. You're going to the doctor next week. You've just started dating a new guy and it's your sister's birthday tomorrow. It's should be a pretty great time for you. There is just one small problem;

In the last 24 months, you've buried twenty of your friends and another is wasting away in what will surely be his deathbed.

Welcome to the height of the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

One of the most difficult aspects of writing this section, has been searching through the overwhelming wealth of information that exists on the 1980s AIDS epidemic. However, while there is a wealth of information, with the sheer speed to which the epidemic grew and the speed at which the information known about the disease during these early years changed, it is very difficult to concisely give a history of the epidemic in a global context. Therefore, I have decided to use the wealth of American sources from this period, with the occasional use of British sources.

In the 1980s, nothing acted as a more unifying and catalytic force for the global Gay Rights Movement and for the creation of the modern LGBTQ Community than the AIDS Crisis. The AIDS Crisis of the 1980s is commonly seen as originating in 1981, when cases of a rare lung infection called Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) were found in five young, previously healthy gay men in Los Angeles. At the same time, there were reports of a small, but growing, group of men in New York and California with an unusually aggressive cancer named Kaposi’s Sarcoma. By the December of that year, the first cases of PCP were reported in people who injected drugs, and by the end of the year, there were 270 reported cases of severe immune deficiency among gay men. Of that number, 121 of them were dead. By June 1982, these statistics, combined with a group of cases among gay men in Southern California, suggested that the cause of the immune deficiency was sexual and the syndrome was initially called gay-related immune deficiency (or GRID). Later that month, the disease was reported in haemophiliacs and Haitians leading many to believe it had originated in Haiti.

In September, the CDC used the term 'AIDS' (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) for the first time, describing it as
a disease at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell mediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known case for diminished resistance to that disease. It was around this time that cases of AIDS were also being reported in a rising number of European countries. By this point, a number of AIDS-specific organisations had been set up including the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in the USA and the Terrence Higgins Trust in the UK. Another such trust was set up in New York; it was known as Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC).

Due to the lack of medical information regarding AIDS at the time and the societal ignorance that surrounded the disease, the Gay Community was, while becoming increasingly terrified of the disease, relatively apathetic towards the developing crisis. That was until March 1983 when Larry Kramer, co-founder of GMHC published an article in the Gay Newspaper, New York Native. Kramer was aghast at what he perceived as the apathy of not only the Gay Community, but at the indecisiveness of government. His article was called 1,112 and Counting. It took aim at the officials at the Centre for Disease Control, in Atlanta, researchers at the National Institutes of Health, in Washington, doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, in Manhattan, and at local politicians for their refusal to acknowledge the implications of the nascent AIDS epidemic. The article took particular umbrage at those gay men who seemed to think that if they ignored the new disease, it would simply go away.

For me, there has always been one section of Kramer's article that encapsulates the epidemic;

There are now 1,112 cases of serious Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. When we first became worried, there were only 41. In only twenty-eight days, from January 13th to February 9th [1983], there were 164 new cases - and 73 more dead. The total death tally is now 418. Twenty percent of all cases were registered this January alone. There have been 195 dead in New York City from among 526 victims. Of all serious AIDS cases, 47.3 percent are in the New York metropolitan area.

These are the serious cases of AIDS, which means Kaposi's sarcoma, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, and other deadly infections. These numbers do not include the thousands of us walking around with what is also being called AIDS: various forms of swollen lymph glands and fatigues that doctors don't know what to label or what they might portend.

Kramer's goal was to terrify the Gay Community into action, and that is exactly what he achieved. Kramer's article gave the AIDS epidemic in New York, and nationwide, a level of media attention that would not have been possible before the publication. The epidemic was continuing to grow, and now, people were paying attention.

And then, while the British Gay Community was starting to discuss the possibility of the epidemic spreading to their shores, in London's genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics, (highly confidential places frequently attended by those with infections such as syphilis and gonorrhoea) gay men began appearing with purple lesions on their faces and bodies; the telltale indicator of Kaposi's sarcoma.

