Tag Archives: London

Gay History – August 1833: “Miscreant” Captain Henry Nichols Hanged for “Buggery” in London

In England until 1861, the penalty of “buggery” was reduced to “merely” life imprisonment but that change came almost thirty years too late for British Army Captain Henry Nichols who was sentenced to death and executed.

In 1833, the London Courier printed the following:

Captain Henry Nicholas Nicholls, who was one of the unnatural gang to which the late Captain Beauclerk belonged, (and which latter gentleman put an end to his existence), was convicted on the clearest evidence at Croydon, on Saturday last, of the capital offence of Sodomy; the prisoner was perfectly calm and unmoved throughout the trial, and even when sentence of death was passed upon him. In performing the duty of passing sentence of death upon the prisoner, Mr. Justice Park told him that it would be inconsistent with that duty if he held out the slightest hope that the law would not be allowed to take its severest course. At 9 o’clock in the morning the sentence was carried into effect. The culprit, who was fifty years of age, was a fine looking man, and had served in the Peninsular war. He was connected with a highly respectable family; but, since his apprehension not a single member of it visited him.

A first-person narrative poem written* in 1833 under the name of *Lord Byron titled *Don Leon” was a signal piece of literature: the first overt literary defense of homosexuality in English.

It opens with a scene said to be inspired by Captain Nicholls:

Thou ermined judge, pull off that sable cap!
What! Cans’t thou lie, and take thy morning nap?
Peep thro’ the casement; see the gallows there:
Thy work hangs on it; could not mercy spare?
What had he done? Ask crippled Talleyrand,
Ask Beckford, Courtenay, all the motley band
Of priest and laymen, who have shared his guilt
(If guilt it be) then slumber if thou wilt;
What bonds had he of social safety broke?
Found’st thou the dagger hid beneath his cloak?
He stopped no lonely traveller on the road;
He burst no lock, he plundered no abode;
He never wrong’d the orphan of his own;
He stifled not the ravish’d maiden’s groan.
His secret haunts were hid from every soul,
Till thou did’st send thy myrmidons to prowl,
And watch the prickings of his morbid lust,
To wring his neck and call thy doings just.

*NOTE:  Don Leon is a 19th-century poem attributed to Lord Byron celebrating homosexual love and making a plea for tolerance. At the time of its writing, homosexuality and sodomy were capital crimes in Britain, and the nineteenth century saw many men hanged for indulging in homosexual acts. But unfortunately its narrative and notes several incidents that happened after the poet the Lord Byron’s 1824 death it obviously could not have been written by him.

Steve Bronski: Co-founder of Bronski Beat Dies Aged 61

Steve Bronski: Co-founder of Bronski Beat Dies Aged 61

Steve Bronski, a founding member of the trailblazing gay British synth-pop trio Bronski Beat, has died at age 61. No cause of death was given.

Bronski, AKA Steven Forrest, formed the band alongside Somerville and Larry Steinbachek in 1983. All three members of the band were proudly out as gay and America’s Spin magazine described them as “perhaps the first real gay group in the history of pop”.

Working with him on songs and the one song that changed our lives and touched so many other lives, was a fun and exciting time. Thanks for the melody, Steve.

Jimmy Somerville

Bronski Beat’s debut single, 1984’s Smalltown Boy, tells the story of a gay teenager leaving his family and prejudice in his hometown for an uncertain life in London. The record’s inner groove was etched with the number of the London Gay Switchboard.

Later that year Bronski Beat headlined the Pits and Perverts concert at the Electric Ballroom in London to raise funds for the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign, a performance depicted in the 2014 British film Pride.

Somerville left the band in summer 1985 owing to tensions within the group. He went on to have a successful career with the Communards and as a solo artist

Bronski continued to produce and record and spearheaded the recording of a revamped version of The Age of Consent titled The Age of Reason, with vocalist Stephen Granville. “We should be living in an age of reason,” Bronski told Pennyblack Music. “The trans community should not live in fear, and gay kids should not be bullied. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.”

Gay History – February 18, 1895: Oscar Wilde Is Accused of Being A “Sodomite”

On this day in 1895, British playwright Oscar Wilde was dining at the Albermarle Club in London when the Marquess of Queensbury left a calling card with the porter. It read, “To Oscar Wilde posing as a sodomoite.” The misspelling may have been the product of Queensbury’s rage over the relationship between Wilde and his son, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas.

In the summer of 1891, Oscar met Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, the third son of the Marquis of Queensberry. Bosie was well acquainted with Oscar’s novel “Dorian Gray” and was an undergraduate at Oxford. They soon became lovers.

Queensbury had ferocious arguments with his son, trying to get him to stop seeing Wilde, but Bosie refused. Queensbury even threatened to go public with what he knew, but Bosie refused to back down. So on February 18, 1895, Queensbury followed through on his threat.