It was at this time that accounts of the inhuman treatment of AIDS victims started to appear in various forms on both sides of the Atlantic: Health professionals refusing to enter the rooms of infected persons; their meals being passed through hatches in doors. Doctors refusing to touch victims; just in case they may acquire the disease. Family members refusing to care for their dying children and siblings. It was recorded in the United Kingdom that "it was very difficult to get them [these new victims] hospitalised" and, perhaps more telling of the fear that surrounded this 'Gay Plague', and in the words of a London GUM doctor, "It was very difficult to get patients treated as normal human beings. People were frightened; they thought it was contagious; the patients had to be put in side wards… It was like medicine 600 years ago." Another young doctor, Ian Weller, remembered: "The fears then were not necessarily unfounded, as we didn't know what we were dealing with. One night I was sitting in a patient's room [in hospital] and this hand came round the door with food on it, and just dumped it. I laughed with the patient, who said, "It happens all the time." Within five minutes a bunch of flowers flew across the room - whoosh! That time I didn't even see the hand."
Gay men were crying out for humanity; Gay men were dying for a lack of it. By the end of 1983, the number of AIDS cases in the USA had risen to 3,064. Of this number, 1,292 had died.

This 1983 BBC documentary on the growing AIDS epidemic in the United States highlights the growing media attention this epidemic was attracting, not only in the United States, but in Europe:

This documentary, while conveying the topic in good old BBC style, not only conveys the general ignorance surrounding AIDS in the 1980s, but also touches upon a series of issues in relation to Gay Culture and the prejudice, ignorance and alienation that society at the time held towards homosexuals at the time. Despite these pitfalls however, this BBC documentary did something no one else had done yet: It showed the human side to this epidemic and held at its core, the message that even Gay lives were worth taking seriously.

In April 1984, the National Cancer Institute announced they had found the cause of AIDS, the retrovirus HTLV-III. In a joint conference with the Pasteur Institute they announced that HTLV-III and another retrovirus called LAV were identical and the likely cause of AIDS. This led to the creation of the blood test used today to screen for the virus with the hope that a vaccine would be developed in two years. In July, the CDC stated that avoiding injecting drugs and sharing needles "should also be effective in preventing transmission of the virus." Note that the wording of this statement, three years after the epidemic began, remained uncertain. By October, bath houses and private sex clubs in San Francisco were closed due to high-risk sexual activity. New York and Los Angeles followed suit within a year. This closure of two of the Gay Community's social pillars removed all sense of normality for the Gay Community; the sociological effects of this upon Gay Sub-Culture remains virtually impossible to fully understand, however, in the next post of this thread, I shall delve more into the sociological aspects of Gay Culture and the impact of the AIDS epidemic.

By the end of 1984, there had been 7,699 AIDS cases and 3,665 AIDS deaths in the USA with 762 cases reported in Europe.

It's been three years since the outbreak of the epidemic. I now want to ask you a very simple question; With your current understanding and knowledge of HIV/AIDS, both personally and in your social circle, if you were alive at the end of 1984, how many more friends do you think you would have buried? How many of you do you think would currently be living with this disease? As Larry Kramer argued, would your apathy and ignorance help you?

It's now 1985. Ryan White, a teenager from Indiana, USA has acquired AIDS through contaminated blood products used to treat his haemophilia. He has just been banned from school. He is 13 years old. On October 2nd, the actor Rock Hudson dies from AIDS. He is the first high profile fatality. He left $250,000 to set up the American Foundation for AIDS Research. The general US public are now seeing this disease outwith the "gay exclusive" lens. Concurrently, in the United Kingdom, the full extent of the epidemic was starting to mirror that of the United States. Dr Peter Jones, the director of the Newcastle Haemophilia Reference Centre, tested 99 of his patients with severe Haemophilia A, all but one of whom had received commercial Factor VIII. Seventy-six tested positive for HIV. Jones had befriended these patients over many years, and now had to tell them the news. In Jones' own words:

You see a child who five years ago you knew was going to live a normal, lengthy life and a high-quality life, and he's suddenly infected and dying. You feel anguish for a nurse who's taught somebody how to inject themselves, or has injected them herself, and then she realises she must have been injecting the virus at the same time. And it must be horrible to be a mother who's done that to her son.

Dr Jones's patients were part of a total of almost 700 haemophiliacs who were HIV positive at this point, and by the end of 1986 there were 1,062 reports of infection among haemophiliacs or those who had received a transfusion or tissue replacement. A few of their partners were also infected. When the extent of the problem first appeared, Barney Hayhoe, Conservative minister for health, announced with robust authority that "Aids is a very serious disease." He considered it "vital we do all we can to control the further spread… and to help those who have already been exposed". And so a prolonged battle for compensation began.

In Edinburgh, another calamity was unfolding. An informal Lothian region Aids group had obtained some testing kits from the United States, and used them on stored sera from local haemophiliacs. A few came up positive, which was surprising because Scotland had been self-sufficient in blood products for several years. The tests were repeated, this time using injecting drug users as a control group. A vast number of the drug users had HIV. In subsequent tests, the prevalence of HIV infection was 50 per cent or higher. Of the 3,695 HIV cases resulting from intravenous drug use, 1,173 are believed to have been acquired in Scotland, the majority in Edinburgh. This represents more than one-third of all the 3,022 HIV cases in the region. The reasons for this are rooted in three concurrent events of the early 80s: the increasing popularity and cheap supply of heroin; the methods by which heroin was injected (a system known as 'booting' or 'flushing' whereby the drug is washed out of the syringe into the bloodstream by repeatedly drawing back the plunger and injecting the user's own blood), and the frequency of sharing equipment owing to the difficulty of obtaining sterile needles. The Lothian and Borders police had been tough on drugs for years: along with drugs, all drug paraphernalia was also seized, and chemists and other surgical suppliers would be prosecuted if it was believed that their equipment could find its way to drug users. And so people shared their needles and spread disease. In fact, grim experience with an earlier hepatitis outbreak showed that there was no more efficient way of doing so; in one particular story, a needle was passed around one estate in Muirhouse for three months.

The result of these outbreaks of AIDS among the haemophiliac community? A tabloid press fuelled hysteria. The story of the haemophiliacs presented a handy counterpoint to those concerning homosexuals and drug addicts. The prejudice was transparent: gay men and drug users had brought the disease upon themselves and deserved condemnation, while haemophiliacs, the 'innocent' victims, deserved all the sympathy and compensation; at last, some papers found a way of legitimising their homophobia. And so a woman was scared because a plumber she thought was gay had recently fixed her cistern; pathologists refused to conduct autopsies; firemen banned the kiss of life; footballers wouldn't share the communal baths at Wembley; you could get it from Communion wine; BT engineers refused to fix the phones at a lesbian and gay advice centre for fear of catching Aids from the wiring. And in the pub, the jokes: "How many gays does it take to change a lightbulb? None: in intensive care they do that kind of thing for you". And "what turns fruits into vegetables?"

By the end of 1985, every region in the world had reported at least one case of AIDS, with an estimated 20,303 cases in total. How many more friends have you lost?

1986. Five years after the beginning of the epidemic. 85 countries have reported an estimated 38,401 cases of AIDS to the World Health Organization. By region these are; Africa 2,323, Americas 31,741, Asia 84, Europe 3,858, and Oceania 395. These estimates are now considered to have been far below the actual numbers of those either living with AIDS without knowing, and those who were aware of their infection. By this point, government campaigns to spread awareness of the disease were being perceived as too "soft" on the topic; public hysteria was overtaking rational debate, and in the United Kingdom, a campaign designed around fear was about to hit television:

This advert is now infamous and considered to be a foundation stone of the modern fear of openly talking about HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom. Public fear of the disease pushed the agenda to a point where the Gay Community was now being openly condemned, in the typical manner of British subtlety.

How many more friends have you lost?

December, 1987. The global total of AIDS cases has been reported to the WHO as 71,751; 47,022 of these in the USA. The WHO estimates that there are possibly 5-10 million people living with HIV worldwide. The United Nations has debated the AIDS epidemic at its General Assembly. Are you still apathetic? Are you still ignorant? Are you still alive?