This action led to a long string of events which eventually led to Wilde’s disgrace, imprisonment, exile in France, and early death. Perhaps all that could have been avoided if Wilde had decided not to sue Queensbury for libel. His friends advised him against it, but he may have felt he had little choice. Having been called out publicly like that, declining to sue might be taken as an admission of guilt. Unfortunately, Wilde’s libel case collapsed when Queensbury’s lawyer asked whether he had ever kissed Walter Grainger in greeting. “Oh, dear no,” Wilde replied, “He was a peculiarly plain boy. He was unfortunately extremely ugly. I pitied him for it.”

Queensbury’s lawyer pounced on Wilde’s admission that attraction was the reason he didn’t kiss him.  In short order, Wilde lost the case, and was charged with gross indecency. Wilde’s first criminal trial ended in a hung jury but the second one resulted in Wilde’s conviction and sentence to two years at hard labor.

Upon his release, Oscar wrote “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” a response to the agony he experienced in prison.

Wilde fled England  and spent the last three years of his life wandering Europe, staying with friends and living in cheap hotels. Sadly, he was unable to rekindle his creative fires. When a recurrent ear infection became serious several years later, meningitis set in.

Oscar Wilde despite his fame died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six on November 30, 1900.

Britain Chokes It's Chick-Fil-A: Britain's Only Store To Close After Massive Protests

Britain Chokes Its Chick-Fil-A: Britain’s Only Store To Close After Massive Protests

Eater London reports:

Chick-fil-A, the controversial American fast food brand, famous as much for its donations to anti-LGBT organisations as it is for fried chicken sandwiches, is being forced to close its first U.K. restaurant. It opened only eight days ago.

The company, which appeared to be at the beginning of a major European expansion, opened at the Oracle shopping centre in Reading on 10 October. It will now close after pressure from local gay rights groups and a media row around the causes it has historically supported.

The Oracle shopping centre said it would not renew its lease and that it “was the right thing to do” but did not address why it had offered the lease in the first place, given Chick-fil-A’s controversial record was well-known.

In 2010 this website broke the first story about Chick-Fil-A’s involvement with hate groups when we exposed the fact that they were sponsoring in part an event with Cincinnati’s rabidly anti-gay group the Citizens for Community Values and also donated to other hate groups across the country

Sultan of Brunei’s Beverly Hills Hotel Loses Major Charity Functions

The Special Needs Network and The John Wayne Cancer Institute are both pulling out of previously scheduled galas at the Beverly Hills Hotel … because the hotel owner, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei’s support of killing gay people by stoning to death in his country

The SNN’s signature spring event — the 11th Annual “A Pink Pump Affair // A Celebration of Women” — was scheduled for May 19 at the hotel … but now they are moving the fundraiser to the Beverly Hilton in support of the LGBT community.

Also the JWCI is moving its 34th Annual Odyssey Ball — scheduled for May 4 — to the Montage Beverly Hills

Meanwhile in London on Saturday 100’s of protesters against new Islamic laws in Brunei gathered outside the Dorchester Hotel following international outcry over the Southeast Asian nation’s draconian measures.

Demonstrators chanted “shame on you,” and some broke through barriers to stand at the entrance of the hotel.

Britain’s Labor Party lawmaker Emily Thornberry said Brunei should be “chucked out” of the Commonwealth group of nations if the laws are not revoked.

“Any hatred against anyone is hatred against all of us. Our fight is with the sultan of Brunei. Our fight is with this terrible law. We say no,” she said.

WATCH: The Channel 4 British Gay History Documentary “50 Shades of Gay”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the legalization of homosexuality in Britain. To celebrate this historic event, Channel 4 in the U.K. is airing a series of documentaries exploring different facets of gay life in Britain. The first episode titled “50 Shades of Gay” aired this past week.

The Guardian reports:

Rupert intertwines his own story – family, sexuality, career – into this journey, which takes him back to old haunts, and old friends. There are characters in squeaky leather, dogs called Samson and Biscuit, a little Polari. He travels to Liverpool, to the set of Hollyoaks, to meet the actors – both gay and straight – playing gay characters and find out how that goes down (fine, especially among teenage girls, interestingly).

And to the Lake District, where Paul is getting married to Graham. It’s a fascinating picture of a country that has come a long way from undercover coppers lurking in public toilets, via strange contradictions and hypocrisies, to Paul’s establishment Lakeland wedding. That’s Paul Burrell, who used to be Princess Diana’s butler – and rock – incidentally.

The problems of being gay in Britain haven’t gone away entirely. There are communities where the path to acceptance has been slower, the Jamaican one, for example, and the City of London. Best places that i have ever seen and even captured beautifully on this site http://www.exceptionalvillasa.com/jamaica/. Two-thirds of graduates who have been openly gay at uni go back into the closet when they go into business – as Lord Browne, who used to run BP, tells Rupert. Even today. That’s extraordinary, isn’t it?