March, 1989. There are now a reported 142,000 AIDS cases in 145 countries. However, the WHO estimates there are up to 400,000 confirmed cases worldwide. The cure for the disease, first proposed in 1984 has still not been found. It has been 8 years since you first started to bury your friends. It has been 4 years since public outrage started to target your community. How do you feel?

April 8th, 1990. Ryan White has died of an AIDS-related illness. He was 18 years old.

In June, the 6th International AIDS Conference in San Francisco protested against the USA's immigration policy which stopped people with HIV from entering the country. This was just one of the many prejudiced forms of legislation passed by governments all over the world that would either directly, or indirectly, target the LGBTQ Community. By the end of 1990, over 307,000 AIDS cases had been officially reported with the actual number estimated to be closer to a million. Between 8-10 million people were thought to be living with HIV worldwide. We have come a long way from "1,112 and Counting".

At the beginning of this section, I wrote that there was no more unifying a force for the LGBTQ Community globally than the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Having read everything, how exactly do you feel? If you feel angry, heartbroken, lost or afraid, then you can begin to understand how this crisis united LGBTQ Communities globally. All that is left to do is explain how this crisis transformed the LGBTQ Community and what that community is today.

If you would like more information regarding Safe Sex and HIV/AIDS, please follow the links below:

GTF's Own Public Service Announcement on HIV/AIDS

Terrence Higgins Trust

NHS Information Page on HIV/AIDS

Chapter 4: Love is too beautiful to be hidden in a closet


When you finally embrace the gift of your sexual orientation it IS the end; the end of shame, fear and oppression. You leave the darkness of the closet and begin a life of honesty, authenticity and freedom.
- Anthony Venn-Brown

The complex concept of a "Gay Community" has been at the centre of debate among historians of gay life and sociologists alike for over 30 years. Indeed, in the early 1980s debates around the very concept of Gay Community itself, its relation to issues of sexual identity and to the ways in which gay men (and women) organised themselves politically and socially were keenly contested through national conferences, in the gay media and within gay scholarly journals. The vital role of the gay community in HIV prevention and health promotion is undeniable however. Within the larger population of men who have sex with men (MSM), those who identify as gay and actively socialise with other gay men constitute a platform for interaction between these individuals or groups of individuals and HIV prevention services. Gay community organisations, venues and events have played a significant role as the access points for HIV behavioural surveillance, education and prevention. Indeed, most HIV behavioural surveillance studies in developed countries, including Australasia, Europe and Northern America, have relied on community-based convenience sampling as the main approach to reach gay men and other MSM. From the time of its emergence, HIV infection has been an overwhelming focus within gay communities. Three factors are credited with this "uniting" aspect: fear of AIDS, stigma and discrimination, and the need for information and support. These three factors were mainly responsible for driving gay men together in the fight against HIV, despite any political and philosophically uniting aspects at the time.

The AIDS crisis of the 1980s had acted to undermine the confidence and security that the late 1960s and the 1970s had given the LGBTQ community. As a result, the hardship and emotional trauma of the Aids crisis acted to form the modern LGBTQ Community by finally forcing the issue of "Coming Out" and fighting for their Rights, dignity, and reminding the community that if they did not stand for each other, nobody would stand for them.

Today, as in the past, there are a variety of forms in which the LGBT Community can be found. Perhaps the most public and well known aspect of the LGBTQ Community today are the hundreds, and thousands, of Pride Events that take place throughout the year and all over the world. But, what is Pride? Isn't it just that day of the year when Scottnesss, and many other gays, get inhumanely drunk and challenge themselves to see how little they can legally get away with wearing in public? Well, while that may very well be true, there is a deeper meaning to Pride. If we look at the definition of the word Pride, the root of the event should become clear:

1. A feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of one's close associates, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired:
"the faces of the children's parents glowed with pride" ·
synonyms: pleasure · joy · delight · gratification · fulfilment · satisfaction ·
2. Consciousness of one's own dignity:
"he swallowed his pride and asked for help"
synonyms: self-esteem · dignity · honour · self-respect · ego · self-worth ·

I suppose you may be wondering, with the ubiquitous nature of Pride these days, how exactly did we found the Pride movement? An just how did the AIDS crisis of the 1980s shape the modern Pride movement? For that, you need to remember everything that was covered in chapters 1 & 3 of this post, and to understand the importance of what we now know as The Stonewall Riots. Early on the morning of Saturday, June 28, 1969, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning persons rioted following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar at 43 Christopher Street, New York City. This riot and further protests and rioting over the following nights were the watershed moment in modern LGBTQ rights movement and the impetus for organizing LGBTQ pride marches on a much larger public scale. On November 2, 1969, Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes proposed the first pride march to be held in New York City by way of a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) meeting in Philadelphia.

Meetings to organize the march began in early January. At first there was difficulty getting some of the major New York City organizations like Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) to send representatives. Craig Rodwell and his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, Michael Brown, Marty Nixon, and Foster Gunnison of Mattachine made up the core group of the CSLD Umbrella Committee (CSLDUC). For initial funding, Gunnison served as treasurer and sought donations from the national homophile organizations and sponsors, while Sargeant solicited donations via the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop customer mailing list and Nixon worked to gain financial support from GLF in his position as treasurer for that organization. Other mainstays of the organizing committee were Judy Miller, Jack Waluska, Steve Gerrie and Brenda Howard of GLF. Believing that more people would turn out for the march on a Sunday, and so as to mark the date of the start of the Stonewall uprising, the CSLDUC scheduled the date for the first march for Sunday, June 28, 1970. Brenda Howard is known as the "Mother of Pride" for her work in coordinating the march. Howard also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBTQ Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBTQ Activists Robert A. Martin and L. Craig Schoonmaker are credited with popularising the word "Pride" to describe these festivities. As LGBTQ rights activist Tom Limoncelli put it:

"The next time someone asks you why LGBTQ Pride marches exist or why Pride Month is June tell them 'A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'"

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street and the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history, covering the 51 blocks to Central Park. The march took less than half the scheduled time due to excitement, but also due to wariness about walking through the city with gay banners and signs. Although the parade permit was delivered only two hours before the start of the march, the marchers encountered little resistance from onlookers. The New York Times reported, on the front page no less, that the marchers took up the entire street for about 15 city blocks.

The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm. By 1972 the participating cities included Atlanta, Brighton, Buffalo, Detroit, Washington D.C., Miami, Philadelphia and San Francisco. This fledgling movement caused many to soon realise the pivotal change brought by the Stonewall riots. For so long, Gay Rights movements had used persuasion to try to convince heterosexuals that gay people were no different than they were. When these groups had, for example, marched in front of the White House, the State Department and Independence Hall only five years earlier, their objective was to look as if they could work for the U.S. government and they alerted no press to their intentions. Now however, there was no persuasion, there was no conformity; the shout was clear. We are here; and my god are we Queer. Following the Annual Reminder in 1969, it was observed that:

"By the time of Stonewall, we had fifty to sixty gay groups in the country. A year later there was at least fifteen hundred. By two years later, to the extent that a count could be made, it was twenty-five hundred."

The image of gays retaliating against police, after so many years of allowing such treatment to go unchallenged, "stirred an unexpected spirit among many homosexuals". Kay Lahusen, who photographed the marches in 1965, stated, "Up to 1969, this movement was generally called the homosexual or homophile movement.... Many new activists consider the Stonewall uprising the birth of the gay liberation movement. Certainly it was the birth of gay pride on a massive scale."

The AIDS crisis of the 1980s reinforced this concept. If the LGBTQ Community wanted to fight for their dignity and their Rights, they had to remind the world, as often as they could, that they weren't going back into the closet. Too many had died out of fear. Too many had lived and died without Pride.