Then there are new problems within the gay community itself, brought about by apps: a loss of intimacy, pressure to conform in new ways, and the fact that all this bloody acceptance has actually led to a loss of community. There was solidarity in the shadows. Now being gay is as dull as being straight.

Watch the full program (while it stays posted):

Sir Ian McKellen Protests at Russian Embassy in London Over Chechnya “Gay Purge’

Openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen joined hundreds of protesters outside the Russian embassy in London to voice anger against a “purge” of gay men in Chechnya.

McKellen described it as “a matter of principle” to demonstrate outside the Kensington Gardens consulate on Friday to demand that Moscow takes decisive action against those responsible for the brutal persecution.

Despite international condemnation, Chechen and Russian authorities have denied the accusations, according to Amnesty International. A Chechen spokesman even refuted that gay people even lived in the region.

Condemning the stance of Chechen authorities on gay people, McKellen said: “It is possible to think that gay people don’t exist because gay people are so frightened that they daren’t say they exist.

“What a condemnation it is of Chechnya that its authorities should believe that there are no gay people there, and if there were they shouldn’t be – it’s absolutely appalling.

“If gay people are invisible it’s because they are frightened to be themselves and come out, so it’s a condemnation not of gay people but the society they are trying to exist in.”

“Our principles are shared across borders, and the plight of the gay men in Chechnya is the plight of gay men and women throughout Russia.”

Reading a message from the Russian LGBT network to the crowd, he said: “Right now we need you to demand justice, we need you to tell your governments to take action, we need you to accept refugees, we need you to call for a transparent and just investigation that is going to hold those responsible to account.”

After the protest, McKellen laid rainbow roses on a rainbow flag – the symbol of the LGBT movement – outside the embassy.

#LGBTSuperheroes – London ComicCon Pushes LGBT Diversity In New PSA Trailer – Video

#LGBTSuperheroes Campaign

London ComicCon is taking the gay superhero bull by the horns or tights as some may say as it debuts the latest campaign for LGBT representatives in popular culture by presenting a new trailer, which sees the usual superhero antics of saving people using their power with the big difference is the gay kiss at end which finishes with the words: “It’s time all superheroes were accurately portrayed on screen.

The video entitled #LGBTSuperheroes highlights the campaigners concern that LGBT characters in comics are de-sexualised or turned heterosexual in movie adaptations. Some examples include Iceman, Mystique and Catwoman among others.

Watch the video below and support #LGBTSuperheoes.

Give THOR a boyfriend! (Please pick me! Please pick me! Please pick me!)

 

Fry, Tatchell and Hundreds of Londoners Protest Russia’s “Gay Propaganda” Laws – Video

Lodon russia protest

In whats believed to be the largest gay rights protest in the UK capital in recent years. Almost one thousand people gathered in London on Saturday to protest against the human rights violations and sub-human treatment of LGBT people in Russia.

Stephen Fry walked along the whole length of the protest like an ambassador, and everyone was cheering him,” said an eyewitness.  Fry has called for an all out boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

“Just remember that what this is about is not a big abstract thing like the Olympic movement, or a big abstract thing like the nature of totalitarianism, it’s keeping in the head the lesbian being savagely raped and being told by the police go take a walk because it’s not a crime, it’s a corrective thing to make you straight. These things happen daily in Russia; the teenagers being humiliated by their friends, punched and kicked and forced into suicide at an enormous rate. That’s what we have to remember this is all about, it’s about allowing the gay people of Russia to grow up free and proud and happy and with the genuine sense of importance they deserve.

Putin is the ‘Czar of Homophobia’,” said longtime veteran gay rights activist Peter Tatchell  “His regime has outlawed the public expression of LGBT identity and affection.”

A human rights campaigner who was at the demonstrations said that Saturday’s protest was just the beginning of a long fight for change.

Actor Takes A Stand Against Anti-Gay Heckler During Gay Kiss In London Play

Mark Edel Hunt

Actor Mark Edel-Hunt, who plays the character of Gil, in the West End production of “The American Plan” in London took a stand against an anti-gay heckler who shouted out “makes me sick” in the middle of the production when his character kisses another male character.

The play concerns the story of the daughter of a wealthy German-Jewish refugee who falls in love with a handsome stranger at a holiday camp in the Catskill Mountains near New York in a 1960s summer. In the second half of the play, which was written by Richeard Greenberg, it transpires that Nick, who appears to be straight, has had a previous affair with Gil, who turns up at the camp.

Edel-Hunt, who was incensed at the homophobes outburst responded by returning to the stage at the end of the curtain call carrying a large sign that read: – “Some people are gay. Get over it!” to the delight of the audience who cheered wildly.

Andy Wasley, from Londons’s Stonewall Campaign was delighted at the cast’s reaction to the stunt. “It’s great to see a spirited response to such offensive behavior.”

The unidentified homophobe left the theater quickly and quietly.