So, if Pride is the physical manifestation of the LGBTQ Community, how do we define the LGBTQ Community? That is a question that nobody can answer on their own. However, you could say:

The LGBTQ community is, by any definition, a loosely defined grouping of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, organisations, and subcultures, united by a common culture and social movements. The community celebrates Pride, diversity, individuality, and sexuality. LGBTQ activists and sociologists see LGBTQ community-building as a counterbalance to hetero-sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and conformist pressures that exist in the larger society. The term "Pride" is used to express the LGBTQ community's identity and collective strength; pride parades provide both a prime example of the use and a demonstration of the general meaning of the term. The LGBTQ community is diverse; so, so, diverse. So diverse in fact, that not all LGBTQ individuals consider themselves part of the LGBTQ community. Groups that may be considered part of the LGBTQ community include gay villages, LGBTQ rights organisations, LGBTQ employee groups at companies, LGBTQ student groups in schools and universities, and LGBTQ-affirming religious groups. If you feel you are LGBTQ, in anyway, then congratulations, you are part of the LGBTQ community.

To show this, here are two videos from London Pride 2017. Some of you may never have seen, or been to a Pride event, so here is an idea of what Pride can be like, and just how diverse a community we really are (sorry in advance for the inclusion of Furries, Dolly):

It was also, at London Pride 2017, that I met some GTFers for the first time; You never know, you might just meet one of us at Pride someday!

It's at this point, that I thought it would be a great idea to hear from the GTF community and see what the experiences and views of other GTFers are, to help me explain a little more about the modern LGBTQ Community, and how it is perceived by us, the wonderful users of GTF.

GTF User: GeorgeAge: 18

George wrote:I "entered" the gay community as early as perhaps 13-14; I was going out of my way to immerse myself in gay groups, get to know gay people, etc. It started with little things; tailoring my twitter feed, youtube inbox, and TV habits to include more and more gay content, and slowly branched out into meeting gay guys both on GTF and in groups around me. My first real taste of gay culture however came round about 17-18, very recently, when I began to include myself even more: the majority of my friends are gay, the clubs I go to are gay, the fiction and non-fiction I read is gay, my TV habits are gay - I've immersed myself entirely. I've found company and comfort, inclusiveness and familiarity, in the gay community. I think that, majority, the community is a cause of good: we're a very uniform group that comes together on common ground to celebrate our unique identities in the context of a wider society, and really I feel have a very unique sort of bond that I'm not sure is seen in other communities as much. I think that unlike other groups, we have a shared experience but are separated in it to some extent; I'm sure many of us experienced bullying in school over our sexuality, for example, but didn't have any LGBT figures around as at the time, and this somehow makes us closer and more intimate when we do have one another because we share a common experience without necessarily a common history, and I think that's a beautiful bond to share. I'm certain that the community has its negatives; attitudes to racism, an underlying misrepresentation of minority groups within the community itself and a culture of masculinity is certainly prevalent, but I think that the positives the community expresses can often outshine these. Its certainly changed a lot over the last decade, and even more so over the last 3-4 decades, and whilst this can be positive, I think its important to remember our roots and understand where we came from and to who we owe such liberty.

GTF User: CalciferAge: 23

Calcifer wrote:The gay community:

Is it good? On the whole, yes. Gay community as a whole was something I only really became part of when I entered uni - As such it's mostly always been the same to me. At its best, it is a place to support those who are questioning their very identities, and reassuring them that they aren't in fact weird or abnormal. It can also be deeply passionate about causes, and provide huge amounts of support to them. At its worst, it is deeply judgemental. Transphobia and racism are rampant in certain places, and there is too much of a fascination on image. Being the cute Twink makes you popular, and if you aren't attractive then you'll just be ignored. Personally I think like any subculture it has its good parts and bad parts. It is no better or worse than various other groups, but it is the one I identify most with and so it's the one I stick in.

As for my personal experiences, they've been interesting at least. I've met far more interesting people on GTF than I ever really met outside of it, and a good part of that is due to the freedom that we have as a community. Already being 'outsiders' in a manner of speaking, we can be unafraid to be ourselves. Personally I feel that if I weren't gay, I wouldn't be half as confident to express myself in the ways I do. As to what it means to me though, it's an almost essential part of my identity at this point. The majority of my friends are gay, and it is the place where I truly feel at home. I have the freedom to talk about pretty much whatever I want, and face minimal judgement. Pride, as an expression of that concept, is also quite dear to me. Whilst some might dismiss it or not be a fan due to some of the showier parts (I.E. the leather parts of the parades) the full representation of every aspect of the community is crucial to remembering not only our roots, but our diversity. Embracing that makes us stronger and more willing to accept others no matter their differences.

GTF User: GoPink!Age: 22

The gay community for me is being part of somewhere, or something, where everybody has some knowledge or understanding of what growing up gay is like. The instant denial when you begin to realise you like guys instead of girls, the realisation that when you tell someone you’re gay that you will end redefining who you are to that person, and then there’s the having to deal with the day to day hate, abuse or slurs from the small minded individuals of society. The gay community as a whole knows what that’s like, and knowing that has made being a gay individual somewhat easier for me.
Over the recent years, though, I’ve noticed the gay community becoming a community of hook-ups and bitch culture. In my recent experience, guys no longer want to commit to one person, or express feelings and emotion, they just want to see how many guys they can sleep with. However, I could only just be noticing this now due to actively looking for someone who wants something genuine and being bombarded with NSA guys along the way. As for bitch culture, the gay community is full of wannabe Regina Georges, especially those that haven’t even reached adulthood. What’s that about? Why, when you’re already part of a community that is not accepted by some outside of it, would you try and outcast yourself even more? Yes, if you see someone wearing make-up that’s six inches thick then feel free to call her a hooker but every other sentence you come out with doesn’t need to be a bitchy comment towards people in your own community.
As a whole, other than having individuals that understand the torment and torture that goes through your mind when you come to realise that you’re not how society says you should be, I don’t go out of my way to associate with the gay community.

GTF User: GrayprinceAge: 19

I discovered that I was bi when I was fourteen, I found that out when I saw a erotic gay scene in the tv show ´´the wire´´ which made me question things, after a while I bought a cool game called Dragon Age which had a male companion who flirted with you a lot.
He actually made me see guys in different ways, so good on you Bioware. When I discovered that I was bi, I was kind of confused since I never saw myself that way.

When I grew older, I spent some more time focussing on guys and girls and I also tried to improve my general appearance. I tried to come out, a few months after my discovery but that did not go very well. When I told my mother, it made her cry so I convinced her that it was just a joke in the hopes that that would be for the best. My mother believed me and she joked a few times with me about it which made me feel kind of empty. I did luckily have a teacher who I could confide in who was very tolerant about me being bisexual, she always had time to hear me out and I appreciate her a lot which is why it was a shame that I graduated my high school and went on to college.

I currently do not have anyone in my social life who knows that I am bisexual, which is why it is very great that there is a community of teens like myself with whom I can be open about my closeted life. I recently started a Tinder account and have had a few matches there so things could definitely improve in the future.

GTF User: EstaphelAge: 17

Though I was semi-immersed in the gay community from when I was about 13 and a half, I
never truly felt a part until I came out 2 days before my 14th birthday. I of course faced
challenges at first, even in the LGBT community; I came out as bi as I believed myself to be,
and I had some people saying the typical things to me, such as that I was greedy or a whore
because I thought I liked both men and women. Though I later did realise I was in fact gay
and not bi, these things have stuck with me.
I guess my first proper exposure to the LGBT community was the forum itself. At first I
thought it seemed a bit of a haven for young LGBt people and for a while it was my source of
what was going on in the outside world, and it even helped me to come out. But after a
while, it also began to show me some of the bad parts of the LGBT community: the
obsession with sex and body types; feelings of inadequacy as I compared myself to other
men and sadly the bitchiness that seems to accompany and be the main voice of the LGBT
Of course, I have no regrets that I am gay. The LGBT community does have its downsides,
but I have yet to see those outnumber the positive things. For the most part I see it as more
accepting than society as a whole, even though there are problems with racism and biphobia
in the community itself. That it exists gives society so much, from pride parades to drag
shows, a many number of things brought on by or related to the LGBT community are good,
and those things really influence my view on the community, and if I’m completely honest
with myself, the world in general.

So, there you have it boys, girls, and everyone in between, a crash course in what I consider to be four of the most important and interesting parts of our LGBT history; and just some of the moments in time that have moulded the wonderfully colourful culture, that we all, in our own unique ways, share. We've seen how going to a Ball can change your life, we've seen how a single word can get you that bona chicken, and we've seen how a tragedy can transform a movement and unite a global population.

I hope you have all learned something new from this little crash course; or possibly even enjoyed it! I'd love to hear some feedback from you all, and to see your own views and thoughts on the topics I've covered here, and, as always, if you have any questions or topics you would like me to write about for you, you can send them to me: Here

All that is left for me to do is leave you with some words from two wonderful, smoking hot, old Fruits:

Name: Octavia St. Laurent1964 - 2009

Live life. Live life and do not take anything for granted. Because what you have today can instantly be gone tomorrow.

GTF User: ScottnesssAge: 22

Scottnesss wrote:Now, I couldn't exactly ask all of these GTFers to write for me, and not write something myself could I? :gaycat:

I made my first foray into the Gay community at the young age of 12 years old. I had a perception of what I thought being Gay meant, but at a time of feeling so scared and alone, I knew I had to find out more. I come from a fairly rural area of Scotland, and despite my school year group eventually producing 46 wonderfully LGBT individuals (out of a year group of 90 I should add), at 12 years old, I only knew of one other Gay person in my year; my "friend" for lack of a better word. My first "crush" if you want to be exact. While we explored our fledgling sexualities together, I needed to engage in something more than "under-covers fumbling". I found an online forum of LGBT teens and started to explore the community further through that, and in the process found out about local LGBT Youth Groups in Scotland. It was through one of these such groups that I attended my first Pride at the age of 15. By this point, I knew that there were hundreds of people like me, but nothing prepared me for my first Pride. I can still remember the glitter covering the cobblestones for a mile, I can still remember the throng of men, women, boys, girls and every identity in between. It was the most amazing spectacle of LGBT fabulousness this gayby from rural Scotland had ever seen.

However, it was the sense of community and "one-ness" that really got to me. Here were thousands of people, with stories just like mine, living their lives without fear and with pride.

It was after this that I threw myself into the Gay Community. I started socialising with more and more LGBT people and in the process, I met more and more LGBT people. As I grew up, I found myself being described as a "Twink", and I very quickly realised that the other gays loved that. And so, my social circle started to consist of more and more young gays like me; twinks. By the age of 17, I knew so many people in the LGBT Community all over Scotland that the joke of "Scott knows everybody" was formed. If there was a party happening anywhere in the world of central Scotland's young LGBT community, you would find me there. It was in this highly social world of the young twink that I realised something. That something, in part, was my motivation for writing this thread. I was gay. I was well known. I was a fledgling Scene Queen you could say. I was also utterly unaware of what had forged the community I had grown to not only love, but to exist within. And so, I started to ask my older gay friends, where this community had come from. Now, for me, I unfortunately had come to exist within a very particular section of the Gay Community, the one that many perceive as toxic and vapid. The Scene. Now, while I do not deny that the Scene has it's issues, and of them, there are many, The Scene can also be one of the most educational sections of the Gay Community. On any given night on The Scene, you will experience almost every sub-group of the Gay Community. You have your Party Twinks; You have your Drag Queens; You have your "outsiders"; You have your Bears, Otters... The list goes on. Perhaps this categorisation of the LGBT Community is as toxic as many say, and yes, some of these groups take pride in their seemingly achieved status on The Scene, but one thing that you will always find at the heart of The Scene, be it in the smoking area of a club, or on the dancefloor, or while you're crying in the bathroom stall, is that the LGBT Community that I fell in love with at my first Pride is still very much alive. We may pretend to stay within our Cliques, but I have never seen anyone shunned for being who they are when it comes down to it. You need only be brave enough to make the first move.

The Community is there for us all, to be who we are, to spend time with people just like us, and to act as a humbling reminder that everyone has their own journey to being comfortable with who they are. We all have our own stories, and if there is one thing this gaggle of gays has taught me, it's that at the end of the day, we will always stand together with Pride.
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JonathanT88 wrote:Scottnesss - You'll always be GTF's token narcissist, and don't let any newbie scum tell you differently. You're wonderful, and watching you destroy everyone around you with your sass is very satisfying.
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